Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for October 1st, 2009

Social Network Analysis: Getting to Know You

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I don’t do Mafia Wars on Facebook.


I would, but if I did, I’d probably never do anything else.  But it seems like a whole bunch of you DO do Mafia Wars.

Let me know how that goes, I hope you don’t get yourself whacked.

What I did do last night was the Friend Facts application.

I did that one not because everybody’s doing it (although I noticed several of my FB friends doing it right after I did it, and I’d done it right after one of my friends had done it, and that’s how a Facebook phenomenon is made).

No, I did Friend Facts because I thought I might learn something interesting about myself and my friends.  And I did.

I learned that 44% of my FB friends are female, and 56% are male (definitely gonna have to work on equalizing that ratio).

I learned that 43% of them are single, and 57% are taken.

I learned that 80% of them are Democrats, and 20% are Republicans.

I have FB friends in 12 countries and 25 states, and the most common zodiac sign among my friends is Virgo (47 friends!).

Our collective favorite band is U2, and our collective favorite TV show is “Lost.”

And, EVERYBODY loves “Pulp Fiction.”

But while everybody is listening to all this rock and roll from U2, and catching up on all those episodes of “Lost,” everybody also seems to maintain that their favorite activity is “Reading.”

Uh, huh.

So let me recap: In Turbo’s FB circles, the males can take the females, but just barely.  The significantly attached can take the singles.  The Dems can take the Repubs.  And they can all do it while listening to U2, watching the latest episode of “Lost,” and while reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Turbos’ friends’ favorite book).

Rock on.

Turbo Friend Facts Facebook Application Results

Turbo Friend Facts Facebook Application Results

Though this is a most simplistic example of social network analysis via Facebook, I think the actual potentiality of such research is extraordinary.

And, to be frank, it’s quite terrifying at the same time.

Who we are friends with, who we associate with, who we work with, who we connect to…all are increasingly, good or bad, reflections of who we are.  Or, as the case may be, who we are not.

And the inferences that can be made through such social network alliances might ought be…well…quite frankly, none of your business.

Take “Project Gaydar” at MIT, where two students banded together to better understand what social networks were unwittingly revealing to the Facebook world and beyond.

What could, in fact, the most basic transactions reveal via Facebook.

As it turns out, a lot.  They found that simply by looking at a person’s online friends, they could predict whether an individual was likely to be gay.

According to a Boston Globe article on the effort, the researchers did this with a software program that looked at the gender and sexuality of a person’s friends and, using statistical analysis, made a prediction.  And more often than not, they were right.

In another example cited in the same story, Murat Kantarcioglu, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Dallas found he could make solid predictions about a person’s political affiliation by analyzing 167K profiles and 3 million links between people from the DFW network.

They used three methods to predict a person’s political views: One prediction model using only profile details.  Another using only friendship links.  And the third a combination of the two.

Care to guess which one worked best?  Uh, yeah, the third.

The implications of even these two simple but revealing examples of social network analysis are profound.

Essentially, you can reveal only the most basic, seemingly non-intimate details of yourself online via a social network, and through a fairly simple analytical routine, suddenly find yourself standing in the spotlight with company you may not wish the world you know to keep.

Or, as former Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy said once upon a time during the late 1990s, “You have zero privacy…get over it.”

For the longest time, I didn’t want to believe him, but I’m starting to think he was right.

So what’s a gregarious social networker seeking just a little privacy to do?

Well, remember everybody’s favorite TV show?  You could join Jack and Kate and the “Lost” gang out in the South Pacific somewhere, as I’m pretty sure that countdown computer never revealed a Facebook screen.

Or, you can just decide not to ever go online again, but even then, you’ve left a lot of online digital footprints that will be carved in the Google cache in perpetuity.

Probably the best thing to do is be proud of however you are, whoever you are, wherever you are.

You may, in fact, be like Howard Beale from the original “Network,” the one that appeared on movie screens in 1976 and exclaimed: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!”

Well, yes, in fact, you will take it, and everybody in your network’s gonna know about it, whether you come right out and say it or not.

Written by turbotodd

October 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Look Into the Camera

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Merger Monday has evolved into Transaction Thursday.

As the Chinese Communist Party celebrates its 60th birthday today in Beijing (only invited guests could physically attend the celebration…all the other Beijingers had to watch the Party on TV), Cisco bought Norwegian video conferencing provider, Tandberg, for around $3B U.S.

If you’ve never seen a Cisco TelePresence suite, it really is the next best thing to being there.

Tandberg provides similar capabilities, with The New York Times pointing out that that it sells smaller-sized, cheaper conferencing units, suggesting that Cisco is readying itself to take video conferencing downmarket to conference rooms everywhere.

Tandberg’s range of video conferencing gear includes those systems that can sit on desks or be used with personal computers.

Does this mean I will soon no longer be able to work in my pajamas?

Quite possibly.  Maybe I can find a PJ top that looks like a tuxedo.

Which I can then wear via videoconference in New York City, where, today and tomorrow, IBM, in partnership with NYC and The City University, as well as other organizations from the public, private, and voluntary sectors, will be convening to explore how cities in the Americas can become smarter.

Hosted by IBM Chairman and CEO Samuel J. Palmisano, the SmarterCities NYC forum will continue the conversation started in Berlin in June to explore new approaches to regional partnership as well as evaluate frameworks for investment and review the tools that are helping our cities meet 21st century realities.

You can learn more about the event here.

Continuing with the video conferencing meme, just yesterday, IBM announced new services that will help companies around the world improve their own global communications, reduce their carbon footprints, and save costs on travel expenses.

For the first time, IBM is delivering a managed service to make it easy to implement and operate a video communications solution enabling smarter collaboration between employees, customer and partners around the world.

The new IBM Converged Communications Services – Managed Telepresence service includes design, implementation, concierge and help desk, integration with client calendaring application, remote operations, and maintenance and support.

IBM will provide telecommunications for this service by leveraging its partnerships with telecommunications providers worldwide, and technology for this service using Cisco’s TelePresence technology.

IBM Global Financing will also offer flexible billing and payment options for this solution.  Learn more about the new Managed Telepresence service here.

So, don’t be surprised when you see me wearing a tuxedo in our next video conference…and try not to laugh too hard when you think about the rest of my remote wardrobe (I’m sensing a major new clothing line opportunity here).

Written by turbotodd

October 1, 2009 at 2:40 pm

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