Lessons Worth Sharing: TED Launches New Video Series for High School Students and Teachers


TED, the organization behind the popular conference series with the same name, just launched a new initiative that aims to bring TED-like video content to high school students. The idea here is to repackage existing TED talks as well as videotaped lessons from teachers around the world with additional graphics and effects to make them more palatable to a younger audience. As TED’s curator Chris Anderson notes, the organization doesn’t claim that TED-Ed, as this new program is called, will “transform education.” Instead, he says, the organization wants to help teachers by making these videos available, but also by providing a platform for the best teachers to showcase their skills.

TED has also hired a team of animators to help teachers turn their best lessons into “memorable videos.” The organization plans to release about 300 videos within the next year. Anybody can suggest teachers or already existing video lessons that should be included in this program.

Not Trying to Reproduce the Khan Academy

Anderson specifically points out that his mission is not to “recreate what Salman Khan of the Khan Academy and many others are doing so brilliantly, namely to meticulously build up entire curricula on video.” Instead, he wants these short videos to “spark curiosity” and allow teachers to build on top of this.

Here is an example of one of the new TED-ed lessons:

8:24 am

YouTube in 2011: Over 1,000,000,000,000 Playbacks, 140 Views for Every Person on Earth


We'll leave it up to the cultural anthropologists of the future to unravel the significance of the fact that Rebecca Black's "Friday" was the most watched video on YouTube in 2011. Just a brief look at the basic statistics of YouTube's viewership this year, however, clearly shows how much of a force Google's video sharing site has become. According to YouTube's own data, the site saw more than one trillion (1,000,000,000,000) playbacks this year. That's an astonishing 140 views for every person on earth, or, as Google puts it, "more than twice as many stars as in the Milky Way."

Last year, the "Bed Intruder Song" took the top billing in YouTube's annual top 10 list. This year, it was Rebecca Black's "Friday." While there wasn't a single cat video in last year's top 10, this year saw two of them make the list ("Nyan Cat" and "cat mom hugs baby kitten"). Sadly, my favorite cat video of the year didn't make the list, though.

Here is the complete top 10:


2:04 pm

Facebook: A Billion Page Views Isn’t Cool. You Know What’s Cool? A Trillion Page Views


Google’s Doubleclick advertising unit  just updated its list of most-visited websites in the world. According to Google’s data, Facebook’s website reaches 46.9% of all Internet users and can now boast a total of 1 trillion page views from 870 million unique visitors. This easily makes the social network the single most visited site on the web, far ahead of any other online service. Indeed, even YouTube’s 100 billion page views seem paltry in comparison, though it’s worth noting that it almost rivals Facebook with regards to its unique visitors (790 million).

Clearly, though, Facebook is a far stickier site and users come back more often and reload the page more frequently. YouTube’s visitors, on the other hand, don’t quite return as often and probably only watch one or two videos per session. In this context, though, it is also worth noting that Facebook is also becoming a major video destination these days. According to the latest data from comScore, the social network is now the #3 video site in the U.S. (after YouTube and Vevo).

Here is the complete top 10:


[via: labnol]

4:42 pm

The Daily Dot Wants to be the Internet’s Paper of Record


When it comes to tech blogs, the majority of sites today focus on products, business news and rumors. What’s missing in this mix, however, is a site that solely covers the world of online communities. The Daily Dot, which launches today, wants to change this and calls itself the “hometown newspaper of the World Wide Web.” The team behind the site, including CEO Nick White (who has an extensive background in the legacy newspaper world), founding editor Owen Thomas (best known for his work at VentureBeat and Valleywag) and twelve staff writers, aims to write about online communities like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit. The site was co-founded by White, tech entrepreneur and EarthWeb co-founder Nova Spivack and Josh Jones-Dilworth, the founder and CEO of the Austin-based PR and marketing firm that bears his name.

A Hometown Paper for the Web – Including the Funnies

As White told me during an interview last week, the team aims to be part of the communities it covers (think: Reddit-embedded reporters). In his view, news sites “haven’t gotten better in the last ten years.” The Daily Dot, of course, wants to change this, though the site it is launching with today does still look and feel like a standard Internet news site. White and Thomas told me that the team plans to add extensive personalization features to the site over time.

