Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

File Under: Events, Location

Facebook Tags Everyone at F8 with RFID Chips

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Meet your friendly Facebook RFID tag.

Here at Facebook’s F8 developer’s conference, each attendee has a small plastic token attached to their badge. Inside the token is an RFID chip. On the back, there’s a ten-character unique ID code. We’ve all been instructed to go to facebook.com/presence and enter our personal code to activate it.

Once your token number is linked to your Facebook account, you can walk around to each of several readers set up around the venue here. There’s an RFID chip inside this little blue piece of plastic, and at each reader, that chip gets scanned and some sort of post goes up on your Facebook profile’s Wall.

There’s a photo booth — scan your chip and it snaps a photo of you and uploads it to your account. There are gaming lounges, and you can become a fan of whatever company or game is sponsoring that lounge by tapping your chip against the reader.

It’s possible there’s some tie-in to a larger presence-sharing announcement coming later on at the conference. Or, it could just be something born from a keg-fueled discussion by some engineers, as the Presence site on Facebook says.

Either way, as soon as it was explained to me what this little blue dongle was doing hanging off of my badge, my first thought was, “It begins…”

File Under: Events, Social, Web Standards

Up Next For Facebook: Expect More Open Interactions

Facebook F8

Facebook essentially copies a bunch of services that are already available on the open internet — chat, e-mail, media sharing, profiles — for its 400 million active users. But it also provides tools to help those users interact with each other while they’re outside Facebook’s walls, and there are signs the company is ready to make those tools more open and more easily integrated into other websites and applications.

The social network has already seen great success with Facebook Connect, its authentication system other websites can use to let their visitors log in using their Facebook username and password, then leave comments or share items with their Facebook friends with a single click. They can also hop around between websites and apps without creating a new account at each stop.

Facebook Connect has certainly fueled the explosive growth of social interaction across hardware and software platforms, as it helps Facebook friends notify each other of their activities on other social websites, the movies they’re renting, or the high score they just got on their favorite iPhone game.

Facebook Connect was first announced in 2008 at F8, Facebook’s developer conference. The next F8 is taking place Wednesday in San Francisco, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to announce the next phase of his company’s plans to further extend its sharing platform during his keynote address.

The Facebook Connect system isn’t entirely open — a key reason for its existence is to feed social sharing traffic back into Facebook. But it has much in common with other emerging open standards like OpenID and OAuth. Most social websites use a mix of both Facebook and non-Facebook options to handle user authentication, and Facebook Connect is not fully interoperable with competing technologies.

But several recent events point to Facebook making its own platform work better with open technologies. Last year, the company joined the OpenID Foundation and it began partially supporting the technology by allowing users to log in to Facebook using OpenID credentials. Also last year, the company hired David Recordon, one of the key architects of OpenID and OAuth, and purchased FriendFeed, a website that aggregates people’s social activities. Soon after acquiring FriendFeed, Facebook released its Tornado sharing framework under an open-source license.

Facebook wouldn’t comment on any upcoming announcements when contacted for this story. However, outside developers remain hopeful that the company will continue to grow its sharing platform by making it work in tandem with other open technologies already in place.

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File Under: Events, Identity, Social

Twitter Switches on @Anywhere

This is an @anywhere hovercard

This is an @anywhere hovercard

SAN FRANCISCO, California — Twitter’s @anywhere features are now live for developers to start using, the company has announced.

Developers can begin using the system to integrate different kinds of Twitter engagement directly into their sites or apps. You can find details about it at the new Twitter developer site (which also launched Wednesday) at dev.twitter.com.

@Anywhere basically provides a way to let Twitter users follow other people and send tweets directly from within your web page or app.

The key component is the “hovercard” — you’ve seen them on the Twitter website for the last month or so. Any time you see somebody’s Twitter handle mentioned, you can hover over that person’s handle and a little window pops up showing their profile photo, location, short bio, number of followers, and — the key part — a “Follow” button you can click and add them to your follow list right there, without leaving the page.

The announcement was made by Twitter’s head of platform Ryan Sarver at Chirp, the company’s developer conference happening here.

You can start dropping hovercards onto your site using “a few lines of JavaScript” (outlined on the documentation page at Twitter’s development site).

It’s interesting to see so much excitement around hovercards, which have a lot in common with hCards, the microformat standard for publishing and sharing contact information on the web. Microformats have been around for a while but they haven’t really been widely adopted, and it will be interesting to see if rebooting the idea on top of the Twitter platform — a social layer that makes them more accessible and relevant– will give new life to the concept.

The other components of @anywhere are the “Connect with Twitter” (a remote sign-in system) and the Tweetbox, which you can embed in your page and let people send tweets directly from the page.

Sarver brought out some media partners to talk about how they’re deploying @anywhere features. There were some impressive presentations from The New York Times, Yahoo and MSNBC News. If you’re reading a story on one of their websites, you can see a hovercard when you hover over a journalist’s name and start following them immediately.

One other announcement from Sarver: Twitter is turning on an as-yet-undocumented feature called Annotations this week. It allows developers to add any kinds of metadata they want to tweets. The obvious one is content-specific tags, but we should see other implementations of Annotations when developers start playing with them at the Chirp Hack Day taking place tonight and Thursday.

File Under: Events, Location

Twitter Launches ‘Points of Interest’ Pages for Locations

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SAN FRANCISCO, California — Twitter is adding location-based place pages to its website, the company has announced.

The new feature is called Points of Interest. Starting soon, users will be able to click on a place name (or a location tag, if one exists) in a tweet and see that place on a map. Next to the map, they’ll also be able to see what people are saying about that place in a search results view. From what we’ve seen, it’s a convenient entry point into the current Twitter chatter about a certain place or city.

There will be an API for developers, which we’ll learn more about later today. The API will let developers build this feature into client apps, so it will be accessible from more places than just the Twitter website soon enough.

The announcement was made by Twitter CEO Evan Williams at the company’s Chirp developer conference taking place here Wednesday.

There are several hundred developers here at Chirp, and the announcement drew a round of applause from the audience.

“I think it’s a big step forward for the Twitter platform,” says Andy Gadiel, founder and president of JamBase, a social website for finding live music shows and events in cities worldwide. “Location is all about relevancy. Not just where you are in terms of a latitude and longitude point, but a real place in the world.”

We’ve seen huge growth around location-based services lately, especially on mobiles, where it’s become central to the user experience of almost every search-based or social app. Late last year, Twitter added the ability for users to add location to tweets, something that made tweets more relevant for search applications. The location tags are basically geotags indicating latitude and longitude, or latlongs. Also, Facebook recently added location-sharing for its users’ status updates as well.

Just after the announcement, Williams fielded a question from the audience: Will Twitter have a check-in behavior around Points of Interest, a la Foursquare?

His response:

“We’re not looking to duplicate the functionality of Foursquare or Gowalla. We want to make those services work better with Twitter. If you’re writing a tweet about a place and you type the name of that place, that’s sort of a check-in. But what we’re really interested in is what you’re saying about that place.”

See also:

File Under: Events, Location, Mobile

Location Isn’t Just a Feature Anymore, It’s a Platform

The O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference runs through Thursday in San Jose, California.

The O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference runs through Thursday in San Jose, California.

Just when you thought the swell of popularity around location-based services has hit the high water mark, the tide keeps rising.

All of the major web search engines are location-aware. Twitter has its own geocoder and Facebook is including location data in status updates. The big photo-sharing services like Flickr and Picasa support geotagging. Social location apps from Foursquare and Yelp are all the rage, and augmented reality is being touted as the next big thing. The emerging HTML5 specification has its own geolocation controls that let webapps find a user’s location through the browser.

We’ve reached the point where the addition of location data inside an application isn’t a special “bells-and-whistles” add-on, an experimental feature or a layer that’s only useful to some users.

It’s a standard feature now, and it’s crept into every product we care about.

“Location is something that people are just going to expect from now on,” says Brady Forrest, program chair for the O’Reilly Where 2.0 conference, the three-day event about all things location-based taking place in San Jose, California this week.

The location revolution was fueled by the proliferation of geo-enabled devices, Forrest says. Since most of us are carrying GPS devices in our pockets (every iPhone and Android phone has one, and most notebooks, too), it’s created a whole new application platform on which companies from different sectors — search, mapping, gaming, social networking, location-sharing — can compete.

“The platform is here,” he says. “Now, people are finding new ways to exploit it.”

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