Category: Social Media/Networking


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The much awaited Flipboard’s Android update has been rolled out on a global platform a couple of weeks ago. Flipboard version 2.0 was first made available to download for iOS users in March. The new Android version of this application allows people to create and organize their own personalized virtual magazine for absolutely free.

Android users would now be able to share and edit their own aspiring feeds with contents, images and videos on their board to make them look like their own visualized publication. They can even set privacy controls on their magazines for public and private viewing and can also share it with friends via social networks. Earlier, board users’ could have only read through the content and feeds that had been previously posted by the editorial team of Flipboard. But with this update they can personalize it according to their own taste and preferences.

The Andriod users were previously restricted to the limited ‘read only’ functionality of the magazines that were created on iOS. Whereas now, the Android users are on par with iOS users, as in, they also have the same ability –  to create their own collective articles, images and various add ons, for giving a materialize appearance to their boards.

The Flipboard has recorded an astonishing 500,000 magazines having being created and personalized within first two following weeks of the launch of the application version 2.0 on iTunes for Apple users. With the UK, US and Canada emerging among the top five countries, where the users have downloaded and used this application to create magazines.

The app new version 2.0 is now available to download from Google Play for Android devices. We would love to hear your opinion or experiences on this updated app version in the comment box below.

Twitter has launched its much awaited Music app for iPhone and web users on 18 April. Android phone users would have to wait a little further – Twitter has promised that service will eventually be available on Android devices very soon as well. This music app collects users’ activity information based on their account as to which bands or artist they follow, and will find music they like accordingly.

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The app has an extremely intuitive user interface with a sleek and polished design made up of each artist or song’s page displayed in a grid. As you tap the play button on an image of an artist, it will start playing a clip from one song picked to represent them and an animated CD will spin on the bottom of left corner. It has four swipeable tabs “Popular”, “Emerging”, “Suggested” and “Now Playing” to help users navigate new songs and provides a dedicated page for Artist that the user is following at present.  The “Popular” tab is dedicated to trending songs on Twitter while “Emerging” tab is for up-and-coming artists. “Suggested” tab displays result on the basis of user’s following of bands or artist. “Now Playing “tab lists the songs tweeted by the people whom the user follows.

For web users it is available at https://music.twitter.com. However, for iPhone users, the app will be initially available in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand only before it is spread to other countries.

I raise this question amidst the sad state of events that has plagued the capital in recent times. Even though each one of us is busy fulfilling our daily quota of what we know as life, there are certain incidents that tend to shake up your soul and beliefs from within and have a look at what wrong is being done; and the recent weeks stand as a solid testament to that.

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With unethical and anti-social elements on the loose amongst the busy streets of the cities, just what can one do as a citizen of the state? I am keeping my opinion very generic so that the big picture can be analyzed. And I assure you that this isn’t a split second reaction to what’s been happening recently, but a comprehensive outburst which has been piled up over time. My perspective has changed from being perplexed to one of sheer disgust with issues like depredation, tasteless political comments and curbing free expression rearing their ugly heads again and again.

ePetitionsWith a constant attack on free speech, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for an individual to play his/her part in helping address the foremost issues. Being expressive online is now a strict no-no as you risk landing behind bars for it. Even peaceful and civilized protests are countered by brute force and hostility from the state’s enforcement. So we are left with a very limited number of tools to do our bit. And I am mentioning those below:

Facebook / Twitter:  Expressive write-ups and photos which end up being mass shared within the social networking community to make people aware about a current agenda.

E-Petitions: A very powerful online tool to get a unified opinion and to support a just cause.

I hail the effectiveness of these two modes but to what extent it affects the authority’s mindset is another issue in itself. In my opinion, these modes should be given more weightage on a state/national  level so that they have the right amount of influence when major decisions are taken. That might just aid the fight against the wrongdoers of our society.

 

” As they say, it only takes a spark to ignite a revolution..” 

