Erin’s Blog


Obama on “The Tonight Show”!

Maybe it was just me, but I was seriously excited for President Barack Obama to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night. I had missed my usual Thursday night lineup of Kath & Kim, The Office, and 30 Rock but I taped the latter (Kath & Kim wasn’t on…boo!) As soon as I got home I watched my two shows and flipped to Leno just in time to see the President appear. “Hail to the Chief” began playing, the crowd started cheering, and I ran to wake up my sleeping friends…it was a big deal. History was made last night, people!

While YouTube.com may only offer clips of the history-making interview, Hulu.com offers the entire episode.  

MSNBC.com had a great article about the interview and in fact mentioned that maybe Leno would want to bring President Obama back to his interview chair. “The president’s visit scored an 11.2 rating in metered-market households. That’s the highest number since January 2005, when ‘Tonight’ paid tribute to the late Johnny Carson. The last time ‘Tonight’ logged a higher rating was following the ‘Seinfeld’ series finale in May 1998. Thursday’s telecast nearly tripled the show’s season-average 3.9 household rating.”

For a show that often gets big names, and big laughs, that jump in ratings points is HUGE! Considering Jay Leno is leaving The Tonight Show this year, perhaps he’ll have more high-profile guests on the show besides his usual assortment of actors and musicians?

The article continues, saying “While Obama appeared on The Tonight Show as a candidate, none of his predecessors had ever appeared on the show – or any other late-night talk show – while in office. ‘In a way, going on The Tonight Show is Barack Obama’s version of the fireside chat,’ said Michael Beschloss, a noted presidential historian. Obama was seeking to ‘get his serious points across…in a way that, presumably, Americans are going to like.'”

While Obama and Leno shared a few jokes (most notably about not getting the hard fouls in basketball since becoming the leader of the free world or not being allowed to walk the 750 yards to the Costa Mesa by his secret service), most of the interview was serious. They discussion stayed focused on the current economy and the AIG controversy. “Most of the stuff that got us into trouble is perfectly legal,” Obama said. “That’s a sign that we need to change our laws.”

While this may have been the first time an acting President has ever visited late-night television, it is certainly not the first time someone running for the Presidency has visited the set of a late-night show. This Today video shows a little history of candidate’s use of late-night television shows:

Who knew Richard Nixon had a sense of humor?

May I just say that despite one’s political, religious, economic, etc. beliefs, we, as marketing and advertising students or professionals, need to take a minute and realize the impact President Barack Obama has made on both the campaign process and the role of the President. No other presidential candidate in history has spent money on in-game advertising (read an old post of mine entitled Subliminal Advertising, In-Game Advertising, and Product Placement: What’s The Deal?)

Obama and his campaign team used new and non-traditional media like crazy during his campaign and are even now continuing to reach the American people in ways that we may feel most comfortable. Yes, we could watch C-SPAN. Yes, we could watch Obama talk at a podium during press conferences. But wouldn’t you rather watch him on a late-night show you were going to watch anyway that may provide a few smiles here and there? I vote late night.

The time’s they are a-changin’ people, and Obama, despite what you may or may not believe he’s doing for our country, has spurred a dramatic shift in the way the President relates to his or her American people!

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It’s the end of IMC, so thank you, readers!

Readers of funningham.wordpress.com, you’ve been wonderful. I know in the last few days I’ve posted like a crazy person, just about 2 new blogs a day ranging from social networking to new devices to bee colonies falling apart because of cell phone radiation…it’s been a crazy few days!

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Please continue to comment on previous posts you may have missed, or send me links to anything you think I might be interested in. This has been a great learning experience for me because it’s made me go out and seek information on all of these new IMC and technology related things that everyone’s buzzing about that I may have previously ignored. I’ve learned so much about so much and don’t want to stop now

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While posts may slow, since they’re no longer a class requirement, I’d still like to write about new and improving technologies! As I said, please feel free to forward me any information on anything you think I’d enjoy reading or writing about

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We’re in a crazy time right now. Technology is advancing so quickly while the economy is in shambles and companies are attempting to save money by developing digital materials rather than polluting the world with physical ones. Things are obviously changing and I’m glad I’m a part of it. I know one of these days I’ll be able to say “I remember the time before there was Facebook” or “I remember when cell phones couldn’t even receive photos!” to my kids…they’ll think I’m a million years old, but isn’t that how life works?

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I can’t even imagine how technology will advance in my lifetime. I watch movies like Minority Report, I, Robot, or Children of Men (mmm, Clive Owen…) and think that the futuristic and imaginative technologies available in these films are hundreds of years away…but obviously not. Things are speeding up, things are changing, things are getting crazy! I mean, if we are within 10 years of putting TVs in our contact lenses and are on the verge of…I don’t even know how to describe it phones (the Nokia Open concept phone, below), I think we’re really in for something good.

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Thanks again, readers, for all the comments, the support, the suggestions, etc. and keep on keepin’ on!

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We’re just getting used to 3G…now there’s 4G?

There are currently ½ billion people in the world that utilize some sort of mobile device. This is a huge increase over the amount of people who have PCs, meaning that mobility is easier and less expensive than having a PC. Obviously it’s easier to pay $150-$350 for a phone than it is to drop $1000 on a PC.

