Friday, 9 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Vevo and Dropbox Redesign, New Reddit CEO”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Vevo and Dropbox Redesign, New Reddit CEO”

Today’s Top Stories: Vevo and Dropbox Redesign, New Reddit CEO

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 04:50 AM PST

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning's edition of "First To Know," a series in which we keep you in the know on what's happening in the digital world. Today, we're looking at three particularly interesting stories.

Dropbox Redesign Brings New Photo & Video Viewer

Dropbox has launched a major redesign, bringing a new video and photo viewer, a multi-purpose action bar, new right-click options, drag-and-drop support and keyboard shortcuts, among other features.

Vevo Relaunhces With New Personalization Options

Music site Vevo has also undergone a major redesign. New features include a personalized Facebook playlist, iTunes Match integration, better video recommendations, and a bigger music player, which brings better video quality, as well as faster and continuous playback.

Yishan Wong Becomes New Reddit CEO

Former director of engineering at Facebook and long time redditor Yishan Wong has become the new CEO of Reddit, the company announced in a blog post. In the post, Wong notes his lack of experience as a CEO, but claims that Reddit doesn’t need a classic CEO anyway. “I came to understand that reddit wasn’t looking for a conventional CEO candidate, because reddit is not a conventional company,” he wrote.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: Dropbox, first to know series, reddit, vevo

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App Lets You Pin Virtual Post-It Notes to a Real Wall [VIDEO]

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 04:10 AM PST

Post-It notes long ago made the transition from the real world to your computer screen, but thanks to a new app, they’re going virtual as well.

3M worked with augmented reality developer Metaio on the new app, which lets you pin a virtual Post-It to a real wall. As the video above shows, you can use an iPad to take a picture of yourself with a speech bubble outlining your message. Then, you can put that message on a wall with others. However, you can only see the messages with the app. To set up the app, you need a marker, which you can print out and post to a wall to begin accepting virtual Post-Its.

The company, which makes Post-Its, is introducing the technology at South By Southwest this week. At press time, it was unclear whether Apple would approve the app in time for the show. If not, 3M’s contingency plan is to let attendees try the app via iPads on site.

More About: apps, Augmented Reality, Marketing

Dropbox Redesign Brings New Photo Viewer and Better File Management

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 02:53 AM PST

Dropbox has launched a major redesign, simplifying many file management tasks and bringing a new video and photo viewer.

The first thing you’ll notice in the new Dropbox UI is the action bar which lets you sort files by name, date, size and type.

Click on a file, and the action bar will get new options – for example, you can download, delete, rename, move or copy a file from there.

You can also perform these actions by right-clicking on a file, which makes Dropbox more similar to Microsoft’s Windows Explorer than ever.

Dropbox now also has a new video and photo viewer, which lets you view these types of content on your entire screen. Photos and videos (this includes Photoshop and Illustrator files) now also have thumbnails, which makes them easier to preview.

Finally, new Dropbox supports drag-and-drop, simple multiple file selections, and keyboard shortcuts (hit “?” for a full list). Dropbox search now also instantly pulls results as you type.

According to Dropbox, this redesign is only the first step in a complete overhaul of the service, with more new stuff coming in the “next few months”.

How do you like the new Dropbox? Share your opinions in the comments!

More About: Dropbox, file management, file storage, redesign

Coca-Cola’s Latest Facebook Gambit: URL Riddles

Posted: 09 Mar 2012 12:28 AM PST

Coca-Cola has figured out a new way to engage its 40 million or so Facebook fans: URL riddles.

The brand recently began running fill-in-the-blanks riddles like “Even if they pop I smile. It’s no secret why.The soapy rainbow swirls are magic to my eye. I love looking up at clouds, And blowing_ _ _ _ _ _ _inthe_ _”

Those who figure out the answer to that riddle are led to, which features an animated hand holding a bubble wand (which is Coca-Cola branded, natch). You can move the hand with your mouse and release bubbles by clicking.

Other riddles lead to and Though Coke doesn’t appear to be running the program on Twitter, the brand is also using its Google+ page for the effort.

The riddles, developed with Wieden + Kennedy, Amsterdam, are a creative alternative to Coke’s usually banal status updates (sample: “Who’s had a Coca-Cola today?”) Nice one, Coke. Your move, Pepsi.

[Via Creativity Online ]

More About: coca cola, Facebook, Google, Marketing

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Apple’s 2012 Fiscal Year Rides on New iPad

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 09:19 PM PST

Apple has a lot riding on the success of the new iPad. It’s the company’s only big launch this year until the iPhone 5 is expected to launch in October.

Apple’s quarters are different from most companies — its fourth quarter ends in September, so sales of the new iPad are essential to meet analysts’ profit projection numbers for 2012. iPad sales in the first quarter of 2012 (October to December 2011) hit 15.4 million — a rise of 111%. Apple’s new iPad was announced on Wednesday to eager reporters and tech insiders. After news of the “new iPad” circulated throughout the Web, people took to Twitter to give a collective, “meh.” In fact, on Wednesday “iPad” was not even the top trending topic on Twitter and by Thursday it disappeared from the Twitterverse’s trending topics completely.

Analysts predict Apple’s revenue growth will increase by more than 40 percent and earnings should grow by 54 percent by the time Apple’s fiscal year ends, Tech Analyst Rick Munarriz from TheMotleyFool told Mashable on Wednesday. But that’s only if Apple’s earning continue to grow like they are now.

Mashable emailed Apple for comment and is waiting for a response.

A growing percentage, now 76 percent of the company’s revenue, comes from iPhones, iPads and iPods — everything that works on the iOS.

“Apple does not make money on selling content,” said Horace Dediu, a mobile analyst with a focus on Apple, who is also a television host and blogger for “Although last year they received about $10 billion in gross income from iTunes, that business is running at break even. Whatever is left from paying for the content itself (music, video and apps) is used to operate the store and the payment system takes a cut as well.”

The latest iPad’s suggested retail price is $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model and $699 for the 64GB model. iPad Wi-Fi + 4G for either AT&T or Verizon will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 for the 16GB model, $729 for the 32GB model and $829 for the 64GB model.

Mashable and other news outlets reported a study by iSuppli in 2010 that showed the iPad costs roughly half its retail price to manufacture.

“The highest margin product is the iPhone, at above 50% gross margin,” said Dediu. “But the iPad is not far behind at about 33%. It’s higher than the iPod and the Mac which are both around 20% to 25%. The typical PC from HP or Dell barely gets 10%.”

Android is actually outselling the iPhone in terms of units — and taking market share away from the iPhone. But Apple is the market leader in smartphone sales and makes the largest profit. It’s the most valuable company in the United States, regardless of industry, Munarriz said. It’s a $494 billion company — five times the value of Facebook.

“Apple’s been one of the best stocks over the last 10 years,” he said. “Apple’s Renaissance — you can almost tie it to the iPod release in 2001.”

Will the new iPad will be as popular as the previous two, continuing to generate massive profits for Apple?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, arakonyunus

More About: apple, china, economy, finance, Foxconn, ipad, Revenue

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Pedestrian Airbag Just Might Save Your Life [VIDEO]

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 09:02 PM PST

Volvo has introduced the world’s first-ever pedestrian airbag on a car.

Here’s how it works: When the Volvo V40‘s front bumper hits a pedestrian, sensors register the contact. The hood lifts slightly, and a U-shaped cushion pops out over the front windshield. So, if someone flips over the hood after being hit, the airbag should protect just the spot where the person’s head and neck would most likely smash into the automobile.

