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Church of England encourages texting (sort of)

By on Jun 30, 2005 in BBC, mobile | 1 comment

Two years ago BPL Mobile customers in India were reportedly able to send an SMS PUJA (prayer) to be recited for them at a popular Bombay temple for 51 rupees (60p), avoiding the hassle of queueing at the temple in person. Now, BBC 5 Live’s Phil Elliot reports, the "Church of England is to encourage the use of mobile phones during services…"The ‘Service of Thanksgiving for the Mothers’ Union’, which is to be held in a football stadium this weekend, is likely to be attended by around 4500 people. Instead of collecting offering money in the usual way, which would be impractical given the size of venue and congregration, The Bishop of St Edmundbury & Ipswich will instead be giving worshippers an SMS shortcode number so they can donate via text message. Some worshippers might want to cut out the middleman altogether and send a text straight to God. A quick Google search came up with the rather promisingly titled page "Send God a Text Message" but, sadly, having looked around the site, I’m fairly confident there’s no number or skype username...

GPS enabled Monopoly!

By on Jun 29, 2005 in location based services | 2 comments

Hasbro (the board game company) has launched an online edition of Monopoly – but keep reading because it’s a lot more interesting than that! To play, you select a cabbie (I’m backing Brian), buy some properties, put a few flats and hotels, then press go. As the taxi moves around London, it’s tracked via GPS and each time it passes or makes a pick-up/drop at one of your properties your score increases. Here’s the blurb from Hasbro: "We have turned London into a real-life playing board, and real taxi cabs into real-life playing pieces. All you have to do is make as much money from rent as possible, from five other cabs who are your opponents in the game. We’ve kitted out 18 cabbies with GPS (Global Positioning System), meaning we can pinpoint their exact whereabouts in London. They will be going about their normal day, picking up and dropping off customers all over town. All that you’ve got to do is spend the £15m we give you on properties from around the Monopoly Here & Now board, distribute your apartments and hotels and choose your cabbie. You are placed into a game with your cabbie and 5 other taxi drivers, all travelling around London. Every time one of the other cabs stops outside one of your properties, you get paid rent. Any time your cabbie lands on a property you don’t own, you pay up. Simple!" What a cool idea! (Thanks for the link...

job: viral marketing and community exec

By on Jun 28, 2005 in online community |

Viral Marketing and Community Executive: OutsideLine Working predominantly in the entertainment sector, using the power of viral and community marketing, we are able to successfully connect our base of clients with their target audience through seeding of messages boards, forums and viral sites. We are looking for an enthusiastic, articulate person to assist us in growing this ever important area of the business. The successful applicant will be working closely with the Viral Marketing and Community Manager on a variety of high profile entertainment and brand campaigns. This role is a challenging opportunity to work in a fast-paced and dynamic company in a rapidly expanding Marketing team. Further Details

Yahoo closes (some) chat rooms

By on Jun 28, 2005 in internet libel | 1 comment

One thing I’ve always admired about Yahoo is that they offer users a wide variety of tools to create online communities but push the management and ownership responsibilities out to those who use those tools. Not only does this reduce the management costs and, potentially, the legal responsibilities of Yahoo, it also gives users a sense of ownership over the communities they build using Yahoo’s tools. Given the apparent "give users tools and they’ll use them" ethos of Yahoo, it comes as a bit of a surprise to find Reuters reporting that Yahoo will no longer be offering user created chat rooms "amid concerns that adults were using the sites to try to have sex with minors." "The user-created chat rooms in question, where Internet users converse in real time, had names including “Girls 13 And Under For Older Guys” and “Girls 13 And Up For Much Older Men” and were all listed under “education chat rooms,” Houston television station KPRC reported…KPRC reported last month that major advertisers including PepsiCo Inc., Georgia-Pacific Corp. and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. removed their ads after the station found the ads were appearing on Yahoo user-created chat rooms that were aimed at sex with children. “As soon as we found out we pulled our ads,” said Pepsi spokesman Dave DeCecco. “We were totally unaware our ads were associated with those chat rooms — and that was back in April.” [whole article] The move by Yahoo comes after a $10 million lawsuit was filed against the  last month on behalf of a 12-year-old molestation victim and following a long campaign by watchdog groups to persuade Yahoo and other large Internet portals to purge their sites of child porn. [whole article] Yahoo’s announcement follows a similar, and much criticised, move by MSN to close it’s chat room service several months ago. Although MSN announced the closure on child safety grounds, many critics felt the closure was more likely to have been caused by financial considerations. I’ve run the 1800+ member Cybersociology list for years on the Yahoo Groups platform with no problems at all and have appreciated the ability to manage the list, the way it’s presented to users, it’s format, etc myself. However, as an online community professional, I also understand the need, both from a legal and brand protection standpoint, and for the protection of users, for Yahoo and other service providers offering community tools to do something. So what’s the answer? When a child becomes the victim of a paedophile in a park, we don’t hear people campaigning for all parks to be closed. Similarly, we often hear politicians and the media complaining that the internet is making it easier for terrorist and criminal organisations to organise their groups, but we never hear politicians and the media calling for the end of all postal mail or shutting down of the transportation or telephone networks for "security reasons". Likewise, closing all chat rooms isn’t the answer. Chat rooms can, and do, provide a social space for people, young and old, to make friends, build communities, work on projects together, and have fun. I do believe that moderation should be a legal and moral necissity for websites targeted at or likely to attract children but it is resource intensive and expensive. The only practical way to ensure that children stay safe when their online is for parents to realise that the internet is a public place and they have to take responsibility themselves for monitoring their children’s online activity and for educating their children about the potential dangers of meeting people online. Schools, governments, non-profit organisations, and anyone offering unmoderated online spaces should also be working to educate users, particularly parents and children. The BBC’s Chat Guide, a website backed up by materials, including a video for teachers to use in their classrooms, is a good example of a chat safety education effort. Other useful advice can be found at the following websites: Thames Valley Police – chat safety NCH Internet Safety Information ThinkUKnow (Internet Watch Foundation) Related Cybersoc Entries: Moderation and Hosting – What? Who? User generated content law – Yahoo...

BBC radio player dashboard widget

By on Jun 27, 2005 in BBC, digital television | 1 comment

I’ve been looking for this since installing Mac OSX Tiger: a dashboard widget for the BBC radio player. (created by Andy Allcorn)