Wednesday, September 15, 2010

19 new stories on The Next Web today

19 new stories on The Next Web today

Link to The Next Web

‘Iraq Resistance’ Behind 10% of Global Spam last Thursday

Posted: 15 Sep 2010 03:02 AM PDT

Offline Iraq War Protest just takes an online shape A hacker claiming to be behind last week’s massive worm called ‘Here you have’ that crippled corporate networks mainly in the US stated that the reason behind creating the worm was to object to the illegal US invasion of Iraq.

In a Youtube video posted yesterday using the handle and a computer generated voice ‘Iraq Resistance’ he stated “the reasons behind my September virus which affected NASA, Coca Cola, Google, and most American games, what I wanted to say is that United States doesn’t have the right to invade our people and steal the oil under the name of nuclear weapons.”

According to Cisco, the worm accounted for between 6 percent and 14 percent of the world’s spam for a few hours Thursday. It primarily gummed up corporate e-mail networks in the U.S.

The creator also claimed his/her actions were not as bad as those Terry Jones, the Florida based pastor that threatened to burn copies of the Holy Quran last Sunday coinciding with September 11.

In response to an email sent to IDG today the creator stated that “The creation of this is just a tool to reach my voice to people maybe… or maybe other things.”

He said he had not expected the worm to spread as broadly as it had, and noted that he could have done much more damage to victims. “I could smash all those infected but I wouldn’t,” said the hacker. “I hope all people understand that I am not negative person!” In other parts of the message, he was critical of the U.S. war in Iraq.

Security experts agree that the worm could have caused more damage. However, it did include some very malicious components, such as key-logger software and a backdoor program that could have been used to allow its creator to control infected machines.

“Here you have” spread when victims clicked on a Web link and then allowed a malicious script to run on their computer. It is the more-successful follow-up to an August worm that included the e-mail address that Iraq Resistance used to communicate with the IDG News Service.

Cyber crime has been taking on a political form for quite some time now, most noticeably since the attack on Estonia back in 2007 by the Storm botnet, and although the ‘Here you have’ worm does not compare to Storm in terms of impact, the method of delivering it’s payload is similar which could signal a serious new trend of what some might consider online activism.Source, Image Source

Original title and link for this post: ‘Iraq Resistance’ Behind 10% of Global Spam last Thursday

Live From HTC’s London Launch Event

Posted: 15 Sep 2010 02:49 AM PDT

We’re at HTC’s launch event at Old Billingsgate Market in London, covering what we think will be the Taiwanese company’s chance to bring us it’s latest Android offerings.

Join us as we see what the company has up its sleeve to announce at its biggest European launch this year.

Refresh your page regularly as we keep you updated…

10:49am: We are in the reception area at the event, it’s seriously dark and moody, perhaps it’s to stop us peering behind the strategically placed curtains along the event area. There are murmurings that todays event will bring us the launch of the HTC Desire HD and HTC’s thinnest slider phone the HTC Desire Z.

10:56am: It appears that Nokia are trying to sabotage the HTC launch event, fixing balloons to the railings outside the venue publicing Ovi Maps, obviously it’s to highlight the second day of Nokia World at the ExCel in London. Thanks to Paul O’Brien for the picture:

11:11am: We have just had confirmation from an HTC representative that the presentation will not start until 12pm, the venue is starting to fill up now as HTC employees dash in and out of the heavily-guarded presentation area.

Original title and link for this post: Live From HTC’s London Launch Event

Google Me is confirmed for fall. Social “layers” incoming.

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 10:29 PM PDT

According to Eric Schmidt of Google, the service that we’ve all been waiting to see will start rolling out this fall. Google Me is coming, and will happen via a “social layer” added over the top of search, video and Google Maps.

Speaking at the Google Zeitgeist conference in Scottsdale, Ariz, Schmidt has stated a desire to have Facebook users combine their contacts with Google so that they can further their reach. This approach, as we’ve called it many times before, is likely the smartest way for Google to move forward in a social environment.

