• UNICEF: Likes Don’t Save Lives

    A biting new video from UNICEF Sweden takes a poke at “clicktivism,” the Internet Age’s no fuss, no muss activism that can be done from the comfort of your couch. With just a few keystrokes and a mouse click, hundreds of thousands (millions?) of people every day feel like they’re making a difference for whatever cause they support.

    As UNICEF’s video mockingly reminds us, clicks don’t save lives –money does. It’s an effective, to the point video that should hit a chord with some of UNICEF’s supporters who faithfully sign petitions but who haven’t yet taken the next step to become a donor.

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  • Wikileaks tosses a virtual pie into Bill Keller’s face but who gets last laugh?

    Bill Keller (presumably the real Bill Keller) was angry. How angry? Apparently, all-caps angry:

    Wikileaks had some fun at his expense by going to the trouble of faking an oped under his name and posting it on what, at first glance, appeared to be the New York Times website. On closer inspection, you might notice that the URL was for “opinion-nytimes.com,” rather than the legit “nytimes.com.” I wonder what made Keller, a columnist for the paper and its former executive editor, angrier — that he was the butt of what he called a “childish prank” or that the column he supposedly wrote was so stilted?

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  • Twitter and Instagram are no longer ‘friends’

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    When it comes to the social media/tech world, there are super powers, established brands, up-and-comers and a whole bunch of wannabes. What we often forget is that the super powers — the Googles, Facebooks, Apples and Microsofts — were all, at one time, wannabes. Every one of them. Not a single one sprung full-grown from the head of Zeus.

    I wonder, however, how many years it will be before we see another social media start-up go from wannabe to super power? It seems that any established social media brand that shows beastly potential will eventually be bought and co-opted by one of the industry giants. Yahoo bought Flickr for $40 million in 2005 when the photo-sharing site was barely a year old. The next year, Google bought YouTube for an eye-popping $1.65 billion (which, after all is said and done, might be the steal of the century) before the video site turned two. And earlier this year, Facebook paid $1 billion for the one and a half year old Instagram.

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  • Rise of the Twitter bots

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    I was working on a post tying together Twitter bots, Mitt Romney’s recent surge in Twitter followers and Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics when I came across Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes’ smart article on the rise of “tweeting robots.” I may, yet, go back and finish my post but because I need to head out the door for work, I think I’ll just excerpt Holmes instead:

    Then there’s the sci-fi stuff: the latest generation of social bots and virtual agents showing up on Twitter and Facebook.  These tools don’t just optimize content; they make it.   In their simplest incarnation, Twitter bots are computerized scripts that automatically follow users who use certain keywords.  The newest social bots, however, take this to another level —  participating in convincing conversations and often drawing legions of followers.  Google (GOOG) product manager Greg Marra earned notoriety building @trackgirl, who infiltrated the ranks of hardcore runners, even attracting sympathy messages when she “hurt her ankle.”

    But how far is too far?

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  • Zynga, Facebook having some tough times down on the farm

    It’s been a tough year in Farmville. Make-believe fields are sitting fallow and make-believe cows aren’t getting fed. I’m sure if there was a make-believe John Mellencamp, he’d be in Farmville right now organizing a benefit concert.

    Let’s get this straight, up front. I’m not hating on Farmville or Mafia Wars or the other game you play on Facebook where you pretend you’re a vampire. I’m a gamer. I get it. I’ll even confess that I was hooked on Scrabulous (the Scrabble rip-off) back before Hasbro, the owners of the real Scrabble, shut it down.

    These days, I’d pretty much forgotten about Farmville and Mafia Wars. Thankfully, Facebook made it easier to hide those annoying, bordering on maddening, requests from friends to join their games or, even worse, the announcements that one of your friends had just added some critter to his farm.

    But in making my life a little more pleasant, the Facebook team ignored the goose that laid the golden egg. That goose, gamemaker Zynga, announced Wednesday afternoon that it posted a $22 million loss in its second quarter. And just like that Zynga, which made a fortune selling virtual (i.e. make believe) commodities for real (i.e. real!!) money, saw its stock pummeled, losing nearly 40 percent of its value as investors rushed for the exit. Zynga, maker of Farmville, Mafia Wars, Words with Friends and dozens of other titles, raised $1 billion last December when it went public. At its height, Zynga stock reached $15.91 a share. On Wednesday, it had sunk to $3.12 a share in after-hours trading.

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  • Stunning time-lapse video is best NASA mashup ever

    View from the ISS at Night from Knate Myers on Vimeo.

    Knate Myers, a photographer/cinematographer from Albuquerque, New Mexico, made this incredible time-lapse video using photos taken by the International Space Station. He edited the photos, removing some noise, and added a soundtrack. Many bloggers, myself included, rely on government photos because most fall in the public domain. However, this certainly has to rank as one of the best uses of government photos I’ve ever seen.

    In its first week up on Vimeo, the video has had nearly 2 million views. It peaked on July 23, with 605,913 views. Of the 1.72 million plays it had through July 24, 20 percent of the traffic came from four sites — Gizmodo, Facebook, the Huffington Post and Mashable.