Friday, 21 October 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “4 iPhone Tricks for the Hearing and Vision Impaired”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “4 iPhone Tricks for the Hearing and Vision Impaired”

4 iPhone Tricks for the Hearing and Vision Impaired

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 04:50 AM PDT

1. Create Custom Vibration Alerts

Personalize custom vibration alerts for particular contacts with "unique vibrate patterns." This tool identifies an important caller (child, boss, etc) when it's not possible to see your screen.

To activate this option, go to the "Settings" menu, then "General," then "Accessibility."

Click here to view this gallery.

Apple’s accessibility options for iOS devices make using the iPhone and iPad easier for people with hearing and vision disabilities, and impaired physical and motor skills.

With the launch of iOS 5, we’ve taken a fresh look at the accessibility options for the iPhone. We’ve found some features that we think offer iPhone users more choice and improved functionality beyond the default settings.

Take a look through the gallery for four neat iPhone functions that will vastly improve your call alerts, provide different options when answering your phone, and will even read Mashable articles aloud to you.

More About: apple, features, How-To, iOS 5, iphone, tips and tricks

Siri Gets Its First TV Ad [VIDEO]

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 01:10 AM PDT

Siri, the sweet talking assistant of iPhone 4S owners, is now starring in its first TV ad.

It’s one of the most important features of the new iPhone, so it’s no wonder Apple has devoted an entire 30-second TV ad to Siri.

SEE ALSO: Siri Politely Answers 10 Absurd Questions [PICS] | A Duet with Siri [VIDEO]

Despite certain shortcomings – such as the fact that it sometimes doesn't respond to your inquiries — Siri has generated a great amount of buzz and Apple is trying to capitalize on that.

Check out our in-depth review of Siri here and tell us how you like the new iPhone ad in the comments.

Bonus: iPhone 4S Key Features

iPhone 4S

The iPhone 4S looks and feels exactly like the iPhone 4.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: ad, apple, iPhone 4S, siri, TV

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First Lady Michelle Obama Sends Her First Tweet [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 09:15 PM PDT

First lady Michelle Obama has officially joined the Twittersphere with her very first tweet sent Oct. 19 from the MLB World Series. Her tweet went out over the @joiningforces account to answer questions about Joining Forces and to spread awareness about supporting America’s troops.

The first lady joined with Jill Biden, the second lady of the United States, to talk about Joining Forces at — of all places — the first game of the World Series. The choice was appropriate because Game One was dedicated to veterans, service members and their families.

While Obama’s husband might be better known for his social media efforts, the first lady has turned to social media to help promote some of her national campaigns. Let’s Move, which supports healthy living and eating, created a series of YouTube spots and social pages, while Joining Forces has an active social presence and digital tools for volunteering and showing support.

The first tweet, shown below, was actually one of many. Obama and Biden took turns answering a raft of questions up until about 8 p.m. ET.

SEE ALSO: First Ladies of Kenya and South Africa Send Their First Tweets

Most of the questions look as if they were dictated rather than typed, but a first tweet is still a first tweet. Mrs. Obama’s use of social media shows that more and more politicians and political figures are seeing Twitter as a necessary part of day-to-day politics. The question is: How long until the first lady starts up an official Twitter account?

tweet image

More About: obama, Politics, Social Media, Twitter, White House

Lytro Focus-Free Camera: A Hands-On Experience [VIDEOS]

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 08:52 PM PDT

Lytro Camera Hands On, Part 1

Mashable's Chris Taylor shows you the Lytro Camera, taking a pic and then selecting the area of that shot that's in focus afterward.

Click here to view this gallery.

We had so much fun at the launch of the Lytro, the groundbreaking light-field camera that takes pictures instantly and lets you focus anywhere within the frame, we wanted more hands-on time with the device. Even the media won’t be getting review units until 2012, so we did the next best thing: inviting Lytro founder Ren Ng to Mashable’s San Francisco offices for a personal demonstration.

Check out the videos above for the result. Some key takeaways:

The zoom button is almost impossible to find, but very natural to use once you know where it is.

The touch-sensitive LCD is tiny! It’s very responsive, but hardly the world’s best screen for viewing your photos.

SEE ALSO: Lytro Interactive Gallery Lets You Try the Magic Yourself

Pointing and shooting feels amazing when there’s absolutely no delay.

There is a slot on the side that lets you add a carrying strap, which allays one of our concerns.

Lytro pictures get much more dramatic when you’re lining up something very close and very far away. You’ll have fun playing around with that.

Take a look at our photo galleries below for more, and let us know in the comments if this makes you want to put down $399 for the camera more or less.

Point and shoot

Lytro founder and Stanford Ph.D Ren Ng demonstrates the correct picture-taking posture.

Click here to view this gallery.

A Lytro in the hand ...

Here's the $399 electric blue model, showing the touchscreen where you see your pictures.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: digital photography, Lytro

Startup Pulls Social Media Chatter Onto Publisher Comments

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 08:29 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: LiveFyre

Quick Pitch: LiveFyre makes comments real-time and more interactive.

Genius Idea: Putting social media conversations surrounding a web page back on the publisher’s site.

Comments, Jordan Kretchmer believes, missed the transition to the social web.

“I looked at the space of how conversations were happening online,” Kretchmer says, “and I saw that the social web had taken interactions between people to a new level, where interactions on publishers hadn't changed.”

LiveFyre, the company he founded, hopes to help comments catch up. It launched in 2009 with a freemium product that makes comments real-time and integrated with social media. More than 15,000 sites now use it for comments. Some are small blogs that use the product free. Others are large publications like The Sun that pay based on their size.

Most, according to LiveFyre, have seen the number of comments on their sites increase. Publishing network BlogHer, for instance, has had its number of average monthly comments shoot from 3,500 to 10,000 in the two months since it started using the product.

With a new update that the site launched Tuesday, that number should increase even more. The update, “SocialSync,” pulls social media conversations surrounding posts and articles back to the comments section. If someone shares a link to an article through a Twitter stream, for instance, the comment that person adds to that tweet will show up in the article’s comments section. When someone replies to that tweet, the reply will also be posted.

“There's a huge shift from publishers feeling like they should outsource the community to Facebook and Twitter to realizing that there's a ton of value in building a community yourself,” Kretchmer says. “[People who post comments to social networks that aren't included in a site's own comments] use your site as a jumping-off point, but don't have a lot of reason to come back to it.”

LiveFyre uses semantic analysis to make sure it’s not reposting the same message over and over again as it’s retweeted, and its algorithms follow links that come directly from the web page to pull in the most relevant comments. SocialSync also allows users to tag friends from Twitter and Facebook in their comments.

From a business perspective, SocialSync’s most important contribution to the product might be to further distinguish it from its largest competitor Disqus, which also allows user to share directly to Facebook and Twitter and offers notifications to commenters when they receive responses.

Ultimately, however, LiveFyre realizes that increasing the quantity of comments isn’t enough. Publishers don’t just want comments, they want comments worth reading. Kretchmer says his startup’s next new feature will create some sort of "moderation automation." The response to a commenter’s comments, for instance, could be tracked over time to sort out who is likely to provide value to the community.

“It’s more about automatically showing comments of higher quality than minimizing comments that are lower quality,” he says.


Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hiob

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, LiveFyre, startup

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21+ Essential Resources for Your Apple iPhone 4S

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 07:59 PM PDT

Millions of Apple enthusiasts are tapping away at the screens of their new iPhone 4S devices. If you’re one of the 4 million, you’ve likely explored the phone’s new features: upgraded camera, higher storage capacity, 1080p video and Siri, your own personal assistant.

Whether you sat outside an Apple store for 18 days, or have yet to unbox your new device, check out Mashable’s list of resources below to ensure you have the ultimate iPhone 4S experience.

Apps and Accessories

1. Rabbit Smile Mail Icon

A cute concept makes for a unique case. There's a phone icon version available too.

Cost: $18

Click here to view this gallery.

5 Takeaways From Microsoft’s Earnings Call

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 07:13 PM PDT

Windows 7 is a Hit

Windows 7 has sold more than 450 million licenses since its launch in the fall of 2009.

Moreover, Microsoft says that it considers that it is in the mid-season of the business upgrade cycle, meaning even more licenses could continue to sell.

Click here to view this gallery.

During the conference call following Microsoft’s first-quarter revenues for fiscal 2012, the company laid out some key takeaways for investors and industry followers.

The company might trail Apple in revenue and market cap, but it still maintains mindshare for much of the computing industry. With Windows 7, Microsoft has managed to move more than 450 million licenses in just two years.

The flatness of the personal computer market as a whole (Apple being the exception) means that Microsoft has to look at its other business units to help bring in revenue. Windows 8, which will run on ARM (as well as Intel) processors and support multiple device types, is crucial to filling future device category niches.

Microsoft Business Division was up 8% in revenues year over year, even without a major Office release to push sales. Part of this increase was helped by Microsoft’s Office 365 product, already gaining more momentum in ten weeks than Microsoft built over the last two years with its earlier online office offerings.

On the gaming and entertainment front, Gears of War 3 is a big hit and Microsoft says more than 70 Kinect titles will be available for the holidays.

Windows Phone and Bing continue to struggle. While Bing has gained traction in the last year, growing 3.5% since 2010, it is still not making money. Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” has received positive reviews and Microsoft hopes new handsets — including those from its new partnership with Nokia — will help the platform find its footing.

25 Twitter Reactions to Gaddafi’s Capture and Death [PICS]

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 06:23 PM PDT

Washington Post Video

The Washington Post tweeted this clip Thursday of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's candid reaction to hearing about Muammar Gaddafi's then-unconfirmed capture.

Soon after, the world learned of Gaddafi's death.

Click here to view this gallery.

The world learned Thursday that rebel fighters captured and killed former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled the country for 42 years until NATO-backed rebels overthrew him earlier this year.

Naturally, people turned to Twitter to learn what had happened and to share their opinions — including tweets that were informative, serious or humorous — about the incident.

How Twitter Users Reacted

Nielsen McKinsey company NM Incite analyzed the online reactions for Mashable and discovered that only 4% of Gaddafi tweets expressed negative sentiment. By comparison, when Osama bin Laden died, negative tweets accounted for 11% of the chatter after his death.

  • 19% of tweets express a sense of justice for what was considered Gaddafi's dictatorship over Libya.
  • Negativity emerges in 4% of tweets as some Twitter users note that it's wrong to celebrate death.
  • Information sharing, especially around pictures of Gaddafi's body and confirmation from news sources, comprises 76% of tweets.

What was your reaction to Gaddafi’s capture and death?

SEE ALSO: Gruesome Photos of Dead Gaddafi Circulate On Twitter: Beware of Malware

More About: Gaddafi, libya, Twitter, World

Make an iPhone Case With Your Instagram Photos

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 05:49 PM PDT

From photo books to iPad screensavers, we’ve seen some great uses of Instagram’s API.

The latest of these is Casetagram, which lets you create an iPhone case using photos you’ve uploaded to Instagram.

Cases are priced at $34.99, including the cost of international shipping, and come in four different formats: an even, square grid; an even grid of circles; squares of varying sizes; and circles of varying sizes. The final product has a matte finish and fits both the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S perfectly.

More About: casetagram, instagram, iphone case

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Following Brands on Twitter Increases Purchase Intent [STUDY]

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 05:16 PM PDT

People who follow brands on Twitter are more likely to both buy and recommend those brands' products, according to a recent study of online consumer behavior.

The study, conducted by Constant Contact and research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, analyzed the behavior of 1,491 consumers ages 18 and older throughout the U.S., and revealed a number of details about how people interact with brands on the world’s beloved 140-character social network.

So, just how powerful is the Twitter connection between consumers and businesses? The study found that 60% of brand followers are more likely to recommend a brand to a friend after following the brand on Twitter, and 50% of brand followers are more likely to buy from that brand.

These findings mirror those from a previous report, detailing how consumers interact with brands on Facebook. The study found that 56% of consumers said they are more likely to recommend a brand to a friend after “Liking” a brand on Facebook, and 51% of consumers said they are more likely to buy a product after doing so. The findings from both studies seem to show that customer loyalty is about the same across both social networks.

Any increase in customer loyalty is great news for brands, especially those lucky enough to make the coveted list of followed companies. According to the study, though, the chances of making that list are slim, as only 21% of Twitter users follow brands on Twitter, and of those, 79% follow fewer than 10 brands.

If your brand makes it to that highly sought-after status, you’re in for the long haul — a whopping 75% of respondents claimed that they had never unfollowed a brand on Twitter. This finding, though, contradicts a previous study, which claimed that 41% of consumers have unfollowed a company on Twitter. The trend seems to favor longevity in both studies, however. If a user opts to follow your brand on Twitter, it’s more likely they’ll continue following, rather than decide to unfollow.

When it comes to a consumer's decision to follow brands on Twitter, exclusivity and access to promotions reign. Here are the top five reasons given by respondents:

  • 64%: I am a customer of the company
  • 61%: To be the first to know information about the brand
  • 48%: To receive discounts and promotions
  • 36%: To gain access to exclusive content
  • 28%: To receive content/information to retweet and share with others

For the most part, brand interaction on Twitter is still largely a one-way process. While 84% of followers read tweets posted by the brands they follow, only 23% claim to tweet about the brands they follow.

The study also found that Twitter users are frequent Internet users overall — 50% of Twitter users in the study reported going online more than once per hour. Of Facebook users, only 34% of respondents reported going online multiple times per hour. Facebook and Twitter users both outpace the average Internet user, though, as only 29% of overall users that do not have Twitter and Facebook accounts reported logging on many times within an hour.

Twitter users even use Facebook more than users who stick solely to Facebook — 60% of Twitter users use Facebook more than three hours per week, compared with 49% of Facebook users overall.

The study offered one final nugget of wisdom that should inform how brands on Twitter approach their content strategies — 67% of brand followers expect unique content from the brands they follow. So get to it, social media strategists!

See the complete study here:

More About: contributor, features, Marketing, Social Media, Twitter

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SeatGeek Launches Columbus Event Discovery Engine [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 04:43 PM PDT

SeatGeek, makers of an online service that aggregates event tickets in a fashion similar to Kayak, is expanding beyond its humble origins with the beta launch of Columbus, an event discovery engine that uses social data to predict events SeatGeek users might like.

