Tuesday, April 9. 2013
Unscientific, amusing - and surprisingly accurate - Sentiment Chart on Margaret Thatcher's death by Martin Belam
For those who may have missed it, Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister in the 70's/80's, died yesterday. She was, according to the commentariat consensus, "extremely divisive". "Extremely" doesn't factor in our more precise world of Big Data Analysis (we used to call it data analysis, but what with inflation - you know how it is these days), so we decided to see just how much, and set our trusty old media analysis engine onto Twitter for a spell of Big Data bump n' grind (the term Thatcher is still ticking over on Twitter faster than a petrol pump eats pound notes by the way).
Anyway, much Big Chugging later and we can say safely that Twitter is about 44% against and 39% for Margaret Thatcher, ie the ratio of For : Against is about 1.13:1. The error on sentiment analysis is typically 10 - 15% so its near as dammit a wash in terms of divisiveness between the Maggie haterz and fanz (The Twitter demographic is still more left leaning than the national average, so I'm not that surprised it swings slightly to the left, as it were). An Ipsos/Mori poll shows that she is still the most popular post war British Prime Minister by some way, but she was seen as the most capable (39%) far more than liked (22%). For comparison, runner up Tony Blair was also "liked" at about 26% but seen as only 27% capable. The rest make for pretty sorry reading.
What is more interesting though is what is meant by "extreme" - to have a total of 39%+44% = 87% taking a position is a very high %, usually reserved for spats about various 'isms and causes du jour on Twitter, and even then many people tend to play the more even handed (or popcorn eating sports fan on the bleachers) role. For comparison the average Social business would be delighted if more than about 20% of their twitterstreams got really passionate one way or the other (a national broadband outage would possibly do it), and the parallel-running Twitter'Meedja discussion* about MumsNet got to about half that at its peak.
As to actual topics of - ahem - "conversation" in the Thatcherstream, the graphic above by Martin Belam (@Martin Belam), though data-poor compared to our big data crunth-a-thon, and far more tongue in cheek, actually captures the zeitgeist of the online discussion* very well.
In vitriol veritas, as they say.....
Monday, March 18. 2013
Bailout Wordcloud from Worditout.com via Broadsight Twitter Phirehose
It is no surprise that the Cyprus Cyprus bank raid is sending shivers down people's spines across the European Union (and the wider world - there is something visceral about seeing a government prepared to grab 7% of your guaranteed bank savings here, now, rather than robbing you the traditional ways via raising tax and stoking inflation) so I thought I'd give our social media monitoring system a quick run to see what the sentiment looks like. Talk about a firehose, there is a huge furore going on (update - trending on Twitter now).
The wordcloud above tells the memetic story, ie the concepts that the issue is swirling around (note eurozone, ecb, fail, and the various countries mentioned). The sentiment is nearly all negative (one of the highest ratings I've ever seen on Twitter) not at all encouraging for the politico-financial Euro-elite who sanctioned this move, as no one except the most technical financial analyst-bots are in any way in favour, and very many are very viscerally against it (even The Economist, that bastion of darwinian monetarism thinks its daft). That they even agreed to doing this is "interesting", but there is definitely no excuse for not knowing what their (too oft ignored) citizens' opinions are (update - seems like everyone is now running away and blaming everyone else for the deal). Putting my cliodynamic hat on, I'd say this may well be one of those major tipping point moments, as it is now very clear to every EU citizen just who their ruling Elite's hearts and minds belong to, and it ain't their own citizens. Will be interesting to see what happens next, I think I will poll sentiment every few hours to see how it shifts - who knows, we may be able to predict a riot.
(Post Script - the alternative currencies being posited for holding money on Twitter are gold and mattresses (no surprise) , but also bitcoins before dollars - now that is interesting)
Friday, March 1. 2013
Was musing after yesterday's post about where the future of Social Networks is going, and after kicking it around at Tuttle today I am increasingly thinking that it will be an enabling technology like email or web browsing, i.e (apart from the early frothy IPOs), a true Zero Billion Dollar industry. I went down this thought line:
Email and Web Browsing both went this way (as did SMS), initially they operated in wa;;ed gardens, the walled gardens were then broken by interconnection (driven by outsede emergent open standards) and then taken over by open technology.
