The World of Ubiquitous Computing

This blog will look at  the concept “Software above the level of a single device”, the fifth of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly. From all the previous blogs “Harnessing collective intelligence” , “Data is the Intel Inside”, “Innovation in Assembly” and “Rich user experience”  we can see that the world of Web 2.0 is evolving at a rapid rate.

The vast increase of smartphones used has brought us into an era of ubiquitous computing. So what does this mean? It means that applications and web 2.0 can now be accessible not only on ones PC but now on multiple devices (laptop, smartphones, tablets etc). You can now shop online on your smartphone on the move and even your tablet! Gaming has also moved towards not only PC but mobile devices.

One other feature of Web 2.0 that deserves mention is the fact that it’s no longer limited to the PC platform.- Tim O’reilly

The PC is no longer the only access device for Internet applications, and applications that are limited to a single device are less valuable than those that are connected. – Professor Jason Watson’s Week  7 lecture

SkypeThe interactions between many devices is not a big feature in the world of ubiquitous computing, an application that demonstrates this is “Skype”. Skype allows people to call, message, share and see others where ever they are in the world. Skype is accessible on ones PC, smartphones and even tablets. This shows that this application doesn’t just run on a single device, but it runs on multiple devices. If someone wanted to call their mum/dad their mum or dad they can do it from a PC however their mum/dad could answer the call from their smartphone!

Lets look at some best practices that Skype has adopted based on the 7 best practices that  Professor Jason Watson’s from QUT   pointed out regarding “Software above the level of a single device”.

1) Design from the start to share data across devices, servers, and networks

Skype offers users many functions such as voice calls, video calls, chat and sharing data. Skype was designed to share data across multiple devices. Recently, MSN messenger has merged with skype bring both networks together.  Users can now use skype and it’s features as long as they have internet connection on their device.

2) Think location aware

Skype can utilize wireless signals to enable users to call/transmit/receive data. Most devices have wireless/GPS and bluetooth built in, as long as there is internet connection skype can be used and accessible.

3) Extend Web 2.0 to devices

Skype not only can be used on PC but the application is extended to mobile devices as well! You can also link your Skype to the popular Facebook application!

4) Use the power of the network to make the edge smarter

Once a user is logged into Skype on their mobile device even if they aren’t using their phone Skype is still active because it is still connected to the network. By doing this messages can still be sent to a receiver unless the have actually logged out of the Skype application. All personal Skype information are stored on the server.

5) Leverage devices as data and rich media sources

As mentioned before weather on your PC or mobile device, Skype allows users to use the device to access rich media sources Skype offers. This includes: video calling, data transferring, chatting and voice calls.

6) Make one-click peer-production a priority

Skype once installed is simple to use, when chatting or sending data users just have to click the “send” button to send the data to the recipient.

7) Enable data location independence

Skype allows customers to seamlessly keep data synchronized across devices, if a new contact is added on a PC once Skype is opened and signed in on the same account on another device data will be synchronized across. This is a huge convenience.
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References:
– Watson, J. 2010 – INB(N)347 Week 7- Lecture slides

YouTube- “A Rich User Experience”

This blog will look at  the concept “Rich User Experiences“, the fourth or eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly. From all the previous blogs ”
Harnessing collective intelligence” , “Data is the Intel Inside” and “Innovation in Assembly” we can see that the world of Web 2.0 is evolving at a rapid rate. Long gone are those websites that were static and not user friendly. It is important that websites/applications developed satisfy the user and makes navigation/find information easy or else users would not return to that website.

Fortunately, with all the methods of enriching websites and web applications there are plenty of websites that offer users such a rich user experience like never before. The website/application i will analyze today in relation to “Rich User Experience  is Youtube. Youtube is one of the most popular websites out there, i can safely say that everyone reading this blog would have used YouTube a some stage in their lives. However, Youtube has undergone various changes since becoming a huge phenomenon.

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Youtube allows users to upload videos and stream videos, it uses uses Adobe Flash Video and HTML5 technology to display a wide variety of videos.

