Facebook Now Tracks How Happy Americans Are

Facebook now analyzes the status updates from Americans to see how collectively happy the nation is. They call it the Gross National Happiness Index and it builds on positive and negative words in the updates. In other words, it might not the most exact way to see if Americans are happy or not, but it is something. It is also interesting to see how people reacted to world events. The day Michael Jackson died was a sad one in the nation’s mind, for example.


Guy Screams Your Tweets From Mountain, Gets Buzz

A South African television writer named Sam Wilson thinks it is a great idea to scream the tweets he gets from a mountain, filming the whole thing. Just tweet @ScreamUrTweets and you might end up in one of his shouting videos posted on the I’ll Scream Your Tweets website. Ridiculous? No, rather funny actually, and I like the @TweetYourScreams spinoff too. I think you can guess what that one does…

Alex Denning Doesn’t Believe in Free WordPress Themes

Alex Denning writes about WordPress themes, and the fact that free themes doesn’t get the recognition they deserver:

The future? It’s not looking good. The reason people made free themes was because they wanted to promote their blog. But that promotion just isn’t going to happen any more. So why bother? I believe some themes would do better if they were released as premium themes. And that’s not going to change. Free WordPress themes? Forget it. It’s over.

He paints a very bleak picture, and granted – premium themes take a lot of space and a lot of the free themes released are out there to promote a premium theme. That being said, they are still free even if they are promotional so I’m not sure that really means anything. [Read more…]

DonorsChoose.org Launches 2009 Social Media Challenge

DonorsChoose.org managed to raise $275,000 for public schools in last year’s Social Media Challenge. This year’s edition is sponsored by HP, and up and running already.

For the competition, each competing blogger and twitterer creates a unique “Giving Page” at DonorsChoose.org filled with his or her favorite classroom projects. A “leaderboard” at http://www.donorschoose.org/social-media-challenge-2009 displays the Giving Pages and tracks the live competition progress by total amount donated.

Naturally they want to do even better this year, and you can participate with your own blog as well.

Bug Fixing Through Dollars (Earn $100 by Doing Good)

Is it possible to fund bug fixes to open source systems by offering a reward? We’ll see, I’m offering $100 via Paypal to whoever will fix this annoying Firefox CSS bug in WordPress.

Update: And it works, courtesy of Peter “Westi” Westwood and Jonathan Sulo. Westi details the issue in a blog post, you should check that out if you ever encountered this problem.

Street Named After Twitter Account

There is a street named “@arjanelfassed”, after the Twitter account with the same name. Isn’t that amazing? Well yes, it is, but it’s not as big as it sounds. There is a Dutch website that sells street names in a Palestinian refugee camp, giving the proceeds to the Palestinian Child Care Society. Wired’s Epicenter have the full story, with quotes and details. So while it is not as big as having a street named after your Twitter account in central New York, it is for a good cause.

SimplePie Ceases Development

13FCDAEE-C159-4B3C-8BBD-C5A0D14C31DC.jpgSimplePie is a RSS parsing script used all around the web, for showing content from RSS feeds and sometimes to mash them together. It works standalone, but is also shipped with some publishing platforms, like WordPress for example.

Unfortunately, the lead developers Ryan Parman and Geoffrey Sneddon have decided to cease development of SimplePie. The project will be moved to GitHub and hopefully someone will pick up the reins, since this is one of the best solutions for working with RSS feeds available.

Read the announcement post for more on why this came to be.

Remember Facebook?

Sometimes it is good to get a reminder about how things relate to each other. The way we all buzz about Twitter obviously means that it is not only a huge service, but also a rewarding one to be using and talking about. However, as pointed out in the Royal Pingdom blog, you shouldn’t forget about Facebook. Why? The numbers:

On July 15, Facebook announced that it had 250 million active users, and on September 15, two months later, it had reached 300 million users. Facebook grew by 50 million users, roughly the equivalent of an entire Twitter, in just two months.

So yeah. Twitter is huge and great and dandy, soon to be worth even more money, but Facebook is still the juggernaut that just plays on a different level. In the midst of the Techmeme buzz and the millions of blog posts talking about the brilliance of Twitter, it is easy to forget about that.