“SeatGeek is best-in-class when you know what event you want to attend, but prior to Columbus, wasn’t great at surfacing new events for the user who wants to find entertainment,” SeatGeek co-founder Russell D’Souza said in an exclusive interview with Mashable.

“So we created Columbus to serve as a dashboard for entertainment options … and you can come back on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.”

Columbus is a predictive calendar of upcoming sporting events and concerts tailored around the user’s expressed and implicit interests. Columbus considers the SeatGeek user’s favorite bands and teams, factors in the user’s onsite event browsing activities and extracts interests from the user’s Facebook profile. The startup also uses APIs to marry the user’s musical interests against an open database of listening tastes to determine what other events the user might like.

Altogether, the Columbus experience is designed to stimulate repeat business and broaden the scope of SeatGeek’s appeal. “We launched with a focus on search,” D’Souza says. “Now we want to be a gateway to America’s entertainment.”

Columbus also represents an important step on SeatGeek’s road to profitability. The 14-person New York-based startup has already been quite successful at building a ticket search engine. “We’re hovering around profitability,” D’Souza shares. “We’re the largest event ticket search engine on the web,” he claims.

SeatGeek has raised $2.3 million in funding since launching in Sept. 2009. It features more than 70,000 events, aggregated from over 50 ticketing sites, in its system on any given day. The startup earns a commission from each sale it sends to a partner’s ticketing site.

If Columbus can entice SeatGeek users to return more regularly, it could easily cross that pivotal line into profitability.

And, in D’Souza’s eyes, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. The product could very well help users happen on lesser known acts and expand their musical horizons, he says. “[Columbus] has changed the way I listen to music,” he adds.

Columbus is currently in beta. Interested parties can request access at

Calendar of Events

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Columbus, seatgeek, Tickets

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San Francisco Earthquake Shakes Twitter

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 03:49 PM PDT

A magnitude 3.9 earthquake struck the Bay Area Thursday afternoon, causing no known damage but leaving a spray of tweets in its wake.

The quake struck the Hayward fault line near Berkeley at 2:41pm local time, but was felt across San Francisco — interrupting VC meetings, podcasts and general productivity as the city rushed to share its experience on Twitter. One user noted the gently swaying artwork at the San Francisco MOMA.

As many tweets pointed out, the timing was appropriate: California had just conducted a statewide earthquake drill earlier in the day.

Twitter is fast becoming the earthquake service of record, as was seen during this summer’s Virginia earthquake and the horrific magnitude 9.0 that caused so much devastation in Japan in March.

As a now-famous xkcd cartoon noted, the speed of the Internet means it’s becoming increasingly common for Twitter users in outlying areas to read about quakes before they experience them.

More About: Earthquake, Twitter

Joey Quits and Becomes a Viral Sensation [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 02:26 PM PDT

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

Who says quitters never win? Joey DeFrancesco of Providence, R.I., is becoming famous for quitting his job in grand style.

DeFrancesco, who worked at the Providence Renaissance, decided to bring a camera crew and — here’s the brilliant part — a brass band with him on his last day. The video has clearly resonated in these economically bleak times, netting 1.4 million views since it hit on Oct. 12. In a blog post, Visible Measures compared Joey to last year’s classic in YouTube rage, United Breaks Guitars (see below) and found it doesn’t quite measure up yet, but “has the potential to be much bigger.”

Looks like Joey might have a whole new career.

More About: united breaks guitars, YouTube

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More Data Was Transmitted Over the Internet in 2010 Than All Previous Years Combined [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 01:48 PM PDT

There was more data transmitted over the Internet in 2010 than the entire history of the Internet through 2009.

Now the transfer of data over the Internet is growing faster than ever, said Vice President of Intel’s Architecture Group Kirk Skaugen during the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. He also explained how infrastructure is scaling with the increasing transfer of data.

Skaugen said although there are currently 4 billion connected devices around the world, Intel expects that number to increase to 15 billion by 2015 and 50 billion by 2020.

Many servers and computers will face challenges from these increases, including those that support the 48 hours of YouTube videos uploaded each minute, 200 million tweets sent per day and 7.5 billion photos uploaded to Facebook each month.

To support this amount of data sharing around the world, Intel and other computer companies have to find ways to make the Internet hardware cheaper and easier to use. It is an extension of Moore’s Law, and is necessary for the expected increases in data sharing.

“When Intel entered the server market, the average server price was $58,000, and today we’re under $3,800 and dropping,” said Skaugen.

Check out the video above to learn about the challenges of powering the new social web, and let us know what you think of Skaugen’s talk in the comments.

More About: intel, Kirk Skaugen, Web 2.0 Summit

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Microsoft Meets Estimates, But Stock Falls

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Microsoft reported fiscal first-quarter revenues of $17.37 billion, a 7% jump over the year-ago period and a figure that met analysts forecasts.

However, Microsoft’s stock fell slightly in after-hours trading, indicating that analysts may have been expecting more.

Among the results was a 2% increase in revenues for the Windows and Windows Live division, which was “in line with the PC market,” according to a release from the company. Microsoft also reported that it has sold 450 million units of Windows 7 since launch. That slight gain was offset by an 8% jump in revenues for Microsoft’s Business Division.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine, meanwhile, now has 14.7% market share, up 3.5% over the previous year.

The tepid sales for Windows contrast with a 48% jump in revenues for Apple’s Macs over the same period.

Image courtesy of Flickr, BFI Shadow

More About: apple, bing, microsoft, Windows 7

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New Version of Gmail Coming Soon [VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 01:04 PM PDT

A new version of Gmail featuring a revamped look, redesigned conversation threads and improved search is slated for pending released, according to an official video that was mistakenly posted to Google’s YouTube channel.

Jason Cornwell, user experience designer for Gmail, unveils the new version in the video. The Google Operating System blog spotted the video and it has since been made private — but not before YouTube user crlsndrsjmnz had time to repost it.

“Oops, you weren't supposed to see that,” Gmail representative Andrea Freund tells Mashable. “Stay tuned, we'll be sharing more info on Gmail's new look soon.”

But, back to what’s new. “We’ve been hard at work to update Gmail with a new look,” Cornwell shares in the video. “We’ve completely redesigned the look and feel of Gmail to make it as clean, simple and intuitive as possible.”

Here’s some of what you can expect: Gmail will expand dynamically to accommodate any window size; users can adjust the size of label and chat areas; themes will include high-definition imagery; conversations — a.k.a. email threads — have been redesigned for readability and will include profile pictures (conversations look like more status updates); and search has been made more user-friendly, which means regular users can stop worrying about using Gmail search operators and simply input text into fields to find email messages.

This strikes us as the most dramatic change to Gmail since its debut, and likely marks a concerted attempt by Google to modernize and simplify the Gmail interface for the mainstream email user.

Gmail’s makeover has been several months in the making. In late June, Google released the “Preview” Gmail theme as a sneak peek of things to come.

More About: email, gmail, Google

Google Reader to Get Google+ Integration

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 12:46 PM PDT

Google Reader, the company’s RSS reader, will get a new look and integration with Google+ next week that will let you create reader-specific Circles.

The changes, which are “highly requested,” according to Google software engineer Alan Green, include a new design and the retiring of features like friending, following and shared link blogs inside of Reader, which will be supplanted by Google+.

You may "feel like the product is no longer for you," Green writes, in which case you can export your subscriptions, friends, likes and shared items to another RSS reader. Google gave Reader a social makeover with follows and friending in 2009, when Digg, among other social news services, was much more influential.

Like Google Buzz, which was retired last week, those social features are being excised as the company focuses on growing Google+.

More About: Google, google buzz, google reader, rss reader

Mashable Media Summit Agenda: 16 Awesome Sessions to Learn From

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 12:26 PM PDT

We’ve enticed you with a series of exciting speaker announcements, and teased you with a sampling of topics. Now we’re pleased to announce the full Mashable Media Summit agenda. From the future of social TV, to new forms of journalism, to the value of real-time data, this year’s conference on Nov. 4 offers a dynamic range of original subject matter that you won’t find anywhere else.

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

Mashable Media Summit Agenda

The Future of Social Media: The Current Landscape and 2012 Trends
Pete Cashmore, Founder and CEO, Mashable

TV Makes You Smarter: How Technology is Changing Entertainment (For Better and Worse)
Christy Tanner, EVP and GM, and TV Guide Mobile

Who Owns Your Identity?
A Discussion With Mashable, Facebook, Google and The Huffington Post
Robyn Peterson, Senior Vice President of Product, Mashable
Andy Mitchell, Strategic Partner Development, Facebook
Andrew Nash, Director of Internet Identity, Google
Tim Dierks, Senior Vice President of Engineering, Huffington Post

Like a Virgin: The Ultimate User Experience
Tor Myhren, President and Chief Creative Officer, Grey New York

The Problem of Prediction: How Real Time Data Changes What You Should Be Doing
Tony Haile, General Manager, Chartbeat

What Facebook's New Features Mean for Journalism
Adam Ostrow, Executive Editor and Senior Vice President of Content, Mashable
Vadim Lavrusik, Journalist Program Manager, Facebook

Tech One-on-One
One-on-One with Emily Chang, Bloomberg TV Anchor and Host of Bloomberg West

Social Media Grows Up: The Evolving Role of Social Media in News Organizations
Meghan Peters, Community Manager, Mashable
Anthony De Rosa, Social Media Editor, Reuters
Drake Martinet, Social Media Editor, AllThingsD
Katie Rogers, Social Media Manager, the Washington Post

The New Model of Content and Commerce
Lauren Indvik, Marketing and Media Associate Editor, Mashable
Alexis Maybank, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Gilt Groupe
Maureen Mullen, Research and Advisory Lead, L2

Break Down the Content Barriers of Social Networks
Michael Lazerow, Founder and CEO, Buddy Media

The Importance of Being Awesome: From Words and Pictures to Code and Cyborgs
Faris Yakob, Chief Innovation Officer, MDC Partners' kbs+p and founding partner of Spies&Assassins

The Future of Social TV
Christina Warren, Entertainment Editor, Mashable
Alex Iskold, Founder and CEO, GetGlue
Jesse Redniss, Vice President, Digital, USA Networks
Tom Thai, Marketing and Sales Strategy Lead, Bluefin Labs

The Evolution of Sports Illustrated: From Print to Digital
Terry McDonell, Editor, Time Inc., Sports Illustrated Group
Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief, Mashable

From Tactile to Mobile: The Reinvention of Content Experience and Engagement
Josh Koppel, Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, ScrollMotion

Teaching – and Learning From – The Old Grey Lady
Brian Stelter, Media Reporter and Blogger, the New York Times

The Filter Bubble: How to Fix Content Curation
Eli Pariser, Author of The Filter Bubble and President/Founding Board and

Mashable Media Summit Ticket Information

Tickets include a full day of discussion with thought leaders on stage, intimate networking sessions as well as breakfast, lunch and a networking reception. Get your tickets now before they sell out.

Platinum Sponsor: AT&T

We’re also pleased to announce that our platinum sponsor for the Mashable Media Summit is AT&T.

More About: Announcement, mashable, mashable media summit, Media

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Heinz Lets Friends Send “Get Well” Cans of Soup via Facebook

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 12:20 PM PDT

The next time one of your friends complains about an illness on Facebook, go a step further and send them a can of soup instead of a simple “Get well!” message on his or her Wall (or Timeline).

That’s the idea behind a UK-only Facebook promotion from Heinz. The food company is letting friends send each other real (rather than virtual) cans of Cream of Chicken or Cream of Tomato soup emblazoned with a “Get Well Soon” message and their name for £1.99 (approximately $3.00) per can.

Fans can customize and pay for the cans using a web application on Heinz’s Facebook Page. Expected delivery time is 3 to 4 days — at which point said sick friends may already have recovered. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

[via JWT]

More About: Facebook, fcommerce, heinz, Marketing

Ebooks or Printed Books: Which Are Better for You?

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 12:10 PM PDT

Ever wonder which method of reading is better for you — electronic screen or printed text?

The answer: There is no difference.

“There are no disadvantages to reading from electronic reading devices compared with reading printed texts,” according to a study by Research Unit Media Convergence of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with MVB Marketing- und Verlagsservice des Buchhandels GmbH, operator of the ebook platform Libreka!.

The study was conducted after readers in Germany became skeptical about reading from electronic devices like ereaders and tablet PCs compared to traditional printed books.

Participants in the study read a variety of texts with different levels of understanding on an Amazon Kindle 3, Apple iPad and in print. Their reading behaviors and brain activity were examined using an EEG machine and eye tracking tools.

The study proved that reading from an electronic device instead of print has no negative effects, contradicting the misconception from German readers.

“There is no (reading) culture clash – whether it is analog or digital, reading remains the most important cultural technology,” said Professor Dr. Stephan Füssel, chair of the Gutenberg-Institute of Book Studies and spokesperson for the Media Convergence Research Unit at JGU.

SEE ALSO: HOW TO: Use Amazon's Kindle Lending Feature

Although there are no differences in reading performance on a screen or a printed book, one group of participants displayed faster reading times when using the iPad.

Even in today’s digital age, most of the participants in the study stated that reading printed text is still more comfortable than reading from a screen. But ebook use is certainly on the rise, especially now that libraries have begun checking out ebooks. One recent report found that ebook checkouts at libraries rose 200% in 2010.

What do you think? Do you prefer reading a book in print, or from your ebook or tablet?

via Science Daily

More About: books, ebooks, ereader, Kindle

AdJitsu Does What Apple Should Have Done With iAds

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 12:00 PM PDT

Remember iAds? Apple’s mobile ad format that was designed to inject emotion back into advertising. It was supposed to be one of the pillars of iOS. Apple even paid $275 million to acquire Quattro Wireless for its mobile ad technology.

iAds haven’t been the smash success that Apple envisioned they would be, though. Advertisers initially put down $1 million or more on the ad campaigns, but the price of iAds steadily dropped until they reached $300,000 in July 2011 — a drop of 70%. Perhaps that’s why Andy Miller, the former CEO of Quattro Wireless and VP of mobile advertising at Apple, left the company to become a venture capitalist.

So what went wrong? Were iAds fundamentally flawed? Did Apple not understand the needs of advertisers? Was the demand simply not there? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but the result is the same: iAds underperformed.

That’s why I was intrigued when I first saw AdJitsu, the newest product from visual-browsing startup Cooliris. The company develops a group photo-sharing platform, but recently it created a standalone business unit called AdJitsu. The goal is to use Cooliris’s visualization technology to create compelling 3D ads for mobile devices.

