Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “New Snow Leopard Patch Fixes Lion Migration Issues”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “New Snow Leopard Patch Fixes Lion Migration Issues”

New Snow Leopard Patch Fixes Lion Migration Issues

Posted: 26 Jul 2011 02:23 AM PDT

Apple has recently released Mac OS X 10.7 or Lion, but – as is usual with new releases – we’ve heard many stories about bugs from people who’ve upgraded to the new version of the OS. Apple seems to have noticed some problems as well, which prompted it to release an update to Mac OS X 10.6.8 which fixes migration issues.

Interestingly, Apple chose to call this update a “supplemental” one, which will probably confuse users as now you can effectively have two different versions of Mac OS X 10.6.8 (the latest one is called Mac OS X 10.6.8. v1.1.). If you’re still running 10.6.7, you need the entire new 10.6.8 update; if you’ve upgraded to 10.6.8 before, you just need the supplemental update.

The easiest way to figure out which update to install is, as always, to simply run Software Update from the Apple Menu.

Apple’s description of the update says it resolves issues with:

- Transferring personal data, settings, and compatible applications from a Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard to a new Mac running Mac OS X Lion
- Certain network printers that pause print jobs immediately and fail to complete
- System audio that stops working when using HDMI or optical audio out

That first bullet point seems like a rather important one, so we recommend Snow Leopard users to install this latest patch before migrating their data to a Lion machine.

[via MacRumors]

More About: apple, lion, mac os x, patch, Snow Leopard, Update, upgrade

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The Web & Business Tools Startups Use Most [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 26 Jul 2011 01:00 AM PDT

Putting the likes of the super-funded aside (Color, anyone?), most early-stage startups operate on tight budgets and spend their dollars sparingly. A bevy of web services have made start-up costs all the more affordable, but now there’s the conundrum of nearly too much choice.

The folks at BestVendor surveyed 550 startup staffers — most in marketing and executive administration positions — on their favorite tools for email, accounting, web analytics, CRM, productivity, design, storage, payment processing, operations and so forth.

Their answers, in aggregate, speak to the growing trend in startups moving toward predominately cloud-based operations. The most popular selections also highlight the rising stars (Dropbox) and impressive veterans (Paypal and Salesforce) in the business-to-business services sector.

So what’s hot among startups these days? Google Apps, Google Analytics and Quickbooks each garnered a majority of the votes in the email, accounting and web analytics categories respectively. Salesforce bested its CRM competition with 59% of respondents selecting it as the application of choice, and consumer-friendly Evernote proved hot with startup types too in the note-taking category.

Check out the infographic below for even more insight on the web and business services that today’s startups are selecting en masse.

More About: BestVendor, cloud computing, cloud storage, startups

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Google Responds to Google+ Account Suspension Controversy

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 09:24 PM PDT

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

Google has finally made a public statement about the recent wave of controversial Google+ account suspensions designed to enforce the company’s “common name” policy.

The policy is outlined in section 13 of the company’s User Content and Conduct Policy. It’s designed to stop users from creating fake profiles and to set a positive tone. Section 13 reads as follows:

“To help fight spam and prevent fake profiles, use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you. For example, if your full legal name is Charles Jones Jr. but you normally use Chuck Jones or Junior Jones, either of those would be acceptable.”

This weekend, Google started enforcing the policy, deleting a large number of Google+ accounts. While some of the suspended accounts were indeed fake profiles, others like Limor “Ladyada” Fried and lifestyle blogger A.V. Flox were accidentally deleted and quickly restored.


Google SVP of Social Vic Gundotra admitted to Robert Scoble on Sunday that the company has made some mistakes with its first attempt at cracking down on fake profiles. And Monday, Google VP of Product Bradley Horowitz wrote a more detailed post in an attempt to clear the air and set the record straight.

“We've noticed that many violations of the Google+ common name policy were in fact well-intentioned and inadvertent and for these users our process can be frustrating and disappointing,” Horowitz said in his Google+ post. “So we're currently making a number of improvements to this process, specifically regarding how we notify these users that they're not in compliance with Google+ policies and how we communicate the remedies available to them.”

Among the changes Google intends to implement:

- Google will give users more warning and the chance to comply with the common name policy.
- The company is improving the signup process.
- Finally, the search giant is exploring better ways to support nicknames, maiden names and pseudonyms.

Horowitz also took time to dispel the rumor that a suspension of a Google+ account means that a user loses his or her access to Gmail, Google Docs or other Google services. “When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don't require a Google+ profile are not removed,” he said.

Google+, which will hit its one-month anniversary on Thursday, has clearly been suffering from growing pains. It has received strong criticism for its handling of Google+ brand pages.

More About: Bradley Horowitz, Common Names, Google, Google Plus, robert scoble, social networking, Vic Gundotra

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Are You An Influential Photo-Sharer? Find Out With Photorank

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 08:05 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: Photorank.me

Quick Pitch: Photorank.me aims to help people determine their influence as social photographers.

Genius Idea: Klout for photo-sharing.

Modern web and mobile users have become perpetual photo-sharers. Perhaps, then, it should follow that this social media side dish behavior (that we all seem to enjoy) demands its own ranking and influence system.

New site Photorank, a product of crowdsourcing photo startup Olapic, puts this theory to the test. It measures photo-sharers’ activities across Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instragram and Picplz to spit out an influence score — à la Klout, but specifically focused on photo-sharing.

Simply grant Photorank access to your photo accounts to see how your digital shots stack up against your friends or the greater photo-sharing community at large.

Photorank scores range from 0 to 100 and place a strong emphasis on your activity in the past 21 days. Reactions to your photos, such as “likes”, favorites and comments, will affect your overall score. The final score is a summation of your reach, the frequency of your photo-sharing activities and the quality of the photos you share.

Photorank, explains Olapic co-founder Luis Sanz, is a consumer spin on an algorithm the New York-based startup first built to rank the user-generated photos being submitted to client sites.

“At Olapic.com, we have to deal with large amount of user generated photos, and we found that being able to identify the best pictures was really important to create a good user experience,” Sanz says. “We also found that the ‘reputation’ of the people uploading the pictures was the best proxy to identify them, and that's how we started developing an algorithm to measure it.”

“We were talking about it with a couple of friends that are into photography and they asked us to ‘photorank’ them, and they loved the idea,” he explains. “After that, we developed a site where everyone can link their photo-sharing accounts and get their own photorank.”

The problem, as the startup sees it, is that with so many photos being uploaded to the web everyday, it’s hard for folks to find the best pictures and the most influential photographers.

Photorank, in theory, will help those fascinated with photography (businesses and consumers alike) track down the top photographers with online influence. Plus, with the growing popularity of Instagram and its top iPhoneographers, businesses might have an interest in using marketing campaigns or special promotions to target popular photogs — just as many companies are starting to do with Klout scores.

Still, as a user, Photorank is limited in scope and purpose. You can connect your photo accounts and see how you rank, but that’s about it. Only when a Photorank user can take his score and do something with it elsewhere on the web (or in the offline world) will the measurement take on additional meaning.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ODV

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, instagram, mobile photo sharing, Olapic, photo sharing, Photorank.me, spark-of-genius

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Netflix Stock Slides 10% After Earnings Report

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 07:06 PM PDT

Netflix’s stock is down more than 10% in after hours trading, following its second quarter 2011 earnings results.

Despite reporting record revenues and earnings, the leading subscription streaming service is still facing blowback from its price hike earlier this month. Beginning in September, Netflix will be breaking its DVD rental and subscription services into two distinct offerings. This means that customers who subscribe to the DVD and streaming plan that currently goes for $9.99 will face a price increase of 60%.

During its earnings call this afternoon, the company answered some questions about its new pricing strategy and the impact the new pricing will have on its customer growth and churn rates in the United States. The company, including CEO Reed Hastings, expect growth to pick up in Q4 2011.

The Elephant in the Room: Access to More Content

While Netflix was forthcoming regarding its plans for international expansion, the company was much more vague when it comes to its current digital licensing deals.

While touting some of its latest deals to get more content on its streaming service, Netflix admitted that it still hasn’t reached a resolution to return Sony content to its service. Much of Netflix’s more recent content comes from Disney and Sony, as a result of its partnership with premium cable channel Starz. Netflix apparently went over its streaming threshold as dictated by its contract with Starz, which caused Sony to pull much of its content from the service.

