Archive for the ‘social networks’ Tag

Integrating Sensors in Social Networks   Leave a comment

A number of sensor applications in recent years collect data which can be directly associated with human interactions. Some examples of such applications include GPS applications on mobile devices, accelerometers, or location sensors designed to track human and vehicular traffic. Such data lends itself to a variety of rich applications in which one can use the sensor data in order to model the underlying relationships and interactions. It also leads to a number of challenges, since such data may often be private, and it is important to be able to perform the mining process without violating the privacy of the users.

Social networks have become extremely popular in recent years, because of numerous online social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace. In addition, many chat applications can also be modeled as social networks.  Social networks provide a rich and flexible platform for performing the mining process with different kinds of data such as text, images, audio and video. Therefore, a tremendous amount of research has been performed in recent years on mining such data in the context of social networks. In particular, it has been observed that the use of a combination of linkage structure and different kinds of data can be a very powerful tool for mining purposes. How one can combine the text in social networks with the linkage structure in order to implement more effective classification models. Other recent work uses the linkage structure in image data in order to perform more effective mining and search in information networks. Therefore, it is natural to explore whether sensor data processing can be tightly integrated with social network construction and analysis. Most of the afore-mentioned data types on a social network are static and change slowly over time. On the other hand, sensors collect vast amounts of data which need to be stored and processed in real time. There are a couple of important drivers for integrating sensor and social networks:

-One driver for integrating sensors and social networks is to allow the actors in the social network to both publish their data and subscribe to each other’s data either directly, or indirectly after discovery of useful information from such data. The idea is that such collaborative sharing on a social network can increase real-time awareness of different users about each other, and provide unprecedented information and understanding about global behavior of different actors in the social network. The vision of integrating sensor processing with the real world.

-A second driver for integrating sensors and social networks is to better understand or measure the aggregate behavior of self-selected communities or the external environment in which these communities function. Examples may include understanding traffic conditions in a city, understanding
environmental pollution levels, or measuring obesity trends. Sensors in the possession of large numbers  of individuals enable exploiting the crowd for massively distributed data collection and processing.
Recent literature reports on several efforts that exploit individuals for data collection and processing purposes such as collection of vehicular GPS trajectories as a way for developing street maps, collectively locating items of interest using cell-phone reports, such as mapping speed traps using the Trapster application, use of massive human input to translate documents, and the development of protein folding games that use competition among players to implement the equivalent of global optimization algorithms.

The above trends are enabled by the emergence of large-scale data collection opportunities, brought about by the proliferation of sensing devices of every-day use such as cell-phones, piedometers, smart energy meters, fuel consumption sensors (standardized in modern vehicles), and GPS navigators.
The proliferation of many sensors in the possession of the common individual creates an unprecedented potential for building services that leverage massive amounts data collected from willing participants, or involving such participants as elements of distributed computing applications. Social networks, in a sensor-rich world, have become inherently multi-modal data sources, because if the richness of the data collection process in the context of the network structure.  In recent years, sensor data collection techniques and services have been integrated into many kinds of social networks. These services have caused a computational paradigm shift, known as crowd-sourcing, referring to the involvement of the general population in data collection and processing. Crowd-sourcing, arguably pioneered by programs such as SETI, has become remarkably successful recently due to increased networking, mobile connectivity and geo-tagging. Some examples of integration of social and sensor networks are as follows:

-The Google Latitude application collects mobile position data of uses, and shares this data among different users. The sharing of such data among users can lead to signi􀂿cant events of interest. For example, proximity alerts may be triggered when two linked users are within geographical proximity of one another. This may itself trigger changes in the user-behavior patterns, and therefore the underlying sensor values. This is generally true of many applications, the data on one sensor can influence data in the other sensors.

-The City Sense application  collects sensor data extracted from fixed sensors, GPS-enabled cell phones and cabs in order to determine where the people are, and then carries this information to clients who subscribe to this information. The information can also be delivered to clients with mobile devices. This kind of social networking application provides a “sense” as to where the people in the city are, and can be used in order to effectively plan activities. A similar project, referred to as WikiCity,  developed at MIT, uses the mobile data collected from cell phones in order to determine the spatial trends in a city, and which the social streets might be.

-This general approach of collecting individual location data from mobile phones can also be used in order to generate interesting business decisions. For example, the project MacroSense analyzes customers location behaviors, in order to determine individuals which behave in a similar way to a given target. The application is able to perform real time recommendations, personalization and discovery from real time location data.

