Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google Celebrates Charles Dickens’s 200th Birthday”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Google Celebrates Charles Dickens’s 200th Birthday”

Google Celebrates Charles Dickens’s 200th Birthday

Posted: 07 Feb 2012 01:38 AM PST

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of writer Charles Dickens.

Born on Feb. 7 1812 in Landport, England, Charles John Huffam Dickens grew in tough, working-class conditions. At age 12, after his father was thrown into a debtors' prison, he was forced to work at a blacking factory.

This experience later influenced many of his famous novels, including Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Great Expectations.

Starting his career as a journalist, Dickens eventually started writing literary prose, which was published in monthly installments before being released as books.

His realistic portray of England’s lower-class life made him one of the greatest Victorian novelists and one of the most recognizable names in literature.

Dickens was also a philanthropist; together with Angela Burdett Coutts he founded the Urania Cottage, a home for “fallen” women, helping them learn to read and write.

Dickens died from the consequences of a stroke in his home on June 8, 1870. His last words were, reportedly, “Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.”

Bonus Gallery: Top 10 animated Google Doodles:

The Christmas Google Doodle

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

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Charles Dickens, Google, google doodle

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Press Page Generator Hopes to Solve Startups’ Media Problems

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 09:06 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.

Reach Your AudienceName: Totem

Quick Pitch: Totem — a press pages generator — displays company accomplishments and social facets in one place, cutting out rigorous searches for PR information.

Genius Idea: Totem wants to bridge small businesses and media outlets by providing both parties with a better initial experience with each other.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

In a world where company “About Us” pages are typically meager and PR contacts are about impossible to find, Totem stands to help spread good news.

Think of Totem as LinkedIn for companies — instead of laying out the amazing accomplishments of one individual, you are laying out what’s great about your company. Most importantly, Totem lays out all the pieces of information a reporter would need to put together a great story about the company.

Free and premium accounts allow for a standalone website. Premium accounts come with a customizable sub-domain name, such as press.YourCompanyName.com. Premium accounts allow for more customization and branding opportunities for the company.

“Most press pages suck. The press and influencers are your earliest and most important audience. Yet, they are served so poorly,” says CEO and co-founder Josh Jones-Dilworth.

Jones-Dilworth, founder of his own PR and marketing consulting firm, says Totem was created with a “scratch your own itch” mentality. He recalls helping early-stage tech companies with PR endeavors.

Most businesses Jones-Dilworth worked with had no press information online or websites, which made finding logos, videos and bios very hard to find. It was “confounding” to him.

The media is likely to talk to someone else or feature another company because of a lack of an online track record, recent press or contact information.

Totem was created two years ago in Austin, Texas. It offers press page templates that are beautiful and simple, so that updating information will not take a tech genius. Members of a company can collaborate and contribute to the making of a press page.

In the template, there’s room for press contacts, general information and items journalists often ask for — staff bios, headshots, logos, screenshots and videos.

Totem Example Page

“It is absolutely for small businesses and startups. They are the people that get the primary benefits,” he said. “If the press loves Totem, it’s serving target market.”

Like a great business card handed out at parties, Totem shows off recent press articles, achievements and details that company websites usually leave out — physical address, number of employees, founded date and direct press contacts all in one place.

“I think that a best case is to have homepage focused on users and a press page all about press,” Jones-Dilworth says. “Most totem users go from no press page to having a great press page.”

The Totem team hopes to help at least 100,000 small businesses create press pages and improve their visibility by the end of the year. Though, they note there are millions of startups that don’t have utilize a press page.

The development of Totem started two years ago with seed money saved up and chipped in by friends, family and colleagues. The Totem team is proud of making such an elegant, simple product with about $150,000.

Totem is completely free to use because creators want as many people using it as possible.

“This is really about getting people off the sidelines and into game,” Jones-Dilworth says, hoping the millions of startups he sees without press pages online will begin to get company information out on the digital social sphere.

Image Courtesy of Flickr, loop_oh.

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, Business, press, Social Media, startup

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The Top 15 Tweets-Per-Second Records

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 08:33 PM PST

1. Castle in the Sky on TV

Anime movie Laputa: Castle in the Sky was televised in Japan on Dec. 9, 2011. The movie was made in 1989 by famed director Hayou Miyazaki, who also directed Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.

During one point in televised broadcast in 2011, viewers joined forces, sending tweets at the same time to symbolically help the movie's characters cast a spell.

Data compiled by Brian Anthony Hernandez; gallery created by Chelsea Stark.

Image courtesy of che_fox, Flickr.

Click here to view this gallery.

Twitter records continue to fall left and right as more and more people — 100 million active users at last count — continue to flock onto the microblogging service every month. Half of those users log in every day to get their 140-characters-or-less dose of tweets.

The records they tend to break most frequently are the top tweets-per-second moments, many of which involve sports, entertainment or Japan.

The number one simultaneously tweeted event, by far, is the televised showing of 25-year-old anime movie Castle in the Sky (watch the trailer below) when it broadcast in Japan on Dec. 9, 2011. During one point in the TV broadcast, viewers joined forces, sending tweets at the same time to symbolically help the movie’s characters cast a spell. They sent 25,088 tweets in one second.

Castle in the Sky dethroned Beyonce’s MTV Video Music Awards pregnancy revelation. On Aug. 28, 2011, Beyonce sang, "I want you to feel the love that's growing inside me," confirming she and husband, Jay-Z, would be having a baby. At the end of the song, she dropped her mic, unbuttoned her top and rubbed her baby bump. Blue Ivy was born Jan. 7 and immediately made a vocal cameo in Jay-Z’s song "Glory."

SEE ALSO: 25 Tips and Tricks for Savvy Twitter Users | 10 Best Spoof Twitter Accounts

The MTV moment is now number five on the tweets-per-second list, having fallen behind three sports-related incidents. Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime on Jan. 8, 2012, pushed Beyonce down the list first.

Then, on Feb. 5, 2012, two Super Bowl moments slipped into the number two and three slots: Twitter reaction reached 12,233 tweets per second at the end of the Giants vs. Patriots game and 10,245 TPS during Madonna's halftime performance. Last year’s most-tweeted moment at the Super Bowl hit 4,064 TPS.

The recent additions bumped off newsworthy events from 2011, including an earthquake on the U.S.’s East Coast in August, the raid on Osama bin Laden in May, the MLB Home Run Derby in July, the Super Bowl in February and the UK Royal wedding in April.

Which moments are you surprised to see in our top 15 ranking? Sound off in the comments.

More About: apple, beyonce, celebrities, court, Entertainment, features, football, japan, jay-z, lebron james, madonna, Music, soccer, Social Media, sports, steve jobs, Super Bowl, trending, Twitter

20 TV Shows With the Most Social Media Buzz This Week [CHART]

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 07:55 PM PST

It should come as no surprise which television event topped the charts in terms of social chatter. If you guessed The Voice, you’re fired. That’s right, the 2012 Super Bowl earned a record 111.3 million American viewers this time around. Not surprisingly, that led to 17 million social media activities, according to Trendrr’s latest social TV research.

Even though it seems as many people cared about Madonna as they did football, social media users turned out by the millions to tweet each New York Giants interception and New England Patriot blitz. And we know from watching the streams that M.I.A.’s middle finger caused quite the social stir as well.

SEE ALSO: Super Bowl 2012 Commercials: Watch Them All Here

And if you weren’t that concerned about the Super Bowl this year, not to worry. The Voice still made the cut…barely.

The data below is compliments of our friends at Trendrr, who measure specific TV show activity (mentions, likes, checkins) across Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue and Miso. To see daily rankings, check out Trendrr.TV.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, narvikk

More About: features, Social Media, social tv, social tv charts, Trendrr, TV

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Netflix Launches First Original Series, ‘Lillyhammer’ [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 07:07 PM PST

Netflix has launched its first original series, Lillyhammer. The series stars Steven Van Zandt as a New York gangster who finds himself living in Norway as part of the witness protection program.

Rather than rolling out episodes individually, all eights episodes from the first season are available now.

In addition to Lillyhammer, Netflix is planning to roll out more original series over the next twelve months. House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, is expected to launch in the fourth quarter, while season 4 of Arrested Development is planned for early 2013.

Netflix’s push for original programming comes as the service is facing a myriad of challenges. The company faces increased competition, and it’s not just Amazon and Hulu Plus.

