Social Couponing Explodes in NYC

It wasn't long ago that clipping coupons was something you'd picture your parents or grandparents doing, maybe sitting in a rocking chair, looking for deals at the local grocery store. But times have changed, and in New York City, the coupon market has a completely new feel — it's going social, and the Big Apple’s nearly unmatched density of businesses has made it a prime target for the trend as New Yorkers indulge on deals at restaurants, salons and activities.


Services like Groupon, LivingSocial and Scoutmob have led the social couponing charge, with some leveraging group-buying power for huge daily discounts at local businesses. Their reach has ballooned over the past seven or eight months — even amNewYork launched its own Daily Deals earlier this year — making many wonder: Are our days of coupon clipping on their way out?

"At least with certain demographics, like younger buyers, absolutely," said Michael Stanat, a global marketing executive with SIS International Market Research. "These new social platforms engage users in ways coupon clipping never could … and they give consumers a way into New York experiences they'd otherwise never have," he said. Last month Google and Facebook jumped into the ring with their own services, though spokespeople declined to say when they'd launch here. Still, businesses citywide have been jumping on the social trend for years.

"For restaurants in this city, print [marketing] is done," said Mark Kelly, owner of Tree Bistro in the East Village. "Social has completely changed how the restaurant industry works in New York." Groupon reportedly had $103 million in revenue in February.

Amanda Kludt, editor of eater.com, said the deals can be a boon for struggling or new restaurants. "A lot of restaurants that participate with Groupon say they don't really make money off it, but it's good marketing," she said, though adding that it "almost creates a caste system" among places who need the exposure and the higher-end ones who sidestep it altogether. Still, many New Yorkers are buying in.

"All of my friends are on it, and it just makes it easier to find deals and be social," said Chris Ess, 24, of the Lower East Side. Oscar Martinez, 34, of Williamsburg, agreed. "I don't pay retail price ever, so this is a way to discover new trends and brands and services for cheap," he said.

By the numbers:
10% of U.S. adults have bought a social coupon in 2011.
45% of purchased coupons go unused.
2,203% growth of Groupon revenue between 2009 and 2010.
-As seen in AM NY



Planking: Top 10 Facebook Crazes

A 20-year old man, Acton Beale of Brisbane, fell seven stories to his death last week while trying to lie facedown on a narrow balcony railing, prompting calls for an end to the Facebook craze of "planking."

The practice, which involves lying like a plank somewhere odd or dangerous and posting the photo on Facebook, is particularly popular in Australia. The Planking Australia Facebook page has more than 120,000 members and boasts photos of people planking ona McDonald's sign, a highway, and a ski lift.

As "planking" becomes the latest Facebook craze, here are ten other fads that have swept through the social network.

1. Farmville – The virtual farming game now has 46 million players on Facebook, and has even launched a Lady Gaga version. Gagaville is a “magical place” according to the popstar where fans can farm crystals, unicorns and motorcycle-riding sheep.

2. Doppelganger Week – During “doppelganger week”, Facebook users change their profile pictures to a celebrity who they think they resemble. Popular choices include Muppets and Hollywood stars. Cartoon Status week also saw Facebook users change their pictures for cartoon characters.

3. The Numbers Game – Facebook users post a number as their status update and their friends write what ever comes to mind after they see the number. Popular choices are 1, 7, 21, 69 and 420.

4. Bra Color – To help raise awareness of breast cancer, female Facebook users change their status to the color of the bra they are wearing. The most popular colors are black, white and beige.

5. 25 Random Things about Me – A chain letter called "25 Random Things about Me" wormed its way through Facebook, with recipients rattling off 25 random facts and then inviting their friends to do so.

6. Dipping – Teenagers caused a stir in 2008 by using Google Earth to spot houses on a map with outdoor swimming pools and then organizing impromptu pool parties through Facebook.

7. Sleeveface – Using an old record sleeve and a digital camera, Facebook users take pictures of themselves with the sleeve in front of their face. The results were collected into a book in 2008.

8. I Like it On – Another campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer, female users suggestively update their profiles with “I like it on” followed by words such as “floor”, “kitchen counter” and so on.

9. Miss Bimbo – In the hugely popular Miss Bimbo game, Facebook users as young as nine are given an alter ego who they can give plastic surgery and diet pills to snare a billionaire boyfriend.

10. Frape – Combining “Facebook” and “rape”, fraping involves sneaking onto someone’s Facebook profile and changing their pictures, interests and sexuality. Fraping can also involve poking and messaging strangers from someone else’s account.

- As seen in The Week and The Telegraph



Getting Energy from a Silicon Leaf

A silicon “leaf” that mimics photosynthesis could open the possibility of an entirely new source of cheap and abundant electricity. MIT researchers say they’ve developed an advanced solar cell the size of a playing card; when floated in even muddy water under direct sunlight, it splits H2O into hydrogen and oxygen, which can then be transferred to fuel cells that produce an electric current.

Lead researcher Daniel Nocera tells Wired that a single artificial leaf and a gallon of water could produce a day’s worth of electricity for a household in the developing world. There have been previous attempts to create artificial leaves, but they have often depended on expensive chemicals and proved difficult to sustain for long periods. What makes Nocera’s version different—and scalable—is that it uses inexpensive materials and can operate for at least 45 hours straight.

An Indian company has already signed a development deal, and a commercial application may be ready in the next three to five years. Nocera is convinced his leaf can bring affordable electricity to communities without access to power grids. “Our goal is to make each home its own power station,” he says. And we say, more power to you! - As seen in The Week

Track me to the Islands then, I may never come back

I've been telling you this for years, and it's not like you can do much about it, but I just want you to know: the iPhone and other mobile devices are tracking where you’ve been. Two data scientists revealed that iPhones, iPads, and iTouches track their owners’ GPS locations, store their movements for up to a year, and stream this information back to Apple.


