Facebook… Twitter… Tools for Troublemakers and Terrorists?


There’s been a lot of news in the UK recently about how “Social Networks” have become the new tools for anarchists, troublemakers and terrorists…

Just look at BBC News yesterday (click through for the full article):


Twitter was also labelled a potentially dangerous tool, with police considering a temporary shutdown of the service:


So – it appears that, yet again, new technology is a large part to blame for the ills of today’s society.

What utter tosh!

It appears that the police, politicians and certain segments of the media have yet again failed to understand that technology is merely a medium for content.  Let’s face it – Facebook and Twitter help to connect people together – nothing more and nothing less.  If we had found out that certain subsets of the London rioters had coordinated their gatherings through (voice on) mobile phones, would we not scoff at the idea of the police proposing to shut down the mobile networks for a period of time?  So what makes Twitter exceptionally bad?  It’s just a different (and newer) medium of communication, after all…

I still remember the early days of the Internet – when the public and press were sceptical to this brave, new, connected world wide web.  Just over a decade ago, the Internet was perceived by some to be nothing more than a festering cesspit of porn, paedophilia and instructions on how to build bombs.  At least we’ve grown out of that mind-set!

Common sense dictates that if you find people inciting unrest on Facebook or Twitter, then you close down those particular accounts, not the medium.  Just as you’d take down a racism-inciting web or blog page, and not over-react by blocking the entire Internet.

Hopefully the stone-age technophobes come to their senses and understand that we shouldn’t be criticising the medium, but rather focussing efforts on those who are abusing the medium.  Facebook and Twitter are no different from mobile networks or anything broadcast over the airwaves – it’s just a newer, faster way of connecting people…

In short – I will be indignantly outraged if I read any more headlines like the one below


Windows Phone 7 launches tomorrow

If you live in the UK, then hopefully you are aware that Windows Phone 7 launches tomorrow.

Windows Phone

Anyone who has been near me for the past few months will not have failed to know about this.  It is all I talk about, and something I’ve been gearing up for over the last few months.  Back in May, I blogged about how Windows Phone 7 would knit your social universe together in one device.

Well – the time is nearing where we, the general public, can get our hands on these phones – launch day is tomorrow!

Yes – as of Thursday, 21st October 2010 – you will be able to buy Windows Phone 7 handsets from your local store, or online.  I have two handsets lined up for myself from Orange – the Samsung Omnia 7 and the HTC 7 Mozart.

If you want to know more about Windows Phone 7, discover the major features here.  Engage with the community at the official Windows Phone UK Facebook page, and chat with like-minded individuals at the Windows Phone Backstage forums.

And finally – I’d recommend avoiding me in the near future if you don’t want to get oversaturated with demos of what Windows Phone 7 can do.  In addition to having two handsets to demo, I’ve also today become a "Windows Phone 7 Expert” and will fire all my newly learned sales patter directly at you! Winking smile

Windows Phone 7 Expert certificate

(P.S. If you want to become an Expert yourself, pop over here to learn and certify!)

The “Social” with Bing Maps

It still surprises me how little-known the Bing Maps “Map Apps” are.  The Map Apps can add powerful functionality to the already great Bing mapping service.

With the recent announcement that Multimap.com will now be redirecting over to Bing Maps, I thought it might be a convenient time to point out some of the more “socially-focussed” Map Apps.  Feel free to jump straight to a particular Map App:


Where Can I Find Map Apps?

Easy – just press the button on the menu – shown in the screenshot below.  There are lots of Map Apps – hover over each one to get a short description, and try them out (note: some of them are US-centric, so don’t be surprised if you can’t find cheap fuel prices in the UK)!  Try out the Silverlight version of Bing Maps here

Bing Maps

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Facebook: My Friends

Have you ever wondered how internationally dispersed your Facebook friends are?  Well – wonder no more!

If you let Facebook and Bing Maps play with each other, then a nice Map App is My Friends.  This Map App shows you geographically where all of your Facebook friends “live” (provided that they’ve shared this information with you).

Try out My Friends here…  (Remember to click Connect to allow Bing Maps to speak to Facebook!)

My Friends

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Twitter: Twitter Maps

Another nice social Map App, and the first one of two which integrates well with Twitter (well, out of the two that I’m going to cover).

Twitter Maps takes advantage of geo-tagged tweets by displaying your search results overlaid on Bing Maps.  Using this Map App, you can see who has recently tweeted in your local area, or how many people are tweeting about a specific event/product/anything in a certain geographic area.

As an example – the screenshot below shows people who have recently tweeted about Halo: Reach within the UK (well – and some strange foreign-types at the lower-right of the map).

Give Twitter Maps a whizz here

Twitter Maps

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Twitter: Tweet Heat

Tweet Heat is the second Twitter Map App that I’d like to “big-up”.  This Map App also uses geo-tagged tweets, but in a different manner from Twitter Maps.

This Map App analyses each tweet and determines how positive/negative/neutral the tweet topic is.  It’s possibly best described by the intern who created it: “The map app helps users visualize the public response/feeling towards a product, event or really any topic”.

Did I say intern?  Yep I did!  It’s utterly fantastic to hear that Microsoft helps to foster such creativity and ingenuity within the organisation – even challenging interns to create astonishing tools.  Read more about the genesis of Tweet Heat here.  (As an aside – this isn’t a unique occurrence – the Audio Record feature in OneNote was also created by an intern.  More on Microsoft interns here…)

Anyway – I digress.  Try out Tweet Heat here…  And just to get you started – general sentiments on Halo: Reach throughout the UK below…!

Tweet Heat

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OK – so Photosynth isn’t strictly speaking a “social” app, but it has strong social elements within its DNA.

Microsoft Photosynth is actually a great service for creating massive panoramic, gigapixel or 3D photos by stitching together multiple pictures.  The technology is spectacular, and you can easily upload and stitch your own photos.  Thanks to geo-tagging, it’s been possible to integrate Photosynth with Bing Maps.

Below is a terrific example of the integration between photos and mapping.  Go access and zoom/pan/gaze directly here


There’s a great number of Photosynth images to see – below is a screenshot of those scattered around the UK.  According to the Map App, there are currently 40,989 Photosynths made from 2,973,935 photos at this particular moment.  Go see all them here.


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In Short…

There are a great number of interesting – and sometimes useful – Map Apps available already, and the count is ever-increasing.  If you want to keep up-to-date on the latest developments, remember to visit the Bing Maps Community!