social Language tutoring – paying in translations

Last week, while talking to a friend about how more and more books are becoming available online he mentioned reCaptcha. Now I didn’t know this one so when he explained that it uses the Captcha’s (those ‘are you human?’ tests you get when you comment on a website) to have the crowd digitize texts that are hard to OCR (“Optical Character Recognition”), I was mind boggled. I love it! by showing people words from actual texts that computers “can’t” read and cross check it with other users returns, they effectively transcribe hundreds of pages worth of text each day. Such a simple but effective idea. I love how internet and some quirky ingenuity is making things like this possible.

A similar concept to this is a DuoLingo. A simple idea whereby people can learn a new language by translating pieces of texts. The double edge here is that while you do that, and while you check others translations you are actually not just learning a new language but helping translating actual texts as well. I haven’t yet been able to test it myself as it’s in Beta and by invitation only for now and already overwhelmed by invitation requests. But the video looks promising.

Is this just great? Well yes, while it is altruistically used for the translation or capturing of texts that would otherwise never be translated/captured. But no doubtedly it will be used commercially as well…
Companies like Google (reCaptcha) and DuoLingo can sell this as a paid service for companies to have their old ‘paper’ documents and texts indexed and translated easily & quick and make big bucks of it.

Is that really a problem though? We seem to expect services on the web to be free but things like language tutors or having a bouncer to keep unwanted people out of your club (which is more or less what Captcha’s do) were never free so why is it that we expect this to be free on the web? At least, in this way, we get the services and someone else pays. I think that is actually not a bad deal!




Google Apps & advertising

Stumbled upon a blogs on Google Apps today that mentioned ads in Google Mail even for payed business accounts. Now this got me wondering as I always figured the adds would automatically be turned off once you bought a licensed account but apparently this is not the case. The domain admin can disable it but by default it is on, even for payed accounts.

Reading this help description on how to disable this I couldn’t help but notice the little text about Web Clips that won’t be disabled with that setting and that can apparently still contain sponsored links…

Ok, yes you can individually disable the Web Clips on a mailbox but I can’t seem to find anything about disabling this for a full domain so if that is the case Google Ads are sneaking their way into their corporate clients domains anyway.

Interesting! Especially as the (paying) customer doesn’t seem to get the revenue for the ads being shown in their corporate environment as far as I can see. Seems like Google is making money off their corporate accounts twice. Once for the licenses they sell them and once for the ads & sponsored links they show them…. smart cookies.

Or am I missing the point here?

Google+ Ripples #2

In October I wrote a blog on Ripples a Google+ feature that shows you how your public posts are being shared accross yours as well as others networks. I loved it (and still do) but somehow I never got to see the Ripples link when I was browsing my stream.

As I knew a workaround by getting the post id and copying it into a Ripples URL I could use it but that was far from easy and I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t get to see the Ripples option in the post menu’s. Today I finally figured it out.  

Could it be it simply wasn’t available for my language? Nah…surely not

But to make absolutely sure I tried setting my Google settings language from Dutch (my native language) to US English and bingo there was the “View Ripples” option.

Apparently Ripples is only there for the English speaking folks as its not showing up if you set your language to Dutch, French or German (didn’t try any other languages but pretty sure most wont work either). I’m reporting this to Google, let’s see why they aren’t showing this to us. If it’s simply a question of translations then surely 6 weeks should have been more than enough to translate that 1 paragraph of text on the Ripples page. But even without translation I really would have liked having this so please open it up!

Social translate… Google Giveth and Taketh

For the last year and a half or so I’ve been an avid user of Yoono. A browser plugin that allows me to review and update my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare activity streams from within a side bar in my Firefox. I love it. It’s easy, simple and because it’s integrated in the browser it always keeps my Social streams in my perephial view. Right where I like it to be.

Now one of the things that I discovered recently is that it has a function to translate tweets right there and then in the sidebar itself. Simply right click the tweet and select “Translate (via google)”. The translated text is shown right there and then in your stream.

Ok, yes. Google translations aren’t exactly accurate all the time but in general they do the trick. And it means I could follow people I would otherwise not, simply because I can’t understand a thing they are saying.

