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Nate Anderson


The ghost of Steve Jobs will not be pleased to see this.

Zack Henkel

Robert Silvie returned to his parents' home for a Mardi Gras visit this year and immediately noticed something strange: common websites like those belonging to Apple, Walmart, Target, Bing, and eBay were displaying unusual ads. Silvie knew that Bing, for instance, didn't run commodity banner ads along the bottom of its pristine home page—and yet, there they were. Somewhere between Silvie's computer and the Bing servers, something was injecting ads into the data passing through the tubes. Were his parents suffering from some kind of ad-serving malware infection? And if so, what else might the malware be watching—or stealing?

Around the same time, computer science PhD student Zack Henkel also returned to his parents' home for a spring break visit. After several hours of traveling, Henkel settled in with his computer to look up the specs for a Mac mini before bedtime. And then he saw the ads. On his personal blog, Henkel described the moment:

But as Apple.com rendered in my browser, I realized I was in for a long night. What I saw was something that would make both designers and computer programmers wince with great displeasure. At the bottom of the carefully designed white and grey webpage, appeared a bright neon green banner advertisement proclaiming: “File For Free Online, H&R Block.” I quickly deduced that either Apple had entered in to the worst cross-promotional deal ever, or my computer was infected with some type of malware. Unfortunately, I would soon discover there was a third possibility, something much worse.

The ads unnerved both Silvie and Henkel, though neither set of parents had really noticed the issue. Silvie's parents "mostly use Facebook and their employers' e-mail," Silvie told me, and both those services use encrypted HTTPS connections—which are much harder to interfere with in transit. His parents probably saw no ads, therefore, and Silvie didn't bring it up because "I didn't want [them] to worry about it or ask me a lot of questions."

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Social Media Insights is a new daily newsletter from Business Insider that collects and delivers the top social media news first thing every morning. You can sign up to receive Social Media Insights here or at the bottom of this post.

Facebook Owns Your Phone (Fast Company)
Over the last couple of years, Facebook has packed its mobile apps with much of the same functionality as operating systems like Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS, or Amazon’s version of Android for Kindle Fire. It has not, however, launched the Facebook phone that once seemed inevitable. That's because your phone already is a Facebook phone.

facebook apps

According to comScore, Facebook already owns 23 percent of time spent in apps on Android and iOS. It also owns Instagram, one of the apps with which mobile users spend the second most amount of time (it's tied with Gmail and YouTube at 3 percent). The more time the company controls on its competitors' phones, the less important it is that it doesn't have its own devices. Read >>

What's In Your Wallet? A Facebook Card? (The Huffington Post)
Facebook announced a major addition to their Gifts product on Jan. 31— Facebook Cards. Facebook Cards, as the name implies, are physical, multi-use gift cards that users can order for friends directly through Facebook. Facebook Cards uses the existing Facebook Gifts infrastructure to allow a user to send a Facebook Card with a credit from a participating retailer. The recipient is prompted to enter their mailing address (more data!) in order to receive the physical card. Facebook sees it as a multi-use, multi-retailer product. This nudges it up close to, but not fully into, the mobile wallet space. For one thing it's still a physical object and for another, Facebook has no immediate plans to allow users to load up dollars or deals, but this could change rapidly. Read >>

Facebook Can Totally Undermine Apple And Google (Wired)
We’re in uncharted territory here since platforms-on-top-of-platform configurations are relatively new. Yet we do have one related industry example that could shed some light on this case. It’s one of Japan’s leading mobile social game developers: GREE. GREE makes up to four times more average revenue per user (ARPU) than Zynga. And Facebook has far more reach than GREE. Given that social applications, and particularly games, are the most popular and highest revenue generators of all mobile applications— a Facebook multi-sided platform similar to GREE would divert a lot of value away from Apple’s and Google’s smartphone platforms. Read >>

Wall Street Rethinks Facebook Earnings (Reuters)
Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser upgraded Facebook to a "Buy" rating, calling Wall Street's reaction to the results "downright dazed." The stock market incorrectly interpreted Facebook's "mobile revenue figures as a negative when in fact they are part of a story that we can see as qualitatively more favorable," Wieser said. Shares of the company finished regular trading the day after earnings down 0.8 percent at $30.98. The company reported a better-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Wednesday and said mobile advertising revenue doubled to $306 million, suggesting it was making inroads into handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets. Investors were looking for at least $350 million in mobile advertising revenue, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said in a note to clients.  Read >>

