Pew Research Indicates Half of America Now Using Social Networks

  • Half of all adults in the United States said they use a social networking site, which is up from a mere 5 percent from six years ago when Pew Research Center conducted a similar survey.
  • Not surprising, 83 percent of younger people (from the 18-29 age bracket) indicate they use social networking sites, compared with 51 percent of those in the 50-64 bracket. The report lists women ages 18 to 29 as “the power users.”
  • Asked for one word to describe their social networking experience, the most common response was “good.”
  • However, one in five respondents sounded less upbeat: they used words like “boring,” “time-consuming” and “overrated” to describe their experience.

Social Media: MTV Video Music Awards Scores Highest-Ever Audience

  • Despite having no host on Sunday, MTV’s 2011 Video Music Awards ramped up audience engagement through social media.
  • MTV delivered pictures and videos to their audience in realtime through their second screen application and social media channels.
  • Fans could track what celebrities were tweeting about, and who was tweeting the most. The application also showed which celebrities and content generated the most buzz. (Celebrities who did not tweet during the event could have missed out in a big way.)
  • The awards program scored its highest-ever ratings, pulling in 12.4 million viewers. “Not only was this year’s show the most-watched in the history of the Video Music Awards’ 27-year history,” reports Rolling Stone, “but it was also the highest-rated telecast in the 30-year history of the network.”

Joint Realtime Group Chat for Twitter May Have Legs

  • TechCrunch reports that a new startup named Joint is aiming to address the concerns of Twitter users who are “badly in need of a better way to facilitate realtime, private, and longer-form conversations.”
  • Twitter’s general philosophy so far has been to keep its UI simple and rely on third party developers to add features.
  • That’s where Joint comes in with its solution that “essentially turns any Twitter hashtag into an IRC-like chat room, which is integrated with a realtime hashtag stream,” indicates TechCrunch.
  • This enables different social interactions, including a front-and-center realtime group chat feature. “Joint could become a very useful resource for people looking to easily congregate and discuss ongoing situations like hurricanes, protests, or events, live, from any location,” suggests the post.
  • TechCrunch adds: “Joint and its team isn’t affiliated with Twitter in any way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the social network comes knocking at their door at some point down the road.”

Flipboard Hopes to Integrate Video with its Social Media Magazine

  • Palo Alto-based Flipboard plans to add film and TV to its social media magazine platform. Flipboard is currently available only on the iPad, but an iPhone version is expected to launch in a few weeks.
  • Reuters reports that the company “hopes to cut deals with studios to carry movies and episodes of TV shows, getting into territory staked out by Netflix, Hulu and Facebook.”
  • Mike McCue, chairman and chief executive of Flipboard, explained he will begin the video project at the end of this year and also hopes to sell electronic books.
  • Flipboard’s service takes a cut of the revenue from advertising. “We’re trying to create the largest company possible,” said Danny Rimer, general partner at Index Ventures, a Flipboard investor. Reuters points out: “Rimer believes display advertising revenue’s migration online is ‘a very big opportunity.'”

Renewing Developer Relations: Twitter Pulls Itself Up by its Bootstrap

  • Twitter has released its Bootstrap platform to better compete in the ever-changing app market and renew its ongoing efforts with developers.
  • The platform will provide a set of CSS and HTML tools for creating apps.
  • “At its core, Bootstrap is simply CSS, but built with Less, an easy-to-use pre-processor that provides more power and flexibility than standard CSS,” reports Digital Trends. “With Less, a range of features like nested declarations, variables, mixins, operations, and color functions become available.”
  • “Bootstrap remains very easy to implement; just drop it in your code and go. Compiling Less can be accomplished via Javascript, an unofficial Mac application, or via Node.js,” explains Twitter via its blog post. “Second, once complied, Bootstrap contains nothing but CSS, meaning there are no superfluous images, Flash, or Javascript. All that remains is simple and powerful CSS for your web development needs.”