People are varied individuals and each one of us has a different definition for expression. Let’s look at some common instances. For a sportsperson going through a bad patch of form, you would have heard the “I’ll let my performance do the talking” countless times. For a writer, a pen is the most powerful and glorious weapon to own. For a programmer, his programming skills are a means of expression as to how proficient he is. And for the gung ho spirits, action speaks louder than words.

Our hectic work lives do not leave much time for catching up with friends these days and this is where a virtual social network has worked as a mode of bridging the gap. But even on a popular social networking platform, the mode of expression for users was restricted to borrowed quotes and a few relevant photos and videos till now. But the recent emergence of internet memes has put a new twist to our daily social binge. Memes are basically hand-drawn images of expressions which people have on their faces when they encounter certain situations. The ironic thing is that half of the time we don’t realize how one expression can I fact be used to show one feeling a many J Although if you peak through the internet these days, the definition of the term has broadened with the use of movie snaps and intuitive sayings to go along with it.

The first meme I encountered was a mischievous frowning face which is now famously known as the “Troll/Problem/U Mad Bro” face. It was a 4-box image about a thief bullying a guy into giving his money. The victim says he likes the thief’s knife and then uses it to take his money back. The truth is that it sound pretty lame in writing but has been made humorous and interesting by the use of expressions. And before I knew, the regularly visited pages were flooded by such memes. Not only are they fun to read as compared to standard media sharing, they appeal to the masses much more these days.

After a while, I had the impression that these memes and rage comics were just a means of some virtual tomfoolery which brings our daily life situations in front of ourselves with a pinch of wittiness. But the fact is that the use of memes is much more than that. Marketing professionals have strategized memetic marketing as one of most powerful forms of reaching out to potential customers. Not only is it cost and time effective but also much more visually engaging which makes the whole campaign easy to comprehend. People might pass this off as a current fad which will slowly wear off in the coming seasons but the way I see it, memes are now an integral part of the World Wide Web and will keep on evolving in a synonymous way with the changing times.

The old model of suggestions and advice before any buying decision was to check with your elders and peers and go ahead with the purchase considering the brand reputation and the discounts on offer. Understanding the technological aspect of things was like an exploration activity after the product had reached your place. The only major task was to make a choice amongst the brands available at that time.

Things have progressively changed since then and so has the platforms for gathering information. In a hypothetical scenario, you are looking to buy a new Smartphone. Now, it’s not just the brand or price you will have to look at but also what you expect out of your gadget as a prospective owner. For a noob, it would be the screen size, the apps as well as the battery life. For a corporate guy, the phone’s capability to sync to his business accounts; while an enthusiast will look at the phone’s hardcore technical configuration as well as the scope of modification (HINT: overclocking).

And like it or not, it’s a similar story when it comes to TV’s. Gone are the days when TV’s were being bought on brand reputation and face value, which can be partly attributed to the increased number of display technologies available at this time. From a conventional CRT-powered TV sets, the television has evolved to being made with LCD, LED as well as Plasma technologies. And the fun has just started. Even the latest avatar of LED TV’s get differentiated on the basis of being CCFL-type, full array or edge-lit. The next phase of the dilemma is whether to go for a basic TV or a TV packed with 3D and Smart features. Moreover when it comes to 3D functionality, you have the active vs. passive 3D debate in full swing. In short, the list of considerations keeps on increasing.

This is where internet can be your savior these days. Instead of running from shop to shop for doing physical surveys, you can simply register on a techie forum and clarify all the doubts you have regarding the different products you are looking at. And the good thing about forums is that you get multiple first hand and unbiased opinions; something you cannot expect from sales personnel.  Most of the times you don’t even need to ask the question (or in forum lingo, START A NEW THREAD) as it’s highly likely that you will find threads relevant in solving your queries. Plus, the constant exchange of information makes you well vested when it comes to know-how, basics and thumb rules of the technology you have an interest in.

I scour popular forums like ThinkDigit and HiFiVision and have gained a lot of information from these two. And more recently, I have been browsing through the LG WR Forum started by LG’s World Record Team. A whole host of topics related to their Cinema 3D range as well as other household appliances is available with the LG WR Men playing the part of the librarian. Not only are all these forums a very convenient way of knowing about technology but it works as a unified virtual connection that keeps you up to date with all there is to know about in the technology universe.