Developing A Strategic Social Media Plan For Your Business (Ahain Group)
After you’ve taken time to discover how customers would like you to engage on social media, you now need to develop a social media strategy that will generate meaningful and real returns for the business. The 10 steps in developing strategic social media are:

  1. Align with the business
  2. Discover opportunities
  3. Define goals
  4. Identify KPIs
  5. Assign values to KPIs
  6. Decide on channels
  7. Determine tactics
  8. Select analytics
  9. Roll out strategy
  10. Measure and refine

Quantifying an ROI from social media is only possible after you’ve developed a strategic plan that will make measurement both clear and easy. Read >>

Super Bowl, Commercials, And Social Media (NetBase)
Now that the game is over, here is what NetBase found about Super Bowl commercials during the last 24 hours:

  • Go Daddy (249,273 mentions: 14.67 percent positive)
  • Doritos (137,509 mentions, 90.87 percent pos)
  • Pepsi (47,176 mentions, 69.99 percent pos)
  • Volkswagen (31,052 mentions, 84.08 percent pos)
  • Budweiser (24,658 mentions, 83.37 percent pos)
  • Dodge Ram (19,619 mentions, 77.66 percent pos)
  • Taco Bell (19,783 mentions, 93.20 percent pos)
  • Calvin Klein (16,532 mentions, 75.17 percent pos)
  • NFL (Leon Sandcastle) (12,700 mentions, 91.54 percent pos)
  • Blackberry (10,773 mentions, 55.36 percent pos)

most buzzed about football commercials

The graphic compares 8 of the 15 most buzzed about commercials by mentions, sentiment and passion intensity. The amount of chatter about a brand is indicated by the size of the bubble, while the placement of the bubble shows the sentiment (from top to bottom) and the intensity of passion (from left to right). Read >>

How To Measure Social Media ROI (Jason Fox)
Is it enough to have a Facebook profile, a Twitter account, and a YouTube channel? To be putting original content onto each platform on a consistent basis. To be monitoring for comments and likes that you can connect with and create relationships. Maybe venturing out into less common social media channels like Pinterest or Google+. To be collecting Fans, Friends, Followers, and Likes with a reckless abandon. Possibly promoting an occasional Facebook post to maximize exposure. Is that enough? Perhaps it is to much. The only way to know for sure is to measure social media ROI:

social media solutions

No matter how you are using Social Media there is a way to measure its value.  Whether you interested in a general overview or you want to create a closed loop marketing campaign.  There is a system that will help you to Measure Social Media ROI. Read >>

Twitter Blew Out Facebook In The Super Bowl (Business Insider)
As the Baltimore Ravens were narrowly beating the San Francisco 49ers, Twitter featured in 26 out of 52 nationally aired advertisements, while Facebook only featured in four, and Google+ was not mentioned at all. YouTube and Instagram were mentioned once each, according to the website MarketingLand.com. In last year’s Super Bowl, Twitter and Facebook tied with only eight mentions each out of a total of 59 advertisements. For Twitter, the change from eight mentions to 26 represents a gain of more than 300 percent. For Facebook, it is a 50 percent drop. Read >>

The Social Credit Card? (The Huffington Post)
BarclayCard tapped the power of the crowd (their card members) to collaborate on building a better credit card experience. They launched a community where card member could exchange ideas, vote on product features and earn "credits" for their participation. The result is BarclayCard Ring — the world's first community-designed credit card. Benefits include:

  1. Full transparency — insight into how Barclaycard Ring makes money, including metrics on Ring's financial performance.
  2. Continued influence over the offering — a chance to guide Ring's benefits, rates, rules and penalties through an idea submission and peer evaluation system.
  3. A share of Ring profits — including options to donate profits to community-chosen charities.
  4. A robust social experience — topical forums, ask-and-answer, idea-sharing, polls, blogs, and credits earned for community participation.