This underscores, to us, the business realities that Netflix now faces as the company shifts from a traditional rental model to one of licensing and streaming. With disc rentals, Netflix just has to buy physical discs and then manage mail distribution to customers. Sure, the movie studios can request that rental services like Netflix and Redbox respect various windows before offering a title for rent, but if content is available on disc, Netflix can theoretically carry that content.

With streaming, the situation is significantly different. The streaming licensing divisions for major movie studios are typically separate from the home video units, which means that Netflix has to forge or create different and separate relationships for its two offerings. With television, Netflix must also work with different divisions for securing content for streaming and for disc-by-mail rentals.

The problem for Netflix is that as its subscriber base is growing, studios and content producers are charging higher rates for content licensing. Moreover, Netflix is facing increased competition from other subscription streaming services like Hulu Plus and HBO Go. Amazon is also increasingly getting into the streaming space with its Instant Video offering for its Prime members. Amazon just signed a content deal with CBS that will bring many of the TV shows currently available on Netflix to Amazon’s streaming service.

Then, of course, there is HBO. HBO Go has been downloaded more than 3 million times and is seen as way to keep customers subscribed to the service throughout the year. HBO doesn’t license its content to other services, which means that Netflix will not have access to content like True Blood or Boardwalk Empire. While calling HBO Go a “beautiful interface,” Reed Hastings insisted that comparing the two services is like comparing the MLB to the NFL.

We’re not so sure. HBO might be the only premium cable channel that can afford to go with its own TV Everywhere offering, rather than licensing its content to other players (in part because it is the number one premium cable channel and has the broadest range of original content), but the lesson, as we’re already seeing with content producers like CBS, is that getting exclusive deals for content is going to be increasingly difficult.

A key reason Netflix owners are upset over the price hike isn’t that the service is costing more money. As we’ve seen from commenters at Mashable, the real rub is that not only is the price of service going up (for dual-subscribers), but there is not real proof that the streaming options are getting any more robust. Netflix has a serious problem with getting first-run or near first-run content.

With the exception of a few deals with smaller studios, Netflix is usually third or fourth in line for access to content, following traditional home video releases, pay per-view windows, premium subscription cable networks and sometimes even normal cable networks.

Netflix has already spent more than $800 million so far this year on licensing content.

The industry — both content producers and online distributors like Netflix — will eventually figure this all out. I have no doubt that Netflix, if it can double-down on getting access to broader content or at least newer content, it can win back most of the customers it may lose due to the price increase, plus gain a new base of users.

More About: netflix, netflix streaming, quarterly earnings, quarterly results, subscription streaming

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WATCH: President Obama Addresses the Nation on Debt Ceiling Drama [LIVE VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 05:49 PM PDT

President Barack Obama has scheduled a last-minute speech to address the nation on the drama surrounding the debt ceiling and the potential of a U.S. default.

The speech comes after Republicans and Democrats failed to strike a “grand bargain” that would have raised the debt ceiling and avoided the U.S. defaulting and losing its AAA credit rating, Obama will address the nation beginning at 9:00 PM ET. His speech will be followed by a response from U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH).

As with many of Obama’s high-profile speeches, the prime time address will be live streamed via whitehouse.gov. We’ve embedded the live stream below for your convenience.

Boehner’s Response

More About: barack obama, Debt Ceiling, politics, president obama

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Amnesty International’s Website Blocked in Saudi Arabia

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 05:25 PM PDT

The Saudi Arabian government has reportedly blocked access to Amnesty International’s website, days after the human rights organization locked horns with the government over a draft anti-terrorism law.

The law, posted online last Friday by Amnesty, would allow Saudi authorities to prosecute non-violent dissent as an act of terrorism. Amnesty claims that the law “allows for a minimum 10-year prison sentence for ‘questioning the integrity’ of the royal family” and claims the law is designed to suppress dissent rather than fight terrorism.

The Saudi government responded on Saturday by saying the claims were “completely without foundation,” according to the AP. The government also criticized Amnesty for not contacting the government for comment or clarification.

On Monday, Amnesty and several news publications reported that Amnesty International’s website was not accessible on Saudi-based Internet networks.

"Instead of attacking those raising concerns and attempting to block debate, the Saudi Arabian government should amend the draft law to ensure that it does not muzzle dissent and deny basic rights," Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s director for Middle East operations, said in a statement.

While Amnesty’s site remains blocked in Saudi Arabia, some of its affiliate sites remain accessible. Amnesty has posted the full text of the Saudi law on its Protect the Human blog. Saudi Arabia has mostly avoided the unrest that swept Tunsinia and Egypt, but has recently been in the news for arresting five Saudi women for driving.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Khaled AlQubeli

More About: Amnesty International, human rights, internet, Saudi Arabia

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Google+ Chrome Extensions: 5 More Handy Tools

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 04:17 PM PDT

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

When we brought you our initial list of five useful Chrome extensions for Google+, we asked which tools you, the Mashable reader, were finding valuable on the new social networking service.

Thanks to all your comments and suggestions, both on the post itself and on Google+, we’ve narrowed down five more Chrome extensions that we think are worth a look.

Take a look through the gallery at these tried-and-tested new tools, and please keeping sharing your extension recommendations with us and the wider Mashable community in the comments below.

1. Replies and More for Google+: Improve Reply and Share Options, Add a Mute Shortcut

"Replies and More" offers a mixed bag of functionality, but it comes recommended with a five-star rating.

As well as adding a notification number to the G+ favicon and keeping the header bar at the top of the page, it brings extra functionality to posts.

Instead of the the "Reply" option, you get "Reply to Author" which automatically adds the +name to your response. This also works if you reply to comments on posts. It also creates a drop down box for the share option, giving you the ability to email, tweet or post to your Facebook wall.

Finally, hitting "m" when you've got a post selected mutes it. Try it -- it's quite satisfying simply "M-ing" those noisy Plussers in your stream!

2. +Photo Zoom: Enlarge Images By Hovering Over Them

This wizzy extension gives you a quick way to enlarge images in your Google+ stream. With a standard install, it will show a larger version of photos when you hover your cursor over them.

You can also change the settings so that a photo will only enlarge if you hover over it for a certain amount of time, or if you press a function key. We'd definitely recommend taking advantage of the customizable settings. The instant no-holds-barred hover can get tiresome when browsing, but is a useful tool when used with discretion.

3. Usability Boost for Google Plus: Change Google+'s Look, Add a Mute Button

This is a good option if you're finding your stream hard on the eye. It changes the appearance of the site by adding a grey background boxes to the posts to make them look more separated. It comes down to personal preference, but you may prefer this developer's version to Google's original design.

Other tricks include a "mute" option at the top of every post (which saves you from selecting mute from the drop down menu) and a fixed menu bar at the top of your display.

4. GPlus+ Search: Search Google+ Public Content

This handy little tool adds an icon to your Chrome toolbar that offers a quick and easy way to search public Google+ content.

Google+'s current search tool is geared to finding users, rather than content, although we do expect that to change in the future.

Once installed you simply click on the icon to search the social networking service for keywords. Search options include "all", "posts" and "profile" as well as other related Google products like Buzz and Reader.

5. Beautify G+: Fix the Left and Right Hand Menus, Remove Some Promo Elements

This extension fixes the left and/or right menus in place, so if you get lost scrolling down your stream you don't have to head all the way back up to the top of the page to navigate to a different area.

In addition, it can hide the automatically generated "Suggestions" that show up on the left of your screen and get rid of the "Go mobile" promo link.

More About: Chrome Extensions, gallery, Google, google chrome, google chrome extensions, Google Plus, Google Plus Lists, List, Lists

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It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Cast Sings “Day Man” at Comic-Con [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 02:59 PM PDT

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

Since we know you’re all twitching and itching from Comic-Con withdrawal, here’s a little nugget from the nerd fest to keep you going until the next one: the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia singing “Day Man.”

Seriously, this is the best fictional TV show band song since The Monkees’ “Daydream Believer.”

More About: comic-con 2011, its-always-sunny-in-philadelphia, music, television, video, viral-video-of-day, youtube

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Netflix Hits 25 Million Subscribers, But Expects Fallout From Price Hike

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 02:33 PM PDT

Netflix hit 25 million subscribers and broke records for both its revenues and its earnings in the second quarter, but cut its earnings outlook for the next few months since it expects some fallout from its recent price hike.

The company added 1.8 million subscribers in the quarter and posted a net income of $68 million on revenues of $789 million — both records. But the quarter, which ended June 30 and was unaffected by the price increase, was a transitional one for the company. As the company noted in a letter to shareholders: “The streaming-only plan continued to gain in popularity, with nearly 75% of our new subscribers signing up for it. As a result, our average subscription price reverted to a slight quarter-over-quarter decline.”

