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Life After ‘American Idol’ Elimination: Could Pia Toscano Be ‘Robbed by the Label’?

Life After ‘American Idol’ Elimination: Could Pia Toscano Be ‘Robbed by the Label’?

On the Apr. 7, 2011 results episode of “American Idol,” Pia Toscano, the New York City 22-year-old woman whom many, even the show’s panelists—Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler—thought was good enough to perhaps be the long-running hit TV show’s winner for the season, had the least amount of votes and was eliminated, thus finishing her in 9th place.

Pia Toscano

Say what you want about what caused Pia’s surprise elimimation, which left the “Idol” panel in a state of shock and disbelief, and prompted some viewers to comment online that they weren’t going to watch “Idol” again, as typically happens when a perceived favorite gets bumped at an unexpected time.

One male viewer told Radar Online that his wife had trouble casting a vote for Pia online through the “Idol” website [which includes a Facebook app to initiate such voting], a charge that was refuted in the same article by an unnamed staffer, who claimed nothing went wrong with the voting process.

 

Also, dialidol.com, which according to its website, is known for “measuring the busy signal” based on toll-free phone numbers for each “Idol” contestant, had Pia ranked 3rd on their scoring system, which may have suggested she was going to continue, but as imperfect as that system was, and because “Idol’s” voting process also includes text messages and, more recently, online votes, it could be argued that not as many voted via the non-traditional phone-in methods as those who did vote by phone for Pia.

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Reality is Broken: Gaming Makes the World Better!

Reality is Broken: Gaming Makes the World Better!

Gaming has always made me happy. But now, I have proof that I NEED to play. Last year, relatively unknown game designer, Jane McGonigal gave a speech at TED that began a movement by which a new term, and industry would evolve. Jane postulated that playing games, makes us better people. And now, she is launching a book that describes in detail that theory. To be honest, this is something I already knew being an avid gamer, but what makes her “studies” more poignant is the fact that we are starting to believe the science behind Gamification.

Jane said some, at the time, outrageous thing like: “If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity, I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week, by the end of the next decade.”

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YouTube Live: Late to the Party?

YouTube Live: Late to the Party?

Over the last four years or so, a few websites have sprung up to offer anyone with at least a webcam and broadband the ability to do live TV online.  Websites like uStream, Justin.tv, Stickam and Livestream have made “lifecasting” and other forms of live streaming video possible.

Google’s YouTube, which has been famous for hosting video clips past and present, homemade and otherwise, had also been doing some occasional video streaming of live events during this time.  But that is nothing compared to what they have just come up with.  Yes, they’re venturing into what had been the territory of uStream and the others by starting up their own live streaming video service. Might they be late to the party?

Maybe not, thanks to YouTube being so well-known and well-established, with over 2 billion views a day. I used data from Alexa, which monitors website traffic, to figure out that YouTube, at #3 in terms of page views as of the time of this writing, is well ahead of uStream [421], Justin.tv [423], Livestream [1111] and Stickam [5335].

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Feuding Over ‘Friday’

Feuding Over ‘Friday’

Rebecca Black’s video of “Friday,” which has now been seen over 82 million times on YouTube, has spawned a few parodies, as well as dozens and dozens of cover versions, including one performed recently by late night TV hosts Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report,” and Jimmy Fallon of NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”

Miley Cyrus | Rebecca Black

It has also drawn impressive praises from former “American Idol” panelist-turned-creator, producer and lead judge for “The X Factor,” Simon Cowell, as well as caused Miley Cyrus to do a 180, going from hating to liking Rebecca so much that she, too, wants to do her own cover version of “Friday”.

What’s even more amazing about Rebecca Black and “Friday” is how radio, the time-honored way of breaking a new song, was not used as much as the viral spreading of that video via YouTube, with a little help from mainstream TV airplay.

