Will newspaper companies finally smarten up?

Take a look at this bankruptcy scorecard for newspaper companies and you’ll get a snapshot of some of the disastrous business decisions made in the publishing and newspaper businesses. Too much debt and a complete misunderstanding of the new media landscape led to doom for many lenders in this space.

The good news is that many of these companies have dramatically reduced their debt, so perhaps now they can make rational, long-term business decisions. Hopefully they won’t be stupid enough to erect pay walls on their content, and focus instead on finding new sources of revenue from things like the iPad and other tablets where they can charge for the convenience of delivery, rather than charging for online access to their content.

iPad a hit with the elderly

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 27: An event guest plays with the new keyboard on a Apple iPad during an Apple Special Event at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts January 27, 2010 in San Francisco, California. CEO Steve Jobs and Apple Inc. introduced its latest creation, the iPad, a mobile tablet browsing device that is a cross between the iPhone and a MacBook laptop. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BusinessWeek is reporting that the iPad is becoming a hit with the elderly, even though there aren’t hard numbers to back up the claim.

The company has sold 3.27 million iPads since its launch in April, but doesn’t break down sales figures by customer age, making it impossible to know with certainty how many seniors are buying them. Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s a hit with the elderly. Marti Weston of Arlington, Va., bought her father one for his 87th birthday in May. “This ‘book-sized’ pad has become my news and entertainment source,” her father, the Reverend Elmo Pascale, raved in a comment on Weston’s blog.

The iPad’s intuitive interface makes it appealing to senior citizens around the world, says Takahiro Miura, a researcher at the University of Tokyo: “The iPad is a good tool for the elderly because it’s very forgiving of mistakes.” Miura’s team uses computers to help train senior citizens to rejoin the workforce. “Unlike the PC, it doesn’t require prior knowledge,” he says.

This makes sense, as ease of use is a critical factor for older computer users. The device is less intimidating, and we can see the logic of seniors becoming enthralled with the device, just like younger users.

Google vs. Facebook

The battle between Google and Facebook is heating up. Google is working on “Google Me” – a social network alternative to Facebook. This article explains some of the perceived threats. It really boils down to a battle between two of the biggest titans on the web, and the decisions of these two companies will have huge implications on how we use it going forward.

Google has already had a dud with Google Buzz, and it seems clear that they don’t understand the concept of social networking. They understand math and algorithms, but they seem to have little understanding of how humans interact with one another. They seem to avoid human input at all costs, always trying to solve problems with an algorithm.

We’ve seen this with some of the heavy-handed tactics used by Google with users of services like Google Adsense. If Google perceives a problem with an account, that account is shut down automatically, and the user is forced to endure a bureaucratic as they implore Google to restore their account.

If Google wants to compete in the social network space, they will need a team that understands this very different environment.

Meanwhile, Facebook is reportedly on “lockdown” as Zuckerberg rallies his team to deal with the coming threat.

Mark Hurd’s accuser revealed

Silicon Valley is still in shock we suspect over the sudden resignation on Friday by Mark Hurd, CEO of HP.

Now more details are coming out, including the identity of the woman behind the sexual harassment allegations that got the whole thing moving. Jodie Fisher has worked as an actress, so The Business Insider found photos of her on IMDb. As Henry Blodget points out, why was their an allegation of harassment is she isn’t alleging they had sex?

I suspect we’ll be hearing much more about this attractive blonde and the events that led to Hurd’s ouster.

Henry Blodget fights back

BusinessWeek has a great profile on Henry Blodget and how he’s fighting back with his web properties after his disgraceful exit from Wall Street after the tech bubble burst.

Henry Blodget is a man who will be neither easily riled nor insulted. When, in March, he learned that a blog had labeled a section of The Business Insider, the gossipy financial website he founded three years ago, “The Hooters of the Internet,” Blodget waited a couple hours before tweeting: “The Hooters of the Internet. I like that.” In May, Blodget predicted on his website that within just a few years, The Huffington Post will take in over $100 million in advertising revenue—more than triple the $30 million the site says it will bring in in 2010—and that by 2015 or so, it would be generating more from advertising than The New York Times. In an endnote, he disclosed that Kenneth Lerer, a co-founder of The Huffington Post, is also an investor in The Business Insider, or TBI as it is known by its readers. “Thank you for the disclosure,” someone called The Truth typed in the piece’s comments section. “Unfortunately, it invalidates everything you write. You’re a mouthpiece.” It took Blodget less than a minute to post his response: “Thank you!,” he wrote, like a fraternity pledge embracing his hazing.

Blodget was busted back then by then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who has since had his own problems. Spitzer now has a TV show premiering soon on CNN, so it looks like everyone can get a second chance.

The Business Insider, along with niche areas like Silicon Alley Insider, is an excellent online magazine and news resource, so Blodget appears to be on his way.

