The HTML5 canvas turns web pages into games consoles, renders Flash practically useless and archaic and leaves web developers with goosebumps, both in excitement and in fear. Because face it, canvas programming is low-level stuff (devspeak for: here lurks tigers).

And exactly that is why every attempt at taming the wild wilderness hiding in the blank canvas is met with ample shoulder-carrying by ululating tribes of eager developers.

HTML5 Canvas with Paper.js

This type of programming environment, where doing fairly basic stuff requires you to write a fair amount of repetitive code and where every line of code requires you to desperately draw pictures and scribble calculations in an attempt to try and visualize what exactly is going to be drawn on the canvas – this is the ideal breeding ground for frameworks and utility libraries.

And that’s where Paper.js steps in. Quite successfully, I might add.

Paper.js is not just a utility library. It is actually an entire document object model for vector graphics.

What does this mean?

Similar to the way html has defined document objects, which define common behaviours for text, Paper.js has defined sets of objects that simplify working with vector graphics, especially if you’re used to working in a typical vector graphics editor like Adobe Illustrator.

Animation is built on top of this in a very simple way by providing a hook into the frame renderer in the form of a user-definable function that executes every time a frame is rendered.

In normal language this means that every time Paper.js draws a frame in the canvas, it gives the programmer the ability to tell it what to draw.
The actual drawing of the frame is not triggered or controlled by the programmer; Paper.js just keeps drawing frames as fast as possible, executing the right functions at the right time.

User interaction is done in the same way. The programmer has the ability to define pieces of code that get executed when the mouse is clicked, the mouse is moved, a key is pressed on the keyboard, etc.

At this point, I could go into more detail about using Paper.js and it will all become very technical. But that’s not really necessary, because the Paper.js tutorials are simply brilliant and very concise.

If you’re at all so inclined, dive in and start playing – that’s where I’m going to be for the next week!

Tweet like a butterfy, sting like a citation

It's an oft heard refrain: people active on social media neglect 'real world' relationships. The outgoing editor of the New York Times, Bill Keller, once again joined the chorus in an interview with Reuters:

"The time you spend keeping up with your 200 Facebook friends is time you are not getting to know someone really well in person."

There is of course copious amounts of research on this topic. And one person that knows it back to front is sociology professor Zeynep Tufekci – we have mentioned before you should watch out for her. Via Twitter she told Keller he was wrong. Keller responded: "Um, did you plan on linking to the research?" And boy, did she! Five tweets, linking to 5 different studies.

Bottom line? After many factors like race, gender and education were statistically equalized, people who used more social media like Facebook had more very close ties in real life. Read the Storify here.

Some Social Media users are more equal than others

Forget the Like-gate on Facebook, here's the Influence-gate. Audi has teamed up with marketing platform Involver to create a widget on their Facebook page that unlocks content based on your Klout score, i.e. online influence.

In this particular case, the execution is very limited (you only get an Audi wallpaper), but there is definitely potential in using these scores as the equivalent of the VIP Golden Ticket. For example: we once reserved front row seats at an event for people with a certain Peerindex score. 

Speaking of which: also this week, Peerindex, the UK version of Klout, announced that it's now tracking 45 million accounts.


Subway Shopping

In the second hardest-working country in the world, it's understandable that you don't have time to go to the supermarket. So why not bring the supermarket to you. That's what Tesco did in South Korea.

They used the advertising space in subway stations to create a virtual shop and turn waiting time into shopping time. They put up posters that looked like product shelves and people could add the products to their shopping cart through QR codes.


Size doesn't matter

This week research again confirmed that all the Facebook action is in the newsfeed and not on your Facebook page. Figures show that having an engaged following is as crucial as how many people like your page. Why? Because as the size of your follower count goes up, the less likely they are to see your updates in their stream: as little as 2.5%.

What does that mean? That brands shouldn't just focus on getting many Likes. But rather target the right group and keep them engaged with content that's carefully crafted and highly engaging (fun). It also means that Facebook is  possibly not for all brands.


OK, size does matter, but growth matters more

This week Foursquare reached 10 million users. But is that growth fast enough? At this rate they won't reach 100 million until 2020.

Compare that to Instagram, who now have 5 million users after 9 months. On iPhone alone. And as this Washington Post article points out: by now they should have hit the 100 million photo mark, a milestone that took Flickr 2 years to achieve.

