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Introducing NMX University: An Exclusive Community for Content Creators

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Introducing our brand new membership community for bloggers, podcasters, web TV/video producers, and social media professionals who want to take their content to the next level.

Over the past few weeks, you may have seen us talking about NMX University, our new educational community and home to the 2013 Virtual Ticket. Today, I wanted to take a moment to officially introduce it to you!

If you’ve ever been to BlogWorld (now NMX), you know how overwhelmingly exciting and educational the experience can be. With hundreds of speakers like Guy Kawasaki, Jay Baer, and Cliff Ravenscraft presenting sessions and hosting panels, I always leave with a notebook full of ideas for my own content and I look forward to gobbling up the sessions I missed via the Virtual Ticket when I get home.

But I’ve always wanted more.

I’ve wanted to stay connected to the NMX community year-round, feeling that same motivation I’ve always felt at the live event.

I’ve wanted to have a better at-home educational experience with the Virtual Ticket, easily finding out more about speakers and topics that interest me in one central resource.

I’ve wanted a plan, a roadmap to success that gets me on the right track, so that when I watch a session I don’t leave with the feeling of “okay…now what?”

And so, the idea for NMX University was born.

NMX University (or NMXU for short) is our new exclusive community for digital content creators – bloggers, podcasters, web TV/video producers, and social media professionals. Don’t let the “exclusive” part scare you. Basic membership is absolutely free–you just have to register!

So what will you find at NMXU? Your completely free membership gives you access to:

  • Free Virtual Ticket sessions from past events
  • Comprehensive show notes, resource links, speaker information, follow-up videos, and more for each session
  • Our entire library of ebooks and guides
  • Bonus videos from past events that were previously only available to Virtual Ticket pass holders
  • Special offers direct from our speakers, including free content you can’t get anywhere else

We also have a few special surprises for basic members hidden up our sleeves–but you have to be a member to get these perks!

We’ll be constantly rotating the educational resources you’ll find at NMXU, giving you access to fresh content on a regular basis. Here’s a snapshot of just some of what you’ll find in the members section right now:

  • Speaker Michael Stelzner teaching you how he grew the Social Media Examiner audience and how you can replicate this growth on your own blog
  • One of our best podcasting panels, where you’ll learn how to monetize your podcast by working with sponsors, directly from people who sponsor podcasts themselves
  • Bonus videos with Derek Halpern, Patti Serrano, and other NMX past speakers
  • Advice from Tom Martin about turning you iPhone into a full video production tool for high-quality easy-to-create content
  • Our Ultimate Guide ebook series, on topics like how to use Pinterest to get massive traffic and how to start podcasting from A to Z

Some of our other current featured speakers include Darren Rowse, Erica Douglass, Tim Street, Phil Hollows, Kirsten Wright, Andy Hayes, C.C. Chapman, and Amy Porterfield.

NMXU is currently in beta, and we need YOU to help us test it and give us your feedback. Currently, we’re giving access to a small handful of people and we’d love you to be part of that group. Sign up today to get started as an inaugural member of NMXU!

Is New Media Destroying the News? How the Obamacare Ruling Highlighted a Growing Problem in the Media

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Yesterday, several politicians tweeted in celebration that Obamacare (new and controversial health care law in the United States, for those of you who are living in other countries and not paying attention to U.S. news) was repealed. The problem? It was actually upheld by the Supreme Court, not found unconstitutional and repealed. Mashable actually has screenshots of tweets from six politician, and these mistakes were later deleted when the real news about the ruling came out.

But don’t be too hard on these Republicans, no matter what your political persuasion. It’s hard to blame individuals when several media outlets on both sides of the political spectrum, including CNN, Fox, Huffington Post, and TIME all got it wrong too.

This is a growing problem in the United States and around the world – and as much as I love social media, blogging, and other online content, I think it might be new media’s fault.

The Race is On

One of the reasons newspapers are failing is that news reported this day is delayed. I subscribe to The Washington Post, but I have to admit that I rarely read the actual news, except local stuff about arts problems and the like. Op-eds are interesting, but when it comes to straight news stories, almost everything printed in the paper is stuff I already read online the day before. Being so connected means that I see breaking news when it is happening, and I don’t even need to leave Twitter for this information in many cases.

