Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “LulzSec Suspect Arrested, Nokia N9 Announced & More: This Morning’s Top Stories”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “LulzSec Suspect Arrested, Nokia N9 Announced & More: This Morning’s Top Stories”

LulzSec Suspect Arrested, Nokia N9 Announced & More: This Morning’s Top Stories

Posted: 21 Jun 2011 05:16 AM PDT

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning’s edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. We're keeping our eyes on three particular stories of interest today.

LulzSec Mastermind Suspect Arrested in England

A 19-year-old suspected to be the mastermind behind the hacker group LulzSec has been arrested in Wickford, Essex in England.

Nokia's MeeGo-Based N9 Confirmed for 2011

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has confirmed that the company's first MeeGo-based, “pure touch” device, the Nokia N9, is coming sometime in 2011.

Foursquare Surpasses 10 Million Users

Foursquare hit a big milestone over the weekend: It surpassed the 10 million-user mark, becoming the first location-based social network to do so.

Further News

  • Consumers are spending more time on mobile apps than on the web for the first time, a new report claims.
  • Apple is set to release upgraded models of its AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule wireless routers.
  • For four hours Monday, some Dropbox accounts were made accessible without any password. Dropbox has since posted an explanation on its bug, assuring customers that less than 1% of users were affected.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: first to know series, foursquare, lulzsec, N9, Nokia

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Need a Really Good Read? Byliner Has 30,000 Suggestions

Posted: 21 Jun 2011 05:05 AM PDT

Byliner wants to give you, the intelligent reader interested in magazine-quality articles, a few good reads.

This startup is already a publisher of high quality, long-form journalism, and Tuesday, it is launching its community-focused website to find readers something good to peruse.

Byliner.com, now in public beta, is a digital magazine rack of new and classic nonfiction magazine stories curated by the site’s editors. It features more than 30,000 articles sorted in a variety of ways and personalized for each reader.

Readers can turn to Byliner.com to find, discuss and share feature articles by their favorite authors and to view articles by subject matter, popularity or recency.

Users can also search for writers and articles, submit links for consideration, follow their favorite writers, share stories and discover writers similar to the ones they already enjoy.

Byliner.com is the second edition in Byliner’s ongoing narrative. The startup, launched just months ago, doubles as a digital publishing house that assigns, edits and produces nonfiction stories for sale as Amazon Singles.

The stories, Byliner Originals as they’re called, are meant to be read in a single sitting and have so far proven quite popular with readers. In the past few weeks alone, 200,000 readers have downloaded a Byliner Original, says CEO and founder John Tayman.

Byliner.com will aslo serve as an important distribution channel for Byliner Originals.

On June 22, Byliner will release its fifth original publication I Hope Like Heck: The Selected Poems of Sarah Palin. The title was compiled and edited by Michael Solomon and is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek reinterpretation of the recently released Palin emails.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Eric Rice

More About: byliner, curation, digital publishing, nonfiction, startup, storytelling

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LulzSec Mastermind Suspect Arrested in Essex, England

Posted: 21 Jun 2011 04:34 AM PDT

A 19-year-old suspected to be the mastermind behind the hacker group LulzSec has been arrested in Wickford, Essex in England, in a joint action by the Scotland Yard and the FBI, Sky News reports.

LulzSec recently got the public's attention by hacking Sony's servers, capturing hundreds of thousands of personal user records.

The same group also claims to have attacked the servers of several major online games, such as EVE Online and Minecraft, as well as Nintendo, the CIA and the U.S. Senate.

“The arrest follows an investigation into network intrusions and distributed denial of service attacks against a number of international business and intelligence agencies by what is believed to be the same hacking group. Searches at a residential address in Wickford, Essex, following the arrest last night have led to the examination of a significant amount of material,” said a Scotland Yard spokesman.

More About: arrest, FBI, hack, hacker, hacking, lulzsec

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Nokia’s MeeGo-Based N9 Confirmed for 2011 [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Jun 2011 02:42 AM PDT

At the Nokia Connection event in Singapore Nokia CEO Stephen Elop confirmed that the company’s first MeeGo-based device, the Nokia N9, is coming sometime in 2011.

The device sports a 1 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM as well as 16/64 GB of storage memory. It has an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, capable of recording 720p video, and it supports Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi NFC, and GPS.

The screen is a 3.9-inch curved glass AMOLED, and the entire thing is wrapped in a polycarbonate case (with no buttons on the front), available in three colors: black, cyan and magenta.

While none of the specifications are groundbreaking, what makes the N9 interesting is its software: MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan.

It’s tough to say much about MeeGo before we actually test the device: on one hand, the GUI looks snazzy enough, enabling the user to switch betwen an events view, an app grid and an open applications view with a swipe of the finger. On the other hand, Nokia did choose Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 as its main smartphone platform, which says a thing or two about both MeeGo and Symbian.

Check out the video below for a quick overview of N9′s capabilities.

More About: Meego, N9, Nokia, Nokia N9, smartphone

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How ICANN’s Approval of New Domains Will Change the Web

Posted: 21 Jun 2011 02:02 AM PDT

Ben Crawford is the CEO of domain industry firm CentralNic. Prior to joining that firm in 2009, Crawford worked at various jobs which combined his love of sports with Internet technology, including serving as executive producer for IBM's official Sydney Olympic Games website.

The final barrier to a new era for the Internet was lifted Monday morning, when the board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) voted 13 to 3 in favor of introducing new top-level domains (TLDs) to compete with .com, .net, .org and country codes like .ca and .mx.

The vote, held in Singapore before a thousand-strong audience of tech insiders and broadcast live online, was met with a standing ovation. A core deliverable of ICANN since its inception, new TLDs have been the subject of six years of intense debate contributing to ICANN's bottom-up approach to policy making. As one board member put it, "every imaginable aspect has been examined six ways from Sunday."

A hundred potential applicants have gone public over those years with their ambitions to acquire new top level domains. These range from cities like .paris and .nyc, to brands like .canon and .hitachi, to verticals like .gay and .ski. Hundreds more have kept their plans secret, particularly due to the uncertainty that previously clouded the topic.

Why the need for these new TLDs? ICANN's mission includes introducing more consumer choice — a blessing for everyone frustrated with finding that the ideal domain name for their new project is unavailable at the existing extensions.

For trademark owners, acquiring their own TLD creates a completely brand-safe online zone free from phishing, domain spoofing, knock-off sites, counterfeiting, and the gamut of other damaging activities that plague the Internet. Plus, a .brand TLD gives marketers the choice of any domain they want ending with their trademark. No matter what name you come up with for your new product or promotion, with your own .brand, the domain is available.

A More Equitable Internet

On a global scale, the need for new TLDs derives from the drive for an altogether greater good — a more equitable Internet. Regional communities such as the Galicians in Spain, the Venetians in Italy and the Kurds in Iraq have been active in asserting their need for domains that reflect their languages and cultures.

Moreover, recent developments will permit new TLDs to be in characters other than ASCII text (the letters and numbers on English-language keyboards). These new top level domains will usher in a true globalization of the Internet, with URL support in Chinese, Japanese, Cyrillic, Arabic, and dozens of other scripts.

