Social TV

posted Nov 2, 2011, 2:24 AM by Thomas Smith

    Extract of: P. Cesar and D. Geerts, "Understanding Social TV: a survey," in Proceedings of the Networked and    Electronic Media Summit (NEM Summit 2011), Torino, Italy, September 27-29, 2011. (

Social TV

In recent years social networking and social interactions have challenged old conceptions in the television landscape. Web applications that offer video content, networked television sets and set-top boxes, tablets and smart phones as ‘second screens’, and online TV widgets are – or, will be – radically transforming how people watch and interact around television content. Since the wealth of existing solutions and approaches might be daunting to newcomers, frameworks that categorize the most salient features of existing applications are needed.

Social Television constitutes a fundamental shift in how people interact and socialize around television content. Websites are starting to combine video streaming services with social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Media software like Boxee allows users to recommend and share favourite television programs, and YouTube Social enables friends to remotely watch television together. All these developments can be called social TV: allowing remote viewers to socially interact with each other via the television set, smart phones, tablets or the PC, where viewers might be separated in time and/or in space. Some examples of social TV services include the integration of micro-blogging updates during a live video stream and social networking applications that allow commenting while watching video content. Several similar applications are recently being created for smart phones and tablets, which act as a secondary screen, so the commenting and communication do not occupy valuable space on the television set. In parallel to the integration of social networking into the television environment, there have been successful efforts in enabling domestic high-quality videoconferencing; providing a direct communication link between separate households watching television together. SkypeTV, Umi, and Kinect are pioneers in this direction.


The main social TV categories can be defined as:

  • Content selection and sharing: information by other peers is used for making appropriate decisions on what to watch. The user might also want to send to his/her peers full programs or edited versions of the programs.

  • Communication: direct communication via chat, audio, or video with other peers while watching television content.

  •  Community building: commenting about a television program with a large community of viewers.

  • Status update: making available to others what you are currently watching

Content Selection and Sharing

Due to the wide range of alternatives, content selection has been considered as a cornerstone of interactive television systems. Since the first commercial interactive television solutions, the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) helps viewers decide what to watch, sometimes providing video recording capabilities. The EPG is a table-based application showing the schedule of different channels, mimicking traditional TV listings in magazines and newspapers. On the other hand, one can find on the Web a variety of playback video streaming services such as BBC’s iPlayer, Netflix, Apple TV, and Hulu. Such systems tend to provide more efficient and open mechanisms for content selection, since old broadcast thinking models do not need to be followed. In this direction, the recently launched Google TV is raising expectations as a convergence environment between the Web and the television world. While the previous examples mostly concentrate on time-shifted content, real-time broadcasting services (e.g., Facebook Live, are becoming an alternative.


A number of social TV applications support direct communication between its users. Early TV-based research systems like Alcatel-Lucent’s AmigoTV or Motorola’s Social TV allow users to talk with each other using voice. Similarly, the first commercial social webTV applications Joost and Lycos Cinema enabled users to text chat with each other while watching online TV or movies. While Instant Messaging solutions allowed users to share videos while chatting (e.g., Windows Messenger and Zync from Yahoo!), more recently, the web-based applications Watchitoo and YouTube Social also enable talking and videoconferencing while watching the same content.

Community building

Community building refers to the activity of sharing thoughts, comments, and impressions about television programs with a large community. Followers of a specific show normally comprise such community, who before the advent of social television mainly gathered on web based forums for sharing their passion.

In some cases, games (e.g., NBA Real Time Fantasy) and other immersive activities are provided by the television channel or by individual followers of the show. In the past, successful approaches included the use of telephone calls for deciding the outcome of a show – Big Brother or the Eurovision song contest are good examples – but lately many television channels are providing specific Web pages with Facebook and Twitter updates. TV Chatter and Starling TV are two recent examples of the community building category, where comments related to a television program are gathered and aggregated.  While TV Chatter renders the Twitter stream in an external device – mobile phone - GoogleTV and Verizon’s Fiber Optic Television offer the possibility of overlaying the comments alongside the television content. In most of the cases such aggregation is done via an external channel, with no effect on the program.


Status update

While early social TV systems usually offered status sharing (e.g. “I’m watching Breaking News on CNN”) as one of its social features, more recently many applications have been launched which offer status sharing as its core feature. Applications like Miso, Tunerfish, IntoNow and PhiloTV allow users to indicate the TV program they are watching by ‘checking in’ to that program. Users that frequently check into a specific TV program earn badges. Apart from indicating the TV program a user is watching, these applications also provide the option to write a short, twitter-like, status update. Similar to Twitter, users can follow other users, so they receive the status updates and other information from these users.


This blog post provides a structured framework for better understanding an emergent field, social TV. Where social networking and mass media seamless integrate, leveraging social interactions between viewers separated in time and/or space. In the future, we can expect convergent environments where TV, the Web, and social networks fluidly interoperate; domestic video conferencing that nurtures closed relationships; and novel social-aware TV formats.