The company also noted that “With the rapid adoption of streaming, DVD shipments for Netflix have likely peaked.”

Those events no doubt led Netflix to provide more incentive for users to take the streaming-only option. Since more customers are streaming rather than getting DVDs through the mail, the company was able to report a domestic operating margin of 16.3%, above the 14% target. However, because it will negotiate with studios for more streaming titles in the second half of the year, it is continuing to project a 14% margin through 2011.

Though the company defended its price increase — “We hate making our subscribers upset with us, but we feel like we provide a fantastic service and we're working hard to further improve the quality and
range of our streaming content in Q4 and beyond” — Netflix is planning to lose some subscribers in Q3, which sent its stock skidding 8% in after-hours trading. Netflix expects that effect to be short-lived, though. By Q4, the company plans to return to the growth it had previously enjoyed and possibly have its first billion-dollar quarter.

In addition, Netflix is planning to launch its Facebook integration in the coming quarter. However, because of limitations imposed by the Video Privacy Protection Act, that integration won’t happen in the U.S. Facebook users in Canada and Latin America will see Facebook integration first

More About: amazon, DVDs, hulu, netflix, streaming video

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First Look: Deadline Hollywood Game on Facebook [INVITES]

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 02:02 PM PDT

Some of Hollywood’s top players are about to launch a Facebook game that puts you in the movie business.

The Deadline Hollywood Game allows players to climb the Tinseltown ladder as an actor, screenwriter, producer, agent or director. The goal, as in real life: get your projects made, and become an industry mogul. The twist with Deadline Hollywood, however, is that real news events that take place in the industry can have an impact on gameplay.

The game comes courtesy of Paramount Digital Entertainment, Liquid Entertainment and Deadline.com, one of the leading sites for breaking news about the inner workings of the entertainment industry. The site, founded by Nikki Finke in 2006, is known for being brash, funny and brutally honest.

The game is full of that brashness and humor. The dashboard for the game is the view from the driver’s seat — because, as Finke told us, “That’s how many people start out in Hollywood, living out of their car.”

Finke explained to us that it was important that the game reflect the way Hollywood actually is: the good and the bad. Still, she felt it was important that the game remain “above board.” That means no stealing scripts, no acts of subterfuge — and no sleeping your way to the top.

Still, the game is far more witty than most of the Facebook games currently on the market. Finke took a look at some of the existing tiles on the social network and wanted to create something that focused more on strategy, was more cutting edge and had more humor. “Is FarmVille even funny?” Finke says (The merchandise certainly is).

As well as using typical social game elements, such as an in-app currency, the game also aims to enable players who might not be well-versed in the workings of Hollywood. It offers definitions for popular terms such as “greenlighting”, and information about how the industry works. As Finke said, “This is a Facebook game for smart people.”

Using News as a Game Element

The most innovative aspect of the game is the way it uses actual headlines and news from Deadline.com. For instance, if superhero films like Captain America, do well at the box office, players who are making superhero projects will get a boost in their box office receipts.

For now, however, the real-time news element will only work to give players extra incentives. Not having a superhero film in production, for instance, won’t act as a penalty. “I don’t want people to lose money,” says Finke.

In the future, the news elements might take a greater role within the game, especially after industry events such as award shows or major film festivals.

For Paramount Digital Entertainment, the publisher behind the game, the news aspect might also provide future sponsorship or promotional opportunities. “This is just the first step,” said Tom Lesinski, president of Paramount Digital Entertainment. “We look forward to expanding the concept as time progresses.”

Get Your VIP Game Pass from Mashable

Deadline Hollywood Game is currently invite only in its beta phase. Paramount Digital Entertainment and Deadline have provided Mashable with 100 VIP invites for movie fans that want to get in on the action.

To score an invite

  • In the comments below, tell us your favorite Movie or your favorite Facebook game and why.
  • Be sure your email is included in your Mashable Follow account by visiting the settings tab on your profile and adding your email address to the email field if it’s blank. Please do not post your email in the comment thread below.
  • The first 100 commenters will get an invite to the game.

More About: deadline, deadline hollywood game, facebook, facebook games, Film, Movies, social games

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What Twitter Can Learn From Facebook [OPINION]

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 01:52 PM PDT

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

Tom Anderson is the founder and former president of MySpace. MySpace sold in 2005, and Anderson left the company in early 2009. You can find him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook.

Sometimes when you follow a trend, you fall flat on your face.

Early adopters of Google+ have declared that Twitter is now “obsolete” and that they are “bored” using Twitter. Most suggestions for improvement are a list of Google+ features that Twitter doesn’t have.

Yet, even while Twitter’s own CEO, Dick Costolo, has maintained that Twitter will remain simple, the company’s founder and executive chairman Jack Dorsey recently let go four key product people from Twitter, indicating some kind of change is in the works. So what’s @Jack to do? What does the future of Twitter look like?

Taking Measured Risks

Facebook is actually instructive on this front. One of the things that founder Mark Zuckerberg and crew have done exceptionally well is to know what and what not to incorporate from competitors. They’ve evolved their vision, but instead of jumping on every trend, they’ve found ways to expand by incorporating the best innovations of their competitors into a holistic vision that’s kept Facebook growing.

When Facebook had 12 million uniques thanks to nearly every college user in America using the service and MySpace had 80 million uniques (what seemed like “everyone else” at the time), it was a bold move to open up the site to the outside world. In hindsight, it may have seemed risk-free, but it could have killed the entire feel of Facebook. They moved slowly, adding companies, high school students and eventually went fully public. It wasn’t a given that this wouldn’t destroy the closed, private and wonderful service Zuckerberg had created for college students.

When Twitter became a significant force, Facebook tried to acquire the youngish company. A deal was never reached and Facebook ended up up incorporating the status update into the newsfeed — which really made the newsfeed more interesting than it ever would have been otherwise. Again, a great move that fit in with the evolving vision of Facebook as a “sharing platform” (before that, Zuckerberg used to talk more about “efficient communication“).

But it’s also instructive to look at the things Facebook did not do. To compete with MySpace, lots of people thought Facebook should offer some level of profile customization (definitely controversial), but even more thought they should launch a music service. Facebook toyed with the idea by briefly allowing users to put some apps on their profile pages, and they gave priority status to iLike, a music service that let you create playlists. I’d heard rumors at the time that Facebook had actually built a full customization platform for profiles that they never launched. Just this month, Facebook decided to allow users to put images and videos into comments (something that probably would have been too MySpace-y back in the day). Facebook knew when to add feature at the right time. And that music service? Well, it may still be coming.

What This Means for Twitter

So what does this teach us? It’s difficult to extract a lesson or set of rules from these examples. It’s hard to know how to evolve your service, and it’s hard to say what Twitter should do to continue its growth trajectory. I think the answer lies in trying to step back and understand what’s the real value you provide to your users. How can your service evolve to realize that mission without following every trend that rules the day?

In Twitter’s case, is the 140 character constraint really a benefit or is it a leftover relic of the text-message infrastructure that smart phones have replaced? As pundits and users, we can all make our demands about what we want from Twitter, but that probably only tells us about our own personal biases. Twitter will undoubtedly do better to analyze its own data to understand its own user behavior.

Then they can look at those numbers in the context of competitors’ numbers that are public. Who’s driving more engagement, where and how?

You might say, you and I don’t know jack about Twitter. Only @Jack knows jack about Twitter.

Depending on what he learns, he’ll make the tough decision of what to change and what to keep the same. Maybe he’ll test, iterate, analyze and revise. He’s already decided he needs a new product staff, so change seems to be coming.

No answers here, but hopefully they’re the right questions.

Editor’s note: This post was adapted from a post originally published on Google+.

More About: facebook, Google, myspace, Opinion, twitter

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Singer Sarah Jaffe on Beating Songwriter’s Block [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 01:26 PM PDT

Each Monday, Mashable highlights an exclusive new video or song. Check out all our Music Monday picks.

When singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe finished touring last summer, she found herself in a creative ditch. To extricate herself from that musical mire, she picked up some new instruments, which yielded her forthcoming EP, The Way Sound Leaves a Room.

“I couldn’t really write and every time I picked up a guitar I would get frustrated,” Jaffe says of her writer’s block. “So in order to get out of the dilemma I bought a bass and a drumset at a pawn shop and just started writing. What started out as therapy ended up being this group of songs.”

