Social & Web

What Google was thinking when redesigning the new Google+

Google’s reworking of its social network, Google+ shows that the company has started to marry data with design and craft new experiences. Will that be enough to turn you and I into active participants? Who, knows, I am just happy it doesn’t look like Facebook.

Ex-Googler releases big update to Disconnect, a data-blocking tool

As sites like Facebook work with data companies and advertisers to collect more of our personal information, tools like Disconnect may be our best hope of preserving privacy. The company just put out a major update that stops the data flow and lets you see what companies are tracking you.

Ruining the social web: How can we avoid the Bieber effect?

Does every social network eventually become so large and noisy that it turns into a broadcast-style platform instead of something truly social? And is the desire for monetization and revenue part of what drives social platforms to look out for their own interests instead of users?

Attention: The social-web IPO window is now closed

A lot of hopes were riding on Facebook having a superstar IPO, including the hopes of venture investors that it would help trigger a wave of interest in other social-web companies, which could then also go public. But now those rosy assumptions are in question.

In Memoriam: Even in losing, how Digg won

Digg was one of the most iconic of web companies. In between its supersonic rise and meteoric fall, Digg changed the media landscape forever. And it did one more thing – it seeded many more startups by fostering talent. And in doing so, it lives forever.

Can Facebook change the search paradigm?

A Facebook social search engine, which is becoming more of a reality every day, would completely change the way we approach search. As an SEO specialist at The Search Agency, I’ve been closely monitoring this paradigm shift away from indexing billions of pages.

LiveIntent doubles down on email subscriber advertising

Email marketing may seem like an old-school, if not quaint, tactic. But LiveIntent is convinced it can bring sophisticated web targeting tools to the aging medium to help companies get the most out of what it considers to be their most valuable asset: email subscribers.

Mountain Lion threatens Facebook and Microsoft

Rapid adoption of OS X Mountain Lion would clearly threaten Microsoft. But after digging into Apple’s new operating system, Edward Aten of thinks it poses a threat to another, less obvious, company — the current leader in the consumer cloud, Facebook.

Kontagent gets $12M to keep score on the social web

Kontagent on Thursday announced it has raised $12 million in fresh venture funding, bringing the company’s total VC investment to $19.5 million. The company says it’ll put the new money toward R&D on deep tech such as big data processing and predictive analytics tools.

Janrain lands $15.5M to supercharge the social web

Janrain, the Portland, Oregon-based software-as-a-service company, has closed on $15.5 million in funding. Janrain, which makes a social log-in platform, plans to put the money toward general growth initiatives such as hiring and product development, CEO Larry Drebes said in an interview.

StumbleUpon sends more traffic to US websites than Facebook

Web discovery engine StumbleUpon is now the biggest traffic driver among social media websites in the US, according to global web analytics service StatCounter. The company unseated Facebook at the top during June 2011 .The ten-year-old StumbleUpon has been working diligently at its comeback since 2009.

Klout Gets $8.5M to Create the Page Rank of the Social Web

Klout — one of a number of services that are trying to measure influence in social networks such as Facebook and Twitter — has closed an $8.5-million funding round from Silicon Valley powerhouse Kleiner Perkins, and adding Kleiner partner Bing Gordon to its board of directors.

Has Google Admitted Defeat in the Social Web Race?

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says Google has “given up on social,” because it doesn’t stand a chance of competing with Facebook. The problem with doing this, he says, is that as advertisers continue to chase the social graph, Google will have little to offer them.

Ping Is Neither Social, Nor Is It a Network. Discuss.

Om claimed that Ping is the future of social commerce, but its sole focus on purchases and its presence behind a walled garden may hinder that bright future. Here are the four main issues Apple has to work on quickly for Ping to be successful.

Twitter Wants to Tell You a Story With Twitter Tales

Twitter is trying to spread the message that using the social network will have beneficial effects on your life both online and offline. “Twitter Tales,” which launched today, is a collection of stories from users about how the service has helped them or affected their lives

UPDATED: By the Numbers: Facebook vs. Zynga

Facebook and Zynga, two of the largest social web companies and longtime business partners, recently had a falling out. But they’ve realized that they can’t live without each other and made up earlier this week. Here’s a GigaOM graphic showing their codependency.

Google Buzz: Are You Sure You Want to Do That?

