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March 18 2012


Wondering what happened to Myspace? It's now a place for web shows

The Next Web :: In case you were wondering to yourself what would become of Myspace now that it’s under new management after a $35M firesale to Specific Media, here’s your first glimpse. Fox Digital Entertainment announced today that it would be releasing a brand new scripted Web series called “LET’S BIG HAPPY” exclusively on the social network that its parent company News Corporation used to own. That’s right, Fox is debuting a show on Myspace.

Continue to read Drew Olanoff, thenextweb.com

January 10 2012


July 24 2011


How MySpace Tom may have inadvertently triggered the Google/Facebook war

Washington Post :: It was Microsoft, that was just about to sign the MySpace search/ad deal 2006, and it was Vic Gundotra, now the man behind Google+, trying to get the deal done for the Redmond corporation. But everything went different: MySpace founder Tom Anderson ran into John Doerr and told hime that they were about to close with Microsoft and Google closed the deal. Within an hour, Google brass helicoptered out to a News Corp. shindig at Pebble Beach ... Just think about what would have been had Anderson not run into Doerr? - It may have been a place for Google and Facebook to be friends. In a relationship, even.

Continue to read www.washingtonpost.com

July 18 2011


Privacy concerns - Google+ (Plus) vs. Facebook: which can you trust?

PC World :: Are people flocking to Google+ to escape Facebook's evil clutches? And if so, is that really such a good idea?  - It's only some weeks ago that MySpace assets, which include some 50 million-odd personal profiles were purchased by Specific Media, an online ad firm. Since then, some smart folks have pointed out to that -- Google is also an advertising company (interesting news). And when you come right down to it, so is Facebook. That's certainly what has produced the vast majority of FB's revenues so far.

Which platform should we trust, Facebook or Google? - Dan Tynan's (first) evaluation.

Continue to read Dan Tynan, www.pcworld.com


The next big thing - 10 reasons why Google+ (Plus) is not an option it is a MUST

Forbes :: First off, if you’re immediately thinking, “The LAST thing I need is to figure out yet another social network,” you’re totally right. This is the last thing you need. However, if you were fortunate enough to be a marketing executive back in 2007, and you said that about the transition from MySpace to Facebook, then you know what happened to people who didn’t surf the new wave instead of riding the one that petered out. Chris Brogan spent over 250 hours on our behalf and found 10 compelling reasons why you have to look at Google+.

[Chris Brogan:] If people are asking for what the next big thing is for online marketing, mobile marketing, digital communications and social media, (Google+) this is certainly my pick for 2011.

Continue to read Chris Brogan, blogs.forbes.com

July 01 2011


Mediatwits #11: Can Google+ Overtake Facebook, Avoid MySpace's Fate?

danny_sullivan headshot.jpg

Welcome to the eleventh episode of "The Mediatwits," the weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser and Rafat Ali, the founder of PaidContent. This week's show looks at the recent launch of Google+, a more fully formed social network that is taking on Facebook. Google+ is in an invite-only mode but both Mark and Rafat had a chance to try it out. Special guest Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land joins the show to spell out just how difficult Google+ will have it trying to overtake entrenched social networking king Facebook.

Plus, MySpace, the former social networking leader, has fallen on hard times, with News Corp. recently selling it in a fire sale for just $35 million, a far cry from its sale price in 2005 for $580 million. What went wrong? Could the same thing happen to Facebook? And how can Google+ be the next Facebook and not the next MySpace?

Check it out!


Subscribe to the podcast here

Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

Rafat back from Uzbekistan

1:50: Rafat says it's easy to unlock an iPhone

3:25: No one uses Facebook in Uzbekistan

5:44: Rundown of topics for the podcast

First impressions of Google+

08:20: Rafat annoyed by people talking about Google+ on Google+

10:10: Mark says there's nothing groundbreaking to make people switch

Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan joins in

11:35: Background on Danny Sullivan

13:40: Google +1 buttons don't go into stream

16:40: Google+ lets you start fresh with friends in circles

17:45: Danny is exhausted thinking about having to categorize all his friends

19:40: Danny likes the Hangout video chats

MySpace sold on the cheap


23:20: Justin Timberlake now has stake in MySpace

26:15: Rafat says MySpace founders weren't strong leaders

27:10: Danny never liked MySpace because it seemed "messy"

