Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Encyclopaedia Britannica Gives Up On Print Edition”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Encyclopaedia Britannica Gives Up On Print Edition”

Encyclopaedia Britannica Gives Up On Print Edition

Posted: 14 Mar 2012 02:43 AM PDT

Encyclopaedia Britannica will stop publishing print editions and go digital-only — a huge step for the encyclopedia which has been in print since 1768.

The sales of Britannica print editions has been on the decline since 1990, when 120,000 32-volume sets were sold.

The early nineties were the start of a revolution: People started turning to the internet for information, and Britannica sales fell to 40,000 in 1996, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. President Jorge Cauz.

However, Cauz insists that, while the print edition of the Britannica is no longer selling well, the digital editions are blooming. "This has nothing to do with Wikipedia or Google. This has to do with the fact that now Britannica sells its digital products to a large number of people," said Cauz.

Those interested in the final hardcover edition of Britannica can buy it at the company’s website for $1,395.

Britannica currently sells several digital products, including a DVD version of the Encyclopaedia, an online version (available through subscription) and a variety of apps for kids and adults.

More About: digital, Encyclopaedia Britannica, encyclopedia

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When Grandparents Meet Photo Booth [VIDEO]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 08:56 PM PDT

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

What’s better than watching a sweet elderly couple use a webcam for the first time? Seeing an army of grandparents each trying out Apple‘s Photo Booth and its effects.

The funny video — which first appeared in February 2011 but is now getting a second wind — features grandparents recording themselves while their faces are distorted because of Photo Booth. The noises they emit are just as odd as the faces shown in the one-minute compilation.

Several websites dedicated to viral videos such as The Daily What and Viral Viral Videos have re-ignited the virility of the clip, which has more than 350,000 views on YouTube.

To manipulate the faces, Photo Booth uses facial-recognition technology. It has several effects and backgrounds that users can employ on videos and photos.

SEE ALSO: Sweet Elderly Couple Tests Their New Webcam [VIDEO}

YouTube user allmightyganesh says the person 33 seconds into the video resembles 78-year-old Carl from the Pixar movie Up. Right? Oh yeah.

Do you have any fond memories of teaching someone how to use a camera feature or tool? Share your story in the comments.

More About: facial recognition, technology, viral-video-of-the-day

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Every Awesome Moment You Missed at SXSW [PICS]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 08:39 PM PDT

A Dreary Beginning

This was the view many had for the first couple of days, hiding out wherever shelter could be found as the rain poured down in Austin.

Click here to view this gallery.

It’s been well documented that attending every SXSW panel, happy hour and party is out of the range of human possibility, unless you possess the ability to travel through time or can avoid sleeping for five days straight.

Fortunately for you, Mashable was everywhere with our cameras, taking photos of all the Austin fun.

The range of events and speakers at this year’s festival was impressive, and we hope that is apparent with the images above. If you were there, we hope you’ll recognize some of the featured events and remember great moments from esteemed speakers such as Al Gore or Ray Kurzweil. And if you weren’t there, then this is your opportunity to get a glimpse of what goes on in Austin.

Have a favorite memory about your time at SXSW? See something we didn’t cover? Leave us a comment and let us know.

More About: sxsw, sxsw 2012

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How Facebook Sponsored Stories Can Boost Engagement

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 08:21 PM PDT

Matt Lawson is the vice president of marketing at Marin Software, the largest paid search management provider.

In the wake of its $100 billion IPO filing, Facebook is busy bolstering its advertising options. For one, Facebook is hanging its future hopes on “sponsored stories.”

Sponsored stories depart from the typical Facebook ad unit. By incorporating social endorsement prominently into ads, Facebook sponsored stories are more relevant to the average user, and more likely to be clicked on than traditional Facebook ads. When done right, sponsored stories provide a significant boost to click-through and conversion rates, in part because these ad placements appear not only on the sidebar, but also within users' News Feeds.

However, advertisers shouldn’t consider sponsored stories a one-size-fits-all solution. There are actually several different styles, each with its own unique value proposition. Below are four sponsored story options to consider.

1. Domain Story

If your goal is to drive traffic from Facebook to your site, “domain sponsored stories” are the right place to start. Domain stories require a bit of effort to set up, but depending on your Facebook strategy, can offer significant value. Because they allow you to direct users from Facebook to your website, the ads are great tools for performance marketers or ecommerce companies looking to acquire leads from the social network.

How domain sponsored stories work: A visitor comes to your site while logged into Facebook and Likes your site. This action generates a story into News Feed, such as "Jane likes X site.” Sponsoring such stories increases the visibility for these kinds of posts, either in the News Feed or on the sidebar.

Odds are Jane's friends belong to the same target market as Jane, and ideally find Jane credible. Consequently, domain stories offer advertisers a great way to generate new leads and revenues through word-of-mouth marketing.

2. Page Like Story

“Page Like stories” are very similar to domain stories, with one major difference. Rather than promoting that Jane Likes your website, page Like stories promote when Jane Likes your Facebook page. When users see and click on these posts, they are directed to your Facebook page.

Page Like stories are particularly useful for brand advertisers seeking to grow the popularity of their Facebook pages – my friend Jane Likes X page, so I might like it, too. More importantly, because the ad unit is well integrated into the News Feed, your brand's image occupies a valuable space in the social activity.

3. Page Post Story

Facebook Likes are great. Positive comments on your Facebook page are even better. That's where “page post sponsored stories” come in.

Say Jane visits your Facebook page and leaves a glowing review of your product or service. Page post stories allow you to turn this endorsement into an ad.

With page post stories, marketers can take their most favorable feedback from genuine customers and broadcast it. As a result, page post stories can be useful to build your brand or generate leads, depending on the comment and campaign. And not to worry — advertisers select which comments become page post stories, so there's no risk of accidentally promoting a negative comment.

4. Check-In Story

Facebook mobile adds a new layer to the social context with “check-in stories.” Users can check-in when physically at a store location; this action posts to Facebook.

Then, advertisers can choose to highlight this brand interaction. For example, sponsoring an ad unit when Jane checks-in at your store ensures that Jane's friends see the action. Realizing that Jane is out shopping, they may decide to join her or make later trips of their own to your store.

Promoting check-ins creates yet another engagement opportunity for retail marketers, especially those with strong local presences. Measuring the value of a check-in story is difficult, however, as any purchases are likely to occur offline.

Sponsored stories allow advertisers to participate in and influence the social context of Facebook. Advertisers that leverage sponsored stories typically see a boost in click-through and conversion rates. What types of results have you had with sponsored stories?

More About: Advertising, community, contributor, Facebook, features, Sponsored Stories

Wifarer Offers Turn-by-Turn Directions Inside Large Venues

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 08:01 PM PDT

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

Name: Wifarer

Quick Pitch: Indoor positioning technology app guides users through large venues.

Genius Idea: Wifarer is partnering with venues to provide smartphone directions and advertising to consumers.

GPS technology works pretty well when driving or walking outside, but it hits a wall indoors.

Wifarer is breaking down those walls with a new app that uses indoor positioning technology to steer users through large venues such as malls, airports, convention centers and museums.

The free app, available for iPhone and Android users, has an interactive location directory to help users find a specific store in the mall or terminal at the airport. Wifarer pinpoints the user’s location within 4-and-a-half feet, and draws a path to the location the users wants to go.

The big hook here is the app will also show promotions and sales based on a user’s location — providing advertisers a new way to catch an audience. Individual stores in a mall can control the ads customers are viewing. Once a customers steps in the store, the brand has complete control over what the app user sees. The store could provide inventory and directions around the store if they wanted. Most stores will likely use this control to target customers with advertising specific to their store.

