Monthly Archives: June 2011

The End of Myspace

In an age where social media have become nearly ubiquitous, one would find it difficult to imagine a once prominent social media site going under completely. With sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others experiencing a meteoric rise to fame (with Facebook even getting an entire film dedicated to its unique story and that of its creator, Mark Zuckerberg), how could Myspace have possibly failed? What was wrong with it? Facebook, perhaps the most popular social media site of all, has not completely cornered the market. That is, other sites are in fact being used and used often. Twitter, for example, has become extremely popular among celebrities and other prominent figures in a way that Facebook has not. Thus, it is possible to succeed in the social media game despite the existence of mighty Facebook. So, what happened to Myspace?

According to a story in Bloomberg BusinessWeek describing the rise and fall of the once popular site, Myspace’s gradual decline in popularity and strength as a brand was the result of “mismanagement, a flawed merger, and countless strategic blunders.” However, some argue that Myspace’s failure was inevitable, and that its initial design concepts vis-a-vis Facebook’s pushed people away. As someone who briefly (and I mean briefly) used Myspace, it was clear that it wasn’t built for the long haul. In fact, I can’t name a single friend who still uses Myspace. Apparently, Myspace was once considered “cool,” though, back in 2003 when it first got its start:

It’s difficult to remember now, but MySpace was once considered cool. When it started in 2003, it was largely devoted to indie music, with bands joining to create profiles for themselves and circulate their music.

Unfortunately, this niche was never focused on or capitalized upon in any significant manner, and Myspace slowly ceded ownership of the social media market to Facebook, which began its rise to fame a couple of years after Myspace’s inception. Myspace’s commitment to clutter (as opposed to the “vanilla” approach that has helped to make Facebook successful) in the form of HTML graphics and unsolicited music blasting upon clicking through to a new page has turned off a number of demographics, and as traffic and popularity has declined, the hammer of economics has fallen upon hundreds of jobs with Myspace. News Corp, the owners of Myspace, is apparently trying to sell the company for a minuscule $20 million, making it worth a startling 3,500 times less than Facebook (worth approximately $70 billion).

The story of Myspace is perhaps one for all businesses to look to regarding what not to do. Myspace focused on its quarterly bottom line, Facebook had an eye for simplicity mixed with careful innovation, not to mention a powerful marketing campaign that has made it difficult to go anywhere on the Internet without seeing the opportunity to connect via Facebook (e.g., the article linked above gives readers the option to log into Facebook in order to comment). It’s all about knowing your audience and supporting your brand with widespread marketing and calculated innovation that actually improves your brand. Unfortunately for Myspace, its leaders did not possess a strong grasp of these principles, and Myspace will soon go the way of the dinosaur.

Contains information from CNNMoney.

Riots in Athens Over Austerity Measures

Violent protests of Greece’s austerity measures have redoubled, as the Greek people have continued to express their dissatisfaction with their government’s fiscal irresponsibility and their accompanying duplicity regarding the actual severity of the situation. The economic situation provides only grim prospects for the nation, as the measures, while necessary in order to hack away at a deficit accrued over many years of rampant spending, will decrease the overall standard of living significantly. As a result, the Greek people have vented their frustrations in the streets, but it is but a flailing, helpless protest they are waging. Mark Blyth, a professor of international political economics at Brown University, put it in graphic but apropos terms:

“In Greece, they’re basically hacking themselves to pieces.”

Dark words for a dark time, and although they are not words anybody in Greece or any other participant in the global economy wants to hear, they are what they need to hear. People expect the world to progress exponentially, never dipping back down and never relinquishing a standard of living that has come to be expected. Countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and yes, even the United States, may be in for a reality check in the next couple of decades as they try to pay back bailout funding to resuscitate failing economies saddled with deficits representing a significant percentage of annual GDPs (and often exceeding them). The decisions will not make any of Greece’s political leaders popular by any means, especially PM George Papendreau (who recently received a vote of confidence by such a small margin that one can hardly consider it a representation of confidence). But, the question that nobody wants to answer is: what are the alternatives? For Greece, who has received bailout funding from the IMF and private investors (e.g. European banks), there don’t seem to be any. However, that won’t stop its people from being unhappy with what has transpired, and who can rightfully blame them? Irresponsible spending done by those in power was naturally beyond their control, and the current response in the streets is but a manifestation of that anger.

TOMS Debuts Summer “One for One” Eyewear Line

Popular consumer-savvy brand TOMS has launched its newest “One for One” merchandise venture in the form of stylish eyewear for men and women.

TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie recently added eyewear to the array of "One for One" products available through TOMS.com and select retailers.

