Category Archives: Social Networking

Event: The Great Facebook Debate: London, October 17

Date: Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Time: 4:30pm – 9:00pm
Location: BT Centre
Street: City of London, EC1A 7AJ
City/Town: London

Supported by BT and Policy Unplugged, with media partners including New Media Age (NMA), Intruders.TV, NMK, and, The Great Facebook Debate promises to be a great event.

Sign up via the British Interactive Media Association (BIMA) web-site.

Want to avoid using Facebook? There are more details available here.

I’ll be there, with my podcasting kit!

Further References
Facebook Debate registration now open
Facebook Debate, 200 confirmed within 1 day
The Facebook debate

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Sean O’Driscoll mingles with MVPs at the MVP Summit 2007

Captured at the mid-March 2007 MVP Summit, in Seattle, I grabbed Sean and a couple of MVPs for a little bit of video content and some comedy.

Video: Sean O'Driscoll mingles with MVPs at the MVP Summit 2007


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Twitter as a primary means of communication?

Barry and I were just discussing the notion of using Twitter as a means of communication. It seems that we’re not alone:

It’s amazing that in this age of Twitter that people still send email. I hate email. I hate direct Tweets. I hate Facebook messages.

If I want to get a hold of Mike, for instance, I know that writing a Tweet about him will get his attention far faster than email.

Scalable communication.

–Robert Scoble, in Twitter Tweets, public tweets

Very interesting. Very, very interesting. Twitter becomes a primary means of communication. More later.

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Facebook: seek and ye shall find

Over at Facebook, Robert Scoble, recently posted a video asking this question:

If you search for “Bill Gates” on Facebook you’ll find lots of entries. But, let’s say you were looking for the guy who started Microsoft. How could you tell which one is the “real” Bill Gates?

According to one comment on the video, your search is likely to lead you here: And, to answer your question: “no, I didn’t send a friend request to Bill”. That’s not to say we wouldn’t get on, I’m sure we would…I’d like to podcast with Bill, but that’s for another time!

Now Robert hasn’t told us anything that we couldn’t of worked out ourselves, therefore what he has done isn’t illegal. But what it does demonstrate is that even if you wish to remain anonymous on a social networking site such as Facebook, simply by looking at your circle of friends, an individual can easily find you. That’s not to say all social networking sites are like this. LinkedIn, for example, promotes the notion of “introductions”, whereby one of your “connections” can introduce you to one of theirs – you are unable to see the profile of the person you are being introduced to. Facebook, at the time of writing, suffers from poor privacy because I can easily view my friends friends and their friends too. With big names like Bill Gates, as Robert kindly demonstrates, I can easily work out who might know somebody and within a few clicks, voila, I have the person I am looking for. It’s just too easy.

Elsewhere in this blog I have already discussed the security concerns raised by the social networking sites. Microsoft’s Steve Lamb has picked up on it too, spreading his ammo over four posts relating to Facebook applications, Facebook friend requests, Facebook privacy and in the same domain, his mother’s maiden name. Clearly Steve is as worried about the opportunities that social networking sites are providing for would-be criminals as I am. There’s so much personal information available on the Internet already…now it’s just propagating as the masses swarm to the social networking sites leaving all sorts of personal information littered over a plethora of profiles. It’s a big problem.

My foray into the social networking world primarily revolves around Facebook (others are under consideration) and what its “value add” is in terms of Community. It has mileage, for sure. It’s a good thing, privacy and security issues aside. I do like it. But I have lots of questions: How is it affecting our daily lives? What are people getting from Facebook itself and from Facebook Groups? Why are there so many social networking sites? These are all questions I hope to answer over the coming months, but in the meantime, please feel free to comment about your experiences in the social networking world.

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009 – Community Podcast – Barry Dorrans: Win a ticket to TechEd

Yesterday, I managed to corner Barry Dorrans and convince him to let me record a podcast with him! Barry didn’t take much convincing…and as he admits himself, I took his podcast virginity!

Recorded live, in The White Hart near the Tottenham Court Road tube station. There were other folks in the pub, they didn’t know we were podcasting so you can hear them in chatting away in the background…apologies for that.

We talk about social networking, social networking fatigue, Facebook security, Cardspace, portability of cards, USB/smart card authentication, secure certificates, hardware authentication, BBC iPlayer (we touch on DRM for a second), UAC, Windows Vista, DDD5, conferences in Ireland, social security numbers, banks calling you and a whole host of other things. Barry’s a humorous guy who manages to inject that humour into this podcast!

Download the podcast here. Transcript to follow.

I have a new podcast feed available too, you can subscribe to it here – and it works with Apple’s iTunes!

