Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Chance to end your online identity crisis

Those in the UK that joined the internet revolution later than others (or those with particularly common names) have had to suffer the indignity of a split identity online. The thousands of john2365's out there are getting another opportunity to be referred to by their real name (provided they still remember it) with news that Hotmail.co.uk is being launched.

Whether the benefit of having a decent email address will outweigh the pain of telling all your contacts that you have changed email address is another question. No doubt the common names will be snapped up by those enterprising souls hoping to sell them straight back on Ebay, small print permitting or ignored (Hotmail are themselves auctioning off the most common for charity).

Those readers with an eye on future trends may well wonder whether they should even be bothering with email given news from tech-obsessed South Korea that email is for old people. In a survey, over two thirds of students rarely or never use email, prefering the more informal texting or instant messaging as the way to communicate. No doubt this is the same old story of when your Dad has something, it's just not cool anymore...

Friday, November 26, 2004

Where there's a will, there's a way (to advertise)

Those loyal readers that subscribe to this blog via an RSS feed or equivalent have been missing out. The longer term subscribers probably won't even know that the mother site now has a neat row of grey text ads decorating the top of the site.

The RSS-tinted world (explanation of RSS here, if you're interested) is reminiscent of the ad-free early internet, with just fresh content picked up by the feeds.

Just as you can't escape death and taxes, it was only a matter of time before the loophole got plugged. This week saw news that Overture is working with Feedburner to place its contextual ads into their feeds. This move will surely be widely copied as both publishers and the software providers fight for their share of the valuable advertising pie that pays at least some of the bills.

Monday, November 22, 2004

You've got spam

Spare a thought for Microsoft supremo, Bill Gates, who is the most spammed person on earth, according to his colleague Steve Ballmer. He receives an inbox-busting four million emails daily, the vast majority of which are spam.

Given Gates' bank balance, it looks like those 'make money online' emails really do work after all.

(Can you beat Bill's total? Leave your details below.)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Close the Windows, I have a nasty cold

Kevin Warwick, cybernetics Professor at Reading University (non-UK readers: it's not really a university for illiterates), has clearly not being watching his fair share of science fiction movies. Ignoring the clear warnings from the silver screen from War Games to endless Terminator sequels, he has taken the first steps towards becoming a cyborg by wiring up his arm to a computer to operate a mechanical arm - surely an irresistable opportunity for a hacker to wreak havoc.

He believes that in the future the vast potential of networked brains will render other humans obsolete, proving the old adage that two heads are better than one. As ever, the threat of viruses looms large, with a warning that software and biological viruses could become one and the same in his cyborg-tinted world. If you think Windows paperclip is annoying already, just wait until it starts sneezing all over your document every couple of minutes...

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Air hostess 'Delta' blow

The internet has done many things for free speech, but it also brings it's own risks. Blogging software has enabled millions to overcome the early internet barriers of lack of technical knowledge to publish their thoughts to the world in seconds. Never in the field of human communication, can so much (or so little) be said by so many to so many (as Churchill would have said, had he lived well into his hundreds).

However, as awaress and readership of blogging has grown, so has the ability of what you blog to get you into trouble. For example, witness Queen of the Sky's sorry tale, with her new strapline as revealing as the photos she bravely displayed - Diary of a (Fired) Flight Attendant. Despite no employer being mentioned in her sometimes racy posts, her downfall was allegedly caused by the posting a photograph of her in a Delta uniform, revealing the company and probably a little too much leg.

Her suspension and recent sacking has become an internet cause celebre and poses interesting questions about the level to which companies should look to control and police bloggers.

The power of anyone from disgruntled former employees to the chairman's wife to reveal or leak, intentionally or not, potentially damaging information about their employer is a real concern for those that try to maintain a company's brand. The ability to handle a company's objections to rogue, or otherwise, bloggers is one that requires a great deal of sensitivity. No news spreads like bad news on the internet and the perception of heavy-handedness only perpetuates the legend.

As the medium continues to evolve into the mainstream, we will start to see more and more internal memos and contract clauses relating to what you can and can't say in the company's name or as one of its employees. Don't expect employee blogging to go away, as there are so many positive applications of the technology for companies, just expect to see the lawyers kept busy with some landmark cases, including perhaps our Queen of the Sky.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The battle for the desktop (literally)

They say the desktop is the next frontier in the battle for control of your PC, but this is getting ridiculous...

Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Mazda saga - who are you trying to blog?

The fall-out from Mazda's alleged attempts to hoodwink the internet public through an 'independent' blog continues. Mediapost provides a good summary of the unfortunate saga that ably demonstrates that while all publicity may be good publicity, when it comes to the internet, bad news travels much faster than bad.

The irony is that the content itself was largely harmless, consisting of the 'discovery' and posting of a few pretty average car ads, but it was the supposed duplicity that became the real story.