If you have an iPhone or other Apple mobile device, your every move is being tracked and recorded, said Nathan Goulding in NationalReview.com. Two data scientists triggered a new privacy firestorm last week by revealing that “without your consent or any warning labels,” iPhones, iPads, and iTouches track their owners’ GPS locations, store their movements for up to a year, and stream this “geodata” back to Apple.

These devices are creating records of unprecedented scope and detail, said Alexis Madrigal in TheAtlantic.com. “Even searching a suspect’s house could never yield a full inventory of that person’s friends and acquaintances, the entire record of their voice and text communications—and all the Web pages he’d ever looked at.” Now Apple—and cops, prosecutors, divorce lawyers, or anyone who gets your cell phone—“can have all of that in two minutes.”

“Ooh, big brother is watching,” said David Pogue in The New York Times. Frankly, “who cares if anyone knows where I’ve been?” Banks, credit card companies, online marketers, and phone companies are already collecting vast amounts of information on all of us. Indeed, cell phone companies track our movements, too; the only difference is that the information is stored on their computers, not on your cell phone. And Apple’s not “the only big bad villain here.” Google’s Android phones, along with BlackBerries, Palms, and most other smartphones, are tracking our movements, with varying degrees of thoroughness and transparency.

If you think there are any laws against this, said Jordan Robertson in the Associated Press, “think again.” Phone companies can’t share information obtained from your cell without your consent, but the government hasn’t gotten around to hardware and software makers like Apple and Google. Of course, all makers of “spyphones” have their excuses for snooping. They claim that mining data about our whereabouts will be good for us, because it will allow them to identify “Wi-Fi hot spots” and create services to fit our needs, including advertising aimed at reaching us when we’re near a particular store.

Sadly, most people will accept this latest intrusion with “a weary yawn,” said John Naughton in the London Observer. “Technological fatalism” has set in. Scott McNealy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, once said, “You have zero privacy. Get over it.” A decade later, “it looks like he was right.” - As seen in The Week

See also: fingerprint, digital footprint
Blog posts are brought to you by NetLingo :-)

Blocking Someone on Facebook is like Blocking Them Out of Your Life

As seen in AM New York, "Some kids definitely have a church/state feeling when it comes to Facebook, and they want to keep their parents out."

During a recent dinner, Daryl Smolens called her daughter Ali and asked her to tell the friend she was dining with to have fun in Boston this weekend.” “I turn to him and say, ‘I didn’t know you were going to Boston,’” recalled Ali. “My mom already knew because she had read it on Facebook, and here I am sitting next to him and I didn’t even know!” The 25-year-old West Villager said it’s “100 percent” annoying when her mom knows more about what her friends are doing on Facebook than she does. And she’s not alone. As Facebook’s popularity spikes among all generations, more parents are getting involved in their kids’ online lives — and it’s not always welcome.

“Without fail, every time I sign on to Facebook, my mom already has commented on one of my friends’ status — even before I’ve had a chance to see it for the first time,” said Ali. “I’ve known Ali’s friends forever,” said Daryl, 63, of the Upper East Side. “They are always at our house hanging out … not always with Ali around. “I did tell Ali I would stop commenting on her friends’ status, but, you know, I’m a mother.”

Wendy Sachs, editor in chief of Care.com, a parenting website, said: "Parents want to stay connected to their kids, and Facebook offers an often unedited look into what’s really going on in their lives.” Many parents with younger children insist on having access to their Facebook page to ward off cyberbullying or other inappropriate activity. In an October, 2010 Care.com survey, one in three parents of children 12 to 17 years old said they feared their kids being cyberbullied more than kidnapping, suicide, car accidents or terrorism.

Cyberbullying has terrified parents, so monitoring is becoming increasingly important,” said Sachs, who has a 9-year-old son. But even she knows the drawbacks to giving parents permission to view your Facebook page. “As a child of divorced parents, an innocuous post of a piece I wrote followed by a humorous comment by my dad led to a bitter comment from my mother,” Sachs said.

“I ended up deleting the post and almost de-friending my mom on Facebook.” Mark LoCastro knows that Facebook feuds can mushroom into larger family feuds. The 28-year-old Lower East Side resident wanted some privacy, so he limited access to his profile. But when his dad’s girlfriend discovered that she was blocked, things went south. “The following day, she was real upset and contacted my dad,” he said. After a conflict, LoCastro restored her access. “I guess blocking someone important on Facebook, like a family member, is like blocking them out of your life,” he said. “People sometimes take Facebook too seriously.”

Here are some recent Facebook statistics:
Sources: Facebook's Social Ads Platforms; Retrevo.com

48% = Percentage of parents who “friend” their kids on Facebook

15,516,780 = Number of active Facebook users age 55 and over as of January, 2011

58.9% = Growth in the 55+ age group on Facebook between January, 2010 and January, 2011

45,406,460 = Number of active Facebook users ages 18 to 24 as of January, 2011 — the biggest user group

4,369,820 = Number of people in New York City who have a Facebook account

55% = Percentage of Facebook users who are women

43.4% = Percentage of Facebook users are men

71.2% = Percentage of people in the U.S. with an Internet connection — 206.2 million — are on Facebook

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NSFW = Not Safe For Work (or School)

Talk about denial, a conservative Indonesian lawmaker in Jakarta resigned last week after he was caught on camera watching online porn on his computer during a parliamentary session. Arifinto, who like most Indonesians goes by one name, is a member of the Prosperous Justice Party, which calls for a central role for Islam in public life. He was the leading force behind Indonesia’s extremely strict anti-porn law, under which a leading pop star was sentenced to jail when his homemade sex tapes were put on the Internet. Arifinto initially tried to argue that he had clicked on a spam link by accident, but then admitted his guilt and resigned. - As seen in The Week

