Weekly Wrapup: Topic Trackers, Facebook Privacy, Mobile Web Sensors, And More…

In this edition of the Weekly Wrapup – our newsletter summarizing the top stories of the week – we continue our analysis of Facebook’s sweeping new privacy policies (plus tell you how to protect yourself), explore how mobile phones and sensors are mixing, look at the launch of the U.K. government’s data.gov website, present our categorized list of the leading topic tracking tools, and more. And as usual we check in on our two main channels: ReadWriteStart (our daily resource for entrepreneurs) and ReadWriteEnterprise (devoted to ‘enterprise 2.0’ trends and products).

Also read on for details about the newly released printed edition of our current premium report, about the Real-Time Web.

Now Available: Printed Edition of The Real-Time Web Report

At the request of the librarian community and people that just like paper, we have made The Real-Time Web and its Future report available in print.

For those of you that prefer it digitally, you can still download it.

Don’t forget about our Community Management Report. It too is coming in print soon, so watch out for it!

Web Trends

The Facebook Privacy Debate: What You Need to Know

Facebook changed the world by helping 350 million people publish their thoughts, feelings, comments, photos, videos and shared links much more easily than ever before. It’s the King of social networking.

The network grew with a big promise of privacy at the center of what it offered: your information was by default visible only to people you approved as friends. In December that changed, in a fundamental way. We offer in this post a summary of the changes that were made and key highlights from the debate that’s raging around the world about privacy, public information and Facebook.

2010 Trend: Sensors & Mobile Phones

Last week in our Mobile Web Meets Internet of Things series, we looked at barcode scanning and RFID in the next generation iPhone. We expect to see Apple and Android battling it out for both barcode and RFID supremacy this year.

Another key technology in the Internet of Things – where everyday objects are endowed with Internet connectivity – is sensors. In fact we’ve seen the most activity so far in the Internet of Things from sensor data. So in this post we explore how mobile phones and sensors are mixing; and what to expect in 2010.

UK Launches Open Data Site; Puts Data.gov to Shame

A new website dedicated to making non-personal data held by the U.K. government available for software developers has launched with the help of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web. Data.gov.uk is being slammed with traffic but six months after the U.S. government opened its Data.gov site the U.K. site already has more than three times as much data than the U.S. site offers today.

At launch, Data.gov.uk has nearly 3,000 data sets available for developers to build mashups with. The U.S. site, Data.gov, has less than 1,000 data sets today.

Open Thread: There’s No Such Thing As Free Content

So why do users keep expecting to consume it, reuse it, share it and store it without paying for it?

Someone, somewhere ends up putting out money for everything you do online, every piece of news you read, every Web app you use. It takes professionals and hardware across a gigantic industry to make these things work. In terms of overhead alone, content costs a lot. So why do some users always kick and scream at the first suggestion of paid content? Do you think content is worth paying for, and if so, what are you personally willing to pay?



Our channel ReadWriteStart, sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark, is dedicated to profiling startups and entrepreneurs.

Startup Finance: Xero Powers Accounting in the Cloud

When New Zealand-based entrepreneur Rod Drury began researching his market he could hardly believe what he was seeing. As seen in Drury’s comments last week on the state of the online finance ecosystem, only a handful of players like Saasu and MYOB were targeting small business clients. While Drury saw that a number of cloud-based personal finance companies like Mint were gaining traction with users, small businesses had been stuck with the same tired desktop accounting software they’d been using for the last ten years. Drury built Xero with the intent to help small businesses manage their accounts in the cloud.

Never Mind the Valley: Here’s Austin

Settled in the 1830s along the banks of the Colorado River and named for the Father of Texas Stephen F. Austin, the city of Austin is known for its thriving music scene and as the home of the University of Texas (UT) Longhorns. But in the past few decades, the Texas capital has built up a reputation of a different sort.

With companies headquartered in Austin like Dell and Freescale Semiconductor, a spin-off of Motorola, the city has become a hotbed of information technology hardware and software. In the mid 1990s, Austin was put on the map by software companies like Motive, Vignette and Tivoli, the latter of which was quickly scooped up by IBM in 1996.



Our channel ReadWriteEnterprise, devoted to ‘enterprise 2.0’ and using social software inside organizations.

IBM’s Project Vulcan: The Next Generation of Lotus Notes and a Rival To Google Wave

William Shatner opened the IBM Lotusphere event this week, after which IBM launched Project Vulcan. This is a geek dream come true: a full-on collaboration environment with an open API and a name right out of Star Trek fame.

Project Vulcan isn’t set for developer release until the second half of this year, but its potential as an all-encompassing cloud-based collaboration service is causing many to compare it to Google Wave.

Web Products

Top Tools For Tracking Topics on the Web

Tracking topics on the Web can be a painful process, due to the amount of noise and difficulty of filtering it. So to help you out, we’ve selected and categorized the leading topic tracking tools. This is based on the discussion that arose from our earlier post about topic feeds, which are RSS feeds for keywords or phrases.

During the process of analyzing these topic tracking tools, we discovered – to our surprise – that not many of these services output results as RSS. Some of the leading apps in this field require users to visit their service. With that in mind, here is our full list and analysis.

The 3 Facebook Settings Every User Should Check Now

In December, Facebook made a series of bold and controversial changes regarding the nature of its users’ privacy on the social networking site. The company once known for protecting privacy to the point of exclusivity (it began its days as a network for college kids only – no one else even had access), now seemingly wants to compete with more open social networks like the microblogging media darling Twitter.

Those of you who edited your privacy settings prior to December’s change have nothing to worry about – that is, assuming you elected to keep your personalized settings when prompted by Facebook’s “transition tool.” The tool, a dialog box explaining the changes, appeared at the top of Facebook homepages this past month with its own selection of recommended settings. Unfortunately, most Facebook users likely opted for the recommended settings without really understanding what they were agreeing to. If you did so, you may now be surprised to find that you inadvertently gave Facebook the right to publicize your private information including status updates, photos, and shared links.

Want to change things back? Read on to find out how.

Twitter’s Growth Slows Dramatically

After news about the landing of US Airways 1549 in the Hudson first broke on Twitter in January 2009, the microblogging service quickly captured the imagination of a new group of potential users. Throughout the first months of 2009, Twitter grew at a rapid pace, peaking at a growth rate of 13% in March 2009.

Now, however, according to the latest data from HubSpot, Twitter’s growth is slowing dramatically. In October 2009, Twitter’s growth rate had fallen to 3.5%. On a positive note, though, the average active user on Twitter today is more engaged than six months ago.

Why France and Germany Got it Right: IE Must Go

It looks like Microsoft has moved to the “sticks and stones” method for handling public relations gaffes. As we reported earlier this week, France joined Germany in suggesting that its citizens switch from Internet Explorer to, well, anything else. Now, Microsoft’s UK security chief, Cliff Evans, has responded by saying that switching to other browsers will only open you up to more security vulnerabilities than staying with Internet Explorer.

That’s saying a lot for the browser implicated in the Great Google Caper of 2010; and we have multiple security experts who have said a lot on why it just isn’t true.


That’s a wrap for another week! Enjoy your weekend everyone.

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