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Also in Slate, predict how much The Social Network will take at the box office.

Adam Goldberg.

In a parallel universe, there is a blockbuster movie coming out soon about a Web site that changed the world. It’s called The Social Network. It stars Jesse Eisenberg as the site’s wunderkind creator. It features wealth and drama and Ivy League shenanigans. But it’s not about Facebook. It’s about another site, Campus Network, and its founder, Adam Goldberg, a guy who came within arm’s reach of a multibillion-dollar idea that ultimately just slipped his grasp.

As The Social Network dramatizes, Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook after allegedly backing out of a commitment to work on another networking site, Harvard Connection. Lawsuits ensued, and Zuckerberg ended up shelling out tens of millions of dollars in a settlement with his one-time partners. What the film doesn’t mention are all the other college social networks that Facebook shoved aside as it expanded across the country. Of those sites, perhaps the greatest threat to Facebook’s dominance was Campus Network, then called CU Community after Columbia University, where it was founded.

“If you talk to Mark, he’ll be the first to tell you he thought CU Community was the biggest competition that Facebook ever had,” says Goldberg, now 26 years old and living in New York City. While I was unable to confirm that Zuckerberg agrees with this statement—the Facebook CEO and the company’s PR reps didn’t respond to my requests for an interview—it is true that Facebook and CU Community were running neck and neck for a brief moment in Internet history. Facebook had Harvard, CU Community had Columbia, and both were mulling plans for expansion. Only one site would survive. It wasn’t to be Adam Goldberg’s.

Goldberg got the idea for Campus Network in 2003, during his freshman year at Columbia’s school of engineering. As president of his class, he heard a lot of complaints about the university’s lack of community spirit. Over the summer, he wrote a simple script for a social network for engineering students. The site let users share personal information, post photos, write journal entries, and comment on one another’s posts. In just a few weeks, Goldberg says, most of the engineering students had profiles. Over winter break, he rebranded the site CU Community and opened the site to all undergraduates in January. Goldberg says that nearly all  Columbia students signed up in just over a month.

On Feb. 4, Facebook launched. “At first I was like, Oh my God, they copied my Web site,” says Goldberg. Unlike Zuckerberg’s Harvard Connection adversaries, however, the CU Community founder quickly changed his mind. “I saw it was totally different. It had an emphasis on directory functionality, less emphasis on sharing. I didn’t think there was that much competition.”

As of early 2004, Goldberg’s social network was a lot more advanced than Mark Zuckerberg’s. The first incarnation of Facebook—known as The Facebook back then—let users post a photo and basic biographical information. It let them “friend” and “poke” each other. But that was about it. Fancier tools like photo sharing and Groups and the Wall didn’t come till later. Meanwhile, CU Community already had blogging and cross-profile commenting. Facebook’s simplicity and the fact that it was available only to Harvard students made it easy for Goldberg to dismiss. “We were the Columbia community, they were Harvard,” he says.

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The illusion of safety crumbled a month later when Facebook opened its doors to students at Stanford, Yale, and Columbia. While Facebook grew exponentially at Harvard and Stanford, growth was slower at Columbia—in part, says Goldberg, because CU Community was already so entrenched. Some Columbia students launched a campaign to “Google bomb” Facebook by linking the search term “cucommunity ripoff” to TheFacebook.com and “worthless safety school” to Harvard.edu. The Columbia Spectator called the effort “marginally successful.” (I wrote for the Spectator at the time.) Despite this online agitprop, Facebook continued to grow. That summer, it overtook CU Community as the most popular social network on campus.

That spring, Goldberg started instant messaging with Mark Zuckerberg. In March, he met with Zuckerberg and Sean Parker, the Napster co-founder and early Facebook investor, at a Starbucks on 96th Street. According to Goldberg, Parker tried to persuade Zuckerberg to acquire CU Community. Zuckerberg didn’t tip his hand, but Goldberg says they kept in touch. In June, he says, Zuckerberg invited him to Palo Alto, Calif., where the Facebook crew had moved to work on the site. Goldberg flew out and stayed with Zuckerberg and pals for two weeks. “I think we went to one Stanford party,” he says. There was “no crazy partying or drinking,” Goldberg says, despite what The Social Network may suggest.

The invitation to come to Palo Alto was basically a job offer, says Goldberg. “They didn’t give me a clear salary and working terms. It was, Come out here and work with us.” He remembers that Zuckerberg even offered to pay for Goldberg’s flight.

