78% of US youth have blogs?

Study published this week in USAToday finds, among other things, that 78% of US youth 18-24 have a personal website or blog. That can’t be right. That’s insane. Sure isn’t the case amongst youngsters I hang out with. The future is coming though, it’s almost old hat to set up a MySpace blog at least. Look out work world.

Google releases video player for Mac

This looks great – a nice looking video player for films downloaded from Google Video, finally for Mac. Google Video has everything YouTube has except hipness, right? And now with a desktop player for both Macs and PC’s, maybe they’ve got more. You can embed videos in your web page from Google video just like you can YouTube. Well, I won’t claim to know much about this field really – here’s a great discussion comparing YouTube and Google Video over at the Church of the Customer blog. Don’t forget the comments section. That’s actually got me convinced that YouTube does have more, community oriented features. I’m just making note of the Macness here, don’t take my word on the best online video – go check out the scene at GeekEntertainment.tv. That’s who I’d ask.

Don’t forget to see the last story I wrote too, about Google’s kinda creepy TV plans. Downloader beware about this video player, huh? 🙂

Google may listen to your TV, but not too closely

Google Research on “Social- and Interactive-Television Applications Based on Real-Time Ambient-Audio Identification”

The Google Research team at last week’s Euro ITV (the interactive television conference) won the best paper award for research just posted to the Google Research blog. Their topic? Personalized experiences synchronous with mass-media consumption. That means a system where your computer listens to the TV in your living room, compresses the sound for comparison to a Google sized audio database and then offers you services online related to whatever you are watching.

This does not appear to be functional yet, but the paper also seems to assure readers that it does not require much new technology either.

Google TVAdvertising? Wasn’t discussed. The examples the Google scientists provided fell into the following four categories:

  • personalized information layers
  • ad hoc social peer communities
  • real-time popularity ratings
  • TV- based bookmarks

Of course advertising can be contextual to any of those, as is shown in the hypothetical screenshot above from the Google paper. There will also be the option of selecting Two Minutes Hate worth of advertising in exchange for access to premium content. Just kidding about that part. The rest of this is real, though.

“If friends of the viewer were watching the same episode of ‘Seinfeld’ at the same time,” the paper says, “the social- application server could automatically create an on- line ad hoc community of these ‘buddies’.”

The paper assures skeptics that the privacy will be technically ensured.

The viewer’s acoustic privacy is maintained by the irreversibility of the mapping from audio to summary statistics. Unlike the speech-enabled
proactive agent by Hong et al. (2001), our approach will not “overhear” conversations. Furthermore, no one receiving (or intercepting) these statistics is able to eavesdrop, on such conversations, since the original audio does not leave the viewer’s computer and the summary statistics are insufficient for reconstruction. Further, the system can easily be
designed to use an explicit ‘mute/un-mute’ button, to give the viewer full control of when acoustic statistics are collected for transmission.input-data rates. This is especially important since we process the raw data on the client’s machine (for privacy reasons), and would like to keep computation requirements at a minimum.

There’s no mention of localized versions for China, for example. Can the US government be trusted not to demand access to this kind of data? No. I can imagine the privacy concerns here are going to be huge. People may go for it though. I am open to the idea, but I don’t think I like it. GMail’s contextual advertising doesn’t scare me though.

This seems like a recipe for nothing but shopping and superficial interaction. I suppose I could debate with people in my “snobby snobs” group about the veracity of a History Channel show. So maybe I’m wrong.

One way or the other, this seems like a pretty viable vision of the future.

RSS yields most action: Geffen Records to leverage FeedBurner

FeedBurner just announced that their services have been employed by Geffen Records after the company’s preliminary studies discovered that feed subscribers were four times more likely to take action on the Geffen site than recipients of more traditional promotional efforts. People will apparently be able to subscribe to a variety of music industry and selected artist specific news.