On Monday, Verizon and Redbox announced that they were partnering to bring streaming content to users. Dish Network is also pursuing the subscription streaming market with its Blockbuster add-on service.

Meanwhile, content owners continue to increase their licensing rates, putting Netflix and other licensees in an unenviable position. Some content providers are choosing to eschew Netflix altogether, instead offering their own digital streaming offerings a la HBO Go and other TV Everywhere initiatives.

For those reasons, Netflix sees original programming as one way to win the content battle.

What do you think of Lillyhammer? Does Netflix have what it takes to cultivate top-rate original programming? Let us know in the comments.

More About: lillyhammer, mashable video, netflix, Newsy, subscription streaming, tv everywhere

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Brand or Celeb? Social Media Shows Who Super Bowl Ads Helped Most

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 06:34 PM PST

Social media analytics provided to Mashable show which endorsers — and endorsees — won biggest on Super Bowl Sunday.

Getting a celebrity to shill products during the game’s valuable advertising time can do wonders to imprint a brand in consumer consciousness. But that plan can also backfire, with the celebrities themselves overshadowing the products they promote.

Overall, David Beckham dominated Super Bowl XLVI. More than 85,000 tweets mentioned him over the course of the game, according to Simply Measured. But the Beckham-in-his-undies ad helped clothing retailer H&M, too.

According to Networked Insights, the soccer player gained four times as much of the conversation on Twitter and Facebook as H&M. But his presence still pushed the brand into the eighth slot of most talked about companies on the two social networks during Super Bowl Sunday.

John Stamos also gained four times more of the conversation than the brand he endorsed, Dannon yogurt. But unlike H&M, Dannon wasn’t able to parlay that into a significant share of the online discussion, finishing outside the top 10 according to Networked Insights.

Supermodel Adriana Lima did especially well for herself when she appeared in ads for Kia and Teleflora during the game. Lima gained about 7% of the celebrity ad conversation, according to Networked Insights, and the reaction on Facebook and Twitter was overwhelmingly positive.

But her buzz did not translate into major boosts in sentiment for either of the companies she endorsed. According to NetBase, Kia’s rate of positive mentions increased by just 0.1% on Super Bowl Sunday compared to normal, and there was actually a relative dip of 1.2% in positive mentions for Teleflora.

Interestingly, the three brands that grabbed the largest share of the advertising conversation were Doritos, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser and Bud Light counted as one, according to Networked Insights. None of those companies hired major celebrities, but all did feature animals in one ad or another.

Do you think it’s worth it for brands to shell out big bucks for major celebrities in their Super Bowl ads? Or are there better ways to make a splash? Let us know in the comments.

BONUS GALLERY: Watch Every Super Bowl XLVI Ad Here

Phone Innovators: Official 2012 Best Buy Game Day Commercial

Watch as phone innovation meets phone-buying innovation, at Best Buy. Choose Phone Freedom and get any phone, any carrier, and all of their plans, with lots of unbiased advice. Reserve a $50 gift card at http://www.bestbuy.com/phonefreedom now for your next upgrade.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Advertising, Facebook, Super Bowl XLVI, Twitter

How Digital Tools Help Companies Offer Better Health Care

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 06:10 PM PST

Kevin Wildenhaus, Ph.D., is director of science and innovation at Wellness & Prevention, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company. Dr. Wildenhaus is a clinical psychologist specializing in health behavior change and practical, effective health intervention programs.

Health risk assessment (HRA) is continually evolving to meet the ever-changing demands of the health care industry. It began humbly as a simple data collection tool, but evolved to become a predictor of an individual's health perceptions, attitudes and motivations.

The new generation of HRAs is poised to help transform the way we do business. Soon HRAs will not only be delivered more efficiently, but they’ll provide users with fresh, relevant feedback. Sound hard to believe? A brief look at the evolution of HRAs explains why many organizations now view the HRA through a new, more strategic lens, and how today’s innovative companies plan to leverage this powerful tool.

History of Health Risk Assessment

The concept of the HRA dates back to the 1940s, when Dr. Lewis C. Robbins came up with the idea that a patient's health risks might guide the physician in preventative treatments. In 1980 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a public version, and thus recognized the many benefits that health risk awareness, education and prevention could have on the population. Businesses, employers and health plans took notice of the value too.

The history of the HRA can be summarized in two distinct generations.

  • First Generation – Classical Epidemiology (1970 – 1995): HRAs identified health risks in order to reduce the occurrence of illness, injury and premature death. Individual reports focused on a "risk age," an assigned age for the participant based on his health risks and conditions, which used data all the way back from the 1948 Framingham study.
  • Second Generation – Motivation and Self-Efficacy (1995 – 2010): As the HRA and its data became more sophisticated, the ability to create behavior change became a significant challenge. During this generation, behavioral science models like the Transtheoretical Model and Motivational Interviewing helped motivate the individual and build self-confidence.

Today’s HRAs

Today's HRAs use digital technology to individually tailor health assessments, findings and feedback. And advances in behavioral science are unlocking the secrets to motivation and sustained behavior change.

Research shows that tailoring interventions to the individual's motivations and readiness to change are the most effective ways to create behavior change (Burbank et al., 2000). Evolving computer algorithms are improving HRA feedback by incorporating various behavior change models. As a result, today's HRAs focus more on the individual's motivation, self-efficacy, attitudes and beliefs about health.

Consequently, HRA feedback now incorporates proven clinical strategies to increase the individual's perceived control over his behavior, provides action plans to address risks, and reinforces the fact that behavior change is ultimately up to the individual. These evolving algorithms prompt interactive or "smart" questionnaires that adapt based on the individual's previous answers, and thereby create a more personalized, efficient and relevant plan of action.

Online assessment has many benefits, including lower administration cost and an enhanced sense of privacy, confidentiality and anonymity. Evidence shows that online HRAs are associated with greater response honesty and accuracy when compared to face-to-face, telephone or traditional pen-and-paper administration. This medium also allows for a more open evaluation of the individual's behaviors and permits feedback in a neutral and non-judgmental manner (Pealer et al., 2001).

Online technology also allows for real-time HRA feedback, providing an individual with immediate and personalized support, information and access to tailored online interventions that have been clinically proven to change behavior and lower risk. Further, digital technology allows for greater scalability and improved health access for the broader population.

  • Individuals can complete assessments and receive feedback at their convenience, with 24/7 access to information, tools and resources.
  • Family members and dependents can also participate, exponentially increasing the reach of the program.
  • Individuals can access online resources about a specific condition or behavior, as well as track programs that aid behavior change (e.g. food and pain diaries).
  • The web is a natural conduit to online digital health coaching programs that help the participant address lifestyle, behavioral health and/or chronic condition risk factors identified in the HRA.
  • Participants can receive reminder or follow-up emails and tailored text messages that encourage and support them to implement or continue behavior change. Ongoing evaluation of the efficacy of a health and wellness solution can be completed conveniently via the web.

The Future of HRAs

In the future, we’ll see increased access to HRAs via the Internet and mobile devices. Next generation HRAs will include:

  • Stronger ability to forge a connection between good health and achieving an individual’s life missions.
  • Better use of quick, effective sessions or interventions, especially with the increased use of video for today’s YouTube generation.
  • Mobile HRA delivery options, especially important for multinational employers and international populations.
  • Increased use of health-related mobile applications that conduct real-time assessments, mini interventions and behavioral or habit-based action steps.
  • Stronger data integration capabilities with care management systems, including delivery of key psychosocial information to health care providers. Ideally this communication will improve empathy, trust and rapport, as well as improve clinical efficiency.

Where Do We Go from Here?

Today, organizations realize that the HRA itself is more than a simple data collection instrument — it has become a strategic tool to help support employee behavior change. Employers recognize the value of HRA aggregate data, and its ability to provide insights into the specific health issues and risks of employee populations. HRAs help employees make smart choices about how to allocate their limited resources for health and wellness. Health plans will utilize the rich data from HRAs (that traditional claims and lab data can't provide) to empower nurses, health coaches and clinicians to drive better health outcomes for their members.

Employers today are seeing the value of HRAs, but sometimes are not sure how to evaluate these products. To help, I have listed 10 components necessary for effective health risk assessment.

