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11 March 2011

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “iPad 2 Now Available in Apple Online Store”

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “iPad 2 Now Available in Apple Online Store”

iPad 2 Now Available in Apple Online Store

Posted: 11 Mar 2011 03:11 AM PST

The moment has come: iPad 2 is now available in Apple’s online store.

Everything is just as announced: the 16 GB, Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 starts at $499, and the price climbs to $829 if you want the 64 GB, 3G+Wi-Fi version. The device is available in two colors (black and white), and customers can choose to have a sign engraved on it for free.

Of course, if you want to pick the iPad 2 up from a U.S. retail store yourself, you’ll have to wait until 5 p.m. local time.

[via Apple]

More About: apple, ipad, iPad 2, Tablet

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Twitter Users React To Massive Quake, Tsunami In Japan

Posted: 11 Mar 2011 12:06 AM PST

A powerful 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Japan on Friday, causing widespread power outages, fires and a severe tsunami that was reported to be up to 10 meters high in places. It was the seventh most powerful earthquake in recorded history.

The reaction on Twitter, quickly becoming the go-to service in emergencies, was immediate and intense. Less than an hour after the quake, with the country’s phone system knocked out, the number of tweets coming from Tokyo were topping 1,200 per minute, according to Tweet-o-Meter.

In the U.S., West Coast Twitter users learned of the quake late Thursday night and were quickly sharing reports, prayers and video streams. Many favored the live Al-Jazeera feed; others offered a live feed from a Japanese station on Ustream. Meanwhile, hundreds of tweets criticized CNN’s anchor for laughing on air while reporting the tragedy.

On a more practical note, Twitter users shared the tsunami’s estimated times of arrival on U.S. shores — before an official government tsunami warning went into effect. The wave was expected to hit Hawaii first, at roughly 3am local time.

Google’s official feed posted a link to the Japanese version of its People Finder, for loved ones who have been separated.

More About: Earthquake, japan, tsunami, twitter

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Google Adds Click-to-Call to Gmail Voice Calling

Posted: 11 Mar 2011 12:02 AM PST

Google has enhanced its voice calling feature in Gmail with an ability to click on phone numbers and call them instantly instead of having to type in the number manually.

From now on, phone numbers in Gmail will appear as links; click the number, and – if you have the voice and video plugin installed in Gmail – a dialpad with the number will pop up, and you can call it with another click.

Furthermore, you can now call your Gmail contacts by clicking on the little green icon next to their phone number.

Although limited just to phone numbers in Gmail chats and messages, this new feature brings Gmail voice calling one step closer to Skype, which has had similar functionality for quite some time.

More About: gmail, Google, voice calling, voice calls

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Offering an API? Create Your Own Console With Apigee’s Free API Tool

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 10:59 PM PST

Recently, API products company Apigee rolled out Apigee To-Go, a free tool for building an API console, classing it up with a slick UI, and embedding it wherever your developers are.

This new tool gives developers a DIY approach to offering brand-cohesive, usable API interfaces. Devs can create customized API Consoles themselves, skin the consoles to match existing branding, and then embed the console on their own sites. And all of these sweet features are free of charge.

Altogether, Apigee says their consoles can help you get your third-party devs from exploring the code to working with the code much faster. And all it takes from you, the platform provider, is three relatively simple steps: Describe the API, create the console’s look and feel, and embed the console using iFrame.

Web companies releasing APIs is a huge part of the developer ecosystem right now.

At Mashable, we preach about the necessity of APIs and laud innovative ones. And when possible, we try to spread the good word about tools for building APIs.

Apigee’s API Console made its debut last year; it was the company’s attempt to restructure how devs learn their way around a new API. The console, as Apigee staffer Shanley Kane writes, “lets developers view the full surface area of an API, authenticate in seconds, easily view API requests and responses, dig into errors and share their results.”

The consoles also let devs share snapshots of a request/response pair; Kane says this feature “makes debugging social and facilitates communication between the API team and its developers.”

Apigee’s custom-made consoles are used by companies like Twitter, Facebook and Salesforce. Apigee To-Go is the company’s way of giving DIY console-creation tools to developers to use on their own projects and sites.

Already, Etsy, Paypal and SoundCloud are using Apigee To-Go-built consoles for their own APIs.

Here’s a look at SoundCloud’s API console:

Other features include handling OAuth 1.0 and 2.0 and basic authentication, because, as Kane writes, “Authentication schemes like OAuth slow developers down.”

Let us know what you think of this product — and API consoles in general — in the comments. Will you be giving Apigee To-Go a shot?

Image based on a photo from iStockphoto user alxpin

More About: api, api console, apigee, developers

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Which Social Sites Are Best for Which Marketing Outcomes? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 09:30 PM PST

Is Flickr good for SEO? Can Tumblr drive traffic? If these questions are part of your day-to-day work, hold onto your hats; here’s an infographic that’s actually useful for a change.

If you’re doing any social media marketing, here’s something for your to print out and hang up near your desk as a handy point of reference., together with SEO firm 97th Floor, have created this chart showing which social networks are best for various organizational, CRM and marketing goals.

For example, if you need massive pageviews for your site or a client’s site, Facebook and Twitter are just so-so for referring their users to your content. If you want to see really big clickthroughs, you should optimize for StumbleUpon and Digg. And if your goal is search engine optimization, don’t think that Facebook’s “no-follow” links are doing you any favors; instead, focus on Flickr and YouTube to see your desired results on Page One.

When you think about best-in-class social media campaigns and true leaders in social media marketing, you realize that most of the time, creative and successful marketing teams pick a specific platform for a specific reason; this chart gives you the tip of the iceburg when it comes to making the right choice for your own company’s or clients’ campaigns.

Check out the chart below, and in the comments, let us know about your experiences with marketing, CRM, PR and SEO across these various platforms.

Click image to view full-size PDF version.

Lead image courtesy of Flickr, rishibando.

More About: CMO, infographic, MARKETING, social media, social media marketing

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Washington Post Explores the Future of Journalism Via Tumblr

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 07:50 PM PST

Thursday, the Washington Post launched @innovations, a Tumblr blog meant to showcase the news organization’s digital features and discuss the changing media landscape.

The blog acknowledges the new ways readers are engaging with Washington Post content (and all news for that matter). “We don't want to just tell you what we think. We want to be transparent as we explore and experiment,” writes Social Media and Engagement Editor Amanda Zamora in the blog’s inaugural post.

In addition to giving web producers another avenue to connect with online readers, @innovations will explain‘s digital projects.

For example, a post today walked through the creation of the site’s Mideast turmoil map from conception to execution. This behind-the-scenes look gives readers a stronger connection with the content.

However, the most striking aspect of @innovations is its design. Though it is indeed hosted on Tumblr, you wouldn’t know it. It’s fully integrated into, retaining the site’s masthead, navigation bar and banner ad.

“It’s the best example we've seen of a news organization fully integrating a Tumblr blog into its site,” wrote Mark Coatney, director/media evangelist at Tumblr and formerly the voice behind Newsweek‘s Tumblr, on his personal blog.

