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Archive for August, 2008

New Facebook for iPhone Teaser Shows Why Touchscreens Kick Butt

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

As an iPhone owner, this pleases me. But more basically, as a owner of a touchscreen-enhanced device, this pleases me especially so. Truly custom tagging of photos, just as one would through an typical Web browser, is yet one more of those small, relatively insignificant options that prove just how useful something of the iPhone’s design can be.

There’s really no question that the iPhone is the software benchmark in the mobile market. The platform itself has something to do with Facebook’s ability to built this next iteration of the iPhone software. But the fact that the application’s engineers have design the upcoming edition this way – it’s safe to assume, as does Nick O’Neill of All Facebook, that this clues us in on what’s next to arrive in the App Store – shows just what one can do given the freedom of that pocket-sized canvas. There are occasionally rumblings about the lack of complete openness for third-party software development. Which is true. There isn’t. But if something such as this manages to pique the interest of the desired audience, well, objective achieved, no? If you can’t have everything, is a lot enough? Maybe so.

As numerous Android Challenge finalists and winners have similarly shown, a touchscreen is very much the necessary means to achieve all possible ends. There’s no getting around it. Yes, you can create outstanding mobile software which functions exclusively via a keypad. But media-rich applications which require user interaction to the detail shown in the video posted are clearly done best in a world of touch. You get less hassle on the user side, and there’s a good bit of comfort on the developer end as well.

Furthermore, seeing as how Android users and developers get the benefit of “open,” it may not be too much to think of touchscreen devices as the kill-switch for the buttoned, non-touch, plebeian masses. For the time being, the iPhone remains the stellar dream machine, giving software makers the ability to bring the unmatched intuitiveness of the hardware into the employ of their applications and services.

Related Articles at Mashable! – The Social Networking Blog:

STUNNING: Facebook on the iPhone
World’s Simplest iPhone App
Multiply Launches iPhone Edition
AWESOME: Meebo on the iPhone
Social Networks Optimized For The iPhone
Palm Users Get Their Own Optimized Facebook App
Track What’s Hot at the iPhone App Store with Medialets

It’s Time to Give the Best of Twitter Some Pulitzers.

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Matt Richtel of The New York Times added to Valleywag’s presumed embarrassment today by letting readers of the world-renowned rag in on his secret. Evidently the salacious gossip artists at the other VW weren’t privy to a Twitter novel – or a Twitter thriller, a so-called “Twiller,” to be precise – under production by Richtel. I myself learned of its evolution near the start. How about you? No matter. The reason I touch on the subject is to expand on the commentary a bit.

The Twittersphere, after all, is full not only of these kilobit- or megabit-sized novels. Comedians wax to varying degrees of hilarity via the medium at all hours. 140-character-long jokes can be punchy, woeful, and plenty of things in between, it turns out. Just like your half-hour stand-up routine. Indeed, if you follow a real talent for an extended period of time, well, you begin to get exceedingly dependent on the feed I know I do. (Merlin Mann, I bid you much thanks. Shall your run of the funnies never end.)

People celebrate the art of the haiku, as well. Too many people, arguably. So I ask, is there a limit? Nevermind the faults and the failures behind the stage, many – if not all – of which seem to have disappeared completely. Does the service’s message structure determine what is and what is not possible? Does it maintain a sort of fun and casual gimmicky quality because you’re required to stay within set bounds? If the answer these questions is a resounding no, could there then be a moment when Twitter members are honored with awards for creativity? Awards you can handle, too. With your hands!

Twitter itself, as we know, has won ample praise. It received the SXSW Blog Award for being so beautifully basic. Well, I say it’s time to weed the membership for some serious recognition. Or at least begin to consider the possibility of a trophy. Or two. Or more. What say you? (Poll after the jump.)

A quick Web search will bring an event dubbed “the twitties.” The byline is “awards for the most interesting twists on 140 characters!” Visitors to the site submit favorite URLs for particular messages published and vote to nominate that which they believe to be the best. But that premise seems limiting to me. I’d like consistency to be honored. Serials. The best delivery of on-the-ground journalism, too. How about a head-to-head comedy competition? The categories can be many.

Yes, it is far fetched to think a Twitter user somewhere will rank as some sort of Hemingway 2.0. But if the players in the field today have shown anything worthwhile, it is sheer inventiveness. Twitter, against some major odds given the technical issues it has had to contend with, is now being used just as often by people broadcasting cocktail recipes as organizations campaigning for the next so-called leader of the free world. Peculiar, absolutely. But incredibly intriguing as well. And I tell you it’s time to take it to the next level. Agreed?

How does the Best of Twitter sound to you?
( surveys)

Related Articles at Mashable! – The Social Networking Blog:

Twitter Launches People Search Awarded Most Improved Blog
Twitter’s Funding Amount Announced: $5.4 Million
The Daily Poll: Do You Social Network on Your Mobile?
Twitter Mobile Interface
Quick Fix For Twitter Troubles
The Webby Awards to Hold First Ceremony for Online Film and Video

Election 2008: A Dozen Sites Open for Political Debate

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

As has been made very clear by the media, the presidential candidates chosen to represent the two major parties of the United States for the election this November will be spending precious primetime airspace sparring over issues which pollsters of America deem most important to the nation’s people. Those who dislike watching the matches will of course stray to different stations. But millions of others will remain transfixed. And given the social componentry now available to Web users, a large swath of the population – democrats, republicans and independents alike -  will undoubtedly continue to toss one-liners and Google-searched investigative research every which way in any and all Internet channels available.