Along with that success, “Friday” has generated its share of controversy, some of it based on the way Rebecca sang the song, and some based on how ridiculous the lyrics are perceived to be. But all that pales by comparison to a deeper controversy that has developed behind the song itself, and it’s one that may have ended up setting the song’s co-writers against each other.

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From the Developers Notebook: Zipline Games Looking to Take Mobile and Cloud Development to New Levels

From the Developers Notebook: Zipline Games Looking to Take Mobile and Cloud Development to New Levels

From the Developers Notebook:

Seattle startup Zipline Games looks to make mobile development a speedy process with its new platform. The new platform will allow developers of mobile, social and web-based games and applications to easily get started—up-and-running the same day. It promises to remove the difficulty of cross platform development.

“I wanted to make it possible for game developers and designers to go have a crazy conversation at lunch, then come back and get those new ideas working in the game by the end of the day,” said founder and CTO Patrick Meehan in an interview on Zipline’s website.

The Mobile Platform For Pro Game Developers

Zipline has released the beta version of its development platform MOAI which allows mobile game developers to write the games in Lua rather than writing for each device. Then once the games are completely developed, Zipline offers cloud hosting and royalty free distribution. This is a stand out for smaller developers.  The Moai SDK can handle graphics, animation, input, physics, collisions, and more. Moai Cloud hosts your game logic, databases and additional game content.

“There’s a lot of interesting challenges in the market,” said Zipline co-founder Todd Hooper. “People want to be on board with IOS and Android and you need a solution that lets you get on board with those.”

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Game On, GameStop!

Game On, GameStop!

Last week, hot news off the press was abuzz with acquisitions. Mostly business growing and expanding. The regular boring drab that keeps us business people questioning strategic decisions. But something caught my eye. GameStop buys Impluse and Spawn Labs. Normally I wouldn’t give much thought to mergers and acquisitions of a retailer, but I thought this one might be worth further investigation. You see, when I was young I loved going to video game arcades and record stores. I watched as Tower Records dominated the industry and it was always a treat when I could walk into the one on Sunset Blvd. I went to Egghead Software and eventually GameStop. But as with all things digital, Brick and Mortar stores are no longer needed. It has been no surprise that the GameStop stores are seeing a decline. But the move last week, just may keep them in business.

Impulse and Spawn Labs have made names for themselves by supplying games to consumers digitally. Spawn Labs, although still testing the technology, says it will be able to deliver games on demand to any computer with an internet connection. Impulse, as subsidiary of Stardock Systems, has been creating systems that have been delivering games digitally for over 10 years. This kind of experience is exactly what GameStop needs to stay in the distribution game.

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The Shadiness of Unpaid Digital Royalties

The Shadiness of Unpaid Digital Royalties

It has already been widely known that record labels can be a rather shady bunch thanks to such creative accounting devices as recoupable expenses, as well as unpaid or underpaid royalties, the latter an issue that has been a subject of many court cases over the years. The latest twist on unpaid royalties concerns a recent court case that indirectly involved the rapper who sometimes calls himself Slim Shady.

In March 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States turned down an appeal of a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco, that Mark & Jeff Bass, the Detroit-based brothers who produced rapper Eminem’s early recordings from the mid-to-late 1990’s, were entitled to more revenues from digital download and ringtone sales than was previously negotiated.

The ruling treated digital downloads as material that is “licensed” to distributors like iTunes rather than as a physical product like a compact disc, and thus meant that the Basses should have received half, or 50%, of the revenues from it being licensed as a digital download, instead of the negotiated 12 to 20% it got because the record label—in this case, market leader Universal Music Group—decided to give digital royalties the same percentage rate as compact discs.

Granted, Eminem himself was not necessarily a party to the lawsuit, but a representative for its lead plaintiff said that Eminem’s net worth could grow, probably by another $30 million, if not more, as a result of that suit.

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InAppliCable: Legacy Media and Disruptive Technology

InAppliCable: Legacy Media and Disruptive Technology

Cable systems pay a fee per subscriber for the right to carry channels like ESPN, TBS, TNT, USA Network and many more, on their systems. But does that right extend to putting those channels on iPads?

