Another year, another chance for large, apparently ‘trustworthy’ organisations to try and deceive us all with rubbish stories and cringe-worthy pranks. April Fools’ Day, for most, is a day to take with a pinch of salt. For the unfortunate few though, I can only imagine it is a stressful day riddled with lies and deception. If you think you might fall into this bracket you should just stay away from the internet entirely on the 1st April for the rest of time (or just don’t share anything on social media) to avoid embarrassment.
For all the gullible people out there, I have scoured the internet and made this list of some of my favourites from 2015 in the hope that next year you will be better prepared and ready for the onslaught.
Google Maps & Pac-Man
Its safe to say that Google are usually the champions of the internet prank world. This year was no exception with the addition of Pac-Man to Google maps. Which, when clicked will transport you into Pac-Man’s 2D world along the usually familiar streets of your home town with Pinky, Blinky, Inky & Clyde for company.
2014 was declared year of the selfie, so off the back of that I think its safe to say that 2015 is the year of the selfie stick. Coming into 2015 it would only make sense for it to be the centre of a lot of companies’ April Fools’ pranks.
This year we had selfie shoes from miz mooz, a Twelfie stick from Twitter, Chrome Selfie to capture reactions faces and Honda even brought us the HR-V Selfie Edition with 10 different selfie cameras positioned around the car with hands free uploads.
Tinder + Uber
This apparent collaboration lets you swipe right and book an Uber to meet your newly found lover halfway. This is one of the better ones flying around the internet as it is actually fairly believable and unlike the remainder it even managed to fool me.
CERN researchers proved that scientists do have a sense of humour with an article on their official site saying that they have proved the existence of the Force. With quotes by Ben Kenobi from the University of Mos Eisley, Tatooine I think that this one was fairly obvious unless you’re not a fan of Star Wars.
Not so much of a prank but retro throwback. Amazon US reverted back to its roots yesterday and showed users what it was like to try and buy things from them back when computers were the size of a (mini fridge).
An article on The Drum stated that it expects that “90% of online content will be held behind paywalls in the next three years”. This really sparked my interest in this topic and brought me to the belief that this could have a negative impact. Strangely, not only for the users but for the content providers as well.
Let’s take look at education first. I believe that the advantages available to content providers actually greatly outnumber the disadvantages. It is usually argued by content providers that if 2 years of research have gone into an academic paper they should charge for people to use it. However, having read around the topic I am inclined to argue otherwise. Even though they may not gain funds for use in future research, they are far more likely to be cited in other peoples work as their research is much easier to get hold of. This means that their research is more likely to spread around the academic community and potentially even gain commission from an organization or government body. According to David Wiley (2012), distributing research online costs as little as $0.0007. Given this, initially it makes financial sense for the content provider to make these resources freely available online instead of publishing it, which has been estimated to cost around $250. Although, it is very easy to feel this in the position of a student, I can imagine that it is a lot harder to come around to this idea as a researcher.
If we were to expand on the question and talk about the topic outside of just an educational basis, the subject of open source software comes up. There are many advantages to a content provider of releasing their software on an open source basis. Anyone can read the code for it and help to improve it via a small community of experienced programmers. This means that the program itself benefits and in turn the content provider as their program will penetrate the market deeper and more easily. A great example of this is Open Office, if you read the development section of their Wikipedia page you can see how quickly their software has progressed due to their community of programmers.
Use of social media to support live events has grown rapidly, even over the past year. An excellent example of this is the Superbowl, with 24.1 million related tweets in 2013 during the event compared to a mere 13.7 million in 2012. It is a real world example of how social media is increasingly becoming a medium for people to communicate worldwide during a live event.
I think the most important use of this is that it helps to build a community around an event as it takes place. According to Lisa Harris, people can interact and it ‘allows people to make connections and curate what was going on in different rooms, in real time’, this is especially relevant for example at a conference if everyone is using twitter hashtags. It allows them to communicate together and follow each other as they will inevitably share interests and be able to develop an online relationship.
