Tag Archives: New York Times

New York Times Chatroulette StumbleUpon!

29 Mar

Check out this cool application created by a journalist who works for The Guardian in the UK. It’s a Chatroulette, StumbleUpon-style application for New York Times articles. Press on the button and it will take you to a random Times article posted in the last 24 hours. RSS reader be gone! (OK, not really).


10 Things I Like About The Internet: March 28th, 2010 Edition

28 Mar

I’m going to try something new this week. People love reading lists online, and with the overwhelming amount of news relevant for online communities, technology and business, I decided to aggregate what struck me as Useful, Cool and Funny (to borrow Yelp’s categories) from these areas this week into a single blog post. While categories may change from week-to-week, I intend to write about topics and issues that I believe will have staying power both for upcoming class discussions as well as in the broader Internet world. (“Staying power” is a relative phrase in this space). Clearly, it’s impossible to touch on everything, and that is not my goal here. Since the list will make the post long, I’ll keep each topic short.

1. This Week’s Viral Video: Merton, the Chatroulette Viral Improv Piano Player

Chatroulette is dominating the news: from Andrey Ternovskiy’s interview in the New York Times to the development of My Chance Romance, a new dating site founded on Chatroulette’s technology, the randomized video chat site has exploded into a major discussion point for businesses and social psychologists alike. We previously discussed in class what makes a video (or marketing campaign) go viral, and Merton, the Chatroulette Improv Piano Player, is an excellent example. He tapped into the online zeitgeist in a fun, accessible way. Way to go for self-branding and self-publicizing!

2. Location, Location, Location:

SXSW demonstrated the continued explosion of location-based and check-in apps and features, which are also coming to Facebook (see #8 below). Robert Scoble wrote an excellent blog post about what’s to come with the “location war,” including the pros and cons of “mini mobs,” malleable social graphs, and how Facebook may soon dominate the current check-in leaders (Foursquare, Gowalla, Twitter, etc). Check out the mini-mob video from SXSW that shows check-ins by apps over time:

3. There’s an App for That: Location to the next level, literally: Earth to Mars!

Tech news sites were abuzz this week about how participants at EclipseCon2010 created a new iPhone app allows users to control the Mars rover from their iPhone. How cool is that. Here’s a video demonstration:

4. Exploring Online Communities: Self-Organization as Art on WeFeelFine and PostSecret

These aren’t new sites or communities — I’ve heard and looked at both of them previously — though I explored them more deeply this week after a classmate brought them to my attention.

WeFeelFine is “an exploration of human emotion on a global scale.” First published as a book, the authors began collecting data on feelings and emotions from blogs and social networking sites beginning in 2005. The book — and now a live website — allows users to slice emotional data into demographics (location, gender, age, etc). The authors label their experiment as “a self-organizing particle system…an artwork authored by everyone.”

PostSecret is “an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard.” There is also a message board where people can anonymously post, discuss and comment on “secret” topics.

Although these sites are rooted in the the “early” use of the Internet as a way to connect and communicate, they are still relevant in terms of how people turn online communities to both hide and be seen. Plus, I love the visual representations of dynamic data.

5. A Stumble from StumbleUpon: Box of Crayons

StumbleUpon is my recent procrastination tool of choice. My favorite site that I stumbled upon this week was Box of Crayons, which has two beautifully made videos — The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun and The 5.75 Questions You’ve Been Avoiding — that highlight the company’s mission of working with organizations worldwide to “do less Good Work and more Great Work.” Sure, the site may get a bit preachy about management coaching, but it has a great message and I truly enjoyed the videos.

6. Apple News: Designing dynamic magazine covers for the iPad

With the iPad selling out through pre-orders and the excitement over a leaked image that Best Buy will sell iPads on launch day, print magazines and newspapers are gearing up to present their digital versions. Here is a link to a video for Sunset Magazine’s iPad mockup, and below is VIVMag’s iPad  demo interactive feature spread. Introduced in the New York Times and discussed at length in ReadWriteWeb, VIVMag will feature interactive content and video in every issue, and will continue to exist as an all-digital magazine. There is much debate over the cost of creating such elaborate features, however, and whether publishing for the iPad and tablets will be too expensive for “micro-publishers.” Regardless, the future, here we come!

