March 30, 2005

High school bans blogging

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Just when you thought iPods and mobile phones were the only thing being banned by schools, Proctor High School of Rutland, Vermont has become the first school in the United States to ban blogging from school computers.

The Rutland Herald reports Principal Chris Sousa said the decision to block the site from school was made because blogging is not an educational use of school computers.

But not content in banning blogging from the confines of the classroom, he’s also jumped on the “blogs are bad” bandwagon in a country where drug use, teenage pregnancy and guns are rife yet seemingly insignificant compared to the new evil that are blogs. He is also urging parents to monitor student blog usage in the home, at friends places, and anywhere else this terrible plague on society may raise its ugly head.

Sousa said he found the prospect of students putting information on blog that would be available to predators was seriously concerning.

“As soon as someone has a name and a general geographic location, it can take an Internet predator 20 minutes to find their address and directions to their house,” Sousa said. “Any time a teen puts their own photo or biographical information on a Web site, it’s something that parents at least need to know about.”

The Blog Herald’s editor can be found in Eaton, Western Australia, for all those predators currently reading this site, although we’d suggest that it may take a little longer than 20 minutes to get here from Vermont.

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Please Newspapers, charge for online content!

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Duncan Riley> One of the most spectacular examples of why the old guard of the mainstream media just don’t get blogging, and to some extent, the entire internet, has been provided by Gordon Crovitz, president of electronic publishing at Dow Jones who has said that more U.S. publishers were likely will try to wean readers off free Internet versions of their newspapers by starting to charge online subscription fees.

I say “bring it on”

Why, well it’s simple: it will drive more users to blogs.
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AOL Introduces New Blog Product, releases survey results

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AOL is targeting the teen blogging market currently dominated by Xanga and SixApart’ Live Journal with the launch RED blogs, a “fully customizable online blogging journal for teens”.

According to a new AOL/Digital Marketing Services survey that whilst perhaps somewhat commical in its results to adults but interesting in its insite into a large part of the blogging market, when teens are asked to choose whether they prefer to share their innermost feelings with their parents or a blog, they are split with roughly half (51%) selecting their parents and 49% choosing a blog. But they also understand the need for privacy. Eighty four percent of teens said they would not be willing to share their blog with just anyone on the open web. In response to these findings AOL’s RED service offers a refreshing way to create a blog in a ‘velvet rope’ environment and gives teens and parents the option to choose between different levels of privacy, ranging from private, semi-private and public.
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Fotolog secured major investment from BV Capital

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In a sign of the growing corporate and capital interest in blogging, photo blogging site Fotolog has announced a $2.4 million investment from BV Capital, an independent venture capital fund, as well as private investors.

BV Capital is an independent venture capital fund with international high profile investors including AOL Time Warner, Stanford University and Mayfield Fund.

Fotolog contiunes to grow in popularity, and welcomed its millionth member last month.

Fotolog co-founder and CEO Adam Seifer said the investment would help Fotolog meet growing demand as digital photography and blogging continue to boom.

“The investment is a testament to the incredible ease and broad appeal of photo blogging, as well as a strong endorsement of Fotolog’s vision for the category,” said Seifer, who posts photographs of every meal he eats at “Get in My Belly“. “We’re excited about giving more people the opportunity to experience the thrill of communicating and connecting online through the power of images.”

“Over one million people have already made Fotolog their home, sharing well over 35 million pictures with people around the world,” said Thomas Gieselman, general partner, BV Capital. “We are excited to be a part of the groundbreaking Fotolog community and to support the emerging photo blogging category, which is rapidly becoming a worldwide phenomenon.”

Founded in 2002 as a small photo-sharing project for a few dozen friends, Fotolog boasts members from more than 200 countries posting over 180,000 photos and one million messages each day. Its evolving network of photo blogs use photographs for every form of self-expression imaginable – from recording the fleeting moments of life, making political statements, and sharing special moments to telling stories, maintaining long distance relationships, and mounting elaborate art projects.

(via media release)

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March 29, 2005

Google Agrees To Acquire Urchin

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Google Inc. has announced that it has agreed to acquire Urchin Software Corporation, a San Diego, California based web analytics company.

Urchin is a web site analytics solution used by web site owners and marketers to better understand their users’ experiences, optimize content and track marketing performance. Urchin tools are available as a hosted service, a software product and through large web hosting providers. These products are used by thousands of popular sites on the Internet.

