We’re Now Watching The “You” News Network

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Back in November, Reuters published an article titled “Twitter co-founder hopes to create news network” where Biz Stone mulled over the idea that Twitter could create a social news firehose based on verticals. While the erroneous headline ended up being debunked by Twitter, some hypothesized that this could work if news organizations were given access to all tweets on a given topic as well as the power to curate the stream.

Back then my colleague MG Siegler said there was clearly something to this idea. MG is right (sigh) namely because it is already happening. Humans are functioning as defacto news aggregators using the publication tools already available. This, while not a novel idea, really hit home in the past two weeks with the two subsequent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. What I and you probably noticed was that interested people we followed took it upon themselves to become individual nodes of information, using the tools they had to serve as their own news networks.

benwedeman@bencnn
benwedeman

In subway yesterday young man takes marker and crosses out "Hosni Mubarak Station" on map. Everyone applauded. #Jan25 #Egypt

about 18 hours ago via webRetweetReply

As we struggled to make sense of local conditions, volunteer news conduits who made an effort of curating information gained attention as go-to sources for #Egypt news. Coverage like CNN’s Ben Wedeman’s became more important than that of any mainstream publication’s with the possible exception of vanguard Al Jazeera. In essence these people went beyond citizen journalism and became their own publications.

The Egyptian news nodes/amplifiers included but are not limited to @arabist, @nolanjazeera, @evanchill, @sandmonkey ,@ianinegypt, @ioerror@acarvin@ethanz @Brian_Whit@danny_at_cpj@SultanAlQassemi, @monaeltahawy, and @litfreak. On site in Egypt, Director of Google Ideas @JaredCohen actually dictated his tweets over the phone this week, reverting back to a decades-old means of communication in order to push through information to a more modern one.

Silicon Valley angel investor Shervin Pishevar took it upon himself to tweet out so much information related to #Egypt that he actually started an off-Twitter movement (OPENMESH) focusing on creating an easily applicable system of open mesh routers in order to prevent a similar internet blackout from happening again. The case of Pishevar becoming his own publishing platform was so acute that YouTube Product Mangager Hunter Walker labelled him the Shervin News Network. Pishevar ended up tweeting so much he went over the rate limit set  by Twitter.

Jared Cohen@JaredCohen
Jared Cohen

Calling in my tweets via landline which is only current means of communication #Jan25 #Egypt

January 28, 2011 10:57 am via webRetweetReply

The ‘”You” News Network’ isn’t just found on Twitter. On YouTube user “Wael Abbas” is calling himself the “The first Egyptian digital video channel,” posting on the ground coverage including cars being set fire to in the streets. User “Justimage” posted Egyptian protest videos from Tahrir Square just 11 hours ago, an impressive feat given the general communication breakdown. Facebook Pages are serving as the locus of anti-Mubarek protest news. Independent niche bloggers like Arabist were the first to report the total Internet black out. After its Cairo office was shut down over the weekend Al Jazeera urged Egyptians to “send blog posts, eyewitness accounts and videos to expand coverage of the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak” to supplement coverage.

There are plenty of non-revolution type examples as well, whether it was Blake Housnell dissecting individual WikiLeaks over Twitter or Christine Lu debunking the WSJ’s Tiger Mom story on Quora or the people who liveblog #American Idol or the #SAGawards or WikiLeaks itself.

Hunter Walk added in an email “It’s clear we’ve reached the tipping point where news self-assembles via emergent hubs such as Shervin. Platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are both the medium and the message — they are broadcasting platforms but they also shape the news itself: short-bursts of info in realtime, video broadcast direct from the streets available to the entire world.”

Over at GigaOm, Mathew Ingram argued that the movement of serving as your own channel for news was independent of one brand “In the end, the real weapon is the power of networked communication itself. In previous revolutions it was the fax, or the pamphlet, or the cellphone — now it is SMS and Twitter and Facebook. Obviously none of these things cause revolutions, but to ignore or downplay their growing importance is also a mistake.”

Indeed, much like the routers of Pishevar’s OPENMESH, we all now serve in one way or another as routers for information. In a world where 88% of the press is still not entirely free, the ability to self-publish and distribute is a enormous and beautiful thing. Just wait until Egypt gets back online.

Here’s an interview with Pishevar, below.


Image: Time



January 31st 2011 Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

In and out

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That’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make today.

How much time and effort should be spent on intake, on inbound messages, on absorbing data…

and how much time and effort should be invested in output, in creating something new.