If your social strategy doesn't include new ways of thinking about how your social customers fit into your business, it better. 2013 will be a game-changing year for social media. Brands like Barclaycard who are serious about social will make sure of that. Read >>

Social Media Is Changing The Way You Fly (WFAA)
Airlines no longer just make money taking travelers where they want to go. Some carriers now show up where their passengers already are. Southwest has six employees dedicated to social media, often only during regular business hours. The airline created its team by drawing employees from different departments, including customer service, marketing, and communications. This team doesn't just respond to questions, comments, and criticism on Twitter. Southwest employees also rebook flights, track bags, and issue travel vouchers all in 140 characters or less. Airline customer service has always been a thankless job. But its presence on social media continues to evolve as the power of participating for passengers does, too. Read >>

Social Media vs. Email: Which One Is Best For Your Business? (Publicity Mag)
The following infographic shows the peculiarities of social media and email. The stats are a bit dated, but you can get a fair idea about the power of both tools. Read >>

social media vs email

Please follow SAI on Twitter and Facebook.

Join the conversation about this story »

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TEDxHackney - Dr David Hamilton - Why kindness is good for you.

After completing his PhD, David worked for four years in the pharmaceutical industry developing drugs for cardiovascular disease and cancer. During this time he also served as an athletics coach and manager of one of the UK's largest athletics clubs, leading them to three successive UK finals. Upon leaving the pharmaceutical industry, David co-founded the international relief charity Spirit Aid Foundation and served as a director for two years. He is now a bestselling author of seven books published by Hay House and also writes a regular blog for the Huffington Post. www.drdavidhamilton.com
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That crazy leap that Felix Baumgartner made was astonishing.

And if you’re interested in the future of Web video, YouTube’s ability to serve up eight million livestreams at the same time is a really big deal, too.

As I noted yesterday, that number blows away YouTube’s previous peak of 500,000 concurrent streams, which it hit this summer during the Olympics, as well as last year during the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

So it doesn’t take much imagination to envision YouTube doing this kind of stuff, at this scale, on a regular basis. Which would mean the Web finally has a chance to rival TV when it comes to serving up live events with huge audiences — one of TV’s last remaining advantages over the Internet.

That won’t happen anytime soon, though. Death-defying jumps from outer space aside, there are only a few live events that millions of people want to watch at the same time. Basically, a handful of award shows like the Oscars, and big-time sports.

Even if YouTube wanted to pay up to get its hands on that programming, it’s going to have to wait, because the TV guys have the rights locked up for a long time. The next set of NFL deals, for instance, won’t be available for a decade.

But YouTube is still going to be an important platform for live stuff. It’s just that you probably won’t see most of it, unless you’re in a very particular niche.

Here’s some of the stuff YouTube has streamed live in the last year or so:

  • A concert from Psy, the “Gangnam style” guy
  • A concert from AKB48, a Japanese girl group
  • A bunch of EDM shows (that’s “DJs playing music for big crowds,” for the rest of us)
  • A concert by Jay-Z at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn
  • A World of Warcraft launch event, which featured gamers playing Mists of Pandaria around the world
  • A bunch of solar and lunar eclipses

None of these shows drew more than a couple-hundred-thousand concurrent viewers, which would make them the equivalent of a poorly rated cable TV show.

And that makes sense: Since the Internet has trained us to watch anything we want, whenever we want to, why do we have to watch when everyone else does? (A semi-secret about the live video streaming that news sites like the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal* and the Huffington Post do, for instance: Almost all the viewing comes after the fact, via on-demand clips.)

On the other hand, as YouTube proved conclusively yesterday, it can now mount this stuff without breaking a sweat. Now it’s basically a plug-and-play option for any grown-up company that wants to do business with Google. And YouTube is going to make it increasingly available to the rest of us, too.

That’s the result of a year of around-the-clock work by a couple-dozen YouTube engineers, to prep the video site for the Olympics in July.

YouTube software engineering director Jason Gaedtke,who oversaw that effort, says the livestreams the company put out during the Olympics were seven times better than the standard video-on-demand stuff YouTube puts out everyday. His team is now applying the lessons it learned from that effort, and using it to upgrade YouTube’s video more broadly.