While there are no other details about the project, both ZDNet and the Wall Street Journal have confirmed the rumors that came out of Zeitgeist today. In the mean time, we’ll just have to wait and see how many layers Google intends to use.

Original title and link for this post: Google Me is confirmed for fall. Social “layers” incoming.

“Tweets with links” and “Tweets near you” added to search on new

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 08:52 PM PDT

We’re continuing to test out the new, and we just dove into the revamped Twitter Search. First of all, the search bar now figures prominently at the top of the interface instead of off in the sidebar (and the search bar is larger too).

However, that’s not the cool part – Twitter has also redesigned the search results page, adding two very cool options: “Tweets with links” and “Tweets near you”.

We actually haven’t been able to find a search that showed “Tweets near you” but we’re in a kind of low-volume-tweeting-area so that could be the reason (we’re not sure what the radius is – but it probably works like Local Trends does). The “Tweets with links” view worked just fine, however, and obviously, this is going to be a great way to quickly curate the content that you’re searching for, especially as – when you search for “youtube” like below – you can then search for media, stories, etc., and cut through all the commentary that doesn’t include links.

Frankly, this is an extremely smart move from Twitter. Great to see them focusing again on search – we were starting to wonder

Here’s what the old Twitter Search looked like:

and now the new Twitter Search with “Tweets with links” and expanded media:

Original title and link for this post: “Tweets with links” and “Tweets near you” added to search on new

The new brings neat keyboard shortcuts.

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 07:00 PM PDT

To follow up on our list of things we’re surprised twitter didn’t include, here’s one we’re surprised they did…keyboard shortcuts! Twitter’s getting all productive on us,  many desktop Twitter apps don’t have keyboard shortcuts.

Updated: Here are all of the shortcuts:

  • f = favorite
  • r = reply
  • t = retweet
  • m = direct message
  • n = new Tweet
  • ? = this menu
  • j = next Tweet
  • k = previous Tweet
  • space = page down
  • / = search
  • . = refresh Tweets and back to top

If you’ve missed our coverage of the new, start here.  h/t to@MattPRD.

Original title and link for this post: The new brings neat keyboard shortcuts.

Quora starts removing corporate user profiles. Including ours.

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 06:37 PM PDT

We’ve written a time or two about the new question and answers site Quora. One of the main ideas behind the site is that every answer is tied to a person, so that the answer remains in the context of that person.

It seems, however, that some sites and organizations have had a misunderstanding of this written rule and have attempted to create accounts for the corporate bodies.

According to Fernando Fonseca, technology blog Read Write Web has been shown the door when it comes to having its own account set up. At present, the account remains inactive, until it can be “short”ed out [sic], showing only this in the profile:

In all fairness, we have to admit that The Next Web has an account on Quora as well. Though we’ve never used it, it does exist, so I guess we’re as guilty as the next site.

Is it worthwhile, however, to exclude all activity from corporate bodies? While the ethos of the site is to have a singular point of contact for all answers, there are obviously some questions that are better answered by a body of users than a single.

Give us your thoughts. We’ve reached out to Quora, and will let you know what they tell us.

Original title and link for this post: Quora starts removing corporate user profiles. Including ours.

Think it all happens in Silicon Valley? You’re wrong! – 99designs

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 06:16 PM PDT

Australia; it's not just about sandy beaches, beers and bbqs, Melbourne (and Sydney) have thriving digital and tech communities and this month, entrepreneur and technology journalist Hermione Way and her team at Techflufftv will be exploring the startup scene interviewing the hottest startups for The Next Web Australia's Melbourne Silicon Beach Series.

Sponsored by Kodak, Silicon Beach Australia and The Next Web, decided to delve a little deeper into Melbourne's startup scene and video interviewed ten of these companies.

This week we caught up with Mark Harbottle and Jason Sew Hoy from 99designs. Mark and Jason talks to us about the crowd-sourcing design space and how they were able to expand beyond Melbourne and into San Fransisco.

Stay tuned for next week as we will bring you an interview from Adioso.