The world of news reporting online is extremely fast, and this need to be first is permeating other news sources as well. Everyone wants to break a story, and you know longer have days or even hours to do that. You have minutes. Sometimes, you have seconds. If you want to be the first source, you have to be incredibly fast or someone will beat you to the punch.

I think that’s what happened here. News sources like Fox and Huffington Post are pressured to try to report on a major news story first, and when that happens, mistakes are going to be made. It’s inexcusable to put speed before quality, especially when it comes to reporting the news. I can forgive a typo or even incomplete information, but it’s a harder pill to swallow when a story is completely wrong simply because it was more important to report first in the hopes of being correct than it was to spend a few minutes doing some fact-checking.

This is certainly not a new problem, as even before the Internet became such an important news outlet there were people who put speed before quality. I am, of course, reminded of the famous Chicago Daily Tribune headline “Dewy Defeats Truman,” which was published in 1948 even though Truman was the real victor in that presidential race. But I think the fast pace of the new media world has made large factual mistakes more commonplace. If you aren’t quick to report on a story, a million no-name bloggers, tweeters, and would-be journalists are already talking about it, and you’re late to the conversation.

A Culture of Not Caring about the Facts

More alarmingly, I think the new media world has created this culture of putting opinions first and facts second. Look at the incorrect tweet issue, for example. A politician, no matter how powerful, is not a news source, so the pressure to be first, as media outlets like CNN might feel, is absent. But just because you don’t have this need to be the first in reporting the news doesn’t mean you don’t have an inner need to post your opinions immediately.

This is, in my opinion, something that has invaded our culture due to new media. We don’t give ourselves time to think. We have this internal feeling of bursting if we don’t tell you want we think right now. Facts be damned.

It’s a problem.

Although several media outlets got it wrong in their struggle to be first on this issue, plenty of sources got it right. Still, the politicians called out by Mashable weren’t the only ones who tweeted incorrectly about the situation. This tells me that one of two things happened:

  1. The tweet was queued up and ready to go as soon as the announcement was made.
  2. The person immediately tweeted after seeing one report about the “repeal” without doing any additional fact-checking.

But why? Why the need to voice an opinion about something so quickly that you barely give yourself time to skim an article about it? At least TIME has a business reasons for being wrong – they were trying to be competitive in their industry where being first matters. But why do we as individuals subconsciously put speed before quality when voicing an opinion?

It’s the same thing that drive people, sometimes 20+ comments deep, to type “FIRST!” on a post by a popular blogger. It’s the need to be important.

Being important feels good. I’ll go back to something comedian Jordan Cooper once shared with me. When you make someone laugh, you feel good, and that’s why humorous posts and videos often go viral. Because you don’t have to create a joke – you just have to be the first person to share the joke with a friend. When you tell someone a joke they’ve never heard before, you feel good, and  you feel important. The same thing is true of a news story. When you’re the first to voice your opinion, when a friend hears it from you first, you feel good, and you feel important.

Social media and blogging has made it hard to get this “fix” of feeling important. Before, you could say to your neighbor “I really don’t agree with the Obamacare ruling,” and they might say, “Oh really? Tell me why you think that.” Now, the answer might be something like, “Yeah, that’s what a lot of people on Facebook have been saying.”

If we don’t express our opinions quickly, our thunder is stolen. At least, that’s what it can feel like subconsciously (or even consciously).

The New Media Monster

So is new media destroying the news? Yes, in some ways, I think it is. We’re smack dab in the middle of a major media shift, and although there have been some definite improvements, the Internet is still an informational free-for-all. I don’t think this is a reason to dislike or avoid new media, but I do think that we all have to start taking more responsibility for what we say online so that we never let the egotistical feeling of wanting to be first overcome the duty we have to be correct.

New Media News Break: Cyberbullying, the Olympics on Foursquare, and More

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Every week, we post a New Media News Break to help catch you up with what’s going on in the world of new media and get you through the work week. Here are this week’s top stories:

New York Lawmakers Take a Stand Against Cyberbullying

In New York, state lawmakers want to put an end to cyberbullying by making it harder to stay anonymous online. According to a report by Mashable, “Anonymous web users would then have but a single recourse to save their posts if such a compliant is lodged against them: unmask completely by revealing their name and going through an identification process.” If the user refuses to comply, webmasters must remove the post. While this law could definitely help with the huge cyberbullying problem online, it also poses some questions about free speech. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says this proposed bill is unconstitutional, citing the fact that the right to speak anonymously has been upheld since the founding of the United States. What do you think?

