Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Find & Make Your Own Infographics With Visual.ly”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Find & Make Your Own Infographics With Visual.ly”


Find & Make Your Own Infographics With Visual.ly

Posted: 13 Jul 2011 05:00 AM PDT


If you like clever data visualizations, you’ll love Visual.ly, a startup that lets you find and make infographics with all kinds of web-based data.

The site aims to be a repository for graphically organized information on the web, as well as a marketplace and community for publishers, designers, researchers and everyday web users.

Visual.ly contains three main components. First, it’s a search engine for web-based infographics. Second, it’s a silo of data from government agencies, non-profits and other research- and data-focused entities.

Third, Visual.ly is a web-based platform for creating infographics of your own — no graphic design experience or software required.

Already, the site boasts a collection of 2,000 infographics in its indexed and searchable galleries, as well as 60,000 users who signed up for beta access.

Here’s a demo of the site:

In a release, co-founder and CEO Stew Langille said, “We knew we were onto something big, having seen the power of data visualization work so dramatically across the Web.”

The service’s main infographic creation tool will launch in a few months.

Not only does the site aggregate and help you find great infographics, it also lets you make infographics of your own using various types of data. A demo of this capability can be seen right now with the Twitter Visualizer, a tool that lets you build and customize Twitter infographics.

Right now, you can use Visual.ly’s Twitter tool to generate infographics based on yours and others’ Twitter usage. For example, here’s a visualization showing my tweet data compared to data from Tal Siach, a Visual.ly co-founder:

Top image based on a photo from iStockphoto, spxChrome

More About: infographics, startup, visual.ly, visually

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Do We Need an Internet Freedom Movement?

Posted: 13 Jul 2011 04:47 AM PDT


The prevailing wisdom that "technology created by innovative companies will set us all free" is anything but reality says Rebecca MacKinnon, an Internet freedom activist that spoke at TED Global on Tuesday in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Opening her remarks by contrasting Apple's famous "1984" ad, in which the technology giant asserts its role as an agent of empowerment, with the company's controversial removals from the app store, MacKinnon went on to describe an Internet increasingly in need of a new system of checks and balances.

That need comes from the growing power that corporations wield on the Internet, and in turn, their ability to shape what we can and can't do in our digital lives, MacKinnon said.

The problem often asserts itself most visibly abroad, for instance in China, where Internet companies are awarded "Self-Discipline Awards" for conforming to the nation's censorship policies. And while that problem may be seen as a Great Firewall of China issue, she notes that it's often western technology that enables the regime to enforce its restrictions.

She also points to post-revolution monitoring and restricted access to certain sites in Egypt and Tunisia. "Even in democratic society we don't have good answers how to balance the need for security on one hand and the protection of free speech on the other in our digital networks," she said.

In response, MacKinnon believes that the citizens of the Internet need to take a more active role in pressuring corporations and the government to preserve free speech. She said, "Each of us has a vital role to play in building a world in which the government and technology serve the world's people and not the other way around."

MacKinnon has a book on the subject entitled "Consent of the Networked: A Citizen’s Guide to the Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom" due out early next year. In the meantime, here's her talk from TED Global:

Do you think that Internet users need to play a more active role in pushing for Internet freedom? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of James Ducan Davidson / TED

More About: apple, censorship, china, rebecca mackinnon, TED, ted global

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See a Video of Photovine, Google’s Mysterious Photo Sharing Service

Posted: 13 Jul 2011 02:42 AM PDT


After appearing merely in the form of a short description and a support page, Google’s upcoming photo sharing service Photovine now has a little bit more to offer: a registration form and an official teaser video.

The registration form currently accepts invite requests, and the confirmation email claims that Photovine will be “slowly rolling-out invites starting later this month.”

The video (below), however, tells us a little bit more about how Photovine works. A user starts out a theme or a topic with a photo – in the video, the topic is called “warm and fuzzy” and starts with a photo of a dog that fits the description. Then, other users chime in, and after a while you get a lot of “warm and fuzzy” photos, which explains Photovine’s motto: “Plant a photo, watch it grow”.

The service seems incredibly simple to use, but there’s a lot we don’t know: how do you manage your friends on the network, how do you share photos on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and so forth. We’ll have more as soon as we try it out.

More About: Google, photo sharing, Photovine, video

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How Mobile Tech Is Being Used to Fight Carmageddon

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 11:33 PM PDT


Carmageddon is poised to bring Los Angeles to a standstill this weekend, but several mobile tech companies are helping commuters handle the chaos.

Carmageddon is the term many Los Angeles residents are using to describe the planned closure of the 405 Freeway, a road that carries more than 280,000 cars per day across L.A. The city of Los Angeles plans to close a 10-mile section of Interstate 405, starting at 7 p.m. Friday and reopening at 6 a.m. Monday.

The 405 closure is expected to bring the city’s traffic to a crawl. Many business are shutting down early so their employees don’t get caught in the traffic, while others like the Getty Center are closing entirely for the weekend. The entire city will be affected.

While some companies are dreading the upcoming weekend, several companies are seizing Carmageddon as an opportunity. Mobile traffic app Waze, for example, has teamed up with ABC to provide its local L.A. television station (KABC-TV) realtime traffic information. Waze determines traffic conditions by tracking the GPS data provided by the 4.5 million users of its mobile app, which provides greater detail and insight into a city’s traffic conditions.

Waze has also partnered with UCLA, Metro and other others “to get the word out about alternate routes.” It’s even started a website, BeatCarmageddon.com as part of its campaign.

AT&T is also helping commuters avoid the pain of Carmageddon. The wireless provider will be sending text messages to AT&T customers within 25 miles of the Carmageddon zone, warning them of the closure and suggesting they use a navigation app like AT&T Navigator.

While these initiatives aren’t going to help Los Angeles residents avoid Carmageddon (there is no avoiding it), smartphone technology will likely give smart commuters an edge as they try to navigate L.A.’s congested roads.

Image courtesy of Flickr, neoporcupine

More About: att, Carmageddon, L.A., Los Angeles, Mobile 2.0, waze

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How One Man Flies Like a Bird [VIDEO]

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 10:24 PM PDT


What does it feel like to fly like a bird by using a jet-propelled wing? Only one man on Earth knows, and he shared his story with the crowd at TED Global in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Tuesday.

Yves Rossy's invention allows him to fly by attaching to his back a four-engine jet suit with wings, which he starts up after jumping out of a helicopter or plane.

Unlike similar aircraft, Rossy's has no steering controls. Rather, he uses his body to steer — arching his back gains altitude and pushing his shoulders forward sends him into a dive. "If you put steering in it's more like an airplane. … I wanted to keep freedom of movement," Rossy told the TED Global crowd.

Traveling at speeds of up to 190 miles per hour and a height of 3,000 meters, the aircraft can stay in the air for about 10 minutes, which was enough time for Rossy to cross the English Channel. He also recently flew above the Grand Canyon.

The device isn't quite ready for mass consumption, however. Rossy, who served as both a commercial and military pilot earlier in his life, has had to use the wing's escape parachute about 20 times — sometimes after becoming disoriented in the clouds, others after more than one of the engines fails.