Original title and link for this post: Think it all happens in Silicon Valley? You're wrong! – 99designs

3 things Twitter surprisingly didn’t put in the new

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 06:09 PM PDT

So we’ve been playing around with the new redesign for the last half an hour or so since we got access, and overall, we’re very pleased with the much needed update, as we’re sure most users that use the service’s website will be too (CEO Evan Williams was keen to point out that use of outstrips all third-party clients combined).

To learn about all of the goodness about the new design, check out our extensive live coverage of the event, the official video and our test drive video then come on back.

Welcome back. So the new site is a substantial upgrade right? As we said, we certainly think so, however, there are a few things that we’re surprised were not included in the redesign (at least so far). Here they are:

No User Streams

As Williams pointed out, the site was completely redesigned from the bottom up using Twitter’s APIs – which leads us wonder why Twitter didn’t include its river of tweets API (the Streaming API) right into the new design. There certainly was never a better time to do it, that’s for sure. Is the Twitter team worried that most of their users will be a bit overwhelmed by User Streams?

This could be the case, but as we imagine only a fraction of Twitter users actually follow more than 100 to 200 people, their streams shouldn’t come at them that fast and furious, right? Or was it an architecture concern? Certainly, if you’ve used the latest Tweetdeck User Stream beta, you know how great the Streaming API is, so we’re really wondering what gives here.

Right column isn’t locked

Use the new for a few minutes and this is one of the first things you’ll notice, especially now that there is endless scrolling: the right hand column doesn’t stick in place. While the expanded conversations and other pop out panes can come wherever you are in you stream, losing the newly organized top right pane (note there is now 4 “Who to Follow” recommendations instead of 2 for instance), is well, a pain to lose as you scroll down. Thankfully, this should be a relatively easy fix for the Twitter crew.

No multiple accounts

CEO Evan Williams was asked about this in the press conference and said, “not in this release” or something to that effect. Well, why not? Again, while we understand that probably the vast majority of Twitter users only have one account, why not add the functionality into the new design to further attract “power” users? Again, we’re hoping this is only a first iteration and that “not in this release” means that Twitter has plans for this in the near future. Still, it would have been great to just get – and our other two points – right from the start.

Overall, a really strong effort by the Twitter team that we hope may also mean the foreseeable end to the Fail Whale (we can hope can’t we?) and we hope that Twitter will integrate a lot of its users’ feedback on the new design sooner rather than later.

Original title and link for this post: 3 things Twitter surprisingly didn’t put in the new A monetization play and now serious Facebook competitor?

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 05:48 PM PDT

So Twitter has launched a brand new version of its website. Big news as even though many of us use different fancy applications the vast majority of people head over to to view the site. The new site is rolling out to users all over the world over the next couple of weeks and although Twitter are dressing this up as some sort of great new user it experience (it will improve things) I personally think it has a lot more to do with monetizing the platform and allowing branded content to reach the masses. Here are some of the interesting early points I had around the all new….

It’s All About The Money

If there is one thing that I have picked up from watching Facebook over the last year it is that any time they talk about making the user experience better and changing the width of columns it really actually means they are making more room for monetization or adding in adverts and I’m pretty sure that is what you are seeing here with Twitter. They have been claimimg back everything from the reweet buttons to iPhone apps over the last 6 months and thats all about having the control to place the ads in to the stream. Having a wider space on the right hand side of the screen opens up all sorts of possibilities for branded content and engagement ads through promoted tweets. Although there is no doubt about the fact that this will be a vastly improved product this move is ultimately about making lots of cash.

Moving In To Facebook Territory?

To me it feels like Facebook and Twitter are coming closer together. The networks of people are different but the one big advantage Facebook always had for me was the ability for me to consume rich media content through my stream without leaving the site and Twitter seem to have just wiped that with this release. Imagine this new content discovery tool and the ability to consume rich media through the stream on Twitter when you combine it with breaking news and sports? Incredible potential here and something that the big newspapers, wires and publications are going to have to come to terms very quickly with.