Right now people with these mobile phones are utilizing a technology called 3G, sometimes referred to as 3G LTE, meaning Third Generation Long Term Evolution. Now that phones are not only used for voice communication, but for data sending and receiving as well, there needs to be significant changes for how they retrieve this data. This is why 4G was proposed.

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4G stands for Fourth Generation Wireless, meaning the newest stage of broadband mobile communication that will replace 3G. Whatis.com explains:

While neither standards bodies nor carriers have concretely defined or agreed upon what exactly 4G will be, it is expected that end-to-end IP and high-quality streaming video will be among 4G’s distinguishing features. Fourth generation networks are likely to use a combination of WiMAX and WiFi. Technologies employed by 4G may include Software-defined radio receivers, Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing, Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access, multiple input and multiple output technologies, [and more]. All of these delivery methods are typified by high rates of data transmission…The high speeds offered by 4G will create new markets and opportunities for both traditional and startup telecommunications companies. 4G networks, when coupled with cellular phones equipped with higher quality digital cameras and even HD capabilities will enable vlogs to go mobile, as has already occurred with text-based moblogs. New models for collaborative citizen journalism are likely to emerge as well in areas with 4G connectivity.

According to a friend of mine who works in telecommunications, Verizon recently released a test network inn northern New Jersey and Minnesota. The networks are designed to have streamlined voice communications as well as high-speed data. They’ve actually clocked the data time to 40 mbps to 60 mbps! To put this into perspective, a computer plugged into an Ethernet cable is designed to have a maximum bandwidth of 100mbps. 4G will have about half that speed! He warns, however, that there will most likely be a decrease in efficiently when the market becomes saturated with more users and more devices, but everything will still be up and running at about 30mbps. As far as he’s heard, the fastest domestic US was clocked on the iPhone at 7mbps on the download and 10mbps on the upload. So, with 4G technologies, there will be a 300 to 400% increase in efficiency!

This is a thing of the past with 4G technology on your wireless.

This is a thing of the past with 4G technology on your wireless.

Whatis.com explained that “a Japanese company, NTT DoCoMo, is testing 4G communication at 100Mbps for mobile users and up to 1Gbps while stationary. They plan on releasing their first commercial network in 2010. Other telecommunications companies, however are moving into the area even faster. In August 2006, Sprint Nextel announced plans to develop and deploy a 4G broadband mobile network nationwide in the U.S. using WiMAX.”

Mobile Enterprise Mag featured an article by George Lawton called 4G: What Does Your Enterprise Need To Know? which explains that most discussion about 4G wireless focuses on the competing standards and speeds of the networks, but there are a lot of benefits for the end user.

Compatibility with Internet Protocol (IP) infrastructure will improve. The push for open networks will transform a core part of what enterprise I.T. does across the wide area. Unified communications and fixed-mobile convergence, will become easier to execute than is currently possible [and] increased interoperability will redefine the service relationship between enterprises and wireless providers.

Mark Adams, Chief Architect of Networks and Communications for Northrop Grunman’s Information Technology Sector suggests that:

Commercial wireless wide area networks (WANs) based on cellular and WiMAX technologies will become more compatible extensions of the enterprise network than they are today. This will make it less costly than it currently is for enterprises to integrate the software on existing corporate applications services with those applications running on mobile devices. Companies will be able to leverage existing IP-based equipment, applications and services to create virtual private networks (VPNs) that seamlessly extend their existing corporate I.T. infrastructure to wireless.

Lawton continues,

In a 3G world, data services operate independently of voice services, requiring multiple radios and protocols…that develop unified communications solutions for customer service call center. The goal is to open up the protocol stack used in networking-which includes protocols, used to connect and direct traffic between the software, hardware, network interface cards and routers. This would allow the server on the corporate side and the software running on the client side to share the same protocols at all these different levels of connectivity. 4G promises to be open.

Although there’s a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo involved with 4G innovations, all I know is that things are going to get crazy fast in our mobile devices. We will all be able to connect to one another seamlessly, as well as to our work programs, breaking the boundaries of business and making both business and pleasure capable of being everywhere simultaneously, and quickly!

At the moment, 4G technologies are sometimes referred to by the acronym “MAGIC,” meaning “Mobile multimedia, Anytime/anywhere, Global mobility support, Integrated wireless, and Customized personal service.” Like I said, it’s a little complicated, but it sounds amazing!


Cell Phones: are they the end of the world, as we know it?

Have you heard anything about this? There’s a recent phenomenon, or at least discussion of, cell phone reception killing bees! Weird, right? It sounded nuts to me but I was hearing it straight from the mouth of my boyfriend’s bee-keepin’ mama, another bee farmer who’s fallen prey to colony collapse disorder. Luckily for her and her family, bee keeping is just a hobby so the fact that all of their imported bees have died or gone missing isn’t the end of their careers, they just have to go buy the honey in the little bear bottle from the grocery store rather than harvest it themselves. But is it really cell phone’s fault that bees are dying?

Make another call and the bees are goners!

Make another call and the bees are goners!

Bob Shoby wrote the article Cell Phone Radiation Kills Bees and says that “studies have found that the radio-frequency radiation, a form of electromagnetic radiation” is not only harmful to people, causing long-term effects like cancer, brain tumors, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and more. However, the radiation has also been linked to killing bees, which poses huge environmental threats. “Honeybees pollinate crops and other plants, which helps vegetables and fruit to grow and it allows the plants to do their job replenishing the oxygen in the air.”

