Friday, 16 September 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Headlines in Social Media & Tech”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Headlines in Social Media & Tech”

Today’s Top Headlines in Social Media & Tech

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 04:41 AM PDT

Social Media News

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

Google Launches First Google+ APIs

Google has unveiled the first developer APIs for Google+, the company's new social network.

Google Building Flipboard Competitor

Google is creating a social news-sharing app for iPad and Android devices that will compete directly with Flipboard, according to multiple reports.

Survey: 7.5 Million Facebook Users Are Under 13

7.5 million of Facebook users are younger than 13 and thus violating the service’s terms of service, according to estimates from Consumer Reports.

Facebook’s Navigation Bar Becomes Omnipresent

Facebook’s top navigation bar is now locked at the browser window, making key Facebook features more readily available as users scroll down the page.

Further News

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: Facebook, first to know series, Google

Google Doodle Stocks Up on Vitamin C for Albert Szent-Gyorgyi’s Birthday

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 02:22 AM PDT

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 118th birthday of Hungarian scientist and Nobel prize winner Albert Szent-Györgyi, who is credited with discovering vitamin C.

The colorful Doodle abounds in oranges and strawberries, which both abound in Vitamin C. Szent-Györgyi, however, was known to use paprika in his experiments, which led to the discovery of Vitamin C.

Szent-Györgyi received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1937 “for his discoveries in connection with the biological combustion process with special reference to vitamin C and the catalysis of fumaric acid”.

How do you like today’s Google Doodle? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Google, google doodle, Vitamin C

Facebook’s Navigation Bar Becomes Omnipresent

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 12:48 AM PDT

Many Facebook users (us included) noticed that the top navigation bar is now locked on top of the screen even if you scroll the page down. This behavior is new: before, the top navigation bar would scroll up with the page, and now it’s visible all the time.

This subtle change lets users always access some of the most important features on Facebook: friend requests, messages, notifications and search on the left side, as well as home & profile anchor buttons and account settings on the right.

For comparison, Twitter uses a similar floating design for its navigation bar, which is also always visible on top.

The folks over at Inside Facebook think this may be the first stage in a much bigger redesign, which is to be unveiled at Facebook’s F8 conference. If they’re right, Facebook is looking to lock the ads on the right side of the screen to be always visible too, which would surely increase the click-through rates but it would also make the page a bit more crowded.

Has the new, locked top navigation bar gone live for you? How do you like it? Please, share your opinions in the comments.

More About: design, Facebook, navigation, social network, social networking

Mercedes F125, the Fuel-Cell Hybrid From the Year 2025 [PICS]

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 09:04 PM PDT

You might think this Mercedes F125 is an outlandish car, and you’d be right. The combination hydrogen fuel-cell and plug-in hybrid electric car is Mercedes-Benz’s vision of what cars might be like in the year 2025, when fuel is scarce, fuel-cell power is practical, and batteries last a whole lot longer than they do now.

So what’s in store for the future? If this design concept is any indication, cars will be made of ultralight materials such as carbon fiber and as-yet-unheard-of plastics, and each wheel will have its own electric motor on board. Not only will you be able to fill ‘er up with hydrogen and run 620 miles on its fuel cells, but it will let you plug it into a power outlet for a quick recharge when you park it in your garage.

This futuristic tech is showcased in what Mercedes calls a “rolling laboratory,” where ideas and innovations are tested and demonstrated at car shows, such as the Frankfurt Motor Show that started Thursday.

We’re just wondering why they didn’t mount a Mr. Fusion in the back, for the ultimate power plant. However, the car’s tame but practical top speed of 137mph and 0-to-62 acceleration time of 4.9 seconds will certainly be able to go faster than 88mph, easily accommodating all your time-travel needs.

Mercedes F125

Mercedes F125

Mercedes F125

Mercedes F125

Mercedes F125

Mercedes F125

Mercedes F125

Mercedes F125

Mercedes F125

Mercedes F125

[via Autoblog]

More About: cars, future tech, hybrid, mercedes

A One-Stop Registry for Shopping On & Off the Web

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:59 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: Have to Have

Quick Pitch: Keep track of everything you’re shopping for online and off in a single registry.

Genius Idea: If you’re anything like me — that is, someone who enjoys shopping online — there’s a decent chance that you have items sitting in shopping carts at the websites of half-a-dozen retailers at any given time. It can be difficult to remember what and where you shopped, and many things you were about to buy are forgotten by the time the items in your cart have expired.

Enter Have to Have. The startup, which relaunched publicly Thursday, offers a bookmarklet tool that lets you keep track of everything you’re shopping for on the web. When you’ve arrived at a product page with an item you’d like to buy, or at least keep track of, simply click the bookmarklet to store it in your Have to Have account.

From there, you can organize your stored items into “playlists” — like, say, “fall clothing,” or “wall mirrors.” You can also share your lists with others and get feedback in a comments section. In addition, you can browse the lists of other users and opt to keep track of what they’re shopping.

Perhaps best of all, you’ll receive an email each time one of the items you’ve saved goes on sale.

Much of this functionality is already offered by startups such as ThisNext, Svpply, Pinterest and Lyst. Where Have to Have stands to gain an edge is through its plans for mobile. Its apps for iPhone and Android devices, scheduled to launch in November, will enable users to bookmark items they’re shopping for in stores by snapping a photo and using GPS to determine its location. Later, Have to Have’s team hopes to integrate image recognition technology to help match photos with specific products.

Have to Have was founded by Kimberly Skelton and Carla Holtze, both graduates of Columbia Business School. Previously, Skelton worked in advertising and with the ecommerce team at Tory Burch. Holtze was an associate at Lehman Brothers and also holds a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia.

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: ecommerce, fashion, have to have, retail, shopping

Google Propeller Social News Sharing App to Compete Against Flipboard [REPORT]

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 07:02 PM PDT

Google is creating a social news sharing app for iPad and Android that will compete directly with Flipboard, named 2010 iPad App of the Year by Apple.

The first word of Google’s rumored app that turns social media and news content into magazine-like articles was from Robert Scoble, commenting late Wednesday night on Google+ about what he’s heard from “someone working with Google” about the news-sharing reader:

“Google is working on a Flipboard competitor for both Android and iPad. My source says that the versions he’s seen so far are mind-blowing good.”

All Things D‘s Kara Swisher adds fuel to that fire, saying that her sources have told her the new iPad and Android app is called Propeller, which she calls a “souped-up version of similar reading apps such as Flipboard, AOL’s Editions, Yahoo’s Livestand, Zite and Pulse.”

Given Google’s search prowess and ability to categorize and search various content as well as posts within Google+, Propeller could be the news-reading app of the year.

Let us know in the comments what you think Google Propeller will be like.

More About: Flipboard, Google, Google Propeller, propeller

Zuckerberg Converts His 5+ Million Facebook Fans into Subscribers

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 05:49 PM PDT

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has accumulated more than 5 million subscribers, thanks to a simple trick.

On Wednesday, Facebook rolled out a Subscribe button. It allows a user to follow anybody’s public updates, regardless of whether they’re Facebook friends. This one-way subscription model is like following somebody on Twitter or adding somebody to a Google+ Circle.

While some users are worried about the privacy implications of the the opt-in feature, many are using it to subscribe to other users, particularly Mark Zuckerberg. In fact, the Facebook CEO is amassing subscribers at a breakneck pace.

Since Wednesday morning, Zuckerberg has acquired more than 5 million subscribers, and that number is rising by the minute. The count is rising so quickly that the site can’t even properly display his total subscriber count (check out the screenshot to see what we mean).

There’s a caveat to this, though. Five million people didn’t suddenly decide to start subscribing to the Facebook CEO’s feed. Instead, Zuckerberg converted fans of his old Facebook Page ( into subscribers of his personal page ( A cached version of Zuckerberg’s fan page shows that he had 5,203,153 fans just before he made the switch. That’s around the same amount of people now subscribed to his account.

We believe that number will continue to rise as Facebook migrates the rest of Zuckerberg’s fans to his personal account and new people start subscribing to him. The social network has been converting many fan pages into subscribers in the past day and plans to launch a do-it-yourself conversion tool in the next few weeks.