At a museum, however, the app can pull up supplemental information about a piece of artwork nearby instead of trying lure a visitor into a store.

The app will also collect information valuable to advertisers, such as statistics on where people shop and heat maps showing where the heaviest amount of users travel. Wifarer will charge stores to access the information and navigation within a store.

Philip Stanger, Wifarer’s founder and CEO, said the company has found out how to be profitable while still providing a service people want for free.

"Wifarer is the first to achieve the superior indoor positioning technology and user-friendly mobile application experience required, making indoor location-based marketing a reality," he said.

The San Jose, Cali., based startup is still in its early stages, but has made its way into some venues already. Eventually, Wifarer hopes to be in venues across the world. For now, the app will only work in locations Wifarer has partnered with, such as the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Gaylord Opryland in Spain and the Royal BC Museum in Canada. The app will be available for several hundred U.S. venues by the end of 2013.

Do you think indoor navigation is needed? Tell us in the comments below.

Images courtesy of Wifarer and iStock, poba.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, navigation, spark of genius series, startup

KONY 2012 Update: Al Jazeera Launches “Uganda Speaks”

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 07:46 PM PDT

In light of the worldwide spotlight on the non-profit organization Invisible Children and its viral YouTube video Kony 2012, Al Jazeera English has launched “Uganda Speaks,” an initiative to track down the voices of the people who have largely been missing from the debates regarding the viral video and its organizers. Namely, Ugandans themselves.

The Uganda Speaks campaign, first tweeted by Al Jazeera English early Tuesday morning, asks for the following:

Al Jazeera’s online platform for Uganda Speaks features an interactive map showing the different locations where views are filtering in from, as well as highlights the crowd-sourced, time-stamped views — cited as “reports” — on a stream.

At the time of writing, the majority of reports were coming from Kampala, the largest city and capital of Uganda. “It is now too little too late,” “Skeptical about Kony 2012,” “African Forces Should Stop Kony” and “Hysteria” were just some of the headlines on the stream.

SEE ALSO: KONY 2012: Is the Viral Campaign a Scam?

One report featured on the Uganda Speaks site, “A Ugandan: Reacting to Kony2012,” is an email submitted by Maureen Agena, who identifies herself as a “trained Citizen Journalist in Uganda.” In her email, she states the following:

There is a total disconnect between the invisible children and the community they claim to serve. Why make Kony famous? You cannot make a wrong person famous. Stop Kony, then what? In the video, they are advocating for a militaristic approach of getting Kony, through the help of the US army, they should have shown the possibility of having other channels open too because in trying to get Kony, lives of many might be lost. And these are children and relatives of people in Northern Uganda. Now that Kony is famous online(Twitter, facebook, youtube etc), what next? If he is not captured by 31st Dec what will happen? stopping Kony is beyond the comfort of our living rooms on twitter using our Ipads and iphones.

Another anonymous report, titled “Impressed,” states, “I am very impressed with the way Ugandans have refused to take this misrepresentation lying down. #Kony2012 #UgandaSpeaks.”

Alongside Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumir’s YouTube video stating her response to Kony 2012, Al Jazeera’s initiative is one of the few drawing attention to Ugandan opinions.

Meanwhile, Invisible Children released a video yesterday defending its organization and the Kony 2012 campaign.

What do you think of Uganda Speaks? Will the voices of Ugandans change the discourse regarding Kony 2012? Let us know in the comments.

More About: al jazeera, Invisible Children, kony 2012, Uganda, Uganda Speaks

New Rdio Aims to Turn the Volume Up on Music Discovery

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 07:27 PM PDT

Music subscription service Rdio rolled out a brand new redesign of its website and desktop apps at SXSW 2012 on Tuesday.

The service — which competes with Spotify, MOG, Rhapsody and Sony’s Music Unlimited in the streaming music space — is aiming to provide users with better discovery and tighter social integration.

While we always liked the look and feel of Rdio’s desktop, web, mobile and tablet apps, the new Rdio is even better.

In addition to lightening up the color scheme and opening up the navigation, Rdio also added some new features to the mix, including:

  • A unified view of music, playlists and networks
  • Entire albums can be added to playlists
  • Users can browse what their friends are listening to in real-time
  • Users can create private playlists
  • Simplified sharing to other Rdio users, or via Facebook, Twitter or email.

As Rdio seeks to better differentiate itself from its competitors, the service is putting a big focus on improved music discovery. That’s smart because every major music subscription service suffers in this area. Rdio now boasts a catalog of 15 million songs and that library can be difficult to navigate.

With its new version, Rdio is hoping to improve that experience by pumping in listening trends from a user’s social graph or brands that they follow. The desktop app and website are also noticeably faster, and adding or creating playlists is less difficult.

Still, we wish Rdio had a more directed “browse” or “discover” view that could sort albums, artists and playlists via genres or mood.

Like Spotify and MOG, Rdio allows users to listen to a certain amount of music for free. Unlike some of the other services, Rdio delivers its experience without ads.

Users who opt to pay $4.99 a month get desktop and unlimited web listening. For $9.99 a month, users can get mobile, tablet and connected device support as well — which includes offline listening.

Rdio is also taking a page out of Spotify’s book and attempting to go more international. The service is now available in the US, Germany, Canada Portugal, Spain, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand.

In spite of these advances, Rdio remains in Spotify’s shadow. Spotify remains a bigger draw for both overall users and paid subscribers.

Still, Rdio has a lot to offer — including occasional support for an album unavailable on Spotify.

The new version of Rdio is available to paying subscribers today. It will be rolled out to all users in the next few weeks.

What’s your favorite music subscription service? Let us know in the comments.

More About: music subscription, music subscription services, rdio, spotify

Consumers Believe Facebook Users Should be Older than Age 13 Requirement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 07:15 PM PDT

Although it is required by law for Facebook users to be at least 13 to join the network, many believe the age limit should be higher, a new study says.

According to a poll conducted among 2,000 consumers on the opinion-based community, about 34% of respondents said Facebook users should be at least the age of 13 to join. However, most voters selected ages older than 13 as a minimum requirement, as 29% want ages 14 – 17 to be the earliest and 19% said the site should be limited to those over the age of 18.

Only 13% said users between the ages of 10 and 12 were acceptable for the site, followed by 5% approving of people joining between the ages of 7 and 9.

Child privacy laws necessitate Facebook’s age minimum of 13 years old.

Teens are also on board with age restrictions on the site. About 57% of those ages 13 to 17 said the 13-year-old requirement is fair, while only 18% said it should be younger. About 25% said Facebook should raise its age requirement to over 13.

Monica Vila, co-founder of parent blog site The Online Mom told Mashable that parents do tend to agree that 13 and older is the right age for kids to join the site.

“The reality is that most [parents] either agree to allow their younger kids on Facebook after repeated requests or are unaware that their kids have accounts much earlier than 13,” Vila said. “In that sense, the train has left the station — kids under 13 are using Facebook.”

Vila urged parents to focus on instilling best practices on the site to ensure their safety and proper use.

“Let’s stop focusing on what the right age should be and devote the energy instead on how best to guide them to make good use of these platforms,” she said.

Do you agree with Facebook’s minimum age of 13? Do you think it should be higher, lower or based on maturity level? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Infographic courtesy of

Facebook Infographic

More About: Facebook, online privacy, Social Media, Twitter

NCAA’s Facebook Fan Committee Picks 97% Accurate March Madness Field

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 06:55 PM PDT

Think you could have done a better job making the Big Dance bracket?

