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August 25 2012


How news websites handled graphic images of Empire State Building shooting

Poynter :: When today’s deadly shooting occurred in the heart of Manhattan, thousands of witnesses were nearby and many used cameras to quickly document the scene. Some of the images posted to Twitter, Instagram and Flickr included graphic photos of the shooting victims. News organizations scrambled to curate these images, and then had to make difficult decisions about how to verify and handle them.

A report by Jeff Sonderman, www.poynter.org

August 22 2012


Flickr update its Android app: New tabbar, metadata editing & more

The Next Web :: Launching in September 2011, Flickr’s Android app took its time to come to the platform and since then has lacked behind its iPhone counterpart. However, Yahoo has pushed an new update today, overhauling its UI to add a new tabbar, new ways to explore, the editing of metadata and whole host of other new features.

A report by Matt Brian, thenextweb.com

August 15 2012


Hope for Flickr? Marissa Mayer creates account, reportedly doubles team

TechCrunch :: It looks like Flickr may be getting some much-needed love from its corporate parent Yahoo — Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer just created an account on the photo-sharing site. That may not seem like a big deal, but neither Carol Bartz nor Scott Thompson, Yahoo’s past two CEOs, had a publicly visible Flickr account

A report by Anthony Ha, techcrunch.com

July 26 2012


Special Series: Olympics in the Digital Age

It used to be that there were two ways to experience the Summer Olympics: watch the games on your TV (and on NBC's schedule) or travel to the games themselves.

Oh my, how things have changed. This summer, you can follow your favorite Olympian on Facebook. Live stream the finals on your laptop. Look at near real-time photo galleries online. Track the most important news from the Games via a special Twitter page.

Over the next two weeks, MediaShift will be looking at how coverage of, and interaction with, the Olympics has changed and what that means for everyone from fans, Olympians, media players, journalists, journalists-in-training and technology companies alike.

Stay tuned. And if you have a story to share, please be in touch.

Series Posts

> Covering the Olympic Trials: 8 Lessons in Journalism Education News and Business by Ryan Frank

> London 2012: The Thrills (and Agony) of the Social Olympics, by Terri Thornton

Coming soon:

-How journalism students are using the Olympics as a training ground, by Adam Glenn

-Your guide to online resources for following the 2012 Olympic games, by Jenny Xie

-5Across: Athletes on Social Media (with guest Olympians Natalie Coughlin and Donny Robinson), hosted by Mark Glaser

-Storify: Highlights from the most interesting Olympians on social media, by Jenny Xie

-How one Olympic junkie adjusts after cutting the cable cord, by Jenny Shank

-A special Olympic Mediatwits podcast, hosted by Mark Glaser and Rafat Ali

Previous Olympic Coverage on MediaShift

2010 Vancouver Games

> Inside the Social Media Strategy of the Winter Olympic Games by Craig Silverman

> Photo Gallery: Citizen, Alternative Media Converge at Olympic Games in Vancouver by Kris Krug

> Best Online Resources for Following 2010 Winter Olympics by Mark Glaser

> True North Media House, W2 Provide Citizen Media Hub at Olympics by Craig Silverman

2008 Beijing Games

> A Mix of Skepticism and Hope on Propoganda Tour 2008 by Elle Moxley

> China Partially Lifts Great Firewall for Media But Access Remains Pricey by Elle Moxley

> Cell Phone Use, Texting Widespread in China by Elle Moxley

Managing editor Courtney Lowery Cowgill is a writer, editor, teacher and farmer based in central Montana. In addition to her work with MediaShift, she teaches online courses at the University of Montana's School of Journalism. Before she came to MediaShift, she was the co-founder and editor in chief of the now shuttered online magazine NewWest.Net. When she's not writing, teaching or editing, she's helping her husband wrangle 150 heritage turkeys, 15 acres of food, overgrown weeds or their new daughter. She blogs about life on the farm, and other things, at www.lifecultivated.com.

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May 01 2012


April 27 2012


Poll: Where Are Your Favorite Places to Share Photos?

