Friday, 18 November 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google Doodle Celebrates French Physicist Louis Daguerre”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google Doodle Celebrates French Physicist Louis Daguerre”

Google Doodle Celebrates French Physicist Louis Daguerre

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 03:18 AM PST

Today’s Doodle on Google‘s homepage is a tribute to Louis Daguerre, the French physicist who invented daguerreotype, the first commercially successful form of photography.

Louis Daguerre was born on Nov. 18, 1787 in Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France. Today’s Doodle celebrates his 224th birthday.

He began his career as a designer and painter, but his breakthrough came in 1839, when he announced his invention of the daguerreotype, a photographic process which produced a single positive image, which could not easily be replicated. It experienced a few decades of commercial success and influenced later photographic processes.

Daguerreotypes were usually portraits, and Google’s Doodle is reminiscent of a classic family portrait from the era.

Check out some of our favorite Google Doodles in the gallery below.

The Christmas Google Doodle

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

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Doodle, Google, google doodle, Louis Daguerre, photography

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Galaxy Nexus and Android 4.0 Strut Their Stuff in New Ad [VIDEO]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 01:25 AM PST

Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first smartphone with the latest Android 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, will be reaching the hands of customers today. Samsung has marked the occasion with a video ad for the device.

In our review, we’ve found the Galaxy Nexus to be the best Android device yet — speedy, feature-packed, powerful and well-designed.

It features a 1.2 GHz dual-core CPU, 1 GB of RAM, a 4.65-inch super AMOLED display, a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera capable of shooting 1080p video as well as a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.

The ad for the device is a simple but impressive showcase of all of the new features in Android 4.0, including NFC, panorama photos and face recognition. Let us know how you like it in the comments.

Check out those clean lines

I like its minimalist design.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: ad, android, galaxy nexus, Google, samsung, Video

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Who Is an Average Facebook User? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 18 Nov 2011 12:13 AM PST

What does it mean to be average on Facebook? On a given day, 26% of users “Like” a friend’s status, 22% comment on a friend’s status and 15% update their own status.

This infographic, created by JESS3, examines engagement statistics with the world’s most popular social network.

The average user has 229 friends, of which 22% are from high school, 12% are co-workers, 9% are from college and 3% they only met once. In 2008, the average user was 33. Two years later, the average user was 38, five years older.

Compared with other social networks, Facebook users are the most engaged. Fifty-two percent visit Facebook daily, beating out others for daily visitors, such as Twitter (36%), Myspace (7%) and LinkedIn (6%).

Take a look through the data and let us know how your daily Facebook use compares with the average user.

More About: Facebook, infographic, Social Media, trending

Bank of America Hoax Puts Spotlight on Google Plus Brand Pages [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 09:33 PM PST

Google Plus finally added brand pages to its service last week — a much anticipated move Google hopes might put an end to prior controversy over the topic of brands on the nascent social networking service. But a “brandjacking” of Bank of America got the new feature off to a shaky start.

Find out what happened in the video above. And if you’re a brand, check out our how to for the details on how to setup a presence on Google Plus:

1. Getting Started

To get started, sign in to your Google account and then head to You can watch the video, but it's just a glossy marketing blurb with no how-to info.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: bank of america, Google, Google+, mashable video

Never Fill Out a Form Again? Personal Seeks to Be the Data Vault for Your Private Information

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 09:00 PM PST

Say hello to Personal, a startup that wants to be the private data vault for everything in your life, from your insurance to your dining preferences.

There are plenty of websites and social networks for sharing information publicly, argues founder Shane Green. We post a constant stream of information via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google and YouTube daily. But these social sites are not suited for the storage and transmission of private information. You need to refer to or share things such as your address, your allergies, your car insurance and your kids’ health information for various reasons.

Personal, which made its debut last week, aims to solve that problem by providing users the ability to store their data in things called “Gems”. Gems are essentially compartmentalized pieces of data, grouped by category. There is a Gem for your social security card, your vision information and even your favorite wines. Users fill out forms structured data within these Gems. The “Trusted Neighbor” Gem, for example, asks for information like the neighbor’s name, phone number, email address and home address.

What’s the point of filling out these Gems? They provide a great information repository that users can reference at any time, but the magic is all in sharing Gems with others. Personal calls it “granting” a Gem. If a user has a babysitter coming over, that user will need to share specific information about the kids — things like allergies. Personal eliminates the need to write out lists over and over. Instead, a user can grant Gems to the babysitter, which they can refer to either via email or through Users don’t have to be members to receive information from a Gem.

Personal also has a feature called Community Gems. These are public repositories of information that may be useful to other Personal users. Things like the vehicle details of the 2001 Ford Ranger or the specs of the Canon EOS 7D are available for importing.

But Green hopes that Personal will become more than just a data vault; he wants it to also be a platform. Because all of the data is structured, apps have the potential to connect to the Gems that a users authorizes it to access. Instead of having to fill out complicated forms with an address and dietary preferences, Personal could fill out those forms automatically. Or mothers can simply print out the information in one of their Gems for their school instead of filling out the same forms hundreds of times.

Personal is free to use, so how will it generate revenue? While Personal is far away from monetizing its service, it has thought about the business model. Instead of traditional advertising, which wouldn’t work on something as private as Personal, Green thinks that the data users store away is deal for a reverse auction platform.

“We thinking online advertising is the single most inefficient marketplace on the web,” Green says. His proposed solution is that users share, for example, their “Upcoming Vacation” Gem with hotels and resorts in order to get the best deal and the best vacation possible. It’s an interesting business model, and Green says that potential advertisers have expressed a lot of interest in the idea.

The company also has some money in the bank. It raised a $7.6 million funding round in January from Steve Case’s Revolution LLC and Grotech Ventures. Allen & Company, Eric Semler, Ted Leonsis and others.

Filling out Gems in Personal is a time-consuming process, but perhaps that’s the point. Once you’ve invested so much time storing all of your personal information in one place, you’re going to use it. Eliminating the need to rewrite the same information over and over again is a nice bonus, but if Personal can achieve its goal of becoming a platform for private information, you may never have to fill out a form again.

Check out our walkthrough of Personal below, and let us know what you think of it in the comments:

Data Vault

The main view for Personal. The Data Vault is the location where all of your Gems are stored.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Personal, startup

How Political Campaigns Can Turn Social Media Support Into Votes

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 08:36 PM PST

During the last presidential election, the use of social media in political campaigns was revolutionized. The Obama campaign gathered followers through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Today, all candidates have learned the organizing power of social media. However, a "Like" on Facebook, a YouTube view or a re-blog on Tumblr may not directly affect the ballot box. Each campaign must answer an important question: How do we turn a digital following into real-world volunteers?

Social media campaigns for candidates should be focused on getting volunteers in the campaign office door, on the phones and out in the community. There are three crucial steps to accomplishing this task.

1. Share Ideals, Goals, Accomplishments and Behind-the-Scenes Footage

By sharing a candidate's beliefs and goals via social media, candidates can connect with existing supporters and reach out to voters who aren't yet convinced. Accomplishments, such as campaign milestones, will get liked, shared, re-tweeted and reblogged.

People who have never been part of a campaign often don't know the day-to-day activities at a campaign office, and social media is a way to share that experience. Training staff and volunteers on the basics of social media is a great way to accomplish this. A volunteer live-tweeting an event advertises that event and highlights volunteers' work, giving them a sense of ownership in the campaign.

Ron Paul's Facebook page does a good job of sharing ideals, highlighting accomplishments and posting behind-the-scenes footage.

2. Engage Followers

With social media, engagement is key. By responding directly to followers, a candidate adds a human touch to a campaign that may otherwise seem inaccessible. Digital followers who feel connected to the campaign will be more likely to make the leap from online supporter to offline volunteer, which is step number three.

Herman Cain has used the hashtag #CainCast to respond live to questions posted on Twitter.

3. Turn Digital Followers into Real-World Volunteers

Once a digital following is built, it must be mobilized in the offline world action through "calls to action." While it is easy to "like" something on Facebook, it is a different matter to commit time and energy to a political campaign. So how is this crucial final step accomplished?

Zachary Green is CEO of 140Elect, which builds Twitter campaigns for the 2012 election. Green believes location-based organizing is the key to turning online followers into volunteers. He breaks this step down into two parts.

First, organizing by location.

“To turn Twitter followers into active volunteers offline, location must remain the unit of action to enable local work,” says Green. “Organizing Twitter followers by location is essential to building teams for action offline.”

But that’s problematic. According to Green, less than 1% of tweets mentioning a candidate running in 2012 have been sent with geo-location enabled. So how can campaigns sort their digital supporters by location? Green’s solution is content.

“We now track every mention of a Senator, House Representative, or Governor. That allows us to build a list of every person that mentions a Democratic incumbent in California, for instance. If they do this multiple times, or for multiple Democratic incumbents in California, we can assume that they are from California.”

