Further proof press will run any study that blames Facebook for something

(cross-posted from Business & Networking)

Two Australian press outlets (and counting) have come up yet another way Facebook Is Destroying The Economy: The Age & The Courier Mail both have reports today on how, “a growing number of young Australians are becoming addicted to online social networking.”

Of course you don’t just make charges like that without substantiation. Both publications site the same study — and nothing but that study. This study was put together by one Julian Cole, an interweb strategist with the Aussie ad firm Naked Communications. As is usual in these things, Mr. Cole and his research are the only source cited in either story.

In a previous version of this post I incorrectly implied that Mr. Cole’s research may have been biased because of where he works. Mr. Cole has graciously written in with a very important correction:

The thesis was actually part of an Honours degree at Monash University. Naked Communication just happens to be the place that I work.

My apologies to Mr. Cole. I should stick to what I know best — making fun of lousy press coverage. Nowhere in the stories I read was it made clear that this work was done for his thesis. That is the fault of the reporter, not Mr. Cole. I have no reason to believe or even suspect Mr. Cole’s research is anything but scientific and accurate.  I was lead astray by lousy reporting. Again my apologies and thanks for the note.

My personal congratulations to Facebook for being accused of the same crime that the Athenians got Socrates with: Corrupting the youth. That’s some pretty damn good company you are keeping.

Yahoo! News has five other outlets reprinting the same story. Well, it’s early in the news cycle here in the US so I have no doubt that number will grow.

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Gooruze is a site and a test-case for online marketers

Gooruze is a site that wants to be the Facebook/LinkedIn for online marketers. (Gawd, is there anything more tired than the description “is the the MySpace/Facebook/LinkedIn for…”?) So it has come up with the requisite weird site name sent out invites to the online marketing types and given us a space where we can post our profiles and our work.

It seems fine, if a bit generic and I have joined. That’s just a professional obligation — I have signed up for a bazillion of these sites but I actually have found little reason to participate in most of them. (BTW, I have to include a piece of code for it to track my blog on the site, so here’s the code: ConvonHoffman.gooruze.com. Hope they’re happy.)

However, it begs the question: Why should I use it? It’s just started up so I’ll give it some time to get up and running but so far I don’t see any real value being added by the people running the site. Right now there’s a news feed from stories suggested by members — but it’s not as comprehensive a feed as I would find at Mashable or TechCrunch or a number of other sites. There’s a lot of posts from members that unfortunately read like basic marketing communications — informative but basic and lacking any attitude or style or anything else that might make me want to read further.

So why go there? Can they build a community simply by saying they are the place for this community to be? Because right now that’s all I’m seeing. As with many social/professional networking sites it feels like they expect me to do all the work and that’s not going to cut it anymore. The site’s name is an ugly play on the word gurus, but as of yet it feels like I’m supposed to provide the swami myself.

Like I said, it’s an interesting test case. We’ll see.

Is Web 2.0 satire even possible?

 (Cross-posted from my other blog: Business & Networking)

The following was actually not generated by one of those DIY Web 2.0 sites listed yesterday:

2pointnologoBAAGZ, from the French Web and enterprise search company Exalead , is a new search and collaboration system, still in beta, that applies Web 2.0 features to social networking. While the idea of using search topics and vetted results as nodes around which dynamic topical networks could form is interesting, the current early beta implementation gives just a hint of what may be possible.

There’s a site that trying to be a parody of MySpace & co. called FriendSpaceBook. The site invites you to make parody profiles of friends and/or celebrities. This suggests that the creators haven’t spent enough time reading actual profiles on these sites. I think a similar fate awaits The Facebook Book, a dead-tree attempt to satirize all of this that will be published by Harry Abrams just in time to be remaindered.

When the reality is already this silly all you have to do is report.