A mock NCAA Tournament selection committee comprised of social media-savvy college basketball fans correctly picked 66 of the March Madness field’s 68 teams.

The “Super 10” committee, made up of fans who submitted short videos to the official March Madness Facebook Page that demonstrated their hoops knowledge and passion, spent last weekend in Atlanta touring Turner Broadcasting’s studios, watching the ACC Tournament, and receiving and in-depth primer on how the brackets are built before making their own selections. They also documented the experience and corresponded with other fans at home using Facebook and Twitter.

“Social media played a huge part not just in how we entered the contest, but also how we showed everyone else out there what we were doing,” said Super 10 member Craig Caswell, a student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

Ultimately, the two teams the Super 10 picked that got left out of the actual field were Drexel and Miami. The official selection committee included Cal and Iona included instead. (Click here to check out the Super 10 bracket, and click here to see the official version.)

As the Super 10 deliberated and shared who they were considering, they got messages from some apparently confused fans who lobbied with stats and standings as if real seedings were on the line, said fan committee member Colin Casey.

“It wasn’t really nasty, as far as what you see on Facebook and Twitter sometimes, but it was definitely critical,” Casey said. “It was kind of funny, given what we were doing, but also kind of neat as far as getting more of sense for the criticism the actual committee gets.”

Casey and his Super 10 mates also got another firsthand brush with the actual committee. Former longtime selection committee member Stan Morrison was on hand as the Super 10 group tinkered with their bracket for hours on end over the weekend. Super 10 member Shelby Mast said being able to ask Morrison what the actual committee would have done in certain situations was invaluable and just one thing that made for an “unbelievably good” experience.

“I expected a lot of fun, but it was even better than I expected,” Mast said. “The official committee did a great job, even though there were a couple things we differed on. And the teams we missed, we had them right there in the discussion.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adamkaz

More About: Facebook, march madness, sports, Twitter

Smallest 3D Replicas Print Out in Four Minutes

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 06:37 PM PDT

Austrian researchers broke the world record for quickest printout of a three-dimensional object in the fast-evolving field of 3D printing.

Smaller than a grain of salt, 3D replicas of cathedrals, national landmarks and race cars were printed out layer by layer in about four minutes. Looking at the photo of the blown-up replicas (see video above), it’s hard to imagine these intricate details are on a nano-scale and not full-sized.

“Until now, this technique used to be quite slow,” said Professor Jürgen Stampfl from the Institute of Materials Science and Technology at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna). "The printing speed used to be measured in millimeters per second – our device can do five meters in one second."

The researchers at TU Vienna used a process called two-photon-lithography. The technique utilizes plant resin that turns into a solid after being glazed over by a laser. The race car was made by placing 100 layers on top of one another.

The researchers say 3D printing is a product of mechanics and chemistry. A team of chemists at a lab developed the materials needed to activate the special resin.

The research team plans to take these innovations and hopefully use them in hospitals. Researchers want to apply the two-proton-lithography print process to make biological tissues.

Other 3D print-out innovations in recent months have included models of chocolate, a jawbone and miniature dinosaurs.

Would you use biological body parts or organs developed from 3D printing technologies? Tell us in the comments.

Image courtesy of the Vienna University of Technology

More About: 3d printing, innovation, Tech

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How to Track Traffic From Pinterest in Google Analytics

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 06:17 PM PDT

Jim Gianoglio is the manager of insight: social & mobile at Lunametrics, a Google Analytics certified partner that also specializes in social media, SEO, and PPC. You can follow him on Twitter @LunaMetrics or @jgianoglio.

It’s hard to ignore Pinterest‘s explosive growth over the past year. In a very short period of time, the social network has gone from relative obscurity to a top 100 site, with 11.7 million unique monthly U.S. visitors.

But how many referrals does Pinterest generate? Are those visits valuable? Do they convert? Are they engaged? How many people use the “pin it” button on a site? Which pictures on a site are the most pinned and repinned?

Here are four ways to measure Pinterest using Google Analytics.

1. Referral Reports

This is an easy way to track how many visits are coming to your site from Pinterest. Go to Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals Report. From there, if you don’t see (or in your top 10 referrals, search “pinterest” using the inline filter at the top of the table.

To make it easier, create an advanced segment that includes only traffic from Pinterest. I’ve already done that for you, just go grab the advanced segment here. From there, you can make your report more interesting by choosing a goal set and using the comparison view, as shown below.

As long as you have some goals set up in your analytics, this report will let you view how visits from Pinterest compare to the site average. For instance, is the goal completion rate for Pinterest visits higher or lower than the site average goal completion rate?

If you have an ecommerce site (and have ecommerce tracking enabled in Google Analytics), find out whether Pinterest visitors are more likely to purchase, and whether their average order values are higher or lower than other sources of traffic. To do this, just click on the Ecommerce tab (instead of the Goal Set tab) and select one of the ecommerce metrics (revenue, transactions, average value, ecommerce conversion rate or per visit value).

2. Custom Reports

Another way to focus your analysis on Pinterest is to use custom reports. Custom reports let you mash up just the specific information you want to see. For example, this custom report will show the pages (i.e. pins) on Pinterest that sent visits, how many visitors came from each page, whether they’ve been to your site before, how many pages they looked at, how long they stayed, whether they bounced (saw one page and left), whether they completed a goal, and the average value of each visit (based on ecommerce revenue). Pin that!

Take it one step further and choose Landing Page as your secondary dimension. Now you know which pictures (i.e. products) on your site are so awesome that people willingly leave Pinterest to go to your site. Show this to your boss and collect your raise.

3. Dashboards

Dashboards in Google Analytics provide high-level, end-to-end views of your site activities. You can add all the information you need to see on a regular basis just by adding widgets to your dashboard.

When tracking Pinterest, monitor several key areas: daily visits from Pinterest, how many of those visits originate on mobile devices, how long users stay and how many pages they look at, your most popular content, and whether pinners are completing your goals and buying your products.

Dashboards help you keep close tabs on whether your efforts on Pinterest are paying off or falling flat. It can also help you determine which products resonate with the Pinterest demographic, so you can strategize future pin content. The dashboard below (which you can get a copy of here) displays all this info and more.

4. Multi-Channel Funnels

If you’re judging whether Pinterest visits convert (e.g., complete a goal, make a purchase), be careful. The standard reports in Google Analytics use last click attribution, meaning Pinterest will only get credit for the conversion if it is the last source of the visit that converts. In layman’s terms, if I first come to your site from Pinterest, then come back later through an organic search and make a purchase, that purchase gets credited to the organic search. Poor Pinterest gets left out in the cold.

But we can do better. To get a more complete picture of how many conversions can be fully (or partially) attributed to Pinterest, look at the Multi-Channel Funnels reports in Google Analtyics. First, take a look at the Assisted Conversions report. Select Source/Medium as the primary dimension, and filter for Pinterest (see image below).

This will tell you how many times Pinterest assisted with a conversion (it wasn’t the last source before a conversion), and how many times it was the last source before a conversion. It may be that Pinterest primarily drives awareness of your brand/product/site, but people come back later to convert.

Next, to see how Pinterest and other sources of traffic mingle before that final conversion, go to the Top Conversion Paths report (see above). Again, select Source/Medium Path as the primary dimension and filter for Pinterest. Now, you can see cases in which Pinterest drove traffic, users who returned sometime later and converted.

How are you measuring Pinterest? Share your strategies in the comments!

More About: contributor, data, ecommerce, features, google analytics, pinterest, traffic

How Intel Wants to Replace Your Cable Box

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 05:53 PM PDT

The wait for Internet TV could finally be over.

