Thursday, February 25, 2010

Facebook Added to Google's Real-time Search...Sort Of

Facebook Added Google's Real-time Search

Just two months after Google launched its real-time search, the company has announced it will be adding Facebook pages. Google made the announcement via its twitter account.

The search provides-time information from places such as Yahoo Answers, Twitter, blogs, news, and as of about a week ago, MySpace. Now Facebook is part of the mix. There's just one small problem; only Facebook Pages are being added. As a rule, Facebook Pages belong to businesses and brands, celebrities, and politicians. For the most part, those users do not post newsy updates like your average, everyday user might, and that sort of goes against the purpose of the real-time search.

The reason for this? Facebook is allowing the data from it's 400 million users to be used by Microsoft's Bing. And even then, only status updates that are shared with "Everyone" will be viewable via the search engine. According to Search Engine Land, Facebook is sharing the information with Google and Bing for free, unlike Twitter who cut a deal with the two search engines.



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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Does the Internet Make You Smarter?

Does the Internet Make You Smarter?

Does the internet make you smarter? Seems that most people think so, or at least that's what a recent study shows. The Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University in North Carolina together with the Pew Internet and American Life project conducted an online survey of 895 web users. More than 75% of those questioned said they do believe the internet will make people smarter in the next ten years.

Respondents even went as far as to say the internet would improve reading and writing skills in the next ten years. Janna Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center and a co-author of the study said, "Three out of four experts said our use of the Internet enhances and augments human intelligence, and two-thirds said use of the Internet has improved reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge."

On the other hand, about 21% of those surveyed have opposite opinions. They even feel those who use the internet often will end up with lower IQs. Anderson says there are still a number of people out there who are critical of Google, Wikipedia, and other internet tools.

Of the people surveyed, 371 of them were considered "experts." The group was made up of scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers, technology developers, and other people who were carefully screened by the authors of the study.

The subject of the study has been a source of debate over the last few years. In August 2008, technology writer David Carr wrote a cover story for Atlantic Monthly, entitled "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" Carr feels that using the internet often takes away from deep thinking and concentration in individuals.

Carr participated in the study and said he has not changed his mind. "What the 'Net does is shift the emphasis of our intelligence away from what might be called a meditative or contemplative intelligence and more toward what might be called a utilitarian intelligence. The price of zipping among lots of bits of information is a loss of depth in our thinking," he said in a statement released with the study.

On the other hand, Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark disagrees, "People are already using Google as an adjunct to their own memory," he said in the same release. Adding, "For example, I have a hunch about something, need facts to support and Google comes through for me."



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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Facebook to Begin Selling Its Own Ads

Facebook to Begin Selling Its Own Ads

The social media phenomenon Facebook continues to make major changes to its website and this time, it has to do with advertising. The company has announced it is taking full control of displaying ads. Originally, Microsoft handled the placement of ads. But that doesn't mean Microsoft and Facebook are parting ways. Quite the opposite, actually.

A new contract states that Microsoft will continue to sell text-based search ads on Facebook and Microsoft will continue to be the exclusive provider of Web search for Facebook. The two companies' original contracts were supposed to expire in 2011. While the contract has been extended beyond that year, neither company will say exactly how long they plan to work together or how much money was exchanged. Microsoft does say it plans to continuing integrating Bing into Facebook and hopefully extend its reach beyond the United States.

So why did Facebook make the decision? They say they can reach their 400 million users with their own ads, which feature interactive aspects and target viewers based on personal information. According to the company, their ads are more suited for social networking vs. the standard Microsoft web ads.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook said, "Ad formats that feature social actions perform better and provide a better user experience since they are more consistent with the look and feel of Facebook. This combination of targeting and social relevance is the primary driver behind the shift in strategy."

The new ads have already been introduced in some international markets and the change in the United States is expected to take place over the next few weeks. Originally, Facebook had sold its own ads but began to let Microsoft do it in 2006.

As mentioned, Facebook has been making lots of changes recently, such as redesigning its home page. The company announced it had become free cash flow positive in September, which was sooner than expected. As a matter of fact, Facebook has been giving long-standing internet powerhouses such as Google and Yahoo a run for their money, as it becomes one of the most popular destinations for internet users. Since December, 2009, the company has gained about 50 million users.



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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Teens Ditch Blogging

Teens Ditch Blogging

The blogging craze is over. For teenagers that is. A new study says teens are ditching long-winded, diary-like blog posts for the shorter status updates of Facebook. The study, released this week by the Pew Internet and American Life project showed that only half of teenagers who were blogging in 2006 are still keeping an online journal. That's 14% of all teens compared to the 28% who were blogging just three years ago.