There used to be a significant limit on available intake. Once you read all the books in the college library on your topic, it was time to start writing.

Now that the availability of opinions, expertise and email is infinite, I think the last part of that sentence is the most important:

Time to start writing.

Or whatever it is you’re not doing, merely planning on doing.

January 31st 2011 Uncategorized

Report: Facebook Ad Performance Is Abysmal

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Facebook’s advertising business is soaring. Yet the performance of the average Facebook ad is abysmal.



January 31st 2011 Uncategorized

Video: Making sure your content is found

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So as you might now, I was in Sofia in October 2010 for WordCamp Bulgaria, last week the presentation I gave there was put on WordPress.tv, so now all of you can enjoy it. It covers SEO and how being remarkable is important for proper SEO. The presentation is titled: Making sure your content is found! Check it out:

Click here to view the embedded video.

And you might want to have the slides as well:

Video: Making sure your content is found is a post from Joost de Valk's Yoast – Tweaking Websites.

A good WordPress blog needs good hosting, you don’t want your blog to be slow, or, even worse, down, do you? Check out my thoughts on WordPress hosting!

January 31st 2011 SEO, video

Live Facebook Press conference: Check-in Deals launches in Europe

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Facebook is today launching ‘Places Deals’ in the UK and Europe. Facebook users will be able to get discounts and special deals in shops, cafes and restaurants by checking in on Facebook Places on their smartphone.

We’re live broadcasting the press conference above.

The Telegraph broke an early story on this this morning.

‘Places Deals’ launched in the US last November with Macys, Gap and Starbucks.

European partners will be: Starbucks, Yo Sushi, Mazda (Mazda 20% off an MX5), O2, Argos, Debenhams, Alton Towers and Benetton.

Live now in Germany, France, Italy, Spain.



January 31st 2011 Uncategorized

Brands Increasing Mobile Advertising in 2011

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Nearly every brand is planning on spending more on mobile advertising this year. However, most brands are still not sure that mobile advertising is all that great.



January 31st 2011 Uncategorized

DMA: We Will Enforce Industry’s Web Privacy Guidelines

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The online advertising industry has launched its self-regulatory online privacy program. But if the industry is to fulfill its ultimate goal—keeping regulators and legislators off its back—it needs broad compliance. Enter the Direct Marketing Association, which will act as the online ad industry’s cop on the block for the program.



January 31st 2011 Uncategorized

Rumors: Facebook Using Face.com’s Facial Recognition, Acquisition Offer Rebuffed

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Guy Grimland of Israeli business newspaper TheMarker published two articles (both are in Hebrew) this morning about a rumored relationship between Facebook and Face.com.

The first article claims that Face.com rebuffed an acquisition offer worth ‘tens of millions of dollars’. The second article claims that Face.com is powering Facebook Photos’ facial recognition functionality, which was clearly upgraded in the past few months, albeit, with no indication there was a third party involved.

While the acquisition claim has been swirling around in the local startup community for a couple of months, no numbers have been mentioned. Worthy to note the fact that the company recently raised a $4.3M round of financing, led by Yandex. If the acquisition offer claim is true, both Face.com and its investors clearly believe the future holds a bigger liquidation event than an aqui-hire scenario.

The second rumor, about Face.com powering Facebook’s facial recognition functionality, is more interesting in my opinion and makes more sense for a couple of reasons.

For one, Face.com’s facial recognition algorithms are really quite effective. We wrote about their remarkable quality when the company first launched nearly two years ago. Secondly, from a technology standpoint Face.com’s ability to provide facial recognition economically on a massive scale, has been touted as one of the company’s major IP attributes.

In the case of Facebook, being able to provide such functionality in an economic manner from a computing resource perspective must be seen as a major upside, if not a vital one.

I reached out to Gil Hirsch, Face.com CEO, who declined to comment on both claims.



January 31st 2011 Facebook

Quora Backlash Slams Head First Into Quora Backlash Backlash

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You know how I know Quora is going to be big? No one can shut up about it.

That includes both people who love it and people who hate it. And that dichotomy is important, because it will keep people talking about it. And that will keep people signing up. And it will keep those that already signed up going back. And that’s important because Quora is a service that takes a bit longer than others to get into.

