International management consulting firm Oliver Wyman released a survey last week painting a pretty grim outlook for technology and media sales, but that didn't stop shoppers from flocking online on Black Friday. According to comScore, consumers spent $534 million online on Black Friday, November 28th, up 1 percent from last year. Total online sales were up 2 percent for the combination of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, beating out expectations.
"Early reports suggest that Black Friday sales in retail stores were slightly better than anticipated in this depressed retail climate, and that performance apparently extended to the online channel, which saw sales on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday combined increase 2 percent versus year ago," said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni. "It's probable that on Black Friday consumers responded positively to the very aggressive promotions and discounts being offered in retail stores."
Despite the 2-day sales boost, e-commerce spending for the first 28 days of November was down overall at $10.41 billion, 4 percent less than what it was in the same time frame one year ago.
We've all used the web to research and help diagnose what might be causing that nagging ailment, whether it be related to sudden fatique or a new pain not associated with an obvious injury. But when you use the web in place of a doctor, do you tend to worry that your symptoms are indicative of a worst case scenario? If so, your real ailment might be cyberchondria.
Earlier this week, Microsoft researchers published the results of a study examining health-related web inquiries as well as a survey of the company's employees. The results of the study indicate that people who use search engines as a self-diagnosis tool often conclude the worst about whatever it is that ails them.
"People tend to look at just the first couple of results," said Eric Horvitz, an artificial intelligence researcher at Microsoft Research. "If they find 'brain tumor' or 'A.L.S.,' that's their launching point."
According to the study conducted by Horvitz, who holds a medical degree, and his fellow investigator Ryen W. White, a specialist in information retrieval technology, web searches for ailments like headaches and chest pain were equally or more likely to land surfers on pages describing dire conditions as benign ones. For someone who is suffering from a headache, search results would link the symptom to brain tumors just as often as they would with caffeine withdrawal, even though the chance of having a brain tumor is highly unlikely.
The researchers suggest that a combination of human nature to jump to worst-case conclusions combined with a reliance on web search rankings contribute to the tendency to be a cyberchondriac.
Does this describe you or anyone you know? Hit the jump and tell us.
In some respects, MySpace, FriendFinder, and every other social networking site could be considered a human flesh search engine. So could Google, Yahoo, and the rest of the online search portals, particularly when combined with incognito-based browsing. But in China, the seemingly sexual term takes on a completely different meaning than the first one that most likely popped into your head.
Instead, the term refers to vigilante cybermobs who collaborate online to hunt down who they perceive as wrongdoers deserving of the cybermobs' own brand of justice. Take for example of the case of Wang Fei, a former advertising executive. His wife posted several blog posts lamenting her husband's alleged infidelity before she committed suicide by jumping out of the couple's 24th--floor apartment. Following her death, cybermobs posted Wang's personal information on several forums, including his phone numbers, address, and national ID number. Someone painted a slogan on his door that read "A blood debt must be repaid with blood." According to Wang's lawyer, the harassment forced him to resign from his job after his workplace became the subject of abuse, and oftentimes strangers in the street would confront him.
Wang's story isn't an isolated one, though according to at least one expert, large-scale human flesh engines do appear to be unique to China, partially as a result of China's "ingrained tradition of 'people's war' tracing back to Mao."
Could you see this becoming a trend in other parts of the world? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
As it turns out, teens might have a legitimate beef with parental controls limiting the time they spend online, as doing so could hurt their development. Or at least that's the pitch teenagers will soon be making to their parents while they quote findings from a new study released this week by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation at the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting.
The study, which observed teens for 5,000 hours over the course of three years, comes as part of a $50 million initiative to find out what effects digital media might be having on teenagers, specifically how they learn and socialize.
"When adults look at teens today, they think what they are doing is different and seem to be wasting a lot of time online hanging out with their friends or playing video games, and these are activities that can seem quite foreign," said Mizuko Ito, the report's lead author and a researcher at the University of California Irvine. "But when we look closely at what kids are doing, it's not much different than what their parents did. They are hanging out with their friends, finding romantic partners, and trying to identify their status and identity."
It took a 58-page report to note a generation gap in how parents and teens view online activities, with the parents viewing their teen's online time as a distraction, whereas teens are finding value with the time they spend online. The report also noted that while teens are honing their social skills, they're also not taking full advantage of what the internet has to offer.
Do you agree with the study's suggestion that, for the most part, teens' time spent online has a positive effect? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Newsflash: The internet can be pretty damned groovy. So much so that Australian men are finding happiness from being online, whether it means fragging with buddies or getting neck-deep in social networking sites. But is the internet gender specific?
According to the "Happiness Index" study, which surveyed over 8,500 Aussies ranging in age from 18 on up to 64, more than half of the male respondents find happiness by surfing the web, whereas only 39 percent of women respondents felt the same way, instead preferring family time.