The site aims to bring the sensibilities of local news reporting to the web. The team currently focuses on covering some of the largest online communities (Twitter, Reddit, Youtube, Facebook etc.). White rightly notes that some of these represent user groups that are larger than most countries.

One feature that exemplifies this “hometown newspaper” sensibility the best is the Comics section. A paper without a comics section, after all, can’t really call itself a paper. The idea here, surely is to drive traffic by these easily consumed and shared comics, but it’s also nice to see that the Daily Dot isn’t just aggregating these comics from other sites but actually pays artists to draw these for them.

No WordPress to be Found Here

From a technical perspective, it is worth noting that the Daily Dot decided to bypass the regular suspects in its choice of content management systems and now uses the Armstrong CMS. Armstrong is a new publishing platform that was developed by The Bay Citizen and The Texas Tribune and financed by a grant from the prestigious Knight Foundation. The Daily Dot is the first major new publication to use this new CMS, which is written in Python and based on the Django Framework.

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4:01 am

Anonymous’ Next Target: Facebook


Anonymous, the loose-knit organization of hackers and activists that grew out of the 4chan messageboard, has claimed responsibility for a number of high-profile hacks, defacements and denial of service attacks in the past. Among the groups’ targets were sites from major organizations like New Corp., Iranian government websites and the sites of the IMF. Now, according to a so-called “press release” by Anonymous, the organization’s next target is Facebook. On November 5, 2011 (Guy Fawkes Day), Facebook will become the target of the organization’s wrath and will, if everything goes according to plan, be unavailable for most users.

Why is Anonymous so Upset? Facebook is Selling Data to Governments

The statement itself, which was published about 3 weeks ago but mostly remained unnoticed until today, has a very paranoid feel to it. The author (or authors), for example, argue that Facebook is selling personal data to “government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world. Some of these so-called whitehat infosec firms are working for authoritarian governments, such as those of Egypt and Syria.

Is Anonymous Able to Bring Facebook Down?

The problem with this “press release,” which as is so often the case with Anonymous, comes in the form of a YouTube video, is that it is obviously unclear who is behind this attempt. It could just be the work of a single person with no institutional support behind it. It’s not clear then, if Anonymous will really launch this attack – or if this is just an elaborate hoax.

Then, of course, there is also the simple question whether an organization like Anonymous could actually bring Facebook to its knees. After all, it’s not like Facebook doesn’t know how to handle a lot of traffic. A simple denial of service attack then, isn’t likely to be very effective.

You can read the full text of the release below:

[toggle state=”closed” title=”Click Here to Read Anonymous’ Full Press Release”]

Operation Facebook

DATE: November 5, 2011.
Twitter :
Irc.Anonops.Li #OpFaceBook

Attention citizens of the world,

We wish to get your attention, hoping you heed the warnings as follows:
Your medium of communication you all so dearly adore will be destroyed. If you are a willing hacktivist or a guy who just wants to protect the freedom of information then join the cause and kill facebook for the sake of your own privacy.

Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world. Some of these so-called whitehat infosec firms are working for authoritarian governments, such as those of Egypt and Syria.

Everything you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your “privacy” settings, and deleting your account is impossible, even if you “delete” your account, all your personal info stays on Facebook and can be recovered at any time. Changing the privacy settings to make your Facebook account more “private” is also a delusion. Facebook knows more about you than your family.….

You cannot hide from the reality in which you, the people of the internet, live in. Facebook is the opposite of the Antisec cause. You are not safe from them nor from any government. One day you will look back on this and realise what we have done here is right, you will thank the rulers of the internet, we are not harming you but saving you.

The riots are underway. It is not a battle over the future of privacy and publicity. It is a battle for choice and informed consent. It’s unfolding because people are being raped, tickled, molested, and confused into doing things where they don’t understand the consequences. Facebook keeps saying that it gives users choices, but that is completely false. It gives users the illusion of and hides the details away from them “for their own good” while they then make millions off of you. When a service is “free,” it really means they’re making money off of you and your information.