Though journalism is undeniably undergoing massive changes, many traditional media outlets have turned a blind eye to the digital age. It’s nice to see the Washington Post not only recognizing but embracing the emerging methods of gathering and sharing information. @innovations may be one small step for a news organization, but it could be one giant leap for the future of journalism.

Photo courtesy Flickr, M.V. Jantzen

More About: digital media, future of journalism, innovations, journalism, media, News, social media, tumblr, washington post

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Apple Changes In-App Purchase Policy to Protect Parents’ Credit Cards

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 06:21 PM PST

Apple has changed its policy for in-app purchases to prevent users, especially children, from accidentally purchasing virtual goods.

Previously, consumers have been able to make an unlimited number of purchases without entering a password for 15 minutes after a change was made using a password. Parents complained that this policy made it easy for their children to incur huge iTunes charges without understanding that they were spending money or asking for parental permission.

Apple told The Washington Post that it had updated its newly released iOS 4.3 with a feature that eliminates this 15-minute window and requires a password with every download.

This change will surely prevent some unexpected bills, but it does nothing to address the larger question of whether it’s appropriate to market expensive virtual goods within games intended for young children in the first place. For example, $99.00 for a wagon of smurfberries, seems a bit outside of most children’s means.

The FTC said in February that it would review the marketing and delivery practices of such mobile applications.

Image courtesy of Flickr, aperturismo.

More About: apple, Children, in-app purchases

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The New AOL Way: Fewer Employees, Fewer Freelancers, More Arianna

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 05:11 PM PST

Just days after AOL completed its acquisition of The Huffington Post, the Internet company announced layoffs of hundreds of employees in an effort to reorganize its editorial operation.

The struggling tech giant has slashed the jobs of 900 employees, including around 200 U.S. editorial staff. Sites such as Gadling, DailyFinance and Stylelist were hit with major layoffs. Among those who lost their jobs were PoliticsDaily editor in chief Melinda Henneberger and Stylelist editorial director Colleen Curtis.

In a memo to the AOL team, CEO Tim Armstrong outlined some of the details of the reorganization. Most of the layoffs will occur at the company’s India offices. AOL will be creating department editor and general manager positions for different pieces of its content business. It will also rely less on freelancers and hire more full-time journalists.

Naturally, Armstrong laid on the praise for his prized acquisition, The Huffington Post and its co-founder Arianna Huffington. The newly-formed Huffington Post Media Group, which includes AOL content such as Engadget, Moviefone, and MapQuest, is a centerpiece of Armstrong’s strategy. “With Arianna’s leadership and vision, HPMG will be fueled by high-quality editorial content,” he said. It will also “give AOL the enhanced ability to deliver a scaled and differentiated array of premium news, analysis, entertainment, information and community.”

Layoffs are to be expected with any major acquisition, especially when the two companies have a lot of overlap. But this wave of layoffs is more likely part of a larger content strategy driven by Armstrong and Huffington. Whether this shake-up is the start of a revitalization of AOL’s fortunes or marks the beginning of the end has yet to be determined.

More About: aol, AOL Media, Huffington Post, media

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Charlie Sheen Death Hoax Spreads Malware Through Facebook

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 03:57 PM PST

If you’ve been clicking on links and videos about Charlie Sheen‘s alleged death, you’ve been had by the latest social media malware scam.

Several similar headlines have been spreading around Facebook and, to a lesser extent, Twitter. They begin with “RIP!” or “Breaking News” and contain text to the effect that actor Charlie Sheen has died in his house or due to cardiac arrest.

Clicking on these links takes the user to a fake YouTube-clone page, where any click on any part of the screen will begin spreading the scam on the user’s own Facebook profile. Then, the user is asked to complete a survey before viewing the video, which adds a lead-gen layer to the click-jacking scheme. Finally, some folks are reporting being infected with malware after visiting the site, as well.

It’s a triple whammy of a Facebook hoax, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for users. We’ve been seeing the actor on a social media blitz after his news media meltdown; he’s taken channels such as Twitter and UStream by storm over the past few days.

The scammers behind this malware have without doubt capitalized on Charlie Sheen’s recent insanity-fueled popularity, especially via social media channels. The actor hasn’t yet commented on the hoax publicly; we’re hoping he at least sends a message to fans from his Twitter account.

If you’ve already clicked links like the one above, first, go through your security settings and revoke any access for apps you don’t recall signing up for. Next, go through your profile and delete any spammy posts you may have sent out. (We’ve written in detail about exactly how to deal with Facebook click-jacking scams; reference that link if you need step-by-step instructions.) Finally, you might want to fire up your antivirus software and make sure your computer isn’t infected.

To the rest of you, safe clicking, and warn your friends about this scam.

More About: charlie sheen, facebook, malware, scam, security, twitter

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YouTube To Expand Staff by 30%

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 02:40 PM PST

YouTube expects to have its biggest hiring year in 2011, with plans to grow its staff by 30%.

The Google-owned video site has dozens of open positions in all areas — although an especially high number in advertising sales and customer support — and all around the world. A great number of the positions are based in YouTube’s headquarters in San Bruno, California, just outside San Francisco.

The company currently has about 650 employees. A 30% increase would mean YouTube could hire close to 200 more staffers this year.

“[B]ecause we believe that technology and platforms like YouTube are giving rise to the most diverse set of faces and voices ever seen or heard in human history, us YouTubers really enjoy and feel proud to work here,” YouTube wrote on its blog Thursday.

The company has continued to grow and make acquisitions. Just this week, it was reported that YouTube bought web video production company Next New Networks.

More About: Google, jobs, youtube

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Firefox 4: What You Need To Know

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 02:34 PM PST

After no fewer than 10 beta releases, Firefox 4 finally entered the “release candidate” stage Wednesday.

Assuming that no fatal bugs emerge, this version (minus minor bugs) will soon be released as a final product that is up to six times faster than its predecessors, features a new minimalist interface and incorporates long-awaited sync and panorama features.

Whether you decide to download the release version or wait for the final release, here’s a quick overview of the new features to expect.

1. Tabs Are On Top


As with Opera and Chrome, Firefox 4 tabs are placed by default above the search bar instead of below it.

Alex Faaborg, the principal designer on Firefox, created a video to explain the thought behind this decision. The advantages of doing so, he says, are more logical visuals, space efficiency, and accommodation of new features like app tabs and a redesigned notification window that associates the notification with its site’s tab.

2. App Tabs


Mozilla 4 allows you to turn any tab into an “App Tab” by right-clicking on it and selecting “Pin as App Tab.”

These tabs stay put in the upper left-hand corner of the browser even as you scroll through your other tabs, which prevents the web applications you return to frequently from getting lost.

When there’s an update on one of the app tab pages, like a new e-mail, Facebook message or Twitter update, the tab glows — rather classy compared to the bouncing, flashing alternatives.