But how does the cell phone radiation affect the bees? Shoby writes “studies have suggested that the electromagnetic radiation affects the internal navigation system of the bee, causing it to not be able to return to the hive. The bees then die off, because they are not able to do their normal activities. This premature dying off of the bees causes the fruits and vegetables to not grow as normal, simply because pollination does not offur. This affects the harvest, which can have a significant impact upon the world’s food stores now and in the future. This effect has been seen all over the world from North America to Asia and this can have significant repercussions for people all over the world. Mobile radiation effects can include loss of food crops and can decrease the food for animals that are used for meat, including cows, chickens, and more. This is not a study that is widely accepted, however, simply because many people believe that the decrease in the bee population can be attributed to other issues…such as weather, disease, parasites, etc. The change in weather patterns due to the ozone layer being depleted are thought to cause the bees to die off, which could explain the affect on crops all over the world and the many empty beehives that are found in all parts of the world.”

Since bees account for 75% of the world seeds’ distribution, this is a serious problem, no matter what the reason. And, if CCD (colony collapse disorder) can be linked to the ozone layer, doesn’t that fall back on us…well at least if Gore was right with his Inconvenient Truth.

Shoby also writes “In the 40s and 50s we didn’t know about the link between cigarettes and lung cancer. Are we about to find out about the dark side effects of cellular radiation our mobile device emits?” Dun, dun, dunnnn!

No more bees? Ay carumba!

No more bees? Ay carumba!

Bees are vanishing and cell phones are everywhere…there definitely could be a link. The Institute of Science in Society delivered a press release in April 2007 saying “one likely culprit of [CCD] is a new class of systemic pesticides, which are not only sprayed on crops, but also used universally to dress seeds in conventional agriculture, and can confuse and disorientate bees at very low concentrations” although “another candidate is a radiation from mobile phone base stations that has become nearly ubiquitous in Europe and North America where the bees are vanishing; this possibility is considerably strengthened by preliminary findings that bees fail to return to the hives if cordless phone base stations are placed in them.” The following experiment may prove that it is all about the wireless phones:

Researchers at Landau University in Germany designed a simple experiment for students on the Environmental Science course. Eight mini-hives, each with approximately 8 000 bees were set up for the experiment. Four of them were equipped with a DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunication)-station at the bottom of the hive, and the other four without the DECT-station served as controls.

At the entrance of each hive, a transparent plastic tube enabled the experimenters to watch the marked bees entering and leaving the hive, so they can be counted and their time of return after release recorded for a period of 45 minutes.

The experimenters also studied building behavior by measuring the area of the honeycomb and its weight.

In the course of the experiment, three colonies exposed to mobile phone radiation and one non-exposed control colony broke down. The total weights of the honeycombs in all colonies, including those at the time of breakdown were compared. The controls weighed 1 326g, while those exposed to the DECT-stations weighed only 1 045g, a difference of 21 percent. The total area of the honeycomb in the controls was 2 500, compared to just 2050 in the exposed hives.

But it was the number of returning bees and their returning times that were vastly different. For two control hives, 16 out of 25 bees returned in 45 minutes. For the two microwave-exposed hives, however, no bees at all returned to one hive, and only six returned to the other.

The article continues, saying:

Clearly the present findings need to be taken much further, but their significance should not be downplayed for a number of reasons. The findings are compatible with evidence accumulating from investigations on many other species including humans, showing that mobile phone radiation is associated with a range of health hazards including cancers. Furthermore, bees are known to be extremely sensitive to magnetic and electromagnetic fields, and there have been many suggestions that they could be used as an indicator species for electromagnetic pollution.

"...I don't know where I live..."

"...I don't know where I live..."

But what about the fact that mobile phones have been around for quite a while? We all remember the Zak Morris phone and that was over 15 years ago! So why now? Why are bee colonies collapsing now?

“There has been a recent change in cell phone technology that coincides with the current [bee] crisis” the ISIS article states. “At the beginning of the present century, 3G (third generation) mobile phone systems became publicly available, leading to a surge in popularity of mobile phones, and many more phone towers.”

They’re right, cell phones have grown exponentially in the past 20 years. It’s almost as if everyone has one now, and that has caused a great deal of growth in the cell phone industry, but perhaps, at the same time, a great deal of damage to the bee colonies.

A friend of mine who works for a telecommunications and Internet security company had some thoughts:

The big thing here is what is causing the [bee] problem. Is it the technology or the spectrum, as in, is it cell phones in general or is it the frequency they run on? Currently the global standard frequency ranges are mostly GSM (Global System for Communication). GSM is what AT&T runs on and other mobile telecommunications companies like Vodafone. They operate on 850 mHZ, 900mHz, and 1900 mHZ frequencies. There are others out there but they are rare. 

Is it these particular frequencies that are causing the problem, then? What if companies change their frequencies, would that cause the bees’ frequency to become clear again? Obviously more experiments need to be done to figure out what is going on with CCD and how we, as a society, can reverse the damage that’s already been caused!


Flickr: What’s flickin’?

flickr_logoYet another example of me being a little bit out of the tech-savvy loop. I stick with Facebook for all of my status updates and my photo uploads…but apparently other people have separate web pages for both options (they stick with Twitter, which I wrote about in a previous post, and now Flickr!)

So, I’m diving into what Flickr is all about and helping you out there who are a lot like me to get clued in to what people are talking about!