And in other troubling technology news, reports of attempts to sexually exploit children have doubled in just a year. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited children, it's because predators are now using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to contact minors. - As seen in USA Today

Finally, what's the tech health scare of the week? It's something new, known as "Facebook depression." A report by the American Academy of Pediatrics says that doctors and parents need to wake up to how social media affects children. When pediatricians take a child’s medical history, they need to ask, "Are you on Facebook?" "Kids can be insecure in general," report author Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe tells LiveScience.com, "and Facebook can heighten those anxieties to a huge degree." Along with cyberbullying, researchers have identified the problem of "Facebook depression," which arises when children have their "friend requests" rejected and sees photos of classmates having fun without them. Such experiences can lead to "profound psychosocial outcomes," including suicide, the report says. O’Keeffe says parents should help their preschool kids explore the Internet and begin discussing online situations as soon as possible. It’s vital that adults understand the technology kids are using, she adds, "so they can set appropriate limits." - Also seen in The Week

They're Compiling Detailed Profiles of You

To experience a profound violation of your privacy, you need not opt for the "touch my junk" line at the airport. Just go online. There, sophisticated marketing and research companies are giving you the full WikiLeaks treatment through cookies, beacons, and other tracking devices that record your every move, like unseen spies.

Somewhere, someone has made a record of your e-mail address, Facebook ID number, and even your name; they can record your every keystroke on the Web; they can sniff out information about health problems, interests, and attitudes, and sell that information to life-insurance companies, advertisers, or potential employers. Did you Google Viagra? Click on ads for weight-loss products? Someone knows. All of these intrusions are laid bare in an ongoing and superb Wall Street Journal series called "What They Know.'' The series deserves a Pulitzer, for revealing the extent to which companies are secretly compiling detailed profiles of your likes, dislikes, purchases, searches, sexual proclivities, and religious and political beliefs.

There's a curious paradox involved in communicating and gathering information via a keyboard and a computer. It feels so intimate and personal, but is utterly not; it's called the World Wide Web for a reason. Your e-mails can be retrieved and used in lawsuits, and are screened by the government for evidence of violent intent. A hacker on another continent can seize control of your hard drive. An Army private can plunder the government's "private" network, embarrassing diplomats, presidents, and kings. Here’s your Miranda warning: You have a right to remain silent, but whatever you do online can and will be held against you. - by William Falk, as seen in The Week

Oh and by the way, venture capitalists in 2010 invested $1.1 billion in start-ups that track online behavior to send targeted advertising to consumers. Despite concerns of privacy advocates and congressional threats to rein in the practice, "it's a huge market and it's growing," says investor Chris Fralic of First Round Capital. - as seen in The Wall Street Journal

Google’s Scary New App


The app would link an image search engine to a face-recognition program, so that photos could be matched to personal information. The concept of personal privacy just took another hit, said Mark Milian in CNN.com. Google engineers are working on a mobile application “that would allow users to snap pictures of people’s faces in order to access their personal information.” The app would link an image search engine to a face-recognition program, so users could pull up a profile on anyone whose picture they snapped—provided the photographic subjects had given Google permission to match photos with their personal information. Privacy advocates are already crying foul, pointing out that a stalker, for example, could use the app to find out where someone lives. One advocate noted that the company “has a tendency to push boundaries in order to outdo competitors.” Not to worry, says a Google spokesman: “It’s a sensitive area. We are taking a sort of cautious route with this.’’ - As seen in The Week

Time to Start Using Your Earbuds, as in Always

It's official, pressing your cell phone to your ear can at least temporarily alter your brain. That’s the disturbing finding of researchers from the National Institutes of Health, who scanned the brains of 47 volunteers while they had cell phones attached to each side of their heads.

During a 50-minute call, activity in the brain’s neurons closest to the antenna increased by 7 percent—a significant amount. “We have no idea what this means yet or how it works,” study author Nora Volkow tells Wired, “but this is the first reliable study showing that the brain is activated by exposure to cell phone radio frequencies.” Previous studies have found contradictory evidence about whether mobile-phone radiation can lead to a higher incidence of brain cancer; many researchers have insisted there is no way the weak radiation emitted by the phones could affect biological tissue. But the NIH study shows that there is, in fact, an interaction, raising the question: Could the neurological stimulation shown by the scans be causing dangerous inflammation and brain-cell damage over time?

“You don’t have to wait around on us for the answers,” Volkow says. She strongly recommends using earbuds, headsets or a speakerphone to keep cell phones away from your head.

Why Gadgets cause Junk Sleep

It's official: Viewing light-emitting TVs, smartphones, computers, and video-game players less than an hour before bed interferes with sleep. Why do more than 40 percent of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep? One likely culprit: our ever-glowing screens.

A new study by the National Sleep Foundation found that 95 percent of people polled had used some sort of electronic device less than an hour before bed the previous night. Light-emitting TVs, smartphones, computers, and video-game players “can suppress the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin” and rev us up, making it difficult to nod off at a restorative hour, study author Lauren Hale tells USA Today.

The consequences of the national sleep deficit are both broad and alarming. Out of more than 1,500 people surveyed, 37 percent admitted to having driven while tired in the past month—the cause of 100,000 crashes and 1,550 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Young people, the heaviest users of light-emitting gadgets, were the drowsiest, convincing Hale that the trend “could really affect the future of sleep” and “have serious consequences” for physical and mental health. Her advice: Don't rely on junk sleep! Power down before hitting the sack, and read or listen to music instead.