Schools That Rule The Web

posted Oct 25, 2011, 5:42 PM by Thomas Smith

The realm of higher education has, so far, responded to the Internet revolution with decidedly mixed results. Though enthusiasm about online learning, for example, is shared by many institutional leaders, the results of actually implementing online-only classes have been equivocal at best. An area in which universities have fared much better is in providing course materials to its students online, and allowing them to submit homework and papers electronically. But, though a convenient and welcomed feature, it by no means represents the large scale paradigm shift that many educators were hoping would come as a result of colleges going online. 

The one area that presents the widest spectrum of success for higher ed in America is arguably web presence. In the age in which any company without a website might as well not exist, colleges have adapted to this sea change in public image creation with hugely varying degrees of enthusiasm - and success. The social media revolution of just the last few years has, in particular, seen an enormous range of responses. Some colleges have ignored Facebook and Twitter completely, leaving it up to the student newspaper or admissions office to maintain their images online. Others, such as Harvard and UC Berkeley, have dived in head first, racking up tens of thousands of Twitter followers and millions of YouTube views. Between those two ends of the spectrum lies the rest of academia, which either neglects the web as an outreach tool entirely, or tries to utilize it with limited success. 

Best Education Sites is a new online resource that assesses the quality of colleges and universities across America with a critical eye. A panel of experts rates the home pages of various schools based on design, usability, and content - even allowing users to submit their own ratings - and also assesses the degree to which each school has taken advantage of social media. This infographic, compiled from Best Education Sites' wealth of statistical data on the academic webspace, tracks the schools that have so far stood out in the race for web supremacy. Profiling the top collegiate tweeters, Facebookers and YouTubers - as well as looking at trends in design and coding - it lays out all you need to know about the current online landscape of higher education.

Schools That Rule the Web
Created by: Best Education Sites

Conversions in Social Media

posted Oct 13, 2011, 6:46 AM by Thomas Smith

Nice infographic found in "Digital - Die Zeitschrift für die Informationsgesellschaft, Sep/Oct 2011"

Call for Book Chapters on Social Media Retrieval

posted Oct 6, 2011, 5:50 AM by Thomas Smith

SOCIAL MEDIA RETRIEVAL, a book edited by:
  • Dr. Naeem Ramzan, Queen Mary University of London, UK 
  • Dr. Roelof van Zwol, Yahoo! Research, USA 
  • Dr. Jong-Seok Lee, Yonsei University, Korea 
  • Dr. Kai Clüver, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany 
  • Dr. Xian-Sheng Hua, Microsoft, USA 
To be published by Springer in “Computer Communications and Networks series”

  • Deadline for proposals: November 15, 2011 
  • Acceptance notification of chapter proposal: December 15, 2011
  • Chapter deadline: March 1, 2012
  • Acceptance notification and review results: April 1, 2012
  • Revision deadline: May 1, 2012 

Multimedia content has become ubiquitous on the web, creating new challenges for indexing, access, search and retrieval. At the same time, much of this content is made available on content sharing websites such as YouTube or Flickr, or shared on social networks like Facebook. In such environments, the content is usually accompanied with metadata, tags, ratings, comments, information about the uploader and their social network, etc. Analysis of these "social media" shows a great potential in improving the performance of traditional multimedia information analysis/retrieval approaches by bridging the semantic gap between the "objective" multimedia content analysis and "subjective" users' needs and impressions. The integration of these aspects, however, is non-trivial and has created a vibrant, interdisciplinary field of research. The main objective of this book is to provide in-depth knowledge that explicitly exploits the synergy between multimedia content analysis, personalization, and next generation networking and community aspects of social networks. We believe that this integration could result in robust, personalized multimedia services, providing users with an improved multimedia centric quality of experience (QoE) awareness. In response to the booming developments in social networks, this edited book intends to keep readers abreast of the current research and development trends in this area by bringing together high quality chapters.

Objective of the book

This edited book is anticipated to be an assortment of tutorials, surveys, and original contributions that concentrate on the most contemporary advances in social media retrieval. The principle aspiration of this edited book is not only to cover the theoretical and practical fundamentals, but also cover the state-of-the-art techniques and challenges of the subject area. A number of promising developments and innovative guidelines will also be explained in this edited book with the aim of motivating further work and providing an informative overview for academic research and practice.

Recommended topics include, but are not limited to, the following

Social Networks on Multimedia Applications
  • Social networks analysis to multimedia content personalization and adaptation
  • Multimedia interaction in networked communities
  • Social multimedia applications (e.g. P2P applications, multimedia broadcasting, social collections & networking, lifelogging) 
Personalization and Adaptation of Multimedia Content
  • Personalized access to multimedia content
  • Multimedia indexing/search/retrieval
  • Implicit and explicit media tagging
  • Multimedia content-based recommendation and collaborative filtering
  • Interactive multimedia systems
  • Semantic technologies for multimedia content personalization and adaptation
  • Adaptive models for exploration of multimedia archives: adaptive browsing, collaborative search
  • Adaptive user interfaces for multimedia browsing and searching
  • Sentiment analysis on multimedia systems
  • Evaluation of adaptive multimedia systems 
Distributed Media
  • Ubiquitous access to multimedia content and pervasive multimedia content delivery
  • Techniques for robust and scalable distribution of multimedia content
  • Robust distribution of multimedia services over heterogeneous networks and access technologies 
Inquiries and submissions can be forwarded electronically to:

Call for Participation

posted Sep 14, 2011, 7:31 AM by Thomas Smith

The IEEE Computer Society issues the following Call for Participation and invites interested parties to join the Special Technical Community (STC) on Social Networking.