Jaffe — whose first full-length album Suburban Nature established her as a soulful stunner with strummy, rich tunes like “Clementine” — wasn’t all that familiar with her new instruments. However, the unfamiliarity allowed her to bust out of pre-existing patterns.

“The day that I got back with the drumset and the bass I wrote ‘Sucker For Your Marketing’,” Jaffe says. (You can download that tune below.) “I wrote it pretty quickly. It was kind of a strange thing. I picked up the bass and simplicity of the minimal amount of notes that I knew opened up this door for a melody to lead the way.”

Jaffe’s EP drops in the fall, but you can check out the above video for a taste of what’s to come. The vid is from a DVD that accompanies the EP and contains footage from tour, stage shows and the studio.

“Sucker For Your Marketing,” Sarah Jaffe by Mashable

More About: music, music monday, sarah-jaffe, video

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EXCLUSIVE: Old Spice Guy Isaiah Mustafa Accepts Fabio’s Challenge [VIDEOS]

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 01:00 PM PDT

Things are heating up in the battle to be the true Old Spice Guy. After Fabio threw down the gauntlet in grand style Monday morning, Isaiah Mustafa has responded in his own hyper-verbose manner.

The response appears to have been shot very recently — Mustafa references the resumption of the NFL season — and the wide receiver-turned-pitchman has lost none of his charisma. He says he’s been watching as “a certain man with hair who’s been using a very harsh and accented vernacular” has challenged him to a duel.

In short: Challenge accepted. Mustafa has set up a “Mano a Mano in el Baño” challenge on Tuesday at 12 p.m. EST. Who knows what Old Spice and ad agency Wieden + Kennedy have in mind for the two. But the preview below makes it look like we should expect another Thrilla in Manila.

More About: advertising, Fabio, Isaiah Mustafa, MARKETING, old spice, old spice guy, wieden & kennedy

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NFL Players Take to Twitter to Celebrate Lockout’s End

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 12:40 PM PDT

Are you ready for some football? NFL players on Twitter certainly are.

After four months of bitter haggling over the minutiae of the league’s new labor contract, club owners signed the updated agreement last week. The NFL Players Association took a little while longer to look it over, but it finally signed a 10-year pact — with a few addenda — on Monday. That means the 2011 football season will proceed, if not quite as planned.

Where did players, fans and owners turn to celebrate their return to the sport they love? Twitter, of course. Check out the timeline here:

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Facebook iPad App Preview Leaks Out [PICS]

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 11:24 AM PDT

Update: It looks like Facebook has blocked access to the app at this time. Still, you can check out our screenshots to see how the app looks.

Facebook users were able to get a sneak peek of the social networking site’s long-rumored iPad app on Monday by using a jailbroken device and tweaking a file embedded in Facebook for iPhone.

The hack appears to have been first uncovered by Marvin Bernal on Twitter, and TechCrunch has since confirmed “with a source who had previously seen the Facebook iPad app” that this is indeed the iPad app that the company planned to launch with.

Facebook for iPad

Mashable used a jailbroken iPad 1 and made the necessary changes so we could try out the app ourselves.

As you can see from our gallery, it’s quite good. It takes many of the features we have come to see in third-party Facebook apps, but uses its full access to the Facebook API to make the user experience better and more fluid. Facebook Chat is supported, though video chat isn’t (yet) and browsing through the application is much like using Facebook’s web interface, but with a more refined, iPad twist.

Take a look at our screenshots and a description of some of the other features below:

App Icon

The Facebook icon looks the same. Note the Cydia and iFile icons. Right now, in order to access Facebook for iPad, you need to be running a jailbroken iPad 1 or iPad 2.

Loading Screen

Facebook Login

News Feed

The default screen is the Facebook News Feed.

News Feed Options

You can select various filters for the app, just like in Facebook on the desktop.

Side Panel

Sliding the main window to the right reveals an enhanced Facebook sidebar. This interaction, which is similar to Twitter for iPad, provides access to Groups, Events, Places and Messages.

Side Panel

In landscape mode, the panel appears alongside the elongated news feed if swiped to the right.

Status Update

Sharing a status update works as expected. Tapping on the lock icon shows you visibility options.

Visibility Options


Photo albums are displayed in a grid-like manner, using the same styling Apple uses in its Photos app.

Add Photos

You can create a new album or add photos from your device to an existing album.


Notifications are accessible throughout the app.

Facebook Chat

Facebook Chat works on the iPad. Users can communicate iChat style through the panel on the right.

Facebook Chat

Facebook Chat works quite well, but note the lack of hyperlink support.

Like or Comment

A modal window gives an option to "Like" or comment on a post or status update.

Places Check In

Who says the iPad isn't mobile! Facebook Places is supported in the app.

Places Map view

Places Friends View

Facebook Groups

Groups can be accessed from the side panel.

User Wall

User Info

User Wall Interactions

In landscape mode, comments and likes on a status update or wall post appear in the right hand panel.

Viewing Comments on a Photo

Replying to Comments

Logging Out

To log out, tap the arrow underneath your name in the left side panel.

Account Screen

Facebook for iPad supports multiple accounts, which is great for users who share an iPad with other family members.

Remove an Account

To remove an account, tap and hold the profile photo and then tap on the "X."

Remove Account Options

When an account is removed, all the information about it is wiped off of the device as well.

More About: facebook, facebook for ipad, ipad, ipad apps, trending

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Domino’s Pizza Runs Unfiltered Customer Comments on Times Square Billboard

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 10:40 AM PDT

In an effort that may fall somewhere between brave and foolhardy, Domino's is running an electronic ticker in Times Square displaying in real-time what consumers really think of the brand.

The campaign, which runs from Monday until August 23 will include customer comments — good, bad or neutral — on a 4,630 square-foot billboard. The comments, which are filtered for bad language and appropriateness, but not for sentiment, are culled from Domino's Tracker, which lets you follow your order. Consumers whose comments are chosen will get a link to a video clip of their comment as it ran on the billboard.

The billboard coincides with a new TV campaign, featuring New York-based Domino's store managers Jess Hreniuk and Jose Castillo, that shows the two reacting to seeing the comments in Times Square.

The "come what may" approach follows an image turnaround for Domino's. In April 2009, the brand was caught flat-footed after a YouTube video surfaced showing rogue employees doing disgusting things with the pizza. The incident prompted a YouTube apology by company CEO Patrick Doyle.

Though the experience might cause some brands to shy away from social media, Domino's did the opposite. In December, the brand and agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky introduced a new campaign called "Pizza Turnaround," which showed real focus groups describing the pizza's "cardboard crust" and likening the sauce to ketchup. In the ad, Doyle vowed to do better and introduce a new version of the pizza.

The campaign was a hit, increasing sales by double-digits in the first quarter it ran. Since then, Domino's has continued to strive for transparency by vowing to use un-retouched pictures of its pizzas in its ads.

More About: advertising, crispin porter + Bogusky, Domino's Pizza, MARKETING

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4 Ways iPads Are Changing the Lives of People With Disabilities

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 10:24 AM PDT

iPad disabilities

Noah Rahman has moderate Cerebral Palsy affecting his communication, cognition and upper and lower body movement. When he turned two, his language, cognitive abilitity and fine motor skills were diagnosed by a developmental specialist as being at least 12 months behind. Then Noah got an iPad.

Four months later, his language and cognition were on par with his age level. His fine motor skills had made significant leaps.

Today, the three-year-old (pictured at right with his father) spends an hour or two on his iPad each day. He switches his apps between reading and writing in English, Arabic and Spanish. In the fall, he’ll enter a classroom of five-year-olds. “The iPad unlocked his motivation and his desire because it’s fun,” says his dad Sami Rahman, co-founder of SNApps4Kids, a community of parents, therapists and educators sharing their experiences using the iPad, iPod touch, iPhone and Android to help children with special needs.

SNApps4Kids taps into a burgeoning trend for people with disabilities. Touch devices — most notably the iPad — are revolutionizing the lives of children, adults and seniors with special needs. Rahman estimates some 40,000 apps have been developed for this demographic.

“Touch has made it exceptionally accessible — everyone has an iPad, everyone has an iPod,” says Michelle Diament, cofounder of Disability Scoop, a source for news relating to developmental disabilities. “If you’re someone with a disability, having something that other people are using makes you feel like part of the in-crowd.”

For people lacking motor skills, touch screens are more intuitive devices. There is no mouse, keyboard or pen intercepting their communication with the screen. Larger platforms, like iPads, are preferred over smaller iOS and Android devices for ease-of-use and, of course, the cool factor.