Green then builds state-by-state lists accordingly, and moves to step two: engaging by location.

“The key to grassroots organizing isn’t issues, but relationships,” says Green. “Help followers bond online with others in their location and they will be eager to then meet in real life.”

When supporters do meet offline, “their activity can be the task you [the campaign] want them to perform,” such as a voter registration drive, a phonebank, or a neighborhood canvas.

Finally, Green says it’s crucial to use social media to highlight the real-world accomplishments of volunteers, but they should be empowered to upload and share it themselves. “[It] makes them feel appreciated, and shows others how much fun this was.”

This online reporting then brings in more digital followers, who can be turned into offline volunteers, and so on.

By using social media in a geographically focused manner, encouraging supporters to meet and work with other local neighbors offline, and empowering volunteers, political campaigns can turn Facebook “likes” and retweets into votes come Election Day.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, bns124

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, campaigns, Politics, Social Media

Pixar’s Brave: First Trailer Hits The Web [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 08:20 PM PST

Disney has released the first trailer for Brave, Pixar‘s upcoming animated film.

Brave, which makes its theatrical debut on June 22, 2012, follows the story of Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), a young woman in the Highlands of Scotland. She is determined to “carve her own path in life,” and thus defies the traditions of her people, which causes unintended consequences and takes Merida on a journey of self-discovery. The story is an exploration of the role of tradition and the true nature of bravery.

SEE ALSO: Without Steve Jobs: The Pixar Story

This will be the thirteenth feature film from Pixar, starting with 1995′s Toy Story. It will be the first film released after the death of Steve Jobs. Jobs served as the company’s CEO until it was acquired by Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion.

The film stars Kelly Macdonald as Merida, Emma Thompson as Queen Elinor, Billy Connolly as King Fergus, Craig Ferguson as Lord Macintosh, Robbie Coltrane as Lord Dingwall and Julie Walters as the “eccentric old Witch.” Incredibles and Ratatouille story supervisor Mark Andrews serves as the film’s director, replacing Brenda Chapman.

Are you excited about Brave? What is your favorite Pixar film? Let us know in the comments.

Bonus: The Pixar Story

The Early Pixar Team

Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios (left)

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Brave, Film, pixar, YouTube

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Who Should You Follow on Social Media? Proliphiq Knows The Answer

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 08:09 PM PST

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: Proliphiq

Quick Pitch: Proliphiq filters social media clutter and focuses on what’s important to you.

Genius Idea: Social media search tool that lets people see who is credible in the areas that interest them.

“Who should I follow?” You may have asked yourself this question after logging onto social media websites like Twitter and Facebook, only to be overwhelmed with millions of profile options to follow or subscribe to.

Proliphiq helps you find the answer to that question.

Proliphiq is a social media discovery tool that helps you find the most credible contributors within the topics that interest you. The search tool filters social media clutter by aggregating profiles that are most relevant to your search topics and finding the best contributors based on personality, level of engagement and credibility.

“Proliphiq is different from a search engine like Google in the way that we don’t help users search for content or videos,” says Adam Roozen, CEO of Proliphiq. “Proliphiq looks for the sources of the content and videos to help you identify who to follow and to also help you build relationships with those contributors.”

To begin, users must log into either their Facebook or Twitter accounts on Proliphiq’s website. They search for topics that interest them, and Proliphiq will provide a visual, intuitive ranking of the most relevant profiles based on those topics. The search results may change based on who their friends search for, rate, and are interested in.


Drag the slider, choose a topic, and watch the map populate with credible profiles for that tag.

Each profile is ranked according to their interaction with the community, the community’s opinion of them and their audience on social media sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Select any of the profiles to view their live feed, rankings, credibility, engagement, content and audience.


Click on a user profile to see stats and rankings.

These detailed profiles provides essential information to help users decide whether they want to follow that person or not.

Anyone can rate a profile using the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” options. If you don’t think a specific profile applies to a topic, feel free to share your opinions about that person.


Share what you think about an individual

Proliphiq also gives users the option to see how that person ranks as a contributor among a network of friends as well as the rest of the social media world.

To earn credibility and increase website visitors, contributors can show their Proliphiq badge widget on their own sites or blogs. The badge widget is a good opportunity to get feedback from website visitors, improve their sites based on this feedback and increase their rankings.

Interested in trying Proliphiq? Although the site is in private beta, the team has provided an access code for the first 200 Mashable readers who want to test the website. If you want an inside look into Proliphiq, copy and paste the following exclusive code into the “access code” box on the home page – pqff_l0_21cafa289c202

Proliphiq has raised $500,000 since it began development in 2010 and plans to incorporate statistics from other popular social media websites in the future.

Image courtesy of Proliphiq, Proliphiq

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, proliphiq

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25 Worst Passwords of 2011 [STUDY]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 07:34 PM PST

Pro tip: choosing “password” as your online password is not a good idea. In fact, unless you’re hoping to be an easy target for hackers, it’s the worst password you can possibly choose.

“Password” ranks first on password management application provider SplashData’s annual list of worst internet passwords, which are ordered by how common they are. (“Passw0rd,” with a numeral zero, isn’t much smarter, ranking 18th on the list.)

The list is somewhat predictable: Sequences of adjacent numbers or letters on the keyboard, such as “qwerty” and “123456,” and popular names, such as “ashley” and “michael,” all are common choices. Other common choices, such as “monkey” and “shadow,” are harder to explain.

SEE ALSO: HOW TO: Protect Your Company's Passwords

As some websites have begun to require passwords to include both numbers and letters, it makes sense varied choices, such as “abc123″ and “trustno1,” are popular choices.

SplashData created the rankings based on millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers. Here is the complete list:

  • 1. password
  • 2. 123456
  • 3.12345678
  • 4. qwerty
  • 5. abc123
  • 6. monkey
  • 7. 1234567
  • 8. letmein
  • 9. trustno1
  • 10. dragon
  • 11. baseball
  • 12. 111111
  • 13. iloveyou
  • 14. master
  • 15. sunshine
  • 16. ashley
  • 17. bailey
  • 18. passw0rd
  • 19. shadow
  • 20. 123123
  • 21. 654321
  • 22. superman
  • 23. qazwsx
  • 24. michael
  • 25. football

SplashData CEO Morgan Slain urges businesses and consumers using any password on the list to change them immediately.

“Hackers can easily break into many accounts just by repeatedly trying common passwords,” Slain says. “Even though people are encouraged to select secure, strong passwords, many people continue to choose weak, easy-to-guess ones, placing themselves at risk from fraud and identity theft.”

SEE ALSO: 5 Tools for Keeping Track of Your Passwords

The company provided some tips for choosing secure passwords in a statement:

  • 1. Vary different types of characters in your passwords; include numbers, letters and special characters when possible.
  • 2. Choose passwords of eight characters or more. Separate short words with spaces or underscores.
  • 3. Don’t use the same password and username combination for multiple websites. Use an online password manager to keep track of your different accounts.

Are these lists helpful? Do you need to rethink any of your password choices? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, peepo

More About: internet security, passwords, secure passwords

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Popular World War II Twitter Account Also Available in Two More Languages

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 06:57 PM PST

This week in 1939, German authorities declared martial law in Prague, warning protesters they would be shot if they took to the streets. If you didn’t already know this World War II history tidbit, you would have, if you were following @RealTimeWWII.

The English-language Twitter account attempts to retell the 1939-1945 conflict day by day starting this year until 2016. It is being translated into two other languages: Spanish (@TiempoReal_IIGM) and Russian (@war_only).

Oxford history graduate Alwyn Collinson sent @RealTimeWWII’s first tweet on Aug. 31. That date in 1939 was the day before Germany invaded Poland. Almost 900 tweets later, the account now has more than 120,000 followers.

“I’ve tried to cover both important events that make the history books and more personal stories — the forgotten voices of history — particularly eyewitness accounts and … the stories that are rarely heard but that mattered immensely to those who lived and died through them,” Collinson told Mashable.

A similar project, @ukwarcabinet, partially inspired Collinson’s virtual venture. “They’ve been tweeting cabinet papers from the war for two years, which is great, but I wanted to put a more personal slant on things,” says Collinson. “I care as much about what soldiers and civilians on the front line as the generals and politicians.”

The 24-year-old lone manager of the project lists these three posts as his standout tweets:

  • Two assassination attempts on Hitler’s life (on the 4th October and the 7th November, I believe), that might have changed the course of history had they succeeded.
  • Some of the personal stories – the story of the Polish nurse Jadwiga who wrote about the siege of Warsaw, and that of a young boy whose house was bombed and all his family killed. Both around the 26th September.
  • The little details that illuminate how strange life must have been during the war. A decree banning gold wedding rings in Germany, for example, so that gold could be used to pay for foreign armaments.

What do you think of the project? Do you plan to follow @RealTimeWWII or any of the accounts with translations?