Supporting the view that the public wants new top level domains are the recent successes of "repurposed country codes" like .co (officially the TLD for Colombia, but sold as an abbreviation for "company") and .me (officially for Montenegro, sold for "unique personal brands") as well as new SLDs (second level domains) like us.org in the United States and .com.de, about to be launched in Germany.


There are of course opponents to new TLDs. Complaints about the cost (an $185,000 application fee plus the cost of producing a 200-odd page application, plus the set-up and running costs) have been responded to by ICANN with the announcement of a $2 million grant program designated for applicants from developing countries. But the main objections actually come from major brands that already spend hundreds of thousands of dollars registering domains "defensively" to prevent others from using them, and which are concerned that a proliferation of new domains will cause these costs to escalate vastly with no added benefits.

ICANN has sought to mitigate this risk by introducing far more stringent protections for trademark owners than those that exist under the current generic TLDs, including a system that allows the rapid takedown of domains that abuse trademarks.

The Process

The timetable announced for the introduction of the new top level domains starts immediately with the preparation of complex application documents. As running a TLD involves taking responsibility for core infrastructure of the Internet, specialist technical providers are required to support each new TLD, and the applications must include comprehensive and fully-funded business plans and detailed policy documents governing the rules for usage of the new domains. The application window is between January and April 2012, and the applications are scrutinized by ICANN and then made public, so that objections from any quarter may be heard before the domain is granted.

The earliest we are likely to see one of these new TLDs in our search engine results is early 2013.

For new TLDs that are contested — for instance where multiple applicants apply for the same or similar domains — assuming all applications are of equal merit, the domain will be auctioned and sold to the highest bidder. As premium dot com domains occasionally sell for millions of dollars, we can expect these bidding wars to reach tens of millions of dollars. Toys 'R' Us paid $5.1 million for the domain toys.com in 2009. What does that mean for the value of .toys?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, enot-poloskun

More About: brands, Domain Names, domains, ICANN, internet, top level domains, web

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Google Doodle Celebrates the Summer Solstice With Murakami Art [PICS]

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 11:39 PM PDT

Tuesday marks the 2011 summer solstice, and Google has marked the day with a new Google Doodle.

The colorful modified logo was created by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, a prolific illustrator and fine artist whose work has strong roots in Japanese consumer culture, anime and design.

Murakami also created a wintery version for Google Web Search users south of the equator.

In the past, Murakami has also worked with high-end fashion brand Louis Vuitton on fresh looks for the designer’s iconic logo bags, some of which you can see below. Murakami is also credited with founding the postmodern art movement Superflat, a consumerist expression of Japanese culture for Western audiences.

Check out this gallery of the Murakami Google Doodles as well as a few other pieces by this artist.

The Art of Takashi Murakami

The Art of Takashi Murakami

The Art of Takashi Murakami

The Art of Takashi Murakami

The Art of Takashi Murakami

The Art of Takashi Murakami

More About: Google, google doodle, summer, summer solstice

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Who’s Winning: Walmart or Amazon? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 10:33 PM PDT

If one online retailer could ever challenge big-box retailer Walmart, it would be Amazon.com.

Amazon already surpasses Walmart in areas such as customer service ranking, acquisitions, online presence and — believe it or not — prices.

The biggest area where Walmart is still ahead by leaps and bounds is overall revenue. The retail giant bags more than $408 billion annually, while Amazon takes $34 billion. But Amazon is projected to close that gap by 2024, which is still admittedly a long way off.

And Walmart is still much bigger than Amazon in terms of sheer size and reach. With more than 2 million employees and a customer base of 200 million people each week — that’s one out of ever seven consumers in the market — Walmart is by far the heavyweight in this matchup.

Here’s an infographic from OnlineMBA.com showing the competitors head-to-head.

Where would you rather do your shopping? Do you prefer one outlet over the other, or do you shop at both depending on your needs and circumstances?

Click image to see larger version.

[source: OnlineMBA]

More About: amazon.com, infographic, WalMart

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Startup Seeks to Personalize Content With Artificial Intelligence [INVITES]

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 09:01 PM PDT

Trapit, a startup launching Wednesday, is seeking to become a sort of Pandora for content by combining personalization with sophisticated artificial intelligence technology.

Trapit is the sister company of Siri, the personal assistant iPhone application that was acquired by Apple last year.

Like Siri, Trapit was born from the CALO Project (Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes), the largest artificial intelligence project in U.S. history. The five-year program was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and led by SRI International.

Instead of using the technology for natural language interaction (as the Siri team did), the Trapit team are focused on personalization. The result is a platform and technology that creates personalized content streams based on keywords, interests and user behavior. Chief of Product Officer Hank Nothhaft described it to me as a “Pandora for content.”

When a user visits Trapit, she can either browse Trending Traps or create her own traps. Traps are essentially modules that deliver personalized content based on keywords or URLs.

Once a user chooses keywords (“Justin Bieber” or “string theory” for example), a page with content related to that keyword or URL will appear. One of Trapit’s key differentiators is that content doesn’t just come from traditional news outlets or popular websites but also from academic and lesser-read websites.

The company says, “Seventy percent of all retweets come from the same 15 sources,” and its platform helps users discover new content with little effort.

Like Siri, Trapit is funded by Horizons Ventures and is currently raising a Series A round. The company has ten employees split between Silicon Valley and Portland.

Trapit is similar in many ways to my6sense, a product that
personalizes content
and Twitter streams by analyzing user behavior and content from around the web.

While Trapit execs admit there are some similarities between the two products, Nothhaft argues that Trapit has ten times more content sources and greater accuracy due to its CALO roots. Trapit is also designed to be dead-simple for newbies — all they need to do is type in keywords.

My6sense and Trapit aren’t the only two companies in the content personalization space, either. Standing out from the crowd will become more important and more difficult as more companies, big and small, join the space. While my6sense has a head start in market penetration, Trapit could simply ride the reputation of the CALO project to a payday similar to the one Siri received when it was acquired by Apple. For example, company such as Facebook may decide that it needs more robust personalization technology to enhance the News Feed.

Trapit is in private beta, but the company has agreed to give 500 invites to the first 500 people who sign up for Trapit via this link.

Check out the screenshots of Trapit in action, and let us know what you think of it in the comments.

Trapit's Featured Traps Page

Trapit's Homepage

Sharing a Trap

Creating a New Trap

Personalizing a Trap

Traps require personalization by actions such as liking or disliking articles. These actions help hone the algorithms.

A Single Trap Article

Saving Trapa to Read Later

Top image based on a photograph from iStockphoto user SAKIStyle.

More About: artificial intelligence, CALO, my6sense, personalization, siri, Trap.it

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Movie Discovery Engine Uses Music to Find Flicks You Might Like [INVITES]

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 08:00 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: MyZeus

Quick Pitch: MyZeus looks at your friends, the music you like and the world around you to help you discover movies in brand new ways.

Genius Idea: Using social context to change the way people discover movies.

