Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Humour, Internet | Posted on 10-06-2010
I had to chuckle when I spotted this staid paragraph in the Wall St Journal’s yarn on the iPad data leak while flying to Chicago today:
AT&T Inc. acknowledged Wednesday that a security hole in its website had exposed its iPad customers’ email addresses, a breach that highlights how corporations still have problems protecting private information.
A small group of computer experts that calls itself Goatse Security claimed responsibility for the intrusion, saying the group had exploited an opening in AT&T’s website to find numbers that identify iPads connected to AT&T’s mobile network.
I can’t help but wonder if the WSJ sub-editors spotted the nerd joke in the namesake this ‘small group of computer experts’ has chosen to adopt – ‘Goatse’ is an infamous part of internet folklore, as Wikipedia attests:
Goatse.cx was an Internet shock site. Its front page featured a picture,hello.jpg, showing a completely naked man stretching his anus with both hands, to approximately the width of his hand.
Because many frequent Internet users have been tricked into viewing the site at one time or another, it has become something of an Internet meme. As such, hello.jpg and the other images on the site are common subjects of parodies and tributes.
Click through for more Goatse if you must, but consider yourself forewarned (especially if you work for the WSJ).
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Business, Life | Posted on 08-06-2010
I survived my Spain & Portugal rugby tour intact, and this Thursday I’m heading to Chicago for a couple of days for the Internet Retailer Conference.
I’m presenting a Twitter workshop on Friday morning titled ‘Twittering Your Way to Retail Success‘ so holler at me if you’re attending or a Chicago local who’d like to meet up while I’m in town.
Rugby tour was a blast. We lost our game baking in the Spanish sun vs Acala 48-41, won our first game in Portugal 32-5 and then lost the final of a local tournament in Caldas 17-5. The highlight of the tour though was Forcado training alongside our host rugby club, the Grupo de Forcados Amadores das Caldas.
For the uninitiated, Forcados are an element of Portuguese bullfighting where a group of 8 blokes essentially tackle a bull by the horns. As Wikipedia puts it: “It’s not uncommon that forcados get serious injuries – in 2008 at least one forcado was in a coma for three days – or even death.” I’ll post some videos later if one of my mates gets them up online.
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Life | Posted on 26-05-2010
Expect radio silence from PaullYoung.com (and *gasp* even Twitter) for the next 10 days as I’ll be joining my fellow Village Lions on rugby tour in Spain and Portugal.
We fly to Madrid this afternoon and play a game in Spain this weekend, then make our way to Lisbon, Portugal to take part in a tournament next weekend. There’s also some bullfighting training planned… so assuming I make it back alive I’ll be back in action here in mid-June.
And here’s a great action shot, courtesy of my good mate Christian Averill, of me in the thick of it on last year’s Lions tour of Argentina.
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Life | Posted on 24-05-2010
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 20-05-2010
Picked up this quote from some excerpts of a Facebook TIME cover story in this morning’s Politico Playbook email:
When a newcomer logs in, the experience is designed to generate something Facebook calls the aha! moment. This is an observable emotional connection, gleaned by videotaping the expressions of test users navigating the site for the first time. … Facebook has developed a formula for the precise number of aha! moments a user must have before he or she is hooked. Company officials won’t say exactly what that magic number is, but everything about the site is geared to reach it as quickly as possible. And if you ever try to leave Facebook, you get what I like to call the aha! moment’s nasty sibling, the oh-no! moment, when Facebook tries to guilt-trip you with pictures of your friends who, the site warns, will ‘miss you’ if you deactivate your account.
I’ve long referred to Twitter users having a ‘lightbulb moment’, but I’ve always thought it was a little harder to ‘get’ than Facebook. Very interesting that they put this degree of user testing into their development and continual testing and tweaking.
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Life | Posted on 19-05-2010
Having just read Manhunt (thanks to my mate Billy Bob Bottinick) I find it even more significant that John Wilkes Booth was almost exactly my age when he tried to shift world history by assassinating Abraham Lincoln.
As a data-driven communicator, one of the very first things I did in my new role with charity: water was to dig deep into our Google Analytics and immerse myself in some numbers.
With Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics 2.0 in one hand and my mouse in the other I first looked over the long-term trends in the data and key referrers to see what stood out. Amongst the many interesting things I found there’s a standout I’d like to share here: The story of Twitter’s emergence, as told through our data.