Interestingly Google said it plans to make these tools available to web site owners and marketers to better enable them to increase their advertising return on investment and make their web sites more effective. Whether this is in addition to current Adsense tools or as a new standalone product is yet to be seen, but the inclusion of such tools assists Google at a time where competitors, such as MSN, are launching challenges to its previously unmatched advertising services, favoured by many bloggers.

“We want to provide web site owners and marketers with the information they need to optimize their users’ experience and generate a higher return-on-investment from their advertising spending,” said Jonathan Rosenberg, vice president of product management, Google. “This technology will be a valuable addition to Google’s suite of advertising and publishing products.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

(via media release)

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Community Peace Corps Blog Helps Volunteers Tell Thier Stories

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When President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, he created three simple goals for the organisation. The third goal was ( and still is ) to “Help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.”

In February 2005, Third Goal was created out of a need to provide Peace Corps volunteers a free, easy, and independent way to share their stories with the rest of the world.

“Third Goal helps others understand the joys and difficulties Peace Corps volunteers experience in cultures very different than our own,” says Jason Pearce, Third Goal’s founder. “By offering volunteers an independent community and anonymity, they may more freely and accurately help everyone understand distant cultures.”

By offering a consolidated venue for all Peace Corps volunteers, the public receives a concentrated resource of first-person experiences from worlds very different than their own.

Third Goal offers volunteers a free and anonymous place to blog their experiences for others to read in real time. More so, their real-life stories will help shape Americans’ understanding of other peoples.

(via media release)

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Intelliseek’s BlogPulse 2.0 launched, over 9.3 million blogs tracked

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Seemingly sneeking up the rear of the blog tracking pack is Intelliseek, whose BlogPulse 2.0 has just been lauched with the announcement that they are now tracking over 9.3 million blogs ,which puts them ahead of both Technorati and Pubsub.

According to Intelliseek, BlogPulse 2.0 provides faster data retrieval, a six-month index of blog posts and data, a daily count of blog activity and analysis, and the ability to create customised graphs that track themes and issues appearing in the Blogosphere.

“BlogPulse users will love these new features because they make blog data and blog analysis incredibly fast, accessible and easy,” said Sundar Kadayam, Intelliseek’s Chief Technology Officer and manager of the BlogPulse team. “Blogs are increasing in number, influence and reach, and BlogPulse now provides some of the industry’s best analysis of blog issues, topics, trends and personalities.”

“The new BlogPulse searches faster, digs deeper and slices data smarter,” said Pete Blackshaw, Intelliseek’s chief marketing officer. “Intelliseek’s goal is to make data relevant and actionable, and BlogPulse is a powerful showcase of that commitment.”

Although the service does not seemingly provide a traditional link tracking feature, some of the other tools are quite extraordinary.

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David Duchovny launches blog, podcast

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Former X Files actor David Duchovny, currently directing the Lions Gate Film’s Film “The House of D” has a blog for the film, fresh with the ability to comment, RSS feeds and even podcasts with an iPodder subsciption blogger.

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Google withholding tax from Adsense payments

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Reports are starting to emerge that Google has withheld tax from US residents as part of the February cheque mailout for the Adsense advertising program, a favourite source of advertising in the blogosphere.

Bulletin boards at Webmasterworld are buzzing with reports of tax being taken at rates between 25-28%. There is some suggestion at this stage that the taxation take may be limited to certain states or those earning over a particular figure.

Developing….

(via ProBlogger)

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BlogMatrix Releases Sparks! 2.0 for Podcasters

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BlogMatrix has lauched a new integrated podcasting/podcatching application – BlogMatrix Sparks! 2.0.

“Sparks! is a one-stop solution that makes podcasting easy and affordable”, says founder David Janes. “It is the easiest way record, share, store and listen to podcasts. Now everybody can podcast.”

BlogMatrix Sparks! allows podcasters to:

- Record podcasts directly on their computer with a microphone and a mouse click
- Mix music with the podcast.
- Record up to 8 tracks for a single podcast.
- Automatically store their podcasts on the BlogMatrix server for others to enjoy

“Traditionally, potential podcasters have faced a couple of big challenges”, says Janes. “First, recording an audio file, mixing it to an MP3 and encoding into the proper notification formats is complicated and time consuming; secondly, the cost associated with storage and bandwidth are not only high but potentially open-ended. BlogMatrix Sparks! overcomes these challenges.”

(via media release)

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