Saturday, 17 September 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Facebook: Hot, Not, Or Lukewarm? [OPINION]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Facebook: Hot, Not, Or Lukewarm? [OPINION]”

Facebook: Hot, Not, Or Lukewarm? [OPINION]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 09:12 PM PDT

Facebook has three-quarters of a billion users and shows no sign of slowing down. Just this week it introduced a very Twitter-like and Google+-like function — "Subscribe" — and it is the social destination for millions of Americans, many of whom still do not tweet and never had a MySpace page.

Yet there are whispers that Facebook's best days are behind it, and that it could be the "next MySpace" (or Yahoo). As far back as 2010, there was talk of Facebook fatigue. Some teens said they would quit, though they didn't know where else to go. Now some suggest that those who forgo Facebook may head over to Google+, once it’s out of its closed beta.

In my household, Facebook is still the dominant social platform: three out of four household members use it exclusively. I use Twitter and cross-post to Facebook (which may annoy anyone who subscribes to me on Facebook and follows me on Twitter). Yet each one of my family members spends part of his or her Facebook time grousing about the service. The constant changes, the ever-more-convoluted privacy settings and the surprise interface updates lead to endless frustrations. My wife, in particular, just wants to "post and go," but recent update changes make that virtually impossible.

The reality, though, is that we often complain about the things we love and use most. No one in my house has requested a Google+ invite. This is not surprising; virtually none of their friends or family — except me — are on Google+.

Asking Google+

I spend a bit of time on Google+ each day, and it occurred to me that most of the early adopters on Google's social platform are likely also Facebook users. So I asked them if Facebook is still hot or not, and why (note: I asked this question before Facebook’s "Subscribe" update).

The consensus: Facebook is running cool to lukewarm. Considering I asked the question in the echo-chamber that is Google+, this response is hardly surprising. But many of the comments hit upon what I see as Facebook's key faults and hurdles it must jump over the next three to five years.

One commenter said Facebook, which has added a number of new features in recent weeks, is finally "stepping it up" in the face of growing competition from Google+.

Those who still think Facebook is hot did admit that the game may change when "Google+ opens up". A few hedged their bets, saying that Facebook was lukewarm, but also "sitting at its peak of interest." I guess they expect Facebook to topple from its perch at any moment.

Reality Check

There were, however, some who could see outside the Google+ bubble. Antonio Moro wrote: “[Facebook is ] still King of the hill, very hot, and since G+ started: hotter as it’s pushing new features faster than ever. I still prefer to use G+, but this doesn’t matter."

There were other begrudging admissions of Facebook's dominance. Allan Petersen wrote, "I wish I could say “Not” with a straight face. Unfortunately, it’s so much more intertwined with current online culture than MySpace was. And they’re continually pushing updates. I say 'warm.'"

Many said that despite the encroachment of brands, fan pages and confusing updates, they will stick with Facebook because their friends show no interest in moving to another social platform. The decline of platforms like Friendster and MySpace suggest that what people say and what they actually do may not be totally aligned.

Some like Tom Dignazio said the MySpace analogy is off — or at least years away from being reality. "There is no real sign that FB is hurting any way," said Dignazio. Others said it's not a matter of Facebook being Hot or Not as it is "a signal of evolution. Facebook can’t be the bright shiny thing all the time." opined Shane Rhyne.

Shane is right, of course: nothing remains in the spotlight forever. Facebook is simply not the hot, fresh new thing. But the lack of pure heat doesn't mean Facebook is going away. Few of us get excited about Sears, but the retail store survives, even in the face of competition from online megastores like A little less heat, and a lot more focus on what its users want, is probably what Facebook needs anyway.

More About: Facebook, Google, myspace

Get Rewarded For Your Indie Movie Taste With Prescreen

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 08:36 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: Prescreen

Quick Pitch: Prescreen is a movie marketing and distribution platform that helps filmmakers and distributors reach new audiences.

Genius Idea: Incentivizing users for discovering hot, new independent films.

You’ve got excellent taste in movies — far superior to your friends, of course. You’re always first to find and recommend the best under-the-radar films. But can you prove it?

If you’re finding and watching flicks on Prescreen, an independent film-focused startup that made its premiere Wednesday, you can not only backup your boast but get rewarded for being in the first 5% of folks to buy and watch the film.

The startup takes partial inspiration from Groupon’s — CEO and co-founder Shawn Bercuson was an early employee at the daily deals giant — but skews the model to favor filmmakers and movie buffs.

Here’s how it works: Prescreen features one new independent movie each day. Subscribers are notified via email, and Prescreen users can watch a free trailer on the site and then opt to rent and stream the flick for $4. Buyers then have a 60-day viewing period to watch the movie, and 48 hours to finish it once they start watching.

There’s another twist though: The $4 rental price is only good on day one — it’s $8 thereafter — and the available viewing period decreases with each passing day until the 60 day window expires completely. Plus, those who are first to buy will have a higher likelihood of getting their money back in the form of a free movie credit. So, the site creatively incentivizes users to buy early and rewards them should they be first to spot a popular selection.

Prescreen is ultimately designed to help filmmakers and distributors market movies and find audiences on dime-store budgets. They submit their films to Prescreen for consideration. The startup hand-selects the best ones to feature and those that get selected are live on the site for 60 days (Prescreen’s maximum capacity is 60 flicks).

“The major problem is in the distribution of these films,” Bercuson explains. On a trip to the Sundance Film Festival in January, Bercuson connected with filmmakers, producers and distributors who were puzzled by how to reach audiences. “These were awesome movies and they just never found a home. They can’t compete, with their budgets, with studio films or major motion pictures.”

These conversations inspired Bercuson to create Prescreen. The startup was incorporated by February, funded by angel investors by March, and then went full-steam ahead to release version one of its product this week.

On the business side of things, Prescreen splits rental proceeds with the filmmakers or distributors. It also gives them a detailed performance report that breaks down everything from email open and conversation rates to viewer demographics and potential market opportunities.

Prescreen’s only noticeable blemish is streaming limitations — users are only able to view films on the web. It’s eventual goal is be ubiquitous, Bercuson says, but iOS and Android applications are still several months away from release.

Even so, Prescreen has signed up 15,000 users in its first three days of operation and Bercuson has confidence in his team’s ability to create a platform that is a boon for the independent film community.

“We’ve done this before,” says Bercuson, pointing to his own Groupon roots and also highlighting co-founder John Smart’s previous success with online dating site Zoosk. “We know how to build an audience online.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Thomas Hawk

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, Prescreen, spark-of-genius

William Shatner Addresses “Star Trek” Vs. “Star Wars” [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 07:39 PM PDT

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

For sci-fi fans, a battle has been brewing between Star Trek and Star Wars for 35 years.

William Shatner has decided to weigh in with his own thoughts on the subject. Using his official YouTube page, the socially savvy actor opines on why Captain Kirk totally owns Luke Skywalker and crew.

What do you think? Let us know.

More About: Star Trek, Star Wars, viral-video-of-day, William Shatner

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Social Media & Peer Pressure: What Does It Take To Change Your Mind? [STUDY]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 07:06 PM PDT

On one level, the research that emerged from HP Labs Friday is unsurprising: we tend to bow to peer pressure, and it’s as true in social media as in real life.

But how much peer pressure does it take, and what other factors come into play? The answers may surprise you.

HP Labs computers scientists, including veteran online behavior researcher Bernardo Huberman, asked 600 participants to answer a few simple questions about online photos. Which of two baby pictures is cuter, and which of these two couches (above) would you choose to buy for a friend?

Whichever one they chose, the researchers rigged it so the other picture was shown to be more popular, using a Facebook-style Like system. The participants then had a chance to change their minds. Each time, however, they changed the number of Likes each picture got, and waited for a different length of time before giving them a second chance.

The result: 22% of people were swayed by the peer pressure — but only if there was a long gap between the first and second chance. Given the chance to change their mind immediately, only 14% of participants did so.

Most interestingly, people were only likely to change their minds if there were a moderate number of Likes on the other side. As soon as the Likes on their choice of picture were outweighed by 20 times or more, participants dug in their heels and stuck with their original choice.

Translation: if there’s a large number of people who disagree with us, we’re stubborn as hell. If you want to persuade someone to change teams, make sure their side does not appear to be outrageously unpopular, crushed by a giant weight of evidence. That, as I’m sure you’re thinking too, could explain a whole lot about politics.

Huberman’s advice for marketers? “Rather than overwhelming consumers with strident messages about an alternative product or service, in social media, gentle reporting of a few people having chosen that product or service can be more persuasive."

Check out the full study, in PDF format, here.

Watch the 2011 Emmys Live with Mashable

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 05:58 PM PDT

This Sunday, Mashable will be getting up close and personal at the 63rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. Our live blog, presented by Samsung Mobile, will kick off at 7:00 p.m. ET.

We’ll be hosting a digital coast-to-coast conversation about the changing nature of social media and television, talking with the winners about how they use technology — and, of course, watching the awards as they happen.

Over the last two years, we’ve seen social media revitalize the live TV experience. This is especially true for award shows. Ratings for the Grammys, Golden Globes and VMAs have surged, thanks in part to the online conversations taking place around them.

Last year, the Emmys started dipping a toe into social media. In addition to ditching the time delay and broadcasting live nationwide, the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards featured interactions with Twitter and Facebook.

As we’ve seen with the Grammy Awards, getting established organizations like the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to embrace social media is not something that can happen overnight.

The emergence of social TV and the growing importance of social media is quickly becoming the unspoken backdrop of the Fall TV season. Consumers are embracing multi-platform connected experiences and are changing their expectations.

This is what makes award shows like the Emmys so fascinating. On one level, the TV industry is ramping up efforts to become social and interact with users. At the same time, the awards themselves really underscore the digital disconnect that still exists, especially on broadcast TV. The most celebrated programs are often the least socially accessible.

SEE ALSO: Emmys 2011: Twitter Takes On The Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

This isn’t always the case. At a ceremony held last week, ABC’s Oscar Digital Experience app for the iPad picked up the award for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media.

As I wrote back in July, we’re just now starting to see more large-scale plays for social TV, so perhaps in the future the disconnect won’t be as great.

Be sure to join us back at this spot on Sunday night. Our Emmy live-blog starts at 7:00 p.m. ET. See you then!

More About: award shows, Emmys, Emmys 2011, social tv

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How Bear Grylls & Men’s Deodorant Unlocked the Secret of Reddit Marketing

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 05:51 PM PDT

The Reddit community has grown substantially in the last year, and links that hit the front page can send boatloads of valuable traffic to interesting, valuable or funny content. But brands have traditionally found it a tough nut to crack.