TOMS was founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie after a trip to Argentina, where Mycoskie realized that many children did not own a single pair of shoes.  Wanting to make a change, he started up TOMS, — a company devoted to donating a pair of practical, canvas shoes to a child in need for every pair sold.

In little to no time, Mycoskie’s “One for One” mission was making a viable change in the lives of children in foreign countries.

Wanting to expand the beneficial impact of TOMS, Mycoskie has launched the eyewear line in hopes of providing the gift of better sight to those in need with each pair of glasses sold.

The TOMS eyewear collection features men and women’s sunglasses ranging from $135-$145. 

For more information on Mycoskie’s mission, other TOMS products, and how to become involved with the company’s cause, visit TOMS.com.

Javier Colon Crowned Winner of NBC’s The Voice

NBC’s The Voice rounded out its first season by naming songwriter Javier Colon the winner of the summer talent search.

Javier Colon wins The Voice with a 2% vote margin between runner-up Dia Frampton.

Performing against three other competitors in the June 28 season finale show, Colon was in close competition with fellow contestant and crowd favorite Dia Frampton.

According to Colon, he was shocked to learn that he, indeed, won The Voice.

“I wasn’t expecting to win, honestly,” Colon said.  “I thought [host Carson Daly] was going to say Dia Frampton, and she is most deserving of it.”

Colon and Frampton were constant crowd favorites throughout this season of The Voice, with both recordings of their live performances quickly garnering first and second place positions in iTunes’ top ten downloads of the week.

Coach and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine continues to praise the vocal abilities for his Voice mentor and season winner.

“Javier’s voice is so powerful and special,” Levine said.  “I just like the fact that the winner really reflects what the show is all about.”

So, what is in store next for Colon?

The singer has earned himself a recording contract with Universal Republic, a generous cash prize, and a guaranteed spot performing on The Voice’s nationwide summer tour which starts July 27.

For Javier Colon, the outlook is unspeakably bright.  Although shocked by his sudden fame, the singer will not be abandoning his musical roots while in the studio.

“I feel that some of the best songs are songs that tell stories,” Colon said.  “I think my album is going to have a lot of those elements.”

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Supreme Court Shoots Down Violent Video Game Ban

On Monday, seven out of nine Supreme Court justices agreed that California’s ban on the sale of violent video games to minors unconstitutional. This officially sets a precedent that, like books and movies, video games fall under the protection of the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court grants First Amendment protection to your right to pretend to bludgeon someone to death.

The court declared that video games’ use storytelling devices to tell a narrative put them on the same level as books, plays and movies. And because the United States has no history of regulating depictions of violence, the California law’s attempt to do so was “unprecedented and mistaken.” As for whether violent games pose a greater risk to society because of their interactive nature, the justices were unconvinced by existing research, none of which has found that games cause violent behavior.

The ruling doesn’t guarantee an end to regulation, though. Justice Samuel Alito, in his concurring judgment, felt that California’s law was too broad in its description of violence (“killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being”). For better or worse, Alito said, society regards violence as a suitable feature of entertainment, so any future law would have to be much narrower than what California proposed.

California is the seventh state to attempt to regulate the sale of video games. Politicians pushing for stricter regulation of video games have been criticized for pandering to misinformed “family values” voters because the video game industry already has its own rating system. Undercover shopper surveys have given video game retailers higher rating than any other entertainment retailer. Not to mention the fact that current-generation consoles have parental control options that block games with certain ratings.

States concerned about violent video games could spend their resources much more responsibly than in court battles or enforcing censorship laws. Simply reaching out to educate uninformed parents about video games would be more effective than trying to find First Amendment loopholes. But common-sense measures don’t always win elections.

Contains information from PCWorld.

Teacher Evaluations in the Classroom

It is now not only the students worrying about passing for the school year, but also the teacher’s status of their job. The teacher evaluation system know as Impact, evaluates a teacher’s performance in the classroom. Impact is a program that was implemented in the Washington D.C. public school system several years ago. Master teachers come into the classrooms and evaluate teachers on their performance, lesson plans, classroom management, and other criteria.

This program is disliked by many unionized teachers because it jeopardizes their jobs and nullifies the tenure system. Some believe that this evaluation helps to weed out the teachers who take advantage of the three year tenure system who decide to stop teaching after they gain tenure.

Even though this evaluation system leans heavily on test scores, it could be a good way to get teachers to use more effective teaching methods in the classroom. After all, students in China and India have easily surpassed American students in test scores. Something has to be done to improve the American education system. Hopefully, the Impact evaluation will give educators an idea of where to go for improvement.

 

Contains information from: The New York Times

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