Archive for the ‘social networking’ tag
As a somewhat keen photographer, I do like to share my photos online. These days there are plenty of options – almost too many. This past weekend I sat down to attempt to rationalise my use of photo websites, and figure out the best place for various photos to live.
Currently I make use of four different websites:
Let start with the easy and obvious one. iStockphoto is the odd one out, as it is a purely commercial service. I use it not for sharing, but for selling my photos. Over time, there may well be multiple site that fill this commercial niche, but for the time being it is just iStock.
- (+) Easy service for selling/licensing photos online
- (-) Not designed for sharing photos
This was my first photosharing website, and until I started using Facebook and Google+ more recently, Flickr was my go-to host for sharing photos online. It definitely provides the richest toolset for photographers, but it isn’t integrated and directly connected to our largest social networks (Facebook for a lot of us).
- (+) Designed for photographers
- (+) Better quality than Facebook or Google+
- (+) Good range of metadata tools
- (+) Does a better job of displaying panoramas
- (-) Sometimes limited to photographic special interest
Yes, the behometh when it comes to sharing photos with friends and family. I certainly get the best feedback (likes and comments) on my photos on Facebook. But Facebook honestly does a piss poor job of shaowing off photos in even ‘reasonable’ quality, and it has absolutely no image metadata for those that are interested.
- (+) Definitely has the best direct social network reach for me currently
- (+) Best for friends and family
- (-) No metadata displayed
- (-) Display limited to 960px wide
- (-) The album layout sucks
The new kid on the block, and definitely evolving quickly. Already it has arguably better photo support than Facebook, and Facebook seems to be copying some Google+ styling – most recently the single photo view with comments down the right hand side. The thing that is really exciting about Google+ is that photography has always been reasonably well considered form the start, including good distraction-free backgrounds. Unlike Facebook, Google+ is also accepting of feedback and actively participate on Google+. I expect we’re going to see Google+ become an ever improving service for sharing photos – given they’ve done so much in a short time.
- (+) Good for photography/tech/special interest circles
- (+) Good metadata (more than Facebook)
- (+) Has a different social network and reach to Facebook
- (-) Like Facebook, the display of photos is limited to 960px wide
- (-) Currently a poor social network (relative to Facebook)
As a result of this, I’ve think I’ve come to a decision as to how I’m going to use these various services.
- iStockphoto – commercial microstock licensing.
- Facebook – mainly people photos.
- Google+ – despite it being better than Facebook, I think I’m not going to use it much for hosting photos directly.
- Flickr – having played with Facebook and Google+ photo hosting, I think for everything other than photos of family and friends, I’ll be coming back to Flickr.
Why do I like higher resolution?
I’m a keen landscape photographer, and some of my panorama images are quite wide. Showing them in 960px wide on Facebook or Google+ doesn’t really do them justice – both of these services are much better designed for more traditional aspect ratios such as 3:2, 5:4 or even 1:1.
I learnt a trick recently that helps you promote photos from other sites on Facebook or Google+. Rather than directly linking through to an image, on say Flickr, via an URL, that you get a better effect by uploading a copy to Facebook (or Google+) and adding an URL to the photo or album on Flickr. This results in a much larger photo being displayed on the timeline and not just a little thumbnail image.
And just today, I’ve signed up with Pinterest that looks like a fascinating tool for curating and promoting not only your images, but also images that you appreciate and want to share with others.
There are many photosharing websites and opportunities available, yet there is not a single website that accomplishes everything. This means we have to pick and choose combinations that best meet all our needs. I can’t tell you what combination suits you, that’s something you have to work out for yourself.
Microsoft recently released an invitation-only beta of Vine, a social networking application to allow people to share information with their networks, and receive news and public safety alerts for areas they are interested in. It appears to integrate with Twitter and Facebook, and allows you to post and receive information. Microsoft is targeting Vine as a tool for both routine and emergency use. It has just entered testing, but has some potential as a social networking tools for disasters. To ultimately be successful, it will need to run on Mac, Linux, and popular mobile phones such as Symbian, and the iPhone so we can carry it in our pockets. It also needs to interoperate with similar applications from other vendors, but most of all be free so that price does not dissuade adoption.