On Thursday, Cooliris will release its first AdJitsu ad in the U.S. It will appear in the AOL Editions iPad app. The ad (which, for some reason, I’m not supposed to talk about, but you can easily find in the next issue of Editions) focuses on 3D elements that allow users to play with the ad, interact with it through the gyroscope and accelerometer and play with it via a variety of touch controls. The ad is also fast to load because AdJitsu isn’t using HTML5 or WebGL, but PageKit, its proprietary developer toolkit and platform for the product.

The numbers also back up the effectiveness of the ads. The company’s first ad campaign for the Samsung Galaxy S II garnered an average clickthrough rate of 3% with people spending an average of 70 seconds on the ad. Those are impressive stats for a mobile ad. The typical CTR for mobile ads is less than 1%.

It’s not perfect by any means, and Cooliris doesn’t have the cross-platform leverage that Apple can offer advertisers, but AdJitsu utilizes the capabilities of mobile devices (gyroscope, accelerometer, touchscreens, location) in ways that I have yet to see iAds duplicate.

Despite some blockbuster acquisitions, mobile advertising is still in its infancy. Nobody has really found the holy grail of mobile advertising — little banner ads at the top or the bottom of the screen simply don’t cut it, and more advanced ad products have yet to catch fire.

For mobile ads to be truly compelling, they will need to plug directly into what makes a smartphone smart. AdJitsu is a good start, but there’s still more to be done to make ads feel more natural on our tablet devices.

More About: Adjitsu, cooliris, Kleiner Perkins

How Angry Birds Conquered Casual Gaming

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 11:47 AM PDT

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For nearly two years, the casual game market has belonged to Angry Birds. The megahit app has been downloaded over 400 million times and boasts 30 million daily active users.

For Rovio, the developers behind the juggernaut, the success of Angry Birds has led to movie deals, increased funding and rumors of IPO plans.

Mashable interviewed Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio, to talk about the success of Angry Birds, the state of developing for multiple platforms and Rovio’s future beyond defeating the pigs.

Q&A with Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio

The success of Angry Birds is truly breathtaking. How has its success changed your approach to developing not only the game itself, but also running the company?

The company is much larger than it used to be. We currently have 160 people compared to 20 a year ago, and we're expanding rapidly in publishing, licensing and animation. As the company has grown, running it has become more complicated. But we haven't changed our basic focus: excellence in everything we do.

Angry Birds is now a franchise — it has toys, apparel, Halloween costumes, lunchboxes, a movie is in the works. What is the challenge of balancing these aspects with also continuing to focus on game development?

We don't really see these aspects as competing. The expansion into franchising is a natural extension of people's enthusiasm for Angry Birds. The game is still very close to the core of our brand, but we see Angry Birds already as a broader entertainment platform.

Are games still at the heart of Rovio’s mission, or have your ambitions as a company expanded because of success and opportunities?

Game development will continue to be an important part of the company, but for more than a year, we have actively driven the strategy of becoming an entertainment media company. Angry Birds is our biggest brand, but will definitely not remain our only one.

After launching successfully on the iPhone and iPad, you ported Angry Birds to other platforms, including Android, webOS, PlayStation, etc. What platform is your favorite? Do you still design for one OS and then port to others or do you take a more agnostic approach?

We love all platforms! New web technologies are of course particularly interesting, as they allow the same experience on multiple platforms. We are still developing for a number of platforms simultaneously, when necessary — native experience is still often the best, and the best possible user experience is what drives our development.

Angry Birds was designed as a touch game, yet now it exists on Macs, the web browser and on video game consoles. How difficult has it been to translate the experience from touch to an object like a mouse or game controller?

We have to make some adjustments, but the general gameplay has stayed the same. We think the game experience translates very well across different platforms and controllers. Judging on just game content alone, we have a very impressive game with a lot of longevity and replay value. Touch controls are just another flavor of the Angry Birds experience.

You introduced in-app purchase with the Mighty Eagle to what looks like great success. Do you see adding in more options for in-app purchase to your titles in the future?

It's definitely something that we're looking into. The key here is not providing just content purchases, but exceptional experiences. Consider the Mighty Eagle: You get a new character, a game aid, new gameplay goals and achievements — Mighty Eagle is not just another in-app purchase, but a real extension of the game.

The mobile games space is very different than it was in 2003 — what advice would you offer to startups who are entering the mobile gaming space today?

The important thing is to focus on quality and the fans. If you make a great product that people enjoy, the downloads will follow naturally. You also need to plan for the future. With Angry Birds, we're not providing just an app. We're providing a service with regular content updates, lots of engaging content through our fan community, and so on.

What comes after Angry Birds? Are you going to develop other game franchisees, and if so, what is your target platform?

Angry Birds is of course our biggest focus, and we have many fantastic things in the pipeline. Regarding other gaming franchises, the short answer is “yes.” We have a number of development projects on the drawing board, and we also have a great opportunity to use our reach as a publisher to take other developers' property to the market.

1. Smartphone Apps

Where the revolution began: Angry Birds first released the game onto Apple's iOS in December 2009.

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Social Networking on Mobile Devices Skyrockets

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 11:37 AM PDT

More than 72 million Americans accessed social networking sites or blogs via their mobile devices in August, a figure that represents a 37% jump from the same time last year, according to data compiled by comScore.

The bottom line: Social networking by way of mobile devices is on the up-and-up.

comScore estimates that nearly one-third of all U.S. mobile users are now accessing social media services, and that close to 40 million Americans are doing so on an almost daily basis.

"This behavior is even more prevalent among smartphone owners with three in five accessing social media each month,” says Mark Donovan, comScore SVP for mobile.

Of course, with the increase in mobile social activities, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are experiencing a measurable influx in mobile activity.

Facebook’s U.S. monthly mobile audience grew 50% year-over-year to 57 million, while Twitter’s mobile user base skyrocketed 75% to 13.4 million monthly users, according to comScore. LinkedIn also jumped to 5.5 million monthly U.S. mobile users, a 69% increase over the previous year.

The most predominant change in mobile social networking behaviors, according to comScore, is that more mobile users are accessing social media via mobile apps. More than 38 million folks accessed a social networking site or blog via an app in August, representing a 126% change from one year ago.

But with 42 million U.S. mobile users accessing social media sites via a mobile browser, the browser still remains the most popular mode of social networking on mobile — for the time being.

Mobile Social Access

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Image courtesy of Flickr, Ed Yourdon

More About: ComScore, Mobile, mobile social networking, Social Media

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Did Samsung Ship 20 Million Smartphones This Quarter?

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 11:13 AM PDT

Is Samsung now the leading smartphone manufacturer? One unnamed source sure wants us to think so.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Samsung shipped more than 20 million smartphones in its most recent quarter. If this report is accurate — bear in mind Samsung does not disclose its smartphone shipment figures — that would make Samsung the largest cellphone maker by volume, besting Nokia and current smartphone champ, Apple.

Samsung’s well-regarded Galaxy S II has found massive success globally. It bowed in the U.S. last month and has appeared on carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile in the last few weeks.