The company is really going to make the most of FeedBurner offerings, customizing the links that appear after each feed item (as anyone can do) and advertising Geffen artists in other feeds. FeedBurner keeps adding to it’s list of mega customers.

The Geffen website is delightfully low key in its aesthetic. You can see the first iteration of FeedBurner feeds there now; some of the links aren’t working yet but others are. They use the standard orange icon, the words “feed” and “subscribe” (not RSS) and the “add to MyYahoo” button because of it’s dominant market share. The aesthetics of the feed landing page could use some work, but the functionality looks pretty good.

This is a smart partnership. Eventually all organizations large and small that represent artists will offer feeds for fans to keep up with news about each of those artists. It’s just too compelling a model to avoid, to allow users to pull in news automatically about their favorite artists, as part of their default web experience either in a start page or a feed reader. Unlike the spam filled world of email, news delivered by feed is just a part of our individualized web landscapes. Feed reading builds relationships. The early-adopter nature of feed reading surely has some impact on its unusually high reaction rate right now, but I don’t think that explains it all. Feeds are just plain effective.

Related news: Feed aggregator NewsGator signs an agreement to move into the Japanese market. Is your organization publishing and reading feeds yet?

Windows Live, Qwest team up on Web 2.0

Software as a service, web applications, data portability – these are the sorts of themes that Microsoft is making moves in support of in the new computing world, in their own way. Tonight they announced a partnership with telecom provider Qwest to offer a custom, co-branded Windows Live software suite to every customer of Qwest’s internet services. This is the kind of thing that’s going to popularize Web 2.0 style software. For all the innovation and hotness of various inspiring start-ups – they are going to have a hard time competing with the market share of companies like MS and Qwest who are able to learn just fast enough to throw their weight around and really change large numbers of people’s computing experience. Can start ups be more than inexpensive labs for the big guys? Will all the free-data hippy stuff get thrown out the window when Windows takes what it wants from the paradigm and suffocates alternatives that were lost in the wilderness anyway? How much rhetoric can one get out of one press release?? 🙂

Seriously though, I think the Microsoft/Qwest partnership is big. And remember, Qwest is the one telecom that reportedly did not hand over call records to the NSA. How much is that worth? Probably not much, but maybe something.

International cultures of collaboration: a MicroSoft/Verizon study

A new survey from Microsoft and Verizon says that web collaboration is making a significant impact on workplace productivity around the world. While both companies have lots of collaboration tools they’d like to sell you, I think the survey they commissioned has some interesting finds to consider.

One was a 3 to 1 preference for working with teams, but doing that work from home! I have to admit, I love working from home – but I also love face to face time. It’s indispensable. I don’t think that goes without saying anymore, either.

Check these excerpts from the international comparisons:

“As for the regional differences, American professionals were more likely to enjoy working alone, and prefer to send e-mail rather than calling a person or leaving a voice mail message. They are also more comfortable with audio, video and Web conferencing technologies than people of other regions and tend to multitask the most when on conference calls.

Europeans thrive on teamwork more than their counterparts elsewhere and prefer to interact in real time with other people. They are more likely to feel it is irresponsible not to answer the phone and want people to call them back rather than leave a voice mail message. Professionals in the Asia-Pacific region, more so than anywhere else, want to be in touch constantly during the workday. As a result, they find the phone to be an indispensable tool and prefer instant messaging to e-mail. ”

Sounds like something that could behove us all to keep in mind when communicating internationally – but how true are these statements? Robin Good told me in a recent conversation that making statements about all Americans was like making statements about all fish. Personal observations re cultural differences in communication would be more than welcome…

Of all the collaboration technologies that were studied,3 three were more commonly present in high-performing companies than in low-performing ones: Web conferencing, audio conferencing and meeting-scheduler technologies. Web conferencing was cited by respondents as the most commonly present tool. (High vs. low performance was based on a split for companies based on their performance index, which was derived from items measured in the questionnaire.)