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Archive for March 2012

brinking. – Is Twitter now a viable platform?

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With the spectacular growth of Draw Something there’s been renewed chatter about whether Twitter is a viable platform for other products to grow on. Draw Some, after all, at least partly attributes their unprecedented growth to Twitter.

Will we finally be able to see a product grow and monetize with Twitter as its primary communication channel? Does Draw Some hold any lessons for other non-game products being able to use Twitter for growth and retention?

First, let’s establish what we need from a channel. To oversimplify, we want two things from “virality”:

1. The ability to acquire new users

2. The ability to retain current users

For example email offers both of these since I can invite a new user to the service, or bring a current user back by, say, letting them know that a friend just posted a picture of

them. But with notoriously bad CTRs on email its a crappy channel for both new and retained communication in most circumstances.

Communication for retaining users is often overlooked but incredibly critical. For example there was a long time where Facebook basically made it impossible to acquire new users through the feed because it would only show the item to people who had already installed that app. However the feed still was a critical channel. It just became something more akin to push messaging on an iPhone, a way to let people know to come back.

Through that lens we can look at Draw Something, as well as previous efforts like Spyhunter, and see where Twitter fits.

Twitter today feels like it can be a viable channel for user acquisition, for the right type of content that is tailored to be broadcast to strangers. After all, social games from Cafe World to Idle Worship are now allowing you to play with strangers on Facebook, which is far more tenuous a connection than the follower model of Twitter. Twitter, which thrives on the psychology of pride, can be a great outlet for things folks would be >proud of (ie a drawing) versus a beg need.

But it still feels particularly bad as a communication channel for retention. With Twitter seemingly slowly deprecating direct messaging, and throttling them regardless, there is no private way to message a friend that is akin to email or FB requests. And that means to get an appropriate volume your public twitter stream basically needs to be about that product, which very few people are willing to subjugate themselves to.

That just means it can be part of, just not all, of a product strategy. For instance an interesting thing about mobile is that you have a retention channel already, push messaging. So perhaps there will be a new wave of products that take advantage of channels like Twitter, Instagram, Path, and Pinterest for new user acqusition, and then use mobile push messaging (hopefully messages with meaning) that drive retention.

disclosure: Omgpop (makers of Draw Something) and Twitter are Spark portfolio companies

via OM Says: brinking. – Is Twitter now a viable platform?.

Written by Kees Winkel

March 24, 2012 at 15:30

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MIT researchers create camera that can see around corners

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Fans of the classic 1982 science fiction movie Blade Runner will remember the ESPER machine that allows Deckard to zoom in and see around corners in a two-dimensional photograph. While such technology is still some way off, researchers in MIT’s Media Lab have developed a system using a femtosecond laser that can reproduce low-resolution 3D images of objects that lie outside a camera’s line of sight.

The experimental setup designed by the MIT researchers gained attention last December when video of it capturing a burst of light traveling through a plastic bottle was released. But as amazing as that capability is, it was for the even more amazing ability to literally see around corners that the team says the system was developed.

It works by emitting a burst of light from a femtosecond laser that reflects off visible surfaces – such as an opaque wall – onto objects that are hidden from the camera’s direct view. The light then bounces off the object before ultimately making its way back to a detector. This process is repeated a number of times with the laser targeted at different areas of the reflecting surface.

Continue via MIT researchers create camera that can see around corners.

Written by Kees Winkel

March 21, 2012 at 11:05

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Rightsholders Group to Charge Libraries for Reading Books to Kids

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I came across this amazing story by 

I would have never, ever expected to be able to write a The Next Web blog post that involves my local library, but this story is just too crazy to not bring to your attention. It’s not really related to tech, though, so bear with me.

People with a healthy interest in fundamental freedoms and basic human rights have probably heard about SABAM, the Belgian collecting society for music royalties, which has become one of the global poster children for how outrageously out of touch with reality certain rightsholders groups appear to be.

In the past, SABAM has sought to require Internet and hosting service providers to install filters that would prevent the illegal downloading of files. They lost that battle.

Then, they wanted social networking companies to install monitoring, filtering or blocking systems to prevent illegal trading of digital music and other copyrighted material. They lost that battle. Don’t expect those setbacks to make them back down in their quest to display a stunning amount of stupidity to the world, though.

If you questioned the sanity of the folks over at SABAM before, now I hope you’ll realize just how plain evil they really are.

This morning, word got out in Belgian media that SABAM is spending time and resources to contact local libraries across the nation, warning them that they will start charging fees because the libraries engage volunteers to read books to kids.

Volunteers. Who – again – READ BOOKS TO KIDS.

Continue via Rightsholders Group to Charge Libraries for Reading Books to Kids.

Written by Kees Winkel

March 18, 2012 at 11:06

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UPDATE 1-Why make Kony famous? Video rubs raw Uganda scars | Reuters

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This text taken from Reuters via Online Media Daily Europe

* First screening of internet sensation in northern Uganda

* Disappointment and scorn greets scratchy screening (Adds tourism officials)

By Elias Biryabarema

LIRA, Uganda, March 14 (Reuters) – Few faces evoke more hatred and fear in northern Uganda than Joseph Kony, one of Africa’s most wanted men whose army of child soldiers preyed on this town for years and whose brutal legacy has been thrust back into the spotlight by a hugely popular U.S. video.

A wave of anger and depression swept over 27-year old Isaac Omodo as he stared at fuzzy images of young boys mutilated by the rebel warlord whose drugged and vicious fighters abducted Omodo’s brother at the height of northern raids by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 2001.