Now charity: water does Twitter extremely well. We were the first charity to reach one million followers. We were the focus of the first Twestival that raised over $250,000 for water projects. Twitter holds us up as an example for other non-profits. Hugh Jackman donated $50,000 last year after asking his Twitter users to select a charity. Many of our staff tweet – we’ve even got a screen streaming Tweetdeck in the middle of our office!
So without further ado I’d like to share some traffic stats, in the interest of knowledge sharing, to give some background to the highlights above:
May 2008 – May 2009
- Traffic from Twitter only equates to 1.55% of total traffic
- Facebook sent 50% more traffic than Twitter
- August 31 & September 21 2008 were two of our best traffic days of all time – on these dates we had only 1 visitor from twitter (but whoever they were stayed for 17 minutes!)
May 2009 – May 2010
- Visitors from Twitter increased to 7% of site total (8 times as many visits as the year before)
- Twitter becomes the top referring site, with more than double the visitors than Facebook
- November 2 2009: Helen’s Story, a beautiful piece by my fiercely smart colleague Becky Straw, goes viral on Twitter and recieves over 5,000 visits on this day alone
- March 22 2010: charity: water marks World Water Day by launching the Unshaken campaign for Haiti. We have our second best traffic day of all time and 20% of visitors come from Twitter
Just a few interesting tidbits for now – I’ll aim to share more data and insights moving forward. And here is where the ask comes in: I’m looking for a true Google Analytics guru who would be interested in volunteering some time to work with me and my team to deepen, extend and amplify our Analytics backend to ensure we’ve got a measurement backbone on par with the smartest data-driven organizations out there. Rewarding work for a great cause – if you know someone (or even better ARE someone) that fits the bill please give me an introduction!
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 17-05-2010
Facebook can predict your secret crush.
I’ve long thought you could easily make this type of inference based on the data from Facebook’s back end. Just pull data based on when two young single things start spending a large amount of time peering at each others photos (this must be mutual or they’d fall in the ‘stalking’ category). Even better, there’s probably a ‘magic number’ of minutes spent on each others Facebook page that pushes your likelihood of romance up to the 90th percentile.
It’s an inside half-truth that many friends of Mark Zuckerberg have told me over the years: Facebook knows when a relationship is about to end. My response was to always ask more questions as it actually sounded like a legitimate possibility. In David Kirkpatrick’s soon to be released book, “The Facebook Effect“, Kirkpatrick confirms that relationship patterns were something that Mark Zuckerberg often toyed with.
In the book, Kirkpatrick writes:
As the service’s engineers built more and more tools that could uncover such insights, Zuckerberg sometimes amused himself by conducting experiments. For instance, he concluded that by examining friend relationships and communications patterns he could determine with about 33 percent accuracy who a user was going to be in a relationship with a week from now. To deduce this he studied who was looking which profiles, who your friends were friends with, and who was newly single, among other indicators.
It’s deeply interesting to think what’s possible on the back of Facebook’s huge database of intentions… but it’s also pretty darn scary.
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in charity: water, Life | Posted on 14-05-2010
Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet | Posted on 11-05-2010
Sunday afternoon saw me venture over to the NYU campus to visit the Spring Show from their acclaimed Interactive Telephony Program.
It didn’t disappoint. I found a wacky, wild and deeply creative mix of ingenious projects that linked digital, art, gaming and engineering. In a word: inventive.
Most interesting for me was a project (pictured above) where two users wear helmets with webcams and then play with dials to ‘merge’ a graphed image combining the visual feed of their two faces. The creator explained he was inspired by Picasso’s Cubism. Wild, right?
Other standouts included Zoobursts super-cool Augmented Reality interactive pop-up books for kids, built by Craig Kapp. And coming from a world of Conversation Mining at Converseon ; Zoe Fraade-Blanar’s Current news project showing a data visualization of Google Hot Trends linked to Google News really intrigued me (and I’ve blogged on Google Hot Trends before). There is a great review, with detailed screenshots, of her project over at Brain Pickings.
All in all, while I’m not surprised that the program led by Clay Shirky is so deeply inventive – I was still completely blown away by the smarts on display.
(And a big PS: If you’re involved with the NYU ITP program, or know someone who is, please let me know: I’d love to talk with them about how my new employer charity: water might be able to draw on the brilliance of the students there.)
UPDATE: The Current news project I mentioned above got a great write up in ReadWriteWeb today, worth a look.