Now we have to ask: Is Zuckerberg the most-followed person on Facebook? Let us know in the comments if you find anybody else who comes close to Zuck’s numbers.

More About: Facebook, facebook fan page, mark zuckerberg, Top Stories

iPhone 5 Has Aluminum Back in Leaked Case Pics

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 04:26 PM PDT

Once again, we feed that insatiable demand for iPhone 5 information, this time with unintended leaks from Case-Mate of some telltale iPhone cases.

In case these look just like ordinary cases to you, notice that the iPhone within (iPhone 5?) has an aluminum back rather than the glass back of the iPhone 4. You can also tell that the iPhone is thinner, wider, and it’s tapered with a teardrop shape.

That’s in keeping with what we’ve seen before, so let’s add this to the huge pile of evidence that the iPhone 5 will indeed be different from its predecessor. Meanwhile, whoever the poor soul at Case-Mate is who posted these pics is probably currently being called onto the Apple carpet.

SEE ALSO: iPhone 5 Could Be Thinner, Wider

Whether or not we’re looking at the iPhone 5 inside these colorful cases is mostly speculation, but Case-Mate inadvertently provided one piece of evidence: the rapidity with which this product shot was removed from its site. In its place on the Case-Mate site is this less informative page, reassuring prospective customers that the new cases will arrive the same time the iPhone 5 does.

Given the plethora of leaks we’ve seen during this run-up to the iPhone 5′s release, we’re thinking that from now on, cases for any new iPhone will be further delayed, to such an extent that no case maker — in China or elsewhere — will have access to the iPhone design before it’s officially released to the public.

[via BGR]

More About: iPhone 5, leaks, rumors

“Lion King” Prepares to Roar in 3D

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 03:50 PM PDT

On Friday, Sept. 16, 2011, Disney is bringing its animated classic, The Lion King back to theaters — this time, with the addition of 3D.

First released in 1994, The Lion King remains the most successful hand-drawn animated feature film of all time and has spawned two direct-to-video sequels, a Tony-winning Broadway show, and millions of dollars’ worth of merchandise.

In addition to the theatrical re-release, Disney is also releasing The Lion King 3D on Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on Oct. 4, 2011. In essence, the limited theatrical run is an extended ad for the beefed-up 3D-ified home video update.

This isn’t the first time Disney has updated its classic films using 3D technology. In Oct. 2009, Disney released Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3D — also in a limited theatrical run — before bringing both films to Blu-ray.

After the success of Avatar, movie studios started to double and triple down their investments into 3D filmmaking. Disney was no exception, announcing that virtually its entire future animated release slate would be made for 3D.

Of course, unlike Toy Story and Toy Story 2, The Lion King is not a computer-generated film. Thus, the 3D conversion is going to be less seamless. Still, this isn’t the first time Disney has reformatted The Lion King. In 2003, the studio released the film for IMAX screens in the lead-up to the DVD release.

What do you think of Disney’s decision to release The Lion King in 3D?

More About: 3D, 3d movies, disney, the lion king

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The Charlie Sheen Roast: Comedy Central’s Ambitious Social Media Experiment

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 02:53 PM PDT

sheen image

Charlie Sheen, the Grand Warlock of insanity, is getting the full Comedy Central Roast experience. Sheen will surrender himself to the vulgar praise and deep insults only a dais of angry comedians can dish out. While the roast actually took place last weekend, it won’t air until September 19.

Comedy Central was not content to let the crazy speak for itself, and has therefore relaunched and re-developed a set of social tools to get the audience more engaged than ever before. Anyone who watched Sheen’s promo vids or spotted online ads was immediately supplied with two main hashtags: #SheenRoast and #CrazyTrain. Comedy Central is incorporating those into a digital dashboard where fans can play along, comment, interact with other participants and share with their social networks.

We stopped by Comedy Central for an advance preview of the new dashboard, and to talk about how digital is the new frontier for the network.

The Charlie Sheen Dashboard

dashboard top image

Comedy Central got the idea for a social media dashboard after seeing the huge social response to its Donald Trump Roast. Not only did people tweet furiously during the show’s airing, but fans began interacting with the roasters who also were online. Comedy Central’s analytics team also noticed that the highest volume of tweets and mentions correlated to ratings bumps and show highlights.

Once The Sheen was confirmed as the next roast target, the team got to work boosting the show’s social presence. There are four main parts of the dashboard, which will live on Comedy Central’s website. At the top-left is the “Charlie Cam” which will stay locked on Sheen throughout the broadcast even as other people are presenting or cracking wise. The top-right has a section where users can tweet or post about the show, and the red graph shows the cumulative amount of tweets by volume. The middle section is called “Share the Burn.” Throughout the broadcast, short video clips will appear in the timeline which users can also post to their social networks. These clips are curated by the Comedy Central team who promises about two to four clips per roaster. The team actually looked at Twitter traffic when the show was taped to help spot top jokes and buzz-worthy moments.

dashboard bottom image

The final section is a Twitter visualization tool. The heads of everyone on stage are surrounded by color-coded rings, with the size of the head indicating their current popularity and the rings corresponding to hot topics. The darker the color, the more it’s trending. The size of the ring shows how much that topic is talked about by that particular person. For example, “Tiger Blood” might be a light color but occupy a large ring whereas more specific references like Chuck Lorre might be addressed intensely over a shorter period of time.

Users can dig into the visualization tool and search by theme, category or person. For example, clicking on Steve-O will reveal his full Twitter feed, as well as a category drop-down of jokes he’s cracked.

Comedy Central Is Going Social

ross and tyson image

Comedy Central is not the first network to recognize the benefits of social TV. However, it is certainly one of the most gung-ho about pressing social for all it’s worth. On the night of the broadcast, every moment of the show will correspond with a slew of onscreen social cues. Roasters’ Twitter handles will appear at the bottom of the screen along with the show’s #SheenRoast hashtag, and other ways to get social. In fact, half of the show’s red carpet will only be available online with the second half kicking off the official broadcast.

That spirit runs through all of Comedy Central’s shows, says Steve Grimes, Comedy Central’s SVP of Digital Media. The network has tried including thematic hashtags in popular shows like South Park, and has put its support behind digitally-minded shows like Tosh.0 and The Colbert Report. In all cases, Grimes says the entire network is taking a look at their properties and asking, “What is the best social representation for this show?”

A Preview of the Roast

Of course, none of those social elements can succeed without great content. The confirmation of Sheen, a prolific tweeter and social media … enthusiast … was the perfect catalyst for Comedy Central to ramp up its social offerings. The nice thing about adding social to a roast is that, presumably, everyone involved is funny. The team is hoping that momentum can carry the dashboard, even if some participants stop tweeting: “Once you’ve got the ball rolling, if one of the dais members isn’t [digitally] there, it wouldn’t feel like a void,” says Grimes.

While we couldn’t make it to LA for the roast, we did manage to catch some of the brutal jokes second-hand. Watch out for some serious zingers and view some of the best clips below. Let us know in the comments what you think of Comedy Central’s take on social TV — and if you think the Sheen Roast will be as crazy as its hype.

Driving the Roast Express

Just a general heads up on this entire gallery: Sort of Not Safe for Work, it is a roast of Charlie Sheen after all.

Sheen's Entrance

Seth MacFarlane Read's Sheen's Obituary

Follow Charlie on Twitter -!/charliesheen

Jeffrey Ross Roasts Sheen

"Sheenpocalypse Now"

Images courtesy of Comedy Central

More About: charlie sheen, Comedy Central, features, humor, Social Media, social tv, television

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NASA Discovers “Tatooine” — First Planet With Two Suns [VIDEO]

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 02:09 PM PDT

Not content with unveiling 16 Super-Earths earlier this week, astronomers at NASA’s Kepler Mission revealed Thursday that they have also discovered a first of its kind — a planet that orbits two suns.

The planet is officially known as Kepler 16(AB)-b, but even astronomers are informally calling it Tatooine, after Luke Skywalker’s desert homeworld in Star Wars. You may remember the scene where Luke gazes wistfully at two setting suns — and if you’re a real space geek, you may remember that when the movie was released, astronomers publicly doubted whether such a planetary system could exist. So if today’s news is a vindication for anyone, it’s George Lucas.

