All posts by Joe Newman

  • How a 14-year-old girl stood up to the fashion establishment – and won

    Seventeen magazine knew what it was up against and called for a truce, or in this case something the magazine’s editor calls the “Body Peace Treaty” — a pledge to never digitally alter girls’ faces or bodies and to use diverse models of different body types, skin tones and hair textures, among other promises. The pledge was not only the right thing to do, it was the smart move from a public relations standpoint.

    The magazine had found itself the target of a petition on Change.org to “Give Girls Images of Real Girls!” Julie Bluhm, a 14-year-old from Waterville, Maine, started the petition a few months ago, asking Seventeen “to commit to printing one unaltered — real — photo spread per month. I want to see regular girls that look like me in a magazine that’s supposed to be for me.”

    The petition struck a chord, not only with other girls, but with mothers and fathers, as well. As of this writing, more than 86,000 people have signed the petition. One mother who commented on the petition wrote:

    I grew up reading “Seventeen,” and I spent a large part of my adolescence agonizing over the fact that I did not look like the models in magazines. Now, I am raising a daughter, who is the most perfect and awesome human being that I have ever seen. I want her to know that she is beautiful just as she is, because she is smart and funny and clever and talented, and that she does not need trickery or computer magic or expensive cosmetics – smoke and mirrors – to be “beautiful.” Our daughters are already perfectly lovely, just as they are.

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  • Digg’ing its own grave: Hard times for social media pioneer

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    Remember Digg? Just a couple years ago, it was a major player in crowd-sourced news. Getting a link on the the site’s front page meant tons of traffic. Nowadays? Not so much.

    Digg is done. A New York tech firm called Betaworks bought Digg last week for a mere $500,000 — about what they find under the couch cushions over at Google. Just four years ago, Digg was valued at $160 million. To put that in perspective, that’s like spending $900 for a Ferrari that sold for $300,000 in 2008.

    Of course, a $900 Ferrari might still get you from point A to B, but I’m not sure you can say the same about Digg. Of Technorati’s top 15 ranked blogs, I found the Digg sharing icon visible on only one site’s individual posts. All of them had Facebook and Twitter icons; most had G+, several had LinkedIn and a few even had Pinterest share buttons.

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  • Pentagon looking to develop Twitter, Facebook Special Ops

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    The Pentagon is gearing up for a looming social media war–battles the military envisions will be won by being one step ahead of Twitter- and Facebook-powered insurgencies.

    For the Pentagon that means developing social media tools that combine the code-breaking know-how of its intelligence services with the propaganda skills and manipulation techniques of its Pys-Ops group. On top of all that, the Pentagon hopes it can revolutionize the analysis of social media trends and conversations.

    It’s all part of the Defense Department’s new Social Media in Strategic Communication program, which the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) first announced a few weeks ago.

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  • Top 10 reasons Google+ will fail (Or why Facebook isn’t losing sleep)

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    If you follow the major online influencers (yeah, I’m talking about you, Scoble, Brogan, Kawasaki, Rowse et al) you’ve noticed that all of them are gaga over Google+. For sure, G+ is a fascinating platform with tremendous potential. Google took some of the best features of Facebook and Twitter and rolled them into an easy to use (if difficult to fully understand) social media network.

    But despite its upside, G+ is far from perfect. And while those smart guys in Menlo Park will surely be adding features and improving things in the coming days, weeks and months, here are the Top 10 reasons Google+ will fail:

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  • Will Social Media Boost Government Transparency?

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    Back in April, when I was asked to talk about social media and government transparency at this week’s Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference, one of the first things I did was make a list of Members of Congress who “get” social media.

    It was a very short list. For one, most Members of Congress leave the tweeting to their staff. The other thing is that their Twitter feeds are often one-way conversations. They’re social only in the sense that they want you to hear what they have to say–but who knows if they’re listening to you. When Twitter is used effectively, it’s as a tool to not only inform and entertain but to engage.

    Anthony Weiner was one of the exceptions. Before his awful implosion, his Twitter feed was humorous, insightful, engaging. It represented an unprecedented milestone–our democracy entering an age where the American public for the first time could have instant, unfiltered access to a Member of Congress. Unfortunately, it also answered the question of whether there’s such a thing as too much transparency.

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  • Get ready for the mobile photo-sharing revolution

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    I took this photo during a January snow storm in D.C. It’s dark and moody and the snow is whipping around in what looks like 10 different directions. If I was a better photographer, I might be able to tell you how I thoughtfully set my exposure and aperture before waiting for just the exact moment to fire off several frames. Except, I only snapped one picture and it was with an iPhone. Before I left that corner, I had processed the photo with one of the 13 filters on the Instagram app and uploaded it simultaneously to my Facebook, Flickr and Twitter accounts (and it would have gone to Foursquare, too, if I hadn’t entered the wrong password).

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