The Friday Wrap #1: Search upgrades, gamification, blacklisted apps and Twitter email

Posted on May 18, 2012 9:29 am by | Gamification | Google+ | Internal | Media | Search | Twitter

The Friday WrapI review a lot of content during the week. Much of it comes from curated collections I follow, such as Smart Briefs. I get email updates from several sites, like AdAge and ZD Net. I subscribe to the RSS feeds of hundreds of blogs. I check the links that cross my Twitter stream, thanks to my Paper.li daily. I click through a lot of items shared over Google+ and Facebook. The ones I find interesting, I publish to my link blog on Tumblr. Some of these find their way into blog posts. A couple make it into my reports on the podcast I co-host with Neville Hobson, For Immediate Release. The rest…well, they just sit there on my link blog.

Starting today, I’m going to share some of the best links I’ve collected during the last seven days that didn’t serve as fodder for other content in this “Friday Wrap.”

Dueling Upgrades from Google and Bing

Bing was first out of the gate, announcing a redesign that, for Facebook users who were signed in, includes a social search component called Sidebar that, according to ReadWrite Web, should “send Google back to the drawing board. A number of articles and posts lauded the feature that, when expanded, shows you relevant items from your social networks. It is, in fact, a slick and useful enhancement.

But Google wasn’t far behind, unveiling the Knowledge Graph, a database of more than 500 million people, places and things that Google has been assembling for more than two years from a variety of sources. The intent is to better connect keywords to topics, summarize facts and inject serendipity into search results, according to The Huffington Post, one of a bazillion outlets reporting on the feature. “By connecting billions of disparate points of data, its search results can present users with a more coherent narrative, thus providing a better understanding of the relationships between facts,” the article says.

Both tools are being rolled out gradually. The Bing Side Bar has shown up for me but I haven’t been able to access the Knowledge Graph yet. Both signify the evolution of search.

Speaking of Google…

The “Google+ is a Ghost Town” meme continues with the introduction of new statistics. The data, released as part of a report from RJ Metrics, don’t bode well for the social network Larry page has called Google’s “social spine.” According to a Fact Company report, the average post on Google+ has less than one +1, less than one reply, and less than one reshare. About 30% of users who post something to Google+ never do it a second time, and even after publishing five items, there’s still a 15% chance that the user won’t post publicly after that. It takes 12 days for the average user who posts something to get around to posting something else, and the average number of posts from the average user declines steadily month to month.

Google has shrugged off the report, noting that the sampling is small (40,000 users) and incorporate data only from public posts, not those limited to circles. (Are most of your posts public or to a specific circle?) RJMetrics counters that the study results mirror a ComScore study from February.

BusinessWeek, however, wonders if it matters. Citing Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan, they point out that Google+ “provides Google with crucian user data to improve its main business: search.” Even of only a million or two people are active on the site, Sullivan says, it’s still likely to be enough for Google to get out of Google+ what they want.

Yammer and Badgeville Join Forces

Yammer—the social networking/status updating tool for the enterprise—has partnered with Badgeville to bring gamification to internal social media. Badgeville has been one of the leaders in influencing behavior through gamification and reputation programs. Under the partnership, when an employee achieves a goal established using Badgeville, it’s published to the Yammer activity stream where employees can comment on it or like it. “Publicizing the achievement provides additional motivation to the achiever and encourages onlookers to earn their own recognition,” according to the press release, which notes that Deloitte is already using the integration to reward consultants for checking in about client meetings.

Companies Start Blocking Smartphone Apps

If you’re a regular here, you know I’m opposed to companies blocking employee access to social channels. (Visit my Stop Blocking site for details.) But companies are continuing down the blocking path, bringing the practice to smartphones by blacklisting apps. Some are blacklisted over security concerns (like DropBox), others because of the old bugaboo, productivity (like Angry Birds). Ken Hess, writing for ZD Net, has a divided opinion about the legitimacy of the practice. Considering something like 70% of CEOs and C-Suite execs take video game breaks during the work day—leaving them feel better equipped to deal with the challenges and stresses of work—it seems rather disingenuous to suggest that employees taking simlar breaks aren’t gaining the same benefits but, instead, are simply causing the company to suffer a drain in productivity. As for tools like DropBox, Hess notes, “If i were a thief and wanted your information, blacklisting DropBox wouldn’t deter me at all.”

Twitter Launches an Email Digest

Like you don’t already get enough email newsletters. Twitter announced on Monday that it was launching an email digest of the best tweets in your network. According to Othman Laraki, Twitter’s director of growth and international, “This new email digest also features the most engaging Tweets seen by the people you follow, even if you don’t follow those who wrote them. You can see who from your network retweeted or favorited these Tweets and click ‘View details’ to retweet, favorite, reply or view the conversation around them.”

Most of the response to the email feature has been less than flattering, but a few have pointed out that email digests are one of the best uses for email these days.

Geofeedia is Out of Private Beta

Geofeedia enables location-based searches for social media content. Type in a place name, address or outline an area on a map, and Gofeedia delivers the latest geotagged content from within that area. it draws from Twitter, instagram, Picasa, Flickr and YouTube. The Poynter Institute sees the tool as a boon for journalists: “Hear about a shooting at a high school near Cleveland? Draw a circle around the area on a map and start looking at what is being posted, pretty close to real time. From there, you can filter by keywords and time.”

Pretty nifty. You need to request an account.

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