Google is rolling out a confirmation screen where Buzz users can check who they are following and see whether they are displaying that information publicly. The service has seen a number of changes as a results of privacy concerns raised after it went live in February.

Margaret Atwood Gets "Sucked Into the Twittersphere"

Plenty of authors take to Twitter to promote their new books, but few of them have the stature of Margaret Atwood — and even fewer of them take to it the way the Canadian fiction writing legend has. She says it’s like “having 33,000 precocious grandchildren.”

Are Your Facebook Friends Really Who They Say They Are?

Some younger Facebook users are changing their names — using their middle name instead of their last, and so on — to try and keep their profiles hidden from prospective employers. But that could play havoc with Facebook’s claims about the verified identity of its users.

Forget Paywalls – How About More Serendipity?

Random Guardian is an app that Guardian developer Chris Thorpe and a colleague came up with after an offhand remark during a Clay Shirky presentation about “ChatRoulette for news.” But while it may be trivial, it taps into a powerful force — a desire for serendipity.

Wikileaks Asks CIA to Stop Spying on It

Wikileaks, the crusading non-profit web site that publishes documents companies and governments don’t want released, is alleging that the U.S. State Department and possibly the CIA have been spying on the group, following them on airplanes and even monitoring their meetings in an Icelandic fish-and-chip restaurant.

New Wikipedia Redesign Is Coming Soon

Wikipedia says it is close to rolling out a new design for the site that it hopes will make the encyclopedia easier to use for new visitors and will encourage more contributions. The new design, code-named Vector, will start to be rolled out in April.

Facebook Causes Syphilis and Craigslist Kills People

A British public health official has blamed Facebook for a rise in cases of syphilis, in the latest example of a wave of stories blaming social networks such as Twitter and Craigslist for most of the evils of mankind, regardless of a lack of evidence.

YouTube Clips Create a Virtual Choir

Composer and conductor Eric Whitacre auditioned singers via YouTube video clips for a performance of a piece called Lux Aurumque, and then stitched together 185 of the clips that were submitted in order to create a virtual choir composed of individual singers from a dozen countries.

Facebook Feeling More Privacy Pain in Europe

Swiss and German privacy regulators say they are taking a close look at the practice by Facebook and other social networking sites of allowing users to upload photos, email addresses and other information without the consent of all the individuals who own or appear in them.

Sleeping Time and the Lifestream Analysis Market

Technology blogger Amit Agarwal has launched a Twitter-based application called Sleeping Time, which interprets a user’s tweets in order to estimate when they are usually asleep. The service joins a growing number of similar “lifestream analysis” applications such as Please Rob Me and Hunch’s Twitter Predictor.TW

Craig Newmark on the Web’s Next Big Problem

Craig Newmark talks about how he thinks the web needs to develop a “distributed trust network” to allow users to monitor and manage their own reputations and the reputations of others online. He says this is the next big problem that the Web has to solve.

It's Official: News Media Are Missing The Twitter Boat

Hitwise research shows that less than 0.2 percent of Twitter users go to news and media sites after they visit the social network’s web site, which says more about the failure of media outlets to take advantage of Twitter than it does about Twitter users.

Twitter's @anywhere: Not a Bang But a Whimper

After weeks of speculation about what Twitter was going to launch at SXSW, the company unveiled @anywhere. But even after founder Evan Williams’ keynote, it’s not clear what the new service is exactly, apart from the fact that it provides popup windows on participating sites.

Google Buzz: Should You Cross the Streams?

As Google continues to try and adapt Buzz to the changing needs of users, debate continues over whether the service should be its own separate publishing platform, like a blog, or whether it should be used to aggregate content from other social networks such as Twitter.

The NYT Needs to Learn the Value of the Link

In the wake of the plagiarism case involving New York Times writer Zachary Kouwe, blame has been placed on the high-speed nature of blogging. But the real issue lies with the paper’s failure to understand the culture of the web and the value of the link.

Asia, Middle East Users Now 25% of Facebook

One in four Facebook users now come from Asia or the Middle East, according to O’Reilly Media research analyst and blogger Ben Lorica — about 100 million people. And the number of users from Asia is growing much faster than any other major geographic region.

Can IBM Help You Write a Better Blog Post?

Researchers at IBM found many bloggers run out of ideas, so they came up with a recommendation system they called Blog Muse that allowed users to suggest topics they wanted to read about. Posts written through the system got more views, more comments and more “likes.”