Unlike more mainstream networks like Facebook and Twitter, there’s no “following” or “subscribing” to other users or entities. Karma — the points awarded when users upvote links and comments — generally don’t influence the success of new content the way a well-followed Twitter account might (though this has been debated).

Thus, marketers have no way of establishing an overt presence, and those who attempt to “game” the community are quickly sniffed out, downvoted, or worse.

“For most marketers, Reddit is a weird foreign country,” says Erik Martin, general manager at reddit. “Unless they actually visit reddit, they just don’t understand it.”

That’s why the post at the top of the front page on Tuesday was so interesting. Bear Grylls, the UK adventurer and star of the popular Discovery Channel survival show Man vs. Wild, was doing an AMA (“Ask Me Anything” — a forum where Reddit users pose questions directly to celebs or interesting public figures). An Internet meme about Bear Grylls drinking his own pee for no reason has been popular on Reddit for some time. Grylls recently had a laugh at his own expense via Twitter, much to the delight of his fans.

The Q&A thread, which was upvoted to the top of Reddit within hours of appearing, is pretty compelling from a marketing standpoint, for a few reasons:

  • Grylls responded to the AMA questions via YouTube videos, which were linked and hosted on a website called The Adrenalist.
  • The Adrenalist is a microsite created by Degree Men, a brand of antiperspirant. The videos were uploaded to Degree Men’s YouTube channel.
  • The personalized video responses from Grylls confirmed his identity, but also sent readers away from Reddit, which is not typical for an AMA thread.

A bit of sleuthing revealed that the Degree Men Twitter account was also playing along, and sending its followers to Grylls’ responses. It became apparent that Degree Men (and its agency, Weber Shandwick) had instigated a perfect storm of content marketing — that is, placing its content at the top of a high-traffic destination where users were thrilled to find and interact with it.

“[Weber Shandwick] had been tracking the existence of the Bear meme for some time,” Aaron Calloway, senior brand building manager for Degree, tells Mashable. “The format was brought to Bear under the conditions of being upfront with redditors, having a sense of humor, as well as a lack of branding on the videos and overall AMA.”

“In this case, some of the people involved [with] Degree were Reddit users and set this up,” says Martin. “They actually contacted us about how to do this the right way. There was no money involved, we just answered questions and gave some basic advice. More importantly, Bear Grylls has a lot of interest on Reddit. The fact that he was a good sport about the ubiquitous ‘better drink my own piss’ jokes made it even more interesting.”

It’s clear that Degree understood the Reddit community before attempting the campaign, and that’s the clear takeaway here. “Redditors are good people, and so is Bear,” says Calloway. “We knew they would appreciate [him] taking the meme in stride, having some fun with it all, and showing everybody what a classy guy he is. He was game from the start, and loved the questions.”

And the payoff?

“We anticipated an enthusiastic response, but the amount of traffic was incredible,” Calloway notes. “The initial surge even temporarily overwhelmed the site, so we quickly switched to our ‘Plan B’ and continued the conversation through our YouTube channel without missing a beat. The site was soon back up, and suffice it to say, we had our best traffic day ever. We saw some numbers any media site would be proud of.”

Watch Bear Grylls’ AMA Video Responses

Bear Grylls - Is This Really Bear Grylls?

Bear confirms his identity.

Bear Grylls - What three things do you always take with you into the wild?

Never leave home without these.

Bear Grylls - How do your wife and kids react when you eat the things you do?

It's dangerous out there.

Bear Grylls - If you only had one piece of advice for the wild what would it be?

Adventurer's wisdom.

Bear Grylls - What made you want to be an adventurer?

Bear Grylls - What is the worst place you've ever survived in?

Bear Grylls - Was there ever an animal or an insect that made you go "you've gotta be joking?"

Bear Grylls - How do you rate yourself compared to some of the other survival guys?

Bear Grylls - How do you feel about being such an iconic figure?

Bear Grylls - Where do you think you'd be now if you weren't on TV?

Bear Grylls - Where do you think you'd be now if you weren't on TV?

Bear Grylls - What are you most proud of?

Bear Grylls - What's the most surprising place you've ever survived in?

Bear Grylls - What was the least favorite thing you've ever eaten?

Bear Grylls - What was it like working with Will Ferrell?

Bear Grylls - Is the cameraman forced to do everything that you do?

More About: celebrities, features, Marketing, memes, reddit, Social Media

Fall TV Goes Social: What to Watch Friday and Sunday

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 05:04 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 27 new shows are battling it out for a permanent slot on the fall schedule. The broadcast networks are embracing social media and using networks like Facebook and Twitter to promote their new shows.

Its increasingly difficult to find new shows airing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. This year, there aren’t any new TV series airing on Saturday nights. Only two new shows are hitting the air on Friday nights with another three arriving Sunday.

While its easy for Friday and Sunday programming to fly under the radar, we’re already seeing the networks take more bullish approaches to some of these shows. ABC has done a great job building buzz for both Pan Am and Once Upon a Time. Meanwhile, CBS is getting great critical buzz from A Gifted Man.

Check out what new shows are coming to TV on Friday and Sunday nights this fall — and let us know your picks by taking our poll.

A Gifted Man

Start Date: Friday, Sept. 23, 2011
Time Slot: 8:00 p.m. ET - 9:00 p.m ET
Network: CBS

Description: "A Gifted Man is a drama about a brilliant, charismatic surgeon whose life changes forever when his deceased ex-wife begins teaching him the meaning of life from the 'hereafter.'"

How It's Using Social Media: CBS has a comprehensive social media strategy for all of its fall shows, including A Gifted Man. In addition to maintaining Facebook and Twitter pages for the show, show star Patrick Wilson also answered fan questions via video.

How to Follow: You can like A Gifted Man and follow @AGiftedMan_CBS on Twitter.


Start Date: Friday, Oct. 21, 2011
Time Slot: 9:00 p.m. ET - 10:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBC

Description: Inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales. "Portland homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli, "Turn The Beat Around") discovers he is descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as "Grimms," charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world."

How It's Using Social Media: NBC is offering the usual bounty of Facebook, Twitter and NBC Fan It Rewards, but in different move, the Grimm crew is also maintaining a production blog.

Over the last few months, guest posts have been published from the costume designer, stunt coordinator and others associated with the show. Frankly, we wish more television programs would take that kind of initiative.

How to Follow: You can follow @NBCGrimm on Twitter and like Grimm on Facebook.

Pan Am

Start Date: Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011
Time Slot: 10:00 p.m. ET - 11:00 p.m. ET
Network: ABC

Description: "Welcome to 1963: a time when only a lucky few could take flight, experience a global adventure or gain a front-row seat to history. Those lucky few flew Pan Am, the largest, most prestigious airline in the world. More than Coca-Cola, Elvis Presley or the transistor, Pan Am exported American culture to the world abroad and brought that world back to American shores."

How It's Using Social Media: ABC is going all out with is social and digital campaign for Pan Am. In addition to official Twitter and Facebook accounts, the network has set-up a number of social promotions.

On Facebook, ABC has a Pan AM My Flight Crew that lets users assemble their own flight crews, create postcards and more. They are also running a promotion called Pan Am Tweet Flight that rewards fans for tweeting about the show with a chance at winning a nifty Pan Am travel bag.

How to Follow: Follow @PanAmABC on Twitter and like PanAmABC on Facebook.

Once Upon a Time

Start Date: Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011
Time Slot: 8:00 p.m. ET - 9:00 p.m. ET
Network: ABC

Description: "From the inventive minds of Lost executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis comes a bold new imagining of the world, where fairy tales and the modern-day are about to collide."

How It's Using Social Media: Once Upon a Time managed to build major buzz at San Diego Comic Con and has already amassed over 193,000 fans on Facebook.

The show's Facebook page contains a well-designed widget that includes behind-the-scenes videos, tweets from the cast and news updates.

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

Allen Gregory

Start Date: Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011
Time Slot: 8:30 p.m. ET - 9:00 p.m. ET
Network: Fox

Description: "Allen Gregory is a new animated series that tells the story of one of the most pretentious 7-year-olds of our time."

How It's Using Social Media: This animated series, which was created by Jonah Hill, has official accounts for Facebook and Twitter.

Many of the voice actors, including Hill, are also on Twitter.

How to Follow: You can like Allen Gregory on Facebook and follow @AllenGregoryFox on Twitter.

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: Fall TV Goes Social Series, social tv

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5 Content Lessons for Non-Profits on Tumblr

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 04:35 PM PDT

Non-profits, like many other businesses and organizations, are finding that Tumblr can be a home run for content sharing and storytelling. The viral blogging platform offers easy tagging, image posting and video sharing.

But don’t get too excited just yet. A killer Tumblr post is different from one on Blogger or WordPress. Before launching your blog, you should think a bit about how to build your brand on Tumblr. Unlike other blogging platforms, short, behind-the-scenes style posts are preferred over lengthy editorials.

Of course, non-profits hold a very special place in the social blogging space. Tumblr can be a great platform for attracting a new audience and telling your story.

SEE ALSO: HOW TO: Create a Group Tumblr Blog

If you’re thinking Tumblr may be a great fit for your non-profit, or if you’re looking for ways to spruce up your organization’s presence on the platform, we have some great ideas for you. Here are five important lessons from non-profits doing an awesome job on Tumblr. Take a look and see what works for them and let us know in the comments if you have any tips of your own.

1. Draw in Outsiders

Tumblr's tags are a great way to appeal to people who've never heard of your non-profit.

Meatless Monday, which campaigns for people go meat-free for one day of the week, posts tasty food photos and recipes (like this one for grilled pepper ring pizza). A search for "pizza recipes," for example, can bring in new users that might not have known about the non-profit and its cause.

2. Have Some Personality

Your posts should be more than just advertising for your non-profit. Sharing interesting images and videos differentiates your Tumblr from a mailing list.

This memorable image stating, "Cutting Libraries in a recession is like cutting hospitals in a plague," gets First Book's mission across in a creative, shareable way.

3. Use Cool Visuals

A great image reflecting your cause shows your creative side and will attract lots of like-minded shares.

For example, the Harm Reduction Coalition posted this image of two crossed arms forming a support ribbon that we think does the trick.

4. Show Off Your Success

Tumblr is not the place for your annual report, but that doesn't mean you can't show off your great work.

Photos like this one, posted by Good Neighbors USA, are the types of updates your subscribers want to see. An image of your latest project will go farther on the social blogging platform than a detailed update.

5. Tell Video Stories

While we don't encourage lengthy company updates, videos can be a fresh way to tell your story on Tumblr.

Tumblr is ideal for video messages, as in this Doctors Without Borders post, which is narrated by a field worker in their Djibouti clinic.

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.