Wikipedia has some good information about Flickr like how it was launched in February 2004 and that it’s “an image and video hosting website, web services suite, and online community platform. In addition to being a popular Web site for users to share personal photographs, the service is widely used by bloggers as a photo repository. As of November 2008, it claims to host more than 3 billion images.”

That’s a hell of a lot of pictures. Why are people so interested in posting their photos online these days? Jefferson Graham’s USA Today article Flickr of idea on a gaming project led to photo website explains that “Shutterbugs are less likely to make many prints these days but still want an outlet to show off their work.”

The free, ad-supported site which was bought by Yahoo has a great deal of followers, including Chad Hurley, CEO of YouTuba. He says the site has resonated so quickly with the public “because it brougth innovation to a problem people thought was already solved – how to share photos online.” People these days want to share their personal photos with friends and family across the world. But it’s not just about sharing the photos, it’s about building a community.

Flickr’s snazzy photo-sharing features set it apart from the dozens of other photography sites. Friends can chcek out newly posted pictures via searching and add their own ‘notes’ to photos they like. One distinctive tool lets bloggers simultaneously post photos on their own blogs and at Flickr. It also uses a tool called ‘tagging’ – adding a few words of text to each posted photo – to that a picture can be easily searched online.” It also has a “spare, hip look that displays photos larger and more stylishly than many other [competitors].

Some of the most popular tags of the day

Some of the most popular tags of the day

As of today, March 11, 2009, Getty Images, the world’s leading creator and distributor of visual content and other digital media, announced in a Fox Business article that they are going to launch the Flickr Collection, “a creative imagery collection now available exclusively on gettyimages.com for commercial licensing. With the debut of this first-of-its-kind collection, customers can easily access and license the inspirational and unexpected photographs for which the Flickr community is known.”

“We are thrilled to provide our customers with this ground-breaking collection,” said Jonathan Klein, co-founder and CEO of Getty Images. “We are impressed with the talent from the Flickr community, and are proud to once again lead our industry in this exciting new direction. We are eager to hear what our customers think, and look forward to their input in shaping this ever-expanding collection.”

The photographs used in the Flickr Collection were chosen by Getty Images’ editors based “on their expertise in licensing digital content and insights into customers’ needs.” The collection will feature a variety of “conceptual imagergy, such as everyday scenes and believable subjects, and original and regionally relevant content.” Thousands of new images will be added each month to meet the changing and evolving needs of the Getty Images customers.

Also, something I find completely unique is the collaboration between other Internet sites, such as Google Maps, and Flickr. Check this out:

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It’s like a virtual field trip thanks to all of those people out there sharing photos via Flickr!

So, unlike me and my friends’ use of Facebook for photo sharing, it seems to me that Flickr hosts a more upscale clientele. Yes, I may like looking through my friends’ photos of their crazy weekends or silly themed parties, but Flickr hosts a variety of digital artists who are now, with the newest collaboration with Getty Images, able to display their artwork more prominently over the Internet for corporations, as well as individuals, to use. Unlike simply posting photos to laugh at or tag your friends in, people can gain Flickr fame! Congratulations to those up and coming photographers out there who are able to utilize this Internet tool to their gain. I just want a place to share my silly weekend with my friends, and that isn’t Flickr for me!


Twitter: What the tweet is everyone talking about?!

twitterPerhaps I’m just that far out of the loop, or simply just sucked into the Facebook lifestyle, but I have no idea what everyone is talking about when they say “Twitter” or “Tweet.” What sticks out in my head is the opening to Rockin’ Robin, you know, “tweetle dee dee dee, he rocks in the tree tops all day long…”

Although I was watching The Daily Show the other day (March 2) and Jon Stewart went on and on about how despite the fact he doesn’t know how to use it, it was awful for Congress members to twitter during President Obama’s address to Congress on February 24. This I have to agree with. Even if Congress members aren’t paying attention, don’t let the whole world know. Just like my post about Facebook getting people fired, the Internet really is biting people in the ass these days!

So, besides hearing people in my IMC class talk about Twitter and hearing Jon Stewart say it was bad for Congress members to use during Obama’s speech, I knew nothing about it. Therefore I decided to figure it out! Wikipedia had a great Tweeter page:

“Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service. It enables its users to send and read other users’ updates (known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.”

This seems fine and dandy. It’s fun updating people on what you’re doing, or perhaps even writing silly commentary or your short thoughts on timely subjects. This reminds me of something…hmm…oh yeah, Facebook status updates.

Facebook status...looks a lot like Twitter, doesn't it?

Facebook status...looks a lot like Twitter, doesn't it?

Nowadays there are even Facebook applications so Twitter can pick up on what people write in their Facebook status, hitting two birds with one stone. At this point, all I have to ask is what’s the difference? Why not just have one? Why have both a Twitter, which updates people on what you’re doing, and a Facebook, which has a status update bar, that also updates people on what you’re doing?

One Blogger, Shannon Clark, wrote in his December 2007 post Twitter vs. Facebook Status for social awareness that he did notice a difference between the two. While I may not get it because I don’t have a Tweeter account, he explained:

While my friends are fairly active in keeping their Facebook status messages active and updated, I get a richer and deeper picture of what they are doing via Twitter – and I think they get more from my use of Twitter than from my use of Facebook

In large part of this because Twitter is, as my friends use it, a mix of conversational tool AND ongoing stream of updates. However on Facebook my friend’s status messages are usually interspersed amongst a mix of other news feed items (and yes, I know about the dedicated means of viewing just friend’s status updates) but even there it is a single, short message – not a part of an ongoing conversation. Unlike on Twitter, on Facebook there is not a rich, simple way to view someone’s status messages over time – and do so for all of your friends over time in the same view.