And what about Soundcloud? The German-based music sharing site has gone from 1 to 5 million users in a year!

Another service that's set to break through is social DJ-ing site Despite them phasing their growth – you can only sign in if you have a Facebook friend who's already a member – they still racked up 140,000 users in its first month.  



It's a kind of publishing magic

JK Rowling announced this week she's doing an e-move and word is that the Guardian is adopting a digital-first approach. But over in the US the Bangor Daily News has put their money where their mouth is by creating a fantastic workflow for digitally-enhanced publishing.

They have made the transition to WordPress, while seamlessly integrating it with Google Docs as well as InDesign. Which means the paper now has one content management system for both its web and print operations. What's more, they have open-sourced it all, so you can do it too! More on that here.

It's photography, but not as you know it

A new startup has appeared on the horizon, and they promise to completely revolutionize the entire camera industry.

Lytro has developed a technology that allows you to focus on specific objects in images after they have been taken. They do this by capturing not only the light that falls onto a flat surface, like normal cameras do, but all the light passing through the camera lens, as well as its directional information.

With the ability to focus on a specified depth of field, comes the ability to get depth information about every pixel on a photograph. In other words, if applied a bit differently, this technology might provide the same spatial information that a Microsoft Kinect does, in a single lens setup.


The self starting Groupon

OK, so pedicures are not your thing. But how do you get a group buying discount for what you want? Loopt has just launched a self-starting Groupon-style product.

Get a few friends together and tell Loopt what it is you want to buy together. They make it happen. Read more here.

Creative of the Week – Hannes Harms

Hannes Harms is a German product designer who lives in London. He's made a funky cardboard-and-foam chair called Scum Chair. So far, so semi-interesting.

But now the RCA student has sparked people's imagination with NutriSmart, a framework for nutritional information that is based on what is effectively an edible RFID tag. The tags, which are inserted directly into the food, would allow you to track the whole supply chain of your food, as well as provide dietary information, tell your fridge when to order extra cupcakes or anything else you can image. 


The King is dead, long live the King

So the Daily Telegraph could not contain its delight when news broke that Facebook has apparently shed users in its most developed markets. News is that it's down 100,000 in the UK and perhaps as much as 6 million in the USA.

But before you get your knickers in a twist or jump for joy, do bear in mind that Facebook is very big in those markets. And, all else being equal, yearly usage of most large websites has big peaks – in November, January and February – and troughs – May to August.

Furthermore, stats from Comscore and Nielsen say otherwise, because the article that highlighted the drop did not include mobile stats. An important omission because mobile usage increases in summer. Conclusion: it is too early to say if Facebook is losing users, finding a natural plateau or growing in established markets.

P&G goes social commerce

Proctor & Gamble is experimenting with Facebook, opening no less than six f-commerce stores. Social Commerce Today has their doubts, which we share:

"P&G might think that consumers will appreciate the theoretical convenience of not having to leave the familiar and trusted Facebook environment and click through to external websites, but we don’t think convenience is a real f-commerce benefit."

As we have pointed out before, this excellent article, The 7 Biggest Facebook Fan Page marketing mistakes, makes a compelling point why this could be folly. The number one mistake is:

"Assuming People Go To Your Fan Page (Versus Seeing Your Posts In Their News Feed)."


What's the opposite of a Group hug?

Answer: a Groupon. There's been a slew of negative reports after the accounts of Groupon were made public. It's a Ponzi scheme according to some. Others like the FT said Groupon spends too much money to make money. For Techcrunch they are just a bad deal for their customers.

Facebook is so envious of Twitter

In a further attempt to muscle in on Twitter's real-time news territory, Facebook is testing a new Twitter-style feature called Happening Now with selected users. Says Mashable:

It’s not yet clear whether the updates on the sidebar have character limits, a la Twitter, but the resemblance to the Twitter feed is unmistakable.


On the internet nobody knows you're a bloke

So will the real lesbians please stand up? Amina, the Syrian Lesbian blogger, turned out to be a bearded American guy. Of interest to us is how Twitter users in various countries worked together to out the deception. Andy Carvin curated a Storify of the Twitter hunt.