Indeed, by way of apology, NASA reached out to Industrial Light and Magic visual effects supervisor John Knoll to discuss the finding at today’s official press conference. Knoll repaid the compliment: “Science is stranger and cooler than fiction,” he said. “It’s possible there’s a real Tatooine out there.”

If so, it isn’t this planet. Despite being in a binary star system, Kepler 16(AB)-b is a gas giant rather than a desert world. Somewhat similar to Saturn in size, its surface temperatures vary between minus 150 Farenheit to minus 100 on a warm day. So if there is a “wretched hive of scum and villainy” hanging out there, it has found some way of keeping toasty.

If you feel like checking it out for yourself, you’d better get moving sooner rather than later. “Tatooine” is 200 light years away, in the constellation Cygnus.

Or you could just watch the official Kepler Mission video below:

More About: NASA, Star Wars

Facebook Subscribe Button: What It Means for Each Type of User

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 01:42 PM PDT

When Facebook launched its Subscribe button on Wednesday, many were quick to note its implications for journalists, celebrities and other thought leaders. The new feature allows for users to follow public updates, and these are the people most often broadcasting their ideas.

Yet there’s more the average user can get on board with than meets the eye. The release came with a slew of additional features — including a more customizable News Feed and increased privacy — that users have been wanting for years. The trouble is, there are so many moving parts in this product launch. Users are now presented with a number of options, and they’ll need to dig deep to understand which pieces to take and which to leave.

We hope to make that process a little easier for you. Here are some key points you should know based on what type of user you are:

Super Users & Celebrities

If you’re kind of a big deal, you likely already have a Facebook fan page to update your followers on what you’re up to. The launch of the Subscribe button leaves you with two options:

  • 1. Keep the fan page and continue to maintain two separate Facebook presences: profile and page. This strategy’s main pro is that pages are optimized for marketing. Profiles can’t be updated by multiple admins and fans are more acclimated to updates with an on-brand feel. Perhaps more importantly, profiles don’t have Facebook’s analytics tool Insights — and “they probably never will,” says Vadim Lavrusik, journalist program manager at Facebook and former Mashable community manger.
  • 2. Do away with the fan page and merge your page likers into profile subscribers. By deleting your fan page, you will lose all page content. However, your likers will automatically be subscribed to your public updates. The biggest advantages? Profiles are easier to update via mobile than pages and people are prioritized over pages in search.

With either of these methods, you’ll have direct messaging capability (from your profile to your page likers or from your profile to your subscribers) and neither has a limit on the number of people who can follow your content (subscribers or likers — though profiles do have a limit of 5,000 friends).

Journalists & Artists

The Subscribe button is arguably most beneficial for journalists and artists. Though, in a sense, they’re public figures, these types of Facebook users likely aren’t well-known enough to justify a fan page.

If this sounds like you, the first thing you need to do is actively opt-in to allow subscriptions to your profile. You can then choose to allow subscribers to comment on your updates and control your notifications.

Another change to note is that when you unfriend someone, they stay subscribed to your public updates. This is important if you’ve been accepting friend requests from people you don’t know who want to follow your work. It can be uncomfortable to friend someone without knowing them personally. The Subscribe button allows you to unfriend these people and still reach them via public updates.

Finally, when composing updates you want your subscribers to see, be sure to set the privacy to Public. They won’t see it otherwise.

Parents & Teachers

The relationships parents and teachers should have with their kids and students on Facebook has always been a touchy subject. The Subscribe feature can help to make crossing the Facebook connection threshold less awkward.

Users can subscribe to others without enabling others to subscribe to them. This means teachers can allow their students to follow their public updates about school and classes without actually friending them (and accessing more personal information). That way, students can continue to update friends about their lives without worrying what might pop up in their teachers’ News Feeds.

For parents, this feature may work the other way around. Instead of asking your son or daughter what that Jaime So-and-So they used to hang out with is up to, you could subscribe to Jaime, whereas friending her might be uncomfortable. The feature could also be helpful if your kids aren’t OK with you watching their every virtual move. Brace yourself for a sensitive conversation at the dinner table.

Students & Average Users

For the occasional Facebookers who mostly use the service to keep up with friends and post photos, here’s the bottom line: You never have to see your Aunt Suzie’s FarmVille updates ever again. But, you can still see her photos, videos and status updates if you’d like.

Before the Subscribe button launch, it was either all or nothing when it came to blocking a person’s updates from your News Feed. Now you can control what types of updates you see from a person and how often. That means you can skip the virtual sheep without missing out on engagement notifications and puppy albums.

As of now, the feature is only available for tailoring updates from non-friends that you’re subscribed to. The Subscribe button, and this feature, will be rolled out to friend pages in the next few days, Lavrusik says.


As the virtual world grows, relationships and the ways we’re connecting with others are changing. The Subscribe button addresses issues about the depth of connection the term “friend” implies on Facebook.

Some critics say the feature goes against Facebook’s nature — that it was built on “friending,” not “following.” It’s important to note that the News Feed algorithm weights updates from friends as well as private posts more heavily than public ones. In addition, the Close Friends list Facebook rolled out on Tuesday makes the updates from your strongest relationships more prominent in your News Feed, and you can enable notifications specifically from friends in this list.

With the number of new social networks gaining speed, Facebook is and should be making changes to stay competitive. What’s important is that it doesn’t divert too far from its core. In this update, Facebook is only giving its users more options — which the majority may or may not take advantage.

More About: Facebook Friend Lists, features, Subscribe Button, super users

Apple Becomes World’s Second Most Valuable Brand — After Google [STUDY]

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 01:08 PM PDT

Apple‘s brand is worth $39.3 billion, or 33% more than it was at the start of the year, according to a study from consulting firm Brand Finance.

The London-based company looks at a company’s cash flow and other financial metrics to assess the worth of its trademarks and other intellectual property. At the top of the heap is Google, whose IP is worth $48.3 billion — and likely more after Thursday, when the search giant bought another treasure trove of patents from IBM. (Big Blue itself is currently in fourth place.)

SEE ALSO: 5 Most Engaged Brands in Social Media

Microsoft slipped to third place, a hair’s breadth below Apple at $39 billion — although Windows 8 may change that equation.

This marks the first time, according to the report, that the world’s top four most valuable brands are all tech companies. Coming in just below them: Walmart, GE, AT&T and Coca-Cola. A couple of banks with slipping reputations — Wells Fargo and Bank of America — round out the top 10.

[via Apple 2.0]

More About: apple, Google, IBM, microsoft

Google Launches First Google+ APIs

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 12:43 PM PDT

Google has unveiled the first developer application programming interfaces for Google+, the company’s new social network.

The launch is the first step toward developers creating Google+ apps and integrating the social network into existing apps.

“I'm super excited about how the Google+ project brings the richness and nuance of real-life sharing to software, and today we're announcing our first step toward bringing this to your apps as well by launching the Google+ public data APIs,” Google Developer Advocate Chris Chabot said in a Google+ post.

Google made it clear that Thursday’s API release was focused on public data only — they can only retrieve public posts and public profile data.

SEE ALSO: Mobile Developers Excited About Google+, Apple iCloud [REPORT]

As developer Mohamed Mansour notes on Google+, there are not a lot of APIs in this release. Mansour says that Google+’s first APIs only allow for querying of a single person or an activity/action on Google+. This could lead to simple apps that show off a user’s public Google+ stream, but these APIs wouldn’t allow TweetDeck or Hootsuite to support posting to Google+.

According to one recent report, developers are excited by the prospects of Google+. Two-thirds of developers believe that Google+ has the potential to challenge or catch up with Facebook. And it will certainly need the support of developers to compete, especially as its rapid growth begins to wane.

Still, the release is a major milestone in the growth of the toddler social network, which was released less than three months ago. Google+ has a long way to go to unseat Facebook as the king of social networking.

