Friday, May 04, 2007

Social networks everywhere

logoPart of my plan to reduce my carbon footprint involves limiting my driving as much as possible, so I haven't been in any hurry to get a GPS SatNav for my car. Last weekend someone lent me a TomTom unit for a long trip, and I was surprised at how well it performed, exceeding my expectations. So I treated myself to one of my own, and spent yesterday evening playing with it.
Pretty accessible technology, although mind blowing to think of this small portable unit simultaneously communicating with up to five GPS satellites. It has to be said that the makers have done a pretty good job on the technology side, and as far as I can tell, most of the marketing has been achieved by word of mouth recommendation. What is there to be afraid of in a box which talks to you in the voice of Yoda from Star Wars? The one thing which did surprise me was TomTom Buddies, your own personal mobile social network.

So maybe it's not surprising that UCAS is jumping on the social network bandwagon by launching yougofurther, a MySpace Wannabe owned by UCAS Media, the money-making arm of the admissions service (admit it, you didn't know they had a money-making arm, did you?). The company has teamed up with commercial partners - including iTunes, Lonely Planet and Cult Clothing - who will offer competition prizes as well as advice to students on issues such as gap year travel and the latest news in fashion and music.

So will potential and future students see this as friendly gesture from higher education, or does it look like a scheme to squeeze some money out of them even before they've stumped up the first installment of their fees?

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