Listening to music can be an emotional experience. So too can watching a movie with a soundtrack that includes song you love. Now, private beta startup MyZeus seeks to be the conduit for making the connection between the music you love and the movies you might like.

Founded eight months ago, MyZeus came to be after co-founders Patrick Algrim and Brandon Weiss started thinking about how they could make movie discovery as much fun as the actual movie-watching experience.

“Our goal,” says Algrim, “is too use the world around you to make up movie discovery.”

An early release of the product allows users to connect their Last.fm and Rdio accounts to happen upon all the movies with music you like — as indicated via the third-party music services — in them.

In Algrim’s mind, MyZeus can reinvent how people watch and experience movies. “If you say you like Dave Matthews Band, and this movie has Dave Matthews Band in it, and you discovered it through MyZeus, throughout the whole movie you’re actually listening for that Dave Matthews song,” Algrim says. “It becomes a lot of fun.”

But MyZeus is also designed to encourage and support all three steps in the movie-watching experience. “We want you to find something to watch. We want you to watch that right now. And when you’re finished, we want you to share that with your friends,” Algrim explains.

Soon, the site will move beyond on music-to-movie discovery and use places by connecting to your Gowalla and Foursquare accounts to help you discover movies filmed at venues in your location history.

As is, the MyZeus dashboard highlights movies based on your music preferences. You can filter movies by artists, watch movie trailers and see if your movie selection is streaming on Netflix or available at iTunes, Amazon or Blockbuster.

There’s also a social component to the site, so you can find and follow friends and make your own movie suggestions. You can also see, save and comment on the movie suggestions of your friends or everyone on the site.

Algrim reports that private beta members are showing an early propensity for not only discovering movies via music, but also sharing and discussing movies.

“We’ve had quite a few movies shared since we opened the doors, and there’s been an equal about of comments on the movies as there has been shared movies,” he says.

MyZeus needs to mature a bit before it lives up to its stated purpose — we’d like more ways to discover and add friends, and more music service integrations — but there seems to be a lot of promise here.

If you’d like to get an early peek at the service, 250 Mashable readers can check out MyZeus before it launches to the public by signing up here.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DrGrounds

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, last fm, Movies, rdio, spark-of-genius, startup

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Friends & Fans Post Ryan Dunn Remembrances on Twitter

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 06:43 PM PDT

Monday, friends and fans of Jackass star Ryan Dunn took to Twitter to post farewell messages and remembrances about the deceased actor.

Dunn, who perished in a car crash early Monday morning, posted a picture of himself drinking with friends just hours before the car he was driving crashed, killing both Dunn and another adult passenger.

While some, such as iconic film critic Roger Ebert, have criticized Dunn’s actions, many refuse to speak ill at this time, instead focusing on the humor Dunn brought to their lives and the memories they shared with him.

Here are some tweets from other celebrities who were close to Dunn as well as fans.

SEE ALSO: Roger Ebert Tweet on Ryan Dunn's Death Draws Controversy

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

More About: drunk driving, Jackass, Ryan Dunn, twitter

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9 Things You Need to Know About ICANN’s New Top Level Domains

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 06:16 PM PDT

On Monday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), approved the creation of generic top-level domains (TLDs) for brands and organizations.

Historically, only 22 general use-approved TLDs, which include .com, .org, .net and a host of others, have existed across the web. A number of country code top-level domains (like .me and .ly) also exist and throughout the years, many individuals not from those countries have used those domains to give their domain or brand a more memorable (or in some cases, shorter) URL.

The promise of more generic TLDs is immense because it could conceivably open up new domain extensions and opportunities for a wider variety of brands, organizations and services.

SEE ALSO: How Big Is the Web & How Fast Is It Growing?

Still, the entire TLD process is complicated and difficult to understand. We’ve been sucked down the rabbit hole of ICANN and the gTLD application process in the past, and it isn’t something we recommend for the faint of heart.

We read (or at least skimmed) the 352-page draft New gTLD Applicant Guidebook [PDF] to get to the bottom of what the gTLD process is, how much it costs, and ultimately, why regular users should care.

1. How Many New TLDs Will Be Issued?

ICANN has said between 300 and 1,000 new gTLDs could be created per year under the new program.

Still, this number assumes ICANN can process and deal with that many applications in a timely matter. Thousands of applications could take years to evaluate and process.

ICANN says it is limiting the first batch to 500 applications and subsequent batches — or rounds — will be limited to 400 applications.

2. What Is the Application Period?

Applications will be accepted for new TLDs between January 12, 2012 and April 12, 2012. This will be for the first round — or batch. Subsequent application periods will become available in the future.

3. How Much Will Registration Cost?

The evaluation fee from prospective applicants is $185,000. According to the gTLD Applicant Guidebook, a $5,000 deposit is required “at the time the user requests an application slot within TAS, and a payment of the remaining $180,000 submitted with the full application.”

This is just to start the evaluation process. Additional fees may be required during the course of the application review process, and this fee doesn’t include additional infrastructure fees that a gTLD may generate.

4. How Long Will the Evaluation Process Take?

ICANN estimates that the evaluation process could be as short as nine months or as long as twenty months, depending on the application, intended usage and other issues.

ICANN expects the first new gTLDs to appear within the year, but it’s likely going to be 2013 before end users see the new domains in action.

5. What Happens if Two Entities Apply for the Same gTLD?

It depends on the timeline. If one of the users has already completed process before another party has applied, the TLD will be delegated on a first-come, first-serve basis.

If neither applicant has completed the process, ICANN has a more detailed resolution process in place. The applicants will be given points in four different categories. The applicant that amasses the most points, based on this set of criteria, will win the domain. In the even of a tie in points, an auction will take place and the TLD will go to the highest bidder.

Additionally, community-based applications (that is, applications from an organization or entity and not a specific brand or company) will have the opportunity to have a priority evaluation in this process.

ICANN will notify applicants who are part of a contention set. Applicants can decide to try to reach their own resolution together (for instance, a compromise might be able to be reached for a more generic TLD like “soda” or “pizza”).

6. What About Trademarks?

This is going to be a very, very tricky situation for ICANN to mitigate. Although users do not need to own a Trademark to apply for a new TLD, the evaluation review will take any existing trademarks (from all over the world) into account when looking at the application.

Users cannot “reserve” a TLD of a trademarked name, they must go through the same process as everyone else. In addition to checking for trademarked names for a TLD, ICANN will also look at similar names that may be trademarked or might be confusing.

Additionally, trademark owners or other interested parties can file an objection during the evaluation process.

7. How Much Does Filing an Objection Cost?

The Applicant Guidebook is still just a draft, so we don’t have the final figures; but it will cost the thousands of dollars to file an objection — not including any additional mediation or court costs.

One of the reasons that ICANN is charging so much for its evaluation fees is that it is doing lots of due diligence to try to settle the feasibility of a TLD before granting it to an organization. Moreover, ICANN wants to prevent domain squatters from grabbing TLDs.