Google +1 takes on Facebook

Google will begin allowing users to personally endorse search results and Web pages, its latest attempt to stave off rival Facebook while trying to jump onboard the social networking boom. The so-called "+1" button started to appear alongside Google search results for some users this week, letting people recommend specific search results to friends and contacts by clicking the button. Eventually, the feature may begin to influence the ranking of search results, although according to sources, that is still under consideration. Results are now ranked by their closely guarded algorithm.

In other Facebook news, it was a good week for F2F human contact after Christian clergy said a large number of people have given up Facebook for Lent. Facebook "is almost compulsive," said one pastor. "That's why it makes sense to give it up for Lent!"

It was also a good week for this +1, Amanda Hocking, who may be publishing's most unlikely self-made millionaire. According to Tad Vezner in the St. Paul, Minn., Pioneer Press, a year ago, the purple-haired college dropout couldn’t find a traditional publisher for any of the eight young-adult paranormal romances she’d written in her bid to keep up with the rent on her small Minnesota home. But then last spring she decided to start self-publishing the whole lot as e-books, which sell at just 99 cents to $2.99 a title. By January, the 26-year-old was moving more than 400,000 “units” a month, and pocketing roughly 70 percent of the gross!
ROTM,
Erin

A Sex Scandal for the Internet Age

Michelle Cottle of The DailyBeast.com writes, "For generations, congressmen and senators have cheated on their wives in Washington, but the Web has changed the rules of the game. In the long and glorious annals of Washington sex scandals, U.S. Rep. Christopher Lee has truly made history. Lee resigned last week just hours after the gossip website Gawker posted a story revealing that Lee, a married conservative Republican from upstate New York, had sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman advertising for a boyfriend on Craigslist.

It was, in many respects, a sex scandal completely defined by the Internet era: Lee answered an online ad, sent some cheesy e-mails and a laughable beefcake photo to the woman (“I promise not to disappoint,” he boasted), and since he used his own name, the woman discovered that he was a married congressman simply by Googling him. When she notified the gossip website, Lee resigned “before the mainstream media could clear its throat.” For generations, congressmen and senators have cheated on their wives in Washington, but the Web has changed the rules of the game. Today, a philanderer “can be brought down by a sex scandal before he even comes close to having sex.” - As seen in The Week

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The Top 25 Online Ads Everybody Should Know

Online advertising has morphed into so many features and sizes, should online advertisers still consider measuring it in traditional marketing methods? Take a minute to brush up on your basic online ad lingo and then you tell me, what is the next step in online advertising measurement!?

An online advertisement (or Internet ad, or Web ad, or mobile ad, etc.), is a form of online advertising that is generally in the form of a graphic (or ad banner or text link) that takes a user to a Web site (or landing page) when it's clicked on. Other forms of online advertising include SEM and NFM.

Here are the Top 25 Basic Online Ads Everybody Should Know by Now:

  1. ad banner
  2. beyond-the-banner
  3. button
  4. contextual-based advertising
  5. CPC
  6. directory advertising
  7. house ad
  8. floater
  9. hyperstitial
  10. integrated sponsorship
  11. interstitial
  12. location-based advertising
  13. pop-under ad
  14. pop-up ad
  15. pre-roll
  16. post-roll
  17. mid-roll
  18. skyscraper
  19. social ads
  20. sponsorship
  21. superstitial
  22. text ad
  23. transactional ad
  24. trick ad
  25. ad overlay

For more online advertising and marketing lingo, go to the NetLingo Online Marketing List and the NetLingo Online Business List!

I Am Number Four

Linguists have often wondered, "Is our understanding of numbers innate or cultural?" New research provides stronger evidence than ever that humans must be taught to count, and that without language, math doesn’t exist.

Previous studies showed that Amazon tribal people who lacked words for numbers beyond “one, two, and many” were unable to understand precise quantities. But it was never clear whether this inability simply resulted from their not needing numbers to negotiate the world they inhabited.

The new study meets that objection by focusing on deaf Nicaraguans, called “homesigners,” who live and work in a society that runs on exact values yet communicate with a system of gestures that doesn’t include signs for numbers. The study found that the homesigners couldn’t accurately count above four. Shown a picture of 10 sheep, for instance, they seemed to estimate the amount—often holding up nine fingers.

By comparison, deaf users of American Sign Language, which does have words for numbers, and Spanish-speaking Nicaraguans who weren’t deaf aced the same tests—proving that the missing link for counting was not hearing or culture but language.

The study proves that the ability to count “isn’t something you just get for free because you’re human,” author and University of Chicago psychologist Elizabet Spaepen tells Wired.com. “If you’re not getting it in your language, you’re not going to just come up with it on your own.”
- As seen in The Week

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Online Ad Lingo: from 1:1 to CRM

1-to-1

a.k.a. 1:1, one-to-one

A marketing concept created by authors Don Pepper and Martha Rogers and turned into a marketing consultancy empire, 1-to-1 marketing espouses personalization and customization in building relationships with customers. Outside the Pepper and Rogers world, it's called customer relationship management (CRM).


NetLingo The Internet Dictionary

Customer Relationship Marketing
not the same as CRM

A 1-to-1 marketing model in which all of the information about a customer, gathered throughout the history of that customer's relationship with the company, is used to market to that customer in a way that promotes trust, loyalty, and therefore, increased sales.

Customer Relationship Marketing is not the same as Customer Relationship Management (CRM).


NetLingo The Internet Dictionary

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
a.k.a. customer intelligence -or- e-business relationship management -or- e-CRM -or- personalization

A business discipline designed to identify, attract, and retain a company's most valuable customers. It describes improved and increased communication between a company and its customers. First espoused in the 1960's by management gurus Peter Drucker and Theodore Levitt, CRM is intended to provide a unified, company-wide view of the customer and to cultivate high-quality relationships that increase loyalty and profits. Basically, the idea is not to let an interaction with a customer escape a firm's centralized database. The focus is on learning more about customers and using that knowledge to refine every interaction with them.

