February 27, 2009

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 6:59 pm

Click to leave the digital space.

February 23, 2009

Google is your friend

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 4:38 pm

Users of Google Friend Connect can set up social networking sites and add gadgets to their own pages (see e.g. my Google Friend Connect Test page). The drawbackl is that the profiles of your “Google Friends” are stored on the Google servers. As a result Google knows the social network of a user, even if they don’t control the content posted on her site.

Compared to Facebook Google Friend Connect may have some advantages:

  • Google is not responsible for the copyright of content posted by users (instead of Google site owners will receive takedown notices for illegal content)
  • Google Friend Connect is independent from the service that provides a user’s identifier (accepts users from Yahoo, Facebook, OpenID,….)
  • Social networking functionality can be easily integrated on existing websites

What counts for google is the knowledge about a user’s connections. Since Google Friend Connect monitors the user identifiers, google can assign a community to a known user. In the digital space communities dominate brands. Google’s business model is based on selling knowledge about social networks to advertisers of branded products.

Google Friend Connect may be the logical progression of social media. However, I predict that it’s just an intermediate step. Soon there will be an open standard for user profiles. Once users are able to manage the connections on their own devices their social networks will become more private again.

February 14, 2009

Liberté Egalité = free don’t care

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 10:53 pm

JCDecaux provides cities with free public furnishing (e.g. bus stops, displays). In exchange the cities grant the right to commercialize these spaces. The BBC reported that “thefts punctured the Paris bike scheme” because some kids used JCDecaux’ Vélib bikes “pour le freeride“. JCDecaux’s director claimed that “a private business cannot handle it alone, especially as it’s a problem of public order.”


It is unfortunate that these things happen, but I doubt that calling for law and order will solve the problem. The cost for additional police or better locks would only increase the cost. My recommendations to JCDecaux would be:

  • Either circulate less beautiful bikes – I am sure that many Vélib bikes are stolen because they have such a beautiful French design. I would love to ride a Vélib in Berlin…
  • Or host “Vélib freeriding contests” for the kids. If the community can regard the Vélib bikes as their property they will be less inclined to destroy them

A propos vandalism: it’s not only a problem in France. The German call-a-bikes are less beautiful than the Vélibs. Still some idiots destroy them, as the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported. After all, I see many people riding call-a-bikes in Berlin and I believe that these bike sharing schemes are successful and economically sustainable.

call a bike

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