Like Mitsuru Katoh (Katoman), a Fellow self-proclaimed Domino Geek and IBM Champion from Japan. My Japanese is next to zero so this translate function really helped me and made it possible for me to socially connect to someone I would otherwise probably not even know about.

Unfortunately this morning the translate function didn’t work and a tweet to @YoonoSupport helped clarify:  

@Yoono The translate (Google) function doesn’t seem to work this morning. Anything going on?


Ok, I can understand Google wanting to make a buck out of this (although I’d wonder who’d want to pay for the crappy translations they give) but maybe Google had an alternative reason as well. I can (somewhat) understand them trying to promote their own networks so maybe this is a function they wanted to keep free exclusively for their own platforms….. aka Google+! I know Mitsuru is on G+ so lets check it out…..
Well, you guessed it. No function there to translate from within the stream itself.

Yes I know about the other Google translate options for translating whole sites but that is not really an option to me. As a Dutch national I read & write in English, Dutch, German and (a little) French and I follow people in all of those languages. Now I don’t need (or want!) those translated as that sometimes means you lose part of the underlying sentiments and jokes. I want to be able to control which tweets I want translated and which I want to read in their original language. And I want to do it from within my active streams itself, not by having to step out to a different site. That takes out the whole social context in which I’m operating.

 So for now it seems I will have to unfollow Mitsuru… Not because he’s not nice or interesting but simply because I can’t understand his tweets (Sorry Mitsuru, I’ll buy you a drink at Lotusphere).

Oh and for those (like me) wondering what that second tweet form Mitsuru said? I ran it through the ordinary translator and it came up as “That I was better with an umbrella. Worry.“. 

I guess it was raining in Japan 🙂 

Who is using Google+ ….. infographic

Interesting infographic by on the usage of Google+. There have been a lot of jokes around the internet on whether or not Google+ is really being used or if, after the initial hype most users returned to their old and familiar platforms. This seems confirmed by this infographic that shows only 17% of registered Google+ users is considered ‘Active’ and a ‘Frequent Google+ user’.

So did they loose the battle? No, I don’t think so. If you manage to pull in over 40 million users within a couple of months you must be doing something right. They just have to find their edge and unique selling point and that 83% that is currently inactive will be flocking back. The problem seems to be though that they don’t really know yet what that unique selling point is….

Who’s Using Google +?
Flowtown – Social Media Marketing Application

Choices…. where to post what

Nop, not mine but so excellent I can’t help but post it. Love the Google+ one as it is so accurate!!!

I got it from Facebook but the original actually came from this blog post.

Google+ Ripples

So Google+ is still there. Yes, I know lots of people really like it but I’m still not there. The main reason? I STILL can’t update from any of my social apps like Yoono and Hootsuite (Google+ API not released yet) and it STILL looks like crap on my iPad (iPhone app makes it a bit better but not much).
If they think I’m going to drop all my other networks and switch over just like that they are dreaming.

But in the mean time they are clearly working on it and this week an interesting new development was the release of Ripples. An option that shows you how your public posts are being shared accross yours as well as others networks. Yes, have to admit. I’m impressed. Will this win me over?? Not yet (see above) but it does make me wish Twitter will copy this one really quick because I’d love to see this kind of detail on my Tweets!

Google+ continued

Ok, now the whole Google+ hype has died down a bit and most of my ‘friends’ activities are back to normal (e.g. Twitter & Facebook) they’ve finally officially released it to wider audience. Unofficially everybody could join anyway (simple get an invite from someone already on it), but now it’s open to the bigger community.

As my earlier posts might have already demonstrated I’m still not fully convinced on Google+. Ok, yes I can see they’ve got some really nice things in there and their interface is slick but after two months the main feeling I get from Google+ is:

Who the He.. are all those people adding me to their circles??

I mean I’ve posted only about 20 posts on Google+ in the last two months but had over a 100 people actively adding me to their circles. It took me a lot longer to get even close to these numbers on Twitter or Facebook. The problem is though that out of that 100 a considerable amount of people who added me really don’t seem to be interested in what I am about. They’re just following me so that I follow them back it seems.
On Facebook where you need to actively accept friendships I know or at least can place anyone I befriended and on Twitter, where following someone means their posts show up in your main stream I know or can place at least 80% of my followers. On Google+ however you can add someone and then just park them in a circle. There is no investment it seems. So although Google+ does seem to yield more ‘followers’, I feel less connected to them. And that makes it a lot less ‘social’  to me.