Effective CRM requires an integrated sales, marketing, and service strategy, supported by CRM software that provides profiles and histories of each interaction the company has with each customer. When managers cull this data, it helps them evaluate their progress. A comprehensive CRM strategy can anticipate needs; tailor messages, products, and services; create value; anticipate problems; and improve the customer's overall experience in dealing with the company. Welcome to 21st century business!

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Are Facebook and Twitter tools of revolution?

Social networking played a key role in the popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Iran over the past year. “Did Twitter make them do it?” asked Jesse Lichtenstein in Slate.com. With hundreds of thousands of Egyptians massing in Tahrir Square in defiance of a severely weakened regime, fans of social media are pointing to the role of Facebook and Twitter in sparking yet another revolution. In similar popular uprisings in Yemen, Tunisia, and Iran over the past year, social media played a key role, helping dissidents form connections and organize protests.

That was even more true in Egypt, said Jennifer Preston in The New York Times. The uprising there was sparked by the death of Khaled Said, a 28-year-old businessman who was beaten to death by police last year after he obtained proof of police corruption. Human-rights activists created a Facebook page called “We are all Khaled Said,” featuring a photo of his grotesquely disfigured face, and within weeks, the page had 130,000 followers—growing to nearly 500,000 as the street protests began several weeks ago, organized partly by tweets and text messages.

In authoritarian regimes around the world, Facebook and Twitter are allowing “the discontented to organize and mobilize” in ways they never could before. Tell that to Lenin, said Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker. I could have sworn that both the Russian and French revolutions took place “before the Internet came along.” The East Germans who overthrew their government and tore down the Berlin Wall in the 1980s didn’t even own phones, let alone smart phones or computers. Under despotic regimes, brave souls willing to fight for freedom “will always find ways to communicate,” whether by iPhone, furtively passed handbills and pamphlets, or urgent whispers in the street.

Our fixation on the social media angle of these revolutions betrays a “simplistic Western chauvinism,” said Frank Rich in The New York Times. We love the thought that these “downtrodden, unwashed masses” are only able to free themselves thanks to the tools we gave them. Besides, said Lee Siegel in The New York Observer, the power of social networking “cuts both ways.” In Iran, the regime actually spied on dissidents involved in the Green Revolution through Facebook and sent out misleading tweets. Nineteen months later, the regime is still in office, carefully monitoring the opposition through the Internet.

In the short term, said Clay Shirky in Foreign Affairs, the advent of new communication technologies “is just as likely to strengthen authoritarian regimes as it is to weaken them.” The Chinese government, for example, has evolved beyond some early, crude attempts to block the Internet altogether, and now has developed sophisticated systems “for controlling political threats from social media,” and for using them as a tool of manipulation and surveillance. In the long run, though, said Walter Isaacson in Foreign Policy, social media can only be bad news for authoritarian regimes. “The free flow of information is the oxygen of democracy,” and there’s no disputing that the Internet, smart phones, and social media have radically increased and accelerated that flow.

“It’s not the tools” themselves, said Jose Antonio Vargas in HuffingtonPost.com. It’s the new sense of community and togetherness that those tools have made possible. Protesters on the streets of Cairo, Tunis, and Tehran are united not only by a thirst for freedom and self-rule, but by a new awareness—brought about by new technology—of their “common humanity.” Online, “the individual can be heard.” And in a matter of a few keystrokes, “‘I’ easily grows to ‘we.’”
- As seen in The Week

Humans still have the edge over AI

AI as in artificial intelligence. Jeopardy fans were mesmerized when Watson, the IBM computer that was programmed to play the trivia game, squared off and beat the world champion. It was a reminder of when Deep Blue out-chessed the Grand Master in 1990. But according to Stephen Baker, author of the book "Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything", not to worry.

"Watson isn't nearly as smart as it looks on TV. Outside of its specialty of answering questions, the computer remains largely clueless. It knows nothing. When it comes up with an answer, such as "What is 'Othello?,'" the name of Shakespeare's play is simply the combination of ones and zeros that correlates with millions of calculations it has carried out. Statistics tell it that there is a high probability that the word "Othello" matches with a "tragedy," a "captain" and a "Moor." But Watson doesn't understand the meaning of those words any more than Google does, or, for that matter, a parrot raised in a household of Elizabethan scholars.

Watson is incapable of coming up with fresh ideas, much less creating theories, cracking jokes, telling a story or carrying on a conversation. Humans still have an edge. - As seen in the L.A. Times, read the full story here!

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Listen to Erin on Martha Stewart's Radio Show - Tuesday, March 1st

Listen in as Erin Jansen, Founder of NetLingo.com, discusses "The NetLingo Top 10 Internet Terms of 2010" and as she reveals new online jargon and texting lingo on the Martha Stewart Living Radio Show! Joining her are the co-hosts of Morning Living: Betsy Karetnick and Kim Fernandez and it promises to be an eduating and entertaining time :-)

The program is on Tuesday, March 1st at 8:00am EST on Morning Living on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112 / XM 157. Please note: They are unable to provide copies of the interview so if someone could record it, that would be awesome! In case you missed Erin's television appearance on The Martha Stewart Show (it aired in April and in July, 2010), watch it here: NetLingo founder Erin Jansen discusses texting on the Martha Stewart show!

The Top 10 Internet Words of 2010 saw a huge emphasis on numbers and so we decided to feature multiple terms within one expression. Here are the Top 10 Internet Words of 2010 according to NetLingo.com:

1. leetspeak (1337) - a coded language replacing letters with other keyboard characters
2. 143, 1432, 459, 831 - means I love you
3. 182 - it means I hate you
4. 9, 99, H9, W9 - code to alert another computer user that someone is watching you
5. 53X, 8, CU46, LH6 - it means sex, oral sex, see you for sex, and let’s have sex
6. 10Q - it means thank you
7. LOL - most popular use means "Laughing Out Loud," not as popular is "Lots Of Love"
8. digitally grounded - a modern form of punishment that forbids use of electronic devices
9. cyberbullying - being bullied online by peers became a serious health concern this year
10. zerg - in gaming it is to outnumber the other team, in life it means to gang up on someone

Did you know most of these? If not, it’s time to get with the program! You can easily learn more lingo when you sign up for our Word of the Day newsletters and subscribe to our blog and RSS feeds.

Remember, Erin will be on the Martha Stewart Living Radio Show on Tuesday, March 1st at 8:00am EST on Morning Living on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112 / XM 157 :-)

How to Get Rich Off the Internet

The bloggers who provided free content for the HuffingtonPost.com won't receive any of the $315 million AOL paid for the website. You have to admire Arianna Huffington’s chutzpah, said Debra Saunders in the San Francisco Chronicle. As a sometime “populist” who loudly laments “corporate greed,” Huffington attracted thousands of left-wing bloggers to write for free at her HuffingtonPost.com website. Then last week she sold out to AOL for $315 million.

After the spoils are divvied up among her “venture capitalist pals,” she’ll walk away with some $18 million and a new title as president and editor in chief of AOL’s Huffington Post Media Group. What will her army of bloggers and “citizen journalists” get for their labors? The chance for further unpaid glory toiling for AOL, a media giant with a market cap of $2.2 billion.

To understand Huffington’s business model, said Tim Rutten in the Los Angeles Times, “picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates.” After all her bluster about “Wall Street plutocrats and crony capitalism,” she’s made a fortune off the backs of unpaid scribes and content “aggregation”—a polite term for stealing from legitimate news outlets that actually pay their writers.

Huffington’s bloggers got their just deserts from this deal, said Nate Silver in NYTimes.com—which is nothing. HuffingtonPost.com publishes hundreds of blog posts every weekday. But the overwhelming majority of its 15.6 million daily page views are generated by content that the site “pays its staff to write or curate.” By my calculation, the advertising revenue generated by the site’s unpaid bloggers amounts to no more than a few bucks per blog post. Since our site commands millions of eyeballs, said Jason Linkins in HuffingtonPost.com, we’re doing people a favor by running their blogs or aggregating their content. That’s why the country’s major newspapers and magazines plead with us to run their stories, and why some of our contributors write for free. They know our site helps them reach the “widest possible audience.”

If Huffington can “make a fortune off people’s desire to express themselves,” said Andrew Sullivan in TheAtlantic.com, then more power to her. And Huffington’s business model is hardly unique, said David Carr in The New York Times. It’s basically the template for all digital media, where “low-cost and no-cost content is becoming the norm.” The multi-billion-dollar valuations of Twitter and Facebook are derived largely from the content created by millions of users like me—for free. We are all digital serfs now, working for the feudal lords of cyberspace. Just don’t expect a share of their fat profits. “The check,” as Arianna might tell you, “is in the mail.”
- As seen in The Week

Brought to you by NetLingo - Improve Your Internet IQ

Online Advertising Lingo: social media

social media


Social media can take many different forms, including social networks, blogs, vlogs, social bookmarks, user reviews, video sharing, podcasts, rating systems, collaborative ranking, wikis, comments, message boards, and online forums. Technologies include: picture-sharing, wall-postings, e-mail, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing, and VoIP, to name a few.

Examples of social media applications are Google Groups (reference, social networking), Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), Facebook (social networking), Last.fm (personal music), YouTube (social networking and video sharing), Second Life (virtual reality), Flickr (photo sharing), Twitter (social networking and microblogging). Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms like Mybloglog and Plaxo.

More specifically, Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms. Facebook pushed the door wide open to user-generated content when it launched its application in May 2007. Facebook's platform is an API that developers can use to create widgets that can easily be distributed on Facebook. To encourage "take-up," Facebook's platform strategy allows developers to keep the revenue they generate through traffic to their applications. Within a year, Facebook had nearly 20,000 applications created mostly by thousands of 3rd party developers.

Primarily, social media depends on interactions between people as the discussion and integration of words builds shared-meaning, using technology as a conduit. Among overall online users, reading others' comments on a Web site and reading blogs are the most popular social media activities.

Online Advertising Lingo: 1% rule

1% rule

A rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online, then one will create content, ten will interact with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it (also known as lurking). Earlier metrics garnered from online community sites suggested that about 80% of content was produced by 20% of the users, but the growing data due to social networking sites and blogs creates a different picture. The lesson? A Web site that demands too much interaction and content generation from users will see nine out of ten people just pass by.

See also: the long tail, Web 2.0

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NetLingo The Internet Dictionary

Online Advertising Lingo: Lesson #1

3-way linking

An example of 3-way linking is when a person owns two Web sites, and uses one of the Web sites to offer link exchanges, in an attempt to build up the popularity of the other. In doing so, he or she adds a link to your site on the link exchange Web site, and asks in return that you link to the main site being promoted.

The higher a search engine can return your Web site when a user types in a keyword, the more traffic your Web site will receive. These optimized results are important on an ever-growing World Wide Web, and that's why Google is so revered: their algorithms produce the best results. Webmasters attempt to do all they can to accommodate the search bots, so as to increase their search results and their page rank. However, Google regularly penalizes Web sites for too many paid links and lowers page ranks. This is why 3-way linking and dedicated pages are important.