3. Switch to a Tab Via the Search Bar


Start typing the address of a website that is already open in a tab, and Firefox 4 will suggest an option to switch to that tab, even when it’s in a different open window. If you’re someone who opens more tabs than you can remember, this feature can help prevent repeats.

4. Sync Across Multiple Devices


The ability to sync bookmarks, browsing history, passwords, form fill data, and open tabs across multiple computers and smartphone is built in to Firefox 4.

While similar features have been default in Chrome and Opera for a while, Firefox director of engineering Johnathan Nightingale says that the organization took the time to develop “weapons-grade encryption.”

5. Panorama

Panorama (formerly tab candy) now allows you to overview all of your tabs and organize them into groups using a drag and drop interface.

The feature is accessed through an icon in the upper right-hand corner of the browser that opens to a blank workspace and icons for each of your existing tabs. You can create a new group by dragging two icons near each other, move and resize groups, and close all the tabs in a group with one click.

More About: browser, Firefox, mozilla

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Picplz Introduces Collections, the Photo Equivalent of Playlists

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 02:00 PM PST

Picplz founder and CEO Dalton Caldwell refers to the now-defunct Imeem, his first entrepreneurial go-round, as “fundamentally a playlist community, not exactly a music site.” The distinction is all the more clear Thursday with the addition of collections to Picplz — or user-generated playlists for photos.

“Imeem had playlists that let you create groups of songs; Picplz has collections that let you create groups of photos,” says Caldwell. “This is a very fundamental and powerful feature for Picplz.”

Collections are as simple to build as they sound. Users need only tap to “Add to collection” via iPhone, Android or the web — no application update needed — to save a Picplz photo to a new or existing collection. Picplz users can create collections for any purpose and even add editors to help in the photo curation and collection process.

“I see collections as a way to organize and participate with the community,” says Caldwell. “In my experience with online communities I have come to believe that ‘curators’ are just as important as content creators.”

The collections feature could also be repurposed by brands, especially since they can be managed by a group of users.

In addition to collections, Picplz is also releasing a new version of its Android app Thursday — the iPhone version is pending approval by Apple — to implement borders (a.k.a. photo frames) in photo filters. Frames have been a highly requested feature for some time now, says Caldwell.

Altogether, these updates improve the overall Picplz experience and come just in time for the start of South by Southwest, where throngs of attendees will no doubt be hoping to snap, save and collect photo memories of the festival.

More About: android, Collections, mobile photo sharing, picplz, sxsw, sxsw 2011, sxswi

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L’Oreal Teams Up With Buddy Media To Help Local Salons Market on Facebook

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 01:37 PM PST

L’Oreal announced a new program Thursday that will enable the more than 4,000 salons carrying its professional line of products to begin marketing systematically on Facebook.

The company recognized the need for local salons in its U.S. Professional Products Division — a quarter of whom have been negatively impacted by the recession — to connect with their customers through Facebook. As a result, L’Oreal partnered with Buddy Media to provide a set of tools with which salons could begin enhancing their Facebook Pages, whist allowing L’Oreal to measure traction and furnish content for all of its salon locations.

Salons will now be able to set up a separate tab with a number of customizable modules that allow them to display their respective logos, business hours, a menu of services, inspirational and how-to videos (many of which will be supplied by L’Oreal), as well advertise — although not sell — products, among other things. Buddy Media has also integrated with other social applications like Schedulicity that enable appointment booking over Facebook.

L’Oreal is supplying salons with plenty of educational resources, including a how-to book for promoting salons on Facebook and instructional videos. In addition, the company is extending $25 advertising credit for each of its Redken salons, Rachel Weiss, assistant vice president for digital strategy in L’Oreal’s Professional Products Division, tells us.

This marks Buddy Media’s largest — although by no means its first — foray into the local market. It’s an exciting prospect, Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow says, because it gives large corporate franchises like L’Oreal the ability to connect with consumers on a grassroots level.

“If you have 4,200 salons that connect with 300 people each, you then have the ability to connect with more than a million people,” he says, noting in addition that it allows consumers to connect with real people — i.e., their stylists — on Facebook as well as the corporate brand.

More About: beauty, Buddy Media, facebook, l'oreal

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How to Get a Refund for ABC’s “Oscar All Access” Service

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 12:55 PM PST

Did you spring for that $4.99 “Oscar All Access” online service I recommended on Oscar night? If you’re like me, you were dissatisfied with the streaming multi-camera views. Guess what? I got my money back, and so can you.

A website called, run by ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, offered an unprecedented multi-camera feed for the big night, charging $4.99 for access to 24 switchable cameras, including some 360-degree views of the red carpet proceedings, promises of cameras inside the Kodak Theater for the ceremony and coverage of the Governors Ball afterward.

As your humble narrator, I alerted all of you, dear readers, to this unusual offering. From ABC’s press materials, I was under the impression we would be able to see at least parts of the ceremony from within the Kodak Theater, but that’s not what happened. Disappointed, I updated the post thusly:

“Once we watched this $5 multi-camera coverage, we realized that ABC wasn’t going to let us see the ceremony itself on any of these 24 cameras, a great disappointment. On the other hand, those 24 extra angles were extremely useful, the perfect supplement to the live TV broadcast. You could have watched the multi-cam feed and its 24 cameras by itself, but it would have felt like you were invited to the Oscars but without a seat. You still needed to watch the show itself on TV at the same time for the full multi-screened effect.”

There were 24 cameras distributed around the red carpet area, backstage and elsewhere, but many were blacked out at strategic times. For instance, you could see a couple of shots from inside the Kodak Theater during the ceremony, but they were framed up on the audience during commercials. When the ceremony was underway, those cameras were not available.

This was not the deal. ABC oversold it. The company made it seem like we’d be able to see everything with this $4.99 product. Many of us were not pleased with this result, and so I complained to ABC, telling them I didn’t think it was a good value. They gave me a refund.

How did I do it? I intentionally went through the same channels any consumer would go through, and it took 10 days to get a response. Go to ABC Player Support or the site, explain that the $4.99 service didn’t give you your money’s worth, and ask them to return your money by crediting your credit card. Will this work? I can’t guarantee it, but it worked for me, and it’s worth a try. Here’s the response I got:

Dear White

Thank you for your feedback on your experience with Oscar All Access. We appreciate hearing from our guests, as feedback like yours is vital for us to continue improving our online offerings.

We make every attempt to ensure your online viewing experience is enjoyable and are sorry to hear that you were not satisfied with Oscar All Access.

We would like to refund you the $4.99 you were charged. Your refund will be processed within the next few days and you will receive a $4.99 credit to the credit card used for payment.

If you have additional questions, you can contact us at

Thank you,
ABC Player Support Team

While I appreciate the refund, this was still a frustrating exercise. The promise of wielding multiple cameras — letting you switch between them and choose your own angles — is compelling, but not so much when you’re prevented from seeing the main event. There were also significant problems with the streaming video, where it was often halting and unwatchable. Next year, ABC needs to provide more bandwidth, and make it clear that it’s going to shutter some of the cameras part of the time. Better yet, why not just charge more than $4.99 and let us have free reign over all the cameras?