Intel Corp. is preparing to dive into web-based cable TV, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. According to that report, Intel’s online TV subscription service may be available by the end of 2012.

Intel plans to offer online access to U.S. TV cable channels, a creation Intel calls a “virtual cable operator,” the Wall Street Journal exclusive said.

According to the report, Intel wants to offer channel bundles modeled after cable and satellite providers’ subscriptions. The multinational chip maker is also developing a set-top box to carry its TV service to users.

For several months, Intel has pitched the idea to media companies and has asked for rate cards. Intel has not secured a programming deal. If it does, the site will offer tough competition for traditional TV services.

Intel’s launch may be delayed by the price of TV programming and a lack of bandwidth. In 2012, TV providers paid $40.7 billion in fees to cable channels, according to SNL Kagan.

Intel did not respond to a request for comment.

SEE ALSO: Netflix's Apple TV Deal Could Signal New Business Model

Demand is high for live TV on laptops, but the current marketplace offers no legal way to easily watch TV live on the Internet.

There’s speculation that several technology and electronics companies including Google and Apple have considered offering TV via the Internet, but none have yet done so. The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple, Google, Sony Corp. and Dish Network have talked to media companies about the possibilities of online bundles.

Google has began construction for its Google Fiber Optics project in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. The company has yet to announce pricing for the 1 gigabit Internet service, but it has said the service will be 100 times faster than the average connection. Google plans to offer service to customers sometime during the first half of the year.

“It doesn’t mean that we will offer TV service,” said Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres. “All we have said publicly is we will be offering one gigabit of internet service.”

Would you pay to watch cable TV on your laptop? Tell us in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStock, Neustockimages.

More About: cable tv, Fiber Optic, Google, intel, online tv

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Tibetans to Facebook: Give Us Our Hometown Back

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 05:31 PM PDT

The non-profit network Tibettruth has launched an online campaign to make Facebook specify Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, as a part of Tibet — rather than China.

Tibettruth calls itself an advocate for justice, human rights and independence for the people of Tibet. On its website, which details how to file the online petition, Tibettruth says:

We are asking that Facebook kindly review its current profile format to enable Tibetans to select, as their hometown Lhasa, TIBET. Currently when Tibetans open an account they are denied that choice and can only select ‘Lhasa, Xizang, China,’ as option that endorses the bogus claim that Tibet is part of China.

Here’s an example of the drop-down menu that appears when trying to select Lhasa as a hometown:

“Xizang” is the Mandarin name for the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Lhasa is the capital of that region. China claims it as Chinese territory, while supporters of a free Tibet argue that it’s Tibetan land. The dispute between China and supporters of a free Tibet has been an ongoing battle since Chinese troops occupied the region in 1950.

In the last year, more than two dozen Tibetans have set fire to themselves in protest at China’s occupation. The most recent self-immolation, by a teenage Tibetan monk in China, took place March 10. The day marked the 53rd anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising that took place in Lhasa in 1959.

For Tibetans who have been struggling for their land’s freedom, Facebook’s naming of the area is another reminder of Chinese dominion. But as one user who commented on Tibettruth’s website pointed out, the naming of “Xizang” for the Tibetan Autonomous Region is incongruous with how Facebook names other areas.

“‘Xizang’ is the Chinese translation of ‘Tibet,’ using the pronunciation in Mandarin,” a user by the name of Roller writes. “But that is not English. Nobody other than the Chinese knows what it is. I wonder if Facebook would do the same with Hong Kong, calling it ‘Xianggang,’ as the Chinese do.”

Hong Kong is identified on Facebook as “Hong Kong,” with users able to choose from cities within the region as a hometown.

Though Hong Kong is considered a “special administrative region” by the Chinese. Tibet is not. Like Tibet, it too has longstanding cultural and political disputes with China.

What do you think of the way Facebook names Lhasa? Do you think this online petition to get Facebook to indicate Lhasa as a part of Tibet will make a difference? Let us know in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, RapidEye.

More About: china, Facebook, languages, online activism, Tibet

The $3.3 Million Kickstarter: Online Campaign Breaks Fundraising Records

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 05:10 PM PDT

Double Fine Productions

In just one month, 87,000 backers have pledged $3.3 million on Kickstarter to help fund a a project that has broken fundraising records — and given hope to independent videogame creators everywhere.

The Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter, created by game legend Tim Schafer’s company Double Fine, landed on Kickstarter on Feb. 8, promising to bring back the classic point-and-click adventure games if they could just reach $400,000 from backers.

Game fans’ desire to see a classic genre revived by the man responsible for classics such as Day of the Tentacle and Secret of Monkey Island brought in a flood of donations.

Schafer busted through the funding goal in less than 12 hours, and broke several Kickstarter records. According to Kickstarter’s Twitter account, the game has the most number of backers ever, and the most funds raised in 24 hours. It is the highest grossing Kickstarter project ever.

Schafer and Double Fine hosted a Ustream of the final two hours before 5 p.m. ET when the campaign closed, “in order to keep the Kickstarter page from crashing as people refreshed,” he said on the page.

The success of this campaign may be a monumental moment for game development by taking the publishing costs and putting them directly into the hands of potential customers. Schafer even tweeted today, “Listen carefully, you can hear some important eyebrows raising.” But certainly Schafer’s fame in the gaming world can be attributed to much of the success. Will it be replicable by smaller companies that don’t have star power behind them? That’s a question we’ll soon see answered.

Do you think the future of game development lies in the Kickstarter model? Let us know in the comments.

More About: double fine, games, kickstarter, tim schafer

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The Radical Growth of the App Economy [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 04:58 PM PDT

Since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, the production and mainstream usage of smartphones has exploded. The device opened a world of innovation in mobile technology, which was soon followed by a similar boom from apps.

Today, we rely on apps to do just about everything, from keeping us organized to pure entertainment. Millions of downloads later, the app economy is as strong as ever.

App development has created 466,000 jobs across all available platforms, according to a survey performed by TechNet. This includes local baristas, since many developers rely on coffee shops to get work done.

Our friends at Frugal Dad have created this inforgraphic about the economy and how it’s been affected by smartphones and apps.

More About: developers, economy, features, infographic, mobile apps Gets Blessing Of Record Labels

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 04:37 PM PDT now has the approval of the four major record labels, allowing tunes to be legally streamed by virtual DJs to music enthusiasts using the service. The partnerships with Sony, EMI, Warner, and Universal were announced during a panel discussion during SXSW Tuesday.

Turntable lets you DJ music of your choice to listeners in virtual rooms that resemble clubs. Most popular music is stored on Turntable itself, but if you want to spin a jam that isn’t available you can also upload tracks from your personal computer to share with the crowd.

If you hear something you like there are links to purchase a track from Amazon or iTunes from the DJ table, and you can also add a track directly to your Spotify,, or Rdio playlist.

Turntable officially launched in June of last year to much fanfare, although some questions existed on how legal the service actually was. “Our model is unique – we’re not a radio service, not an on-demand service,” Turntable co-founder Seth Goldstein told Billboard.

“We have interesting aspects that really require some out-of-the-box thinking. We felt that from the get-go the labels were absolutely different from what I’d been led to believe. They gave us a lot of time and attention. Compared to their user base, we’re a tiny service in the broad scheme of things.”

Some of the discussion between Turntable and labels reportedly centered around the types of listeners the service attracts. While some listeners are DJing tunes and participating rooms, others are passively listening –music licensing for those two types of listeners is different.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Launches ‘Listen With,’ Lets You DJ For Friends

According to comScore, the service reached 207,000 unique web-based users in July 2011, its first full month online. But the service has failed to see the same level of traffic any time since then. Popularity for the service has dropped off a bit since launch, but has been steadily growing over the past few months.