In its fourth quarter earnings, Apple reported selling more than 17 million iPhones. Apple CEO Tim Cook predicted record iPhone sales for the December quarter. Meanwhile, Nokia reported shipments of 16.8 million smartphones.

Shipped vs. Sold

Because Samsung doesn’t release data about shipments of its smartphones, its difficult to address the veracity of this report. While it seems plausible that the Korean-based giant shipped 20 million smartphones, that doesn’t necessarily mean all of those phones were actually sold to end users.

Apple breaks down its sales in terms of units sold, not units shipped. That means any phones remaining in inventory do not count towards the company revenue totals.

Still, even shipping 20 million phones — assuming these rumors are true — would be quite an accomplishment.

Galaxy Nexus Rising

Earlier this week, Samsung and Google unveiled the Galaxy Nexus, the first Android phone to ship with the device unifying Android 4.0, AKA Ice Cream Sandwich.

Although Google continues to struggle to sell large quantities of Nexus-branded phones, the line is important because it sets new “best of breed” guidelines that all other Android handset makers should look to follow.

That’s a real boon to Samsung — which continues to battle Apple in court systems across the world.

More About: android, apple, Galaxy S II, samsung, smartphones

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L.A Kings Are First Pro Sports Team to Get Gamified

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 11:01 AM PDT

hockey image

The NHL’s L.A. Kings will become the first pro sports team to add full game elements to their website and social networks, the team recently announced.

Game elements, or “gamification,” refer to adding a game-like experience to a non-traditional source. The Kings are creating “The United Kings Family” in partnership with Bunchball, a gamification company. Fans will be able to earn points by watching videos, posting on the Kings’ website, sharing news on social networks like Facebook and Twitter and participating in a variety of other online and offline activities.

Users will earn online badges and trophies while working their way up a digital fan leaderboard. Earning points will also unlock exclusive rewards such as signed merchandise, personalized messages from the players, behind-the-scenes videos, private arena tours and more. “All of the things you can't buy we want to be able to reward them with,” says Jonathan Lowe, the L.A. Kings’ VP of marketing.

Bunchball has worked with major brands to add gamification elements, but working with a pro sports team was a bit of a no-brainer. “They understand fan dynamics, that is their business,” says Steve Patrizi, Bunchball’s CRO. “The fans are ultimately their business, so they understand how to relate to fans better than a lot of other companies.”

kings image

Adding gamification to a hockey team is at first a little confusing. Sports teams often have dedicated fan bases from the get go. Gamification is a great tool for engaging an audience and drawing in new users, both things a sports team doesn’t normally have to worry about, thanks to local patronage. Gamification, however, can make a huge organization like the L.A. Kings feel more personable and help fill seats and move merchandise even when the team isn’t doing well, Patrizi explains.

The Kings’ also have to compete against hometown sports teams such as the Lakers. “When you look at California, compared to Montreal, We have what people say is a “non-traditional” hockey marketplace,” Lowe says. The Kings don’t have to compete with other hockey teams for local fans but they do need to compete with other, sometimes more popular, teams playing different sports. “In terms of marketing a hockey team, our fans are overwhelmingly passionate … about spreading their love of the team. Hockey fans tend to be more tech savvy, more active online,” Lowe says.

The Kings themselves have tried to be more tech savvy, including launching a team-selected Pandora channel, weekly web deals and keeping an active blog. The gamification layer is certainly a first for pro sports but, while the Kings may be the digital guinea pigs, expect to see gamification coming to a team near you.

More About: gamification, gamify, Social Media, sports

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The State of Media: Content at a Crossroads

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 10:48 AM PDT

Media is changing. In fact, our very concept of what media is is undergoing a transformation as well. I can explain the changes or I can simply show you this video. You'll think it's adorable, but it's sure to make traditional media types' blood run cold. Watch and then we'll continue.

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

Isn't it cute the way the baby keeps trying to touch, swipe and otherwise engage with the dead-tree magazine pages? Each tap might as well be a knife in traditional media's heart. This child is a part of the generation that will someday rule the world. Physical magazines and newspapers will seem like sad, silly things to her. Only of use to doddering fools who remember a simpler time.

I'm one of those fools.

In my lifetime, I have seen media and journalism go through tsunami-sized changes. I fell in love with journalism, newspapers, TV, TV news, movies, and books when all of them were discrete objects. Synergy was reserved for science and not a word used to describe media entities. Our lives were pleasantly modal. I watched TV, on which I saw sitcoms, cartoons and the afternoon news anchors (no, the 24 news cycle did not exist). I read books — lots of them — went to the movies and read my parents’ newspaper. Everything in its own neat little drawer.

Lead is Dead

The digitization of the news started in the 70's with the retirement of lead type and introduction of computer-based galley and layout systems. These were all seen as improvements in the newsroom and news cycle. I visited two newspapers back then (The Daily News and The Rocky Mountain News) that both extolled the virtues of new technology — none of them could have foreseen what was to come.

Fast-forward to the mid ’80s where those same digital creation tools arrived on the desktops. This was the first step in the re-democratization of news. It put powerful tools in the hands of small-town newspapers and individuals who wanted to produce professional-looking content and print it out at printing plants or in decent quantities on their own laser printers.

CNN introduced the 24-hour news cycle in 1980, but it would be years before anyone would believe it made sense or was in any way necessary. Traditional media and network news still ruled the day.

Back then, newspapers were still reaping the benefits of the digital change as they reduced costs and continued to expand (and sometimes gobbled each other up — Times Mirror devoured numerous rivals, for example). The arrival of a national newspaper — USA Today in 1982 — was the apex of print news ubiquity, but in no way threatened local newsgathering and media. Movies and TV spent most of the ’80s grappling with new competition from an ever-expanding number of cable channels. Yet, some of the most popular cable networks, like HBO, served mostly as clearing houses of all the dreck (and some of the good stuff) movie studios delivered to theaters earlier in the year.

This was the state of things until the mid 1990s and the arrival of the World Wide Web on the Internet.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Most traditional media, like TV, cable news, movies and many magazines, ignored the web. It was clunky and slow in those early days. There was no broadband, just a sputtering dial-up network that was best at serving primarily text-based (pure HTML) pages with a few GIF images thrown in. There were some, though, who saw the potential.

I was working at Ziff Davis' PC Magazine back then. A publication devoted to technology, PCMag had been in print since 1982 and "online" for years — though only through Electronic Bulletin Board Services and CompuServe. The Internet was a natural fit for PCMag and publications like it. Soon they were posting magazine content online after it hit newsstands and slowly building out original online content teams.

Things started moving quickly back then, and as some media outlets began embracing the web, the web met them with improved connectivity and display options. Soon we had 56Kbps modems and DHTML for simplistic in-browser interactions.

In the meantime, thousands of newspapers and magazines (as well as most networks and movie studios) mostly ignored the web. They either put very little effort into their web entities or weren't online at all. At the time, this made perfect sense. Magazines, in particular, made virtually all of their profit from print ads. They charged $60K to $100K or more for a single full-page color advertisement near the front of the book. Magazines like PCMag were 400 pages at the time, 40% of which were ads. You do the math.

Traditional media advertising partners stepped rather slowly into the online advertising space in the mid-to-late ’90s and the ad deal numbers were comparatively low. Initially, there was some excitement because people were clicking on banner ads in big numbers, but those response rates soon dwindled to 1% and then below, and I remember some people wondering if, without advertiser support, the Internet would simply fade away.