Those grainy pictures came from the first screening in northern Uganda on Tuesday of a 30-minute YouTube video filmed by a California-based charity, whose appeal for U.S.-backed Ugandan troops to capture the LRA leader went viral on the Internet over the last week.

“When I see some of those things Kony did I get mad,” said Omodo, whose sibling is still missing.

As the sun dipped over a dusty park in Lira, Omodo was among thousands who gathered to watch the screening of the video, which has been seen by more than 77 million people. It has attracted massive support on Twitter and Facebook and endorsements from celebrities like George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey in its quest to press for Kony’s capture.

But Omodo said he felt his raw emotional scars were being reopened.

“Why are we being reminded? I feel bad. We want to just forget all about Kony and the LRA madness,” Omodo told Reuters.

Some jeered as the projection neared its end and scuffles broke out as simmering frustrations boiled over.

Notorious for his use of children as fighters and sex slaves, as well as his fighters’ fondness for hacking off limbs, Kony terrorised northern Uganda for nearly 20 years until he was chased out of the area in 2005.

via UPDATE 1-Why make Kony famous? Video rubs raw Uganda scars | Reuters.

Written by Kees Winkel

March 15, 2012 at 10:00

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Nokia Bolting From Mobile Money Business | Mobile Marketing Watch

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Word broke early Tuesday that Nokia, the world’s biggest mobile handset maker in terms of unit shipments, is shuttering its mobile financial services business.The closure will reportedly include a freshly launched Nokia Money service in India.The reason given for the exodus, which won’t be immediate, is a renewed commitment by Nokia to focus on core-business aspects of its operation.“It’s not going to happen overnight and consumers already using the service are not at risk,” a company spokesman tells Dow Jones Newswires.Nokia had launched the side-business in 2009 in an attempt to bring secure electronic payments to users without a bank account, chiefly in emerging markets.“Our services will continue to operate while we work with our banking, market and technology partners as well as our employees, agents and others to plan future options in accordance with all customer and regulatory requirements,” Nokia says.Do you think the imperiled handset maker will benefit from its “evolving strategy” or this just another inauspicious sign of what’s to come at Nokia?

via Nokia Bolting From Mobile Money Business | Mobile Marketing Watch.

Written by Kees Winkel

March 14, 2012 at 13:51

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Inside Apple’s museum-like Amsterdam store — Apple News, Tips and Reviews

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Credits: Thomas Schlijper

It’s no see-through glass exterior, but Apple’s new Amsterdam Apple Store is still offering some pretty good retail eye-candy. The overall motif, with white walls and classic, ornate architectural details, seems to call for marble statues rather than electronics on display. But you’ve still got the Apple design mainstays that let you know exactly where you are: the marble floors, modern wood tables and — of course — the clear-glass spiral staircase.

The Amsterdam location, which opens Saturday, is the first Apple Store in The Netherlands, which means Apple now has stores in 12 countries.

Fore more pictures, see Thomas Schlijper’s website.

via Inside Apple’s museum-like Amsterdam store — Apple News, Tips and Reviews.

Written by Kees Winkel

March 3, 2012 at 16:45

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Super science cloud coming to Europe — Cloud Computing News

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Scientists have a limitless hunger for computing power and storage. That’s why three European agencies — CERN, the force behind the Large Hadron Collider; the European Molecular Biology Laboratory; and the European Space Agency — are cooking up a European science cloud to handle their compute-intensive workloads.

The Helix Nebula Science Cloud cloud aims to bring enough firepower to solve very hard problems and deal with tons of data churned out by the second. As an example of the size of the task, CERN alone stores about 15 petabytes of data per year, uses 150,000 CPUs continuously and writes data at 6GB per second.

“Physicists can consume as much compute power and storage as we can give them. There is so much data and so many ways to explore and mine that data, that we’re always looking for new techniques to increase that total capacity,” said Bob Jones, head of CERN’s OpenLab in an interview. CERN, or the European Lab for Particle Physics, is based in Geneva and funded by European Union nations.

The project is backed by commercial partners including Atos, Capgemini, CloudSigma, Logica, Orange Business Systems, SAP, Telefonica, the Cloud Security Alliance and the OpenNebula project.

Up until now CERN has been using publicly owned infrastructure — 150 data centers in all — which contribute resources for LHD data. “We want to see if we can use commercial infrastructure as an additional resource,” Jones said. Like any organization, the group is trying to build in flexibility and maximize price performance.

Discussion around the project started last summer and the group decided to use the new infrastructure initially for three projects. CERN will use the infrastructure to handle the Atlas Experiment, a particle physics project, at LHC. The European Molecular Biology Lab will build use it in a new project to simplify the analysis of large genomes and the European Space Agency, working with two partners, will build an application to study earthquakes and volcanoes.

The first stage of the project is a two-year pilot building a cloud to handle those three applications.

This is a Europe-only cloud. “The initial drive is from these European research labs and one reason it’s ended up this way is this whole question of data security and access. We have to be certain wherever we start to use these resources that we have appropriate legislative backing.”

There has been a movement to build Europe-only clouds with proponents usually invoking the U.S. Patriot Act as rationale. Because some European nations –notably Germany — have tougher privacy laws than those in the U.S., local companies want to make sure that data in their data centers cannot be turned over to U.S. authorities.

As the prototyping continues, Jones said the group will look into bringing other research organizations and cloud providers aboard.

Photo courtesy of  Flickr user Image Editor.

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via Super science cloud coming to Europe — Cloud Computing News.

Written by Kees Winkel

March 1, 2012 at 15:56

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