31 710 LBP – belk.com
194 775 LBP – homedepot.com
Sure, I’d love to have that beer when I check in your restaurant or get a 10% discount on that jumper if I’m in your store for 20 times, but what if you’re not giving me anything in return for my check in? Why should I bother sliding my fingers on my smartphone to look you up before I hit the check in button? Ahhhh, yes! Of course! It feels good to tell the rest of the world that I’m sipping a $20 martini drink on that rooftop, or that I’m in that luxury mall doing my Halloween shopping… Most of us have done that, yet seldom do we question the motives behind it. Well, my initial analysis tells me that this boosts my ego and keeps Foursquare active and growing.
So what are the most common ego-boosters and how are they re-defining our online engagements? My attempt here is to zero in on one single human feeling that social networks use and in some instances, dare I say, abuse. I am talking about OUR EGO! There are many ego-boosters that social networks are embedding in their services to ensure that we are keeping our ego in check.
Notifications on Facebook make us happy . Their flowing is an indicator of acceptance from our circle of friends and at the same time, they boost our ego. The same goes for the Like button; the more people give us a thumbs up on what we post, the more points are added to our ego which in turn translates to more engagement and keeps Mark Zuckerberg yeying.
Increasing the number of followers and receiving more retweets and mentions in Twitter plays a similar role because we are in a constant race to capture a bigger audience for whatever we share. The fact that it is easy to compare each other’s activity is an undeclared human ego war.
Klout, which to me aggregates the results of our ego boosters, to become on its own a very strong one, is now giving us an “influence” score to maintain. Some already dread that their Klout score might go down. On top of that, Klout dashboards mimic the charts and numbers that we usually see in stock exchanges and make it easy for us to compare ourselves to others.
The list goes on but what I would like to say here is that ego boosters do not have to be seen as a bad thing. Having said that, we should be aware of their existence and the way they are spreading to our social graph.
Going forward, social networks or any community based activity in the online world will continue to be filled with ego-boosters. Use them wisely.
“Your time is limited…”. Steve Jobs inspired us with these words which were heavily broadcasted following his death. His full awareness of this fact became his motivation to challenge the norms, create, achieve, impact…and he did all of that. What separated Steve Jobs from other technology icons is that he strived to create new tools rather than enhance existing ones, in a magnificent exemplification of the word innovation.
Innovation was and still is a race in the sense that everyone remembers the innovator and frowns upon the copycat. We tend to magnify and glorify the achievements of those who dare to swim against the tide and we walk by those who don’t bring anything new to the table. Bing was seen as another search engine, so it failed to come close to Google and remains till today largely unpopular.
Innovation is the result of many factors but one that I see of imminent significance is time. Those products that claim to be innovative stand the test of time and remain a necessity to the larger communities with time. Facebook with over 800 million users has grown to become a connector to people across the globe. Twitter wants people to share their interests and follow people who are interesting to them. Google+ is yet to prove what it is there for. The hype that Google+ enjoyed when it launched and when it opened to the public were short lived and the non hardcore users were left puzzled with a question that Google is yet to find an answer for in their mighty engines:” Why do we need Google+”?
Last night, while still in my lazy Sunday mood, I received a message on my mobile asking me to send a message to a number in Swaziland before transferring 20 million pounds to my bank account. Ok, I didn’t wait to finish the story before deleting it. These messages/ spam emails have been around for a long time and their success rates have declined as people have become more informed about them. Yet, just like an animal adapts to live in a particular place and in a particular way, cyber crime can do the same. Cyber criminals in this regard, are no exception.
In Beirut, a new group of cyber criminals has found a new way to pick pockets. How? by being your best friend! It all begins with stealing your identity or credentials, talking in a friendly way to your contacts and finally asking them for “favors”. It later turns out that they have asked many other friends the same favor, that is (in our case here) to buy them recharge cards for their prepaid mobile phones.
Many victims may have responded positively and handed over their wallet, albeit in a new form, to those criminal hackers. Ok, so you might be thinking that it will be easy to track those “bad guys” down by providing the police with the serial numbers used. The answer is more complicated since there is no cyber crime police to call in Lebanon and because the criminals might be using a more innovative way for cleaning their stolen values of recharge cards by transferring the risk to other users.
Therefore, a possible scenario of how those cyber criminals are benefiting is as follows: A hacker uses your msn account and asks your friends to buy him a recharge card worth $ 100. Given that the hacker had access to your emails, chat history, etc. he will be able to relate with them to gain their trust before asking them (in your own words) to buy him a $100 card. Provided your friends believed the hacker, and sent him a serial number of a card, he will have two options: a) use it on his mobile for his personal use (highly unlikely given that he can be tracked sooner or later) or b) transfer or sell the value of the card to other victims who will use them on their phones. In option b, chances of finding the criminal hackers are far less and take more time.
This new breed of hackers is leveraging a smarter approach in hacking and playing on the emotional side of the victims before ripping them off. I’ve heard stories of an IT expert falling victim to this scam. This is not a post to teach you about information security but it’s just a reminder that cybercrime is evolving into a more personal level. Therefore, always check and double check your friends’ identity and honesty of their request before kissing your money goodbye.