Cyber Culture: We know where you live - so stop telling everyone

 

For those of us who find some delight and diversion in the curious world of social media, the impulse to share has become pretty strong. Our thoughts, our observations, the sights and sounds we experience – they're all subconsciously assessed for their worth, and if they make the grade we blast them out there. But, perhaps inevitably, our critical faculties begin to lose their edge and we start posting any old rubbish on a whim. This week, I absent-mindedly shared a photograph on Twitter that contained my address just in shot; I quickly deleted it.

But that's what many people are unwittingly doing every day, a situation highlighted by weknowyourhouse.com. Billed as a "social-media experiment", it performs automated Twitter searches for people who have announced to the world that they're at home, while also having geolocation enabled on their Twitter client. The website displays the tweet, the address (with some crucial parts asterisked out), a Google Street Map showing the immediate vicinity, a list of recently logged crimes in the area, and a selection of photos from Instagram that have been taken nearby.

This is one of a number of recent services that have been designed both to shock us and remind us that we're sleepwalking into using geolocation in ways we never intended. None of them is illegal. Girls Around Me, a distasteful app that shows pictures of girls who have just "checked in" in nearby locations, and Creepy, an application that mines location data from Flickr and Twitter accounts and plots it on a map, both came in for heavy criticism – but also shrugs of acknowledgement that it takes this kind of stunt to force us to wake up. The website Please Rob Me was built around a simple idea: whenever you state publicly that you're out and about, you're also telling people that you're not at home – a home that might be empty and vulnerable. The people behind that website were keen to stress that they're weren't anti-geolocation; their gripe was "the way in which people are stimulated to participate in sharing this information".

So why, when these location features are generally turned off by default, do we choose to turn them on in the first place? Twitter's support site states that turning on geolocation "enables [delivery of] trends or stories that are personalised for your location", but its usefulness in that respect is debatable. But any diversion that's fun and free to use generally has some kind of privacy trade-off – this eternal pull and push between the companies that profit from personal information and individuals who are unsure whether to surrender it. Discovering one of your own tweets embellished by a picture of your front door may, however, be something that prompts you to slide the location switch to "off". Permanently.

Can streaming's revenue, er, stream ever make up for physical sales?

These days, the music industry has to get its good news where it can; any upward-inclining graphs tend to be pounced upon and devoured hungrily in the forlorn hope that they might signal a return to the days of heady excess and effortless profitability. One research firm has announced that revenues through streaming services (the likes of Spotify, We7 etc) will increase by 40 per cent to $1.1bn this year. But how good is this news, really?

It's part of a slow shift away from our fondness for physical media, with sales of digital media set to outstrip the former worldwide by 2015. But of all the reports of revenue increases that could have landed on the industry's doormat, this is probably the least welcome. Yes, customers are keen, but streaming as a model is still fraught with uncertainty: Spotify is failing to turn a profit despite its four million paying customers; other services such as Pandora find themselves failing to secure the music licences they're after; and despite announcements of big royalty payouts there's a constant, low-pitched moan from musicians complaining that little of it is trickling down to them. For everyone involved in making music, streaming has become the unpalatable but unavoidable alternative to illegal file-sharing, and over the next five years it's set to become the dominant method of consuming music. But few people in the supply chain will be joyously punching the air.

It's easier than ever to hang with the band. But do we want to?

Google recently enhanced its Hangouts service to become "Hangouts on Air", giving you the chance to bring your live-video antics to a global audience. Now it's rolling out an additional tweak in the hope of seducing bands who might want to play concerts live across the web. "Studio Mode" is just a switch you can flick within the service to improve the sound; the digital compression which can blight the audio quality within video streams is relaxed, allowing your band's music to be heard in all its glory, fluffed chords and misremembered lyrics intact.

Having watched a couple of performances captured using Studio Mode (in which the sound was excellent), I was more struck by the way the performances were – perhaps inevitably – devoid of atmosphere. Social media create these parallel worlds, which often feel like simulacra of real life, but pushing a webcam performance through a router and into a living room makes for a faintly uninvolving experience. Concerts are about volumes greater than your laptop speaker can provide, about the audiences seeing the whites of the eyes of the musicians and vice versa, about shared experiences with those around you. This is more like being the lone spectator of a self-conscious studio performance by a nervous musician, terrified you're going to press ctrl+Q at any moment; the equivalent of draining your glass, fetching your coat and catching the bus home.

The Olympics and art mark the renaissance of the GIF picture file

One Olympic winner who failed to receive a medal was the animated GIF image format. Looped sequences of London 2012 action became common currency on the web, whether it was McKayla Maroney's near-perfect vault, the Queen picking her fingernails, or Aly Raisman's parents going bananas in the stands. It's part of a triumphant resurgence for the 25-year-old format, once derided for facilitating endless billowing American flags and leaping flames. It remains a brilliantly simple way to create basic animations – and, as evidenced by the amazing work done by Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg at cinemagraphs.com, it's got applications beyond light-hearted frivolity that veer into the realms of high art.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
Sport
Lewis Hamtilon and pole-sitter Nico Rosberg
SportShould F1's most aggressive driver curb his instincts in title decider?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

    £45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Executive is required...

    Ashdown Group: Junior SQL DBA - London - £39,000

    £37000 - £39000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: SQL Database Administrato...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

    £26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Expanding creative studio requi...

    Day In a Page

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin