Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “MTV’s O Music Awards Will Include a Steve Jobs Tribute and a Turntable.FM Dance Party”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “MTV’s O Music Awards Will Include a Steve Jobs Tribute and a Turntable.FM Dance Party”

MTV’s O Music Awards Will Include a Steve Jobs Tribute and a Turntable.FM Dance Party

Posted: 12 Oct 2011 05:00 AM PDT

mtv image

MTV is putting the "music" back into "MTV" with its second O Music Awards on Oct. 31. The awards show will pay a musical tribute to Steve Jobs and is partnering with Turntable.FM, a virtual DJ booth and social network, to throw the world's longest dance party.

The O Music Awards focuses on music achievements in the digital world with categories such as Best Music Hack, Best Music Forum and Best Web-Born Artist.

In that spirit, the award will honor Steve Jobs with a musical performance to pay homage to his contributions to digital music culture. Jobs and Apple have largely defined how an entire generation gets music, using iTunes and the iPod. MTV is mum on who will be performing.

SEE ALSO: 4 Ways Steve Jobs and Apple Changed the Music Industry will simultaneously live stream a Turntable.FM party to break the Guinness World Record for "Longest Dance Party." The stream will start Oct. 29 and aim to break the 55-hour record. Beats will be provided by using Turntable.FM and a fan competition.

“In the spirit of experimentation and always thinking of ways to bring fans and musicians into the show itself. … We wanted to go beyond just ‘Oh sweet, make it a trending topic,’ you know?” says Shannon Connolly, MTV’s VP of Digital Music Strategy. “How do we go beyond that?”

Fans can email O Music Awards at and request a DJ spot before the record attempt. Any user who earns at least 25 points before Oct. 25 will be eligible to DJ a part of the 55-hour marathon. “We want to do what MTV does, which is make people famous; whether that's writing about them on the site or blasting them out over our [networks],” Connolly says. “We really want to celebrate the turntable community.”

The live stream will also raise awareness for anti-bullying campaigns. Any donations from the event will be split between the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the It Gets Better Project, the Gay Straight Alliance Network (GSA), Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and The Trevor Project.

More About: mtv, Music, Social Media, steve jobs, turntable

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iCloud Site Opens Up Ahead of iOS 5 Launch

Posted: 12 Oct 2011 03:21 AM PDT

The new version of Apple’s mobile platform iOS 5 is due to arrive Wednesday, and all the pieces are slowly falling into place ahead of the launch.

First, Apple released a new version of iTunes – 10.5 – and now it opened the doors of the iCloud site, where customers will be able to sign up for the service that seamlessly backs up your data to the cloud.

To be able to start using iCloud, you need the latest version of Mac OS X Lion or iOS 5, neither of which has officially been released yet.

It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation: If you try to sign into the iCloud site (you need your Apple ID and password), you’ll be greeted with the following message: “To set up iCloud, go to iOS 5 Settings or OS X Lion System Preferences”. And most users can’t do that since they can’t install the latest versions of iOS and Lion just yet.

Still, now you at least know where to go when that iOS 5 update starts rolling out to users.

Purchased Button

In the iTunes app in iOS 4, a new "Purchased" button now appears on the bottom of the application.

You can choose to see all music or just the songs/albums not on your current device.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, icloud, iOS

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Google Celebrates Art Clokey’s Birthday With an Animated Doodle

Posted: 12 Oct 2011 01:36 AM PDT

Today, Google’s latest Doodle pays tribute to the late Arthur “Art” Clokey, a pioneer of stop motion clay animation, who was born on October 12, 1921.

Clokey’s best-known animated characters were Gumby and his horse Pokey which were popular during the fifties and sixties.

Gumby experienced a comeback in the 80ies after Eddie Murphy parodied the character on Saturday Night Live, and a full feature animated movie called Gumby: The Movie was released in 1995.

Stop motion clay animation has remained a popular technique to this day. It’s been used in many commercials, music videos, shorts and movies, including Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run.

The Gumby Google Doodle is animated and interactive, so make sure you click on all the “letters” to see the entire animation.

More About: Art Clokey, Doodle, Google

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PayPal Seeks to Become the Web Payment System to Rule Them All

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 08:23 PM PDT

eBay is set to unveil PayPal Access, a service for letting users use their PayPal accounts on other websites without the need to register an account or a credit card.

The service, which will make its debut Wednesday at eBay’s X.Commerce developers conference in San Francisco, essentially eliminates the need to register an account at other retail websites, decreasing the steps needed to make a purchase and lowering the risk that a hacked ecommerce website will be able to steal credit card information.

“What’s different about PayPal Access is that it provides everything consumers and merchants need to create an account and transaction – from shipping to payment details,” a PayPal spokesperson told Mashable. “We’re helping retailers simplify login and account creation to help increase conversion and loyalty on merchants' websites.”

To implement the product, PayPal has turned to Gigya and Janrain as partners. Gigya will be offering the PayPal Access API to its nearly 500 enterprise clients through its Social Login product, while Janrain will offer the API through its social checkin platform.

“Identity is going to play a huge part of how users interact on the web outside of their core social networks, and PayPal Access helps bring that vision to life,” a Gigya spokesperson told Mashable. “For retailers, we think it could have a major impact on reducing shopping cart abandonment because shoppers will only need to login once in order to go through the checkout flow.”

The product has a few big hurdles to overcome, though. Its biggest challenge will be convincing retailers that they should implement PayPal Access in addition (or instead of) a traditional user registration system. While PayPal Access reduces the friction towards a purchase, retailers won’t have as much access or control over those user accounts. It’s an issue many online retailers will have to ponder as PayPal gains steam as the web’s most prominent payment solution.

More About: paypal, PayPal Access

5 Digital Marketing Commandments for Luxury Brands

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 07:05 PM PDT

Duke Greenhill is the founder and CEO of Greenhill+Partners, a premiere New York-based creative marketing agency specializing in luxury brands and engaging the emerging affluent. You can reach them at

Lately people are talking about luxury brands and digital marketing. I can’t count the number of times this week I’ve seen tweets asking, “Is Digital Killing the Luxury Brand?” Invariably, these discussions evaluate the dangers of leveraging a wholly democratic platform in order to promote a wholly exclusive industry. But, as usual, the discussion misses the point.

The question is not if luxury brands can safely leverage digital media. The question is how. With that in mind, here are five commandments for marketing luxury brands using the most democratic media in the world.

1. Thou Shalt Democratize, But Not Downgrade

Luxury brands obsess over losing exclusivity in the digital space, but this concern puts the cart in front of the horse. A luxury brand generates exclusivity by cultivating a block of consumers who wish they could buy the brandʼs products, but cannot afford them. Simply, if luxury brands want to remain luxurious, they have to engage not only their paying customers, but also people who want but canʼt have.