More About: APIs, Google

Fall TV Goes Social: What’s New On Thursday Night

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 12:21 PM PDT

The Fall TV Goes Social Series is supported by the Samsung Galaxy S II, a faster phone for speedier web browsing and access to all your favorite apps. Check it out here, follow @SamsungMobileUS or join the conversation via #GalaxySII on Twitter.

The Fall TV season kicks off this week and the broadcast networks are hoping to embrace social media in a bid to gain viewer’s attention.

Thursday nights are traditionally one of the most competitive nights on television. And this fall, you can expect things to be no different.

Fox will be doubling down on its strategy of embracing The X Factor, but the other four broadcast networks aren’t sitting still.

While The CW focuses on its bread and butter — supernatural teenagers — NBC and CBS oscillate between sitcoms and bold new dramas. As for ABC, the alphabet network is rebooting the classic Charlie’s Angels TV series.

As usual, social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, are playing a big part of the overall promotional and engagement strategies.

Let us know what Thursday night shows most appeal to you by voting in our poll and sounding off in the comments.

The Secret Circle

Start Date: Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011
Time Slot: 9:00 p.m. ET - 10:00 p.m. ET
Network: The CW

Description: "Cassie Blake was a happy, normal teenage girl - until her mother Amelia dies in what appears to be a tragic accidental fire." Blake move to a new town and finds out she was pre-destined to join a coven of teenage witches.

How It's Using Social Media: The CW has dedicated a Facebook page to the show, as well as a Twitter portal. The network is also its official Twitter account and YouTube accounts to promote the show.

The CW has also created several web games for The Secret Circle, including "Which Witch Are You?" quizzes. The CW is also making the pilot episode [iTunes link] of The Secret Circle available for free via iTunes.

How to Follow: The CW has a handy social Twitter portal setup for its various shows, including Hart of Dixie. Cast members Britt Robertson, Thomas Dekker and Shelley Hennig are all active on Twitter.

Charlie's Angels

Start Date: Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
Time Slot: 8:00 p.m. ET - 9:00 p.m. ET
Network: ABC

Description: The bombastic classic from the 1970s gets a modern reboot.

How It's Using Social Media: ABC made a big splash at San Diego Comic Con this summer with its Charlie's Angels reboot and has continued to engage in social media leading up to the show's release date.

In addition to standard Twitter and Facebook accounts, the network also has a Charlie's Angels Mission Challenge Facebook app designed to keep fans engaged and earning rewards.

How to Follow: You can follow @CharliesAngels on Twitter and like CharliesAngelsABC on Facebook.

Person of Interest

Start Date: Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
Time Slot: 9:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. ET
Network: CBS

Description: "A crime thriller about a presumed dead former-CIA agent, Reese, who teams up with a mysterious billionaire, Finch, to prevent violent crimes by using their own brand of vigilante justice. "

How It's Using Social Media: Person of Interest is from executive producers J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan, which means that there is already socially savvy, built-in audience for the show. CBS is relying on that buzz, along with official Facebook and Twitter pages.

On the Facebook front, the network has also created a Facebook app for the show.

How to Follow: You can follow @PersonInterest on Twitter and like the show on Facebook.


Start Date: Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
Time Slot: 9:30 p.m. ET - 10:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBC

Description: This sitcom "centers around Whitney (Whitney Cummings, "Chelsea Lately") and Alex (Chris D'Elia, "Glory Daze"), a happily unmarried couple. Together for three years, the duo is in no rush to get hitched, which seems to get a mixed response from their friends."

How It's Using Social Media: NBC is actively using social media to spread the word about this show. In addition to the official Facebook page and Twitter account, the network has staged various promotions using its Fan It affinity game.

How to Follow: You can follow @NBCWhitney on Twitter and like Whitney on Facebook. Show stars Whitney Cummings and Chris D'Elia are both on Twitter.

Prime Suspect

Start Date: Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
Time Slot: 10:00 p.m. ET - 11:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBC

Description: "From Emmy Award-nominated producers Peter Berg (NBC's "Friday Night Lights") and Alexandra Cunningham ("Desperate Housewives") comes the crime drama "Prime Suspect" that takes a look inside a New York City homicide department."

Prime Suspect is the American version of the award-winning British series of the same name.

How It's Using Social Media: NBC is actively using social media to spread the word about this show. In addition to the official Facebook page and Twitter account, the network has staged various promotions using its Fan It affinity game.

How to Follow: You can like Prime Suspect on Facebook and follow @NBCPrimeSuspect on Twitter.

How to Be a Gentleman

Start Date: Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011
Time Slot: 8:30 p.m. ET - 9:00 p.m. ET
Network: CBS

Description: "Inspired by the book of the same name, this is a comedy about the unlikely friendship between a traditional, refined writer and an unrefined personal trainer."

How It's Using Social Media: CBS is doing standard Twitter and Facebook campaigns for this sitcom.

How to Follow: You can follow @How2BeGentleman on Twitter and like How to Be a Gentleman on Facebook.

Series supported by Samsung Galaxy S II

The Fall TV Goes Social Series is supported by the Samsung Galaxy S II, a faster phone for speedier web browsing and access to all your favorite apps. Check it out here, follow @SamsungMobileUS or join the conversation via #GalaxySII on Twitter.

More About: charlie's angels, fall tv, Fall TV Goes Social Series, how to be a gentleman, person of interest, prime suspect, social tv, the secret circle, whitney

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Skype for Mac Gets Facebook Integration & Ads

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 12:02 PM PDT

A just-released beta version of Skype for Mac gives users the ability to message and call Facebook friends, and features a Facebook News Feed inside the desktop application.

The Skype for Mac beta update finally introduces the same Facebook features and retooled interface first rolled out to Windows beta users nearly one year ago.

Ads have made their way to Skype for Mac, too. Non-paying Skype users will now see ads in the Skype Home view above the activity timeline of Facebook friends and Skype contacts.

Skype for Mac with Facebook has its quirks but given that it doubles as a full-featured Facebook client, the release will likely be welcomed by non-stop social networkers.

Skype, which Microsoft acquired in May, has recently sped up its Mac product development cycle. The company released HD calling and support for Mac OS X Lion in early August.

More About: Skype, skype for mac

How the Discovery Channel Uses Social Media to Connect With Superfans

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 11:57 AM PDT

The Social Brands Series is supported by Spredfast, a social media management platform provider helping organizations unlock social business potential. Start driving social business with the Social Media Pocket Guide.

You know their shows: Shark Week, Swamp Brothers, Deadliest Catch, Man vs. Wild and more. Discovery Communications is a TV titan, and social media has become a big priority for the company in promoting its shows and building communities of impassioned fans. Mashable spoke with Gayle Weiswasser, VP of social media communications at Discovery Communications to get the low-down on their social media strategy.

Though the network launched Facebook Pages in early 2009, it’s only in the last 12 to 18 months that efforts on social platforms have been “as focused and deliberate as they are now.” Discovery is the number one non-fiction media company in the world and has a large base of obsessed fans, so the network is constantly incorporating social media as part of the overall strategy. “It’s part of everything we do, from our .com pages to our marketing plans,” Weiswasser says. “Our philosophy on social media is to use it as a platform that enhances the viewing experience and the relationship with the viewers.” She goes on to outline the social media team’s four primary goals:

  • Build relationships and engage with fans
  • Personalize the brand
  • Strengthen fan-talent relations
  • Drive tune-in

In addition to running 24 hours of programming on several channels — the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and more — the network produces a breadth of content for the web, including individual show pages, network pages, vertical pages and blogs. Discovery owns more than 70 Facebook Pages, with a footprint approaching 43 million fans — and getting 500,000 more each week — while its 20 Twitter accounts boast 2.4 million followers. As for that inevitable ROI question, Weiswasser says, “It’s hard to deny the value of such a huge group of fans, and its hard to deny the influence of all these people who have raised their hands and said, ‘I'm interested, I'm a fan.’” The fans’ enthusiasm on social has encouraged and fostered a very direct connection between the shows and the audience.

That enthusiasm is driven by an an exciting mix of content. Since Discovery produces TV content, it’s not surprising that video is expertly-produced and resonates very well with the fans. Other content includes blog post, sneak peeks, photos from the set, personal pics from a show’s talent and links that are related to a show’s premise (i.e. geology, cooking, etc.). You’ll notice that many of the links on Facebook and Twitter go to original content on — the network is good at integrating and promoting its content and not treating each platform as a distinct entity, but rather as one unit with many parts that build on and enhance the others.