Great For The Man In The Street

Many of us power users will use our high powered applications to access Twitter on a daily basis but that is a world alien to most people in the street. For many the starting point is and to a certain extent Twitter have once again made some of their 3rd party developers redundant by bringing the best features in house. You can expect great mobile versions of this new site in the next couple of weeks and as they repeated over and over again in the presentation this will help people to understand Twitter from day one and start discovering content a lot faster whatever channel they come in from (16% of people are signing up via mobile).

App Developers Sidelined Once Again

Twitter was originally lauded for the fact that it let so many people build on to it’s platform and create businesses off the Twitter site but they have gone 180 degrees on this and are now bringing everything back in house. The reason for this is the sheer amount of money at stake and the fact that the more people who view Twitter on either the Twitter iPhone app, Twitter iPad app or the more Twitter will make from advertising. It makes complete sense as a business proposal really and even though it is tough on all the third party developers they really have to realize now that they have very little future with the gorilla in the room that is Twitter.

Looks Like A Winner

At the end of the day this should be just another new website upgrade but it feels like so much more than that given the importance that Twitter as assumed in many of our daily lives. The site looks more like an app that you would find on an iPad than anything and it really does seem like it will be a much better experience. We should all end up with a far superior product and perhaps have to fire up Desktop clients far less often but do expect this to be the starting point for a lot more adverts and branded content to start popping in to the stream!

Original title and link for this post: A monetization play and now serious Facebook competitor?

Video Tour of The New by TNW

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 05:09 PM PDT

Click the bottom right icon on the video to watch in full screen.

Original title and link for this post: Video Tour of The New by TNW

The New Official Video

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 04:47 PM PDT

Here is the official video that Twitter CEO Evan Williams demoed at Twitter HQ, underneath it you’ll find our brief video tour of the new site.. For our full coverage of the new redesign, go here

Our brief tour:

Original title and link for this post: The New Official Video

The new – Faster, better experience…and similar to the iPad.

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 04:22 PM PDT

Watching live from the Twitter event, @Ev has just told the world about a whole new Given that the Twitter site is the most accessed way of Twitter users, it only makes sense.

According to what we’ve seen so far, the new looks quite similar to the design that we recently saw in Twitter’s new official iPad application, with details on the right side of the screen. The new sidebar is twice as wide as before, so that you can see trends, suggestions and media.

You’ll notice some other big changes as well, such as endless scrolling, a top-mounted navigation. Clicking on a geotag will now open the map within the content, and clicking on a user opens their profile in a mini window. In fact, it’s so similar to the iPad application that it looks as if the new design was pulled directly from it.

The goal, according to Ev, is to provide a richer, faster experience for users. It is a complete revamp of the site, with a focus on being very responsive with the new Twitter architecture. As Ev says, it is beneficial to the whole ecosystem, and includes keyboard shortcuts.

The new site will start launching today, with an incremental rollout to all users. There are 16 partners, including Ustream, Vimeo, Twitpic and many more.

Twitter states that the new site has gone through rigorous testing, both internally and with external users. In all, there were weekly sessions with 6 people in each session testing the new interface.


A brief video tour of the new site.

Original title and link for this post: The new – Faster, better experience…and similar to the iPad.

Live from the Twitter HQ

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 03:48 PM PDT

Right everyone, the show is done. Check out /SocialMedia for all our in-depth coverage, or read our notes from the show below!

Before the Show:

  • Twitter today began showing eggs as the default Twitter user profile picture. You can see a sample here. What gives? We bet that it foretells something big, or we at least hope so. 22 minutes and counting until liftoff, folks.
  • Twitter just let out a rather promising tweet that relates to the user profile picture change: “What’s hatching at Twitter HQ?” It seems that our guess of hatching eggs was spot on.