Time Warner iPad App Prototype

Back on March 15, 2011, TimeWarner Cable introduced an app that allows subscribers to view cable channels on their iPads, workable only with subscribers’ wireless home networking and Internet access. No sooner was that app introduced than some cable channels, including those owned by Fox—like FX, Fox News and Fox Sports—and Scripps—like Food Network and HGTV—ordered TimeWarner to remove them from that app, saying that it was prohibited under their carriage agreements.

Though TimeWarner Cable still, as of this writing, has some three dozen channels on their iPad app, the Los Angeles Times compares the scenario that the cable company is facing to one in which you buy peanut butter from a store, put it in a Tupperware container, refrigerate it, and then have the peanut butter manufacturer tell you that you have to pay extra for doing so.

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Google Management: Musical Chairs, Facebook Frenemies, and One Man Overboard—Possibly

Google Management: Musical Chairs, Facebook Frenemies, and One Man Overboard—Possibly

Jonathan Rosenberg, the Chief of Product Development at Google, said Monday that he plans to step down in coming months. A nine year veteran at Google, Rosenberg makes the announcement on the very day that Co-Founder Larry Page takes the reins in the CEO chair.

Jonathan Rosenberg

San Jose Mercury News reported that as Page reclaims the role of CEO from Eric Schmidt, Google’s co-founder has asked his senior executives to make long-term, multiyear commitments that they will remain at the company. Rosenberg, a member of the executive committee that makes Google’s key strategic decisions, said in an interview Monday that he decided he could not fulfill that promise to Page, given his long-held plans to leave the company around the time his daughter goes to college in 2013.

Larry Page, CEO Google, and Wife Lucy

This just can’t be good. If after all these years the tight-knitted group of the executive team begins to unravel as Page comes in, there is more a-brewing at the company than the normal anti-trust lawsuits and Facebook frenemy fighting. Clearly Rosenberg saw something that has weighed on him. Is it Page? Or is it because he was one of the trusted ones on team Schmidt? And is it important to anyone, especially Page, that he decided to announce the decision on the very day that Page starts as CEO?

Googleplex Culture

It’s not lost on any of us that Google has had some retention problems. They started a mass hiring a few months back and are still trying to attract great talent. But at what cost? Google isn’t necessarily the place people love to go to work, but to be fair it’s not the most hated either. Whatever it is about the company culture at Google, what is clear is that the ship is turning and one of the top officers is about to jump overboard.

This doesn’t mean that things cannot be great or on the verge of getting better. Sometimes change is needed. This.. this is a big one!

Zynga on Wall Street with Sheep—Yes, Sheep.

Zynga on Wall Street with Sheep—Yes, Sheep.

CityVille, FarmVille, and Mafia Wars are part of Zynga’s portfolio. Zynga is considered one of the fastest growing startups with no end in sight. To be realistic Zynga is doing great, but at a big cost. Games like FarmVille do very well in the first 6 months. After that, the numbers fall drastically, in fact so much so that CityVille peaked in one month, then showed decline by the three month mark. But that doesn’t deter a company like Zynga. They reinvent the games, at the latest outing by the company, does just that.

Zynga showed up on Wall Street with a few sheep. Yes, sheep. The company was promoting FarmVille English Countryside, the expansion to its popular FarmVille. With Zynga being valued at around $10 Billion, it’s easy to see how they can march sheep around the Big Apple.

Zynga continues to add gaming talent to its ranks, it evolved with the gameplay from FarmVille, its first breakout hit, into CityVille, an even more successful game in terms of user ramp and monthly active users. CityVille reached 100 million users in just 43 days. However, CityVille has peaked after its initial growth, and lost almost 5 million monthly active users in February alone, just three months after launch. CityVille is still increasing daily active users, but the writing is on the wall: CityVille will follow FarmVille’s decline, only faster. Now the next iteration of FarmVille, is destined for the same cycle. Rapid growth and even faster decline.