More About: history, Social Media, Twitter

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Cloud Music Showdown: Amazon vs. Apple vs. Google [REVIEW]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 06:31 PM PST

It’s been a huge week for digital music lockers. First Apple made iTunes Match available to U.S. customers, then Google Music launched. These two services are competing with with Amazon’s Cloud Player (which is integrated with the new Kindle Fire) in a new realm of cloud music storage.

The three major contenders offer similar products with a similar mission: Allow users to buy new music and access existing libraries from multiple devices, via the cloud.

Here’s how the services compare to one another in terms of ease of use, pricing, mobile accessibility, and track selection.

A disclaimer: I am a Mac owner. As a result, my desktop experiences are based around Mac OS X Lion. Windows integration may differ. For this test I used the new HTC Rezound, the iPhone 4S and iPad 2 and the Amazon Kindle Fire.


Google Music is free to all users. This includes access on the web, desktop and mobile devices. Google does impose a library limit of 20,000 songs. Purchased tunes don’t count.

iTunes Match is $24.99 a year. For that $24.99, users get the ability to upload 25,000 songs, excluding any iTunes purchases. Macworld offers a fix for users who have more than 25,000 tracks in their iTunes library but still want to use the service.

Amazon’s Cloud Player is free for for up to 5GB of uploads (not counting MP3 purchases). Plans with 20GB of storage (for any type of data) start at $20 a year; the space for music is unlimited.

Winner: Google Music, because it’s free. Still, $20 for unlimited song storage is worth a gold star for Amazon.

Buying Music

The iTunes Music Store first went live in 2003. Within five years, became the biggest music retailer in the United States. What has kept iTunes in the number one spot — despite competition from Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy (now defunct), eMusic, 7Digital, Sony, Microsoft and dozens of others — is that finding and buying music is very, very easy.

iTunes is bloated, especially on Windows. But it boasts one of the easiest search and purchase processes on the Internet.

Amazon has a section of its website dedicated to purchasing MP3s, but the search and purchase process can be hindered by accessibility issues. Depending on where you search, your artist selection could come back as a physical CD or as an MP3.

Google’s new music store has a clean layout like iTunes. The problem with Google Music: it lacks a shopping cart. You must purchase a track or album on the spot, and can’t group a bunch of purchases together for later.

Likewise, there is no “wishlist”, which Amazon and Apple offer. Google also makes navigating sections more difficult than it should be.

All three services make purchased tracks accessible across devices immediately. iTunes Match also makes all past purchases available. Amazon will store purchases made after March 2011, but previous purchases need to be manually uploaded. Since Google Music is so new, it’s a given that all of its purchase history is available.

Winner: iTunes. It’s still the fastest way to search for and find songs with minimal hassle.

Cloud Listening

A big promise of all three services is the ability to listen to your songs and playlists without having to download them.

All three make good on this promise. Apple uses iTunes as its central music hub. You can authorize up to ten devices for use with iTunes Match — five can be computers with iTunes — to stream or download songs.

Streaming songs within iTunes, as we described in our iTunes Match review, is almost indistinguishable from listening to a local file. Songs and albums show up in iTunes regardless of whether they have been downloaded locally or not.

Amazon and Google both use web-based playback systems. Amazon’s is the clunkiest of the bunch. Yes, you can browse by album, artist, song title or playlist, but navigating through the interface can be a chore.

Google has clearly spent a lot of time on its web-based music interface. But I found that songs or playlists would occasionally take a long time to switch from one to the next. Like Amazon, Google Music doesn’t work well with compilation albums — an annoying problem for someone like myself who has hundreds of them in her collection.

Where Google gets major props is that its cloud player is optimized for mobile devices as well. Amazon has an iPad interface for its Cloud Player, but no iPhone or mobile phone interaction.

Winner: Google Music. It’s the only service that lets you access your library from mobile and desktop browsers across platforms.

Uploading and Downloading Songs

Listening to music in the cloud is great. But first you have to get it there.

All three services support uploading purchases or songs obtained in other ways (ripped from CD, downloaded off the web, and yes, even pirated). Depending on the size of your library, this process can take quite some time.

This is where iTunes Match becomes worth its $24.99 yearly fee. The service can match tracks already in your library with songs in its database. If it finds a match, you don’t need to upload those tunes. Where it can’t find a match, those files are uploaded to the cloud.

This process works quite well. In my tests, iTunes Match has not once confused one file with a different version of the same song (which is useful when dealing with live tracks, alternative takes or remixes).

Amazon and Google both provide file uploading utilities. Google’s Music Manager can integrate directly with iTunes and monitor your iTunes folder to upload new tracks and match existing playlists. The program runs in the background, continuously uploading new iTunes tracks to your Google Music library.

Amazon also links with iTunes playlists and uploads albums and songs to Amazon Cloud Drive. This application needs to be launched to work; there isn’t an auto-sync option.

When it comes to downloading files, Google Music in its current state is painful. Users can only download tracks from the web interface twice. Using the Music Manager, however, users can download all of their files.

The problem with the Music Manager: there isn’t a way to select what files you want to download, or to auto-download new purchases.

Amazon makes downloading new purchases a snap, and also makes it easy to download existing songs for albums from the Cloud Drive interface. Amazon can also automatically add downloaded tracks to an iTunes or Windows Media Player library. If you also have iTunes Match, those Amazon files are usually just moments away from being synced and matched to the cloud there too.

Winner: iTunes. It’s the only system that is truly hassle-free. Amazon’s option is better than Google Music, which is a real pain.

Mobile Access

It isn’t enough to listen to music from your computer. We also want access on the go.

Apple’s mobile solution is the most limited in terms of device access. Playlist syncing and file access is only available on an iOS device. For iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV owners, this is great. But users of other mobile systems are out of luck.

Amazon makes things a bit easier by providing a mobile app for Android and an iPad-friendly web view of its library. Though not currently in the App Store, the app aMusic is a good way for iOS users to access their Amazon Cloud Player files. With any luck, it will be back in the App Store soon.

Google should be commended for making its music store compatible not just with Android, but with other browsers too. Visit on an iOS device, and users are treated to a well-designed HTML5 app player.

The app player doesn’t offer offline playback, but the interface is similar to the Google Music Player for Android. The unofficial gMusic app is also a great option for iOS users. It doesn’t offer playback editing, but all other files are accessible and can be downloaded for offline listening.

Winner: Google. It’s the only service that is truly cross-platform friendly.


All three cloud music and storage platforms have their share of pros and cons. For iOS users, iTunes Match is going to offer the best user experience. For Android users, Google Music is a great option with a lot of flexibility for mobile — despite some limitations on the desktop side. Amazon is more of a mixed bag. The service is great as a way to buy and download MP3s, but it doesn’t really take advantage of the cloud as well as it could. Still, it’s a worthy option.

More About: amazon, Amazon Cloud Player, apple, Cloud Music, features, Google, google music, itunes-match

Samsung Galaxy Nexus: the Best Android Phone We’ve Seen Yet

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 05:19 PM PST

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is the first smartphone with the latest Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system. We have one in our hands, and it’s the best Android phone yet.

A new era in the impressive story of Google‘s Android operating system has just begun with the release of the Nexus. Gone are those antiquated buttons at the bottom. Now when you look at the front of this relatively large smartphone, all you see is an enormous screen — an impressive 4.65 inches diagonally — that looks even bigger without those clunky buttons that until now have always resided at the bottom of Android phones.

The result? Except for the tiny amount of bezel on the top and bottom and a slender sliver on either side, the front of this phone is almost all screen.

The Hardware

It’s a lightweight phone at 4.8 ounces, with a HSPA+ radio inside (this test model sent to us by Google is using the T-Mobile network — a Verizon model using that company’s faster 4G LTE network will be slightly heavier). The phone has a cheap plastic feel to it, but once I spent some time with it, I didn’t mind its light weight, especially given its large size, which is about an inch shorter than an average-sized hand.

With that large size comes a gorgeous screen. If the term “1280 x 720-pixel Super AMOLED high-definition display” doesn’t mean much to you, suffice to say that even when a screen measures a huge 4.65 inches diagonally, that high number of pixels is still tightly packed onto the screen, resulting in an exquisitely sharp view. If a screen were any sharper than this, it would be hard to tell the difference unless you had super-human eyesight.

Looking at the phone from the side, I realize this is not the thinnest smartphone I’ve ever seen — that honor goes to the Motorola Droid Razr — but at 8.94mm, it’s slim enough. And, it’s the first smartphone I’ve ever seen with a gentle curve to its body, accompanied by a remarkable “Contour Display” whose glass is also gently curved. It’s a subtle effect, but I think it’s downright beautiful.

The back of the Galaxy Nexus is plastic, but it’s an attractive and practical design that gives you a good grip on the phone. At the bottom of the back, there’s a slight chin, but it’s not obnoxious like that of too many other Android phones, and this one gives you a slight rise it makes it easier to hold onto the phone, especially when you have it oriented in a horizontal position.

The entire rear panel is easy to remove, facilitating battery removal, and with a few rehearsals, I learned how to quickly snap it back into place. Who says you can’t have a removable battery and still enjoy clean, minimalist lines on a smartphone? Whoever made that arbitrary proclamation hadn’t seen the Galaxy Nexus. Even though the Galaxy Nexus is still a plastic phone with a glass screen, in my view, its form factor is a spectacular success.

That clean design on the outside gives you a hint of the highly capable hardware inside, with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor from Texas Instruments (the first time Samsung’s used such a processor), 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. The result of that processing power is snappy performance and quick startup.

What we don’t know yet is how all this hardware and that huge screen will affect battery life — we’ve only had the phone for a short while, not long enough to do longer-term battery testing, which is an inexact science at best. However, to give you an idea, when we started testing today, the battery was at 63% and six hours later, it was almost depleted.

Those who are obsessed with specs (Galaxy Nexus specs are all here) would at first be disappointed with its 5-megapixel camera on the back (with a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for videoconferencing), but when I compared identical shots between the Galaxy Nexus and the iPhone 4S, I realized that even though the iPhone 4S’s 8-megapixel camera looks slightly sharper in brightly-lit situations, the quality of this Samsung Nexus camera in low light matches it nicely. Take a look at our gallery for comparison shots. And, the camera started up quickly, takes multiple pictures in rapid succession, and even has a handy ability to grab panoramic shots. Topping it off is a 1080p video camera which did an admirable job of grabbing acceptable HD footage.

Ice Cream Sandwich is Delectable

All that hardware is brought to bear on the centerpiece of this new phone, the first smartphone shipping with Google’s Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” (ICS) operating system. It represents a giant leap in usability for this popular operating system. The first thing I noticed was its ability to smoothly scroll down long lists, the complaint I’ve had against Android-packing phones from the beginning. Finally, you can scroll up and down a Google+ stream and slide down lists of emails with smoother response, although not all apps I tried enjoy that butter-smooth scrolling yet.

Besides the user interface that’s cleaned up considerably and much more intuitive, there are unusual new features I was eager to try. One feature I consider to be more demo-ware than useable is its facial recognition to unlock the screen, which worked well as long as I was in the same lighting as the first shot it took to learn how to recognize me. However, when I was outside with a hat and earmuffs on on a blustery Midwestern day, the phone didn’t have any idea who I was. Nor did it recognize me in slightly different lighting conditions. For now, this facial recognition failed more than it succeeded, and in my experience is not practical to use.

Because there aren’t physical buttons any more (except for a volume control on the left and an on-off switch on the right), the apps must give users a way to navigate from one place to another, and there are some apps that aren’t quite ready for this yet. However, you can still find your way around, and instead of physical buttons you can now use three icons that take you Home, let you go Back, and access recently used apps.

Beyond that, everything on Android 4.0 just looks a lot better, and it’s more than just window dressing. Among its many improvements, my favorites were the way you can toss off notifications by swiping to the left or right, more easily switch between apps that are running with Android’s true multitasking, the way there’s a new center button (the app drawer) that immediately takes you to screens full of icons, the way those icons show apps separately from widgets, and the subtle way the app icon screen seems to slightly tilt sideways when you try to slide beyond the last one.

There’s another new feature called Voice Actions that uses speech recognition to let you send text, dictate emails, navigate to different places and call up web pages. Although Google puts on a pretty good demo of this capability, in the real world it falls short. It’s no Siri, but if Google can make its Voice Actions easier to use and more accurate, and give it some basic smarts, it might someday become useful. For now, I’m not going to be depending on Google’s speech recognition anytime soon.

We Have a Winner

Beyond those gimmicks that don’t work as well in the real world as they do on television commercials, Ice Cream Sandwich’s main claim to fame is that it’s a more-polished version of Android — it’s easier to use and more aesthetically pleasing than any of its predecessors. Bravo, Google — I’m looking forward to further refinements of Android, and if this leap forward is any indication, the world’s most popular smartphone operating system has even brighter days ahead.

Couple that with this gorgeous and subtly curved handset, and you have yourself a winner. The Samsung Galaxy Nexus is by far the best Android phone I’ve seen yet.

Check out those clean lines

I like its minimalist design.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: android, Google, ice cream sandwich, review, samsung galaxy nexus, smartphones

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She’s Back: Target’s Christmas Champ on Twitter [INTERVIEW]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 04:52 PM PST

Target’s crazy Christmas fangirl in her signature red jumpsuit, also known as the Christmas Champ, is back on Twitter, where she is humorously chatting with followers about holiday advice and begging Target to let her in early.

Although the Christmas Champ was on Twitter last year, Target has taken her social media game a step up this year.

“She'll be tweeting new digital ads and content with tips for shopping on Black Friday, as well as interacting directly with fans by responding to their comments,” says Jessica Carlson, Target’s senior producer of media production. According to Carlson, the champ’s social media presence has increased with more tweets and interaction with her followers.

We had a little one-on-one with the Christmas Champ herself before tonight’s chat at 8 p.m. ET on Twitter. If you’d like to join, just follow #targetchat.

Here’s what she had to say about her chat tonight and Black Friday

Giada De Laurentiis beat you to the first ever holiday #targetchat earlier this week. All bitterness aside, what do you plan to talk about at your #targetchat?

No bitterness here, except the natural bitterness that comes from walnut shells. For my #targetchat, I'm hoping to concentrate on the 2-Day Sale. Aisle tactics. Store mapping. Deal-gettingness. That sort of thing.
Do you plan to live tweet on Black Friday, or will you be too busy shopping?    

Tweeting might be enough for some of the less ambitious dullards on the web, but I've stepped up my Internet game this year and plan on doing a little light coding while I'm in line. As for the sale itself – eyes on the prize. When those doors open at midnight –– MIDNIGHT!!! –– it's every man, woman, and latest incarnation of Elmo for himself. 
What are your thoughts on Cyber Monday? Do you participate in that too? 

Typically I'm asleep through most of the week following the Target 2-Day Sale, but I might click around a bit just to make sure I have doubles of everything. You never know what's going to catch fire this time of year! 
What is the #1 thing you’re going after this year? 

I would love to rid myself of this oppressive loneliness, but that’s not one of the doorbusters this year. Haha! Kidding aside, I honestly never give much thought to my own needs this time of year, but off the top of my head: floor weights, bulk nutmeg, sweetened condensed milk, duct tape, unflavored gelatin, Target gift cards, control top pantyhose, D batteries and Usher’s Confessions. 
What have you been up to since last Christmas?

After a 6-week "rest period" that my family and "friends" insisted upon, I took an adult education course on HTML coding at a local community college. The Internet is full of so many wonderful, eye-opening (and often eye-shutting) things, that I decided to have a go at it! (@ChristmasChamp)
Any tips for the other shoppers?

Each year I like to write a different quote on the back of the 2-Day Sale weekly ad I carry with me to the store. This year it’s “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.” Isn’t that beautiful? 

Target’s Campaign for Black Friday 2011

Target currently has 99,453 people virtually waiting in line to preview the 2-Day ad for Black Friday, which will be in newspapers November 24. (and you thought a couple hundred at 3 a.m. was bad….)

But the company has made waiting a little less painful by integrating social and interactive media into the site. Ad agency Wieden & Kennedy has taken on the social, digital and TV aspects of the campaign for the third year in a row. Target’s Black Friday website was created by AKQA out of San Francisco.

Here’s a walkthrough of Target’s Black Friday site.

Target's Black Friday 2011 Campaign

Here's an overview of the Black Friday page for Target.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: black friday, features, Social Media, Twitter

@MrsKutcher Files For Divorce; @AplusK Turns to Before Twitter

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 04:23 PM PST

The world has watched the lives of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore unfold on Twitter every day since January 2009. The couple are among the microblogging service’s most popular users; Kutcher’s @AplusK account has more than 8.3 million followers, while Moore’s account, @MrsKutcher, has more than 4.2 million.

Moore publicly announced Thursday that she’s divorcing Kutcher, but made no mention on her account.

Kutcher poured some emotion into a tweet: “I will forever cherish the time I spent with Demi,” he wrote. The tweet linked to the extended and original version of his statement, posted on social platform That’s where you would learn that “marriage is one of the most difficult things in the world and unfortunately sometimes they fail. Love and Light, AK.”

As when Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries called it quits earlier this month, Twitter erupted in response to news of the divorce. Some users expressed sadness; others poked fun at the breakup. But few could deny that @APlusk and @MrsKutcher have had a profound impact on Twitter — as well as their fair share of controversial moments.

SEE ALSO: 20 Dramatic Divorce Tweets From Kim Kardashian's Sisters and Haters

The couple married in September 2005, and both joined Twitter in January 2009. Two months later, Kutcher posted a Twitpic photo of a Moore’s bikini-clad butt. That picture now has more than 1.3 million views.