Student Suspended for Fake Suicide Video

In another story related to cyberbullying and online rights, 15-year-old Long Island teen Jessica Barba has been suspended from school after a posting suicide notices on Facebook. The teen did so under a fake account as part of a project to raise awareness about cyberbullying issues, which was actually part of a school assignment. Even though Jessica and her parents say there was plenty to indicate the video was fake, one parent didn’t realize this and called the school. Whether or not you think the project was right to post on YouTube, do you think that schools should have the right to suspend or otherwise punish students for content they create online?

The Olympics Come to FourSquare

In an interesting marketing move, the Olympics have taken to FourSquare. Not only are they encouraging users to check into London sites, but they’re also hoping FourSquare-ers will check into historical Olympics sites, helping to create a buzz about the London games. Users who do so at least twice will get a badge and be entered for a chance to win a trip to the London games.

What do you think of the Olympics embracing FourSquare, in light of the recent move to closely control what athletes are allowed to say via social media?

Facebook and Morgan Sued Over Pre-IPO Forecasts

In a move that surprises…well, no one…Facebook shareholders are already suing the company, lead underwriter Morgan Stanley, and others. Within three days of trading, Facebook shares dropped 18.4 percent from their $38 IPO price. Shareholders claim that the social network and bank within reports that forecasted a weak growth outlook for Facebook shares in the future. Defendants include Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. According to reports by Reuters, the lawsuit also claims that “underwriters disclosed the lowered forecasts to ‘preferred’ investors only, instead of all investors.”

In Case You Missed It

Here’s what you might have missed on the BlogWorld blog in the past week:

Awesome from the Archives

There are some golden posts in the post hidden in the BlogWorld archives. Here are three of my favorites that I think you should check out:

Check back every Wednesday for a New Media News Break just when you need it!

New Media News Break: Google’s Knowledge Base, Student Hoaxes, and More

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Every week, we post a New Media News Break to help catch you up with what’s going on in the world of new media and get you through the work week. Here are this week’s top stories:

Google Begins Rolling Out Major Search Changes

This week, Google began rolling out “Knowledge Base,” which will drastically change the way we search and use other Google tools. If you search for an ambiguous term, Google will now ask you which term you really meant. The hope is that people searching for cats the animal will no longer see results for Cats the musical. Basically, it’s a way to filter your results. Google will also show you related results (if you like Cats you might also like Fiddler on the Roof). They’re also incorporating an error reporting system, in part because this new web of knowledge will draw from sources like Wikipedia, which are user-generated and often include subjective opinions or misinformation. Check out this video to learn more about Google’s Knowledge Base will work.

46% of Americans Believe Facebook is a “Passing Fad”

For those of us working in the new media industry, Facebook is a part of our daily lives, almost second nature. But not all Americans like this site – and a new study has revealed that nearly half of them believe Facebook is a passing fad. About half also believe that the company’s stock market value is overvalued and only 18% said they were “extremely confident” in the ability of Mark Zuckerberg as CEO. You can read the entire study from Associated Press and CNBC here (PDF). It’s eye-opening, especially if you’re in a niche other than social media/blogging. It’s not that Facebook isn’t important, but remember that it might not be the best place to connect with your target market.

Twitter Introduces Top Stories Emails

Twitter announced this week that users will soon have the option to receive a weekly email with a digest of top stories. This digest will include the “most engaging” tweets from your friends, tweets you’ve liked or retweeted, links that are important based on what your followers are sharing, and more. These emails aren’t yet available for everyone, but will be rolling out over the next several weeks. For content creators, this can be a great tool to see how your tweets are performing, what kind of content your followers want, and how you can make changes in your tweeting activity to better connect with others.

Verizon Kills Unlimited Data Plans, Even for Older Customers

Verizon customers used to enjoy unlimited data, but recently the company has moved away from this model. Still, users who had previously purchased this unlimited plan were not made to change, so many (myself included) have been clinging to their old contract. Verizon, however, has put their foot down and will be killing the unlimited plan altogether in the coming months, forcing data users to change to a limited plan. Why should you care? Well, as a content creator, it is important to ensure that you’re taking these limitations into consideration. If users have to “spend” a lot of data to view your content, they likely won’t come back, at least on this mobile devices. It’s important to at least have a mobile version of your site, keeping in mind that you been to be optimized for these users.