This is where the democratizing power of social and new media comes into play. Social media enables luxury brands to build tremendous clout among the aspirational set. In some cases, social media may be the only place aspiring consumers can reach the brand at all. This, in turn, builds tremendous prestige among the affluent set.

In order to democratize without downgrading, luxury brands must maintain the digital conversation by engaging more aspirational consumers and including them in a controlled brand dialogue. On the other hand, the brand must prevent brand downgrading by embracing cleverness and avoiding mimicry, by ensuring innovation and not stealing from their traditional campaigns, and by treating digital media like the marketing powerhouse that it is. All the while, luxury brands must strive toward the highest creativity, elegance and production quality. Only in this way can luxury brands both cultivate desire and maintain exclusivity, and thus, grow in the digital world safely.

2. Thou Shalt Not Kill The Conversation

Luxury brands worry that if they allow interactivity or user-generated content, if they initiate a conversation between brand and buyer, they will lose control of the brand image. This is simply not true.

There are many ways to encourage interactivity while still maintaining control of the brand. Look at Burberryʼs
Art of the Trench," a photo-sharing destination that primarily features Burberry-commissioned, high-end photography of models in the brandʼs seminal trench coats. What's more, it also allows consumers inside access if they upload their own pictures (which are vetted and selected by the brand). Therefore, Burberry successfully reaches a significant audience while maintaining brand control.

Like Burberry, luxury brands must learn that they can create digital campaigns with embedded brand control. Killing the conversation outright is not the answer.

3. Thou Shalt Honor Digital Media

If luxury brands indeed fear brand dilution, they must first stop diluting the quality of their digital media. Time and again my own luxury clients say, "But itʼs just a behind-the-scenes video for Facebook and YouTube! Do we really need to spend that much on production?" The answer is always “yes.” Digital luxury marketing is only as luxurious as the brands are willing to make it.

Just like the luxury products and services themselves, the quality of luxury digital marketing relies on ideation and execution. A dress is not inherently luxurious; the difference lies in its design and high-quality manufacture. The same is true of digital marketing media. Luxury brands must decide whether their digital marketing is luxurious or commonplace, and they must commit to making their digital messaging more beautiful, more innovative and more elegant than anything else out there. Only then can they preserve their up-market brand values.

4. Thou Shalt Not Steal From Old Media

The primary reason luxury brands fail at social and new media is because they haven't bothered to understand it. Luxury brands, more often than not, suffer from what I call the "Paper Pixel Syndrome." They take media developed and produced for traditional deployment and force it onto their social and new media platforms.

For instance, they digitize a traditional TV spot by compressing and uploading to YouTube, or they post a print ad to Facebook. This blanket strategy weakens the perception of luxury brands. Just as one wouldnʼt put a 30-second static print ad on TV, so should one avoid stealing traditional media by hawking it in the digital space. Luxury digital media requires a development, production and deployment strategy specific to its digital channels. Nothing less will do.

5. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Media Channels

Just because one luxury brand is successfully utilizing a particular digital approach does not mean another luxury brand should follow the same strategy.

As an example, take Vera Wangʼs Weddings app, or Tiffanyʼs Engagement Ring Finder app. Both are directly motivated by a core brand value or consumer need.

"There is a sense of urgency associated with digital platforms," says Vera Wang president Mario Grauso, but luxury brands must be careful not to embrace a platform just because itʼs hot. Only those platforms that spring directly from a core brand ideal or customer need can succeed without diluting the brand itself.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jsp, Flickr, pasukaru76

More About: Advertising, branding, contributor, features, Marketing, Media

Kickstarter Surpasses $100 Million in Pledges

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 05:53 PM PDT

Popular crowd funding platform Kickstarter has announced that more than 1 million people have backed at least one project, resulting in more than $100 million dollars in pledges.

Kickstarter allows users to post their projects and find funding for them from the Kickstarter community. Everything from the iPod nano watch to indie films have gotten their start on the crowd funding website.

It took Kickstarter just under two-and-a-half years to reach the 1 million backers milestone, according to a plethora of stats the company published on its blog. Growth has accelerated in recent months — in the last five months alone, Kickstarter has gained 400,000 backers. The company defines a backer as somebody who has put down his or her credit card and pledged money to a project.

Out of those 1 million backers, approximately 16% (166,823 people) have backed more than one project. 66,676 have backed three or more projects, and 23,601 have backed five projects or more.

The result is 1.4 million total pledges on Kickstarter, with 90% of those pledges amounting to $100 or less (615 pledges have been for $5,000 or more). In total, Kickstarter users have pledged a total of $100.7 million. Of that, $84 million of that has gone to successful projects. $2 million is pledged every week on Kickstarter.

What do you think of Kickstarter’s growth? Have you ever backed a Kickstarter project? Let us know in the comments.

More About: kickstarter, Social Good, startup

4 Ways Steve Jobs and Apple Changed the Music Industry

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 05:05 PM PDT

Max Blau is Paste Magazine‘s multimedia editor, where he oversees all audio, video and photo content on the website. He is also a freelance writer, photographer and videographer. Follow him at @MaxBlau or check out his blog.

During this decade of uncertainty and instability for the music industry, Apple has remained one of few companies that has managed to nail it. Apple has conquered nearly every musical endeavor that it attempted (the only exceptions being its social networking efforts with Ping and its decision to shutter Lala upon acquisition).

Over the past decade-plus, Apple has succeeded in redefining and reinventing certain aspects of the music industry. In particular, Steve Jobs helped create music products and services that impacted four particular areas.

1. Musical Consumption Patterns

It's hard to imagine life without the iPod today. Although it wasn't the first portable MP3 player released, the iPod extracted the best elements from its early competitors, and morphed them into a product that defined portable technology and changed the way listeners experience music.

People everywhere began to analyze the device's impact on consumption patterns. For starters, the iPod meant that a listener could hear any song in his library at any time. This allowed users to create their own personal soundtracks, instead of being constrained by a particular time, place or media.

"I remember the first day I got an iPod," The Postelles' David Dargahi recalls. "I was on the crosstown bus in Manhattan during a snow storm and had a sudden urge to listen to some Bob Marley. Needless to stay it brightened up my mood and showed me the power of the iPod."

In addition, iPods impacted the format of the musical experience. The user could now purchase individual songs and subsequently shuffle through a several-thousand song library. We could hear any given song at any given time with the click of a button. Therefore, records in their classic sense were deconstructed. No longer was the album a mandated listening requirement – playing the duration of a full-length release became an option, not a necessity. As a result, the iPod empowered the single track more than ever before, simultaneously diminishing the impact of the full-length album.

2. Accessibility of Recording and Production Tools

To put it simply, Apple leveled the playing field. The barrier between writing songs, recording and production lessened with the advent of affordable, easy-to-use software programs like Logic and GarageBand. The former became an industry standard for professional audio engineers, while the latter offered an entry into the recording and production world for amateurs. As these programs became available, the lines blurred between professional recording artists and bedroom musicians.

Dave Yang, singer and guitarist of the New York indie-rock group Extra Arms, is a testament to Apple's impact on emerging musicians. "I’ve now recorded hundreds of songs on Apple computers, and GarageBand taught me basic recording engineering that got me started," he explains. "Steve Jobs leveled the playing field for who could make music or art, and allowed me to get my voice out.”

Without Apple's innovations, Warm Ghost's Paul Duncan doubts his music would sound the same. "I’m not sure I would be making the same music if I hadn’t started using Macs to record," he says. "It can be a cheap way to make a record, which has not just changed the artist’s relationship to music, but music’s relationship to the world and vice versa (for better or worse)."

3. Online Retail and Distribution Models

While many of Steve Jobs and Apple's services revolutionized the music industry over the past decade, few have made as profound an impact as now eight-year-old iTunes.

In 2003, Apple launched iTunes and sold single MP3s for $0.99 each. From that point forward, Apple grew the platform into a widely successful and profitable effort, eventually becoming the number one music retailer in the United States.

iTunes stood out among the early online music retailers and has continued to serve as a model for all other Internet media distributors. By being the first online distributor to secure deals with all four major corporate record labels (Universal, Sony, Warner Music Group and EMI), iTunes effectively legitimized digital music sales following the proliferation of illegal sharing sites like Napster.

Since then, iTunes has continued to exist as one of the most stable entities in the far-from-certain territory of online music sales.

4. Live Electronic Performance Becomes Reliable

Before Apple, reliable processing for live electronics was a crapshoot. Granted, PCs have long been used to process effects, sample instrumentation and help electronic artists perform their music live. However, Apple computers like the PowerBook and MacBook became staples at shows, garnering a reputation for their reliability.

Brooklyn electronic musician J. Viewz heavily relies on Apple to craft his works. "Live, I use a MacBook Pro with Ableton," he says. "In the studio on a Mac pro, Cubase & After Effects." Viewz is one of countless musicians now dependent on Apple products to manufacture and refine his sound.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Abdulrahman Bin Slmah 

More About: apple, contributor, features, ipod, Media, Music, steve jobs

Zenbook Launches: Does It Beat the MacBook Air? [VIDEO]

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 04:13 PM PDT

Asus Zenbook Metallic Spun Finish

It's got a burnished finish.

Click here to view this gallery.

Asus Zenbook laptopHolding Asus's new $999, 11.6-inch, 2.42 lb. Zenbook UX21 in one hand is an oddly familiar experience. Perhaps that's because it feels almost exactly like its chief competitor, the 11.6-inch MacBook Air.

Asus Chairman Jonney Shih unveiled the new ultra-thin Zenbook laptop — it’s 3 mm on its thinnest side and 17 mm on its thickest side — at a private event on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Shih did not mention the MacBook Air directly. He compared the Zenbook in price, performance and ports to what he called a “competitor,” but which could only be Apple's thinnest and lightest laptop.

Apple's shadow was inescapable at the event, however. Shih paused at the beginning to remember Apple cofounder and former CEO Steve Jobs who passed away last Wednesday, saying Asus had "great respect for his vision and innovation."

Encased in brushed steel, the Zenbook feels solid, yet light. As Shih noted, the super-thin laptop's $999 configuration, which includes 4 GB of 133MHz DDR 3 RAM, a 128 GB SATA Solid State Drive (SSD) and USB 3.0 ports (I counted two), is $200 cheaper than a similarly configured "competitor" (read: MacBook Air). You can by a MacBook Air for $999 with the same Intel Core i5 CPU — but with only half the memory and storage space.

The Zenbook is known more generically as an "Ultrabook". This is Inte’s label for the latest generation of super thin and light laptops built around its second generation Core mobile CPUs.

Shih promised the Zenbook would get 7 hours of battery life (roughly 3.4 hours of streaming video and 3.25 hours of gameplay) and could remain in standby for up to two weeks. The Zenbook is designed to back up user data if battery power falls to 1%. Shih was also quite proud of the Zenbook's two-second resume time – a speed I confirmed when I opened the laptop myself. Of course, that's just four seconds faster than Shih's oft-mentioned "competitor".

Near-instant on and the ability to sit in standby for 14 days is part of Asus's goal to make laptops more like smartphones, explained Shih.

The 11.6-inch Zenbook runs Windows 7, has a responsive keyboard that doesn’t feel particularly cramped, and offers a large touchpad. I like that the touchpad has a defined area for right clicking, rather than requiring you to use two fingers. Virtually all the demo models Asus had on display were running a more powerful Intel Core i7 CPU, so assessing performance on the $999 Core i5 model will have to wait until they send us a review unit.

Like the MacBook Air, the Zenbook offers two USB ports — though Apple doesn’t employ the speedier USB 3.0 like Asus does. The Zenbook also has a mini HDMI port, and adds an SD card slot — something notably missing from the Air. Neither laptop has an Ethernet port (although Apple charges $29 for the Ethernet-to-USB adapter, while Asus is throwing one in for free).

During the product demonstration Shih also showed off a fairly impressive sound system. He said it was co-developed by Asus's “Golden Ear’ audio group along with Bang Olufsen. You’ll also find the standard wireless connectivity options, including 80211 b/g/n, Wi-Fi and a bluetooth radio.

The Zenbook goes on sale Wednesday Oct. 12. Do you want one? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Asus, laptop, notebook, Ultrabook, Windows, zenbook

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The Return of Real-Time Social Environments

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 02:58 PM PDT

Max Jeffrey is a serial entrepreneur, podcaster and novelist. He co-founded, ZeroDegrees, SuperSig and The Palace and is currently writing the sequel to Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant (HarperCollins, 2011).

The last few months have seen an explosive resurgence in real-time environments, last popular in the late ’90s. The interesting thing is that this new zeitgeist seems to have taken root in multiple places within the space of a few short weeks.

I've seen this all before: I was one of the founders of an avatar chat company called The Palace, Inc. back in 1995. Although quite popular (10 million users at its peak in 1998), The Palace never found a revenue stream that worked. As Jake Winebaum once told me, Palace was a phenomenon, not a business. He was right. But that was then, and this is now.

The New Real-Time Landscape

Let's examine a few examples. Avatar-based chat room Shaker took the gold two weeks ago at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. Created as a Facebook app, Shaker lets users enter an isometric environment that resembles a bar. You can see and interact with other fully articulated avatars that look like mannequins. Users can chat, dance, give other users virtual drinks, see which of your Facebook friends are nearby and invite them to join the party. There is no "point" to Shaker interaction; it's simply fun and engaging.

Then, there's the twin phenomenon of and Turntable lets you enter a virtual room (again with an avatar) and either DJ yourself or listen to other users select music. Chill is much the same idea, only it showcases YouTube videos or real-time streamed events. The idea behind both is shared media consumption while chatting with friends as you watch or listen together. If you recall the ’90s show Mystery Science Theatre 3000, you'll know what I mean. is perhaps the most Palace-like of the real-time spaces. Allowing for custom avatar uploads and creation of user-owned spaces, Worlize has the expressiveness, color and "aliveness" that made the Palace tick. You can invite your friends to join from Facebook or via a tweeted link. Worlize also allows for a few tricks: embedded YouTube windows and a live feed from your webcam as an avatar option.

Google Hangouts mostly centered on video party-lines wherein users could watch YouTube videos together. And with the most recent upgrade to Google+, shared whiteboards and shared desktops were added. Clearly, Google felt that the real-time environment is where the action is.

Real-Time Tech Has Come of Age

So what's going on here? Why now, and not back then?

One of the largest challenges we faced back in the '90s with these environments was getting people to show up at the same time. I can't tell you how many times I saw a Palace avatar materialize, look around at the empty room and dematerialize — only to have someone else materialize minutes later. There was no way to synchronize people's participation.

But now, sends me email whenever one of the DJ's I follow starts spinning virtual vinyl. And with the Facebook and Twitter integration of all these environments, rallying up an online party is not all that difficult anymore — they're virtual flashmobs.

We also faced significant technical challenges back then. The Palace and its competitors required hefty standalone clients or huge Netscape plugins crowbarred into the browser. The frequent changing of avatars, room art and real-time games meant a central server needed to coordinate a large flow of information. The "lag," as it came to be known, destroyed the illusion of being in a space with other people. Now bandwidth is cheap, content delivery networks deliver art assets quickly, and Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds have pointed the way to solutions once unimaginable.

Lastly, real-time business models have changed significantly over the years. We had three choices with the Palace: charge for the software (nobody wanted to pay because "everything's free on the Internet!"), charge for registration codes and "extras" (same objection) or charge for advertising. In the '90s, however, successful advertising on webpages was akin to sorcery, let alone advertising inside this weird little universe of speech balloons and downloadable clients. We couldn't convince anyone to advertise at volume.

But again: that was then, and this is now. Zynga and others have shown that the purchase of in-world virtual products to "pimp" your farm, castle, mafia hideout or avatar is a highly lucrative business. Chill is already experimenting with "appointment viewing" of real-time net shows. Recently, the company experimented with This Week In Venture Capital. Finally, I profess that I've increased my iTunes purchases thanks to all the new music I've discovered within rooms.

Why Now?

Back to the original question: Why is now the right time for real-time? Why has it grabbed the collective imagination at this exact moment? Simply, it is the last great frontier in social media. It is the logical extension of an already powerful trend.

We've been heading this way for some time. First we had Geocities — basically static shrines to this or that topic. Then we had static profiles in Ryze and Friendster and MySpace. Better, but still stale over time. Then Facebook and Twitter materialized, making near-synchronous feeds ubiquitous. It wasn't quite real-time, but edging in that direction.

Now we've finally arrived — real-time is the latest social space. The technology is there and, at last, the right psychology is in place that will make these services explode. And I, for one, welcome our new avatar overlords.

More About: avatars, contributor, features, real-time, Social Media,

LinkedIn Buys Real-Time Search Startup

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 02:38 PM PDT

LinkedIn has acquired IndexTank, a provider of real-time hosted search technology, for an undisclosed amount.

LinkedIn and IndexTank say that the acquisition will help improve LinkedIn’s internal search technology.

“LinkedIn has exploded over the past few years, and the search team has done a fantastic job at building world-class technologies to keep up with the growth,” IndexTank founder and CEO Diego Basch said in a blog post. “Of course, this doesn't stop here and we're working on the next play.” This growth will continue and perhaps accelerate.”

“One day every smartphone owner could use LinkedIn to find opportunity,” he continued. “Perhaps the Ghana fishermen will choose to network with each other and form cooperatives through their mobile phones. We need to be able to manage billions of people profiles and jobs. I believe IndexTank's world-class search technology and experience will be instrumental in taking LinkedIn to this next level. I can't wait to show you how.”

LinkedIn has committed to keeping IndexTank running for the next six months and open-sourcing key components so users can transition to other providers. IndexTank has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from K9 Ventures, Freestyle Capital, Patagonia Ventures, Michael Dearing and Steve Anderson.

More About: acquisition, IndexTank, linkedin

No, Facebook Is Not Ruining Your Grades [STUDY]

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 02:33 PM PDT

The latest of several studies to look into the relationship between Facebook use and low grades has a counterintuitive twist — some kinds of Facebook use are correlated with higher GPAs.

“Facebook use in and of itself is not detrimental to academic outcome,” says study author Reynol Junco, a professor at the Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania. “It depends how it’s used.”

The study, published last week in Computers in Human Behavior, analyzes 1,839 college students’ survey data about Facebook use and actual grades (as opposed to self-reported grades). It also takes into account students’ high-school GPAs.

On average, students say they spend 106 minutes on Facebook per day. Each increase of 93 minutes beyond 106 minutes correlates with a GPA decrease of .12 grade points — statistically significant, but not dramatic when applied to a real-world situation.

“You have to spend an inordinate amount of time on Facebook for it to be related to GPA in a way that is shocking,” Junco says.

It makes sense that a drop in grades would be caused by students who let Facebook time cut into study time. But the data shows no correlation between time spent on Facebook and time spent studying.

All Facebook activities do not have the same relationship with grades. Posting status updates and using Facebook chat generally mean a lower GPA, while checking to see what friends are up to and sharing links suggest a higher GPA. In other words, social Facebook activities were correlated with lower grades and information-related Facebook activities were correlated with higher grades.

This doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing Facebook status updates and chat is likely to improve a student’s grades. Nothing in the study implies cause and effect. Instead, it seems that what’s important about Facebook in an educational context has very little to do with how much time you spend on it.

Junco thinks there are ways Facebook can be used effectively in an educational context — which is why he sets up Facebook groups for each of his classes to continue discussion online.

“What I like best about it is that we're using a technology that students already use," he says.

More About: education, Facebook, study

New York City Launches Free Wi-Fi at 5 More Public Parks

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 02:21 PM PDT

Even more park-loving New Yorkers will never need to skip a digital beat. The New York City Parks Department, in partnership with AT&T, is launching free Wi-Fi at five additional city parks Thursday.

AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots have landed at Astoria Park in Queens, Herbert Von King Park and McCarren Park Field House in Brooklyn, Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan and Clove Lakes Park in Staten Island.

The continued rollout is part of a five-year digital initiative to bring free Wi-Fi to 26 park locations spanning the five boroughs.

Battery Park, Rumsey Playfield, areas of Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem and Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx all went live with free Wi-Fi over the summer. Additional parks are slated to get the free AT&T hotspots, but the timing remains uncertain. You can expect to see new parks come online in the next several months, AT&T says.

What with Wi-Fi now in parks, rolling out to subways, available in car services and accessible in Times Square, New York is becoming an increasingly wired, mobile metropolis.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Ed Yourdon

More About: free wifi, new york city, wifi

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Twitter Updates iPhone App with Photo Sharing

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 01:40 PM PDT

A day before Apple is expected to release its iOS 5 update with Twitter integration, Twitter has upgraded its iPhone, iPod touch and iPad app with new features, including photo sharing.

The 3.5.0 update, introduced Tuesday, includes an upgraded direct messages design on the iPad and the ability to tap a location on the iPad to show nearby tweets. The most significant upgrade is a feature that lets you take a photo on your mobile device and then upload it to

With the new update, Twitter will further compete with Moby, Twitpic and Heello. Twitter rolled out its photo-sharing feature to all users in August in preparation for iOS 5.

Twitter reps could not be reached for comment on the update.

More About: iOS 5, iOS app, Twitter

Nominations Are Now Open for the 2011 Mashable Awards

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 01:21 PM PDT

Nominations for the 2011 Mashable Awards, presented by Buddy Media, are now open! This year marks our fifth annual community-nominated awards program, which recognizes the companies, people and projects that made the biggest impact on the digital landscape this year.

We’ve opened all 28 categories to nominations, covering four of Mashable‘s core content areas: Social Media, Tech, Business and Entertainment. Who gets nominated is largely up to you, our readers!

To get started, visit the awards page and sign in with Facebook or Twitter — that’s it; you’re ready to start nominating immediately. You can nominate once per category every day (meaning up to 28 total nominations per day).

The nomination period for the 2011 Mashable Awards will run until 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 18. Nominations will then be counted and tabulated in accordance with the official rules, and Mashable‘s editors will select seven finalists for each category from among the most nominated submissions. Your nominations will greatly influence the editorial selection of the finalists.

Finalists will be announced on Monday, Nov. 21, which will also kick off the public voting period.

How To Nominate

Nominating your favorite digital startups, companies and personalities for a Mashable Award is easy. As in years past, Mashable has created a unique and social voting platform for the Mashable Awards. Submitting your nomination requires four easy steps:

  • Step 1: Visit;
  • Step 2: Log in via Facebook or Twitter;
  • Step 3: Choose a category and a nominee;
  • Step 4: Submit! That’s all there is to it.

Remember, you may nominate once per day in each category.

The Categories

Social Media

  • Best Social Network
  • Up-and-Coming Social Media Service
  • Must-Follow Actor or Actress on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Musician or Band on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Athlete on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Media Personality on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Business Personality on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Non-Profit on Social Media
  • Must-Follow Politician on Social Media


  • Best Smartphone
  • Best Mobile Game
  • Most Useful Mobile App
  • Most Innovative Mobile App
  • Most Useful Tablet-Based App
  • Best New Gadget


  • Viral Campaign of the Year
  • Most Innovative Use of Social Media for Marketing
  • Must-Follow Brand on Social Media
  • Best Branded Mobile App
  • Best Social Good Cause Campaign
  • Most Digital Company of the Year
  • Breakout Startup of the Year


  • Game of the Year
  • Viral Video of the Year
  • Best Music Service or App
  • Best Online Video Streaming Service or App
  • Most Social TV Show
  • Best Social Movie Campaign

The Winners

Award winners will be announced on Mashable on Monday, Dec. 19. Following the competition, we’ll celebrate our winners at MashBash CES on Jan. 11, 2012, at the 2012 International CES convention at 1OAK, the hot new nightclub at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.

More About: announcements, mashable, mashable awards

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Zynga’s Project Z: A Facebook-Powered Social Network for Games

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 01:01 PM PDT

Social gaming juggernaut Zynga has announced “Project Z,” a platform for playing social games and chatting with friends powered by Facebook Connect.

Project Z, also known as “Zynga Live” and “Zynga Direct,” lets users start their games on Facebook and bring them to Project Z without interruption, and vice versa. It is essentially a social network designed specifically for games and chatting about games, but one that is powered by Facebook Connect.

One key component of Project Z is that it will utilize a username system called zTags, similar to the system used by Xbox Live. Users can register their names starting Tuesday at

“It’s a platform for a direct relationship with consumers whether on the web, or on mobile, to give you a whole sandbox and create socialness about the games and not just within the games,” Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said of the service.

SEE ALSO: Zynga Unleashes CastleVille, Dream Zoo, Casino & Bingo | Zynga’s Hidden Chronicles

The company didn’t reveal when the social gaming platform would launch, only that it was “coming soon.”

More About: Mark Pincus, Zynga

“The Avengers” Teaser Trailer Explodes Online [VIDEO]

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 12:39 PM PDT

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

The first trailer for Marvel’s ultimate superhero mashup, The Avengers has just arrived online.

The Avengers is Marvel's version of DC’s Super Friends/Justice League, and is made up of Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor and others. Paramount is using the film to tie together many of the franchise pictures it has released over the past five years. Since 2008, films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have grossed more than $2.2 billion worldwide.

This teaser, punctuated quite nicely with the Nine Inch Nails track “We’re in This Together,” lives up to its name and offers fans a look at the characters as well as some of the action sequences that they can anticipate. As expected, Robert Downey Jr. has all the best lines.

Joss Whedon directed the film, which opens on May 4. On a scale from insanely to super-insanely, how excited are you for this movie? Let us know.

More About: iron man, Marvel, movie trailers, the avengers, viral-video-of-day

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Zynga Unleashes CastleVille, Dream Zoo, Casino & Bingo

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 12:23 PM PDT

Zynga announced a slew of new Facebook games, add-ons and “express” versions of their social hits Tuesday, including CastleVille, Zynga Bingo and Dream Zoo.

The games — announced at Zynga’s Unleashed event at its new headquarters in San Francisco — are part of the company’s effort to expand into new genres such as hidden objects, animals and mobile.

