We look back at the top New Media stories of 2011, including the arrival of Google+, the Dublin Web Summit and smartphone privacy controversies.
Social media revolution means the world bears witness
The web and social media gave protesters involved in uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya the means to get their message out to the rest of the world. Even in media blackouts, messages through Twitter, mobile phone videos and blog posts were being uploaded to attempt to keep others informed of what was happening. Siliconrepublic.com’s editor John Kennedy looked at the role that social media played in the uprisings earlier this year.
iPhones and 3G iPads record location data without permission – research
Apple was caught up in privacy controversy this year after two researchers discovered that 3G-enabled iOS devices stored a user’s location data seemingly without permission. This included latitude-longitude co-ordinates, along with a time stamp for each location. Apple responded, saying that iOS devices were not logging users’ locations, but were “maintaining a database of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers around your current location” to help a user’s device calculate its location when requested. It released a software update for iOS to reduce the size of the Wi-Fi hotspot and cell-tower database cached on the iPhone. The update also let it delete the cache entirely when Location Services have been turned off.
Mark Zuckerberg visits Facebook Dublin HQ
The CEO and founder of Facebook paid a flying visit to the social network’s Dublin HQ while on his way to address the eG8 tech forum in Paris. He spoke to the company’s 200 staff and socialised in the city centre. His visit coincided with a rooftop Bell X1 concert at Facebook’s dockland’s HQ.
Google’s doodlers were busy this year, releasing some pretty inspired graphics on the much-visited Google homepage. Notable pieces include a playable guitar to honour late guitar hero and inventor Lester William Polsfuss’s (aka Les Paul) 96th birthday and a vivid animation which cycled through the career of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury. Google has archived all of its old doodles online if you want to look back at them.
Google goes social – say hi to Google+
Speaking of Google, the search giant had a busy year for social media when it released its own social network Google+. It includes Circles to help users group their contacts to share links to and Hangouts for spontaneous group video chats. It’s the biggest attempt Google has made yet to crack social networking so perhaps 2012 will tell us how much momentum it will gain among users.
4chan founder and Rovio CEO speaking at Dublin Web Summit
The Dublin Web Summit attracted some of the biggest names in tech at the end of October, including 4chan founder Chris Poole, Rovio CEO Mikael Hed, Skype cofounder Niklas Zennstrom and Bebo founder Michael Birch, to name but a few. The summit gave Irish tech talent the chance to network with other members of the community and to discover new ideas through a series of talks over two days,
Software logs users’ activities across millions of phones – researcher
Apple wasn’t the only one caught up in data privacy controversy on mobile phones. A developer discovered the presence of Carrier IQ on many major mobile devices which apparently logged almost everything the user does on their smartphone. Many mobile companies denied that they installed the software and Carrier IQ itself said that the software was only used for gathering information to improve the mobile experience. It is understood that US federal investigators are investigating it.