"This index gives insight into the way we tick, with the results being useful to Australian businesses who want to better communicate with their customers," said Karen Phillips, managing director of The Leading Edge, who conducted the survey.
So what else did the survey reveal? How about that more men (48 percent) than women (40 percent) find happiness between the sheets, or that more women than men prefer reading a book and eating comfort food.
Barney the purple dinosaur became a 90s phenomenon that still airs on television more than a decade later, so naturally the only logical conclusion is to attribute the runaway success to him being purple. Why else would Yahoo put so much effort into a new campaign imploring users to "Start Wearing Purple"?
To be fair, purple has been Yahoo's official color for some time now, though you wouldn't know it by the red colored logo prominently displayed on Yahoo's homepage. The new campaign kicks off with a kooky video that serves as an intro to several purple designated features, including Purple Picks, a daily series of links picked out by Yahoo's editors which "highlight the people, trend, fashion, and companies that exemplify life in the purple lane," and even Purple Merchandise, with everything from Yahoo Pony shoes to a purple Mimobot Code Ninja 1GB USB flash drive.
Is Yahoo on to something here, or is this another example of Web 2.0 having gone wrong? Check it out, hit the jump, and give us your thoughts.
Google is currently pursuing an aggressive strategy of continuous, unabated expansion. Most people depend heavily on Google search for their online research, but Google is not resting on its laurels. After adding tools like Google Scholar and Google Book Search, the company is all set to make another welcome addition to the list of its research tools. The company plans to digitize newspaper archives.
It has enlisted the help of newspaper publishers for the digital newspaper archives. “Not only will you be able to search these newspapers, you'll also be able to browse through them exactly as they were printed—photographs, headlines, articles, advertisements and all,” Google’s product manager Punit Soni claimed in a blog entry. Google will initially concern itself with only U.S and Canadian newspapers.
You might feel compelled to toss a dollar or two at an amateur musician laying down some groovy riffs on his keyboard while enjoying a night out on the town, but would you feel the same urge to compensate a blogger who mashed out an insightful commentary on his 101-key plank? News media outlet Salon.com thinks so, and the suits behind the idea are so confident in their newest endeavor, they're giving new signees to their Open Salon user-generated content community $10 to start tipping their favorite bloggers.
In order to send or receive tips, users must register with Revolution MoneyExchange, a peer-to-peer payment service that allows for the transfer of money with no fees between account holders.Open Salon members who register for the service will receive a complimentary $10 stipend to start tipping.
"Open Salon eliminates the gatekeepers, "editor-in-chief Joan Walsh said in a statement. "It makes our smart,creative audience full partners in Salon's publishing future."
But what happens when the money runs out - will members still be inclined to tip their favorite bloggers out of their own pocket? That's the question the public beta hopes to answer before it officially launches later this year, right around the same time Maximum PC has promised all of its bloggers a company sponsored sports car and a four week paid vacation on the Hawaiian islands.
Brett Favre going to the Jets has given New Yorkers plenty to chatter about, and according to AOL's fourth annual email survey, many of them might be doing it through email. Either that or they're working really, really hard. The survey shows that 62 percent of people check their work email accounts on weekends, and of all the respondents who took the survey, 55 percent of New Yorkers said they are addicted to email communication. By comparison, the national average sits at 46 percent.
"As technology continues to advance, we begin to rely upon it more and more," email productivity expert Marsha Egan said in a statement. "The constant connectivity offered by email and PDA products has people logging on so frequently that they don't have time to do anything else."
Lest anyone dispute that the internet is serious business and email addiction is a real problem, New Yorkers are being offered help to cut the digital chain. Egan, CEO of EganEmailSolutions.com and author of the eBook 12 Steps to Curing Your E-Mail E-ddiction (clever!) has offered to let New Yorkers and residents from other high addiction rate cities join her 12-step program this month for half off.
In a shocking discovery this week, Google has announced the detection of more than one trillion unique URLs on the web. To put these staggering numbers in contrast, the web has been growing at a pace of several billion pages per day. And with the proposed launch of new domains, this trend shows no signs of slowing. With never a marketing opportunity missed, Google used the announcement to remind users as to the efficiency of its search index. “We don't index every one of those trillion pages -- many of them are similar to each other, or represent auto-generated content similar to the calendar example that isn't very useful to searchers. But we're proud to have the most comprehensive index of any search engine, and our goal always has been to index all the world's data.” Google’s announcement was a rare glimpse into the size of its index. In years past it was fashionable for search competitors to boast about the size of their database vs. the competition. But with more than one trillion unique pages available, index envy seems to be somewhat of a moot point these days. Either way one thing is clear, that’s alot of time to waste.