Who Uses Social Media More, Men or Women?

A recent survey of social media use by Liberty Mutual shows that men are more positive towards and use social networks more frequently than women, but this conclusion is the exact opposite of the gender breakdown that several other surveys based on user-profile data have reported.

GetGlue Expands From Toolbar to Popups

GetGlue, a social network that offers a toolbar with related content to users browsing the web, along with recommendations from their friends on the network, has launched a new feature that provides the same kinds of content and recommendations through popup widgets on any web site.

Twitter Staffer Stops Blogging After Backlash

Twitter engineer Alex Payne says he is putting his personal blog on hiatus, in part because of comments he made about additions to the service were misinterpreted. Payne says he will continue to use Twitter, but will be more careful about what he says there.

Google Launches User-Generated Street View

Google has launched a new feature in Street View that allows users to navigate through a virtual 3D panorama of a location using photos that have been uploaded through Panoramio and Flickr. The feature is similar to Microsoft’s Photosynth, but is available to anyone with Flash.

Use Social Media to Track the Chilean Earthquake

As they did during the earthquake in Haiti and other natural disasters, social-media tools such as Twitter and various other web resources have become a key source of information on what is happening to the country. Here is a partial list of some of those resources.

Did Citibank Block a Startup for Gay Content?

Jason Goldberg, co-founder of and Jobster, says that Citibank blocked the bank account of his new startup Fabulis due to what the bank called “objectionable content” on the company’s blog. Could it have something to do with Fabulis being a social network for gay men?

Twitter Backtracking on Advertising Launch?

A Twitter executive who suggested during an advertising industry panel that the company was within a month or so of launching its advertising platform has denied this interpretation of his comments, and says while the company is working on a platform, its launch is not imminent.

Scribd Goes Mobile With Long-tail Books

Scribd, which calls itself the world’s largest social publishing company, has launched a series of mobile services and features for sending books and other documents to any portable device, including a set of open APIs, and will soon launch mobile apps for the iPhone and Android.

DocStoc Launches Online Document Store

DocStoc, the document-hosting service, has launched an online store and related services that allow members to sell professional documents both through the DocStoc marketplace and through the service’s embeddable document viewer. CEO Jason Nazar says he sees it as different from Scribd’s similar online document store.

Twitter to Launch Ad Platform Soon

Twitter will roll out an official advertising platform likely within the next month or so, Anamitra Banerji, head of product management and monetization at Twitter, said while on a panel at a conference on Monday. Will advertising change your experience or make you use Twitter less?

Yoo-Mee Launches Social Gaming Platform

Hooked Media has launched a social-gaming platform called Yoo-Mee that is designed to allow casual games played on Facebook and elsewhere to be embedded in any website and also played via mobile devices. The platform is a “social wrapper” for games, says CEO Prita Uppal.

Hate ChatRoulette? Then You Hate The Internet

Every once in a while, a new service or feature comes along that crystallizes everything that is both wonderful and shocking about the Internet and the social web. ChatRoulette is one of those services, drawing both revulsion over its X-rated content and investment interest from VCs.

What Do People Ask Their Social Networks?

What do people ask their social networks? A recent study by Microsoft and MIT found that the most popular questions ask people for recommendations and opinions on things like which cellphone to buy, but also more rhetorical questions such as “Why are men so stupid?”

Sorry Google — Buzz Just Isn't Working for Me

There have been plenty of complaints about privacy and other concerns with Google Buzz, but the biggest problem with it is that it’s just so darn hard to use, and so convoluted in its design. Even quitting Buzz is way harder than it needs to be.

Google and Wikipedia — Separated at Birth?

Google’s donation of $2 million to Wikipedia cements a long-standing symbiotic relationship between the search engine and the user-generated encyclopedia. But is that relationship a good thing or a bad thing? Some critics believe that Google gives Wikipedia preferential treatment in its search results.

Average Social Gamer Is a 43-Year-Old Woman

The typical picture of an online gamer may be a teen lacking in social skills, but players of “social games” on sites like Facebook are different. According to a recent survey of players in the U.S. and UK, the average social gamer is a 43-year-old woman.