Reddit Catches Student Hoax

A few years ago, Professor T. Mills Kelly and one of his classes pulled the wool over the Internet’s eyes by planning an elaborate hoax complete with fake Wikipedia pages, videos, and expert interviews. He’s at it again, teaching a class where he encourages students to form groups and attempt to fool the Internet. It’s a social experiment of sorts, and one that many, including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, detest. This year, though, Reddit users shut down the hoax in a matter of minutes. That should be a lesson to anyone even thinking about lying online. People will find out, so it’s better to always be 100% honest from the start.

In Case You Missed It

Here’s what you might have missed on the BlogWorld blog in the past week:

Awesome from the Archives

There are some golden posts in the post hidden in the BlogWorld archives. Here are three of my favorites that I think you should check out:

Check back every Wednesday for a New Media News Break just when you need it!

New Media News Break: SlideShare Purchase, Space Tweets, LOLcats, and More

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Every week, we post a New Media News Break to help catch you up with what’s going on in the world of new media and get you through the work week. Here are this week’s top stories:

LinkedIn to Buy SlideShare

When talking about social media, we usually mention Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+ and Pinterest, but let’s not forget about LinkedIn. This company is doing exceedingly well. This week the business and professional networking platform issued an earnings report and announced plans to purchase SlideShare in an $118.8 million deal. “Presentations are one of the main ways in which professionals capture and share their experiences and knowledge, which in turn helps shape their professional identity,” said LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner in a statement. I think he’s right on the money. This is a great way for LinkedIn to expand, as well as a great way to get more businesses to start using SlideShare to connect with others online.

Tweets in Space

This September, your tweets won’t just reach a global audience – they’re going to space! At least, that’s the plan if Scott Keldall and Nathaniel Stern, the duo beyond collaborative projects such as Wikipedia Art, have anything to do with it. Their team plans to send tweets with the hashtag #tweetsinspace to a planet that’s approximately 22 lightyears away. Known as GJ667Cc, this planet has the potential to support life, and the project is meant to give aliens that might inhabit this plant a look at our planet’s culture and daily life. Tweets will also be archived on their website. Here’s to hoping we send messages that are important, not just what we had for lunch and links to our latest blog post.

LOLcats in College

Believe it or not, LOLcats may actually be making us smarter or at least it can lead to some really smart discussions. Kate Miltner, who earned a Master’s degree after presenting dissertation on the appeal of LOLCats (pdf), is asking the hard questions about LOLcats and other memes: Why? Kate spoke on a panel at ROFLCon at MIT this past weekend called “Adventures in Aca-meme-ia” where panelists talked about what we can learn from studying the type of people who share memes. It’s an interesting discussion, and learning about the psychology of why people share or join a community can help you build your community, not just understand memes like LOLcats.

Judge Rules that Facebook Likes are Not Protected by Free Speech Laws

A Virginia judge ruled this week that Facebook likes are not protected by the Constitution and therefore, employees can be fired over them. This ruling came about after workers were allegedly fired for ling liking the Facebook page of a their boss’s political opponent. In Virginia, political statements are protected for public employees, but is clicking a button a statement? In the past, court cases have determined that actual statements on Facebook are protected by the Constitution, but this is the first time the like button is entering the court room. Although the judge ruled no, this decision is expected to be appealed, and the case could eventually go all way to the Supreme Court. I have to ask, if liking an opponent is not a political statement, then why was anyone fired over it? Hm?

In Case You Missed It

Here’s what you might have missed on the BlogWorld blog in the past week:

Awesome from the Archives

There are some golden posts in the post hidden in the BlogWorld archives. Here are three of my favorites that I think you should check out:

Check back every Wednesday for a New Media News Break just when you need it!

New Media News Break: Moving to Vegas, Klout on the Go, TED-Ed, and more

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Every week, we post a New Media News Break to help catch you up with what’s going on in the world of new media and get you through the work week. Here are this week’s top stories:

BlogWorld Heads Back to Las Vegas!

I might be a little biased, but I think one of the most exciting new media news stories of the week is that BlogWorld is heading back to Las Vegas, where it first got started. Our east coast event took place in Los Angeles last year, and while this location was fun, our community – you guys – asked to go back to Vegas, and we listened. We’re really excited to be at the beautiful RIO, and our conference will also overlap with CES, which means you can get double the bang for your travel buck, hitting both conferences in a single trip rather than having to plan and pay for several different flights. Our initial post about the move has a great discussion about heading to Las Vegas and more information about this event, which will be held in January 2013.