Rossy, who does hope that one day his invention or something like it could be used by anyone, summarized the experience by saying, "I don't have feathers, but I feel like a bird sometimes. It's an unreal feeling."

You can check what one of his flights and invention look like in the video below from his Grand Canyon mission:

Image courtesy of James Duncan Davidson / TED

More About: aviation, TED, ted global, yves rossy

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Percolate Hopes to Become the Future of the Blog [INVITES]

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 09:12 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: Percolate

Quick Pitch: Percolate bubbles up relevant content for you to comment on.

Genius Idea: Re-imagining the blog and what it means to be a publisher.


Content creation abounds on the web, whether it be on blogs, Facebook, Twitter or via other self-publishing tools. Still, James Gross and Noah Brier, co-founders of private alpha startup Percolate, believe that the barrier to create content is too high for most people.

It’s fitting, then, that the Percolate product is designed to streamline the flow between what we consume on the web and what we produce.

The application is structured into a two-pane dashboard that presents the user with content “percolating” — or bubbling up in popularity — from sources such as Google Reader and Twitter in a right-hard pane called the “The Brew.”

The Brew is meant to be your muse, a place to peruse hot stories and get inspired to add your own commentary. Here you can tag a post as “interesting,” “win,” “awesome,” “fail” or make up a tag of your own, and add a comment in the process. In so doing, as Gross sees it, you become self-publisher with as little friction imaginable.

To the left of The Brew is the second “What’s Percolating” pane. This is where Percolate-published stories from the folks you follow will appear.

Ultimately, Gross sees Percolate as the next big evolution of the blog. Twitter first transformed blogging by shrinking the big empty box, he says. Now Percolate is taking the box away completely.

It’s an ambitious mission, no question, but Gross and Brier may be able to pull it off. For starters, Percolate in its current form is just an early-stage, 1.0 product. Its pane design hints at a not-too-distant mobile future where users will able to browse and create content with their fingers in touch-driven environments.

Percolate’s primary flaw is that the intended experience does not automatically manifest itself to new users. “Just like Twitter, until you start to follow other people, it doesn’t make any sense,” Gross admits.

Gross and team hope to address the on-boarding obstacle in the months ahead. The bootstrapped startup also plans to announce that five Fortune 500 businesses are licensing its API, at a cost, some time in August. API license fees will be the startup’s moneymaker, as Gross sees huge opportunity in helping brands figure out how to create content and become better publishers in their social channels.

Percolate is still mid-brew, but 500 Mashable readers can get private beta access to the product now.

Image courtesy of Flickr, pkhamre


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, content creation, curation, Percolate, spark-of-genius

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Is Sevenly the Next TOMS Shoes?

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 08:06 PM PDT

sevenly-mashable

Sevenly is bringing social good to online shopping by selling a new T-shirt each week designed for a partner non-profit. Each shirt will be available for seven days, with $7 from each sale going towards the charity.

Like TOMS shoes, Sevenly is embarking on philanthropic ecommerce. Where TOMS shoes on a one-for-one model (every pair of shoes purchased also donates a new pair to a person in need), Sevenly is pairing up donation and design in a social way.

Sevenly is based on a model where (hopefully) everyone who buys a t-shirt will share their purchase on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media profiles, thereby creating a chain of giving and cool shirts.

Co-founders Dale Partridge and Aaron Chavez were motivated to create the site after seeing the amount of worthy non-profits that shut down within their first year open. The problem isn’t apathy so much as a lack of following, funding and awareness.

Partridge hopes Sevenly’s model will address all three of those challenges, helping new organizations stay afloat. “People just wanted to help and they had no practical way of giving,” Partridge says. “Clicking the donate button on a charity’s website doesn't work for our generation.”

During its starting period, Sevenly is partnering with more established organizations in order to build their own brand reputation. Their first partnership with International Justice Mission raised $6,125 by selling 875 shirts. Each shirt’s sale provided care for one day for a girl rescued from the sex trade.

This week’s design benefits World Relief, an organization aiding raped and abused women in the Congo. The shirt comes in grey for men and white for women and costs $24.

Later this summer, Sevenly plans to shoot videos in the countries they’ve benefited, showing their supporters how that t-shirt money has been put to good use. A planned partnership with Malaria No More will hopefully lend some celebrity star power to the site and its mission.

Does a good cause make you more likely to buy a t-shirt? Let us know in the comments.

More About: non-profit, sevenly, shirt, social entrepreneurship, social good, social media, startup, t-shirt

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Imogen Heap’s Tech-Infused Gloves Create Music On the Fly

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 07:23 PM PDT


Grammy Award-winning musician Imogen Heap used her time on the TED Global stage on Tuesday in Edinburgh, Scotland to not just perform, but to demonstrate an entirely new way of creating music.

Using a pair of gloves equipped with wireless mics, an accelerometer, a magnetometer, a gyroscope and a variety of other sensors, Heap created a song on the fly — complete with sounds from a multitude of instruments and effects — using only her body movements and hand gestures.

The performance was more than two and a half years in the making, the culmination of a project that Heap first became interested in after seeing the beginnings of such technology at MIT. In an interview with Mashable afterwards, Heap told me she wanted to use body movement to create music so she could "communicate the hidden 50% of the performance."

Those movements include, for example, the ability to record a loop by opening her hand, filtering sound by bringing her hands together and panning by pointing in the desired direction. Volume can also be manipulated with some fitting gestures — a "shh" movement initiates quiet mode and a horn sign prompts "rock out mode." The sensors that Heap's gloves are equipped with send the movement data back to a computer that then blends it all together to create a relatively robust piece of music in real-time.

Seeing is most certainly believing in the case of Heap's gloves, and the artist now plans to start using the gloves with some regularity during performances. Ultimately, however, she wants to be able to add features that would enable her to create an entire 60-90 minute performance "walking on stage with nothing but the gloves," she said.

Enhancements that would enable that to become a reality include the ability to play a wider variety of instruments using hand gestures, let multiple musicians performance simultaneously (like a drummer) and the ability to let the audience participate in song creation. Thinking even further out, Heap told me she wants to be able to, "invite fans on stage … and let them be a part of the performance from their own bedroom," by leveraging connected gloves and hologram technology.

Of course, that would require the gloves to become more than a one-of-a-kind item, but Heap says she's been thinking about how to do that in the wake of the response so far. Commercializing them isn't her primary goal, but she says she'd be very excited to see how it can empower other artists.

"I love the idea that you can buy a pair of these gloves … be connected to an iPhone app … and capture sound on the street and start making beats while you're waiting at the bus stop … and upload that to a database," she said.

Image courtesy of James Ducan Davidson / TED

More About: imogen heap, music, TED, tedglobal

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The Google+ Cheat Sheet [PIC]

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 06:15 PM PDT


Already using Google+? Follow Mashable News for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as our top social media and technology updates.

Are you addicted to Google+ like millions of others early adopters? Do you spend your Saturday nights hanging out in Google+ Hangouts?

You’re not alone. As Google releases more invites to its social network, more people are trying to learn the ins-and-outs of the Google+ ecosystem. We’ve already taught you how to upload iPhone photos to Google+, make a Google+ desktop app, and get your own Google+ vanity URL, but still a lot to Google+ we haven’t mastered yet.