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Pandora: Come on Feds, Leave the Good Ones Alone!

Pandora: Come on Feds, Leave the Good Ones Alone!

Ok here is the good news: Pandora Media, the maker of the popular internet radio station, looks to be going public! READ HERE.

Boss Hogg

However, a federal grand jury has issued a subpoena to the little company as part of a larger investigation on practices of information sharing on apps on the iOS and Android platforms. The FTC is doing some privacy policy investigation stuff. Looks like Boss Hogg ain’t happy with them Duke boys.

Meanwhile back at the Dukes ranch, Jesse and Cooter get the General Lee ready for…

I digress.

It is unclear who the target is of the investigation, but it seems the “Do Not Track” campaign the federal government is conducting now includes mobile apps. US Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced the ‘Do Not Track’ Me Online Act of 2011 on February 11. It is the first bill of this Congress to explicitly call for ‘Do Not Track’ regulation.

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More iPhone 5 Rumors: Edge-To-Edge Screen, NFC Chip, A5 Processor. In People-Speak That Means a Bigger Screen, Better Apps, Longer Battery, Faster Speed and Paying for Your Starbuck’s Coffee Without Opening Your Wallet.

More iPhone 5 Rumors: Edge-To-Edge Screen, NFC Chip, A5 Processor. In People-Speak That Means a Bigger Screen, Better Apps, Longer Battery, Faster Speed and Paying for Your Starbuck’s Coffee Without Opening Your Wallet.

I love to hear the latest rumors about the newest technology to hit our favorite-to-hate company: Apple. I have written before about the latest iPad, and now we are beginning to speculate about the newest iPhone. First, if any of the photos are true, which I am certain they are not, then the phone looks great. Not to say that Apple won’t make it a great looking product, but knowing how secretive they are with their products I am pretty certain no one in the public has seen this thing. But as rumors go, let’s spread them some more!

The iPhone 5 is reported to have a new screen, NFC (Near Field Communications chip), and the A5 processor.

iPhone 5 – Rumored Design

First, the iPhone 5 has a purported larger screen. While the form factor for the phone is similar to the iPhone 4, they say the increase in screen size is significant. Some pictures have emerged showing this could be another big step for Apple. Edge-to-Edge screen!

The screen will use the same technology as the iPhone 4 and will remain the best in the business.

iPhone 5 – Alleged Point-Of-Purchase System – NFC Interface

Second, the NFC chip will be a new feature for the phone. Near Field Communications chips in simple terms will allow users to complete contact-less payments. Think about going into Starbucks and buying your coffee with your phone. The ability to complete purchases with your phone brings us one step closer to removing all those pesky cards in our wallets. To be fair, the iPhone is not the first to do this, but with all the recent talk surrounding NFC, it’s clear Apple doesn’t want to be left out of the loop.

And lastly, and probably most importantly, the iPhone 5 will come with a new processor. The A5 processor, which was recently launched with the iPad 2, is incredibly powerful. Speed is the key here. The A5 processor is a dual core processor. For us this means a few things: Better apps, better battery, and speed. As if the phone wasn’t fast enough, the new A5 processor will turn your device into a very powerful computing device.

Safe to say the next generation of the iPhone will not disappoint. It will be a major step in technology advancement and we will benefit from the speed.

Seven Is Her Lucky Number. Was Booth No. 7 Her Lucky Break? One Hopeful Recounts ‘The X Factor’ Audition.

Seven Is Her Lucky Number. Was Booth No. 7 Her Lucky Break? One Hopeful Recounts ‘The X Factor’ Audition.