Check out the video above for more information.

Do you think this tech innovation will save lives? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Tech

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How Product Announcements Affect Apple’s Stock Price [CHARTS]

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 08:51 PM PST

Much of Apple’s market value hinges on the reception of its products. Will people love the new iPad? Will the next iteration of the iPhone change the mobile game?

Product announcement events are so important to Apple’s marketing that they can really move the needle on the company’s stock price.

SEE ALSO: How 9 Tech Giants Traded After Going Public [INFOGRAPHIC]

In the wake of Apple’s latest revelations, we thought it prudent to see how the stock price has been affected by product announcements of the past. Once again we’ve turned to our friends at Statista to chart the data, and as you might glean from even a cursory glance, the numbers tell a story of steady anticipation, followed by a steep decline, returning the stock close to or below its original value. The main exceptions to this rule were the original iPhone (announced in January 2007) and the iPad 2 (March 2011).

What do you make of these charts? Are they normal market fluctuations, or a sign of over-hype? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Graphic courtesy of

Thumbnail courtesy of Flickr, Stuart Caie.

More About: apple, Business, features, ipad, iphone, macbook, stock

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Path Adds Nike+ Integration, Lets You Share Running Data With Friends

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 08:32 PM PST

Path released version 2.1 of its iPhone app Thursday, allowing you to sync your Nike+ account with the app for the first time.

Now, you can connect your Nike+ and Path accounts to share your runs automatically with your Path network. Friends will be able to see your time, distance, best pace and the exact route you took overlaid on a map. Soon, you will be able to share more health data via Nike’s forthcoming Nike+ Fuelband.

Path also added several new features to the Music and Photos story sections.

A “Music Math” button functions just like iPhone app Shazam, allowing you to press record and identify a song playing around you. You can then share that song with your friends on Path.

Under Photos, users will find upgraded versions of existing free lenses and a new comic book-esque lens called Pow. Users can also now manually adjust focus and exposure points to improve photo quality.

Try out the app for yourself here [iTunes link].

More About: Nike, Path

Uberlife Makes Hanging Out Offline Easier

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 08:13 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: Uberlife

Quick Pitch: Uberlife lets users create real-world hangouts, share them instantly with their social networks and let whoever is free join them.

Genius Idea: Making hanging out with like-minded people easier, faster and more fun.

Planning to hang out with friends is pretty complicated these days, especially when it involves endless back-and-forth texts, e-mails, messages and phone calls.

Uberlife is a free app that lets you instead create a "hangout" when you plan to do something, share it instantly with your social networks and invite friends and like-minded people who are free to join you.

"Uberlife helps users gain more real-world relationship building and face time with their friends and new people around them, instead of relying so much on catching up online," said Uberlife CEO Sanchita Saha in an interview with Mashable. "While most social apps today are for sharing moments of our lives with friends and networks, Uberlife is about making those moments happen."

To start using Uberlife, just download the app to your iPhone, sign in with your Facebook or Twitter account and then connect to your account. Uberlife will use some of your personal information from these accounts, such as your location, likes, interests and photos. Next, create a "hangout" by typing in where and when you plan to go, and then add tags that will match to other Uberlife users' Facebook likes, interests and bands.

Once you create a hangout, Uberlife lets you share it on your Facebook and Twitter accounts and invite whomever is free to join. People who join can also invite friends by sharing the hangout on their own networks. Users can then check in at the hangout, post comments and upload photos on the hangout's page.

Uberlife users can follow other users they’d like to hang out with, and the app will notify them as soon as any of those users create a hangout close by. However, users can only become Uberlife friends if they are following each other and have attended at least one hangout together.

If you create a hangout, you automatically earn a "Connector Score," which increases when more friends connect in Uberlife after attending your hangout. In the future, Uberlife hopes to reward users with the highest Connector Scores with discounts and free items.

"Online networks give us the tools to connect with friends and family easily, instantly and frequently," says Saha. "Uberlife brings that same ease and opportunity to "offline" interactions, informal get-togethers, and events."

Although there are a number of ways to plan events with friends, including through Facebook events and MeetUp, Uberlife is different because it’s free, more flexible and allows anyone to create a hangout. Facebook events are mostly geared towards big occasions such as birthdays and parties while MeetUp is restricted to only group organizers.

Launched in 2012, Uberlife is currently in invite-only beta. The company plans to implement its business model when the app is public, which could be based on offers from local venues for Uberlife users and location-based advertising

Uberlife has raised $1.6 million in funding and had approximately 7,000 users sign up within one week. The app is available for iPhones and as a mobile web app for Android and Blackberry devices.

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.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, skynesher

More About: bizspark, ubelife

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Tweet-A-Beer Lets You Buy Drinks for Twitter Pals

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 07:48 PM PST

Buying someone a drink in person is a nice gesture, but buying someone a drink via Twitter is, well, not something you do often.

Online networking app Tweet-A-Beer hopes to change that and make paying for other Twitter users’ drinks more of a habit. The web tool officially rolls out at South by Southwest.

Here’s how it works (flip through the gallery below for a visual tour): Tweet-A-Beer uses Chirpify — an ecommerce platform that lets you buy, sell and donate money — to sync your Twitter account to your PayPal account. You can safely send beer money in $5 allotments.

Oregon-based agencies Waggener Edstrom Worldwide and tenfour brewed the app for public consumption in six weeks, just in time for SXSW where networking is known to stem from quaffing alcoholic beverages.

Use Twitter Handles to Send Beer Money

Networking app Tweet-A-Beer lets you send beer money in $5 allotments via tweets by syncing your Twitter and PayPal accounts.

For example, I sent $5 to Mashable colleague Sarah Kessler.

Click here to view this gallery.

Users have already bought more than 500 beers to incite in-person meetups or wish SXSW attendees good luck. For example, I sent $5 to Mashable colleague Sarah Kessler, who will be at SXSW reporting on all things dealing with startups. I personalized my transaction with a message, which was tweeted to my followers after I hit, “Send Beer Money.” The app also allows you to add your current location and a meeting location to drink beers together.

Another Twitter user shows some love for a SXSW-goer:


“Given how large the conference is, the best way to track where the hottest spots are and where to meet up face-to-face is via Twitter and location-based services,” Kent Hollenbeck, Waggener Edstrom senior vice president of global corporate communications, told Mashable. “We're launching it at SXSW Interactive festival — it's the perfect venue to help foster real-life connections.”

SEE ALSO: 7 Hot Apps to Watch at SXSW | 6 Ways to Up Your Networking Game at SXSW

Waggener Edstrom will also introduce at SXSW a Windows Phone 7 app called News of the Day, which displays a real-time stream of top news and topics as well as trending stories on Twitter. Last year at SXSW, the company launched Hot Spots, an app that showcases popular hangouts in Austin.

More About: Beer, Chirpify, mobile apps, networking, paypal, sxsw, sxsw 2012, trending, Twitter

4 Ways Restaurants Should Use QR Codes

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 07:32 PM PST

Hamilton Chan is CEO and founder of Paperlinks, which provides the leading QR code infrastructure for businesses. Codes generated through Paperlinks app can be scanned by the free Paperlinks iPhone app or by any QR code reader on any smartphone platform.

Despite criticism, the QR code continues to be a major player in the evolution of mobile commerce.