But Discovery also excels at posting relevant content from all over the web, which keeps the conversation going. On the What Not To Wear Page, you’ll find links to articles about fall fashion trends, and you’ll find recipes on the DC Cupcakes Page.”We serve as a curator of topics for our fans,” says Weiswasser. “Content may not have anything to do with the show, but it is relevant to our viewers.”

The overall goal is to have the best content they can — they want people coming back because the content is interesting and engaging. Weiswasser says the Discovery team wants to make content as accessible as possible and doesn’t believe in like-gating. “We want the content to speak for itself,” she says. “If it’s compelling, people will want it — that’s how we got this footprint.”

Shark Week

As social TV goes mainstream, it’s should come as no surprise that this year’s Shark Week was the biggest ever — it was #1 on Trendrr’s social TV rankings for that week. There were more than 750,000 tweets mentioning Shark Week, which is an eight-fold increase over last year, and the chatter helped the @SharkWeek handle grow to 60,000 followers. The social media team saw engagement from more than 100 celebrities and other high-profile tweeters, while #SharkWeek and specific shows trended organically — both in the U.S. and worldwide — several nights throughout the week. The Shark Week Photo Frenzy — a call for fans to submit photos of how they celebrate Shark Week — got 600,000 pageviews and more than 1,000 submissions, in addition to 80,000 views of the Photo Frenzy tab on Facebook.

Part of this year’s success is in part to a co-viewing iPad app that lets people who were watching in real-time participate in social conversations on their computers, iPhones and iPads. Content such as quizzes was created specifically for the app, and the supplemental information enhanced the viewing experience and helped to increase the conversation around Shark Week, with a heavy emphasis on social.

The Shark Week Facebook Page saw immense activity this year. It got 30,000 fans in a single day, and 116,000 fans throughout the week. Oddly enough, Crenshaw says the "New Likes" trend was shaped like a shark fin. Facebook posts were viewed 6.8 million times and garnered 18,000 total Likes.

The website was extremely active, too, largely in part to referrals from social sites. Shark Week content on garnered 956,000 visits — the second highest in the franchise’s 24-year history — and accounted for 32% of traffic to There were 2.7 million streams of Shark Week content.

Although Shark Week comes but once a year, Discovery lives every week like it’s Shark Week. The network wisely continues the conversation the other 51 weeks of the year too, posting links related to shark sightings, legislation concerning marine life and videos of sharks in action on the Shark Week Facebook Page, keeping that audience engaged and excited for Shark Week 2012.

The Cake Boss’ Secret Ingredient: Social

Weiswasser and Matt Crenshaw, Discovery’s VP of marketing and analytics, cite the Cake Boss Facebook Page as one of the strongest brand presences in the Discovery portfolio. The page is populated with cake slideshows, video clips, recipes and quizzes. Here are some stats:

  • Cake Boss fans have increased 76% since January
  • The Page surpassed 3 million fans in August 2011, prompting Buddy Valastro to record a special shout to the Facebook fans. Carlos Bakery baked a special cake in honor of the occasion.
  • Cake Boss web content averages 24,000 referrals and 191,000 pageviews per week from the Cake Boss Facebook Page
  • Cake Boss posts are viewed 20 million times per month by fans and friends of fans
  • The “Ultimate Cake Boss Fan Quiz” on July 14th generated 24,000 referrals and 347,000 pageviews

Getting Talent on Board

One of the things that separates Discovery from a lot of other networks is that their talent actually has … talent. It’s not scripted — the network covers real people with awesome jobs and quirky interests, like Valastro, MythBusters‘ Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, and Storm Chaser‘s Reed Timmer. The 30 minutes when they’re on TV each week is just a snapshot of the exciting lives they lead, but social media allows the network to continue the conversation 24/7. Talent has readily adopted social media and are actively engaged with their fans, going to far as to live-tweet an episode.

Bear Grylls offers survival tips in case you get stuck in the wild. Stacy London of What Not To Wear shares what’s in her closet. When Hurricane Irene was threatening the East Coast, Timmer of Storm Chasers captured video and shares his expertise with fans. These promotions are completely disparate from what happens on-air, but they’re complementary and relevant. Such interaction strengthens the relationship between the talent and the audience and gets consumers more invested in the content online and on the tube. “They understand what social media does for their own brand and for their program,” Weiswasser says. “It’s a great win all around.” And while shows don’t run year-round, the social web can still engage an audience and distribute online content, which is valuable both for the talent’s brand-building and Discovery’s audience retention.

The Discovery producers have noticed the increased levels of engagement from this round-the-clock social media interaction, and this season, tweets and Facebook updates will be featured as part of the show. “It’s not an afterthought, it’s in production,” Weiswasser says.

Discovery’s Social Media Team

The Discovery social media team is divided into two groups — an “art” side and a “science” side. The art side is part of corporate communications and handles content and tone, focusing on engagement and interaction with fans. Basically, they deal with the words and use the social web as a focus group from which they get real-time feedback. The science side is in the digital group, and that team focuses on analytics and metrics (fans, clicks, tweets, retweets, mentions, comments), optimizing pages to drive traffic to Discovery’s web properties. Crenshaw says his team is trying to do what all media companies are attempting — to determine the correlation between ratings and social. But sometimes it’s not just about metrics –”We can tell anecdotally if social is serving its purpose,” Crenshaw says. “We'll post about a show, and someone will say, ‘Oh I didn't know this was on tonight,’ or they’ll tweet asking what show to watch and we’ll tell them ‘MythBusters.’” The digital team also uses social media to identify and prevent crises, which can bubble up through Twitter and Facebook and be addressed and quelled before they become major blunders.

The team has 10 full-time people and operates like a small agency within Discovery. “Our ‘clients’ are the individual networks, and we have team members embedded in all of our network teams who work very closely with network comm and digital teams,” to make sure the social strategy for each show is aligned with its network’s priorities, Weiswasser says. She emphasizes the benefits of having a centralized team — everyone sits next to one another on the same floor, shares best practices, uses the same tools and platforms and works on cross-network promotion, which helps the network capitalize on its vast and diverse audience.

Weiswasser says having a dedicated team in-house is a real investment for Discovery, and it’s “a testament to the company's recognition of social media.”

Series supported by Spredfast

The Social Brands Series is supported by Spredfast, which provides an enterprise-class social media management platform helping organizations unlock their social business potential. The Spredfast platform provides a unified system for managing, monitoring and measuring social media programs for better business results. Discover best practices & proven tactics for using social for business with the Social Media Pocket Guide.

More About: discovery, features, Shark Week, Social Brands Series

Windows 8 Upgrades the Blue Screen of Death [PIC]

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 11:29 AM PDT

If you are or ever were a Windows user, you’re likely familiar with the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD). The bug check screen, with its lines of error codes, has been part of Windows since version 1.0. It has represented the crashing of computers — and the frustration of users — for decades.

The BSoD was never intended to be user friendly, though. It was made for engineers who wanted to figure out why a PC crashed. For the rest of the world, it signifies the downside of owning a Windows device.

The iconic Stop Error screen is getting a facelift with Windows 8. The redesigned OS also includes speed and stability improvements, a Metro interface optimized for touchscreens and an app store.

SEE ALSO: Windows 8: The Top 4 Things You Should Know

The new BSoD doesn’t include all of the bug checks or lines of code that have defined the error screen for years. Instead, the Windows 8 BSoD includes a giant sad emoticon and a simple message that “your PC ran into a problem” and that it has to restart.

We’re fans of the new error screen — it’s much clearer and more user-friendly — though we hope there’ll be fewer chances to see it. But we want to hear your thoughts. Do you like the new Blue Screen of Death? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of Mobility Digest

More About: Blue Screen of Death, microsoft, Windows 8

Kindle Screensavers to Feature AmazonLocal Deals

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 11:15 AM PDT

Some Amazon Kindle Special Offers customers will soon see local daily deal offers when they glance at their idle Kindles. The new screensaver makes it possible to purchase deals without visiting the AmazonLocal site or opening its daily emails.