That’s why we were excited when we stumbled across a Google+ cheat sheet, whose origin we’ve traced to Google+ user Simon Lauststen. The cheat sheet includes most of the common syntax, hotkeys and tips you need to know to use Google+ like a pro.

We’ve embedded the English version of the cheat sheet below. If you’re one of our many international readers, we have good news for you: it’s been translated into a dozen languages already.

[via Buzzfeed]

More About: Google, Google Plus, social networking

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The Man Who Hunted Bin Laden Exposed in White House Flickr Photos

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 05:10 PM PDT


“C.I.A. John,” the AP-profiled analyst-of-mystery responsible for tracking Osama bin Laden for more than a decade, has been spotted in a photo posted to the White House’s Flickr account.

The Observer now claims to have used the photo to identify John — John is his middle name — though it has yet to publish his full name. In exchange for keeping mum, The Observer reporter Aaron Gell was granted off-the-record conversations with John’s associates.

“An acquaintance volunteered that he recognized the man in the photo and proceeded to put a name to the face,” Gell writes of the identification. “A few web searches turned up details of the man's personal life. In college, he'd played basketball. No superstar by any means — he was mostly a practice player — he'd been aggressive enough to catch the eye of the team's coach, who later spoke glowingly of John's unusual shooting style.”

The photo at the center of the accidental reveal is one of the now famous behind-the-scenes Situation Room photos the White House uploaded to Flickr in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death.

“C.I.A. John” makes an appearance in two of these photos, one clearly depicts the proclaimed hero standing tall in the back of the room, behind Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta, with his eyes shut as President Obama addresses members of the national security team on May 1, 2011.

How do we know that this is, in fact, “C.I.A. John”, the man the Associated Press calls the most important person in the hunt for bin Laden? As The Observer notes, “the story also dangled a more tantalizing clue.”

That clue actually comes in the second paragraph of the piece. “Hidden from view, standing just outside the frame of that now-famous photograph was a career CIA analyst,” the AP reveals.

After the AP piece was published on Tuesday, July 5, Cryptome’s John Young took just nine hours to locate John in the photos.

“He did it with the sort of simple deductive reasoning that wouldn't be out of place in a Miss Marple novel,” Gell writes. “It seems that although the man's face was cropped out of the famous Situation Room photo, his pale yellow necktie was not. He also appeared to be unusually tall. The White House, as part of an all-out effort to trumpet its signature intelligence triumph, had released a number of photos on that day to media outlets around the world. Mr. Young simply checked the administration's Flickr feed for shots of a man with the same build and taste in neckwear.”

Now, John’s appearance in the official press photos is raising questions as to whether the White House intended its hero to be publicly celebrated after all. Some, like Young, believe this incident to be intentional, while others will find this to be an epic blunder of an administration that has been perhaps too avant garde in its approach to social media.


The White House Situation Room Flickr Photos



Obama in the Situation Room




President Barack Obama makes a point during one in a series of meetings in the Situation Room of the White House discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon is pictured at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.


Obama in the Situation Room




President Barack Obama listens during one in a series of meetings discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.


Preparing to Address the Nation




President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office before making a statement to the media about the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. The President made a series of calls, including to Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and others, to inform them of the successful mission. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.


Preparing to Address the Nation




President Barack Obama edits his remarks in the Oval Office prior to making a televised statement detailing the mission against Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.


Obama and Staff in the Situation Room




President Barack Obama talks with members of the national security team at the conclusion of one in a series of meetings discussing the mission against Osama bin Laden, in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.


Obama and Staff in the Situation Room




Staffers get a key update on the progress of the bin Laden compound raid. A confidential document has been pixelated in the foreground.

More About: C.I.A. John, flickr, osama bin laden, president obama, social media, the observer, White House

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5 Ways to Encourage Customers to Share Your Content

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 04:15 PM PDT


Sanjay Dholakia is CEO of Crowd Factory, the leading provider of crowd-powered marketing applications that add a quantifiable social boost to every digital interaction.

Nearly every brand has realized that integrating social elements into most or all of its marketing programs is essential. Companies are also thinking about social media as an integrated element that spans all of its campaigns and channels – not as its own silo. But enabling people to share a campaign with friends is only half the battle; you’ve got to give them a compelling reason to socialize.

Here are five creative ways to motivate social sharing. We'll provide insights as to how you can structure campaigns to encourage more people to share, alongside examples of brands that are getting it right.


1. Increase the Payoff When People Share More


With the advent of DIY group deals, you can create campaigns in which the more people share among themselves, the more they all save. The idea of collective benefit also plays to team dynamics: people will mobilize when lots of folks can get a benefit.

Oscar Mayer’s recent program for its new Oscar Mayer Selects hot dogs provides a good example. Oscar Mayer offers consumers a coupon to try the product, and encourages them to come back to share a "Taste-a-Monial" (essentially their personal review of Selects Hot Dogs) to get a second coupon. But this second coupon is progressive in nature: for every 5,000 people who share their Taste-a-Monial, the value of the coupon will increase by $0.50. The value continues to increase until the deal becomes a free pack of hot dogs, or until the promotion ends on August 15. At that point, everyone who shared a Taste-a-Monial will be rewarded their coupon.

Snoop Dogg made headlines recently for the progressive group deals he runs from his Facebook page’s “Shop Snoop Now” ecommerce tab. Each day, one product is featured for a special group deal – the more “Likes” the product gets, the lower the price for the product.


2. Give Them Something Exclusive


Giving people something unique or exclusive in return for sharing can be a powerful motivator — we all want to feel privy to something special.

For example, in a recent campaign to build awareness for recording artist Cady Groves, RCA offered fans a free song download for registering on the Cady Groves website. RCA also incentivized fans to share Cady’s music with their friends by offering a free merchandise pack to every fan who convinces five people to download the song.

Many brands are also rewarding fans by providing early access to content. For example, a big trend we’re seeing in the music industry is “share to reveal,” where fans get advance access to music videos or song tracks in return for sharing with friends.


3. Appeal to Their Altruism


People are inherently good. If you make it easy for them to help, they often will — and your brand will get a major boost along the way.

For example, Clarisonic recently ran a fundraising campaign for “Look Good, Feel Better,” a program that helps women battling cancer cope with treatment-related skin changes and hair loss. It contributed a $1 donation for each new “Like” on its Facebook page. The campaign made it fun and easy to share the program with friends by designing different “calls to action” that visitors could choose to share. As a result, Clarisonic generated over 30,000 new Likes on the page.

Of course, many fans will share simply because they love the cause and want to spread the word — so make sure you’ve at least added social elements to all your customer touch points.


4. Let Fans Help Create the Offer


Giving fans the ability to choose which version of a product should be offered, or to vote for the discounts or special offers they want to receive, helps ensure they’ll share it. For example, HarperCollins' Bookperk website, which keeps readers up to date on new books and special deals, lets members select which books will be offered at a discount. Once members have chosen a book, they have the option to log into Facebook and share their selection with friends, therefore spreading the word about the discount.


5. Identify, Recognize and Reward Superfans


Humans are inherently social beings, and like to be recognized for their expertise and achievements. Recognition can be a powerful motivator for social activity.