You recently went on vacation to an exotic and new locale and you want to show people your great photos from the trip. So where do you post them online? Are you a fan of Flickr or Facebook? What about Instagram? Or perhaps you're part of the thriving photography community on Google+. And let's not forget the old school folks who still prefer getting photo prints and putting them in an actual real physical photo album! Vote in our poll -- you can vote for multiple items -- and explain in the comments what makes a good photo-sharing service for you.

Where are your favorite places to share photos?

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Newseum looks at social media in new HP New Media Gallery

Washington Post :: The Newseum has selected an interactive exhibition on social media as its first permanent addition at the museum since it opened in 2008. It’s only natural since Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, as well as Google and YouTube have become part of the daily news feed.

Continue to read Jacqueline Trescott, www.washingtonpost.com

April 17 2012


Understanding Facebook's success, virality

VentureBeat :: Part I of VB's series: "Virality" - Social media is fundamentally changing marketing, and Facebook understands that. A key driver of the company’s growth is the people-tagging feature in Facebook. Even though Flickr was a better product than Facebook Photos for many years, the virality of people-tagging rocketed Facebook to the top of the photo-sharing pack. People-tagging served both to increase user acquisition and drive repeat usage.

Continue to read Part I, by Rocky Agrawal, venturebeat.com

March 29 2012


Interactive storytelling: Online Timeline tool available for everyone

Mashable :: A new free, open-source online timeline tool is innovating storytelling on the web. Timeline, created by Zach Wise, a multimedia journalist and journalism professor, was developed in partnership with the Knight News Innovation Lab at Northwestern University, where Wise teaches. The interactive tool allows users to generate timelines on the web by curating content from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, Google Maps and SoundCloud.

Hat tip: Sarah Marshall, journalism.co.uk

Continue to read Sonia Paul, mashable.com

February 04 2012


"Social Media Command Center": NFL to Monitor Facebook, Twitter

Mobiledia :: The NFL has hired a private company to monitor all social media the day of the Super Bowl, suggesting the importance services like Twitter and Facebook play in major events. The Indiana-based social media company, Raidious, will run the Social Media Command Center. The group will set up in downtown Indianapolis where the company will monitor Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube and Flickr.

Continue to read Joe Arico, www.mobiledia.com

October 06 2011


The Newsonomics of f8

Editor’s Note: Each week, Ken Doctor — author of Newsonomics and longtime watcher of the business side of digital news — writes about the economics of news for the Lab.

Is it declaration of war, or of peace, or is Mark Zuckerberg saying he just really Likes us all very, very much?

“No activity is too big or too small to share,” the 27-year-old proclaimed at the recent f8 announcement. “All your stories, all your life…. This is going to make it easy to share orders of magnitude more things than before.” (f8 sounds, oddly, like FATE, but I think my paranoia is kicking in.)

“Excuse me, have we met?” is one response.

Another response to Facebook’s Ticket, Timeline, and News Feed initiatives is to go dating. Some quite influential publishers are road-testing the new features, while others ponder a light commitment.

In 2011, U.S. dailies’ digital ad take will be about $3 billion and Facebook’s $2 billion.

They should be aware that Facebook is bent on world domination — having targeted businesses now run by Amazon, Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, Flipboard, Pulse, Pandora, Last.fm, and Flickr, as well as legacy news and information providers — in the latest move. (Forget debating Google’s “do no evil” mantra; Google’s sin may have been that it thought too small.) That’s audience, though not business, domination, as Facebook’s EMEA platform partnerships director, Christian Hernandez, told PaidContent. “[f8] is not a commercial decision.” Got it. And Google just wants to help us better organize our info.

Facebook’s f8 signals a next round of digital disruption. Remember Microsoft’s decade-old bid to become the hub of our entertainment lives, as evidenced by its futuristic Consumer Electronics Show displays? Facebook has taken that metaphor — and updated and socialized it.

This unabashed push to remake the digital world in its own image would seem like laughable megalomania coming from many other sources in the world. But it’s not megalomania if others act like you’re not crazy. In fact, our story takes strange turns as this megalomania, so far, seems quite magnanimous to publishers, as Facebook looks to some like the best available date, compared to the other ascendant audience resellers (Apple, Amazon, and Google).