For those of us who have slugged through an audition round—film, music, TV—we are all too familiar with the roller-coaster ride. Yes, once, as a songwriter I auditioned for a new show on Bravo, called “Hitmakers” (now “Going Platinum”), and you guessed it, they were looking for the next big songwriter—Hitmaker. My assessment? The process was, well, an experience to say the least. For anyone interested in a one-off audition, or heck, maybe more than a one-off audition, to any of the “biggie” TV shows that makes the rounds once a year—um, like “American Idol”—here’s your chance to get an inside glimpse at the mass-level audition process.

One hopeful, Chaeya, recounts the journey of her “The X Factor” audition—did she make it? I, for one, could not stop reading, I had to know.

Chaeya  +  Booth No. 7  +  ‘The X Factor’ Audition

Chaeya’s Story:

So occasionally I get these little insane moments where I actually think I could audition for something which would be aired during prime-time television. This is exactly what happened when one of my friends urged me to try out for Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor” show, coming this Fall. At first my reaction was a sniff, then a smirk. Then later I thought, hmmm, maybe I might get picked? Of course, that little voice in the back of my mind was laughing at me, no gentle cautions, no “go get-‘em siss-boom-bah’s,” like I get whenever I feel an epic win coming my way. Just laughter.

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Oh MySpace, What Happened?

Oh MySpace, What Happened?

It seems like yesterday I was cutting and pasting html into my MySpace account to get new backgrounds and songs, growing my fledgling friends list, and enjoying the social networking game. But now, a few years later, and News Corporation’s first attempt at social networking has fallen from grace. I am not certain what happened and how, but the likes of Facebook and Twitter proved to be more appealing than MySpace.

Tech analyst Comscore put out some staggering numbers: From January to February of this year MySpace lost 10 million users, 63 million users down from 73 million users. Even though MySpace has gone through a series of changes, focusing on music, the company cannot maintain its user base. At this point, no one at MySpace seems to know how to save it.

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iPad: What, Where, and WHY? Can You Take an iPad on a Harley Ride?

iPad: What, Where, and WHY? Can You Take an iPad on a Harley Ride?

I am an iPad user. I use it daily. But is it for the average person that isn’t “geeked out”? I have nothing against the iPad, but I have some concerns of its value for the average person. So let’s explore, and this goes even for the geeks like me.

What.

First, here are the official specs for iPad 2:

  • 1GHz dual-core A5 CPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • 16GB, 32GB, 64GB storage options
  • Front & Rear Cameras, front is VGA, rear is 720p
  • 9.7″ LED display with 1024×768 screen resolution at 132 pixels per inch
  • GPU said to be 9x faster (questionable)
  • Video output supports up to 1080p
  • Runs iOS 4.3
  • 10 hour battery life
  • White & Black color options
  • 3G models are AT&T and Verizon compatible
  • 1.3 lbs
  • Thinner build

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Geocaching: A SmartPhone Adventure

Geocaching: A SmartPhone Adventure

As much as I love being indoors playing on some computing device, there are times when I want to be out playing in the sun. I am fortunate that I live in Southern California. I spend weekends exploring the many things to do from Ventura to San Diego. But something caught my eye recently. Geocaching.

What is this thing might you ask? Let me tell you.

Geocaching Hide-and-Seek Container

Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, or other navigational techniques, to hunt hide-and-seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches,” anywhere in the world. Simply: It’s a treasure hunting game that requires some sort of GPS. Think pirate maps where “X” marks the spot, but then add technology.

Geocaching is more similar to the 150-year-old game letterboxing, which uses clues and references to landmarks embed into stories. Geocaching was conceived shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from GPS on May 1, 2000, because the improved accuracy of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located. The first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon.

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The Possible VEVO-Izing of Myspace?

The Possible VEVO-Izing of Myspace?

Back in 2005, MySpace had just become the darling of social networking. So much so that it attracted the interest of Rupert Murdoch and his friends at News Corporation, which beat MTV to the punch and bought MySpace—joining it with such“legacy media” as the Fox Television Network, co-owned cable channels like Fox NewsFox SportsFXSpeed Channel, andFuelTV, as well as long-standing print enterprises the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal—the latter eventually bought by News Corp. in 2007.

