Boredom: A Factor in Mobile Web Usage

More and more I have been using the Mobile Web as one way that I retrieve information. I have developed a relationship with my Samsung Blackjack. There are many times that I need information on the spot, like finding the closest taco place, and I’m not in front of my computer. I can type a few keys on my phone and the answer is at my finger tips.

Although, the instances which I’m probably using the Mobile Web the most are when I’m bored. All too often I find myself sitting somewhere waiting for someone or something. I pull out my mobile phone and start reading something.

Yesterday, I was flying home from Indianapolis. I had just landed at Washington National Airport. One of the baggage carousels was broken so all the baggage from five flights was coming in on one carousel. I waited for an hour and a half for my luggage. Thank goodness I had my phone. I started surfing to my favorite sites… re-connecting up with the world.

Well, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “why on earth would I want to pay $45/month (Cingular) so that I can entertain myself while I’m bored?” But the thing is, by being connected all the time, I can take that down time of waiting for someone or something and turn it into productive time. I can take that hour and half of boredom while waiting for luggage and use it to add to myself rather than just sitting there.

Our time is precious. Why not use as much of it as efficiently as possible? The Mobile Web allows you to be consuming information wherever your at whenever its convenient.

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Leo Laporte Leaves Twitter (and the TWiT Army Follows); The Power of Relationships

For those of you who didn’t hear, Leo Laporte has left Twitter for one of the other micro-blogging services Jaiku. According to the latest Net@Night, Leo apparently just received his trademark for TWiT. Part of having a trademark is defending it. By Leo using and promoting Twitter on his shows, he’s causing brand confusion which hurts his ability to hold the trademark.

The real story is about how when Leo Laporte switched to Jaiku, he brought his legend of fans and followers with him. According to Scoble, the service went down last night because it couldn’t handle the TWiT Army. This goes to show that you’re influenced by your relationships in your social network.

We place our trust in and form relationships with celebrities, like Leo Laporte.

Could Leo bring down Twitter? When someone like Leo Laporte does something, a lot of people will follow.

UPDATE: I now have a Jaiku account. Do you?

W3C Update on WCAG 2.0

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) has just put out an important update on their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0.

As of the end of March 2007, the Working Group has addressed most of the 900 comments from the Last Call Review Period. The Working Group is currently working on:

  • Discussing open comments and issues, and integrating resolutions
  • Developing additional techniques for how to meet the guidelines
  • Simplifying the language
  • Improving the usability of the WCAG 2.0 documents

The Working Group plans to finish addressing most of the issues and provide updated Public Working Drafts of WCAG 2.0 and the supporting documents in late April or May 2007. This will provide an opportunity to review how previous comments have been addressed.

After that, the Working Group expects to make additional minor edits and address any new comments, then publish a second WCAG 2.0 Last Call Working Draft for review of the completed edits before moving on to the next stages.

WCAG 2.0 will be an important tool for us to use to make better Web sites. It is something thats important to pay attention to.

Facebook is the Online Social Platform

We live in an amazing time. Because of the World Wide Web, people today exist in a networked marketplace. People are not just networked to their information. They are networked to each other.

Founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook has quickly become one of the most popular social networking applications on the World Wide Web. According to a recent article in VentureBeat, Facebook gets 1.5 billion page views a day. Facebook is becoming the defacto standard for staying connected with your various relationships in your community.

Facebook isn’t going to be going away any time soon, the fate that most are expecting of MySpace. This is because Facebook has decided to be more then the online representation of the relationships within your social network. Facebook is a platform for conversations within an online community to take place.

Last year, Facebook released an API so that programmers could take advantage of and build upon what Facebbok was offering. This is exciting.

So many social Web applications have been built lately. I can’t even start to name all of the different user accounts that I have signed up for lately. I can’t even start to name all the time times I have had to re-enter all of my different friends into these social networks.

Facebook knows who 90% of my friends are. Why should I try and reinvent the wheel? Why not just build upon Facebook’s existing platform.