In the Cady Groves example mentioned above, not only was the campaign successful in getting many fans to share with their friends, but furthermore, quite a few “superfans” took sharing to the next level. They generated their own tweets, direct messages and Facebook posts. Some individuals managed to recruit several hundred new fans to the Cady Groves website and Facebook page.

These superfans aren’t necessarily motivated by the incentive; they’re interested in promoting the artist, getting free merchandise for their friends and establishing their reputation as someone in the know. Smart marketers will look to identify and reward these superfans on an ongoing basis, and further provide them with ways to carry on their message.

Once you’ve identified your superfans, make them part of your marketing mix. Give them preferential or early access to new items, and reward them with recognition on your Facebook page, Twitter or your website.


Whatever your methods, find a way to incorporate a social element into every marketing campaign you run by finding compelling reasons for people to share. That'll make every dollar you spend on marketing look like two.

Disclosure: Cady Groves and HarperCollins are clients of the author’s company.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Anne Helmond.

More About: business, Contests, ecommerce, facebook, incentives, sharing, social media, twitter

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Will Netflix Price Hike Change Your Mind About the Movie Service? [POLL]

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 03:21 PM PDT


When Netflix announced an end to its popular $9.99 plan for one DVD at a time and streaming service earlier today, the company was taking a giant gamble. Users who want the same service, as of this fall, will have to pay two monthly fees: $7.99 for streaming, as well as $7.99 for one-at-a-time DVDs. That adds up to a 60% price hike.

So is that enough to make you dump the service? Will you switch to streaming only and save a few bucks a month? Or will you try some other combination, like Netflix for DVDs and Hulu Plus for streaming content? Sound off in our poll, and let us know in the comments if there are other options we’ve missed.




More About: dvd rentals, netflix, poll, streaming video

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Ashton Kutcher To Edit Online-Only Bonus Issue of Details Magazine [REPORT]

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 03:01 PM PDT


In addition to acting, investing in various apps and heading up a philanthropic foundation, Ashton Kutcher is also reportedly getting into magazine publishing. The actor will be gracing the cover of the September issue of Details magazine, as well as creating an online-only bonus edition.

Industry sources inform us that the magazine’s September issue will include an online-only companion that can be accessed via Facebook and Flipboard (which Kutcher invested in). The issue is free, and will include content curated by Ashton Kutcher — apps, entertainment, styling products and so on.

Although the social issue seems an intriguing idea, Details has yet to launch a magazine iPad app, which seems a more natural venue for such an edition. The first iPad issue is slated to be released this fall.

More About: ashton kutcher, details, facebook, Flipboard, magazines

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5 Hilarious Google+ Parodies [VIDEOS]

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 02:41 PM PDT


Already usingGoogle+? Follow Mashable News for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as our top social media and technology updates.

Are you loving Google+? Have you yet to secure an invite? Or are you already fed up with the hype, and fear social networking overload? If you’re in the latter camp, then we have a treat for you.

We’ve found five funny videos that offer a comedic look at the new service. They include some classic memes updated for the occasion and some spoof walk-throughs that will definitely make you smile, if not laugh out loud.

Have a look through the video gallery below (which contains a bit of NSFW language), and let us know in the comments which spoofs you found amusing.


1. The Google Minus Project


This is genius. No spoilers, but if you watch one parody video on Google+, we urge you to make it this one.


2. Dmitri Finds Out About Google Plus


Dmitri's journey of discovery continues as he's informed of the launch of the new tool and what it means for online privacy. His joy is, of course, evident.


3. Google- Anti-Social Network Preview


Did you think you were all cutting-edge with your Google+ invite? Well, Google Minus is the new Plus.


4. The Google+ Project: A Quick Look-See


In addition to its hilarious voiceover, this includes new footage separate from the original promo video.


5. Hitler Learns of Google Plus


It just had to be done (and it has been several times, but this version is our favorite) if only for the line spoken before the majority of the group leaves the room.

More About: gallery, Google, Google Plus, Lists, parody, spoofs, videos

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Bejeweled Maker Hits Jackpot: EA Acquires PopCap for Up to $1.2 Billion

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 01:54 PM PDT


Casual games can be serious business these days, and the rumored billion-dollar acquisition of PopCap by Electronic Arts is yet another sign of the times.

EA announced Tuesday that it will buy PopCap for $650 million plus stock and earn-outs, which altogether could add up to as much as $1.2 billion.

The deal is expected to close in August.

In a statement from EA, the company’s CEO John Riccitiello said PopCap’s talent and stable of games, which includes hits such as Plants vs. Zombies and the perennial favorite, Bejeweled, accelerate the company’s drive towards a $1 billion digital business.

“EA's global studio and publishing network will help PopCap rapidly expand their business to more digital devices, more countries and more channels,” Riccitiello said.

Last year, EA bought Angry Birds publisher Chilingo for $20 million. Earlier this year, the gaming giant acquired iOS game maker Firemint, too. Previously, EA had also acquired Playfish.

Not only has EA been snapping up casual, social and mobile gaming companies; it has also inked a five-year deal with Facebook, gearing up for a battle royale with Zynga.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jonya

More About: casual games, casual gaming, EA, electronic arts, popcap

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Historypin Launches, Shows Your World As It Was

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 01:32 PM PDT

historypin image

Ever wonder what your house looked like 75 years ago? Or if that beach from your childhood photo album still looks the same? Historypin is hoping thousands of users will crowdsource those kinds of answers after its official launch this week.

Historypin is a non-profit website and mobile app aimed at sparking inter-generational conversation and interest in history. The concept is simple: It uses Google Maps to “pin” old photographs to their location.

The pictures are tagged and searchable by their location and the date they were taken. Curious to see what Times Square looked like between 1905 and 1945? By setting the search parameters, you can pull up old pictures, overlaid on top of a present-day Google street views and maps.

Historypin has already partnered with national libraries and museums that house massive stores of historical photographs. This provides a base of content, but the site is meant to be a crowdsourced affair. Anybody can submit a photo to the site, along with comments or stories about the people and places in their shots. That element of collective storytelling is the real goal of Historypin — and one of the reasons why it won the 2011 Webby for Best Charitable Organization/Non-Profit.

historypin photo

The site racked up tens of thousands of pictures during its web-only beta, and registered around 20,000 users. The plan is to further capitalize on the camera phone phenomenon by launching a mobile app that streamlines the submission and search processes. The app even includes an augmented reality tab where users can hold up their phones to see older images of their current location.

“Historypin was born out of us wanting to use the power of historical content … collective memory, to bring people together across different generations, across cultural divides, in different neighborhoods and within families, and to have that be unleashed through massive participation,” said Nick Stanhope, Historypin’s CEO.

Historypin will also start including audio and video submissions to capture even more moments, such as the audio from a Jimi Hendrix concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1969, or a video of a protest in Trafalgar Square, which can be played over current images and street views.

“While you’ll have the whole national and international history, it’s broader than that,” said Martin Luther King III, son of the civil rights leader and CEO of the King Center, who helped launch the project. The site will be able to mark historic events as well as the small, cultural moments that define communities, he said.