Daily deals are an extension of the “Special Offers” program Amazon launched earlier this year. Customers could opt for a $25 discount in exchange for receiving sponsored screensavers. Only customers with the discounted Kindles will see the daily deal offers.

Purchased vouchers will appear on the Kindle screen, and can be shown to the merchant either on the Kindle or by printing a copy from the Internet.

AmazonLocal, which launched in June, is a latecomer to the daily deals space but has quickly spread to 30 cities (largely through partners like LIvingSocial). It may have found a easy-to-purchase distribution trick that could give it a leg up on competitors.

Amazon offered no specifics on when the screensaver would launch other than “soon.” We’ve reached out to the company for comment.

More About: amazon, daily deals, Kindle

The History & Evolution of Crowdfunding

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 10:42 AM PDT

Bill Clark is the CEO of Microventures, a startup fundraising platform that uses crowdfunding to allow investors to invest between $1,000 to $10,000 in startups. He also manages the venture capital firm MicroAngel Capital Partners. You can follow him on Twitter @austinbillc.

Microfinance is a term for lending money to low-income individuals. These individuals typically don't have access to the same banking opportunities available to middle- and upper-income households.

Microfinance is often seen as a tool to help people climb out of poverty. Loan recipients can apply the money to building or sustaining a family-owned business. The loan amounts issued, however, are typically small — much smaller than those provided by banks.

While modern microfinance has gained traction thanks to the web, the practice has actually been viable for some time. Here’s a look at how it evolved and how the Internet is bringing it to more and more people.

Microfinance — Dr. Mohammad Yunus & Grameen Bank

Groups and cooperatives have been microlending for several hundred years. One of the larger and more popular programs was called the Irish Loan Fund. Started by Jonathan Swift in the 1700s, the fund provided loans to low-income families in rural areas. Swift recognized that said individuals had no experience with credit and held little collateral but could still be considered creditworthy. By the 1800s, more than 300 programs throughout Ireland were loaning small amounts of money for short periods of time. It was estimated that, at the peak of the program, 20% of all households were utilizing the program.

Dr. Mohammad Yunus has often been credited with pioneering modern microfinance. In 1976, Yunus launched a research project with his graduate students in Bangladesh. His goal was to give banking opportunities to low-income people, eliminate the exploitation of the poor and create opportunities for self-employment. His initial loan was $27 to 42 women who lived in a village sustained by bamboo production. After this successful loan, Yunus was able to secure a loan from the government to lend small amounts to the poor. Within five years, the program had over 30,000 members, and in 1983, the program transformed into Grameen Bank. The bank now has more than 8 million borrowers, with 97% of the money going to women-operated businesses. Yunus and Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for their efforts in economic and social development.

Microlending —

In 2005, became the first microlending website. It gave individuals the ability to lend small amounts of money to entrepreneurs in poor, rural areas across the globe. What makes Kiva so attractive is that lenders are given pictures and a profile for each loan. They'll see whom the loan is going to, what it will be used for and the terms of repayment.

Kiva has field partners in various world regions that help document the stories and distribute the loans to each individual. This unique documentation of business owners gives a lender the ability to identify with the borrower and communicates a sense of personalization that his money is going toward something impactful.

As a four-year Kiva lender, I personally tend to loan to either single mothers or couples who plan to use the money to expand their business, which will, in turn, help provide for their family. I have enjoyed 100% repayment across all my loan interactions, which I then reinvest into another Kiva loan for continued microlending support. The overall Kiva rate of return is 98.83%.

Peer-to-Peer Lending — Prosper/Lending Club

In 2006, launched the first peer-to-peer lending site in the U.S. The concept was similar to Yunus's microfinance vision and Kiva's microlending model. On the website, individuals submit requests for funding, which include a story, a picture and their credit risk. You might find people who are trying to refinance debt, fund a vacation or start a business.

The difference between Prosper and earlier forms of microfinance is that this was the first time the process existed outside of developing countries, mainly because U.S. entrepreneurs looking for funding typically have more financial options than developing nations. What makes Prosper's concept attractive to borrowers is that the interest rates are generally less than those a bank might offer. Additionally, credit strapped consumers are given alternatives to a traditional bank loan.

In 2007, launched the second peer-to-peer lending site in the U.S. Its goal was to create an alternative to banks, therefore, they offered both borrowers and investors a great rate. The concept of the site is very similar to Recently, Lending Club has surpassed Prosper in loan funding ($353 million versus $255 million).

Crowdfunding — Kickstarter

In 2009, Kickstarter launched as a new way to fund creativity. The company also helped bring a new term to the forefront: "crowdfunding," which allows a large group of people to pool their money to help fund an idea. Kickstarter took this concept and built a model that helps creative minds get funding from their peers. Projects range from documentaries to iPod wristwatches.

When one contributes to these projects, however, he or she should not expect to get money back. Kickstarter applicants crowdsource the funding for their idea, which helps them actualize their dream. Depending on the level one pledges, the applicant can reap rewards ranging from a digital download of a film to a VIP theater-viewing experience.

The Future of Crowdfunding

The future of crowdfunding is allowing investors equity in an idea or business. If we can fund ideas from friends who want to see us become successful, imagine if those friends actually got to participate in the revenue stream. Wouldn't you give a little extra if, instead of receiving a simple return, you had the opportunity not only to make a profit but also to own a percentage of the company itself?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, AlexKalina

More About: Business, crowdsourcing, funding, investment

Klout’s New Topic Pages Reveal Content Influencers

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 10:00 AM PDT

Klout has released a new feature that lets users gain insights on top content influencers as well as users who have received the most +Ks for respective topics.

Only 5% of users have access to the new Topic Pages for now, but Klout — which calculates users’ social influence — will roll it out for all users within a few days.

“This is a big step for us in turning Klout into more of a utility around search and discover instead of pure vanity of checking your score,” Klout CEO Joe Fernandez tells Mashable. “Our goal is just to understand what they are influential about and who they influence.”

To populate a user’s Topic Pages (see screenshots below), the San Francisco-based startup analyzes the user’s content created across the 10 services it measures — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube, Blogger, Flickr, Instagram, and Tumblr.

“We then look by topic at how influential that person’s audience is about the topic and how they respond to rank the most influential people by topic. These rankings change daily based on the content created,” Fernandez says.

Clickable Topics on Your Dashboard

On your Klout dashboard, you can click on a topic to open its Topic Page.

Social Media Topic Page

For example, here's the social media Topic Page, which displays top influencers and top +K recipients.

Journalism Topic Page

Here's the journalism Topic page.

Top +K Recipients

You can click on "Top +K Recipients" to get a closer look at which users are snagging the most +Ks.

Best Content Stream

The "Best Content" tab will show you popular content from the past 90 days.

Klout will now also use +K data to rank the top +K recipients; Fernandez compares this component to a people’s choice award. The feature’s “Best Content” tab will show you popular content from the past 90 days.

Klout has been collecting data about users’ topics since its 2008 launch. Klout plans to add more analytics, trends and related content in the coming months.

“This is a really early version of where we plan to take this,” Fernandez says, “but it speaks to our belief that every person who creates content has influence.”

SEE ALSO: Klout Calculates Its 100 Millionth Score

What do you think of Klout’s new feature? Let us know in the comments.

More About: klout, Social Media, social networking

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Wilco Crowdsources Fan Footage for Tour

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 09:23 AM PDT

Wilco is asking fans for videos to enhance its current tour. The band is seeking user footage through Vimeo, which will be used to create a specific video stage backdrop for each show.

Videos can be uploaded to the “Wilco Fan Video Project,” where the band will be looking for “footage of settings and places that really say something about the area, its people and/or history, geography, whatever.” Nearly 100 people have already joined the project, with more than 30 videos uploaded. The tour began Sept. 13 in Indianapolis, Ind. and the band will be playing shows across North America until Oct. 5.

Though the band will then head to Europe, a post on its site indicates that the members are only looking for footage of their North American tour. They’ll be returning to their home country for another short run of shows at the end of November, but the post does not indicate whether they’ll be crowdsourcing videos for that portion of their tour.