8. If I Get a New TLD, Do I Have to Let My Competitors Use It?

Once a new TLD is granted, the owner essentially becomes a registrar. That means that if he or she wants to let anyone willing to pay a registration fee get their own domain on that TLD, they can. Alternatively, the owner could limit the use of the domain to certain entities or prevent people without certain qualifications from gaining access to the TLD.

9. Will This Have Any Real Impact on My Life as a Web User or a Brand?

Not in the immediate future. However, it’s important to remember that it took years for the current TLD structure to become a viable and affordable strategy for individuals and non-Fortune 100 companies.

Twenty years ago, it wasn’t common for brands, small businesses or individuals to have their own domains. Today, a staggering number of registrars exist. It took a long time for the TLD market as we know it today to really start to open up.

I bought my first domain name in 1999, I think I paid $45 for registration that first year. Prior to 1998 or so, domain registration was a multi-hundred or multi-thousand dollar investment. I now pay $8 or $9 for a .com or .net domain, and that includes private registration.

It will take time for the process and oversight aspect of the new gTLD policies to be worked out and automated. However, we expect that community-driven TLDs for things like .music, .sports and .film become more available in the future.

Yes, actually owning a customized TLD, like .google or .apple or .facebook might be something that only large corporations or government entities can afford to do, but with time, we expect that even that process will start to change, just as they did in the .com and .net space.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto user ahlobystov.

More About: domains, gtld, ICANN, TLD, top level domains

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Roger Ebert Tweet on Ryan Dunn’s Death Draws Controversy

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 04:57 PM PDT

Roger Ebert took to Twitter Monday to express opinion on the tragic death of Jackass star Ryan Dunn.

“Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive,” the iconic film critic tweeted.

Dunn’s last message on Twitter was a picture of him and friends drinking; the image was pushed to Dunn’s Twitter account via his Tumblr and has caused many people to speculate that the car accident might have been related to the drinking. However, police have yet to confirm or deny that.

As a eulogy, Ebert’s words are both terse and harsh; still, it’s kinder than some messages that have been posted to the service with regard to Dunn’s drinking before driving. Currently, one of the most retweeted bits of commentary on the situation reads, “Ryan Dunn was drunk speed driving & not only did he kill himself, he killed the person in the car with him. Hard to feel sad for stupidity.”

SEE ALSO: "Jackass" Star Ryan Dunn Posted Photo to Tumblr Hours Before Death

Both Dunn and an unidentified passenger died in the crash.

Dunn was 34 years old. As a Viva La Bam cast member and Jackass Crew and CKY Crew member, he was best known as a television personality and daredevil and unorthodox stuntman.

This image was posted to Dunn’s Twitter account mere hours before a car crash took his life.

Ebert also tweeted an NBC obituary with full details of the incident. News of Dunn’s death flew around Twitter Monday morning, and fans and friends were quick to post their remembrances of the star.

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

More About: drunk driving, Jackass, roger ebert, Ryan Dunn, twitter

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One Year Later: How a Tennis Match Became the Biggest Event in Web History

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 04:04 PM PDT

isner mahut image

American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut are set to play in the first round of Wimbledon on Tuesday. It’s a rematch of the silliest, longest, most record-breaking tennis games of all time.

Last year, Isner and Mahut played each other in the first round of Wimbledon. That match lasted 11 hours and five minutes with a total of 183 games. That’s a lot of time, considering even the most most grueling games barely break five hours.

In fact, it’s near impossible to play that many games in a single match. Most tournaments institute a tie-break when both players have each won six games in a set. However, Wimbledon foregoes this custom in the final set, requiring players to win by two games. This results in scores like 8 to 6, or 14 to 12. The final score was Isner 70, Mahut 68.

SEE ALSO: Wimbledon 2011: Where to Follow the Action Online

The marathon game, which lasted three days, didn’t just break tennis records (like most aces — 216 and longest set — 8 hours and 11 minutes), it also broke an Internet record. According to Akamai’s Net Usage Index, the match helped create the single highest news day based on total page views per minute.

At noon ET on June 24, 2010, Akamai registered 10,357,646 page views per minute. Some of that was due to a series of World Cup soccer games at the same time, according to Suzanne Johnson, Akamai’s director of marketing, media and entertainment. “I think it was a perfect storm, everything that’s ranking in the news index before this was a single event,” she says. Still, the day had nearly 4 million more views per minute than the second highest record day.

index image

The World Cup appealed to a massive international audience. The tennis match, although initially attracting a much smaller audience, gained traction online as the score became stranger and stranger. The nature of the match — wherein either player could easily lose within the span of a couple minutes — prompted viewers to not only check the scores, but to refresh the page so they didn’t miss the crucial moment.

The time difference also meant that much of the North American audience was checking the game from work. “There’s always going to be more traffic when you factor in the time of day, when the opportunities to watch on television are not there,” Johnson says. She says she followed the match herself after a friend pinged her to tell her they were still playing.

Social media remains a huge factor. Word of mouth drives more traffic when the spectacle is more spectacular. A tennis match is skippable, but a once-in-a-lifetime, freak-of-nature marathon game? That’s tweetable. Indeed, many people did retweet those last moments. It’s a strategy more networks are adopting, Johnson says. They are driving people to rush online to catch the final tense moments of exciting events.

So is the Isner-Mahut rematch going to topple last year’s numbers? Probably not. The game is almost guaranteed to be anti-climactic — and without the World Cup, it won’t likely beat the Internet numbers either. But if I’m wrong, you can be sure we’ll all be hitting refresh.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, tmtes\0004; story image courtesy of splitmilk

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Groupon Responds to IPO Critics With Spokescat

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 03:07 PM PDT

Groupon has taken a beating from the press ever since it filed for its IPO. Now the daily deals giant is responding to its critics — sort of.

Technically, Groupon can’t respond to the criticism being levied against it because it’s in an SEC-mandated Quiet Period. After a company files a registration statement with the SEC for an IPO, federal law limits the information it can release to the public. This is designed to limit a company’s ability to inflate the value of its stock before its initial public offering.

Groupon is losing hundreds of millions of dollars however, and that has meant a torrent of criticism, exposing the company and its business model. So what’s a company under fire and gagged by the SEC supposed to do? Roll out its mythical mascot to gripe about the criticism, of course.

In a cheeky blog post, Groupon the Cat (the company’s mascot) explains the “traditional hazing rituals” the media uses “to torture companies in a quiet period.”

Here are two of our favorites:

“Photoshop the company's logo to appear to be shaking hands with James Buchanan, America's worst president. Lesson Learned: Everything you see or read about a company is true, if it's on a computer.”

“Kick sand in the company's face. Lesson Learned: If the company survives, it's time to move on to sand's close relative, powdered glass.”

The response is in sync with Groupon’s playful and goofy culture. And while the Groupon Cat doesn’t actually respond to the media’s criticism of the company’s financials, Groupon does make clear that it doesn’t like being the press’s punching bag.

What do you think: is the criticism of Groupon and its IPO fair? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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New York State Senator Asks Twitter & Facebook Followers How To Vote on Gay Marriage Bill

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 02:52 PM PDT

As New York sits on the precipice of becoming the sixth state to pass gay marriage legislation, one lawmaker has taken to Twitter and Facebook to ask his constituents what to do.