  1. Multi-modal delivery capabilities that augment web-based delivery with print, telephone and IVR administration options to meet the needs of diverse employee populations in multiple locations.
  2. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) certification to assure the purchaser that the HRA meets industry standards.
  3. Individually tailored action plans to aid each unique employee in his pursuit of health and wellness.
  4. Biometric uploading and pre-population of data for seamless integration, improved accuracy and employee convenience.
  5. Assessment of productivity impairment to help employers determine key health barriers that would lead to absenteeism, and thus, affect the bottom line.
  6. Focus on assessing behavioral health issues like insomnia, stress and depression, which are often under the radar, yet cause significant health care costs, disability claims and productivity impairment.
  7. Cutting edge participation and engagement strategies to improve employee involvement and help them get the most bang for their buck.
  8. Annual population health comparison reports to evaluate the impact of your health and wellness initiatives over time, and to identify key issues for strategic health initiatives.
  9. Immediate linkage from HRA to health coaching programs that immediately connect employees to proven interventions for healthy lifestyle, behavioral health and chronic conditions.
  10. Strong science with peer-reviewed publications that demonstrates the value and impact to employers that implement these HRAs and associated health and wellness solutions.

In summary, the HRA is in the national spotlight. A new generation of HRAs now offers better technology, science, comprehensiveness and employee access. So, determine whether your organization is ready to take advantages of these advances.

How are you using HRAs today? Do they meet the criteria demanded by today's competitive business world and health care climate?

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Lisa-Blue, Flickr, Charles Williams

More About: Business, contributor, features, health, medical

20 Best (or Most Annoying) Animated Super Bowl GIFs

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 05:30 PM PST

The Butt Touchdown

Photo from Tumblr.

Click here to view this gallery.

Are you ready for some GIF-ball?

That’s right — the Super Bowl XLVI moments you jabbered about before bedtime, and then again at work or school, have been turned into GIFs — those lovable yet headache-inducing animations that elongate a moment’s hilarity, over and over again.

In the gallery above, you’ll find GIFs of football plays and touchdown celebrations from the victorious New York Giants and not-so-lucky New England Patriots.

Strewn throughout the gallery are moving snapshops of Madonna‘s halftime show, guest starring Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and Cee Lo Green. We also threw in one parody of The Voice‘s commercial.

SEE ALSO: Two Super Bowl Moments Land in Twitter's Record Book

The GIFs, to no one’s surprise, have been floating around the web since after the Giants won, 21-17.

“They’re a conversation piece — GIFs are the perfect way to share those split-second moments,” popular GIF creator T. Kyle MacMahon of RealityTVGIFs told Mashable. “GIFs are also becoming the new emoticons of online conversation because they’re a more humorous way of responding to people in online conversation.”

More than 111 million Americans reportedly watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. Those people helped the spectacle become the most-watched U.S. television broadcast ever, breaking social TV records in the process.

SEE ALSO: Turn Patriots Coach Bill Belichick into a Super Bowl Meme [CONTEST]

With that many people tuning in, the event was bound to make an impact on Twitter as well. Users’ commentary reached 12,233 tweets per second at the end of the game and 10,245 TPS during the halftime show.

Both moments fell short of besting the online buzz sparked by Japanese anime movie Castle in the Sky in December (25,088 TPS), which is the number one tweets-per-second moment in history.

Which GIF is your favorite? Did we miss any of your favorites? Share all in the comments.

More About: animated GIFs, celebrities, Entertainment, football, GIFs, madonna, memes, Music, nfl, sports, Super Bowl, trending

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Facebook Is Bringing Ads to Mobile Apps [REPORT]

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 05:04 PM PST

facebook mobile

Users of Facebook‘s apps — for Android, iPad and iPhone — may begin seeing ads as soon as early March, as the company looks to gain an addition revenue source before it goes public.

Sources close to the matter say Facebook has already discussed proposals with advertising agencies, according to the Financial Times. Facebook began running sponsored stories in December 2011. Featured stories will appear in the mobile news feed — similar to Twitter’s promoted tweets — mixed in with posts from your friends.

In Facebook’s paperwork for its Initial Public Offering, filed Feb. 1, the company pointed to mobile as a potential revenue source — and warned that the lack of mobile revenue was one of the things that could harm it. Nearly half of Facebook’s 845 million users access the site via mobile device.

One source told FT Facebook would incentivize advertisers to link within Facebook, rather than directing users off-site.

Facebook will hold an event for marketers in New York Feb. 29, so we can expect announcements of new ways they can use the social network. Facebook is yet to unveil Timeline brand pages, although that move is anticipated in coming weeks as Facebook rolls out Timeline for all users.

Will ads on Facebook mobile deter you from using the service? Is a smartphone screen too small for promoted stories? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Additional Facebook IPO Coverage

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, franckreporter

More About: Facebook, mobile ads

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Twitter’s Ad Scrimmage Lets You Relive Super Bowl Commercials

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 04:24 PM PST

There’s usually one commercial during the Super Bowl that outshines the others for its creativity and laughter-inducing antics — and gets watched over and over. Twitter’s Ad Scrimmage wants to be the website where you do that, as well as vote for your favorite. But move fast; it won’t be around forever.

The idea behind Ad Scrimmage is to get people talking about the companies and brands behind the ads (which shelled-out beaucoup bucks for these coveted spots) and extend the ad value and entertainment all week.

Here’s what Twitter says about Ad Scrimmage on its advertising blog:

“The Twitter Ad Scrimmage extends the life of a Super Bowl commercial by amplifying and moving Monday water cooler discussions to immediately after the game when momentum for conversations around those commercials is at its highest … Commercials will also have a unique hashtag to encourage conversations on Twitter.”

The commercials are organized into four quarters, depending on when each aired. There is a corresponding hashtag for each commercial to encourage discussion. If there are any commercials you missed, or just can’t get enough of, check out the site now — it’s only live for seven days.

SEE ALSO: Super Bowl 2012 Commercials: Watch Them All Here

Have you tweeted about Super Bowl commercials? Did you use one of the hastags created with the commercial? Will Scrimmage work? Let us know in the comments.

More About: ads, funny commercials, hashtags, Marketing, Super Bowl 2012, Twitter

Jawbone Working on ‘Big Jambox’ Wireless Speakers

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 03:41 PM PST

Jawbone is working on a bigger version of its popular portable Jambox speaker, according to the company's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing for the new device.

A picture of the larger wireless speaker — appropriately named “Big Jambox” — was included in the company’s FCC filing. No additional details were provided.

The original Jawbone Jambox (see video above) is a small, portable Bluetooth wireless speaker designed to deliver great sound. Users can connect their iPhone, Android or BlackBerry device to the Jambox wirelessly or over the 3.5mm audio cable. It also supports music services like Spotify, Pandora and iheartradio users.

SEE ALSO: Jawbone Releases New Wireless Power Speaker | Jawbone Launches the Up: Will This $99 Wristband Rule Your Life?

Tech blog Android Police found an Amazon listing for Jawbone’s Big Jambox with dimensions of 10 X 3 X 4 inches and weighing about 3 pounds. Those specs would make it about double the size of the 1.5-pound original Jambox. The new version is also said to include six times more cubic inches of sound spat.

It’s still uncertain when the speaker will be launched and what its price point will be. But the current Jambox costs about $200, so we expect the bigger version will be a bit more.

Would you buy the new Big Jambox speakers? Is going big on a smaller device a good move for the company? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: jawbone, Jawborne Jambox, videos

Google to Test Mystery Device in Employees’ Homes [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 03:07 PM PST

No one is sure what Google has up its sleeve, but it could be something you’ll have at home in years to come.

Google applied for a Federal Communications Commission experimental license to test an unnamed prototype entertainment device in its employees’ homes. The company says the device will connect to home electronics through wireless Internet and Bluetooth.

The main reason for the testing is to see if the device works properly and to “reveal real world engineering issues and reliability of networks,” the company said in its application. Google says the device is still in early stages of development and will be modified after reviewing test results from the 252 devices Google would like to place into employee homes in New York; Cambridge, Mass.; Los Angeles and Mountain View, Calif.

Google asked to test the devices from Jan. 17 to July 17.

SEE ALSO: FCC Grants Google Access To “Super Wi-Fi” Broadband Spectrum

“From this testing we hope to modify the design in order to maximize product robustness and user experience,” the application — submitted by Richard Whitt, Google’s director and managing counsel for Telecom and Media — says. “Utilizing the requested number of units will allow testing of real world network performance and its impact on applications running on the device, so that any problems can be discovered and addressed promptly.”