Here’s a shortlist of the games Zynga announced:

  • Hidden Chronicles: The company enters the “hidden objects” genre with Hidden Chronicles. The game is simple: Find hidden objects in still landscapes. And like any other Zynga game, friends can help a struggling user find hidden objects.
  • CastleVille: The newest “Ville” in Zynga’s arsenal is CastleVille, a social game set in medieval times. The game, built by Zynga’s Dallas office, employs many of the social game dynamics apparent in FarmVille, but also includes a virtual marketplace and a soundtrack created by a 75-piece orchestra and full choir.
  • Zynga Casino and Zynga Bingo: Zynga Poker GM Laurence Toney introduced Zynga Casino, an attempt to let players experience a “Vegas-style casino with their friends.” In addition, the social gaming giant has launched a new social game: Zynga Bingo, which is essentially a way to play Bingo with your Facebook friends.
  • Dream Zoo: Players can collect exotic animals with Zynga’s newest mobile game, Dream Zoo. The game, available in the iOS App Store, lets users collect animals, including polka-dotted giraffes.
  • FarmVille Express: Players can soon access key FarmVille actions through a new mobile HTML5 game built on the Facebook Platform. FarmVille Express doesn’t have the functionality of the desktop version, but users can check notifications and accept requests.
  • Mafia Wars Shakedown: Zynga will soon launch a companion iOS game for Mafia Wars 2 called Mafia Wars Shakedown.

BONUS: Inside Zynga’s New Offices

Zynga's New Headquarters

There is a Zynga RV at the entrance.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: CastleVille, Dream Zoo, farmville, FarmVille Express, Hidden Chronlices, Zynga, Zynga Bingo, Zynga Casino, zynga poker

Sharing on the Web: How, When, Where and Why We Do It [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 12:08 PM PDT

When are people most likely to share content on the web? How do they prefer to share it? What services are they sharing to most frequently? These are the burning questions of the age of social media. Bookmarking and sharing service AddThis just might have the answers.

AddThis is celebrating its fifth birthday with a deep dive into its data pool. The Clearspring service has analyzed five years’ worth of sharing data — and has summarized its findings in the infographic below.

What does the data tell us? Sharers apparently don’t suffer from the midweek blues, at least when it comes to passing along web content to friends and followers; we share the most on Wednesdays. And the most active time of day for sharing comes bright and early at 9:30 a.m. ET each day.

More intriguing is how the world prefers to share. AddThis data suggests the majority of us prefer to share by copying and pasting URLs from the address bar to emails, IMs and social sites. We do this 10 times more frequently than we share via buttons and other tools. How old-fashioned of us.

Keep in mind that this data only looks at sharing activities powered by AddThis — it’s not the complete sharing picture. Still, given that the service reaches 1.2 billion users each month, it’s likely to be indicative of wider trends.

More About: AddThis, sharing, Social Media

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iTunes 10.5 Launches Ahead of iOS 5

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 11:51 AM PDT

Apple has just pushed out iTunes 10.5, in preparation for the wider iOS 5 release on Wednesday.

iTunes 10.5 will not only allow iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users to upgrade to the latest version of iOS, it also provides access to iCloud services like iTunes in the Cloud.

iTunes 10.5 has been in beta since June, so users can be forgiven for not understanding what the big deal is. For anyone who hasn’t upgraded to various 10.5 betas, however, the biggest news — aside from iOS 5-readiness — is that you can now download previous purchases of TV shows or music from the iTunes directly onto their Mac, PC or iOS device.

By default, you can also choose to have purchased content automatically delivered to all of your devices. That means that when you buy an album on your phone, it will download on your computer and your iPad.

Purchased Button

In the iTunes app in iOS 4, a new "Purchased" button now appears on the bottom of the application.

You can choose to see all music or just the songs/albums not on your current device.

Click here to view this gallery.

When iOS 5 is released Wednesday, you’ll also get the option of wirelessly syncing your iOS devices to iTunes over Wi-Fi. You will also be able to opt for iCloud-based backups.

One iTunes in the Cloud feature isn’t quite ready for consumption: iTunes Match. It’s Apple’s new service that allows you to upload purchased (or “acquired”) music elsewhere to iCloud for access on other devices. Content that Apple finds in its existing library is simply linked automagically and songs not in Apple’s repository are uploaded from your hard drive.

The service is $24.99 a year for 25,000 songs (not including your iTunes purchases) and is currently in beta. iTunes 10.5 will support iTunes Match as soon as the feature is ready for full release.

You can download iTunes 10.5 directly from Apple, or simply check Software Update in Mac OS X or iTunes for Windows.

More About: apple, icloud, ios5, itunes, itunes-in-the-cloud

The Life and Times of Steve Jobs [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 11:43 AM PDT

Steve Jobs packed a lot of living into his 56 years. If his career had ended 30 years ago, he still would have made history for helping popularize the personal computer. But he did so much more than that.

As we all know, Jobs defied F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous quote, “There are no second acts in American lives.” Jobs’s final years at Apple were as notable as his early ones. Even his 11-year hiatus from the company should provide inspiration for businesspeople who think their careers are over.

The below infographic, from Infographic World, lays out Jobs’s life and accomplishments.

More About: apple, infographics, pixar, steve jobs

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New Web Tool Promises to Double the Speed of Your Website

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 11:24 AM PDT

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

Name: Yottaa

Quick Pitch: Yottaa speeds up any website’s load time without additional code or software.

Genius Idea: Web page speed optimization on a low budget.

Website speed is important. One study found that 57% of online shoppers will wait less than three seconds before abandoning a site. When Google and Microsoft engineers experimented with load times on their respective search engines, they both found web delays had negative effects on traffic.

Popular methods for improving website speed are adding servers and using content delivery networks (CDNs), networks of servers that deliver a web page to a user based on the location of the user.

“That’s only solving the distance problem,” Yottaa VP of marketing William Toll says. “That’s not solving the real problem today. Over 90% of performance time is the time it takes to load a website is the front end, the web site code.”

If you’re Google, you have a team of engineers working on making the multiple images, Flash files, JavaScript files, HTML files and CSS files on the modern day website load instantly. They apply hundreds of techniques to the website’s code to make it load faster. If there are several images on the page, for instance, the right change can make the browser call for all of them at once instead of one at a time.

If you’re a small site, hiring a team to work out these sort of fixes is likely out of your price range. Yottaa’s Site Speed Optimizer, launched Tuesday, aims to automate the techniques in the cloud instead. It also has servers scattered across the world that provide a speed boost, similar to a CDN.

Without adding any code or installing software, a small site can set up the service for as low as $29, depending on bandwidth use and number of pageviews. The product can cut load times in half, Toll says.

Yottaa isn’t the first startup to think of automated front-end optimization. A company called Blaze, for instance, makes a similar cloud-based product that focuses on mobile. While Yottaa does make improvements to mobile site load times, it’s more focused on desktop browsing.

When it launched 18 months ago, it did so with a free dashboard that breaks down load times by task and location (Blaze also has a monitoring product bundled with its optimizer). About 50,000 sites already use it to monitor their speed. Yottaa is hoping they’ll now use it to remedy the problems it shows them as well.

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, speed optimization, Yottaa

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Zynga’s Newest Social Game Wants You to Find Hidden Objects

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 11:11 AM PDT

Zynga has announced Hidden Chronicles, a new social game find hidden objects.

