Posts Tagged ‘News’

Mattel’s Newest Doll: Computer Engineer Barbie

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Image Via

Last month, toy manufacturer Mattel made waves with geeks everywhere with the announcement of Barbie’s newest profession. For the popular doll’s 125th occupation, Mattel consulted over half a million fans. Through Facebook and Twitter, the public was encouraged to vote Barbie’s new profession. The public has spoken and Barbie’s newest career will be as a Computer Engineer.

“Coder Barbie,” much like her other high-heeled wearing counterparts, has not avoided the usual controversy that surrounds the release of modern Barbie incarnations. Last year alone, “Burka Barbie” and “Black Barbie” kicked up heated comments all around the blogosphere as critics questioned their political correctness. Many are wondering how a computer programmer who works with binary codes and numbers all day also wears hot pink high-heels with matching glasses and laptop?

Mashable’s Rebecca Zook – a female math tutor – points out that Mattel consulted the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering when designing the doll’s newest outfit. She also asserts that “women shouldn’t feel like they have to stop being feminine to work in technology.”

Critics have cited current gender inequalities that exist within tech fields. Most feel that a blue-tooth touting blonde with pink accessories will further accentuate these inequalities. Mattel hopes that the release of Computer Engineer Barbie will “inspires a new generation of girls to explore this important high-tech industry, which continues to grow and need future female leaders.”

The release of this Barbie has definitely been a step in the direct of raising awareness of the availability of tech-related careers for all genders. What do you think – is Coder Barbie one small step for gal-geeks everywhere or does it do more for deepening gender inequalities?

Research Report: The Participatory News Consumer

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Pew Internet and American Life Project and the Project for Excellence in Journalism released “Understanding the Participatory News Consumer,” on Monday and it has received a ton of attention around the key findings.  Notably, the majority of Americans (92%) use multiple platforms to get their daily news, and more than half (59%) are getting news from both online and offline sources on a typical day.

The degree to which Americans are personalizing and filtering this content is especially noteworthy, with highlights collected by MediaBistro including:

  • 33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.
  • 28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.
  • 37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.
  • 51% of social networking site users who are also online news consumers say that on a typical day they get news items from people they follow.
  • 23% of this cohort follow news organizations or individual journalists on social networking sites.

This fits with the recent Cision report (pdf), which showed how media are using social platforms to publish, promote and distribute what they write (64% use blogs, 60% social networks, and 57% Twitter).  Additionally, a full 89% of media are turning to blogs for their online research, making this process truly cyclical.

With 70% of Americans noting that the amount of news and information available from different sources is overwhelming, I think we will see more and more trends pointing to users testing multiple news sources and filtering for perceived noise.  From a PR perspective, this points to the importance of brands telling a cohesive story over multiple platforms, providing a range of consumer touch points, and as always, creating content that is truly valuable for media and consumers.

A Day In The Internet

Friday, December 18th, 2009

This graphic tells a compelling story about just how central the internet is to communication and content development on a daily basis.  The numbers are amazing – and it looks pretty too.

A Day in the Internet
Created by Online Education

Speed Kills: Why Being the First to Break News Means You Aren’t the Last

Monday, July 20th, 2009
Meme Curve

Meme Curve | Zachary M. Seward, The Nieman Journalism Lab

Last week, Zachary M. Seward at The Nieman Journalism Lab put together an interesting post about breaking news, the origins of memes and how the influence of news orginzations (blogs included) fit into the big picture of information dissemination on the web.  From the post:

Another way of looking at the data is that influential blogs hanging out on the far-left tail are more likely to report on iterative developments as they happen, while mainstream news outlets feel compelled to fit memes into a broader narrative. The study lists several phrases that were first “discovered” by blogs more than a week before peaking, like when Sarah Palin quoted Ronald Reagan at the end of a debate. That immediately raised flags among bloggers who identified the quote’s origins in a 1961 Reagan speech opposing Medicare, but it didn’t gain traction until more than a week later, when Medicare briefly became an issue in the 2008 campaign.

However you view the chart, it feels like each news organization has situated itself quite intentionally along the curve, staking out a role in the political news cycle. With the meme-tracking technique demonstrated in Kleinberg’s study, news outlets could themselves keep track of where they stand and adjust their reporting strategy if they prefer another spot on the cure. They might consider, for instance, whether they add anything at all to the political discourse by reporting on a meme so close to its peak.

This falls in line pretty succintly with the constant argument surrounding networks like Twitter vs. networks like CNN when it comes to “breaking news.”  Lots of critics cry that major news networks are far behind the “8 ball” when it comes to this capacity.  While that might be true when it comes to event-reporting, I’m often seeing too many people make blind arguments/sweeping generalizations about news outlets for other types of reporting.  It’s pretty tough for 140 characters to give you all the context you’ll ever need about current events and, according to Zach’s research, it looks like news organizations large and small are appropriately finding their place in line vs. constantly fueling an arms race that will likely never end.

Facebook Vanity URLs

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Yesterday, Facebook announced in a blog post that starting 12:01 EDT, Saturday, June 13th, vanity URLs will be available for all Facebook profiles and Fan Pages.  This is an important step for Facebook. They are perhaps the last of the major social media platforms to offer them, as both  MySpace and Twitter already do.

A vanity URL is key for your personal brand because it allows us to find others online, by name and without a lot of work. Sure, Facebook has a search bar, but right now the problem is that once you search for someone and it pulls up results and then you still have to dig through those all of those to find the “right” person.  Once Saturday hits, you can easily just type in a friend’s specific URL and you’re DONE. Much easier.

This also means that Facebook can now play a more pivotal role in a person’s online brand.  Across all social media platforms, most of us try to keep consistent whether we use our real name or a pseudonym, people learn about us and look for us based off of the personal brand we have built.

Why else does this matter? It’s good for SEO and it allows us to find exactly what we’re looking for and know what we’re looking at. Something with a bunch of random numbers and symbols at the end doesn’t really tell us if we’ve found the right person or page. It also makes me dig even more when searching.

A few questions I have about the change though: will we find that Facebook users will begin to utilize the platform differently? Will search be as popular and will we still browse through the hundreds of random “John Smiths” of the world until we find the right one?  It will be interesting to see if this alters behavior in any significant way.

 What are your thoughts on the new vanity URLs? Will you be staying home this Friday to get one?

Also, to stake your customized claim on Facebook this weekend, you can visit