Twitter Launches User Galleries for Browsing Tweeted Photos

  • Twitter is introducing user galleries that integrate with third-party services such as TwitPic, Instagram and yFrog to display a user’s 100 most recent photo tweets.
  • This is the first feature Twitter has built upon its recently-launched native image sharing, launched earlier this summer.
  • “We think the user galleries feature will be good for advertisers, who now have greater incentive to include cool pictures in their tweets,” explains Matt Graves, Twitter’s director of communications.
  • ReadWriteWeb reports: “…considering Twitter’s need to monetize, bringing multimedia in-house and attracting more users to the website, rather than third-party clients, could be key to Twitter’s future business plans.”

Miramax is the Latest to Offer Facebook Movie Rental App

  • Miramax is following in the footsteps of Warner Bros., Paramount and Universal by making its films available on Facebook.
  • The Miramax eXperience will initially offer 20 titles in the U.S. and 10 each in Great Britain and Turkey (available films include “Good Will Hunting,” “Spy Kids,” “Chicago” and “Cold Mountain”).
  • Movies will be made available for 30 Facebook credits (equivalent to $3) and can be viewed on Facebook, the iPad and Google TV.
  • Miramax hopes to build its reach to 150 million+ Facebook friends in the next 18 months.
  • “The iTunes-like nature of Miramax’s Facebook movie rentals (i.e. per-movie charge, rather than a subscription fee) could prove very effective,” reports Social Times. “A lot of online movie watchers aren’t ready to commit to a subscription service like Netflix or Hulu Plus. Renting a single movie from Facebook may be more their style, and a $3 movie rental sounds like a pretty good deal, if you ask me.”

Flingo Sync Apps Provide the TV That Watches You

  • Flingo, a new San Francisco-based startup, says its technology can watch what you are viewing on TV and with your permission present you with relevant Web content.
  • “Any mobile app or Web page being used in front of your TV can ask our servers what is on right now,” says David Harrison, cofounder and CTO of Flingo. “For example, you could go to Google or IMDb and the page would already know what’s on the screen. Retailers like Amazon or Walmart might want to show you things to buy related to a show, like DVDs, or what people are wearing in it.”
  • Additionally, social sites such as Facebook or Twitter would be able to connect viewers to a TV show’s official page or stream.
  • A major TV manufacturer will build Flingo’s Sync Apps into their TVs, which will reportedly retail for less than $500.
  • Flingo has relationships with CBS, Fox and MTV.

Attention Gamers and Developers: Namaste To Launch User-Gen Gaming Platform

  • Are you a casual gamer who wants to create your own games but lacks the resources of a big game company? Namaste may be for you.
  • The startup is developing a platform called StoryBricks, designed to help casual gamers and those interested in being part of a development team to create their own content and share them on social networks.
  • “The twist is that it’s not for professional game designers,” reports TechCrunch, “but users who want to create their own games. The company is understood to be be in discussions with several top VCs.”
  • Namaste has started fundraising via AngelList and recently tapped Anil Hansjee, former head of corporate development for Google Europe, to join the company as advisor.

Andrew Losowsky Examines Reading In Four Dimensions

  • Andrew Losowsky, books editor for The Huffington Post, has released “Reading in Four Dimensions” (available as a 99-cent Kindle Single) — a fascinating essay on the future of publishing and how the Internet has impacted the reading experience.
  • Many of us are publishing in new ways via Facebook, Twitter, blogs and more. Readers are interacting with these “works” in a kind of social reading environment, which changes the way stories are written and read.
  • Physical books will get better, but there will be fewer of them. Books do not change like Web entries that become features and can travel with you like a time machine that catalogues the thinking of that time.
  • The TechCrunch post includes a video interview with Losowsky that addresses key points from his essay, including “how print brings permanence to digital publishing, how the concept of ‘publishing’ has translated online and the value of paper books in our increasingly digital world.”