More About: blogging, features, non-profits, Social Good, tumblr

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7 Tips for Designing a Successful Photo Contest

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 03:26 PM PDT

Luis Sanz is a co-founder of Olapic, a company that helps brands and online publishers crowdsource photos on their site or Facebook fan pages to create a more engaging user experience. You can follow him on Twitter @lsanza.

If you haven’t noticed, photos are big on the social web right now. Running a contest is a great way to tap into that content and boost community engagement in a fun and social way.

When planning a photo contest, keep these seven tips in mind — you will easily increase the effectiveness of your photo-related contest. If you have any other advice, leave a comment!

1. Define What You're Trying to Achieve

First of all, define your objectives for creating a photo contest. Whatever your objective, write it down and define the metrics that will track your progress.

For instance, if you're trying to increase traffic, your key metrics might be number of unique visitors and pageviews. On the other hand, if you're attempting to build an engaged community, number of registrations, photos uploaded and actions (likes and comments) will be your key metrics.

Image courtesy of Mashable staffer Zoe Fox

2. Offer Something That People Want

People enter contests because they want to win something. So, in order to boost participation, make sure that the winning photographer will be properly rewarded. Offering an attractive prize doesn't have to be expensive, however. You can offer the winner(s) gift cards, discounts, or simply recognition. For example, featuring their photo on your homepage is an easy way to award your users notoriety while leveraging their content for your editorial needs.

Image courtesy of Mashable staffer Matt Silverman

3. Make It SMART

Use this practical acronym to define your contest. Here's the breakdown:

  • Specific: Define the rules of the contest, its duration and how the winner will be notified. Make sure that you pick a contest theme, and then verify that submitted photos relate to that topic. Make the theme easily interpretable to avoid a collection of random photos that visitors won't understand.
  • Measurable: Define how you select a winner (votes, most viewed, panel selection, etc.), and make these rules are clear from the beginning. Our experience says that votes across social networks is the best way to increase engagement -- and traffic.
  • Attainable: Photos democratize participation because everyone can take one. Just make sure that there are enough people in your user base that can participate, and don't be too restrictive with the submission terms.
  • Relevant: As mentioned earlier, reward your winner with something they value -- something worthy of the effort. Also be sure to correlate that prize directly with your product or service.
  • Time: Your contest must be bracketed within a timeframe. People get bored and lose interest with contests that are too long. Our experience shows that two weeks is the optimal duration to effectively engage the most people during the contest duration.

Image courtesy of Mashable staffer Meghan Peters

4. Appeal To the Creativity of Your Audience

It's amazing how creative people can be with a camera, an app grain or a Photoshop edit. Keep in mind that users will perform beyond expectation, if few restrictions are placed on their creativity. For example, if your contest is sponsored and users are asked to take photos showcasing a product, don't place further limitations. Or if you're planning an event/product launch, why not let contest participants design its publicity poster? The genius of your audience will amaze you.

Image courtesy of Mashable staffer Stephanie Buck

5. Make It Social

The social media revolution has simplified the way we share our photos. Leverage it by using social media tools in your contest. For example, by letting people vote, they will have an incentive to share their submission with friends, thus increasing the number of referrals and activity around your contest.

Another way to leverage social networks is by letting people contribute directly from them. For example, allow them to upload a picture from Facebook or Tumblr. Not only will this simplify the submission process, but participants will be more likely to record the submission on those feeds.

Image courtesy of Mashable staffer Louis Dorman

6. Pick (and Promote) a Winner

If you have followed the previous tips, picking a winner should be easy. And remember that the day the contest ends, you'll have an additional opportunity to engage your audience and create more buzz. When you pick a winner, promote it on your website, through your newsletter and across all your social networks. Not only will your site get an additional wave of traffic, but your involvement will encourage users to participate in future initiatives.

Image courtesy of Mashable staffer Todd Olmstead

7. Track Your Results

For optimal performance, track the contest while it's taking place. Then once it's complete, review the numbers for ways to improve the next contest.

If your goal was more traffic, check where that traffic originated (Twitter, Facebook, email newsletters, etc.). Was it social? If so, is there something you can do to make it even more social next time? If you were gaining a lot of traffic from search engines, how can you improve the SEO of other site content?

If you were looking for more registered users or clients, check your analytics funnel. How many users registered because of the contest? How often did they return to the site afterwards? How many purchased something?

If you were just looking for relevant content, how many new photos did you receive compared to number of total participants? How much traffic did that generate as a result?

Image courtesy of Mashable staffer Brie Manakul

Image courtesy of Flickr, Thomas Hawk

More About: gamification, How-To, photo, Social Media

Razorbombing: Latest Internet Meme Brought to You by Schick [PICS]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 02:53 PM PDT

The next online fad may be brought to you by Schick.

The razor brand, a unit of Energizer Holdings, has introduced “razorbombing,” the practice of taking a photo with a razor in the foreground to create a visual pun — much like planking and stocking. The brand executed a buy on BuzzFeed Thursday to jump start the effort. Branding for the would-be meme is subtle, but users can click through to the Schick Xtreme3′s “Shave the World” contest, where they can win up to $10,000 for their witty use of razorbombing.

Andrew Foote, senior vice president of Edelman Digital, the agency behind the effort, says the effort is an example of a “bottom-up campaign” that involves consumers in the creative process. Foote says the campaign is more about involvement than trying to create a new meme per se.

The campaign also ties in with the Schick Xtreme3′s “refresh” brand positioning, which revolves around the idea of shaking up your lifestyle. The brand has already seen some success by positioning the Schick Xtreme 3′s Twitter feed, which has gotten a respectable 13,500 followers in about three months.

The effort follows a successful Twitter marketing campaign for another Energizer brand, Edge Shave Gel, which rewarded users who tweeted about their irritating life experiences using the #soirritating hashtag.

What do you think of this campaign? Let us know in the comments if you think a brand can create a meme.













More About: Energizer, Marketing, memes, Schick, Twitter

HOW TO: Follow London Fashion Week Online

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 02:17 PM PDT

London Fashion Week kicked off Friday, and like their counterparts in New York, designers and the press are leveraging the web to showcase their work to virtual audiences far larger than those present at shows.

Of the 68 catwalk shows and 37 presentations to take place over the next six days, 32 of them will live stream the unveiling of their Spring/Summer 2012 collections. See the schedule below and tune in on the live stream page. Still more will be uploading backstage footage via their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram accounts.

Meanwhile, members of the fashion press will be churning out 140-character reviews and mobile snapshots live from the shows, while posting longer, slideshow-accompanied reviews on their respective news sites.

For those of you who won’t be in London this week, we’ve gathered together the best resources for following London Fashion Week online below.

Live Video

Live video of the runway shows will be streamed here.

For a comprehensive schedule, see below.

Paul Costelloe
Friday, Sept. 16, 9 a.m. BT / 4 a.m. ET

Caroline Charles
Friday, Sept. 16, 11 a.m. BT / 6 a.m. ET

Bora Aksu
Friday, Sept. 16, 1 p.m. BT / 8 a.m. ET

Jean-Pierre Braganza
Friday, Sept. 16, 3 p.m. BT / 10 a.m. ET

Felder Felder
Friday, Sept. 16, 5 p.m. BT / 12 p.m. ET

Ann-Sofie Back Atelje / BACK
Friday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m. BT / 2 p.m. ET

Friday, Sept. 16, 8:30 p.m. BT / 3:30 p.m. ET

Saturday, Sept. 17, 9 a.m. BT / 4 a.m. ET

Saturday, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. BT / 6 a.m. ET

Jasper Conran
Saturday, Sept. 17, 1 p.m. BT / 8 a.m. ET

Jaeger London
Saturday, Sept. 17, 3 p.m. BT / 10 a.m. ET

John Rocha
Saturday, Sept. 17, 5 p.m. BT / 2 p.m. ET

Issa London
Saturday, Sept. 17, 8 p.m. BT / 3 p.m. ET

Holly Fulton
Sunday, Sept. 18, 2 p.m. BT / 9 a.m. ET

Sunday, Sept. 18, 3 p.m. BT / 10 a.m. ET

Marios Schwab
Sunday, Sept. 18, 4 p.m. BT / 11 a.m. ET

Peter Pilotto
Monday, Sept. 19, 9 a.m. BT / 4 a.m. ET

Michael van deer Ham
Monday, Sept. 19, 11 a.m. BT / 6 a.m. ET

Mark Fast
Monday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m. BT / 8 a.m. ET

Burberry Prorsum
Monday, Sept. 19, 4 p.m. BT / 11 a.m. ET

Louise Gray
Monday, Sept. 19, 5:30 p.m. BT / 2:30 p.m. ET

Todd Lynn
Monday, Sept. 19, 6:30 p.m. BT / 1:30 p.m. ET

Mary Katrantzou
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 9 a.m. BT / 4 a.m. ET

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 12 p.m. BT / 7 a.m. ET

Meadham Kirchhoff
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2 p.m. BT / 9 a.m. ET

David Koma
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 4 p.m. BT / 11 a.m. ET

Danielle Scutt
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 5 p.m. BT / 2 p.m. ET

Aminaka Wilmont
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 6:30 p.m. BT / 1:30 p.m. ET

Christopher Shannon
Monday, Sept. 19, 9:45 a.m. BT / 4:45 a.m. ET

Monday, Sept. 19, 10:30 a.m. BT / 5:30 a.m. ET

Topman Design
Monday, Sept. 19, 12:30 p.m. BT / 7:30 a.m. ET

James Long
Monday, Sept. 19, 2:30 p.m. BT / 9:30 a.m. ET

Monday, Sept. 19, 4:30 p.m. BT / 11:30 a.m. ET


If you prefer live tweets to live video, we have a few favorites we recommend you follow.

Up-to-the-minute updates from the official London Fashion Week Twitter account.

Play-by-play tweets from The Telegraph‘s fashion director.

Front row and backstage coverage from The Daily.

Commentary and photos from U.S. fashion trade publication Women’s Wear Daily.

Christopher Bailey, chief creative officer of Burberry, is taking over the brand’s Twitter handle for the week.

Twitpic-accompanied commentary from the shows by Wall Street Journal style columnist Christina Binkley.

Copious amounts of backstage beauty tips and photos from Teen Vogue‘s Eva Chen.

Fashion News Sites

For those of you who prefer more editorially heavy coverage, here our top five picks for fashion news throughout the week.

Some of the most intelligent collection reviews during Fashion Week, accompanied by comprehensive slideshows and videos from the runway. If you’re more interested in behind-the-scenes stories, see’s People + Parties section.

The Telegraph

Interviews, reviews and trend stories from one of the leading fashion sections in the U.K.

Women’s Wear Daily

Reviews and highlights from the collections.

On the Runway

The New York Times‘ style blog contains short updates from on and around the runway, often accompanied by slideshows.

Heard on the Runway

Editorial coverage and slideshows from The Wall Street Journal.

