Monthly Archives: June 2012

RebelMouse

RebelMouse may have figured out how to turn your social content into a useable blog.

With so many of us sharing links and pictures on social media, many companies have tried to figure out how to turn those shares into a usable, useful blog. The problem has always been that companies who attempted to do this (thinking of Twylah) have never seemed to figure out a way to let individuals customize the content in a meaningful way.

RebelMouse seems to accomplish this with a Pinterest like look, the ability to customize the position of effortless social shares AND the ability to manually add blog posts and pictures.

Here is my quick six minute video review that will walk you through the key features.

 

Since I post the video a couple hours ago, I learned that RebelMouse is going to start adding customized subpages that will be linked to in the top navigation. Having a way to sort content into categories is a needed step and could make RebelMouse a real player in the “digital home” and/or blog space.

RebelMouse is in beta, but you can sign-up with your Facebook or Twitter account to be added to their list. It took four days for me to get an invitation after connecting my Twitter account. You can see my RebelMouse page as an example here.

 

 

PinTheNews

Applebee’s tells women to take a break from Pinterest, pinners rarely leave the site for news & more. [Video]

This week on Pin The News, Lauren Orsini of The Daily Dot and I discuss:

You can go right to the segment you are interested in via the above links or watch the full episode below.

Subscribe to stay up-to-date on Pinterest news.

 

 

Kickstarter & IndieGoGo misuses continue to surface with wearable video recording projects.

Vergence Lab’s Kickstarter project suspended.

Wearable glasses that record video are becoming a becoming a “lense” which puts the focus on some of the key issues with crowd funding. A previously popular project, Eyez,  has been labeled as theft, and a new project by Vergence Lab has been suspended by Kickstarter and now resurfaced on IndieGoGo. While the Vengence Lab teams seems to have some technical expertise and mainstream press coverage, their apperent spam techniques likely resulted in their Kickstarter suspension and even prompted a Google Glasses engineer to comment on the situation.

Wearable glasses that recored video

The Eyez by ZionEyez HD Video project was a hit on Kickstarter raising over $340,000 in July of 2011. But since the funding was raised, the project creaters have not delivered the product, and updates have gotten less frequent. Chase Hoffberger wrote a piece on this situation that leads with this line, “Kickstarter bandits have made off with nearly $344,000.”

I was actually a backer of the Eyez project. I wasn’t particuarlly upset about the lack of actual results, but it has made me think more deeply about how the Kickstarter system works. It also linked me (or at least my email) with the likely designation of “a mark”.

Email Spam

This morning I received an email with the subject line:

Holy crap! Even better than Google Glass

The body of the email stated:

Social video glasses record your life handsfree!

Look at this fun crowd-funded project at IndieGoGo!

Social electric eyewear video-record your POV experience:

http://www.indiegogo.com/socialvideoglasses

Tell your friends and help spread the word!

To unsubscribe: http://pastebin.com/raw.php?i=pNcfyRP9

At first I thought it was just the Eyez guys doing the project again, but after reading coverage by The Daily Dot and BetaBeat, I realize it is different group…

Vergence Labs

Vergence Lab’s IndieGoGo page.

Vergence Labs looks more legitimate with at least one of the member having a Stanford degree as well as a history in being in the incubator program StartX. They also got a brief writeup on Tech Crunch.  Unlike the Eyez project, Vergence Labs seem to have a working demo as evidenced by their IndieGoGo video gallery.

But as the BetaBeat article indicated, Kickstarter suspended the initial project hours before it would have successfully been funded.

Despite Vergence Lab’s more legitimated pedigree, the email I was sent was spam. I had no previous association with IndieGoGo or the Vergence Lab’s team. The email address it was sent to is not one I use regularly. The most likely scenarios are that Vergence Labs got hold of the Eyez email list in some way, or someone is trying to set them up. I would think it was the latter, but…

Twitter Spam

The IndieGoGo project being promoted with @spam on Twitter.

Vergence Lab is using bots to send spammy @messages on Twitter promoting the IndieGoGO project at the rate of five tweets a minute.

Example account: https://twitter.com/#!/HyperViral

On Friday morning it looked like they were slowly  shutting down the @message spam, but it has increased again this afternoon.

