Rick Sanchez Corrects President Obama’s Twitter Spelling

Earlier today we wrote about the Jon Stewart’s aggressive critique of President Obama’s “complicated” response to the BP oil spill, and now we have another news anchor pointing out a presidential error. Though this time it’s CNN’s Rick Sanchez who corrected a misspelled word on the Presidential Twitter feed. Okay – maybe there is nothing similar about the two examples but its an odd video clip nonetheless.

Jack Dorsey Debuts @Square Mobile Payment Device in D.C.

On Tuesday evening Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey attended a fundraising reception for Missouri Congressional Candidate Tommy Sowers to officially debut his latest invention, Square which currently allows anyone with an Iphone, Android or laptop to send or accept payments for just about anything. Mobile credit card readers are not new. However what sets Square apart from the competition is:

  1. Compact size- About the size of your thumb, or 1.5” long, 1” deep and 3.5” tall   
  2. Electronic Receipts with Location. After a purchase you immediately get an email receipt for what you bought and where you bought it.
  3. Square is free. No additional hardware, applications or monthly service fees.
  4. Low transaction cost. Square charges 2.75% + 15¢ for swiped transactions. (Paypal is 2.9% +.30 cents for transactions under $3,000.)

In terms of Jack’s inspiration for Square, (as well as Twitter) I highly recommend watching his June 2nd speech to the 99% Conference . A few highlights:

  • “Payments, and the exchange of money is inherently social, it is another form of communication- So why isn’t it designed and treated as such. That was one of the reasons we started Square.”
  • The financial crisis created the opening for Square: “The situation allowed us to quickly seek out all the people we needed to talk to, at the banks, at the government, the card brands.  Everyone in the financial world was suddenly in survival mode, looking for innovation, looking for new things, looking for new business models.”
  • “90% of the country paying with plastic card of some sort, but only 2% of the country can accept payments with those cards. So what if we turn on the other side, what happens and what does that interface look like”
  • For Twitter: The @ symbol, ‘RT’ for re-tweets, # for hash tags and even the word ‘tweet’ were developed by the Twitter community, and initially resisted by Twitter.

In terms of the politics of the event, although announcing and presenting Square at last week’s Personal Democracy Forum would have been a larger, bi-partisan audience, when I asked Jack why he chose the Sowers event, his reply was essentially that while the Sowers fundraiser was a partisan event, that Square as a device and Twitter as a platform are available to the same degree to all sides equally. Secondly and more importantly though, he was impressed with the Sower’s campaign utilization of social media tools and that they were the first ones to reach out and ask for his help on the event. Also, being from St. Louis, he has a personal interest in Missouri’s representation. Furthermore,  not only does just about every senior staffer on the Sowers campaign maintain and use Twitter accounts , as far as I can recall I have never seen a political email written in Twitter speak that explicitly asks the reader:

Even if you can't make it, can you help make noise about this on twitter?  We want all of DC talking about this for weeks to come.

If you could tweet something like: "Please RT: @sowers and @jack at #sqdc TONIGHT, this is not an event to miss! http://bt.io/FN4u"

Be sure to use the event hashtag #sqdc.

More pictures bellow the jump:

square2 We just got our Squares at the @sowers @jack #sqdc event!


Chinese Government Increasing Internet Accessibility, Still Muffling Tweets

According to AP reporter Scott McDonald, China plans to bridge the “digital gap” between developed and rural areas of the country over the next five years, increasing the percentage of Chinese web users from 29 to 45 percent. What these people will do with Internet access is still questionable, however, as they probably still won’t be able to tweet about their day, tag a picture of their embarrassingly drunk friends on Facebook, or waste 8 minutes and 43 seconds watching Lady Gaga’s new video on YouTube – three things that are making the Internet awesome today.

That’s because, despite the push to make the Internet more accessible, the Chinese government will continue to block access to websites like these in an effort to maintain their kibosh on anything that might pose a threat to “national unity.”

Three months after Google China relocated from the mainland to Hong Kong in a messy breakup about censorship, Chinese officials released a new report today on the country’s Internet policy. Other than laying out the plan to increase the amount of Internet users, the paper reinforced the government’s right to censorship while still claiming that China is all for freedom of speech on the web.

Though the report praises microblogging as a quality means of Internet expression (there are 220 million bloggers in China, after all), it still states that sensitive content is free to be blocked, and one would assume the average twentysomething’s Facebook profile would be put on that list.

The people of rural China might not be dying to send out hourly tweets, but with backlash over the strict Internet policy heating up, the recently refortified Great Firewall of China is likely to face some opposition.

Twitter Enters the Beltway: Social Media and Lobbying

Everywhere you look these days, you find the seemingly exponential growth of Twitter . After dominating the world of upcoming social media lately, Twitter is now looking to gain a powerful foothold outside of Silicon Valley. The company posted yesterday an opening for a "Government Liaison" in Washington D.C. Twitter says they are trying to make their product more effective for "policymakers, political organizations, and government officials and agencies." The listing notes that they are building a "public policy department" to influence lawmakers to support Twitter's policy needs with patent law, net neutrality, consumer privacy and more unforeseen issues.

Twitter is by no means the first social media company to try and conquer Capitol Hill.  Facebook has been heavily invested in lobbying for several causes in recent years. In June 2009, Facebook hired notable former ACLU senior counsel Timothy Sparapani to head their lobbying division in Washington and advocate for them to Congress. Facebook is the leader in confronting regulation of internet companies that collect, store and use people's personal data. Only eight months after they added a dedicated lobbyist, Facebook expanded their Washington division twice over, adding a "public policy manager" and "public policy associate" to the team.

