The Great Debate

Is social media losing its lure … and return on investment?


How do you know that social media is folded into the narrative of American life? Perhaps when people are being encouraged to give it up for a religious holiday.

Offlining Inc., a group of Silicon Valley types, is promoting the occasional break from social media and tech devices in general by blasting an ad showing Lindsay Lohan. The message: “You don’t have to be Jewish to make amends for your tweets on Yom Kippur.”

It’s a good idea — we could all use time off from our iPhones, not to mention Twitter, Facebook, et al. But Americans don’t actually spend that much time on social media. Which is good because the reason many people have embraced social media (which would be marketing) is turning out to have a lousy return on investment, if you consider the opportunity cost of time.

Certainly, the numbers of folks using social media is on the rise. Over 100 million people are on Twitter, and more than 500 million on Facebook. People keep guessing which will be the next big one: Foursquare? It’s got over 3 million users. Missed in these numbers is that most of us aren’t heavy users.

Nielsen recently released figures reporting that Americans spend 906 million hours per month on social media. That sounds like a lot, until you consider that there are 240 million of us online. That means Americans are logging less than 4 hours per month on social media, or less than 1 out of the 168 hours we have each week.

from The Great Debate UK:

Facebook group defends “harassed” BP


BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward branded “the most hated man in America” may be surprised to find himself cast in the role of victim by a growing clan of web-based supporters on Facebook.

One such group ‘Support BP’ calls itself the defender of an “undeservedly harassed institution” and seeks to show that the public opprobrium BP faces over its now 60-day-old Gulf of Mexico oil spill is not universal.

Members have been increasingly vocal since a succession of strong rebukes of BP by U.S. President Obama and lawmakers at Thursday’s congressional hearing, which they are calling a “lynch mob”.

Are social media platforms the Jurassic Park of computing?

Kevin Prince is chief technology officer of Perimeter E-Security.

– Kevin Prince is chief technology officer of Perimeter E-Security. The views expressed are his own. –

Social Networks have grown out of control. Literally. Today, neither users nor social networking companies can control the monsters they have created. Think Jurassic Park: where John Hammond wanted to build something no one else had ever done, a fun theme park combined with a zoo of cloned dinosaurs.  He built what he thought would be adequate security, but in reality, didn’t understand nearly enough about the environment he was trying to control.  People naturally trusted that proper security was in place and that they would of course be safe. Quickly things spiral out of control, and nearly everyone gets eaten by the end of the movie.

The creators of social networking sites — yes all of them — are just like John Hammond. Their unique ideas caught on in such a viral way that just keeping up with the bandwidth, processing power, storage, development, and everything else required to keep the system online is an amazingly complex, never-ending task. For most of these sites, security is – and has always been – an afterthought. Some of them try, but it’s a bit like closing the amusement park gates after the Tyrannosaurus has bolted.

from The Great Debate UK:

The meeting of young minds

IMG01410-20100209-1350A sedate group of more than 1,000 young people brought together in London to discuss socio-political issues makes a sharp contrast to those who challenge the status quo via demonstrations, rallies and picket lines.

At the first annual One Young World, organised by advertising agency Euro RSCG Worldwide, delegates 25 years of age and younger network in an environment sanctioned by such high-profile “counsellors” as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, economist Muhammad Yunus and musician Bob Geldof.

There are no immediate signs of dissent among the hand-picked delegates meeting at the ExCel London convention centre from February 8 to 10.

from The Great Debate UK:

One Young World: let’s hear it from the under-25s


Amid the ongoing global conversation about the economy, and projections about when -- and in which markets -- the world might emerge from financial crisis, the collective voice of the 25-and-under age group is hard to hear.

It could have been silenced due to a sense of futility about challenging the so-called Establishment, or it might be online -- constrained by such social media outlets as Facebook and Twitter.

Whatever the case, advertising and communications agency Euro RSCG Worldwide is taking measures to get the under-25s to speak up on such issues as the environment, health and education at an event called One Young World, which will be held from February 8-10 in London.

from The Great Debate UK:

Are publication bans outdated in the Internet era?

IMG01299-20100115-2004The debate over freedom of expression and the impact of social networking on democratic rights in the courts is in focus in Canada after a Facebook group became the centre of controversy when it may have violated a publication ban.

The group, which has more than 7,000 members, was set up to commemorate the murder of a 2-year-old boy in Oshawa, Ontario.

The breach of a publication ban could lead to a mistrial, a fine and even jail time. Violating a ban could taint the opinions of witnesses or jurors, and the news media must wait to report information protected under a publication ban until after the trial is over.

Newspaper brands that manage the transition to digital models can thrive

davidmossiv– David Moss is a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Atlanta. The views expressed are his own. –

“Newspapers are dying.” Lately, that’s the constant, gloomy chorus. But it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Certainly, the newspaper industry faces significant challenges, including a tough economy and the mass migration of readers and advertisers to the Internet. But newspaper brands that successfully transition to digital models can thrive — without giving up their streamlined print products.

from The Great Debate UK:

Remembering how to forget in the Web 2.0 era

Amid ongoing debates over the hazards of excessive digital exposure through such Web 2.0 social networking platforms as Facebook and Twitter, a new book by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger extols the virtues of forgetfulness.

Since the emergence of digital technology and global networks, forgetting has become an exception, Mayer-Schonberger writes in "Delete".

"Forgetting plays a central role in human decision-making," he argues. "It lets us act in time, cognizant of, but not shackled by, past events."

Can sleeping giant Skype reinvent itself?

eric_auchard_thumbnail2.jpg – Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

Do once-hot Internet start-ups who miss a date with destiny ever truly get a second chance? History says no, even for once-great names like Netscape, AOL and MySpace.

Skype hopes to be the exception. On Tuesday, a group led by top Internet financiers in Silicon Valley and Europe agreed to pay eBay $1.9 billion in cash for a 65 percent stake in the one-time web calling sensation.

from Commentaries:

Twitter backlash foretold

Technology market research firm Gartner Inc has published the 2009 "Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies," its effort to chart out what's hot or not at the cutting edge of hi-tech jargon. It's just one of an annual phalanx of reports that handicap some 1,650 technologies or trends in 79 different categories for how likely the terms are to make it into mainstream corporate parlance.

Jackie Fenn, the report's lead analyst and author of the 2008 book "Mastering the Hype Cycle," delivers the main verdict:

Technologies at the Peak of Inflated Expectations during 2009 include cloud computing, e-books (such as from Amazon and Sony) and internet TV (for example, Hulu), while social software and microblogging sites (such as Twitter) have tipped over the peak and will soon experience disillusionment among corporate users.