The new game doesn’t emphasize building farms or defeating rival empires. Hidden Chronicles instead focuses on discovering hidden objects within different mosaics. General Manager Roy Sehgal announced the game at Zynga’s Unleashed event at its new San Francisco offices.

As with any Zynga game, users can play Hidden Chronicles with their friends. Friends can discover objects and solve puzzles together in the game.

SEE ALSO: CastleVille, Dream Zoo, Casino & Bingo

Zynga is making 10 announcements at its new headquarters. Check back with Mashable for more announcements.

More About: Gaming, Hidden Chronicles, Zynga

FarmVille & Food Courts: Inside Zynga’s New Offices [PHOTOS]

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 11:00 AM PDT

Zynga's New Headquarters

There is a Zynga RV at the entrance.

Click here to view this gallery.

Zynga, the social gaming giant behind FarmVille, CityVille, Words With Friends and a plethora of other social games, has moved its 1,500+ employees to brand new offices in San Francisco.

The new digs are enormous; They span six floors and include a food court, snack bars on every floor, a laptop help center and whiteboard artwork in almost every corner. It’s impossible not to run into a Mafia Wars 2 or AdventureWorld character every five feet.

Zynga has invited us to tour the office as part of its Zynga Unleashed event, where the company will be launching 10 new products.

Check out the photos we took of the offices above.

SEE ALSO: Zynga Unleashes New Games | Zynga's Project Z: A Facebook-Powered Social Network

More About: cityville, farmville, gallery, words with friends, Zynga, zynga poker

What Does the Future Hold for the Digital Media Industry?

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 10:49 AM PDT

There are some experiences our kids may never have. Folding down the corner of a page in a book. Leafing through the classifieds section of a newspaper. Renting a movie from the video store … and taking it back again the next day. Rushing home to watch a TV show at its allotted time.

But let’s not get caught up in our nostalgia for these ghosts of media past. The next generation will have a richer media experience than any other.

They’ll have iPads in their earliest years, making touch interaction with text and media the norm. They’ll have ebooks — millions of them — available anywhere, anytime. They’ll live in a world of constant connectivity where media consumption becomes a truly social experience — an act of sharing and engaging. They’ll be their own publishers, editors and distributors; their own DJs. Their media consumption will be personalized, curated, customized to their specific tastes — and yet they’ll have access to a diversity of opinion much broader than before.

They’ll consume more media, from more sources, and in a greater range of formats than we imagined — news websites, live-streaming video, on-demand TV, podcasts, mobile apps, ebooks, news aggregators, video-sharing services, audiobooks, movie-streaming services, blogs, social networks, music subscriptions and a litany of formats yet to be invented.

Our generation stands between the two eras: Dismantling the old and imagining the new. What can we build together? How do we navigate this new media landscape?

There Are More Questions Than Answers

How do we engage communities in the news sourcing process while ensuring truth and accuracy? How do we empower our readers to become evangelists and marketers for our content — without inadvertently becoming spammers? How do we direct the audience’s attention in an age of constant distraction? How do we harness the explosion of user generated content — cut through it, make sense of it, and package it for our readers, viewers or listeners?

What “packaging” should our media come in anyway? Should it be a glossy iPad magazine? A quick blog post? Do news consumers want branded experiences or would they prefer to consume our content alongside other brands in a news aggregator? Is the news article format still relevant or do we need to embrace new formats — shorter pieces, aggregating tweets and status updates, additional multimedia, infographics and liveblogs?

What is the future of journalism? And what are the business models that sustain it? How do we prevent our content from becoming a commodity amongst millions of free news outlets? Can we charge for news? Are daily deals working for publishers? Which ad formats, techniques and innovations are working — and which are failing?

These are the questions we need to answer. And it’s for this reason we’re hosting the second annual Mashable Media Summit, a conference exploring the future of media. On Nov. 4 in New York City, we’ve invited the media industry’s leading innovators to show us what’s succeeding — and what’s not — in this new era.

The Mashable Media Summit is a chance to answer these questions, and to ask new ones — to explore the digital age of media, and to embrace it. We hope you’ll join us.

Register for Mashable Media Summit 2011 in New York, NY  on Eventbrite

Mashable Media Summit Topics

A Look Back at Last Year’s Mashable Media Summit

Mashable Media Summit

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: Conference, future, mashable media summit, Media, Tech

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How Facebook’s New Features Will Affect Digital Marketers

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 10:32 AM PDT

Patrick Salyer is CEO of Gigya, which makes sites social by integrating a suite of plugins like Social Login, Comments, Activity Feeds, Social Analytics and Game Mechanics. Patrick can be reached on Twitter @patricksalyer.

With Facebook's major changes set to roll out this week, little thought has been given to answering how Timeline and the revamped Open Graph will affect our interaction with rest of the web, and how websites stand to benefit. I believe that weaving Facebook even deeper into websites is going to yield a positive experience for consumers and sites alike. Here’s why.

Contextual Sharing

One of the notable features of the enhanced Open Graph is contextual sharing. For users, the benefit is obvious — it enables much more than just "liking" a piece of content. Now, a user can share that he or she "read" Catching Fire or that he or she "listened to" Nirvana. "Liking" an article, video or photo has thus far limited users, forcing them to show tacit approval (within the context of one-click reactions) for something that they may not necessarily find desirable.

With contextual sharing, users will no longer be boxed-in by expressing one emotional reaction. For marketers, this offers major benefits for on-site engagement and syndication.


One of the other share features that Facebook unveiled is "frictionless sharing,” which allows sites to share any content a user reads or interacts with directly to his Facebook Ticker. It's important to point out that the user must authorize the site to turn on this sharing functionality much in the same way that sites have already needed to allow users to explicitly authenticate. However, by enabling sharing and placing objects on a user's Timeline, Facebook is undertaking an enormous and important process: documenting web activity.

While some end-users may cringe at the thought of their entire digital lives being "Facebooked," this approach to broadcasting web activity appeals to its younger, most active user-base — a group that seems to care about "show and tell" even more than it does about privacy. Teens and young adults grew up with Facebook, and the transition from one- or two-click sharing to no-click sharing won't be as uncomfortable.

The Business Upside: Data and Traffic

Getting users to interact with Facebook's updated features for websites is an advantage in itself, but there are other, more concrete ways the revamped Facebook features will help businesses. As the user experience becomes more personal and engaging, Facebook's functionality on websites will ultimately provide those sites with an even deeper look into whom their visitors are. This marriage of social data and on-site activity can be applied for a number of ROI-driven activities, such as hyper-specific ad targeting, content and product recommendations, and driving inventory decisions.

Just as importantly, the frictionless sharing features could be a huge boon for sites as measured by the oldest and most valuable metric on the Internet: referral traffic. By allowing auto-sharing for nearly any activity on a site, users will be able to push even more content to the News Feed, Ticker and Timeline, generating more exposure and click backs to sites.

