Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “World’s Top Thinkers Weigh In on Social Good [VIDEO]”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “World’s Top Thinkers Weigh In on Social Good [VIDEO]”

World’s Top Thinkers Weigh In on Social Good [VIDEO]

Posted: 24 Sep 2011 01:58 AM PDT

UN helmet image

The Social Good Summit has come to a close but the UN Foundation was busy behind the scenes culling insights from some of the summit’s most engaging speakers.

The foundation’s video footage broaches a range of topics from micro-loans and digital activism to clean cooking with world-renowned chefs. Mashable dug through the videos to find six interesting videos from Summit speakers including Alec Ross, Muhammad Yunus, Christy Turlington and Richard Gere.

There are even more videos on the UN Foundation’s YouTube channel. Take a look through these videos and let us know your own thoughts on applying social good to enact change.

Alec Ross

UN Foundation's Aaron Sherinian interviews Alec Ross of the U.S. State Department.

Dr. Muhammad Yunus

Dr. Muhummad Yunus speaks about social good and the power of small business to change communities.

Christy Turlington

Christy Turlington of Every Mother Counts speaks about combating maternal death and the importance of activism.

Richard Gere

The actor and activist speaks about the power of social media as a tool to connect people all over the world.

Monique Coleman and Valerie Amos

Randi Zuckerberg interviews Monique Coleman and Valerie Amos.

Jose Andres and Radha Muthiah

Jose and Radha speak about the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the effort to save lives and resources by improving cooking technology in the developing world.

More About: Social Good, social good summit, UN, un foundation, Video, YouTube

Run a User-Submitted Photo or Video Contest On Your Site With Olapic

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 07:06 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: Olapic

Quick Pitch: Olapic helps online publishers add galleries of user-contributed images.

Genius Idea: Pooling images in a database of social content.

83% of Americans own a smartphone, according to a recent study by the Pew Internet Project. Most of those phones, even the “dumb” ones, are equipped with some kind of camera. More cameras equal more photos, which can be a great opportunity for publishers — if they can find a way to leverage it.

Olapic’s product is one way to do this. The startup makes it easy for site publishers to collect and display user’s photos through widgets they can embed on their sites. Visitors to the publications can either drag and drop files into a box on the site, choose to upload photos from social networks like Facebook or Instagram, email their photos to a special address or tweet their photos with a specific hashtag. Publications get a centralized moderation dashboard. As soon as they approve photos, they appear in a Gallery on the site.

New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune and Styleist have either used the widget on their site or purchased a white label version [Disclosure: Mashable is a customer of Olapic's]. Olapic charges a monthly fee based on each customer’s number of monthly unique visitors.

The majority of Olapic’s customers are news organizations, but co-founder Jose de Cabo said he also thinks the application has a future with sports teams and event organizations. One soccer team, the New England Revolution, already uses it to collect fan photos on its Facebook Page.

From a revenue standpoint, advertising seems to be an even more promising route than subscription fees. Olapic is, for instance, coordinating a branded Facebook version of its widget for Pepsi. It’s an instant campaign that engages consumers, and it can work well for hosting a branded contest. Eventually it may also share revenue with publications for ads the company can incorporate into the gallery widget.

But the startup’s grand vision extends far beyond interactive galleries.

“We’re building a very large network of sites that have video and photo-sharing,” De Cabo says. “What we want is to have this network where users can contribute with photos and videos, and get more exposure to their pictures.”

In other words, any website could search the entire database for material to publish. It sounds like a convenient solution for publishers, but will site visitors be eager to share their photos with the world without compensation? De Cabo says their excited reactions to the widget so far suggest that they will. That, and what he calls “vanity coins.”

Would you be willing to share your photos this way? Let us know in the comments.

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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, Startups

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This Week in Politics & Digital: The Public Speaks

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 06:26 PM PDT

america image

It was a busy week for social media and politics with announcements from notable players including Twitter and the White House.

YouTube and Fox held the sixth GOP debate online, the White House launched a petitions platform and Twitter dipped its toes into political advertising.

This is the Week in Politics & Digital.

YouTube and Fox Host GOP Debate

The sixth GOP presidential debate, which was co-hosted by YouTube and Fox, took place on Thursday. The debate made a concerted push to include questions and feedback from the public thanks to a lively forum on the debate’s YouTube channel. More than a dozen top-rated questions were posed to the participants from a pool of more than 18,000.

YouTube and parent company Google extended that interactivity to the debate where users could comment and answer polls as the debate happened. YouTube has put out some search stats from the night and is asking users to go to the channel and vote on which responses — and candidates — fared best.

White House Launches Petitions Platform

The White House has launched a new web portal to crowdsource public advice, opinion and petitions. We the People lets anyone older than 13 create a petition, collect digital signatures and put it in front of the government. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts and issue an official response. The platform of course doesn’t guarantee any government action and it’s unclear how and if the White House will deal with spam petitions, but We the People is conceptually a step in the right direction.

Twitter Tests Water with Political Advertisements

constitution imageTwitter began accepting political advertisements, including Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts and Promoted Trends. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was one of the first test subjects. The program has yet to role out in earnest but it will be interesting to see, if approved, how Twitter will deal with political attack ads and both sides of the aisle vying for the spotlight.

Images courtesy of Flickr, Kalwa, kjd

More About: Politics, Social Media, week in digital politics

Jim Henson Honored With Interactive Muppets Google Doodle [VIDEO]

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 06:01 PM PDT

Google has rolled out a new Google Doodle to honor the 75th birthday of Jim Henson, the famous puppeteer who created The Muppets.

This is not just any Google Doodle, though. The Jim Henson Company and The Creature Shop partnered with Google to create an interactive doodle to honor his legacy. Using the Henson Digital Puppet Studio (yes, there is a digital muppet studio), they designed and animated the characters, which users can then manipulate using a mouse and keyboard. A YouTube video detailing the work that went into designing and creating the Doodle is embedded below

And, as with all good things, there are lots of easter eggs to discover. We’re still busy trying to find them all.

To play with the Doodle yourself, head over to

BONUS: More Google Doodles

The Christmas Google Doodle

Each package gets larger with a mouse-over, and a click on it returns search results pertinent to a specific country or the particular items featured in a scene. This one is from December 24, 2010.

Charlie Chaplin Google Doodle

The Google Doodle team stars in an homage to the silent film era's greatest star's 122nd birthday, April 15, 2011.

Google Logo Repelled by Cursor

This one's done in HTML5 and was published Sept. 7, 2010. To get the full effect, here's one you can interact with.

John Lennon Google Doodle

This Doodle commemorated John Lennon's 70th birthday in October 2010.

Martha Graham

Debuting May 10, 2011, this Google Doodle marks dance choreographer Martha Graham's birthday.

Robert Bunsen

Commemorated the birthday of the inventor of the Bunsen burner, German chemist Robert Bunsen on March 31, 2011.

Thomas Edison

The great inventor's birthday was honored on February 11, 2011.

Independence Day

Marking Independence Day 2010.

Pac-Man's 30th Anniversary

A real crowd pleaser was this playable Pac-Man game, which appeared on May 21. 2010. Here's a playable version.

More About: Google, google doodle

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3 Tips for Retaining Your Software-as-a-Service Customers

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 04:48 PM PDT

Guy Nirpaz is the CEO and co-founder of Totango, which analyzes user actions on SaaS applications, providing sales teams invaluable information in qualifying prospects and prioritizing people to contact who are most likely to buy (or renew).

Once you've determined how to convert SaaS trial users into paying customers, you will need to address the second piece of the puzzle: how to keep your customers happy so they continue to pay for your service.

Below are three tips to avoid churn and to retain your customers.

1. Measure Customer Engagement

Customers that are engaged and getting value from your service are generally happy and don't leave. Conversely, those who are not using your service as often are much more likely to cancel their subscriptions.

This is why it's important to measure an engagement score for each customer and to monitor it regularly. Putting a system in place that monitors customer engagement requires work. But it is absolutely essential to systematically keep engagement high and churn low. Every SaaS business should construct this score from three main items:

  • Activity Time: How much time users spend with your service.
  • Visit Frequency: How often they come back.
  • Core Action: What they do when they visit.

2. Identify Risk Stages

Customers enter "risk stages" in their lifecycle during which they are more likely to cancel (or opt not to renew) their subscriptions.

An obvious risk is when the subscription expires, and the customer must decide whether to renew. You want to ensure they reach that decision point when they are happy with the value and experience they are receiving.

Each SaaS business will have a handful of such stages, depending on the nature of their offering and sales model. The key here is to make sure you think through these lifecycle stages, identify risk points and provide extra care to customers at those times.

3. Be Proactive

Too often customer support, advocacy and success teams spend all their time reacting to customer needs. Essentially, they are waiting for tickets or training requests to come to them. Being reactive and responsive is critical, but should not come at the expense of being proactive as well.

A good customer success team devotes at least 30% of its time to proactive work: identifying customers with low engagement and proactively reaching out to them to remove roadblocks, essentially ensuring that customers at risk stages are highly engaged and in good condition.

The rate of customer churn has a significant impact on the growth and viability of the SaaS business. Keeping an eye on customer engagement, addressing risks and remaining proactive will help keep your customers satisfied and paying.

Image courtesy of Flickr, fosforix

More About: Business, customer service, features, Marketing, SaaS

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A Guide to Tracking Health & Fitness Online [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 03:57 PM PDT — which itself entered the health and fitness market this past year — has put together a best-of list of websites, iOS apps, Android apps and gadgets to keep you fit and healthy.

The infographic also provides some powerful incentives for tracking your health and fitness using these new tools. Use one not listed in the infographic? Tell us about it comments section below.

health infographic

More About: fitness, health, infographics, Social Good, Social Media

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New Net Neutrality Rules Become Official

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 03:04 PM PDT

The revised Net neutrality rules that the FCC approved in December became official on Friday when they entered the Federal Register. They will take effect on November 20.

Net neutrality advocates have long lobbied for laws that prevent Internet providers from blocking competitive content, charging for faster connections to certain sites, and a slew of other tactics that would destroy the “open web.” Meanwhile, broadband and wireless providers have argued that it’s government regulation — not Internet provider discrimination — that threatens the open web.

While the new rules [PDF] do prevent fixed broadband providers (cable, fiber and DSL) from blocking access to sites and applications, they are different for wireless providers and not as clear as advocates on either side would like.

The rules lay out three basic protections:

  1. Fixed and mobile broadband providers must disclose the network management practices, performance characteristics and commercial terms of their broadband services.
  2. No blocking: fixed broadband providers may not block lawful content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices; mobile broadband providers may not block lawful websites, or block applications that compete with their voice or video telephony services.
  3. No unreasonable discrimination: fixed broadband providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful network traffic.

When a draft of the rules came out in December, roughly 80 grassroots organizations signed an open letter avowing their disapproval. The letter complained that the Order "leaves wireless users vulnerable to application blocking and discrimination," uses "unnecessarily broad definitions," and claims that specialized services "would create a pay-for-play platform that would destroy today's level playing field."

Wireless providers, which are in favor of minimal regulation, also complained. Verizon filed an appeal, Sen. Mitch McConnell said that the rules would “harm investment, stifle innovation and lead to job losses,” and the Republican party reportedly started planning its repeal within an hour of the rules’ approval.

The House of Representatives voted to overturn the rules in April, but the resolution is unlikely to pass in the Democrat-controlled senate. President Obama has threatened to veto it even if it does.

Now that the rules are official, however, all parties are free to launch their legal offensives. Get ready for another round of lobbying, damning public statements and lawsuits.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, enot-poloskun

More About: fcc, net neutrality

4 Reasons Every Online Brand Should Explore Gamification Strategies

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 02:44 PM PDT

Elizabeth Shaw is an emerging media analyst at Forrester Research, serving interactive marketing professionals. Follow her on twitter @shaw_smith2.

Adding a few visual game elements to a brand's site in order to "gamify" a marketing strategy and increase engagement just isn't enough. To be done right, gamification must take a behavior-focused approach.

For instance, by offering rewards for user actions, consumers are more likely to engage with a brand — that is, visit the site more often, register, linger and invite friends. But while gamification is a major buzzword among interactive marketers today, game use isn't new.

So what's making gamification so popular today? Consider these four factors.

1. Consumers Want It

In general, consumers are looking for new ways to entertain themselves — 40% of U.S. online adults have expressed this interest in a recent survey. What's more, consumers want game elements everywhere. 60% of consumers play a video game online in a typical week. Consumers (especially Gen Yers) are increasingly accessing games online and on mobile devices.

2. Social Media Enhances It

When consumers can share achievements like badges and trophies with their social networks, it enhances the innate human motivations that games have used for generations to keep people engaged (i.e. the desire for status, access, power, etc.) And, along with increasing user status, sharing creates a low-cost marketing campaign to lure in other participants.

3. Gamification Vendors Enable It

Badgeville, BigDoor and Bunchball all offer SaaS platforms with mechanics, accessible consumer tracking and data, and the ability to easily iterate a gamification strategy as needed. These vendors are helping the process along by offering the right tools for specific goals.

4. Early Starters Have Proven It

Recent gamification efforts from brands like Chiquita, HP and Sephora have succeeded, increasing confidence that, if applied correctly, the right gamification strategy can work.

The biggest perk to incorporating gamification into a marketing strategy is its ability to boost brand engagement. So for marketers, the questions remains: How exactly does gamification help increase engagement?

  • Involvement: Gamification can foster participation by increasing site returns, new visitors and registrations through reward systems and incentivized word-of-mouth efforts. For example, when Chiquita sponsored the movie Rio, it worked with Bunchball to create a microsite where consumers could win badges by watching Rio movie clips. The company indicated it received 8,000 unique visitors after launch, dwarfing the success of past promotions.
  • Interaction: Marketers need visitors to spend time with their content and brand in order to foster engagement. Using gamification, marketers can set up the action-reward dynamic for specific engagement they want to increase. For instance, a leading computer manufacturer launched a gamified Facebook app for college students with the goal of promoting its educational computer site — and six weeks after launch saw program participation increase 10 times, with one-in-six users submitting essays and one-in-three visiting the educational computing site.
  • Intimacy: Consumers are able to connect with a brand more intimately when they're interacting in real-time versus visiting a static brand website. And more importantly, gamification provides a fun and rewarding environment for consumers, which often increases brand affinity. For example, Allkpop, the Korean pop celebrity gossip and news site, worked with Badgeville to motivate behaviors such as commenting, sharing links and following Allkpop social sites. The result: All behaviors saw an uptick, as did consumer sentiment and excitement for the site.
  • Influence: Word-of-mouth marketing has taken off recently, and companies have realized it can have a significant effect on brand visibility. Gamification taps into WOM by giving users incentives to include their friends. SCVNGR, the location-based mobile gaming platform, says that 42% of players broadcast their play to social networks. And with the metrics available, marketers can track not only the users who shared content on social networks, but also the percentage of their friends who click back to the brand.

There is a plethora of game mechanics available that marketers can use to increase consumer engagement. However, no matter what game mechanics are implemented into a marketing strategy, it's important to remember that gamification will only deliver results if implemented correctly. This means ensuring that gamification complements the current strategy, and can be maintained in the long term. Founder of Bunchball Rajat Paharias says, "The core content experience needs to be good, compelling and meaningful. And as long as that is there, these tools drive actions around the content."

Image courtesy of Flickr, andyburnfield

More About: Business, features, gamification, Marketing, Social Media

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Israeli Prime Minister Extends Olive Branch Over Twitter

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 02:23 PM PDT

israel palestine image

The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, has reached out to Palestinian officials through Twitter. The official account of Netanyahu, @IsraeliPM, tweeted: “We’re in the same city, in the same building, Let’s meet here today. I extend my hand in peace,” on Friday afternoon.

The tweet came after several attempts from Netanyahu to reach the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas through Twitter, including advising: “The Palestinians must first reach #peace with Israel and then get their state. Then Israel will be the 1st to recognize them. #back2talks” and attempts at peace: “I continue to hope that President Abbas will be my partner for peace. Let’s get on with it and negotiate #peace. #back2talks.” Netanyahu’s account is run by Dr. Eitan Eliram, the Prime Minister’s new media director.

The tweets follow a week of controversy as the Palestinian leader prepared to submit a proposal to the UN Security Council Friday, seeking full recognition of a Palestinian state. The plan was submitted Friday morning despite significant pressure from the U.S to hold off the proposal.

netanyahu tweet

The tweets from Netanyahu followed Abbas’ speech to the General Assembly. Netanyahu insisted peace could not be decided through the UN alone and reached out to the Palestinian leader, reports the L.A. Times. "I extend my hand to the Palestinian people," Netanyahu told the General Assembly after Abbas submitted a request for full UN membership for the Palestinians. "We've both just flown thousands of miles to New York … We're in the same building, so let's meet today."

Image courtesy of Flickr, TalkMediaNews

More About: middle east, Twitter, World

News360 Aggregates & Personalizes the News Reading Experience

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 02:00 PM PDT

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

Name: News360

Quick Pitch: A news personalization and aggregation service.

Genius Idea: Launching on seven different platforms in its first year and integrating information from several social networks, including Google+, into its personalization engine.

The idea of a personalized news reader is almost a cliche at this point — AOL Editions, Zite, Flipboard and News.Me are just a few startup services with their own takes. News360 joined the crowd last October with a product solely focused on news aggregation, rather than personalization. While it used (and still uses) a unique semantic algorithm to decide what the most meaningful stories are in broad categories like Business, World, Food and Fashion, it was not strikingly different from a user perspective.

What stood out about its approach was that it quickly released versions compatible with the iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone 7, Blackberry Playbook, Andorid and the web.

“Our thinking is that we want to give inside the experience wherever you are,” says News360 CEO Roman Karachinsky. “People have different use cases whether reading on their phones, desktops or laptops, but we want to be on every device that they have — let them have their interest graph, have their saved articles, on any platforms that they want to use.”

The app has extended the same “be everywhere” attitude towards a personalization feature that launched in August. It pulls in user behavior and interest from Twitter, Facebook, Evernote and Google Reader in order to help determine a reader’s interests. Where some other apps rely on behavior you demonstrate while using them, News360 takes information from the profiles you connect — your bio, where you comment, like, star, share and save — in order to construct and populate categories.

News360 told Mashable it will add Google+ behavior cues to its options for personalize user news feeds Friday — which is impressive, considering Google+ just released it’s first APIs last week.

“We don't want to collect 1,000 articles before you make the decision,” Karachinsky says, “which is why we try to look at as many profiles as you can right off the bat.”

By aiming broad, in both its spectrum of devices and its range of information, News360 has attracted more than 750,000 downloads. While the startup won’t get specific about how many of those are active users, a spokespeson did say active users grew 27% May to June; 21% June to July; and 135% July to August. About 4.5 million articles are read using the app each month.

That’s traction. But is it enough to unseat established startups like Flipboard and big names like AOL that are entering the space? Using multiple news aggregators at once somewhat defeats the purpose of using one in the first place.

Will News360 be the one you choose? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, fotosipsak

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: Media, news aggregator, News360, Startups

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Daily Deals Proliferating: What’s in Your Digital Wallet? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 01:43 PM PDT

Daily deals services such as Groupon and LivingSocial are proliferating, with more than 650 providers serving 26 million customers so far. The market is growing so quickly, it’s hard to get a handle on who’s using these products and what they’re using them for.

That’s where this infographic can help. It’ll show you the major players, the types of deals offered and who’s buying these deals. Beyond that, you’ll find fascinating facts about the quickly developing secondary deal marketplace.

Just in time for the last week of National Coupon Month (who knew?), here’s a comprehensive set of graphical data gathered from the users of CityPockets, a secondary daily deals marketplace whose digital wallet helps you consolidate all those vouchers and daily deals. Keep in mind that CityPockets admits its survey respondents tend to be slightly heavier daily deals users.

Take a look at this infographic, and let us know in the comments how you’re using daily deals.

More About: daily deals, groupon, infographic, LivingSocial

Is Facebook Trying to Kill Privacy? [OPINION]

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 01:18 PM PDT

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

Facebook has finally done it. It’s just a few updates away now from euthanizing the concept of privacy, already ailing on its network.

Timelines and Open Graph, introduced at this week’s f8 conference, sit on either edge of the sword that’s just been run through privacy’s heart. It is finished. It is done. This turn of events probably makes CEO Mark Zuckerberg happy. Let’s look back:

“When I got started in my dorm room at Harvard, the question a lot of people asked was 'Why would I want to put any information on the Internet at all? Why would I want to have a website?'

“And then in the last five or six years, blogging has taken off in a huge way and all these different services that have people sharing all this information. People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”

That was Zuckerberg’s January 2010 argument that sharing is the new social norm. But that’s only half of the sharing equation. Zuckerberg didn’t talk about the other half: privacy.

Timeline: Showing the World Who You Are

The New Facebook Profile: Timeline

Timeline is a radical departure from previous versions of the Facebook user profile. The most prominent feature is the addition of a cover photo at the top of the page. Users can change this to whatever they'd like it to be.


In 1987, my sister was born. Facebook knows these life events and includes them in your timeline.

Being Born

You can even add a picture and context to your birth, which starts the Timeline.

Timeline Interface

The Timeline is a two-column interface with top photos, status updates, friends and more.


Facebook has added a feature that lets you see where you have visited. This is powered by Facebook Places.

Photos in the Timeline

Here's how photos are displayed in the Timeline.

Friends in the New Timeline

Here's what the Friends page looks like.

Changing Settings

Some of the new Timeline's customization features.


More of the new Timeline

Getting Married

You can add life events, such as getting married, to your profile through the Publisher Bar. You can also announce that you broke a bone, got a new job, etc.

The first big change Zuckerberg revealed on stage was Timeline, the completely overhauled version of profile pages. No longer is your Facebook profile about what you did recently–now it’s about everything you’ve done on Facebook and beyond.

SEE ALSO: Facebook’s New Profiles: First Impressions

The Timeline interface lays out everything you’ve shared on Facebook. One of the new features, Map, lays out your checkins on a world map. My map is sparse because I primarily use Foursquare to share my location. But now that I see how sparse that map looks, I feel compelled to start sharing my location via Facebook.

In addition to laying out everything you already shared for the world to see, the Timeline encourages you to share more than ever about your life so far. Millions of people are likely to post their baby pictures so that the beginning of their Timelines — birth — isn’t just an empty box.

The New Open Graph: Every Action Is Connected to Facebook

Timeline is just the appetizer. The second announcement, the launch of the new Facebook Open Graph, is what will forever transform the world’s largest social network.

There are a couple of key changes that deserve mentioning. The first is the addition of customizable actions and gestures. No longer do apps prompt you just to “like” something on Facebook. Instead, you’ll share that you “hiked a trail” or “rode your bike” or “kissed a girl” (and liked it). Any action can be shared via Facebook, and the only limit is the imagination of developers.

The second addition is the new permissions screen for giving apps access to your Facebook account. It’s more robust and explains exactly what an app will be sharing with it. The result is that the prompt will only appear once. Once you accept, the app can share exactly what you’re doing to your Facebook wall as you’re doing it.

There is no longer a “Would you like to post this to Facebook?” prompt. It just posts. When you run with Nike+, it gets posted. When you use your favorite cooking site to make a new dish, it gets posted. When you go to bed with a device tracking your sleep patterns, it gets posted.

Everything can, and eventually will, get posted. Facebook has done something nobody has ever been able to do at scale: It has enabled passive sharing.

Twisting the Knife

In 2009, Mashable‘s CEO and founder Pete Cashmore argued on CNN that privacy was dead, and social media was holding the smoking gun:

“We’re living at a time when attention is the new currency: With hundreds of TV channels, billions of Web sites, podcasts, radio shows, music downloads and social networking, our attention is more fragmented than ever before.

“Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value. They’ll be the richest, the most successful, the most connected, capable and influential among us. We’re all publishers now, and the more we publish, the more valuable connections we’ll make.”

While I agree with his assertion that in an age where attention is king, privacy is simply an illusion, I disagree about the murderer. Sure, Twitter, Flickr, Google and others played a part in privacy’s death, but Facebook made the killing blow.

But thanks to what Facebook launched at f8, we’re at the point of no return. Facebook’s passive sharing will change how we live our lives. More and more, the things we do in real life will end up as Facebook posts. And while we may be consoled by the fact that most of this stuff is being posted just to our friends, it only takes one friend to share that information with his or her friends to start a viral chain.

Sharing with just your friends doesn’t protect your privacy. I know the people at Facebook will disagree and argue that users can control what is shared with whom. But this is simply an illusion that makes us feel better about all the sharing we have done and are about to do.

We may not notice the impact on our lives immediately. But it won’t be long until your life is on display for all of your friends to see, and then we’ll all know what Facebook has wrought.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, RapidEye

The Social Analyst is a column by Mashable Editor-at-Large Ben Parr, where he digs into social media trends and how they are affecting companies in the space.

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More About: Facebook, facebook timeline, features, Opinion, privacy, The Social Analyst

Dish Network’s New Streaming Service Unveiled

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 12:55 PM PDT

Dish Network announced its rumored Netflix/Qwickster competitor at a press conference Friday.

The service, Dish Network with BlockBuster Movie Pass, is not a direct Netflix competitor per se. Instead, it’s a $10 monthly add-on for existing Dish Network subscribers that will ofer them access to DVD and Blu-ray — as well as video game — rentals by mail, along with access to streaming movies and TV shows. It will debut on Oct. 1 and be accompanied by a big advertising campaign.

In other words, this is a mashup of BlockBuster’s existing mail and online services with Dish Network’s current video-on-demand service. For Dish Network subscribers, this is a great deal. But we’re scratching our heads to find the value for everyone else.

Dish does say it has plans to offer services for non-Dish Network subscribers. However, in its initial state, the BlockBuster Movie Pass bundle will only be available to 14 million Dish Network customers. These customers will need to have an IP-enabled receiver to access content.

Where Are the Connected Devices and Apps?

On paper, the Dish/BlockBuster deal looks good, especially for existing Dish customers. What concerns us, however, is the lack of focused on third-party connected devices like set-top boxes, Blu-ray players and tablets like the iPad.

Dish has various offerings on the iPad and BlockBuster has dabbled with getting support on select mobile and connected devices. However, it was clear the folks at Dish Network haven’t figured out or finalized their strategy in regards to connectivity.

Assuming Dish can extend its current iPad functionality to include access to the new streaming content, the company will be on the right track. Still, we think it’s essential any company launching a subscription streaming program focus on the connected device market.

For instance, Dish could take a queue from its competitor DirecTV and look at making some of its services available on game consoles like the PS3.

This Isn’t a Threat to Netflix

As dissatisfied with Netflix/Qwickster as customers may be, this new Dish/BlockBuster offering isn’t a real threat to its separate offerings.

The requirement to be a Dish subscriber, deal with their installers and equipment, and pay their fees is going to be a deal-breaker for most potential customers. Let’s face it, not everyone wants a dish.

Moreover, the streaming component seems to be a largely rebranded version of Dish’s existing video-on-demand offering. Plus, while the rent by mail option is nice, it sort of misses the point of what has made Netflix so great.

We also think the people at Dish Network are greatly overvaluing the importance of the BlockBuster brand. While everyone knows BlockBuster, it doesn’t mean all consumers like or trust the brand.

The real news from this announcement is that this is the first bundling of an over-the-top (meaning, delivered by IP) streaming solution alongside a traditional content delivery play. Comcast and other cable companies have been investing heavily in TV Everywhere, but thus far, those solutions have largely been network dependent. HBO Go, the most successful TV Everywhere execution to date, is an HBO product, not a Comcast product.

Our hope is this move will entice other cable and satellite providers to consider bundling or enhancing their over-the-top offerings alongside the typical television content.

More About: blockbuster, blockbuster movie pass, dish network, netflix

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HOW TO: Use the New Facebook to See Who Has Unfriended You

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 12:39 PM PDT

In addition to showing users a timeline of their activity on the site throughout the years, it turns out that Facebook’s new profile provides a rundown of which friends they’ve lost.

Here’s how you can see which friends you’ve lost:

  • 1. Enable the new Facebook timeline.
  • 2. Pick a year in the timeline and locate the “Friends” box.
  • 3. Click on “Made X New Friends.”
  • 4. Scroll through the list. Where you see an “Add Friend” box, you know that you are no longer friends with that person. If you haven’t unfriended them, they’ve unfriended you.

There’s still no real-time Facebook alert for an unfriend. But if you’re really interested in learning more and more quickly about your declining online popularity, a browser plugin like Better Facebook is a good alternative.

[via BuzzFeed]

More About: Facebook, facebook timeline

Gmail Down For Some Users

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 11:34 AM PDT

Several users are reporting that Gmail, Google’s web-based email service, is down.

Many of us are getting 502 or 503 error screens. Some users are also reporting that their Google Apps accounts are down as well. Other products, including Google Chat, seem to be affected by the rolling outages.

We’re not sure why certain users are being affected by the outages, and others are not. We’ve reached out to Google to find out what’s wrong.

Update: It looks like Gmail and Google Apps are recovering. We’ll update this story when we learn more about what happened.

More About: gmail, Google

Why Facebook Timeline Is Made For Its Youngest Users [OPINION]

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 11:17 AM PDT

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

When Facebook launched its integrated messages system in November 2010, founder Mark Zuckerberg related an anecdote about his girlfriend’s younger sister. He talked about how the young woman and her friends, high school students, used Facebook in a way that was foreign to him. When he asked them what they used for email, they said they don’t really use email — it’s too formal; they use Facebook and SMS.

It was this story that I couldn’t stop thinking about as Zuckerberg revealed the latest iteration of the Facebook profile at f8 on Thursday called Timeline. This was a feature aimed squarely at the generation of users who grew up with Facebook. As Zuckerberg was talking, my former colleague Brenna Ehrlich tweeted out: “new facebook seems like too much work. i do not enjoy scrapbooking, IRL…” My response, “That’s what I was just thinking…”

For many older users, myself included, it is doubtful that we will go back to the time before Facebook (for me, late 2004) to fill in the gaps on my Timeline. From talking to other people my age since the announcement, it seems more likely that people of our generation will sanitize stuff that resurfaces rather than adding more content to the stream. But for younger users, they don’t need to fill in any gaps — their Timeline is already more or less complete.

The “Everything Platform”

When Zuckerberg asked those high school students how they found out about new Facebook messages if not by email, their response was, “Through Facebook — we’re already on there.” Teens and children ages 9-19 spend about 55 minutes each day on Facebook, compared to 38 minutes per day for older users, according to recent research. They also share more about their lives than older users (though mostly because they spend more time on the site, say researchers). I see this anecdotally every day; my high school-aged cousins talk to their friends in near-real-time via messages on each other’s Facebook walls. They share every aspect of their lives, from the mundane to the exciting, from locker combinations to results at gymnastics meets.

It’s these users at which Timeline (and the other updates that make sharing experiences even more universal) is aimed. Slate’s Farhad Manjoo worries that this new variety of “frictionless sharing” will kill taste. “I know this sounds obvious, but it’s somehow eluded Zuckerberg that sharing is fundamentally about choosing,” he wrote in a recent column. “You experience a huge number of things every day, but you choose to tell your friends about only a fraction of them, because most of what you do isn’t worth mentioning.”

Manjoo worries that the new Facebook encourages too much sharing. He doesn’t want to be bored by your updates. But I think he’s missing the point: The new Facebook isn’t for him, it’s for users half his age. It’s all about positioning Facebook as the ultimate communications tool for the next generation — one that goes beyond facilitating communication, but also records the history of everyone on the planet.

Just like I would talk to my friends on the phone every day after school when I was a kid, today’s youth talk to each other on Facebook and via text messages. And just like those phone conversations included their fair share of the banal (Really, how much can happen in the average suburban 13-year-old’s life to fill in daily two-hour phone conversations?), so too will those Facebook conversations include plenty of “boring” bits that would offend Manjoo’s sensibilities.

Is Facebook For You?

