Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch is ending the great newspaper debate by going on record and letting everyone know, “having a free newspaper website is a flawed business model”.When Murdoch was questioned yesterday during a conference call with reporters and analysts about online subscriptions he replied simply “We’re absolutely looking at that. The current days of the internet will soon be over."Many would question the wisdom of this, but in his defense Murdoch points out The Wall Street Journal which has enjoyed massive growth in their online subscriptions division.
It anybody’s guess at this point whether or not this approach will work for mainstream news, but one thing is certain, the status quo can only end in bankruptcy. Many within the industry have described online news websites as “trading analog dollars for digital cents”. Dwindling advertising revenuehas been compounded by the global recession and many wonder how much longer newspapers will be able to hang on. Several have already bit the dust and with so many other great alternatives, one wonders what if anything will solve their financial woes.
Is it too late for Newspapers to charge for online subscriptions now? Or is there still time to wind back the clock?
A large part of the Web as we know it today is built around independent communities. Think about it. You have a login for your Twitter account, a login for your Facebook account, a login for your [insert favorite Web site here] account. And while each of these independent entities can play with each other via plugins, coding trickery, or outright hacks... you're still stuck in three separate sandboxes at the end of the day. Does Twitter know what I like on my Facebook page? Can Amazon take a gander at my current interests and suggest related purchases? Do any of these sites know who my friends really are--not just the people I tweet, but the people I email on a regular basis?
While that's the current state of social affairs on the Web, it's not necessarily the future. Open-source projects like OpenID are paving the way for a new generation of connectivity, one where differing Web entities come to you for information and display it in a format and location of your choosing. Instead of jacking your life into the Web on a variety of fronts, you will have one point of interaction, one location to present your information. Your interaction with your typical litany of sites will become highly accurate and customized for your lifestyle. And best of all, you won't have to login to 85 different places to make it work.
Learn how OpenID has played a role in this transformation after the jump!
Still like the Boston Celtics' chances of winning the NBA championship despite the likelihood of Kevin Garnett missing the entire playoffs? No matter who you think will win, if you're looking to place a bet online, you'll need to trust an overseas gambling site in order to put your money where your mouth is. That's because the U.S. Congress chased away U.S.-based online gambling outlets several years ago as part of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, a law which some say may be overturned, according to a report in The New York Times.
Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, is expected to lead the charge at overturning the 2006 bill in matter of days.
"He supports the repeal and wants to move forward on it," said Steve Adamske, communications director for the House Financial Services Committe.
Despite the 2006 Act, online gambling generated revenue of $6 billion last year in North America, or more than a quarter of the global total of $22.6 billion. That's a $5 billion increase from 2006. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, if the ban is overturned, the U.S. government could potentially pocket more than $50 billion over the next 10 years.
Those who oppose overturning the ban point out that online gambling makes it too easy to get in over your head and can break up families. Some sports leagues also voiced concern that online betting could increase the risk of game-fixing.
Should the ban be repealed? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Anyone miss Circuit City yet? For those of you that do, you may be in luck. Sort of. While the bankrupt electronics chain won't be making a brick and mortar comeback anytime soon, it appears Circuit City has some kind of future planned online. Going to Circuit City's website now reads:
"CircuitCity.com is also temporarily closed, although we anticipate the website will reopen in the coming weeks. Please check back for updates."
What exactly the former chain has planned so far remains a mystery. News site TGDaily notes that calls made to the company's office in Richmond, Virginia have gone unanswered, and without any kind of statement from Circuit City or its liquidator, that leaves the online message as the only clue we have to go on.
Circuit City did everything it could to avoid going out of business earlier this year and last year, including closing down over 150 stores and cutting 20 percent of its workforce. But it was unable to find a buyer and, following a controversial liquidation sale, closed its doors for good last March.
Being a native (and current inhabitant) of the Pacific Northwest, I’m very used to seeing the Seattle PI around. The giant iconic globe above their building and the fluttering pages used as makeshift blankets for the homeless are all too common, but it looks like those days are officially over. The Seattle PI (known as “The PI” to Washingtonians like myself) has printed is last edition, and has become exclusive to the Internet.
The PI’s swap from print to electronic news is something of a landmark though, because this makes it the largest American newspaper to make that leap. Plus, with so many newspapers closing down and others in danger, this move will be closely watched by the entire industry.