A lot happened in those early years, including the first bubble that popped only five or six years after the Internet really got started. In hindsight, these were all growing pains. Unfortunately, they may have emboldened magazines, newspapers, networks and studios. Far too few of them had recognizable digital strategies in 2000.

Tipping Point

It was around that time that I returned to PCMag, after working in the purely digital space for four years. PCMag, like most magazines, was transitioning. Ad pages had fallen precipitously and online pageviews were growing. Over the next five years, PCMag re-positioned its online presence from a sideshow, to the center of the business. Other magazines and newspapers around the country (and world) were also watching ad pages decline and most were slow to realize just how much reader interest they were losing to instant news their audience could find online. Sure, a plethora of 24-hour cable newsrooms was having an impact too, but the overriding sentiment was that traditional print media was trapped reporting yesterday's news, while the web and cable were reporting news as it happened.

By the middle of the aughts, broadband access was more than five years old, and starting to blanket the nation and developed world. The web was consistent, reliable and jam-packed with countless news websites and video feeds and shows. Newspapers and magazines that had long ignored the web were scrambling to capture the eyeballs and obvious advertiser interest, but they had a very big problem: 80 to 95% of their revenue came from a combination of advertisers and subscriptions. Shifting resources to something that had little-to-no revenues up front was risky because it inevitably meant cannibalizing their core business. Subscribers who saw all the content they paid for in print available for free online were in revolt.

A Massacre

Between 2005 and 2009, many in traditional media faced a number of inevitable decisions: Shut down completely, find a print/online hybrid solution that satisfied advertisers and readers, or shut down print and go all digital. PCMag made the latter decision on my watch in 2009. We actually made the decision the summer before, and I'd venture we'd been preparing for it for years. The website survived to this day and is, I think, healthy. Hundreds of magazines and newspapers were not so lucky. Many closed shop. By one count, over 500 magazine shut down in 2008.

As things grew dire for traditional media, its core foundational principals took another whack to the chin: Social Media.

Even as the web and broadband exploded in the early part of this century, media still thought it knew how to deliver news and content. They reported. They wrote. They delivered on their own schedule and through the medium of their choice: the web, TV, movies, paper, CDs, books. With the arrival of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, traditional media lost its tenuous grip on the flow of news and information. It was, in essence, a further democratization of content, very much like the one we saw in the early ’80s.

Simultaneously, countless bloggers were setting up what might be called daily or hourly online newspapers where they opined on their topic of choice. These destinations probably hurt niche publications most. Those small, vertical magazines (think Cat Fancy) thrived on serving a target audience, but only once or twice a month. Blogs hit the topic hourly.

Books, magazines and newspapers, which are closing to this day, are probably the most visible victims of the changes in media consumption and creation, but TV and movies have clearly had to make some adjustments as well.

All Your Media Are Belong to Us

With the introduction of TiVo and cable DVRs, consumers started skipping commercials. Panicked advertisers have since resorted to stuffing product placements inside shows and finding creative ways for their partners to sponsor entire shows and segments (which is retro if you remember the ’50s). Movies now compete with a number of streaming and on demand options (not to mention super-large screen TVs) that now make the act of going out to the movies redundant.

Making matters worse is that all of these digital mediums now overlap. Those who have worked in traditional media for decades now find themselves delivering text, video, audio, and more for a single story. Content has to have the same ubiquity as our ever-present smartphones. All the while, marketers and advertising partners press for better ways to engage the audience and measure their response.

All of which has led us here: a crossroads. The creation of content is now an amalgam of skills that I worry most universities have no idea how to teach. Advertisers enjoy measuring response, but still don't see the same kind of numbers they'll find on a single episode of Two and a Half Men. And some believe print (newspapers and magazines) will inevitably fade away. If I could ask the little lady in the video above what she thought, I imagine she'd say, "what's a newspaper?"

Even if our little video star can't answer these questions, Mashable's Media Summit can. Be sure to register, attend and/or watch as industry leaders discuss how we got here and where media goes next in this lively, one-day event.

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, arakonyunus, lucentius, and Wikimedia Commons, Evan Amos.

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President Obama to Make Statement on Gaddafi’s Death [LIVE VIDEO]

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 10:43 AM PDT

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to make a statement at 2 p.m. ET about the killing of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Reports of Gaddafi’s death began circulating Thursday, but the U.S. government has not yet confirmed it.

Obama made a similar televised statement to announce the killing of Osama bin Laden. You can watch the live stream here at 2 p.m. ET.

SEE ALSO: 25 Twitter Reactions to Gaddafi's Capture and Death [PICS]

More About: barack obama, Gaddafi

New Security Threat: Infected QR Codes

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 10:14 AM PDT

Be careful the next time you scan a QR code, because it might just cost you money and wreak havoc on your smartphone.

That’s the warning from Kaspersky Lab, which has noticed the first instance of QR code tampering. The incident took place in Russia last month and hoodwinked consumers who thought they were downloading an Android app called Jimm. The code actually contained malware that sent SMS codes to a premium rate number that charged for each message.

Tim Armstrong, a malware researcher at Kaspersky, says premium rate numbers operate similar to 900 numbers in the U.S. The four- to five-digit numbers charge for each incoming text, wringing cash out of unsuspecting users. Armstrong says that it’s much more difficult to set up such numbers in the U.S., but cyberthieves will soon be able to create global premium rate numbers that could theoretically attack American consumers the same way. Infected QR codes could also be used for phishing scams, Armstrong says.

Robert Siciliano, an online security analyst at McAfee, says that infected QR codes are new on the scene. “It’s just hitting the radar in the security community,” he says, adding that it’s a “pretty brilliant scheme.”

Both Armstrong and Siciliano say that consumers shouldn’t be over-cautious about QR codes at this point. Armstrong notes that there’s a interim step between scanning the code and launching an app in which consumers can determine if they’ve been scammed. “If it’s a game and it’s requesting SMS, then you know something’s wrong,” he says. Siciliano, meanwhile, says a good rule is only to click on QR codes by a known vendor or advertiser.

QR codes are more popular in Asia and Europe than in the U.S., but many advertisers, including Taco Bell and Calvin Klein, among others, have employed them. They’ve also showed up on rooftops and on a tombstone.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, youngvet

More About: phishing, QR Codes, security, trending

Facebook Initiative Could Lead to Job Posting Service

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 10:03 AM PDT

Facebook wants to help you find a job. The social network announced on Thursday that it has teamed up with the U.S. Department of Labor and three employment-related agencies in an attempt to decrease the country’s 9.1% unemployment rate using social media — a project that may eventually include a Facebook jobs posting system.

The new partnership brings formal job hunting content to Facebook — which some recruiters already prefer over LinkedIn — for the first time.

As part of the initiative, Facebook has launched a new “Social Jobs” portal that makes easily accessible educational content and tools from its partners at the Department of Labor, National Association of Colleges and Employers, DirectEmployers Association, and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. It plans to promote this page in the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates and Puerto Rico.

Facebook has also promised to conduct surveys about how job hunters, recruiters and college career departments use social media.

The most interesting aspect of the new partnership, however, is a plan to inch Facebook into job listings territory. Facebook’s statement announcing the partnership mentioned “systems where new job postings can be delivered virally through the Facebook site at no charge.”