Think for a while and prepare for a day that will go down in history. November 5 2011, #opfacebook . Engaged.

This is our world now. We exist without nationality, without religious bias. We have the right to not be surveilled, not be stalked, and not be used for profit. We have the right to not live as slaves.

We are anonymous
We are legion
We do not forgive
We do not forget
Expect us


12:20 am

Cosmic Panda: YouTube Gets an Experimental New Look


YouTube, the world’s most popular video streaming site, just launched a new experimental design that brings a fresh look to virtually every part of the YouTube experience, including videos, playlists and channels. The new look, called Cosmic Panda, introduces a darker look, with an emphasis on black backgrounds that make the videos stand out more than the white backdrop YouTube has been using since its earliest days.

previews_youtube_pandaBesides the darker background, Google has also changed the way it displays video thumbnails by making them larger. This means you will see fewer suggested videos per page, but the images will likely make to click on more of them in the long run. The new design also sports a few new interface elements, including buttons that allow you to change the size of the video player without changing the video resolution.

To join the Cosmic Panda experiment, just head over here and opt in (to opt out again, just go back to the sign-up page). Google is also actively soliciting feedback with the help of a prominent button on the left side of the screen.

Google, of course, has been on a redesign spree lately, including major changes to the look and feel of some of its most well-known products like Gmail, Google Calendar and even its search engine.


4:25 pm

The Copa America Comes to YouTube


When it comes to major soccer tournaments, the Copa America ranks among the most exciting and thanks to South America’s love for soccer, it is surely responsible for a massive loss of productivity in the participating countries every four years. Youtube, which has been dabbling with live streaming for a while now, just announced that it will offer live video streams of all the games – including the championship game – of this year’s Copa America in Argentina next month.

This is the first time YouTube will stream such a major sports event. There have been persistent rumors that YouTube has been negotiating with both the NBA and NHL in the U.S. to stream some of their games live. Until now, the biggest live streaming sports events on Google’s YouTube have been cricket games, however.

copa america on youtube

4:57 pm

Google Launches Better YouTube Embeds: HD Previews and a Logoless Player


YouTube just announced two interesting new features for those of us who regularly embed YouTube videos. Starting today, the preview images that you see before a video starts will be displayed in a higher resolution that makes them look less grainy than the current embeds. In addition, Google is also launching the option to strip most of YouTube’s own branding from embeds. (more…)

8:51 pm

In a World of Share-It-and-Forget-It Sharing, Is There Still a Place for Delicious?


The more I think about the Delicious acquisition by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, the less sense it makes to me. Delicious was one of the staples of the Web 2.0 movement – a time where everybody was talking about sharing and tagging. In reality, however, Delicious didn’t just linger in Yahoo’s care without many updates because Yahoo didn’t care, Delicious’ concept of bookmark sharing simply wasn’t an idea that seemed very appealing to Yahoo’s mainstream audience and hence probably didn’t justify the expense of developing new features.

For most users, bookmarks live in the browser and thanks to built-in or third-party sync, the only problem Delicious solved for these users (having a central repository of your bookmarks) hasn’t been an issue for years now. If anything, apps like Instapaper, as Gigaom’s Mathew Ingram also notes, have jumped into this niche with features that actually solve a problem for their users.

Update: While I wrote this, Delicious’ own founder Joshua Schachter told CNN that he himself also thinks that the service’s time has passed.

Share More – Bookmark Less

It’s a strange phenomenon, though: On the one hand, we probably share more today than we ever did thanks to services like Twitter and Facebook. The thing there, though, is that these are share-it-and-forget-it services. We send a link to Twitter and Facebook – maybe have a short discussion about them with our friends – and move on. Need to find something again? Just Google it.

There still seem to be some niche users for Delicious (sharing links with students, colleagues etc.), but for the most part, there are plenty of other solutions for this now as well, especially when you want to curate content and not just share some bookmarks.

My personal feeling then, is that there really isn’t much use of services like Delicious on the Internet today – mainstream users never cared in the first place and advanced users have moved on to other, better tools. That, of course, doesn’t mean that Delicious’ new owners couldn’t turn the service around by making it useful once again. Pure bookmarking services, however, have outlived their usefulness.