It was a routine Saturday evening when me with some of my colleagues were wandering inside Ambience Mall, Gurgaon. The creative media head of our team had the concern of upgrading his old and continuously wearing out handset with a top of the line Smartphone inside his head. So off we went scouring all the present showrooms for the latest expensive offering one can get his hands on.

A couple of hours later with no visible inroad I knew that the evening is bordering on being wasteful when suddenly some loud music echoed from the endmost part of the mall near the fountain area. A few minutes later we were all there and in front of our very own eyes a surprise unfolded. The empty space scouring with mall-goers made way for a few people who started dancing in the middle of the area. And very soon, more souls joined in and I came to realize it was another Flash Mob! But since most of the flash mobs in India these days are corporate affairs, it was a bit of surprise that there were no branding banners or displays around. As the performers grooved and thumped to the music in a coordinated display the crowd surrounded the mob with constant claps and whistles and a few of them even let themselves loose along with the group 😀

At first, it seemed like a routine flash mob which might end in a few minutes when other layer of the whole plot unfolded.. In came a chap to join the group and started dancing along. Moments later, his girlfriend was present in front of him to whom he proposed in a proper dramatic filmy style! The girl accepted and the revelry continued. It took some time but I eventually got my head around the fact that it was in fact the first Flash Mob Proposal ever to happen in India! It reminded me of the flash mob at Grand Central Station in “Friends with Benefits”, albeit a bit more Bollywood-ish..

But that was it and I never got to hear anything about it in papers or tabloids. It might be strange coming from a journalist who generally vies for stories like this, but I have never been the sensationalist kind and somehow I understood the low-key component of the whole act.  But that was until yesterday when I realized that it was a flash mob organized by LG. The making of the proposal video showed how a simple Facebook conversation and the LG WR Forum transformed into an event of such a magnitude. And the main schemer of this romantic gala was LG’s own WRMan Sherlock. I had seen those web cartoons at random once but this lovey-dovey idea on Sherlock’s part must have him floating in seventh heaven at this time!

And the actual flash mob was even better. The video length seems a bit short as compared to the live time duration but it is still immensely enjoyable to watch. As modern as we might have gotten with our progressive mindsets, it’s moments like this which would make any girl feel special. I am not ashamed to admit I would love such a stereotypically romantic proposal myself!

What’s even more heartening about the whole affair is that this LG World Record Team had the guts to think of such a unique and out of the box concept and have the brains and audacity to execute it in grand fashion. Yes it is a way of brand promotion and marketing but the main agenda was giving a loving couple the surprise of their life! Isn’t that what a flash mob is all about; bringing smile to people’s faces! 🙂

The year 2011 marked an important step in India’s recognition as an upcoming hub for major sports. We saw a new kind of euphoria descend on the Indian continent with the inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix event taking place in the lush greens of Greater Noida that is still fresh in our memories. The event was significant both from a historic as well as developmental aspect as it meant India as a nation is ready to organize top tier sporting events whilst leaving a positive impression on leading sport’s governing bodies.

It is not necessary to be a racing fan to enjoy the glorious duels that you encounter on a Formula 1 GP track whether it’s on a TV or in person. The humming of the F1 engines is capable of getting anyone’s pulse racing. Even as a common person, you gawk at the admirable technology which makes these cars a cloud apart. And a car’s construction fact-file is a fascinatingly bewildering aspect of the whole process. It might just seem a lot of fun to watch, but even something as adrenaline-filled as an F1 race is no less than a game of chess. And it’s not just about the driver, but also the likes of design and construction of the car, the speedy work of pit crews as well as the varying tactics employed during the course of the race. An F1 race is dependent on understanding the small margins teams operate under and favors the one who have the ability of split second adaptability. It’s just a moment of madness or genius which can decide a race.