However, when it comes to tech companies staking their claim to Washington, Google, as always, is the biggest kid on the block . Spending $1.38 million in the first quarter of 2010 alone on lobbying, Google has shown that they are willing to do what it takes to make the changes they want in Washington. John Simpson, from Consumer Watchdog, told Investor's Business Daily that Google is "one of the biggest high-rollers as far as lobbying goes". Still, they are up against even heavier hitters in the fight for net neutrality and privacy issues: main opponent AT&T spent a total of  $14.7 million in 2010, mostly in direct opposition to Google's efforts.

Another important player in the Washington tech-lobbying scene is Research In Motion , the Canadian telecommunications firm that manufacture the most necessary Washington accessory-the Blackberry. After paying out a $612 million settlement from a patent lawsuit in 2006, Research In Motion has stepped up it's lobbying efforts, doubling the size of their Washington team in 2009 and spending $675,000 in the first quarter of 2010, up from their fourth-quarter total of $545,000 last year. Most of this money has gone towards further patent disputes, and, according to the Associated Press , "legislation on an inventory of U.S. radio spectrum" and  "the trade of minerals from conflict-ridden countries like the Congo" which are used in their electronics.

Twitter has now entered the political spectrum, so we can most likely see more tweets sent from the halls of power in our Nation's Capital. However, their added presence to the already exploding field of tech lobbying may be a drop in the bucket compared to the efforts of huge multinational corporations who already have their pockets open in Washington.


Why TV Still Won’t Embrace the Web Quite Yet

What’s the future of TV? For the near future, it’s more TV.

So says TV producer Steve Levitan.

Levitan has made a bunch of money working on hit TV shows like “Just Shoot Me,” and he’s likely to make some more with ABC’s “Modern Family.” So it’s not a huge surprise to hear him make a case for the status quo.

But Levitan is also a self-professed nerd who loves technology and has tried hard to figure out how to incorporate it into his TV show. He has played around with Twitter and has created special clips for Web viewers. Problem is, he says, he can’t figure out how Internet eyeballs do him any good. And that includes the two million viewers he believes watch his show every week on Hulu.

One day, that’s going to change, as advertisers start to value Web viewers as much as TV viewers. But they’re not there now. Here’s Levitan explaining the state of the business at the D8 conference last week:

[ See post to watch video ]

Anyone feel differently? Happy to hear from you. And I’ll put the same question to Ricky Van Veen, the College Humor co-founder who is now trying to make TV shows at IAC’s (IACI) Notional. We’re chatting this morning at Mashable’s Media Summit in New York. Here’s a conversation we had on the topic last fall:

Yep, Everyone on Twitter Really Is Talking About the New iPhone

It’s not just your imagination: Everyone you know has spent the past few hours on Twitter talking about the new iPhone. Or, more accurately: Many more people spent the past few hours talking about the iPhone on Twitter than they normally do.

Here’s statistical proof, via the social media stat guys at Trendrr. These data come directly from Twitter’s API and show the number of matches for the following keywords, by hour: “Steve Jobs,” “Apple” and “iPhone.”

The latter is the black line with the giant peak in the chart below (click to enlarge), which coincides with Apple’s developer event today.

The breakdown: The word, “iPhone,” which normally generates something like 10,000 matches an hour, peaked at 126,000 matches during the final hour of Jobs’s presentation, when he unveiled the device. Over the past four hours, it generated 264,000 matches. In the same time frame, “Apple” (AAPL) generated 77,000 matches, and “Steve Jobs” generated 18,000.

Okay. Back to your tweets!

A New Age of Crisis Reporting?: Media, the Oil Spill, and You

As the oil from the BP Gulf coast spill continues to flow into the Gulf of Mexico, the attention of the nation seems to focus on it more and more. As one of the worst environmental disasters our country has ever seen, it is garnering huge media attention across platforms and is sure to be one of the biggest news stories of the year.  Now in the age of always-accessible information, people seeking factual, unbiased details from the spill area are left wanting.

The Washington Post reported last week that several major news organizations were being blocked from comprehensive coverage in myriad ways, including restriction of flight access and chaperoning of reporters in newly-restricted areas. Information has also been slowed by comprehensive gag orders written into contracts between BP and employees, including clean-up personnel and local boat owners. In addition, BP is "using paid search to influence public opinion" according to the Huffington Post . Every time a Google search is launched using relevant terms-including "oil spill", "gulf coast" and "BP disaster", the first sponsored link directs to BP's "Gulf of Mexico Response" page, offering corporate-tinged updates.

Although Admiral Thad Allen, National Incident Commander for the federal government, told ABC News' "This Week" that he produced a written order for the media to be allowed "uninhibited access", the mainstream media is still being blocked in several avenues. This is where you come in.

In the age of citizen journalists and Web 2.0, every-day people are stepping up to the challenge of reporting one of the worst environmental disasters of all time. Using facebook, twitter and brand new social media tools, non-credentialed civilians are keeping tabs on the spill and it's effects. The twitter hashtag "#oilspill" has been trending for weeks, with discussion spurred by pictures and tweets sent from the area affected by the spill. A Facebook group advocating for a boycott of BP has over 400,000 "likes" and user-uploaded photos of protests, affected animals and damaged coastline.

In addition, people looking for ways to document and share news of the spill have a brand new avenue-the mobile application OilReporter . Developed by CrisisCommons with Intridea and Appcelerator, OilReporter allows for mobile mapping, photo-documentation and real-time reporting of injured wildlife, oil-stricken beaches and wetlands. It even has a sliding scale with which the user can report exactly how much oil is in each location, and the ability to cross-check your location and information with the Federal Government, State Government, and Google Crisis Response data sources. With this new tool, normal people can report on the spill as it affects their lives directly, and share information with people all over the world concerned with the ramifications.