The MySpace brand was extended by News Corp. to also tie-in with a couple dozen or so TV stations in many of the largest cities in the US, all co-owned and affiliated with the Fox Network. The stations’ websites ended up using MyFox in their domain names, such as myfoxny.com for WNYW-Fox 5 in New York City, myfoxla.com for KTTV-Fox 11 in Los Angeles, and myfoxaustin.com for KTBC-Fox 7 in Austin, TX.

But very recently, the Wall Street Journal was not giving co-owned MySpace enough love, at least not from a business perspective, when they ran a story detailing MySpace’s revenue and visitor traffic declines, and the trouble MySpace has had in selling to advertisers. In terms of revenue and online visits, MySpace is practically back to where they were in 2006.  The declines can be blamed on Facebook having overtaken MySpace in 2008, and haven’t stopped even after MySpace was recently reinvented to be less about the social networking and more about the music and entertainment.

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Courtney Love Computes Record Label Deals; Doing the Math Again for Gwyneth Paltrow

Courtney Love Computes Record Label Deals; Doing the Math Again for Gwyneth Paltrow

In May of 2000, Hole lead singer Courtney Love spoke to an online entertainment conference held in New York City. In that speech, Love explained how a hypothetical red-hot four-person band with a major-label recording contract—that gets a $1,000,000 advance to record an album, plus a 20% royalty off the album sales—can, in those days before digital downloads mattered, still wind up earning nothing, at best, if that album sells a million copies. Of course, that’s because, in addition to production costs and taxes, there’s also the matter of recoupable expenses imposed by the record label for promoting that album, which by Love’s own math, means the label turns a sizable profit.

Courtney Love – Hole

Love was quoted as saying back then that “the system is set up so almost nobody gets paid.” But have entities that have sprung up since 2000, like iTunesYouTub, and SoundExchange, resulted in artists standing more of a chance at getting paid from major labels? I wouldn’t know, as I’m not a recording artist, but considering what a writer at a prestigious publication came up with—it’s time do the math again.

Glenn Peoples, a Nashville-based writer for the music chart magazine Billboard, recently wrote a story based on Internet rumors of a deal that actress-turned-singer Gwyneth Paltrow signed with Warner Music Group’s Atlantic label for $900,000. With the help of an anonymous Nashville-based recording executive, Peoples figured that the $900,000 would be divided between the cost of making the album [$300,000], and an advance that Paltrow would get [$600,000], which would be subject to those recoupable expenses.

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4chan and Canvas Creator, Christopher Poole, Says Facebook Creator Zuckerberg ‘Is Wrong’ and Talked Anonymity, Internet Memes, and a Surprise Result with ‘Refrigerator Magnets’ at SXSW

4chan and Canvas Creator, Christopher Poole, Says Facebook Creator Zuckerberg ‘Is Wrong’ and Talked Anonymity, Internet Memes, and a Surprise Result with ‘Refrigerator Magnets’ at SXSW

The standing-room only, speech-style conversation given by Christooher ‘Moot’ Poole, creator of the ubiquitous 4chan and newer Canvas websites, at SXSW Interactive was totally refreshing—quenched my thirst.

If you are not familiar with 4chan, in essence, 4chan is an image-board BBS-style website made up of an anonymous image-sharing community responsible for popularizing such Internet memes as lolcats, Rickrolling, “Chocolate Rain,” and many others. Basically, on 4chan people post and randomly manipulate images, thus naturally hyping and creating potentially imitable trends. 4chan has become the go-to study site by media professionals, advertisers, educators, and just about anybody with a penchant for social trend-setting looking to market and capitalize on the next big thing.

