UK Web Focus

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Archive for October 22nd, 2013

What Have You Noticed Recently?

Posted by Brian Kelly (UK Web Focus) on 22 October 2013

Techniques For Detecting Trends

Last week Tony Hirst and I facilitated a 1-day workshop at the ILI 2013 conferences which described approaches for detecting trends which could be used to help institutions exploit emerging technologies in a timely fashion, whilst minimising risks of investing significant resources in technologies, such as Second Life, which subsequently fail to live up to their hype.

Whilst I described methodologies which were used by UKOLN and CETIS in providing the JISC Observatory service Tony Hirst used a couple of techniques which were new to me. In particular I was impressed by the power of the seemingly simple question “What have you noticed recently?

What have you noticed recently?

This question was particularly useful at the workshop we facilitated as, as described in the report on the session, there were 21 participants from 11 countries and 6 continents: it can be particularly useful to observe differences when travelling, particularly if it leads to the question “Why don’t we do that?“, even more so if it results in decisions being made to implement the thing that you noticed.

I gave some thought to the question Tony posed during the workshop session and afterwards.  I think there may be a temptation to be competitive in responding to the question and try to suggest something particularly unusual which you feel others mightn’t suggest.  In my list I’ve therefore suggested a range of observations I’ve made recently. some of which may not be particularly innovative, but did catch my eye. In addition to describing the things I’ve observed I’ll also give some thoughts about the potential implications.

Getglue badgeBadges for gaming, social media, … I recently described by reaction on being awarded a number of badges for completing various activities on a MOOC. But I’ve now started to notice several other services which aware badges. A few weeks ago I noticed Michael Stephens’ Facebook page contained a badge he had received from GetGlue. I’ve not hear of this before. According to Wikipedia GetGlue is “a social networking website for television fans. Users “check into” the shows, movies and sports that they consume using a website, a mobile website, or a device-specific application“. The article goes on to inform us that

in January 2010, GetGlue reported 1.3 million check-ins. In January 2011, the service accumulated nearly 10 times that figure with 12.1 million check-ins and ratings. On February 27, 2011, GetGlue saw over 31,000 check-ins at the Oscars. In June 2011, the record for Most Check-Ins to a TV show was broken during the premiere of True Blood Season 4 on HBO. … During the 2013 Super Bowl, GetGlue had more than 200,000 check-ins and 400,000-plus total activities (likes, replies, votes, etc.). In addition, 15% of all Pepsi mentions on Twitter during the halftime show came from GetGlue.

A must-have app, clearly! And so I subscribed to the service and received my first badge, “Yeah, First Check-in” (as illustrated). My thoughts: being awarded badges for sitting in front of the TV? I’m sure my parents warned me of the dangers of that when I was young (“you’ll get square eyes!“)  Perhaps advocates of badges need to consider risks that they become perceived as rewarding unproductive behaviours. Or, if you gain many badges for watching TV programmes , playing social games and checking in to place you visit when you’re young, might you have become disillusioned with them when you arrive at university and are encouraged to spend time gaining badges for visiting the library and checking books out?

Digital activities in bed: At the Future Technologies workshop at ILI I asked the question “Who has made use of a mobile device for work-related purposes in bed?” The answer, it seems, are those from the UK and Scandinavia.  I first asked this question in March 2012 and, in a post entitled “Twitterers Do It In Bed!” described the responses I received when I asked this question on Twitter. Some of the responses I received are illustrated. I’ve repeated this question at a number of events since then and it seems that significant numbers of people at events I speak at do use mobile devices for work-related purposes. What are the implications? If you fail to provide tweets about your work, your papers, your ideas, you may miss out on an opportunity to engage with an audience.

WiFi on buses: First Bus company now provide free WiFi on their buses in Bath. As I no longer travel up and down the hill every day to Bath University I don’t know if the universities buses also have WiFi. But will we start to see significantly greater use being made of networked mobile devices on public transport, going beyond reading books on Kindles (or Kindle-like devices) and sending text messages?

Payments on my phone: A couple of weeks ago I receive an email from the Guardian with two weeks of vouchers for the Guardian and the Observer. For the first time I handed over my phone to the newsagent in order for the barcode on the coupon to be scanned. I wonder how soon it will be before I regularly use my phone for payments? I wonder about the trust issues of handing a phone to a shopkeepers (or will NFC be the killer app for mobile payments?) And how soon before we start read article highlights the privacy concerns over such payment mechanisms? After all I assume my voucher had been personalised so they will know who I am and where I shop.

Many thanks to Tony Hirst for suggesting this technique. Now over to you: what have you noticed recently?

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