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New Media News Break: Pinterest Spammers, Teen Opera Stars, Hunger Game Racists, and More

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It’s Wednesday afternoon, and I think we all need a little break to get through the work week. Here are some of the top new media news stories you may have missed this week:

Daily Dot runs a Tell-All Interview with a Self-Proclaimed Pinterest Spammer

Pinterest is quickly become a hot spot for content creators of all kinds – but there’s a dark side too. In an interview with Daily Dot, a Pinterest user going by the name Steve admits to making $1000+ a day by filling the boards with affiliate links.. Steve’s operation is massive, but the interview raises questions for all Pinterest users about when self-promotion and affiliate links become spam.

Teens’ Stunning Performance Goes Viral

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out this video where teens Charlotte and Jonathan surprise the audience on Britain’s Got Talent. The video’s gone viral because it is so emotional, which is a lesson to all content creators out there who have hopes of going viral. You don’t always have to be funny or cute. You just have to elicit some strong emotion.

I’ve seen a little buzz on Facebook that his schlumpy look is a marketing ploy to make him the underdog, the type of person people want to like. He has definitely been seen in finer duds in other homemade videos of him performing, which are on YouTube. Perhaps that’s another lesson for all of us, though – good content is only half the battle. You also have to market yourself well.

Google to Get into the Comment Game

Online publishers will soon have another comment system choice – Google is reportedly building a new platform. Reports say it will be similar to the Facebook commenting system, as well as rival Disqus, LiveFyre, and Intense Debate. Do we really need another commenting system? Probably not. But I think this will up the Google+ game, and it’s also going to be interesting to see how this will factor into search. If your SEO improves ten folds by using Google’s system, I can see a lot of bloggers making the switch.

Racist Fans Hate the Hunger Games Movie

Twitter has be buzzing with tweets about The Hunger Games, and not all of them have been applauding the movie. As Jezebel reports, there’s a group of fans upset that the characters on screen didn’t look like the characters they pictured in their heads when reading the book…mostly surrounding the fact that a few of the important characters were portrayed by black actors. In a few instances, the author even described the characters as black, but fans still glazed over when reading those sections and pictured them as white instead.

It’s an interesting conversation, but what’s even more interesting is seeing how the Hunger Games community is dealing with trolls. A lot of fans are fiercely protective of the books and the movie, so I’ve yet to see the author or any of the actors speak out on the topic. Moral of the story: Moderate, but create such good content that your fans go to bat for you.

Live Tweeting Banned by the U.S. Supreme Court

Lawyers may want to live tweet the healthcare hearings going on in the Supreme Court right now, but releasing information to the public has been banned. This ban is actually upholding a current rule that electronic devices aren’t allowed in the courtroom (or the overflow “lawyers lounge”), though this didn’t stop senior counselor Casey Mattox from trying, according to Reuters. He was eventually stopped, even though he was actually leaving the room and sending emails to his staff who were then updating Twitter from their offices in Arizona.

The ban does make sense in some respect – it’s not only to decrease distractions but also to limit media and public influence over what lawyers are saying while court is in session. Traditionally, audio is released – but only after arguments are over. On the other hand, this perfect demonstrates the “need it now” attitude that people have about information. Are you filling that need with timely updates?

Pottermore Break the Mold

Harry Potter can now be enjoyed in all sorts of digital-y goodness thanks to Pottermore, a new ebook store controlled by Team Rowling. This marks the first time a writer and her publishing team have essentially given retailers the middle finger and instead taken control of their own digital publishing. Amazon and Barnes & Nobel have both bent knee and actually send users away from their own sites to buy Rowling’s books directly for her. Apple, however, is still holding out. How will this affect other authors wanting to get in on the digital game? Is anyone else popular enough to do what Rowling is doing? Wired has a great feature story posted on their site all about Pottermore’s rule breaking model.

Teen Expelled Over Tweet

Indiana high school senior Austin Carroll was recently expelled and will have to finish out his final year at an alternative school thanks to a tweet that he says was posted on his own computer from home outside of school hours. The tweet used the f-word several times and school officials say that their system shows that the tweet was made during school. Regardless, should a student’s Twitter account be reason for expulsion? Big brother is watching, apparently. In any case, it is a reminder to all of us to be careful that our tweets represent us well. You may not have to worry about being expelled, but you do have to worry about losing readers/listeners/viewers.

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:

Should We Forgive GoDaddy?

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SOPA has sure made a mess of things, hasn’t it?

No company knows that better than GoDaddy. When the list of SOPA supporters came out, Internet users everywhere cried to users to boycott GoDaddy, moving hosting and domain name registration to other companies. A lot of people did. Last Friday, when this story was getting top billing on tech sites everywhere, over 21,000 domain names were moved to other companies. That hasn’t stopped people from registering thousands of new domain names.

Bob Parsons, CEO of GoDaddy - worthy of our forgiveness?

The net loss for the day was only 1,020, which is pretty insignificant considering that they manage over 50 million domain names.