More About: camera, Google, Google Maps, history, historypin, iphotography, Mobile 2.0, photo, social good, social media, video

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Internet-Famous Cat Ruined by the Limelight in Taking Back Sunday Video

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 01:10 PM PDT


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

Every wonder what happens when the all-consuming high that results from gaining sudden Internet celebrity comes crashing down? Let us refer you to Taking Back Sunday’s new music video, “Faith (When I Let You Down).”

The band‘s vid follows the rapid ascension of one adorable cat, and his degrading, humiliating downfall.

NSFW: For language or if the idea of a giant stuffed cat doing porn bothers you.

More About: music, taking-back-sunday, video, viral video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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Facebook for Every Phone App Launches for 2,500 Mobile Devices

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 12:56 PM PDT


Facebook is launching a mobile application Tuesday designed to offer a fast and rich Facebook experience to users anywhere in the world on more than 2,500 Java-enabled mobile devices.

The new application is clearly designed to reach Facebook users with feature phones — otherwise known as “dumb” phones — or people who live in developing countries.

The Facebook for Every Phone app — available for download via m.facebook.com, and GetJar or Appia app stores — includes the Facebook news feed, inbox and photos modules.

Every Phone app users can also upload photos and find new friends from their address book contacts.

Facebook has partnered with 20 carriers in different parts of the world to give mobile users free data access for the app for 90 days. Partner carriers include Aircel, Airtel and Reliance in India, along with O2 Telefonica in Germany, Three in Indonesia and the United Kingdom, and Vodafone in Turkey.

More About: dumbphone, facebook, Facebook For Every Phone, Mobile 2.0, social media

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Doctor Who Episodes Now Available To Buy & Stream on Facebook

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 12:22 PM PDT

Doctor Who episodes on Facebook

Sci-fi fans can now use Facebook Credits to buy and stream episodes of Doctor Who, the popular TV show about a time-traveling alien.

BBC Worldwide announced Tuesday that it will allow Facebook users to rent nine digitally remastered Doctor Who stories, from nine of the Doctor’s 11 incarnations. Each story has multiple episodes. One of the stories, “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” — starring Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor — is available only on Facebook.

Once users go to the show’s Facebook Page to purchase a story for 15 Facebook Credits (or about $1.50), they have 48 hours to watch the episodes within that story.

Doctor Who premiered in 1963 and has continued to find ways to attract new fans as technology advances. In 2009,the Guinness World Records dubbed the show the most successful science fiction series ever — not only because of broadcast ratings and book sales but also because of DVD sales and iTunes traffic.

“Our approach to Facebook and other leading edge platforms is to be right there alongside them in fostering innovation,” John Smith, chief executive at BBC Worldwide said in a statement. “We see this service as a perfect way to give our fans what they want, as well as a great way for them to get their fix between now and the autumn when series six continues”.

Series six of the rebooted show — or series 32 of Who as a whole — is currently on hiatus. It will return in September.

The Facebook episodes are available to users in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Europe and New Zealand.

Will you watch Doctor Who on Facebook? What other shows would you want rent from the social network?


Doctor Who Facebook Page




You can find the nine digitally remastered Doctor Who stories, each of which has multiple episodes, on the show's Facebook page.


Story page




Each of the nine stories has its own page, where you can purchase the story, comment, "Like" or find more details. Click "Watch" under the main photo to buy the story.


Facebook Credits




You must use Facebook Credits to watch a story. You can buy Credits with your credit card, PayPal, a mobile phone or other payment methods powered by PlaySpan, according to Facebook. To learn more about Credits, click here


Time limit




After you buy a story, you have 48 hours to watch the episodes within that story.


Exclusive story




One of the stories, "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy," was never released on DVD and is now only available on Facebook.


Engagement




Fans are already liking and commenting on each story's page.

More About: bbc, BBC Worldwide, Doctor Who, facebook, facebook credits, tv

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Find a Date To Your Next Concert With Music-Themed Dating Site

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 12:04 PM PDT


Is your favorite band playing a show, but none of your friends are up to attending? Well, music-flavored dating website Tastebuds.fm has added a new feature called “Events Matchmaker” to help you ensure that you won’t be moshing alone.

Tastebuds.fm is a dating site that launched last summer to help music heads connect over their mutual adoration for bands.

Tastebuds has unveiled a new feature that allows users to find concert-going dates. The concept isn’t all that complicated: You can browse events and indicate whether you’d be interested in attending with the person who suggested those events, or post your own event and wait for the offers to come in.

The idea is very similar to HowAboutWe’s date-based matchmaking site and app, and OKCupid’s newly introduced “Broadcasts” feature, which allows users to suggest activities based on location.

While we’re down with the idea — finding music-loving mates with which to attend shows can be tough — Tastebuds still needs to work on increasing its user base. The site is international, but only has about 20,000 users. So while it’s wholly possible that you can find someone to go to the Gang Gang Dance show with, she or he might reside in some far-flung city.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Matt Biddulph

More About: music, online dating, tastebuds-fm

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Evernote Releases App for Android Tablets

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 11:50 AM PDT


Social note-taking startup Evernote is adding yet another app to its mobile arsenal. The startup has released Evernote for Android Tablets, a free application available on the Android Market.

Evernote for Android Tablets offers the same note-taking functionality — such as audio recording and social note-sharing — of its other applications, but does so with a new-to-Evernote interface that emphasizes visual note browsing.

With the new interface, notes appear on the home screen in a Snippet View. Android tablet app users can then use the left-hand side bar to tab through the notebooks, tags and shared notebooks view options.

The startup is also enabling application users to create and edit rich text notes. The much-requested feature is now available to all Android users — not just tablet owners — who will see a a new bar with text editing and formatting options above the keyboard.

There’s even a second, larger Evernote Android widget now accessible from the home screen. “In addition to letting you jump to core Evernote features, you now see snippets of your recently-accessed notes. This means you no longer need to launch Evernote in order to find a recent note, just tap on the note in the widget,” Evernote’s VP of marketing Andrew Sinkov says.

Evernote for Android Tablets looks to be a slick re-skin of the Evernote experience. The fresh interface design represents the direction the startup will take with all future tablet app releases.


Home Screen





Search





Single Note View





New Note





Rich Text Note





Map View





New Android Widget




More About: android, android tablets, evernote, startup

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HOW TO: Make a Google+ Desktop App

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 11:35 AM PDT


Already using Google+? Follow Mashable News for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as our top social media and technology updates.

As Google+ adoption continues to soar, one little annoyance is thwarting Google+ bliss: Dealing with other Google accounts.

Google+ requires a Google Profile — and right now, Google Apps users (people who use Google services at their private or work domain) don’t have access to a Google Profile. That will change in the future, but for now it can cause some annoyances for users who have Google Apps accounts. Google does allow users to switch between accounts, but this process isn’t foolproof.

There is a solution: Create a Google+ desktop app. Using a Mac app like Fluid or a Firefox extension, WebRunner, you can create a separate, buttonless web browser dedicated solely to Google+. This browser can then be launched just like any other app.

When Google Buzz debuted in 2010, we put together a similar guide. The steps for making a Google+ app are much the same, using WebRunner in place of the now-discontinued Mozilla Prism.


With Firefox 5 (Mac, Windows, Linux)


In Firefox 5, go to the WebRunner project page and install the extension. Restart Firefox.