Just think how much better Twitter could be. Instead of having to convince all of my friends to sign up for a new service. All they would have to do is use their Facebook account. All of their information would be there and all of the information about who their friends are would be there too.

Is there something scary about having one organization that is so in control of your social network and relationship information? Isn’t this kind of like everyone storing their digital identity with Microsoft via the MSN Passport? It really didn’t fly. Do we need an OpenID-like thing for not just describing you but describing your online community?

RIT Highly Ranked (for media piracy)

I just read Bob Finnerty‘s latest blog post, “Movie lovers beware: Hollywood is watching RIT.” Apparently, students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) are some of the biggest pirates of movies, according to the MPAA. I wasn’t surprised.

I got my undergraduate degree at RIT. I have to say there is a culture of media piracy. Its just what was done. If you’re with a bunch of your friends and nothing is good on TV, someone will say, “wanna download a movie?”

When I was a freshmen, media piracy had just become to the cool thing to do. We had an internal network that would have around 20 terabytes of data on it at any given time. You could get any song you could imagine. Movies and video games would come out on our network months before they were released to the public.

By my sophomore and junior years of college, my friends at RIT started getting sued by the MPAA and the RIAA. If you heard a knock on your door and there were two guys there in suits, it probably wasn’t the Mormons. It was Campus Safety there to serve you with the lawsuit papers. I quickly gave up downloading for good and opted to use the Apple iTunes Store.

At RIT, there is and always has been a plethora of free pirated media at anyone’s finger tips. How can you engineer an incentive so that the piracy doesn’t take place?

RIT tried to offer a discount to a paid music service but no one really used it. I kind of wondered what they were thinking when they instituted this service.

The RIAA and MPAA could sue more students. RIT could pursue all the pirates. I still don’t think it would matter. There would still be media piracy.

I don’t pirate media because, well its wrong. Also… the convenience that iTunes provides (versus downloading illegally) is worth the money that I pay for music on iTunes.

What can RIT due to cut down the piracy? They’d have to make it easier and more convenient to get legal legitimate media then to get the pirated media but when you have students with little to no budget for fun (except for beer) that’d be hard to do.

“Giving Libraries a Second Life in a Virtual World”

On Wednesday, April 25th, I am going to be speaking on a panel at the DC Chapter of the Special Libraries Association. The panel is entitled “Giving Libraries a Second Life in a Virtual World.” If you’re interested in learning more about Second Life, I’d highly recommend that you come on out. It should be a good event. For non-DC/SLA members, it costs $15.

You’re Influenced By Your Relationships in Your Social Network

One thing I’ve been learning more and more is how much people are affected by their relationships. What people do, say, and buy is all effected by their social network. It is less important what the world thinks about what is or is not popular. It is important what your friends think are popular.

It seems like Amazon.com has always had user reviews. You could find some book, scroll down a bit, and there would be a flurry of reviews about whether the book was good or not. But who is writing these reviews? It’s some random Joe. What if Random Joe and I have different taste in books?

I have a few friends who are always finding great books. I trust them. When they say, “go buy this book.” I buy the book.

I have a couple friends from school who are always finding great new beers or wines. If they call me up and say, “hey Justin! You have to buy this wine.” I go out and buy the wine. I know that they know their wines. I could care less about what the wine critic for the Washington Post thinks.

My car broke down a while back. I was new to the Northern Virginia area. I didn’t know which mechanics were the ones I could and couldn’t trust. My first instinct was to call my friends in Northern Virginia to see which mechanics they use.

What’s more interesting about Digg.com is finding out what stories your friends digg or submit. I don’t care what the whole Digg.com community thinks. The whole Digg community thinks that Jessica Biel Bikini Photos is a big story but I don’t care. I will follow a few people. I may find one person in Digg who finds good stories. I could choose to follow him/her.

My friends and online relationships affect what I do, say, or buy. We need to make our social Web apps not just to show what the whole world thinks but what a smaller social network thinks. This will help users identify what new content they may or may not be interested in.