Another opportunity is that it helps to build an archive of social media which can be used for anything from just keeping a record, to visualising it for analysis and you can use it to figure out trend.
In the same way that use of social media during live event has its advantages there are also some downsides. For example, it was argued by the SMiLE (Social Media in Live Events) project that use of social media during an event is a distraction materialising in one of two major ways. Firstly, live tweeting throughout an event could mean that the tweeters are so busy focusing on their wording and hash-tagging that they miss out on the actual event unfolding in front of them. As well as this, it can be hugely distracting for a speaker if he is talking at a conference and a large proportion of the audience are clicking away on their phones or laptops.
Another constraint of social media use in this way is that it can be very time consuming and difficult to set up, for example live streams of a conference. However, the benefits of being able to broadcast a conference worldwide on the internet far outweigh the detriment of the difficulties in setting it up.
The creation of the internet has completely changed the way the world works and it has introduced a whole new dimension to the recruitment game. An article in the Guardian stated that nearly 90% of employers now use the social media as part of their recruitment process, showing just how important it is to to develop an authentic representation of yourself online. If an employer Googles you it is crucial that they find something, even if it is small, as that is better than nothing at all.
The easiest way to develop a professional online profile is to create a LinkedIn profile and keep it up to date. With nearly 100 million users it holds a huge pool of professionals both in and out of work. In this day and age you need more than just a paper CV and covering letter to stand out, and LinkedIn provides employers with just that. They even provide a 5 part video series on Youtube for graduates to help develop to strong profile, and the second video in the series is relevant to the subject of this topic. They talk about the 5 golden rules and amongst the obvious points they mention that it is important to write a keyword rich summary of yourself and provide helpful recommendations. Although their points may seem fairly obvious, they show how easy it is to develop an authentic profile online.
Other ways to develop an authentic online profile can depend on the industry you wish to apply for, for example within the creative industry it is now becoming common to ask for a video resume. According to Article Alley it allows employers to see “something extraordinary from your side, and you can let them feel, see and even hear each word that you say, expressing yourself and capabilities through the video resume”.
A further important way to develop an authentic profile is to link all of your online profiles together. For example, you can connect your LinkedIn, Twitter, personal blog and any other mediums in one place to make it easy for employers to gauge an accurate and authentic view of you from your online profile via a comprehensive profile portfolio.
As with any academic question there are valid arguments on either side of the debate. Having read around the subject, one issue I notice coming up a lot is anonymity which I believe links into the question at hand.
Possession of multiple online identities allows for a level anonymity, something that can be argued in this technological age is something that is valuable when used sensibly. Christopher Poole, creator of the website 4chan (an entirely anonymous forum), talks about how websites like Facebook are eroding our online options as you may possess only one online identity. He says that you should be able to present a different identity in different contexts and be able to express yourself without risking a permanent stain on your identity, something that having only one online profile doesn’t allow for. Something which I agree with to a certain extent, I value my privacy and do not necessarily want colleagues to know every detail of my personal life, hence blurring the boundary between work and play. This is why I have a Facebook page for personal and a Linkedin page for professional. The work of Costa and Torres (2011) talks about this dilemma too, saying that one of their participants had a different online identity for each service she was experimenting with as she didn’t want her online self to be a snapshot of her real life self.
On the flip side of the anonymity argument is a much darker side of the coin. Granting the ability to create multiple online profiles leaves the internet open to abuse, due to the ability to remain (semi)anonymous. Owning multiple online identities allows for malicious content to be created and broadcast in the form of cyber-bullying, trolling, spam and unfortunately much more. However, although these are a plague on the internet, they are still manageable by the right people if things do get out of hand. In which case, I am of the opinion that being able to own multiple OIs outweighs this disadvantage. A further point against I read recently made by Chris March on the Epiphany blog is that nowadays people’s multiple online identities are often linked. This means that if one is hacked, it is very easy to gain access to the rest of them and identity theft can occur, although again this is manageable and preventable with safe browsing practises.