Based on looking at Twitter url sharing records, they sent over 10,000 Twitter messages just associated with the IndieGoGo project.

Since Kickstarter won’t comment on why projects are suspended, we won’t be getting an official word, but it is likely that  the Twitter spam is the reason that the project got suspended. Kickstarter’s Project Guidelines naturally prohibits spam to promote a project, and the guideline actually mention @message spam in particular.

I got in email contact with a representative of Vergence Lab and sent some questions. Since this spam is ongoing and the project continues to get backers, I will add any of their comments if they respond.

Google Glasses engineer comments on the aggressive/spam nature of promotion.

Stephen Lau, a senior software engineer at Google, likely got it right when he answered a question on Quora about why the Vergence Lab’s Kickstarter project might have got suspended. He wrote in part:

(Full disclosure: I work on Glass and have no particularly strong opinion on the Vergence Labs Epiphany Eyewear product one way or another)

I suspect it was likely due to the spam (or perceived spam) sent by “Sergey ‘Grin'”, or perhaps the comments left on many articles/blogs covering Project Glass pointing readers to the Vergence Labs Kickstarter.  The Kickstarter Community Guidelines at http://www.kickstarter.com/help/guidelines do explicitly say:

  1. Spread the word but don’t spam. Spam includes sending unsolicited @ messages to people on Twitter. This makes everyone on Kickstarter look bad. Don’t do it.
  2. Don’t promote a project on other projects’ pages. Your comments will be deleted and your account may be suspended.

Implications for crowd funding

This may be the case of a couple ambitious college grads trying to drum up interest in a project that they are passoionate about, but their use of least two different spam methods puts a cloud over the project. In addition, the fact that they almost raised $50,000 on Kickstarter, and currently have raised over $20,000 on IndieGoGo points to the effectiveness of pitching a compelling project and using spam methods to get backers.

When you contribute to Kickstarter you are not entering into a two way contract. If the project reaches the funding goal, your contribution is charged to you, but any perks associated with the project or even the completion of the project are not guaranteed. If the project isn’t completed, or even started, you don’t get any type of refund.

Not surprisingly, those with an idea, but not the experience to execute the project are frequently on Kickstarter. When the project is producing and new album or piece of art, the scrutiny is justifiably low, but some of the most popular Kickstarter projects have focused around unique tech projects that require and ask for substantial funding.

This same method could be used by modern day scammers by associating hot product ideas like the iPhone accessories, and the current crowd funding model doesn’t provide any accountability to whether a project is even attempted. The crowd funding communities will have to continue to be vigilent to make sure that those with an idea have the experience to execute it and that the projects themselves are being created with the proper intent.

 

Zite gets my highest recommendation.

How you can get personalized and human curated news.

Personalized news options have come a long way in the past year. Below you will find my favorites services as well as some of the best human curators of tech and digital news.

Personalized News

Zite

Zite gets my highest recommendation.

If you take one thing away from this piece, I hope it is that you give Zite a try. In the past year I have tweeted several times that I considered purchasing an iPad just to use this amazing app. In the end I didn’t have to do that because Zite is now offered on Android, and my wife is nice enough to share the use of her iPad a couple times a week.

Zite lets you choose different catagories of news you are interested in, and you can also connect your social networks to let stories from your network have an influence what you see.

From there you get articles that Zite thinks you might be interested in. Nothing new with that, but Zite uses amazing learning technology to figure out what you are most interested in and then delivers those stories to you via their app. You can simply like or dislike an article, and Zite will take it into account. You can block all articles from a particular domain. You can also indicate that you like a certain author or topic.

What I like best about Zite is that it never feels like  work. If I find a article that is extremely compelling, I will like it. But I can go for weeks without doing anything but reading, and I still get compelling articles.

iOS / Android

Prismatic

I consider Prismatic a more advanced version of Topsy with filters. While I don’t thing their learning mechanism is as good as Zite, this service does a good job of surfacing interesting topics based on the keywords and topcis you select. The service is web based. Here is a two minute video that explains how to get started with Primsmatic.

This service is currently in beta. When you signup for an invite it usually takes one to three days before you are sent and invitation.

