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Friday, December 22, 2006

Videogames: Hazardous to privacy?

That’s what in southern California cites consumer privacy experts as saying. The videogame 10news refers to is Battlefield 2142 by Electronic Arts, which, when installed on a PC, also installs spyware. If the spyware creates problems in running your computer, a source says, the game company recommends that the customer uninstall one of Microsoft’s security updates. Doing so would render the computer vulnerable to compromising security hacks. The upshot of this story: read the fine print before installing a computer game.

Who is Time's 'you'?

It’s not just teenage social networkers, ABC News reports, referring to Time’s decision that the Person of the Year is “you,” as in all the you’s driving the user-driven Web. Citing Nielsen/NetRatings figures, ABC says about 55% of YouTube’s users are 35-64 and 25% is 18-34; and about 57% of Wikipedia’s users are 35-64 and 23% 18-34. As for MySpace, ABC says the actual number of its users is “probably closer to half” the 100 million+ profiles on its service because that figure “includes inactive accounts, fake accounts and multiple accounts (which might be set up by a single user). About 30% of users hadn't logged in since creating their page, according to an informal analysis done by tech Web site” And ABC cites the view of a Harvard Business School professor that the increasing ranks of 35-to-54-year-olds are parents wanting to check out what their kids are up to on the site (not that there aren’t plenty of single adults looking for dates on the site, ABC adds). “And there are many casual MySpace users who set up a profile, but do most of their networking on niche sites. Michael Ellenbogen, a 30-something filmmaker, has a MySpace presence but spends most of his time on aSmallWorld.” Writing on this subject, a Toronto Globe & Mail columnist cites some notable “come-from-nowhere” stories of social-Web stars getting lucrative contracts in the mainstream media.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Social networking-plus

It's kind of like MySpace-meets-Teen Second Life. Teen-targeting has added social-networking elements to its mix, reports. That makes HabboHotel more like South Korea-born Cyworld (which recently launched in the US): a cross between a social site and a virtual world. The social part is called "Habbo Home" and will feature "friend lists and links to other Habbo's profiles. Users can decorate their profile pages using backgrounds, customisable stickers, sticky notes and widgets. To interact with other Habbo's users can click directly on to other Habbo Home users' profile page or use the console instant messenger service within Habbo Hotel." BrandRepublic adds that HabboHotel has more than 64 million users in 29 countries. In the UK their age range is 11-18. Another hybrid is IMVU, which brings the virtual-world element of avatars (also used in Cyworld and Habbo) to instant messaging. Here's an interview about it with IMVU's creator Will Harvey, who also helped create the teen world of BTW, if you're curious about what virtual worlds are like, Forbes reports Elizabeth Corcoran spent some time in Second Life (not to be confused with the teen version) and wrote an in-depth account of the experience. She mentions one of its attractions, the game's virtual economy, in which one's avatar can make real money. GameSpot tells the very real story of language teacher Ailin Graef, who has made $1 million in real money selling virtual real estate in the worlds of Second Life, Entropia Universe, IMVU, and There.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Social sites topped 2006 searches

Social networking dominated Web searches this past year, Britain’s VNUNET reports. “Bebo took the crown as the most searched for term throughout the year, followed by MySpace.” Not surprisingly “World Cup” came in third, followed by video-sharing site But YouTube didn’t even make the Top 10 (“video” was No. 7). And Internet News reports that social networking “rocked the [Internet] industry” in 2006, adding that the surge in high-speed Net connections was a huge factor.

Child investment advisers

If you’re a venture capitalist, it pays to have children these days – literally. One such told the New York Times that her daughters were her secret weapons. The daughters good-naturedly called themselves “lab rats.” These young people may be friends and family, the Times says, “but their impact can be broad, because venture capitalists not only help steer the development of new ideas but also invest billions of dollars in those ideas on behalf of investment groups and wealthy individuals.” Interestingly, this is new. It was not the case during the dot-com boom. But this is Web 2.0, the youth-driven as well as user-driven Web. It’s probably why Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2006 is You. As Time, “look at 2006,” and you’ll see a story that “isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before” – the year of,, and

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

MySpace more mobile

Social-networking giant MySpace is about to get more ubiquitous. It just struck a deal with Cingular that allows more than just Helio users to socialize via cellphone. Internet News reports that “MySpace Mobile for Cingular allows subscribers to edit MySpace profiles, view and add friends, post photos and blogs, send and receive MySpace messages for $2.99 a month.” Facebook works with has a similar deal with Cingular too, and YouTube with Verizon, according to Internet News. But this “agreement marks a change in the way carriers present content.” Before, the phone companies adjusted it for teeny screens. Now they’re reportedly bowing out of the process more.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Socio-political Web: Very worldwide

Iran "remains a staunch opponent of Internet freedoms - or any freedoms at all," The Guardian reports - and yet "Farsi has made it into the top 10 languages on the Net." Iranian bloggers, especially women, are "keeping Iranian freedoms alive," according to The Guardian, which adds that there are an estimated 70,000-100,000 active blogs in Iran, "the vast majority in Farsi." In South Africa, is a fast-growing social site and sign that the genre is increasingly location-based. A tiny "Internet center" in a Bangladeshi town has helped people find affordable health care, apply for passports, hold online weddings, find overseas jobs, and stay in touch worldwide; don't miss this insightful Washington Post article. Here's a view of Web benefits from India, an author working on two collaborative books. A day in the life of a teen blogger in Nepal is described in her words here. Finally, a vibrant discussion - with posts from all over the world – on the program of $150 laptops for children in third-world countries can be found in the International Herald Tribune, building on a story on the subject by John Markoff of the the New York Times.