Yesterday, the specific day when people were encouraged to move their domain names, the boycott fizzled completely. The company actually had a net gain of over 20,000 names, though they have admitted a spike in transfer rates.

The boycott has made a difference. A few days ago, GoDaddy released a statement saying that they no longer support SOPA. Then, more recently, the company released a statement saying that not only were they no longer supporting the bill, but they now directly oppose it. The lack of support for transferring names yesterday can be attributed to both GoDaddy’s changing stance on the issue and Reddit’s new focus on actual politicians. (Reddit is where the call for a GoDaddy boycott originally started.)

So with all of that said, is it time for the blogging community to forgive GoDaddy?

This blogger says yes.

I personally have domain names registered and hosted with two different companies – GoDaddy and HostGator. I was poised to switch everything to HostGator, but when GoDaddy changed their position and decided to oppose SOPA, I decided to keep my account. For now.

Finish Your Vegetables, GoDaddy!

In my opinion, it sends the wrong message to boycott the company after they’ve given in to consumer demands. I’ve even seen people making fun of GoDaddy for changing their position so quickly to appease customers. Um…isn’t that what we wanted? What, did you want a more difficult fight?

The whole point of a boycott is to change what a company is doing. So if the company makes the changes you want and you still boycott, it sends the message that it doesn’t matter whether a company listens to its consumers or not. Next time, they won’t bother changing because it won’t make a difference anyway.

A good analogy is a kid who won’t finish his dinner. You tell the child, “Because you haven’t eaten the rest of your peas, you aren’t getting any cake for dessert.” If the child clears his plate, you have to give him the cake. That was the implied deal. You can’t really say, “Well, originally, you decided not to finish your dinner, so you still aren’t getting cake, even though you changed your mind.” Well, I mean, you can, but good luck getting the kid to eat his dinner tomorrow. You’ve conditioned him to think that it doesn’t matter what he does; you’re going to withhold cake if you feel like it.

Why Are You Anti-GoDaddy?

There’s no shortage of reasons to dislike GoDaddy. If you decide to leave because of the dead animal debacle, do it. If you object to their racy ads, transfer your names. If you believe the company can’t be trusted to make good decisions in the future, close your account. These are all good reasons to leave – for some people.

But if your reason for leaving was to boycott the company’s support of SOPA, I think you should stay – or even consider moving back if you already transferred. The boycott worked, and we want to send the right message – that if we boycott you and you change, we’ll stop boycotting. It’s time to forgive and move on to find other ways to make a different in the fight against SOPA. A lot of other companies and politicians still support the bill, and we need to at least try to change their minds.

A final warning to GoDaddy, though: the Internet might forgive, but we never forget. You’re on probation.

Picture via Parsonsrep at Wikimedia Commons.

The World Loses Steve Jobs: What Happens Now?

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Steve Jobs passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones, on October 5, 2011. Although no official cause of death has been reported, Jobs had suffered from pancreatic cancer in the past and underwent a liver transplant in 2009. He stepped down from his role as Apple’s CEO in August due to his health problems, and when the news of his death hit the Internet, Apple posted a picture of him on their homepage (see above) alone with this simple message:

“Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”

Jobs leaves behind his wife Laurene, the person he called the love of his life, along with four children.

But you know all this already.

I found out about Jobs’ death on Twitter, and for at least ten minutes, I don’t think I saw a single tweet that was about any other topic. His death took over the trending topics and, I’m guessing, is the reason why the fail whale came out to play for the first time in a long time. I saw messages of mourning from every corner of the world. One of my favorites (and I apologize that I can no longer find who originally tweeting this was “Stevie you’ll always be the apple of our i” and another, which I thought was beautifully perfect simply said “iSad.”

You don’t need another blog post to tell you that we’ve lost one of the greatest minds in the world, whether you are an Apple fan or not. Despite that fact, you’re here reading this, so I would like to pose a question to you instead: What happens now?

The world goes on. Despite the death of someone so world-changing, the earth won’t stop rotating. Even in our tech microcosm, life will continue. What happens now is that great people will go on to build upon the foundations that Jobs has given us to create things that even he couldn’t have imagined. Hundreds of years from now, new technology will be possible because of what Jobs did in his lifetime. What happens now is that we all are challenged to fill the gap, that hole created in the world when he passed away.

No one can replace the incredible Steve Jobs, but if we all try just a little bit harder to be amazing at what we’re doing in life, whether that’s blogging or social media or community management or raising llamas or driving race cars or something else…if we all try just a little bit harder, I think we’ll honor his memory well.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a video of Jobs’ 2005 Commencement Speech to the students at Stanford. He was standing before that class to deliver his speech, but I feel as though maybe he was actually speaking to all of us.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc[/youtube]

Newspapers Continue to Suffer in the Face of Online News Coverage

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Newspapers Continue to Suffer in the Face of Online News Coverage According to a report released by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the state of the American news media improved in 2010 after two years of downward movement. Among the major sectors, only newspapers continued to suffer – due to the advent of online news sources.