28:30: Google search deal actually hurt MySpace

More Reading


Google's Facebook Competitor, The Google+ Social Network, Finally Arrives at Search Engine Land

First Look: Hands On With Google+ at Search Engine Land

Google+ Project: It's Social, It's Bold, It's Fun, And It Looks Good -- Now For The Hard Part at TechCrunch

9 Reasons to Switch from Facebook to Google+ at PC World

How to invite your pals to Google+ at CNET

Exclusive: Myspace to Be Sold to Specific Media for $35 Million at AllThingsD

The Rise and Inglorious Fall of Myspace at BusinessWeek

Stealing MySpace book at Amazon

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about Google+:

What do you think about Google+?customer surveys

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

June 30 2011


What if I could buy YOUR MySpace status updates, photos and more for $25?

Beta Beat :: Myspace’s biggest asset is arguably its userbase of somewhere between 50 and 65 million people. Myspace posted a dozen data sets on the data marketplace Infochimps in March, with information on status updates, user activity, apps, photos and more, with prices ranging from $25 to $150.

[A representative by email:] The data MySpace sells through Infochimps is intended to help someone track certain types of behavior. 

Oh? Yes? Did you know that? - Tell me "What would Facebook do?" 

Continue to read the whole story and background Ben Popper, www.betabeat.com

June 16 2011


Are Americans becoming more isolated from each other? Maybe, Pew says, but don’t blame Facebook

The accusations are familiar: The Internet is making us sad. The Internet is making us lazy. The Internet is making us lonely.

Pew has taken all of those ideas head-on with a new study, “Social Networking Sites and Our Lives” — the first national, representative survey of American adults on their use of social networking sites. Pew interviewed 2,255 of those American adults, 1,787 of them Internet users, between late October and late November of 2010; the survey group included 975 users of social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The survey builds on Pew’s 2009 report on technology and isolation, which found that, while there’s been a correlative decline in the size and diversity of people’s closest relationships since the advent of digital technology, the decline hasn’t (whew!) been caused by the Internet.

And today’s findings corroborate that. Americans’ use of social networks has nearly doubled since 2008, Pew notes, and “there is little validity to concerns that people who use SNS experience smaller social networks, less closeness, or are exposed to less diversity,” its report concludes. Furthermore: “The likelihood of an American experiencing a deficit in social support, having less exposure to diverse others, not being able to consider opposing points of view, being untrusting, or otherwise being disengaged from their community and American society generally is unlikely to be a result of how they use technology, especially in comparison to common predictors.”

While it’s still legitimate, I think, to wonder how the structures of social networks play out on the broader cultural level, it’s increasingly clear that our early dystopian fears of an Internet of Isolation are largely unfounded. We may be bowling alone, yes — but we’re also doing a lot of other things together, as a community, online and off.


In its 2009 survey, to measure how much trust people have in their fellow citizens, Pew asked its participants: :Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you can’t be too careful in dealing with people?” And only 32 percent, less than a third of Americans, fell on the “can be trusted” side of things. So the 2010 findings bring good news: This time around, a comparatively whopping 41 percent said that most of their fellow citizens can, indeed, be trusted.

And here’s where things get especially interesting: Internet users tend to be much more trusting than non-users. Of online Americans, 46 percent said that “most people can be trusted.” Only 27 percent of non-Internet users said the same.

There are demographic elements to those findings: Education and race can affect people’s levels of trust in each other independent of communications tools. Even controlling for that, however, Pew found, Internet users are more than twice as likely to think that most people can be trusted.

And, among those users, Facebook-ers seem to be the most trusting of all. “When we control for demographic factors and types of technology use,” the report notes, “we find that there is a significant relationship between the use of SNS and trust, but only for those who use Facebook – not other SNS platforms.” (Twitter, just to be clear, is included among those platforms. Which, hmm.)

The study also found, intriguingly, an apparent correlation between time investment and overall trust: Facebook users who use the service multiple times a day are 43 percent more likely than other Internet users — and about three times more likely than non-Internet users — to agree that “most people can be trusted.”