Human Curated

This section is largely focused on tech, social media and digital news. While machine based personalized news can cover any topic, humans often have to focus on a specific area.

Techmeme

Techmeme

Techmeme is THE site in the tech news world. Around since 2008, this is were much of the tech world goes for updates. Techmeme does a good job of curating the news using human curation, but sometimes I feel like they are too insular, just focusing on the established tech publications.

WebsiteTwitter

 

All Things D: Must Reads

All Things D: Must Reads

My new favorite page. All Things D is a leader in the coverage of the the digital space, and rather than just link to their own work, now they have a section called Must Reads. The page is very basic; Beth Callaghan, an All Thing D editor, just links to what she considers are the six best reads around the Internet with a focus on the digital world. I now tend to go this page first when I am on my desktop and want to find something interesting to read. I am a bit biased because they featured my Search Secret piece and that is actually how I realized they were offering this new section.

Web page

PBS MediaShift: Daily Must Reads

PBS Media Shift: Must Reads

At around 11AM each weekday, PBS Media Shift sends out an  email with links to “the best stories across the web on media and technology”.  This email includes five to seven links. Unless I am very busy, I look at this email each day. Lily Leung does a good job of highlighting useful and interesting reads.

 You can sign-up for this newsletter on the right hand side of this linked page. 

 

 

 

Klout Facebook Request via Twitter Email

Twitter leads summary email with a promotion of Facebook … until you click the link.

Twitter’s new summary email has been slowly rolled out to users. They started with inactive accounts, and last night this personalized email was sent to most users. Surprisingly many of the top stories where a promotion of Facebook.

I had access to a dozen of the new Twitter summary emails sent last night and two of them led with a promotion of Facebook.

Automated curation can certain lead to issues like this were competitors are promoting each other, and if people are sharing their Facebook pages on Twitter, maybe they should show up as the lead in a summary email. The problem is . . . they aren’t.

Many shared Klout links now redirect to Facebook.

I have written previously about how Klout is making an aggressive push to get people to connect their Facebook accounts, invite friends to their service and authorize their Facebook app. Now Klout has  started to redirect links to their own site so the automatcally go to Facebook. Frequently when you click on shared Klout link, it will take you to Facebook for another attempt to get you to connect.

This aggressive approach has been highlighted by the new Twitter summary email.  When you click on the link to go to what you believe is Facebook, you actually end up going to Klout and get this message.

 

The actual link code is fairly complicated, and I assume is making sure anyone clicks on a link is prompted to connect their Klout account to Facebook and/or invite others to join:

https://t.co/redirect?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Flogin.php
%3Fapi_key%3D128085897213395%26cancel_url%
3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fklout.com%252Foauth_fb_callback%253
Ferror_reason%253Duser_denied%252
6error%253Daccess_denied%2526error_description%253
DThe%252Buser%252Bdenied%252Byour%252Br
equest.%26display%3Dpage%26fbconnect%3D1%26next%3
Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.facebook.com%
252Fdialog%252Fpermissions.request%253F_path%253
Dpermissions.request%2526app_id%253D1280858
97213395%2526redirect_uri%253Dhttp%25253A%25252
F%25252Fklout.com%25252Foauth_fb_callback%2
526display%253Dpage%2526type%253Dweb_server%2526
perms%253Doffline_access%25252Cemail%2525
2Cread_stream%2526fbconnect%253D1%2526from_login%
253D1%2526client_id%253D128085897213395
%26rcount%3D1%26skip_api_login%3D1&sig=
b94727f253f9eba0a4401a26a9ae233a7d3f3ded&iid=12e46f
eb-61fe-4a82-afa4-cdc0eea80bb6&uid=252263949&nid=12+158+20120603

Twitter’s Problem: User Confusion

Twitter’s summary email is getting it wrong. I click to go to Facebook, but in my case I am actually forwarded to Klout. Whether you think Klout is a useful site or not, I don’t want to click links in the Twitter email thinking I am going to one website only to end up at another. Klout can certainly redirect people from their own site to other pages. It is some of the most aggressive behavior I have seen, and Twitter shouldn’t be contributing to it with their confusing promotion of Facebook… err,  I mean Klout.