The Event [new at bottom]

  • Inline pictures and video are going to be announced today. When the partners are listed, we will share them with you. Expect Ustream to be one of them. There is no other good reason for them to be skulking around Twitter’s office for this event.
  • The screen at the event has the big white egg on it. Twitter is crazy for it. There are around 80 people here, all us waiting for something to happen. The white egg is not moving, but the couches are nice.
  • Biz is up on stage lampooning Ron Conway and thanking the audience for coming on short notice.
  • Evan Williams is now on stage promising to “show” us some new stuff that is more than a blog post.
  • @Ev: “Twitter is getting bigger and better.”
  • Twitter mobile is booming. 16% of new signups are mobile, and total mobile usage is up some 250% for the year.
  • Twitter is seeing some 370,000 new signups a day. Twitter has 160 million users.
  • Ev called Biz ‘Business’ and Biz shouted ‘Don’t use my full name!”
  • @Ev: “You don’t have to tweet to use Twitter anymore than you have to have a webpage to use the internet.”
  • The MacBook Pro with the slides crashed, so we are waiting for it to reboot to continue. Some yahoo asked a question that @Ev is dodging.
  • 90% of the content on Twitter is public.
  • @Ev: “Twitter is the best way to discover what is new in your world.”
  • There is a graph of tweets per day, and it is exploding, still. It has never slowed down. You can see it here.
  • Twitter sees more than 90 million tweets a day on average.
  • Of active Twitter users, 78% have used the web interface in the last 30 days.
  • Half of all users use only, it is the biggest Twitter client that exists.
  • Twitter is today launching a new that is faster and better.
  • Twitter is playing a video that shows off the new site, which we feel looks like an iPad application.
  • The sidebar is larger, it features mini-windows to show more information, it has endless scrolling for tweet updates, and has its navigation on top.
  • There are 16 media providers that are bringing images and videos in the “pane.” Partners: YouTube, Vimeo, Ustream, and all the Twitter picture providers are among the 16.
  • The new website also has the ability to show a threaded conversation, saving endless time hunting. There are keyboard shortcuts as well, meaning that you can tweet and retweet at faster speeds!
  • User profile has now been revamped. This is a complete site redesign.
  • The new site features a more responsive, better architecture.
  • It will be rolled out incrementally. It is launching today for a subset of users today, and will then be rolled out.
  • “This is one of the best web apps you have ever seen.” [cue big round of applause for the development team]
  • For the roll out ”stability is the number one priority,” meaning that it could take a couple of weeks.
  • The “fundamentals” of Lists are not changed, but the Twitter team expects for them to pick up more use under the redesign.
  • Twitter tested the website with weekly sessions of six people playing with the interface.
  • Our Chad and Brad both now have access to the new interface, after the show we will bring you pictures, video, and more!
  • Check out the official explanation and teaser page for the new Twitter here.
  • In regards to the new design: “the new site makes monetization easier.”
  • “These changes will roll out as a preview over the next several weeks. During the preview, you’ll be able to switch back and forth so you have time to grow accustomed to the way things work. Eventually, everyone will have the updated version of”
  • Traffic to grew 100% this year.
  • Question from the peanut gallery: “Is Twitter becoming more like Facebook?” Answer: “The new website looks like Twitter.”
  • Laura Sydell from NPR called the Fail Whale ‘the blue whale,’ which was hilarious.
  • “Site stability is our number one concern.”
  • There are no new team capabilities baked into this release of Twitter.
  • Ron Conway showed up, hey Ron!

That is a wrap folks! Be sure and read our big posts on the event! The New Official Video. The new – Faster, better experience…and similar to the iPad.

Original title and link for this post: Live from the Twitter HQ

Google Mobile gets a new YouTube channel, with incredibly cool functions.

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 01:50 PM PDT

Google has just pushed out a new YouTube channel for it’s mobile products, with a focus on its Search by Voice function. The interesting thing, however, is not so much the videos themselves, but rather what the videos do.

Don’t believe us? Take a look:

While Google might very well be using some of the same methods that we’ve seen before, their implementation is done very well. There are about 15 different videos right now, all profiling different ways that you can use the Search by Voice function, and the Google Mobile Blog is encouraging you to leave comments on how you use it.

It’s certainly worth a look, so drop by the channel and let us know your thoughts.

Original title and link for this post: Google Mobile gets a new YouTube channel, with incredibly cool functions.

