January 31, 2011

Facebook Launching Commenting Service For Bloggers?

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Facebook LogoNot content with becoming the de facto sharing service for the digital world (not to mention the default like button online), it looks like Facebook is now attempting to also become the primary way readers voice their opinion upon websites, including blogs.

Facebook is planning to launch a third-party commenting system in a matter of weeks, according to multiple sources familiar with the new product. This new technology could see Facebook as the engine behind the comments system on many high-profile blogs and other digital publications very soon. […]

Facebook will be able to power the entire commenting system–handling the log-in and publishing, cross-promoting comments on individuals’ Facebook walls, and possibly even promoting them as well on media outlets’ own “fan” pages. Undoubtedly, the Facebook “like” button will be deeply integrated as well. (CNET) read more

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Egypt: With No Internet Access, Users Get Creative

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Unable to access the Internet after the their dictator shut down access nationwide,  Egyptian citizens are coming up with alternative ways to organize themselves despite being digitally cut off from each other.

“They’re using old-fashioned word of mouth,” says Neil Hicks, policy advisor of the non-profit advocacy group Human Rights First. “They’re aware of the possibilities of surveillance if they use these technologies. So they get on a motorbike or car, and go to the next neighborhood and arrange things.”

A widely circulated document has served as a manual; it has illustrated instructions for everything from basic communications, to what to wear to a protest, to how to minimize injury while being attacked by police, says Hicks. (USA Today)

While it may notsound as “cool” as finding ways to hack around the system, bloggers may want to consider alternative methods of communication (like radio) just in case their government decides to implement something similar within their own country.

Although there are Egyptians finding ways around the blanket cut off via satellite phones or from landlines (who are dialing into free servers), hopefully political leaders in other nations can convince the Egyptian dictator to lift the cut off in the near future.

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Should Google Buy Myspace?

Hailed once as the king of social networking, Myspace fortunes have declined as of late, with Newscorp reportedly trying to sell the “social entertainment network” or spin it off as a separate company as a last resort.

While Myspace’s future is bleak, the company (or rather what’s left of it) may have some value to Google in the search giant’s quest to find relevance in the age of social networking.

Although attempts at reviving Myspace itself is futile, an acquisition by Google might be something beneficial to both parties for at least a couple of reasons. read more

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Facebook Deals: The EU Invasion Has Begun

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Facebook LogoAfter first making a debut in America, the social networking king has begun rolling out the long awaited Facebook Deals to Europe (starting with the United Kingdom).

Facebook has announced the arrival of Facebook Deals in the UK, a new mobile phone discounting system that rewards those who regularly check-in to shops and restaurants, through Facebook Places, in the UK. […]

The launch is across Europe, with the UK being the first to launch.

Joanna Shields from Facebook said: “Facebook Deals represents the power of word of mouth marketing and personal recommendation.

“By checking in and taking the deal, this is shown on your news feed so your friends can also see what deals are taking place. (TechRadar UK)

Thus far only iOS and Android users will be able to partake of Facebook deals (at least on mobile phones), although Facebook will probably expand Facebook Deals third party “official” apps for Blackberry and Windows Phone 7 fans.

Through Facebook deals companies are already offering British residents some impressive deals, ranging from free xBox 360’x (as well as Play Stations), discount on concert tickets and even a free makeover for the ladies.

While it’s unclear how much (if any) revenue Facebook generates from Deals, Facebook’s European launch will probably threaten Google as well as Groupon, as Facebook can easily use their social graph in order to dominate the local coupon market.

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Internet Kill Switch Seen As Good Idea By US Government?

In order to protect American citizens from threats beyond their comprehension, it looks like the US Senate is proposing creating an “Internet kill switch” which would grant the government the authority to turn off access to the world wide web (similar to what Mubarak did in Egypt).

The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.  The bill — called “The Protecting Cyberspace As A National Asset Act of 2010” S.3480 — was approved by a Senate panel this week.

S. 3480 would create a new government agency called the National Center for Cybersecurity and Communications.  The NCCC would have sweeping powers to control the Internet, including the ability to shut down the web for a 30-day period.  Considering that at least 60% of Americans get their daily news fix from the Internet, this is a staggering proposal. (The Blaze)

Unless our world is under assault from a killer virus from the future (whose purpose is to turn machines against mankind), it’s hard to justify giving the US government this power, especially since a lengthly shut down could literally kill off companies that rely upon the Internet in order to survive.

Hopefully American bloggers (or anyone for that matter) will consider calling their Senators and politely ask them to quickly kill this bill.

While a few organizations are mobilizing opposition to this bill, hopefully some of the tech giants (notably Google, Facebook, Automattic and Twitter) will use their influence to alert users regarding this bill as having the Internet shut off without warning.