Klout Goes Mobile

Four months ago, Klout announced app plans, and this week, they finally released a version for iPhone, with plans for an Android version in the future. What’s cool about this app is that you don’t have to open it to see your Klout score; instead, you can just choose to have your score displayed on the icon. You can’t give out +Ks with this app (yet), but there are a lot of other functions available with the Klout app, which you can read about on Mashable’s story about this new way to use Klout while on the go. While getting too wrapped up in Klout isn’t necessarily a good thing, I do think there are definite benefits to tracking your score, as it allows you to see how you can improve with using social media.

The Sioux City Journal Creates a Blog-Like Issue

Newspapers are losing money and going bankrupt across the country as more and more people move to getting their news online, but that doesn’t mean there are no papers out there doing interesting things. This past weekend, The Sioux City Journal took a very unconventional approach to their Sunday paper, devoting the entire front cover to a message about stopping bully after a local teen died from self-inflicted injuries due to bullying about being gay. I think the paper looks almost blog-like, which is a pretty interesting concept. Could more content like this be the answer to newspapers’ problems? (Not that print news publications should capitalize on tragedies, but I think the idea of rethinking content to be more blog-like is an interesting one.)

TED-Ed Allows you to Create Comprehensive Lessons with YouTube

The new TED-Ed site is now making it easier for educators, especially online educators, to “flip” YouTube videos into lessons for their students. It’s actually a really cool concept that allows you to add supplemental content to videos by asking questions or adding additional resources. While the concept was initially designed for teachers, I think it would also be interesting to see how online content creators use this new ability as well to create some online courses. It’s definitely a tool worth checking out, especially if you are a video creator, vlogger, video podcasters, or blogger thinking about adding videos to your text content.

In Case You Missed It

Here’s what you might have missed on the BlogWorld blog in the past week:

Awesome from the Archives

There are some golden posts in the post hidden in the BlogWorld archives. Here are three of my favorites that I think you should check out:

Check back every Wednesday for a New Media News Break just when you need it!

New Media News Break: SpAmazon, Google’s Brand Activate, CISPA, and More

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white house

It’s Wednesday, so it’s time for a little New Media News Break to help get you through the work week. Here are the interesting stories you may have missed since last Wednesday’s break!

Fortune Highlights “Spamazon” Problem

This issue has been going on for longer than a week, but on Monday, Fortune’s Stephen Gandel called attention to this problem, causing outcry among self-publishers and consumers who had no idea that so many authors were spamming Amazon with self-published titles meant to lure in and trick people who mean to buy big-name bestsellers. For example, if you’re looking for the steamy best-seller Fifty Shades of Grey, you might mistakenly purchase Thirty-Five Shades of Grey, by an author with a similar name. Or if you’re hoping to pick up the popular Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson, you might mistakenly buy Isaac Worthington’s self-published Steve Jobs book. There are various other examples, and although Amazon has said it will crack down on the problem, there isn’t a simple solution, as it requires a reworking of the company’s self-publishing system, as well as brings about debates on what is and is not legally allowed (remember, one can’t copyright an idea).

The White House Criticizes CISPA

A recent bill introduced called Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act has gotten the thumbs down from the White House, at least according to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. On Tuesday, she was quoted as saying that any cyber security bill that passes should also protect users’ privacy, a sentiment that has many people on the Internet breathing a sigh of release. While CISPA does allow businesses and the government to more easily share information about cyber security threats, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Technology and Progress argue that it also justifies spying on individuals’ emails and social media accounts. So, understandably, many people (myself included) are happy that the White House is criticizing this bill!