Here are some benefits/ features provides Youtube with  rich user experience:

1. Youtube automatically suggests video names based the letter a user has typed, the suggestion changes as more letter is typed in. For example if you type “G” drop down suggestion will give you suggestions such as Gangnam style, Google etc . This is such a great way of not only finding the content you want but it also draws users to other content based on youtube’s suggestions.

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2. Youtube now can be linked to ones gmail, some may hate this but i find it convenient, by linking it to your gmail your search history in youtube will be saved and suggestions will be made based on your searches.

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3. You can also share a particular video you like to other social media networks, very handy and efficient way. (This pleases many users a lot, since they can then share what they want to their social media account from YouTube).

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Right, lets look at some best practices that Youtube has adopted from a rich user experience perspective.

(1) Combine the best of desktop & online experiences –

The youtube navigation is simple and easy as most should know, what has changed in the last few years is the YouTube application that is now available on almost all mobile devices/smartphones.  Whether on the desktop or mobile device the rich interactivity, high user engagement, fast performance allows Youtube to be a ubiquitous application that provides rich user experience.

(2) Usability and simplicity first

YouTube’s application is simple and easy to use providing all its users a simple yet rich user experience. I believe YouTube holds a big portion users using their services is not only because of the services they offer, but also because of the simplicity and usability YouTube offers. Thus, retaining their users. If you haven’t check YouTube out you seriously need to ask yourself what have you been doing! Go to YouTube now!

(3) Match the technology usage to the requirements

Youtube can be used on any devices that has a web browser (IE, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari) or in the age we live in now with smartphones the youtube app allow users to use the YouTube technology. Currently, YouTube uses HTML5 and Flash to display its contents however this could well change in the future with a push towards HTML5.

(4) Search over structure

Searching YouTube contents doesn’t only come from the YouTube website itself, even google searches can also bring up Youtube pages.

(5) Deep, adaptive personalization

As mentioned early, YouTube brings in personlization to its users, based on their search history recommendations will be made to the user.  This adaptive personlization offers rich user experience because it will show content that the user is interested in or similar videos. YouTube user’s experience dynamically learns from the users behavior, anticipates needs, remembers preferences, and adapts as appropriate. Which saves time!

Resources-

Watson, J. 2010 – INB(N)347 Week 5- Lecture slides

http://oreilly.com/web2/archive/what-is-web-20.html

http://chris.pirillo.com/youtube-layout-changes-good-or-bad/

Innovation in assembly

This blog will look at  the concept “Innovation in assembly“, the third of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly.

Lightweight business models are a natural concomitant of lightweight programming and lightweight connections. The Web 2.0 mindset is good at re-use. A new service like housingmaps.com was built simply by snapping together two existing services. Housingmaps.com doesn’t have a business model (yet)–but for many small-scale services, Google AdSense (or perhaps Amazon associates fees, or both) provides the snap-in equivalent of a revenue model.

These examples provide an insight into another key web 2.0 principle, which we call “innovation in assembly.” When commodity components are abundant, you can create value simply by assembling them in novel or effective ways. Much as the PC revolution provided many opportunities for innovation in assembly of commodity hardware, with companies like Dell making a science out of such assembly, thereby defeating companies whose business model required innovation in product development, we believe that Web 2.0 will provide opportunities for companies to beat the competition by getting better at harnessing and integrating services provided by others.”

 – O’Reilly

The world wide web has grown at a fast rate and will continue to.  Re-use is a great term to describe Web 2.0, with all the data and API’s available out there business/companies can customize and create applications like never before. This is know as “Innovation in assembly“.

What is an API?

An API is also know as “Application programming interface“. It is an interface implemented by an application which allows other applications to communicate with it. So why is it needed? This is because there needs to be communication between platforms and applications. Just imagine Notepad couldn’t copy-paste to and from microsoft word or google chrome, you would have to type everything out even though it is already on notepad!  This is only one of the examples of communication between applications and all this communication is made possible via APIs. This type of innovation brings speed and efficiency to our everyday use of the World Wide Web. Right lets take a look at an API that is useful throughout the world.