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January 30, 2011

Google Updates Google Reader, But Did Anyone Care?

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With most the geek world focused upon Twitter, Facebook or how Egypt virtually disappeared from the internet (thanks in part to a power hungry dictator), many bloggers may have missed news regarding Google Reader’s latest update.

As some of you have noticed, we’ve recently enhanced Reader’s commenting abilities, via an “Options” menu that is present for all conversations about shared items. You can now get a link to the equivalent conversation in Google Buzz, which is handy for passing around a funny thread. If it’s your shared item, you can disable comments entirely, if for example the conversation was about a topic whose time has passed.

Additionally, you can now moderate comments within Reader. If the conversation is on an item that you shared, you have the option to remove comments directly. For all conversations, you can report comments as spam. (Official Google Reader Blog)

This is a great feature to have, although truth be told I’ve have yet to encounter spam or even trolls upon Google Reader’s social sharing network (or rather Google Buzz’s since they “share” space with each other).

Despite it’s smaller size than Twitter or Facebook, Google Reader is far from dead and still boasts an active community of loyal fans (mostly composed of geeks and artists).

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January 29, 2011

Twitter’s Collective Response To The Egyptian Protests: Let The People Speak

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Wow, what a couple of weeks it has been for Social Media. Heralded as helping spark the revolution in Tunisia by giving people the voice to call the populace together against corruption, Social Media is now being fought by the Egyptian government.

Yesterday the Internet was effectively turned off in Egypt but little could be done to contain the fallout.

read more

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Tumblr Explains Growing Pains

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After suffering massive downtime in December due to their immense growth, the engineers at Tumblr have posted explanation in order to help fend off critics regarding the platform’s stability.

As we break through our past bottlenecks, we are simultaneously faced with growth like we’ve never seen before. Our challenge is not only to support the current audience of 55 million, but to getahead of more than 250,000,000 new pageviews each week. […]

This morning we suffered an outage for nearly an hour starting at about 7am EST. The proxy server that handles the vast majority of incoming requests failed, and its automatic backup also failed because of an unrelated networking issue. It took us longer than hoped to correct the multiple causes, but we’ve put systems into place to make sure that even another double failure won’t cause an outage like this in the future. (Tumblr Staff Blog)

Note: Emphasis theirs.

Tumblr has faced some sharp criticism within the blogosphere, especially after one of the founders sent a cold reply to a tech blogger who was outraged regarding the services less than stellar uptime record.

While Tumblr’s growth has been nothing short of impressive, hopefully the company can find a way to stabilize their servers, as they are one of the few blogging platforms that seems to be gaining popularity amongst the youth.

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January 28, 2011

Will The Super Bowl Dominate The Twittersphere?

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With Superbowl 45 less than a few weeks away, Twitter has highlighted some interesting stats regarding the effect of one of the most watched games in the US upon the twittersphere.

Last year, during key moments of Super Bowl XLIV, about 40% of all Tweets were related to the game. As the game ended, this number was closer to 50%. This year, one-third of the players who were in the NFL playoffs are on Twitter. And, at some points during last Sunday’s AFC and NFC championship games, virtually all trends were football-related. (Official Twitter Blog)

While these stats are impressive, truth be told the World Cup in June of 2010 still holds the record for the highest number of tweets sent per second, and it will be interesting to see if the Superbowl will be able to top that due to the social network’s popularity amongst the sporting crowd.

Twitter has also announced a strategic partnership with the NFL as well as VISA, which should make it easier to track how popular certain topics are within the twittersphere (note: as of this moment the Pittsburgh Steelers are edging out Greenbay Packers in mentions).

Whether or not Superbowl 45 surpasses the previous record set by the World Cup has yet to be seen, although hopefully Twitter’s new data center will be able to handle the load without encountering any fail whales or slow downs this year.

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Guess Which Smartphones Tumblr Favors?

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The Tumblr team has recently revamped the mobile layout for their micro blogging social network which should please users boasting one of two smartphones.

The new layout makes it easier for users viewing their Tumblr blog upon an iOS or Android device to not only create content, but also easily alter settings within their dashboards.

While Tumblr is also planning on making their blogs viewable for Blackberry fans, the company doesn’t seem to have an immediate interest in making their sites mobile friendly for users carrying Windows Phone 7, Nokia or even webOS devices.

The lack of interest beyond Blackberry, iOS and Android could also signal that the startup has no immediate plans to introduce native apps upon other smartphones, leaving the task to third party developers to fill in the gap (often at a premium).

Although its understandable why Tumblr isn’t committing to other platforms (as they are busy trying to keep their servers up in response to their tremendous growth), hopefully the company will in the future consider taking an agnostic approach to smartphones, something their rival WordPress has done.

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