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.

China blocks web 2.0 web sites

Forbes has an interesting article about the web 2.0 situation in China.

Forbes: Facebook and Twitter have been blocked here in China since the unrest this year in Xinjiang, and some Chinese Twitter clones are blocked as well. Why is this the case, and do you see the controls loosening up in the near future?

Anti: Web 2.0 Web sites like Facebook and Twitter can offer the public firsthand information, even faster than a government news agency like Xinhua. In fact, the July 5 Urumqi riots news was spreading first on Twitter hours before the first Xinhua English news piece. The Chinese government believes that the situation in Urumqi and other cities would be out of control if they can’t control the information flow. That’s the basic logic behind their decision to block Twitter and other Web 2.0 Web sites.

But this wide-scale blocking costs a lot. Discontentment in cyberspace could lead more common Chinese netizens to try to protest if all of their favorite social networking, photo sharing, video and microblogging services are blocked in the long term. And this crazy-wild blocking also harms the investment environment, which now almost makes China a Web 2.0 hell for investors. So China may loosen up the blocking in some sense.

The political reasons behind this policy are fairly clear given the recent events in Iran. Yet the risks are huge for China’s social media and tech industries as mentioned above. Can China really expect to compete in a world where Americans and others use social media to revolutionize business, news and education? The Chinese run the risk of falling way behind.

Bing keeps growing

I was very impressed with Bing when it launched, so I’m not surprised to see that it’s growing rapidly.

Google Wave mania

Google Wave sounds VERY cool.

Google is about to hit a milestone for a product that the search giant hopes will transform how people communicate and collaborate online, and perhaps hook more users on Google’s menu of web based services.

Google Wave, which combines elements of email, instant messaging and social networking to allow groups of people to collaborate on a task in real time, will be previewed starting to more than 100,000 developers and users who have signed up to try Wave and give Google feedback on how well it works.

* * *

Wave users running Ribbit’s applications could, for example, hold a telephone conference that would connect through any kind of voice communication – a mobile phone, a land line or voice-over-internet – and then store a recording of the resulting conversation as an audio file or transcribe the conversation into a text document embedded in the Wave.

Another application Google demonstrated on its blog included a group of friends in scattered locations using the online version of the Lonely Planet guides to plan a trip to Australia through Wave, searching out attractions in Melbourne with Google maps, reading Lonely’s Planet’s description of those places, messaging their thoughts with the rest of the group, and collectively writing up a day-by-day itinerary, within one wave.

The idea here is real-time collaboration on the web. For many of us who have “virtual companies” with workers working remotely in different locations, Google Wave could revolutionize how we work.

There are some issues with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (big surprise) but it’s supposed to work well with other major browsers.

A demonstration is available here.

Google has sent out a bunch of invites for people to use the beta version of the product, and naturally people are all over this on Twitter, as some are trying to sell their invitations – #googlewave.

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