Little has been disclosed about the what the device actually is, but GigaOM and tech bloggers are wondering if it could be related to Android@Home — Google’s technology to control light switches, alarm clocks and other home appliances through Android devices — or wearable Google Goggles.

Watch the video to learn more. What do you think Google is testing?

More About: android, Entertainment, Google, technology, Video

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Most Super Bowl Tweets Were Not About the Game [STATS]

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 02:51 PM PST

According to NBC Sports, Super Bowl XLVI was the most-watched TV show in U.S. history, with 111.3 million viewers. But TV ratings weren’t the only numbers breaking records.

During the game, Twitter had not one, but two record-breaking moments in its history — once during Madonna’s halftime performance and then again at the end of the game.

Yet, who really won the game last night — the New York Giants or Madonna and David Beckham?

For what’s supposed to be one of the biggest sporting events of the year, the majority of the talk on social media was about celebrities, brands and individual players.

According to Networked Insights, which analyzed millions of tweets, 42% of the conversation was about the commercials and 32% was related to Madonna and the halftime performance.

Looking further into advertisements, David Beckham received four times the amount of talk as H&M, the brand that paid for the commercial he was featured in. Similarly, Clint Eastwood was talked about three times more than Chrysler.

Now let’s get down to the sports chatter:

  • 15% was about Tom Brady, and his attractive wife, Gisele Bundchen
  • 4% was about the Giants winning
  • 0.5% was on Victor Cruz’s salsa moves
  • 0.3% was over Ahmed Bradshaw’s attempt to sit down on the goal line (resulting in a touchdown)

How much of this would you consider legitimate sports coverage?

That’s not to say Twitter doesn’t play its role in the world of sports. Many feel more connected during the games when a huge play is made, and many post-game shows on sports networks like ESPN have incorporated the talk on social media surrounding such plays. But is the social media Super Bowl for the active, die-hard sports fans, or mostly casual observers? Does last night’s lack of sports coverage on Twitter by viewers surprise you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: madonna, New York Giants, nfl, Social Media, Super Bowl, Twitter

Galaxy Note Super Bowl Ad Inspires Twitter Backlash

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 02:25 PM PST


Samsung has been hyping its campaign for its Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet hybrid for the past few weeks, culminating in an ad shown toward the end of Sunday night’s Super Bowl.

Whether or not you thought the ad was clever, you couldn’t miss the prominent reappearance of a technology that the gadget world has moved away from over the last five years: the stylus. That one detail has inspired a wave of backlash, with Twitter leading the charge.

The ad mocks Apple (although it never names the company) by portraying its customers as bored hipsters waiting in line for the next big thing. Various passers-by show off the supposedly cutting-edge Galaxy Note, inspiring the hipsters to leave the lineup in search for “freedom.” View it here:

Since Samsung put so much emphasis on the stylus (“It’s got a pen? This is awesome,” a character says at one point), it was inevitably the focus of the backlash on Twitter, with many users pointing out the irony of Samsung promoting “the next big thing” with technology that was popular in the ’90s. The hashtag #palmpilot even briefly became a trending topic right after the ad aired.

To be fair, the Galaxy Note isn’t purely stylus-controlled. Users control most of the phone’s functions with the touch of a finger, using the stylus for a few special features. It also uses its stylus in completely new ways, letting owners jot notes no matter what is on the screen.

SEE ALSO: Super Bowl 2012 Commercials: Watch Them All Here

Those qualities were lost on Twitter users, though, who overwhelmingly saw the stylus as a throwback.

We’ve picked out the best tweets about Samsung’s Galactic goose egg and compiled them in the gallery below. What are your thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy Note campaign? Have your say in the comments.


The backlash begins immediately after the ad ends. Here's one of the first double takes.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Galaxy Note, palm, Palm Pilot, samsung, stylus, Super Bowl, trending, Twitter

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Google Earth Deletes Rumored Lost City of Atlantis

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 02:12 PM PST

google ocean

The lost city of Atlantis — rumored to be discovered in a Google Earth map — is once again lost, thanks to a maps update from the search giant.

A grid-like pattern on a Google Ocean — a Google Earth extension — map raised speculation in 2009 that Google had discovered the sunken streets of the legendary city. However, considering the science, that seems highly unlikely.

Overlapping data sets, which created the pattern many thought to be Atlantis, commonly occur in the sonar method oceanographers use to map the ocean floor. Scientists bounce sonar (sound) waves off the bottom of the ocean to measure its topography.

The pattern supposedly resembling Atlantis was located off the coast of north Africa and covered more than 100 miles — much larger than the scope of any ancient city.

The Google Ocean map was updated last week with data collected by research cruises conducted over the last three years by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, among other research institutions.

“The original version of Google Ocean was a newly developed prototype map that had high resolution but also contained thousands of blunders related to the original archived ship data,” said David Sandwell, a Scripps geophysicist, in a statement. “The Google map now matches the map used in the research community, which makes the Google Earth program much more useful as a tool for planning cruises to uncharted areas.”

Scripps says the next Google Ocean update will come later in 2012 and will provide depth calculations that are twice as accurate as the ones currently used.

Do you use Google Earth or Google Ocean? Have you found anything mysterious in your searches? Share your findings in the comments.

BONUS: 28 Google Street View Sightings

1. Birdman

We're hoping this was for a kid's birthday party... In fact, this scene and others were staged by Street with a View as a prank on Google.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Atlantis, Google, google earth

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Super Bowl Breaks Social TV and Broadcast Records

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 02:00 PM PST

Super Bowl XLVI was not only a big hit with broadcast viewers, it also excelled in the social TV space.

Hollywood news site Deadline reports that 111.3 million Americans tuned in to watch the New York Giants defeat the New England Patriots. That puts Super Bowl XLVI just ahead of last year’s record breaking broadcast, making the 2012 Super Bowl the most-watched U.S. TV broadcast ever.

Of course, the Super Bowl didn’t just do well in TV ratings. It dominated the social conversations on Twitter, Facebook and social checkin services like GetGlue.

According to social TV analytics firm Bluefin Labs, Super Bowl XLVI was the biggest social TV event on record, surpassing the 2011 MTV VMAs in terms of social media comments.

Bluefin’s data shows that the Super Bowl generated 12.2 million social media comments, up 600% from 2011′s 1.8 million comments. However, we should note that Bluefin’s reporting data in 2011 was not as robust as it is now, which may account for the disparity in numbers.

According to Alex Iskold, founder and CEO of GetGlue, more than 150,000 users checked-in to the Super Bowl on GetGlue, three-times more than any previous event.

Halftime Show Soars

Although the game itself generated tons of social comments, the halftime show was also hugely social. Not only was Madonna the most searched term on Google, the halftime show generated 862,000 social comments according to Bluefin.

To put that figure in perspective, Bluefin estimates that the 2011 Academy Awards generated 966,000 comments. Additionally, if counted as its own program, the Madonna’s halftime show would rank fourth in terms of social TV entertainment events, ahead of the 2011 BET Awards.

The Ads

It was a big year for Super Bowl ads, with lots of companies choosing to preview or premiere their ads online before the big game.

Honda’s CR-V ad featuring Ferris Bueller himself (Matthew Broderick) was the most-buzzed about ad according to Zeta. The Honda spot also took the the title of “best ad” in Hulu’s Adzone 2012.

Other popular spots included Volkswagen’s “The Bark Side” teaser and “The Dog Strikes Back.”

When it comes to social media commentary, Bluefin ranks H&M’s “Bodywear for H&M” featuring David Beckahm as the ad with the most social media comments.

It was followed by Chrysler’s outstanding, “Halftime in America” spot featuring Clint Eastwood. Bluefin ranked the Chrysler spot as number one among sports fans.

Did you find yourself more socially engaged while watching the Super Bowl this year? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Bluefin Labs, hulu, ratings, social tv, Super Bowl, Super Bowl ads

How to Fix Best Buy

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 01:45 PM PST

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

Alex Goldfayn’s new book is called Evangelist Marketing: What Apple Amazon and Netflix Understand About Their Customers (That Your Company Probably Doesn’t). He is CEO of the Evangelist Marketing Institute, a marketing consultancy with clients that include T-Mobile, TiVo and Logitech.