« Powerful? You betcha. Another Facebook? No way. The two thrive on antithetical concepts. »

So what makes 4chan tick? Well, according to Poole, one word—anonymity. While anonymity is nothing new to the online gaming world, and has been depicted in group psychology in novels like Lord of the Flies, anonymity in the world of social networking is less pervasive, with known status updates and social surveillance at its core on sites like Facebook. Yet, posting on the quasi-social collaborative-community of Poole’s 4chan is anonymous—no username required—and herein lies the philosophical difference between two of the worlds most influential and formidable creators—Christopher Poole and Mark Zuckerberg.

Poole asserts, “Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg says, ‘Anonymity is a lack of authenticity.’ I think that is wrong. Anonymity allows you to contribute in an untarnished way. We believe in content over creator.”

“Fluid identity is important. We felt like without the ability to post anonymously, what we were loosing was the loss of the innocence of youth. Stick into that who you are and that doesn’t allow for the cost of failure—to fail in an environment where you are being identified. So, when you have the ability to choose to be anonymous, it allows people to be more creative.”

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Textbooks Go Kindle, Grades Increase

Textbooks Go Kindle, Grades Increase

When the school term started in August 2010, Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Florida USA, embarked on a new approach to that old scholastic standby known as the textbook.

You remember textbooks? They were those big, clunky, printed things you had to lug around from class to class 5 or 6 times each day, and you weren’t supposed to write on, or otherwise mess, with them. Then, when the day was done, you either had to store the books in a locker and hope no one broke in and stole them. Or, perhaps, you took one or more of those books home with you if you had to do some homework.

But the new approach that Clearwater High took was one that was never tried before, at least not on-campus, and that was giving each student an e-reader; specifically, a Kindle. This “Kindle-ization” at Clearwater High not only made it easier on the students as far as carrying books around, but it also made it easier on the school itself because of the savings in costs versus buying hard-copy textbooks.

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Do Channels Still Matter? Or Do Boxes Like Apple, Google, Roku, Boxee and iGuGu Matter More?

Do Channels Still Matter? Or Do Boxes Like Apple, Google, Roku, Boxee and iGuGu Matter More?

In August 2010, the market research firm Morpace came out with a study that said only 52% of all TV viewing is what the study describes as “live,” but I would describe as “on the channels’ schedules,” with 41% of 18-34 year-olds—a demographic prized quite often by advertisers based on perception—doing the same. The same study also concluded that more than half—51%—say they watch some video online, and concludes that TV and Internet will, in the next few years, become more integrated.

The question then becomes one of whether video channels, as people have known them since the 1950’s, still matter? Oh, they do, for right now, in some capacity or other, as sure as there is a market for people who still want to watch shows on the channels’ schedules, given the high viewership numbers for such well-established TV favorites like the National Football League, “American Idol,” “Dancing With the Stars,” and the Academy Awards.

But when people find nothing to watch on the 300 or so channels offered via their cable system or satellite dish, they might be joining the growing undercurrent of Internet video watchers, which totaled over 171,000,000 in January 2011, with Google’s YouTube accounting for more than 1/3 of the nearly 4.9 billion viewing sessions that month.

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Youtube Sensation Rebecca Black: The New Bieber or the New Future?

Youtube Sensation Rebecca Black: The New Bieber or the New Future?

13-year-old California girl Rebecca Black, who had prior stage experience in musical theater and in ensemble singing, teamed up with writers/producers Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson, both owners of a promotional firm that doubles as an “indie record label” called ARK Music Factory, to deliver what has now become one of the latest YouTube sensations, helped not just by the usual Facebook and Twitter trending, but also in part by being featured on Daniel Tosh’s Comedy Central show “Tosh.0″. Rebecca’s song, called “Friday”, rolled out on YouTube on a Friday, March 11, 2011, but by the 18th went so viral as to have been viewed 16 million times, making it perhaps the latest “catchy song of the moment.”