Goldberg said no, thanks. “I really believed that Campus Network was a better product,” he says. He spent the summer of 2004 coding a new site, rebranded it Campus Network, and launched it at five other schools in September. But Facebook was expanding, too. “We made a strategic decision to go after Big 12 schools,” says Wayne Ting, who ran business and legal operations for Campus Network. “But when we went to the Big 12, Facebook immediately went to the Big 12, too. They were clearly monitoring our activity.”

Ting’s analysis squares with a description of Facebook’s “surround strategy,” as described in David Kirkpatrick’s book The Facebook Effect. “If another social network had begun to take root at a certain school,” Kirkpatrick writes, “Thefacebook would open not only there but at as many other campuses as possible in the immediate vicinity. The idea was that students at nearby schools would create a cross-network pressure, leading students at the original school to prefer Thefacebook.”

Beating Facebook would take all the time, energy, and cash that Goldberg had. He and Ting decided to take time off from school. They moved to Montreal, hired three employees, and set up shop in the offices of a programmer friend of Goldberg’s. They slept on the office floor. Every morning, they woke up early and put away the air mattresses before the employees arrived. “We didn’t want them to know we were homeless,” says Ting.

It quickly became clear that Facebook was winning. One factor was that Zuckerberg’s site had the financial means to expand. Goldberg says he turned down advertisers, including MTV, and didn’t seek out venture capital: “We would have if we thought the reason we couldn’t succeed was because of money.” By the time Facebook hit 1 million users, Campus Network had only 250,000. Goldberg knew there was no catching up. He returned to Columbia in the fall of 2005 and shut down Campus Network. Goldberg declined to put a figure on how much the whole effort cost him, but Ting estimated it was somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000.

In the meantime, Goldberg had launched a social network for high schools called Friendex. But he says he killed the project after a month at the request of Zuckerberg and the Facebook team. “They made me feel really bad for having launched it,” he says. “So I took it down.” Facebook soon expanded to high schools.

Why did Facebook succeed where Campus Network failed? The simplest explanation is, well, its simplicity. Yes, Campus Network had advanced features that Facebook was missing. But that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Goldberg’s site smothered the user with doodads. Its pages were fully customizable, with multiple designs and backgrounds, not unlike MySpace. To sign up for Facebook, on the other hand, users had to fill in three fields: name, email, and password. User profiles were uniform, their contents intuitive—favorite movies and relationship status and class schedule. While Campus Network blitzed first-time users right away, Facebook updated its features incrementally. Facebook respected the Web’s learning curve. Campus Network did too much too soon.

Other factors contributed to Campus Network’s downfall. User profiles were open to the public, scaring off some potential enrollees and allowing cyberstalkers to satisfy their curiosity without joining. Campus Network didn’t expand quickly enough, either, allowing Facebook to get a first foothold in potential markets. And its aesthetics didn’t help. “It looked like somebody who loves Dungeons & Dragons,” says Ting. “It had that look and feel.” And of course there’s the H-Factor. “I think the name had a lot to do with it,” says Ting. “When we go to a school and say this site is from Columbia, it doesn’t carry the same marketing punch as, This is from Harvard.”

Neither site, of course, can claim to be the first social network—Friendster and MySpace already had large followings in 2003. But both Facebook and Campus Network had the crucial insight that overlaying a virtual community on top of an existing community—a college campus—would cement users’ trust and loyalty. Campus Network figured it out first. Facebook just executed it better.

Does Goldberg regret not hopping onboard the Facebook express when he had the chance? To borrow a phrase, it’s complicated. “In some ways I do, some ways I don’t,” he says. “I wasn’t ready to drop out of school, to give up my own project. I thought the best way to do it was to do it myself.” Ting tries not to dwell on it. “There are still moments when you feel a deep sense of regret, especially when I read an article about this movie or Mark Zuckerberg or see him on the cover of Time, and you ask, Could this be me? Could we have succeeded? I think that’s a really painful question. … There are fleeting moments like that. But I’m much prouder that we took a risk and we learned from it.”

Goldberg took two years off after graduation to study language in Argentina and France. He started writing a food blog. Now he’s getting ready to launch a new site, Topic.org, a Wikipedia-style forum where users lay out arguments on issues like the BP oil spill and the death penalty. He maintains a Facebook profile, but it’s hard to find unless you’re already his friend. On his Facebook page, Goldberg has this as his favorite quote: “One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”

Sourced from slate & published by Henry Sapiecha

?SCHOOLS SPY ON STUDENTS USING SOCIAL INTERNET SITES

SCHOOLS are using internet monitoring companies to read what students are saying on social networking sites.