Facebook threat to Instagram

Techcrunch has unearthed details about Facebook's plans for an Instagram-like photo app. It's said to combine the features of Instagram – including filters and tagging photos to places –  with some of With – tagging people that are with you. This is good news for Facebook Places. So will this Facebook move push Instagram, Foursquare into the arms of Twitter?


What's the link between Old Spice and Egypt's revolutionaries?

Answer: they both created information cascades. Information can lead to massive offline action. In an in-depth post the director of crisis mapping at Ushahidi, Patrick Meier, discusses what we can learn from epidemiology, how ideas can spread virulently, make you buy stuff and even take high risk action.

Does my URL look big in this

Don't you just love those Brazillians? This is one of the nicest and simplest ideas we have heard of of late:

The project is called (which in Portuguese means “turned into grams”) and it’s URL shortener connected to charity. For each character decreased by, Carrefour will donate 1 gram (0.03 ounce) of food to the Brazilian Red Cross charity project.


Spammers are ruining everything

When Google pulled the Google Translate API recently, the world was up in arms. Had Eric Schmidt not claimed at Davos that it would contribute to world peace?

Now we know why it was killed. As their spiders crawl the web, Google uses machine learning to improve their translation engine. The only problem is: spammers are building content farms using Google translations of poor quality content. The idea behind these farms is to attract search traffic and sell ads off the back of that. But the Google spiders are sending bad quality translations back to the mothership causing an ever decreasing quality spiral in the translations.

Tech Insight of the Week – Twitter eats its Babies

Twitter seems to be planning to host their own #devnest events. They have already done so in San Francisco, but the latest is that they plan to extend it worldwide, including London. Which should be good news for the original #devnest, no?

Except, it seems they don't want to involve the founders or organisers of the original #devnest at all. Read More »


Twitter seems to be in the process of nothing short of a hostile takeover of a Twitter Development group in London called #devnest. It’s weird, and it is tragic.

Weird, because why would Twitter screw over a community so loyal, so talented, and one that is all about Twitter? Surely this is not a very Twitter thing to do?

Tragic, because of the way the folks of #devnest are desperately trying their utmost best, throughout this, to stay loyal to Twitter, their platform of choice. Which, to them, is more than just a development platform.

Twitter turns Evil

London #devnest

#devnest was started in February 2009 as a fantastic community of Twitter developers in the UK. Founded by Jonathan Markwell and organised by Angus Fox, these guys have been hosting the meetups months after month, organising speakers, Skype sessions with Twitter representatives, free pizza and beer. All in the spirit of hacking and being creative with the Twitter API. Twitter should be proud of people like this.

This Tuesday, though, at the latest #devnest meeting, Angus announced – to my own, and everyone else present’s shock – that Twitter is planning to host #devnest events of their own worldwide, including London, and that they plan to call it #devnest without involving #devnest at all. This is very confusing.

To make matters worse, they have contacted all the sponsors of #devnest. Fortunately three of the main sponsors, Amazon Web Services, The Guardian, and Multizone, have all indicated that they are 100% behind #devnest, despite whatever Twitter spoke to them about (the exact nature of these dialogues are unknown).

Throughout making the above announcement, Angus Fox defended Twitter’s side of the issue with saintly gusto. He explained how Twitter needs to make money – how they’re a business and not a charity.

He went on to say that Twitter had subsequently declined to enter into any kind of written agreement for use of the name, format or twitter account. Furthermore, they did not wish to involve the London organisers (outside of letting them continue to run their own #devnest events and continuing to let them contact Twitter representatives for Q&A sessions via Skype).

He posed the question, “what next for #devnest?” and invited participants to join the organiser discussion.

It was tragic and gut wrenching for me as an outsider to see how these good people are continuing to “do the right thing”, while their passionate efforts are being disregarded by Twitter like an old rag.

Et tu, Twitter?

What has happened here? Twitter doesn’t belong in the evil corporation category? Or does it?