News organizations — old and new — still produce most of the content audiences consume. But each technological advance has added a new layer of complexity—and a new set of players—in connecting that content to consumers and advertisers.

News companies now find themselves having to tackle:

  • A continuing loss of advertising dollars as new platforms and programs take a share of the revenue split.
  • A constant shift of applications and platforms that require technology expertise, rather than journalism knowledge.
  • A huge increase of users looking to find news on a mobile device. Nearly half of all Americans (47%) search out local news on their mobile device.
  • People obtaining more news from the Internet than newspapers.

In some ways, new media and old, slowly and sometimes grudgingly, are coming to resemble each other.

While this may be a time of change, growth, and experimentation – there is also a shift in trends and many stories and news topics are being left behind. “Some vitally important stories are less likely to be covered,” said the leader of a local civic group in Seattle. “It’s very frightening to think of those gaps and all the more insidious because you don’t know what you don’t know.

Image Source: SXC

Social Media’s Role in the Egyptian Protests

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Sometimes, I have to turn off the news.

Reporters around the world are talking about how social media played a role in initially organizing the Egyptian protests. Twitter and Facebook certainly gave people a voice, allowed the public to organically organize without a clear leader or any kind of secondary agenda. There are Muslim groups jumping on the bandwagon now, but I do not believe that they should get credit for this – this was truly organized by the people.

The Internet has since been silenced in Egypt, with the government first limiting access to social media sites and then essentially flipping the switch, shutting down the Internet completely. One reporter for MSNBC who is actually in Cairo right now has said that it doesn’t matter anymore. What started as isolated protests organized online has become a country-wide protest. If you want to join the crowd, all you have to do is go outside and find a group of protesters.

What is happening in Egypt right now certainly isn’t the first time that a world event has moved me to tears. I feel small and helpless, watching protesters who are younger than me fight for what they believe is right and not being able to do anything to help them. I feel ashamed that I have trouble wrapping my head around what is going on, that I’m not a more savvy about what is going on in the world today and what has happened historically in other countries. I feel worried that our government won’t make good decisions because maybe there are no good options to choose. I feel sad that people are resorting to violence, and that innocent people who wanted a peaceful protest are getting hurt.

Sometimes, I just feel overwhelmed and I have to turn off the news.

Yet, I can’t. Social media has made it impossible to bury our heads in the sand, impossible to turn away when things get uncomfortable.

And that’s what people aren’t talking about right now. Certainly, the role social media has played in organizing protesters is important, but what about the rest of us? For us, social media is playing a much different role.

Social media has become a way for us to connect, to keep this issue at the forefront of our day, to talk about what is happening. Social media makes it impossible to just shut off the rest of the world and focus on our own lives. Social media reminds us that our problems are small and our reach is far. When we feel like we can’t do anything, as is the case for many of us right now in regards to the unrest in Egypt, social media gives us a voice. And an ear.

And maybe that is something we can do, even as we feel helpless watching police cars burn and crowds get bombed with tear gas on the news. We can listen. We can listen to one another and exchange ideas and debate one another respectfully about not only Egypt, but about other important topics as well. Maybe we can’t make the Egyptian government listen to their people, but we can learn from what they are doing wrong and bring those lessons into our own lives. We can all try to be the best people we can possibly be, and encourage others to do the same. We can blog about the issues that are important to us, we can comment when other people blog about topics that move us, and we can share what we’ve learned through social media.

We can’t turn it off so easily anymore. We can’t so easily live in a bubble, concerned only with the events that happen in our own backyards. The Internet has made the world a smaller place, and also a much bigger place. It is up to us to make it a good thing, to use social media to listen.

Let’s make it a good thing.

Twitter Launches Earlybird Account

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Want deals? Will Twitter has them! Earlier this week they launched an “@earlybird” deals feed – and they already have over 26k followers.

Our focus will be to try and make these deals interesting and of value to you,” the company said of the account. “We take pride in being selective about the type of deals we highlight and hope they will be an exciting way to start your day.

Given the name and nature of the account, it won’t surprise you that offers are always time-sensitive and sometimes supply-sensitive, so they may run out quickly,” the company explained as the only catch.

Will you be following @earlybird? I am!

Other news and tips across the blogosphere this week (July 9th):

Copyblogger: Want More Readers? Try Expanding Your Internet Universe
What we forget is that this little galaxy we’re occupying is only a tiny sliver of the universe. And if we want to expand our audience, we need to start boldly going beyond our own safe little corner.

Mashable: 40+ Essential Social Business Resources
Check out this list of resources that can help you start, manage, or grow your social networks.

ReadWriteWeb: 10 Readers Explain What Our Internet is Turning Into
How do we explain the Web and what it means? With so many innovations changing our lives, that’s a complex explanation. Now what if you had to do it in only a few words?

ProBlogger: Anonymous Blogging 101: a Quick and Dirty Primer
Learn, from an anonymous blogger, the reasons why some people choose to blog this way, a few different methods to hide your identity, and a couple of things to keep in mind if you decide to go the anonymous route.

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

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