The 2011 feature kicked off with much fanfare at the Buddh International Circuit on October 30th with drivers enthralling the audiences in the stand with a blistering showcase of speed, maneuverability and finesse. And since it was the first F1 race on this course, the preferential and favoring talk went out the window as no one could even remotely speculate what the outcome might be. And even though there wasn’t much of the little battles one might have expected, the inevitable conclusion didn’t disappoint one bit. Sebastian Vettel led the proceedings all afternoon and put on a driving master class to pip all the competition to the chequered flag. The German would have expected a bit of a tough run with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher in the fray, but it was Mclaren’s Jenson Button who came the closest finishing 8 seconds behind the Red Bull driver.

The 2012 event which kicks off tomorrow is expected to draw audiences on a much larger scale with the weather conditions looking much more favorable than last year. One more praiseworthy aspect of the race is the work behind the Buddh International Circuit which hasn’t gone unappraised. The circuit has been showered with many accolades of being the “Best Motorsport Facility of 2011” by various media outlets. I might be going a bit political here, but it was the much-publicized ill reign of Mayawati’s BSP government that oversaw the development of the Buddh International Circuit by the Jaypee Sports Group in Greater Noida and for that we should be thankful. Unfortunately for the new rule is finding it hard to live up to the achievements of their predecessor at the moment.

Another important benefactor of the F1 coverage is the HD TV broadcast it will receive. Audiences in UK might be in for a bigger treat if networks like BBC and ITV decide to showcase the event in 3D. I am still trying to procure an upper tier ticket in the Main Grand Stand but the cost is proving to be a thorn, hopefully it will work out in the coming day or two. If not, I always have the option of watching it on ESPN HD here and convert to see how F1 in 3D would look on my LM6700 Cinema 3D TV!

My first tryst with virtual Social Networking came in 2007 with Orkut where in you could interact with people you might not be in touch with; enjoy a few social games as well as share jokes and interesting facts within a group. But Social Networking has been redefined by Mark Zuckerberg’s “Facebook”. The social networking platform has grown rapidly in the past few years and become almost like a daily binge habit across the masses.

If I am being brutally honest, I am less concerned about checking my Outlook for mail in the morning and more eager about what’s new on my Facebook page’s News Feed! And I am pretty sure that there’s a mass majority who would have a similar routine ;p What’s even more interesting is the amount of apps (mostly time killing) that can keep us engaged as well as the user created pages which serve as a more than efficient source of information and updates about your topic of interest. This makes Facebook a lot more than a social networking tool. Add to that the seamless integration it has on various mobile OS’s which just increases its reach and popularity.

Now that’s one part of Facebook; the user concern part that is. The other one has a lot to do with online marketing and business promotions. Major brands have their paid ads hosted on public profile pages depending on user preferences while online commerce portals benefit a bucket load from this. Using Facebook as a medium, businesses are able to reach a more extensive audience base with minimum costs as well as attract a whole host of new ones with online contests and offers. And all this gets done at a fraction of the cost (close to nil in most cases) which makes Facebook a preferred option.

But even giants feel the pressure in this ultra-competitive business arena. After Facebook’s IPO failure, Facebook has launched a number of new paid features with Paid Post Promotion being the latest amongst them.  Now whenever you go do a status update or share a link you like, the posting options give you a “Promote” option to increase the visibility of your post amongst your friends. I am not sure about other countries, but the price prompt I have had whenever I tried the feature was $0.30 (or 16.00 INR). Reactions to this new add-on have been mixed to say the very least. Even I am a bit on the fence with this.

As far as I see it, the feature has two sides to it. From a personal user perspective, the vast majority will obviously not be in favor of the feature as one would conceive it ill to pay Facebook to promote their posts. The belief around the block is that we would be plunging in to newer depths of virtual obscurity if we have to pay for our friends to notice our posts. They can engage in a post if it’s interesting enough. Plus, there’s the risk of spamming on your friend’s walls which is most likely to be scrutinized even further. On the other hand, business promotions might be more viable due to the prospect of reaching more people and takes online promotion a notch up.

My personal take is that this feature will have a split opinion from a user and commercial scenario and only a clear tilt in favor of either of the two will determine the fate of Facebook’s latest initiative. My question to you: a good step by Facebook or a desperate act of monetization??

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