Mashable editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff worried in an op-ed about Facebook Timeline on Thursday whether other Facebook users would embrace the new service. “Zuckerberg should keep in mind that Facebook succeeded with the Moms and Dads who traditionally left ‘the new’ to their kids. They use Facebook almost as much as their kids and when the kids have moved onto the next new thing, they're still in Facebook getting real-time information about stuff that matters today,” he wrote. “Let's hope that [Zuckerberg] doesn't inadvertently leave his users behind.”

I’d argue that it doesn’t matter in the long run. Though I fully expect a call from my mom once Timeline rolls out to the masses asking what the heck happened to her Facebook, in the end, she can still use it in more or less the same way. But for the generation that has grown up with Facebook, this new direction plays right to them.

Facebook’s current mission statement is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” But with Timeline, that mission might be shifting. If Timeline is embraced by the youngest generation of Facebook users, the new mantra might be something more along the lines of, “help people communicate and record their lives.” That might not appeal to you, but then, you might not be a teenager.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ilbusca

More About: Facebook, facebook timeline, features, Opinion, youth

Will Amazon Finally Reveal Its Tablet Next Week?

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 11:03 AM PDT

Amazon may be gearing up to announce its much-awaited, much-rumored tablet PC next Wednesday.

The tight-lipped company sent an invitation out to select members of the press Friday. The invite (see below) is for Sept. 28 at 10 a.m. ET in New York. No other details were forthcoming and Amazon reps could not be reached for comment.

The event comes as reports have pegged the introduction of an Amazon tablet computer “before October.” At least one tech blogger claims to have gotten a hands-on look at the tablet, said to be called “Amazon Kindle.” The device reportedly sports a back-lit, color touchscreen and is priced at $250. That report, however, stated that the release date for the product would be in late November.

Whatever Amazon is up to, the company’s progress on its tablet will be closely watched. Analysts say Amazon is the only company that can challenge the iPad’s dominance this holiday season.

More About: amazon, ipad, Kindle, Tablet

NASA: 6.5-Ton Satellite Falling to Earth Friday or Saturday

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 10:53 AM PDT

NASA‘s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is headed towards Earth. But don’t fear, it’s still unlikely anyone will be hit.

The space agency now says the U.S. is back as a possible “landing site” for the satellite. As it gets closer to impact, NASA now says the 6.5-ton behemoth will fall to earth sometime Friday or Saturday ET.

“The satellite orientation or configuration apparently has changed, and that is now slowing its descent,” NASA says, explaining why the space agency’s prediction the satellite would fall to Earth Wednesday has been revised, and why the U.S. is now back in the running as a possible, albeit unlikely target.

The agency still can’t pinpoint exactly when the spacecraft will reenter the atmosphere, writing on its website, “It is still too early to predict the time and location of re-entry with any certainty, but predictions will become more refined in the next 12 to 18 hours.”

Should we be afraid? In a word, no. Even though NASA says about a half a ton’s worth of spacecraft pieces — that’s about 26 hunks of space junk — will fall to earth, it says most (if not all) of the debris will probably land in an ocean. If you want to know the odds of your own survival, Orbital Debris and Meteoroid Consultant Don Kessler calculated the chances of any one person being hit by any of that debris is less than one in 10 trillion.

But that’s not stopping people from creating some humorous tweets:







More About: NASA, satellite, space, UARS

Facebook’s New Features Get Animated [VIDEO]

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 10:28 AM PDT

The Taiwanese are at it again! This time the humorists at Next Media Animation (NMA) have turned their computer-animation reenactment efforts to the latest Facebook changes.

NMA takes on the latest updates from the f8 conference including the new Timeline and music features.

As usual, NMA nails it.

Check out some images from the event below.

Andy Samberg and Mark Zuckerberg

Beast's Facebook Page

Ben Parr and Jennifer Van Grove

F8 programing team

Zuck Dog


Before f8 Keynote

"I'm not really friends with these people"

Andy Samberg

Andy Samberg

Timeline Mobile

Mark's Timeline

Mark Zuckerberg

A View of Timeline from the Audience

Courtesy of Robyn Peterson

Mark with Timeline

Zuckerberg's Cover




"Any Verb, Any Noun"

Reed Hastings

Reed Hastings

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

Watch Netflix and Hulu from Facebook


Mark Zuckerberg and Words With Friends

Washington Post Social Reader

Running and Eating

Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor

Chris Cox

Chris Cox

Facebook Memories

Mark Zuckerberg Closes F8

Mark Zuckerberg Closes F8

More F8 Coverage:

More About: f8, Facebook, humor, NMA

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Man Turns Random Tech Into Musical Instruments [VIDEO]

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 10:11 AM PDT

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

The guys at StoryAmp pointed us to this video created by musician Mikael Mutti. Mutti likes to reverse engineer electronics and game controllers to create instruments and new sounds.

This video was made using the controllers featured in the video — including a Rockband Guitar/iPad hybrid, Japanese office telephone, a Wii remote and a Beamz laser motion sensor. Mutti even created an instrument out of a Dance Dance Revolution floor mat.

Using bluetooth and USB, Mutti feeds two controllers into his laptop and he creates the music using Reason and Pro Tools.

Frankly, we love seeing weird tech repurposed as musical instruments. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

And Don’t miss yesterday’s YouTube Video of the Day: Nissan iAd Creates 360-Degree Experience on Your iPhone [VIDEO].”

More About: video games, viral-video-of-day, YouTube

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How the World Uses Social Networks [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 09:31 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.

Amidst the Facebook-centric society in which we now seem to live, it’s important to remember that groups of people around the world use social networks differently. We’ve taken a look at the social media breakdown in 10 countries — how they’re engaging with social networks, blogs and Internet culture.

Based on data provided by Nielsen, Facebook is clearly the favored social network. However, you might be surprised to see how runners-up like Twitter and LinkedIn rank on a global scale.

Take a peek at our infographic, and please let us know in the comments below which social networks are popular (or gaining popularity) in your country of residence.

Editor’s Note: Because reliable data about emerging online markets like China and India is difficult to source, they were regrettably omitted from this graphic.

Infographic design by Nick Sigler

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: features, mashable, Mashable Infographics, Social Media, Social Media Infographics Series, social networks

Thanks to Mashable’s Socially Savvy Supporters

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 09:11 AM PDT

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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.

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Wisconsin Library Now Lending Out iPads

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 08:56 AM PDT

You can now borrow an iPad from your local library — that is, if you live in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Eau Claire’s L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library will soon begin offering 32 iPads (first generation, 64GB with Wi-Fi, no 3G) for seven-day checkouts. The library will also have six iPads for on-premise use. Each iPad will be loaded with 1,000 books plus 10 audio books, library director John Stoneberg told TV station WEAU.

