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Twitter is the new Walter Cronkite … and that’s the way it is.

We’ve entered the age of instant information. For example, had the Kennedy assassination happened today, it wouldn’t have taken 38 minutes from the time of President Kennedy being declared dead to the time Walter Cronkite broke the news on the air. Twitterers on the parade route would have tweeted about it immediately, and the world would have known within milliseconds of gunshots being fired.

Last Friday, Twitterers reported about Tiger Woods’ early-morning car accident long before the first news outlet broadcast it. Instant news, as it happens. And that’s the way it is.

Computerized newscasts

Your nightly newscast, tailored to your interests, delivered by avatar broadcasters telling you the news you want to know, movies reviews about films you want to see and the sports teams you care about: Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., have created a computerized newscast called “News at Seven,” which scours blogs, articles, photographs and videos on the Internet and compiles multimedia broadcasts that are delivered by avatars. Soon, no more live anchors and reporters.

Fa la la la la!

Shopping and twitter … ’tis the season. Attention shoppers! This year’s holiday marketing trend involves social networking.

It’s the first holiday season many major retailers will experiment with Twitter messages about special in-store deals, Facebook applications that suggest what friends want as gifts and “how-to” YouTube videos for planning holiday parties.

With millions of us flocking to Facebook and Twitter, retailers are going where the buyers are: 47.1 percent of retailers say they are increasing their use of Facebook and Twitter this holiday season. More than half of the retailers have created or expanded their Facebook and Twitter presence, while two-thirds added or enhanced blogs.

Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday for a good cause

Cyber Monday is a Shop.org–coined term for the Monday after Thanksgiving, the official kickoff to the online holiday shopping season. This site’s online shopping mall highlights offers and sales from over 700 retailers throughout the holiday season. Last year, CyberMonday.com had 2.4 million unique visitors and generated over $5 million in sales on Cyber Monday alone.

All Shop.org proceeds from CyberMonday.com benefit the Ray M. Greenly Scholarship Fund. Ray Greenly was a Vice President of Research and Member Services at Shop.org until losing a battle with lung cancer in September 2005. The Fund was created in 2006 to provide financial assistance to students pursuing careers in e-commerce. To date, CyberMonday.com has raised more than $950,000 for the Scholarship Fund.

The Christmas Jars

This Christmas, thousands and thousands of Christmas Jars will be given away all across America. Will YOU be part of the magic?

Tweet your way between the covers

What’s the most unique gift in the world? I’m betting it’s the TweetBook, a collection of your very own tweets.

TweetBookz are 5.5 inches high and 8.5 inches wide and contain up to 200 tweets, one per page, beginning with your most recent. You can omit any tweets you don’t want included. Hardcover books cost $30, softcover $20 – a one-of-a kind gift, no doubt about it.

And while we’re at the library

  • Here’s a book for kids ages 7 and up that relates a valuable lesson about socialism: “Animal Colony” is a takeoff from the classic “Animal Farm,” and is written in simple, easy-to-understand language that makes for a valuable bedtime story for young citizens – a great gift for your children or grandchildren.
  • Shelfari, the social network for people who love books, is featuring its Award Winners of 2009, inviting you to enjoy the upcoming holiday season with critically-acclaimed books. From cookbooks to romance, biographies to thrillers – have an award-winning meal with an award-winning book this year!
  • And of course, WND’s bookstore has a wide selection of books and specialty items for everyone on your Christmas list.

Web trends lead to security risks?

Are the applications we know and love dangerous and posing gaping security loopholes for cyberterrorism? Are our advances really causing greater risks for all users?

Pics could be hazardous to your health benefits

A woman on leave from her job due to depression says her sick-leave payments were cut off because of photos posted on her Facebook page showing her at a Chippendales show and other events. Ouch! The carpenter’s rule applies: Measure consequences twice before clicking once.

Put your money away, for now

While Twitter says it is planning to introduce some form of paid account, it won’t be quite as soon as was erroneously reported in a story that Twitter’s Japanese site was set to introduce paid-for accounts within the next few weeks. A report from TechCrunch quotes a press release issued today by Twitter’s Japanese partner, Digital Garage, stating that there were absolutely no plans for Twitter.jp to charge users.

Paying for online content? 80 percent say “no”

The American Press Institute reports that 60 percent of newspaper executives say they’re considering paid content options, even though currently 90 percent don’t charge for any content online.

Consumers, though, have different ideas. In a new Forrester report, most consumers (80 percent) say they wouldn’t bother to access newspaper and magazine content online if it were no longer free, and the rest are split about how they’d like to pay for content.

U. S. Gov’t holds all the cards

Think online gambling is good for the social fabric of America? House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank is sponsoring legislation that would roll back the 2006 law that bans financial institutions from handling transactions made to and from Internet gambling sites.

Frank’s legislation would allow the Treasury Department to license and regulate online gambling companies that service American customers.

The twelve-trillion-dollar time bomb

Fox News’ Glenn Beck shows this U.S. Debt Clock on his program almost daily. As of this writing, each of us citizens owes $39,130 in debt to cover federal government excesses; $110,857 per taxpayer.

Video scenes pulled from people’s thoughts

Pulling an image out of your brain is a feat that is hard to believe, but Dr. Jack Gallant of the UCB psychology department seems to have gone this accomplishment one better. In a recent experiment, Dr. Gallant claims to have made it possible to reproduce video images from human brain activity. Would you post your thoughts on YouTube?

Google Wave – not “swell”?

The ambitious group collaboration and micro-messaging platform started rolling out in beta via an initial batch of 100,000 invitations two months ago. Many people still want invitations. Among those who’ve tried it, some criticize it, some praise it. For now it has a lot of usability problems. Yes, you should look at Google Wave. But there is no need to desperately long for an invitation yet.

Now playing at the Front Street Theater

WorldNetDaily Surfin’ Safari reader Tom Luckinbill of McMinnville, Tenn., correctly identified last week’s quote from the 1998 movie “Primary Colors,” directed by Mike Nichols, in which the character Gov. Jack Stanton, portrayed by John Travolta, said, “You know as well as I do, that plenty of people playing this game, they don’t think that way. They’re willing to sell their souls, crawl through sewers, lie to people, divide them, play on their worst fears for nothing! Just for the prize.”

This week’s movie trivia asks in which film does this line appear? “I get paid to be suspicious when I’ve got nothing to be suspicious about.”

Send your answer to me at the email address below. Be the first reader to guess correctly and your name will go here in next week’s Surfin’ Safari!

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