Many search algorithms are able to detect link trading as an artificial means of boosting the popularity of a Web site, thereby discounting the value of these links. By doing a 3-way link between Web sites hosted on different servers, a Webmaster can build link popularity without the search engine detecting the trade as easily.

3-way linking

The image illustrates the example: Site A represents you, the Webmaster of your own site. Sites B & C are owned by us. Site A links to Site B and Site C links to Site A. (If search Google for "3-way link" below, it will bring back several current Webmaster forum links and postings.)


NetLingo The Internet Dictionary

She’s Virtually Virtual: The Perils of Building an Online Business

With books like The 4 Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss (which was on the New York Times best seller list for 75 weeks), thousands of people everywhere have been trying to make money online by capitalizing on new, virtual business models. The appeal of reaching a global audience while generating passive income is irresistible… I read the book, I drank the kool-aid, and I love the philosophy. But outsourcing your company is risky business.

My BFF is an infopreneur in the mind/body fitness industry. Tired of trading her time for money, she decided to “virtualize” her business last year and take her personal training practice online - complete with a virtual gym, DVDs and iphone apps :-) But now it’s a grueling 1 year later, and she’s found out that creating a business in the cloud is a bigger deal than she thought. In fact, she barely weathered the storm. Here is one girl’s account about outsourcing in cyberspace

Hot on the trail after reading Ferris’ book, she hired some developers in India to build her an open source site using Joomla, which was to be a virtual gym and e-commerce store with the ability to deliver digital products as downloads. They promised her a fully functional site with all the training she would need to run her online business. She had fun working with them on Skype for months on end, getting the “look and feel” down and the content exactly where she wanted it. She said it was interesting to work with people on the other side of the planet, their accents were cute, blah, blah, blah, but the long (and sad) story short is that when her site was delivered, it looked great, but she had no idea how to run the CMS (the back end) nor how to arm the back end with the necessary marketing tools needed, like autoresponders, list management panels, newsletter generators, etc…. all the things that are crucial in creating a successful online business! Duh.

Furthermore, she realized her IT guys in India weren’t necessarily direct marketers, they hadn’t gone to the conferences she went to, they didn’t know a sales funnel from an affiliate tracker from an opt-in page to a landing page to article marketing and beyond. And that’s cool she said (I told her it was not) but she was still understanding and said “you can’t be an expert at everything.” “One area you do need to manage,” she said, “is your site, you need to understand it from the back end forward. It doesn’t matter how cool your site looks on the Web, if you can’t update it behind the screens and run it yourself, it’s not going to work.”

“And don’t think that what you save in money by outsourcing (sometimes $3.00/hr) you don’t spend in time. That old adage, ‘Time is money’, still holds true, right? The Internet hasn’t changed that! But add in the sometimes 12-14 hour time difference, communication issues regarding the subtle nuances of our native tongues, and the need to discuss complex technical matters, and you have a recipe for a time/money suck!” Oh boy, I could tell things were not proceeding as planned. And BTW, she’s smarter than the average bear especially when it comes to geek stuff.

She was near tears by now and going on and on, “Face it, this “ain’t your daddy’s business world” anymore. Employers are lucky to have an employee stick around for a year, let alone 50! The Internet has revolutionized the way we work, the way we communicate, and the way we are creating --and replacing-- jobs, and not just in this country but in the world.” There was no consoling her at this point so I let her go on…

“This supposed technology that was invented to help us “save time” and “make life easier” has not gone exactly as planned. If anything it’s complicated and it’s a major time suck. People today work, date, play, and essentially LIVE online. Okay it can be fun sometimes but look at the millions of people actually living virtual lives on 2nd Life! What is that all about?!” I started to explain but she was already on to the next rant-and-rave

“From big corporations who outsource their customer service calls to companies in the Philippines, to infopreneurs who outsource their website to developers in India, we are officially a global community. It truly is a global work force. But you know what? That may be a beautiful thing in theory, but I’m seeing first hand now how it has its share of draw backs.” So what’s your takeaway I ask? Our lesson? Your next step?

“Make sure your outsourcers understand the look you want and the functionality you need out of your site. Because, 9 months later even though my site looked great, full of rich content and pretty pictures there was one big problem. The outsourcers had hard coded it instead of using the plugin Joomla modules that anyone can use. They said they would teach me how to do this...or I could pay them a maintenance retainer. REALLY? I want to run my business not become a Joomla goddess!” I completely agreed.

Frustrated and tired of being lost in translation on late night Skype calls, my friend decided it was time to hire a U.S. based, Joomla guru to get her virtual business up and running. Of course, this would cost double the money, but half the time. So, running out of resources, what did my little entrepreneur do? She shelved her old site and built a new site on iWeb in about 4 hours. She signed up for 1shoppingcart.com (which has built in autoresponders) to manage the entire back end from one console panel. She’s like “Sheesh, 1 year later, and it’s the little site that could!” And I’m like, okay fingers crossed, I just want it to work for her. She’s virtually virtual, and when she transcends once and for all, that will only be a good thing.
Stay tuned,
Erin

5 Easy Places to Recycle Your Old Gadgets and Computers

Maybe you got next-generation gear over the holidays, or maybe it's time to clean out your unused gadgets for the new year. Whatever the reason, if you've got old gizmos that need to go, Kevin Purdy of Lifehacker.com tells you where to recycle them.

Did you know that many towns, cities, counties, and states have their own e-cycling programs that offer convenient drop-off locations for dead computers, dead cell phones, big monitors, and other electronics? The Environmental Protection Agency suggests a few sites to help you find a local solution, including EcoSquid and Digital Tips. However, almost everybody has a Best Buy, Goodwill, or Staples somewhere near them and they may even pay you back in green for helping keep the planet green.