Here’s hoping next year will be a much better experience, with ABC and the Motion Picture Academy learning from this experience. Meanwhile, I encourage all of you who were dissatisfied with the service to get your money back.

More About: money back, multi-cam, Oscar All Access, Oscars, Refund, streaming video

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Google Now Lets You Block Unwanted Search Results

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 12:27 PM PST

Google has released a new feature in its attempt to clean up search results: the ability to block the websites you don’t want to see.

Google last month launched a Chrome extension with the exact same functionality, but the search giant has now made it an official feature. Whenever you head back to Google after checking out a search result, it will display an option to block all results from that domain.

Once a website is blocked, you can either manage your blocked sites or undo the block. You have to be logged in to your Google account in order to save a blocked website. Search results with blocked results will display a message saying how many results were blocked.

Google said in its announcement Thursday that it’s adding this feature to provide a more personalized Google experience, but if Google’s Personal Blocklist extension is any indication, the company is also trying to clean up spam within search. By having users pick out low-quality websites, Google can quickly pinpoint spam and content farms.

Google says it is not “currently using the domains people block as a signal in [search] ranking,” but that it may utilize it in the future. Don’t be surprised if blocked search results become a key component of searching in the future.

More About: Google, google search, trending

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Instagram Steps Up Dealmaking, Partners With Top CBS Show

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 12:16 PM PST

The popular photo-sharing app Instagram, less than six months out from its launch, just cut its largest media partnership deal yet: A contest that will put one user’s photo in the finale of NCIS: Los Angeles.

The contest is called “Flaunt Your City” and runs from today until April 1. Instagram users are invited to submit pictures of “unique or iconic locales” in their hometown. The CBS show’s producers and cast, including Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J (both Instagram users), will choose their favorite photo. The winner will be integrated into the NCIS: Los Angeles finale on May 17.

Instagram has had partnerships with major brands already, most notably Lipton Brisk (which is putting user pictures on the side of ice tea cans) and NPR. When Instagram started letting users add hashtags to pictures, it was overtly intended to make it easier for brands to use the service to launch campaigns.

But the CBS deal is another order of magnitude for the young company, whose 2 million users share nearly 300,000 photos daily. NCIS: Los Angeles is the number-two most-watched scripted show on TV, with roughly 18 million viewers every week.

And while integrating an Instagram snapshot in a plot doesn’t exactly count as product placement — it’s not as if Instagram brands its pictures — a contest like this will bring the service to a whole new audience. Meanwhile, the Tiffany Network gets to look a little more cool in the eyes of the hipster digerati.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind partnership that expands what social media means to business today, and we’re glad to be part of it,” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said in a statement. “We can’t wait to browse the gorgeous photos viewers will send in of their hometown.”

Further details and rules of the contest are on the NCIS: LA Facebook Page.

More About: apps, cbs, contest, instagram, media, NCIS: Los Angeles, photo sharing

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How The New York Times Is Incorporating Social & Algorithmic Recommendations

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 11:35 AM PST

The New York Times released Thursday a finished version of the Recommendations platform it quietly introduced in beta in late January.

Available at and on the “Recommended For You” tab on article pages, the tool is designed to help logged-in readers "see through the news fog," as NYT lead technology reporter Nick Bilton put it. It serves up recommended stories based upon the kinds of articles visitors have read.

“We wanted to make the site more engaging, to expose content to our readers on a more customized, personalized basis — and not customized in the way you select your topics like a My Yahoo or iGoogle, but more of a passive personalization,” Marc Frons, CTO of The New York Times, explains. “We created an algorithm that exposes users to content they may not have seen otherwise,” he adds.

The algorithm is one of the most sophisticated we’ve seen on a news site. When serving up recommendations, it calculates a number of factors, including recency (visitors who tend to gravitate toward breaking news should see recommendations for more timely topics), sections, topics and keywords.

A New Model for Curation

Recommendations is part of a broader exploration of new curation and aggregation methods for Times readers. For time immemorial, the editors of the Times have determined what appears on the cover of the paper and, beginning in 2006, what appears on the front page of

Now, the front page of shows recommendations from one's Facebook network alongside stories chosen by Times editors. Visitors can easily navigate to the "Most Popular" tab to surface stories that have proven most popular among bloggers and readers.

In the future, we wouldn't be surprised to see the front-page content of divided into three sections: one for stories recommended by human editors, another with stories recommended by one's social network and a third that delivers stories chosen by the site's internal recommendations engine.

“The challenge is to balance recommendations that are editorially driven, based on what editors think is important, with recommendations from the social sphere and algorithmic recommendations, based on what you’ve read and who you are, your own likes and dislikes,” Frons says. “It’s something we’re constantly looking at and experimenting with.”

It’s a tough challenge, especially in light of the Times‘s emphasis — and subsequent reputation — for editor-driven curation. So far, the Times has proven to be open-minded and progressive without overwhelming readers, for which we commend them.

More About: media, new york times, Recommendations

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Why Curation Is Important to the Future of Journalism

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 11:18 AM PST

book image

Josh Sternberg is the founder of Sternberg Strategic Communications and authors The Sternberg Effect. You can follow him on Twitter and Tumblr.

Over the past few weeks, many worries about the death of journalism have, well, died. Despite shrinking newsrooms and overworked reporters, journalism is in fact thriving. The art of information gathering, analysis and dissemination has arguably been strengthened over the last several years, and given rise and importance to a new role: the journalistic curator.

The concept of curating news is not new. One can look to the supply-chain process of a news organization to see that several roles (editor, managing editor, etc.) have curation as a core competency; that is, the organizing of information filed by reporters into a deliverable packages for readers.

But with the push of social media and advancements in communications technology, the curator has become a journalist by proxy. They are not on the front lines, covering a particular beat or industry, or filing a story themselves, but they are responding to a reader need. With a torrent of content emanating from innumerable sources (blogs, mainstream media, social networks), a vacuum has been created between reporter and reader — or information gatherer and information seeker — where having a trusted human editor to help sort out all this information has become as necessary as those who file the initial report.

"Curation," says Sayid Ali, owner of, "gathers all these fragmented pieces of information to one location, allowing people to get access to more specialized content.”

Curation as an Intermediary

shortformblog image

Andy Carvin, senior strategist for NPR who runs their social media desk, finds meaning in the word “media.” "It means being in the middle — in this case, between sources and the public. So curating … really isn't that different than what reporters have always done; it's just in real time and a hell of a lot more transparent."

As Ernie Smith, editor of ShortFormBlog sees it, curators are like tour guides. "Good curators know where to find interesting things because they know the paths and can provide a knowledgeable voice to make things a little easier to parse. A good curator can see a clear direction and show others the way."

Curators help navigate readers through the vast ocean of content, and while doing so, create a following based on several factors: trust, taste and tools.

Building Trust

blog image

Unlike a reporter who is immersed in a particular industry or beat, a curator often has a day job. Some are in the media industry and have access to their publication's news sources; others are obsessed with the news and want to provide their network, community or followers with what they think is important. But the common thread between curators is that they are viewed as trustworthy sources of information.