Related posts:
Podcasting – great advice
001 – Community Podcast – Dave McMahon, NxtGenUG
002 – Community Podcast – Ravi Nar – VistaSquad
003 – Community Podcast – Guy Smith-Ferrier – DotNetDevNet
004 – Community Podcast – Barry Carr, Gary Short, Hamish Hughson – North East of Scotland User Group
005 – Community Podcast – GeekDinner/DDD5 – Adrian Sutcliffe
006 – Community Podcast – DDD5 – Mike Scott – Gary Short
007 – Community Podcast – GeekDinner/DDD5 – Four Cool Guys
008 – Community Podcast – Post-GeekDinner – Ben Hall – Chris Gaskell

This podcast:

Want to win a TechEd ticket? Try your luck here: NxtGenUG

Charteris plc
Robert Scoble

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Facebook, insecurity woes…

I know that I am not the first person to spot this anomaly: at the time of writing, it is possible to be whoever you want to be over at Facebook.

Take for example a quick Facebook search (login required) for Tony Blair. Again, at the time of writing, it revealed no less than 99 Tony Blairs, many of whom use photographs of the UK’s ex-Prime Minister. Here’s the profile link to the first item in the screenshot below. And it seems that even Cherie is in on the act too.

But it gets worse. It seems that this Tony Blair is friendly with a certain Queen Elizabeth II:

Whilst this impersonation issue is probably widely known already, as the profusion of impersonators over at Facebook demonstrate, what problems does this pose for the social networking world? Well, if you happen to share a name with a big name celebrity, such as George Bush, Bill Gates or Tony Blair to name but a few, then there is a chance that your social networking user experience is going to be somewhat different from those with less popular names!

I would imagine that you’ll get more folks interested in joining your social network (becoming a friend). Facebook has the concept of a “Wall”, people can “write on your wall”: it’s likely that your wall is going be the subject of graffiti or vandalism if you share your name with a less than popular counterpart. Of course, the more socially popular namesakes might attract a better circle of wannabe friends.

A lot of social networking folks have their “profiles” publicly visible. If you have a famous name, it’s quite likely that you’ll have to keep your profile private, which probably isn’t a bad thing (more about this in a later posting). I’ve just checked a handful of the Bill Gates and Frank Skinner folks over at Facebook, a lot of them have their profiles closed (i.e. private).

This is a topic that George Galloway seems to be well aware of. He has what amounts to a disclaimer on his Facebook profile:

This is George Galloway – all the other profiles purporting to be me are not the Real Deal! I’ll be on this page myself as often as my commitments allow but most of the time the page will be run by comrades. Further information about my activities can be found on my website and my Myspace account

Galloway’s attempt to add some credibility to his Facebook profile is still not enough, in my opinion. Granted it uses language that I would expect him to use (“comrades”) and it makes reference to an external site that may provide further credibility. MySpace is yet another social networking site, so the credibility offering may be reduced – having said that, I’ve just checked Galloway’s MySpace site and it’s littered with the stuff he rants on about (there aren’t many folks who would want to impersonate him to that level, trust me).

So, at the time of writing, it would seem that we must take care with the social networking sites. Until these sites provide some form of credibility such that the person you are adding to your friends list is who they say they are. Indeed, we must also think about our own registrations on these sites – the time will come when we have to provide further evidence of who we are, something that goes beyond simply reply to a verification e-mail. In the meantime, think carefully about who you adding to your friends list, consider their e-mail address…Tony Blair, for example, is unlikely to have an e-mail address at Hotmail or GMail…

Related Posts
Facebook – how honest are you?
Scoble notes the profusion of social networking sites

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Facebook for .NET?

Via The Moth, I was interested to see Peter Foot (mobile device guru) is working on a Facebook .NET CF codebase. It seems that Facebook is aiming to be an all-encompassing, omnipresent and accessible social networking site. This is probably the key to such a site: accessibility. Users don’t want to be forced into using a regular sized PC (other types of computer are available) in order to update their presence information.

Follow the progress via here.

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Facebook – how honest are you?

I noticed on Steve Lamb’s blog, the day after I fired off a Facebook invite to him, that he has some security concerns with the Facebook registration mechanism. And rightly so. Were it not for a large element of honesty, it’s remarkably easy for me to sign up to Facebook and pretend to be somebody else.

Steve’s right to question this issue, it and many others have been on my mind for a while now: why do we have so many social networking sites and why do people sign up to them? What’s the attraction? What do we get back from them? How are they improving the quality of our lives? Are they adding any value to the community?

And if you don’t believe this, how do you know that this person is who they say they are? I’m sure that there are clues…but I could easily upload a picture of a celebrity, use their name and basically pretend to be them. Now there’s an experiment! Incidentally, both Steve and I would appear to be “one person removed” from the aforementioned person! [Update, it seems that Steve knows the aforementioned celeb! Or does he?]

Craig Cockburn also has similar concerns:

Did you know that if you upload your date of birth, hometown, occupation and High School info to a social networking site such as this one that you are giving a potential thief more than enough to commit identity fraud?

Anyway, I’m still writing the blog post that I mentioned here, expect this topic to be raised in that post too.

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