Jonathan Card Remains Optimistic, Despite Shutdown by Starbucks

  • Starbucks shut down Jonathan Stark’s pay-it-forward social experiment by deactivating Stark’s community-giving Starbucks Card.
  • Reps from Starbucks were reportedly rooting for the experiment to be successful (despite the violation of the card’s terms of use), but the company felt it had no choice when it learned that funds were being misappropriated by a hacker, defeating the social adaptation of “take a penny, leave a penny” that Stark originally envisioned.
  • Hundreds of people had donated several thousand dollars prior to the project being shut down, suggesting the experiment was not a failure.
  • The Jonathan’s Card website remains optimistic: “We believe this is the start to a bigger more glowing picture. In the last 5 days or so, we’ve received hundreds of stories of people doing small things to brighten a stranger’s day: Paying for the next car at the drive through. Sharing a pick me up with someone who has had a rough time. Charging up a phone card and sharing it with strangers at the airport… So, tonight we lose our barcode. But of course, we never needed it in the first place.”

Google+ Games: Should Facebook and Apple be Nervous?

  • The introduction of games to Google+ potentially threatens both Facebook (which also has games) and Apple (which takes a 30 percent cut versus Google’s 5 percent).
  • Google+ sees games as being core to their mission: “We don’t consider ourselves experts at making compelling games, but we can bring a lot to the party,” explains Bradley Horowitz, VP of Product for Google+. “There were some internal debates about whether Google was well-suited to have games in our repertoire and what is the value of games to the users. There’s tremendous value for users. They provide a way for people to connect, discover and interact with each other… We don’t see games contrary to our mission, or a diversion. We see them as being core.”
  • If HTML5 unifies the Web and mobile, it could become possible “for software to be written once and run across multiple devices.” And if Google+ games were to run via a browser on the iPhone or iPad, this could be an additional concern for Apple.
  • What do you think? Should Facebook and Apple be nervous?

Twitter Clone from TwitPic Released: Say Hello to Heello

  • Founder of TwitPic Noah Everett has released a new photo-sharing service called Heello (pronounced “he-low”), just in time to compete with Twitter’s newly announced photo feature.
  • Everett told Digital Trends that the microblogging site has been in development for the past year, and the timing of its launch is a coincidence.
  • “The idea for Heello for what it is now came out of hearing user’s frustrations (and even our own) of not being able to post text, photos, videos or do check-ins from one single service; they were all spread out among different sites and this confuses a lot of uses,” he explains.
  • The post compares Twitter and TwitPic: Tweets/updates are referred to as “Pings” while Retweets are called “Echoes” and viewing the Twitter stream is known as “Listening.”
  • “The jury’s still out on the future of Heello,” reports Digital Trends. “There have been a handful of Twitter clones that have been DOA, but Heello does seem to have a little more steam to ride off of for now. You do have to think that Heello is giving TwitPic some competition at the same time that Twitter introduced what’s seriously going to impact the photo-sharing platform.”

Boxee iPad App Aggregates Video Content from Social Feeds

  • Boxee launched a free iPad app this week that aggregates video content from social feeds such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
  • If the user has the Boxee Media Manager client on a Mac or PC, the new app can stream video from the computer to the iPad.
  • The company also designed a bookmarklet that allows users to mark video content for later viewing.
  • “One criticism of the iPad application is that it doesn’t offer access to premium applications like Vudu, Netflix and Hulu Plus,” reports Digital Trends. “Missing premium applications is attributed to companies like Netflix preferring to keep content within its own application as well as Flash content on the Web that’s incompatible with the iPad.”

Twitter Goes Live with New Photo Sharing Feature

  • Twitter has made uploading photos possible for its users with a feature that shares images (up to 3MB).
  • Users can access the new feature on the Web version of Twitter by clicking on the camera icon (support for the mobile version is still in the works). Images are hosted by Photobucket and appear as links within the Twitter feed.
  • Hashtags can be added to the tweet to include images in Twitter’s search function. Users will also have the ability to comment on images.
  • “The founder of TwitPic, who turned down a $10 million dollar offer for the company in 2009, can’t be too happy about today’s feature launch from Twitter,” comments Digital Trends.

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