As leading-edge publishers move away from destination-only strategies, they seek to colonize other habitable web environments; Facebook now looks like the friendliest clime, allowing publishers to keep all the revenue from ads they are selling within their Facebook apps. In addition, Facebook is providing aggregated data on user engagement — active users, likes, comments, post views, and post feedback.

Buy-in from such brands as the Washington Post, The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and Yahoo helps to place Facebook’s push into the “normal” scale of corporate behavior.

Why are news players playing along? What do they think is in it for them?

Let’s look at the newsonomics of f8 and of the new social whirl.

“Rather than incorporate Facebook features into our site, we’ve looked at incorporating our content into Facebook.”

Let’s start with the stark, Willie Sutton reason: you work with Facebook because that’s where the audience is. In the U.S., Facebook claims more as much as seven hours of average monthly usage; globally, that number is four hours plus. It’s where would-be readers hang out.

Worldwide, it claims an audience of 800 million.

If Facebook is the hang-out mall, newspaper and magazine sites are grocery stores. People go there when they need something — to find out what’s new — and then leave. The comparative average monthly usage of news sites runs five to 20 minutes per month.

So exposure to audience is the no-brainer, here. The question is: to what end?

Step back from the flurry of news company announcements, or from the behind-the-scenes 2012 strategies-in-the-making, and publishers cite three top goals:

  • Lower-cost development of audience, especially audience that may become core customers.
  • Digital advertising revenue growth.
  • Establishing a robust, growing stream of digital reader revenue.

So how might f8 innovations help those?

Let’s start with brand awareness. It’s a digital din out there, a survival-of-the-feistiest time. Consumers will come to rely on a handful or two of news brands, goes the theory. So best to be high in their consciousness, and Facebook omnipresence in people’s lives offers that possibility.

Adam Freeman, executive director of Commercial for Guardian News and Media, explains Guardian’s digital-first strategy here this way:

Our digital audience has grown to a phenomenal 50m+, but, with the best will in the world, chances are we are never going to outpace and outstrip Facebook’s audience size. So we see an opportunity in that — rather than incorporate Facebook features into our site, we’ve looked at incorporating our content into Facebook. There is an untapped audience within Facebook who may not be regularly encountering Guardian and Observer content, and we think our app increases the the visibility of our content in that space.

Of course that brand consciousness needs to be acted on, which leads us to…

Lower-cost traffic acquisition. Online, publishers have invested in search engine optimization and search engine marketing. SEO makes them more findable in organic search; SEM pays for high-level brand placement. In addition, they’ve done deals with portals over the years; the current Yahoo deals of swapping news stories for links is a major one for many.

Against, though, Facebook is simply social media optimization (“The newsonomics of social media optimization”).

It’s another route to pouring newer customers into the top end of news publishers’ audience funnel, hoping a few tumble out the bottom as paying, regular readers. And any readers can be monetized with advertising.

SMO’s relative economics are better than SEO or SEM. Not only is SMO cheaper than SEM, some publishers say it “performs” better. That performance is best measured by conversions (registrations, more pages read, digital sub buying), while for others the jury is still out. And, at best, audience development multiplies off these new relationships.

“These new Facebook users aren’t necessarily finding the brand in traditional ways, nor do they necessarily hold longstanding brand affinity,” says Jed Williams, analyst at BIA/Kelsey.

Their social graphs, curators/editors, recommendations, etc. are doing the pointing for them. So they do arrive at the very top of the proverbial funnel. And, as they interact with the publisher, with them in turn comes their social network. Potentially, the exponential network effects take off, and new audience continues to breed even more new audience. Original audience targets emerge, and the funnel continually expands. At least in the best case scenario, it does.

Sale of paid products: If you are now selling digital subscriptions, you’re doubly interested in customer acquisition. Now publishers can discover the percentage of new audience they can convert to paying customers, though that’s not an easy proposition to figure out. That percentage will be tiny, but it may be meaningful.

Out of the chute, digital circulation efforts have focused strongly on longstanding customers. Publishers have wanted to keep their print customers paying. They want to reduce print churn by taking away customers’ ability to get the news they get in the paper for free online. They want to change the psychology of long-term readers, giving them a new understanding: You pay for news, in print or digitally.