Here are four ways that touch devices are changing the lives of people with disabilities:

1. As a Communicator

Before the iPad and other similar devices, using touch-to-speak technology was incredibly expensive, costing around $8,000. Now, it only costs $499 for an iPad and $189.99 for a thorough touch-to-speak app like Proloquo2Go.

That relative affordability has made the technology more available for children and adults that can’t use their voice. With the simple touch of an iPad, a hungry non-verbal person can communicate exactly what he or she would like to eat. Those apps can then be customized with photos or features to suit an individual’s life and needs.

Another option is Assistive Chat, which predicts several sentence completion options. For the most severely disabled people, Yes|No is a simple app that allows individuals to voice their preference in yes-or-no responses.

“It gives dignity back to people who are more disabled,” says Vicki Windham, a special education teacher in the Clarkstown Central School District who trains people of all ages to make the most of their iPads. Windham reviews apps for people with a variety of special needs.

For hard-of-hearing iPad users, soundAmp R amplifies sound in a variety of situations. Users can also record lectures or presentations they want to listen to again later.

2. As a Therapeutic Device

SNApps4Kids co-founder Cristen Reat’s son Vincent was born with Down syndrome, which can also lead to low-muscle mass. While he can walk, Reat describes his son as a Buddha that prefers to sit still most of the time. Throughout his life, Vincent’s therapists and parents have tried to help him be more active. It was not until his physical therapist placed an iPad on a treadmill that Vincent was motivated to walk. He now stays on for nine and a half minutes, interacting with his iPad while he’s in motion.

In addition to increasing his gross motor ability to walk, Vincent’s iPad has helped his fine motor skills. For Vincent, computers and older technology required visual shifting — between a mouse or keyboard and the screen. On an iPad, Vincent can watch as one of his fingers writes directly on the screen to make selections.

Similarly, Noah Rahman has shown motor improvement. After playing the Elmo Loves ABCs app on his iPad, he can write the entire alphabet, requiring sophisticated finger isolation. As a three-year-old, this puts him well above his grade level. “First it was ‘do it for me,’ then it was ‘do it with me,’ now he does it by himself,” says Noah’s father.

3. As an Educational Tool

Years ago, one of Jeremy Brown’s autistic elementary school students picked up his iPhone off his desk and began navigating the iOS with ease. “It’s like a fish to water,” says Brown, a teacher for autistic elementary school students, of his students’ interactions with touch technology.

Brown is immersed in online discussions of technology and special education, moderating the Facebook group iTeach Special Education, collaborating on the podcast EdCeptional and coauthoring the blog Teaching All Students. While use of the iPad in classrooms is not yet approved in his school district, he believes the iPad is a great supplemental method of instruction, estimating 80% to 90% of his students with autism see great results when using iOS devices. Brown hopes his school district and others across the country will approve iPads in the classroom.

While no one advocates replacing traditional instruction, a number of apps do address academic subjects from math to language to reading and writing. In October 2010, Apple even featured an “Apps for Special Education” section in the App Store.

Brown encourages parents to separate their children’s recreational uses of the iPad from those in the classroom. Some students may watch YouTube videos on the school bus but while they’re at school they know Mr. Brown’s iPads are only for education.

4. As a Behavior Monitor

Behavior Tracker Pro is a popular app for parents, therapists and teachers to quantify the behavioral progress of children with special needs. In addition to taking notes, good and bad behaviors can be video recorded and later reviewed. The app automatically turns that input into visual graphs and charts.

High school teacher Vicki Windman notes that the iPad can also be a great way to strengthen and reinforce memory for seniors with Alzheimer’s or memory loss. Still, she warns that touch technology is not a miracle drug: “You’re not curing Alzheimer’s. Parents challenge me all the time — they want a cure. It’s no cure.”

That doesn’t mean it can’t help. Apps like Medication Reminder tell users when it’s time to take medication. Memory Practice, a memory strengthening app, was created for the developer’s mother shortly after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Windman’s father uses an app called Nudge, which gives him a persistent reminder every fifteen minutes to accomplish lapsed tasks on his to-do list.

Long-Roads Ahead

Despite these successes, SNApps4Kids cofounder Cristen Reat recommends a measured approach. “Just because you buy a device doesn’t mean it’s going to change anything,” she says.

Rahman agrees. He says that viewing the iPad as the solution is the backwards approach. “We are big advocates that the user needs to understand the objectives first before you pick the technology,” Rahman says. “We’re not just putting [our son] in front of an iPad and walking away. That’s the real key.”

Image courtesy of Sami Rahman.

More About: apple, apps, apps for special needs, disabilties, iOS, ipad, iphone, iPod Touch, mental health, social good, special needs, tech, technology

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Release The Sunbird Gets Acoustic in Sunny New Video

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 09:47 AM PDT

Each Monday, Mashable highlights an exclusive new video or song. Check out all our Music Monday picks.

When Zach Rogue hiked up to Griffith Park in L.A. to film a video for “Always Like The Son,” from his album Come Back to Us, he was wearing wholly inappropriate shoes.

“I was hiking up a big hill in Tom’s shoes through all these snake holes, and I was thinking to myself that I was going to be in trouble,” Rogue says.

The musician, who has been the frontman of the band Rogue Wave for nearly 10 years now, was risking snake bites and turned ankles to document a live, acoustic set of the jam, which is from the debut album of his side project band, Release The Sunbird. The disc [iTunes link] drops Tuesday.

The video above, doused in sunshine and warmth that jibes perfectly with Rogue’s honeyed voice, is part of photographer Alexander Shahmiri‘s In the Open series, which kicked off with an al fresco performance by Shahmiri’s childhood friends, Young the Giant. The series has burgeoned since then to include the likes of Ellie Goulding and Two Door Cinema Club.

The setting for and the stripped-down feeling of the vid presented the perfect showcase for Release The Sunbird’s sound. “I wanted to make a record that if all you had was a guitar, then you could play those songs and they could stand up on their own,” Rogue says. “I definitely wanted the kind of campfire, sitting-on-the-back-deck-of-your house kind of feeling, and I think that the video helped illustrate that that’s what we were trying to do.”

Rogue calls the album a “Sunday morning kind of record,” a disc that gives the listener time and space to think. It’s a sparse and lovely record — not one that sticks and spins in your head, but washes over you like entirely non-oppressive sunshine.

For Rogue, making the disc was considerably freeing after spending so many years working with the same band — hence the rather ebullient band name. “The Sunbird is whatever it is inside of you that’s kind of rattling around and needs to, wants to come out — wants to see the light of day,” he says. And what better location to release that rattling beast than in the open.

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What the Republican Town Hall Taught Us About Twitter as a Debate Platform

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 09:21 AM PDT

Six U.S. Republican presidential candidates took part in a Twitter town hall last Wednesday, in what was largely being labeled history’s first presidential Twitter debate.

Now that the event is over, its organizers are viewing it as a general success, despite the initial challenge of making sure candidates would get on board for the debate, which could be followed on Twitter itself and via a separate platform: 140TownHall.com. According to statistics from Adam Green, who helped develop the debate platform, there were 22,400 unique visitors to the 140TownHall.com website during the debate itself. Fourteen thousand tweets using @140townhall were sent during the debate by 3,630 Twitter accounts.

“From a technical side, it went very well,” says Green, the founder and CEO of 140 Dev, LCC, a consulting company that specializes in the Twitter API. “The only time we had some problems was when Rusty Humphries first started talking about it on his radio program and told everyone to go to the site. And so we got a flood of visitors — we got about 8,000 visitors in the time of about 15 seconds… and that slowed it down for about a minute or two.”

“But after that, it came right back and technically it behaved quite well. We didn’t lose any tweets that I’m aware of,” he says.

The debate, which can now be viewed in chronological order on 140TownHall.com, also allowed those following the event via the site to view real-time stats (as seen below) that indicated the number of mentions and retweets that were being sent. Green says he received positive feedback regarding the statistics from those who were following the debate — sponsored by TheTeaParty.net — in this manner.

The Challenges of a Twitter Debate

While Green is mostly happy with the way the event went, he does admit that things didn’t always run so smoothly on the communications side as this was the first trial run of using this medium. He says while it was not the first time most of the candidates had used Twitter, it was a completely new situation: It was the first time the candidates had to tweet responses to questions being thrown at them, while their opponents were also tweeting about the same topic.