In the past few months, Twitter has started baring their teeth at their development community at an alarming rate. Let’s take a look:

  • March: Twitter tells their development community to stop building Twitter client apps. The idea is that apps should not attempt to do what Twitter already does, with a modified user experience. Reading between the lines, this stance could easily be extended by Twitter to other classes of tools they have also built, like URL shorteners, stats tools and Twitter search engines. Concerning.
  • May: Twitter announces that apps will require a new, separate permission to access and send DMs – a move welcomed by the developer community for security reasons. At the same time though, they announced that all apps that do not run in a web browser, or cannot at least redirect a user to a web browser, will not be able to get this permission, and thus not be able to read or send DM’s. Another nail in the coffin for many desktop and mobile Twitter clients.
  • May: A fun account called @towerbridge, automatically tweeting the up/down state of the London Tower Bridge (a drawbridge) gets deleted by Twitter and given to the London Tower Museum. Apparently Twitter did send a notification to the owner before they deleted his account. (Since then, they have reinstated his data under a new account, @twrbrdg_itself. Hip hip hooray.)
  • May: Twitter hosts their own developer event in San Francisco, and also calls it #devnest.
  • June: #devnestocalypse – they let #devnest know they’re taking #devnest worldwide, including London, without the original #devnest.

Here I think Angus is right. Twitter is just a business, and they are trying to do whatever it takes to make as much money as possible.

However, we had all hoped for more since their open, user-lead beginnings pointed to the possibility of something bigger and greater – a new way of doing business. In that sense, unfortunately, Twitter has failed us in a way that even Microsoft, at the height of its empire, did not manage to. At least Microsoft tried, and largely managed, to stay loyal to its developer community.

Does anyone else find it ironic that Social Networks tend to be guilty of the most severe antisocial behaviour?

UPDATE: Do read Angus Fox’s comment below with exact details of communication between Twitter and #devnest

Here comes everybody

The world is facing a social earthquake because of the immense computing and communications power human kind will soon have. The Guardian explains in a wide ranging article –

In the first three months of 2010, 85m PCs were sold worldwide, compared with 55m smartphones. Optimistic analysts forecast that the crossover might happen in 2012. Instead, by the last three months of 2010, 94m PCs were sold – and 100m smartphones.

The average smartphone today is more powerful than the world's most powerful super-computer circa 1985. In fact, Apple's iPhone 3G phone is more powerful than a 2001 Apple G4.
By 2015, analysts predict smartphones would cost as little as £46 to produce.

Kaiser Chiefs disrupt the album model

Here comes everybody indeed. None other than the Kaiser Chiefs have teamed up with smart agency W+K to develop a new social model for creating & distributing an album. Rather than create a definitive version of 10 songs, they've built a platform that allows people to choose 10 out of 20 songs and design their own artwork.

More importantly, the platform also allows you to sell your own version of the album and for every sale you make, you get a commission of £1. Very interested to see how this pans out.


Twitter iOS

The really big news from Twitter this week is that Apple is baking Twitter right into iOS. What does that mean?

You will have a single sign-in with Twitter, probably somewhere in System Preferences, and all apps on your iDevice will then be able to use that sign-in to interact with your Twitter account. Single-tap photo sharing from iPhoto and quick link sharing from Safari are some of the first features on the road map.

The really cool feature, though, is that this sign-in will be available to all app developers through an API. This could mean a whole lot for the Twitter sign-in as universal means of authentication.

It's good for Twitter to get a strong foothold right now, because speculation have it that they might face tough competition ahead. Weibo, the Chinese-only microblogger service, is planning to make their site available in English. We don’t think it poses a big threat to Twitter though. Unless they have a special trick up their sleeves, an English Weibo will basically be like a new Twitter starting from scratch.

Could have told you so

In fact we did. A while ago we noted that some publishers are looking toward HTML 5 rather than native applications on the iPhone. The reason? Apple's insistence to take 30%; not just from app purchases, but also from subscription revenues.

Now the Financial Times have launched an HTML 5 app. Take that.



By now it's trite to say that determining influence on Twitter isn't as simple as seeing how many followers a user has. A Research project at MIT – called Trumor – has tackled the problem of influence and their approach is novel.

First off they established networks at 'events' that triggered Retweets. The researchers considered users to be connected in the network if one retweeted a message from the other—simply following each other wasn't enough. Then they grouped retweets by topic and looked at how they spread through the network. Soon they saw there are superstars: users that are far more influential.

Could one find these users before an event happened however? Apparently yes, they found that they could identify them using a method called "rumor centrality." Read more here.

Face recognition Book

Facebook caused a bit of a privacy storm this week by rolling out their face recognition technology, which makes it easier for your tag-happy friends to add your name to their pictures. It was already activated in the US since the end of last year, but this week they made it available worldwide and switched the setting on by default.