Dell shows off unique new 10 inch Windows 7 tablet / notebook

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 01:19 PM PDT

A Dell executive reportedly surprised the audience today at an Intel developer conference by demoing a new 10″ Windows 7 tablet featuring WiMax and a dual core Intel Atom N550 processor.

The demo apparently started out is if the device was a pure tablet, but the Dell exec then showed off the unique form factor that hides a keyboard and allows the screen to actually rotate within a frame.

Called the “Inspiron Duo”, the tablet will be out later this year according to PC Mag comes with Windows 7 Home Premium and a desktop doc to use it in tablet mode, though Dell isn’t releasing more detailed specs on the device at this time.

Here’s a couple of shots of the demo device and a video from Liliputing:

PC Mag, Liliputing

Original title and link for this post: Dell shows off unique new 10 inch Windows 7 tablet / notebook

Ex-Google Employee Dug Through Private Data And Harassed Teens

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 01:14 PM PDT

In a story that is sure to make you think twice before spilling secrets over Gmail ever again, a (now former) Google employee abused his position as a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) to access and abuse information from at least four user accounts.

The accounts were those of teens in his area, both male and female, who were from a Seattle technology group that the offender was previously a part of. Sources close to the story claim that the actions of the former Google employee, David Barksdale, were not sexual in nature.

According to the quote from an initial source: “My gut read on the situation was that there wasn’t any strong sexual predatory behavior, just a lot of violating people’s personal privacy.”

Barksdale accessed chats, emails, Google Voice data, including phone numbers, and other pieces of private information that he often used to taunt and harass his young acquaintances. In one case, when one teenage boy refused to tell him the name of his new girlfriend, Barksdale accessed his information, found her name and phone number, and threatened to call her.

Mr. Barksdale has since been fired. Parents of the children complained to the company about his actions which led to his termination. Both Google and Barksdale are being quiet on the matter, both parties not looking for extra publicity.

How did Barksdale have access to so much information which should have been private? Google SREs are responsible for troubleshooting user problems, meaning that they often have to have the ability to view and interact with accounts at all levels. There is an assumed level of trust that the SREs will not abuse their power, but it is now clear that there are very few controls to stop a rogue SRE.

If nothing more, the Barksdale situation will bring light to the SRE situation; we can only assume Google will take major steps to play down the negative press the company will receive from this story. No more is known at this time, but if you have any information on the matter, you know where to send it.Source: Gawker

Original title and link for this post: Ex-Google Employee Dug Through Private Data And Harassed Teens

Twitter isn’t a social network? Says who?

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 12:47 PM PDT

I was struck by the article, earlier, about how Twitter wasn’t a social network. It wasn’t like we said it ourselves. In fact, it was said by a Twitter VP. Kevin Thau, the VP in question, seemed to be on a re-branding mission as he spoke about how Twitter was a platform for content delivery and sharing.

While I’d have to agree, certainly, that Twitter is those things, I think that Thau was a bit misguided in his assertion that Twitter simply wasn’t a social network. Twitter, like any other site that is driven by user interaction, is exactly what you want it to be.

I wrote about this before, in fact, when Leo Laporte was feeling so let down by Google’s Buzz. The fact of it is simple – the very nature of a social-driven site is that it will become whatever the user decides it will become, within the limits of its abilities.

For some, Twitter is a great place to communicate. For others it’s how they broadcast their message. Still others use it as a hook-up spot for anything from sex to drinks to a dinner date. If you ask me, there’s no more true definition to a social network than what Twitter provides. It is a platform where you can find people and share things with them. How, then, is that not a social network?

From the earliest days of Twitter, it has been a site that people used to reach out and discover new things. You never see a bunch of random people get together on Facebook for a meet-up, but on Twitter it’s become part of the culture. If that isn’t a social network, then my definition is pretty far skewed.

So, I’m sorry Mr. Thau, but you are incorrect, sir. Twitter is now, and always will be, a social network. At least according to my definition. And, if I’m not mistaken by the shock of your claim, I’m not alone in how I think of your service. Don’t worry, we don’t love it any less, we just see it for what it is.

Original title and link for this post: Twitter isn’t a social network? Says who?