Automotive Tracking Application: A number of real-time automotive tracking applications determine the important points of congestion in the city by pooling GPS data from the vehicles in the city. This can be used by other drivers in order to avoid points of congestion in the city. In many applications, such objects may have implicit links among them. For example, in a military application, the different vehicles may have links depending upon their unit membership or other related data. Another related application is that of sharing of bike track paths by different users. The problem of fnding bike routes is naturally a trialand- error process in terms of finding paths which are safe and enjoyable.
The designs Biketastic, which uses GPS-based sensing on a mobile phone application in order to create a platform which enables rich sharing of biker experiences with one another. The microphone and the accelerometer embedded on the phone are sampled to infer route noise level and roughness. The speed can also be inferred directly from the GPS sensing abilities of the mobile phone. The platform combines
this rich sensor data with mapping and visualization in order to provide an intuitive and visual interface for sharing information about the bike routes.

Animal Tracking: In its most general interpretation, an actor in a social network need not necessary be a person, but can be any living entity such as an animal. Recently, animal tracking data is collected with the use of radio-frequency identifiers. A number of social links may exist between the different animals such as group membership, or family membership. It is extremely useful to utilize the sensor information in order to predict linkage information and vice-versa. A recent project called MoveBank has made tremendous advances in collecting such data sets. A similar approach may be used for commercial product-tracking applications, though social networking applications are generally relevant to living entities, which are most typically people.

Mobile Social Networking   Leave a comment

Facebook Immune System   6 comments

Facebook has an extraordinary security infrastructure known as the Facebook Immune System  to fight spam and other cyber-scams.

The Facebook Immune System (FIS), has a massive defence network and has considerably reduced spam. It took time for FIS to evolve into an all seeing set of algorithms that monitors every photo posted to the network, every status update and every click made by everyone of it’s users.There are about 25 billion of these “read and write actions” everyday. Facebook’s defence system is one of the largest in existence.

It protects against scams by invoking artificially intelligent software to detect suspicious patterns of behaviour. The system can learn in real time and is able to take action without human intervention.

Some months ago there was a notable attack on Facebook. Several users were duped into copying computer code into their browser’s address bar. The code commandeered the person’s Facebook account and stated sending chat messages to their friends, along with a link where the friends could get their own free ipad. Friends who clicked on the link went to a site that encouraged them to paste the same code into their browsers. These type of attacks can generate millions of messages per minute.

Users are less likely to fall for a similar tactic when using email, because a message would have to sent by a stranger. It’s easier to exploit trust relationships in social networks.

To handle such attacks FIS has generated a signature to differentiate between spam and legitimate messages. The links in spam messages that contain keywords like “free” and the IP addresses of the computers sending the messages.

Spammers use multiple machines for the purpose of switching IP addresses, and use link redirection services to change links in real time. FIS checks to see which messages are marked as spam by users and blocked the messages with similar keywords in the text. The system developed a signature that can detect spam within seconds of an attack.

Any defence based on patterns of known behaviour, FIS is vulnerable to new strategies not known to it. “Socialbots” -software that can pose as a human and control a Facebook account can exploit and elude this defence system. The bots send friend requests to random users. Then they send requests to friends of people they had connected with. The number of accepted requests will increase considerably.

Facebook’s privacy settings allow users to conceal personal information from public view. Since socialbots pose as friends, they are able to extract thousands of email addresses and physical addresses from users’ profiles. This information could be used to launch phishing attacks or aid in identity theft.

Social bots behave differently to people that enter Facebook for the first time because they have no real-world  friends to connect with.

Social Media and SEO   19 comments

As people interested in growing website traffic, it is important that we understand social media and SEO. SEO is the one that, through time and understanding, will bring you the most traffic, most consistently. But social media can do some surprising things for your business.

The main way that SEO and social media intersect is in the area of links. Social media sites have them, and SEO needs them. You can use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to generate inbound links from popular, high-TrustRank websites. You could use social media campaigns to attract links from news sites, social bookmarking sites, and popular blogs.

Social networks like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter represent the masses. And while a single link or status update on one of these social networks has no significance, there is great power in numbers. If you post a link to a video you took, and it strikes a chord in the average person, she will share it with her friends, who will share it with their friends, and so on. If you are the creator of a piece of content that goes viral, your website can get links rained upon it. This is why social media is a powerful complement in the world of SEO. In the future, SEO and social media will evolve together to incorporate our profiles, preferences, and relationships into search results.

The flow of information: Traditionally, the most powerful ways of getting exposure have been advertisements, press, and word of mouth. Although these tools have always been the backbone of marketing, the rise of social media websites has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for online marketers.