Viewpoint diversity

Another knock on the Internet is that it isolates its users from the broader world in the embrace of familiarity otherwise known as an echo chamber — and that, in the process, our online existences prevent us from the fullest expressions of IRL empathy. To tackle that idea, the report’s authors measured what psychologists call “perspective taking” — the ability to adopt the viewpoint of another person (or, in the context of politics, to consider “both sides of an issue”) — on a scale that ranged from 0 to 100. And what they found is that social network participation, while it doesn’t necessarily encourage empathy, doesn’t seem to harm it, either. “Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter users are no more or less able to consider alternative points,” the report puts it.

The one exception, interestingly, is MySpace. “Controlling for demographic characteristics and other types of technology use, MySpace users tend to have a greater ability to consider multiple sides of an issue in comparison to other people.” Whether that has something to do with the well-documented cultural differences between, say, MySpace and Facebook would make for more fascinating study fodder.

Meantime, though, there seems to be a similar social-networks-don’t-change-human-behavior phenomenon when it comes to the most obvious IRL demonstrations of social capital: belonging to local groups like sports leagues, religious organizations, and volunteer outfits. While 74 percent of Americans now belong to social networks offline — way up from the 65 percent who said the same back in 2008 — that bump has little to do with social networking online, Pew says. MySpace users actually have a negative correlation with voluntary group participation, even controlling for demographics, and “use of all other SNS platforms does not predict belonging to a voluntary group.”

Civic engagement

And what about more explicit political activity? Demographic factors — age, gender, education — have always been, and are still, the most predictive factors of political engagement. But even accounting for that, Pew found that Internet users, and Facebook users in particular, are more likely to be politically involved than their non-Internet-using-but-otherwise-similar counterparts.

“Controlling for demographic characteristics, Internet users are nearly two and a half times more likely to have attended a political rally (2.39x), 78 percent more likely to have attempted to influence someone’s vote, and 53 percent more likely to have reported voting or intending to vote than non-Internet users,” the survey found. And a Facebook user who visits the site multiple times per day is two and a half times more likely than the standard Internet user to have attended a political rally or meeting. That user is also 57 percent more likely to have tried to convince someone to vote for a specific candidate, and 43 percent more likely to have voted to expressed an intention to vote.

Overall, then, compared with non-Internet users, Facebookers are 5.89 times more likely to have attended a political meeting, 2.79 times more likely to talk to another person about voting, and 2.19 times more likely to report having actually voted.

It’s noteworthy that the engagement metrics here aren’t just about passive participation — clicking a “Like” button on Barack Obama’s Facebook page or otherwise engaging in virtually mindless acts of “hacktivism.” What Pew is measuring are intentional, physical, IRL actions — rallying, voting, arguing — that stew together, physically and palpably, to form a democracy. And Facebook, more than any other major social network, seems to be encouraging those actions. It’s worth wondering why, exactly, that is. And it’s worth considering what news organizations, which share both an economic and civic interest in encouraging public participation, can learn from it.

January 14 2011


3 Big Ways the People Search Industry Has Changed

Back in September 2007, MediaShift's Mark Glaser examined the emergence and functionality of online people search engines and looked at how they affect your privacy.

A lot has changed since then. Facebook has become, in my opinion, the White Pages directory of the Internet age. At the same time, a lot of the people-search engines changed drastically. Many took a negative path by spamming their pages with undisclosed ads and making it harder to opt-out. Other took a more flexible (and better) approach by allowing you to easily manage your privacy while also still enabling you to be found.

Below are the three key ways in which online people search has changed in recent years.

Change #1: Facebook is The New White Pages

White Pages directories usually list the names and numbers of various people. So how is Facebook the new White Pages directory?

Let me answer that question with a question: What's the purpose of telephone numbers? They enable you to contact someone. Can you do the same thing with Facebook? Of course! Most people use their real names on Facebook -- one survey found that only 2 percent of Facebook users use fake names.

To get in touch with someone 20 or even 10 years ago you might look them up in the phone book. Once the web started to gain adoption, people suddenly had email addresses -- but there wasn't a website where you could type a real name and get a person's email. (This made sense from a privacy perspective, as a directory of all emails would be spammer's heaven.)

Social networks appeared to offer the equivalent of an online phone directory, but there was one big problem in the early days: People were spread out on MySpace, Facebook, Hi5, Friendster, Bebo and so on. MySpace seemed to dominate but eventually Facebook took over. (Even when MySpace was in the lead, people didn't use their real names. MySpace tried to fix this problem, but it was too late.)