But while many Fortune 500 advertisers may have embraced the QR code in their marketing efforts, the restaurant industry has proven a relatively late adopter of the technology.

When used to power speedier transactions and provide timely information, the QR code is a useful tool for restaurateurs seeking to augment the customer experience. On takeout menus, dine-in menus and real world advertising, the QR code has a purposeful place in the restaurant experience.

SEE ALSO: 10 Funniest QR Code Fails

As any supporter of QR codes, near field communication (NFC) chips, or augmented reality will tell you, the key is the destination, not the mode of transportation. It doesn't matter if information is delivered with zero friction, if the information itself isn't wanted, it won’t pay off.

Are QR codes just a marketing fad, or can the mobile technology deliver real value for restaurants and consumers at the right place and at the right time? Here are four ways QR codes can be effectively leveraged in a restaurant environment to improving the overall dining experience.

1. Mobile Ordering

Ordering food from a smartphone is incredibly convenient. It is sub-optimal to have to speak to a live person, who is juggling multiple roles in a restaurant, dealing with customers face-to-face and handling several ringing phone lines.

Enter the QR-coded takeout menu. Restaurants realize that the printed takeout menu is still one of the most effective ways to elicit food orders. It's tangible, colorful, holds a lot of information and is easily shared. Adding a QR code to the menu triggers a mobile ordering experience. That way, restaurants can marry the best of old and new technology and make the traditional takeout menu digitally interactive.

Or prompt a customer to complete a takeout order online, at which point she’ll receive a custom-generated QR code to be scanned at the point-of-sale. The Melt handles orders by generating QR codes that help consumers skip the ordering line.

2. Links to Photos and Social Media

Ever stare at a text-based menu and wonder what a particular dish actually looks like? A QR code strategically placed on a dine-in menu has the ability to take consumers to additional information. The QR code could lead to photos with dish names, to the restaurant's Yelp listing, or to Twitter and Facebook links to encourage social media sharing.

On takeout menus and any real world advertising, the QR code can trigger links to a wealth of useful information. In this manner, the QR code is not a marketing gimmick, but a bona fide mechanism to provide interested parties with information on which they can act.

The mobile landing page launched by the QR code on a takeout menu could include hours, contact information, a map and directions. Special offers and feedback forms could also be part of the mobile-optimized experience.

Additionally, most QR readers have a history tab that logs previously visited sites, so the information, once scanned, could be referenced later.

3. Different Restaurants, Different QR Code Applications

The QR code can be utilized effectively by a variety of different restaurant types, from fine dining to casual, from fast food to food trucks.

A fine dining establishment might wish to use the QR code in a city guide advertisement, which leads to its online reservations system and photos of the interior of the restaurant.

A fast food restaurant could add the QR code to a table tent ad, leading to a special promotion in exchange for an email address.

And food trucks could affix a QR code to the side of the vehicle to help people skip the line, should they wish to order and pay through their smartphones.

4. A Word About Aesthetics

A common objection to QR codes is that they are ugly and unbefitting of a nicely designed marketing strategy. It is true that the standard out-of-the-box QR code isn't particularly aesthetically pleasing, but brands can improve the appearance with clever design tricks that ensure scanability and beauty.

By going with a custom-designed QR code, restaurants can represent their style, while also reassuring customers that the restaurant has put some thought into the experience.

As consumer smartphone adoption continues to surge, QR code usage is becoming more sophisticated. In particular, QR codes are transforming from a mere advertising hook to an integral part of mobile infrastructure. From boarding passes to takeout menus, the QR code is becoming less novelty and more utility.

One challenge for restaurants is always staying fresh in the minds of consumers. The restaurant that embraces mobile technology intelligently will demonstrate its cutting-edge commitment to excellent user experience and customer service.

Images courtesy of WTF QR Codes, Flickr, alexhung

More About: contributor, features, Food, Marketing, QR Codes, trending

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Apple Quietly Rejects Google Maps in iPhoto for iPad

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 07:16 PM PST

When Apple unveiled iPhoto for iPad, it demonstrated the many departures from the desktop version, including the multi-touch editing, visual brush palette and AirPlay slideshow streaming. What Apple didn’t mention was that it wasn’t using Google Maps anymore.

When you check a photo’s location data in the OS X version of iPhoto, a map clearly labeled with a Google logo is visible. But when you fire up a map in the new iPhoto for iPad, that logo is gone, and the map’s labeling looks quite different (you can see the difference in the side-by-side comparison below). Detailed examinations from multiple sites determined there’s detail on the maps of some areas that isn’t visible on Google. Where is iPhoto getting its map data?

OpenStreetMap, it appears. Although Apple has yet to confirm, a blog post on the OpenStreetMap Foundation site says Apple is getting its map data from the community-created mapping project. To prove the point, it posted a link to a site that purports to show Apple’s iPhoto world map overlaid with OpenStreetMap.


While the Apple map clearly has a different design, the maps appear to have near-identical road and landmark information. The blog post says the iPhoto maps date back to April 2010, which could account for any discrepancies.

Separately, a programmer says he tracked where iPhoto was pulling its map data, and it was from a server run by Apple, not Google. From the evidence, it appears Apple has taken OpenStreetMap’s data to create its own maps.

OpenStreetMap is an open service — anyone is free to use its data and maps at no charge. However, the Foundation asks that anyone who uses the data provide attribution to its contributors. So far, Apple hasn’t mentioned any contributors, nor has it acknowledged that it’s using OpenStreetMap data.

SEE ALSO: Apple Announces iPhoto for iOS

Importantly, Apple is still using Google Maps in its other iOS apps (like Maps and the Places tab in the Photos app), so this is far from a wholesale ditching of the service. However, it appears Apple’s increasingly icy relationship with Google is trickling down into its products.

Apple has also been beefing up its own location data, saying last year it was recording anonymous user location data to create its own traffic database. The company has also acquired several mapping companies over the past few years — among them Quebec-based Poly9 — so the new iPhoto maps could be the first step in a move away from Google Maps in iOS.

What do you think of Apple’s move to replace Google Maps in iPhoto for iPad? Share your thoughts in the comments.

BONUS: iPhoto for iPad: Hands On


You can browse through photos sorted into albums. Albums are generated either automatically or manually within iPhoto for Mac.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: apple, Google, Google Maps, iOS, ipad, iPhoto, OpenStreetMap, trending

In the Middle East International Women’s Day Is Documented on Social Media

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 06:54 PM PST

Countries worldwide are honoring International Women’s Day, and the nations of the Middle East and North Africa are no exception.

On Thursday, Egyptian women protested in Cairo to demand more representation in the constitutional assembly. According to Daily News Egypt, “eight women elected and two appointed women make up less than 2 percent of the 508 seats in the People's Assembly.” The female activists’ demonstration called for far higher numbers, anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent.

Meanwhile, though Afghanistan used International Women’s Day to reveal that it is opening up a female-only Internet cafe in central Kabul, critics and activists are still wary of the future of women’s rights in the country. The Afghanistan government is receiving backlash after it recently welcomed advice from Muslim clerics that women and men should remain segregated in public, and “allow husbands to beat wives under certain circumstances” — a strong reminder of former Taliban control over the region.

So what does this mean for International Women’s Day 2012?