Anyway, the past couple of weekends have brought some truly great bitchmemes about Quora. Last weekend, it was Vivek Wadhwa who kicked things off on this very blog with his post, Why I Don’t Buy The Quora Hype. That post led to a firestorm of reactions (both positive and negative) in both the comments section and on Twitter. In fact, at one point after the post went up last weekend, I swear my entire tweet feed was devoted to it.

And, of course, there was a huge thread on Quora about it.

And then came the blog posts in reaction to it. Thoughts on personal blogs also quickly jumped over to TechCrunch. God I love bitchmemes.

But this weekend kicked things up another notch. And naturally, it was Robert Scoble who was the catalyst. Scoble wrote a post today entitled, Why I was wrong about Quora as a blogging service … If you haven’t read it yet, you should, if only to get context for Dan Kaplan’s hilarious rebuttal.

Whereas Wadhwa brought up a number of good points in his post, Scoble just seems to be venting by arguing against his own initial argument. If you don’t want to read it, basically, it boils down to: it’s annoying that a moderator buried the answer I took a lot of time crafting.

On one hand, that’s humorous. On the other, it’s also really the heart of the problem here.

Quora is not a blogging platform. Initially, I agreed with some of Scoble’s original thoughts on the matter. But I apparently misinterpreted them to mean that he felt Quora was a part of the next progression of the overall blogging ecosystem. I still think it is. Quora is a great source of information like Twitter and Facebook and blogs themselves. But apparently, Scoble was actually just thinking that Quora was the actual future of blogging. As in, you would and should do it there.

That’s just silly.

To me, Quora is first and foremost about information. It’s about getting it out of peoples’ heads and into a centralized repository that, when mixed with certain social signals, becomes a blooming flower of knowledge. While I do think there is room for opinions on the service (and in many cases, that’s what is specifically being asked for), it’s not for users to go on and on in a highly personal and oddly promotional manner. Which is exactly what Scoble did in his down-voted posting in question (as Kaplan rightly calls out).

Doing that is fine — on your own blog. In fact, it’s perfect for that. But if you put that type of stuff on Quora and expect it to be treated as the most authoritative answer simply because a certain percentage of your 8,000 followers will vote it up, you’re missing the point of Quora. It’s more about the information and less about the person providing the information. That’s simply one of the signals (albeit the most important initial one) to know if the information is any good or not.

Should Scoble’s answer have been hidden? Probably not. And it actually doesn’t look like it is anymore. But because he has so many followers voting up his answer, it does overshadows the others in the thread, which are also good and much more to the point. Perhaps hiding Scoble’s was the way the moderator(s) thought would best ensure that other answers could be seen. Who knows. And really, who cares? Well, besides Scoble, of course.

Again, Quora is not a blogging platform. And it never was. To get angry when you disprove your own misinterpretation is just weird.

The real key here is that everyone can’t stop talking about Quora — no matter the reason. And at a very fundamental level, that means something. Something important. Something that other services that have caught on have shared.

On a much less fundmental level, it means a shitload of press. And press about Quora press. And now even press about press about Quora press. Despite what you’ll read in the comments below (if you dare go down there), it’s the kind of press you can’t buy. It’s the kind that comes about naturally because people are interested in your site. Both people who want to write about it, and people who want to read about it. That is, when they’re not busy using it.

[image: Walt Disney Pictures]



January 31st 2011 Uncategorized

Vale Wayne McCarthy – the archetypal Mad Man

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WAYNE-McCARTHY-web.jpgOne of Australia’s best known and loved admen, Wayne McCarthy, the co-founder of McCarthy, Watson and Spencer has died in Sydney, aged 70.

McCarthy, who started the agency with no clients in 1979, saw it rise to become one of Australia’s largest independent shops before merging with Omon in the late 90s and then selling to Clemenger BBDO. 
 
In an e-mail to friends, his family said: ‘Wayne had Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) and it was progressing steadily. Yesterday Wayne took his own life, in his own way, at a time and place of his choosing.”
An ex-copywriter, McCarthy was a suit unafraid to do a stick figure
layout, take a photograph or write the odd headline when no-one was
looking. For all that, the creative department found him charming and
impossible to rebuff.
 
Doug Watson, Patsy Peacock and Hugh Spencer, partners in McWasp
remembered him as the archetypal Mad Man. “Always energetic, never
afraid, always optimistic and capable of producing charts that made even
the scariest idea seem logical. He was also the loveliest bloke.”
 
His exit was precisely planned, a brave act that considered the feelings of all those closest to him.
 
He will be missed.


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January 31st 2011 Uncategorized