Torie Rose DeGhett, a staff writer at Current Intelligence, and blogger at The Political Notebook, agrees. "Curation has to be credible. If all I do is use my curation to attack somebody, or if I blatantly try to confuse an issue or make it seem like something it isn't, that's wrong on a fundamental level. If I do that, then I can't be trusted as a source and people should have no reason to take what I do seriously."

Building trust is important to validating curation as an evolutionary form of journalism, and many curators believe they should be held to the same standards as journalists.

Ethical standards and transparency (like citing/crediting sources) are essential in building trust in a curator. DeGhett says, "The point is to share [news items] and lead people to it, not to claim it as your own… [But] my selection of sources is intended to make an argument, and to support certain things, not to present everything that's out there or every side."

Carvin's transparency is a great template for curators. "I publicly describe my Twitter feed as a one-man newsgathering operation that's open to the world for viewing." He relies on people to feed him information, which he retweets to his followers and lets them "help me figure it out by translating, adding context, finding independent sources, etc."

However, some curators believe that since they are not journalists creating content, journalistic standards don't necessarily have to apply.

The market researcher, curator and blogger who goes by the name “Kateoplis” says since "there's virtually no editorial content attached to the articles we promote," curating information doesn't have to be held to the same standards as reporting. She continues, "We simply highlight the most valuable posts." She does, however, believe there should be ethical guidelines to help curators, and in her role as an editor of the Tumblr news section, she provided their guidelines.

Smith thinks "that curators should have more freedoms than traditional reporters in a couple senses, in that part of the appeal of good curation is that it carries the person's footprint. Opinion isn't really a bad thing, and in fact gives the content shape in this context." When considering reporting standards, he continues, "the important part is 1) That it's consistent, and 2) That it's accurate. You have to do a little more direct listening to readers as a curator, because in a lot of ways, they are your sources."

Determining What's Newsworthy

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When a reporter covers a beat, they come up with story ideas via different methods — something in the industry that interests them, seeing a news hook another reporter may have alluded to (or missed), suggestions from their editor, and story ideas from a public relations team. And more often than not, reporters stay within the confines of their beat. Curators don't have to.

Curators aggregate and reblog content they find interesting, or think their readers will find interesting. Curators also seem to fall into one of two categories: Aggregation and reblogging content without any editorializing, or providing additional thoughts as part of their reblog, retweet, etc.

The blogger behind PantslessProgressive determines what's worthy of reblogging by "finding out what others are saying about that source, by observing who they interact with, and by the frequency and depth of their activity.”

DeGhett reblogs "if it provides information that I think is really important to know or have awareness of — something about veteran's issues, gay rights, transgender awareness, etc." She'll reblog if an article makes a great point or "brings up a great fact I think everyone should know."

Even though curators share certain characteristics of editors, they don’t enjoy the exact same role. When a curator gathers information for their community, the content is something they are passionate about. Reporters, as we're taught, are not supposed to be passionate and interject opinion into their story.

What's Next For Curation?

As journalism continues to evolve and adapt to advances in technology and the influence of social media, the role of the curator will continue to grow. Trusted curators, standards and better tools to filter content will be two things to watch over the coming months and years. Additionally, creating a work force of curators — whether freelancers or paid staff members — will help curation grow. Many news organizations, for example, are on Tumblr acting as curators, reblogging not only their publication's content, but also other news sources that are relevant to their audience.

As Anthony DeRosa, proposition leader at Reuters says, "We all have access to pretty much the same information sources, aside from the investigation and journalism that people at news agencies perform. There's enough out there for someone who simply wants to be a helpful guide, to plant their flag and be a good resource for whatever it is they're interested in. You can use RSS, Twitter, Storify, Storyful and any number of other tools to stay on top of what is happening and be a human filter for what I should be looking at."

More Digital Journalism Resources from Mashable:

- Facebook's Growing Role in Social Journalism
- 10 Predictions for the News Media in 2011
- The Future of Social Media in Journalism
- The History of Content, From Cave Paintings to Flipboard [INFOGRAPHIC]

Image courtesy of Flickr, B_Zedan

More About: blogger, curation, curator, journalism, Journalist, media, News, social media

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Chrome Extension Blocks Celebrities From Your Browser

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 10:41 AM PST

Don’t you wish you could just dismiss some celebrities to another dimension? Now you can with Silence of the Celebs, an extension for the Chrome browser that makes it seem like that object of your disdain never existed.

Add a name to Silence of the Celebs’ gag list, and boom! It’s as if that celebrity is suddenly a D-lister, and all articles featuring that person are gone. We particularly enjoyed typing Justin Bieber‘s name, and as soon as we clicked the “Silence Them” button, a post about him faded to white, as if it were vanishing into the ether. Satisfying.

There’s a catch: The magic doesn’t work everywhere — only on the four sites enabled for the extension thus far (The New York Times, CNN, The Huffington Post and TMZ). That’s too bad, because we’d like to be able to use this capability all over the Interwebs. But wait. It so happens that developer Michael Surtees is doing just that, planning to make this extension work web-wide.

“There's a lot more that we're building into this (like the ability to remove headlines from any site),” he says.

If your animosity for Charlie Sheen is particularly strong, we could also recommend Tinted Sheen, the Charlie Sheen Browser Blocker, a Chrome and Firefox extension.

Think about it. There are plenty of filters for porn, but why can’t we have a worldwide filter for annoyances?

More About: chrome, extensions, filters, Silence of the Celebs

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At SXSW? Send Your Best Photos & Videos to Mashable & CNN iReport

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 10:22 AM PST

With South by Southwest Interactive kicking off Friday and many of you converging on Austin, Texas, to take part, we’d like for you to help us document the conference.

In partnership with CNN iReport, we’ll feature your best photos and videos from SXSWi 2011, which runs from March 11-15. In many ways, SXSW has become synonymous with innovation, big announcements and, of course, a lot of parties.

Share your journey and experience by snapping photos and videos of the cool things you see and do at the conference. Whether it’s video interviews of people you meet or interesting things you come across in Austin, be creative.

Upload your photos and videos using the assignment page or e-mail it to iReport. Please send your photos and videos by March 15. The best submissions could appear on CNN and Mashable.

To keep track of photos that Mashable is taking at SXSW, check out our Facebook photo album, where your iReport submissions may also be featured.

Submit Your SXSW Journey to CNN iReport and Mashable!

Photo courtesy Flickr, toodlepip

More About: citizen journalism, cnn, ireport, photography, sxsw, sxswi, videos

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Apple to Open Pop-Up Shop at SXSW [REPORT]

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 10:04 AM PST

Apple is set to open a temporary store in the Scarbrough building on Congress Avenue in downtown Austin, Texas, according to two separate reports from local news sites.

The pop-up shop will take over the Sixth and Congress location for two weeks beginning Friday. The reported timing could not be more calculated; Friday marks the first day of the South by Southwest festival and is the launch day for the iPad 2.