So, yes. If someone else wants to grab the world’s attention by breaking the sound barrier aided only by gravity, you’ll be able to watch it alongside a global audience of millions.

But the future of live video on YouTube is probably going to look like something else: You and several thousand other people, watching something most of the world doesn’t care about.

And that can be thrilling in its own way.

*The Journal is owned by News Corp., which also owns this Web site.

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Yoke Dating Site

Finally, a dating site where you can find someone to actually date, not just sleep with. New dating app Yoke matches you with single friends of friends you’re truly compatible with but who don’t even need to be Yoke users. Yoke does this by comparing  you and their Facebook Likes and listening activity with datasets from Amazon, Netflix, Echo Nest, and a proprietary college graph. That lets Yoke show you potential dates because “you listen to Lil Wayne and she listens to Jay-Z”, or “You went to Stanford and he went to MIT”.

It’s got a dead simple Facebook app interface, and lets you ask mutual friends for introductions. These all combine to give Yoke the power to challenge sites like OkCupid and succeed where strict matchmaking sites like Thread failed.

Yoke was founded by ex-Huffington Post social media editor Rob Fishman, and Jeff Revesz who sold his company Adaptive Semantics to HuffPo in 2009. It’s backed by a $500,000 seed round led by Lerer Ventures and joined by SoftBank Capital.

First reason Yoke’s awesome? You don’t have to create a new profile. You connect to its app and it automatically pulls your Facebook profile and sexual orientation. While most dating sites give you an overwhelming set of browsing options, Yoke just immediately starts showing you potential matches. Dating is already stressful enough, so a calm, straightforward interface is refreshing.

Your Yoke matches aren’t just other users as with most dating sites — they’re any friends of your Facebook friends who list themselves as “Single” and live nearby. You’ll see their public profile photos and a list of shared and similar characteristics such as music listened to; books, movies, and activities Liked; and where you went to college.

Yoke’s communication system is integrated with Facebook Messages, so when you go to contact someone who’s not already on Yoke it opens a Facebook Message form with a link attached noting “You’re both friends with [friend's name], see what else you have in common. Yoke is a Facebook app that introduces you to people you might like.” If you’re shy about contacting someone you can ask a mutual friend to introduce you. Once your crush confirms with that friend that they want to meet you, your friend can send an introduction and kick off a message thread.

I’m a fan of Yoke’s data-driven approach to matching, which utilizes the APIs of content recommendation engines, Facebook’s Graph API, and its own proprietary college and Facebook Page graphs. Those let it say “You both went to Ivy League schools” or “You Like TechCrunch and she Likes LinkedIn”. It references your Spotify, Rdio, or MOG listening data against Echo Nest‘s graph of how popular musicians are clustered to suggest people with similar but not identical taste. These facts could actually serve as ice breakers: “Yoke says I listen to Daft Punk and you listen to Justice. What’s your favorite Justice song? I want to check them out”.

Yoke’s site design could use some polish, but it works. My only concern is people might be a little weirded out by getting a message from someone on a dating app they don’t even use. Yoke will need to refine the pre-filled message text to minimize this. It could also let you set preferences for ages you’d like to be matched with.

Fishman tells me Yoke’s lightweight approach that doesn’t require a new profile makes it great for those “who want to meet new people but don’t want to be on a dating site. Yoke resembles how you date in real life — you meet through friends or at a concert because you like the same band.” This beats OkCupid’s unstructured profile data, which means it can’t accurately find you matches that share your interests.

Most dating sites make you constantly wonder, “They’re cute, but will we actually get along?” Yoke could make sure the answer is always yes. The rest is up to you.

[Disclosure: Both Huffington Post and TechCrunch are owned by AOL, but that had no impact on this article]

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Kalachakra is an ancient ritual that involves a series of prayers, meditations, dances, chants, vows and the construction of a large sand mandala - all with the aim to bring world peace. Kalachakra 2012 began January 1 and lasted for ten days in the northern Indian state of Bihar. The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Spiritual Leader, gave teachings and participated over the course of the festival. -- Paula Nelson (41 photos total)
A Buddhist devotee holds a lotus flower as she waits to welcome spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in the town of Bodhgaya, believed to be the place where Buddha attained enlightenment, for the upcoming Kalachakra Buddhist festival in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, India. The Kalachakra, the most important ritual of the Mahayana sect of traditional Buddhists, begins Dec. 31. (Altaf Qadri/Associated Press)

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The Independent Games Festival has announced the eight Student Showcase winners for the fourteenth annual presentation of its prestigious awards, celebrating the brightest and most innovative creations to come out of universities and games programs from around the world in the past year.