Twitter: We Are Not A Social Network

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 12:09 PM PDT

Twitter says the darnedest things. Back when their documents leaked to the public they claimed to wish to become the “pulse of the planet.” Today the company made a new claim that is very interesting: that their product is not a social network.

Not a social network? It’s almost a surprise until you think about it and you realize that Twitter isn’t. This is exactly why Facebook has not killed it, and probably will not be able to at least in the near future.

Then what is this Twitter thing all about? According to Kevin Thau, Twitter’s business development VP, Twitter is a place for information, content, and news. Bingo, Twitter gets it. Frankly, that is why I use Twitter all day ever day, and Facebook just 10% as much.

You can almost think of Twitter from the highest vantage point as news with a layer for sharing and minor discussion.

It is refreshing to hear this sentiment, that Twitter is not a social network, from someone so far up the Twitter tree; we don’t want them chasing Facebook, that would suffocate the Twitter that we know and love. Twitter is different, and the company knows it.

Here is an interesting question to ask yourself, when is the last time you read breaking news on Facebook? The two companies have rather successfully found completely different locations to build their empires. We should be glad that they are not trying to become the other in a bid for faster growth.Image Credit, Source

Original title and link for this post: Twitter: We Are Not A Social Network

DC social media users now regularly scoop local news outlets

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 11:53 AM PDT

Aaron Morrissey was watching football this past Sunday afternoon when he noticed tweets mentioning some kind of shooting in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. Morrissey is the editor-in-chief of DCist and so the reports understandably piqued his interest; he immediately got in contact with a few of his co-bloggers. According to its staff page, DCist boasts over two dozen volunteer bloggers, and the editor told me that many of them live in the Adams Morgan/Columbia Heights/U Street areas, all of which are close to where the shooting occurred. Morrissey eventually spoke to Dave Stroup — a DCist blogger who lives in Adams Morgan — and Stroup agreed to conduct on-the-ground reporting of the incident.

The shooting had taken place during the crowded Adams Morgan Day festival, and it quickly became apparent that some time around 1:20 p.m. a DC police officer had shot and executed a dog. Though details were still scant, Stroup called another DCist editor who then posted the blog’s first report at 1:52 p.m. Throughout the day there would be many updates to the post as new details flowed in. “Whenever we get information that's pertinent to the narrative, we try to update our site with that information,” Morrissey told me in a phone interview. “It's different than traditional journalism, which says collect all the information and shape the narrative that way. But since we have the advantage of being on the internet and having tools like Twitter, a wide network of people, and commenters — we have a large commenter base — they were providing us with eye witness details.”

It was through DCist’s commenters and tip line that it received some major scoops on the shooting. First came a photo of the police officer subduing the dog mere minutes before he shot it. And then Morrissey received an email from a “spokesman” for the dog’s owner, who gave the most up-to-date account of what had happened. “Today, there was an unexpected scuffle between [the executed dog] Parrot and a poodle,” the spokesman wrote. “[The dog's owner] Aaron subdued Parrot, who was wearing both a leash and a harness …. The policeman knocked Aaron off of Parrot. The policeman put his knee in the middle of Parrot’s back while pulling Parrot’s forelegs behind him, as one would do with an armed criminal. Without waiting to determine whether this technique would calm Parrot, the policeman grabbed Parrot, lifted him off the ground, and brought him to the top of the concrete staircase. He threw Parrot over the banister, down twelve steps, and onto the concrete floor. Then, the policeman stood at the top of the stairs, drew his weapon, and executed Parrot. Aaron cannot recall the number of shots fired.”

Though there were several news outlets that quickly wrote about the shooting, DCist undoubtedly led the coverage. Its posts spawned hundreds of comments and tweets, and the site saw a noticeable traffic spike for Sunday, a day which typically sees a low level of web visits.

Bloggers and social media users scooping major news outlets are not a new phenomenon in 2010 — there have been countless examples of it over the years. But for the most part these examples have seemed anecdotal, what curmudgeons dismiss as exceptions to the rule while asserting that traditional newspaper reporters still provide the bulk of breaking news. However, in the DC region, major scoops by social media users have occurred so frequently over the last year that they can now be considered commonplace.

