Twitter search results on Bing

This is a cool development. Bing will now have a search function for Twitter. It’s set up in a way that’s much easier to navigate than Twitter itself (no surprise). You can quickly see all the popular subjects like you see on Twitter, but the page lays out the latest tweets for each popular topic. If you click the topic, you see the recent tweets, along with links to the actual stories that are being sent around.

It’s very handy, and it’s nice coup for Bing over Google.

Craigslist not liable for erotic ads

A federal judge has ruled that Craigslist is not liable for ads listed on its site.

A federal judge in Illinois has dismissed a lawsuit by Cook County sheriff Thomas Dart accusing Craigslist of creating a public nuisance by allegedly running prostitution ads.

U.S. District Court Judge John Grady in Illinois ruled Tuesday that the federal Communications Decency Act protects Craigslist from liability for unlawful ads submitted by users.

“Sheriff Dart may continue to use Craigslist’s website to identify and pursue individuals who post allegedly unlawful content,” Grady wrote. “But he cannot sue Craigslist for their conduct.”

Good. The attacks on Craigslist have been ridiculous and unfair. Imagine the consequences of holding sites liable for everything posted on their sites. Social networking and new media are revolutionizing the way we communicate and will have significant implications for business as well. We don’t need the morals police holding companies liable for individual behavior they deem to be problematic.

Twitter’s new feature: Twitter Lists

Twitter’s new feature is currently in Beta, so you’ll only have it if you’ve been invited, but the new Twitter Lists feature is creating quite a buzz.

ReadWriteWeb.com has a handy post explaining how all this works. The process is rather cumbersome, as you have to add people one at a time to the lists you create. You also have the option to make your lists public, so that can create some very interesting lists for others to follow. Getting on certain public lists will probably be the next status symbol next to the number of followers.

Also, each list can be followed as well, which will probably touch of a new frenzy as lists are created and followed.

It will be fun to see how all this develops. In was inevitable that Twitter would start adding more features, but the simplicity of the service has been one of its best qualities. Simple often works better, though that often changes when you have explosive growth. It’s a great problem to have, so get ready for lists mania!

Steve Brill’s dumb idea

The pay wall argument heated up again at The Paley Center for Media.

The big debate over pay walls is getting down to the fine points; as opposed to grand theological, existential questions, it’s really more of a sharper dispute over the method of getting users to pay. Do you dangle carrots and hope the support follows? Or brandish a stick—perhaps a variety of sticks of different lengths? The debate played along those lines at the Paley Center on Tuesday, with the make ‘em pay side represented by Steve Brill, co-founder of startup Journalism Online, which promises to help news outlets charge for their content, and Vivian Schiller, president and CEO of non-profit NPR, arguing for making pay optional.

The most vocal panelists—the group included Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis and media consultant Shelly Palmer—backed up Schiller’s contention that having a formal pay wall will only drive consumers away. In defense of the pay model, Brill contended that businesses need to run on direct money, and advertising and promotions won’t keep the lights on. Plus, he and others dismissed softer measures of coaxing money through online tip jars as being hard to count on.

Developing the pay habit: People have been exchanging cash for newspapers and magazines for decades, they just need to get back into the habit of doing so online, Brill said. In a conversation after the panel, Brill told me that the pay wall isn’t the only way to achieve that: “We believe in giving publishers a variety of options, including donations and bundling online and print. But some have this religious idea that people will be offended if you try to get them to pay for the news product. I’m just asking, ‘Who really knows?’”

“Who really knows?” Is that the best he can do? He’s trying to turn upside down a revolution in news, information and communication and he’s saying that? The debate at this point is beyond stupid.

Users are used to getting things free, but that’s only part of the reason why this will never work. Bloggers and other journalists are now used to DELIVERING the content for free. Look at a small outfit like Talking Points Memo. The quality of the content is better than that of most newspapers, and they’re growing, even in this crappy environment, and the news is free.

You can’t hide news behind a pay wall because there will also be thousands of free sources. Newspapers could charge in the past because they were the only game in town. Those days are over!

Regarding opinion pieces, your opinion no longer matters if nobody hears it or reads it. Paul Krugman has become exponentially more influential after the Times got rid of the ridiculous pay wall. The instant Krugman writes something now about health care or the economy, bloggers and news sites all over the world are linking to it. Aspiring writers and bloggers are doing everything possible to get noticed and to get LINKED. That’s how the world works now.

Newspapers have so many problems that have nothing to do with the pay model. Their costs structures are completely whacked, and yet you had supposedly smart people dumping piles of money for these dinosaurs just a couple of years ago.

If newspapers and magazines want to charge for something, they need to charge for services and delivery. Let the whole world log on to the web and see your content. Encourage everyone to link it and make it popular as hell. But, if I want the paper version, or if I want a subscription that is sent to my Kindle or any other device in a way that lets me easily read the content whether I’m online or not, then you can charge me. And guess what – I, along with most people who value news and opinion and other good content, will gladly pay for the convenience. I’d be thrilled to have all my magazine subscriptions sent to me electronically so that I don’t have to collect all my magazines before I go on to a plane. Just like books, magazines can be a hassle. Make it easy for me to consume your product, and I’ll pay for that luxury. Imagine the cool ads and sponsorship messages that can be embedded in a magazine designed for an e-book or similar devices.

Social media fail – Pepsi alienates female audience with “pick-up” app

Pepsi ought to leave the dating scene to the pick-up artists. Their attempt to create a humorous app has resulted in an epic fail.

When it comes to dating, the difference between success and failure often comes down to delivery. And as Pepsi Co. learned this week, even a good bit of self-deprecation can’t fix a poorly executed pick up line.

Pepsi’s AMP energy drink released a new app — “Amp Up Before You Score” — which got into trouble with more than a few people for the way it approached the fairer sex.

Pepsi quickly took to social media to apologize, but by broadcasting the apology across platforms and brands (and including a self-deprecating hashtag), Pepsi helped turn the tkt into a tempest.

“Before You Score” categorizes women into 24 types — including “Cougar,” “bookworm,” “treehugger” and “rebound girl” — and then gives users conversational resources, namely wikipedia articles and other superficial info to help with pickup lines. In an additional layer of sensitivity, the app connects to social media so that users can share their conquests: “Get lucky? Add her to your Brag List. You can include a name, date and whatever details you remember.”

In one sense I give them credit for trying. Brands need to find new ways to reach their audience, but this effort is just hilarious.

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