Image courtesy of

More About: fashion, features, How-To, lfw, london fashion week

Emmys 2011: Twitter Takes On The Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 01:54 PM PDT

Who will win an Emmy Award on Sunday night? We can’t put you in a time machine, but we do have plenty of stats from both Twitter and the mainstream media that show who’s getting the most pre-show buzz as of Wednesday.

This exclusive infographic, courtesy of Zinio and Webtrends, measured the interest generated by nominees in the top categories. Media mentions were taken from more than 200,000 magazines, while the Twitter traffic was measured by Webtrends, who focused on which shows and stars are getting favorable mentions in tweets.

Who’s going home with the hardware? Preshow buzz doesn’t necessarily predict the winners, but check out which stars and shows are both occupying the top spot in these Twitter and media meters, and that might give you an idea. For example, the show Glee and 30 Rock‘s Alec Baldwin are both capturing the most attention both in media and Twitter, so that might be an indicator.

SEE ALSO: Watch the 2011 Emmys Live with Mashable

The Emmy Awards show starts Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, with the pre-show at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox.

Infographic courtesy Zinio and Webtrends

More About: Emmys 2011, infographics, Pre-show buzz

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Rahm Emanuel Joins Foursquare With Launch of Windy City Badge

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 01:33 PM PDT

chicago badge

While many people can claim to be a mayor on Foursquare, one of the social location-based service’s newest members held the title long before his first checkin.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel joined Foursquare Friday, using the handle ChicagosMayor. Emanuel joins the network as Chicago and Foursquare launch the first official City Badge, predictably dubbed the “Windy City Badge.”

"I am committed to leveraging new technologies to celebrate Chicago's diversity and drive interest in small businesses,” Emanuel said at the launch event Friday, alongside Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai.

Foursquare users can earn the Windy City Badge by checking into five of 20 designated cultural and small business attractions, including the Jane Addams Hull-House, the Oriental Institute Museum and the Garfield Park Conservatory. Interestingly, these are not the most conventional Chicago tourism destinations, such as the Art Institute, Shedd Aquarium or Field Museum. The choice of locations demonstrates the badge really is about exploring and getting to know the city.

SEE ALSO: New York Mayor Proclaims April 16 Foursquare Day

“He’s using Foursquare to allow people to connect with the Mayor, and for the Mayor to connect with the city,” says Kevin Hauswirth, the mayor’s director of social media. “I would not be surprised if you did see him checking in to a lunch chat with the police department about safety. It won’t just be big public official things, he’ll very actively allow people to keep up with him.”

In addition to choosing a director of social media, Emanuel appointed a chief technical officer and chief data officer when he was elected in February.

The City of Chicago also unveiled an online mapping tool of the city Thursday, showing where the mayor and other city officials have visited. Each point includes photos of meetings with residents and community leaders. You can also suggest destinations you would like him to visit.

Chicago Google Map

“The mayor is less interested in doing things that everyone else has thought of and more interested in stuff that nobody else has done,” Hauswirth says. On June 30, Emanuel was the first mayor of a major city to host a Facebook town hall. He is also Chicago’s first mayor on Twitter, @ChicagosMayor.

More About: foursquare, Politics, U.S.

In MasterCard’s Future, You Can Buy Things by Waving at Your TV

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 01:19 PM PDT

If a prototype from MasterCard ever becomes a commercial product, you’ll be able to order and pay for a pizza by waving at your TV from the couch.

This integration with Xbox Kinect is just one of several mobile payment technologies that MasterCard displayed at a showcase for journalists Thursday.

While the focus of the event was Google Wallet — a payment app for which MasterCard is an exclusive launch partner — MasterCard also showed off ideas it has for mobile payments in the future.

Google Wallet combines multiple credit cards, loyalty programs and Google Offers into one place and allows customers to pay with these accounts by swiping phones at a checkout terminal. MasterCard’s prototypes, however, extend the functionality of mobile payment technology far beyond the checkout line.

A prototype app called QkR, for instance, initiates payments from just about anywhere. The app reads QR codes from posters or a TV screen and responds with an option to purchase an item. Like popular song-identifier Shazam, it can also pick up a cue from TV signals that pull up a relavant shopping opportunity.

In another demonstration, the app reads an NFC tag on the table of a fast food restaurant and allows users to view the menu and place an order directly from their smartphones.

Most impressive — or frightening, depending on how you look at it — was the Xbox Kinect prototype. To purchase a product on TV, users simply wave their hands at an icon in the corner of the screen. They can then select purchasing options like size and quantity with the same movements. After they check out, the receipt is sent to the QkR app.

“It doesn’t necessarily even have to be something that the programming is selling,” explains MasterCard senior software designer Stephen Elder.

Another application of this tech involved being able to pull up shopping menus at any time using a gesture or voice command. Elder demonstrated this by putting his hand to his mouth in an “I’m hungry” gesture. The TV pulled up a take-out menu and he ordered a milkshake without moving from in front of the TV.

According to MasterCard, there is no timeline for introducing these prototypes as commercial products. The Xbox Kinect feature, for instance, will be much easier in a future where TVs and other devices, not just the Xbox Kinect, come with wave-to-play technology. MasterCard would also need to convince TV broadcasters to add appropriate metadata to TV signals before either the Kinect or audio features would work.

For now, the prototypes are a small taste of how mobile payments could transform the experience of buying anything — and how dangerously easy it could become.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, photo.bugz

More About: kinect, mastercard, mobile payments, nfc

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Listen & Spin in Mashable’s Turntable.FM Room With Eclectic Female Stars

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 12:59 PM PDT

It’s fall already, and temperatures are cooling off — but the music is still hot in Turntable. Following a successful series of Summer Fridays, Mashable and the Musebox are proud to announce our first Fall Friday room.

If you’re still unfamiliar with the year’s hottest social music service, here’s the lowdown. is a service where your avatar stands in a virtual room listening to music and chatting; you can also jump on the decks and play any song in the extensive Turntable library (or upload your own). If enough people hit the “lame” button, the song gets skipped; hit “awesome” and your avatar bobs its head, while the DJ gets points they can put towards a new avatar.

Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET, we’ll be playing host to three eccentric, eclectic female artists: Novi, Anomie Belle and CALLmeKAT. Come join us here — on the web or on Turntable’s brand new iPhone app.

More About: Music,

For more Entertainment coverage:

Bump Hits 50 Million Downloads; What’s Being Shared? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 12:38 PM PDT

Bump, the app that makes it simple to exchange information between mobile devices, has surpassed 10 million active users and 50 million downloads.

The company’s technology allows two users to “bump” their phones and exchange contact information. With the iOS and Android apps, users can also friend or follow each other on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. And late last year, the company introduced a way to share music by bumping.

“Pretty quickly, we realized we hadn’t just built a contact information exchange app,” Bump CEO Dave Lieb explained in a blog post. “What we really had built was a way to share any type of content and interact with others, physically, in the real world, as opposed to just the virtual worlds of social networks and email.”

Today, Bump shared some of its growth and revealed the most-shared games and songs on its platform via the infographic below. The company says 15 million things are bumped every week, resulting in 17.12 photos shared per second.

Bump Technologies raised $16 million in funding in a Series B round last year. Bump counts Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia Capital, Sherpalo, SV Angel and Y Combinator as investors.

More About: bump, infographic, iOS app, startup

Force For Good: Comedy Celebs Remake Star Wars in 3 Minutes for Cancer Charity [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 11:57 AM PDT

A host of comedians decided to rip apart classic Star Wars scenes to benefit Stand Up 2 Cancer, a charity that raises money and awareness to put an end to cancer.

The three-minute video showcases an earnest Emma Stone trying not to crack up, Aziz Ansari playing a frustrated Darth Vader, Zach Galifianakis doing a disturbing impression of Princess Leia and many more cameos. It’s great to see some top notch comedians get together for a cause — even if the actual campaign message is a little confusing.

The spoofs are timed to Star Wars‘ Blu-ray release, but it’s still nice to see the movies’ licenses used for a good cause. Check out the video above and let us know who you think did the best parody.

For more Social Good coverage:

The Amazing Race Checks In With Foursquare

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 11:46 AM PDT

CBS has rolled out a new Foursquare brand page for its hit reality show, The Amazing Race.

The Foursquare brand page coincides with the tenth anniversary of the Emmy-winning reality competition series. Users can follow AmazingRace_CBS on Foursquare and get updated when teams on the show check in at new locations.

CBS is also using The Amazing Race brand page to promote various video travel tips from show host Phil Keoghan. CBS tells us it’s the first brand to integrate video into the tips, but we haven’t been able to confirm whether this is accurate.

In addition to the video tips and team checkins, Amazing Race fans can also get access to various bits of trivia, fun facts and photos at locations that teams have visited during the past ten years.

Linking The Amazing Race with Foursquare makes a ton of sense — indeed, we’re actually surprised it took this long for the network to embrace the location-based social network.

Let us know what you think of the promotion in the comments.

Video Tips from Phil Keoghan

More About: foursquare, location-based networking, The Amazing Race

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iPhone Latest: Two Models, Production Delays [RUMOR]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 11:12 AM PDT

The iPhone 5 is likely to make its debut in the next few weeks, but could production and design issues make it a difficult device to find?

Apple is expected to hold a press event to unveil its next-generation smartphone in the next few weeks, The New York Times is reporting. This isn’t news — Sprint pretty much gave the date away, canceling store employee vacation for the first two weeks of October.

Meanwhile, 9to5mac‘s sources say that two Apple phones will be launching in the near future. This fits with the rumor that Apple intends to launch a cheaper iCloud-based iPhone that will include prepaid plans and look similar to the iPhone 4.

The second phone, the iPhone 5, is apparently “a sight to behold” because it is “impossibly light, yet much firmer than Samsung Galaxy phones.” We’ve heard that the new iPhone will sport a wider screen and a curved aluminum back, much like the iPad 2.

Getting your hands on the new iPhone may be easier said than done. One of the major assembly lines for the iPhone is apparently experiencing “continued design and production delays,” which could result in iPhone 5 shortages well into 2012.

More About: apple, iphone, iPhone 5, Top Stories

9 Essential Resources for User Interface Designers

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 11:07 AM PDT

The Web Design Usability Series is supported by, an easy way to instantly share your screen with anyone. lets you collaborate on-the-fly, put your heads together super-fast and even just show off.

Designing a great user interface can be a challenge, even for the most seasoned designer. Countless factors need to be taken into consideration and the difference between a good UI and a great one often boils down to paying close attention to the smallest details.

SEE ALSO: 7 Best Practices for Improving Your Website's Usability

When undertaking such an important and often complex task, it's helpful to have some handy resources for both education and inspiration. We've put together a list of some of our favorites below. Since we can only scratch the surface of the wide variety of UI design resources available, we invite you to share yours in the comments.