Austinist was tipped off Wednesday that the Apple SXSW pop-up shop was in the works. It also nabbed a photo of the building that shows windows covered with black plywood.

An Apple real estate representative communicated to Plat.Fom Real Estate partner Rance Wilemon that the company had settled on the prime downtown location Monday, according to the Statesman.

“They came in town on Monday, did a quick tour, found a spot, and they’re in there working and will open by Friday,” Wilemon told the Statesman.

“On Wednesday, construction workers were busy retrofitting the 5,000-square-foot space in the building, at Congress and West Sixth Street, that Apple will lease for two weeks,” reports the Statesman.

Apple has yet to officially confirm the existence of the temporary store, but all signs point to a pop-up shop unveiling Friday.

Are you headed to SXSW? Will you stop by the pop-up shop to pick up an iPad 2?

Image courtesy of Austinist

More About: apple, Apple Store, iPad 2, MARKETING, popup shop, sxsw

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Saab Asks Consumers To Make Its Banner Ads

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 09:56 AM PST

Think you can improve upon the notoriously low response rate to banner ads? Then Saab has a challenge for you.

The automaker Thursday launched a promotion on its Facebook Page where fans can write and star in their own Saab banners that are designed to look like the company's actual U.S. ad campaign, "The Story of Saab." Saab will choose the best consumer-generated banners, which will run on the homepages of The New York Times, Wired and AOL, among others. McCann Worldgroup Detroit’s Team Saab unit developed the program.

Saab's not the first marketer to tap consumer-generated content. Most notably, PepsiCo has relied on consumers for five years to create its Super Bowl ads, a program that has netted the company a lot of pre-game buzz and even some USA Today AdMeter wins. Other car companies have also tapped consumer-generated promotions before, most notably Volkswagen, which asked consumers to choose the name of its next SUV in 2006. (VW chose the name Tiguan.)

For Saab, the move comes as the brand recently re-emerged as an independent company after being spun off from General Motors. The banner program is designed to tap into the enthusiasm of core Saab fans who, the carmaker hopes, will then spread the word via social media.

Todd Turner, principal of Car Concepts, says that strategy makes sense since Saab has a visibility problem these days. "Saab's problem isn't their customers or people who know them," Turner says. "Saab's problem is people who don't know them."

Images courtesy of Flickr, MSVG

More About: advertising, facebook, MARKETING, Saab

iPad 2 vs. Competitors: Battle of the Tablet Specs [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 09:46 AM PST

Tablet buyers are in crunch time right now, poring over specs and trying to decide if it’s worth it to go for Apple’s iPad 2. Or perhaps it would be a better idea to wait for one of the other delectable and as-yet-unreleased offerings from Samsung, HP or LG.

That’s where this helpful infographic from Skattertech comes in. Here’s the iPad 2 matched up against the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10, the HP Touchpad and the LG G-Slate.

So if you’re one who can be swayed more by specs than by your own tactile experience, this graphic featuring four new and unreleased tablets (and another one (update: see it below) featuring the BlackBerry PlayBook, Dell Streak 7 and Motorola Xoom) could be all you need.

As you read this infographic, keep in mind, though, that technical specifications are only part of the story. How does the device feel in your hands? How does the screen look to you? Is the tablet too heavy, or too thick?

Perhaps most importantly, which one has the apps that are most appropriate for you? So many variables, so little time — the iPad 2 goes on sale Friday, but you could wait a little longer before you make your final decision, couldn’t you?

More About: hp touchpad, infographic, iPad 2, LG G-Slate, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10, tablets comparison, trending

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LinkedIn Launching Social News Product for Professionals

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 09:27 AM PST

LinkedIn has launched LinkedIn Today, a new social news product for business professionals.

At a press event Thursday at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and SVP of product Deep Nishar discussed the company’s new product strategy and revealed a few new products.

Weiner says that the company has three central goals as part of its quest to deliver value to its membership. First, LinkedIn wants to be the professional profile of record. Second, the company wants to be the primary source for professional insights. Finally, LinkedIn wants to be ubiquitous in the workplace.

SVP of product Nishar then took the stage to explain that vast amounts of business information pass through LinkedIn’s servers, things like profile views, connections, polls, sharing stats and more. The challenge is finding a way to synthesize and deliver this information in a way that gives its users actionable business data.

To start the event, the business network demoed two previously launched products: LinkedIn Skills and LinkedIn InMaps.

LinkedIn Today

Nishar says that products like Skills and InMaps provide its users unparalleled business insights, but that users have to dig into these products for the relevant data and insights. The company wants to take things a step further by delivering that data to its users’ fingertips.

LinkedIn says that two of its products fit into this model: the already-launched LinkedIn Signal and the new LinkedIn Today product.

LinkedIn Today is a professional news product that aggregates and delivers a personalized news experience to each user. Product manager Liz Walker says that it chooses stories based on what stories a user’s network is sharing.

It’s similar to apps like in terms of design and functionality. Today provides different lenses for checking out top news in not just a user’s network, but in entire industries. For example, users can check out the hot stories in marketing and advertising, private equity or politics. The company says it’s a quick way for busy business users to get the top stories of the day.

LinkedIn also released a mobile version of LinkedIn Today that gives users the ability to check top stories within their network on the fly.

More About: linkedin, trending, ustream

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

The Future of Social Search

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 09:12 AM PST

The Future of Search Series is supported by SES New York Conference & Expo, the search and social marketing conference helping brands, agencies, and professionals connect, share and learn what's next for the interactive industry.

A “social search” is one that ties a searcher’s social graph to his search queries. With social search, each searcher sees unique results that are shaped by the interests of his social network friends.

Google, not the company to often fudge with the appearance or function of its search results, turned on its version of social search more than a year ago. It has since gone on to more prominently feature social search results and blend them in with regular results.

One should not make light of these changes; they point to the company’s recognition that the average web user, who now spends more time on Facebook, may be not-so-quietly demanding a new form of search.

In fact, Facebook is more than a social network for many these days. It’s the center of our social graph, it’s where we go to find and read the day’s news, it’s how we comment on articles, and its ubiquitous “like” buttons help us refine our interest graphs and are becoming the de facto way for us to voice our approval for nearly anything on the web.

“Likes” have become so significant that they factor into Bing’s algorithm for social search results, and even have a place in Blekko’s human curated search engine. “Likes” also determine popularity: the more “likes” a piece of content or status update gets, the more that item is resurfaced inside and outside of Facebook.

The Changing Definition of (Social) Search

The rise of Facebook and its hold over our attention begs the question, should we still think of search as an explicit query-driven practice? Or, is search in the traditional sense outdated?

Are social networks (or information networks) the new search engine? Or, as Steve Jobs would argue, is the mobile app the new search engine? Or, is the question-and-answer formula of Quora the real search 2.0?

The answer is most likely all of the above, because search is being redefined by all of these factors.

Because search is changing, so too is the still maturing notion of social search, and we should certainly think about it as something much grander than socially-enhanced search results.