Listen Button Now Available for Facebook Pages

Artists with Facebook fan pages now have a new way to share their musical content – a listen button. Located on an artist’s page next to “message” button, when fans click this button, it will take them directly to Spotify, MOG, or other connected services to hear music from the artist without ever leaving Facebook.When a user does this, his or her listening activity will also appear in their own timeline. It’s a very interesting concept, and one that I think could (and should) expand to podcasters who have fan pages in the future. Love it or hate it, Facebook is a powerful way to connect with fans.

instagram facebook Facebook Board Kept in the Dark about Instagram Purchase

Speaking of Facebook, we’re still hearing a lot of news about the recent Instragram purchase. And Facebook’s board might be feeling a little upset right now with the acquisition – not because they necessarily think it was a bad decision, but because they weren’t consulted about it at all. According to reports, Mark Zuckerberg made the deal alone, only telling the board of his plans hours before the deal was finalized. The deal was made rather quickly, over the course of just a few days, which is unusual for such a large purchase in the business board, but that doesn’t really excuse the fact that the board wasn’t part of the proceedings. They did have to eventually vote on it (and obviously, they voted yes), but sources told the Wall Street Journal that the vote was “largely symbolic.” Given his track record, is anyone really surprised that Zuckerberg would make the choice to plow ahead with what he wanted to do rather than talk to his board about the option? It will be interesting to see if there is any fallout over this decision.

Twitter Announces New Patent Pledge

Patents allow companies to protect their innovations and designs, but some feel that it’s being taken too far, with companies constantly suing one another over ideas that haven’t even been implemented or making other ridiculous claims. This week, Twitter announced a new pledge where patent control is places back into the hands of the employee who invented it. While some say that this new “Innovator’s Patent Agreement” might be more about good PR than about actually reforming the world of patent-related lawsuits, it is an interesting concept, especially for creators working under employers. Will other web companies follow suit? That’s yet to be seen.

Google Plans New Online Advertising Metrics

In a new proposal, which has been submitted for review by the Media Rating Council, Google is introducing new ideas about online advertising metrics that they hope will become industry standards. Meant to put companies at ease when purchasing advertising online, these new standards are dubbed Brand Activate and will start with two components: Active View and Active GRP. Active View changes how online ad impressions are counted while Active GRP will calculate the reach and frequency of an ad campaign in real time. If you’re a content creator who makes money through advertising (especially using Google Ads), this is a story you want to watch.

In Case You Missed It

Here’s what you might have missed on the BlogWorld blog in the past week:

Awesome from the Archives

There are some golden posts in the post hidden in the BlogWorld archives. Here are three of my favorites that I think you should check out:

Check back every Wednesday for a New Media News Break just when you need it!

New Media News Break: Blog Detectives, Apple’s Ebook Woes, and More

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It’s Wednesday afternoon and you know what that means – time to take a break from work and catch up on all the new media news you may have missed in the past week. So grab that afternoon energy drink and sit back to check out some of these news stories.

Blog Community Bands Together to Help Police

Who says all blog commenters are trolls? This week, readers of automotive blog Jalopnik banded together to help police with a hit-and-run in Waynesboro, Virginia, where victim Betty Wheeler died after being involved in a hit and run. The only piece of evidence left behind was a piece of the alleged killer’s car. So, a Jalopnik blogger asked readers to help identify the piece – and in a matter of minutes, they did. This information was sent to the police investigating the case. It’s great to see the power a blog community has. Does your community have this kind of teamwork ability? If not, what can you do to strengthen your community?

instagram facebook

Facebook Buys Instagram

Of course, the big story this week is that Facebook bought Instagram for an astonishing $1 Billion. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has noted that although they will be working closely together, Instagram sharing won’t be limited to Facebook, nor will the company be absorbed by it’s parent company – it will remain its own entity. Although some users have already voiced concerns, they have a lot of support as well – and Instagram has shot to number one in the app store thanks to Facebook’s announcements. It will be interesting to continue watching this story to see how Instagram changes now that it has an overlord and more funding than they could have ever hoped for. Will the service improve photo sharing abilities? Will we see major problems? What do you think?

Ebook Publishing Policies Probed in Court

Recently, the U.S. sued Apple and a number of publishers, claiming that the companies colluded to unfairly fix ebook prices. While these companies claim that their publishing policies “enhanced competition in the e-book industry” which was previously dominated by Amazon, the Justice Department is investigating just how Apple worked with publishers to change the way they price ebooks for the iPad, which currently allows publishers to set the end price for consumers and give Apple a commission, rather than allowing the retailer to set the price. The problem is that it’s alleged that executives conspired to fix and raise prices through most-favored-nation provisions in their contracts with Apple so no other retailer could offer lower prices. The Justice Department held a press conference today, announcing an antitrust settlement that, if approved by the courts, will allow retails like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to reduce their prices, effectively terminating anticompetitive most-favored-nation agreements publishers have with Apple. This could mean that we see a vast reduction in the price of ebooks in the near future.

