theEweekly Wrap: Digital, dragons and disasters
|Online nation||The UK communications regulator Ofcom has published a report revealing the full extent of our digital engagement. The International Communications Market Report shows that in many areas, the UK is one the most engaged of the 17 countries surveyed. We spend an average of 746 minutes (12.5 hours) per week online, which puts us in third place after Germany and the US. E-commerce was worth £1000 per person in 2010, while 79 per cent of Brits have visited a social networking site. Smartphone ownership has doubled to 46 per cent of the population, leading to a large number of people using their mobiles to access games, news, social media and apps. The UK is also the country with the highest proportion of online advertising spend at 29 per cent of the total.
However, we’re not leading in everything; our likelihood to make Skype calls, download podcasts and music or listen to the radio is lower than other countries such as Italy and France. Meanwhile, the UK is lagging behind the US and Japan when it comes to superfast broadband. Although 59 per cent of households had access to a superfast service by June 2011, just four per cent actually subscribed. Ofcom speculated that the 4G spectrum auction in late 2012 could mean an incredibly fast mobile broadband offering at some point in 2013.
|Skywin||Cult video game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been crowned Game of the Year at the prestigious Spike Video Game Awards in California last weekend. The dragon-slaying adventure for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 was also named best role-playing game, while developers Bethesda Game Studios won Studio of the Year. In the UK, retailers offering discounts on Skyrim saw the game overtake Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 to top the multiformat gaming charts. However, it’s unlikely to match up to the success of CoD, which on Tuesday became the fastest-ever entertainment product to make a billion dollars, just 16 days after general release.
Despite Skyrim’s cult following, plenty of criticism has been directed at it. Players have noticed dragons flying backwards and other glitches, while the huge save file has reportedly slowed down the gameplay and graphics for some. Bethesda has said they plan to address this issue of memory and ‘lag’ with a software update. Another criticism – or rather, backhanded compliment – was offered by Wired’s Geek Dad blog in that the game is damaging the economy: “Skyrim is incredible. The game’s world is so big and there are so many quests to complete that those millions of dollars in sales are being nullified by players’ lost productivity and lack of economic participation in the real world.”
|Mapping a disaster||Google has announced the completion of a project to photograph 44,000km of Japan’s roads following the earthquake and tsunami disaster in March 2011. The images will appear on Google Street View, allowing users to get a 360-degree street-level view of damage in the worst-hit areas. As well as replacing the existing Street View images for north east Japan, the new photographs will appear alongside the old ones in a ‘before and after’ maps project, titled Memories for the Future (www.miraikioku.com). Members of the public will be invited to post their own photos and videos as part of the project.
Street View senior product manager Kei Kawai said: “We hope this particular digital archiving project will be useful to researchers and scientists who study the effects of natural disasters. We also believe that the imagery is a useful tool for anyone around the world who wants to better understand the extent of the damage.” Simultaneously, Google has introduced a time stamp to all images, providing users with some idea of how relevant the image is – apparently, this was “the most requested Street View feature for the last few years”.