It means that although women in Egypt and other Arab countries might be gaining more attention globally, they are still fighting for their recognition and their basic rights in their home countries. Egyptians turned to social media to help organize protests during the Arab Spring — and in fact, it was a woman, Asmaa Mahfouz, who helped organize protesters to Egypt’s Tahrir Square on Jan. 25, 2011 with her viral YouTube video. When coverage of attacks on female protestors started breaking from the region in late 2011, women again were at the forefront of the protests.

SEE ALSO: 9 Social Media Uprisings That Sought to Change the World in 2011

Activists also voiced their concerns online and in protests in other Arab countries in honor of International Women’s Day. Check out the gallery below to see the range of views emerging from the region.

Middle East International Women's Day

Egypt attracted much attention online and in Cairo as women protested ahead of presidential elections in the country.

Click here to view this gallery.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, mozcann

More About: activism, afghanistan, Arab Spring, Egypt, international women's day, protests

Why Bands Need Better Mobile Websites Now [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 06:27 PM PST

This year, about 2,000 bands will arrive in Austin to play SXSW, hoping to grab the attention of label execs, A&R reps, and most importantly, new fans.

Typically, bands play around four shows during the music portion of the festival, which is plenty of opportunity to get exposure. But what if someone hears a band and wants to check out their site via mobile phone? Will most artist websites be ready to serve up a quality mobile experience for fans on the ground at SXSW?


The folks at ShareSquare parsed over 1,700 band websites listed on the official SXSW roster to figure out if they could handle the expected mobile traffic.

They found not many band websites had links to their social profiles, which could be a huge closed door for those fans eager to connect. Some of the websites were also woefully out of date. Some even used the dreaded framesets not seen since the Geocities days. For anyone on a phone, a crashed browser would be reason enough to kill interest.

See the infographic below to find out what else the survey uncovered. Do you think bands need to beef up their mobile presence? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy crsan, Flickr.

More About: bands, Music, sxsw

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ACLU Sues School For Punishing 12-Year-Old Over Facebook Comment

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 06:07 PM PST

Can a school district punish a student for making derogatory comments about staff members online? Not according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit Tuesday against a Minnesota school district and sheriff’s office.

In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court, the ACLU claims a 12-year-old student was disciplined by administrators of the Minnewaska Area School District after she posted on Facebook that she “hated” a hall monitor who was “mean” to her.

In an interesting twist, Facebook’s sign-up policy requires users to reach 13 years of age before they are granted an account. We reached out to Facebook for a comment on the matter, and we’ll update this post when we hear back.

According to the lawsuit, the girl’s principal decided that the Facebook post constituted “bullying.” As punishment, she was given detention and made to apologize.

She then posted another comment, saying that she was annoyed someone had shown her first comment to school officials. This second comment contained off-color language. The school district’s response?

“She was given an in-school suspension and was prohibited from attending a school field trip,” according to the ACLU.

The young girl’s struggle with her school district didn’t end there. The ACLU’s lawsuit says that the girl was later forced by a school administrator to hand over her Facebook and email login information after she was accused of chatting online with another young student about sex. The ALCU said that a local police deputy was present while administrators searched through her online chat record, and that the student’s parents were not informed of the search before it occurred.

None of the posts or emails the school district found offensive were posted from a school computer or on school property.

The ACLU claims the punishments were a violation of the student’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech and Fouth Amendment right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

“Students do not shed their First Amendment rights at the school house gate,” said Charles Samuelson, executive director for the Minnesota branch of the ACLU, in a statement. “The Supreme Court ruled on that in the 1970s, yet schools like Minnewaska seem to have no regard for the standard.”

SEE ALSO: Dad Shoots Daughter's Laptop Over Facebook Post [VIDEO]

Do you think the school district was right to punish the student for her posts or ask her for her login information? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, Clicknique

More About: Facebook, Social Media, trending

Peyton Manning Fired, Fans React on Twitter [CHARTS]

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 05:54 PM PST

One of the NFL’s star quarterbacks, Peyton Manning, was cut loose by the Indianapolis Colts after 14 seasons of signal-calling brilliance this week. And, as is the norm these days, the major piece of sports news made a huge splash on Twitter.

Manning fans used the social network to pay tribute; fans of other teams used it to lobby for what Manning’s next destination should be; and many Colts fans used Twitter to direct anger and frustration at team owner Jim Irsay for letting the franchise icon go. But how exactly did the conversation break down?

Mashable was provided a detailed analysis of the chatter by the Indianapolis-based social media research company Fizziology. The numbers reveal some interesting reactions and trends.

After ESPN’s Chris Mortensen broke the news on Tuesday afternoon via Twitter that Manning and the Colts would part ways, the quarterback’s name was mentioned 48,147 times on the network over the next hour. Irsay was mentioned over 5,000 times, and Andrew Luck — the Colts’ presumed first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft — was mentioned just over 3,600 times.

It’s also interesting to see how the conversation morphed on Twitter as the story developed. About 18 hours after Mortensen’s report, Irsay and Manning held an emotional press conference to wrap things up.

Between the time the news broke Tuesday and the press conference ended Wednesday, Irsay faced a deluge of negative sentiment on Twitter. Negative sentiment made up 48% of all Irsay-related tweets, while 37% were neutral and just 6% were positive.

The conference did help quell the overall rage toward Irsay, however. In the several hours after it ended, positive sentiment ran at 16% of all tweets, while negative and neutral sentiment decreased to 43% and 33%, respectively.

For Manning, positive sentiment ran at 40% before the press conference and increased to 59% in the hours after it ended.

While Irsay managed to decrease negative sentiment toward him by 5% with the presser, it’s surprising to see how the negative feelings shifted.

Before the press conference made things official, negative mentions of Irsay broke down like this, according to Fizziology: 52% general anger, 27% negativity about the decision itself, and 21% about Irsay’s character.

After the conference, negative Irsay sentiment was just 41% general anger and 24% decision-specific. But the amount of tweeters who posted critical mentions about Irsay’s character swelled to 35% of all negative sentiment.

Now the question becomes where Manning will play next season. According to the post-presser Twitter stats, it’s a tie between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Each team grabbed 24% of the chatter over Manning’s future, while the San Francisco 49ers were just behind with 21%. The Washington Redskins had 17%, and the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings 7% apiece.

Check out the gallery below for Fizziology charts that paint a fuller picture of how Twitter registered this week’s Peyton Manning drama.

1. Manning Sentiment Comparison

This is how the Twitter chatter about Peyton Manning broke down between the initial report he would no longer be an Indianapolis Colt and the end of the press conference confirming that news.

Click here to view this gallery.

Thumbnail mage courtesy of cmannphoto

More About: sports, trending, Twitter

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5 Social Media Campaigns Rocking International Women’s Day

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 04:53 PM PST

international womens day

International Women’s Day, celebrated annually March 8, focuses on empowering women around the globe. It has has evolved into a massive day of social media activism, with campaigns popping up throughout the social web.

In many parts of the world, women are more likely to never receive an education, live in poverty and suffer gender-based discrimination.

“Happy International Women’s Day” and #IWD have trended on Twitter, as social media users discuss ways to fight for gender equality.

We’ve rounded up some of the dynamic campaigns happening online, with the hopes of empowering women all over the world. Read about these five campaigns and tell us what you think of their efforts. Let us know in the comments if we missed any cool social efforts.

“Bollocks to Poverty” 1950s Facebook Makeover

bullocks to poverty

Bollocks to Poverty, the youth arm of ActionAid, has created a Facebook app that shows what your Facebook Timeline would look like if you were living in the 1950s, to shed light on that era’s rampant inequality between the sexes. When using the app, my Timeline says I work as a housewife, studied home economics and cooking (and no math or science), rarely leave my hometown, and married at a young age.