7. My Geek Factor: Factual: visualizing Big Data

I’m a geek for statistics, especially visualizations about statistics (see #4 and my blog post about film and tv time travel). TechCrunch recently reported that Factual, an open-wiki platform that allows anyone to share and mash data, has added visualizations to organize and structure “big data.” Looking for restaurants? Here’s a map view. They also have visualizations for Hiking Trials and Video Games. Although it’s still in beta, I’m hoping that developers will take advantage of Factual’s API to integrate such visualizations into future applications.

8. Online Legal News: Facebook Privacy Issues (aka Facebook shit storm), continued

Facebook is making headlines once again with upcoming changes to its privacy policies. Here are the proposed changes and why people are already up in arms:

  • Facebook will allow third-party sites to automatically sign you into Facebook Connect based on your browser cookies. Although Facebook states you can “opt-out” of these sites, by default, you’re in entirely. While convenient for those who use Facebook Connect, this is a huge potential privacy breach. Why would Facebook assume to provide such information without explicit consent on a case-by-case basis? TechCrunch provides a good discussion of the pros and cons of this feature.
  • New location features. Facebook is getting into the location game. Just as Twitter has adopted geolocation functionality, Facebook will allow users to tag location with status updates, photos, etc. Do I want people to know where I am on Facebook? Not really. Though I’m sure it will take off.
  • Syncing Facebook contacts with those on your mobile phone. My Android already gives me the option of doing this. I certainly don’t call everyone in my Facebook circle, nor would I want to have their contact information overloading my phone. When it comes to my contacts, less is more. But I’m sure for others (business, people who like showing off numbers of friends, etc) this will be a welcomed feature.

9. Getting Excited for…Spotify

I love music. I love streaming music. I am excited about Spotify, a music-streaming service from the UK that will soon be launched stateside. Already used by more than 7 million people across the pond, Spotify lets you choose from millions of tracks in the (all legal) database and created web-based playlists that are stored under your username. No more searching ad nauseum for random songs. According to this fan on Gizmodo, after downloading Spotify, which will also have iPhone and Android capabilities, she hasn’t touched her iTunes in a year. I’m looking forward to this as a user, and it will be interesting to see how it impacts the music downloading market.

10. Just for Fun: Japanese version of “We Are the World”

So this isn’t exactly new, but I had to share a video posted on BuzzFeed this week. The Japanese have done it again with another amazing, inspirational video that channels the spirit of the original “We Are the World.” Enjoy Tina Turner’s brilliance all over again.

Getting to Know All About You…Twitter

8 Mar

SPOILER ALERT: For those who already love and use Twitter regularly, this post may seem like a no-brainer…but for those other non-Twitterers or newbies, read on.

Before joining APOC, I had been avoiding the Twitter bandwagon like the plague.


It seemed annoying. Unnecessary. Too much volume. I rarely use status updates on Facebook…so what reason would I possibly have to provide constant updates to followers about the fact that I’m sitting at a coffee shop or am going to yoga class or picking up groceries? Wouldn’t my tweets get lost in the heavy stream of traffic? Who pays attention, or even further, who cares? What is the point of another social networking site when I can find out all I need from Facebook?  Following and followers and lists, oh my!  The cartoon below says it all:

Slowly but surely, as I’m learning the fundamentals of Twitter, I am changing my ways.


Because Twitter is all about discussing topics in a public forum.