Seems to me that is going to be the path of Social Networking, so I expect to see my Stage 2 emerge over the next few years, and in 5 years time it will just be there, like web browsing and email, ignored unless it doesn't work, embedded in the Infrastructure
Thursday, February 28. 2013
Friendster Collapse - the reverse S curve
Interesting article in MIT Review of research looking at why Social Networks collapse (carried out by another of the great Technology universities, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich - here is the paper). In short it's about cost/benefit (or hassle factors, as they were once called) and the number of friends people on average have on the network (the k-core score):
Be interesting to see if there is any maths about the interplay of these - is the cost benefit a slow rise thing or a step "last straw" thing? Is there an 80/20 k-core number, where a "state change" occurs, or does stickiness increase with connections linearly, or maybe by Metcalfe's Law?
Anyway, as the paper notes, Friendster got it wrong and everyone left. However, there was a 3rd factor operating then which isn't right now, viz:
3. Where else would they go? Friendster fell apart in a world with Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, so the collapse was very fast. Today, where would one go? Wouldn't a Facebook collapse just be a slow tailing off of activity as the cost/benefit rises, (as is happening in the early facebook countries in fact), but there is not a clear go to alternative Social Network.
Now THAT is the factor to really watch methinks
Monday, November 26. 2012
Lots of angst today following this WSJ article, the key point being:
Overall the amount invested in consumer information services was off 42% in the first nine months as the difficulties of newly public Internet companies such as Facebook and Zynga cast doubt on the business models and valuations of social media companies.
Fred Wilson, always very interesting to read, argues it is driven by 3 main trends - summarised below:
The last point is in my opinion the crux of Fred's post, but he doesn't address the "why" it has shifted - and I think this comes down to the WSJ's point - the demand is falling because the returns (outside of the insiders) are as virtual as the products.
Those more wedded to the Consumer Web VC model disagree fervently:
Perhaps they are, but I would argue that the market is behaving totally rationally here - "Return On Investment" is still deeply unfashionable among the Consumer InterWebzerati as the profits are as virtual as the products, but it is becoming increasingly clear to investors that the current business model for the Consumer Web is a busted flush* - Freeconomic market grabs plus a great IPO/exit to the dumb money only works for a while until the dumb money catches on, and "everything sold through iTunes" is hardly better. Facebook in my view stopped the Consumer Web VC party bubble.
(*It always was, as we showed in 2008, but we underestimated how far greed and "mass dumbness" can go in pushing a market)
Friday, September 28. 2012
Two trends...firstly, and predictably, the minute there is a new social currency, there will be the attempts to inflate it for commercial gain - Facebook Likes being the latest example - CNN:
Facebook has begun a purge of fake accounts and "Likes" as part of a set of site improvements announced last month. The result has been lower numbers on fan pages, including some of the site's most popular ones, but no actual loss of real followers.
It was ever thus....but the more worrying trend to me is the increasing belief that systems that measure this are in some way measuring something valuable - Klout has just got significant investment from Microsoft and it will be linked to Bing - TechCrunch:
You’ll begin seeing Klout scores — the combined measure of a person’s influence across Twitter, Facebook and other social networks — show up in the search engine today. The initial implementation will show Klout scores for friends in the “People Who Know” section of the right-hand column, alongside other third parties already in there, including Twitter and Quora. Search for a hot topic like “Facebook advertising”, you’ll see people with socially-proven expertise showing up. Mouse over an expert’s name, and their Klout score will appear, along with their Klout-determined areas of expertise.
There seems to be a mass amnesia about the GIGO concept, in that these reputation systems' parameters are half bake...sorry, "currently imperfect", and are measuring an easily inflatable and unstable social currency, based on the actions of a relatively small number of noisy vessels. Still, no doubt there will soon be a Klout Engine Optimisation industry (if there isn't one already).
Hopefully these Index systems will become more discerning over time, but i don't think that's where the payoff is today. To me its just another example of the online forces inexorably driving Greshams Law of Information - ie bad information is increasingly driving out good on the "Free" Web.
Tuesday, September 25. 2012
Attended the McKinsey event on Social Business in London Social Media Week yesterday, overall I don't think I heard anything new (the mere fact that McKinsey is sponsoring a session and pushing out a big report tells you Social Business is now over The Chasm, and is something saleable to the blue chips, not an early adoption technology). Even the Elephant idea is old now, we used it in the first "Social Business" talk we did at the first London Social Media week 2 years ago Most of the "ahas" I got, had to do with other implementation lessons (here are some of ours, from our own experience).
The only thing that has changed is that the market now has an £800bn price tag attached to it (a lareg anmount from the rebadging of Enterprise 2.0, I'll warrant). Anyway, here are my notes on "aha's" and "oh really's":
- ROI is a hygiene factor. Early adopters are now getting benefits, but no one can cost justify it early up, so...