Update – I received an invite, but the current beta is really only keyed for US usage.
I’ve been involved in some discussions in the past few days about the use of Twitter for emergency management purposes. It’s something I’ll write about in more detail and rigour in the next wee while, but I just want to get a few links to article out there in the meantime.
This GovTech article spawned the discussion on the IAEM email list. Twitter is certainly not a robust notification system, but it is a social messaging system that does have its place – particularly for interacting with the public.
Concerns were raised about how Twitter usernames could masquerade as offical agencies, and other issues around the authority of information provided on Twitter.
In reply on the list, I made the following brief comments that may help an agency adopt and utilise a social network such as Twitter and mitigate some of the issues.
Some valid concerns about the risks, but there are always means of mitigating them.
1. Re: Globalisation – one of the biggest issues you missed is that of privacy and the protection of private information submitted and stored in these systems. Ironically, the United States is one of the few civilised countries that doesn’t provide wide-ranging privacy protections when compared to European countries and the likes of New Zealand that have very strong privacy legislation. The way information submitted to social networking sites vary significantly depending on the jurisdiction it is hosted in. As many sites are hosted in the United States, it would indeed be good to see the United States implement stronger legislation protecting personal information (e.g. to the level provided in Europe and New Zealand, not sure on Canada, and I think Australia might fall somewhere between US and NZ).
2. As per any form of public alerting/notification, it is important to teach the receiver that they should attempt to cross-check, verify, and go hunting for more information. One technique that was mentioned in the Govtech article linked earlier in this thread was using TinyURL to embed links to official websites to provide corroboration of information, or more detailed information than can be wedged into the 140 characters provided by Twitter. Likewise, agencies should put pages up on their websites that act as a means to identify their official Facebook page, official Twitter username etc. Not only can they point out their official Twitter username for example, but they could also identify usernames that may be masquerading as that organisation. You could use the Twitter > Profile > More Info URL to link back to this page on a web site that the agency controls. It is still not perfect, but it would provide a far more robust approach for providing evidence that a given Twitter username does represent an official person/agency.
3. Official and unofficial directories of usernames can be provided e.g. <http://govtwit.com/> These can be constructed and the people/organisations using them can contact the organisations to verify that they do indeed manage that username. This, again, allows for a far more trustworthy list of official representatives to be constructed. A state EM organisation for example could maintain a web page on their official website that lists all the official EM and related agencies Twitter usernames in that state. As long as you have a trusted representative constructing the directory, there is less concern about those usernames in the directory as they will perform the authentication for you. E.g. IAEM may elect to build a register and maintain it on our website.
4. If an agency finds someone masquerading as their organisation, they can always approach say Twitter, and highlight the problem username and that they do something about it. Twitter is a private company in San Francisco. E.g. if the unofficial usdhs Twiiter username started spreading false information during an emergency, I’m sure a call from DHS to Twitter in San Francisco would fix that fairly quickly.
The whole idea of social networks is that you build your own network of trust. This means that there is some work associated with constructing it, but there are a number of means to build this web of trust – some of which I’ve mentioned above. Link with other official agencies, link to it from your official websites that you control. Fake usernames will not be able to compete with this and will quickly be identified as fakes as they will not be able to build up a web-of-trust.
And yes, social networks are not for secure communication. They are to get information out and widely disseminated as quickly as possible.
One reason sites like Twitter have become so popular with the public is because they can get information quicker than we, as emergency managers, are able to otherwise provide it. That sends a pretty strong message that we need to do better in terms of getting information out to the public.
I’ll try and expand on this in the not-to-distant future – I might end up writting an article for the IAEM Bulletin. As an aside, a related topic is how to use tags to identify emergency management related posts on a social network site such as Twitter. I’ve passed this on to the EIIF W3C Incubator Group I’m involved with as I believe that any tagging structure needs to be compatible with other standards used for emergencies and disasters. This way software could watch out for certain tags to pick them up and into a disaster management system such as Sahana.
Once again the key point is trying to create an integrated approach to an emergency management information system (EMIS) – the software is only half the deal, the other half is the suite of information standards to communicate with other systems. Any tags designed for Twitter, much be designed in a way that an EMIS can search, gather and try to understand them.