Google+ Gets a Makeover

Today, Google announced a brand new look for Google+, giving the network a much needed face life. New profiles feature better navigation, a drag and drop system, new ways to find interesting conversations, a dedicated page for hangouts, a new chat list sidebar, and more. Although many praised Google+’s initial sleek look, I think a redesign was in order to keep the network competitive, especially with Facebook. Sharing content is now easier than ever on this platform, but the question remains – with Facebook holding strong, Twitter continuing to grow, LinkedIn holding the professional attention, and Pinterest gaining ground with leaps and bounds, can this network survive?

The ListServe Allows You to Email Millions

What would you say if you had a million people listening? That’s the question a group of NYU Students are asking with their new social experience, The ListServe. According to reports, this service allows anyone on their giant email list to enter a lottery where, if won, they get to send an email out to the rest of the list. The email can literally be anything from what the person has for breakfast to funny kitten pictures. Well, almost anything. Each email will be reviewed to ensure it doesn’t contain porn or viruses. But it’s an interesting concept, and one that marketers may be able to use to reach new audience members. Though I have to wonder, is getting another email every day worth the chance to send a blast to a random group of people?

In Case You Missed It

Here’s what you might have missed on the BlogWorld blog in the past week:

Awesome from the Archives

There are some golden posts in the post hidden in the BlogWorld archives. Here are three of my favorites that I think you should check out:

Check back every Wednesday for a New Media News Break just when you need it!

Facebook Buys Instagram: Should Users “Like” This Status Update?

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instagram facebook Today, Facebook overlord Mark Zuckerberg announced the company has acquired the user-friendly smartphone picture app Instagram, which made news last week when it (finally) came to Android. The purchase price? A whopping ONE BILLION DOLLARS. But all things considered, that might be a bargain for Facebook, depending on user reaction.

And I think users are still awe-struck by the news, which was kept pretty quiet until today’s announcement. But the question on their minds, is this: Should I like this change? Or should I run for my life?

As of writing this post, Zuckerberg’s status has been liked by 86,391 people, and it’s only been about an hour. Of course, there’s no dislike button on Facebook, which might tell another tale if it were available. But that made people liking a status so quickly means that the company does have some support – and I’m an optimist. Personally, there are several things about Facebook and their policies that I do not like, but I think this acquisition is going to be awesome for both companies.

Instagram and the Little Engine that Could

You all know the story about the little engine that could, right? Basically, it’s the kid’s tale of a engine who is faced with going up a huge mountain carrying a heavy load. He repeats, “I think I can, I think I can” over and over to stay motivated and make it to the peak, even when others find it an impossibly daunting task for such a small train. Instagram has been that little engine.

The company has…or, well, had…only 13 employees, and less funding from investors than you’d think, given their popularity. I’m assuming that one of the reasons it did take so long for them to come to Android was lack of resources. There’s such cool potential with Instagram, but being a small start-up isn’t easy.

Now, they’ve got no excuse. If I was CEO Kevin Systrom, I would be tempted to fill my office with money and roll around in it. More money allows you to give customers a better user experience, expand the project to be available to more people, get creative with your offerings, and more. Having an investor like Facebook makes it possible for Instagram to get even better – and that’s a good thing for users.

The Dark Shadow Cast by Facebook

Of course, the downside is that the person paying the bills pretty much gets to call the shots. Facebook has already said that they plan to keep the company as it’s own brand, rather than absorbing it into Facebook. I imagine that it will be similar to Google and YouTube – the companies will heavily work together, but Instagram isn’t going to just disappear before our eyes.

At least, that’s my hope. Again, I’m an optimist.

But I think Facebook is maturing as a company, and they realize that changing Instagram to be something exclusively for Facebook users is not a good direction for the company. In his announcement, Zuckerberg wrote:

We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience. We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.

In other words, Facebook has a cool new kickball, but they are going to share it on the playground with all the other kids so everyone can play kickball together. They just get to be pitcher.

Still, I think it’s something we need to keep an eye on as users. My hope is that Facebook will use this acquisition to make their own photo-sharing offerings stronger for Facebook users, but without mucking it up for current Instagram users who don’t want to be forced to use Facebook or change the way they use Instagram drastically. That might not be what happens in reality.

I do think, though, that we need to give Facebook and Instagram a chance.

