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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Making the world a better place one tweet at a time

If you ever wanted to understand why Twitter has become such a phenomenon but may have thought it was just a medium for the desperate talking about the dull, then read this article on The Telegraph web site.

Twestival: improving the world with social networks – Telegraph http://ow.ly/oMoK

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Recruitment in the Social Media Age

Big business connects with candidates through social media

Big business connects with candidates through social media

Some time ago, I wrote an entry about traditional recruitment companies facing the challenge of showing their value to employers when it is now so easy to use the internet to find potential employees through services like ‘Monster’ or LinkedIn. It was an entry which created more people to comment on my blog than had done for some time.

I read an article today on ‘computerweekly.com‘ which highlighted an example of how large companies like Microsoft and KPMG have recruited technical staff through LinkedIn and Second Life and saved themselves tens of thousands of pounds in the process.

Furthermore, companies like Accenture are using Facebook to attract potential employees to their business through the use of games. For a fraction of the cost of placing advertisements in newspapers, major organisations are now able to connect with candidates and present themselves in a less formal manner than more traditional methods.

Meaningful Web 3.0

web 3.0

Web 3.0 is about meaning

Who would be Gordon Brown after the last few days in British politics? He might be thinking about how he would like to be making decisions which will have a dramatic and positive impact upon the electorate’s lives rather than worrying about the less than spotless behaviour of some of his MP’s and their expenses.

It would be interesting to have dinner with him this weekend. You would doubt that he would be in a position to be very cheerful. Except that he has invited Tim Berners-Lee to dinner this weekend at Chequers, where it is likely that he is going to be talking about the future of the world wide web.

What is the future of the web? Many people may know about what is called ‘web 2.0’ which has seen the web moving from a one-way conversation in its early days to a two-way conversation which enabled us to contribute to the web. Web 2.0 has seen the massive growth of services like Facebook and Twitter where we can self-publish.

Despite the amazing ability for everyone to publish their thoughts, to find information through Google or to publish their videos for the world to see, we are starting to stretch the current web structure to its limits. For instance, searching on Google limits your query to the search engine finding words which you typed into the search box which will bring up relevant web sites which have those words in them.

But the words (or keywords) which Google found in the web site might not actually bring up a web page which is useful to you. The words in it might not be related to your query and, therefore, your search results are meaningless because the search engine looks for words and not for the meaning of the words. e.g. If you type in the sentence “The sky has the colour blue” Google will look for web sites with those words in them but it may not connect the words together to seek the meaning of that sentence.

This is one the most important aspects of where the web will go in the next few months and years. Web 3.0 is about meaning. When you type a question into a search engine such as “Why is my left foot larger than my right foot?” search engines will be able to understand the question and not just search for the words in a web page. The search results will bring up web sites which answer the question and which also make suggestions on what you can do about it if it is a problem, rather than bringing up a load of web pages just about feet. 

This is called the ‘semantic web’. And this is what Tim Berners-Lee, Dame Wendy Hall and their colleagues have been developing for a long time. The UK Government will soon require that all of their published information to be described with something called ‘RDF’ (Resource Description Framework) so that all their data and information will be linked and so we will be able to find meaningful information more easily than we can today. 

So, cheer up, Gordon Brown. The freedom of information which has opened up a few weeks of trouble for you will seem insignificant to what you and Tim will be discussing this weekend. You will be making the first steps to making the web that we know now, which is about masses of information, into a connected world of knowledge and meaning.

Twitter? Don’t worry, Dear. It’s Just a Tool!

Tools are very useful but not interesting at dinner parties 

 

Tools are very useful but not interesting at dinner parties

Last weekend  I saw my wife sawing off a branch of a plum tree she was pruning back with a saw designed to cut metal. She was managing to get through the branch but it was slow work. I handed her our bow saw and she finished the job more easily.

Furthermore, under my staircase is a big black box which contains most of my tools. There is a mix of spanners, pliers, screwdrivers, hammers and saws. One of these tools has a largish, orange handle and looks like a screwdriver for small screws.

In fact, the tool is a bradawl and it is used for making small holes in wood into which you drive a screw.  The bradawl is not very good as a screwdriver because it was not designed for that even though it looks like one.

Now, before you switch off, this is not a post about the contents of my toolbox or a rant about women and tools. Far from it.

Yesterday, there was an article on the a BBC blog which was talking about Oprah Winfrey signing up to Twitter and there was a big battle between her and some other media chap I had never heard of until yesterday for who was going to be the top celebrity with the number of ‘followers’ to their tweets.

What was interesting were the comments (of which I was one commentator) from readers. The first commentator stated that ‘TWITTER IS STUPID’. A later comment talked about lazy journalists using it and businesses using it for cheap research. Another comment said the discussion about Twitter was not adding to the sum of human knowledge. Fair point.

I used to be a cynical about Twitter. But, being cynical about Twitter is a bit like being cynical about bradawls. Imagine this statement- “BRADAWLS ARE STUPID!” It sounds odd, doesn’t it? Bradawls are extremely good for making holes in wood but they are not very good screwdrivers.

Talk about Twitter is dull, just as talking about screwdrivers or hammers is dull. But seeking how to use a tool is very useful, just as learning that a bow saw is better for chopping off branches from a tree than a saw designed to cut metal.

And talk of Twitter being used by lazy journalists is like saying that farmers who use tractors for ploughing fields should be ashamed of themselves for not doing it by hand. And what is the difference between a business using Twitter for cheap research and a business not using it and buying expensive research? It might be your job.

Twitter is a very good tool but I can’t say I am going to be talking about it at dinner parties. I will be helping clients find more customers with it. I will be using it to find work for myself. But, as with anything, a better version may well come along. And until that comes along, I will continue to use Twitter as a tool, as I will continue to use my bradawl to make small holes in wood.