I agree that HuffPo will keep growing as well, though at some point they might want to scale back those ridiculous and often misleading headlines.

Using Social Media like Sportsbook Reviews to Grow Business

The growth of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare has often been described as a way to grow business for a company. Social media can be an inexpensive way to get a message out to an ever-growing number of people. But without a strategy, social media may not offer businesses any tangible benefits. Planning a business’s foray into social media may eliminate confusion and add more customers.

All businesses do not need to be on all types of social media. Businesses should reach to determine which social media service contains the customers that would use the company’s services. Also it is important to see if the type of communication that is utilized on a particular social media is appropriate for the type of message that the company wants to get out. Twitter may be too brief if the business message needs to be explained a bit more in detail.

Social media is not just for advertising. Businesses can use the various platforms to reach out to customers and potential customers to find out both what the business is doing right and what the business can do better. A company can use social media as some gamblers use sportsbook reviews sites by giving the customers the opportunity to rank services or ideas online. Besides helping the company with internal reviews, this can also pique the interest of other customers who might see the interactions on the social media site.

A company also must monitor its presence on a social media site. If there are complaints circulating, it is important for the company to address them directly. It also allows the business to have some form of personal response to a complaint where often businesses have a more generic response.

Social media can be a great benefit to many companies but successful use requires some action and a bit of creativity.

Digg manipulation

A recent story on Digg censorship has caused quite a stir. Apparently a group of conservative Diggers have been manipulating the results to vote down liberal stories and to pump up conservative voices.

Who knows how much of this particular story is true, but many of us have suspected for a long time that Digg is rigged, and large sites can goose the results, along with certain powerful (or well-connected) users. The question is to what extent is Digg a part of or privy to the rigging process? And, do they turn a blind eye when it comes to friends, allies and sponsors? I wonder . . . .

New online dating site for virgins

Virgin Dating site

HuffPo has a cool story about a new niche dating siteYou and Me Are Pure. As the article points out, there are all sorts of online dating sites out there covering all sorts of niches, from dating based on ethnicity to things like fitness buffs, cougars and bikers.

The aim of the site, the creators explain, is “to use virginity as a significant compatibility tool to bring people together. Some people may overlook the bonding power of virginity. Virginity as an important common aspect between people can lead to close friendships, or can even serve as a mutual precious gift of marriage.”

The founders of the website, Lety and Jose Colin, explain that they were virgins until they were wed.

We have to admit we’re impressed. With all the niche dating sites out there, they may have found the most exclusive one of all!

New Kindles already sold out!

Amazon has released the new Kindle and has reduced the price, and the new versions are already sold out, though you can place an order and get on the waiting list.

This is quite a development when one considers that many were pronouncing the Kindle to be dead upon the release of the iPad. That said, for every fool who made that prediction, there were many savvy tech analysts who pointed out that the Kindle was still superior for long-form reading. That’s the phrase you’ll consistently be hearing from Jeff Bezos. The iPad is a brilliant device that just may help save the magazine and newspaper businesses, but reading a book is a much different experience. In that context, the graphics aren’t necessary, and the glossy screen needed to produce the graphics and touch-screen features is a hindrance to reading in the sun or reading for a long period of time.

Thus, the Kindle and similar devices devoted to the long-form reading market will always thrive.

It might be cool down the road the have a dual-use device, where you have the glossy screen on one side and the Kindle-type screen on the other, but for now I expect to use both devices, and it doesn’t hurt to have a free Kindle app on your iPad so you can do some reading in those cases where you have your iPad but not your Kindle.

If Playing With Gadgets is an Interest, a Game Design Degree Might be in Your Future

Are you one of those people that loves playing around with gadgets around the house? Do the latest and greatest in social media have you ‘twitter’pated beyond repair? Do you love your video games so much that you can’t imagine a day without them?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then a Game Design Degree might be something to consider for your future.

As the world of technology continues to explode, social media like Facebook and Twitter continue to lead the communications world down an unfamiliar road. Who can imagine what new and creative social media will flood the market as this year pushes past 2010? What spin-offs of Blogging, texting and tweating might exist as we approach 2020? Those with an interest in the ever-changing world of social media, may find themselves in high demand if they take the time now to pursue a degree pertaining to this explosive and ever-changing market.

If you like messing around with little gadgets lying around your house or apartment, chances are you have an aptitude for creativity in game design. Wouldn’t it be nice to use those skills you thought were just ordinary to advance your future with a degree following the same subject matter?

Gadgets are not going away, and as technology continues to advance, the need for a game design degree dealing with the different social media might be the smartest decision a person could make. Taking the time now to harness that mastery of gadgets and social media could be the smartest decision a higher learning enthusiast could pursue.

Within the context of social media and gadgets around the home is the explosive industry of video games. It might sound like a wild concept, but if you love your video game,s then pursuing a degree that will capitalize on an particular interest, might be an incredible opportunity.

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