The average Facebook user does not say to himself, “I want to search for the most popular stories among my Facebook friends.” No. Facebook does the work for them by crafting a search experience, without search, that highlights content of social relevance.

It’s for this reason that one-off social search engines like Sharetivity are not the future — look at Sentimnt, which has closed down its consumer-facing social search product. A social search engine that requires the user to think about surfacing content from social networks is one that misses the point.

Semantic Analysis, Machine Learning and the Next Generation of Social Search

Let’s embrace the notion that social search should be effortless on the part of the user and exist within a familiar experience — mobile, social or search.

What this foretells is a future in which semantic analysis, machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence will digest our every web action and organically spit out a social search experience.

This social search future is already unfolding before our very eyes. Foursquare now taps its massive checkin database to churn out recommendations personalized by relationships and activities. My6sense prioritizes tweets, RSS feeds and Facebook updates, and it’s working to personalize the web through semantic analysis. Even Flipboard offers a fresh form of social search and helps the user find content through their social relationships.

Of course, there’s the obvious implementations of Facebook Instant Personalization: Rotten Tomatoes, Clicker and Yelp offer Facebook-personalized experiences, essentially using your social graph to return better “search” results.

Then, there’s a crop of new startups that dig through the clickstreams of friends, all of which have plans to move into content recommendations.

We’re just now scratching the surface of what’s possible when one’s expanding social graph becomes intertwined with search. But as time goes on, the social search experience will be so fluid — it will seem more like discovering than searching — we won’t even know it’s happening.

Series Supported by SES New York Conference & Expo

The Future of Search Series is supported by SES New York Conference & Expo, the search and social marketing conference helping brands, agencies, and professionals connect, share and learn what's next for the interactive industry. Learn why more than 5,000 brands and agencies from the enterprise level to brick and motor businesses choose SES for their online marketing education.

More Search Resources From Mashable:

- How Google & Bing Keep Spam Out of Search
- How Semantic Search Is Redefining Traditional & Social Media
- Why the Search Marketing Industry Must Adapt or Perish
- Why Quora Will Never Be as Big as Twitter
- HOW TO: Use Twitter’s Advanced Search [VIDEO]

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, shulz, and Flickr, PHOTO.WORKS

More About: bing, facebook, Flipboard, Future of Search Series, Google, instant personalization, my6sense, social graph, social search, startups

For more Social Media coverage: Redesign Puts Content on Par With Commerce

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 09:03 AM PST

Apparel and accessories brand Kate Spade has launched a new version of its flagship website that underscores just how important content has become to the brand.

Digital marketing manager Cecilia Liu tells us that previously branded content made up only 10% to 15% of the site’s offerings; now, it’s on par with commerce at 50%. “The idea is that allowing people to connect more with the brand at a much more intimate level will organically drive business,” she said.

Not only are there now dedicated sections for internally generated content on the site (as well as prominent links to off-site content on the top toolbar and elsewhere), but links to that content are embedded on the shopping pages themselves, encouraging visitors to hold their shopping for a moment to watch a video, learn about a new collaboration or browse a relevant lookbook. Opportunities for sharing merchandise abound in frequently appearing “Like” and tweet buttons.

The new design logically complements the increasing number of resources the company has channeled into branded content and social media lately, from absorbing short films and other kinds of visual imagery, to daily doses of entertainment on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.

In addition to the new content features, also bolstered its e-commerce system. Search and product photography have been improved, and the check-out process has been streamlined. Kate Spade has also rolled out a mobile version of its site, a nod to the increasing importance of m-commerce for online retailers. In the coming months, the retailer plans to offer in-store pickup options, e-commerce VP Suzanne Norris says.

The redesign is being completed by CreateTheGroup, a New York-based digital agency focused on the luxury market, in conjunction with Kate Spade’s internal creative and e-commerce teams. For a further look, check out the slideshow below or visit

Links to on-site content are embedded on shopping pages.

More About: createthegroup, e-commerce, fashion, kate spade, m-commerce, web design

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Stealth Startup’s Beta Invites Go Viral, Cause Scam Scare

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 08:44 AM PST

In preparation for SXSW, the creators of stealth startup service created a simple beta invite site on Tuesday evening. One of them asked his fiancee to post it on her Facebook Page, and he was surprised when one of her friends who saw it also signed up.

When the team next checked the site in the morning, they had 10,000 people signed up. A few hours later, they had a list of 20,000 people.

By the afternoon, their beta invite page had not only gone viral, but also drawn the attention of computer security software company Sophos, which highlighted the beta invite page on its blog as a possible data-mining scam.

"We were extremely surprised,” says Drummond Reed, one of’s creators.

And understandably so. Connect.Me’s beta invite page looks a lot like thousands of other stealth startups’ beta invite pages. It’s clearly not a good idea to sign up for something without knowing what it’s about, but these sign-up sites are largely intended for the startups’ contacts. It’s a place to point people to after discussions about the project, and something those people can share within their own networks.

The nearly blank site explains that the startup is in stealth mode and allows users to sign up in advance. Like other beta invite pages,’s page offers a way to share the page with friends.

Unlike most other invite pages, however, the site asks to connect to a users’ social profiles instead of asking for an e-mail address. After they sign up, users have the option to share the message, “Reserve your username” with others through Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Reed and co-founder Joe Johnston point to this, as well as a good domain name, as the source of the site’s unexpected popularity.

“I think it's one of the most fascinating examples of gamification of a beta invite without an actual product message in the least,” says Johnston.

This lack of message and contact information — partly a result of stealthiness and partly a result of site incompleteness — is what caught the attention of Sophos’s security blog. “If you really care about privacy, you shouldn’t ask people to enter into any sort of online social contract without explaining who you are, what your intentions are and what mechanisms you have in place — now and for the future — to protect that privacy,” reads a second post on the issue.

Ironically, before creating Connect.Me, Reed was the executive director of the Open Identity Exchange, an organization with a mission to “build trust in the exchange of identity credentials online.” As of now, all the startup will say about its stealth mission is that it involves vendor relationship management, the idea that customers should have independence when engaging with vendors.

In other words, (brace yourself for more irony) the company is engineering a way to skirt the problems associated with signing into third-party sites using social profiles.

The founders acknowledge that their invite site’s premature takeoff has highlighted some of those very problems, but with more than 20,000 potential users on its list and a hell of a story to tell at SXSW, they wouldn’t do much differently if they had a second chance.

“We would have done a little more server optimization,” says Johnston.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

More About: beta invite,, scam, sophos

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Zuckerberg’s Wealth More Than Tripled in 2010

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 08:34 AM PST

Mark Zuckerberg is the 52nd wealthiest person in the world, but he’s not the only billionaire at Facebook. Six of the social network’s founders and investors are among the richest people in the world.

Facebook CEO and co-founder Zuckerberg has an estimated worth of $13.5 billion. In 2010, his worth was estimated at $4 billion and he was ranked 212th — quite an increase for the 26-year-old.

But that’s not to say Zuckerberg’s keeping the money all for himself. In the past year he donated $100 million to the Newark public school system, and he’s committed much of his wealth to charity.