The point is that today Facebook is now the closest thing to a true online white pages directory. Its 500 million users with mostly real names have transformed it into the Internet's White Pages. As it continues to grow, that will only become more true. It's the first site in history to have such a huge database of real names and an easy way to contact those people. And while you can only see contact info for Facebook "friends" who post their info on Facebook, you can also message nearly everyone else on the site.

Change #2: Free People Search Engines are Less Free

Two years ago I published an article, 25 Free People Search Engines to Find Anyone. The purpose was to collect a lot of genuinely free resources for finding people online. Most of them were, indeed, not charging and not full of ads.

Two years later, I'm blown away by how many previously free sites are anything but free. Take this example of an old and very popular people search site:

darren1 small.jpg

Three out of four boxes are ads -- and they aren't disclosed as such. Or take a look at this site:


You're told you can find the person you're looking for on Facebook or MySpace. If you click on the name, however, you are prompted to register on a different site where they later offer you full access to that person's profile for a fee. Scary stuff.

Luckily, there are still some new and awesome free people search engines. One is KGBPeople. This is a new and growing service, so I hope they'll stay free as they go bigger.

Change #3: More Privacy Controls

Most people's initial reaction after they go to a website that lists their private information is to think about how they can remove their entry from the site. The good news is most websites of this type offer an opt-out option to remove your personal information from their database.

Sites like WhitePages.com, however, offer a more flexible approach. Yes, you can remove your information from their site if you want; but you can also take control of your listing and do some of the following things:

  1. List your cell phone number but hide the actual number. If someone finds your listing and wants to contact you, she will be shown "send text message" link where she can send you a message via the WhitePages.com system without knowing your actual number.
  2. List your email but hide your actual email. It's the same as above: The person trying to contact you will get a "Send email" link instead of getting your actual email address, as shown in the image below.


Unfortunately, I haven't seen any other big people search sites trying to do something like this. Instead, many of them make it harder for people to opt-out from their database. This creates a lose-lose situation in the long run.

The approach by WhitePages.com solves one big problem: If you remove your personal information from their site, you'll protect your privacy. But what if you have some long-lost friend who wants to get in touch with you? By removing your personal information you drastically reduce the chances you will be found by someone who genuinely wants to reconnect. By claiming a profile and controlling what is private and what is public, you eliminate this problem.

Recently Google removed its phone directory search operator without giving an official report on it. The reason? A lot of users were shocked after seeing their full name and number listed there. What if Google did this instead: Offer an option for people to claim their profiles, and encourage people to do so by explaining the advantages of doing this, such as being contacted easily by people they haven't seen for a long time. Would offering such an option have changed things? I think yes.

The people search industry needs to think more about how it can better serve people while offering privacy and flexibility. According to Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi, four percent of searches are people search, but results are only satisfying 20 percent of the time. Unfortunately, not many people or companies are trying to improve this situation.

Darren Mihajlovski has been in the people search industry for close to four years. His website, FinderMind reports on recent people search trends, as well as offering people search advice.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

October 16 2010


ScraperWiki: Hacks and Hackers day, Manchester.

If you’re not familiar with scraperwiki it’s ”all the tools you need for Screen Scraping, Data Mining & visualisation”.

These guys are working really hard at convincing Journos that data is their friend by staging a steady stream of events bringing together journos and programmers together to see what happens.

So I landed at NWVM’s offices to what seems like a mountain of laptops, fried food, coke and biscuits to be one of the judges of their latest hacks and hackers day in Manchester (#hhhmcr). I was expecting some interesting stuff. I wasn’t dissapointed.

The winners

We had to pick three prizes from the six of so projects started that day and here’s what we (Tom Dobson, Julian Tait and me)  ended up with.

The three winners, in reverse order:

Quarternote: A website that would ‘scrape’ myspace for band information. The idea was that you could put a location and style of music in to the system and it would compile a line-up of bands.

A great idea (although more hacker than hack) and if I was a dragon I would consider investing. These guys also won the Scraperwiki ‘cup’ award for actually being brave enough to have a go at scraping data from Myspace. Apparently myspace content has less structure than custard! The collective gasps from the geeks in the room when they said that was what they wanted to do underlined that.

Second was Preston’s summer of spend.  Local councils are supposed to make details of any invoice over 500 pounds available, and many have. But many don’t make the data very useable.  Preston City council is no exception. PDF’s!