In April that year, Moore prevented a Twitter user from committing suicide when she responded to that woman’s suicidal tweet.

In 2010, the couple turned to Twitter to tout their campaign to ban child slavery.

For a while, Kutcher was the most-followed Twitter user. He lost that title to Britney Spears in May 2010, and has since fell behind Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, President Barack Obama, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, Shakira, Taylor Swift and Rihanna.

More recently, Kutcher handed over management of his Twitter stream to Katalyst Group, which some people say is a big mistake. It’s unknown whether the company approved today’s divorce tweet, or whether it also manages his account.

Should Moore change her @MrsKutcher handle? Is the new Twitter? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: ashton kutcher, demi moore, Twitter

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Welcome, Baby Dovahkiin: Couple Name Child For Skyrim Hero, Win Games for Life

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 03:32 PM PST

Talk about a dragonborn. While most of the country’s gamers were entranced with Bethesda Softworks’ newest RPG blockbuster Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a couple actually named their newborn son after the game.

Back in February, Bethesda issued a challenge to its fans to have a baby on 11/11/11 and name it “Dovahkiin”, which is what the main character is called throughout the game. While the company issued it more in jest than anything else, they did offer a serious prize: “A Steam key that will grant you, and presumably Dovahkiin him/herself, every ZeniMax/Bethesda game — past, present and future — for life.”

“Once your child eventually achieves cognition — and grows old enough to play intense video games — we think it will agree that this key blows away a pink pleated onesie.”

Sure enough, Megan and Eric Kellermeyer answered the challenge, and on 11/11/11 at 6:08pm PST, Megan gave birth to Dovahkiin Tom Kellermeyer. The couple shared their blog post about the baby, sent in the necessary documents and won the coveted lifetime swag. The Bethesda team also has a picture of the infant surrounded by the first batch of his great gaming reward.

“Be it the real world or the game worlds we create, we wish young Dovahkiin the best in all his adventures,” the company says on their blog post.

More About: baby, bethesda, Gaming, skyrim, Xbox 360

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AT&T to Offer Smartphones for One Cent on Black Friday

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 02:47 PM PST

If wireless products are topping this year’s present wish lists, AT&T has you covered with a Thanksgiving weekend of promotions.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Black Friday, AT&T’s website deals page will unveil sales on touchscreen devices (yes, including tablets) with new gadget deals rolling out each day through Monday. The rest of the weekend features:

  • Saturday, Nov. 26 - All Windows 7 and certain Android devices are available for one cent.
  • Sunday, Nov. 27 – The BlackBerry 9860 is one cent and HTC’s Red Inspire is $30.
  • Monday, Nov. 28 - Select smartphones including the Motorola Atrix, Samsung Infuse, and HTC Inspire sell for one cent.

The deals come with a few strings; all require a two-year service plan, smartphones require AT&T voice and the minimum $15 monthly data plan, and messaging devices must be purchased with a minimum $20 monthly messaging plan.

Be sure to check out our Black Friday deal roundup page for more Black Friday deals.

More About: att, black friday, smartphones

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Please Turn On Your Cellphone: Fandango Embraces Mobile Movie Tickets

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 02:40 PM PST

popcorn image

Online movie ticket seller Fandango is letting customers use their phones as movie tickets just in time for the new Twilight movie: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1, which starts Friday.

Fandango’s “Mobile Ticket” feature will deliver purchased tickets to any phone as a 2D barcode. This code can then be scanned directly by the ticket taker. That’s right: No more printing paper at home or at kiosks, or waiting in line to claim tickets.

Mobile Ticket is launching at select Regal Theater screens across the country just in time for the release of Breaking Dawn. That us no coincidence. The movie currently represents an astonishing 94% of Fandango’s overall ticket sales and has sold out at more than 2,500 screens nationwide.

Mobile Ticket isn’t just about saving some paper, it’s a way for eager fans to skip queues and get into theaters more quickly. It’s a strategy aimed at blockbusters and other movies with huge demand: "Mobile Ticket will be in high demand tonight, helping Twilight fans get into the movie theater faster than ever," says Rick Butler, EVP and General Manager of Fandango.

It’s been a good year for Fandango in general. The company reported that overall ticket sales increased by 73% this year. Mobile has been a factor in that growth; 20% of Fandango’s summer sales were purchased through mobile devices and mobile now makes up more than 40% of Fandango’s traffic.

Fandango, owned by Comcast, has been trying to reinvent the ticket-buying process since its launch in 2005. It offered at-home ticket printing and reserved seating. Mobile Ticket is the next step in getting ticket-buying butts into movie theater seats.

Mobile Ticket won’t work at all theaters, so it’s best to check Fandango’s full list of participating theaters. These run the gamut from Reading Cinemas and Hollywood Theaters to smaller independent movie houses.

Image courtesy of Flickr, charamelody

More About: fandango, Mobile, movie, Tech

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Wacom Inkling Turns Sketches into Vectors — Should You Buy It? [REVIEW]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 02:07 PM PST

inkling image

When we first heard about Wacom’s new Inkling device we got excited: Imagine picking up a pen and paper, drawing whatever you want, and having it magically show up on your computer in a variety of formats. Add to that the ability to create new pages and layers on the fly and we were sold on the idea.

The big question was whether Wacom, which has come out with a variety of sketch-to-digital products, could deliver on its promises. Does the Inkling actually work?

The answer is a resounding and glorious: “Mostly.”

The Inkling is a beautiful device that delivers a remarkably smooth pen-and-ink-sketch-to-computer delivery system. Not only is it a handsome piece of hardware but it’s incredibly well thought-out. Both the pen and reader fit into a small plastic carrying case which also doubles as a charging station and image loading dock. The pen is comfortable in-hand and the controls on the reader are intuitive and make sense.

Where the Inkling falters is in its companion software, which is a maze of strange design choices and ugly drop-downs.

How do we know all this? Wacom sent us an Inkling to review and the Mashable staff put it to the test. This is our story.


inkling image

The Inkling starts as a compact package that includes the pen, matchbox-sized reader, charging case and even pen-tip replacements. Pop the pen out of the case and then the reader. The reader clips to the top of your drawing paper. Put it in the middle so it can read as much of the page as is possible.

A tap on one side of the reader pairs it with the pen (you know it’s working when the reader’s light shines green). Then you start drawing. Whatever you write on that piece of paper, the device will pick up. A tap on the right side of the receiver creates a new layer within your sketch–you can’t see it on paper, but you’ll be able to access those layers on your computer. The pen has a limited range, meaning most sketches will be limited to a standard A4 sheet of paper but it works like a dream within its functional range.

The device works by using ultrasonic, infrared and pressure sensitive metrics to keep track of where the pen is and how much pressure you use when you’re drawing. In fact, it’s entirely possible to still use the Inkling even if the pen runs out of ink. The receiver’s sensors, however, limit the Inkling’s versatility. Wacom warns against using the reader in direct light, which will hamper the IR sensors and any object blocking the reader will inhibit it from picking up the sensors contained in the pen’s tip. Plus, your hand has to be held high enough on the pen so that your fingers don’t slip down and block the sensors.

The fairly thick pen feels good in-hand. It uses a standard ball-point ink cartridge, which you’re stuck with using (no fountain tips or graphite, sorry).


Importing is where the Inkling slips up. The actual act of importing is easy enough. Plugging the reader into your computer will bring up a software install prompt. From then on, simply plugging in the device will automatically bring up the reader with all of your images. These images, though, are not persistent. If you open up the software when the device isn’t connected, your images won’t show up. This is because the sketches and information are all contained within the reader itself. The software is just a way of accessing the data in the hardware.

The images can be saved in a variety of formats including PNG, JPG, PDF, SVG and more. They can also be exported directly to Adobe Photoshop (although the latest version of Photoshop is required) or exported to Adobe Illustrator as vectors. The latter option lets you further manipulate the individual lines post-sketch.

The software lets you view your finished drawings or select specific layers (which can also be saved as individual images). There is also a neat video option which will replay your drawing as a time-lapse. While this feature may be more of a curiosity for the average user, it is an immensely helpful tool for professionals looking to either review their drawing process or share it with followers.

The software is fine but it's at serious odds with the elegance and ease of use of the Inkling’s hardware. For example, images have to be moved by using scroll bars, there’s no click-and-drag functionality. This may seem like a quibble but it’s immediately frustrating if you’re trying to move an image diagonally. The omission of simple and expected gestures show a lack of forethought when compared to the well-thought-out hardware it accompanies.

Does It Work?

Yeah, pretty much. The Inkling did a good job picking up fast and slow pen strokes and could register the pressure of the pen press. We did run into some problems with dropped lines, especially if the pen had been dormant for a while. Conversely, some lines turned out far darker in the finished product than in the pen sketch. This is a result of the pressure sensor being independent of the ink cartridge: If the ink stops flowing, the pen still thinks you’re drawing. This is different from similar devices such as Livescribe‘s line of pen-to-computer gadgets. Livescribe pens actually photograph the ink as it hits the paper and plots that based on tiny dots contained on its special paper. Where Livescribe uses paper as a set of axis to plot your drawing, Inkling uses the pen’s distance and pressure (with or without ink) to register your drawing.