And a final thought: What say you, Google+? For a network that has been competing with Facebook, this is a pretty big blow. I bet smaller networks like Pinterest and even Twitter have just gotten juicier-looking to Google!

Your turn to weigh in! What do you think of the Facebook-Instagram deal?

New Media News Break: Bald Barbies, Instagram on Android, Google Glasses, and More

Author:

Welcome to your Wednesday afternoon break from work. Here are some new media stories in the news that you may have missed since our last New Media News Break:

Mattel Responds to Facebook Fans and Creates a Bald Barbie

Facebook fans took to the virtual streets recently, campaigning for Barbie manufacturer Mattel to produce a new doll – one without hair. The bald beauty would be for kids who have cancer, since children in the hospital often feel self-conscious about their hair loss. Mattel responded to the campaigning, announcing a new doll that won’t be sold in stores, but that will be distributed to children’s hospitals in the United States and Canada. They say they won’t be selling the dolls, which come with hats, scarves, and wigs that can be interchanged, because they don’t want to profit from the project. Personally, I’d like to see them also sell the dolls with proceeds going toward cancer research, since other little girls might want a bald friend as well or cancer patients might want more than one doll. But it’s a great story about a company listening to their fans and doing the right thing despite it costing the company money.

Instagram Comes to Android

In a long-waited move, Instagram finally came to Android this week, allowing millions of new users to download this photo-sharing app. Over a million people downloaded it the first day alone. Instagram for Android has most of the same features that current Instagram users have been enjoying since 2010, and already I’ve been seeing a flood of new pictures in my social streams. For picture-based content creators, this is definitely a win! Right now, you can download the new Instagram app on your Android smartphone (tablets are not yet supported), and users join the same community when they register in order to share pictures with friends.

Jeremy Lin Chats on Facebook After Surgery

It’s important to connect with fan, but basketball star Jeremy Lin took it to the next level this week when he held a Facebook chat just a few hours after his knee surgery. He may have had to take a break in the middle of it to toss his cookies (seriously), but thousands of fans “tuned in” to talk to the player and ask questions. He also announced during the chat that he’d be posting YouTube videos throughout his recovery so fans can stay up-to-date with what’s going on. Now that’s a humbling lesson for us all – if Jeremy Lin can post updates while he’s still in the hospital, we’re not too busy to post updates for our fans as well!

Google Starts Testing New SmartPhone Glasses

Google employees are starting tests on the latest “smart” device. Instead of a phone or tablet, though, what Google is testing is something you can wear – glasses. They recorded some videos to get early fan feedback, and already the web is buzzing with possibilities and potential pitfalls. It’s definitely an interesting concept, and one that highlights just how important it is for use content creators to make our blog posts, videos, podcasts, photographs, etc. available using smart devices. Luckily, development is happening on that front with companies like Yapp making it easier for people who have little technical knowledge create their very own apps. It’s easy to get stuck in our ways, but if we don’t evolves and go where our fans are, we’ll be missing out on traffic and sales opportunities.

“Amazon Law” Revoked in Colorado

Over the past few years, Amazon has been dumping affiliates in some states because of new laws surrounding taxation of Amazon’s products. In Colorado, however, the “Amazon Law” has been officially revoked by a federal court. This bodes well for bloggers and other users who want to get back into the Amazon affiliate game, but who live in a state where tax laws are currently preventing it. More than 25,000 affiliates found themselves out in the cold due to these tax laws, so it will be interesting to see if affiliates, many of whom were mad not just at their states but also at Amazon, start linking to the online retailer once again. Grudges sometimes die hard.

Facebook Aims to Get in the Search Game

Google might want to get a little worried – according to reports, Facebook is getting into the search game, or at least exploring this option. former Google employee Lars Rasmussen is heading up the development project with Facebook, which some speculate would be a major blow to Google+. It’s not all bad news for Google, though. The company actually wants competitors and is being vocal about it, since the EU is currently in the middle of an antitrust investigation, with critics saying that Google abuses its power in the search market to direct users to its own brand and decrease competitor viability.

In Case You Missed It

Here’s what you might have missed on the BlogWorld blog in the past week:

Awesome from the Archives

There are some golden posts in the post hidden in the BlogWorld archives. Here are three of my favorites that I think you should check out:

Check back every Wednesday for a New Media News Break just when you need it!

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