Some people insist that Best Buy is dying a slow death.

Meanwhile, its CEO, Brian Dunn, maintains that 80% of consumer electronics sales still come from brick-and-mortar stores. But in its most recent earnings statement (for the three months ending Nov. 26), Best Buy's net income was down nearly 30%, compared to the year prior. The company says that's because they had to lower prices to increase sales.

Here is what I believe to be the core cause of Best Buy's problems: There is almost nothing you can buy at Best Buy stores that isn't cheaper and more convenient to buy online. And when you think about buying online, you think about Amazon first, and a number of other retailers second (Buy.com, Walmart.com, etc.). BestBuy.com usually doesn't top that list.

The problems — including Best Buy's recent inability to fill holiday season purchases — are already well-documented. Let's focus, instead, on how to fix Best Buy.

1. Focus on the Stores

CEO Dunn stated earlier this month that Best Buy has expanded the products available on BestBuy.com and has launched a new online marketplace. This is the wrong approach. You don't out-Amazon Amazon. I'm constantly telling my clients that they must build on their strengths, not try to overcome their weaknesses.

For example, Research In Motion spent a year of resources developing and marketing a tablet device instead of focusing on its major competitive strength, the Blackberry smartphone. Best Buy needs to focus on the asset that separates it from the competition — its physical stores.

This is urgent. For the next year, the majority of Best Buy's investment, attention and marketing budget should go towards improving the customer experience in its retail stores.

What should it improve? That's easy.

2. Fewer SKUs

One of the major ways retailers measure success is the sales-per-square-foot metric. This figure eliminates any differences in number of stores and size of stores; it simply measures how well a retailer performs.

According to a report from August, Apple dominated the field with a whopping $5,626 per square foot of retail space. In second place, the jeweler Tiffany's came in at $2,974; that's how much Apple trumps everybody else. Costco wholesale makes $998 per square foot.

Best Buy? It comes in at $831 per square foot, behind retailers like Whole Foods, Polo Ralph Lauren, Signet Jewelers and GameStop.

What do Costco and Apple stores have in common? A relatively small selection of products to buy. Best Buy should focus on the best products, not on as many products as can be crammed onto shelves.

3. Better Blue Shirts

One of Best Buy's major advantages over Amazon is that it employs people in blue shirts who are expected to help customers. These folks are young (because they cost less this way), but insufficiently trained. Of course, Apple Stores employ young people too, but Apple's people are empowered, no, mandated, to help people. Best Buy's store staffers read the back of the box with you.

The sooner Best Buy can roll out a comprehensive and aggressive training program for its blue shirts, the sooner it can make people feel better about coming to its stores. Then, every newspaper with a Best Buy in its city would positively cover the store's efforts to improve its floor staff. So, in addition to improving the customer experience and sales, this is a powerful marketing and PR strategy.

4. Better Store Layouts

Wider aisles. Cleaner spaces. Get the product packages off the shelves, because these horrendous boxes aren't doing anybody any favors. Simply give people more space to physically try as many products as possible. After all, that's why people go to retail. Basically, study what Apple is doing in its stores and try to apply.

5. Better Marketing

It's time for Best Buy to go beyond its weekly blue flyer. The company needs to launch a powerful marketing and PR campaign. Find out what's important and compelling to consumers.

I don't know this for fact, but given the current state of its marketing activities, I can all but guarantee that Best Buy isn't having enough qualitative conversations with its customers to uncover the language and emotion that resonates with them. My best clients have learned that deeply understanding your customers is the fastest and most direct path to effective marketing. It's time for Best Buy to start understanding its customers.

6. Better Customer Service, Better Feelings

The 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index Report found Best Buy in the middle of the pack in terms of customer satisfaction, behind retailers such as Publix, Staples, Kohl's and JCPenney.

If you say you'll price match, then price match. Don't make people stand in line to beg cranky 24-year-olds, who are trained how to best decline the price match. Similarly, if you want to compete with Amazon and Costco, then you better accept returns without question, and without an annoying restocking fee.

Instead of anticipating a frustrating experience, people need to foresee satisfaction when they think about Best Buy, as they do with Apple and Costco.

Many of Best Buy's problems result from the negative feelings their actions and inactions have built in consumers, who have plenty of other options, as Best Buy painfully knows: "I can shop at Costco and return something three months later if it breaks, or I can go Best Buy and be out of luck."

Best Buy literally can’t afford any more bad feelings. Over the next year, Best Buy must do everything possible for people to feel good in its stores. In fact, the majority of Best Buy's innovation efforts — from product selection to layout, from customer service to marketing — should focus on its most powerful remaining competitive advantage: its physical stores.

Image courtesy of Flickr, staticjana, Ron Dauphin

More About: amazon, apple, best buy, contributor, customer service, ecommerce, features, Opinion, retail

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How New York City Went Digital in 2011

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 01:15 PM PST

Since 2010, New York City has strived to become a global digital leader. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and commissioner Katherine Oliver announced NYC Digital last July, with the mission to create a better civil society and stronger democracy with the use of technology – engaging, serving and connecting New York.

Rachel Sterne is the city’s first chief digital officer. Her goal at NYC Digital is to use technology and digital media to improve communication with residents and business and enhance government transparency.

Alongside Bloomberg, Sterne created Road Map for the Digital City, which outlines plans to make New York the world's leading digital city.

“The state of the digital city was strong in New York when we began developing the roadmap,” says Sterne, who credits Bloomberg’s administration with digital development supporting efficiency, transparency and public engagement.

“But we are New Yorkers, and we don't rest on our laurels. That's why the Mayor decided we need a holistic digital roadmap to help New York City realize its full potential and raise the bar even higher.”

The road map is split into four strategic categories: Access to Technology, Open Government, Engagement and Industry.


This year, Digital NYC provided Wi-Fi to more parks and public spaces across the five boroughs. It also strengthened support for more broadband choices. In September, for the first time ever, six different subway stations began to offer cellphone service.

According to the road map, the next steps will be providing education and outreach. Linking with NYC Connected initiatives, the city hopes to provide high-needs individuals with federally funded broadband.

Open Government

Initiatives for the Open Government platform were fully completed in 2011. NYC Digital developed an OpenData API platform, which supplies hundreds of sets of public data produced by agencies and organizations. You can find visualizations and datasets on New York at the NYC Digital Tumblr.

In addition, nine official NYC apps were created for iOS, including NYC 311, NYC City Hall and NYC Media. This year, the Department of Transportation will release an Android version of its official app, which provides New Yorkers with safe transportation choices.

“The mobile web will be a very strong focus for 2012,” says Sterne, “as it is not specific to a platform and helps us to reach even more New Yorkers.”


“Reivent NYC.gov,” the city’s first-ever hackathon, was attended by developers and designers from across the U.S. Since then, there has been an independent hackathon nearly every week, led by experts at the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

According to Sterne, this was one of the biggest milestones in the process of the roadmap.

“As powerful as the digital medium is, there is something special about getting together in the same place with a shared mission. In the case of the Reinvent NYC.GOV hackathon, that mission was to imagine the future of how city government can engage with the public through its website.”

Over the past year, more than 250 social media channels were created, resulting in more than 1.5 million followers. When Hurricane Irene hit the east coast in August, the city responded in real time with emergency alerts on Facebook, 311 tweets and live video streaming. During the hurricane, an unprecedented amount of traffic throttled the city’s servers, a range of third-party apps became vital for those in need of locating an evacuation zone.

“By opening up its data, the City enabled developers around the world to help us serve the public, and the results were that we served 10-20 times as many people than we would have otherwise.”


One of the biggest announcements this year was the partnership between Technicon and Cornell. Together, led by deputy mayor Robert Steel and Seth Pinksy of the New York Economic Development Corporation, a new engineering campus will be built on Roosevelt Island. Sterne says this will be “powering innovation for generations to come.”

Mayor Bloomberg also introduced new immigration services for startups in October at the New York Tech Meetup. The city is currently judging entries from software developers for the best new apps that utilize the city’s open data to help residents, visitors and businesses.

Lastly, NYC Digital forged partnerships that serve the public with Bitly, Buddy Media, Facebook, Foursquare, General Assembly, Google, Tumblr and Twitter.