Design Inspiration

Let's start off by taking a look at three great galleries for UI design inspiration.

1. MephoBox

MephoBox is a design showcase that catalogs sites with beautiful interfaces and also collections of common site elements, such as login forms, headers, pagination, and so on. If you're looking for ideas or approaches to designing specific page elements, MephoBox collections can be a great source of inspiration.

2. UI Patterns

UI Patterns showcases user interface design patterns – com-only recurring trends and best practices in UI design for a variety of elements. Providing more detail than a basic gallery, UI Patterns showcases design patterns, discusses their usage, and the problems each pattern aims to solve, and in what way.

3. Pattern Tap

Pattern Tap is one of the more well-known UI design showcases and is similar to MephoBox in its design pattern collections. Unlike MephoBox, though, the collections are a bit more varied (the site currently baosts 45 collection catagories to MephoBox's 16), including a showcase of elements like modal windows, slideshows, comments, adevertising design and placement, and more.

Reading up on UI Design

Sometimes it's not enough to simply look at a design showcase. Often, you'll want to read about a particular design pattern or approaches to a problem, as well. So here are three great educational resources for boning up on UI design.

4. Inspire UX

Inspire UX is a user experience design blog that features articles, quotes, case studies and explorations into the world of user experience and interface design. A great resource, Inspire UX articles cover a broad range of topics from book reviews to helpful tips and well-thought explorations into existing design patterns and implementations.

5. UX Magazine

UX Magazine is a user experience and design publication dedicated to "elevating user experience, one article at a time." With plenty of original content as well as technical and inspirational design roundups from around the web, UX Magazine explores the details that make a great user experience. If you're looking for information on best practices, creative problem solving resources or a better understanding of those problems, UX Magazine is chock full of great articles to assist you.

6. UI Scraps

This blog by designer Jason Robb showcases interesting and insightful user interfaces. The great thing about UI Scraps is that the site isn't simply a showcase of great work. Robb brings you the bad along with the good, making it a great resource for learning what not to do. The tone of the blog is conversational and casual, but Mr. Robb's remarks are spot-on and UI scraps is a fun, interesting resource for UI design practices.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Still what more? Looking for something a little more technical? UI design isn't just about making a pretty picture. There's a lot of science behind the methodologies and patterns we use every day. Here are a few sites that delve even further into the technical and scientific aspects of UI design.

7. Web Design Practices

If statistics are what you're after, Web Design Practices is the place to be. The site showcases and describes several common web design elements, practices, and patterns and discusses frequency of use and effectiveness of each. Many examples are also provided and, wherever possible, links are provided to relevant research data, so you can take a first-hand look at the study yourself.

8. User Interface Engineering

UIE is a professional organization for user interface designers and UI experts. UIE provides education and training to its members and the public at large through conferences, articles, virtual siminars, and other publications. On the UIE site, you'll find a plethora of great articles covering a variety of UI and UX design topics, many of which have plenty of scientific and research data to back them up.

9. Boxes and Arrows

Boxes and Arrows is another great online publication dedicated to exploring the art and science of UI design. It has articles and research materials on best practices, techniques, and user behavior and expectations. There are also a number of case studies, interviews and product reviews, as well as a podcats. If you want to truly understand UI design, Boxes and Arrows is an invaluable resource.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, violetkaipa

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The Web Design Usability Series is supported by, an easy way to instantly share your screen with anyone. lets you collaborate on-the-fly, put your heads together super-fast and even just show off. The possibilities are endless. How will you use Try it today.

More About: features, UI Design, web design, Web Design Usability Series, Web Development

Content Strategy: 7 Tips to Make Your Blog Stickier

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 09:53 AM PDT

Shane Snow is co-founder of, a marketplace for freelance journalists and brands-turned-publishers.

Bounce rates are the bane of a blog’s existence. The higher the number, the less engaged the reader (and the more depressed the blogger). A sticky blog means more engaged users. It means more opportunities to turn them into advocates who then share your content.

The following seven tips will help you increase the time visitors spend on your blog and the chances they’ll return often.

1. Mix Stock and Flow Content

According to Noah Brier of Percolate, one key to a sticky blog is having a balance between “stock” and “flow” content.

“Stock” content is the bedrock of a blog. It’s original, typically longer-form content that’s insightful and outstanding. This is what keeps people coming back hungrily for your expertise or unique wit. A clear voice and angle that people can count on is often the hallmark of good bedrock content.

“Flow” content is shorter, curated links and excerpts from related content around the web. Think of it like what The Huffington Post or Buzzfeed do: They take web content their readers are likely to be interested in and put their own commentary on it, linking back to the full text off-site. Without the commentary, you’re just another aggregator; and without proper attribution and linking to the original source, you jeopardize your relationship with the original site (and break copyright law if you plagiarize parts of or the whole post).

This mix between meatier content and quick-hit aggregation helps you to stay top-of-mind with readers, increase your refresh rate and also develop your own reputation. Eventually, the goal of a sticky blog is to get people to stay on the blog, so you’ll notice that sites like The Huffington Post produce more and more original content all the time.

2. Personalize

Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot, said in a keynote address at this week’s Inbound Marketing Summit, that the “next big thing” in content marketing is optimizing the middle of the funnel through personalization.

When speaking of’s recommendation engine, Halligan says, “It’s eerie how well they know me.” The more you shop on Amazon, the smarter the recommendations become. That in turn, makes you more likely to shop on Amazon, creating a virtuous cycle.

In the same way, blogs that can serve up suggested content to individual readers based on their choices can see exponential retention. Smart widgets on many CMS can do this to a degree, and technology in this area is being developed all the time by sites like Outbrain and SimpleReach.

“Every action someone takes on your ‘site’ allows you to more personalize,” Halligan says.

3. Let Your Blog Live On, Off-Blog

The blog is a hub for your content, but social media channels can be spokes that lead people to you. Don’t be afraid to let your content spread. In fact, encourage it.

Repackage your blog posts into shorter bites for Tumblr or Facebook. Share your headlines, quotes or key insights on Twitter and LinkedIn. Pursue syndication opportunities on related sites so you can get your content to stick with new audiences. All of this leads people back to your site, having built your reputation off-site.

4. Do Post Series

Want people to keep coming back to your blog? Create some anticipation with post series. Instead of writing a comprehensive, 3,000-word post on the “ultimate guide to whatever,” split it out into bite-sized chunks and release it slowly. This not only gives you the chance to dive deeper into your points, but it also creates the opportunity to get readers to “tune in” regularly.

Take a cue from cable TV: Instead of a marathon, release a mini-series.

5. Email Your Blog Out

Many people don’t go out and just read blogs. They stumble into them via social media or other channels. So when someone lands on your blog, you may have a small window to catch them and retain them as readers.

Enter the email subscription. You’re already writing for your site; why not repackage a post a day (or week) and email it out to subscribers?

Place an email capture form on each post on your site. First timers who stagger across your content may sign up because they liked the one post they read, and then you have the opportunity to reach them in the place they do the most reading: their inbox.

6. Link Internally Like Mad

You may not remember a blog you discover once through a Twitter link, but you likely will remember a blog you discover and then read 10 posts on. You can increase the stickiness factor of your blog by an order of magnitude if you employ the Wikipedia method of linking judiciously to interesting places on your blog within every post.

Have you ever gone to Wikipedia to look up something mundane, ended up clicking on an interesting link within the page, then another, and all of the sudden realized half an hour has gone by and you’re somehow reading about black holes and time travel? Wikipedia is a black hole itself; its web of internal links gives it amazing sticking power.

You’ll notice that nearly every section of this post has links to other stories on Mashable. Rather than saying, “Oh, please please click here,” the links are seamlessly placed on words and phrases throughout the content. In this way, the passive reader isn’t interrupted, but curious readers can explore a never-ending tree of interesting content.

7. Suggest More Content

Similarly to the internal linking tip above, by recommending similar content at the bottom of your posts, you’ll increase pages per visit and the likelihood of gaining a subscriber rather than a one-time stumbler.

Most people read blogs because they either want to learn something or be entertained. Point them toward related resources after your post to keep them going. This related content doesn’t have to live on your site. If you consistently point out excellent content on other sites, readers will come to think of your blog as an authority. Rather than going to a search engine or opening a million tabs to find info they’re interested in, they’ll just come to your site.

Become a go-to resource, and readers will stick.

Stickiness is one of the best metrics of content’s success. Of course, everything here hinges on the idea that your blog is worth reading. And that only takes time and practice. The good news, however, is that while writing a compelling blog may be an art, stickiness is a science.

Disclosure: Hubspot is a Mashable sponsor.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Auris

More About: blogging, content, features, trending

Speakers From Google, Facebook, Reuters, AllThingsD & Gilt Groupe Sign On to Mashable Media Summit

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 09:00 AM PDT

We're excited to announce new speakers for the Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4, 2011, at The TimesCenter in New York City.

Speakers from Google, Facebook, AllThingsD, Reuters, Gilt Groupe and Chartbeat will join us on stage to discuss how their organizations are seizing the opportunities that are being created by digital innovation and technology.

We’ll be announcing more speakers and the agenda shortly. Early Bird tickets sold out quickly so get your ticket now.

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Paul Berry, CTO, Huffington Post Media Group at AOL
  • Anthony De Rosa, Social Media Editor, Reuters
  • Tony Haile, General Manager, Chartbeat
  • Josh Koppel, co-founder and chief creative officer, ScrollMotion
  • Drake Martinet, Social Media Editor, AllThingsD
  • Alexis Maybank, Founder and President, Gilt Groupe
  • Terry McDonell, editor, Time Inc. Sports Group
  • Andy Mitchell, Strategic Partner Development, Facebook
  • Andrew Nash, Director of Products and Internet Identity, Google
  • Eli Pariser, Author of The Filter Bubble
  • Christy Tanner, general manager and executive vice president, TV Guide Digital
  • Register for Mashable Media Summit 2011 in New York, NY  on Eventbrite

    Sponsorship Opportunities

    A limited number of sponsor opportunities are available for the Mashable Media Summit. This is an excellent opportunity to get in front of Mashable's audience of more than 14 million influential monthly unique visitors and our engaged community across social networks. Contact for opportunities.

    A Look Back at Last Year’s Mashable Media Summit

    Mashable Media Summit

    Times Center

    Sponsors Tables

    Sponsor Tables

    In The Times Center

    CNN Tech Unveils New Redesigned Section

    Adam Hirsch, Mashable COO

    Shira Lazar, Host

    Shira Lazar

    Ricky Van Veen

    Ricky Van Veen, CEO, CollegeHumor / Notional

    More Tips from Ricky Van Veen

    CEO and Co-Founder of Notional and College Humor Ricky Van Veen presents his Ten Web Content Urban Legends — which were outlined by Mashable's Brenna Ehrlich — and is interviewed by Peter Kafka, Senior Editor, All Things Digital.