I’ve posted status updates such as “Trapped a travelling salesman in the house and managed to get him to talk to me for five whole minutes! What a treat. Anyway, those dishes won’t do themselves,” and “Pregnant again, oops. Really wish they’d invent something to stop that happening. Might start taking more cold showers.”

Rock the Lips

rock the lips

Rock the Lips, a campaign created by agency AKQA, is trying to make red lips the universal symbol of women’s empowerment. The campaign hopes 1 million women will wear red lipstick and share photos of themselves on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram using the hashtag #RockTheLips.

Rock the Lips even tried to get integration in the Google Doodle, by replacing the two O’s in Google with red lips. Google may not have adopted the campaign’s red lips, but it did create an International Women’s Day Doodle, as well.

Oxfam America’s eCards and Awards

oxfam america

Oxfam America has created ecards with messages about ridding the world of gender inequality. Oxfam hopes women around the world will send cards to other women they admire for making a difference in the world.

Oxfam has also created International Women’s Day awards, into which you insert a name and date, and then share to a blog or social network.

International Rescue Committee’s Wake Up

The International Rescue Committee is using social media to spread stories of women in crisis through its recently launched Wake Up campaign. The IRC shares the stories of women such as Fatuma, whose daughter was assaulted in Somalia; Angele, who is living as an asylee from Cameroon in the U.S.; and Francine, who is overcoming the damage of working as a sex slave in the Congo.

After you read this women’s powerful stories, you can use the IRC’s tool kit of social media resources, including sample blog posts, banners, Facebook and Google+ posts.

WeAreEQUALS Facebook App

A coalition of 30 charities and arts organizations have launched the Equaliser Facebook app, which represents an agreement between two friends to equality, presumably between the sexes.

The Equaliser app asks you to upload a photo, along with the photo of the person who commits to be your equal. The app merges your two head shots into a split frame photo, which you can share, along with an explanation of your pledge to equality.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jcarillet

More About: international women's day, Social Good, trending, women

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‘American Idol’ Judge Turns To Pinterest After Sparkly Pin Ignites Buzz

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 04:17 PM PST

American Idol veteran judge Randy Jackson fittingly used Pinterest to react to the heavy online buzz surrounding the sparkly beaded pin he wore during Wednesday’s live show.

Jackson and his team, who are making a bigger than usual social media push in Idol‘s 11th season, noticed during the episode’s first commercial break that Twitter chatter centered on his fashion accessory.

In a tweet (see below) to me during the episode, Jackson called the adornment a “Betty Boop” pin before plopping an image of it on social bookmarking site Pinterest, which he says he loves because he can “create separate boards for each subject, and the ease of sharing and re-pinning.”

His Pinterest post responded to viewers and gave them a chance to win it on Facebook.

On Thursday, Jackson told me Pinterest is a “great way to show off my fashion to my fans” and that he got the pin from designer Dennis Robinson II.

“Everybody is talking about (Pinterest), so I wanted to be on it,” Jackson told Mashable. “When I saw how much buzz the pin was creating, I figured it would be a great way to showcase my Pinterest page.”

Wednesday’s performance show marked American Idol‘s 400th episode. Like other judges on rival singing contest shows The Voice and The X Factor, Jackson is looking to engage the burgeoning social TV audience.

Randy and his fellow judges have stiff competition in the social media sphere.

In November 2011, former Idol judge Simon Cowell joined Twitter but as part of being a judge on the U.S. version of The X Factor, which became the first TV competition to use Twitter direct message-enabled voting to help determine a winner.

SEE ALSO: YouTube Famous Military Singer Battles on NBC's 'The Voice' [VIDEO]

Meanwhile, The Voice, which became a social media powerhouse on TV in 2011, returned this February with added star power: Grammy-nominated singer Christina Milian as the show's new social media correspondent.

American Idol host Ryan Seacrest jumped in on Jackson’s pin hoopla Wednesday night by tweeting a video via Tout, the same video-sharing app basketball star Shaquille O'Neal used to announce his retirement.

What do you think of Randy Jackson’s use of social media? Is his pinning a big win for Pinterest?

More About: american idol, celebrities, Entertainment, Randy Jackson, social tv, TV

Why Some Musicians May Not Own Their Social Media Followers

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 04:15 PM PST

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

When fans communicate with their favorite musicians on Twitter or Facebook, they rarely ask, “Who owns the social relationship?” But for artists and labels, this conversation happens daily — and it may drastically change in the near future.

Take the legal dispute between Noah Kravitz and Phonedog, a phone review site and Kravitz’s former employer. Kravitz had been tweeting from Twitter handle @Phonedog_Noah during eight months of his employment. After leaving Phonedog, the company sued Kravitz — $2.50 for each of the 17,000 Twitter followers he’d gained while employed at the company. In other words, $340,000.

The legal battle between Noah Kravitz and Phone Dog remains unresolved, but the outcome will likely set the tone for future social media ownership disputes, particularly for artists and musicians.

SEE ALSO: Lady Gaga the First to Hit 20 Million Twitter Followers

Practices for ownership of Twitter followers, Facebook fans and other social media connections have yet to be widely established in many industries. And when it comes to the music industry, social media ownership policies have only recently begun to take shape between artists and labels.

How Indie Labels Respond

After speaking with several independent labels' social media representatives, I’ve determined most labels’ roles are twofold: consulting and later supporting.

Jason Fisher, director of new media for Anti- and Epitaph Records, coaches artists on best social media practices. He help his artists maximize their social media presences, in hopes of converting interactions into additional revenue streams.

"Whenever we first sign an artist, we typically do an in-depth analysis of their current social media presence, looking at analytics and results from previous campaigns," wrote Fisher in an email. "From there, we meet with the artists, where we discuss this data, their concerns, restrictions, ideas and needs, which we use to build a social media strategy tailored to their specific needs."

In developing a tailored strategy, independent labels remain involved, so long as the artists are comfortable. Vagrant Records' head of new media, Jeremy Maciak, says this approach has been adopted in many cases for both established and emerging acts. "It's parallel on both sides,” says Maciak. "When a team is established, we work with their management to find out just what's comfortable with our [social] involvement, being an admin at all. If…they are comfortable, then we become a passive participant and help design certain contest tabs, certain band Pages."

For instance, indie band The Hold Steady had already gained a following before joining Vagrant. Since signing to the label in 2006, the band has released two records that have benefitted from the label's social media support, which includes designing tabs, BandPages and occasionally posting content. Vagrant’s participation, however, remains at the band's sole discretion.

"We know that the most personal voice a band can have is via Facebook or Twitter. We respect that," says Maciak. "Nothing is ever done without management or band approval. Our active involvement is always subject to approval."

Balancing Act

For Karlie Justice, social media manager at Yep Roc Music Group, the ideal relationship is striking a balance among artist, management and label involvement. In her experience, the label should build the sites and share access with all parties involved. Then, allow artists to post "personality-driven updates," such as, songs they enjoy or their opinions on current events. Publicists and managers can then handle informational posts regarding tour dates and sales information.

It completely varies by artist, says Justice. "I’d say a lot of the younger artists who have grown up with social media are a little more protective over their feeds. In this case, we’ll usually send 'post requests' to them to work in when they’re able. We’re always fine with this setup, because these are normally the artists who engage really well via social media."

