Thoughts on privacy versus disclosure in today’s society

It seems that the last few weeks/months a number of media stories have raised an intense discussion around public privacy and social responsibility.  Some examples include:

Such discussions, while appearing on one level to be independent, and unconnected, also appear to me, to revolve around a central theme of ‘public privacy rights and the individual’s right to choose what to disclose‘.  While the first two examples relate to high-profile individuals, the latter example, as well as similar discussions around Google’s use of internet users’ information, and other trends (such as the rapidly increasing number of bloggers), shows how the topic relates to the general public also.

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Google Wave – the future of communications, or just another social media tool?

Google_Wave_logoYou’ve heard of Facebook and Twitter – next up is Google Wave. I recently received an invite to join Google Wave, Google’s new social media/collaboration tool.  Since it is still in a limited preview phase, the only way to join Google Wave is via such invites (read on if you are interested in getting an invite – I have three to give away). I’ve now had some time to play with it, and thought I’d add my thoughts to the growing number of reviewers and critics.

According to the Google Wave ‘About’ page:

Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

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Online business games – undiscovered, ‘behind the curve’, or of limited value?

I recently wrote a post about Zynga, an online social games developer (here).  Zynga is growing quickly, wth games that they develop having tens of milions of subscribers/players.  In that post I speculated that there could be a huge opportunity for a business to develop (or co-develop) a successful ‘social business game’.

In the meantime, I came across various examples of online business games, including ‘Energyville‘, an online game developed between Chevron (the energy company) and The Economist (the magazine), which was launched in September 2007 (press release). Energyville isn’t in fact a ‘social game’, but rather just an online game, but I thought that this would be a good opportunity to take the thoughts further, given its backing by two well known companies

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An outsider’s perspective of ‘Social Games’ (eg. Zynga’s Mafia Wars, FarmVille, etc.)

Social Games are ‘computer games’ played on the internet, usually via a social networking site (eg, Facebook, mySpace, etc.), which involve interaction with chosen other people (usually nominated friends). In a sense they are a classic example of “Web 2.0”, being the development of the world-wide web to involve greater interaction between online participants.  They have piqued my interest, because a number of my friends are playing them on Facebook, and I really had no idea what they were about.

Companies like Zynga (the maker of some of the largest social games, and who I comment on further below) appear to be quietly growing into powerful market participants, despite mostly being hidden from the public eye (at least so far, most of the social games developers are venture capital funded).

Zynga has an excellent overview, presented by its founders and employees, in this YouTube video:

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