Facebook looks like it may become a top media-selling marketplace, along with Amazon and Apple.

That’s round one, 2011-2012, of the digital circulation wars. Round two necessitates bringing in new customers, especially younger ones who don’t have print habits and may not have much news brand loyalty.

That’s a key place Facebook fits in. It’s a potential hothouse of new, younger customers.

“It isn’t obvious that we can be successful with premium content on social,” notes Alisa Bowen, general manager of WSJ Digital Network. The Journal, while not participating in the f8 launch, already has a significant trial in place. The same holds true of the spate of other recent WSJ innovations, like WSJ Live and its iPad apps. “WSJ Everywhere,” Bowen says, “tests what we’re doing for people who never come to the website.”

As publishers create more one-off tablet and smartphone products (“The newsonomics of Kindle Singles”), Facebook looks like it may become a top media-selling marketplace, along with Amazon and Apple.

Advertising revenue: Facebook is still so bent on building audience that it is providing publishers their best ad deals. Publishers can sell ads for display within their Facebook apps — and keep all the revenue. No revenue share, thank you. (At least for now.)

Data: “In addition to serving adverts from our own partners in the app, we have highly detailed but anonymized data from Facebook covering demographics and usage,” says Freeman. “We also have our own analytics embedded in the pages on the app, which will help us understand how our content is used and shared within the Facebook Open Graph.”

Learning about social curation. Social filtering will be a standard feature of all news (unless we opt out) by 2015. It’s not hard to see why. It’s old village world-of-mouth, jet-propelled by technology. How social curation will work is a huge question; how can it best co-exist with editorial curation, for instance? That kind of learning is one other benefit f8 partners tell me they hope to gain.

The Facebook dance is a cautious one. News publishers’ experiences with web wunderkinds have not, in general, been great ones. Witness the ongoing battles over revenue share percentages, customer relationships, and customer data access that have characterized the soap-opera-like Apple/publisher public spats. Amazon’s new Kindle tablet re-lights the question of publisher/Amazon rev share and data sharing.

September 19 2011


375 billion photos this year - Library of Congress, Flickr, Facebook, who stores more?

1000memories :: Digital cameras are now ubiquitous - it is estimated that 2.5 billion people in the world today have a digital camera. If the average person snaps 150 photos this year that would be a staggering 375 billion photos. That might sound implausible but this year people will upload over 70 billion photos to Facebook, suggesting around 20% of all photos this year will end up there. Already Facebook’s photo collection has a staggering 140 billion photos, that’s over 10,000 times larger than the Library of Congress.

(Impressing chart: ) continue to read Jonathan Good, 1000memories.com

July 23 2011


When President Barack Obama's press office uses Flickr too often

Politico :: One of the most memorable visual images this year shows President Barack Obama and his national security team in the Situation Room, transfixed by a live video of the mission of Osama bin Laden's takedown unfolding. Like other iconic pictures of this administration, the Situation Room shot was taken by a staff photographer for the White House’s Flickr page. But the administration’s use of Flickr has sparked tension between the White House and news photographers who say the press office uses its Flickr page too often to control images and circumvent news coverage.

[Julie Mason:] For some news organizations, publishing a photo taken by the White House is comparable to pasting an administration press release into a newspaper and calling it news — a concept anathema to an independent press.

A discussion - continue to read Julie Mason, www.politico.com

July 13 2011


Flickr, Google, a few social media seconds later - Osama bin Laden hunter ‘CIA John’ identified

Observer :: Anyone who’s ever logged in to a social network while in a jubilant, possibly intoxicated, frame of mind knows the dangers. Sometimes you share something you should maybe keep to yourself, or you forget to check your privacy settings, or you show off a little too much skin. That’s more or less what the U.S. government appears to have done in the heady moments after dumping whatever was left of Osama bin Laden into the churning waters of the North Arabian Sea.

[Aaron Gell, Observer:] Once the photo was out there, of course, it was only a matter of time. But how little time was surprising.

With the help of social media investigative journalism can be easy. Was it made easy?