February 2012 marked the sites third-highest traffic month ever, with close to 176,000 visitors. Turntable also launched a mobile app last September, although those user numbers aren’t part of the figure reported by comScore.

Turntable was able to secure the licensing deals in around 8 months. By contrast, it took Spotify 3 years of negotiations to get deals in place with record labels for its streaming service.

More About: Music, online music,

Why the iPad 2 is Far More Likely to Break than the Original iPad [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 03:47 PM PDT

Are you planning to buy the new iPad when it launches on Friday, or pick up an iPad 2 now that it’s cheaper?

If so, you might want to think hard about getting an AppleCare+ protection plan. A new study shows that the tablet has gotten more breakable over the past two years.

The iPad 2 is 3.5 times more likely to break due to accidental damage than the original iPad, according to the survey conducted by SquareTrade, an independent warranty provider. In its survey of 50,000 iPad owners, 9.8% of iPad 2 owners reported accidental damage to their tablet in the first year compared with 2.8% of iPad 1 owners.

Why the big increase? SquareTrade doesn’t give any definitive conclusions, but it has a couple of suspects:

1) Design: Besides being thinner, the iPad 2′s glass is exposed slightly above the bevel. On the first iPad, the aluminum frame protected it better. In addition, the curved edge of the iPad 2 makes an impact much more likely to damage the screen. The iPad 1 had a mainly flat edge.

2) Smart Cover: The survey states that Apple’s Smart Cover, which it introduced with the iPad 2, “may be contributing to breakage rates” instead of preventing them. Some owners have even tried to “grab” the Smart Cover on a falling device, which can make the situation worse since the cover attaches magnetically, and isn’t intended as a fall protector.

Of the iPad 2 owners surveyed, 72% had some kind of cover on the tablet when they broke it, and 33% of those used a Smart Cover.

SEE ALSO: Analyst: Apple Will Sell 1 Million iPads on Launch Day

So what are the leading causes of iPad breakage? Simply dropping it during use is most common, accounting for 54% of broken iPads. After that, it’s falling off a table, at 15%. Car-related incidents are next, comprising 11% of cases, followed by misuse by a child, at 8%. Pet owners should feel a bit safer, as pets only accounted for 1% of the broken iPads.

Have you ever broken an iPad? What was the reason? Share your stories in the comments. Update: Sorry, comments were accidentally closed on this post for a time. They’ve been re-opened.

Correction: This piece originally gave the wrong number of iPad owners surveyed. The correct number is 50,000.


More About: apple, ipad, iPad 2, Smart Cover

Forget Photos and Video. SpinCam App Captures 360-Degree ‘Spins’

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 03:30 PM PDT

A new iOS app called SpinCam attempts to blur the line between video and panoramic photos, claiming to create a new type of photographic media entirely –- Spins.

Unlike traditional photos, Spins capture a 360-degree image of a moment that can be experienced interactively. Spins are created by holding your phone up and "spinning" around in a circle to create a panoramic-style photo, or spinning around a person or thing to create an image much like this one from outside our San Francisco office.

While you might use the app in place of taking a panoramic photo or shooting a short video, the folks at SpinCam are quick to point out that the app creates its own medium.

"Spins really fall into a new category of interactive media that is ideal for concisely sharing an experience,” SpinCam CEO Josh Aller told Mashable. “Though it takes just seconds to capture, viewers typically explore the spin for over 30 seconds. That inversion of capture time to viewing time is unique to this form of visual media. We see people using SpinCam to capture panoramas simply because it’s faster and easier than with panoramic capture apps like Photosynth. We don’t see Spins as a replacement for panoramic images but it’s so much easier to capture a Spin that many folks are using SpinCam for that purpose.”

"We also think it’s great that it’s mostly people that are being Spun, not places or things,” Aller added. “It’s a great way to share personality and group photos…we are seeing users do things with it that we could never have imagined. For example, a new meme has emerged that we are calling the “Matrix” spin in which time appears to stop and that meme has been copied many times."

Spins created using SpinCam are saved within the app on your phone for sharing with others and can also be uploaded to Facebook. The app already has 200,000 downloads, and from that group of early adopters more than 6,000 are already sharing images. While shares are currently Facebook-specific, SpinCam plans to integrate email, Twitter, and SMS sharing in the near future. Spins you share are currently uploaded to a webpage, so while you’ll have to upload a spin to Facebook to get that URL, you can copy/paste that URL and send it to a friend elsewhere.

Long-term, SpinCam sees itself evolving into its own popular social network much like Instagram. Like Instagram, the app currently has Featured and Liked sections where you can browse through popular Spins shared by other users. As the community grows, those sections will ultimately be populated with more and more interesting spins. Plans are also in the works for an Android version.

"We see this as only the beginning of a new media form,” Aller said. “We see our purpose as serving our users in their creative pursuits. They are leading and we are along for the ride. We don’t know where this will go but we will evolve the product rapidly to meet their changing needs."

More About: apps, Facebook, instagram, Twitter

‘Bachelor’ Retweets Messages From Outraged Fans

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 03:13 PM PDT


A tweet referencing the final two remaining contestants.

Click here to view this gallery.

The Bachelor‘s Ben Flajnik turned to Twitter during the season finale of the series on Monday night, retweeting reactions from fans that disapproved of his decision to propose to controversial contestant Courtney.

Winemaker Flajnik and his relationship with Courtney have been at the forefront of the tabloids over the past few months, as many criticized the way she treated some of the women on the show. A popular video even popped up on YouTube that has turned some of her over-the-top signature phrases — from "Winning!" to "I do modeling" — into a catchy auto-tune clip.

SEE ALSO: 'Bachelor' Contestant Courtney Gets Auto-Tuned [VIDEO]

During the final episode, Flajnik retweeted messages from fans that called him an “idiot,” among more derogative names. He also tweeted messages from fans telling him he needed a haircut.

Although the couple revealed during the “After the Rose” ceremony that they cooled things off while the show aired amid backlash over her snide behavior, the duo says they are together again and his tweets indicate that he no longer cares what people say about them.

He also sent out tweets to former contestants such as Emily and Kacie B, as well as celebrity fans such as Kelly Ripa, and expressed relief that the season is over.

His sister Julia — who appeared on last night’s episode — also sent out a tweet that confirmed that the couple is back together.

For a look at some of the reactions (without the explicitness), check out the gallery above.

Are you a fan of the show? Who is your favorite TV personality to follow on social media sites? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Facebook, reality tv, Social Media, TV, Twitter

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SXSW Day 4: What’s Hot on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 02:51 PM PDT

The parties may be coming to an end, but the chatter surrounding SXSW is still percolating on social media — the event is definitely ending with a bang.

Over the course of four days, Meltwater Group analyzed 483,000 conversations, mostly on Twitter. Overall, the event led to an average of 97,000 conversations per day on social media.

SEE ALSO: SXSW 2012: The Year of Infectious Optimism

Monday’s hot topics included Al Gore and Sean Parker’s discussion, the homeless hotspots offered at SXSW, and announcements from Marvel Comics and General Motors. The most talked-about celebrities were Rainn Wilson, Leonardo Dicaprio and Tobey Maguire.

Did you join the SXSW conversation on social media? What was your favorite event? Let us know in the comments.