Perhaps this is why a major media company, Allbritton Communications, decided to launch TBD — the most ambitious hyperlocal news project to date — in DC. Less than a month after its debut, reports of a shooter within the Discovery Channel headquarters first emerged on Twitter before TBD took up the torch and became the go-to source for up-to-the-minute news on the incident. In this case, not only was the story broken by social media users (the initial tweets), but the coverage was then dominated by a relatively unknown newcomer, one that was able to aggregate tweets, video feeds, and eye-witness reports for what had quickly become a nationally-followed news event. New York Times media critic David Carr couldn’t help but note the irony that the Washington Post — which had mocked TBD right after its launch — had embedded the start-up’s live video on the Post’s own website.

A week before Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” Tea Party rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a DCist blogger wrote about a blog post published by a local Tea Party member that acted as an unofficial Tea Party guide to the city. As a result of this, the “guide” became a national news story and was ridiculed everywhere from the Huffington Post to the Rachel Maddow Show. And during the winter, when DC was experiencing record levels of snow, it was a YouTube user who uploaded a video of a DC police officer drawing his gun and pointing it at people who had thrown snowballs at him. Largely because of this video, the officer was put on desk duty while the incident was investigated.

Morrissey, the DCist editor, didn’t think I was grasping at straws when I asked whether he thought there was an abundance of local news stories broken by social media users. “You have to take into consideration that Washington DC has a unique base here in terms of local news organizations that have a presence that aren't traditional media outlets,” he said. “We're here, the [Washington City Paper] is here. There are any number of moderate to large blogs out there who routinely do a good job of updating. And I don't know that that exists in a lot of other places. I mean obviously places like New York and Chicago and LA, but I think DC is really unique; there are a lot of people engaged here and involved, perhaps more so than in other places.”

Perhaps more importantly, the news media is getting better at given credit to these social media users when they do break major stories. As TBD wrote after the dust settled from the Discovery hostage situation, “All of those who tweeted first from the scene deserve the real credit for breaking the news before they got lost in the crush of the Internet. Thanks.”

Original title and link for this post: DC social media users now regularly scoop local news outlets

New app Spark offers an UI skin within a UI skin for Android and Symbian

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 11:42 AM PDT

TNW Quick Hit

Spark aims to put all of your news streams – including Twitter and Facebook – into one app that acts kind of like a phone homepage in and of itself on Android and Symbian.

Love it: Though we didn’t test it on Symbian, we applaud Spark for trying to bring a more modern UI to the world’s largest mobile platform.

Hate it: Kind of pointless in Android, where in our test of the beta it didn’t work too well and basically created no extra value over the HTC skin already on the phone.


2/5 for trying

The Details

Spark has its heart in the right place with its attempt to bring a modern smartphone UI to Symbian. That said, building this app for Android seems like the wrong idea, as for one, there are already plenty (too many actually) custom skins for Android, and the sentiment among most is that in the future, skins will be mostly replaced by the based Android UI. Spark certainly is ambitious, adding not only Facebook and Twitter streams and updating, but is also geo-aware, and has streams for news, weather, sports and entertainment.

That said, none of these seemed to work particularly well on our myTouch 3G Slide on Android 2.1 (we didn’t have a Symbian phone to test it on unfortunately), and as we said above it didn’t really do anything better than any of our apps or the Android widgets we already had on the phone (for example, it knew which city we were in for the weather but told couldn’t tell us what the weather in our city was).

Perhaps the app works better on other phones/versions of Android, and to be fair this is only a “beta” and the first try (the app is launching today at DEMO). However, we can offer reviews on what we see, and what we saw wasn’t that impressive. It’s a free app available in the Android Market right now, so please give it a shot and let us know if you agree or not in the comments. Again, we applaud Spark develop HipLogic’s idea, but, in Android at least, the execution needs a bit of work.

Original title and link for this post: New app Spark offers an UI skin within a UI skin for Android and Symbian

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