Social Networking for me is all about broadening your community and I would lie if I said I was immune to the joys of seeing my followers list grow. Your social reach (follower base) is more or less the currency in Social networking. It determines how well your message gets around and it allows you to build relations with people you would otherwise never meet. But it’s not just the amount of followers you have that is important but also why those people would want to follow you. Are they genuinely interested in what you have to say or just adding you in the hopes of being followed back?!?
How valuable are followers on Google+ as social contacts if they have the ability to add you and then bury you in a never read circle?? Ok they are ‘following’ you but they might never actually read any of what you are posting. And that is exactly what makes me feel less connected to them and less inclined to actually post on Google+.

A lot of the people that added me on Google+, I feel, were just doing that: Hoping that adding me would mean I add them back (‘I follow you if you follow me‘). When I don’t follow them back a lot of them removed me from their circles just as easily as they added me in the first place.
True, this happens on all social networks, including Facebook & Twitter but with the circles model of Google+ it just becomes so much easier to distinguish between the people you are really interested in and the ones you simply added as ‘social currency’ that it makes it feel impersonal to me. It sort of sucks out the Social aspect of it all.

So on we go. I’m not counting out Google+ yet. I still think it’s a strong contender that will grow significantly. I think a second grow spurt will happen when the full Google+ API’s will be released. Allowing social apps like Tweetdeck, Yoono, Hootsuite, etc to incorporate it. So avid Social users like me can post to it simultaneously with our other social networks (Facebook, Twitter, linkedIn, etc). Until then it will remain something I look at periodically but hardly use I guess…

Google+….. Searching for the plus….

After waiting impatiently for days to get into Google+ I got in. Excited to check out all the new features I started exploring. That took me about 10 minutes. “Is that it?“…. Yep that was it. Than real life caught up with me along with a major workflow project going life and a bunch of support request that buried me up to my armpits. It just lost that ‘WOW!’ factor, that made me jump through hoops to get in, really rapidly.

The one thing I had really high expectations of was the idea of the circles but at the same time it makes me so conscious about what I’m posting to which circle that I find myself hardly posting at all.

The same seems to be going on on the other side and the posts that I do see from my most active Social media connections seem to be mostly on Google+ itself. Another effect is that from certain people I now get only their ‘business’ content. Ok yes, I’m not calling them friends, most not even acquaintances but by reading not just their business content but also their quirky, personal, sometimes funny, sometimes sad messages they become alive to me. Keeping me interested and keeping me reading. Someone that posts just a lot of technical stuff I tend to loose interest in real quickly. Call me a sucker but I just love the ‘social’ in social media.

So am I won for Google+ ? Not exactly yet. Am I going to use it? Definitely! Probably a bit more after it gets picked up by Social Media tools like Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and Yoono. Because for now I don’t see myself being weaned of Twitter and/or Facebook any time soon and updating all those networks separately is just too much of a hassle.

Anyway, if you want to add me to your Google+ circles then please do (Profile) and let me know what your opinion is. I’d love to hear! Who knows. Maybe we can ‘Hangout‘. Haven’t had a chance to test that feature out yet anyway 🙂

Still no access to Google+…. Getting frustrated!

Grrr…. Everybody seems to be tweeting and blogging about Google+ and I’m still waiting for my invite to arrive (yes I finally got someone to send me one, it just hasn’t arrived yet!). So I’m left waiting for Google+ to open up or the invite to arrive. And in the mean time all I can do is watch the demo….. Yeah nice.

Does give me the time to do some senseless scrutinizing of the site though… Which of course I did (love senseless scrutinizing!).

So on the demo site you can switch languages, not something I would normally do, prefer English over botched up Dutch anytime, but in this case I tried (for lack of better things to try). And the first thing I notice is that the “You” in the left upper corner is translated into “U” (formal form of ‘you’ in Dutch). But in the screen print on the screen itself it’s called “Jij” (informal form of ‘you’ in Dutch).

So, what does this tell us?!?

1. Google isn’t sure how to address their users in Dutch (formal or informal)

2. I desperately need to get into Google+ before I start writing even more of these idiotic blogs!