No matter who does what on a band's Twitter or Facebook page, the foremost priority is that followers feel as if they have a direct connection to the artist. Similar to websites and email newsletters, the more actively an artist can engage fans, the more likely fans will positively respond.

It's why Bloodshot Records' Jenny “JP” Pfafflin prefers her artists to truly own their social media accounts. In her experience as the Chicago-based label's new media publicist, it simply lends to a more authentic social experience. "It maintains the artist’s own 'voice,'” she says. "If Justin Townes Earle wants to bitch on Twitter about how electronic cigarettes are banned on planes, so be it — it’s a lot more truthful than some company line."

Each of these four label employees unequivocally stated that social media is about the artists — it's an extension of their voices, thus, they should own it. By helping a band understand and execute best practices, the labels will likely see improved sales down the road. But if an artist chooses to leave a label, it’s important to let him keep control of those assets.

"For us, the artists own their own social media accounts, though we're heavily involved in all of them,” says Fisher. "When an artist leaves our labels, they are welcome to take their social media accounts and any other contact lists with them.”

"We don't meddle in that," adds Maciak. "The band retains ownership of that, and if they ask us to leave, we completely oblige."

Why This Approach Isn't Commonplace

Many musicians sign record contracts with independent labels that offer favorable terms across the board, which often address social media. Looking at major labels, however, it's not always clear whether artists can retain access to these social relationships, should they choose to walk away from a major label.

Music industry veteran George Howard, who has served as Rykodisc's president as well as Carly Simon's manager, sees striking similarities in the way musicians’ websites were handled more than a decade ago.

"The precedent here is the management of artist websites, where labels did manage sites," he says. "[The label] will acquire all of your information and use it for [their] purposes."

Despite the changes in the way artists communicate with their fans, he notes that information still reigns. While the music industry is often concerned with ownership of master recording, possession of these social relationships is increasingly becoming a valuable commodity that major labels seek to control.

"I have been aware of contracts that do dictate that there's some ownership retained," Maciak recalls of some major label contracts. "I have been made aware of some contracts out there that are pretty binding."

A representative at Universal Music Group declined to comment for this article, while Sony Music did not respond to our interview request.

Without a legal precedent for social media ownership in the music industry, it's unlikely that labels already operating in this manner will change their practices.

Many indie label representatives stress that artists must understand the importance of their social connections. Both artist and label should be on the same page: Establish who owns the connections on specific social media sites, and understand best practices from the get go.

After all, says Howard, "Currency is connection."

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, Vesnaandjic, Soyhan

More About: art, contributor, features, law, Music, Social Media

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How NFL Legend Warren Sapp Tackles Social Media

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 04:04 PM PST

Warren Sapp spent 13 years as one of the NFL’s most talented, verbose and entertaining players. The intimidating mountain of a defensive tackle played in nearly 200 career games, registered nearly 100 regular season sacks and made seven Pro Bowls — numbers that may well lead to a Hall of Fame induction. One season, he even caught two touchdown passes.

Since retiring in 2007, Sapp’s outspoken and gregarious nature has made for a smooth transition into media. He’s currently a commentator for both the NFL Network and Showtime’s Inside the NFL, and has a number of other projects in the works. But Sapp isn’t just successful in traditional broadcast media. He’s also huge on Twitter, where he appropriately goes by the handle @QBKILLA.

Sapp has amassed nearly 750,000 followers since joining the social service at the coaxing of NFL Network colleague Rich Eisen. He’s religious about replying to fans, and has a whopping 87,000 tweets to prove it. Last month, Sapp was recognized for his social savvy with an Excellence in Social Media Award at Gravity Summit’s annual sports and entertainment conference.

More recently, Mashable gave Sapp a call to talk Twitter, football, media and how he merges all three.

Q&A with Warren Sapp

You have always been a big personality, so you’re a natural fit for social media. How’d you get into Twitter?

About five years ago when I first started at NFL Network, Rich got me on. He helped me out a lot — told me I had to actually put a picture up, things like that. Then Rich showed me how to check my mentions and I saw all the people talking to me. I was gone for the next two weeks just talking to people, and from there it was on.

You obviously like it now. Why?

It gives me a chance to interact with fans and it takes down an absolute barrier. It’s something I never had the same chance to do because where else would you do it? Everybody’s there and it’s an open dialogue.

Do you have any keys to success? Things you try to make a point of doing or avoiding?

I’m not idly tweeting. These are almost all replies, not “I went for a swim, it was great.” And I try to be consistent more than anything. When this bounty thing came up, you can’t duck that. I had to defend 13 years of playing the game, it was unbelievable. All the things you can call me, being a liar isn’t one of them. I’m big and bold, but not dishonest.

You’ve managed to stay very relevant to sports fans despite being retired for several years. Has social media played a role in that?

It’s great to build my brand — that and the two TV networks I’m on every week. Post a photo or a video, if that’s the best way to share something. Just build your brand to where it has the most tentacles. The Gravity Award was crazy for me, because I’m just banging away with people, having a good time, but to be recognized for it was great.

When you were playing, social media didn’t exist in the same way it does now. How does that impact pro athletes today?

It gives them a platform and a medium with which to say something. Sometimes it can be to set the record straight, sometimes they make a fool of themselves. So you have to be smart. I had to tell a buddy one time that every time you press Send you’re making a press release.

Who are the best current NFL players to follow?

I actually don’t follow many football players. I wouldn’t get my news from them because, in the business they’re in, they’re the last ones to know. I’ve been in locker rooms the past 20 years, so that’s the last thing I’m reading unless someone brings it to my attention. Give me the GM or the player personnel guy. I want the decision makers, not the news on the ground.

Now a couple questions for Mashable‘s football fans. Who’s one player you never got to play with that you wish you had when you were in the league? And if you got to pick one current player in his prime to anchor a defense with you, who is that player?

For players I never got to play with, it’s Bruce Smith. For anyone still playing, give me Ray Lewis in his prime. If you get me in tip-top shape and him in tip-top shape, it’d be just like the old days in college.

Ray Lewis could learn some things from you on Twitter. Do you guys ever talk social media?

Nah, we just talk about fishing and our kids. We’re old school, so when we get together we don’t talk too much about texting and Twitter and all of that.

Check out Mashable‘s recent sports-related Q&A’s with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Amy Jo Martin.

More About: Media, sports, Twitter

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New iPad: Is Your Content Ready for the HD Tablet Revolution?

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 03:40 PM PST

David Clarke is CEO and Co-Founder of BGT Partners, a 2011 and 2010 Ad Age Best Place to Work in the U.S. BGT creates interactive marketing and technology solutions for global corporations that strengthen brands, develop more engaging relationships and transform businesses.

It's time to take tablet design seriously and evaluate how your brand's web presence caters to tablet consumers. As usual, Apple is the primary driver behind tablet growth, and the new iPad is yet again redefining the tablet experience and pushing the boundaries of how we use the web.

But what does it mean for your web presence? Below are three ways for your brand to excel in the tablet revolution so you don't get left behind.

1. Prepare Your Site to Go “Beyond HD”

Just as the demand for high-definition technology forced broadcasters to convert their shows, the new iPad may force brands to make their websites retina display-friendly. With the new iPad, your site is not going to look the same as it did before. The original and second-generation iPads both have a screen resolution of 1024 x 768, but the new iPad's resolution of 2048 x 1536 is double that in both directions.