Twitter on the other hand is an ongoing conversation between my friends – some of whom are also talking with each other, many of whom only I (among my friends) follow. I Twitter questions, notes about what I am doing, observations about the world around me and my life – and as happened frequently today I get back comments, suggestions, and feedback from friends across the planet.

I also get to see in real time when friends are all gathered together (they usually end up twittering about the same stuff – this weekend it was a bunch of friends in LA for the Winnies awards for videobloggers). I get to hear about the first snowfall of the season in NY, about storms in Portland, about news in nearly realtime as it is reported (tonight it was the announcement and blog posts about LiveJournal being sold by Six Apart).

Tonight as well I reconnected with a friend back in Chicago via twitter – I had followed his posts earlier today about the weather and working in Chicago, tonight he commented on my tweets about spending the weekend alone, and our friendship was in a very real way strengthened.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy and use Facebook for many things – but twitter, for all of the apparent simplicity of the tool…is by far the most impactful tool I have adopted this year in sheer terms of adding value and richness to my life nearly every single day.

Well, geeze, who can argue his point? I see what he’s trying to say, simply by the way he described it, although I don’t know a single person with a Tweeter account…or at least they’ve yet to advertise it to me!

How many people are on Tweeter, then? The Wikipedia article helps again:

In November 2008, Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research estimated that Twitter had 4 to 5 million users. A February 2009 Compete.com blog entry ranks Twitter as the third largest social network (MySpace would be second and Facebook would be the largest in the world), and puts the number of users at roughly 6 million and the number of month visitors at 55 million.

Speaking of Twitter usage, people keep talking about famous people Twittering and their Tweets being from a fake person…Luckily an Associated Press article explains what famous, and often infamous, stars are Tweeting:

There are star athletes (Shaquille O’Neal, Lance Armstrong), politicians (Sen. John McCain, President Obama before taking office) and stars ranging from the A-list to eh D-list.

Some, like Britney Spears, usually post messages written by their supporting staff, simply announcing various events. Others, like Jimmy Fallon, are clearly promoting a new venture – in Fallon’s case, his new late-night show on NBC…

John Hodgman, a Daily Show correspondent and popular microblogger, said in an interview via twitter: ‘What I really love is a) the harsh discipline of 140 char. b) the playfulness. It’s a parlor game w/1 rule, inf. variations.’

One of the most popular microbloggers is MC Hammer, the ’90s rap star who has remade himself in the last decade as an Internet entrepreneur and co-founder of the video site DanceJam.com. He has more than 157,000 ‘followers’ – users who receive his Twitter feed.

‘It creates a new form of communication where we can actually see each other as people, humanizing the celebrity,’ said Hammer…’To me, it’s a great human interaction that happens. Most of the time you hear something from a celeb when there’s a new project coming – ‘My new movie is coming,’ ‘My new album is coming.’ You only see them in those sound bites. But with the Twitter platform, you’re not only able to see what his or her life is like on a day-to-day basis…but hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute.’

With [Lance] Armstrong, one gets a sense of -among other things-his daily workout routine while he pursues his cycling comeback: ‘Heading out for a ride. Got 5 hours today. Just rollin’ around.’

…Ashton Kutcher and his wife, Demi Moore, (who posts under the name ‘mrskutcher’) are the most famous Twitter couple, and their tweets often reflect against each other. One from Kutcher: ‘this just in demi doesn’t pee or poop or fart…ever.’

Julio Ojeda-Zapata, author of Twitter Means Business explains Twitter as a ‘virtual water cooler’ where the amous must mingle just like everyone else.

This sounds like a lot of fun, actually. I’d love to have up to date information about what my favorite stars are doing. Looking at the “Stars are like you!” pages in gossip magazines doesn’t cut it. Yes, they take out their trash, yes they pick up their dry-cleaning, but come on…I guess I’m just another one of those gossip/star-loving girls!

One major impediment, though” the article continues, “is the number of fake accounts updated by impersonators. More than 72,000 are following a fake Stephen Colbert. There are dozens of plainly fictional accounts pretending to be characters like Darth Vader and Borat. A spokeswoman for Tina Fey confirmed that the 89,000 people following Fey on Twitter are being duped.

Biz Stone, a co-founder of Twitter, said…’Fake accounts can be inconvenient and impersonation is against our terms of service. Providing account verification might be a good opportunity to enhance the Twitter experience for everyone – that’s something for us to think about.’

 In fact, many celebrities, the article sites Britney Spears, come to Twitter simply to take ownership of their name rather than let an impersonation form or continue to go on.

Although I don’t feel the need to get a Twitter since I don’t personally know anyone with one…I can see the upside of it. It seems fun, chatty, humorous, quaint. One of these days, maybe, but as for now, I’m stickin’ with my beloved Facebook!


Kindle and Kindle 2 explained for the tech un-savvy

I have to talk about it: Kindle! I’d never even heard of Amazon’s little device until just recently when it’s become the talk of the town, but apparently they’ve been out for a few years already! And now, very recently, Amazon’s released the Kindle 2! (Sidebar: is it just me or is it so frustrating when people buy a product [iPod, iPhone, Kindle] and then a few months later they make a better, cheaper version??)