Surprisingly, the study also found that only 8% of teens are using Twitter, compared to 73% who use social networking websites.

Pew researcher Aaron Smith told Reuters, the study was "a little bit surprising, although there are definitely explanations given the state of the technological landscape." He attributes the lack of blogging to the rising popularity of websites such as Facebook and the fact that teens are now using cell phones to communicate vs. computers, which makes the short status updates easier to type than a full blog post.

On the other hand, Smith found the results about Twitter pretty surprising, "It was somewhat interesting in the sense that teens tend to be the early adopters. They were the first to use social networking and texting. Its certainly unusual compared to what we've seen with other technology." Smith suggested that teens may see Twitter as a tool for celebrities or may even be afraid to post their thoughts so publicly when they can do the same thing on Facebook, which seems to offer a little more in terms of privacy.

As far as adults go, they're still blogging. The number of blogging adults over 30 has actually increased, while the number of 19 - 29 year olds who maintain blogs has declined. Smith says this is due to the fact that older people are becoming more comfortable with the internet, while younger people are turning to their phones, texting, and social networking.

The survey, which took place from June to September 2009, was based on a telephone survey of 800 people, ages 12-17.



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Monday, February 08, 2010

Google's Sappy Super Bowl Commercial

Google's Super Bowl Commercial

Last night, people across the country tuned into the Super Bowl, not just to watch football, but to see the highly coveted commercials. Little did they know, they'd see a minute-long ad from Google. The company hasn't really relied on television ads in the past, though did take to the airwaves to promote the Chrome Web browser last year. The Super Bowl commercial, like the Chrome one, aired on YouTube for a while before making the move to TV.

Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, said in a blog post over the weekend, "We didn’t set out to do a Super Bowl ad, or even a TV ad for search. Our goal was simply to create a series of short online videos about our products and our users, and how they interact. But we liked this video so much, and it’s had such a positive reaction on YouTube, that we decided to share it with a wider audience.”

The ad, called "Parisian Love," demonstrated various features of the Google search engine by portraying an online romance. The screen showed the search engine as a user typed in phrases starting with "study abroad in Paris, France;" followed by lines such as "how to impress a French girl," "long distance relationship advice," and "jobs in Paris;" and finally "how to assemble a crib." Awww.

It was a little sappy, but definitely different than other Super Bowl commercials that were full of male-oriented humor. CBS broadcast the game and said the cost for airing a 30-second commercial was $3 million. The game was expected to attract 100 million viewers.

Watch the Google Super Bowl commercial for yourself:




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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Sun's CEO Resigns...via Twitter?

Sun CEO Resigns Via Twitter

Forget the fancy press releases and interviews with reporters, Twitter is apparently the new place to announce you're quitting your job. Well, that is if you're Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz (you probably shouldn't turn in your notice at your own job that way). On Thursday, February 4th, Schwartz, who I wouldn't exactly call a regular tweeter (his last posts were on January 28th, and October 15th and May 19th of last year), posted this on his Twitter feed:

"Today's my last day at Sun. I'll miss it. Seems only fitting to end on a #haiku. Financial crisis/Stalled too many customers/CEO no more"

The tweet came just days after Oracle formally purchased Sun for a cool $7.4 billion and sent tech geeks into a frenzy. This unprecedented move is hardly the first news-making tweet. From regular old folks to the President of the United States, one 140-character phrase or sentence can have the media and the internet worlds talking for weeks.

Last year, when a U.S. Airways flight landed in the Hudson River, it was Twitter that broke the story. The plane took off from LaGuardia Airport at 3:25 PM ET and Janis Krums, a passenger on a ferry that was heading towards the crash, posted a picture of the scene on Twitpic at 3:36 PM ET. The New York Times began covering the crash at 3:48 PM ET. Other New York City residents posted about having seen the incident take place and the busy aftermath.

Barack Obama made news earlier this year when he became the first President of the United States to ever post a tweet. The President and First Lady Michelle Obama were visiting a Red Cross center in Washington D.C., following the earthquake in Haiti, when he pressed "submit" as a Red Cross worker was about to post about the couple's visit on the Red Cross official Twitter feed. As a matter of fact, Twitter became an important political tool during the 2008 election and these days, most Senators and members of Congress are using social media to communicate with their constituents.

Last year, astronaut Mike Massimino made the first tweets from space. Paula Abdul announced that she was leaving "American Idol" via Twitter. Professionals athletes were fined for tweeting about everything from coaches to cafeteria food, leading the NFL to prohibit all forms of social media within certain time periods before and after games.



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