Google: We Screwed Up With Buzz, Stay Tuned

Google says that it is “very, very sorry” for the way it launched Google Buzz and the features that some felt intruded on their privacy and revealed personal data. The company has made several substantial changes in response to complaints, and says more are coming soon.

Facebook Driving More Traffic Than Google

Analysis from Compete shows that Facebook is driving more traffic to major portal sites than Google, and has become a top source for other web sites as well, another sign of how important the social web is becoming in terms of Internet traffic flows.

ChatRoulette Gets Fred Wilson's Attention

A new site called ChatRoulette has been getting a lot of attention lately because it features live video chatting with random strangers, with predictable results. But among those interested in the site is venture investor Fred Wilson, who has invited the founder to New York.

Google Is Dancing as Fast as It Can With Buzz

Just four days after launching Buzz, and two days after making some substantial changes to the service as a result of privacy concerns from users, Google has made another series of changes, including making the choice to follow someone opt-in rather than opt-out.

Google and Social: Like Nerds at the Dance

Google has been struggling to make sense of the social web and integrate it into some of its products, but the reaction to Google Buzz is another indication of how the company continues to focus on features rather than real human experience.

Google Listens to Critics and Tweaks Buzz

After a number of Google Buzz users complained that the service was exposing their email and GTalk contacts to the outside world without making it clear it would do that, the company has made changes to make privacy and other settings more obvious.

Farmville Users Send 500M Valentines in 48 Hours

According to Zynga, the creator of Farmville and other popular Flash-based interactive games on Facebook, over the past two days alone, players with Farmville accounts have sent close to half a billion virtual Valentine’s Day gifts to each other.

TweepML Shows Risks of a Twitter-based Startup

TweepML, which launched a Twitter-based service offering list management just a couple of months before Twitter launched something almost identical, is now up for sale. The demise of the service is a graphic reminder of the risks of building a startup on someone else’s platform.

The 7 Somewhat United States of Facebook

Peter Warden analyzed the user profile data and friend settings from more than 200 million Facebook profiles, and found that they naturally segmented themselves into seven regional groups, based on the number of connections between users and those from other states.

Like Media, Research Needs to Be Social, Too

Forrester Research touched off a bit of a brush fire this past weekend when it said it would limit its analysts to blogging about research-related topics on and decreed that any personal blogs maintained on other domains must be strictly about personal matters.

Wikileaks Raises Enough to Keep the Lights On

Wikileaks, the non-profit web site devoted to exposing government and corporate secrets, says that it has raised enough money to continue operating, but not enough to pay its staff. The site suspended operations recently to try and raise enough funds to continue publishing.

Apple and the iPad: Beyond Good and Evil

A battle is raging in the blogosphere about whether Apple’s new iPad is good or evil, since it is a closed and proprietary platform with a locked-down content system built in. But the iPad is unlikely to mean the end of hacker culture.

Aunts on Facebook: The New Core Users of the Social Web

Forrester has observed a “new behavior” of social technology usage, and made a new category to describe such users: “conversationalists.” The group is 56 percent female, moreso than any other group, with 70 percent aged 30 and older.

Introducing GigaOM Pro's Analyst Relations Program

Today we launched our new Analyst Relations Program. Designed to fully leverage GigaOM Pro’s interactive platform, the program gives analyst relations professionals a way to access our research and enables them to engage in substantive dialogue about important issues to their company and about their industry.

Plaxo CTO Joseph Smarr Will Lead Google's Social Web Efforts

Joseph Smarr, CTO of Comcast-owned Plaxo, announced today he is joining Google to lead “a new company-wide focus on the future of the Social Web.” Smarr, who said he will start at Google in late January, has become highly influential on open social web topics.

The Social Web Prays at Email's Altar

[qi:gigaom_icon_social_networking] Every so often a new technology comes along, promising to revolutionize the world of communications. And in the end, it prays…


There’s No Such Thing as a Killer Feature for Smartphones

The smartphone market has surged in the past two years (PDF), largely due to adoption by mainstream consumers after years as a niche segment that appealed to techie and enterprise types. By most accounts, the appearance of the Apple (s aapl) iPhone exposed the appeal of the smartphone to “regular” phone customers. The success of the iPhone has created a race to grab smartphone market share, with all the major players participating. This race has players reaching to determine the “killer feature” that can be used to attract those new customers. This is a futile effort, as a single “killer feature” doesn’t exist. However, omitting some key features can directly limit sales.