Facebook apologized and said it should have done more to notify users.  Mashable explains how you can switch it off.


Inventor of Autofollow unfollows everybody

Jesse Stay, the owner of SocialToo, who invented the dreaded autofollow, has finally come to his senses. He has unfollowed everyone.

While the fact that autofollowing is not a good idea is no news to any seasoned Twitter user, Jesse makes quite an interesting observation about the main difference between Twitter and other social networks: “Twitter is Made of Content, Not People”.

We couldn’t agree more.

How a tragic earthquake made Japan embrace Facebook

The Wall posted a fascinating article from a Japanese ex-pat on how the earthquake made Facebook popular in Japan. Traditionally, the Japanese have been hooked on the likes of Twitter & Mixi, because it enabled them to hide, play and experiment behind anonymous avatars.

But when disaster struck, Japanese were looking to connect to their friends and family. Now Facebook is adding more than 200,000 users a week. Our favourite tech sociology prof has written an extensive article on the pros and cons of being anonymous or not online, in the context of whether a Gay Syrian blogger is a hoax.

Creative of the Week – Jon Rafman

9-Eyes is a work by Canadian artist Jon Rafman that celebrates day to day reality and the coincidence. It's a collection of weird & wonderful images that were unwillingly captured on Google Street View. The name of the piece is a reference to the 9-eyed cameras that Google uses to capture the images.

Simple, but intriguing. You can read about the why's and what's in Rafman's long essay. Or you can just admire the endearing, strange, beautiful images on the 9 Eyes website.


Twitter is growing "like a weed"

But how fast exactly is “like a weed”? Back in March, Twitter mentioned the fact that they had an average of 140 million tweets submitted per day. That number has since risen to a billion tweets every six days, or 167 million tweets per day. That is a growth of 19.3% in just two months! Twitter might just outperform our growth predictions.

And in the week that Facebook is adding member number 700 million, a survey done by the Bank of America said that 96 percent of Americans under 50 is on Facebook. A similar survey found that 13 percent of online adult Americans are on Twitter. All quite mindblowing stats.

Intel's Museum of Me

Intel keeps on developing its brand personality with great content. Back in January they launched Visual Life with a film by fashion blogger The Sartorialist; this week they hit us with Museum Of Me, a rather amazing piece of brandvertising.

Museum of Me is an app that makes a personalised film based on your Facebook data; it creates a walk through your museum incorporating your status updates, images,…. It managed to get 70,000 Likes after day 1, 222,000 after day 2 and there's a reason why: it's an incredible piece of content.



What makes a Tweet resonate? A few weeks ago we saw how one Twitter user with a 1000 followers caused a global storm: that Osama bin Laden had been killed. This week Urban Outfitters found themselves at the wrong end of a social media storm. And the Twitter user that initiated it all once again only had about 1000 followers.

A combination of factors conspired to make Amber Karnes' Tweet have this devastating impact. Urban Outfitters' reputation for ripping off other's design and the fact that they did it in such a egregious way to a young independent designer set the context. The fact that the instigator was very much part of a close knit small scale design Etsy Community, provided for the network effects and the authenticity. And the call to do something collectively provided the spark. See this great analysis by Amber herself.

It also makes us wonder. There are a whole raft of brands whose whole discounted business model is predicated on the copying of the design of others. Can this model service our new age where even small producers can cry foul and the global village pays mind?


Twitter is what makes TV Social

We've said it before: Twitter really is the killer app for Social TV. Just look at how Alan Sugar uses it to make snide comments during the Apprentice.

At the end of last week American network HBO launched HBO Connect, a platform that enables people to augment the social conversation around some of its shows. Early days and Mashable called it a 'soft launch', but for now it seems heavily focused on accumulating & visualising Tweets, as a second screen experience. One to watch; and it looks very nice.

And here's an ingenious little social tv app. Snappy TV lets you 'snap' the last 20 seconds from a tv show and share that clip on Twitter or Facebook. What caught our eye: after the show it defines highlights based on what people 'snapped' most. Cool, but what if you could define the most relevant parts of a tv show purely based on Twitter spikes?