Greg Ball, a Republican state senator (pictured), turned to his 2,500-plus Twitter followers and 3,400 Facebook friends this weekend to ask: "Opening up the discussion! So, if you were me, how would you vote on gay marriage? Yes or no?"

Ball's tweet came as the state senate appeared close to deadlocked on the issue.

The bill, which has the strong support of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, passed the state assembly in a 80-63 vote. At presstime, the bill had the support of 29 Democrats and two Republicans in the 62-member Senate. But Politico reports that "it is seen as not likely that Republican leadership will allow the chamber to vote on the bill if only one more Republican votes yes, thus a scramble is on to secure at least two more GOP votes for the bill." The session is slated to end as early as midnight ET, though Cuomo could extend it.

The report went on to say that Ball's Twitter followers were overwhelmingly in favor of passing the bill, but on Facebook, it was more like 50-50.

More About: facebook, gay marriage, Greg Ball, new york state, twitter

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BeautifulPeople Repels Invasion of 30,000 “Shreks” After Alleged Virus Attack

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 02:25 PM PDT

More than 30,000 users were indiscriminately admitted to the highly selective dating website BeautifulPeople.com last month, after the site was supposedly attacked by what it calls the Shrek virus. Now, those folks are being systematically weeded out of a site that is hard-nosed about its members’ looks.

An announcement from the 700,000-member site says its team is currently investigating how those 30,000 users got past BeautifulPeople.com‘s rigid rating system, where existing members vote on whether new applicants are attractive enough to join the site. The ratings system apparently went down last month, allowing anyone to join. The site believes the virus could have been triggered by a former employee.

So far, the site had refunded 4,500 members, costing it somewhere in the region of $112,500.

Could the virus have been a publicity stunt? After all, the site that has been known to indulge in mean-spirited gimmicks. Last year, BeautifulPeople booted out 5,000 members for packing on the pounds. "Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model and the very concept for which BeautifulPeople.com was founded," founder Robert Hintze said at the time.

Last June, the dating announced that it would be launching a fertility introduction service that allows both members and non-members to score the stuff that dream babies are made of.

In response to this recent “lapse,” the site has set up a hotline to help that rejected 30,000 recover from the incident, and has recruited a special “beauty police” to troll for trolls.

What do you think? Legitimate lapse, or publicity stunt? If you’re one of the rejected, feel free to hit us up.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Eduardo.Coutinho

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Foursquare Surpasses 10 Million Users [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 01:51 PM PDT

Foursquare hit a big milestone over the weekend: It surpassed the 10 million user mark, becoming the first location-based social network to do so.

The startup, which launched in March 2009, posted the following infographic on its blog to celebrate the announcement Monday:

The infographic highlights, among other things:

  • Accelerated growth over time: It took the startup five months to get its first 100,000 users and roughly seven weeks to get its last million.
  • Its growing global reach: 358 million checkins have been made outside of the U.S.
  • The most popular checkin locations in the U.S.: Old Navy, Bank of America, 7-Eleven, Home Depot and Target all top the list.
  • A few fun facts: New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is also the Foursquare mayor of City Hall in NYC, and nearly 80,000 Foursquare mayors are ousted each day.

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Wimbledon 2011: Where to Follow the Action Online

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 01:51 PM PDT

As Wimbledon 2011 prepares for an active couple of weeks, we’re serving up the best places to watch and follow the tournament online.

Plug into live video and radio streaming, access matches via iPad, iPhone and Android apps and follow play-by-play feeds of the tournament on Twitter and Facebook from now until the finals on July 3.

1. Radio, Live Blog

Follow the schedule of play on the official site, which also offers a live blog and a fantastic radio feed (for subtle workplace listening).

2. ESPN3 Online

ESPN3 offers free live video streaming with certain Internet service providers. Be ready to sign in with or create a username. The site supports major providers like Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon, among many others.

3. Apps

You may also choose to watch ESPN3 coverage via iPad, iPhone or Android apps.

4. NBC Online

NBC will begin live streaming the tournament on June 25 through the finals on July 3. Until then it will feature tournament-related video content on its site.

5. Twitter

Twitter users can the follow the official @Wimbledon feed. It has constant updates on matches, news and scores.

6. Facebook

Wimbledon on Facebook provides fewer updates but uploads awesome photo and video content.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, darklord_71

More About: apps, how to, livestream, social media, sports, tennis, video, watch, wimbledon, wimbledon 2011

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Flip UltraLive: The Story of the Wi-Fi Video Camera That Might Have Been

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Scott Peterson is a digital image market analyst for Gap Intelligence, a San Diego-based independent technology research firm with emphasis in helping product manufacturers and retailers understand current retail market trends in order to respond to customer demands as they occur. He can be reached at speterson@gapintelligence.com.

I'm staring down at the unicorn of camcorders. To my knowledge, only seven other people in my home city of San Diego have one of these bad boys.

When Cisco announced in April that it would be shutting down its consumer products division, many knew that this would spell the end of the Flip video family of pocket camcorders. But lesser known was that the company was scheduled to release a new product the very next day. The demise of the Flip line created a quiet casualty in the form of the unreleased UltraLive, the industry's first pocket camcorder to offer wireless transfer and content streaming.

The story of the Flip UltraLive began in 2009, when segment pioneer Pure Digital was purchased by Cisco. Immediate speculation arose that Cisco (a company known for networking, not camcorders) purchased the brand with the intent of integrating Wi-Fi into the popular camcorder line. The ignited rumors spread like wildfire through the industry, and every new product announced by the company came with speculation that it would contain wireless transfer capabilities. As the years dragged on with no solid proof of its development, the Wi-Fi rumors transformed into hushed undertones and soon became a type of fairytale bedtime story that I imagine product managers told their kids.

Until, once upon a time last January, FCC patent documentation was spotted for a new Flip video device, which — matching eager expectations — came equipped with 802.11 Wi-Fi. Shortly after, ecommerce distributors and accessory partner websites began listing the yet-to-be-released item's part number prematurely as brick-and-mortar retailers Best Buy and Office Depot prepared for its arrival, even adding display signage for the new model.

All was set for the debut of the Flip UltraLive and the introduction of Wi-Fi to the pocket camcorder segment. That is, until Cisco discontinued the line on April 12 before it officially launched. Just as the UltraLive seemed destined to never see the light of day, Office Depot advertised the model in its Mother's Day ad and was actually selling the item. So close to product launch, it's likely that the division's swift shut down happened too fast for retailers to react, and they therefore went about showcasing the limited quantity of the camcorder. Seeing the camcorder advertised was hard to believe, and after confirming its actual availability, my interest surrounding the model was taken to a new level. Knowing the history, its $219 sale price proved irresistible, and I quickly became part of the lucky seven to own a piece of unreleased and highly rumored camcorder history.