As opposed to picking and choosing with whom you interact, who and what you see, and who can see you, Twitter provides an opportunity to spread news and ideas in a less private setting.  But less private does not mean less personalized.  As discussed in this recent New York Times article, Twitter allows users to create custom news feeds targeted to their interests, as well as tap into daily hot button topics.  In essence, Twitter is a constant revolving door of information that captures the cultural, political and social zeitgeists in 140 characters or less.  Here are my top three reasons why Twitter is now inherently crucial for social media:

Twitter for Customer Service:

Twitter is a fabulous tool for engaging customers in real time, alerting followers about new products and services, and truly allowing customers to have a dialogue with a brand or company.  For example, I was recently exploring The Home Depot Twitter page.  I have recently moved and needed to go to Home Depot for the usual random things that one needs from Home Depot.  The Twitter feed was fascinating – customers were tweeting that they couldn’t find certain products, and a Home Depot representative @replied to them, asking what store they were in and saying they could help guide them in the right direction.  When someone posted about a negative experience, the reps asked what they could do to make the experience better.  When someone posted about a positive experience, the reps thanked them.  The entire feed represented a public dialogue between Home Depot and customers.  Free to access, free to view, free to converse.  Companies would be remiss not to take advantage of this service to build, maintain and engage with a loyal customer base.

Twitter for Engaging Public Conversations

Just last week I received the following email from one.org, that I wanted to reprint in full:


Dear Julie,

When you think of the United States Senate, you probably don’t think of cutting edge technology. But the numbers don’t lie: 55 senators are on Twitter, evenly split between Republicans and Democrats and covering almost the entire country. Sounds a lot like ONE, huh?

Washington’s fascination with Twitter gives us the opportunity to send a message to Congress in real time, on their favorite new platform, about the need for smart investments in the fight against global poverty.

Check out our new “Tweet Your Senator” tool and tweet a message to Senator (and active Twitterer) Barbara Boxer asking her to support the president’s request for a $58.5 billion International Affairs Budget to fund proven solutions that are saving lives:


Right now, senators and members of Congress are furiously typing away on keyboards and smart phones, trying to out-do one another and be the most effective at using Twitter to communicate directly with their constituents.

If all of us send our senators tweets, you can be sure they’ll see and hear about it – some senators even update their accounts personally. They’ll know we’re turning the pressure up to make sure this year’s budget continues to support our anti-poverty priorities, such as eradicating malaria, treating AIDS and tuberculosis, promoting food security, and expanding access to clean water and basic education.

Tweet @ your senator now:


Happy tweeting,

Aaron Banks
Online Campaign Manager

P.S. Not on Twitter? You can go to http://www.twitter.com now to set-up an account and then check out our “Tweet your Senator” tool. Or, you can make a difference by calling your senators in support of the International Affairs Budget, here: http://one.org/call/signup.html?cp_id=71&mode=senate&id=1514-117919-3tL4mlx&t=4


This demonstrates Twitter’s power to enact real change on a legislative level.  Regardless of political leanings, the government is following Obama’s lead in utilizing social media efficiently to interact with constituents.  Furthermore, constituents can follow Senators, as well as view real time conversations about topics and issues.  It’s a great way for people to chime in without having to reveal too much personal information, meaning that it’s low risk with high potential reward for information gathering.

Twitter as Q&A and News Service

#FollowFriday? #Firstdaterules? #Snowpocalypse? Finding out what people are saying about certain topics just involves adding a “#” hash tag.  The simplicity, however, belies the wealth of information that is produced at the speed of light.  This month, Twitter received it’s 10 billionth tweet.  The GigaTweet counter shows the incredible pace at which people are discussing just about everything.  Yes, the volume is overwhelming, and I wish that Twitter provided a more comprehensive search feature whereby you could search specific topics by date and author, as opposed to scrolling through a newsfeed.

After learning the Twitter lingo (#, @ and DM), realizing that it’s okay not to be shy about posting publicly, @replying to people that I may not know personally, and downloading applications like TweetDeck and HootSuite to organize my searches, I can now say Twitter and I are getting to know all about each other. Better late than never for joining the bandwagon, especially at a time when Twitter is becoming more widespread and mainstream. Message me @juleschi1. And now I can appreciate this cartoon:

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