So, if you’re as un-tech savvy as I seem to be, read up!

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Kindle 2 was released February 23rd and is on sale at Amazon.com for $359, but you can buy the original Kindle for as low as $250…seems great, right? Well, what does the Kindle, but more specifically the Kindle 2, do? Amazon has the features listed

Slim: Just over 1/3 of an inch, as thin as most magazines

Lightweight: At 10.2 ounces, lighter than a typical paperback

Wireless: 3G wireless lets you download books right from your Kindle, anytime, anywhere; no monthly fees, service plans, or hunting for Wi-Fi hotspots

Books in Under 60 Seconds: Get books delivered in less than 60 seconds; no PC required

Improved Display: Reads like real paper; now boasts 16 shades of gray for clear text and even crisper images

Longer Battery Life: 25% longer battery life; read for days without recharging

More Storage: Take your library with you; holds over 1,500 books

Faster Page Turns: 20% faster page turns

Read-to-Me: With the new text-to-speech feature, Kindle can read every newspaper, magazine, blog, and book out loud to you, unless the book is disabled by the rights holder

Large Selection: Over 240,000 books plus U.S. and international newspapers, magazines, and blogs available

Low Book Prices: New York Times Best Sellers and New Releases $9.99, unless marked otherwise

Ooh, la la. It seems great, right, 1,500 books at your fingertips without lugging them all around? But what about home libraries? Are we supposed to use the Kindle as the one household book that everyone has to share? It seems to me that it’s a great new invention that doesn’t have too much practicality. I don’t see it working in the real world, at least not for people like me. I read casually, often starting a book and taking a long time to finish, reading a few pages here and there before bed. Don’t hate on my slow and steady reading style, I’m in school and am ridiculously social so I don’t often find myself cuddled up with a book! Last summer while interning at PBS I took the train to and from work everyday…that jump started reading for the year. I probably stared at a few pages of Love in the Time of Cholera during the last spring semester but wasn’t able to really kick it’s butt until I rode the train in (by the way, amazing book…well worth the long and sometimes tedious storyline!) Then I read both My Horizontal Life and Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler. Then it was My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas. That was my summer and the Kindle makes total sense for that! But now…now I’ve started reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand as well as Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis. I’m positive that I will be skimming through these books during the upcoming spring break and my summer vacation. What will I be wearing? Probably a bathing suit at points. Will I want to rest a super thin and hi-tech Kindle on my soaking wet, bathing-suited body? Absolutely not!

The Amazon Kindle Team writes:

We designed Kindle to provide an exceptional reading experience. Thanks to electronic paper, a revolutionary new display technology, reading Kindle’s screen is as sharp and natural as reading ink on paper-and nothing like the strain and glare of a computer screen. Kindle is also easy on the fingertips. It never becomes hot and is designed for ambidextrous use so both ‘lefties’ and ‘righties’ can read comfortably at any angle for long periods of time.

I guess I didn’t realize books got hot and were only made for right handed people…maybe we should go to Ned Flanders’ Leftorium and pick up a Kindle for all of our left-handed friends…

I bet they'll have the Kindle...

I bet they'll have the Kindle...

We wanted Kindle to be completely mobile and simple to use for everyone, so we made it wireless…using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, we deliver your content using our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet. Unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills-we take care of the hassles so you can just read.

I have to give it to them, this is a great feature. I’ve had enough trouble with “extended networks” and 3G yadda yadda yadda with my cell phones so this certainly is an appealing offering!

Finished your book in the airport? Download the sequel while you board the plane…And because we know you can’t judge a book by its cover, Kindle lets you download and read the beginning of books for free. This way, you can try it out-if you like it, simply buy and download with 1-Click, right from your Kindle, and continue reading. Want to try a newspaper as well? All newspaper subscriptions start with a risk-free two-week trial.

Kindle’s paperback size and expandable memory let you travel light with your library. With the freedom to download what you want, when you want, we hope you’ll never again find yourself stuck without a great read.

They seem so excited about it, but I can’t imagine it becoming part of people’s everyday lives. My dad, for instance, travels so much and loves books so much that he’s constantly at the local library, picking up or returning 2-3 books a week. He loves reading, but he also loves books. He’s a 60-year-old man and I honestly can’t picture him with a revolutionary book-like computer rather than an actual book. Maybe if the Kindle had a cellophane-like cover over it to remind people of the public library, or if it had that musty library smell, then I can see my dad with one, but otherwise…it seems impossible.

Peter Burrows wrote the review Here Comes Kindle 2.0 for BusinessWeek this past August when 2.0 was first becoming a reality. “There are…intruiging opportunities that could make Kindle truly huge,” he wrote.

One is education. My niece…just went back to college, and was hit with a bill for $700 for big bulky textbooks. I haven’t spoken yet with my colleauges at McGraw-Hill Education, but the Kindle would certainly be an efficient means for her and other students to get their text-books, and for teachers to easily distribute real-time information such as newspaper articles and new research papers.