Aaron Gell, www.observer.com

July 01 2011


Solving data overload with design: News Challenge winner iWitness aggregates media by time and place

Jesse James Garrett

If consumers struggle to keep up with breaking news and current events, it’s certainly not for lack of data. Jesse James Garrett thinks the problem with news is one of design.

“As the data sources become more and more massive, the role of user experience in shaping technology that helps people make sense of those data sources is a vital part of delivering on the mission of journalism,” Garrett said.

Though he went to journalism school, Garrett is a professional web designer. He is president of Adaptive Path, a San Francisco-based design firm he co-founded almost 10 years ago, and best known for coining the term AJAX to describe a new way of building websites.

Garrett’s first attempt to rescue journalism from bad design is iWitness, an aggregation tool that will mine Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube for user-generated material unique to a particular time and place — the kind of tool that might prove particularly useful during political protests or natural disasters. iWitness is only an idea at this point, but now it’s funded by a two-year, $360,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge.

“Give us a time and a place and we’ll find everything, from the services that we’re able to support, that was posted by somebody who was there — in that place, at that time,” Garrett said. Centrality is one of iWitness’ key selling points. Nothing out there at the moment automatically pulls content from across social-service sites at the same time.

“The sites themselves don’t really provide easy mechanisms for sifting their data by location. They’re collecting all this data, but they don’t really present it to users in a way that makes it easy for them to work,” Garrett said. For all the petabytes of data out there, there’s even more metadata — data about the data — just waiting to be put in context.

So if you were able to follow the streams of photos and video and tweets coming out of Tahrir Square right now, for example, that would give you an immediate, and intimate, insight into the political upheaval in Egypt. It takes a lot of manual labor,” Garrett said. Even Andy Carvin sleeps.

Andy Carvin, of course, adds another layer — human-powered curation — to the mix, and that’s not what iWitness is for. It’s not Storify, Garrett said.

“I feel like Storify’s core strength is as a curation tool, to allow people to pull together and create a narrative from social media. What we’re doing is really raw aggregation,” he said. You could use iWitness to gather source material for a story, the way you might use Kayak as a starting point for planning a trip.

Garrett will distribute the code as open-source, not because the Knight Foundation requires it but because he thinks it’s the most effective way to win widespread adoption. He plans to build a working demo but leave it up to others to build public-facing websites. News organizations also could adopt and expand the software for internal use.

The project will borrow some of the programmers and designers at Adaptive Path and should get underway this fall. The involvement of a respected design firm, not a news organization, is interesting — and not a traditional choice for the News Challenge. iWitness will probably be beautiful. And that could be what gets people to use it.

June 17 2011


ChicagoTribune's redesign now with real-time ad information from Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr

Niemanlab :: ChicagoTribune.com's redesign will feature real-time ads, through a partnership with Brad Flora of NowSpots, a winner of the Knight News Challenge last year. As Bill Adee, the vice president for digital operations for Tribune Media Group describes it, the ad information could come from Facebook, Tumblr, or Flickr.

Review of the redesign, and how real-time ads work - continue to read Justin Ellis, www.niemanlab.org

May 24 2011


Social TV: Chatter’s synced web and Facebook apps provides a destination for real-time conversation

Inside Facebook :: Cable television’s USA Network recently launched an app called Chatter that allows a specific TV show’s viewers to converse with fellow fans and engage with a streams of official content aggregated from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. Flickr, live chat and forums. Chatter’s synced web and Facebook apps provides a destination for real-time conversation and auxiliary content consumption around TV shows that can increase participation and live viewership.

Continue to read Josh Constine, www.insidefacebook.com

December 03 2010


How Storify Helps Integrate Social Streams Into Articles

Curation seems to be the big buzz word in journalism and online content these days. It's also an area that's generating a lot of product innovations. New services such as Keepstream, Storify, Storyful and Qrait are jumping into the space, aiming to offer new tools to help people curate web and social media content.

Curation is a way for journalists and bloggers to help the public make sense of the overwhelming amount of information out there by carefully selecting the interesting bits and pieces and by providing context. In this new information environment, the thinking goes, we need fellow humans to make sense and filter for us.