The earth moved for me

More Twitter-related predictions. Scientists say tests show that Twitter outpaces traditional seismometer networks for determining earth quakes. Not only that, but patterns of Tweets can determine where the epicenter of the quakes are.

Help me publish

A crowdfunding platform has been launched in the UK. It's called Unbound and its for authors looking to fund their books only. At this stage they are only allowing previously published authors and newbies with agents. Perhaps not a bad way to start. Kickstarter, the service that defines this genre is going from strength to strength, with it's VC's claiming it the most disruptive investment of late. Quite a claim.


Your place or mine?

One other contender in the disruption stakes is AirBnB – the peer-to-peer apartment rental site just got funding to the tune of $100 million. The company is on track for sales of in excess of $500 million this year. And it's already the single biggest provider of accommodation in New York.

Creative of the Week – Moby

You can say about the music industry what you want, but when it comes to individual spikes of creativity, it does rate rather high. This week we were inspired by Moby's Destroyed project.

To promote his new album of the same name, he created a mash-up of Polymaps and Instagram. Because the album is conceived as a soundtrack to empty cities at night, Moby asked his fans to take Instagram images of their cities at 2AM and tag them as #destroyed. The images then get shown on the Destroyed-map, together with some eerie tour shots from Moby himself.


Tech Insight of the week – Buttons, buttons, everywhere!

This week is international button week. At least, it seems to be the case if you look at the big guns of social.

First off, Twitter released a follow button. It allows any Twitter user on your site to, without leaving your site, follow you. Very nice! Head over to our blog to see it in action.

Then Google released the +1 button. This mirrors functionality they've had on search results on for quite a while now, but implemented right on your site. If you would like to recommend a web page to your Google friends, you can “+1” it on the page itself. This will then show up in searches your friends do on This, too, can be seen in action on our blog, with a howto on how to add it to your own site.

It's yet another roll of the social dice for Google, especially since Eric Schmidt finally came out and admitted that he screwed up social for Google. Will they hit the Jackpot this time? We're not overly optimistic.

Over in the Influence corner, Klout released a button. It's called +K, and you use it to vouch for someone's influence on a specific topic – basically allowing Klout to crowdsource people's topic influence. It's not portable, and it's well hidden away inside the UI – only available on other people's Klout profiles, but hey – it's there, and we like its purpose.

Today Google started rolling out the +1 button to the web. Up until now, the +1 button was only available on google search results on itself.

There doesn’t seem to be any formal documentation on exactly how to add the +1 button to your website though. We had a look at a few of the sites who got access to the +1 button through partnering with Google, and reverse engineered it.

Google Plus One Button

To add a +1 button to your web page, paste the following embed code onto the page where you want the button to appear:

<iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" hspace="0" id="I1_1307012621585" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" name="I1_1307012621585" scrolling="no" src=";jsh=s%3Bplusone%3Agoogleapis.client%4021550740_8d71de52%2Fclient%3Bgoogleapis.proxy%4021550740_8d71de52%2Fproxy%3Bplusone%3Agoogleapis.client%3Aiframes-styles-bubble%4021550740_8d71de52%2Fbubble%3Biframes-styles-bubble!plusone%3Agoogleapis.client%4021550740_8d71de52%2Fbubble_only%3Bplusone-unsupported%4021550740_8d71de52%2Funsupported#url=YOUR_PAGE_URL&amp;size=medium&amp;count=true&amp;id=I1_1307012621585&amp;parent=YOUR_SITE_URL&amp;rpctoken=982298531&amp;_methods=_ready%2C_close%2C_open%2C_resizeMe" style="width: 82px; height: 20px; position: static; left: 0px; top: 0px; visibility: visible; " tabindex="-1" vspace="0" width="100%"></iframe>

(remove all the newlines when copying this – it should be a single line of code)

Replace YOUR_SITE_URL with the root url of your website, ie

Replace YOUR_PAGE_URL with the url of the page that will be +1’d, ie

Replace all colons in your url’s with %3A and slashes with %2F, ie

Viola! You have a fully functional +1 button. (like the one on top of this post)

UPDATE: June 2, 2011
Shortly after doing this though, we not only discovered the official +1 button generator (pointed out by @matijarijavec in his comment below), but also a number of WordPress plugins, like this one, making it easy to add the button on your blog.

Well – at least we did it the dirty way!