What Cisco Walked Away From

Much like the rest of the Flip family, the beauty of the Flip UltraLive lays in its simplicity. For many, the integration of Wi-Fi into a pocket camcorder is an already obsolete feature, given current smartphone technology.  Remembering that the original Flip was designed as a disposable "shoot and share" camcorder, there remains an aspect of portability and separation from your converged device that is somewhat comforting. The UltraLive's non-threatening interface gives novices from grandparents to kids an easy way to connect and share their videos and enjoy being on the cutting edge of technology. 

Preloaded and ready to go, one simply has to connect the UltraLive's flip-out USB arm to a computer, which launches the cloud-based FlipShare and FlipLive software and connects to social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as wireless networks. In addition to home Wi-Fi networks, the UltraLive can connect to public hotspots and also link to mobile hotspots created by smartphones, letting one roam almost anywhere while streaming live video.

To stream live video, you press the Wi-Fi button, select desired contacts to share with, and then press the big red button to start recording. The friends and social network community that you choose quickly receive an email or text message letting them know you are streaming live. They then can click a link to join the cloud-based streaming action.

In addition to live streaming, the UltraLive can share more conventionally by sending a similar email to selected friends and family with a link to a previously recorded and stored video on FlipShare.

Would the UltraLive Have Mattered?

With the Flip line's demise, the unreleased model's live streaming capabilities are seemingly no longer supported, though you can still post and email non-live footage. Additionally, Cisco recently imposed a 30-day expiration date for its once limitless storage of posted videos on the FlipShare site.

While unique in its abilities as a camcorder, the capability to instantly post, share and even stream live video is not a new concept for many of our tech-savvy friends. Though a market continues to exist for its technology, the UltraLive did not fit into Cisco's grand focus and therefore was never released. A company badgered for lack of focus and profitability sadly had to shed its weakest areas, which ironically meant the loss of the segment's strongest player.

The Flip UltraLive itself is now simultaneously a sentimental relic of the past and a peek into the future. While I admit that, much like a good Star Wars toy, I had some hesitancy in opening the package, I remembered that its value as a collectable would be nothing if I never had the opportunity to experience what it does. The reality is that Wi-Fi will likely make its way into more pocket camcorders in the future, and the Flip UltraLive, although unreleased, represents the first of its kind.

More About: camcorders, cameras, Flip, gadgets, tech, video

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Amy Winehouse Meltdown Caught on YouTube [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 01:03 PM PDT

Troubled musician Amy Winehouse is blowing up on YouTube — but for all the wrong reasons.

On Saturday, the singer — who has long-struggled with drug and alcohol abuse — attempted to perform at a festival in Belgrade, Serbia. The 27-year old, best known for her 2006 album, Back to Black, struggled to keep her balance, use her microphone and remember the lyrics of her own songs. The crowd was initially on her side, but eventually they tired of Winehouse’s antics and booed her off stage.

Winehouse’s management must be looking forward to the day when Apple’s technology to prevent bootleg recordings kicks in. But in this age of online video, pocket HD cameras and instant access, the trainwreck was recorded for posterity and uploaded to YouTube. More than one concert goer recorded the set and uploaded the clips, seen below.

We hope Winehouse is able to get the help that she needs to get her life and her career back on track.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Fyunkie

Amy Winehouse, Start "Just Friends"

Amy Winehouse, "Just Friends"

Amy Winehouse, "Back To Black"

Amy Winehouse, "Back To Black"

Amy Winehouse, "Valerie"

Amy Winehouse, "Valerie"

Amy Winehous, "You Know I'm No Good"

Amy Winehouse, "You Know That I'm No Good"

Amy Winehouse, "Love Is A Losing Game"

Amy Winehouse, "Love Is A Losing Game"

Amy Winehouse, "Addicted"

Amy Winehouse, "Tears Dry On Their Own"

Amy Winehouse, "Some Unholy War"

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What’s the Most Social City in the World? [CONTEST]

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 01:01 PM PDT

Think your city is the most social media savvy in the world? Tell us why, and you could win a fabulous prize pack for your local Social Media Day celebration.

On June 30, thousands of web enthusiasts will come together for this global recognition of the technological advancements that enable everyone to connect with real-time information, communicate from miles apart and have their voices heard. Last year, there were 600 Meetups in 93 different countries. In 2011, organizers are already planning for even bigger and better events.

We’re so excited about Social Media Day that we thought we’d recognize one city that’s super passionate about social. Tell us why your city is the most social media savvy, and we’ll send a MashPack to the writer of the most inspired response. In addition to the glory of living in the most social city, the winner will receive a MashPack with stickers, water bottles, tote bags and more to liven up his or her hometown event.

For updates on how the events are taking shape, follow our @mashsmday Twitter account or visit our Facebook fan page. Haven’t found your #SMDay celebration yet? Check out what’s happening in your city on the map below.

How To Enter the Contest:

  • Tweet your city and why it’s the most social with the hashtag #smday and a link to this post, OR
  • Tell us your city and why it’s the most social in the comments below and like this post on Facebook

Submit your answer by Wednesday, June 22, at 12 p.m. ET. Please use your real identity in the submission so that we may contact you via email, Twitter or Facebook to let you know you’ve won. This contest is limited to residents of the U.S., UK, Canada (excluding the Province of Quebec), France and Germany who are 18 and older. Please read our full contest rules here.

Find a Social Media Day Meetup Near You »

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Club Penguin Goes Down After Disney Fails To Renew Domain Name

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 12:43 PM PDT

Club Penguin, the popular virtual world for kids, is missing in action. The Walt Disney Company, the site’s owner, failed to renew the domain name in a timely fashion.

The Club Penguin domain, according to WHOIS information for the site, expired one week ago on June 13. It was taken offline Monday morning.

As a result, some of the site’s more than 12 million users awoke to a generic domain renewal page instead of the Club Penguin site and took to Twitter and social media channels to chatter about their disappointment.

Club Penguin users, fear not. The site has not been hacked, nor has it been shut down. In fact, Disney has renewed its registration, and the Club Penguin blog reassures users that its MMORPG is back up for most players and will be available soon for others.

Founded in 2005, Club Penguin was acquired by Disney in 2007 for up to $700 million — $350 million in cash and up to $350 million more based on performance targets.

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Keith Olbermann’s New Show Makes TV Debut Tonight

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 11:29 AM PDT

Keith Olbermann returns to television Monday night in his new gig at Current TV. The show will air at a familiar time (8:00 p.m.) and with a familiar name, Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Olbermann left MSNBC, where Countdown had aired since March 2003, in January 2011. Olbermann joins the fledgling Current TV, not only as its marquee host, but also as its chief news officer. His role will extend beyond Countdown and he will be heavily involved with developing news programming across Current TV.

On a recent conference call with members of the media, Olbermann opened up more about the format of the show and some of the frequent contributing guests. It sounds like Countdown will continue much as it did on MSNBC, albeit with a slightly altered cast of regular characters.

Olbermann repeatedly underscored Current’s unique position as an independently owned news network. To wit, the first promo spot for the show is all about combatting the “heavily biased corporate-sponsored spin” that saturates modern media. The underlying message is that as an independent entity, Current TV (and Olbermann, by proxy) can cut through to the truth.

