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When major media outlets ignored the civil unrest in the North African country of Tunisia, protesters turned to the Internet – blogs, Facebook, Twitter, WikiLeaks documents, YouTube and other methods – to organize and report what was happening.
Demonstrators also have been getting their messages out via a website called TuniLeaks, which collected Tunisia-related U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.
It is amazing that the Internet has played such a large role in communicating the situation, much of it provided by Tunisians themselves, despite their government’s strict censorship of the Web. Though YouTube has been banned, more than 3,000 videos tagged with the words “Sidi Bouzid,” the city where many of the protests have taken place, have been uploaded.
It is estimated that thousands of tweets with the hashtag #sidibouzid have been sent out at a rate of about 28,000 per hour since Dec. 27, making “Tunisia” a top trending topic in San Francisco last week.
Twitter is monitoring how people are using the micro-blog and other platforms to provide on-the-ground perspective during this historic moment in a people’s attempt to throw off a repressive regime and how that is being communicated to the outside world.
Follow the action on Twitter.
Mobile broadband users to hit one billion in ’11
If you are one of those staying connected online while on the go, you’re among rapidly swelling numbers. Telecom subscriptions for mobile broadband are predicted to hit one billion this year, after just having reached half a billion in a few months.
As recently as 2008, mobile Internet subscribers totaled around 200 million. Mobile broadband subscriptions are estimated to top 3.8 billion by 2015.
Cheap laptops, tablet computers and smart phones are making it possible.
Network providers are counting on demand for online gaming, video streaming and watching TV that will push operators to upgrade networks to boost capacity and speed.
Going Mobile: media access and usage trends – Nielsen
Key stats show that as of last May, U.S. mobile users spent 38.5 percent of their mobile time sending or reading e-mail on their phones. Social media was a distant second (10.7 percent) and reading news/current events was third (7.2 percent).
Pew – 21 percent don’t use Internet Why?
My 83-year-old Mom uses the Internet to e-mail her friends and family and surf the ‘Net for amusement and information. But it took years to convince her there is a big world out there waiting for her to tap into. Once she was shown how, she was off and running! The Internet provides her with hours of fascinating entertainment and a sense that she’s still viably connected with the world around her.
But one-in-five American adults (21 percent) still do not use the Internet. Why? The Pew Research Center conducted this survey to find out.
Bypassing the old news media, interact directly with story
The ability to bypass news outlets altogether and interact directly with the story or subject is the wave of the future, and it’s happening now. The golden era of information discovery is underway. Watch this to see what I mean.
iPad-only newspaper “The Daily” launch delayed
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. And in this case, it seems an Apple is what’s keeping the news away too.
The launch of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. iPad exclusive newspaper “The Daily”, a pay subscription designed to run using a new Apple app, has been put off to an unspecified date. Best guess? Some time in February.
More disappointing news for News Corp. Its MySpace is downsizing, laying off more than 500 employees, or nearly half its staff. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, another News Corp. entity, the cuts are the result of the website’s major business overhaul in an attempt to free it from “dismal financial performance.” Read the termination letter.
News Corp. bought MySpace in 2005 for about $580 million. At the time, MySpace was hugely popular and the leading website in online social media. Since then, large numbers of users have left MySpace for Facebook and other websites.
AT&T big loser to Verizon over iPhone release
During two cross-country national tours with the Tea Party Express last year, I realized that my AT&T cellular service left a lot to be desired. I noticed that those using Verizon had consistently much better coverage.
Evidently I’m not alone. A consumer survey by ChangeWave Research showed that 42 percent cited poor reception and coverage as their top reason for leaving AT&T; 27 percent said dropped calls was their main motive.
About 26 percent of Apple iPhone owners on AT&T say they plan to switch to Verizon once it begins offering the smart phone next month. Of those, about 41 percent will make the switch in February, March or April. Verizon will begin selling the iPhone Feb. 10.
Meanwhile, tensions are on the rise as this AT&T rep speaks out (language warning).
With all the different smart phone apps available, who’s downloading them?
An estimated 73.3 million people in the United States own smart phones, or about 31 percent of mobile users, according to eMarketer.
Sixty-nine percent of them have downloaded an app; 60 percent of them only do so if they’re free.
Women downloaded three times the number of games than men per month. Men preferred music apps.
Facebook will broadcast AMBER Alerts
Facebook is now offering its more than 500 million users the opportunity to receive emergency bulletins about child abductions with 53 new AMBER Alert pages – one for every state, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Named in Amber’s honor, the letters form an acronym for America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response. The program is credited with the safe recovery of 525 children nationwide. Alerts are broadcast on television and radio stations and posted on highway information signs and can be sent to cell phones and other wireless devices.
E-commerce moves to the pages of Facebook
How would you like the convenience of shopping without ever having to leave your Facebook page? It’s here, at least if you’re a member of Quidsi, recently purchased by Amazon.com for $540 million.
Quidsi has launched an online Facebook shopping experience for Soap.com and Diapers.com in which existing users of those shopping sites will be able to shop for products directly from their Facebook page under a tab called “Shop My List.”
So far, only existing Diapers.com and Soap.com users who have shopping lists created on these sites are able to use the e-commerce app on Facebook. But it’s just a matter of time before a virtual supermarket or mall will be available. And with the rising price of gas at the pumps, shopping from home is sure to become more popular.
Debate continues over who came up with idea for Facebook
Was it the Winklevoss twins or Zuckerberg? An ongoing legal battle poses some intriguing questions. If you were the judge, how would you rule?
IBM computer takes on “Jeopardy!” champs
It’s far from elementary, Watson. It’s powerful and smart.
IBM has developed Watson, an AI, or Artificial Intelligence, that runs on ten Power 750 servers and 2,880 core processors. Watson contains 200 million pages of data and will prove its smarts in a mid-February competition of Jeopardy! Can Watson outthink humans? A million bucks is riding on it.
For an in-depth look at Watson, tune in to PBS’ NOVA on February 9.
Mapping it out
Here’s a fascinating block-by-block report of the USA census by zip code that gives race, income, housing and education. The map opens on the New York City area but you can change the map to the area and topic you select.
Google tracks you, but these folks promise not to
DuckDuckGo.com, a 2-year-old search engine, promises it won’t use your search queries to gather data about the sites you visit.
Check it out. It’s something to quack about.
Bits and bytes
Twitter for Mac users discover hidden feature
The time capsule
1950 – Author George Orwell dies
1965 – Sir Winston Churchill dies
Now playing at the Princess Theater in Urbana, Ill.
Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers George Burrell of New Mexico, John Havard of Mobile, Ala., and George Barber of Lebanon, Mo., who were among the first to correctly guess actor Strother Martin in his portrayal of Captain, warden of the prison camp, in “Cool Hand Luke.”
The Oscar-winning film tells about Luke Jackson, a gutsy prisoner in a Southern chain gang, who because of his tenacity, earns the respect of his keepers and fellow inmates.
The quote: “What we’ve got here is … failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach.”
This week’s quote: “This is just like television, only you can see much further.”
Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!