We the people vs Facebook, Google et al

It’s interesting to me that these issues are based in the same quandry: how do we, as a society, deal with placing the control of our content in the hands of a few big providers?

The writers and the publishers – a contract

User-generated content comes out of a relationship: the writers (us) write things, generate data through web activities, and create links to people, while the hosts (Facebook and Google, here) gather the information and do neat things with it. They share our posts with our friends, connect us with ads that might interest us, and host our status updates and regulate who sees what we are up to.

The first two links are public retaliations for what the plaintiffs feel is a betrayal of trust by Google and Facebook. They put their trust in these two tools to safeguard their content. They are unhappy that Google and Facebook changed the rules (or perhaps violated their side of the agreement) with the users by changing the defaults on what information is public.

This, to me, is an age-old “breach of contract” question. Have Google and Facebook in fact violated the terms of service, to which they agreed when each user opened an account with them? And if so, what do they owe us?

We the people vs Facebook, Google
We the people vs Facebook, Google

Making amends

The next story is about Facebook, having heard the outcry (well represented by the aforementioned lawsuit) and attempting to re-establish good will. Though they aren’t admitting that they have done anything wrong, they appear to be trying to regain some of the trust they lost in November and December by offering users more control over who sees posts from the various applications they use. (The example cited in the Facebook blog explanation: I’ll let the Someecards app post to my close friends only, but My Causes can post to everyone including the boss.)

As the Facebook announcement says, “Facebook is designed to give you control over the information you share.” I think they are hoping that even greater control will result in a stronger feeling of contract and trust between the users and their tools.

Be careful what you say…

“The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home.”


Pleaserobme.com is a tongue-in-cheek reminder that all information posted on the web is public. Also that most posts can be added to other bits of content for more context than we might intend.

Pleaserobme.com takes basic posts to Twitter from the location-based app Foursquare, which announces where a user is when they check in at that location. As the Pleaserobme site says, “The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home.”

There are a number of ways to work out where someone lives, not the least of which is that many homes are being added to Foursquare as check-in destinations. Sure it’s nice to know where your friends are, but this could be problematic!

(Side note: when I added a new location to Foursquare on Tuesday, it offered me the choice to have that location be private among my friends. It appears that they are already trying to counter this problem.)

But the idea is that, by announcing on Twitter that I have checked in at a location that isn’t home, then all my valuables at home are open for the taking. Obviously, that’s not good.

As a content-generator in this relationship, I have to be aware of what information I am releasing to my hosting platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google, etc.) and how that information can be compiled.

Are we making progress?

We can talk at length about the generational change in individual data, and how kids today will grow up happily sharing every last bit of their lives on the Web. (I’m not convinced of this, by the way- I think they will grow out of a lot of their exhibitionism. Caution and desire for privacy often comes with age.)

But these stories represent, to me, an ongoing push-me-pull-you tension of expectations and service provision, as the capabilities and they way they’re used continually race ahead of each other. I think our society and laws will continue to swing back and forth on privacy issues as we re-establish our norms and our expectations for companies that hold our content.

Collaborative learning resources

Just a quick follow-up to my feature on collaborative learning over at LGEO Research…. I’ve been asked for references, so here they are!

e-Learning Anaesthesia (eLA)

This is a joint programme between the Department of Health’s e-Learning for Healthcare (e-LfH) and the Royal College of Anaesthetists. They are collaboratively developing clinically-appropriate, peer-reviewed online learning modules to help trainee anasesthetists to revise for their FRCA exams.

Dimitracopoulou, A. (2005) Designing collaborative learning systems: current trends & future research agenda.

Collaborative learning resources

Computer Support for Collaborative Learning (Proceedings of the 2005 conference on Computer support for collaborative learning: learning 2005: the next 10 years!) Taipei, Taiwan. p 115 – 124.
This is a good background paper on computer-supported collabortive learning (CSCL) and models for the different kinds of systems.

Smith, B. L and MacGregor, J. T. (1992) ‘What is Collaborative Learning?‘ Abbreviation of Smith and MacGregor’s article, “What Is Collaborative Learning?” in Collaborative Learning: A Sourcebook for Higher Education, by Anne Goodsell, Michelle Maher, Vincent Tinto, Barbara Leigh Smith and Jean MacGregor. Pennsylvania State University: National Center on Postsecondary Teaching, Learning, and Assessment.

This paper outlines the theory of collaborative learning (face-to-face or technological).

Baker , M., Quignard, M., Lund, K. & Sejourne A. (2003). Computer-supported collaborative learning in the space of debate. In B.Wasson, S. Ludvigsen and U. Hoppe (eds): CSCL: Designing for Change in Networked Learning Environments, CSCL 2003 congress: 14-18 June 2003, Bergen, Norway, pp.11-20
This paper is about designing collaborative learning spaces. It explains that giving more feedback (for example, dialogue graphs which visually show the user how much they participate) increases the number of arguments a participant contributes.

