Sony Network Breach and Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

The first law suit that hit Sony after the network breach comes hours after it revealed users yesterday that the Playstation Network and Qriocity experienced unauthorised access between the 17 and 19 April. The suit was filed on the grounds that Sony did not take reasonable care of its users data and that it took the company too long to inform its clients of the breach.

The law suit happens at the same time that Barack Obama is pushing a National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. The White House is worried that economic growth is being slowed by the trust that people have of Internet services. Breaches like that of Sony surely do not help to secure trust and in fact harm the whole climate… but could it have been avoided? Is it true, as is claimed by the law suit filed by Kristopher Johns, that Sony did not take “reasonable care to protect, encrypt, and secure the private and sensitive data of its users”? Whatever the case, I agree with Barack Obama’s statement that enhancing trustworthiness and privacy will boost businesses’ and customers’ confidence and lead to growth and innovation, online and across the economy in general.

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Share iPhone 4 Internet connection with your iPad

Have you tried to tether your iPhone 4 internet connection to share it with your iPad? It’s not possible. But now that iOS 4.3 software update is out and downloadable through iTunes, iPhone 4 users are offered a new function called Personal Hotspot. Apple’s website says… “Enable Personal Hotspot and share your mobile data connection with your Mac, PC, iPad or other Wi-Fi-capable device. You can share your connection with up to five devices at once over Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB.” Thanks Apple…. it’s been a long while coming but we’re all grateful that this basic feature is finally here.

In my post on iPad 2 of the 14 March I had mentioned the Piper Jaffray survey that found that 65% of those who bought an iPad 2 on its US launch date already owned an iPhone. Now, I ask, will any iPhone user buy an iPad 2 with 3G? Probably not. It will be interesting to look at the trends of purchases following Apple’s release of Personal Hotspot on iOS 4.3.

How to build a succesful Social Network

In my post Social Media Campaign Fundamentals I spoke about how to start the journey and how to monitor the success of that journey. Enhancing the chances of success of that journey is the purpose of this blog post. A journey in social media is as succesful as one’s “social” capabilities – the art of living together or enjoying life in communities or organized groups[1].

Let’s figure that you start a Facebook page and start posting interesting content. Naturally, you will speak about with your friends and they will come and visit. They will like your page. And they will return every now and again to monitor what you’re saying, because your activity alerts others when you post. This is presumably not the only thing you want because as we go along in time only the friends who are really interested in your area of activity will come and visit.

What you want is social networking and thus, to put together the largest possible following from the extended community around you. This is where your friends, and then their friends, bring others and your online community extends beyond those people that know you directly. Use your activity in the community to indirectly bring in members of that community to you by linking to your page and building your own succesful social network:

  1. Do not spam or harass people as this is counterproductive.
  2. If you are active in the online community already, it’s easier. But if you aren’t, you will easily integrate especially if you are already known offline. Join the online communities that matter – ask yourself and your friends which are the relevant existing pages or groups on Facebook; people you should link with on LinkedIn and Twitter; blogs that already discuss the subject.
  3. Become active by commenting positively on other people’s activity, contributing useful content you find on the web, and posting links to your blog (if you set one up). You may be recognised as an expert in your physical community and this gives you an edge on a newcomer to the area because you will know how to tackle an argument and building a followup. It will be a challenge to extend or replicate this on the Internet, just like building a community of followers on any open broadcast medium like TV. Be selective and sensitive to the nature of a blog when deciding what to say in your contribution to it because you are doing this to attract (not push away) people to your own page or blog.

Good luck building your social network!


[1] Definition thanks to Princeton WorldNet – a lexical database for English

Twitter puffs as Barack Obama quits!

Barack has put up the barricade and quit smoking! Back in June 2009, Obama had admitted to the occasional puff. But now, according to wife Michelle, he’s been clean for about year. Congratulations Mr. President! But what does this have to do with a blog that talks about what’s happening in the digital world?

Michelle Obama broke the news of the anniversary of the last puff to reporters at the Whitehouse yesterday. The BBC and the Guardian reported it in the UK along with many other papers. Google grabbed it and put it on Google News. But I got to know through Twitter… as literally thousands of people found this event to be of great value to their own cause of quitting smoking. I just searched ‘Obama smoking’ in Twitter and a few minutes ago somebody said “Yayyy Obama quit smoking. If the president can do it, anyone can. :)” And I guess that Melissa’s 860+ followers  will be pleased to share that point of view. So, thank you Michelle for bringing such good example from your household to the world at large. Twitter did the job of bringing it to the masses – even those who don’t care about this type of news. Power of the internet.

Twitter now has over 190 million users (source: Quantcast as quoted in Wikipedia). It’s users are said to generate about 65 million tweets – short, 140 character messages which can be broadcast or directed specifically to other users. I looked up the more successful tweeters of all times and Lady Gaga has over 8 million followers with just over 600 tweets in the last three years. Lady Gaga’s followers increased by over 10 thousand a day ever since the 21st January! So how does this compare to Barack Obama? He follows less people (145,000 when compared to Gaga’s 700,000) and gets less followers (6.6 million). He also tweets more. Yet that’s comparing an American President to one of the top performing pop performers who has sold over 55 million records!