More About: features, infographic, Social Media, sxsw

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Follow The Alabama And Mississippi Primaries on Social Media

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 02:31 PM PDT

Republican voters in Alabama and Mississippi are headed to the polls Tuesday to pick their preferred candidate to go up against President Obama in November. Voters in Hawaii are off to caucus for their favored politician as well.

As has been the case with past primaries, social media is abuzz with tweets, twitpics and video from the primary and caucus states.

Primary voters are using Facebook and Twitter to announce their support of a particular candidate or show off their “just voted” pride. The four remaining Republican candidates are doing their best to win over undecided voters via social media. And journalists covering the race to the White House are using social media to tell stories from the campaign trail.

Between the three states, 110 delegates are up for grabs. Will Mitt Romney grab most of them, further cementing his lead in the delegate count? Or will Rick Santorum do better in the deep south? What about Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul? And what are they all doing with their social media accounts and websites during the showdown?

Follow along with Mashable as we collect the best tweets, pictures and videos from Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses. Share your predictions in the comments below.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, pagadesign

More About: 2012 presidential campaign, Facebook, Politics, Social Media, Twitter, US

Meet the Social Media Disconnect Challenge Finalists

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 02:05 PM PDT

Social media has become ingrained in our daily lives, so much so that it can become overwhelming. Therefore, we decided to ask our readers: Why do you want to disconnect from social media for the next two weeks?

We received over 80 responses, all of which were fascinating and fun to read. Many people explained that they would like to see if their Facebook friends would keep in touch offline. Others said they wanted to see what they would do with the extra time not spent surfing the Internet.

After reading through all the responses, Mashable selected five finalists to participate in the Two Week Social Media Disconnect Challenge.

These five finalists have confirmed their participation in the challenge and are ready to dive in.

1. Javier Tuiran

Javier is a young digital journalist and community manager, among other things. He wants to disconnect for two weeks to discover how he'll share his ideas and opinions with out social media. Javier's Facebook Profile Javier's Twitter Profile

Click here to view this gallery.

Since the only way to regulate this challenge is by way of the honor system, we leave it up to finalists not to engage in social media for the duration of the challenge period. We aren’t going to be the social media police — we expect the finalists to be honest during this two-week timeframe. That being said, feel free to let us know if you find any suspicious activity on their social profiles.

The challenge will start Wednesday, March 14 at 12:00 a.m. ET and will end Wednesday, March 28 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

In our challenge, disconnecting from social media limits participants to: emailing, SMS texting and content consumption via a news site or an embed video. This means participants are not allowed to create or share content. Actions like writing blog posts, uploading videos, commenting, Liking, posting status updates, sharing, checking in, playing social games, text and video chatting, or anything related to those actions are not allowed. 

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, hjalmeida

More About: challenge, Facebook, foursquare, Google, Social Media, Twitter

Walmart Wants to Put Your DVDs in the Cloud

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 01:42 PM PDT


Walmart is partnering with five major film studios to make it easier for customers to gain cloud access to their existing physical library of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Even as consumers move toward consuming more of their home entertainment online via subscription streaming services, optical discs still make up the majority of home video sales. Walmart is positioning its new service as a way to let customers keep their existing library of disc-based media, while still gaining access to those titles in the cloud.

When Walmart’s Disc-to-Digital initiative launches on Apr. 16, customers can bring their DVDs or Blu-ray discs into Walmart stores and walk out both with the physical disc and a digital copy accessible via Walmart’s Vudu streaming service.

Five of the six major film studios — Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. — have signed on to support the new service. The notable exception is Walt Disney Pictures. The five studios are also working together on UltraViolet, a digital-rights and cloud-based licensing system that will ostensibly allow customers to access digital copies of their purchased titles in a device- and location-agnostic way.

Rather than competing with UltraViolet, the new Vudu-based Disc-to-Digital initiative will work alongside the struggling system.

How it Works

Consumers who opt to use the in-store Disc-to-Digital system can bring their discs into more than 3,500 Walmart stores. After creating or signing into a Vudu account, store associates will authorize digital copies of supported film that the customer can watch on PCs, tablets and phones.

The price for the conversion is $2 for a standard DVD or Blu-ray film and $5 to upgrade a standard DVD to a HD digital copy.

Once authorized, users can access the titles from any supported Vudu device. Vudu is currently available on a range of connected devices, including Blu-ray players and HDTVs. Users can access Vudu content from a Mac or PC, but support is currently limited to standard definition. Likewise, the iPad web app only supports standard definition video at this time.

Reviving the Home Video Market

The underlying gaol of this plan is simple: Raise flagging home video sales.

After hitting a high in the early 2000s, home video sales have plummeted in recent years. Studios, which were once able to count on the home release window for a substantial amount of revenue, are now seeing smaller returns.

The battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray didn’t help matters. By the time Blu-ray became the “official” successor to DVD, many consumers had started to shift towards accessing content from online services such as Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and iTunes.

This is also a big problem for retailers such as Walmart. With the exception of Vudu, the service it purchased in 2010, Walmart has struggled to make any inroads in selling digital media.

Using Vudu’s technology to get customers into a digital cloud — while paying a nominal “conversion” fee — is one way Walmart is hoping recapture some of its lost revenue.

Where Is Disney?

Price and process issues aside, UltraViolet’s — as well as Walmart’s new Disc-to-Digital service — greatest deficit is its lack of full studio support.

Disney is reportedly working on its own UltraViolet competitor, KeyChest. The only way ubiquitous digital lockers will work is if every party supports the same standard. Cutting out the Mouse House is a dangerous move.

The potentially bigger issue is that without Disney’s support, it’s unlikely Apple will support any of these cloud-based initiatives. While Vudu has figured out a way to work on iOS and UltraViolet is developing its own apps, not having support within an existing iTunes ecosystem presents a challenge.

Apple recently updated its iTunes in the Cloud service for support for movie purchases. Most of the major studios have signed on — allowing customers easy access to past purchases from the cloud in iOS. Existing windowing deals aside, the ability to access past purchases from any iTunes or iOS device is a compelling concept.

For the last four years, studios have bundled digital download codes (which can be redeemed at digital retailers including iTunes) alongside their DVD and Blu-ray films. These customers already have achieved the zen that Walmart and the studios are attempting to promise: digital copies in a cloud and physical copies on the shelf.

A Question of Price and Value

Walmart and its studio partners are pouring lots of money into promoting this new service. While exact dollar figures weren’t discussed, executives likened the amount to a figure “on par with a blockbuster movie campaign.”

Education will be the key part of this service — not just for consumers, but for Walmart employees. One fear with this service is that the average Walmart worker won’t be properly trained to quickly figure out what titles have digital copies available on Vudu and what copies don’t — not to mention the ability to instruct customers on how to access these titles.

And then of course, there’s the pricing. At $2 or $5 a title, the pricing isn’t bad for old favorites, but it can add up quickly. A consumer with 75-to-100 titles in their library could spend close to $500 on conversions and “HD” upgrades.

For some consumers that are familiar with the process of ripping their DVDs, this fee might be too expensive. After all, Handbrake is free. Still, the time saved and the cloud-access might make the service worthwhile.

Let us know your thoughts on Walmart’s new service in the comments.

More About: home video, ultraviolet, vudu, WalMart

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Apple Subpoenaed By FTC in Google Antitrust Investigation [REPORT]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 01:25 PM PDT

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has subpoenaed Apple to gather more information for its investigation into Google’s business practices, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The agency is especially interested in the agreements that made Google the preferred search engine in Safari for iPhone and iPad, according to Bloomberg’s anonymous sources. Google rivals such as Microsoft have previously called those agreements anticompetitive.