Bing Translation API!

bing_babelfish       bingapp

Bing Translator is one of many services offered by bing. Bing  (known previously as Live Search, Windows Live Search, and MSN Search) is a web search engine from Microsoft. Bing Translator’s main rival is google translator , these 2 translation services allows everyone in the world to use it. This is such a great tool particularly with people travelling around to various countries where they many not be familiar with the language there. The API allows developers to create mobile apps or even implement the translator into their application. So what are the benefits of the Bing Translation API?

– Increased Bing’s popularity/exposure
– New products and innovations developed

Let’s look at the best practices that  Bing Translation API has adopted-

1) Offer APIs to your service-

Bing offers many services including map services, search services and translator services. All these services have API’s that are available for people to use.

2) Design for remixability

Apart from the usual one language translating to another, one interesting application that has used bings API to remix and design is 2lingual Bing search. 2lingual Bing search is a search engine that uses bing translator API to split users search into both languages.

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3) Use existing standards

The API can be used with either REST, SOAP or JavaScript protocol and responses are formatted in XML or JSON.

4) Build your business model into you API

With Bing being a search engine, the translator fits well into the business model, for example users might want to translate a sentence from English into Chinese by using the Bing search option they can easily translate into the chinese language without needed to use other translator services.

5) Use web 2.0 to support your platform – Using the Web 2.0 patterns, Bing translations harnesses the data of its users and developers to create new linguistic services (voice recognition services).

6) Use your platform to build customer trust and loyalty – The competition from other translation services such as Google translate and other translation sites is no doubt intense and fierce. By making their API open to the public this allows bing to gain customer trust and loyalty.

Conclusion

What Bing translator has shown is not only does the application provide a way of translating languages from the internet, but by providing an API to the general public it brings in innovation assembly. Developers can now use the API key to develop various types of applications or implementing it within their website/application. 

Foodspotting — Data is the Intel Inside

This blog will look at  the concept “Data is the Intel Inside“. The second of eight patterns as defined by Tim O’Reilly during a conference on Web 2.0. So what does this mean?  The phrase means that data weather it be the user or privately created is becoming a commodity.

“During the Web 2.0 conference O’Reilly confessed that having access to large amounts of data is in many instances more important than creating great algorithms” — Why is this so? As the web continues to evolve data is such an important aspect, Internet applications, success often comes from data, , not just function.

You can either be part of the data as users such as flicker or youtube where users upload their images/videos, in other words users are the data. Another aspect is users collecting data via websites (wikipedia, google etc). I believe we are moving into the stage where data will continually be reused. A great example is social media sites (facebook, google+, twitter etc) once users upload their content (images/posts/videos) these data can be reused via other websites/web 2.0 tools. Data contribution leads to collection and then distribution via the web which leads to organizations gaining exposure or even increase in earnings.

Ever heard of the web 2.0 application Food spotting?

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Food spotting is a website and app that allows people to find and recommend food! It is particularly useful because of the map feature it has, users with the application can look at current food trends in the areas they wish to look at. For example, once you have signed up you can either upload an image of the food you would like to share, this can be done via their website or through their mobile app (which is much more convenient on the go).

IT’S ABOUT DISHES
Discover nearby dishes, find whatever you’re craving & see what’s good at any restaurant.  -Google Play

IT’S VISUAL
It makes finding good food as easy as looking in a bakery window.
-Google Play

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What is great about food spotting is it utilizes the data of users and stores it on their application. Let’s take a look at an example, a person has just been to Southbank in Brisbane and went to Grill’d the awesome burger restaurant, they want to share their findings of this restaurant. They can upload their image to Foodspotting, which allows everyone who has the application to see what are the ‘ Latest in map area’ which shows the latest foods based on your selected location or current location (based on GPS). Another great aspect is that when you are viewing an image you can like itwant it or if you have tried it click tried it.

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Let’s look at some best practices that “Foodspotting” has achieved with its data strategies-

1. Seek to own a unique, hard to recreate source of data
The unique thing about Foodspotting is the data shown are data from the users themselves.

2.Enhance the core data-
Foodspotting allow users to enrich data with user comments, liking it, wanting it or tried it. Which is a great way to engage the online community.

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3. Let users control their own data
Food spotting does enable users to control their own data such as deleting and reviewing posts.