The aim of this STC is to provide the entry point for researchers and practitioners in Social Networking, fostering communication and interaction between people in the community.

The STC on Social Networking intends to be Agora for researchers with similar interests to meet and gather. We are interested in (but not limited to) the following topics:
  • Social network services, applications, and tools
  • Social computing and social search 
  • Social multimedia and social communications
  • Mobile social networking
  • Social network analysis and visualization
  • Standardization trends and federated social Web initiatives
  • Business models
  • Societal issues (e.g., privacy and data protection)
How to participate? Come and join us via: 
Detailed information about this new exciting activity is available here.

The sBook: towards Social and Personalized Learning Experiences

posted Aug 3, 2011, 12:51 PM by Thomas Smith

For users, content providers and service providers who need more values beyond plain readership and sharing of digitised 
books, the sBook is a concept prototype that enables a dynamic and individualised learning experience with cross-media
cross-community information discovery through socialisation of reading activity. Unlike BookGlutton, Inkling and Copia, sBook supports textual and video annotations, community-based sharing of
annotations, semantic and social navigation inside a book with semantic heatmap, and semantic cross-media discovery
of videos related to selected passage in a book.

More details on the position paper below.

Computing Now August Theme: Social Networking

posted Aug 3, 2011, 5:48 AM by Thomas Smith

Tom Costello is providing the guest editor's introduction on CN's August theme on social networking.

Abstract: Social networking brings with it a host of new and existing challenges, and the approaches that we collectively use to handle them will form the social networking framework of the future.

Further details including free articles can be found here.


Thomas Costello is is the CEO of UpStreme, Inc. He's also a member of IT Professional magazine's editorial board. For more information, see

Social Live Networks

posted Jul 13, 2011, 11:40 PM by Thomas Smith

Check out the latest presentation on Social Live Networks (SLN) by EB member Ramesh Jain who gave this at Facebook.

Introducing Special Technical Communities

posted Jul 6, 2011, 7:23 AM by Thomas Smith

In January 2011 Sorel Reisman the first time introduced Special Technical Communities (STCs) to the public: «By the end of 2011, we’ll have launched pilot Special Technical Communities in social networking, could computing, education, software engineering, and green computing.» [1]

In June 2011 Dejan Milojicic and Phil Laplante provide an in-depth review of STCs and an overview of existing (pilot) STCs [2]. STCs offer a new engagement model for IEEE CS members and the much broader computer practitioner world to collaborate for their individual and mutual benefit and to advance technical topics to the benefit of the profession. STCs are intended go beyond traditional membership and activities and open new outlets for the membership to create and distribute intellectual property (IP). They will create new revenue-generating opportunities, new products, and services and enrich professional activities (e.g., newsletters, sharing of best practices). Finally, STCs will help strengthen governance by allowing all members to feel closer to decision-making processes through the dynamic organizational structure.

The principles behind an STC can be summarized as follows.
  • Elasticity: STCs will be easy to create, grow, contract, and retire as member needs warrant; comprised of CS and IEEE members and non-members with a shared interest; and with different levels of engagement: news feeds, blogging, information exchanges, reviews, newsletters, virtual conferences, etc. 
  • Self-service: STCs will require little or no staff support; use up-to-date technology, integrate with social networking tools, such as blogs, twikis, alerts, portals and allow for personalization and presence (e.g., in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter).
  • Customization: STCs will integrate into CS existing IP and contribute to it; they will promote publications, technical councils, education, chapters and standards in a holistic manner. They will further link to other organization and services relevant to the underlying STC. 

Special Technical Community on Social Networking

« A social network service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, e.g., who share interests and/or activities. » from here.

The aim of the STC on Social Networking (STCSN) is to provide the entry point for researchers and practitioners in social networking, fostering communication and interaction between people in the community. The STC on Social Networking intends to be the Agora for researchers with similar interests to meet and gather. We are interested in (but not limited to) the following topics:
  • Social network services, applications and tools 
  • Social computing and social search 
  • Social Multimedia and social communications 
  • Mobile social networking 
  • Social network analysis and visualization 
  • Standardization trends and Federated Social Web initiatives 
  • Business models 
  • Societal issues (e.g., privacy and data protection)
How to participate?

STCSN Contact

Christian Timmerer, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Austria;
Email:; Web:

[1] S. Reisman, “Planning for an Inevitable Future”, IEEE Computer, vol. 44, no. 1, January 2011.
[2] D. Milojicic, P. Laplante, “Special Technical Communities”, IEEE Computer, vol. 44, no. 6, June 2011.

This STC has already quite a long history of blog posts (on various sites which is indexed here, newest on top):

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