Uses for Open Data in Social Media

I’m often asked these days why people would bother with open data. (Here, I’m using LinkedGov’s definition of open data.) I thought it would be useful to write down and gather some feedback, see if we can refine these categories further. Thus far, it seems, the uses are boiling down to four categories:

1. Transparency

Broadly speaking, this means getting a better view of what is going on inside the government or the public sector. This audience covers both the non-public sector and the public sector itself.


  • Infrastructure: Transport timetables, traffic information or road potholes for a journey planner app.
  • Accountability: Financial and budget statements for armchair auditors
  • Media: Potential headlines and stories for journalists
  • Sharing information resources: Formal research available to inform academic and professional inquiries (for example, data from NHS clinical studies informing projects hosted by universities or industry).

This group also includes management and demographic statistics, like the number of people in a particular benefits program Status and progress updates: performance data, such as the number of outcomes met in a specific project News: announcements about public sector activities, grant opportunities and new ways to interact with government.

Community information: local planning applications, crime statistics or upcoming events that impact a neighborhood.

open data

2. Delivering services to/on behalf of the government

Open data allows commercial and third sector organizations to have a closer relationship with customers and funding sources in government and the public sector.


Delivering front-line services on behalf of a governmental or public body: As an example, the train operating companies might benefit from greater access to forecasts of passenger activity from Transport for London.

Marketing to government: If a photocopier sales department can see which public sector offices are likely to need a new photocopier soon, they can target their marketing appropriately.

3. Improving commercial activities outside of government

Many existing business models could benefit significantly from greater access to public data. A few examples:

Smoothing commercial transactions. A tool for selecting the ideal import tariffs or a faster route of calculating tax could provide significant savings for a commercial goods company.

Enhancing an existing offering. A tour operating company could plan more accurately (or prompt their clients to plan better) with weather data from the Met Office.

Targeting marketing. Census data and council tax bands, for example, could help a new company work out where its target market is, helping them to concentrate their comms efforts in the most efficient place

4. Efficiency

Much of the public sector could benefit from better access to their data and the information contained within it. Examples include:

  • Procurement: Comparing costs and existing contracts when looking at procurement for something new.
  • Evidence base: Better informed policy development and decision-making
  • Reducing the load: Fewer inquiries from the public (specifical requests under the Freedom of Information Act) and from within the public sector (for example, parliamentary questions from ministers to civil servants in their department).

What are your thoughts? How can we refine this model and make it more complete?

Why your Business Needs Bookkeeping Right Now

Business owners today failed to maintain their business bookkeeping losing track of your business finances can make you lose your sanity in tax season and ultimately getting you to drag to an IRS audit for having inconsistent bookkeeping. Here are the top reasons why you should be maintaining your bookkeeping for your business.

Establishing a good bookkeeping system from the start can be a huge advantage one of the biggest mistakes business owners make is ignoring their bookkeeping either because they are overawed, or they might conclude their business is too small to were bookkeeping. However, the earlier you start recording all data and expenses, the less stress you will have in tax season.

Why your Business Needs Bookkeeping Right Now

One of the main reason business owners continue to do is separating their personal chequebooks with business books; it is extremely crucial to separate all personal and business transactions. Separate banking will improve all tax procedures, future payment expenses and prevent a business from being missed helping you have a clear picture of expected growth, ultimately having better records help improve your tax return.

One of the main reason business prefer to outsource or just hire an extra employee is to keep their business stress low and free of having to go their invoices daily or weekly to keep having your books in order. Spending and investing in outsourcing or hiring an extra employee is a wise strategy which will lead business having more time to take care of business matters.

If you are currently started a business or don’t have the funds to hire or outsource your bookkeeping needs, you will probably go with option three which is acquiring a software-based program like QuickBooks or fresh books having a daily organize system where you might spend a couple of hours weekly on bookkeeping you’ll likely reduce accounting fees another great resource is using apps like XpenseTracker and ProOnGo which you can download and app store or for Android users at the google play store.

The final step is hiring or outsourcing your bookkeeping before hiring outside help you first need to research and find quality help an extra employee of an outsourcing business can be your company’s financial partner for the rest of your business life. Before hiring help, you will want to understand the basics of bookkeeping which will ultimately help you to hire the correct candidate. Another good option is to get a referral from your attorney or a business friend; another good option is to visit your local society of certified public accountants. Having it outsource is probably the best option which will save you from hiring an extra employee helping you save money.

Their and many good options to keep your bookkeeping under control you can have a to it yourself system by software system, hiring an employee or getting outsource whichever option you decided to get the best advice is to not neglect your bookkeeping to have a system in place before starting your business or getting help if you have an established business. If you need assistance with your bookkeeping, you can reach our friends at bookkeeping they are the leading bookkeeper’s service in the country.