Discovery: Now a Two-Way Street

For years, the web was about search — that is, people using search engines to find specific things online. Now, the web is shifting toward discovery — users are increasingly letting content find them via social networks. This trend actually started a few years ago with a number of sites seeing social networks drive more referral traffic than search engines. With Facebook's new features, I think we'll see this trend turn into a basic tenet of web optimization, as sites will soon be able to learn so much more about their users and offer targeted, shareable content that brings in more referral traffic.

Today, businesses spend millions of dollars optimizing for Google searches, trying to get found. But as social becomes a larger traffic driver, and as Facebook and other social networks continue to enable content discovery, those businesses will need to offer interactive, sharable content in order to stay relevant. Those businesses that understand how Facebook is enabling bilateral relationships between sites and users will get found, gain traffic and increase on-site engagement. Those businesses relying on search — and ignoring Facebook's bold innovations — may soon stop getting found at all.

More About: contributor, Facebook, features, Social Media, social media marketing

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HBO Arrives on Roku Boxes This Month

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 09:53 AM PDT

HBO programming will be available on Roku boxes at the end of the month, thanks to a deal between Roku and Time Warner.

The HBO Go service will provide instant access to 1,400 titles and it will be free to Roku customers who already get HBO through their TV service. HBO rep Quentin Schaffer says you won't be able to get HBO Go “over the top” without otherwise subscribing. “What we're doing is taking our HBO Go service and making it ubiquitous,” he says.

The deal comes a week after Microsoft announced it was adding HBO Go to its $60-a-year Xbox Live service.

Roku now provides 300 channels of programming. The company also cut the price of its entry-level box from $60 to $50.

HBO introduced HBO Go in early 2010. The service, which is also available as mobile apps, is designed to provide subscribers with variety of formats for accessing content — especially during the months when HBO isn’t airing new episodes of its series.

Image courtesy of HBO, Macall B. Polay

More About: hbo, roku, TV

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U.S. House of Representatives Videos Now Streaming on Mobile Devices

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 09:37 AM PDT

Fans of U.S. politics, take note: You can now view live video streams from the House of Representatives on your mobile phone or tablet.

The streams, available via, include videos of proceedings dating back to the start of the 111th Congress. Interested parties can click on "Video" to watch each session. They can also click on "Summary" to view text-only versions of the proceedings. MP3 files are also featured on the page, which notes that Windows Media Player or Silverlight is required to view the videos.

“The Office of the Clerk began beta testing this new H.264 live streaming feed for mobile devices last week,” writes Don Seymour, digital communications director for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), in a Tuesday blog post. “Anyone with a mobile device that has streaming capabilities now has access to video of what's happening in Congress, as it happens.”

Seymour notes that the feature is still in beta, asking users to comment to his post — by listing their device, operating system and connection speed — if they experience any difficulties.

While individual representatives already use social networking sites like Twitter, the mobile streaming option is one of the latest digital methods the House itself is using to open up the legislative process to the public. Last month, the Office of the Clerk updated, providing visitors with better access to real-time information about the House. Earlier this year, House lawmakers also gained access to video conferencing tools Skype and ooVoo.

The increased digital initiatives also followed an April 29 letter signed by Boehner and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that asked “all House stakeholders to work together on publicly releasing the House’s legislative data in machine-readable formats.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Travis S.

More About: House of Representatives, Mobile, US Congress, video streaming

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Amazon Launches Imprint for Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Horror

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 09:27 AM PDT

Amazon is continuing to flex its publishing muscles with the launch of its seventh imprint, for works in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres.

47North is releasing 15 English-language books to start, all of which are available in print, ebook and audio formats over at, as well as a range of national and independent booksellers.

Of the 15 books, 14 are original works from authors already established in the genre — some independent, some who have been published by other houses.

For a full list of available and in-progress titles under the print, see here.

In the future, 47North will expand its range to include not only original works, but also out-of-print and other previously published books in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres.

Amazon’s publishing arm is headed by Laurence Kirshbaum, who was named to the post in May.

More About: 47north, amazon, publishing

For more Business coverage: Raises $81 Million to Take on Microsoft

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 09:11 AM PDT, a popular cloud-based file storage and content management service, has raised $81 million in funding to take on Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and others in the enterprise space. also announced the launch of the Box Innovation Network (/bin), a program to create a new ecosystem for enterprise applications, specifically mobile apps.

Bessemer Venture Partners and NEA led the funding round. In addition, SAP Ventures and Salesforce are participating as strategic investors. Previous investors Andreesen Horowitz and Draper Fisher Jurvetson also participated in the Series D expansion round.

“We need to provide an amazing experience for the 100,000 businesses already using Box, including 77% of the Fortune 500, while growing our global user base at an unprecedented pace,” co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie said in a blog post. “And we need to invest aggressively in scaling our team and infrastructure – two things that will always require significant capital, when done correctly.”

Levie specifically called out Microsoft, Oracle and IBM as both threats to its business and as laggards in cloud computing. “But for what the big players may lack in innovation or focus, they make up for in muscle,” Levie noted. “Microsoft notoriously crushes competition on the third try. Oracle refused to give up on the applications market, and is now moving to the cloud with a strong position. IBM has customer reach and brand credibility that enable it to serve the Fortune 500 better than anyone else.”

With the new influx of cash, has now raised a total of $162 million. It raised $48 million just eight months ago, but decided to accelerate its growth further.

The company says it has 7 million users and 100,000 businesses accessing 150 million files per month.

More About: Bessemer Venture Partners,, funding

T-Mobile Bobsled Gives Facebook Users Free Mobile and Land Line Calls

Posted: 11 Oct 2011 09:05 AM PDT

T-Mobile Bobsled

Watch out Skype, T-Mobile Bobsled is sliding into your VoIP territory. The service — which allows you to voice call your Facebook friends from anywhere in the world — now lets you make free calls to those same friends’ mobile and landline numbers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, right from within your browser.

You can use Bobsled by signing into the service and simply selecting a phone icon next to a friend’s name to start a conversation. If you want to use the new mobile and landline calling options, you pair your Facebook friends with their numbers. Besides calling and voice messaging, you can also Facebook chat with your friends — although it’s not clear what the advantage this would have over simply chatting through Facebook.

T-Mobile also launched free iOS apps for Bobsled. While the app will let you call your Facebook buddies, mobile and landline calls aren’t supported.

With these new features, Bobsled becomes a much more serious competitor to other free VoIP services such as Skype and Google Voice. One of its biggest strengths is that the recipient doesn’t need to have Bobsled installed to answer the call (although he or she must accept Flash and Facebook permissions). However, Skype still has the advantage of offering its full set of features to international users.

Check out an introduction to Bobsled’s new features in the video below.

More About: Bobsled, Facebook, T-Mobile, voice calling, voip

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