FWM Digital Bytes

Broom Army in Manchester
Image supplied by www.technicalfault.net

This week’s FWM Bytes…is social media responsible for the civil unrest and riots of late? Why is Apple suing Samsung? And how has Google Labs got under the skin of the NY Times…

UK Riots: Social Unrest and Social Media

Yesterday, Tuesday 9th August 2011, saw the unrest and rioting of recent days that started in London break out on the streets of Manchester. The Sun and The Mail had been quick to lay blame on social media as being responsible for inciting unprecedented levels of civil disobedience by allowing rioters to organise and communicate effectively and quickly in order to plan targets. And some media outlets and politicians went as far as to call for tools such as Twitter and the Blackberry Messenger Service to be suspended to prevent any more rioting.

However, as the disorder spread to other cities in the UK, like Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Wolverhampton, examples of the positive action that social media can bring about began to shine through. In stark contrast to the use of social media to plan riots, online crowd-sourcing meant that thousands of people were able to organise events to help clean affected areas. Through the use of Twitter hashtags, such as #riotcleanup across the UK and locally #manchestercleanup, and Facebook groups thousands of people have shown up in the areas struck by looters to clean up and help local services to return the city back to normal. Manchester’s own “Broom Army” has been sweeping the streets today.

Further to community spirit thriving on Twitter and Facebook, Greater Manchester Police are using the photo sharing site Flickr to put names to the faces of those involved in last night’s disturbances in town. @gmpolice on Twitter kept people closely informed as events unfolded in Manchester and the account is now being used to reach out and advise those affected.  Traffic to social networks and news websites has experienced a massive surge, with Experian Hitwise reporting that 1 in every 170 UK Internet visits on 8th August 2011 was to Twitter. There has also been nearly a million people who have signed up on Facebook to support the police, revealing strong public sentiment against the riots.

The power of social media and its ability to influence in real time, as exampled by the uprisings in Egypt and other countries, has been cited as a reason for the speed at which events unfolded in London and across the UK. But to argue whether it incited more violence or looting is difficult. Great national spirit has also blossomed via social networking in the wake of these shocking events, which perhaps shows social media for what it really is – a tool. Social media will be used for whatever the end goals are of those who use that tool and the ends ultimately serve as a reflection on society and human nature

What’s your view?

Apple Wars

Apple is locking horns with Samsung Electronics over its product Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringing Apple patents. A temporary injunction across the E.U. (excluding the Netherlands) means that Samsung will be unable to sell Galaxy Tab 10.1, the rival to Apple’s iPad tablet computer. Apple’s approach to technological innovation and strategy in acquiring patents has given them some notoriety as they battle to dominate the forefront of intellectual property. This new setback for the Korean firm and their product is not the first run in between the two digital giants, with Samsung countersuing Apple in South Korea, Japan, the US and Germany.

New York Times to Adopt Google Labs Model

Google announced recently that it was phasing out Google Labs but now the New York Times is taking inspiration and will be modelling similar features on Google products, like RealTime and Buzz. With the advent of Google Plus, most of these features have been slowly disabled by Google, but the innovative nature of such projects has caught the attention of other companies in the digital sphere. The New York Times is launching Beta620, which adopts a scientific approach to streamlining and monetising their presence online. Beta620’s progress will no doubt be watched carefully by other news media organisations, as digital takes over from print.

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