For me, curation is part of the all-important process of telling stories and connecting people around these stories. Storytelling is about involving people, finding out new information and providing context so people can find out why that particular story is meaningful to them.


Storify is one of the new curation tools I've been using to tell stories and organize conversations. To gain access you still need an invite code, which you can find in various places on the web such as in this TechCrunch post or on Mashable.

Here's a short video introduction to the tool:

Storify demo from Burt Herman on Vimeo.

In this post I'll focus on why Storify is an interesting new tool for media sites and blogs.

For background, in the above mentioned Mashable post you'll find some use cases (and the home page of Storify has some interesting examples). On Zombie Journalism, Mandy Jenkins offered ten ways journalists (and bloggers, of course) can use Storify: Gathering reactions on breaking news; combining past content with newer information and social streams; showing your own quests on Twitter, Facebook etc.; or organizing your own live tweets from a conference.

Mark Luckie at 10,000 Words also identified several ways that journalists are using the tool.

I recently used it on the financial blog of my newspaper for a post about U.S. GDP statistics that included some lively comments from economics professor Nouriel Roubini being pessimistic about growth prospects. I also used Storify from a post that collected some initial reactions on the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing. (MediaShift's Craig Silverman used it to collect the notable tweets of a Canadian politician.)

Five Reasons to Use Storify

From my readings and experiments with Storify, I've come up with five reasons why you should use it:

  1. It helps you to discover stories on social media. While using Storify to look for reactions to the GDP statistics, I came accross the rather vigorous discussion of professor Roubini's predictions. That became part of my story.
  2. It's graphically appealing for readers and it's easy to use for content creators. Basically, you use Storify to search for content on various social media services and the web, and then drag and drop them and then rearrange it, adding text in between items to create a story. Readers see a clean, interesting presentation of your story, and you can also track traffic to your Storify story.
  3. It makes your work transparent. Your community gets to view the raw material you used to write your story. Storify also makes it very easy to notify the people who created the individual tweets, pictures and status updates that you've curated. This makes it easy to them to react to what you've done.
  4. Even though it presents the raw material, it also enables you to filter out the noise, such as retweets and other distracting elements.
  5. Last but not least, Storify enables you to integrate things such as Twitter into an environment that is more familiar to your community members: Your own blog or website. It works with what you already have.

Things to Think About

Screen shot 2010-12-03 at 12.05.37 PM.pngNow that you know a few reasons for using Storify, here are things to think about before you do so:

  1. A Storify presentation can be confusing, especially for readers who are less familiar with social media. Make sure you offer a bit of background about what they're looking at, especially if Storify is new to your website. I also found that keeping things in chronological or reverse chronological order helped our readers better understand what they were looking at. Finally, be careful about how much you're mixing YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr with blogs and your own text. Don't try to tell too many stories in too many ways in a single Storify story.
  2. Providing context. The neat thing about Storify is that it allows you to insert your own text in between the curated items. But it's also sometimes a good idea to start with a classical long form blog post or written intro above your Storify story, and then embed the Storify below. Often times, just inserting Storify into a blog post isn't enough to help people understand the context of what they're reading.
  3. Beware of the unknown. Storify is still in private beta and more and better features are being added. However, we don't know if the company/product will succeed, so I wonder what happens to all of my Stofiy stories if it shuts down? What if the company decides to integrate ads in a way that's not acceptable for you or your media company? I asked (on Twitter of course) Storify whether it's possible to export one's stories, and the good people at the company said you one can export stories using their API." Just append .json to the story URL and you're good to go!

The Future

I think Storify has the potential to become a very interesting platform. While services such as Seesmic make it easy to monitor social streams from many different services, they don't provide a very easy and straightforward way to combine all that stuff into stories. I look forward to seeing how Storify will develop its service (for instance, on tablets).

What are your experiences with Storify or similar services? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Roland Legrand is in charge of Internet and new media at Mediafin, the publisher of leading Belgian business newspapers De Tijd and L'Echo. He studied applied economics and philosophy. After a brief teaching experience, he became a financial journalist working for the Belgian wire service Belga and subsequently for Mediafin. He works in Brussels, and lives in Antwerp with his wife, Liesbeth.

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