4. Define a data strategy
The advantage lies within the data being collected can be viewed by many.Users get to upload their current food explorations on the go from Global Positioning System (GPS)

5. Design data for reuse

Data reuses is fast becoming a major factor in the growth of the web. Foodspotting allows users to share the data they have uploaded. Even sharing other users foods via social media sites such as Facebook, google+ and twitter.

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Foodspottings privacy use of data-

From foodspottings privacy policy states “You can choose not to provide us with any of the information above, but may not be able to take advantage of certain features without creating an Account or providing the appropriate information.” An example is ones current location, in order to find nearby content more easily and receive targeted information. A user can opt into sharing your mobile device or web browser’s location by accepting the appropriate permission or prompt.  However, users who turn of their location services will not be able to find foods around them in their current location.  Foodspotting’s privacy policy has shown that they give their users free will when it comes with their data and third-party sharing.

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Sources

http://www.foodspotting.com

http://radar.oreilly.com/2007/12/google-admits-data-is-the-inte.html

Stumbling upon “Harnessing collective intelligence”

Today i will be looking at the Web 2.0 pattern Harnessing collective intelligence.

This concept first defined by Tim O’Reilly during a conference to define Web 2.0.

“The real heart of Web 2.0 is collective intelligence, which I have defined as harnessing the network effect to build applications that get better the more people use them.” – Tim O’Reilly at the 2008 Web Expo

Harnessing collective intelligence is by creating an architecture of participation that involves revolves around user participation and network effects. This means users collaborate/interact with the website to provide data for themselves and for other users of the site. The more users who participate the better quality of information is gathered by the site and the vast amount of different sources are collected. A number of Web 2.0 sites such as Wikipedia, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr all utilize collective intelligence to create and generate their content. By harnessing the power of collective intelligence these Web 2.0 can then provide a better experience for its users, which in turn increases the sites retention rate.

Right so have you ever heard of the website Stumble Upon?

StumbleUpon is the easiest way to find cool new websites, videos, photos and images from across the Web.

StumbleUpon is the easiest way to find cool new websites, videos, photos and images from across the Web.

Stumble upon is basically a website that is based on the concept of stumbling around the internet (as you can probably tell by the name). Stumble Upon  finds and recommends web content to its users. It’s features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.

So how does it work? Setting up an account is super easy, once you have signed up and selected your initial interests such as sports, cooking, shopping, design or technology you click on the stumble button on the top of the page.

As you can see this page is an example of all the categories i am interested in.

As you can see this page is an example of all the categories i am interested in.

StumbleUpon will then generate the best websites/photos/videos out there based on your interests. You can then like/dislike the page and make comments on the content.

The act of like/dislike contributes to the quality of recommendations for you. Like most Web 2.0 sites there is the option to share via other social media websites such as like Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn are provided, extending functionality and giving StumbleUpon a community feel. The power of behind this website is user collaboration/interaction through collective intelligence of the users interests.

By clicking the like button, users can  discover many great websites and even greater information that would never have been found by traditional searching methods.

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By disliking pages users will be will be shown less of stuff base on that category.

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Users pursue their own interests by liking/disliking certain pages. This process will then allow Stumble upon to categorize sites and improve how it selects websites for all users.

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1 great feature is the Stumble tool bar, it allows you to like or dislike web pages from just click “I like it” icon or if you don’t like it click on the “thumbs down” button.

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A secondary level of interaction is following other users, and channels. Being able to view others users profiles allows you to see what they are browsing, and follow their comments on other pages. This also is another aspect of harnessing collective intelligence.

In conclusion, StumbleUpon successfully harnesses collective intelligence via users liking/disliking sites associated with a particular interest. This assists in the categorization of sites, not just for themselves but for all users.  By collecting these user data it will not only improve recommendations but possibly promote websites for specific business organizations. Network effects is also achieved, as discussed the more users who participate and actively like/dislike, the more relevant the results are to users. This could also be an efficient way of looking up websites that interests you without using google! 😛

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References-

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/technology-explained-how-does-stumbleupon-work/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StumbleUpon

– http://webtrends.about.com/b/2008/04/24/the-collective-intelligence-and-importance-of-marketing-in-web-20.htm