Marc Prensky was the first academic to approach the concept of differing technological ability in 2001 with his idea of digital natives and immigrants. Basing this idea on one’s technological ability being determined by age, using language as an analogy, saying that the younger generation are ‘native speakers’ in terms of technology, referring to them as digital natives. Meaning that, the older generation have had to ‘learn the language of technology’ and are essentially digital immigrants. Prensky also suggested that digital immigrants would retain an ‘accent’, essentially linking to their past technological inadequacies, for example not using the internet or technology as a first port of call for information.
However, I don’t agree with Prensky and do not believe it is correct or fair to assume that the age of an individual determines their digital literacy. His ideas are somewhat dated and discriminatory in the modern era and I believe that anyone is able to become technologically proficient given that they have spent enough time indoctrinating themselves. This is something that was approached by David White in 2011, where he suggests an evolved concept of digital ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’.
White spoke about how digital literacy should not be ascertained by age, but instead by how much time is spent using technology and on the internet. For example, a resident will use the web in all aspects of their life whether is be professionally, for study or recreationally, in essence living through the web. Compare this to his definition of the visitor, who will use the internet as a tool for a specific purpose, but no more than that essentially “logging on, performing a specific task and then logging off.” They do not harness the internet in the same way that a resident would, but note how age is not referred to here at all.
I believe that given this, the concept of residents and visitors is more appropriate than natives and immigrants as it is less discriminatory and offers up a fairer methodology to classify individuals using technological ability. Interestingly, research by Neil Selwyn from 2009 furthers my belief as he showed that even though an individual can been immersed in technology from a young age, their usage of technology can be limited and therefore their digital literacy may be poor.
So you want to know about how to get your website right up there at the top of the Google search page? Amongst other things, the two most important things you need to know about are what is a page title and a meta description, and then how to optimise them. This is because these are the first impressions a search engine user will get of your website, and as we all know you never get a second chance at a first impression!
Imagine that you have just pressed enter on a Google search and you have a stream of results that look like this:
The page title, or title tag as it is also known, is the text in blue (or purple if you have already visited the site) and the meta description is the small amount of text in grey below the website link. At this point it is make or break for your website as the surfer is presented with a wide selection of highly relevant choices and you want them to click through to your site and hopefully stay there!
What can you do to ensure this then?
There are two key aspects to the answer to this question, firstly you need to optimise the page title so that your website will appear as high up as possible in the SERPs but you also need to ensure that what is written in the meta description will entice the browser into clicking on your site over all the others.
According to research conduct by Moz, in order to optimise the page title firstly you need to ensure that it is between 50-60 characters, any longer and Google will truncate it which is not ideal if you have spent hours deciding on the perfect title. The purpose of a page title is to accurately and concisely represent the subject of the page, a key thing to remember here is that every webpage on your site is different meaning that so should your page titles! However, in order to truly optimise it for searches you must ensure that the keywords from the body not only appear in the page title but as close to the start as possible as it greatly improves your pages ranking.
It was announced in 2009 by Google that the meta description does not play a role in the ranking algorithm, however this does not mean that they are not important. Your page title (if keyword optimised) is unlikely to give an enriching portrayal your page’s contents, meaning that the meta description needs to inform and entice SE users so that they click through. As a webmaster you need to create a captivating description of the page while at the same time using all the important keywords to ensure the searcher will click through. Again, as found by Moz, the key thing to remember here is that your meta description needs to be between 150-160 characters to prevent truncation by Google.
You may be wondering why a range of character is offered as a solution and not a specific amount. The reason is because Google doesn’t truncate these elements after a specific number of characters, instead after a specific number of pixels. For example, regarding the page title the truncation point is after 512 pixels have been reached, so the only sure fire way to know if your page title is going to get cut off is by experimenting.
Hopefully by taking into account these two elements in your SEO strategy you can expect an increased amount of traffic to your website from SERPs, which can’t be such a bad thing can it?