Earlier this month, New York Senator Charles Schumer asked the FTC to investigate Apple and Google for violating users’ privacy by accessing personal contacts and photos without consent.

In January, the FTC said it would add Google+ into its investigation into the company, saying it would see if Google is using its search engine to promote its products over others’.

Google has been a target for numerous investigations by the FTC into its operations — from the way it handles user privacy to allegations that it’s attempting to drive search to its products. But this most recent probe, launched last summer, into Google will be the most comprehensive.

At the time this investigation was launched, the FTC was looking into complaints from companies including Yelp, Expedia and Microsoft that said Google was attempting to drive clicks to its products. Amit Singhal, who heads up the Google Search Ranking team, said in a blog post that they would be working with the FTC during the investigation.

Google settled a probe by the FTC last year, which claimed its Buzz social network violated Google’s own privacy policy.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Adam Fagen.

More About: apple, FTC, Google, Google Antitrust, legal, search engine

Pinterest to Release New Profile Pages This Week

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 01:19 PM PDT

Pinterest is planning to release redesigned profiles this week, according to CEO and co-founder Ben Silbermann.

“I’m so excited about it,” said Silbermann (pictured, left), who spoke at the South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday. “We wanted to make it more beautiful … to make your profile different in kind than the profile you have on Facebook.”

Silbermann emphasized new discoverability features in the redesign, saying he and his team wanted to make it easier for users to stumble upon other like-minded users, and highlight the people their connections are repinning images from.

He also said the team is working on expanding the number of things users can pin, including video. Soon, people will be able to pin from Vimeo, Hulu and Netflix, among others. And, as was revealed earlier this week, an iPad app — as well as a public API — are also in the works.

At the beginning of the interview, Silbermann spoke of his inspiration for Pinterest, saying it was a project he always wanted to build. “I collected insects, I collected stamps,” he recalled. “I was obsessed with this idea that what you collect says something about who you are.”

He also talked about the site’s original design. “We labored over that grid,” he said. “There were literally dozens of that which were fully coded. We felt like, if your collectios didn’t look awesome, if they weren't beautiful, why would anyone spend the time to build them?”

SEE ALSO: What People Are Pinning on Pinterest

Although Pinterest’s popularity has skyrocked over the past six months, gaining traction was painfully slow during the first year-and-a-half, Silbermann recounted. Nine months after launch, the site still had fewer than 10,000 users. “Someone was asking, ‘Why did you keep going?’ I think the answer was telling everyone that we blew it was so embarrassing,” Silbermann admitted. “Google [wasn't] going to hire me [again], they barely hired me the first time.”

Silbermann wasn’t able to identify a precise turning point for the company, but rather pointed to a number of things that built momentum for the service. “There was never a celebrity that took it from zero to 60,” he explained. Instead, growth was more organic: People would join, become proud of their collections and show it to their friends. Participation at a design conference and “pin it forward,” an online blogger event, also helped raise awareness.

Silbermann also pointed out that the site didn’t take off in the Bay Area, or in New York. Rather, the earliest Pinterest users were from the Midwest and Southeast, areas that are still disproportionately represented.

Interviewer and Hunch founder Chris Dixon asked Silbermann how he was handling the recent flood of Pinterest clones. “Clones have always happened,” he pointed out. “What makes Pinterest special is the people. If you were to pull out all the people and pins, it would be empty.” He said that the company isn’t focused on racing against such imitators, but on ensuring what they create is “really beautiful.”

Meanwhile, monetization is not a priority at the moment, according to Silbermann. For a time, Pinterest was generating revenue via affiliate marketing service Skimlinks, which Silbermann said was implemented to “understand behavior.” The long-term monetization will have “to speak to the heart of the product itself,” which is “helping people discover things,” he said. Affiliate revenue is not the business model, he insisted.

Mashable reporter Sarah Kessler contributed to this story.

A Pinterest Timeline

March 2010: Pinterest Launched

Pinterest is launched to a closed beta. Later it will move to the email invite system it currently employs.

Click here to view this gallery.

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Apple’s iTunes Match Update Restores Genius to iPhone — or Does It?

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 01:06 PM PDT

If you signed up for the $25-a-year Apple service iTunes Match, which lets you access your entire iTunes library on the fly from your iPhone or iPad, you may have noticed one major flaw: iTunes Match killed Genius.

Well rejoice, for Genius has been restored — kind of.

Genius is Apple’s answer to Pandora, effectively. Choose a song, hit the Genius button on that track — the one that looks like an atom — and you get an instant playlist of similar-sounding tracks. It’s a great way to DJ from your iPhone if you’re feeling lazy.

But iTunes Match users were dismayed to discover that signing up for the service, which launched last November, meant losing Genius. Apple has offered no explanation; the Genius icon simply disappeared from your tracks.

Mac experts offered all kinds of workarounds, such as creating a bunch of Genius playlists in iTunes on your computer. But none of them quite got the lazy DJ nature of Genius. The whole point was that we like to use it spontaneously, an intelligent shuffle to match our mood. It was especially useful in offline situations, such as in-flight or on a long road trip.

As of the iOS 5.1 update, however, Genius has been quietly restored. Apple made as much mention of its return as of its departure (ie. none, though we have reached out to the Cupertino company for comment).

There’s one big difference with this new version of Genius, however — you have to be online to use it. Even then, it appears not to work for some users.

SEE ALSO: Apple is Censoring Music on iTunes Match

“I was so excited to see 5.1 added Genius,” wrote one user in an Apple forum that has been discussing the problem since November. “But every time I try to use it I get a message to try again. Come in Apple, I really want to use this service!”

In Mashable‘s tests, we were able to replicate the “try again” message on obscure tracks with few Genius matches. It does not appear to be a bandwidth issue.

Are you using iTunes Match or Genius? Have you seen this issue? Let us know in the comments.

More About: genius, iphone, itunes, itunes-match

Hashtag Prompts Twitter Discussion of Unreported Sex Crimes

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 12:51 PM PDT

Be prepared to see some sobering tweets about rape and sexual assault this week on Twitter. The hashtag #ididnotreport began popping up in people’s feeds on Monday and Tuesday. A flood of tweets from people discussing unreported sexual crimes brought some somber reality to the Twitterverse.

An unknown blogger for London Feminist says she started the hashtag on Tuesday after reading a survey about sexual assault victims who reported the all-too-common response that they did not report the crimes to authorities for fear of not being believed.

“I had no idea how powerful that would be,” she wrote on her blog. “I had imagined that it was predominantly low-level street harassment which was not reported, but it wasn't just this sort of abuse, that came up on that hashtag. Far more serious attacks go unreported.”

The hashtag prompted broad discussion about a variety of sexual crimes from child abuse to violence against transgendered people. The tweets can be pretty raw. Some are less descriptive, but nonetheless heartbreaking. Here’s a sample of a few: One tweeter says, “#ididnotreport because I was ashamed I hadn’t been able to fight harder or scream louder. I thought I deserved to be punished for failing.” Another person tweeted, “did report after assault at gunpoint. Never heard from police again. 3 yrs ltr, #ididnotreport when a guy shoved hand up my skirt. Futility.” And. “#ididnotreport cos I was 4 & didn’t know the words-children learn silence with the abuse. #webelieveyou.”

Mashable reached out to the London Feminist blogger to find out her identity. We heard back several hours later from the blog’s operator, Julian. She said she hopes the blog promotes the London Feminist Network, a women-only feminist activism group, but it is not the blog for the 1,600 member group.