1:37 pm

Delicious Finds a New Home at AVOS, YouTube Founders’ New Company


Yahoo today announced that it has sold the bookmarking service Delicious to YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steven Chen. According to Yahoo, the plan is to continue the service and “make the site even easier and more fun to save, share and discover the web’s “tastiest” content. Yahoo will continue to manage the service for the next few months until the transition to Hurley’s and Chen’s newly launched AVOS company is complete. Delicious expect the transition period to last until July 2011. Financial details about the transition were not released.

According to an FAQ posted on AVOS’ site, the first priority for the new owners is to launch a Firefox 4 extension (AVOS’s website is currently down, likely due to the high interest in this story).

Yahoo acquired Delicious in 2005 and the service has lingered in limbo ever since. While Yahoo kept the lights at Delicious on, it did not do much to introduce new features to it over the years. According to an internal memo that was leaked to the press in December 2010, Yahoo planned to “sunset” Delicious if it didn’t find a buyer for it soon.

Here is the full text of AVOS’ press release:


Promise Users the Same Great Service And Even Easier & More Fun Ways To Save, Share, and Discover the Web’s “Tastiest” Content.

San Francisco, CA., – April 26, 2011 –, the leading social bookmarking service, has been acquired by the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. As creators of the largest online video platform, they have firsthand experience enabling millions of users to share their experiences with the world. Their vision for Delicious is to continue to provide the same great service users love and to make the site even easier and more fun to save, share, and discover the web’s “tastiest” content. Delicious will become part of AVOS, a new Internet company.

“We’re excited to work with this fantastic community and take Delicious to the next level,” said Chad Hurley, CEO of AVOS. “We see a tremendous opportunity to simplify the way users save and share content they discover anywhere on the web.”

“We spoke with numerous parties interested in acquiring the site, and chose Chad and Steve based on their passion and unique vision for Delicious,” said John Matheny, SVP of Communications and Communities at Yahoo!

The YouTube founders plan to work closely with the community over the next few months to develop innovative features to help solve the problem of information overload. “We see this problem not just in the world of video, but also cutting across every information-intensive media type,” said Chen.

Going back to their roots, Hurley and Chen located Delicious in downtown San Mateo, California, blocks away from where they started YouTube. They’re aggressively hiring to build a world-class team to take on the challenge of building the best information discovery service on the web.

10:26 am

Despite Potential Legal Threats, YouTube Goes 'All In' With WebM


Google will now encode all new YouTube videos in the WebM format, but will still support H.264, too.

Google today announced that it will begin to transcode all new videos into the WebM format. According to the company, those videos that make up 99% of views on YouTube (or about 30% of all the videos on the site) have already been encoded in WebM. Google will continue to support H.264 for the foreseeable future.

Google introduced WebM in 2010 and has been improving it ever since. Today, a number of major browser vendors offer support for WebM out of the box, including Google’s own Chrome, Opera and Mozilla’s Firefox, while others, like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer support it through plugins. WebM is essentially Google’s answer to H.264 – a codec that is managed by the MPEG LA consortium and is neither free of patents nor cost.

To play WebM videos in your browser, join YouTube’s HTML5 Video Player beta here.

Legal Threats

WebM, however, is also not without problems and it’s interesting to see that Google has decided to go ahead with encoding all videos in this format now. MPEG LA, the licensing entity behind the H.264, doesn’t quite buy Google’s arguments that WebM and the VP8 video codec that is part of it is completely free of patent encumbrances.

In February, MPEG LA asked all of those who suspected that WebM/VP8 was infringing on their patents to submit information until March 18th. It’s likely not a coincidence that Google made this announcement exactly one month after the end of this deadline. Chances are, that Google now feels secure enough in its assertion that no other party can claim that it infringes on its patents. It’s worth pointing out, though, that the potential patent holders were under no obligation to send their information to MPEG LA and can always sue Google later.

For more details about the legal issues potentially surrounding WebM, have a look at this excellent post by Florian Mueller on the FOSS Patents blog.