The Chicago-based sextet is on the road in support of its eighth studio album, The Whole Love, which comes out Sept. 27 on dBpm Records. Over Labor Day weekend, the band experimented with a way to preview the album by streaming it for 24 hours starting Sept. 2 on its own site.

While the stream is no longer available, you can check out the first video from the album, for the track “Born Alone,” above.

The band is also offering a free stream of a performance, recorded live earlier this year, just for liking its Facebook Page. The show, as well as others, is streaming on Wilco’s official website as well.

This isn’t the first time an artist has used fan footage in a live performance. Earlier this year, LCD Soundsystem asked fans to upload footage of clouds shot from airplane windows to use in its final show at Madison Square Garden.

Would you upload your footage for bands to use in their performances?

More About: crowdsourcing, Music, Video, Vimeo, Wilco

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 Now Available for Pre-Order at Best Buy

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:55 AM PDT

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 8.9, whose retail debut has been rumored since March, is finally hitting stores.

Best Buy began taking pre-orders on the device Thursday. The tablet sports an 8.9-inch screen, runs the Android 3.1 Honeycomb OS, has 16 GB of onboard memory and costs $469.99. The device is not the LTE version that was announced in August. Best Buy offers no release date, however, just saying it’s “coming soon.”

The device is Samsung’s third crack at the tablet market. The company introduced the Galaxy Tab 7.7 with a 7.7-inch screen in September 2010. After Galaxy Tab 7.7′s lukewarm reception, Samsung introduced the Galaxy Tab 10.1 with a 10.1-inch screen to U.S. stores in June.

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy Tab Challenges iPad With New Ads [VIDEOS]

Though Steve Jobs has famously dismissed 7-inch tablets as “tweeners,” because they’re bigger than a smartphone and smaller than a full-functioning tablet, the jury is out on how a somewhat smaller tablet might perform in the market.

[via MobileBurn ]

More About: galaxy tab, Mobile, samsung

How the UN Foundation Plans to Meet Its Goals With the Help of Social Media

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:45 AM PDT

UN helmet image

The United Nations (UN) and its philanthropic arm, the United Nations Foundation, have been on a headlong sprint to change the world by 2015. That year marks the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals, a set of far reaching and ambitious humanitarian challenges that include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and providing universal primary education.

They are lofty goals for sure, but ones that the two organizations are committed to achieving. One of their secret weapons has been social media and digital tools, from the UN Foundation’s newly launched mobile app to a history of digital communication and online advocacy.

Mashable caught up with Aaron Sherinian, vice president for communications and PR for the UN Foundation, to talk about the future of social good. Sherinian will also be speaking at Mashable‘s Social Good Summit next week. For even more insights, check out the information below.

Q&A With Aaron Sherinian, VP for Communications and PR for the UN Foundation

sherinian imagePeople think of the UN as a more traditional institution. How are you bringing social and digital tools into play?

I believe that if you look at what the UN, by its mandate, has to accomplish, it’s forced to be one of the most flexible organizations in the world when it comes to communications … The organization has been leveraging social media for high level media messaging. But on the ground in times of emergency — when it comes to disaster mapping, when it comes to delivery of relief aid, when it comes to information about peace and security — the UN has been utilizing social media to get out stories, to get out basic information and basic data for a couple of years … By the way, in multiple languages.

That's not the easiest thing to do.

… That's, for me, an impressive indicator of what the future of social media brings. The future of social media is not written in English, the future of social media is written in multiple languages which brings in better information and better access. We talk about social good and using social media for social good, it's really not for PR. The power of social media for social good will be at the village level and the municipality level and connecting issues — everything from land tenure and mapping to access to health posts to governance and transparency. And that all has to happen in a local language …

What's the role or responsibility that the UN bears as a social media trailblazer?

[T]he UN Foundation, because of our mission to support the UN, believes that unless we push the envelope on using new technology, we're not making good on the promise to the world's poor people and the world's hardest to reach populations and the people who need help the most. We believe that social media is at the heart of it.

It seems like your recent mobile app is the new frontier, right?

For the UN foundation, we're taking a step into mobile in terms of communication and the mobile opportunity for us is an interesting example of what we talked about. The UN produces so much timely, interesting information. More importantly, it's actually life-saving information, because if you know that something is going on, NGOs and development organizations can shift what they're doing and move it towards what's happening in the world.

It's so hard to measure success in social good. What would you consider a philanthropic social media success?

We all are using the same metrics right now and I don't think there's ever going to be a crisp Klout score for social good. Social good, if it's really living up to its promise, is changing the way that people think about global interaction … Did it change the way people think about how to engage in their world? Successful. Likes and impressions come and go but those attitudes are where social media can have a huge impact.

Can I mention one thing to you on the mobile front? I grew up watching news clips and video clips of the threat of nuclear annihilation and I remember as a young boy watching those images and thinking, “How can I get in touch with some of these world leaders and tell them, ‘Not on my watch — don't do it!’ ” And I’m amazed when I sit down as recently as last week with some people, some junior high school students and high school students, and they honestly believe, and they're right, that their voice is getting heard right now … We have to step back and remember that there has been a major shift in the way that young people think. “Is anyone ever going to listen to me?” Sure they are, because you're tweeting at your global leader today.

Do you really think that those leaders are listening?

I do, yeah. Because the social media stream is there for everybody to see. If you ignore my tweet, everyone [still] knows [I sent] it. I don't know how many of my letters have fallen intro trashcans over the years, but if my online activism is getting ignored, it's getting ignored in front of the world. That's a lot of pressure on a world leader, for good.

What's on the horizon for the UN and for social?

I think you're going to see entrepreneurs going to the global problems that the UN is working on as a way for them to really put their money where their mouth is, and I’m inspired by this new class of entrepreneur for whom social good is not, you know, frosting. It's actually baked in the cake. … At the heart of that is a heavy new media focus and I think this generation of new media entrepreneurs are more aggressive and smarter than ever about reaching out to the UN, and vice-versa.

So I think that what you're going to see are a lot more connections on a practical level, on the ground, at a 30,000-foot strategic level, in world capitals. I think you’re going to see new media leaders and world leaders talking about that stuff and you're going to see this cross-generation conversation. I'm in those conversations every day between somebody who is a successful social media entrepreneur and somebody who is a seasoned UN diplomat and development expert. That is a conversation that you want to be in, and it's happening more and more every day. That's the future.

Image courtesy of Flickr, United Nations Photo

Event Details

Date: Monday, September 19, 2011, through Thursday, September 22, 2011
Time: 1:00-5:00 p.m. ET

Livestream: RSVP for the Livestream to join us online.

Register for RSVP for Social Good Summit 2011 LIVESTREAM - Presented by Mashable, 92Y and UN Foundation - September 19-22, 2011 in New York, NY  on Eventbrite

Sponsored by Ericsson

For over a century, Ericsson has seen communications as a fundamental human right. Today, it is the leading provider of technology and services to network operators. Its networks connect 2 billion people and almost half of the world’s 5.5 billion mobile subscriptions. Now, Ericsson intends to do for broadband what it did for the telephone; make it mobile, available and affordable for all. Ericsson's vision is to be the prime driver of an all-communicating world, where Information and Communications technologies (ICT) come together to create a Networked Society. A Networked Society will bring many opportunities and challenges. As Ericsson works in the world, it aims to apply innovative solutions together with partners to make a real difference to peoples' lives, to business and to the economy, enabling change towards a more sustainable world. We call this Technology for Good.

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Add Your Voice to Photos With Fotobabble

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 08:10 AM 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: Fotobabble

Quick Pitch: A photo sharing platform that adds your voice to your snapshots.

Genius Idea: Using a simple premise for engaging marketing campaigns.

Fotobabble is based on a pretty simple concept: The Facebook app, iPhone app and website allow users to add their voice to any photo, add a colorful background, and embed or share it anywhere.

Talking photos almost seem like an inevitable development in the photo sharing monsoon.