Navigate to Google+ in your web browser. Under the Tools menu in the application bar, select “Create WebRunner App” and fill out the box as follows.

We used a desktop icon created by developer David Walsh, but you can use whatever you want.

Now you can launch and use Google+ from your applications folder or dock.


Mac Users With Fluid


The basic Mac app Fluid is free. For $4.99 you can get additional features, including the ability to store cookies separately from Safari — meaning that the Google accounts you use in Safari won’t affect what accounts you are using in the web app — and the ability to use user scripts.

To create a robust Google+ desktop app in Fluid, follow these steps:

  • Download and install Fluid.
  • Open Fluid and fill out the settings as seen here. For the image icon, you can choose anything you want, but we chose this icon from David Walsh.
  • That’s it! Launch the app and you will have your own Google+ instance.

To customize Fluid with more features, like the ability to use separate cookies (a must for Google Apps users) and to add a special userscript that will let you know when you have notifications, follow these additional steps. This requires spending $4.99 on a license to Fluid, but it can be used for lots of different sites.

  • Open Preferences in your Google+ app (from the main application menu, select Preferences) and go to the “Security” section.
  • Fill out the settings as seen below.
  • Restart your app.

To add a special dock notification, we found this userscript from developer James Farwell. To install it, simply select “Userscripts” from the Window menu in the application bar.

Then add a new preset and fill it in as so:

For the text of the script, just copy and paste James’s code from userscripts.org.


Google Chrome


Windows and Linux users can follow the instructions from our earlier guide:

To create an Application Shortcut, navigate to the page you want to access and then go to the wrench menu, select Tools, then select “Create Application Shortcut.” Then designate where you want a shortcut to be created. Now, when you launch that shortcut, you’ll be taken to that page.

David Walsh created a guide for making a Google Chrome app for Mac users. This takes some additional work, which is why I tend to use Fluid or WebRunner.

More About: fluid, Google, Google Plus, single-site browser, trending, webrunner

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4 Reasons Why Email Overload Is Your Own Fault [OPINION]

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 11:26 AM PDT


This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

Nick Mehta is CEO at LiveOffice, where he is an innovator in the cloud-based archiving and search space. You can see the latest company news here and read his blog at blog.liveoffice.com.

Have you heard the one about email being dead? Every month, a new pundit breathlessly pontificates about the evils of email.

"Too many people email me."

"Too many people copy me on things."

"I'm tired of constantly checking email."

Some even go on email strike. Each time, the author points to the latest technology (instant messaging, Groove, SMS, Google Wave, SharePoint, social media, Yammer) as the antidote for our poisonous email addiction.

Email is a symptom of modern information culture. Whereas hierarchy, structure and bureaucracy used to work as a filter that shielded us from the horrors of overload, today’s email is the great democratizer. If you have a brilliant suggestion or an idle complaint, the distance between your idea and a company CEO is the space between the "From" and the "To" fields.

So why all the haters?

I contend that the problems we have with email aren’t about the technology at all — they are about us. So we'd better own up to our core issues, because they'll follow us no matter which communication medium we use.


1. Loneliness


It's Saturday morning in your neighborhood, and you're in line at Starbucks with your family. Why are you checking email on your iPhone?

As much as emails can be annoying, they do make us feel important. Someone wants to talk to us. Remember the Peanuts specials when Charlie Brown would go to his mailbox every day to see if someone sent him a letter?


2. Vanity


Although we've all been faced with colleagues who use the “CC” option far too often, are we blameless ourselves?

Perhaps we just want to demonstrate that we're actually getting things done, or that we are indeed in the know about what’s going on. Whatever the reason, do we consider the effect our message will have on the recipients before thoughtlessly adding to the CC line?


3. Paranoia


And then there's paranoia.

"I don't want to be left out."

"Why was I not copied on that email that I should have known about?"

This aversion to missing out on conversations others are having reinforces our CC addiction.


4. False Productivity


Often, email can be a mindless activity. Answering it gives you quick gratification.

Writing back to people with "thanks" and "great job" is much easier than creating something original from scratch. It’s a way to “get things done” without actually doing anything. This false productivity can be consuming and drain time away from things that actually matter.


Striving for a World With Less Email


We wanted a world of open communication, and we got it. The problem is that openness cuts both ways.

Regardless of the technology, we can address these issues by retraining ourselves and engaging in some serious self-discipline. There are many schools of thought on how to do it and even a grassroots movement that follows TED curator Chris Anderson's Email Charter.

This is something I consciously work on every day and emphasize in my company. Getting communications right as a society is very simple, and it starts with me as the sender.

“Email unto others as you would have them email unto you.” Or something like that.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Carbon NYC.

More About: email, email management, etiquette, how to, Opinion

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Want Netflix DVDs & Streaming? That’ll Be $16 a Month

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 11:05 AM PDT


Depending on how you use Netflix, your monthly bill could be increasing this fall. Netflix announced Tuesday that it is turning its unlimited DVD and unlimited streaming services into two separate plans.

Currently, customers can take one DVD out at a time and watch unlimited movies online for $9.99 per month. Starting immediately, new customers will pay $7.99 per month to rent one DVD at a time by mail or $7.99 to stream movies online. Customers who want both services will pay both fees, for a combined total of $15.98 per month. That’s a 60% rate hike.

For existing Netflix users, the changes go into effect on September 1.

Netflix started experimenting with a $7.99 streaming-only plan in November.

“At the time, we didn't anticipate offering DVD-only plans,” wrote Netflix VP of Marketing Jessie Becker in a blog post. “Since then we have realized that there is still a very large continuing demand for DVDs both from our existing members as well as non-members.”

Considering this demand, she wrote, it doesn’t make financial sense for Netflix to offer DVD service as a $2 add-on to its streaming service. Nor does it satisfy the needs of people who only want to use Netflix’s DVD service.

How does the new Netflix pricing affect you? Will you be dropping either the streaming or DVD service because of the pricing change?

Photo courtesy of Flickr, matthew393

More About: Movies, netflix, trending

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Google Maps Fail Plagues New Jersey Town

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 10:56 AM PDT


Google Maps has no doubt added ease and convenience to many consumers’ lives. Except for one.

Laurie Gneiding, a resident of Clinton Township in New Jersey, has faced torrents of unwanted visitors to her house after an apparent glitch in the system, she told The Star Ledger.

Gneiding's house abuts Round Valley State Park and lives at the end of a quarter-mile-long driveway that does not offer access to the park. Yet she says Google Maps lists the driveway as an access point, attracting scores of confused motorists.

In response, Gneiding and some of her neighbors have put up signs saying "No Trespassing, Private Road," “Private Driveway/Private Residence" and "No Park Access." The real-world signs have done little to deter drivers who are convinced otherwise by Google Maps.

Gneiding told the newspaper that she used Google Maps' Report a Problem tool on May 21, asking for a correction. In response, Google told her on June 3 that the error was noted. Yet the glitch remains.

Gneiding's not the only one to take issue with Google's cartography. Last year, Nicaraguan soldiers blundered across the border into Costa Rica during a training exercise because they were following Google Maps. A Tumblr site called Google Maps Fail (tagline: "Google Maps can never be wrong. Reality must be adjusted.”) catalogs multiple errors.