Julian tells Mashable, “I didn’t really plan this hashtag. I started it imagining that a few people would join in and that I might get some shared experiences for the blog. I had no idea how deeply it would touch people and I’m awed by how people have been willing to participate,” she said. “After this I hope to use hashtags again in the future. I didn’t know before how powerful they could be!”

The hashtag did not burst through the top trending topics in the United States or the U.K. by Tuesday mid-day in San Francisco. However, at the rate tweets with the hashtag #ididnotreport came pouring in, we might continue to see this topic rising in popularity on Twitter in the coming days.

The blogger wrote she hoped the hashtag would encourage women to report sexual assaults that she deems, “low level” — the ones that women typically ignore, like, bring groped on public transportation or being prodded in any other way while in public. “And although those things are all offenses,” she writes. “We don’t report them because they're ‘too minor’ and because we didn't get a good look at the guy who did it, and because the hassle of reporting it would be so great.”

What’s your reaction to this hashtag? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Don89

More About: hashtag, legal, Twitter, Violence, women

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Homeless Hotspots: Not a Terrible Idea

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 12:25 PM PDT

Homeless Hotspot page

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

A couple of days into my first-ever SXSW experience, I remarked on Twitter how awesome the Wi-Fi connectivity was at the convention center. Perhaps that's why I never saw the Homeless Hotspots; I was never desperately searching for connectivity. I did see homeless people—much as you would in any major metropolitan city—but none of them were carrying a 4G MiFi. Had I seen any of them, I don't think I would have been upset or offended. I might, though, have wanted to ask one of them how they ended up becoming human infrastructure.

At one time or another most of us who spend our days online have likely served as digital infrastructure ourselves. That's right, if you've ever used a hotspot and shared connectivity with a few people, you're one of the tiny tendrils at the end of an Internet backbone. It's unlikely, though, that anyone paid you for the pleasure. Your pals simply sucked data off you with no more than a thank you.

For most of us, that's enough. For these homeless people, though, they're doing this with an obvious purpose. If you were one of the people who tapped into their roving hotspots without paying, you'd feel like a heel. These people have no home and no source of income—save this digital avenue.

Some people think this is a terrible idea and that it nothing more than a craven marketing scheme and that it somehow dehumanizes the homeless. I don't know about that. I think the reality of being homeless and having most people walking by on the street actively ignoring you could be pretty dehumanizing.

It's no secret that the Homeless Hotspot idea is the 21st-century update to Street News. I remember when that project launched as well. It was, I believe, in the late ’80s and most of the press it got was positive. The idea was that homeless people would hawk 75-cent newspapers that featured stories about the homeless in their locale. The newspaper was a broadsheet and it had newsy stories, a lot of commentary, photos, and a lot of details about the homeless experience.

SEE ALSO: SXSW 2012: The Year of Infectious Optimism

For a time, the homeless newspaper hawkers were all over New York City. I remember buying more than a few issues. People you typically saw sitting on the sidewalk with a cup or their hand out, were standing, shouting, greeting and selling the newspapers they helped produce. The problem was, though, the newspapers weren't very good. The writing was often average (or worse) and the stories, though real and important, started to lose their impact. Overall, Street News wasn't enough of a real newspaper to survive and within a few years, the number of homeless paper hawkers began to dwindle. Eventually, major media companies introduced free newspapers (like AM New York), which rival some of the paid alternatives, and that pretty much marked the end of Street News.

What really doomed the Street News program, though, was that the homeless were given nothing of value to sell. Homeless Hotspots (an abysmal name — even Street News knew better) are a different story. Outside the Austin Convention Center, finding affordable and lightning-fast Internet connectivity could be a godsend. If you needed it, wouldn't you be happy to fork over $8 for an hour of connectivity? Plus, you're really helping someone.

If I stopped to give a homeless person some money, I likely would have handed them a dollar or two. Eight dollars? Probably not. Since Homeless Hotspots use PayPal, I could have given that or more and I would have hung around the homeless person manning the hot spot for an hour or more. Would we have talked? I don't know. It probably would've depended on how talkative the homeless person was.

So, what is so bad about this? You're giving the homeless more money than they might normally have. The homeless are providing a high-quality service. And you may actually get to know someone new (making a literal and figurative connection). Even if you think Homeless Hotspots is a good idea, it is by no means a solution for the plight of the homeless, who may often need far more than just money (support, counseling, help overcoming addiction). On the other hand, it is doubtlessly better than doing nothing, which is what most of us do.

The sad truth, though, is that this is likely the end of the Homeless Hotspot program. This backlash almost ensures that it will expire in Austin. Is that the goal we were aiming for, to have fewer options to help the homeless?

More About: Social Good, sxsw, trending, wifi

Student Threatens School Shooting Spree on Reddit, Gets Arrested [VIDEO]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 12:14 PM PDT

A University of Maryland student was arrested this week after posting threats to Internet news forum Reddit as well as anonymous voice and video chat site

Alexander Song, 19, posted his intentions to “kill enough people to make it to national news,” according to the Associated Press.

Sunday morning, other users on those websites reported the threats to police, who promptly set up surveillance of Song and arrested him at school. UM Police Chief David Mitchell said in a news conference that three individuals turned him in.

At the time of arrest, Song was neither carrying firearms nor had weapons in his dorm room. He was “emotionally distraught to the point of shaking and crying,” Mitchell said.

SEE ALSO: Reddit vs. Darrell Issa: Congressman Explains His SOPA Alternative Online

Officials caught up to Song by using his IP address number — provided by Reddit.

“Our detectives and OIT staff determined that the messages were sent from a campus location,” said Mitchell.

Would you report an anonymous threat posted to Facebook, Twitter or any other social network? Tell us in the comments.

More About: reddit, Social Media, social networking, Video

What Would You Do as Apple CEO for a Day? [CONTEST]

Posted: 13 Mar 2012 12:02 PM PDT

Congratulations — you’ve been made CEO of Apple. What are you going to do on your first day?

But there’s a catch: you’re only the CEO for one day. You don’t have a lot of time before you go back to being just an average Apple consumer. This is your 15 minutes of fame, so to speak. How will you make it count?

Part of being Apple CEO is making sure that the Apple experience stays top-notch. To get a feel for customer sentiment about Apple, start by looking at yesterday’s contest, in which we asked our readers to tell us their all-time best Apple story. The stories spanned decades and different products, but one of the common themes was how great Apple’s customer service continues to be. Others said Apple technology helps them accomplish things in their jobs or personal lives, and that the devices bring them together with their loved ones.

But our favorite response was from Tom Croom, who wrote about an early and formative experience that shaped his life.

Apple Personal Story

Tom’s response won him a $500 Apple gift card and a Belkin prize pack. He’s our fourth out of five winners, so if you haven’t won yet, the good news is that we’re giving away one more prize pack, and we’d love to give it to you! Read on to learn how to enter.

Apple Gift Card

Today, we’re asking: What would you do if you were made Apple CEO for a day?

How To Enter The Contest

  • Tell us in the comments: What would you do if you were made Apple CEO for a day? OR
  • Tweet your response with the hashtag #mashtech.
  • Submit your response by 12:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, March 14.

If you’ve not commented before, it’s easy: Just sign in to Mashable Follow with your existing Facebook or Twitter account and start posting! Please use your real identity in the submission so that we may contact you via email, Twitter or Facebook to let you know you've won. This contest is limited to residents of the United States who are 18 or older.

We look forward to hearing your responses!

Read our full contest rules here.

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.

Apple iPad Event

Click here to view this gallery.

More Coverage of Apple’s New iPad

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, STEEX

More About: apple, Contests, Gadgets, iOS, ipad

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