“If you think of anyone talking about a trip, or their kids, whatever it is, the main way they do that is through their voice,” says Fotobabble founder and CEO Kamal Shah. “It’s a more natural way to tell stories for the majority of people, and when you listen to a story told with someone’s voice, you get that level of personalization that you might not get out of the written word.”

Fair enough. But what’s most impressive about Fotobabble is that, unlike the majority of photo sharing apps, it has a concrete plan for monetization. While people have used the consumer-facing app to send photos to grandma, make baby announcements and narrate their travel photos, businesses have also found the technology useful for interactive marketing campaigns.

Dogster, a social network for dogs, ran one such campaign using the Fotobabble Facebook app to run a “bark translator” on its Page. Users can upload photos of their dogs with a voice clip of what the dog is “saying.” encourages users to give wine reviews using Fotobabble. Baby photographers Our365 asked parents to upload photos of their babies with audio clips of their giggles for a “Tickle Me Baby” contest.

Publications are also using Fotobabble. iVillage asked its readers to upload photos with style questions and had style experts add a voice clip of advice.

Shah, who has been bootstrapping Fotobabble since March 2010, says there is funding in the pipeline (the details of which are still unannounced) that will allow him to build a set of premium tools for brands and publications. These will include a way to integrate Fotobabble with a mobile app and more easily moderate content. He’d also like to see the platform used for social media campaigns and product descriptions.

“Small businesses have an opportunity to describe their products and reach out to their customers with their own voice,” he says.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

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, Fotobabble, photo sharing

Panasonic’s Evolta Robot to Attempt the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 07:38 AM PDT

Evolta, Panasonic’s tiny robot, is gearing up to compete in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon race beginning Oct. 24.

Most athletes shudder when they hear about the Hawaii Ironman, made up of a grueling 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike race and a 26-miles run. While it’s an enormous challenge to most humans, it might be an even greater challenge to a robot made of iron and plastic.

Evolta is no stranger to challenges. It already managed to finish a 500-kilometer trek from Tokyo to Kyoto and scale the walls of the Grand Canyon. The Hawaii Ironman may be the toughest challenge yet for the 20-inch robot, as it will need a different body to finish each discipline of the race.

The robot is expected to complete the race in 168 hours, which is considerably longer than it would take a human athlete. While this may sound like a very long time, the race is 140.4 miles total.

As with all Evolta challenges, the entire stunt is a marketing campaign for Panasonic’s Evolta batteries, which are powering the robot.

The robot’s challenge will begin after the finish of the actual Ironman World Championship, which begins in early October. You can follow the adventures of the little robot on its official Twitter account.

[Panasonic via Reuters]

More About: Batteries, Evolta, Panasonic, Robot

Mobile Ad Network InMobi Raises $200 Million

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 07:26 AM PDT

Mobile ad network InMobi has raised $200 million in financing from SoftBank to counter Apple and Google in the fast-growing market.

The investment will be be doled out in two tranches — $100 million this year and then the rest in 2012, according to SoftBank. SoftBank joins Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sherpalo Ventures in backing InMobi.

With the investment, the Bangalore, India-based InMobi will have more ammunition to take on Google, which bought AdMob, another mobile ad network, in 2009 for $750 million, and Apple, which bought Quattro Wireless in early 2010 for $275 million.

Despite the investment, mobile advertising is still a fairly small market. The total spend for such advertising is projected to hit $1.1 billion in the U.S. this year, according to eMarketer. That spend will hit $2.5 billion in 2014, the researcher estimates.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, webphotographeer

More About: admob, apple, Google, InMobi, mobile advertising, Quattro Wireless, softbank

Goodreads Introduces Netflix-Style Book Recommendations

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 06:53 AM PDT


Social book list Goodreads has accumulated a database of 190 million books by encouraging its 6 million registered users to share their reviews with friends. Now it will begin putting those data points to use by offering personalized algorithmic book recommendations.

“Our motto has always been that the best book recommendations come from friends and that hasn't changed,” Goodreads CEO Otis Chandler says. “But if you don't happen to have a friend who is into the book you are reading now, what do you do? Our service didn't have anything to offer them."

Goodreads acquired a company called Discovereads in March to create its recommendation engine. One of its advisors made the leaderboard in Netflix’s $1 million challenge to improve its movie recommendations.

The algorithm that team developed for the five-year-old social network for booklovers is largely based on what’s on a reader’s bookshelf and what other readers with similar bookshelves have enjoyed reading. It also takes into account why you liked a book. When a reader categorizes The Help as “historical fiction,” the algorithm will react differently than when he or she classifies it as “racism.”

If you’ve never been to the Goodreads site before, it will ask you to rate 20 books to get things started. This process alone was a discovery experience for me. Each book you rate positively launches suggestions of similar books — many of which I added to my “want to read” list.

After you’ve rated enough books, the site populates your “recommendations” tab based on the genres and books that you’ve rated. You can see which books on your shelf resulted in which recommendations by hovering over the recommended books’ covers.

Discovery engines for books haven’t kept up with similar tools for other media, like movies and music. A startup called BookLamp scans books to recommend them based on their content and style, but it needs publisher permission to do so. Because of this, its library is restricted to about 20,000 books.

Many readers have turned to shopping sites like Amazon to recommend their next book purchase, but its criteria is largely based on sales data. It’s likely to return books by the same authors of those that you’ve purchased or in the same genre. And it returns books that people who purchased the same books as you also purchased. It’s likely to trend toward popular books.

Goodreads’ solution takes into account a large database of reader opinions, not purchasing habits, and it has cataloged how readers, not marketers, see the relationship between books and genres. This theoretically makes for a broader selection of books and a more nuanced view of how they are connected. In any case, it’s easier to browse than a shopping engine.

The result is a win for bookworms, but it’s also a win for Goodreads’ bottom line.

The site’s current business model relies on publisher advertising. Eventually, the recommendation algorithm for books will help more specifically target the readers who are likely to be interested in reading their books.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: BookLamp, books, GoodReads, Recommendations

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Groupon’s IPO Is Back on Track [REPORT]

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 06:35 AM PDT

Groupon‘s IPO, which had been pushed back because of market conditions, is now back on track, according to a report.

The company is now planning to go public in late October or early November, according to The New York Times. That means Groupon’s roadshow for investors, originally set for early September, will now happen in mid-October. Groupon didn’t previously announce a date for its IPO, but the company was set to price its shares in mid-September.

Though initial reports blamed Groupon’s decision to delay its IPO on market conditions, the situation was complicated in early September, when a memo from CEO Andrew Mason surfaced. The email to thousands of Groupon employees complained about "getting the [expletive] kicked out of us in the press" and defended the company’s "adjusted consolidated segment operating income” accounting metric, which had drawn scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC could have also forced a postponement of Groupon’s IPO based on that memo, which violated an imposed quiet period for Groupon.

Groupon’s IPO comes after Zynga and Facebook have also reportedly pushed back their IPOs.

Groupon reps could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jbk_photography

More About: Facebook, groupon, ipo, Zynga

Steve Ballmer Admits Lackluster Windows Phone 7 Sales

Posted: 15 Sep 2011 06:14 AM PDT

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer expressed disappointment at Windows Phone 7 sales during Microsoft’s financial analyst meeting Wednesday.

"We haven't sold quite as many as I would have liked in the first year. … I'm not saying I love where we are, but I am very optimistic on where we can be,” Ballmer said.

The Windows Phone 7 platform was embraced by many of the world’s largest phone manufacturers, including Samsung and HTC, both of whom soon plan to launch devices based on the next version of WP7 or Mango.

However, these mobile giants have the majority of their chips invested in Google‘s Android — and that’s where most of their smartphone sales come from.

This leaves Microsoft with only one big and really dedicated WP7 partner — the stumbling Finnish giant Nokia. "With Nokia we have a dedicated hardware partner that is all-in on Windows Phones. They are not doing something on Android,” Ballmer said.

Nokia, however, has been losing market share as fast as you can spell Symbian, and in the quickly changing world of smartphones, one has to ask whether Nokia can regain its former glory on the wings of Microsoft’s platform.

[via ATD]

More About: mango, microsoft, mobile platform, smartphone, Steve Ballmer, windows phone 7, Windows Phone 7 Mango

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