The program was made possible by a $50,000 grant from the Presto Foundation. A few restrictions apply: You must be over 18 and sign a contract to take one out. Anything you download will also be deleted. There’s also a $10 per day late fee that maxes out at $100. If you completely trash the iPad, you will be on the hook for $1,020 — the price the library paid for the device plus an external keyboard and case, a library rep says.

The Eau Claire branch is certainly among the vanguard of libraries embracing the digital age, though it’s hardly alone. Some 11,000 libraries (out of a total of 122,101 across the nation) this week began lending books for Amazon’s Kindle ebook platform.

[Via AllThingsD ]

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, arakonyunus

More About: amazon, ipad, libraries

HP Shares Tank as Meg Whitman Takes the Helm

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 08:35 AM PDT

Shares of Hewlett-Packard are taking a beating Friday as investors express skepticism that former eBay CEO Meg Whitman can right the ship.

HP’s stock price closed at 22.86 on Thursday, just before Whitman was appointed as the company’s new CEO. Shares of HP were trading at 21.96 as of 11:02 a.m. ET though, a drop of more than 3.5% (the stock is slowly recovering). It’s even worse if you consider that HP’s stock price hit 24.90 on Wednesday, not long after the news leaked that Leo Apotheker was out as CEO.

The problem is simple: Investors are not keen on the company’s decision to put a person with mostly consumer experience in charge of a business whose strength is in enterprise. Whitman, who most believe did a good job building eBay into a powerhouse business, just doesn’t have experience in hardware and enterprise sales. Investors wonder whether Whitman has the knowledge needed to fix the problems at the massive HP empire (which employs 300,000 people).

SEE ALSO: Meg Whitman's First Email to HP Employees

Mashable‘s readers seem to agree with this assessment. In a recent poll where we asked readers what they think Whitman should do first, 42.5% of respondents said that she should revive the TouchPad and the webOS division. Another 25% said that she should save the PC division, while another 16% said that she should kill the $11 billion acquisition of British software maker Autonomy.

Despite Whitman’s statement that she intends to “stay the course” set by her predecessor, you can bet that she and new Executive Chairman Ray Lane (a partner at Kleiner Perkins and the former COO of Oracle) are reviewing all of their options with haste. If they don't quickly communicate a vision for the company, employees and investors could panic, and who knows what would happen next.

More About: Hewlett-Packard, HP, Leo Apotheker, meg whitman

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NASA Details the Next 25 Years of Space Exploration

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 08:17 AM PDT

NASA has just published the Global Exploration Roadmap, a document detailing the agency’s plans for the next 25 years of space exploration. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the future of space technology, travel and exploration.

The 38-page document was developed by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group, which is comprised by 14 space agencies including Roscosmos (Russia), UKSA (the UK), CNSA (China) and NASA. It’s a vision of robotic and human space exploration within the Solar System, with the premise humans may one day live and work in space, the Moon and, perhaps, Mars.

The document is only a first iteration of the roadmap. But it’s very detailed and contains two post-ISS mission scenarios for the next 25-year period: “Asteroid Next” and “Moon Next.” Both options emphasize sustainability, but prioritize the order of sending humans to the Moon and asteroids differently.

Both scenarios are exciting, including a human mission to a near-Earth asteroid (NEA) in the 2030′s, a deep space habitat (DSH) in 2034, and – in the Moon Next scenario – a human mission to the moon in the 2020′s. The step next step would be sending humans to Mars, a dream many of us would love to see come true in our lifetimes.

Global Exploration Roadmap further details key objectives of space exploration and its impact on the economy and Earth safety. A special chapter is devoted to long-range human exploration strategy and the many challenges it brings. Another chapter details the role of the International Space Station as the first step towards the future of space exploration. There’s also mention of robotic missions, which should pave the way to human deep-space exploration.

Check out the two mission scenarios below and the entire Global Exploration Roadmap (in PDF format) here or the high-resolution version here or click below.

Images courtesy of NASA

More About: Mars, NASA, roadmap, space exploration

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Cellphone Service Finally Comes to New York City’s Subways

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 07:57 AM PDT

Six of New York City‘s subway stations will offer cellular service starting next week, marking a significant turning point in the effort to wire all of the city’s underground rail system stops.

AT&T and T-Mobile subscribers will be able to access those services in six stations in Chelsea in Manhattan, a rep for the Metropolitan Transit Authority says, confirming numerous reports. The signals for the stations — which run from 14th Street and 6th Avenue to 23rd Street and 8th Avenue — will only be available in the platforms and mezzanines of those stations. The signal will only go a short way within the tunnels.

The wiring of those stations is considered a pilot program. The Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs the subways, will extend the service to other stations if it’s considered successful.

New York is a laggard in terms of subway-based cellphone service. San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit System has had service since 2006, Boston’s has had it since 2007, Chicago got it in 2006 and Washington D.C.’s Metro system got it in 2009. London, meanwhile, currently has no service but is aiming to get it in time for the 2012 Olympic Games.

New York City’s project began in 2007, but was delayed as contractor Transit Wireless ran into financing trouble. The company has since received financing from Broadcast Australia, a wireless operator in that country.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Annie Mole

More About: att, MTA, new york city, T-Mobile, Wireless

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10 Excellent User Interface Designs to Learn From

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 07:30 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.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve gathered together some great resources and information on constructing amazing user interfaces. Here, we’ll take a closer look at 10 beautiful interfaces — five for the web and five for mobile — that you can use as reference points in your own design.

We’ll start things off by taking a look at five inspiring websites and applications — what works and what could use a little improvement. Then, we’ll have a look at five great mobile applications for iOS whose interfaces are impressive and inspiring.

1. The Fork CMS Website (Web)

What Is It: Fork is a modular, extendable, free and open-source content management system.

What We Like: We're enjoying the whimsical illustrative style, great use of icons, typography and the overall clean look. Information on the extensions is well laid out, and this feels like a page where it all really comes together and works.

What Could Be Better: The oversized look is definitely working well here, but some elements feel a little too large, and the features page feels a bit disorganized.

2. Mail Chimp (Web)

What Is It: Mail Chimp is one of the web's most popular email newsletter and email campaign management web applications.

What We Like: The Mail Chimp app has a unique, welcoming color scheme, with a lot of attention to detail, beautiful reports and a great approach to the "empty account" problem with helpful, visually pleasing user guides. Mail Chimp just feels fun to use and very unintimidating.

What Could Be Better: Some UI elements within the application, namely the treatment of some text, are a little low-contrast, which could impact accessibility.