    Peter Kafka interviews Ricky Van Veen

    CEO and Co-Founder of Notional and College Humor Ricky Van Veen presents his Ten Web Content Urban Legends — which were outlined by Mashable's Brenna Ehrlich — and is interviewed by Peter Kafka, Senior Editor, All Things Digital.

    Peter Kafka Senior Editor of AllThingsD

    Len Berman, Sportscaster / Author

    Len Berman, an Emmy Award-winning sportscaster and New York Times bestselling author, talks about the transition from old media to new media.

    Brian Simpson, Director Social Hospitality at Roger Smith Hotel

    Brian Simpson, director of social hospitality at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York, talks about how the hotel uses social media to engage their customers by sharing their stories through social platforms, video and more.

    Backstage interviews

    Duncan Watts, Yahoo!

    Duncan Watts, the principal research scientist at Yahoo, shares his research about social connections and the dynamics of groups.

    Duncan Watts on Social Media Science

    Duncan Watts, the principal research scientist at Yahoo, shares his research about social connections and the dynamics of groups.

    Vadim Lavrusik on Community

    Vadim Lavrusik, Mashable's community manager, talks about how the newsgathering process works at Mashable and its connection to online and offline communities. He also announced June 30 as Social Media Day, a new fellowship program that Mashable has launched with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, as well as Mashable's new Foursquare page.

    Vadim Lavrusik on Web Content

    Vadim Lavrusik, Mashable's community manager, talks about how the newsgathering process works at Mashable and its connection to online and offline communities. He also announced June 30 as Social Media Day, a new fellowship program that Mashable has launched with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, as well as Mashable's new Foursquare page.

    Vadim Lavrusik announces Social Media Day

    Vadim Lavrusik, Mashable's community manager, talks about how the newsgathering process works at Mashable and its connection to online and offline communities. He also announced June 30 as Social Media Day, a new fellowship program that Mashable has launched with the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, as well as Mashable's new Foursquare page.

    Adam Ostrow interviews Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley

    Mashable Editor-in-Chief Adam Ostrow interviews Dennis Crowley about Foursquare's recent growth and partnerships, and talks about how the company is looking to add more value to badges.

    Adam Ostrow and Dennis Crowley On Stage

    Ostrow and Crowley

    Mashable Editor-in-Chief Adam Ostrow interviews Dennis Crowley about Foursquare's recent growth and partnerships, and talks about how the company is looking to add more value to badges.

    Crowley Announces new Foursquare features

    Mashable Editor-in-Chief Adam Ostrow interviews Dennis Crowley about Foursquare's recent growth and partnerships, and talks about how the company is looking to add more value to badges.

    Christy Wyatt Presents on Motorola Mobile Devices

    Christy Wyatt, Corporate VP of Software & Services Product Management, Motorola Mobile Devices, talks about Motorola's evolution and making connections easier using its devices. She also announced each attendee would be getting a free Motorola phone.

    Christy Wyatt on Mobile Strategies

    Christy Wyatt, Corporate VP of Software & Services Product Management, Motorola Mobile Devices, talks about Motorola's evolution and making connections easier using its devices. She also announced each attendee would be getting a free Motorola phone.

    Christy Wyatt Announces Mobile Phone Giveaway

    Christy Wyatt, Corporate VP of Software & Services Product Management, Motorola Mobile Devices, talks about Motorola's evolution and making connections easier using its devices. She also announced each attendee would be getting a free Motorola phone.


    Christy Wyatt Giving Away Free Phones

    Christy Wyatt, Corporate VP of Software & Services Product Management, Motorola Mobile Devices, talks about Motorola's evolution and making connections easier using its devices. She also announced each attendee would be getting a free Motorola phone.

    Spotlight on Music and Social Media with Singer Josh Charles

    Singer, songwriter and pianist Josh Charles talks about how social media is changing the music industry and the way artists interact with their fans. He also performed for the audience.

    Singer Josh Charles Performs

    Singer, songwriter and pianist Josh Charles talks about how social media is changing the music industry and the way artists interact with their fans. He also performed for the audience.

    Adam Hirsch Announces Lunchtimes!

    Mashable's Tamar Weinberg and Lauren Rubin

    Attendees Line up to Receive Free Phones

    Attendee Shows-off His New Phone

    Dennis Crowley and a New Phone


    Mashable Staff

    Attendees Take a Break

    Networking at Lunch

    Attendees Talk Social Media

    More Social Media Talk

    Afternoon Networking

    Enjoying the Show

    More Networking

    Attendees Mingle

    Enjoying the Media Summit

    In the Foyer

    Attendees Gather

    Networking Time!

    Outside the Hall

    CNN and Mashable Staff

    Taking Action for Social Good with Wendy Harman (Red Cross)

    Wendy Harman, social media manager at the Red Cross, talks about how the organization used social media to share information, gather user-generated content and create dialogue around disasters.

    Dan Rollman, the president and founder of Universal Record Database.

    Universal Record Database Crew

    Adam Hirsch and Shira Lazar Present

    Chris Bruzzo on How Starbucks Uses Social Media

    Chris Bruzzo, VP of Brand, Content & Online at Starbucks Coffee Company, talks about how the company uses "brand journalism" to tell stories, engage its customers, and how it got 1 million customers in stores in one day.

    Chris Bruzzo Presentation

    Chris Bruzzo, VP of Brand, Content & Online at Starbucks Coffee Company, talks about how the company uses "brand journalism" to tell stories, engage its customers, and how it got 1 million customers in stores in one day.

    The Afternoon Keynote Conversation with Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN), KC Estenson (CNN) and Pete Cashmore (Mashable)

    Mashable Founder and CEO Pete Cashmore is interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, renowned neurosurgeon and CNN's general medical correspondent. Both were joined by general manager KC Estenson to chat about journalism and the shifts in traditional and digital media.

    Sanjay Gupta on Stage

    Dr. Sanjay Gupta, KC Estenson and Pete Cashmore

    Gupta, Estenson and Cashmore

    Mashable Founder and CEO Pete Cashmore is interviewed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, renowned neurosurgeon and CNN's general medical correspondent. Both were joined by general manager KC Estenson to chat about journalism and the shifts in traditional and digital media.

    Audience During the Keynote Conversation

    Causing a Scene by Charlie Todd (Improv Everywhere)

    Charlie Todd, the founder of Improv Everywhere, reveals that the group was behind the tourist lane stunt in New York City and explains how the stunt went viral.

    Baratunde Thurston, The Onion

    A Brief Moment in Time with Baratunde Thurston (The Onion)

    Baratunde Thurston, the Web editor of The Onion, gives an entertaining presentation on the future of the business and announces Future: News From 2137.

    A Product Launch from The Onion

    Baratunde Thurston, the Web editor of The Onion, gives an entertaining presentation on the future of the business and announces Future: News From 2137.

    A Chat with Scott Belsky of Behance

    Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance, talks about the growth of Behance and the site's new overhaul and features.

    Scott Belsky of Behance

    Scott Belsky of Behance on Usability

    Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance, talks about the growth of Behance and the site's new overhaul and features.

    Actor Edward Norton Presents DIY Fundraising Site Crowdrise

    Award-winning actor Edward Norton presents his latest venture, Crowdrise, a social good website that allows individuals and organizations to fundraise for grass roots activism campaigns.

    Ed Norton on Philanthropy

    Award-winning actor Edward Norton presents his latest venture, Crowdrise, a social good website that allows individuals and organizations to fundraise for grass roots activism campaigns.

    Edward Norton on His Social Media Efforts

    Award-winning actor Edward Norton presents his latest venture, Crowdrise, a social good website that allows individuals and organizations to fundraise for grass roots activism campaigns.

    Closing Keynote with Alec Ross

    Alec Ross talks about how social media is disrupting foreign policy, including some telling examples.

    Pete Cashmore Gives Closing Remarks

    Mashable Summit Networking Backstage

    Edward Norton Interviewing With Mashable

    A Packed Times Center

    Adam Hirsch, Robert Skinner, Edward Norton

    Adam Ostrow, Edward Norton, Brett Petersel

    Brett Petersel, Shira Lazar and Pete Cashmore

    Networking After the Summit

    Matt Silverman, Mashable

    Baratunde Thurston and Eric Kuhn

    At The Wine and Cheese Hour

    Relaxing After a Successful Event

    Attendees Gather At the Wine Hour

    After-Event Networking

    Enjoying the Wine and Conversation

    Pete Cashmore at After-Event Networking

    Wine and Cheese Hour Networking

    DYN Representatives

    Motorola Booth

    After-Hours Networking

    Close of Day

    Closing out the Conference

    End of the Mashable Media Summit

    More About: mashable media summit, Media

Merciless Alarm Clock App Fights Back When You Shut it Down [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 08:43 AM PDT

Easy-to-pull plugs, snooze button settings and even a simple on/off switch are common alarm clock features that enable oversleeping habits, including those of Pedro Alejandro Wunderlich. After hitting the snooze button for an hour and a half once again, then-student Wunderlich decided that the world needed a less wimpy alarm clock.

“I thought, what if the iPhone could fight back,” he says, “like it would move and I could chase it or it would punch me.”

What he and his business partner Andres Canella came up with is “Wake N Shake: The Merciless Alarm Clock.” The iPhone app does not cause your phone to run or punch you when you hit snooze, but it does make you move. In order to shut off the alarm, you need to shake the phone until the app is satisfied that you’re awake.

In my trial, with the difficulty level set to “painful,” this turned out to be 36 seconds. I did stop shaking the phone for a moment, which meant I lost progress that had to be regained with more time.

Particularly obnoxious alarms including an evil laugh, a hungry bear or a recording of Wunderlich doing an over-the-top impression of the Latin lover stereotype make satisfying the app even more pressing.

Why not just shut the app down? It’s a good loophole but only effective for a couple of seconds before constant push notifications remind you, “It’s time to shake the iPhone.” They don’t stop until you give in.

The basic version of Wake N Shake is free but includes ad. For an extra $0.99, a premium app includes a bigger library of alarms, an ad-free interface and a “merciless” difficulty setting. Of about 12,000 people who have downloaded Wake N Shake in the 8 days it has been live, Wunderlich says about one-third have opted for the paid version.

SEE ALSO: Money-Shredding Alarm Clock Is Completely Unforgiving [PICS]

For him, the intentionally obnoxious app has been a very effective, even pleasant, wake-up mechanism.

