Digital Download 5/27/08


BusinessWeek posted an article this morning in retrospect to its 2005 story "Blogs Will Change Your Business.” They’ve come to the self-realization that today’s business world is beyond blogs which are just one of the do-it-yourself tools out there on the net. Social connectors like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are changing the dynamics of companies around the world. Millions of companies are engaging with customers, befriending rivals and clicking through pictures of coworkers and friends. Top executives are playing the social field like Sun Microsystems’ CEO Jonathan I. Schwartz who has his own blog. IBM set up its own social network for employees, Beehive which boasts over 30,000 employees. A Dell employee who goes by “Ggroovin” tells BusinessWeek that Dell's service on Twitter has brought in half a million dollars of new orders in the past year. Some even use Twitter to find job potentials. "The new résumé is 140 characters," tweets 23-year-old Amanda Mooney, who just landed a job in PR. Major investors and corporations have been focused on the profit potential of social sites; they promise relationships in return of companies’ investments. Even MySpace is struggling to figure out the financials. And there's no guarantee that Web masses will stay loyal for the long haul. Sophisticated social metrics are still in the works and hopefully we’ll hit the jackpot while the space is hot.


Remember last week’s section on the evolving scandal over Starbucks’ resurrection of its old logo? Well, a recent post in Ad Age had reported the company’s attempt at a redesign in reaction to the controversy online buzz. Company executives first planned to release the old logo nationwide as part of its 35th anniversary but they limited its release to the Northwest. It didn’t matter because one Washington school district banned Starbucks coffee cups during the limited-time offer unless students concealed the mermaid’s breasts with a cup holder. The logo redesign has been recently under fire by a Christian organization with just 3,000 members whom took issue with what they saw as sexual connotations. Earlier this month, the group and its media-savvy leader got news outlets flocking for a piece of the action. "If you make a comment about the Starbucks logo, it goes all over the news. It's a fascinating phenomenon," said Mark Dice, a 30-year-old Wisconsin native who leads the Resistance Manifesto. The organization's home page lists the founder's many media appearances, including "The O'Reilly Factor," the London Telegraph and Pakistan's Daily Times. Mr. Dice said the response has been overwhelming. He said he's gotten his share of hate mail, but has also managed to expand his mailing list, and participation in his online forum is up. "We've made points on various issues but nothing has gotten the exposure of this," Mr. Dice said. "This one took off and went viral." Adding to the frustration at Starbucks is the widespread misperception that the logo change is permanent; the Pike Place cups will only be in circulation for a few more weeks.


Big changes for Facebook are planned to push out next month. The most important component reveals that user profiles on the service will evolve from the current and often cluttered page into four tabbed sub-pages highlighting the feed, info, photos and applications. Users will have more control over their feeds and what information their friends see about them. The info tab will contain all the data typically found on Facebook pages today like the user’s education and location. The photo tab will have a portfolio of images. Finally, programs created by third-party developers since last summer and installed by users are relegated to a fourth “application boxes” tab and will generally become less visible. But Facebook executives said there will be new opportunities for some developers who create the best applications to get their programs mentioned prominently on feed pages, and to entice users to create custom tabbed pages devoted to their programs. The changes come as Facebook aims to simplify its user pages in response to the criticism of it being a bit too visually chaotic as well as indications that its growth might be tailing off. According to a recent report from Nielsen Online, 22.4 million users visited Facebook in April, down from 24.9 million in March. Overall year-over-year growth slowed to 56% from last year’s 98% growth rate.

Palabea just announced today that it’s now open to the public after spending several months as a limited-access resource. Palabea is essentially a social networking site with the intentions of bringing different cultures and languages of the world together where people can interact while teaching and influencing each another. Everything here is a platform and everything is social. Users can upload most anything relevant to a modern learning experience such as documents, videos, podcasts and pictures. It even has a visually appealing layout that makes it fun for members of all ages. There’s even a place to hold virtual classrooms. Want to connect with particular site members? You can. Want to take your language learning to another level and consult with language specialists and schools? You can do that, too. Anyone is welcome from the casual and curious visitors to the serious pursuers. Palabea has also established partnerships with several companies, including Deutsche Welle, Cafe Babel, Babylon, and TANDEM Fundazioa. BBC Learning English will soon be adding resources as well.


Here’s something fun and halfway relevant: a Mashable article highlighted 13 online tools for beer lovers alike. A few listed sites include: AllAboutBeer.com which is based on the same-named magazine and hosts details on beer locators, guides and articles; Beer100.com which has info on home brewing, calorie counts of major brands and links to bar webcams; BeerInfo.us is a customized Google search engine bringing you all the info there is to know on beer; BeerSuggest.com helps you locate beer related events, rate and tag beers and breweries; Chugd.com is a social network for the beer drinkers who can create a profile, tag & rate beers and find beer related events and post photos from parties; Coastr.com is similar but let’s you review those places and give them a rating; and last but not least, Foamee.com, a Twitter tool to help you keep track of whom you recommend a beer or coffee to, and vice-versa.

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