What the Future Holds For NYC Digital

According to Sterne, the roadmap (as it currently stands) is on schedule to meet all of its goals by mid 2013. However, NYC Digital will continue to introduce new goals as existing ones are achieved, so the timeline will evolve.

The city is starting off 2012 with a comprehensive redesign of NYC.gov, working alongside the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

“We see an opportunity to completely re-think the way New Yorkers interact with their government online, and we are thrilled that we were able to kick off the process in an open, participatory way with the Reinvent NYC.GOV hackathon we hosted with General Assembly in August.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, rabbit75_ist

More About: features, innovation, Mobile, new york city

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Should Athletes Have Social Media Privacy? One Bill Says Yes

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 12:45 PM PST

Should universities be allowed to force student athletes to have their Facebook and Twitter accounts monitored by coaches and administrators?

No, says a bill recently introduced into the Maryland state legislature.

The bill would prohibit institutions “from requiring a student or an applicant for admission to provide access to a personal account or service through an electronic communications device” — by sharing usernames, passwords or unblocking private accounts, for example.

Introduced on Thursday, Maryland’s Senate Bill 434 would apply to all students but particularly impact college sports. Student-athletes’ social media accounts are frequently monitored by authority figures for instances of indecency or impropriety, especially in high-profile sports like football and men’s basketball.

In one example, a top football recruit reportedly put his scholarship hopes in jeopardy last month after a series of inappropriate tweets.

The bill’s authors say that it is one of the first in the country to take on the issue of student privacy in the social media age, according to The New York Times.

Bradley Shear is a Maryland lawyer whose work frequently involves sports and social media. In a recent post to his blog, Shear explained his support for Senate Bill 434 and a similar piece of legislation that would further extend students’ right to privacy on social media.

“Schools that require their students to turn over their social media user names and/or content are acting as though they are based in China and not in the United States,” Shear wrote.

But legally increasing student-athletes’ option to social media privacy could also help shield the schools themselves from potential lawsuits.

On his blog, Shear uses the example of Yardley Love, a former University of Virginia women’s lacrosse player who was allegedly murdered by her ex-boyfriend, who played for the men’s lacrosse team.

If the university was monitoring the lacrosse teams’ social media accounts and missed anything that could have indicated potential violence, it “may have had significant legal liability for negligent social media monitoring because it failed to protect Love,” Shear wrote.

On the other hand, if the school was only monitoring the accounts of its’ higher-profile football and basketball players, Shear wrote, then that could have been considered discrimination and the university “may have been sued for not monitoring the electronic content of all of its students.”

Do you think universities should be allowed to force their athletes into allowing coaches and administrators to monitor their Facebook and Twitter accounts? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Facebook, Social Media, sports, trending, Twitter

Earthquake Strikes Philippines: The Rapid Social Media Response [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 12:33 PM PST

Chaos struck the Philippines on Monday after a magnitude 6.7 earthquake struck the central island of Negros, causing fears of tidal waves and a tsunami.

The quake and its 200-plus aftershocks caused landslides and the death of at least 12 people, according to Reuters.

News of the earthquake and a subsequent tsunami alert quickly spread via social media as updates were sent by individuals and news outlets alike:

The rumored tidal wave resulted in a panic captured by a YouTube user in the video above. The videographer is seen running to safety alongside a group of other people also seeking shelter. Vehicles speed along on a nearby road, beeping to alert pedestrians or to call attention to the emergency.

“Tidal wave. . .there’s a tidal wave! So everyone is just running and my kids and I have no clue where we’re going. We’re just running…with a group of people, I guess as far or as high as we can,” says the videographer.

The video, which is edited, ends with the camera owner learning the possible danger has subsided.

Once the tsunami alert was lifted, Twitter users echoed the all-clear to friends and family:

Some residents felt the chaos was caused by a lack of understanding: (PHIVOLCS is the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, which is charged with monitoring earthquakes and other seismic activity)

Others posted pictures of the resulting damage:

The Philippines lies in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” an area highly prone to seismic activity. In March of last year, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Japan, triggering a massive and deadly tsunami.

Have you seen any more photos or videos from the Philippines? How can social media be used to help alert people in danger during an emergency? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, acprints

More About: Social Media, trending, Twitter, YouTube

How Social Media Could Improve Public Safety

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 12:04 PM PST

Todd Piett is the chief product officer at Rave Mobile Safety / Smart911.com. He writes about technology trends in public safety and enhanced 9-1-1. Todd is a board member of the NG9-1-1 Institute and is a member of APCO's Emerging Technology Committee, in addition to holding numerous technology patents.

When it comes to public safety, forward-thinking government agencies are beginning to look at social media as a support tool for improved situational awareness.

The very nature of social media’s open communication and crowdsourced information provides a powerful tool for public safety agencies. Take, for instance, the Twitter user who unknowingly tweeted in real-time about the Osama Bin Laden raid, or the Florida deputy who used Facebook to negotiate a standoff, or the kidnapper who found time to update his Facebook friends.

A 911 center supervisor recently talked to me about the role social media played during a mall shooting. While police units established a perimeter around the mall and assessed the situation, they tried to sift through conflicting reports on the shooter. A 911 dispatcher jumped on Twitter and Flickr, and was actually able to obtain photos of the shooter, posted by witnesses inside the mall. Imagine the value that information provided to the incident commander and tactical operators on the scene.

Is Emergency Response Via Social Media Feasible?

To understand the spectrum of social media applicability and the challenges it poses to public safety, it's helpful to think how the public safety context is different than traditional social media usage. First, public safety is event or incident-driven, whether for prevention, reaction or investigation. Second, public safety is really a unique form of customer service in which the expectation of service is very high, everyone expects to receive the same level of service, regardless of his frequency of use or willingness to pay for it, and the cost of failure can be astronomical.

Think of it this way: You may feel comfortable posting to a brand's Facebook Page and not receiving a response for a few hours or maybe even a day or two. However, if your local emergency center planned to monitor calls for help via Twitter and Facebook, it would face major concerns. Therein lies the challenge for public safety — how do you effectively use a powerful set of tools for gleaning real-time information, without incurring huge cost and liability, not to mention, set unrealistic expectations for the public?

Where is Social Media Emergency Response Applicable?

When public safety agencies take to social media, they must remember two factors.

  • The direction of the communication (i.e. the agency pushes outbound information to citizens, the agency draws on inbound information from citizens, or mutual, two-way communication).
  • The timing of the communication with respect to an incident.

For example, a local police department sends an emergency notification through Twitter, alerting citizens to poor road conditions due to inclement weather. In this case, emergency notifications through social media are outbound. Conversely, decision support relies on inbound input from citizens. Public safety agencies monitor information streams, selectively engage users if the situation dictates, and then develop a course of action.

Emergency 911 centers (or their international equivalents) are typically designed as the communication hub — or customer service center, if you will — for two-way citizen emergency communications. Therefore, they’re also a natural fit for social media engagement.

However, with limited exceptions, these centers do not typically welcome technology beyond caller ID and some basic location information. Efforts like "Next Generation 9-1-1" plan to equip centers so that they may receive a wide array of media-rich content. In the meantime, individuals post photos and videos of unfolding events to social media platforms. Many of these individuals will never even contact 911 directly, assuming that other witnesses have already done (or will do) so.

Would Public Safety Face Any Challenges?

It is becoming increasingly important for emergency responders and other officials to rapidly access and make sense of relevant social media to provide a better picture of the incident and surrounding area (i.e. situational awareness). However, emergency responders are unavailable to mine these social media sites, and often, the 911 center will be too overburdened with incoming calls to do so either.

Several larger agencies have established dedicated units (often within police departments) to provide real-time intelligence. Real-time crime centers operate in several major U.S. cities — notably, New York City and Houston, TX. These centers have access to powerful data aggregation and decision support tools. The New York City Police Department has created a social media unit within its intelligence division.

Traditionally, the data used by these crime centers was more static in nature and limited to the various databases maintained by the city, such as the police department's records management system, the municipal court information system, permits, etc. This is not the case with social media. Officials can glean valuable intelligence from social media posts across dozens of online platforms. Additionally, this data can emerge from many a dynamic scenario. Consider the foreign tourist who posts a photo of a suspicious package in Times Square, or the concertgoer who shares a video of a crowd fleeing a shooter.