“I think they need to try to speak without using soundbites,” he adds. “The natural tendency is — when you’re forced into 140 characters — to fall back on the soundbites that you’re familiar with.” He thinks one of the ways the candidates could learn to be more natural on Twitter is by watching the stream on 140TownHall.com that showed the public’s tweets, keying into what others are saying about a specific question and trying to respond to their ideas and sentiments as well. He also thinks it would have been fun if the candidates had commented on each other’s tweets as well, which he describes as more “Twitter-like” behavior.

140TownHall Screenshot

This particular debate involved participation from the following Republican presidential hopefuls: Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Hermain Cain, Thaddeus McCotter, Gary Johnson and Rick Santorum. Other candidates, such as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, did not take part in the event.

Andrew Hemingway — chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, who was a key organizer for the 140TownHall.com debate — says there were some difficulties getting candidates to commit.

“There were a few candidates who were really excited about it, there were other candidates who really kind of needed to understand it,” he explains. “And then there were other candidates that didn’t even want to be involved or associated with it at all, which I think was a mistake.”

The plan was for the candidates to tweet at the public themselves, but Green admits he can’t guarantee that this was the case. Though most candidates’ tweets were released under their names, Bachmann’s were released under @TeamBachmann handle. Meanwhile, Gingrich’s camp released a picture of the former House of Representatives speaker sitting in front of a computer, seemingly ready to tweet.

“My general perception is that the candidates were saying what to tweet and some of them, at least, were tweeting,” Green says. “But I can’t guarantee that all six of them were literally typing. I don’t know that.”

Mashable reached out to the campaigns of four candidates, including Gingrich and Santorum, but inquiries about the town hall were not answered at the time of writing.

What’s Next?

With the experiment now over, both Green and Hemingway have expressed an interest in using the platform used on 140TownHall.com in future debates. But the format might be slightly different next time.

“I think there’s opportunities to do town halls around issues, whether it’s healthcare or energy, or the economy, jobs,” Hemingway says. “I think what we’re going to start to do is roll out a series where we’ll do one a week, or one every other week, a smaller type of town hall based on the current issues of what’s going on today.”

Green adds that the small-scale town halls could involve smaller numbers of candidates or policy experts, and could also involve bringing on two or three people from the audience.

Green and Hemingway’s plans come at a time when Twitter is starting to take on an even bigger role in politics. Many politicians, including President Barack Obama, have their own Twitter accounts now. In fact, Obama also used Twitter to answer questions during a July 6 town hall moderated by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

Though Twitter would not comment on 140TownHall.com itself, spokesperson Rachael Horwitz did have the following to say about the social network’s usage during the upcoming presidential election: “In general, we believe that as the 2012 election approaches, Twitter will be a valuable platform for anyone running for office. We look forward to seeing the creative ways different organizations and campaigns use the service over the next year.”

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, zentilia

More About: 140townhall, 2012 presidential campaign, politics, republicans, social media, social networking, twitter

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Apple Debuts New Ad for iPad 2 [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 08:58 AM PDT

Apple‘s iPad business is booming, but the company isn’t letting up on marketing the devices. A new ad for the iPad 2 presents it as a lifestyle companion for your cooking, work, learning and reading, among other activities.

The ad, from longtime agency TBWA\Media Arts Lab, continues the approach of previous iPad 2 commercials, basing the pitch around a simple open-ended setup. In the last ad, it was “If you asked.” It began, “If you ask a parent, they might call it intuitive…” and continued a series of “If you asked” scenarios.

The latest setup is “We’ll always,” which starts, “We’ll never stop sharing our memories or getting lost in a good book. We’ll always cook dinner and cheer for our favorite team,” which leads to the kicker: “But how we do all this will never be the same.” (In an interesting side note, the ad shows a child who has spelled out the word “lion,” a possible nod to the company’s new Mac OS.)

Given Apple’s success, it’s hard to second-guess the “product as hero” approach, which is strengthened by a warm voiceover by actor Peter Coyote. While there’s nothing new in the ad, it continues Apple’s attempts to woo fence-sitters who may be intimidated by the technology.

More About: advertising, apple, iPad 2, ipad 3, MARKETING, TBWA\Media Arts Lab

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WSJ Defends Its Integrity in Op-Ed

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 08:43 AM PDT

The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed Monday morning defending its integrity amidst allegations that employees of sister publication News of the World bribed UK police and hacked the voicemails of dozens of high-profile individuals.

The article was signed by the five members of the Dow Jones Special Committee — Thomas Bray, Louis Boccardi, Jack Fuller, Nicholas Negroponte and Susan Phillips — which oversees editorial practices at the Journal and the Dow Jones Newswires. (Dow Jones is an American subsidiary of News Corp, acquired in late 2007. Its CEO, Les Hinton resigned on July 15, a few days before Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son, James Murdoch, appeared before Parliament for questioning.)

Although the committee acknowledges that the Journal has changed in “focus, style and content” since it came under News Corp leadership, “we have found nothing to even hint that the sort of misdeeds alleged in London have somehow crept into Dow Jones,” they wrote.

The WSJ has come under fire lately for the latency with which it pursued the phone-hacking scandal story, for not putting tougher questions to News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch in a recent interview, and for an angry, unsigned editorial published last week that criticized journalists at The Guardian, the BBC and elsewhere for pushing coverage of the phone-hacking story for “commercial and ideological motives.”

While the latest piece — which outlines the people and policies that ensure that no political, ideological or commercial pressure is put on reporters to influence their news judgement — might bolster the faith of some readers, tougher reporting on the News Corp allegations seems to be the best remedy. But, no doubt, reporters at the WSJ are damned if they do cover it thoroughly and damned if they don’t.

More About: News Corp, rupert murdoch, wall street journal

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LinkedIn Launches Button That Lets You Apply for Jobs

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 08:31 AM PDT

LinkedIn just made it easier to apply for a job, thanks to the launch of its new “Apply With LinkedIn” button.

The business-oriented social network is billing the new feature as “the future of job applications.” The company’s goal is to make the job application process as simple as a click.

“Our goal with Apply With LinkedIn is to help every professional put their best foot forward, anywhere across the web when they take that leap to apply for a new position,” Technical Product Manager Jonathan Seitel said on the company’s blog.

The button is much like the Twitter tweet button or the Facebook Like button in that companies can embed it on their website. The button essentially lets you submit your LinkedIn profile as your resume — no cover letter necessary. Once you submit your job application, you are given the opportunity to message your contacts at the company and ask for a referral. You can see how the button works in the slideshow below.

LinkedIn also makes it easy for you to manage your job applications with a “Saved Jobs” tab, so you can always double check who has your application.

For businesses looking to hire, it’s a simpler way to screen candidates. LinkedIn profiles are uniform and easily searchable, and the button only requires a few lines of code to implement. It integrates with several application tracking systems as well, so many companies can just incorporate the LinkedIn job application feed into their existing infrastructure. Netflix, Tripit and Photobucket will be some of the first companies to feature the button on their websites.

The Apply With LinkedIn button is based on the idea that the resume is an outdated relic. Why submit a resume when all of that information (and more) is available on a LinkedIn profile? Still, the button is almost too easy. One can see a desperate job seeker clicking on the button and submitting his or her job application to hundreds of potential employers, regardless of his or her qualifications.

What do you think of the Apply With LinkedIn button? Will you use it for your business or in your job search? Let us know in the comments.

Discover a Job

Preview Profile


Send a Note

Lead image courtesy of Flickr, Nam Palmero

More About: Apply with LinkedIn, job, job search, jobs, linkedin, trending

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How Governments Are Using Social Media for Better & for Worse

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 08:12 AM PDT

The Facebook Marketing Series is supported by Buddy Media, Power Tools for Facebook. Are you posting blindly? Use our insights to help you deliver the right content at the right time and get the results you need. Download our data report now.

social media imageSocial media has become a crucial part of how we interact with our friends, community and even run our cities. Governments are starting to take serious notice and incorporate social media into their own day-to-day actions.

Governments may not be early adopters but the proliferation of social in national media has ramped up its importance for governments around the world. While this initial stance kept politicians on the defensive, enough time has passed that individual politicians and even entire governments are starting to use social media to connect with their communities in new, open ways.

We’ve chosen a few examples to illustrate some of the many ways government is embracing social media. Have a read through some of these initiatives and let us know in the comments how your own government or political representative is putting social media to good use. The list is neither exhaustive nor does it try to summarize the entirety of a government’s social outreach. It is instead meant to start a conversation.

America Gets Social

us flag image

Social media has a strange role in America as both kingmaker and career wrecker. For every social media success story like President Barack Obama’s 2008 grassroots campaign there is another of a career-crippling gaffe, like Weinergate, when New York Rep. Anthony Weiner accidentally tweeted a picture of his crotch.