The retina display's pixel density is so high that your eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels. And with a 44% better color saturation than before, coupled with A5X quad-core graphics, images on your site will pop off the screen and be crisper and sharper at any size. Existing apps will be updated automatically, and they will look better, but as Tim Cook stated during the unveiling, "If a developer takes a little bit of time, they can do little things that are mind-blowing."

What does this mean for your brand?

To really take advantage of the retina display, brands need to put more emphasis on high-quality imagery, colors and overall attention to design details. Let's face it — a poor design will make you look even worse in HD, while high-resolution imagery and a broader range of colors will ensure your site stands out. 

2. Prepare for Voice- and Gesture-Controlled Interfaces

New iPad

Do you remember the movie Minority Report? It featured Tom Cruise swinging his hands and using his voice to control a computer screen. This was fiction 10 years ago, but voice- and gesture-controlled interactions are rapidly moving from fantasy to reality. Gesture-controlled video game systems like Nintendo’s Wii and the Xbox Kinect have been hugely successful, and LG recently came out with a voice- and gesture-controlled TV. That’s not to mention the splash that Siri made in the mobile world. 

Although the new iPad doesn't include Siri, it does include a voice dictation feature. However, voice- and gesture-enabled websites are bound to be a key part of the future web experience. In fact, Apple recently filed for a patent called the “Three-Dimensional Imaging and Display System,” hinting that the company is exploring gesture-controlled interactions.

What does this mean for your brand?

Well for now, Siri only works with a few of the iPhone's built-in apps (email, search, calendar, etc.), but just imagine what will happen when Apple opens Siri up to third-party developers. Brands will be able to create Siri-friendly apps (for mobile and tablet) to allow customers to use their voices to carry out mundane tasks, such as paying your electric bill or transferring money from one account to another. To prepare yourself, focus on your key customers and their most important tasks and consider how your current apps can be improved through voice-controlled interactions.

3. The New iPad Is a Tipping Point for Tablets

New iPad Resolution

With the explosive growth of tablets and mobile, people are accessing the web on an increasing array of devices, and your consumers are now expecting your site to work equally well on their desktop, smartphone and tablet. But how do you accommodate for this when there are hundreds of different devices and screen resolutions? Creating separate sites for each device on the market can be expensive and difficult to manage, as the landscape is constantly changing.

What does this mean for your brand?

A smart approach to this challenge is implementing responsive web design, which utilizes one set of code to display content effectively across all devices. Gone are the days of creating entirely separate websites in parallel desktop and mobile versions. Now you can construct an extremely flexible website to handle multiple environments.

A responsive design responds to the user's behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation. As the user switches from a laptop to iPad, the website will automatically switch to accommodate for resolution, image size and scripting abilities. Essentially, your site will scale to whatever device your customer is using.

In Summary

Before you do anything, start with a thorough audit of how your current website performs on the new iPad. Look at imagery, colors, fonts and overall opportunities to improve the visual experience. Next, start the planning process to integrate voice and gesture-controlled interactions into your site — this is the future of tablets. Finally, convert your site design to one that's responsive so it can be viewed optimally on every device in the market, starting with a tablet.

Follow these steps and your brand will not only be "beyond HD," but will also excel in the tablet revolution.

The New iPad Details Hit

The new 9.7-inch iPad has 2048 x 1536-pixel retina display, 5-megapixel camera (with the same optics sensor from the iPhone 4S) and 1080p video recording. It is available March 16 in black and white, powered by A5X chip (with quad-core graphics) and supports 4G LTE networks. It's 9.4 millimeters thick and 1.4 pounds.

Wi-Fi only iPads cost $499 for 16 GB, $599 32 GB and $699 for 64 GB, while 4G versions cost $629 for 16 GB, $729 32 GB and $829 for 64 GB. Pre-orders start today, and the devices will be in stores March 16 in these 10 countries: U.S., UK, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.


Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Business, contributor, features, ipad, Marketing, tablets, web design

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International Women’s Day 2012 Tweets Flood the Twitterverse

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 03:08 PM PST

The Twiterverse has spoken, and it’s really excited about International Women’s Day.

Search for “International Women’s Day” on Twitter and the tweets don’t stop pouring in — “Happy International Women’s Day” is the third most-trending topic on Twitter. There are tons of the expected, “Happy International Women’s Day!” tweets and many insightful ones calling for change or reflecting on womens’ accomplishments. There are a few insensitive ones saying women should get back in the kitchen or asking why there is no “International Men’s Day,” but such diversity of opinions is expected from any mass social network. says this year’s theme is, “Connecting girls, inspiring futures.” And the entire month of March is Women’s History Month.

The first International Women’s Day was celebrated on Feb. 28, 1909. Organized by the Socialist Party of America, the day paid tribute to New York garment factory workers who had protested unfair conditions. International Women’s Day grew into a national holiday and was a vehicle to protest World War I in some parts of Europe.

Many organizations use today to stage peaceful protests or raise awareness of issues facing women and their communities. Whether you use the day to reflect on the past or focus on the future, here are some of the most clever, thoughtful or funny tweets about International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.

IWD Tweets

First Lady Michelle Obama celebrated International Women's Day at the International Women of Courage Award reception with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and 10 winners of the award.

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, RomanOkopny

More About: international women's day, Social Media, Twitter, women, women's day

GE Wants You to Play With Power Tools at SXSW

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 02:37 PM PST

Ever used a laser cutter? How about a cold saw, ironworker, injection molder or 3D printer? If not, do you want to?

No matter your power-tool qualifications (or lack thereof), GE wants to give you a chance to get some hands-on time with them.

The company is launching a series of pop-up open workshops at South by Southwest called GE Garages. A promotion for its "GE Works" campaign, the garages are scheduled to appear in Houston, Cincinnati and San Francisco later in the year.

Tools in the garage are free, and they’re open to anyone to use for their own projects (with “support in product building”). But since most people won't want to spend a whole day in the workshop when they're at SXSW, GE has defined some quick projects for the conference as well.

The projects include using an injection molder to make an iPhone case with a customized spot for mobile payment device Square. You can also weld together bike racks for the city of Austin and etch your name into a business-sized toolkit. If you're so inclined, you can subject your own mobile device to the engraving tools.

GE partnered with collaborative development platform Quirky, peer-to-peer learning marketplace Skillshare, membership-based workshop and fabrication studio TechShop on the project. The garage was designed and built by an agency called Sub Rosa.

Despite obvious liability issues involved in letting the public operate your power tools, GE global director of communications Linda Boff assures us there's no need to worry about lost fingers.

"We have a lot of faith in people," Boff says. "And the tools will be well supervised."

What would you make in the GE Garage? Tell us in the comments.

More About: GE, Invention, sxsw 2012, tools

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SXSW Networking: 6 Ways to Up Your Game

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 02:16 PM PST

Partner Handshake

Scott Gerber is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes youth entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment and underemployment. The YEC provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.

On Friday, the ultimate crossroads of music, film, technology and entrepreneurship kicks off in Austin, TX. But if you’re an entrepreneur who is navigating the SXSW Austin Convention Center for the first time, nine days of industry panels and meet-and-greet events can easily be overwhelming and, at worst, incredibly unproductive.

Don’t wait until next year to make great use of South by Southwest. We asked six successful young entrepreneurs for their best advice on how to meet other influencers and make SXSW well worth it for both your personal brand and your business.