11:09 am

YouTube Gets a Copyright School for Frequent Offenders


and it’s a joke…

Given how easy YouTube makes it to share videos, it doesn’t come as a surprise that this ease of use also means many of its users run afoul with copyright law. Until today, the site had a very simple three-strikes rule: after three uncontested copyright notifications, a user was banned from the service. Now, however, YouTube is getting something that’s more akin to the mandatory classes DUI offenders often have to take before they can get their driving licenses back. Users with a “solid demonstrated record of good behavior over time” can get their copyright strikes removed if they complete the YouTube Copyright School.

It’s worth noting that not everybody will get a chance to just take the quiz and get a copyright strike removed from their YouTube record. According to YouTube, this will only happen “in certain limited circumstances” – though it’s not clear how exactly YouTube defines this.

So how hard is it to graduate from Copyright School? You have to watch a 5 minutes long Happy Tree Friends video and then correctly answer three out of four questions about copyright law. That’s it.

The video is actually pretty informative (assuming you have never heard anything about basic copyright law before) but getting three out of the four questions at the end right isn’t exactly rocket science, so I can’t help but wonder why YouTube is making it so easy for repeat offenders to pass this test.

9:29 am

YouTube Goes Live – But Only For Select Partners


Google just announced the launch of its live video streaming platform for YouTube. Until now, live events on YouTube were generally one-offs and focused on concerts, major sporting events and special interviews. Now, however, YouTube will allow a select group of its partners to stream their content live. Currently playing live shows will be highlighted on a special page.

This is clearly meant to be a perk for YouTube’s partners, which include both professional and amateur content providers. Until now, these partners had to rely on platforms like or Ustream to stream their live content.

YouTube  Live

It is important to note that this new platform is not meant to allow all of YouTube’s users to stream their videos live. Indeed, even most of YouTube’s partners won’t have access to the platform yet. According to Google, only “certain YouTube partners with accounts in good standing” will get access to the platform now. The goal, though, is to provide “thousands of partners with the capability to live stream from their channels in the months ahead.”

As for the streams themselves, the experience so far is a bit underwhelming. The current crop of live streams seems to be capped at 360p (which looks anything but great) and the videos often stall and buffer. When Google first did a trial run of this platform with a very small group of partners a few months back, problems like this forced the company to postpone its plans for a wider release. It’s hard to say though if today’s problems are due to its partners not being fully up to speed in using the platform or if they are due to issues on Google’s side.

9:12 am

Search Gets Personal


Starting today, Google will integrate Social Search deeper into its main search results and will highlight whenever your friends shared this link on Twitter or Buzz. Even more importantly, Google will use these signals from your friends to personalize your search results if appropriate. If your friend shared a story about Google’s new Social Search feature on Google Reader, for example, this link will climb up in Google’s search results.

Until now, Social Search was relegated to the bottom of the search results page and only showed items that your friends actually created. Now that it also takes links your friends shared on Twitter and Google Buzz – but not Facebook – into account, it has become exponentially more useful. My old colleague Mike Melanson describes how this feature works in more detail on ReadWriteWeb. Google plans to roll this feature out over the next few days.

Cutts kilimanjaro

Across the Web, Search Gets Personal

The big trend here goes beyond the integration of social signals into search results, however. Today’s update to how Google displays its search results is part of a wider trend towards the personalization of search results. Here are a few examples: Just a few days ago, Bing announced that it will personalize results based on location (something Google has been doing for a while) and the links you have clicked on before. Earlier this week, Google announced a Chrome extensions that allows you to selectively block sites you don’t want to see in your ten blue links. With its slashtags, upstart search engine Blekko is making custom search engines the backbone of its service. Bing highlights likes from your Facebook friends when a relevant link appears in the results. All of the search engines now take your location into account when deciding which links to present to you.

For better or worse, companies like Google continue to learn more and more about our personal habits and those of our friends. It makes sense then, that this knowledge will sooner or later lead to completely personalized search results that aren’t based so much on the collective wisdom of the Internet (Pagerank), but on a sophisticated understanding of which links will likely be most interesting to the individual user.

1:06 pm