Best Buy Recycling has one of the most convenient and customer-friendly electronics recycling programs. Each household can bring in up to three items per day including older-style CRT TVs, any flat-panel TVs, monitors, cell phones, GPS units, DVD players, basically anything that you can carry that has a plug and a display, Best Buy will take it. (There's a $10 charge for TVs and monitors, but you get that back in a $10 gift card.)

New cell phones often come with a plastic pouch in which to mail back an older cell phone for recycling, or for re-purposing as an emergency 911 phone for community services. Each cellular phone provider, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon offers phone recycling services and they are generally free through both in-store drop-offs and postage-paid mail-ins.

Both Office Depot and Staples are fairly convenient for recycling smaller gadgets in different ways. Office Depot sells boxes (small, medium, and large for $5, $10, and $15, respectively) that you can fill with pretty much any gadget that fits, then drop it off for recycling. Staples does the smaller stuff for free, like phones, PDAs, and calculators, and if you drop off TVs or monitors or other notably big gear, it's a $10 charge.

But one of the first stops to make is good old Craigs List. As one user notes, turning in a working laptop for recycling so that it can be destroyed is NOT recycling. If you really care about recycling then selling it for a small price to someone who will use it for a few more years is the best recycling you can do.
Until next post, see you online,
Erin

Early Adopter Update: It's Time to Hurry Up and Wait for 4G

It's the CES this week (the Consumer Electronics Show) and the industry is buzzing. Standards are being solidified. Convergence is taking place. It's a good time to be a geek. One of the major announcements is 4G.

If you've read the NetLingo definition, you know what 4G is :-) If you haven't, go read the 4G definition and come right back because Roy Furchgott of the New York Times tells us that the refrain from the cell phone industry at CES has been “4G, 4G, 4G.”

As NetLingo explains and Roy confirms, "Just what constitutes 4G at this point is debatable. But this week T-Mobile announced it would double the speed of its 4G network, AT&T vowed to have nationwide 4G LTE coverage by 2013 and Verizon is stumping its LTE build out." (LTE is also in the 4G NetLingo definition :-)

So here's the thing early adopters, "If you are leaning toward 4G, you certainly will have plenty of cell phones to choose from. Verizon said it would have 10 4G devices, from phones to tablets to wireless hotspot cards. Sprint announced three. AT&T announced two and promised five to seven more. T-Mobile announced two tablets and promised more devices." And on and on... that's CES. It's these kinds of advancements that make early adopters happy.

If you still don't quite get it, try looking at 4G from this point, "It’s the same problem that faced TV buyers when televisions with 1080p screens first came out. You could spend extra for a premium set, but what are you going to watch on it? There were no 1080p shows and practically no DVDs at the time (and when there first were, selection was small and very expensive). Yet people snapped 1080p TVs up. They wanted to be ready with 1080p when shows became available." Did someone say first-mover advantage?

In the end, Roy fesses up, "I live in the first city in America to go 4G, that was in 2008. I still don’t get reliable service. If your carrier charges you extra for 4G service, don’t buy it yet... if you don’t get charged extra for 4G service, consider it but make sure the phone works well on both 3G and 4G."

It's good advice. If you're not entirely certain about exactly what 3G is, be sure to read the NetLingo definition of 3G too! It'll only take a moment and you will learn something about the amazing technology that powers your cell phones and handheld devices! You know those little things you can't imagine living without, also known as your life?

Meanwhile at CES, it's all about convergence. This time it's merging television sets with the power of the Internet... but, there's nothing really to blow you away, not even Google TV, we're just not there yet.
Until next post, see you online,
Erin

Should parents let toddlers play with iPhones?

Moms and dads are discovering that iPhones can entertain little kids more effectively than traditional toys, but does that mean it's a good idea? The iPhone may just be this generation's "boob tube." The iPhone has not merely revolutionized communication, says Hilary Stout in The New York Times. It's also given parents what may be "the most effective tool in human history to mollify a fussy toddler." Moms and dads are finding that their 1-, 2-, and 3-year-olds can amuse themselves endlessly with this new "Toy of Choice," pressing buttons to see the screen light up, watching videos, or even mastering educational apps. Though the phenomenon can give parents rare moments of peace, some child development specialists worry that handing a toddler an iPhone may be as neglectful as planting him in front of a TV for hours. Are smart phones damaging our babies?


Resist the temptation to hand your kid a phone: As conveniently bewitching as the iPhone is, says Paula Bernstein at Strollerderby, "kids--especially little ones--don't need any more screen time." Letting them get obsessed with gadgets only keeps them from learning how to interact with "the outside world" and don't fall for the notion that kid-targeted apps are automatically educational. "Do toddlers really need an iGo Potty app (sponsored by the company that makes Huggies) that will remind them when it's time to go potty?"

"Why toddlers don't need iPhones"
As always, parental supervision is key: "Every generation has its vices," says Jack Loftus at Gizmodo. The iPhone is one of ours--parents just have to do their job and make sure toddlers don't get carried away. Besides, "touchscreens and ultra-portable communication devices are the inevitable future," so there is no harm in letting little Bethany get used to "the tools she'll be immersed in when she's older."

"Experts worry toddlers are becoming iPhone addicts"
Used correctly, the iPhone can be an educational toy: It's true that iPhones and iPads can be instruments of "boob-tube zombification" if all your kid does is look at videos, says Wilson Rothman at MSNBC. But some "edutainment apps" are worthy additions to an array of traditional toys. If anything, instead of reactionary panic, what parents need is more research. The real question should be: Which iPhone apps do help kids? - As seen in The Week

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