Google reps did not respond to an inquiry about the story.

More About: Google, Google Maps, tumblr

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Last.fm App Will Help You Decide Which Festival To Attend

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 10:00 AM PDT


It’s summer, which means it’s music festival season. There are literally thousands of fests to choose from looming on the horizon, and Last.fm aims to making choosing which to attend easier with its new Festival application.

The free app, which is available on iOS [iTunes link] and Android devices, launched Tuesday with help from the U.S. Air Force. Simply download, connect to your Last.fm account, and the app will surface recommendations based on your musical taste.

The app organizes fests under the tabs: compatibility, nearest and date. Click on a fest, and you’ll be presented with info about the event, as well as a recommended lineup, which you can click through to get more info about the bands. Sadly, you can’t purchase tickets to the fest via the app, or listen to any tracks from the bands in question. You can, however, share events via Facebook and Twitter and indicate that you’re attending (and see which of your Last.fm friends are attending as well).

The app is an extension of the site’s festival guide, and uses Last.fm’s scrobbling and recommendation technology to serve up suggestions. Granted, this app won’t be that useful if you’re not a frequent Last.fm-er (I’m not, so my suggested fests were a little off), but it seems a good solution for those who are.

Festival planning services are really taking off of late, with SXSW, Lollapalooza and Pitchfork all flaunting apps. Which app will you choose to determine your concert-going fate?


 
Photo courtesy of Flickr, ponchosquealº

More About: android, festivals, iOS, last fm, Mobile 2.0, music

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10 Animals With More Social Media Fans Than Major Media Outlets

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 09:41 AM PDT

Let’s face it. Animals rule the Internet. Between LOLcats and upside-down dogs, people just can’t get enough cute. Even serious news stories can’t compare to the viral power of a sneezing panda or giggling slow loris.

In the world of social media, animals have been tweeting with more than just their beaks. They’ve been updating Facebook and YouTube accounts as well. The human faces behind these animal status updates spend precious time managing fictional animal accounts, but many have more online followers than major media outlets.

We’ve collected the most popular animal social media accounts and compared their fan bases to those of prominent media organizations. The results should shed some light on the Internet’s priorities.


1. Sockington vs. ESPN





The Internet may be chock-full of cats, but only one can be its king. @Sockington is a normal cat that belongs to Internet archivist Jason Scott, but he has somehow recruited more than 1.48 million people into his "Socks Army." Compare that to @ESPN, which attracted 20,000 fewer sports fans to follow its account. Litterbox maintenance beats out the leading sports network. Go figure.


2. Bronx Zoo's Cobra vs. BBC News




In March, one of the world's deadliest snakes slipped from its cage in the Bronx Zoo. Along with the media cacophony, someone began a BronxZoosCobra Twitter account, which gained more than 200,000 followers in less than a week. The cobra was recaptured, but it didn't stop the hijinks of this account, and its companion escapee, BronxZooPeacock. It also has more followers than the well-respected BBC News.


3. Maru vs. currentTV




Maru is a male Scottish Fold cat who lives in Japan. He also has the distinction of having more than 139,000 YouTube subscribers, and videos of him have been viewed more than 108 million times. It isn't hard to see why – seriously, this cat is adorable. It was actually hard to find a media YouTube channel that rivals Maru's dominance; he has more subscribers than CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times' channels combined. It was just barely beaten by Current, the TV network started by Al Gore that features original and user-generated reporting from around the world.


4. Boo vs. People Magazine




While we've talked about top cats, social media's top dog is Boo. He's a cute Pomeranian who likes to wear sunglasses or bear suits, and he also has more than 1.3 million Facebook fans. No big deal. Apparently, more people would like to look at adorable pictures of Boo than read about celebrity gossip on People Magazine's Facebook Page, which is odd, considering Boo isn't even being toted about in a celebutaunt's purse.


5. Nyan Cat vs. MSNBC




If you haven't caught the Nyan Cat YouTube video, take care of that first. Now imagine a Twitter account that emulates Nyan Cat -- it only says "nyan." Now ask yourself, why would this account have over 120,000 followers? We're not sure, but that's more followers than @MSNBC. If you're stumped, maybe just watch the video again.


6. Beast vs. Forbes




It should be no surprise that Mark Zuckerburg's dog is doing well on Facebook. But Beast, a breed of Hungarian sheepdog called a Puli, has now surpassed the Facebook fans following business magazine Forbes. Hundreds of thousands of people look at pictures of the pup being walked, cuddled and lazing around Facebook's offices. Maybe Forbes should include Beast on its 400 list.


7. Common Squirrel vs. San Francisco Gate




One tweets breaking news for the San Francisco area, and one tweets ponderous things such as "run run run," "dig" and "stare."@Common_Squirrel is doing very well on Twitter. Maybe @SFGate, San Francisco's daily paper, should consider "report" and "break news" for its next tweets.


8. JFK Turtles vs. Newsday




Two weeks ago, turtles stopped airplane traffic on JFK airport's runways in New York. They quickly became the latest animal sensation on Twitter. Those turtles may be slow and steady, but they have gained more than 8,000 followers, surpassing Long Island's @Newsday Twitter account.


9. Raccoon Willie vs. RadioLab




Raccoon Willie has won YouTube fame by being a domesticated raccoon, and for teaching the world that you should never domesticate a raccoon if you value your home. The channel's owner also invites viewers to send postcards to Willie. The wily raccoon has more subscribers than science podcast RadioLab, which, come to think of it, might be interested in this kind of thing.


10. Toaster vs. Savannah Morning News




While @Toaster can't hope to rise to Internet stardom as compared to Beast, any dog belonging to former Digg owner Kevin Rose is bound to be popular on Twitter. The labradoodle has surpassed the @SavannahNow Twitter account, meaning more people get social updates from a canine than from the Savannah Morning News.

More About: boo, bronx zoo's cobra, cute animals, JFKTurtles, kevin rose, mark zuckerberg, maru, nyan-cat, sockington

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Handy App Notifies You When LinkedIn Contacts Change Jobs

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 09:06 AM PDT


If you’re an ideal LinkedIn user, you regularly comb through your contacts’ updates and are never late with a “congratulations on your new job” card.

If you’re like me, you need to look up your password about once a year to add new connections and update your job description.

But now a new web app lets users like me tap into some of the benefits that more tuned-in LinkedIn users enjoy, and it could help level the networking playing field. “Job Change Notifier” simply sends an email notification when a contact changes his or her job.

The app, which launched late last week, is already being used by about 10,000 users who have signed up to track 1.5 million of their contacts.

Creator Roger Lee says that he created the app in a few weekends after noticing that the advertising startup he co-founded, PaperG, often benefited when a contact moved to a decision-making role.

The app looks like something made in one’s free time. You simply connect your LinkedIn profile, check off the contacts that you wish to track and start receiving email notifications when any of them change jobs. There’s no dashboard or newsfeed, but the app does the job for casual LinkedIn users. (Meanwhile, recruiters might be interested in a more intense, but unrelated, version of the concept called Bullhorn Reach.)

“I would be thrilled if [LinkedIn] made this a feature,” says Lee, who has no monetization aspirations for the app he created. “Based on the usage, I can tell that this is a feature people want.”

