Douglas Crets


Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

LinkedIn Launches Attractive Stats Interface for LinkedIn Groups

Have you checked your LinkedIn Groups lately? If you are the moderator of any LinkedIn Groups you will notice today that the company has prettified your group pages with a very handy statistics interface.

Here’s the interface for Education Edge, the group that I manage for education entrepreneurs and directors of education management organizations.

A new attractive interface for tracking how people engage and work in your LinkedIn groups


Filed under: Influence, Tech, , , , ,

How Four Essential Changes in China’s Social Web Will Affect Global Business

Image representing Jack Ma as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

The following list of five areas of China’s social web, and the five areas where they have changed are my personal assessment of these technologies. I believe that areas of change in China’s Internet will have pretty big implications for how people in other parts of the world do business. To me, it doesn’t seem like much of a surprise, for instance, that advertising models may take cues from Sina’s weibo microblogging platform. If you compare weibo with Twitter, the weibo platform does things that Twitter would only dream of trying, in terms of advertising delivery, commerce, and marketing opportunities. I say “would only dream” of trying, but I should say, “should try.”

Keep reading for my list of five important developments and what I think they mean for worldwide advertising, marketing, social networking, and reputation graph use on the global web.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Influence, Tech, , , , ,

The Only Way Facebook Would Reveal an FTC Investigation: Filing an IPO

Image representing Nik Cubrilovic as depicted ...

Nik Cubrilovic Image via CrunchBase

I had a phone call with someone who works for the Federal Trade Commission this week.   The phone call revealed the following about any potential FTC investigation into Facebook’s alleged privacy infringements:

The onus is on a non-public company to reveal that there is any ongoing investigation, or that there was any investigation being conducted by the FTC.

The source said, “If we have an investigation, it’s non-public. I can neither confirm or deny that we do.  Publicly held companies have to file documentation. That’s the most common way they disclose these kind of things.”

The typical way that the public is informed of any investigation is through that company’s registering of their IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Facebook delayed its IPO until late 2012. Without an IPO registration, the public has no way of knowing if there is a privacy investigation ongoing, or if one has been concluded. It is unlikely that Facebook will confirm or deny these allegations.

In the interest of balanced reporting, I have tried repeatedly to contact Facebook for comments on many stories, including this one. I have not heard back from anyone in their press office. I most recently sent emails to their press office, while I was working for ReadWriteWeb. I no longer work or write stories for that blog, so I have sent another request to Facebook for comment on this. Facebook has so far not returned any requests for public comment.

LA Times stories point out these privacy concerns and others like it,with the most recent focused on the use of tracking cookies. These were first discovered and written about by an Australian tech blogger named Nik Cubrilovic.  After what he explained as months of trying to get Facebook to pay attention to his claims, he was able to get Facebook to fix one tracking cookie that kept track of everything a user did outside of Facebook, simply by writing the aforementioned blog post. Two days later, a Facebook spokesperson explained it away as a “bug” to the cookie software.  Mainstream media swallowed this, but now with this new Arrington post, questions surface again.

In Arrington’s post, he reveals that Facebook has had two different positions on tracking user activity. In public, it has said that it is not interested in doing so. In a patent application, Facebook is apparently applying for a patent for the methodology that does exactly that.

What really is going on with Facebook? Wasn’t the intention all of the time to track user behavior? Facebook is not a public company, and like all private companies, their business deals, financials, and internal decision making has a very low wattage bulb by which the public can illuminate the dark. How are we to know the real intention behind tracking behavior? Was the tracking cookie really a mistake fixed with poor public relations reactions? Or, is there something more there, disguised by public relations spin?

It is worth noting that Amazon’s new Silk browser for the Kindle Fire does something similar. Facebook is different. Everything resembling people’s private information is housed there, including links to family members, and social behavior. Maybe that is what gets people worried and drives this news story.

Filed under: Influence, , , , , ,

Foursquare: Advertising Reality

I have wondered for some time what Foursquare does, exactly.

It has performed a number of tasks for me in my daily life, ever since I have picked it up from the app store:

1. Discovering bars, restaurants, cafes, and once in a lifetime experiences in my East Village neighborhood and in Manhattan that are not advertised on TV, or on the radio.

2. Meeting new people in my neighborhood, who seem to have similar interests, or completely opposite interests as me (equally compelling)


I have noticed that it does another thing:

1. It has turned Foursquare into an advertising platform for advertising and marketing platforms. See Lucky Magazine’s follower update:

Lucky Magazine lets us know she is at a shop

And then, if you swipe through the listings, you will see that what you are really getting is a very very small slice of a magazine experience through the window of the iPhone. but more importantly, you are getting someone’s attempt at a curatorial marketing experience.

foursquare lucky magazine

Lucky Magazine has a shoe crush, and you get a picture of the love object

Whoever is operating the Lucky Magazine Foursquare check-in is also spending some time to select things in reality that she is encountering on a day to day basis. This is the direction marketing must go. IT’s a social experience, with objects out in the real world, in your own neighborhood.

It so happens that the Foursquare HQ is in my neighborhood. I even get a slight peek every once in a while at what they are doing in their top secret lair. Unfortunately, I can’t read what’s on the board or the iPad, so I am not able to break any news for you about their future plans.

foursquare HQ

Jam session at Foursquare HQ

I can only assume it’s great.

Filed under: Influence, , , ,

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