Keeping up with the Killer App

I’m finally feeling overwhelmed by everything you can do on the internet.

I was always aware of online innovations early and I was often the first person I knew socially who took them up, even if I didn’t take them up immediately.  This was true for email, the browser, forums, social computing, online-shopping, online maps, user-created content, professional networking, instant messaging – loads of stuff.  

As online apps diversified, I had to dabble rather than embrace.  Either I would decide not to join in (I don’t have an account on Second Life because my first life is pretty demanding, I don’t podcast because my perfectionism would drive me mad), or else I would join in rather late (I’ve only just signed up to Twitter because interesting things – like the Israeli “people’s press conference” – are now being done with the tweets). 

But now, for the first time, I’m not even aware of the new online apps.   Every week, it seems, I find new ones. This is a real head-shift for me.  I feel like someone born just after Sir Francis Bacon died.  Bacon, apparently, was the last person who read all the books.  Not all the books on a particular subject.  All the books.  We are so used to the number of books published (5,500 daily in the UK, though “only” 4,700 in the USA) that it never occurs to us that we could get our head around all of them.  I never did expect to get my head around everything the web says, but now I am struggling to keep up with everything the web DOES.  

It’s kinda exciting.  Like 1995 all over again, but this time it’s real.

Here are some examples:

Zeitgeist sites:

These are basically feeds of user generated content – photos, tweets, questions.  They are oddly soothing to watch for a while.  It’s a bit like watching clouds.

The 118118 question feed







This one’s so interesting it deserves a post of its own, though I may not manage it.  This is

The Isreal Consulate’s “Citizen’s Press Conference” on Twitter

“David Saranga, Consul of Media and Public Affairs in New York, will answer your questions about the situation in Israel and Gaza in a “Citizens’ Press Conference.”  You can submit your question by directing it to our Twitter account. We will do our best to answer through Twitter.  If an answer requires more than the 140 character limit, we will respond on Twitter with a link to an answer posted in this blog.”


Which of course is what the government is proposing to do with out emails and phone calls:

Employee Scrape at IBM:

“Call records and e-mails define the social networks of each consultant. Whom do they copy on their e-mails? Do they send blind copies to certain people? These hidden messages could point to the growth of informal networks within the company…”

Twitter Scrape

” 2.7M users (and slowing, meaning I’m starting to find the edge), 10M tweets, 58M edges, with pretty-near complete edge data for users with more than a dozen followers.”

Animated data flows:

Presenting dynamic data dynamically,  such as the location and duration of phone calls, location and duration of taxi journeys, (ok these aren’t online apps, but they are still remarkably cool)

Mobile phone calls during the European World Championship in Spain 
Telephone exchange activity in Britain
London cab journeys (very few South of the River, at this time of night? Give us a break!)

Vodpod videos no longer available.


I do owe a massive thank you to Flowing Data for keeping up with the Netgeist so I don’t have to.


12 responses to “Keeping up with the Killer App

  1. Flickrvision is amazing. If you can stand it, here’s another couple. Flickr image search Creates symmetrical images from flickr content, tagged with a certain word or words.

    I looked at a Gaza webcam recently, saw billowing smoke and heard bombs and gunshots. I felt disgusted with myself for the voyeurism, but it certainly brought home what was happening. I also heard a call to prayer, very moving given the context.

    It is disturbing just how present it’s all become. I had a flatmate in the early nineties who took great pride in owning a snuff video. It was the core of subversion for him… now these things turn up on messageboards as a matter of course.

  2. Twitters, to me, giving ppl(sic) the ability to txt(sic)-message the masses over the internet.

    Whereas some blogs can go on for a page of inaneness you get it all condensed into one blip-blog (apologies to Max Headroom).

  3. Obviously, I do not include your blog… 😉

  4. Here you can touch base with an array of slebs – Jonathan Ross, MC Hammer, David Lynch… Legendary San Francisco 49ers Wide Receiver Jerry Rice…

    Stephen Fry is a big fan, lots of fun.

    If you can get Kristen Hersh’s number that would be good.

  5. Thanks Chris, Interesting site.

    Some of Frys comments are good.

    I suppose a twitter could be compared to a haiku; done well it should convey a whole idea in a minimum of words. It just seems most are just banal ‘wot I am doin’ waffle.

    Case in point Fry’s most recent:

    “London City Airport. Where form meets function. And they have a fight.”


  6. My blog, obviously, is insightful, witty, fascinating and a must-read for everyone who passes by. Nice of you to notice, Alfster. 😉

    Good links though dudes, and thanks for them. Loved Fry’s story about the bat.

    Have a look at this one: it’s a 24 hour animated map of positive tweets about the Obama inauguration.


  7. Chris – sorry about missing your post. My spam filter catches anything with more than one link in it. I should check it more often. I really am sorry about that.


  8. No probs Ben. I can’t remember what it was but it can’t have been crucial; I’m a bit of a linksmonkey these days, much of this is a mile over my head. But it’s certainly valuable reading.

  9. Oh wait, it’s there now!

    Okay, here’s one more. The guy who set up the site that lets you put Yakety Sax over any YT clip has now made a site where you can put the audio of anything you want over any YT clip. I found this worked particularly well, particularyl for a tough day. Hope you enjoy.

  10. May I just point you towards the BBC item below…great minds think a like…

    Laurie:(28th May 2009)

    “I think if people were able to take these 140 characters and develop a poetic Western form – a haiku of our own in which all human existence could be compressed into those 140 characters – that would be a satisfying thing, but that’s not what I see when I read them.”

    Alfster: (see 25th January 2009 below…)

  11. Sorry should have read: See 25th January 2009 above…


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