In light of this reality, we figure it is only fitting that we bring to your attention several moderately well-known as well as some relatively obscure websites that focus on all vocal aspects of the political process, from sound bytes to speech in long form and the commentary which accompanies the rhetoric. Sure, you could visit RedState or HuffPost or CNN or Fox News. But there are some places less about the pomp and more about the circumstance worth a mention all the same.

CreateDebate is one example. If offers a quick voting mechanism as well as one for commentary. Many users publish quite detailed summaries of their views on particular topics, which makes for engaging reading and naturally sparks responses from more users as a result. Want to engage a forum that follows politicians’ one-liners with more extensive commentary to the affirmative or the negative (or perhaps neutral standing)? CreateDebate is well worth the cost of entry: free. We wrote about the website back in April, and gave it considerable praise then. It turns out the review was warranted.

Another service, whereIstand, offers a similarly polished experience as that of CreateDebate, albeit with a different format. Navigation might take some getting used to, but it’s reasonably well-featured to accommodate opinionmaking among the membership. Just to note, it’s football season in the collegiate and professional leagues, so there are quite a few opinions sitting among the frontrunners which focus on the game. But the floor is open to all, as they say, so express yourself if you wish – for whatever reason.

At first MyGuesstimate may not strike you as a world-class forum. And that’s because it isn’t. We first reviewed the joint exactly one week ago, and while it has grown a bit, it hasn’t flourished. Still, the structure of it allows for a good amount of discussion. Post questions with answers, and see where the community takes it. Comments are allow, too, so talk doesn’t end with the click of a button. Its simplicity and user networking aspects are what I enjoy most.

Disregard for a moment my initial bout of sarcasm when mentioning the pollster establishment. This next one, appropriately enough, is called It essentially provides an interactive map displaying the 50 American states with a rough gauge on the consensus view on both major presidential candidates, Barack Obama (D) and John McCain (R). The utility of this service is limited, as you’ll see. But perhaps a weekly or bi-weekly visit couldn’t hurt. The latest poll results fall around the last few weeks of August, so the numbers are fairly current. If you’re one to take regional, state-by-state, or national polls into consideration when writing your ballot red, white, or blue, this is one place to bookmark.

Meanwhile, if you’re an all-around political junkie, RealClearPolitics covers the news, the numbers, and a fair amount of public discourse as well. Want a resource that scopes virtually every relevant and semi-relevant vantage in the quadrennial chess game currently underway? You can do far worse than RealClearPolitics.

I should say that I trawled the Web for quite some time before arriving at We Op-Ed. And I’m not sorry I did. Well-design and equally accommodating of both original thought and user commentary, with videos debates and a fairly active community holding it all together, We Op-Ed should be far more busy in the way of conversation than it is today. It is arguably one of the best destinations among those listed here. If the mainstream media isn’t doing it for you, We Op-Ed probably will.

Perhaps you’re interested in a quick view of the top candidates’ political leanings. Their voting records, their statements. All that fun stuff. If you need to keep informed to keep your online conversations teeming with data, is a kind of one-stop shop. You won’t find everything, of course. But you’ll likely find enough fodder to trigger posts on forums elsewhere.

Analysts of the election underway have made it very clear that youth involvement is the highest it’s been in years. That is especially true for those of voting age, but even citizens that will be below the 18-year threshold come November have places to dish their positions. Youth Noise is one interesting venue. It covers multiple topics outside of politics, but has also reserved a spot for those watching the race.

For those in the academic world, there are also sites like Debate Central and iDebate to serve as information centers for student debaters. As the fall semester commences in the next couple of weeks in many parts of the country, these destinations will likely be visited with great frequency. Get better prepared to play warring parties in front of your classmates. takes us back to original debate site premise given to this collection, but its topics are hugely diverse. That is to its benefit, but not for politicos. Miscellany reigns supreme. You can of course present political discourse if you like, but it’s open to question whether such material will rise to the fore. Science and philosophy share a spot at the top of the ladder, it seems.

Now, in the event that none of the sites presented here make the grade, or don’t offer a enough of a fly-on-the-wall take on odd political jibber-jabber, there is a wildcard that may well grab your eye. A Twitter-Google Maps mashup, developed by a Mr. Michael Geary, involves Twitter, Twittervision, and the ever industrious Google Maps API. Of course, watching it go can get tiresome. The blogging can get very redundant very fast. Nonetheless, the choice to be an observer with a bird’s-eye view is entirely yours.

Finally, how about a look at the Google Books upload of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. A total 423 pages, front to back. Something to inspire? Stir that nostalgia? Maybe rehash some of the matters at hand back in the day?

Related Articles at Mashable! – The Social Networking Blog:

Why the YouTube Presidential Debate Affects Politicians and Media
Gather Wants You to Create Debate for the Next President
The Economist’s Open Online Debate on Education & Technology
LIN TV Launches State Sites for Political Coverage
YouTube and UStream Go Political
CBS Wants in on Politics Web 2.0. Partners with Digg.
YouTube-CNN Republican Debate Coming November 28

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