Awesomeness Fatigue

This is a commentary piece I’ve recorded for the BBC World Service. I call it awesomeness fatigue – the exhaustion that comes from being bombarded with stories, videos and pictures designed to amaze you. The problem is not that they don’t work: it’s that they’re too good. In the past week or so I’ve watched …

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The rebirth of RSS?

This is a column written for the BBC World Service (here’s the show.). Views are my own, and do not represent those of my employer, Thomson Reuters.  I’ve been wrong about a lot of things, but I’ve been particularly wrong about something called RSS. RSS is a simple standard, dreamed up during the halcyon days …

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Social Media Phishing Hazards

As usual, I feel we’re not being smart enough about the way that scammers improve their skills. We demand everything to be easier, and they just reap the winnings. What they’re exploiting is the fact that we use a lot of different services (twitter, email, Facebook), and services within services (those which use those primary …

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Locking Users In the Smart Way

I was directed to this excellent piece, A Victim Treats His Mugger Right : NPR, via Facebook last night.  And it made me realise how publishers don’t make the most of that kind of referral. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that nowadays we tend to get more and more of our reading from peer suggestions …

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The Big Boys’ Mea Culpas

I find it interesting that companies can get things so wrong. News Corp just sold off Myspace for a fraction of its original price today, effectively admitting it didn’t get social media. Microsoft famously came late to the table with the Internet, and then has been late to more or less every party since. It’s …

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Gay Lesbian Syrian Blogger? Or a Bearded American from Edinburgh?

Here’s a cautionary tale about how hard it is to verify whether someone is who they say they are: Syrian lesbian blogger is revealed conclusively to be a married man Tom MacMaster’s wife has confirmed in an email to the Guardian that he is the real identity behind the Gay Girl in Damascus blog Syrian …

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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 …

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Osama bin Laden’s Death on Twitter

(Updated timeline to include subsequent accounts) There was, by all accounts, no Internet or phone access to Bin Laden’s compound. Had there been, might he have known about the attack in advance from social media? This depends on what was being said on twitter, and when. Although lots of people in Pakistan are on Facebook, …

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Nursery Rhymes: History’s Most Viral Startup?

(This is a copy of my weekly column for newspapers and radio.) As the father of a child born in the era between the first and second iPads, I am made acutely aware that technology is driving baby rearing–just as it is driving everything else. But I find the field surprisingly uneven. Nappies, for example. …

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