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Ending the Tyranny of the Telephone

How do we deal socially with the new technology around us? How do we come up with new norms, wrestle with the loss of privacy, deal with the way technology seems to force us to change the way we live, work and communicate,? It’s not a new question, but I feel we need a new answer. We tend to focus on the intrusiveness of new technologies, and agonise over how they’re changing society, while failing to notice that the old technologies were just as intrusive. In fact, I’d argue that with each advance of communication technologies, they get less intrusive rather than more.  Our problemContinue readingEnding the Tyranny of the Telephone

The Fate of New Acquisitions: Whither or Wither?

By Jeremy Wagstaff I’m writing this on a Windows PC using a great piece of Microsoft software called Windows Live Writer. And that’s only part of the problem. As you no doubt know, Microsoft have announced they bought Skype, the Internet telephony company, for $8.5 billion. You’ll have to look under a lot of stones to find someone who thinks this is a good deal for Microsoft. Skype made $20 million last year on revenue of $860 million, posting a net loss of $69 million because of interest expenses. In short, this is not a company about to fill Microsoft’s coffers with dosh. Whenever aContinue readingThe Fate of New Acquisitions: Whither or Wither?

The Missed Call: The Decade’s Zeitgeist?

By Jeremy Wagstaff (this is a longer version of an upcoming syndicated column.) When people look back at the last decade for a technology zeitgeist they may choose SMS, or the iPod, or maybe even Facebook. Me? I’d choose the cellphone call that rings, briefly, and then is silent. It’s one of those social phenomena that has so embedded itself in the culture that we don’t even notice it. It developed its own syntax, its own meaning, and even shifted the boundaries of cultural mores and social intercourse. Even I didn’t realise it was so widespread until I started researching this article. And yet, atContinue readingThe Missed Call: The Decade’s Zeitgeist?

AboutFacebook

This is a copy of my weekly Loose Wire Service column for newspapers, hence the lack of links. By Jeremy Wagstaff A few weeks ago I talked about Facebook’s brave new world of connecting your profile to all the other bits and pieces you leave on websites. I erred, and I apologize. I thought that people wouldn’t mind the reduction in privacy that this would involve. At least I didn’t think they’d mind as much as a couple of years ago, when Facebook tried something similar. But people did. And Facebook has been forced to respond, simplifying the procedures that allow users to control whoContinue readingAboutFacebook

The End of Boorish Intrusion

(This is a copy of my Loose Wire Sevice column, produced for newspapers and other print publications.) By Jeremy Wagstaff One of the ironies about this new era of communications is that we’re a lot less communicative than we used to be. Cellphones, laptops, iPhones, netbooks, smartphones, tablets, all put us in touching distance of each other. And yet, perversely, we use them as barriers to keep each other out. Take the cellphone for example. Previously, not receiving a phone call was not really an option. The phone would ring from down the hall, echoing through the corridors until dusty lights would go on, andContinue readingThe End of Boorish Intrusion

The New Normal: Constant Flux

(This is a copy of my Loose Wire Sevice column, produced for newspapers and other print publications. Hence the lack of links.) I was reading a blog by a World Banker the other day—now there’s a phrase I wouldn’t have thought I’d use a few years ago—about our old favorite in this column: Twitter. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s good that the World Bank is blogging, and talking about Twitter. And one shouldn’t judge the thinking of the Bank from the words of this World Bank employee—who is not part of the banking part of the Bank. But it does reflect, I suspect, aContinue readingThe New Normal: Constant Flux

Skype’s New Dawn?

We talk about Facebook, twitter, MySpace and Friendster as the big social networks but we keep forgetting one that is far bigger than that: Skype. This from a Bloomberg piece on Skype’s vacillating fortunes: Skype has soared in popularity since it started in 2003 and has about 548 million users worldwide—more than Facebook, MySpace and Twitter combined. Pretty much everyone I know is on Skype—more so than Facebook—and their investment in it is greater: They had to figure out how to install software, set up a microphone, a webcam, create an account, and maybe even buy credit. More importantly, they can actually estimate its valueContinue readingSkype’s New Dawn?

How to Abuse Social Media and Lose Friends

I’m sure they’re not the first to do this, but I really hate it: referral marketing. SingTel, Singapore’s main phone operator, is encouraging Singaporeans to spam their friends via email, twitter, Facebook and SMS. The sad thing is they’ll have to do this a lot to get anywhere. You get 1 point for every tweet post a day, and 1 point for every post on Facebook a day. If you get a friend to sign up for the program you get 10 points. Get in the top five and you get to win a Macbook or an iPhone. Given the top guy already has 742Continue readingHow to Abuse Social Media and Lose Friends

Xoopit, Or Channels vs Trenches

I’ve been a fan of Xoopit so I guess I am a bit surprised that Yahoo! has bought it. Xoopit, for me, was the future of email. Or a part of it. (For those of you who haven’t used it, or those who didn’t “get” it, Xoopit is a plugin for Gmail—for others, too, but Gmail is the best working one—which extends Gmail’s functionlity: better search for attachments, dovetailing with Facebook so you can see who you’re talking to on Gmail etc.) Xoopit, for me, was/is a way to push email beyond being one channel of communication to being part of a single channel ofContinue readingXoopit, Or Channels vs Trenches

Beware the SMS Premium Number Scam

An Indian phone company is warning users against a variation on the premium rate phone scam, whereby users are contacted by email or mail and asked to call a number to confirm winning a prize. The number is a premium number—either local or international—and the user has to sit through several expensive minutes of canned music before finding they haven’t won anything. The Indian variation is that victims are sent an SMS containing the phone number they should call. They’re then charged Rs500 ($10) a minute as they navigate their way through an automated phone tree. Control Enter » Blog Archive » Beware of falseContinue readingBeware the SMS Premium Number Scam

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