Words of the Google Privacy Policy from 1 March 2012

Comparing the language of Google’s privacy policies

Google's Policies and PrinciplesFrom the 1st of March 2012 Google is introducing a new one-size-fits-all privacy policy. Or as they’re headlining it ‘One policy, one Google experience‘. By continuing to use Google products from that date you will be accepting this policy. There will be no ‘please read then tick if you accept’ method here, which is more commonly used by the likes of Apple and PayPal when they update their terms of service or privacy policies.

On starting to read the page explaining the reasoning behind the move from sixty policies to one, it becomes very clear that the language being used is that of promotion, aiming to convince readers that this is a good idea. In and of itself this is interesting, and perhaps show some insecurities that Google may have in what they are doing.
Continue reading → Comparing the language of Google’s privacy policies

Something for the weekend: ‘Information wants to be free’

‘Information wants to be free’, famously observed Stewart Brand, way back in 1984. Goading a debate that still rages. Seemingly putting those who make money from content up against the internet’s utopians.

We see the arguments play out most days in one form or another, be it over newspaper paywalls, music downloads, Apple’s app store, and every time we watch a film at the cinema having first to view the clip about piracy. But, as Cory Doctorow argues, it’s worth understanding the full quote from which the snappier phrase has been grasped:
Continue reading → Something for the weekend: ‘Information wants to be free’

Apps are redefining internet and social media usage

Apps: an abbreviation of ‘application software‘ – pieces of software that are generally very easy to download and install and that are often very specific in the task they are programmed to do.

At the moment we most commonly associate apps with mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, but the term ‘app’ and app download/purchase environments (eg. App stores) are also making an appearance on the Chrome browser and as part of the latest version of Apple’s Snow Leopard operating system.

Some may argue that it’s just a change in the wording furniture, what used to be called ‘widgets‘ are now apps – for example the Opera browser has had them for years, and FireFox has long had what it terms extensions and plugins.* These add-ons have added to the services and tasks that can be done within the browser. I could also note here that the term ‘desk top app’ has been with us for a few years too.

Be that as it may, the popularisation of the term and understanding of ‘app’ – which we should probably look to Apple for – has meant that these bits of software that add to our experience of the internet have seen a significant growth and are changing the way we access, use and utilise the internet.

As part of Social Media Week, Tom Smith from Global Web Index has published research on what this means for social media, which makes for interesting reading. In particular, how apps and mobile usage are already matching PC usage for accessing social networks, writing blog posts and updating microblogs such as Twitter (see slide 14).

* This may well be notional rather than a precise understanding of the difference between these terms, so please do clarify significant differences in the comments below.

Further explorations in social media usage data

Over the last few months I’ve been on a quest to gain a greater understanding of how social media is used in different (mostly European) countries, prompted by a mix of client work and general interest. Following up from this post in November, I thought it time to share a few findings.

The first difficulty in researching this area is where to find information. Whilst a Google search can produce a variety of results, they’re not always the most up to date or most relevant. It’s also good to be aware that free demographic research results don’t always cover every country, so if you want to find out trends for Scotland or Luxemburg, you may have to use your imagination to think through possible data sources (Google Trends and Google Insights are a good start, as is looking at the local version of Google eg. Google France). For European data it’s also worth thinking through the other languages that research may be posted in and key terms in those languages.

However, given all that, here are some sources that cover most large countries, or have specific information for individual countries in English:

GlobalWebIndex Lite Tool

This comprehensive tool enables you to select a country, gender, age group and demographic profile. The results are three pages covering: motivations for using social media, quantifying social media involvement and a page examining the perception of brand use of social media. This is probably the most powerful of the tools listed here.

Forrester Social Technographics Profile Tools
Consumer tool
B2B tool
Forrester’s Social Technographics data classifies consumers into seven overlapping levels of social technology participation. The consumer tool graphs their research in this area by country, gender and age group. The B2B tool graphs by company size and primary purchase category.
Whilst useful for indicative information put together with other research, the data is limited for certain countries and the B2B data is US only. The purpose of both tools is to highlight Forrester’s paid-for research (time to dig out that membership code if your company has one).

ComScore Date Mine
ComScore’s Data Mine is an index for all it’s publicly available graphs and data. For example this graph here showing average hours spent on social networking sites per visitor across Europe:
Average Hours spent on Social Networking Sites per Visitor across Europe
The graphs and data available are displayed in chronological order and by tag cloud, so you might have to do a bit of searching to find information that you are looking for. Again, worth checking sample sizes and when the research took place.

Hitwise Data Centres (by country)
Hitwise Data Centres list highly up to date information by for the countries listed above (current data being displayed for UK is dated 29 January 2011) on top websites (including social sites) and search engines, top industry search terms, top retail sites and search terms, top travel sites and search terms.

Ofcom (UK with some comparative data for other countries)
Image of Ofcom communications market report websiteOfcom (the UK’s communication regulator) publishes all it’s consultations and research online across it’s entire remit. Go to the Stakeholder section of the site to explore this. Of particular interest here is their annual Communications Market Report which is released each August. The report is usually a few hundred pages in length but the dedicated website highlights key findings for each year and breaks down the report into relevant sections. Each section is then broken down further by UK country and International data, so it is much easier to explore than in the past (see image). The PDF versions also contain graphs of the data.

As any good TV presenter might say: ‘there are other research sources and companies out there’, so please do add links in the comments if you’ve found any that you’d recommend to others, these are some that I am currently finding most useful. Whilst alone each is limited, used together these tools and data sources can give a good overview of socialmedia usage tendencies. But really they are simply just a good starting point. To get more specific data you may need to pay for it and/or research more. Using your own Google/web Analytic data for example is often overlooked.