Priority Inbox in Google’s gmail

I write about user experience all the time.. and so Google’s gmail deserves applause. The internet experience has just become better with the personalisation offered by Priority Inbox. It sifts through the emails that come in and brings forward the ones which are truly important. It learns with you and you can help it learn.

Check it out…

People always need to know more… is Facebook always going to be enough?

People in general need to know just about enough about anything that surrounds them. Some of this is called is gossip, some known as current affairs and some as networking. It makes knowledgeable people interesting. It makes it easy for this lot of interesting people to have a thousand friends on Facebook – connecting with everybody, sharing photos, making events popular by attending them and YouTube videos a success because they post them on their walls.

Facebook Creator ZUCKERBERG (Photo by Andrew Feinberg - Everystockphoto.com)
Facebook Creator ZUCKERBERG (Photo by Andrew Feinberg - Everystockphoto.com)

A decade ago, the Internet was nicknamed the Information Superhighway. The world talked about building an Information Society. Companies talked about how many Knowledge Workers they employed. In the world we live in, you don’t ask somebody who comes in for an interview if they have Internet at home. You don’t ask if they use email, if they’re familiar with how to write a document on a computer, or if they are on Facebook. People don’t send in typewritten CVs through the mail. They apply online, or send a PDF through email.

At the same rate that people have become more connected to the Internet, computing resources have also become ever so more accessible. Using computing power to extract intelligence has become infintely more possible. We now need not think how much such power we need: we can hook to a grid that gives us much as we need, when we need it. Virtualised computing resources, available on demand, are sometimes referred to as cloud computing. The information superhighway has become a reality not because you can Google up just about anything, but because all this data is now connected. There is also so much computing resource that we can crunch it into the useful information we need, when we need it.

So, begs the question: When will this infinite computing resource be used to connect data and people intelligently? When will this be done so that it matters not where the data is stored, what email account you used to upload it, whether you tagged that person as a friend on Facebook or whether it’s on the Googlemail contacts?

Today: You meet somebody at a party. A month or so later, you need a graphic designer and you remember that the person you met at the party was a freelance designer with her experience at one of the big publishing houses in Milan. You remember just the first name: Inga. So you go to Facebook, look up the friend who organised the party. You look up his friends, and in it you find Inga. Then you add her as a friend. When she accepts the friendship request, you can send her a message asking to meet and discuss the project.

Tomorrow: You meet Inga at the party. A month later you need a graphic designer – quick – and you think she might be interested. So you start composing a new email… “Hi Inga, we met at Mike’s housewarming party…”. Email will match which Mike in all your contacts had an event called “housewarming” to which both you and an ‘Inga’ were invited. Privacy settings permitting, email will immediately connect you with Inga and offer to add her to your contacts. Inga has shared some photos of the party which are intelligently matched with your profile picture: you are prompted to validate them and if you confirm that it’s you in the photo they will also be published to your wall.

In February’s post about Usability I wrote about digital natives who need product usability to evolve and adapt to their expectations. Facebook has stopped being innovative and, at this rate, even if it now prides 500,000-plus users, it will be replaced by any future social engine that will make it possible for information to be truly ubiquitous. The next big thing will be the Facebook that is also a Google of what I call common intelligence.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Juan Pablo for the inspiration.

Vaseline Facebook App Lightens Skin

Over 17% of the world’s population live in India: no wonder Vaseline’s skin lightening Facebook app hit the news when it was launched through Bolywood actor Shahid Kapoor. Another company’s attempt at social media usage.

Vaseline Men Be Prepared launched by Shahid Kapoor

The 29-year old Shahid wears the well-groomed look of the superstar of Bolywood and I wonder if that’s Vaseline’s doing. But Vaseline promises Indian men that just 1 minute a day wearing the new Vaseline Men will result in a fairer spotless face. Not only just spotless, but also lighter skinned. And if ma and baba can’t afford that cream for you there’s a Facebook app to help show how you’d look if they did! The app from Vaseline promises to do this to remove the spots and the lighten the skin on your Facebook photos!

The wall of the app has the oldest post dating to 1st April and, if that’s ehn it was launched, it’s hardly a good day to launch a promise like that!

In 2009, Shaadi.com – the online matrimonial service – ran a poll for 12,000 people revealing that skin colour was the most important criteria when choosing husband or wife in 3 of the northern Indian states. You wouldn’t blame Vaseline to think that it was a good idea to help boost the Rahuls, Amits and Farouks hopes of finding a wife to take home to mama. But the Indian men didn’t share Vaseline’s view… not on Facebook’s wall at least. 7/35 reviewers think it’s amazing, but most of the others think it’s  “racist”. This hasn’t stopped the Facebook app getting close to eight thousand monthly active users.