Is SXSW a good place to meet other entrepreneurs? How do you do it right to get the most value for your buck?

1. Research a Plan of Action

SXSW is a great place to meet entrepreneurs in a less formal yet relevant environment. The best way to maximize the opportunity is to do plenty of research on the who and what of events in advance. With so many things to choose from, it’s important to be strategic about who you want to reach. If you know other influencers who are attending, ask for introductions in advance.

- Lisa Nicole Bell, Inspired Life Media Group.

2. Attend With an Open Mind

At most conferences, it is easy to focus on a narrow track and only mingle with people who share like-minded interests. The beauty of SXSW is that, while folks have different passions, most are still interested in everything else at the event. Take advantage, talk to everyone, and learn things that you did not know you did not know!

- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches.

3. Research Some Tech Lingo

SXSW can be a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs, don't get me wrong. It can be a great way to network, which should be a primary goal for many startups. However, tech startups are predominant at SXSW and the crowds are huge. Unless you make a genuine, one-on-one connection with another person, you can be forgotten as soon as you turn around.

- John Hall, Digital Talent Agents.

4. Set Up in Hot Spots

There are certain locations at the Austin Convention Center and nearby where people just constantly cycle through (my favorite is the Bloggers’ Lounge). Pick a spot or two and check in there on a regular basis. Introduce yourself to everyone in the room. Shyness just isn’t allowed. Focus on making the initial connection and arranging for a chance to follow up, either in person or online. You will meet hundreds of people in a few days, so write down everything you plan to follow up on — that means bringing a notebook, because Internet access is not guaranteed when tens of thousands of people are trying to use it all at once.

- Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting.

5. Drop into the Driskill Hotel!

Going to SXSW was one of the best business decisions I made last year, and I’m headed back this year in 2012. It’s the place to turn online friends and acquaintances into business collaborations. If you want one suggestion to cut through the noise of SXSW networking, be sure to stop by late-night, every night at the Driskill Hotel. Both the front lobby and the back bar always have an engaging scene of social media, marketing and change-making insiders.

- Michael Margolis, Get Storied.

6. Leave Room for Spontaneity

SXSW is a great place to meet many entrepreneurs from across the globe. By the end of the event, it’ll feel like you’ve met too many entrepreneurs, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The keys I’ve found are to arrive in Austin with a few folks that you must connect with while there for business, but other than that, maintain a level of openness and availability. Too much planning or organization will only cause unnecessary stress and worry about not attending everything you set out to do. Rather, go into the event, knowing that spontaneity is king for the few short days you have to enjoy the event.

- Jeff Slobotski, Silicon Prairie News.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, webphotographeer.

More About: contributor, entrepreneurs, features, networking, Startups, sxsw, sxsw 2012

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Sorry, New iPad, I’m Still Hunting for a Cheaper Old Model

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 01:55 PM PST

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

Last week I insisted I wouldn’t drop $500 on the new iPad even if it shot laser beams and turned into a flying car.

Now we know the new iPad does have some neat features: a super-high resolution retina display (it’s “resolutionary,” according to Apple‘s oddly punning marketing), a new camera and better battery life, among other improvements.

Have all those new features made me change my mind? Nope.

My earlier post struck a chord with a lot of Mashable readers who also love technology but can’t afford every new gadget. Apple has dropped the price of a new iPad 2 to $400, but that’s still more than I’m willing to pay to enter the tablet market.

If I was sitting on a great deal of expendable cash, then I’d be all for it. It’s a cool gadget with lots of impressive features.

But I still can’t justify spending that much on a device that really doesn’t do anything I can’t do with my laptop.

Ultimately, as I’ve said before, a tablet is still a want and not a need. I do want one very much, though — if only because they are easier to carry around and use on public transportation or during a quick meeting.

But they’re not five hundred dollars easier — not to me, anyway.

But what about the video camera, you ask? Well, I already have a camera. And I don’t look ridiculous when I’m using it.

SEE ALSO: Why The New iPad Did Not Blow My Mind

So, what’s a guy like me to do? I’ve been watching eBay like a bargain-loving vulture, feeding on the technological leftovers of the early adopters. I’ve seen good-condition used iPad 2 models being sold for about $350, and that’s tempting.

But I’m hedging my bet that if I hold out just a little longer, I’ll find a good-condition iPad for $300 — and if I get really lucky, the seller will throw in a case, too.

If you think the $200 difference is minor, then we come from different budgetary worlds. As a just-starting-out young professional, that’s no small chunk of change. It is nearly what I pay for groceries each month.

So, to all the budget-conscious, tech-hungry Mashable readers out there: Meet me on eBay. There’s a feast in the offing.

More About: apple, ebay, ipad, iPad 2, new ipad, tablets, trending

LinkedIn Announces Women-Only ‘DevelopHer’ Hackday

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 01:26 PM PST

Thursday is International Women’s Day, and LinkedIn is celebrating by announcing the DevelopHer Hackday, a competition encouraging female engineers to collaborate on software projects.

Scheduled for June 30 and July 1 in Mountain View, Calif., LinkedIn’s 24-hour event is open to students, enthusiasts and professionals. The company has created a DevelopHer Hackday LinkedIn Group where people can pitch ideas to other participants and build groups for the contest.

"LinkedIn has a number of very passionate women engineers, including a few hackday masters,” LinkedIn Principal Software Engineer Yevgeniy Brikman told Mashable. “We wanted setup the DevelopHer Hackday to encourage more women to get involved with tech. We hope it will help them develop their engineering skills and get a chance to network with and become inspired by other terrific women in engineering.”

At hackdays, which typically last anywhere from a few hours to a week, people create new usable pieces of software or improve upon an existing idea. Finished projects are then presented to a panel of judges — or just the others participating in the event — and a group winner is often selected.

"Everything starts with a seed of an idea, maybe something that fulfills a personal need or something huge that can shake up an entire industry,” says Prachi Gupta, Senior Software Engineer and Hackday Master at LinkedIn. “You do some quick research to make sure it hasn't been done already and put together a team, which means you have to go out and sell your idea to prospective teammates."

The event resembles LinkedIn’s internal hackdays, where employees every month are encouraged to work on any project they are passionate about. Some of the products currently on LinkedIn and LinkedInLabs originated as hackday ideas.

In addition to the internal hackdays, the company has previously held a other competitions, including a Veterans Hackday and an Intern Hackday.

LinkedIn promises to make this particular event special with “yoga and meditation sessions for those dancing neurons, delicious food, killer prizes, and most importantly, sharing 24 hours with some of the smartest women in Silicon Valley.”

What do you think about a women-only hackday? Are any of you considering participating? Let us know in the comments.

More About: hack, international women's day, linkedin, women, women in tech

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#MashSXSW: Show Off Your SXSWi Photos on Mashable

Posted: 08 Mar 2012 12:54 PM PST

Chock full of people, panels and parties, SXSWi is an event to document. There’s no doubt attendees — some of the most digitally connected folks out there — will be fully loaded with the latest technology to do so.

We want to be a part of your favorite moments. Stop by our Mashable House at Buffalo Billards and the Mashable Food Truck on 5th and Brazos to pick up some Mashable stickers; then stick them in the most memorable places you visit and take photos. Tweet your pictures with hashtag #mashsxsw and they may be featured in a slideshow.

Whether you’re planning to attend a full slate of speaker sessions or looking to find the best food truck in existence, we want to see and share your SXSWi experience. We look forward to your photos!