LinkedIn grows, for all the wrong reasons

It turns out the current financial crisis in the US is creating one boom market – online business social networks. Sign-ups and usage of LinkedIn (or as I explain it to people, “Facebook for business people”) is soaring as people who are afraid they will lose their jobs enrol and update their CVs. Apparently LinkedIn is up to nearly 30 million members, mainly in the US, while German-based network Xing has hit 6.5 million members.

Health online soaring

According to researchers comScore, the health information site category has grown 21% during the past year – more than four times the growth rate of the total U.S. Internet population. There were 69 million unique visitors in July alone – more than 17 million of them to top-ranked site WebMD.

Improved site functionality, increased content personalization, and overall consumer acceptance of the Internet as a source for health information have helped to breathe new life into the health information category,” said John Mangano, senior director, comScore Pharmaceutical Marketing Solutions. “Most sites have become vibrant online communities rooted in sharing experiences and advice, rather than simply being one-way information resources for the consumer. As Google and Microsoft ramp up efforts with their respective health sites, Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault, it will be interesting to see how the category continues to evolve.”

Does anyone know of comparable research for Australia? Would love to see it.

Porn loses its lustre online

From the Zazoo blog:

I have found a new favourite technology writer – Robert X Cringely at Infoworld. His recent article “Is Sarah Palin more popular than porn? Search me“, is a hoot. He cites a new book by Hitwise general manager Bill Tancer, which shows that searching for social media is now more popular than searching for porn online. As Cringely (yes, that’s his real name, not a pseudonym) writes, “‘As social networking traffic has increased, visits to porn sites have decreased,’ said Tancer, [who] indicated that the 18-24 year old age group particularly was searching less for porn.

“I’m guessing Tancer has not visited many social networks, or that all his Facebook friends are old farts. Because when you’re age 18 to 24, social networks ARE pornography. In fact, they’re better. Have you seen some of those profiles? Two words: humena humena.”

I never knew how ‘humena humena’ was spelled before – you learn something new every day!

He goes on to write about something (or someone) else who has gone on to become more popular than porn on the Internet: Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

“Hitwise also measures the most popular searches for political terms. You can guess which lipstick-wearing pitbull of a hockey mom tops the charts there. Per the Washington Post: ‘… in her first two days in the national spotlight, US Internet searches on all things Palin outnumbered any other politician in the past three years…. In many cases, her name was searched alongside the word ‘hot.’ I’m guessing that also includes searches for Palin’s head photo-shopped onto various nude or bikini clad models. 

“Does that qualify as porn? If so, I think Tancer needs to revisit his conclusions about social nets.”

A geek with a sharp sense of humour – got to love it.

Look no further for Internet content

We now pause again for an advertisement. I have started up an Internet content business with HotHouse Interactive MD Simon van Wyk, called Zazoo. The website has just gone live at www.zazoo.com.au. My blog postings here at Welling Digital may become less frequent as I will be posting content-specific items there, though I will still be writing about health care technology and Internet marketing here. Zazoo offers a network of content experts that will help companies fill all their online content needs, on a small, medium or large scale. Let me know if you’d like more information.

That’s why those wankers get paid so much

Pardon me while I go on an off-topic rant. Who can understand the machinations of global financial markets? Can someone, anyone, please explain to me why it is that when the US financial system has its worse week since 1929, while the effect on Australia is relatively mild due to our stronger economy and well-capitalised banks, the Australian dollar tanks against the US dollar? I have a personal stake in this argument as I have a couple of children about to embark on a gap-year sojourn across the US and their dad is unable to explain why their trip just got a hell of a lot more expensive. If the US economy is in the toilet, why has its currency strengthened against the A$? All I can say is that if stockmarket and investment gurus can understand this, that must be why they make such obscene fees while intelligent, passionate, caring schoolteachers, etc. are driving around clapped-out Holdens. Feel free to give an Economics 101 lesson via the comment facility.

Thumbs up for online medical education

From today’s Australian Doctor:
“Online medical education is as effective as traditional methods, a meta-analysis suggests.

“Internet-based education had become an increasingly popular approach to medical education, the authors said, but concerns about the effectiveness of online learning had stimulated a growing body of research.

“The meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (10 September) found internet-based learning was associated with large positive effects compared with no intervention and had a similar effectiveness to traditional methods.

“’Internet-based education permits learners to participate at a time and place convenient to them, facilitates instructional methods that might be difficult in other formats, and has the potential to tailor instruction to individual learners’ needs,’ the authors said.

“Professor Ian Wilson, professor of medical education, University of Western Sydney, said the internet was an effective teaching tool, but the medium worked best when used in conjunction with face-to-face teaching.

“Although the online environment had improved markedly over the past five years to play an increasingly important training role, he said the quality of the education provided on the internet was sometimes inadequate.

“’Sometimes people get so enamoured with the technology that they forget about the underlying education principles,’ he said.

“Internet learning was more suited to some areas than others, Professor Wilson said.

“’Certainly online learning packages that work in isolation work much better for knowledge-based material,’ he said.”

Moving on from Web 2.0?

A report published on the Computerworld website this week hints that the era of Web 2.0 and social media may already be on its way out. The Demo Fall 2008 conference in San Diego, which gave 72 start-ups six minutes each to display their wares, included plenty of social networking tools, but also saw an increasing number of business-related collaborative tools, perhaps suggesting a shift from the emphasis on social aspects back to business aspects of the web.

The report said, “Demo executive producer Chris Shipley and AllThingsD.com co-executive editor Kara Swisher… both suggested that the ‘hanging out’ type of Web 2.0 environments like Facebook and MySpace wouldn’t stay relevant much longer. In their place, Shipley predicted the rise of “collaboration for a purpose” sites and services that would come with lucrative business cases. Sites like Facebook certainly were critical for showing that the Web was about more than informational pages and transactions, but they wouldn’t have the same financial effects as either of the previous Web generations, she said. The purposeful sites she saw emerging would have that impact, Shipley proposed.

“….there were some indications of a change toward purposeful collaboration, Shipley predicted. Compared to two other project-collaboration services at the Demo Fall show, Qtask’s project service seemed to be viable, covering not just shared documents and messaging but actual project management tools to track schedules, approvals, and assignments. Given how much time people spend in e-mail anyhow, it’s unclear whether they can be convinced to use such a service and not fall back to sending out mass e-mails to project participants instead.

“Another example was Cinergix’s Creately, an online business process modeling tool that, in Microsoft Visio fashion, lets you diagram processes such as network design or mortgage approval workflows, with embedded rules that let you validate the process as you diagram it. Such tools have long existed, but not in a collaborative Web environment in which users can propose their own business logic.”

With the amount of time people are spending on the Internet at work, it had to be only a matter of time before more work-related options were created to stop people from spending so much time updating their Facebook pages on company time!