Facebook’s other co-founders, Dustin Moskovitz and Eduardo Savarin, as well as investors Sean Parker and Yuri Milner joined the billionaire club during the past year too, according to Forbes‘s list, released Wednesday.

Moskovitz, who is six days younger than Zuckerberg, is the youngest of all the billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion. Saverin, age 28, and Parker, age 31, are each worth $1.6 billion, according to Forbes. Milner, a 49-year-old Russian, is worth $1 billion.

Investor Peter Thiel made the list again this year, with a net worth of $1.5 billion.

Facebook, along with its founders and investors, has seen incredible growth in the past year. The social network now claims more than 500 million members, and more than 42% of the U.S. population. It was recently valued at $65 billion, and earlier this year, Goldman Sachs and Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies invested $500 million in Facebook.

It’s likely the Facebook executives and investors will only continue to grow in value, too, as the social network’s products become more and more ubiquitous and integrated across the web and mobile.

Forbes‘s list of the world’s billionaires includes 1,210 people and more than 80 of them are from the technology industry. Bill Gates, of Microsoft, and Larry Ellison, of Oracle, represent the industry in the top 10 billionaires, with net worths of $56 billion and $39.5 billion respectively.

How long do you think it will take for Zuckerberg to be ranked among the likes of Gates and Ellison in the top-10 wealthiest people in the world?

Photo Courtesy of Flickr, deneyterrio

More About: facebook, Forbes, mark zuckerberg, trending

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5 Social Apps That Will Make SXSW More Intimate

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 08:10 AM PST

Rick Wittenbraker is a Co-Founder and General Partner at Stage One Capital, an early stage and seed investment fund focused on investments in Internet, mobile, social media, software, and new technology sectors. Rick has lived in Austin for over six years and previously while attending the University of Texas.

As a die-hard Austinite, I have a particularly close interest in SXSW every year. It's like the Final Four coming to your hometown. We're given a sneak preview of the next big stars and the opportunity to congregate with the influencers and leaders of our world. In other words, it's our own perennial tech version of March Madness.

Over the past few years though, the “madness” aspect of that analogy has gotten a bit out of control at SXSW. On the one hand, the conference has grown to be an internationally respected showcase of new companies and thought leadership, and the proving grounds of emerging technology. On the other hand, much of what we have always loved about SXSW (the serendipity of making connections, the incredible intimacy of high-level conversations, even just the refreshingly down-home “Austin-ness” of the experience) has slowly eroded, if not been lost altogether.

To that end, a lot of the focus this year among the entrepreneurs and investors here in Austin is on the startups and technologies that can help return some of that intimacy, value, and fun to the SXSW experience. Below are my top five picks for the companies that will help us reclaim SXSW and ensure that even as it grows, it doesn't outgrow its humble roots.

1. Beluga

Group messaging is, without a doubt, this year's "check in." Replace the Foursquare and Gowalla battle of 2010 with Beluga and GroupMe, and you get full-blown "messaging wars." In my mind, though, there's no argument as to which app best encourages the true SXSW experience. Coupled with a sexy UI, Beluga's map view — which allows members of a "pod" to view where everyone is — eliminates the constant "where you at?" question that plagues the conference. You can also attach photos within a specific pod, which Beluga then allows you to post publicly to Facebook, should you want to.

A sleek and simple platform that allows me to control what (and with whom) I share? I'll be sure that all of my friends and colleagues will be using Beluga to coordinate and share during SXSW this year.

2. Hurricane Party

Two words: local advantage. Homegrown in Austin, the Hurricane Party team has been beta testing their app with a small set of influencers here in town for the last few months preparing for SXSW. But, this is more than simply being attuned to every event taking place in town. Plancast has a great handle on that already. Hurricane Party will be the backchannel application of SXSW. The app has a map to find all of the unofficial gatherings, or if you're tired of standing in line for the Gowalla party, you can start a hurricane at the bar next door, invite a small group of friends, and leave the masses to have that desirable "real" conversation for a few hours. I'm always asking the question "where to next?" so this app is definitely going on my homepage.

3. LiquidSpace

Getting any actual work done during SXSW can be just as impossible and frustrating as getting into the hottest launch parties. Lounges are consistently over-crowded, have too few outlets, and shoddy Wi-Fi. And forget coffee shops — if you really need to get things done during the conference, download the LiquidSpace app and unlock their SXSW-specific venues. They've been quietly setting up spaces here in Austin for attendees to escape the madness and get things done during SXSW. The spaces themselves vary to address the specific needs of users, whether that's just a comfy couch to give a fifteen minute product demo or a quiet board room to conduct an hour-long sales call.

4. Path

Photo sharing is of course always a central part of the SXSW experience, but what about those 3 a.m. photos on the hotel roof, or the after-hours party in the Driskill Bar? You probably don't want to blast those out to your entire network on Twitter or even Foursquare. But, you also don't want to go off the radar altogether either.

By limiting my network to 50 friends, Path forces the micro-SXSW experience. It seems a lot of my friends remain split between Path and competitor, Instagram, but let's be realistic, folks — SXSW moves quickly. I really don't want to be fumbling around, choosing a filter to post a photo. I just want to share my shots in a quick and personalized real-time feed.

5. AirBnB

If you're heading out here to Austin for SXSW, you have likely already experienced the joys of booking lodging — the hassle of calling multiple hotels, coordination of where all your friends or colleagues are staying, and price gouging that we (quite honestly) rely on to fuel our local economy.

Enter AirBnB. More than simply providing housing during the conference, AirBnB offers attendees a unique opportunity to get more out of their stay here in Austin. Book an eclectic house with a small group of entrepreneurs and collaborate on a new product idea after hours, snag a hot condo downtown for your team to have a central meeting space to refresh during the day, or serve as a host to an international startup and expose them to the beauties of Texas BBQ and Barton Springs! Or if you truly just want the comfort and intimacy of your own place to escape to during the madness of SXSW, AirBnB is your best bet.

More SXSW Resources from Mashable:

- HOW TO: Promote Your Startup for Free at SXSW
- 13 Potential Breakout Apps To Watch at SXSW 2011
- 80+ Can’t Miss Things To See & Do at SXSW 2011
- Where to Find Mashable at SXSWi 2011

More About: apps, List, Lists, Mobile 2.0, social media, sxsw, sxsw 2011

For more Mobile coverage:

YouTube Video of the Day: Mister Rogers Visits the Crayon Factory [NOSTALGIA]

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 07:45 AM PST

For today’s YouTube video, we’re going to take a little trip into the past — to the crayon factory located in Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, to be precise.

This little vid is a bit longer than your usual YouTube fare (and demonstrates how kids from years past had much longer attention spans than those today), but it’s basically the most soothing thing ever.

You may be picking up the iPad 2 tomorrow — and a bevy of wondrous styluses to accessorize — but nothing beats the waxy satisfaction of scrawling across a fresh sheet of paper with a crayon. Watch it. Breathe. And go buy a pack.

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