This, I partially agree with. Textbooks are expensive and bulky, but what college students are required to take their books to class? In my experience it’s simple lecture or small, paper-back books in class and students do reading on their own out of their big textbooks outside of class. No problem. As far as classes and teachers becoming tech-savvy with their textbooks, I have a little problem. Just a few years ago I had a math class where we were required to purchase a digital copy of the book and were not given the option to get a hardcopy. So, when working on problems and attempting to check answers, I had to scroll down about 450 pages to the Index! Talk about a pain in my butt! Hopefully with Kindle you’re able to simply type in a page number and flip right to it; THAT would be helpful, but there is just something so much better about flipping back and forth with a physical book…or is that just me?

So, the Kindle. It seems amazing, it’s fast, it does a ton, but honestly, I don’t believe it will ever, ever replace books.


Is it time to say goodbye to social networking sites?

To how many social networking sites do you belong? 2? 5? I had a Xanga when I was in high school, a lot of my friends did. Once I realized how weird it was to have a diary up for public display I erased the site and founded a Myspace page. I have a few pictures; lots of friends, mostly just waste time with surveys and receive updates from some of my favorite, or at least some local, bands. Easy peasy. Then, about four years ago, this miraculous thing called Facebook came out and everyone hopped on board with that. I admit it: I. Love. Facebook. It’s what I do when I’m bored, when I need a break from staring at a Word document all day, what I do when I just can’t read and highlight anymore for class. I have all my pictures on there, comment on my friend’s status, etc. I’m an active and happy Facebook user! But what about all those other sites out there that I don’t know how to use that others have flocked to? Twitter? Flickr? Because of this class I’ve created a WordPress page, but there are tons of blogging sites. How many of those do you belong to!? There couldn’t possibly be a day when social networking of this kind won’t exist…right?

Network Usage in 2007

Network Usage in 2007

Some people beg to differ. “Social networks face a tough time in 2009,” says Robert Andrews in his guardian.co.uk  blog Social networks face challenging 2009; must monetize or die  “When the twin realities of disappointing ad sales and the worsening economy will dawn on the [social networking] sector.” He goes on to say that Paul Lee, a Deloitte analyst has already found that social networks quickly build a fan base but fail to profit from the tens of millions of users. “Average revenue per user for some of the largest new media sites are measured in just pennies per month, not pounds. This compares with a typical average revenue per user or tens of dollars for a cable subscriber, a regular newspaper reader, or a movie fan. Social networks may need at least 100 users to generate the equivalent revenues of every traditional media customer they compete with.”

Lee explains that although the monetization angle, which has been encouraged throughout 2008, will eventually be figured out in time. But, as for right now, with 2009’s much harsher financial outlook “combined with an expected contraction in online advertising,” networks will need to focus on making money from their existing members than attempting to add new users to their network.

But what is making these sites less popular, less able to generate revenue?

Social network traffic is down. Considerably down. There are privacy issues (ahem, Facebook), some sites charge their members, companies are buying out other companies and ending the good thing they all had going. Is this the swan song of social networking sites, just a few years after they began? Tony Effik, a London-based communications strategist says no, social networking is here to stay. His March 2008 post entitled The Transition In Social Networking Sites reassures us network users. “Social networking was here before social networking sites, in forms such as email and news groups. These new sites just made it easier.”

Some say it’s out, some say it’s in, are there any suggestions or ideas for the future?

Effik explains “What’s likely to happen going forward is that community elements get embedded into some of our everyday applications such as email, calendar, and address functionality, search engines, and portals. I expect social networking to become a feature of other services, rather than a destination as it is now.”

“Additionally,” he continues, “with data portability, you will not be locked to just one provider going forward…You’ll be able to connect to friends wherever they are, and whatever networks they are on. And if you choose to leave a network your data will come with you.”

Free social networking site Plaxo has already made moves to become this way. “It’s like a personal news page that automatically brings you what your family, friends, and business connections are choosing to share from all over the web” by incorporating content, as well as data, from Flickr, Bebo, Twitter, Blogger, Amazon, YouTube, and many more “once you tell it who you want to connect with.”

Sounds like Facebook stalking to the extreme to me…but hey, isn’t that why we post things online, anyway? To have all of our friend and family, if given permission, to see what we’re up to? If I hear a backlash of “Oh no, that’s like ‘big brother,’ I don’t want my information all over the Internet,” I’m going to scream. It’s like when I watch Law & Order: SVU (the best of all the Law & Orders, thank you very much) and they ask for DNA samples just to rule out potential suspects. How many times have we seen someone say “No, that’s the ultimate invasion of privacy, I won’t be a part of it.” Well, buddy, if you don’t want to give up a little bit of your right to privacy, which the government most likely already knows all about without your knowledge, you’ll be a suspect and maybe even charged. Which is worse, huh? Just like the Internet, your information’s out there whether you like it or not. Do your best to keep things as private as possible, but just know that it’s already out there and there’s nothing you can do!

But I digress.