Another minor gripe with the Inkling is that it’s difficult to register different line weights and thickness. The ballpoint pen turns out pretty uniform lines so don’t expect any dramatic calligraphic flourishes. The fidelity is pretty darn close, though the ink is obviously more nuanced than its digital counterpart.

Is It Worth It?

Most of the staff that tried the device said they would like to own the Inkling. At $199, however, it’s considerably more expensive than pen and paper. Serious illustrators no doubt already have more advanced drawing tools, and many choose to draw directly on digital devices, like their computers, Wacom’s own digitizing tablets and the Apple iPad. The Inkling is not meant to replace these, but is instead geared toward amateur sketchers who want to record on the go or visual thinkers looking to digitize all their (stubbornly) hand-made meeting notes.

The Skinny

If you can get someone to buy it for you, the Inkling will absolutely not let you down. It is a solid, well-designed device that, if you have the cash, might just get you putting more pen to digital paper.

Sketch in Inkling's Software

You can see the separate layers on the left. They can be turned on or off or highlighted with different colors for editing.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Gadgets, Tech

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Selena Gomez, Startup Investor [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 01:47 PM PST

Pop star Selena Gomez is now invested in more than just her music career and her romantic relationship with Justin Bieber. She just put a pile of cash into Postcard on the Run, a free app that creates photo postcards from your phone and mails them for you, as part of a $750,000 funding round.

“We joke about it a bit, but Selena and I talk about being in the business of memories,” Josh Brooks, CEO at Postcard on the Run and former Myspace executive, told Mashable Thursday. “Her investment in Postcard on the Run naturally fits into her tech savviness and her involvement showcases her forward thinking dedication to new media platforms.”

Gomez joins a handful of celebrity investors who have infused the tech world with their money (see gallery below). This is Gomez’s first tech investment, AllThingsD reports.

Brooks refused to disclose to Mashable how much of the $750,000 came from Gomez, instead detailing the round’s other investors: Crosscut Ventures, Mike Jones, Kamran Pourzanjani, Yves Sisteron, Aber Whitcomb, Brian Fitzgerald, Ryan Steelberg, Colin Digiaro, Brian Lee, Chris DeWolfe and Jarl Mohn.

The round closed last week. You can check out the Android app here and the iOS app here.

Other Celebrities Who Invest in Tech Startups

1. Lady Gaga

Startup Investments: Lady Gaga and fellow celebrity Kanye West invested $7.5 million in - a website that allows you to experience and discover music online with your friends. Users can rate music with their friends by clicking either the "Awesome" or "Lame" button, or become a DJ by spinning tunes with other DJs on the site.

Image courtesy of

Click here to view this gallery.

BONUS: How Postcard on the Run Works

The Android and iOS apps both came out around September. Since then, Postcard on the Run users now have the option to add scratch-and-sniff scents — such as suntan lotion, Christmas tree or holiday spice — to their postcards. Here’s how the app works:

Postcard on the Run

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: celebrities, Mobile, mobile apps, Postcard on the Run, Selena Gomez

Delete Your Fake Facebook Friends on National Unfriend Day [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 01:35 PM PST

Come on, everyone knows your hundreds (or tens, or maybe thousands) of Facebook friends aren’t always the same as your real friends. ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel says you should start deleting those folks you barely know.

Thursday marks the second annual “National Unfriend Day,” which Kimmel is sponsoring to encourage Facebook users to delete anyone who isn’t actually their friend. Kimmel says millions of Facebook friends were deleted during last year’s “National Unfriend Day.”

“Half of the the people in this country are on Facebook and many of those people have hundreds, if not thousands of friends,” Kimmel told the Jimmy Kimmel Live audience last week. “I find this unacceptable that no one has thousands of friends … If you have ten friends in your life then you’re doing very well.”

Kimmel may be a comedian, but he does have a point. Most of us are guilty of never actually speaking to the majority of our Facebook friends. We may have “friends” who pop up on our News Feed every so often, but we can’t seem to recall how or even if we know them.

So what do we do with these acquaintances, and in some cases, strangers? Kimmel’s advice: Cut anyone who isn’t actually your friend.

If you can’t decide whether to unfriend someone, check out this video to hear Kimmel’s point system that will help you decide who stays and who goes.

Will you unfriend your Facebook “friends” today? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Facebook, jimmy kimmel, trending

Yelp By the Numbers: 61 Million Visitors a Month, $58 Million Revenue

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 01:22 PM PST

Yelp opened the hood on its financial operations on Thursday, giving potential investors a look inside the company’s business.

In a prospectus filed with the SEC ahead of its planned IPO, Yelp revealed the company is not yet profitable, but has exhibited strong growth over the past year or so. Among the highlights:

  • Yelp had 22 million reviews on its network in September, an increase of 66% over the comparable period in 2010. The average review has more than 100 words.
  • The company’s website got 61 million unique visitors that month, up 63% over the year-ago period.
  • Five million mobile devices accessed Yelp in September.
  • There are 529,000 business locations that are on Yelp, up 114%.
  • The company posted $58.4 million in revenue for the first nine months of this year, up 80% over the comparable period in 2010.
  • Yelp posted a net loss of $7.6 million for that period.
  • The bulk of Yelp’s revenues — $40.3 million for the first nine months of 2010 — comes from local advertising. Another $12.7 million is from brand advertising, while the remainder — $5.4 million — is from “other services.” This includes the recently scaled back Yelp Deals offering.
  • Sales and marketing comprise $38.5 million of Yelp’s expenses.
  • Though the company warns it has “incurred significant operating losses in the past” and may not be able achieve or maintain profitability down the road, Yelp sees a strong opportunity in local advertising.

    The company cites figures from BIA/Kelsey stating that local online advertising was a $19.6 billion business in 2010 and there are 27 million local businesses in the U.S. The implication is that Yelp has plenty of opportunity in the market to scale up.

    Yelp cites a few factors in its favor, like the fact that online reviews are gaining credibility and that more local businesses are advertising online. The continuing adoption of mobile devices also benefits the company since so many mobile users are accessing Yelp to get reviews of local businesses on the fly.

    More About: Advertising, IPOs, Mobile, yelp

Can Occupy Wall Street Match the Tea Party’s Offline Effectiveness?

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 12:56 PM PST

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

Jesse Comart serves as a communications and public affairs consultant at the Glover Park Group (GPG). Before joining GPG, he worked on policy and communications issues for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Follow Jesse on Twitter at @jcomart.

People continue to compare the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and Tea Party movements. While both share many similarities, there remains a major distinction: OWS is a social media experiment that leverages grass roots support, but the Tea Party forged a grass roots movement that then leveraged social media. While this may seem like a trivial distinction, it's a crucial one. The Tea Party proved it could exist beyond online forums and localized protests from the get-go, while OWS has yet to clear that hurdle.

In the coming weeks, as police crack down on protesters from Oakland to New York, as the weather worsens and media interest fades, OWS faces a crossroads. Can the movement move beyond the confines of a digital campaign and make a real difference in the political and policy arena, or will it fall short and dissipate?

Already, OWS has proven that social media has enormous power to organize and publicize a movement. What began as a Twitter experiment by Canadian-based magazine Adbusters is now a daily news story. But its organizers still fail to form a coherent message, to accept large donations, to hold formal talks with political leaders, to fundraise for current progressive candidates, or to endorse their own political challengers.

A recent Boston Globe op-ed, aptly titled “The Still-Leaderless Revolution," notes that the movement "prides itself on its leaderless, consensus-driven approach." Right now, OWS is content to live online and through the sporadic protests across the country. That's perfectly acceptable, as long as they understand the limitations of such an approach. It remains that the U.S. political system still fails to recognize such digital clout.

Policy decisions are not made via social media — not yet, anyway. Recall that only three years ago the House and Senate Rules Committees authorized the posting of videos to YouTube, and even more recently that representatives sanctioned official Facebook and Twitter accounts. Certainly, most elected officials now employ social media, but few use it for anything besides a vehicle for pushing talking points and campaign announcements.

Leaders of the Tea Party understood the current disconnect between social media and policy, and devised different ways to ensure that its message would be seen by decision makers. The modern-day Tea Party gained traction in January 2009 (right around the time President Obama took the oath of office) with support from conservative bloggers and radio hosts. Almost immediately, long-time Republican politicians, fundraisers and third-party groups recognized the opportunity. Just two months after its inception, Tea Party organizers used Facebook pages to help coordinate the first wave of national protests, which called for lower taxes. They amassed between 250,000 and 500,000 people across 200 cities. The Tea Party used digital media again in the summer of 2009, when activists stormed town halls across the country to protest President Obama's health care reform. They strategized by narrowly focusing each digital media campaign around a specific issue.