Of course, bias exists with or without corporate backing, and I have little doubt that Olbermann’s own gaze and point of view will carry over not only to Countdown, but to the other news programming on Current TV.

Where’s the Digital Focus?

One of the more disappointing aspects about the launch of the new Countdown is the lack — at least thus far — of a clear-cut digital strategy. It’s more than a little ironic that Current TV, a network that was originally formed with a focus on online content, is remaking itself to be more of the standard cable network, especially in an age when the established cable networks are trying to be more social.

Olbermann’s former network, MSNBC, has long had as strong digital presence. Not only are clips from its various programs available online (and the network has streaming deals with certain telecoms for mobile TV initiatives) almost instantly, the network has provided video podcasts of its primetime shows — including the former incarnation of Countdown. MSNBC also has a strong presence in the mobile app space.

In contrast, Current has reduced much of its online video presence to clips and promos for certain series. The website for Countdown, while beautiful and well-designed, will bring users exclusive behind-the-scenes video clips and curated clips from the nightly show. In other words, if your cable provider doesn’t carry Current, you won’t be able to watch the full show.

To combat that, Current is actively embarking on a “I Want My MTV”-esque campaign to get users to use social media, email and the phone to petition cable operators to add Current to their lineup.

Here’s a video that Olbermann made addressing cable television provider Cablevision:

It’s a little frustrating that the network is knowledgeable enough to know that Twitter and Facebook are important outlets to get the attention of cable operators, yet aren’t willing to take the next step of offering online access to content.

Unlike CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, Current TV isn’t a cable news lineup staple. For that reason, Olbermann is not promising blockbuster traditional ratings. He pointed out that Countdown in the early days on MSNBC was only getting a small fraction of its audience circa 2011.

That’s a fair point and one we will certainly keep in mind when the reports are released. Still, we have to question the reliance on a traditional cable strategy when the industry model as a whole is moving to a more malleable and digital space.

My hope is that Current TV and Olbermann will learn to embrace digital audiences sooner rather than later. Yes, it’s important to target the existing cable market, but the focus should also be on the growing segment of users that consume their content — including news — online.

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Why Russia’s Social Media Boom Is Big News for Business

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 11:11 AM PDT

Dallas Lawrence is the chief global digital strategist for Burson-Marsteller, one of the world's leading public relations and communications firms. He is a Mashable contributor on emerging media trends, online reputation management and digital issue advocacy. You can connect with him on Twitter @dallaslawrence.

Nearly a century after the October Revolution ushered in Socialist rule throughout the USSR, a new generation of Russians is beginning to step out from behind the Iron Curtain and join the global online marketplace. The millions of 18 to 27-year-olds now poised to drive the next generation of social and economic change in Russia are setting aside previously held perceptions about global engagement and are tweeting, blogging, liking, posting and emailing through a myriad of online social communities.

In just one generation, the paradigm that shaped most Western perceptions of Russia has dramatically shifted. As one American expat now living in the heart of the country told me during a recent visit to Russia, "Twenty years ago, if there was a line in Moscow, you got in it because it meant there was something — anything — for sale. The speed at which things are now changing is incredible."

Russia’s Social Media Awakening

By nearly every indicator, Russians are embracing social and digital media in ways deeper and more impactful than most other countries around the world. For those looking to do business in the former Republic, significant opportunities now exist to leverage this new wave of social adoption.

Consider that in the first four months after its January 2010 launch in Russia, Facebook use grew by 376%, and today more than 4.5 million people use the site regularly. Nearly three-quarters of those making the switch from homegrown social platforms such as Vkontakte (with tens of millions of members) to Facebook are under 27, signaling a generational desire to engage in global communities and interact with brands, celebrities, friends and politicians in decidedly new ways. Twitter usage, while still in its infancy in Russian, grew three-fold in 2010.

And while it should come as little surprise that nearly 80% of the Russian population owns a mobile device, the dramatic adoption of smartphone technology and advanced mobile usage are beginning to change the way in which businesses — and the government — communicate. According to Nielsen, Russians under 24 are the third-largest users worldwide of "advanced mobile data," behind only China and the United States.

While interesting in the macro-sense, these broad numbers paint an incomplete picture of the complex future of social and digital media in Russia. The real story behind the social revolution lies less in the initial platform adoption we are witnessing and far more in the sheer volume of engagement occurring within them.

According to a Comscore global study this past summer, Russia had the most engaged social networking audience worldwide. Let me repeat that: Russians are more social than anyone else on the planet.

In 2010, Russians spent on average twice the amount of time within social networks as their global counterparts, racking up nearly 10 hours per month. Last week, Comscore released a benchmark report on the initial study showing the number had actually surged again to 10.2 hours per month — nearly twice the average time U.S. users spend within social sites.

In Russia, Twitter has managed to avoid the initial user fall-off that the platform suffers from in the United States — roughly 60% of Russians update their profile daily according to Yandex, the preeminent search provider in Russia.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is one of those prolific tweeters (he has more than half a million followers on his four accounts). Medvedev has engaged on social platforms such as Twitter with an often refreshing and surprisingly candid approach.

One recent tweet recalled his days as a high school DJ: "Meeting Deep Purple, I remembered being a DJ in my school years. The set had to be approved by the Komsomol – 'Child in Time' passed." Another post offered a frank assessment of his government's failure to address security needs following a terrorist attack on a local railway station, stating, "Checked on security at railway stations – it’s unsatisfactory. The Prosecutor General’s Office will have to deal with it."

What It Means for Global Brands

So, what does all of this mean for the future Russia? Just as with the U.S. and other Western companies that moved first into the social space, those in Russia who are willing to get in on the ground floor of social engagement and to build social connectivity with key audiences stand to benefit mightily over the next 12 to 18 months.

To be sure, tens of thousands of Western companies and brands have already established online profiles in Russia, but nearly all have failed to move beyond simply replicating offline content online. Russian communicators have not invested in building the long term relationships and value-driven conversations necessary to truly leverage the power of the social marketplace.

The challenge, as I heard time and again from state-owned entities and global multinational companies with which I met, is achieving buy-in from their leadership for anything other than tried and true one-way "broadcasting" programs.

This has been the universal conundrum facing advocates for social media in nearly every country where user adoption leaps ahead of corporate engagement. However, as a recent study of the Global Fortune 100 noted earlier this year, most successful companies have now moved past these barriers and embraced the value of engaged social media programs. If Russian operators are looking for a competitive advantage amongst the next generation of consumers, they must quickly do the same.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, duncan1890

More About: business, MARKETING, russia, social media, social media marketing

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Ryan Dunn Posted Twitter Pic Hours Before Death [PHOTO]

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 10:34 AM PDT

Jackass movie star Ryan Dunn died in a car crash in Pennsylvania early Monday morning. He was 34.

Hours before the crash, Dunn posted a photo to Twitter, by way of his Tumblr blog, that depicted him drinking with friends.

An unidentified passenger also died in the crash. TMZ reported Dunn was the driver of the car and speed may have been a factor.