Social media, and particularly Twitter, have become a type of soapbox in America, on which many politicians are able to speak directly to their constituents. “I know the overall importance of reaching out through the social media, because I have 31 grandchildren and they are on all of these things,” said U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif. “This is mostly a young person’s game and I’m an old person, but I’m young at heart … the only advice I’d give is ‘get involved’ and then use it in the right way.”

In fact, Republicans have been encouraging their members to get on social media with a friendly NCAA-style knock-out contest called the New Media Challenge, run by the House Republican Conference. Republicans are also using social media to reach out through initiatives like Youcut, a crowdsourced platform where the public can debate and vote on how to lower the national debt. “If you ignore [social media] and you just keep doing things the way you did when I first came to congress, you do so at your own peril,” McKeon said.

Of course the White House itself has taken to social media to help push some of its initiatives. Obama recently held a Twitter town hall where he received and answered questions through Twitter and pledged to start tweeting from his own official account. Social networks like Twitter and Facebook have also been used in presidential debates and forums. The White House has even set up several verified Twitter accounts for state entities such as the secret service (@SecretService), the Open Government Initiative (@OpenGov), a Spanish White House account (@lacasablanca) and an official account for White House Press Secretary Jay Carney (@presssec). Social media has become a place where politicians large and small can register their support in a public way, for example, when Hilary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., called for the release of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei from police custody.

Social media has also been used in national campaigns such as ChooseMyPlate.gov, for healthier eating, Serve.gov, for organizing and coordinating national volunteer efforts and for the White House blog.

Canada Crowdsources

canada flag image

America’s friendly neighbor to the North is also taking advantage of social media. Most Canadian politicians have a social presence, which they or their teams manage. Some governmental departments are even taking steps to integrate social media into actually government operations.

Glen Murray is the Minister of Research and Innovation for the province of Ontario. Following a social innovation summit, Murray wanted to find a way to bring the public into the discussion. Murray and two other ministries created a crowdsourced wiki to help create an official policy paper on what the government’s approach to social innovation should be. Like Wikipedia, any user can add articles or edit submissions in a collaborative effort to create official policy.

“We are adjusting and trying to get ahead of the curve of a generation of social media users who more and more see social media as a way of affecting social change,” said a spokesperson for Murray’s office. “People are engaging with social policy in a way that they haven’t before and government will either adjust or be adjusted.”

Social media played a huge role in the 2011 federal election, though it exposed that social media alone can still not win an election. Michael Ignatieff, the liberal party leader, was widely thought to own the social space but ultimately lost by a significant margin. “It was incredibly exhilarating and stressful and energizing and overwhelming,” said a member of Ignatieff’s social media team. “Every instant of every day we were completely absorbed, in addition to all the other aspects of campaigning that haven’t changed, we were involved with what people were saying in the Twitterverse.”

Twitter became another branch of the media arm which required monitoring and attention. Questions that appeared on social sites needed to be treated the same as traditional media calls, the aide said.

“Political figures can’t work without engaging their constituents using social media,” the aide said. “It’s an expectation as much as it’s an opportunity. It’s changing the onus from working for people to working with people.”

Russia Tries a Little Openness

russian doll image

Of course, North America isn’t the only place where social media is making its way into the government. After Facebook’s January 2010 launch in Russia, the number of users in the country grew by 376%, most of which are under 27 years of age. There is a young generation of socially active Russians asking their government to follow suit. A ComScore global study last summer showed Russia had the most engaged social networking audience in the world.

A year ago, Dmitri Medvedev, Russia’s then and current president, paid a visit to Twitter’s offices, created an account and sent out his first official tweet. He is now a prolific user with more than half a million followers across four verified accounts.

His tweets are as much a way of sharing updates on the government as they are about humanizing the president, and the trend is being seen government wide, according to Russia Beyond the Headlines:

“Opinion polls and electronic communications, which until recently were recipient-specific, are gradually becoming discussion forums where anyone can speak out. It has never been easier for people in Russia to observe government at work and to actively participate in discussions with officials through social networks and blogs.”

Since last fall, Russians have been able to participate in meetings of the Presidential Commission for Modernization and Technological Development of Russia’s Economy through online tools. When discussions came up around a new law on police, the government created a forum, called i-Russia.ru, where people can post comments and connect their social networks. The commission is also the first government body in Russia to get its own mobile app.

Censorship and Control

censorship image

Social media isn’t always sunshine and roses. Questions of censorship come up even in governments where a free press and public media are encouraged. In France, for example, the government banned the use of the words “Twitter” and “Facebook” on broadcast news saying that it constituted unsolicited advertising.

In the U.K., a government known for its support of personal privacy, social media has presented a challenge in protecting and controlling individual privacy rights. A recent ad campaign warned British soldiers about how they use social media lest that information also end up in enemy hands.

“Control works both ways,” said Adam Clark Estes, a writer at The Atlantic and former social media editor at the Huffington Post. “The government can control what people are doing [on] Twitter, but they can’t get rid of the services because even in China, where there are restrictions on [social media], they’re finding a way to get around the firewall.” Estes said governments are using social media as a kind of customary service tool to handle negative sentiment while at the same time humanizing the face of government. The goal is to give the illusion that social media is making the government more open, Estes said, while the government still retains control over their message.

“The kind of idea behind it, that you want to reach people and convince them of your opinion is really no different than the way governments have always used [the media],” said Weldon Kennedy, Change.org’s director of organizing. For Kennedy, governments are using social media the same way they use more traditional outlets like the print press and broadcast. More open communities have more open social policies, whereas more restrictive or totalitarian communities place tighter reigns on social media. “You don’t see dictators get on Facebook,” Kennedy said. “[Former Egyptian president Hosni] Mubarak wasn’t on Facebook, but the military council that’s been in charge ever since was.”

Kennedy was quick to point out that social media is still a bit of a luxury in parts of the Middle East and Africa. Social media there is often less a way to lobby the government as it is to network and organize protests.


Governments and social media have reached a tentative partnership. While the Internet is no longer a “Wild West,” people in power are still trying to figure out how best to approach online communities and their social tools. There may not be any clear answers, but social is certainly not going to go away.

There are nearly infinite ways that governments are using social media. Help us add to the conversation by sharing your own insights in the comments below. How have you seen governments, large and small, use social media? What could be done better?

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More Facebook Marketing Resources from Mashable:

- 4 Ways to Set Up a Storefront on Facebook
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Images courtesy of Flickr, inju, Whiskeygonebad, alexindigo, dflorian1980, SPazzø

More About: Facebook Marketing Series, government, government 2.0, social media

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Microsoft Apologizes for Amy Winehouse Tweet

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 07:33 AM PDT

Microsoft received much Twitter flak after a small PR account for Xbox encouraged followers to remember recently deceased musician Amy Winehouse by purchasing her last album on the company’s entertainment marketplace, Zune.

After about an hour of retweets with comments like “classy,” “crass much?” and “Microsoft – failing at social media,” the account tweeted a follow up.

“Apologies to everyone if our earlier Amy Winehouse 'download' tweet seemed purely commercially motivated,” it said. “Far from the case, we assure you.”

Microsoft isn't the only company to be criticized for a seeming attempt to capitalize on the star's death

Apple posted an image of Winehouse on the front of the iTunes store with the caption “remembering Amy Winehouse.” Her breakout album, the Grammy winning Back to Black, has subsequently become the number-one album in the store. Amazon also posted a brief obituary that linked to a page where shoppers can purchase the singer’s music.

Sales of Back to Black increased 37 times immediately after Winehouse’s death.

Image courtesy of fyunkie, via Flickr

More About: amazon, amy winehouse, itunes, microsoft, twitter

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Does Your Digital Marketing Agency Have a Creative Office Space? Send Us Your Photos

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 07:26 AM PDT

When you spend eight hours a day in your office, a stimulating work environment is key to creative success.

That’s why many digital marketing agencies — where creativity is everything — have made a solid investment in office space. Whether it’s ergonomic desk setups, interactive wall art or office pets, digital agency spaces have become much more inviting places to spend your Monday to Friday.

Now we’re asking you: What does your inspiring office space look like? How does it help you to brainstorm creative digital marketing campaigns? Grab your photo from Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, or the photo-sharing service of your choice, and drag and drop it in the upload widget below. You can also tweet @mashbusiness with hashtag #workspace or email it here. Be sure to tell us where you work and why it’s the perfect creative work environment in the caption or comment thread.