The group continued to evolve. Just seven months after its inception, The Tea Party played a major role in the congressional race for New York's 23rd District. The special election should have been an easy victory for the Republican nominee, but when the Tea Party endorsed a third party (The Conservative Party), it changed the race completely. While the win ultimately fell to Democrats, it became clear that Tea Party influence was capable of extending beyond a local protest or online rant.

Three months later the Tea Party endorsed then-Republican candidate for Senate, Scott Brown – and claimed its first victory. The Massachusetts Senate race was more than just a validation for the Tea Party; it was a blueprint for how to transform a grass roots campaign into a national presence. Critics may question the real influence of the 60-plus members in the Tea Party Caucus, citing that they have done little to change the broader course of the 112th Congress. Regardless of how many bills Tea Party representatives author or coalitions they build, the point is that the Tea Party organizers understood the American political system – specifically, when to use social media and when to move beyond it.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, on the other hand, has a long way to go before having any hope of transforming its broad principles into actionable policies. If the protests are disbanded, the movement will have a tremendous opportunity: It will no longer be judged by the number of "occupiers" in a park, but by its ideals. In order for those ideals to grow into real reforms, however, OWS must be able to present a political leader or suggest specific public policy — and mobilize digital media to do so. Otherwise, six months from now, we'll be wondering, "Does #OccupyWallStreet still exist?"

Images courtesy of Flickr, Brennan Cavanaugh, Saint Huck

More About: contributor, features, Opinion, ows, Politics, social media strategy, tea party

The Importance of Being Awesome [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 12:39 PM PST

In order to capture the audience’s attention after lunch at the Mashable Media Summit, Faris Yakob, chief innovation officer of MDC Partners’ kbs+p and founding partner of Spies & Assassins, had to be awesome. Yakob is trying to do so at the intersection of technology, business, behavior and culture.

The future, according to Yakob, “belongs to the most awesome because we are in a stage of transition, where human interpersonal networks are going to substitute or supplement commercial broadcast networks.”

SEE ALSO: 6 Ways to Be More Persuasive With Social Media

From art and copy to arduinos and code, Yakob talks about how and why the most shared and spreadable content in media wins.

The Mashable Media Summit in Pictures

Media Summit 2011

The Mashable Media Summit on Nov. 4 at the Times Center in New York City attracted professionals in digital, tech, advertising, sales, marketing, mobile and publishing from all over the world.

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Presenting Sponsor: AT&T

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BREAKING: Yelp Files for IPO

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 12:17 PM PST

Yelp, the popular local reviews service, has filed for a 2012 IPO that could raise approximately $100 million for the company.

Yelp has been preparing for its IPO for a while now, ever since it rejected a $500 million acquisition offer from Google in early 2010. The IPO could value the company north of $2 billion.

According to the company’s SEC filing, Yelp has more than 22 million reviews, 61 million monthly unique visitors and 529,000 business pages claimed.

Yelp earned approximately $12.1 million in revenue in 2008 and doubled to $25.8 million in 2009. In the first nine months of 2011, the company generated $58.4 million in revenue. However, the company is still not profitable. It lost $7.6 million in the first nine months of 2011, a bit less than the $8.5 million it lost during the first nine months of 2010.

Most of Yelp’s income comes from local advertising, followed by brand advertsiing and “other services” such as Yelp Deals, partnerships and remnant advertising inventory. In the first nine months of 2011, Yelp generated $40.3 million in local advertising revenues, $12.7 million in brand advertising and $5.4 million from other services.

Yelp’s largest owners are Bessemer Venture Partners, which owns 22.5% of the company, and Elevant Partners, which owns 22.4%. Benchmark Capital owns 16.2% of the company. Max Levchin, the first investor in Yelp, a board member of the company and co-founder of PayPal and Slide, owns 13.8%. Co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman owns 11.1% of Yelp’s outstanding shares.

Yelp faces both a volatile market and stiff competition from Google and other giant players. Internet IPOs are still hot though, as Groupon, LinkedIn and Angie’s List have proven in recent months. We’re still combing through the paperwork, and we’ll let you know what else we find.

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Flipboard Upgrade Brings Tumblr and 500px Support

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 12:08 PM PST

Flipboard Gets More Personalized, Plus Adds Tumblr And 500px Support

Flipboard, the popular news app for iPad, has announced big changes as part of its Version 1.6 update. The free app now includes Tumblr and 500px integration as well as new syncing tools.

Like the Zite did last month, Flipboard now lets families and friends who share an iPad get their own personalized news information using separate app logins. 

To do so, users must signup for a free Flipboard account using a link on the first page of the app. This login will also soon be used with the Flipboard for iPhone app, which is expected in the App Store soon. As such, users will be able to sync their account across both iDevices.

Meanwhile, Tumblr and 500px users are now able to access their respective accounts directly from Flipboard. For Tumblr customers, this means opening Your Dashboard and Posts You Like. In addition, your blogs, people you follow and people following you are also available. With 500px, the new photo-sharing service, users may access their photo streams as well as photos from other 500px users.

More About: 500px, Flipboard, tumblr

Jetpacks Finally Go on Sale…for $100,000 [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 12:07 PM PST

For years, comedians and commentators have bemoaned the fact that jetpacks, as imagined in 1950s sci-fi movies, never materialized.

As of spring 2012, though, the dream will become a reality — if you have $100,000 to spend, that is. A Dania Beach, Fla., company called JetLev will begin shipping its water-powered JetLev R200 early next year, according to the company’s website. The suggested retail price: $99,500.

JetLev claims the R200 will propel you to a height of 30 feet (the hose is 33 feet long) at a top speed of 25 mph. As noted in the video, the pack is powered by a 200 hp engine that pumps water through a 10-meter hose at 1,000 gallons per minute, generating more than 420 lbs. of thrust. The company claims you can fly around in your jetpack for hours, thanks to a 22-gallon fuel capacity.

The item comes in red, black and white, and additional colors are available for an extra $3,500.

JetLev is not the only company working on a jetpack. Martin Aviation is working on what it calls “the world’s first practical jetpack.” In May, the Martin Jetpack soared to a height of 5,000 feet in a test flight in New Zealand.

While the promotional video paints a nice picture, jetpacks don’t always work as promised. The second video below highlights a jetpack fail that made the rounds this past summer.

Are you ready for a jetpack? Let us know in the comments.

Jetlev -- How It Works

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More About: aviation, Gadgets, jetpack

3 Ways To Keep Cause Marketing Authentic

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 11:50 AM PST

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.

Within the past few years, cause marketing has seen a dramatic increase in impact among consumers around the world. According to a study on corporate responsibility (CR) conducted by Cone Communications and Echo Research, roughly half of consumers are more likely to purchase a company's products if they outwardly support a global issue that the consumer cares about most, and one in three would want to engage with the company beyond the purchase (like donate money or volunteer with the company).

However, it's not as simple as slapping a charity sticker on a product and calling it a day. About 93% of consumers are prepared to boycott a company for irresponsibility, an inauthentic cause marketing campaign, and 56% are already boycotting products for that reason. In order to tap into the cause marketing sphere, a company cannot just talk the talk; there must be specific and clear actions that show consumers a change is in effect.

With commentary from Mitch Baranowski, co-founder of B Corp-certified marketing company BBMG, and Brooke Golden, director of Luna Brand Team at Luna Bar, here are three ways that a company can keep its cause marketing campaign authentic.

Is there a certain cause marketing campaign that feels truly dedicated to the issue? Or, do you know of one that reeks of greenwashing? Let us know in the comments below.

1. Check Your Alignment

In October 2010, KFC unveiled pink-tinted buckets in a partnership with the Susan G. Komen Foundation in honor of breast cancer awareness month. With each "Bucket for the Cure" sold, 50 cents of the proceeds would go to the foundation and add to the overall goal of $8.5 million. While the campaign raised $2 million in sales its first week, many breast cancer supporters were outraged at the partnership and claimed it encouraged consumption of the fatty fried chicken in support of the cure. Many advocates also signed a petition for the "What the Cluck?”campaign to encourage Komen to drop the partnership.

So what went wrong for Komen and KFC? A key point in presenting authentic cause marketing is alignment; that means ensuring that a product is 100% in line with a non-profit or charity's philosophy. If it's not, the campaign can be read as greenwashing (or, in this case, pinkwashing).

“The additional obligation for cause marketing is that you have to establish calls to action and measures of success," Baranowski says. "This can't be about generating buzz and brand reputation, it's about advancing the issue or battle at hand."

Alignment is also necessary if a celebrity face is involved for the campaign. Just as cancer-survivor Lance Armstrong advocating for the cure makes a positive impact, a celebrity convicted for domestic violence advocating for a battered women's shelter can have a negative impact on not only the campaign, but the company as well.

"You want someone who can be seen or support an issue, but you want someone who won't create a crisis," Baranowski explains.