3. Ronin Website (Web)

What Is It: Ronin is an SaaS web application for time tracking and invoicing.

What We Like: Ronin has a great landing page that provides plenty of information without feeling over-crowded. Similarly, the sign-up form, pricing table and tour pages are equally well organized. The overall feel is clean and open -- it's clear that precision and consistency were paid attention to throughout the process of developing this site.

What Could Be Better: Despite a great layout with careful attention to detail, something about the site still feels rather generic. The UI is great, but it's indicative of many "Web 2.0" sites and doesn't really do anything new to excite us.

4. Campaign Monitor's Worldview (Web)

What Is It: A tool that lets you view your Campaign Monitor subscribers on a world map.

What We Like: The landing page looks great, and the application interface is clean and simple. There's no clutter here, just large maps visualizing subscribers and a few simple menus for managing views. The application cuts out all of the fluff and gets right down to business.

What Could Be Better: While not a design concern, we ran into performance issues after having the app open for a while (in Firefox on the iMac), which could definitely impact the overall user experience.

5. Print Friendly (Web)

What Is It: Print Friendly takes any website and gives you a stripped-down, printer friendly view of that site, with the option to share or download a PDF file of the print-friendly version.

What We Like: There's not a lot of frivolous information or clutter here. The site simply does what it says and that's about it. The landing page gives you everything you need. Print-friendly results are easy to read, easy to print, and easy to share.

What Could Be Better: We find it interesting that the Print Friendly content is created and then placed inside of a DIV with a fixed height. It would be nice if the content box simply expanded to fit the length of its content.

6. GlobeConvert Pro (Mobile)

What Is It: GlobeConvert Pro is an application for converting units of measurement and currency between various standards and countries.

What We Like: The application is dead-simple to use -- just select what you want to convert from the menu on the left and enter the values. It doesn't get much easier, and the layout is clean and uncluttered.

7. Nike Football+ Team Edition (Mobile)

What Is It: An iPad application that lets you create football (soccer) training drills and routines, and includes instructional video and progress tracking.

What We Like: Seeing good design come out of Nike is no surprise, but we really like how it all comes together here. It's a great combination of color, typography, iconography and clean, simple layouts. Many sports apps tend to become cluttered due to an overabundance of media and information, but this one keeps it neat.

8. Tabletop (Mobile)

What Is It: A modular audio editing and mixer environment for the iPad.

What We Like: Seeing iPad applications with interfaces that mimic their real-life counterparts is nothing new, but often they tend to look a bit hokey. We like how Tabletop has pulled off the look here. There's a lot of detail within the application's UI that gives it a very polished feel.

9. Things (Mobile)

What is It: The iOS version of the popular to-do/GTD Mac App, Things.

What We Like: Things has a simple interface that's easy to use, but what really makes it shine is all of the little details. It's the combination of subtle, small things that come together to make the app look super-clean and professional; the subtle gradients, the text shadows, clean lines and detail within the icons.

10. Notably (Mobile)

What Is It: Notably is an authoring tool for the iPad, designed to give creative writers a clean, clutter-free writing environment and organized writing collections.

What We Like: Notably is spacious and clean, and the typography looks great. The subtle, off-white colors work well for reducing eye strain within the editor and give an overall feeling of warmth that makes the application feel inviting to use. The book metaphor, while commonly used, is particularly well-suited to the iPad.

Series Supported by

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: apps, features, mashable, web design, Web Design Usability Series

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FBI Continues Crackdown on Cybercrime With Two Arrests

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 07:15 AM PDT

The FBI arrested two suspected members of hacker groups LulzSec and Anonymous Thursday.

Cody Kretsinger, a 23-year-old suspected member of hacking group LulzSec, was arrested in Phoenix for his alleged role in the cyberattacks on Sony Pictures Entertainment this June. Hackers stole information from 37,000 of the company’s user accounts and posted it on LulzSec’s website.

Members of the Los Angeles FBI field office told they had also arrested an alleged member of Anonymous in San Francisco. They suspect the man, who is homeless, of attacks on Santa Cruz County government websites.

Search warrants were also being executed in New Jersey, Minnesota and Montana, according to

Anonymous and LulzSec have claimed participation in pretty much every high-profile hacking incident in recent memory, including those on Sony’s Playstation Network, the U.S. Senate and Fox News.

In July, the FBI made its intentions to crackdown on cybercrime clear when it arrested 16 suspected hackers in raids throughout the U.S.

"We want to send a message that chaos on the Internet is unacceptable, [even if] hackers can be believed to have social causes, it's entirely unacceptable to break into websites and commit unlawful acts," FBI Deptuy Assistant Director Steve Chabinsky told NPR at the time.

More About: anonymous, FBI, hackers, lulzsec, sony

HOW TO: Haunt a Modern House [COMIC]

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 06:43 AM PDT

Scientists Turn Brain’s Visual Memories into a Mind-Blowing Video

Posted: 23 Sep 2011 05:32 AM PDT

Ever dreamed of recording your dreams and turning them into a video clip? The technology that enables you to do that is near: UC Berkeley scientists figured out a way to turn the way our brains interpret visual stimuli into a video, and the result is amazing.

To be able to do this, the researches used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to measure the blood flow through brain’s visual cortex. Then, different parts of the brain were divided into volumetric pixels or voxels (the term might be familiar to those who remember early 3D games which were based on voxels instead of polygons which are more commonly used today). Finally, the scientists built a computational model which describes how visual information is mapped into brain activity.

In practice, test subjects viewed some video clips, and their brain activity was recorded by a computer program, which learned how to associate the visual patterns in the movie with the corresponding brain activity.

Then, test subjects viewed a second set of clips. The movie reconstruction algorithm was fed 18 million seconds of random YouTube videos, which were used to teach the program how to predict the brain activity evoked by film clips. Finally, the program chose 100 clips which were most similar to the movie the subject had seen, which were merged to create a reconstruction of the original movie.

The result is a video that shows how our brain sees things, and at moments it’s eerily similar to the original imagery.

"This is a major leap toward reconstructing internal imagery. We are opening a window into the movies in our minds," said Professor Jack Gallant, a UC Berkeley neuroscientist and coauthor of the study published in the journal Current Biology.

Recording our dreams and “reading” the minds of coma patients requires a lot of work still, as current technology only enables scientists to interpret brain activity while the test subject is watching a movie. Ultimately, it could be used to decode how our brain processes visual events in everyday life or, perhaps, our dreams.

Check out another video, which shows the movie reconstruction algorithm at work, below. More details about the study can be found here.

[UC Berkeley via Gizmodo]

More About: brain, Science, visual imagery, visualization

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