“In my home country, Guatemala, when it’s your birthday, your family will set fireworks right outside of your window…and they will burst into your room singing and dancing and they will throw you out of your bed,” he says. “[Using the app] reminds me of waking up like it were my birthday every day.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Lisegagne

More About: Alarm Clock, App, Gadget

How Virgin Galactic Plans to Open Space Travel to the Masses

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 07:45 AM PDT

The Tech Innovators Series is supported by Lenovo. Lenovo does not just manufacture technology. They make Do machines — super-powered creation engines designed to help the people who do, do more, do better, do in brand new ways.

In the 50 years since the Russians sent the first man into orbit (Yuri Gagarin), a total of 517 people have flown in space.

Think about it: More people tweeted about Beyonce’s unborn baby in a single second than have visited outer space in 50 years. After half a century, the final frontier is still a wilderness that few have had the opportunity to visit for themselves. That’s because space exploration has been the domain of national governments, whose large budgets could sustain infrequent trips beyond the atmosphere.

The human race thrives on exploration of the unknown though. That thirst for exploration drove the Romans across Europe, sent the Europeans across the ocean and motivated pioneers to traverse the American wilderness with only a wagon and some oxen. And with every inch of land on Earth now catalogued by our satellites, the stars are the next place we as a species must travel. And with a booming world population that will hit 9.1 billion in 2050, large-scale space travel may become a necessity.

That’s where the private sector comes in. With the U.S. Space Shuttle fleet now retired, it’s up to private companies to find to make space exploration accessible not just to the wealthiest few, but to all of mankind. It’s up to these companies to turn space into a legitimate business.

Mashable spoke with Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides about how he and his company are pushing technological innovation forward in aerospace. We spoke about the challenges facing commercial space travel, the private space race and what is in store for the future of humanity.

A Video Introduction to Virgin Galactic & Private Space Travel

Virgin Galactic promotional trailer starring Richard Branson

Introduction by Richard Branson, interviews with Brian Binnie and Mike Melvill, with video footage from the SpaceShipOne test flights. For more information, please visit . The "Virgin" and "Virgin Galactic" names and logos are trademarks of Virgin Enterprises Ltd and are used under licence. (C) Virgin Galactic 2006. All rights reserved. All intellectual property rights subsisting in the content of this video are owned or used under licence by Virgin Galactic. This video is for personal use/private viewing only. Any alteration, modification, redistribution, reproduction, exploitation, broadcasting, transmission or storage (whether electronically or otherwise) or part or all of the contents of this video in any form is strictly prohibited.

SS2 First Feather Flight, Mojave, May 2011_Filmed by The Clay Center

Exclusive footage of the first feather flight, Mojave, CA,

Virgin Galactic - Milestones to

Virgin Galactic's highlights. A short film showcasing where we are now and the huge milestones reached over the past year.

Your Journey Into Space Starts

New Virgin Galactic Introduction film with up to date footage and insight on the project.

Spaceport America Runway Dedcation VNR Final H264 .mov

Video footage of the Runway Dedication event held at Spaceport America, New Mexico, October 22, 2010.

Virgin Galactic: Let The Journey Begin

A CGI depiction of a hypothetical flight in the new Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, from take-off while mated to the carrier craft, through boost phase, then the ballistic phase where passengers can float freely in space, then reconfiguration for re-entry, then the return flight, and finally the landing back at the spaceport. For more information, please visit . The "Virgin" and "Virgin Galactic" names and logos are trademarks of Virgin Enterprises Ltd and are used under licence. (C) Virgin Galactic 2006. All rights reserved. All intellectual property rights subsisting in the content of this video are owned or used under licence by Virgin Galactic. This video is for personal use/private viewing only. Any alteration, modification, redistribution, reproduction, exploitation, broadcasting, transmission or storage (whether electronically or otherwise) or part or all of the contents of this video in any form is strictly prohibited.

Virgin Galactic - A Short Introduction

Virgin Territory: Space..... Short film fronted by Sir Richard Branson introducing Virgin Galactic to the world

Rendezvous with White Knight and Spaceship 2: Virgin Galactic and Virgin America

View landing video here: Virgin Galactic's White Knight 2 and Spaceship 2 rendezvoused with our flight over San Francisco on the way into the new SFO Terminal 2. BOING BOING POST: Flying wing to wing with a spaceship: Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo at opening of Virgin America's new SFO Terminal 2 [Shot for Boing Boing by Dean Putney]

Virgin Galactic & Its Mission

“Our vision, which flows from Richard Branson’s vision, is to open space to humanity,” Whitesides says about the company’s goal. He explains that while space organizations have done some incredible things in the last 50 years, they haven’t focused on making space more available to vastly more people.

Virgin Galactic, established in 2004, has been a pet project of Richard Branson, the well-known multi-billionaire entrepreneur. After the successful flight of SpaceShipOne, the first private spacecraft to take a person into space, Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites created a joint venture called The Spaceship Company.

Combined, the three companies would create a fleet of spacecraft modeled after SpaceShipOne, designed to take ordinary people into suborbital space. The hope is that the partnership will be able to create ships that send people deeper into space and open up new possibilities such as point-to-point travel (getting a person across the world in a fraction of the time it would take in an airplane) and commercial habitation in space.

First though, Virgin Galactic and its partners must accomplish its immediate goal: to establish regular suborbital spaceflights from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

“We’re well on the way,” Whitesides quickly notes.

Innovation and Challenges

Of course, the big reason why we don’t have space colonies and regular trips to the moon is that flying into outer space is just plain hard. The business of safely transporting people off the Earth is a costly affair that requires a lot of technology.

Whitesides sees three challenges in commercial spaceflight: safety, operations and reusability. Without all three, private spaceflight simply isn’t sustainable.

The most important issue is safety. “If we don’t have a safe product, we don’t have a product,” Whitesides says. To that end, Virgin Galactic has worked tirelessly to develop the “safest and simplest” form of ascent possible, one of that relies on traditional airplane technology for the first 50,000 feet and the last 50,000 feet. An array of patented technologies, such as its feathering mechanism with a failsafe reentry mode, only add to SpaceShipTwo‘s safety protections.

The second and third challenges, operations and reusability, are directly related to each other. Whitesides stresses that Virgin Galactic is a business — it needs to make money on its flights. In order to do that, it needs to be efficient, and it needs to be able to make more than a few flights per year.

“We have to be able to fly a lot, and that will in turn drive down costs,” he explains, adding that Virgin Galactic’s vehicles have to be “closer in reusability to an airplane than a spacecraft.”

“We have a big incentive to increase efficiency over time.”

The Future of Space Travel

If Virgin Galactic can succeed at creating a fleet of spaceships that can bring hundreds or thousands of people into space on a regular basis, Whitesides believes it would change humanity.

“It recasts our relationship with the universe,” Whitesides explains, noting that he grew up in an era where space was the realm of the few and the elite. He believes that commercial spaceflight would change how we live and how we travel.

One specific thing Whitesides points out is the overview effect, “a transcendental, euphoric feeling of universal connection reported by some astronauts during spaceflight.” To date, only a few hundred people have had the opportunity to feel the impact of the overview effect, which Virgin Galactic’s CEO believes could change humanity for the better because looking down upon the earth creates a sense of “oneness” with the planet and the rest of humanity.

On a more practical level, successful spaceflight opens the door to faster travel and more exploration. Point-to-point transit via low orbit could dramatically speed up international flights, connecting the world even further. And safe, consistent space travel opens up the possibility of commercial space stations, trips to the moon and exploration beyond.

The journey of making space travel as common as an airplane flight starts with Spaceport America and the first flights of SpaceShipTwo. While it will cost you a pretty penny ($200,000) to book a flight on one of Virgin Galactic’s ships now, the hope is that the cost will dramatically drop as private companies become more efficient at getting people out of Earth’s atmosphere.

Series Supported by Lenovo

The Tech Innovators Series is supported by Lenovo. Lenovo makes machines specifically for the innovators. The creators. The people who move the world forward. Machines like the Lenovo ThinkPad and IdeaPad, meticulously engineered with visibly smart second-generation Intel® CoreTM processors to help the people who do, do what’s never been done.

More About: features, richard branson, space, Space Travel, spaceship, SpaceShipOne, SpaceShipTwo, Tech Innovators Series, Virgin Galactic, virgin group

Dyson’s New Space Heater Is Stylish, but Expensive [VIDEO]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 07:36 AM PDT

Dyson, the company that brought some panache to vacuums, is now aiming to redefine space heaters with the stylish, but expensive Dyson Hot.

The product, introduced Thursday, uses the Air Multiplier technology Dyson used in its blade-free fan. Like those fans, which run as high as $500-plus, Dyson Hot sports an exclusive price tag: $399.99. By contrast, you can buy a space heater on Amazon for as low as $15.

In the video above, company CEO James Dyson outlines Hot’s selling points, which includes its ability to disburse air evenly throughout the room without emitting a burnt dust smell. Perhaps best of all, it sports an “intelligent thermostat” that monitors the room temperature by measuring surrounding air. If the fan senses the room has gotten colder, it turns back on. And if you knock it over? It switches itself off.

What do you think? Is this worth the money? Is this technology really cool or just a lot of hot air? Let us know in the comments.

More About: dyson, Gadgets, Marketing

Samsung Epic 4G Touch Now Available for Sprint

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 07:20 AM PDT

Samsung Epic 4G Touch, Sprint’s version of Samsung’s latest smartphone powerhouse the Galaxy S II, is now available to order on Sprint’s website.

Besides the different name, the device is only slightly different from AT&T’s version. The phone is slightly thicker at 2.7 x 5.1 x 0.38 inches and has a larger 1,800-mAh battery. Furthermore, as the 4G in the device’s name suggests, Sprint’s WiMAX fast data transfer comes standard.

The rest is identical: a 1.2 GHz Exynos CPU, Android 2.3 Gingerbread and 16 GB of storage.

Samsung Epic 4G Touch costs $199 after $300 instant savings with a two-year contract. You can order it here.

[via Engadget]

More About: android, samsung, Samsung Galaxy S II, Samsung touch, smartphone, sprint

For more Mobile coverage:

Thanks to Mashable’s Socially Savvy Supporters

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 07:06 AM PDT

Thanks to this week's advertisers and partners for enabling us to bring you the latest social media news and resources. Mashable’s sponsors are as social media savvy as our readers!

Advertise with us and get noticed.

Mashable is seeking site sponsors for our large, diverse audience — social media users, venture capitalists, early adopters, developers, bloggers and many more. You’ll receive hundreds of thousands of views per day in addition to weekly recognition as part of our “thank you” to our premium sponsors. Are you interested? Contact us for more information and to receive our media kit and rate card.