The conflict between IP and getting Social benefits
- Social media "theory" today relies too much on trust, fine in consumer systems but motivation to cheat is v high in business, the problem of how to police this dichotomy is still in infancy. "Most people are good" vs "yes but the few who aren't can cause a lot of damage" issues still not clearly addressed, still a conflict between open-ness and IP protection.
"Oft repeated Theories still to be Proven"
- We are in "A world where abundance is possible". Saying something isn't possible is a clarion call to developing world developers everywhere. But what is abundant? Is the abundant worth having? See my notes on the declining quality of what is abundant in my "Gresham's Law of Information" posts
Some Predictions from the Panel
Social Media Winners - Healthcare, Education, Consumer businesses, Electronics
Good news was I saw quite a few faces I haven't seen for ages. And a Free Lunch
Thursday, September 6. 2012
Now this is interesting - Reprieve:
Apple has for the third time this month rejected an iPhone app which alerts the user to a drone attack and to the number of people killed. Drones+ enables those concerned about the CIA’s illegal, unregulated use of these remote-controlled weapons to track the strikes to their handset.
Seems like Apple is squirmning a bit with such "difficult" content:
The reason the Drones are attacking over the Afghanistan border is because thats where the enemy is, and everyone knows that, but nobody wants to say they know that, as the ramifications of officially admitting it are just too uncomfortable for all parties concerned. And Apple is a business, biting hands that feed you is just not going to happen. But its two of the biggest modern trends at loggerheads - mobile robotics vs social media. On the flipside, within the US and other countries there is increasing worry about private drones being used as spies, in which case the various invested interests here would be in alignment.
New technology giveth, and it taketh away. One to watch......
Thursday, August 23. 2012
WSJ notes that many companies are still using the Freemium model, but its not necessarily successful:
If only they'd read us in 2008, when we explained why FreeConomics overall would fail. (I can tell you that presenting ^that^ paper in 2008 at the O'Reilly Berlin conference was "interesting" as Free! was at the time the latest prayer to a cash-strapped bootstrapping startups' needs. In 2012, maybe not so much controversy as to what does and doesn't work - as the article notes:.
Start-ups are attracted to the freemium model because it is "deceptively simple"—lure users with free services until they're hooked, then charge for extras, said Vineet Kumar, a professor at Harvard Business School, who is currently working on a study of the model.
Its that low takeup rate (in 2008 people were casting about numbers like 10% takeup, we thought 5% would be damned lucky) and lack of business customer interest that caps the Freemium strategy in any given niche, and if its a popular niche there is always the next entrant with a bit more VC funding runway left who will still be free when you are trying to charge. And as we predicted, the most likely way Freemium would actually work was via offset funding (Ads, Virtual Goods, Buy-through goods) - ie other revenue streams than the product itself. Successful Apps (which have the best Freemium profile - low setup cost, low marginal distribution cost, minimal support cost) just about all use offset funding of one stripe or another.
Anyway, here is a summary of the knowledge today:
In defence of Ad based Freeconomic advocates however, we were wrong (so far, anyway) when we foresaw that the biggest risk was in using Ad funding to fund the Freemium business - we pointed out in 2008, if you ain't paying for the free lunch, then you are the free lunch (or as it was better put later, users are not the customer). Needing to feed the Ad Monster forces the company into ever more risky data mining activities, and playing ever more loose with customer privacy. We thought that more companies would have had this aspect blow up in their faces by now, but we have been proved naive about how little reward people require in exchange for putting large amounts of their personal data online.
Tuesday, August 14. 2012
Yahoo (blue) and New York Times (yellow) stock prices vs NASDAQ (brown) from 16 July (Courtesy Google Finance)
When Marissa Mayer announced she was joining Yahoo on July 16th, Twitter was largely positive in its praise of her, but Yahoo's stock went down slightly - see graph above (on an announcement of flat results, on a day when the NASDAQ also went down slightly, so the Marissa Effect was at best neutral, maybe slightly negative)
Today, when Mark Thompson announced he was leaving the BBC to joing the New York Times Twitter was more sceptical ("UK Publicly Funded TV/Radio Broadcaster to be responsible for US Commercial Newspaper revenue" was typical) but the stock market price went up a bit.
In recent months Twitter has been hailed as a predictor of a company's future success, even it's stock price:
In the case of YHOO (Twitter +ve, Stock market slight fall) and NYT (Twitter sceptical, stock market slight rise) Twitter and the market are at odds. Be interesting to see where things are in a year or so's time. As the old adage goes, you can't buck the market......
More Broad Stuff
Poll of the Week
Will Augmented reality just be a flash in the pan?
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