In addition to valuable intelligence-rich posts, people share thousands of well-wishes or anecdotes that, while thoughtful, provide no useful information to public safety officials and obscure the posts that could enhance emergency responders' situational awareness (see the most recent shootings at Virginia Tech). The amount and velocity of social media traffic and "background noise" is so extensive that it is nearly impossible for intelligence analysts or emergency managers (let alone a busy 91-1 center) to consistently provide real-time information to first responders.

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency's (DARPA) Social Media in Strategic Communication project seeks to apply analytics and advanced data solutions to social media in the same way it has improved video analytics and other operational intelligence.

As social media continues to exponentially grow, so will the sheer volume and type of content. Public safety will be forced to develop solutions that better automate today’s mostly manual response efforts. Hopefully, information sharing between the public and public safety agencies will improve and, ultimately, lead to safer communities.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, miflippo, Flickr, Trojan631

More About: contributor, emergency, Facebook, features, Social Media, Twitter

Deleted Facebook Pictures May Still Lurk on the Internet [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 11:47 AM PST

Pictures users have deleted from Facebook months or even years ago may still exist, it has been revealed.

Facebook says it’s working to fix flaws allowing deleted photos to hibernate on various data servers.

“We have been working with our content delivery network (CDN) partner to significantly reduce the amount of time that backup copies persist,” the company told Ars Technica, who first reported that users were having trouble deleting photos permanently in 2009.

Many blogs show people how to access deleted Facebook pictures by way of viewing and saving the direct link to a photo URL the same way you would view a page source.

Once you delete a photo, Facebook friends won’t be able to see the photo unless you access the direct page link for the photo. Photos are generally removed by editing an album, clicking on the “edit photo” prompt and selecting the checkbox on your Timeline and clicking “remove” under photo.

Facebook acknowledges in its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities: “when you delete IP content, it is deleted in a manner similar to emptying the recycle bin on a computer. However, you understand that removed content may persist in backup copies for a reasonable period of time (but will not be available to others).”

SEE ALSO: Here's How People Look at Your Facebook Profile — Literally

Facebook spokesperson Frederic Wolens responded to the Ars Technica team that the social network has been checking the URLs of deleted photos and Facebook is working on changing the content delivery networks so that photos will truly be let go within 45 days from deletion.

Check out the video above to learn more. Tell us in the comments, if you have experienced this photo flaw.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, BluEyedA73.

More About: Facebook, mashable video, privacy, Social Media, trending

Super Bowl’s Most-Searched Term: Madonna [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 11:31 AM PST

The Giants may have won the Super Bowl, but Madonna won the Google search competition.

The 53-year-old halftime performer was Google’s most-searched term during the 2012 Super Bowl game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.

Google released its most-searched list in a blog post Monday.

The second most-searched term was halftime show, further suggesting football is second priority to Americans during the game. The Patriots, the losing team, was the most-searched term actually relating to the game and the third-most searched term. New England quarterback Tom Brady was fourth on Google’s list followed by the Super Bowl victor, the Giants, which was the fifth most-searched term.

Considering all the Google traffic, it should come as no surprise that Super Bowl viewers weren’t just focused on their TV screens during the game. They used their smartphones and tablets to search ads, halftime performers and players while watching. Some 41% of Super Bowl searches came from mobile devices, up from 21% last year.

Following Brady, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Aaron Hernandez and Danny Woodhead rounded out the list of most-searched players during the game.

The Super Bowl ads brought in their fare share of Google traffic this year, with Acura, GoDaddy and M&M winning the Google traffic competition.

SEE ALSO: Honda's 'Bueller' Super Bowl Ad Got the Most Buzz [REPORT] | Watch the Ads Here

The Super Bowl’s first-ever live stream attracted search traffic of its own, particularly for a Spanish language version of the game and from European countries France and Germany.

Google’s blog post also includes a Think Insights infographic (below) on the online spread of the 2012 Super Bowl.

Did you watch the Super Bowl online or on a television? Did you have your tablet, smartphone or computer on hand for game time searches? Tell us how you watched in the comments below.

superbowl online conversions

BONUS: All the 2012 Super Bowl Commercials

Phone Innovators: Official 2012 Best Buy Game Day Commercial

Watch as phone innovation meets phone-buying innovation, at Best Buy. Choose Phone Freedom and get any phone, any carrier, and all of their plans, with lots of unbiased advice. Reserve a $50 gift card at http://www.bestbuy.com/phonefreedom now for your next upgrade.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Google, madonna, Super Bowl, Super Bowl 2012, trending

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Woman Gets Jawbone Made by 3D Printer

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 11:09 AM PST

Need a new jawbone? Now you can print one.

An 83-year-old British woman recently underwent the first-ever custom transplant of a lower jaw made by a 3D printer.

According to 3Ders.org, the Biomedical Research Institute at Hasselt University in Belgium announced last week that it implanted a printed jawbone in June, which was created by metal part maker LayerWise.

The patient — who can now chew and speak with ease — suffered from a chronic bone infection. Doctors were worried that at her age, reconstructive surgery could have caused complications.

The 3D-printed jawbone, which is made of titanium powder, was heated and infused together in layers. Once the design was created, it took only a few hours to print. The new jaw weighs slightly more than the previous one.

The woman is currently gearing up to receive a set of dentures that will be attached to the implant in a follow-up procedure.

Doctors involved with the surgery believe that more 3D parts can be created specifically for patients in the near future.

“Computer technology is causing a revolution in the medical industry,” professor Jules Poukens of the University of Hasselt said in a statement. “A traditional surgery takes up to 20 hours, and the patient should definitely stay two to four weeks in the hospital. But this operation lasted four hours and the woman could go home after four days.”

3D printing is becoming more popular thanks to new research and companies dedicating effort to the movement. In fact, a company called Made in Space is working to help astronauts print out parts such as wrenches and nails for spacecraft and space stations while in orbit.

In addition, file-sharing company The Pirate Bay last week introduced a new content category called "Physibles," which is designed to allow people to pass physical objects to one another via the Internet. The term refers to data files that are actually able to become physical objects via 3D printing technology.

Do you think 3D printing of body parts will become increasingly popular in the future? What do you think about the concept? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: 3D printers, 3d printing, MakerBot

Fed Up With Facebook Changes? Try Friendio [VIDEO]

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 10:41 AM PST

A group of former Facebook users based in Orland Park, Ill., fed up with the mandatory changes that came with Facebook’s network-wide switch to Timeline, has created Friendio for Facebook defectors.

Friendio is an alternative social network to Facebook that promises more privacy and control, say its creators. The new social network feels like a pared-down Facebook, with similar tabs and capabilities for friend requests, messages and notifications.

“Friendio does not modify privacy settings, nor do we force people to create a scrapbook of their life,” said Doug Freitag, the company’s president in a statement.

Friendio is trying to distinguish itself from Facebook Timeline, pushing the slogan, “It’s all about you.” The layout and theme of Friendio are completely customizable. The company also allows open access to its API for developers and curious users to play around with the new tool.

Ranked high in the site’s ethos is the fact that its privacy policy will never change. The creators want to take a stand against mandatory changes and additions users may not want such as Facebook’s implementation of Timeline.

After registering for a Friendio Network profile, users will receive a confirmation email that looked eerily like a Facebook email. The new company has adopted Facebook’s blue banner in its emails. Friendio, which has its own Facebook page (see video above), allows users to log into Facebook to invite your friends to join you.

SEE ALSO: My Life Without Facebook: A Social Experiment

On this new social network there are new photo, music and video sharing capabilities. Plus, Facebook-like Friendio pages that operate like fan pages — both share a “like” button. Check out the Friendio Fandango page, complete with a wall for comments and tabs for info, notes, events, music, photos and videos.

Will you be switching to Friendio — or giving it a try?

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, magerleagues.

More About: Facebook, mashable video, Social Media, social networking, startup

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Interactive Music Video Lets You ‘Look Around’

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 10:26 AM PST

The Red Hot Chili Peppers just released an interactive version of the music video for the band’s latest single, “Look Around.”

The non-interactive version of the video was released on Jan. 26 and features each band member doing a full performance in his own room.

In the interactive version, users can pan the camera back and forth between rooms at will, zoom in and out of different aspects — and discover hidden easter eggs that contain links to photos and videos.