In the past,you might see an ad in a magazine, stare at it for a few seconds, and then either remember it or forget about it. Now the same company might place an ad on Facebook. Recognizing the company, you might click Like underneath the ad, indicating your acceptance of the brand. The next day, because of that “like,” you might get a status update showing you a YouTube video that the company made as part of a campaign for a new product. Finding the video interesting, you might then post it on your friend’s profile page. His 1,000 friends might then see it, and 3 of them might post it on their friends’ profile pages. An additional 2 of your friend’s friends might tweet about it, exposing it to their 800 combined followers. One of those peoples’ followers might then submit it to a social bookmarking site such as Digg, where the best content of the day gets posted on the home page. If enough people voted for this video, it would hit the front page of Digg, get 150,000 additional views and 550 comments, and even more sharing would occur. Because of the Digg exposure, 15 blogs might repost the video, including a major outlet that gets millions of visitors per month. And on goes the sharing. That entire journey started with just one click.

The significant event, SEO-wise, in that story was the part where the blogs reposted the video to their sites. If 15 blogs repost a video, that’s 15 links to a single web page. In this case, the web page hosting the content was on YouTube, but it could easily have been hosted on your website. As you know from earlier chapters, acquiring a link can be pretty tough in an age when most webmasters understand the value of linking.

Social Connections in Social Networks   Leave a comment

In social networks there are three types of people who bring about social connections.

Connectors: are people who links us up with the word,people with a special gift for bringing the world together. They are “a handful” of people with an extraordinary knack for making friends and acquaintances. These individuals typically have social networks of over one hundred people. Connectors gain success in their ability to span many different worlds as a function of something intrinsic to their personality, some combination of curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.

Mavens:are information specialists or people we rely upon to connect us with new information. They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others. A Maven is someone who wants to solve other people’s problems, generally by solving his own. Mavens start “word-of-mouth epidemics” due to their knowledge, social skills, and ability to communicate, they are information brokers, sharing and trading what they know.

Salesmen: are persuaders, charismatic people with powerful negotiation skills. They tend to have an indefinable trait that goes beyond what they say, which makes others want to agree with them.

Each of these categories of people can potentially become your ‘first tier’ influencers. These are the people that are directly connected to you in some way. They follow news about your brand. They discuss your brand with their
connections. They want to have a closer dialogue with you. They are all influencers in their own right and, with their own specific skills, can reach out beyond your immediate network to influence others. Your tier 1 influencers can connect to your tier 2 influencers, who can also help to spread the word about your brand.

If you can find people in your immediate network who have these qualities you can start to engage in dialogue with them, cultivate them and give them information.

If you can find some information that is not generally available externally it will be very well received. Mavens will relish these bits of ‘special’ information – they will broker the information to the connectors and salesmen in their networks, and the message gets out. Each type of information gatherer will connect in some way to the next tier of influencers which may be further away from you in social distance, but closer to others in their own networks.


-Tier 1 influencers typically hang out on user forums, they help out in community sites and they often have the answers     the community needs.                                                                                                                                                                                                 -They respond to questions posed on the forum, or, if they are connector types, they will know someone in their network  who does have the answer if they don’t actually know it themselves.                                                                                                   -They may run user groups or attend them.                                                                                                                                                     -They are forum moderators.                                                                                                                                                                                  -They run user Q&A portals and participate in chat rooms.
-They are often quick to respond to a question posted on Twitter or Facebook.
-They are significant in your ‘fan-out’ evangelism efforts.

Fan-out messaging works like this. I tell two people, who each tell two people, who each tell two people, who each tell two people. My original message has fanned out and has reached 30 new potential customers – or, more importantly, potential influencers for my brand. These influencers and their connections are vital in getting your message out on your behalf. They retweet your interesting news on Twitter, they link to your blog from their own blog and they share useful links on Facebook. This network rebroadcasts and amplifies your message for you.

Tier 1 influencers are often early adopters. They buy the latest gadget, phone and eBook reader. They beta-test new releases of software and often have the latest and greatest laptop. They demonstrate their new hardware to anyone who will watch. They download the latest Twitter client and tweet endlessly about it. They broadcast this to their friends
through blogs, Facebook and Twitter. These influencers created a buzz about the device which ensured that a huge amount of people got to hear about it through the reports in the newswires.

Large companies have structured rewards and incentives programmes for influencers who are not usually motivated by financial incentives, but who thrive on knowledge gathering, community and recognition.

If you get your key influencers right then your tier 1 and your tier 2 influencers will do the job of getting your message out for you.

If you maintain a close relationship with your tier 1 influencers they will reward you by broadcasting your message for you. Airlines get loyalty from their travellers with Air Miles programmes and frequent flyer clubs, and supermarkets
offer incentives through their loyalty and rewards cards.

If you invest time in maintaining the relationship with your tier 1 influencers, you will find you have a great circle of loyal advocates to spread the word about your brand. These influencers will greatly increase the amount of coverage when
they talk about your product or gizmo, so it’s worthwhile talking about it. If you don’t think you have the time to invest in talking about your product across your channels, then spending 30 minutes a day promoting your message can still be of
benefit if it is done outside your immediate circle of connections.

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