What shape such a job posting system would take, and whether Facebook has any solid plans beyond research to pursue one, are still not clear. A job board that lives on Facebook could put the social network in direct competition with sites like LinkedIn and

“We're not going to limit ourselves to what's possible today,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable. “Instead, we're going to devote resources to develop the innovations that are going to help the job seekers of tomorrow. We're going to invest in research in new technologies that will deliver jobs virally at no charge and expand opportunities for people to create social job searching experiences online.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ilbusca

More About: Facebook, jobs, trending, U.S. Department of labor

11 Innovative Crowdfunding Platforms for Social Good

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 09:51 AM PDT

The Commerce With a Conscience Series is supported by Fedex. FedEx does more than shipping. They offer solutions like transporting heart valves to those in need and helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. See how.

Why crowdsource? In addition to funding, the tools below can engage new supporters, constituents and future advocates.

If it's ideas you’re looking for, collaborative thinking can provide solutions faster and with input from people with diverse backgrounds, thus strengthening the project. Also, by involving people in the early stages, they will feel more connected to the project, and likely repeat their support and advocacy.

Below, we’ll look at some of the best crowdsourcing platforms on the web, along with successful campaigns funded on each one. Don't forget that these tools are not your Field of Dreams answer — just because you build it doesn’t mean donors will come. You need to mobilize your friends, family and constituents, and engage with niche communities online if you want to succeed.

1. Crowdrise


What: Fundraising
Why: Effective and entertaining
Who: Use it if you are a non-profit or individual supporting a non-profit

Yes, if you are reading this article now you have probably already heard about Crowdrise, but that's because it works, and is easy to use. Charity: Water really brought attention to this model of project-based, time-restricted fundraising, and Crowdrise has taken the best features of that and opened it up for any individual to support any charity. As with most fundraising platforms, there is a fee, so find which option works best for you or your organizations.

I can personally say that this tool has made my fundraising easier — I’m running the New York Marathon on Nov. 6, with a team to support the non-profit Camp Interactive, which provides inner city kids with technology skills for the 21st century. It took just 30 seconds to set up my Crowdrise account as a part of my running team, which has also served as a creative and supportive group for fundraising. My donors are appreciative of how easy it was to give, and it's been fun to compete with the other members of my team. So far, the New York City Marathon has raised more than $3 million dollars on Crowdrise, with an ultimate goal of $26 million.

2. Kickstarter and IndieGoGo


What: Fundraising for projects
Why: Builds community and provides a reward structure
Who: Use it for any creative project

Both platforms are project-based fundraising sites, but they differ slightly. Kickstarter, which just recently reached 1 million backers, is for funding projects from the creative fields, from photography and film to publishing and technology. This is not the place to fundraise for a non-profit or cause.

IndieGoGo, which has more than 40,000 projects in more than 200 countries, is more lax in their requirements, specifically when it comes to causes. While both put time limits on your fundraising, IndieGoGo allows you to keep whatever you have raised, while Kickstarter requires you to reach your goal in order to receive the money. Both also allow you to create your own rewards and to communicate easily and frequently with your donors. Both have helped "art for social good" projects which have historically found funding difficult.

Furever, a feature-length documentary on animal taxidermy and coping with death, launched as a project on Kickstarter earlier this year with a goal of $5,000 to begin production. By June, it had surpassed its goal and raised $10,044. That funding allowed the project’s creator, Amy Finkel, to begin the project and eventually seek additional funding from foundations. She was recently profiled in The New York Times.

IndieGoGo has a slew of projects to support non-profits and causes, a notable one being the campaign for SlutWalk Seattle. While $1,000 is a relatively small amount of money, it’s all the team needed to host an event and raise awareness for rape crimes in Seattle.

3. OpenIDEO


What: Ideation
Why: Because more heads are better than one
Who: Use if you are an organization looking to solve a problem or an individual with an idea

The OpenIDEO platform is a way to include a broader range of people in the design process through brainstorms, conception and evaluation. OpenIDEO partners with a non-profit to present the community with a social issue "challenge." Community members then contribute to the process by providing feedback each step of the way until a solution is created and supported by the community.

Starting in January, OpenIDEO launched a one-year challenge: "How might we improve maternal health with mobile technologies for low-income countries." Nearly 300 inspirational stories and ideas were initially shared, 20 projects were refined and 10 were named winners. Oxfam and Nokia have been prototyping and testing a combination of the winning ideas since June, updating the OpenIDEO community on their progress.

4. 33needs


What: Investing in social enterprises
Why: Invest in something with a better ROI than the stock market
Who: Use if you are a social entrepreneur

33Needs enables individuals to invest in social enterprises in six issue areas. Any individual or startup can submit their social business to 33Needs to be included on the platform. The layout for each project is very similar to Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, but without the individual rewards. Instead, 33Needs treats the donor like an investor and provides tools to manage a portfolio. They even encourage you to create teams too pool money and invest together in various enterprises. 33Needs will also reward donors through points that they can trade in for prizes in the 33Needs online store. Social enterprises are also encouraged to offer their donors rewards, either through prizes or through actual financial return.

While 33Needs is still a new website, and doesn't have their full points and rewards system up and running yet, they are definitely worth looking at and following. Half United, a clothing company, is a recent success story. They provide meals to the hungry with every clothing purchase. They are also crowdsourcing design work — check out the "Help Wanted" link on their 33Needs profile.

Other Notable Crowdfunding Platforms

    • ioby: This crowdsourced fundraising site encourages users to create, fund and engage in local environmental projects. What makes ioby stand out is the local part. After you fund a local community garden, you can walk down the street and enjoy your investment. While this is currently only in New York City, expect the site to grow.
    • StartSomeGood: Similar to 33Needs, StartSomeGood connects social entrepreneurs with financial and intellectual capital. All projects address a social issue and provide rewards based on donation amounts.
    • Microplace: MicroPlace enables you to make investments in the fight against worldwide poverty. What makes it stand out from 33Needs and StartSomeGood is that you actually receive money back — you'll receive quarterly interest payments, and when your investment matures, you can choose to get your money back or to roll it over into another investment.
    • Sparked: Sparked is an entirely-online volunteer network with more than 1,000 affiliated non-profits. These organizations post their needs online for volunteers to complete. Whether you have 10 minutes or 10 days, this is a much more productive way to spend your times than looking at your ex's Facebook pics.
    • Ushahidi: Ushahidi is non-profit tech company that specializes in developing free and open-source software for information collection, data visualization and mapping. It was originally created to map instances of violence in Kenya in early 2008, but has since expanded to work on a range of projects, from human rights to software development. If you are crowdsourcing events or data, check out the CrowdMap.
    • Causes: With 140 million users and 30 million dollars raised, don't count Causes on Facebook out. Thanks to their fluid Facebook integration and Birthday Wishes campaign, Causes can still help non-profits pull in the green.
    • AdvertActivist: This crudely put together website has an interesting idea — crowdsourced funding for advertising and media campaigns for non-profits. Keep an eye out to see where this one goes.

Series supported by Fedex


The Commerce With a Conscience Series is supported by Fedex. FedEx does more than shipping. They offer solutions like transporting heart valves to those in need and helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. See how.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, AndreasKermann

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