More and more artists are creating interactive music videos. Since Arcade Fire’s epic technical achievement with the “Wilderness Downtown” in 2010, we’ve seen interactive videos from Devo, Bynars, OK Go, Danger Mouse and more.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are embracing digital in a big way with the band’s latest album, “I’m With You.” In addition to the interactive music video, the band has an official iPhone app [iTunes link] and members of the band are avid tweeters.

What do you think of the video? Does this break new ground in interactive performance? Let us know in the comments.

More About: interactive video, look around, red hot chili peppers, trending, Video

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LeVar Burton to Bring Reading Rainbow Back … in an App

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 10:15 AM PST

When Reading Rainbow ended its 26-year run in 2009, it left behind decades of preschoolers for whom its theme song will forever surface nostalgia:

Take a look, it’s in a book, a reading rainbow.

The PBS program was cut because nobody would fund it. But John Grant, who was at the time in charge of content at Reading Rainbow’s home station, told NPR that a shift in the philosophy of educational television programming was also to blame.

He said the Bush administration believed in funding programs that taught children how to read, with tools like phonics and spelling. Reading Rainbow taught kids why to read — and encouraged them to pick up books.

LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow’s executive producer and host, thinks the latter goal is still relevant. And he plans to use digital media to bring the show back.

“There is a brand new generation of kids who could definitely use the kind of spark and inspiration Reading Rainbow provided where actually becoming a reader is concerned,” Burton told Mashable. “As far as I can tell, reading will never go out of style, and neither will good old fashioned storytelling.”

Burton began talking about the show’s resurrection almost immediately after it ended. In February of 2009, he tweeted he would move forward with a new version of Reading Rainbow: “webisodes for adults.” Whatever that meant, unfortunately, the plan never surfaced.

In September, Burton launched RRKidz, which promises to resurrect Reading Rainbow for kids in a multimedia fashion.

The site currently sells episodes of Reading Rainbow, but Burton, who is also famous for his roles in Roots and Star Trek: the Next Generation, has other products in mind. The first: a mobile app.

“The center-point of the App is books,” Burton told Mashable. “Wonderful, lightly enhanced digital books for children. However we’re also very interested in delivering an enriching experience to kids, much like classic Reading Rainbow did on TV.”

"As far as I can tell, reading will never go out of style, and neither will good old fashioned storytelling for that matter.”

He calls the app “the first offering in a game plan” that will also include DVDs and streaming of classic Reading Rainbow episodes. According to the RRKidz website, it will deliver 100s of books with a “Reading Rainbow-like” experience, though Burton didn’t expand upon what that entails in app form.

Last week, Burton rallied his 1.74 million Twitter followers to help take the @readingrainbow handle back from a squatter; Twitter gave it to him within hours. The account will help the promote Reading Rainbow app.

Reading Rainbow was the third longest-running children’s program in PBS history, outlasted only by Sesame Street and Mister Rogers. During its run, it won more than 24 Emmys. It also witnessed a decline in reading time in the United States during the same period.

According to a 2007 study by the National Endowment for the Arts, the number of 13-year-olds who were daily readers dropped 14 percent between 1984 and 2004. The percentage of 17-year-olds who were non-readers doubled.

"”Every day of my life someone comes up to me and tells me about the impact the show had on them growing up.”

At a time when the population is relying less upon reading and, in some ways, even television, a classic television show about books seems like the definitive vehicle for nostalgia.

With new digital packaging that Burton hopes will appeal to the wired generation, he is hoping to restore Reading Rainbow’s educational value as well.

“Every day of my life someone comes up to me and tells me about the impact the show had on them growing up,” Burton says. “it’s no secret that our educational system is no longer the platinum standard on the world stage that it once was. This is simply my way of continuing to do what I’ve always done, just in a different medium.”

Image courtesy of GPN/Nebraska ETV Network and WNED Buffalo

More About: apps, Levar Burton, pbs, Reading Rainbow

Amazon to Open Retail Store [RUMOR]

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 10:04 AM PST


In what may be a sign that 2012 really is the year of the apocalypse, revered online retailer Amazon is rumored to be opening a brick-and-mortar retail store.

The site Good Ereader reports that sources “close to the situation” say Amazon will open up a single store in the Seattle area (Amazon is based in Seattle). Amazon apparently plans to open it early enough to capitalize on the lucrative holiday season.

Intended to be more of a boutique than a big box, the Amazon store would mainly be a place where shoppers can buy Kindle ereaders, tablets and their related accessories as well as other “high margin” items. The design of the store, said to be contracted through a shell company, is apparently modeled after the Apple Store.

Amazon’s store will also stock physical books that are exclusive to Amazon. The company launched its own publishing division last May, but any independent authors that join are shut out of major retail bookstores like Barnes & Noble. The Amazon store would give their books a place to appear on actual shelves.

SEE ALSO: Amazon 2012: What the Future May Hold for the Web's Largest Retailer

If the report is true, the store would be a strange move for a company synonymous with the efficiency and convenience of online retail. Not having to deal with the overhead costs of maintaining a network of stores is the key ingredient to how Amazon stays so competitive. More than that, opening a retail store is a kind of philosophical throwback for the company — akin to Google creating a microfiche search service.

However, the report cites some factors that led to the decision. The war Amazon’s been fighting over sales tax features prominently. Many states have been moving toward requiring Amazon to pay sales tax on purchases made in that state, something online retailers have been traditionally exempt from. if Amazon is going to be forced to charge sales tax whether or not it operates a retail establishment in a particular state, then there’s less reason to hold back.

Amazon is said to be testing the waters here, seeing if a chain of small boutique stores would be profitable. With the first store, the company will both get valuable experience in running a retail establishment as well as get feedback on what customers would expect from an Amazon store.

No need to wait for the store to open, though — sound off now. What would you like to see from an Amazon retail store? Let us know in the comments.

Image by Rico Mossesgeld, Technograph

More About: amazon, Amazon Store, Apple Store, Kindle

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Chrysler Super Bowl Commercial Mysteriously Disappears, Returns to YouTube

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 09:53 AM PST

Someone had a sudden impact on Chrysler’s “Clint Eastwood” Super Bowl spot’s availability on YouTube Sunday night.

Chrysler is investigating why the two-minute ad, which features the actor/director declaring this moment to be America’s “halftime,” got taken down, a rep told Mashable. At the time of this writing, the ad was back up on Chrysler’s YouTube channel.

According to multiple reports, there was a message on the channel Monday morning explaining the ad violated NFL copyrights. An NFL rep declined comments on the issue, deferring calls to Chrysler. However, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Detroit Free Press that the league didn’t take the ad down and is asking Google to investigate.

The ad was never taken down from the NFL’s official site. Reps from Google could not be reached for comment.

The disappearance of the ad for a short time put a kink in Chrysler’s social media campaign. The carmaker was encouraging users to share the ad and then watch its progress via an interactive map showing shares across the country.

More About: Chrysler, nfl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl ads

Honeywell Sues Nest Labs Over Thermostat Tech

Posted: 06 Feb 2012 09:23 AM PST

When Nest Labs launched a round, self-adjusting thermostat built more like an iPhone than an appliance, we didn’t think we’d seen anything like it. Honeywell International, evidently, disagreed.

The diversified technology and manufacturing company announced on Monday it is suing the startup over alleged infringement of seven of its thermostat tech patents.

The patents are, among other things, related to use of natural language, user interfaces, a thermostat’s inner design, an electric circuit used to divert power from the user’s home electrical system to provide power to a thermostat and controlling a thermostat with information stored in a remote location. The lawsuit also names Best Buy, which sells the Nest Labs thermostat.

“From our iconic ’round thermostat’ to the first programmable and simple-to-use touch screen thermostats, Honeywell is known for setting the standard in home comfort and energy efficiency.” said Beth Wozniak, the president of Honeywell Environmental and Combustion Controls, in a statement.

Among diverse products that range from aerospace products to transportation systems, Honewell sells a line of programmable and manual thermostats. Some of its thermostats, like those made by other companies, are round or have touch screens — both features of Nest that Wozniak referenced. Take a look at some of Nest’s other features in the gallery below.

Mashable has contacted Nest Labs and will update this article when we hear back.

Updated: Nest Labs tells Mashable it only heard of the lawsuit when Honeywell issued a press release this morning and have not yet reviewed it.

Nest Thermostat Box

Probably some of the nicest-looking thermostat packaging you'll ever see.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Honeywell, lawsuit, nest labs, Thermostat

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