Google Waves hello with its the social media aggregator to end all others

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Google is introducing some frighteningly integrated web software that I can best describe as a kind of live, collaborative Facebook page. Google Wave will bring together all of your social media apps and all your media itself together in a place where it can be accessed by as many people as you like at one time. It can be added to, commented on and edited in more ways than I can get my tiny little mind around at 5pm in the afternoon the day after the Champions League final.

In a phone interview with Google software engineering manager, Lars Rasmussen, Tech Radar got the full low down on precisely what Wave can do but, suffice to say, it looks like a lot of fun.

Wave’s being shown off at Google’s I/O in San Franciso. It is, of course, all open source so that people can write extensions for it much like Firefox, it works in a browser, embedded in sites and the big G is also releasing an API for it.

They’ll be more on it including a video demo as soon as it goes official in America and doubtless we’ll all be addicted to it about three days after it’s ours to use. The mind blowing continues.

Google Wave

Scalextric enters the world of social media

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Scalextric phoned me earlier. If you were a child of a certain part of the late 80s and early 90s, then you’ll immediately be envious. In actual fact, though, all that happened was that my inner eight-year-old immediately took the fore and started babbling excitedly. It was quite embarrassing. All they were trying to tell me is that Scalextric has entered the world of social media.

The company has launched a Facebook application, a YouTube channel and a blog. That wouldn’t normally be terribly exciting news, but the app and the channel seem pretty cool. The Facebook app lets you build a garage of cars that you can send to other people using the app. A few people will also win real-life Scalextric vouchers, so you can fill your real-life garage up with that instead.

The YouTube channel is also pretty awesome. There’s video of Jensen Button playing with the diminutive cars, but also guides on how to replace the contacts under the cars if they get worn, and footage of an attempt at the world record for biggest Scalextric track.

Lastly, the blog. It’s a little clunky, but there’s sections for news about the toys and space for news about motorsports. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ section for technical help on Scalextric builds, which I’m sure will come in handy.

The only thing missing in this list is a Twitter account. What’s that all about, Scalextric? I want to message @scalextric and not have some bloke from Warwickshire reply.

Blog, YouTube and Facebook App

Skittles changes homepage to Twitter search for "Skittles"

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Skittles, the little fruity sweets, have done a bit of a makeover on the Skittles.com homepage. The page now shows the real-time results for a Twitter search for “Skittles”, with a floating box to tell you a little more about the page.

There are several aspects to this that are interesting. It’s another massive step towards mainstream for Twitter (I bet Skittles is hoping that the service doesn’t go down). It’s also a massive step towards “the conversation” for Mars, which is a company that’s been plagued with criticism in the past, though admittedly not as much as rival Nestlé.

In fact, although there’s not been much stirring on the PETA message boards at the time of writing, it’s surely only a matter of time before the people behind sites like MarsCandyKills.com start flooding the service with highly-negative Tweets.

Some call this the campaign backfiring. I don’t think so. I think that it shows bravery, and a belief that the general public doesn’t really care. Personally, I think far more positively about the company that it’s happy to publicise its criticism, and I’ll be disappointed if they cave.

Skittles.com (via @robbrown)

Encyclopaedia Britannica admits defeat – allows users to add content

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Encyclopaedia Britannica has for years resisted pressure to join Wikipedia in allowing just anyone to submit content – relying instead on 100 full-time editors and 4,000 ‘expert contributors’. As a result, it’s slow to react to events and studies have shown that it’s comparably error-ridden .

In the next 24 hours, however, the Encyclopaedia’s website will begin accepting user-generated content. However, it still won’t be as free as Wikipedia – any changes or additions will have to be vetted by the site’s “experts”, and any would-be editors will have to register their real name and address(!) before being allowed to contribute.

Still, any changes made will eventually appear in the printed version of the Encylopaedia, which only gets reprinted every two years. I’ll stick with editing Wikipedia, thanks, and take my chances with the spammer police, endless bureaucracy and edit wars.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (via Sydney Morning Herald)

Inauguration 2.0 – Presidents' speeches broken down into tag clouds

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You can tell it’s the 21st Century. The good folks over at ReadWriteWeb have broken down the full text of Barack Obama’s inauguration speech yesterday into a tag cloud using Wordle.net. The results are interesting – “nation” and “new” come out on top. Click for embiggening.

Just for fun, they’ve also analysed the speeches of Bush in 2005, Clinton in 1999, Reagan in 1981 and Lincoln in 1861 and 1865. You can see the clouds after the jump, but it’s quite interesting to see how much Bush relied on the word ‘freedom’ Reagan on ‘government’ and Lincoln on ‘constitution’ first, and then ‘war’.

GPS for Skiiers is more than just an avalanche tracker

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If you’re a skiier, you’ll know the value of not getting trapped under an avalanche, but most decent skiing jackets these days come with GPS in them, for those ‘just in case’ situations. Why do you need a dedicated GPS unit, then? Because Flaik, the company who makes it, has gone all Web 2.0 and tacked on a social network.

Despite Flaik’s website not being properly launched yet, and being epically broken in Chrome, it seems that the GPS unit will let you do all kinds of crazy stuff like running real-time competitions against people you don’t know, tracking the location of individual skiiers, and calculating run-by-run and day-by-day statistics.

Obviously this is for hardcore skiiers only, and there’s no word of price, but it apparently launched last month in Colorado. If anyone’s able to provide any more info, then drop us an email, because this looks like it could be fun.

Flaik (via CrunchGear)

Related posts: Wii Skii: Nintendo to release ‘Family Ski’ – proper use for the balance board | Shiny Video Preview: Satski’s GPS system for skiing trips

3's "INQ1" Facebook phone details confirmed

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At a launch event this morning in Shoreditch, 3 unveiled its “INQ1” Facebook phone, which we wrote about just over a week ago. It’s basically a phone that has massive Facebook integration, as well as integration with Skype, Windows Live Messenger and Last.fm.

WIth more and more people using their phones for their social networking needs, 3 wanted a handset with that functionality at its very core. The device pushes Facebook news feed updates to the home screen of your phone, and the contact book is being described as ‘live’, where friends’ Facebook profile pictures show up next to their contact details…

Passionato – DRM-free, high quality classical music downloads

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Following in the footsteps of Deutsche Gramophon, a service called Passionato is launching today, which will feature very high quality DRM-free downloads of classical… er… classics. It could prove popular – as previously reported, one in three classical music lovers owns an MP3 player, and download music, as well as ripping their classical CDs to MP3. One in five legally download tracks…