“We clearly believe we are in a period of innovation and experimentation, and that’s what this new SeattlePI.com represents,” said Steven R. Swartz, the man in charge of the entire operation. “We think we’ll learn a lot, and we think the Seattle market, being so digitally focused, is a great place to try this.”
According to a new study by Nielsen-Online, social networks and blogs are now the 4th most popular online activity. Collectively referred to as "Member Communities," Nielsen says these are visited by over two-thirds of the online population, putting them "ahead of personal email." It's also the fastest-growing sector out of the top four, which also includes search, portals, and PC software and email.
"Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience," says John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online (PDF). "While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing. Social networking will continue to alter not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large."
Facebook, which ranks as the most popular social network, draws three out of every 10 people online each month across the nine markets tracked. And it's not limited to any single age group. According to Nielsen, the biggest increase in visitors during 2008 came from the 35-49 demographic.
The report, titled "Global Faces and Networked Places," attributes some of the growth to the prominence of mobile phones, noting a "big increase over last year" in the number of users visiting Member Communities through their handsets.
Surprised by any of this? Hit the jump and sound off.
What Facebook essentially did was grant themselves the right to all user-uploaded content for, well, forever. It no longer mattered if you removed anything from the site, because it would remain in Facebook's archives, giving the site free reign to use the content for as long as it likes.
To justify the decision, Facebook compared the policy change to that of sending an email to a friend. Even if you delete the sent email from your sent box, a copy still remains in the recipient's inbox, so according to Facebook, it was okay for the site to keep and use your content.
Here's one for Facebook: The squeeky wheel gets the grease.
An order by a Texas judge to release the identities of 178 anonymous posters for making inflammatory comments on news site Topix.com may have posters thinking twice in the future before hitting the 'submit' button. The order came after Mark and Rhonda Lesher filed a lawsuit against the anonymous posters for allegedly making "perverted, sick, vile, inhumane accusations" about them.
The online comments were the result of a criminal trial against the Leshers, who were being accused of sexually assaulting a former client in 2008. The Leshers were found not guilty, but that didn't stop the court of public opinion from berating the couple through the course of about 70 threads on Topix.com.
"It just basically made us both feel like common criminals," the Leshers told the Dallas Morning News. "It's like someone had basically raped us of our reputation and our standing in the community over and over and over again."
According to the complaint, comments made by the anonymous posters ran the gamut from insinuating Mark drugs women to calling Rhonda the "Herpies Queen." It was enough to convince the judge to order Topix.com to release the identities of 178 posters, for which the judge has issued a March 6 deadline.
Do you agree with the ruling? Hit the jump and post your (non-inflammatory) thoughts.
The story of Old Yeller is about a dog who wins the heart of teenager Travis Coates tasked with helping manage the family farm while his father is away on a cattle drive. But by the time his father returns, Yeller becomes infected with rabies while fending off a rabid wolf. Travis is left with little recourse but to shoot the dog.
Now imagine the above summary in video form lasting for about 20 minutes. Would you pay $10 to watch it? HarperCollins thinks so, and has kicked off the concept by launching a video edition of Jeff Jarvis' "What Would Google Do?" that it's now selling through Amazon's digital-download store for $9.99.
"We're looking to create new revenue streams," said Brian Murray, chief executive of HarperCollins. "There is a tremendous amount of search and discovery of video on the Web. Some consumers won't spend the money or invest hours in reading a book, but they will watch a 23-minute video."
Depending on the interest the video book concept generates, HarperCollins said it could release up to six more before the end of the year, all of which would be produced in-house. Twenty-five percent of the net revenue would go towards the author.
Hit the jump and tell us what you think about the future of video books, but first a protip: HarperCollins has made available the entire text of "What Would Google Do?" for free right here. We'd summarize it for you, but then we'd have to charge you.
You can already get hitched online, so why not webcast your funeral when you're dead and gone? More and more funeral homes have started offering such a service, making it possible for out-of-towners unable to make the trip to still attend a loved one's funeral, while simultaneously checking the latest sports scores in another tab (just the way Firefox envisioned it).
One such funeral home offering live (dead?) webcasts is Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service. The company first started streaming funeral services to families with relatives serving in the military, and now anyone can sign up at the any of the company's 11 locations. To prevent just anyone from watching the service, viewers must enter a password 15 minutes before it starts.
The Schoedinger funeral home says its webcasts have been popular and expects other funeral homes to follow suit. The practice has also attracted the attention of webcasting companies, who offer packages to funeral homes consisting of tripods, cameras with microphones, cables, and other webcasting necessities.