This year's showcase of top student talent include the lithograph-sketched 2D logic puzzler The Bridge, from Case Western Reserve University, Art Institute of Phoenix's magic-moth platformer Dust, and DigiPen Institute of Technology's part-psychological-evaluator, part-boot-camp-instructor, possibly-part-malware action game Nous.

In total, this year's Student Competition took in nearly 300 game entries across all platforms -- PC, console and mobile -- from a wide diversity of the world's most prestigious universities and games programs making the Student IGF one of the world's largest showcases of student talent.

All of the Student Showcase winners announced today will be playable on the Expo show floor at the 26th Game Developers Conference, to be held in San Francisco starting March 5th, 2012. Each team will receive a $500 prize for being selected into the Showcase, and are finalists for an additional $3,000 prize for Best Student Game, to be revealed during the Independent Games Festival Awards on March 7th.

The full list of Student Showcase winners for the 2012 Independent Games Festival, along with 'honorable mentions' to those top-quality games that didn't quite make it to finalist status, are as follows:

The Bridge (Case Western Reserve University)
Dust (Art Institute of Phoenix)
The Floor Is Jelly (Kansas City Art Institute)
Nous (DigiPen Institute of Technology)
One and One Story (Liceo Scientifico G.B. Morgagni)
Pixi (DigiPen Institute of Technology - Singapore)
The Snowfield (Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab)
Way (Carnegie Mellon University, Entertainment Technology Center)

Honorable mentions: Be Good (DigiPen Institute of Technology); Lilith's Pet (University of Kassel); Nitronic Rush (DigiPen Institute of Technology); Once Upon A Spacetime (RMIT); Tink (Mediadesign Highschool of Applied Sciences)

This year's Student IGF entries were distributed to an opt-in subset of the main competition judging body, consisting of more than 100 leading independent and mainstream developers, academics and journalists. Now in its tenth year as a part of the larger Independent Games Festival, the Student Showcase highlights up-and-coming talent from worldwide university programs, and has served as the venue which first premiered numerous now-widely-recognized names including DigiPen's Narbacular Drop and Tag: The Power of Paint, which would evolve first into Valve's acclaimed Portal, with the latter brought on-board for Portal 2.

Others include USC's The Misadventures Of P.B. Winterbottom (later released by 2K Games for XBLA); Hogeschool van de Kunsten's The Blob (later becoming one of THQ's flagship mobile/console franchises as De Blob); and early USC/ThatGameCompany title Cloud, from the studio that would go on to develop PlayStation 3 arthouse mainstays like Flow, Flower, and their forthcoming Journey.

For more information on the Independent Games Festival, for which Main Competition finalists were also just announced, please visit the official IGF website.

For those interested in registering for GDC 2012 (part of the UBM TechWeb Game Network, as is this website), which includes the Independent Games Summit, the IGF Pavilion and the IGF Awards Ceremony, please visit the Game Developers Conference website.

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TEDxFCCollege - Saba Gul - Why intellect is not enough.flv

In thespirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations). Saba Gul lives, breathes and dreams female empowerment and finding business solutions to poverty. She is the Founder & Executive Director of BLISS, a social enterprise which offers a solution to the work versus school dilemma faced by underprivileged girls in Pakistan. BLISS equips girls with practical skills as a supplement to conventional curriculum. By profitably marketing these skills in the high-end retail industry, it enables girls to boost their families' income while getting an education. Over time, through its business and financial literacy curriculum, BLISS provides the girls the tools and training to launch and sustain their own micro-enterprises. Saba is an alumna of MIT, from where she earned her BS and MS. An engineer by degree, she worked in Silicon Valley prior to BLISS, but gave up her life as a technologist to pursue social good. She has also worked in Sri Lanka on affordable solar lighting for tsunami refugees, and taught entrepreneurship <b>...</b>
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