Submit your photo by Wednesday, July 27 at noon ET. We’ll choose the most inspired submissions to be featured in a follow-up post next week.

In the meantime, here’s a gallery of Edelman Digital’s New York City office, featuring EVP of Global Strategy and Insights Steve Rubel.

Rooftop Deck

Steve Rubel, enjoying the view from Edelman's rooftop deck, in New York's SoHo district.

Steve Wozniak Trading Card

Evan Carmichael, a Canadian entrepreneur, developed a series of entrepreneur trading cards. During the development stage, he reached out to bloggers and influencers, asking who they thought should be on the list. Steve replied, "Benjamin Franklin." This card of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak sits on Rubel's desk.

The June 1983 Issue of Popular Science magazine.

The magazine's cover announces "The new generation of incredible do-it-all hand-held computers." Comparing then to now, Rubel said, "It reminds me of how technology changes very quickly." He also joked, "Some of them are not too different [from] iPads today."

Donald Duck Figurine

After graduating college, Rubel's goal was to work in public relations for the Walt Disney company. He moved to Orlando, lived in a trailer park and sold hats outside Disney World for $5 an hour.

Wayang Puppet

Rubel travels frequently, speaking at conferences around the world. He picked up this shadow puppet after speaking at a conference in Indonesia.

Umbrella With Flashlight

Rubel packs this dual-feature umbrella in his travel case. It works like a normal umbrella, except a flashlight is built into the base of the handle.

Goals and To-Do List

Every day, Rubel writes out a to-do list and carries it, along with his weekly goals, in what he calls his "quarterback's wrist coach."

Hewlett-Packard Wall of Touch

Among the different gadgets in Edelman's reception area is a giant monitor, known as the Wall of Touch. Users can access cable feeds, satellite feeds, or the Internet, by touching any of the nine 43" televisions.

Russian Officer's Wheel Cap

This Cold War relic sits on a windowsill in Edelman's lobby. Feel free to try it on and snap a photo with your cellphone.

Microsoft Surface

A Microsoft Surface sits in Edelman's reception area. Users can do everything from play checkers, to read news, to listen to music on the tablet.

More About: MARKETING, office, office space, photo, Photos, pr, work environment

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HOW TO: Successfully Run a Social Media Contest

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 07:08 AM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Online contests can be a great way to build a fan base, gather data and engage an audience. Whether you have run a contest previously or not, there are four things to keep in mind as you prepare for, and execute, your campaign.

1. Get The Lay of the Land

Start with a clear understanding of your target audience and marketing objectives. Too often I've seen a clever promotional concept that is not well aligned with desired outcomes or simply doesn't resonate with the consumer. Acknowledge the assets and limitations you have to work with. It is important to understand your audience and what you expect from them. It is also important to think about the appropriate channel for engagement, whether it be on your brand site or blog, a Facebook Page, Twitter, etc.

One of the biggest fears people have when it comes to setting up a contest is rules and regulations. Legal and policy concerns may seem like a daunting deterrent, but they needn't be. So long as you adhere to some key criteria in the administration of your contest, there should be little to worry about. If you don't have legal resources in-house, choose a promotional services company that can help advise you.

If you are planning to use Facebook for your promotion, be sure you are familiar with their Promotions Guidelines. Using a third-party application is important when conducting a contest on Facebook, but be sure that your application developer is familiar with all of Facebook's platform policies. The guidelines for running a contest on Twitter are a bit less restrictive, but there are also limitations to what can be done with a promotion in 140 characters.

2. Plough the Soil and Sow the Seeds

You may have repaired your tractor, put a fresh coat of paint on the barn, or invested in a state-of-the-art new irrigation system, but if the soil wasn't prepared or seeds were never planted, you can't expect much to grow. Likewise, when it comes to online promotions there is often so much focus on the legal, the creative or the technology that the basic logistics and marketing don't get the attention they deserve. Clients are left scratching their head or scrambling to put a plan in place when the contest launches and nobody enters.

Ensure that the entry process is easy to navigate and the entry requirements are clearly explained. A contest that requires someone to submit a photo or video through one platform, share through another and vote on a third, is bound to generate confusion and frustration. Having a good entry flow without unnecessary barriers will provide the groundwork to facilitate a positive user interaction with your brand.

If you are asking people to create an original piece of content for your contest, remember that this can take some time. You can avoid the appearance of a failed launch by promoting the contest in advance and sharing the entry requirements with those most likely to submit an entry. Having "seeder" entries in place can serve as an inspiration to other participants and help build early momentum around your campaign.

3. Tend to Your Crops

"If you build it, they will come" may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but it is not a good mantra for running an online contest. Running a successful online contest requires a well thought-out marketing plan that spans the life cycle of the promotion.

It is important to continuously communicate through the various channels available to you. Communication should target both prospective and active participants, encompassing both entrants and voters (if you have voting in place). Like any other social media program, a contest is an opportunity to engage in an active dialogue with your fans and followers. Sharing contest updates, responding to questions and providing encouragement for users to share their entries or rally the vote are all tactics that will benefit your contest. Be prepared to deal with feedback, both positive and negative, that may be generated.

4. Harvest and Replant

Once your contest has concluded, you have the opportunity to learn and improve for your next campaign. The companies that see the most success are those that have a commitment to contests as part of their marketing, but also have an open mind to how they utilize them. Many farmers follow the practice of crop rotation, planting a series of dissimilar crops in sequential seasons. This practice helps to diversify risk but has also been shown to improve crop yield. Similarly, conducting a variety of promotional programs and repeating on a regular basis can yield social media success.

Whether you are simply a hobby farmer or plan to make contests your cash crop, the tips above should help your marketing. Let us know if you have any other tips in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, KLH49

More About: contest, facebook, MARKETING, online contests, Small Business Resources, social media, twitter

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Flipboard Begins Displaying Ads

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 06:44 AM PDT

Flipboard has begun displaying ads in its popular social newsreading app for the iPad as part of a freshly inked deal with magazine publisher Conde Nast.

As of Monday, full-page American Express ads, like the one pictured to the right, now appear between content pulled in from The New Yorker‘s website.

Lexus will launch a similar campaign in the Flipboard editions of The New Yorker, Wired and Bon Appetit in October, with additional titles expected to join the program later this year.

The partnership marks a turning point for the San Francisco-based startup, which until now had no revenue model, although it has already brought on a number of well-known titles as official partners for its app.

In the new partnership, Flipboard worked with Conde Nast on the design and placement of the ads, but it was Conde Nast’s ad sales team that handled the deal, a statement from Flipboard suggests. Flipboard and Conde Nast will share undisclosed portions of revenue generated from the ads.

More About: bon appetit, conde nast, Flipboard, ipad app, the new yorker, Wired

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Angry Birds Maker Sued for Patent Violation

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 06:35 AM PDT

Angry Birds Available for Windows Phone

Rovio, maker of hit multi-platform game Angry Birds, is being sued by U.S. firm Lodsys for patent violations, the Telegraph reports.

Lodsys claims that the Finnish company violated its patents, which cover the methods for purchasing new levels inside the Angry Birds game.

The European patent system requires that software inventions exhibit some physical effect from patentability, while the U.S. patent system is more lax, allowing for purely idea-based software patents.

According to the Telegraph, several European game developers have given up on launching their games in the U.S., and some are considering withdrawing games from the U.S. market due to patent claims by Lodsys.

Angry Birds is downloaded more than 1 million times per day. Originally a mobile game, it quickly spread onto many platforms, including browsers and consoles, and its success has prompted Rovio to even consider an IPO.

More About: angry birds, game, games, gaming, lawsuit, Lodsys, patent, patent lawsuit, rovio

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Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” Nabs Number One Spot on iTunes

Posted: 25 Jul 2011 06:30 AM PDT

Following the tragic death of singer Amy Winehouse Saturday, interest in her stellar album, Back To Black, has burgeoned once more, catapulting the disc to number-one bestselling album on iTunes.

In fact, the top 10 bestselling albums on iTunes contain three works by Winehouse: Back To Black at number one, her debut disc, Frank, at number three, and Back to Black: B-Sides at number seven.

iTunes is running a “Remembering Amy Winehouse” campaign on the front page of the store, so such top billing has no doubt contributed to sales. Back To Black garnered Winehouse six Grammy nominations and five wins and was critically acclaimed.

If you were one of the many revisiting Back To Black this weekend, what is your favorite song on the album?

More About: amy winehouse, itunes, music

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