2. Be Upfront About the Terms of Your Partnership

Whether it's for a month, a year or longer, it's key to keep in mind exactly what kind of cause marketing relationship a company should have with its non-profit or charity, and to plan accordingly. Communication about this specific detail is essential, as it helps consumers understand the nature of the partnership and why they should participate to help support the issue.

Cause marketing, says Golden, is a lot like matchmaking: It's important to not only align a company's goals with a non-profit’s core competency, but also to clearly outline exactly what the relationship is. Luna's long-term cause marketing to benefit the prevention-oriented Breast Cancer Fund began 11 years ago, after founder and CEO Gary Erickson's mother was diagnosed with the disease. For a health bar designed specifically for women, Golden says it's important for the brand to fight against an ailment that affects so many of its consumers.

"It came out organically, and we were having a parallel path in our business philosophy, and our partnership — now almost 12 years old — has become a way of work," Golden adds.

The company's long-term partnership with the Breast Cancer Fund, which equally addresses awareness and fundraising, is so integral to the company that a separate marketing team is staffed by Luna to keep the partnership on track. Every Luna bar carries the the Breast Cancer Fund logo, and 1% of all proceeds go to the Breast Cancer Fund and other company causes.

Understanding the type and level of commitment your company is willing to make to a cause makes it easier to communicate with consumers who are interested in helping. That clarity will help build consumer trust.

3. Don’t Be a One-Trick Pony

Another way to show authenticity is to repeatedly engage with the cause in varying ways. One-note programs can bore casual consumers and prevent potential volunteers from finding a deeper way to get involved. Luna's partnership with the Breast Cancer Fund goes beyond the bar to reach out to consumers and get their message across.

The company's biggest alternative program is LunaFest, a nationwide short film series that donates 100% of its proceeds to charity. Luna markets LunaFest as a "charity in a box," allowing consumers to get involved and either donate 100% of the funds to the Breast Cancer Fund or split it with another (often local) cause. Since its premiere in 2000, LunaFest has raised $1.2 million for more than 600 charities.

"We provide different [levels of] engagement for people, from buying a bar and learning about the cause … to running their own LunaFest and giving back to their community," Golden says.

Luna also runs Team Luna Chix, a program that encourages women to get active in sports while also raising money for the Breast Cancer Fund. With a community of professional athletes who raise awareness and a network of local teams who fundraise for the Breast Cancer Fund, Luna has been able to get out its pro-activity message out to women while raising $355,000 to benefit the Breast Cancer Fund.

Making multiple and varying connections and programs to the cause shows consumers that the brand is committed to the cause and interested in turning ordinary people into activists.

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, IvelinRadkov

More About: campaigns, causes, Commerce With a Conscience Series, features, Marketing, mashable, Social Good

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Police Raid Occupy Wall Street Day of Action [VIDEO]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 11:45 AM PST

Violence escalated this afternoon in Zuccotti Park after protesters called for a Global Day of Action at all Occupy protests Nov. 17, marking two months since the beginning of the movement.

Dozens have been arrested after protesters attempted to storm the New York Stock Exchange and nearby banks. Police have since closed off the park for entry and exit.

Protesters have announced plans to storm 16 subway stations at 3 p.m.

GlobalRevolution is streaming live video (embedded above) from demonstrations across the country. The stream is narrated by the different journalists shooting in the field.

SEE ALSO: How Occupy Wall Street Is Building Its Own Internet [VIDEO]

Online video footage, through YouTube and other channels, has enabled documentation of the protests to spread across the Internet.

Who are you following for breaking news of the protests?

Earlier this week, when protesters were removed from the park, many took to Twitter to narrate the events. You can view some of them below:

#OWS End Right Now

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More About: livestream, Occupy Wall Street

Google Has the Most-Followed Brand Page on Google+ [STUDY]

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 11:13 AM PST

The brand with the biggest following on Google+ appears to be … Google.

The finding came out of a study from BrightEdge, which discovered that 61 of the top 100 global brands had a Google+ page the week after Google let companies create a presence on the social network. The list of the top 100 brands was based on Millward Brown’s “Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Brands” chart.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Google had the most-followed brand page on Google+, of the top 100 brands at least, with 65,000 followers at the time of the study. But high-profile brands like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Verizon only had dozens of followers. Collectively, the top 100 brands had just 148,000 followers.

The contrast with Facebook, which has allowed brands to create Pages on its network for years, was stark. Ninety-four percent of the top 100 had a Facebook presence and 53% display a link to their Facebook Page on their homepage, the study found. Just 12% had a link on their homepage to their Google+ page. The only brand with neither a Google+ page nor a Facebook Page was Marlboro.

SEE ALSO: Google+ Brand Pages vs. Facebook Fan Pages | How to Set Up a Google+ Brand Page

Even if a brand keeps a relatively low profile on Google+, BrightEdge reports that the SEO benefits are considerable: Google+ pages on average appeared in the top 12 Google search results for the corresponding brand. The brand's Facebook pages showed up on the the top 13 or 14 listed results.

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How Transmedia Storytelling Is Changing TV

Posted: 17 Nov 2011 11:03 AM PST

Lisa Hsia is Executive Vice President of Bravo Digital Media.

Until now, media companies have focused on getting audiences to watch shows "live" via a TV set, where the bulk of advertising dollars are.

But transmedia storytelling — which is defined as telling a story that extends across multiple media platforms (for television, it’s going beyond the on-air show) — has the ability to upend that. "Transmedia" is one of those hot buzz words du jour, with conferences, articles and trend reports devoted to it. Yet it's not a new concept. Star Wars, The Matrix, Dr. Who and Pokeman all expanded beyond their core franchise decades ago — to games, books and alternative realities.

SEE ALSO: The Future of Social TV [VIDEO]

In today's digital era, there are new factors at play that make transmedia a potentially potent game-changer for how TV content is created. Think about it:

Social TV has made television a richer two-way experience with fan participation. Nielsen's own research shows how social TV amplifies the conversation and impacts ratings. Technology has created tools that allow the user to interact and gamify content as never before (location-based, virtual goods, augmented reality, QR codes, etc). Fans' familiarity with and desire to experience TV content across devices other than TV has exploded.

The ability to efficiently create affordable, participatory storytelling vehicles that go beyond being "bonus extras" and spreading it through different circulation channels is changing the rules and creating a potential value proposition too big to ignore. As the forefather of transmedia storytelling, USC Professor Henry Jenkins, likes to say, "If it doesn't spread, it's dead."

Beyond the Second Screen

Taking advantage of this new reality is imperative for my network, both from an engagement and value perspective. We see transmedia storytelling as our next must-do in the evolution of TV, and have recently delved into our first campaign with the show Top Chef.

As contestants are eliminated, they discover their journey isn't over. Instead of going home, they will have a chance to compete in a companion digital series that will roll out each week after the on-air episode premieres. These online shows will give the eliminated contestants a chance to earn their way back into the broadcast finale. The digital series will directly impact the outcome of the on-air show.

To experience the full dynamic of the competition, fans will be enticed to watch both TV and digital platforms. Our aim is to appeal to the Top Chef enthusiast with the deeper, more meaningful content they crave, as well as create discoverable online content that will pull casual fans into the fold.

The goal is to flow content from platform to platform and to bring in the fans along the way — both the diehard and the casual. This is something that has not been possible until the scaled adoption of smartphones, tablets, social networks and gamification tools like Bunchball and GetGlue.

By unifying elements with the common goal of driving engagement around this transmedia centerpiece, we're setting out to prove that all metrics — ratings, traffic, and social buzz — will lift. We are not only trying to increase the value of the proposition in terms of engagement, but also in terms of ROI for our long-term sponsors.

If we can prove that engagement and value is increased exponentially by integrating storytelling seamlessly across media platforms, we all win — fans, content creators, advertisers. My department at Bravo will no longer be “digital,” but official “multiplatform enablers” that are seamlessly porting storytelling content wherever it best fits and wherever the best value proposition is derived from.

More Innovation Ahead

TV is on the cusp of a transmedia revolution, and there are many interesting experiments in the works.

Syfy has a show coming out called Defiance where a story is told on TV and in a video game: different cities with shared characters and events.

Tim Kring, one of the modern day pioneers of transmedia with his work on Heroes and Conspiracy for Good, is producing Touch for 2012. Here's hoping that Fox embraces his rabble-rousing transmedia tendencies.

The next, as yet unachieved milestone in transmedia is collaborative social storytelling, where fans themselves can further the plot in a pervasive, meaningful way. Smart media companies will look for ways to go beyond the “walled garden” model and turn their fans into ultimate brand ambassadors.

Whether transmedia is the new norm is still to be determined, but one can easily make the case that in today's fragmented media landscape, it will be a must for TV to survive. Perhaps the future of TV isn't either traditional television or digital platforms, but in collective intelligence — the feedback loop of the in-between.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mgkaya

More About: contributor, features, Media, social tv, transmedia, TV

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