This week, our valued sponsors are:, Spredfast, MessageMaker Social, CBS Interactive, Lenovo, CITGO and the Fueling Good Campaign, The Awareness Social Marketing Hub, AceProject, BMW i, Discover Digital Group, Sprout Social, IDG, CUNY School of Professional Studies, Oneupweb, SoftLayer, SRDS, Buddy Media, Clickatell, Microsoft BizSpark, MaxCDN and Eventbrite., an easy way to instantly share your screen with anyone. lets you collaborate on-the-fly, put your heads together super-fast and even just show off. The possibilities are endless. How will you Try it today. supports Mashable’s Web Design Usability Series. Follow on Twitter.

Spredfast 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.

Spredfast supports Mashable’s Social Brand Series. Follow Spredfast Social on Twitter.

MessageMaker Social is the social media management system (SMMS) that lets you publish and manage targeted content across a large number of social interaction points while generating actionable intelligence. This smart, simple SaaS solution elevates your company's social presence among thousands of social Pages and accounts, helping you meet compliance regulations, maintain brand consistency, maximize engagement and generate actionable intelligence — without adding additional human resource costs.

MessageMaker Social supports Mashable’s Social CEO Series. Follow MessageMaker Social on Twitter.

CBS Interactive, which helps brands find the perfect audience with a network of #1 sites like, CBS Sports and GameSpot. To see how our exclusive content, video and mobile can help you engage with your ideal target, visit

CBSInteractive supports Mashable’s Consumer Trends Series. Follow CBSInteractive on Twitter and Facebook.

Lenovo does not just manufacture technology. They make Do machines — super-powered creation engines designed to help the people who do, do more, do better, do in brand new ways.

Lenovo supports Mashable’s Tech Innovators Series. Follow Lenovo on Twitter and Facebook.

CITGO and the Fueling Good Campaign, helping to change the world one mile at a time through contributions to local charities.

CITGO and the Fueling Good Campaign support Mashable’s Stars of Social Good Series. Follow the Fueling Good Campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

The Awareness Social Marketing Hub is the leading social media marketing software for marketers to publish, manage, measure and engage across the social web. The Awareness Social Marketing Hub is leveraged by companies of all sizes including Sony, MLB, American Cancer Society, and Starwood Hotels. Request a demo here.

Awareness supports Mashable’s Social Media For Business Leaders Series. Follow Awareness on Twitter and Facebook.

AceProject is a collaboration-oriented project management web application that empowers you to manage projects, tasks and time sheets. Create your free AceProject account here.

AceProject supports Mashable’s Digital Collaboration Series. Follow AceProject on Twitter.

BMW i is a new concept dedicated to providing mobility solutions for the urban environment. It delivers more than purpose-built electric vehicles — it delivers smart mobility services. Visit

BMW i supports Mashable’s Global Innovation Series. Follow BMW i on Twitter and Facebook.

Discover Digital Group is a unique consultancy that focuses on identifying new e-revenue opportunities for both Fortune 1000 and startup clients alike. From developing new digital products to generating new audiences and revenue for existing online products, it creates smarter, more effective solutions for your business challenges. Follow DDG on Facebook to get a taste of the insights that are offered.

DDG supports Mashable’s Social CMO Series. Follow DDG on Twitter and Facebook.

With the explosion of mobile devices, advertising dollars will begin to shift to mobile for tech marketers this year. IDG Global Solutions President Matt Yorke talks about the rise of social and how IDG helps marketers create social campaigns. The line is fading between social media and traditional media. Earned media or sharing of information within social networks is becoming mainstream whether on a PC or mobile device. Learn more.

IDG supports Mashable’s Modern Media Agency Series.

Oneupweb is an agency specializing in search marketing, social media and design for mid-to-enterprise level brands. Keep up with Oneupweb through its blog and monthly newsletter.

Oneupweb supports Mashable’s Behind the Social Media Campaign Series. Follow Oneupweb on Twitter and Facebook.

SoftLayer provides global, on-demand data center and hosting services from facilities across the U.S. it leverages best-in-class connectivity and technology to innovate industry leading, fully automated solutions that empower enterprises with complete access, control, security, and scalability.

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SRDS connects agencies, brands and media through its online database of media planning data. SRDS is committed to making it easier to buy online ad space and build integrated marketing campaigns. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of the SRDS consumer and business database here.

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Buddy Media is Power Tools for Facebook. Have something new to tell 500 million people? Learn the best way to manage multiple brands on Facebook with this webinar.

Buddy Media supports Mashable’s Facebook Marketing Series, which is about how brands can advertise on Facebook. Follow Buddy Media on Twitter and Facebook.

Clickatell was the first provider of Online SMS Gateway connectivity, and after 10 years, is still the leading provider. Clickatell can deliver your SMS text messages to over 818 mobile networks in more than 222 countries and territories.

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BizSpark is a program which offers new software businesses and entrepreneurs access to Microsoft design, development and production tools with no upfront costs for up to three years. Learn more or connect with a Microsoft BizSpark advisor here.

BizSpark supports Mashable’s weekly Spark of Genius Series, which showcases promising startups. Follow Microsoft BizSpark on Twitter and Facebook.

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Eventbrite sponsors Mashable’s weekly social media and marketing event guide. Follow Eventbrite on Twitter and Facebook.

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Webtrends founded the web analytics industry in 1993. Today, its leadership extends much further to social media measurement, paid-search optimization and connecting the online and offline data silos scattered throughout organizations. Webtrends helps you analyze the data generated by your web site, blogs, online campaigns and enterprise systems to understand your customers and, ultimately, business opportunities.

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Since 2007 W3 EDGE has assisted with creative, web development, and search and social media marketing for and its other web properties and projects. Day-to-day maintenance and support is handled by Frederick Townes and his W3 EDGE team.

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RIM Stock Hammered After Second-Quarter Profit Falls 59%

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 06:44 AM PDT

Research in Motion’s troubles continued Friday as its stock fell as much as 23% in pre-market trading, after the company reported a 59% drop in its second-quarter profits and a year-over-year decline in BlackBerry shipments — the first time that’s happened in almost a decade.

RIM shipped 10.6 million BlackBerry devices in the quarter. That compares to 12.1 million in the same period last year and 13.2 million in the previous quarter. The company also shipped just 200,000 PlayBook tablets in Q2, compared to 500,000 in the first quarter.

The decline affected RIM’s bottom line. The company posted a profit of $329 million for the quarter compared to $797 million for the same quarter in 2010. Revenues fell 10% to $4.17 billion.

In a call with analysts, the company’s CEOs, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, blamed the results on customers who were waiting for the next round of BlackBerry phones. Such phones, including the refreshed BlackBerry Curve line and new BlackBerry Bold, just became available a few weeks ago and had little effect on the Q2 results. Balsillie also told analysts that a software upgrade is planned for the PlayBook in October. RIM is expected to introduce phones based on its QNX OS in 2012 as well.

BlackBerry’s loss of market share comes as no surprise after various analyst reports showed a drop in consumer adoption of BlackBerry. RIM’s share of the smartphone market dropped from 25.7% to 21.7% in just three months, according to a recent report.

The following chart details RIM’s share price performance over the last few months:

Research In Motion Price Stock Chart

Research In Motion Price Stock Chart by YCharts

Image courtesy of Flickr, Robert Elder

More About: android, apple, blackberry, iphone, RIM

How Would You Change the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule?

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 06:11 AM PDT

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comments on proposed revisions, including protections regarding geolocation data, to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA).

COPPA requires operators of all online services or websites for children under 13 (or those who have knowledge that they are collecting personal info from children under 13) to obtain verifiable consent from parents before collecting, using or disclosing children’s personal information.

In this review of the rule, the FTC wants to update the definition of “personal information” to include geolocation information as well as tracking cookies and similar persistent identifiers. A large number of popular online services today seek geolocation data from their users — Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare are some that come to mind — and tracking cookies are today a very common means of tracking users’ online behavior.

SEE ALSO: 5 Lessons for Parenting in the Digital Age

The commission also proposes a different definition of “collection” of data, which would allow children to participate in interactive communities without parental consent as long as the operators of those communities “take reasonable measures to delete all or virtually all children's personal information before it is made public.”

Furthermore, parental notice must be given to parents as a "just-in-time" notice, and not just in a privacy policy. The FTC also proposes additional methods of obtaining parental consent, such as “electronic scans of signed parental consent forms, video-conferencing, and use of government-issued identification checked against a database.”

As far as confidentiality and security requirements go, the FTC would like to see the rule strengthened to ensure that “any service providers or third-parties to whom they disclose a child's personal information have in place reasonable procedures to protect it, that operators retain the information for only as long as is reasonably necessary, and that they properly delete that information by taking reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to, or use in connection with, its disposal.”

SEE ALSO: Why Your App Must Comply With Child Privacy Regulations

Lastly, the FTC proposes strengthened oversight of safe harbor programs by requiring them to “audit their members at least annually and report periodically to the Commission the results of those audits.”

The proposed modifications to COPPA are quite extensive and could have a large impact on many online services and websites, at the very least by increasing operational costs. On the other hand, many of the revisions seem necessary in light of recent technological advances — not many services collected geolocation data in 2000 when the rule was created, but this practice has become increasingly common in the past five years.

Do you agree with the revisions? Would you add some other modifications to COPPA? Please share your opinions in the comments.

To file a comment with the FTC, you can do so here. Written comments must be received on or before Nov. 28.

Image courtesy of Flickr, tinkerbrad

More About: childrens privacy, COPPA, FTC, privacy

How Airlines Have Taken Flight With Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 16 Sep 2011 05:43 AM PDT

The Social Media Infographics Series is supported by VocusSocial Media Strategy Tool, a free, six-step online tool that lets you build a custom social media framework tailored to your organization's goals.

Thousands of flights each and every day transport millions of passengers all over the world. As we all know, traveling can make one irritable, and delays or lost baggage prompt many consumers to complain. Before social media, these complaints might dissipate in the ether or be left on hold for 30 minutes. Fortunately, the airline industry has taken note of the social web as a customer service tool, fielding complaints, inquiries and yes, even compliments, on Twitter and Facebook. Never has the airline industry been so responsive, helpful, compassionate and human.

But aside from customer service, airlines use the social web to build their brand and grow a fan base, whether that’s via YouTube webisodes, special Twitter-only fares or offering free entry to a terminal lounge for an airport’s Foursquare mayor — the mark of a frequent traveler.

Check out the infographic below to see what some of the most social airlines are doing to reach new heights with social media.

Series supported by Vocus

This series is supported by VocusSocial Media Strategy Tool, a free online tool which lets you build your own custom social media framework in six easy steps. It helps you determine your organization's goals, explore the latest MarketingSherpa research data, and create your own workbook packed with the strategies, tactics and resources you need. Try it today!

Infographic design by Lorena Guerra

More About: Airlines, features, infographics, Mashable Infographics, Social Media, Social Media Infographics Series

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