Will ‘Mad Men’ Be the New Steampunk?

Punch cards

For more than a few years, Steampunk has been a geek æsthetic that’s gained greater currency recently. Will it have to move over with the appearance of “Mad Men“?

Google Search is a thoroughly modern tool, having launched in 1997, but a new website is taking Internet users back in time for a vintage twist on the search engine.

Called “Google60,” the site enables visitors to search “Mad Men-style.” It features a 1960s aesthetic, complete with old-school punch cards.

via MashableGoogle Search ‘Mad Men’-Style Using Punch Cards.

I remember punch cards. We used them when I was an undergraduate. By the time I got to grad school there was one novelty machine behind the Help Desk. But more importantly, the terminal–based computing we did in SPSS resembling Fortran still behaved like punch cards. It was line-based programming and very intolerant of syntax errors. Jobs were submitted to queue and their results were received back.

By contrast, Steampunk offers creativity, whimsy, and even a little romance, just like today’s software environment. It’s hard to see “Mad Men” gaining currency except in contrast to the current era. What do you think?

Environmental Racism On Display In Google Earth Images

Environmental racism as seen from space, via Google Earth.

In an article by Mashable writer Matt Petronzio points to a report by journalist and ecologist Tim DeChant that uses Google Earth to determine the correlation between the wealth of a neighborhood and the number of trees that neighborhood has.

via Environmental Racism On Display In Google Earth Images. via Rhonda Ragsdale


What are the liberating possibilities of technology, and what is the impact of the digital divide on the ability of communities to organize for equality. Also, does inequality raise our carbon footprint? What implications might this have globally?

Positive Yelp Ratings Can Boost a Restaurant’s Nightly Reservations by 19%

Parody “hipster” checkins all you want, but they can actually help boost small businesses. This is not only augmented reality, but hyperlocal, too.

Customer reviews travel far in the age of tweets and mobile check-ins. As more foodies come to rely on word-of-mouth reviews, Yelp’s system of ratings can make or break a restaurant.


Economists at the University of California, Berkeley published the results of a study, examining the effects of Yelp’s online ratings in this month’s Economic Journal. The study shows a slight half-star improvement in ratings can increase a restaurant’s business during peak dining hours by 19%.


Berkeley professors Michael Anderson and Jeremy Magruder found that “Yelp ratings affect both customer flows and the probability of booking a reservation.” The researchers compared the digital word-of-mouth reviews on Yelp of 328 San Francisco eateries with the frequency of nightly reservations at each establishment.


via Positive Yelp Ratings Can Boost a Restaurant’s Nightly Reservations by 19%.

Twitter co-founders seek to shake up Web publishing with Medium | Macworld


I’ve checked it out and I don’t get it, and I am a quick study. See if your mileage may vary.

Twitter co-founders and former Blogger leaders Evan Williams and Biz Stone have unveiled a preview of Medium, which they describe as a new Web publishing platform.


With Medium, they aim to inject a dose of collaboration into Web publishing and distance it from print publishing practices. They also want to raise the quality of content.

“When you consider we’ve been publishing on paper for over 500 years and on the Internet for only a couple decades, it’s no surprise we haven’t figured it all out. It’s still early days,” Williams wrote in a blog post.


Medium, developed at Obvious, the pair’s newest company, is an attempt to re-imagine and rethink Web publishing from scratch with the knowledge and experience they have accumulated since Blogger’s launch in 1999.


via Twitter co-founders seek to shake up Web publishing with Medium | Macworld.

LinkedIn Rolls Out Polling for Groups

I moderate a group on LinkedIn.com for the New England Sociological Association. While I don’t have an immediate use for the feature, I’m sure that it will come in handy, or that some member will find a use for it.

Aiming to spur more conversation among its one million Groups, LinkedIn on Wednesday announced Polls, a new feature that’s designed to get a quick read on an issue.

Ian McCarthy, principal product manager at LinkedIn, wrote via the LinkedIn Blog that the feature came about after Group Moderators shared that they were looking for “easy, time-sensitive ways to generate conversations within the group.” Apparently, such conversations weren’t happening quickly enough after Moderators posted articles or blogged their thoughts. Polls was devised to get more conversation flowing.

Although McCarthy addresses Group Moderators in his post, anyone in a Group can create a poll. However, Moderators can restrict the creation of new polls from their Group Settings.

via LinkedIn Rolls Out Polling for Groups.

What the Facebook FTC Settlement Means for Social Media

As usual, Mashable has the scoop. But read on, because they do really seem to minimize the news, even as the first paragraph is meant to capture your attention.

