Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tech News - Members Blast Facebook.

Ever since i started a new category on technological news to keep up with the rapid changes in the Web, traffic had bumped up and it seems to be well received by readers. So, here is this week's update on the latest tech news :

1. Members Blast Facebook
Users of Facebook are up in arms over the social networking site's decision to make money from its success by plastering users' photos on advertisements for products that they like. Discussion groups have sprung up lambasting the company for selling out its users to the highest bidders, like Coca-Cola, Sony and Blockbuster.
The site, started in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg as a way to keep in touch with his classmates, has exploded into a global social networking phenomenon with more than 54 million users. The 23-year-old is now trying to turn those users into dollars and had sold a 1.6 per cent stake to Microsoft for US$240 million, valuing the site at a staggering US$15 billion.

His latest "social advertising" strategy will turn its users unwittingly into cyber ambassadors for commercial brands. The new strategy will allow businesses to build custom-designed "pages" and users can become "fans" of a company's page which means any interaction with that brand will be broadcast to their Facebook friends. Users are upset because they know about the site's plans via a very brief blog posting only when they logged in.

Privacy experts says what Facebook is doing amounted to massive invasion of privacy with some indicating that users can sue Facebook for damages if their photos are being used for advertising purposes without their consent. My take is that Facebook is cashing in on its popularity with minimum consideration for users who have made it the success it is today. It has also broken the illusion that online activities are not being monitored and might just face a rebellion from users.

2. Twine
The buzz words today are "Google it" and "Facebook me" but in future you might say "Twine it". Twine is a new online service that promises to automatically collect and organise all your information, like contacts, e-mail and even YouTube videos in a way that makes sense.

Complete series
Using Semantic Web - Web 3.0 technologies, Twine is now in a closed beta trial now and promises to manage your personal data better than say, Facebook does now. These technologies have the ability to sieve through all the information, sort out the relationships between them and then display it in a manner useful to you, all without your intervention.

As an example, Facebook currently reminds you of birthdays and hooked you up with people of the same interests but Twine promises to be smarter, for example, it can tell the difference between J.P.Morgan the person and J.P. Morgan the firm. Being one of the first to launch a commercial application using Web 3.0 technologies, watch out for the name "Twine".

3. Amazon e-Book Reader
Online book retailer Amazon has recently launched its own electronic book reader called Kindle. The paperback-sized device can stored up to 200 books and sells for US$399. Kindle comes with a 6-inch black-and-white display with a memory of 256 MB that allows users to download e-books onto it. At present, more than 90,000 titles including bestsellers are available for Kindle.

With its steep price, the reception for Kindle might be luke-warm as it has only one function - reading and does not allow for surfing the Web or organising your address book like a personal digital assistant, which can be brought for about the same price. And most PDAs can already download and read electronic books. Kindle also lack international appeal as it currently supports the EVDO wireless broadband network which is available only in America which means all transactions must be done within the United States.

There are also issues with users comfort and avid readers like me, would prefer the touch and feel of a book when i read and e-readers are at best, cold comfort.
4. Spidey Climbs Onto The Web
Here is something for fans of Marvel Comics. In a major move to go digital, Marvel Comics is putting up Spiderman and Captain Planet comics on the Web, with back issues of popular comics like X-Men and Fantastic Four slated to go online soon.

Subscribers can access Marvel's library from the comfort of their homes and using a Flash player, read the comics on their PC screens. The service is expected to cost about US$9.99 per month but new comics, however, will only be available 6 months after they hit the shops and fans can only read them, not download them. Their rival, DC Comics, already has Batman and Superman online.

Just like what is happening in the music industry, it is inevitable that comics move from paper to the digital realm and will be appealing to a whole new generation of wired-up kids who do everything online. A bit of romance is loss though for the many fans who grew up collecting rare copies and storing them in acid-proof containers for posterity.

5. Eye For A Spy
Recruitment of spies has just enter cyberspace with British intelligence service, GCHQ, the high-tech surveillance arm, saying it will embed job ads within video games in a bid to attract Internet-savy graduates. Ads like "Careers in British Intelligence" will be place in games like Enemy Territory and Splinter Cell Double Agent and will be fed to computers and Microsoft Xbox consoles connected to the Internet. Guess what? The advertising agency responsible for the ads is New York-based Massive, which was brought over by Microsoft last year.

*Related post :
- Tech News - Google Opens Up Orkut To Developers

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