SEE ALSO: Roger Ebert Tweet on Ryan Dunn’s Death Draws Controversy

News of the incident has caused Dunn’s name to become a trending topic on Twitter, as fans and celebrity friends tweet in remembrance of the star. Several Twitterers are also using the crash to tweet about the dangers of drunken driving — linking the Tumblr photo to the fatal accident — although the exact circumstances of what led to the crash are still unknown.

Flickr user Eric Lewis posted the image below with a caption that says the photo shows what’s left of Dunn’s car.

Dunn’s cryptic last photo is not the first of its kind. Last year, celebrity plastic surgeon Frank Ryan died in a car accident; his final tweet was a photo of himself and his dog. It was later discovered that Ryan was tweeting while driving.

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

Twitter Remembers Ryan Dunn

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Consumers Now Spending More Time on Mobile Apps Than the Web [STUDY]

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 10:02 AM PDT

Consumers are spending more time on mobile apps than on the web for the first time, a new report claims.

Flurry compared its mobile data to stats from comScore and Alexa, and found that in June, consumers spent 81 minutes per day using mobile apps, compared to 74 minutes of web surfing. (See chart below.) The shift comes as combined tablet and smartphone shipments eclipsed those of desktops and notebooks for the first time, according to a recent report by Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Flurry found consumers spend 9% more time, on average, using mobile apps. The report found that the growth in mobile app usage came mostly from more sessions per user, rather than longer sessions overall.

Those sessions, by and large, are consumed by the use of games and social media apps, which took 47% and 32% of the total amount of time used for such apps.

If the stats bear out, the data is vindication for Wired, which last year declared "The Web is Dead," and predicted that apps would soon overtake it.

More About: flurry, mobile apps, the web is dead, trending, Wired

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Will Facebook Launch a Music Service in August?

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 09:51 AM PDT

The music/tech rumor mill has been grinding away — not yet sated by the release of cloud-based music services from Google and Apple. The most recent grist? Facebook.

In May, Forbes reported that Facebook was working with music subscription service Spotify on an integrated platform that would allow users to listen to tunes via Facebook.

Both companies declined to confirm the rumor. In fact, at the eG8 forum in Paris, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also implied that there’s no such deal, stating: "We don't have the DNA to be a music company or a movie company.”

Now, however, GigaOM is reporting that Facebook has been reaching out to several online music services — not just Spotify — and that the next f8 developer conference (which will likely take place in August) will center on music.

Here’s how GigaOM outlines a possible music service:

  • A new tab titled “Music” will appear on the left-hand column of Facebook for those who listen to music via one of Facebook’s partners.
  • Clicking on that tab will open a “Music Dashboad,” which will feature music notifications (if your friends listen to songs recommended by you or featured on your profile), recommended songs (which you can listen to in-Facebook), top songs from friends, top albums from friends (with art), what your friends are listening to and a “happening now” ticker.
  • “The Persistent Playback/Pause Button” will show up where your chat icon is located. This is basically your music controller and will show you what music you’re listening to via any music services you may be logged into via Facebook Connect.
  • You’ll also have a page that shows all the songs you’ve recently listened to, as well as top tracks and play counts.

Again, these are all rumors right now. GigaOM doesn’t name any of its sources or the specific services that Facebook is allegedly in talks with. As we know from rumor magnets like Google Music Beta, many things can change from the whisper stage to actual conception.

Still, if these rumors turn out to be fact, this could be just the final push the social network needs to become the new location for band promotion and music discovery.

More About: facebook, music, social media, spotify

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Weird Al Yankovic’s Lady Gaga Parody “Perform This Way” Gets a Video

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 09:18 AM PDT

Each day, Mashable highlights one noteworthy YouTube video. Check out all our viral video picks.

It was just two months ago that comedian Weird Al Yankovic released a stripped-down video for his parody song “Perform This Way” via YouTube, because Lady Gaga reportedly refused to give Yankovic permission to include it on his album.

Later, we learned that Gaga’s disapproval was news to her, and Yankovic was allowed to include the song on Alpocalypse, due out on June 21.

Now that the smoke has cleared, the musician is out with a new video for the song, which premiered in part on Vevo. It’s everything you’d expect from a Weird Al cover of Mother Monster. Do with that what you will.

More About: humor, Lady Gaga, music, perform-this-way, pop culture, video, viral video, viral-video-of-day, weird al, youtube

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HopStop Expands to 20 New Cities

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 09:17 AM PDT

HopStop, a web and mobile application that provides door-to-door directions in 37 metropolitan centers, has expanded into 20 additional markets (listed below), including San Diego, Honolulu and Columbus, Ohio.

The company has also redesigned its site, which includes enhanced navigation options and better sharing features.

Users can now search for one-way, round-trip or multi-stop directions from the main menu, as well as plan routes between supported markets, putting Hopstop into more direct competition with larger mapping and routing services such as Google Maps.

Perhaps most welcome to Mashable readers are the new sharing options that enable users to notify friends where they’re going and when they’ll arrive via Facebook or Twitter. We hope the service will soon leverage the APIs of Foursquare and Facebook Places to enable direct checkins.

Users can also now select routes by bicycle or taxi (which includes fare estimates), as well as by subway/rail, bus and walking. In addition, users can plan routes using a rented car — which budgets time for reserving and picking up their vehicles from Hertz, an advertising partner — as well as book a limo from Limos.com, another advertising partner.

The company is also beginning to better leverage its location-based offerings, integrating reviews and deals from Yelp, Group and Zvents alongside local time and weather information. Advertisers can also deliver better geo-targeted ad campaigns based on users’ travel plans and whereabouts, HopStop CEO Joe Meyer said in an emailed statement.

Are you a HopStop user? What service do you use for travel directions?

Complete List of Markets

Kansas City
Las Vegas
Long Island
Los Angeles
Metro North Area
Miami/South Florida
New Jersey
New York City
Salt Lake City
San Antonio
San Diego
San Francisco
St. Louis
Washington, D.C.
Saint Petersburg

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Meet the Kissing Couple From the Vancouver Riots 2011 [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Jun 2011 08:58 AM PDT

On Friday, we formally introduced you to the now-famous “Kissing Couple” from the Vancouver Riots 2011. Now, the couple has finally emerged fully from the shadows, via an interview on the Today Show.

Soon after the Vancouver Canucks lost game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins, rioting broke out. As the violence became more intense, we found numerous pictures on photo-sharing sites such as Twitpic and Yfrog, as well as professional pictures, like the ardent snap from Getty Images.

Some have been speculating that the photo was staged. But photographer Rich Lam is sticking by his claim that the shot was spontaneous.

On Friday, The Star identified the couple as 29-year-old Scott Jones from Perth, Australia, and Alexandra Thomas from Vancouver. As the video above shows, Thomas had been knocked down by the riot police during the melee, and Jones was trying to comfort her — with his lips, apparently.

Check out the video above for more from the couple, who also assert that the photo is legit.

Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

More About: Kissing Vancouver Couple, Meme, pop culture, today show, Vancouver Riots 2011, video

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