Perhaps LinkedIn has noticed, too. On Friday, the @LinkedInU Twitter account urged students to “check out the Job Change Notifier…see where your colleagues are going for their internships and full-time jobs!”

Photo courtesy of Flickr, Nan Palmero

More About: Job Notifier App, Job searching, linkedin, networking

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The Teenage Winners of Google’s Global Science Fair [PICS]

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 08:47 AM PDT


Google’s first-ever Global Science Fair showed off advances in chemotherapy and carcinogen research, turbine design and more — all from teenage researchers.

At a packed event this week in Mountain View, California, 15 teens presented their research to a panel of judges that included “father of the Internet” Vint Cerf, Scientific American Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina and CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heurer.

Lauren Hodge won the 13- to 14-year-old age group with her study of the effect of marinades on the level of carcinogens in grilled chicken. Naomi Shah won in the 15- to 16-year-old age group with her study of the inverse relationship between certain environmental factors and a reliance on asthma medications. Shree Bose won the 17- to 18-year-old age group with her study of AMPK’s effect on chemotherapy drugs.

Bose was also the grand prize winner, earning herself a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands, an internship at the CERN particle accelerator and a $50,000 scholarship.

Google launched its Global Science Fair earlier this year, asking students to submit their projects online. From that group, 15 finalists competed for top honors.

Check out all the finalists and their projects in the gallery of photos we’ve assembled below.


Welcome to the Google Science Fair




Google held its first-ever science fair in Building 43.


Students at the Door




A group of students get their badges for the science fair.


Google Science Fair Sponsors




The science fair is sponsored by LEGO and National Geographic.


The Elements




The walls of the science fair room were lined with different elements from the periodic table.


Luke Taylor




Taylor's project demonstrated that NXT robots are capable of understanding the natural English language, therefore simplifying the programming of such robots.


A Closer Look at the Robot




This is one of Taylor's robots.


Skanda Koppula




Koppula's project "displayed two algorithms created to successfully collect, process and distribute marine data in order to effectively explore vast areas of the oceans."


An Explanation




Koppula explains his research.


Matthew Morris




Morris's project "concluded that a hydrodynamic keel on a sailboat performs more effectivley and efficiently than a canting keel while traveling both upwind and downwind."


Sailboat




A closer look at Morris's sailboat model.


Christopher Nielsen




Nielsen's project "displayed that an inexpensive webcam stereoscopic system could be developed to track a mobile platform through the development of algorithms."


Close-up




A close-up of a part of Nielsen's system.


Harine Ravichandran




Ravichandran's project "concluded that multilevel inverters can overcome power shortages, or voltage sags, when connected in a single phase circuit."


Vint Cerf




Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet and Google's chief Internet evangelist, speaks with Ravichandran.


Daniel Arnold




Arnold's project "concluded that by improving the switch design of a track to a spring switch combined with an additional spring, zero train derailments would occur."


Vighnesh Leonardo Shiv




Shiv's project "displayed sinusoidal modeling, onset detection and machine learning algorithms in order to automatically analyze music."


Automatic Music Analysis




This shows some of the data Shiv collected in his research.


Gavin Ovsak




Ovsak's project "concluded that in order to make a turbine work efficiently while submerged under water, the fin shape would have to differ while going against and toward the water. The new fin shape allowed for the turbine to perform at its maximum efficiency."


Turbine Model




A closer look at Ovsak's underwater turbine model.


Ovsak and Vint Cerf




Google VP Vint Cerf questions Ovsak on his project.


Ovsak Explains His Fin Design




Ovsak explains how his fin shape makes submerged turbines more effective.


Michelle Guo




Guo's projected "concluded that metformin and cinnamon, both capable of insulin sensitizing, caused untreated cells to produce twice the amount of β-amyloid, an amyloid plaque found in the brains of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease."


A Deeper Look at β-Amyloids Role in Alzheimer's Disease.




A photo of some of Guo's conclusions on the impact of β-amyloids in Alzheimer's.


Explaining Her Research




Michelle Guo explains her research.


Shaun Lim Hsien Yang




Yang's project "concluded that increasing global ultraviolet levels would stimulate the allelochemical production or metabolites that affect the growth of organisms close by, in sunflowers."


Naomi Shah




Shah's project "demonstrated that a strong inverse correlation was shown between the decrease of the Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) of asthma patients, and the increase of Particulate Matter (PM10) and Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOC)."


Shah Explains Her Work




Shah delivers the pitch for her project.


Anand Srinivasan




Srinivasan's project "concluded that a more efficient brian-computer interface caused significant increase in the pattern detection accuracy of prosthetic technology, creating more effective technology for amputees today." Srinivasan was with the judges when this photo was taken.


Shree Bose




Bose's project "demonstrated that AMPK, an activated protein enyzme, causes resistance to cisplatin, one of the most common chemotherapy drugs used to treat ovarian cancer."


Explaining Her Research




Bose explains her chemotherapy research.


Dora Chen




Chen's project "demonstrated that by creating a video-audio recorder with decision-making abilities, a combined record of a day's events could be compiled onto one system, and could be applied as a memory aid for dementia patients."


Fighting Dementia




A close-up of Chen's dementia research.


Lauren Hodge




Hodge's project "displayed that the concentration of the carciogenen PhIP in grilled chicken decreased when the marinades of lemon juice, brown sugar, olive oil and salt water were used."


TGIF




Hodge's booth had a TGIF and a Burger King logo.


From the Googleplex




Another view of the science fair.

More About: education, Google, Google Science Fair, Science

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Pandora Trades Flash for HTML5 in Social Redesign

Posted: 12 Jul 2011 08:19 AM PDT


First Pandora IPO’d, then it hit 100 million users and now it is rolling out a redesign.

Ditching Flash in favor of HTML5, Pandora will be unveiling its new look first to Pandora One subscribers, rolling out to other users in the next few weeks.

We have yet to get our hands on the new Pandora (look for a walkthrough when we do), but word on the street is that it’s faster and much easier to use. The site hasn’t changed much in terms of layout, although it does have some new features.

Along the top of the site, there’s a music control bar that stays put as you click around; lyrics appear on the homepage, along with comments; and search has been tweaked. When you create a new station, as soon as you start typing, a drop-down menu will appear with suggestions tailored to your tastes (based on voting and listening history) as well as the keywords you’re searching for.

Pandora has also gotten a lot more social. It will now feature a “Music Feed” next to “Now Playing” that shows what all your friends on Pandora on are listening to, commenting on and Liking. Profiles have also been revamped, making them much more social locations, allowing you to check out other users’ activity and follow them with ease (you can still make your profile private, though).

The aim seems to have become keeping users within Pandora, checking out what friends are listening to and sharing their own activity in-site, much like a music social network.

Entertainment sites are increasingly trying to get into social. Apple’s Ping was a notable effort, as was Hulu’s recent integration with Facebook, allowing users to see what Facebook friends are watching, and to share specific video moments on the social network. MOG’s recently released HTML5 player features more recommendations with integration of Facebook Connect too.

What do you think of this social watching/listening trend? Are you down with broadcasting your tastes to the world?

More About: facebook, hulu, MOG, music, music subscription, pandora, redesign

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