On Tuesday the Federal Trade Commission officially rapped Facebook’s knuckles in a broad-reaching settlement on privacy, alleging the social network misled its users on what they were sharing and with whom. The settlement, which lays out a number of specific rules the service must now abide by, requires Facebook to be much more transparent about its privacy practices going forward.

via What the Facebook FTC Settlement Means for Social Media.

Disney Parks Get Augmented in Times Square

New York City is a spectacle this time of year, and it just got augmented.

Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse! Walt Disney’s beloved icon turns 83 today and Disney Parks is celebrating at the Disney Store in Times Square with an innovative augmented reality installation.Running through Saturday at the Disney Store on Broadway and 45th Street, the Disney Parks team has implemented a 60-foot digital billboard AR experience.Visitors step on an orb and interact with characters projected on the big screen. Disney tells us that unlike other AR events, many of the character interactions are done live. That means that the characters can respond directly to how guests are moving and reactions from the crowds.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

62 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Mashable is a great resource on social media. I try to read it weekly if not daily. You might find this article useful.

Here at Mashable, we’re always looking out for you (in a non-Big Brother way) so if your iOS 5 upgrade left you with a dead battery, you may have missed a feature or two. Never fear though, because we’ve gathered the weekly features right here for you.

Google+ had a hot week with the launch of its new brand pages. Although it’s too early to tell what’s to come of it, we did learn what users felt was missing from the social network. The newest tablet to enter the competition was released by Nook, and it might give the others a run for their money.

Looking for even more social media resources? We have everything you’re looking for below.

via 62 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed.

President Obama Threatens to Veto Law to Repeal Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is one of the issues we will consider this semester. Here’s some background on current developments.

The White House has threatened to veto Republican-sponsored legislation that would overturn the net neutrality rules the FCC passed last December.

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on S.J. Resolution 6 [PDF], “Disapproval of Federal Communications Commission Rule Regulating the Internet and Broadband Industry Practices”, sometime on Thursday. The resolution, if it were to pass both houses, would begin a process that could overturn the decision of the FCC. The U.S. House of Representatives rejected the FCC’s net neutrality rules back in April.

“Disapproval of the rule would threaten those values and cast uncertainty over those innovative new businesses that are a critical part of the Nation’s economic recovery,” the White House said in its veto threat. “It would be ill-advised to threaten the very foundations of innovation in the Internet economy and the democratic spirit that has made the Internet a force for social progress around the world.”

The FCC rules prevent broadband providers from blocking access to specific websites and applications. However, the rules are less clear when it comes to wireless providers. Supporters, such as Obama and the White House, believe that some regulations are necessary to stop ISPs such as Comcast from throttling or blocking content. Opponents, such as Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), one of the sponsors of the bill, argue that the net neutrality regulations would over-regulate the Internet, stifle the economy and set a bad precedent.

via President Obama Threatens to Veto Law to Repeal Net Neutrality.

What’s your view?

Starbucks Augmented Reality App Animates Holiday Cups

Here is the latest example of augmented reality, reported on Mashable.com. We considered examples of augmented reality, like the talking newspaper, earlier in the semester.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Starbucks is launching its first major augmented reality app this holiday season that will let customers animate their coffee cups with their smartphones.

Starbucks Cup Magic launches for iPhone and Android devices in the U.S. next Tuesday. (In Canada, just the iPhone version will launch.) As demonstrated in the video above, the app works by pointing your phone’s camera at the company’s red holiday season coffee cups and 47 additional objects, such as bags of coffee, on display at Starbucks retail locations.

Doing so will produce animations involving five characters — an ice skater, a squirrel, a boy and a dog sledding and a fox — on your screen. You can also interact with the characters. For instance, if you tap the boy on the sled he does a somersault. Those who activate all five characters can qualify to win an as-yet-unnamed prize.

The app also includes traditional and social sharing capabilities. You can the send ecards as well as holiday offers from Starbucks, among other things.

The object, says Alexandra Wheeler, vp-global digital marketing for Starbucks, is to “surprise and delight” customers during the holiday season.

Although Starbucks experimented with an AR app years ago in an ad, Wheeler says this is the first major AR push by the company. The effort follows some other recent AR programs from marketers including an app from Nivea featuring Rihanna and an Amazon app that lets you point your phone at objects and then buy them.

Cup Magic, created by Blast Radius, caps off a year of successful mobile implementations by Starbucks. The brand launched a mobile payment app in January that has been used in more than 20 million transactions and a QR code program designed, like Starbucks Cup Magic, to enhance the in-store brand experience.

Starbucks Augmented Reality App Animates Holida…, posted with vodpod

How do we “surprise and delight” customers without smartphones? Is this an example of a growing “digital divide”?