new year tech quiz & votes for tech stories 2006

By on Dec 30, 2005 in BBC |

Do you know your megabytes from your megapixels? If so, have a go at BBC News Online’s New Year Technology quiz. The ten questions will test your knowledge of the technology year. I got 7 out of 10 (4, 5, 10 were about gaming and p-2-p networks which aren’t my strong points). You’re invited to post your own results here as comments as well as any thoughts you might have on what will, and what won’t, be the big technology stories of 2006. My votes for top 5 tech stories are: 1. folksonomy (“folks” organising the web together, part of the web 2.0 concept) 2. battle of the gaming consoles, particular in the broadband networked gaming arena 3. digital tv and digital radio standards issues (in the UK) – compatibility issues could arise between the equipment of those who have already gone digital and new better standards (HDTV over freeview, MP3 or better instead of DAB’s current MP2, etc) 4. apple mobile phone/iPod (hopefully a mobile phone with wi-fi and built in voip capability – make calls for free whenever you can pick up a network) [pure speculation!] 5. a continued hype around citizen journalism with several high profile commercial launches, particularly involving user contributed video news Happy New...

dealing with troubled users at Christmas

By on Dec 26, 2005 in BBC |

The BBC, and many other websites, keeps it’s message boards and have your say debates open 365 days a year, including Christmas and boxing day. Why? Well, for the BBC it makes perfect sense – our TV and radio broadcasts are never switched off, so neither should services available on our website. Also, to close over Christmas would favour Christianity at a time when an increasing number of our audience is likely to be Muslim, Hindi, Jewish, Buddhist or non-religious. Having been in the online community management industry for years, I also know that this time of year is the one where we encounter the most “troubled users”: people who are lonely, depressed, bereaved or perhaps even suicidal. This time last year I came across at least one of each of these myself. So what’s an online community manager, discussion host, or moderator supposed to do? Lawyers disagree as to whether websites hosting online communities owe their users a legally imposed duty of care. To be safe, you should discharge that duty of care if you think one exists. Besides, even if we don’t have a legal duty of care to those who use our services, we probably owe a moral duty to them and should do what we can, within reason, to ensure their safety. Here’s how easy it is to make a real difference and, in some situations, to save someone from harming themselves or others: 1. Explain to the user that, although you are concerned and sympathetic, you aren’t a trained counsellor – “I realise this must be really difficult for you and, although I’d like to be able to help, I’m not a trained counsellor…” 2. Suggest that the user seeks advice from someone they trust, their GP, or another professional who is trained to help – “… many people find that talking to someone helps” 3. Point the user towards The Samaritans, ChildLine (the two I most often suggest) or another more specialised organisation. 4. If you can, make contact with the user in a way that doesn’t commit you to engaging in a long term dialogue with them. I know of a number of instances where discussions hosts have befriended users only for those users to then not understand that, if they don’t get a quick reply to an email, it means they aren’t working, not that they don’t care anymore. Of course, if you think a user of one of your websites is in imminent danger to themselves or someone else, you might want to consider contacting the police. Luckily, this is something you’re not likely to have to deal with very often. By the way, your community members do appreciate you being there on public holidays: (screenshot from BBC News...

message board libel case in California

By on Dec 22, 2005 in internet libel, law |

A California based technology company, Juniper Networks, is taking a group of anonymous message board users to court. The case, filed by in Santa Clara on December 14, claims that ten anonymous users, which it names as “Does 1-10” collectively, posted defamatory comments on the message board at – the site which is itself reporting the case . It’s worth noting that this is one of a number of recent libel cases where claimants have taken on the users who posted the allegedly defamatory comments rather than the publisher (website owner). More from on message board libel here

dumbmobs: man charged with incitement via SMS

By on Dec 22, 2005 in law, mobile |

Australian police have reportedly arrested and charged a man with inciting violence by SMS text message. The man, who hasn’t been named, is accused of sending text messages encouraging people to gather at two beaches in Sydney during the race related riots there earlier in December. (thanks smartmobs!)

NY Times google maps readers transport stories

By on Dec 22, 2005 in citizen journalism, location based services | 2 comments

The New York Times website is using google maps to organise reader’s comments about the transportation system strike. Want to know how to get from where you live to work, what the bus queues are like, or whether a particular station is open? Just find your location on the map and see what your neighbours are saying. It looks like the map is being created manually – users are being asked to email their stories, including their zip code, for possible inclusion. Still, it’s a great use of social mapping. (thanks for the link...