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The RAAKonteur #44 – Supercomputer in your pocket, why Japan started using Facebook & why Twitter on iOS5 matters

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13 June 2011

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.


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