With a little help from Scraperwiki the data was scraped, tidied and put in a spreadsheet and then organised. It through up some fun stuff – 1000 pounds to The Bikini Beach Band! And some really interesting areas for exploration – like a single payment of over 80,000 to one person (why?) – and I’m sure we’ll see more from this as the data gets a good running through.  A really good example of how a journo and a hacker can work together.

The winner was one of number of projects that took the tweets from the GMP 24hr tweet experiment; what one group titled ‘Genetically modified police’ tweeting :). Enrico Zini and Yuwei Lin built a searchable GMP24 tweet database (and a great write up of the process) of the tweets which allowed searching by location, keyword, all kinds of things. It was a great use of the data and the working prototype was impressive given the time they had.

Credit should go to Michael Brunton-Spall of the Guardian into a useable dataset which saved a lot of work for those groups using the tweets as the raw data for their projects.

Other projects included mapping deprivation in manchester and a legal website that if it comes off will really be one to watch. All brilliant stuff.

Hacks and hackers we need you

Give the increasing amount of raw data that organisations are pumping out journalists will find themselves vital in making sure that they stay accountable. But I said in an earlier post that good journalists don’t need to know how to do everything, they just need to know who to ask.

The day proved to me and, I think to lots of people there,  that asking a hacker to help sort data out is really worth it.

I’m sure there will be more blogs etc about the day appearing over the next few days.

Thanks to everyone concerned for asking me along.

June 15 2010


Skiff: Murdoch tries to buy the news platform. Again.

News Corp’s acquisition of the Skiff e-reader platform has been widely reported in the last few hours. It’s a completely sensible move from an organisation which understands that it has to control every part of the news chain if it is to extract as much value as possible from content, advertising, and user data.

Of course we’ve been here before with MySpace – a distribution network, database, and content platform that Murdoch acquired to howls of derision – then applause, when an enormous advertising deal was brokered with Google – and derision once more as MySpace failed to meet targets stipulated by that deal.

Skiff, however, is a rather different proposition. Interestingly, News Corp have bought the software but not the device it was supposed to run on. That may be because it was already developing one.

I’m not sure whether it is a wise move to compete with the technical expertise and experience of Amazon and Apple – but you can bet that, commercially, News Corp has a very strong hand.

One point to note is that Apple’s business model is primarily based on selling devices; Amazon’s is mainly about selling things; but News Corp is mainly about selling the intangibles of advertising and content. That may give them cause to discount their technology heavily as a mass-market offering to tie people in, and acquire customer data.

News Corp is a network, not just a series of holdings. And the latest acquisitions suggest they’re not going to let someone else control their market without a fight. The question is: how soon will they put the gloves on? And how hard, and long, can they fight?

December 21 2009


KNC 2010: Homicide Watch D.C. focuses reporting on the victims

[EDITOR'S NOTE: We're highlighting a few of the entries in this year's Knight News Challenge, which just closed Tuesday night. Did you know of an entry worth looking at? Email Mac or leave a brief comment on this post. —Josh]

Laura Norton honed her crime-reporting skills in two years as a cops reporter at the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. Now Norton, a freelancer in Washington, D.C., wants to build a new way to gather information on that city’s murders. (There have been 135 D.C. homicides so far in 2009.)

With Homicide Watch D.C., she wants to aggregate a variety of web-based resources — everything from official court documents to news reports to posts on Facebook and MySpace — and then create layers of context through original reporting. And here’s the hook: All that information will be constructed around the victims, not the crimes.

What she’s proposing is a mashup of crime visualizations, homicide blogs, social media tools, and the online gathering places offered by the likes of Legacy.com. The “victim pages” would be driven by an extensive database custom built for the project. Here’s a rough prototype from Norton’s proposal, built around De’Vante Glober, a 16-year-old shot and killed on Jan. 7:

There’s a public service component to this as well. News organizations can’t cover every homicide, and they rarely go beyond cursory details on the few stories that do bubble up. This project attempts to fill that coverage gap for the people who need it most: family members and neighbors.

“I think that when a crime happens in a neighborhood, people search for this,” Norton said. “And when you have a homicide every three days, which is what D.C. averaged the first half of the year, news organizations can’t get to that so easily.”

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