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The RAAKonteur #49 – Manufacturing consent

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18 July 2011

Warp speed ahead

Google+ is the fastest social network to reach 10 million users and will probably reach 20 million this weekend. Some have stuck their neck out claiming it will be the fastest to get to the 100 million mark. Web services with more than 100 million registered users are a rarefied club:

  • Facebook 750 million
  • Twitter 200 million
  • Gmail 193.3 million
  • Skype 145 million
  • LinkedIn 100+ million

It's the end of the World as we Know it – and we feel fine?

Predictably pundits have fallen over each other to pick over News of the World's corpse and deliver their post mortems. In the one corner, the elitists who fear the arrival of everybody, led by Will Self. His lament about Shifting Tectonic Plates blamed the whole palaver on dumbing down caused by the internet and the lack of gatekeepers of taste:

"…anyone no matter how talentless can be famous – Warhol's prophecy – but that even those who have talents can be forced to abandon them if they're not fungible in the media marketplace."

And in the other corner, The Economist, which enthused in Bulletins from the future:

"And although the internet has proved hugely disruptive to journalists, for consumers—who now have a wider choice than ever of news sources and ways of accessing them—it has proved an almost unqualified blessing."

But perhaps the most insightful was Paul Mason, Newsnight editor. Mason argued that social media has emaciated the power of Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent on its head. This is a theory that claims that mass media in democracies are driven by profit; that through an advertising model they cater to elite interests and ignore the real public interest but still thrive.

On a side note, The Guardian has done an excellent visualisation of the Tweets around the News of The World Crisis using DataSift.


Crowdsourcing crisis information made easy

Ushahidi, the crisis mapping service, has launched an iPhone app that allows anyone to use and add information to maps on their phones. It even allows you to white-label your app. Excellent stuff.

Spotify's got Klout

Techcrunch reports that Spotify finally launched in the US with the help of influence tool Klout. Users with high scores got free access. Techcrunch was not impressed:

"Spotify is going to have to do a hell of a lot of marketing over the next few months. Though partnering with Klout is hardly a mainstream move, IMHO. Still, every little helps…"

We begged to differ.


Your phone vibrates and you've got cash

Paypal is getting in on the NFC action early. Perhaps spurred on by the success of Square (the service that turns iPhones into payment terminals), they have developed an NFC solution that allows phones to pay each other. Read more here.

Platform Plays

In his book What Would Google Do? Jeff Jarvis argues that in our new media world, a business should either be part of a network or platform, or strive to be one themselves.

One could argue that WordPress already is a type of platform, with a host of developers working on Themes and Plugins that sit on top of it. But they are trying to extend that further adding modern authentication and a new API.


Social job hunting with Adzuna

There's a sexy new job search engine in town. What makes it extra special is that it brings up vacancies in the companies of your Facebook Friends and LinkedIn contact.

Desperately seeking serendipity

Since social media often uses algorithms to suggest what content you should see and who you should follow, it's imperative that the code that does this is based on a sound understanding of human behaviour. In this thoughtful and wide ranging post by Ethan Zuckerman, he takes a careful look at all the issues and pitfalls. A long but fantastic read.

On that note: there is a new company on the block – Katango – that has put fine words into action and Robert Scoble describes what they have achieved as MIND BLOWING:

"It found my wife's elementary school friends in Facebook (she grew up in Tehran). For me it found most of the speakers I hired in the 1990s for our conferences (and I rarely talk with any of them)."


What's it like where you are?

This year's SXSW did not present any clear-cut winner like Foursquare or Twitter previously. But Robert Scoble did have a favourite. It was Localmind and it has just received $600,000 in funding.

What do they do? Localmind’s real-time, location-based platform sits on top of existing check-in services like Foursquare and Gowalla. It allows you to ask questions to users checked-in at any location or venue. Nice. Just a pity none of those location services have huge user adoption.

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