I did find a nifty chart showing the decline in numbers for U.S. social networking sites on a blog about finance and technology. It’s a little outdated with the newest numbers from 2007, but it still gets its point across:

Average Minutes per Visitor Dec-06 Jan-07 Feb-07     Oct-07 Nov-07 Dec-07
Total Internet : Total Audience  1,764.90 1,746.90 1,721.90     1,817.70 1,732.70 1,684.90
MYSPACE.COM 234.6 227.5 184.8     192.9 196 179.3
BEBO.COM 213.3 417 302.7     231.8 246.8 173.9
FACEBOOK.COM 150.4 170.2 199.9     195.6 189.7 169.4
HI5.COM 22.7 34 28.1     53.6 62.5 56.6
FRIENDSTER.COM 39.5 38.6 31.5     109.2 69.8 39.2
Windows Live Spaces 17.3 14.6 17.2     14 13.2 14.9
LINKEDIN.COM 8 6.7 5     8.7 9.9 7.1
                 
                 
Unique Visitors (000) Dec-06 Jan-07 Feb-07     Oct-07 Nov-07 Dec-07
Total Internet : Total Audience  174,199 175,559 175,653     182,206 182,362 183,619
MYSPACE.COM 60,887 61,524 64,443     71,982 68,746 68,905
FACEBOOK.COM 19,105 18,961 16,737     32,910 33,660 34,658
Windows Live Spaces 9,589 9,057 8,320     9,854 9,884 8,912
BEBO.COM 2,977 3,602 2,641     4,442 3,674 4,279
LINKEDIN.COM 872 1,122 1,211     2,782 2,784 2,868
HI5.COM 3,029 2,299 2,640     2,454 2,165 2,483
FRIENDSTER.COM 1,103 1,288 1,379     1,668 1,687 1,791

Eesh! Less people are participating in social networking while at the same time those that continue to participate are spending less time on the sites! So, in 2007 after looking through these numbers, it was decided that there would be a continuing slowing or declining growth within these sites making it harder to generate sales and profits. This would have lead to more pressure on advertising to deliver the same results. But, as we’ve seen in 2009, there’s less advertising on these sites leading to further declining numbers and profits. Oy vey.

I have to say, I don’t think social networking is dead at all, but it certainly is in the ICU.


Facebook: Making A Mess Of Your Career

We all have a Facebook page. Well, I’m assuming we all have one. I have one; both of my siblings have one. All of my friends have one. Even my 50+-year-old mother has one! They’re a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, make professional contacts, and share personal photos and ideologies. What’s the big idea?

If you start abusing the share-power of your Facebook, problems arise. Ali Hale’s article Make Sure Your Facebook Profile Doesn’t Lose You A Job is just one of many pages on the Internet warning young professionals and recent college graduates of the dangers Facebook may have.

Employers are increasingly using Facebook (and other social networking sites) to check up on potential and current employees. People have been disciplined at work, have missed out on job positions, or have even been dismissed due to comments they’ve left on Facebook and similar sites.

What are we to do? Hale explains:

Step 1: Check Your Privacy Settings

What are your Networks? Hale’s was both her university, Cambridge, with 44,000, and London, with 3 MILLION people. Obviously there are a lot of people she may not want viewing her profile. Tighten those networks up, change your privacy settings. Don’t allow everyone in your networks to see everything. There are a lot of potential bosses and contacts in those networks that don’t need to see what you were doing last weekend. Make it so only friends can see your updates, etc.

Step 2: Cleaning Up Your Profile

Things that seem perfectly innocent or funny to you may be the exact reason an employer passes you up for a job.

The top ten turn-offs for employers on social networking websites are:

 1.      References to drug abuse

2.      Extremist/intolerant views, including racism, sexism

3.      Criminal activity

4.      Evidence of excessive alcohol consumption

5.      Inappropriate pictures, including nudity

6.      Foul language

7.      Links to unsuitable websites

8.      Lewd jokes

9.      Silly email addresses

10.  Membership of pointless/silly groups

Why bother going through your old photos/updates and changing things? Well, as Hale mentions, there are consequences. Kevin Colvin, an intern at Anglo Irish Bank, was fired after he “told his employers he had a family emergency, but [his] Facebook page revealed he had, in reality, been cavorting in drag at a Halloween party.” Or Kyle Doyle, a 21-year-old resolutions expert for telecommunications firm AAPT; he bragged about his day off on Facebook site after telling his boss he was away for “medical reasons.” “Kyle Doyle is not going to work, f*** it I’m still trashed. SICKIE WOO!” was listed under his status update for the day, which his boss saw, and he was fired!

Even if you’re not lying or cheating your way out of work, people can get into serious work trouble for simpler things. One British news post explained that Kimberley Swann, a 16-year-old working at a marketing and logistics firm, wrote on her wall that her job was “boring.” After allowing colleagues access to her site, it was passed on to her boss and she was fired for the remark. Seriously, watch what you say on these sites, employers take it seriously.

I wonder what they found on HIS Facebook page...

I wonder what they found on HIS Facebook page...

But are companies allowed to snoop through online material for things that wouldn’t normally come up in a job interview? According to MSNBC.com writer Wei Du’s article Job candidates get tripped up by Facebook, the Ponemon Institute, a privacy think tank, conducted a survey in which “35% of hiring managers use Google to do online background checks on job candidates and 23% look people up on social networking sites. About one-third of those Web searches lead to rejections.”

Sue Murphy, a director of National Human Resources Association explains, “big corporations long have retained professional investigators to check job applicants’ academic degrees, criminal records and credit reports. But until now the cost has deterred the ability of smaller firms to do the same level of checking.”

So remember, although it may be hilarious to you and your friends to put up a picture of you giving a lap dance or doing an impromptu striptease or keg stand at a party, employers will frown on it. A good rule of thumb: take off anything that may dirty up your reputation. Always be “the good little boy/girl” that your mom describes you as and make her, and employers, proud!