Watch Rebecca Black Video for ‘Friday’

Play Youtube VideoRebecca Black – Friday


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Social Media to the Rescue: Helps with Network Congestion

Social Media to the Rescue: Helps with Network Congestion

The state of the mobile network during and after Japan’s earthquake was in shambles. The emergency services and local authorities used what was left of the badly damaged network. But fear not my little social media peeps; during such emergencies, it seems Twitter, Facebook, and in Japan’s case Mixi all remained untouched by the natural disaster.

Ok kids, let’s explore what happens and how social networks are the best source of communication during major catastrophes.

  1. The primary objective of any network provider during an emergency is to immediately limit the cell phone (voice) usage on the network. It needs to be maintained for emergency purposes only. Having everyone on the network is usually not a good thing in normal circumstances, but especially in emergency situations. And the gut reaction, we all have them, is to make a phone call to hear the voice of a friend or loved one.
  2. The second objective of the network provider is that it needs to control its sms (text) service. As with all techie nations Japan uses text as a viable form of communication, not just to find which bar the friends are headed to. But communication with all circles in their lives.

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Entrepreneurial Guru Jason Cohen—Capital Thought, Capital Factory, WP Engine, and Life—Talks About Startups, Mentoring, Investing, and What Makes a Great Idea Work!

Entrepreneurial Guru Jason Cohen—Capital Thought, Capital Factory, WP Engine, and Life—Talks About Startups, Mentoring, Investing, and What Makes a Great Idea Work!

Jason Cohen is ‘one of those guys’ anybody would aspire to be—genuine, motivated, brilliant—and indeed, in a class of his own. ‘Entrepreneurial Guru’ of Capital Thought (Lean Customer and Product Development for Startups), Capital Factory (Early Stage Accelerator Program for Tech Startups), and WP Engine (Finely Tuned WordPress Hosting Service), Cohen shares his thoughts with HOLLYISCO on a series of questions surrounding his business, business models, startups, tech, the future (hint: mobile and ‘gamification’), seeing internet darling Amanda Palmer in New Zealand, and yes, Cohen references liking one of my classical favorites, Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff, along with Depeche Mode.

Jason Cohen is Managing Director of Capital Thought. Co-Founder, WP Engine. Director, Capital Factory.

So, if you’re in the business of life, and the game of understanding some inalienable truths—tech, business, startups, or what-not—Cohen’s interview answers are a must read. As well, for any startups considering this summer’s Capital Factory Accelerator Program—deadline to apply is March, 27. Cohen says, “So hurry up!”

« Introducing Jason Cohen »


How many business ventures are you personally involved in? Capital Thought, Capital Factory, WP Engine, and anything else that you can share?

That’s enough right? (Wink!)

Capital Thought is the structure by which Joshua Baer and I launch new startups and help others through consulting. In particular, we launched WP Engine last summer and it’s doing great!

Capital Factory is an incubator in Austin, TX (with applications for this summer due March 27, so hurry up!). I’m a mentor and investor.

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Shaken Up! The iShake App Measures Earthquake Damage—A Valuable Emergency Tool.

Shaken Up! The iShake App Measures Earthquake Damage—A Valuable Emergency Tool.

As seen in Japan, earthquakes are monsters. The latest info and technology has been aimed at prediction and awareness. However, the latest in earthquake technology has turned to the community at large. The iShake Project developed by University of California, Berkeley Civil Engineering is using the smartphone network to help emergency responders locate the most heavily damaged areas during an earthquake through its user base. The new “social media,” and I hesitate to label it that, application uses the accelerometer to collect ground motion intensity and runs in the background of your smartphone. When an earthquake hits, it sends a report to emergency services to assess the most damaged areas so that they are able to respond accordingly.

This turns every phone with the app into an effective earthquake measuring device. The data gleaned from the application is a valuable source of information, not only for emergency responders, but for us John Q. Public. The application allows us to see the damaged areas as well through its iShake map. We then can avoid areas of heavy damage and allow the responders to get in. Through iShake people will be able to make use of their own smartphones and participate in an effective and valuable process to inform emergency responders in the event of an earthquake.

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