The typical service used by schools such as Ascham looks at any publicly available material posted on sites such as Facebook, Formspring and Tumblr to monitor the sometimes ferocious use of the media by young people.

”We go where the conversations are, where young people or communities of interest are coalescing online,” says James Griffin, a partner in SR7. The company’s service does not intercept private messages, although some technology using keyword searches is able to do this.

Mr Griffin said Formspring allowed anonymous postings on the wall of identified hosts, which could then be seen by their friends, making it a standout tool for cyber-bullying.

Ascham is one of several private schools monitoring what their students do online at home or, with smartphones, literally anywhere. Ascham girls are not allowed to use social networking sites at school.

The director of students for years 11 and 12, Frances Booth, said: ”We know it’s become pretty much the essential way of communicating for thie current generation of students and we understand it’s a huge part of their lives. But we’re also aware of the dangers that can come from unrestrained use.

”They’re aware we keep an eye on what they’re up to. All we want is for them to be safe.”

Other schools rely on students or parents to monitor postings. Stephen Harris, the principal of Northern Beaches Christian School, is ready to phone parents late at night if their children have posted something inappropriate, to make them take it down immediately. ”Our school policy now extends the concept

of the school playground to any environment in the social media platform where a student of the school or a teacher is identified by either name, image or inference,” he said.

Public schools are also stepping into what had previously been held to be either private or the domain of parents.

While social networking sites are not accessible from school computers, Lila Mularczyk, the deputy president of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, recently argued that cyber-bullying connected with school was treated in the same way, no matter when it occurred.

”If the out-of-hours harassment is an extension of school relationships or a school event, that is [considered] part of the school day,” she said.

Mrs Booth said: ”We monitor the girls’ usage of the internet both internally and externally, not because we want to stop them but because we want them to use it in a safe manner.

”We don’t want them putting things out there that might put them in danger.”

But Cameron Murphy, the president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, said that the monitoring was an ”outrageous invasion” of students’ privacy.

”Just because students may discuss things about school over the phone at night, it wouldn’t be appropriate or lawful for a school to tap someone’s phone and make decisions about them on that basis. Just because it happens to be a social networking site, it shouldn’t be any different,” he said.

But Mr Griffin, of SR7, said schools must act out of a duty of care to their students.

”Social media and cyber-bullying is simply an issue of the modern day that schools have to acknowledge and understand they can do something about,” he said.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

WHAT ARE THE MAIN THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN GOOGLE PLUS +?

Adopting a new social network like Google+ is taxing enough–re-adding friends, creating “Circles”, adjusting privacy settings, etc.–so learning to navigate can be a bit overwhelming.

Luckily, we did the heavy lifting for you. Here are seven Google+ basics you should learn:

1. Bold, italics, and strikethough. Do you miss the funky fonts and formatting you had in MySpace? Neither do we. Google+, however, gifts you with three simple formatting tricks: *bold*, _italics_, and -strikethough-.

2. Tag friends in posts. Get a friend’s attention in a post by tagging them. Type “+” or “@” followed by their name. You’ll see an autocomplete drop-down menu show up as you type their name, which presumably includes people in your circles and extended circles.

Your friend will be notified they’ve been tagged in a post, and post visibility will automatically be set to just that person. Don’t forget to add more circles and friends (if you want to) before sharing.

3. Use permalinks. Permalinks come in handy for sharing and cleaner viewing of single posts. Just click the timestamp of any post and you’ll be taken to a new page displaying just that post.

4. Quickly share post on Twitter and Facebook. Oh, the irony. To share a post with your Twitter or Facebook network, use the Extended Share for Google Plus Chrome extension. Upon installation, you’ll see a new option (“Send to…”) below each post in your stream.

5. Edit photos. Here’s a nice feature for any on-the-fly photo editing. Go to your photos (accessible via your profile), select a photo. Click “Actions” > Edit photo, and you’ll be presented with several photo filters. Scroll through other photos in the album for consecutive editing.

6. Send a “direct message”. To send a message to just one friend, tag them in the beginning of a post and let them know it’s a private message. Then, comment on the post to establish your own, private thread.

7. Let friends e-mail you from your profile. With this setting, you can let people e-mail you directly from your profile. Head to your profile, then select “Edit profile”.

Below your profile photo, you’ll see a grayed out “Send an email”. Click it, and check “Allow people to email me from a link on my profile”. Then adjust the privacy settings below.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

Duncan Bannatyne,

star of British television show Dragons’ Den, has caused a Twitter storm after offering £50,000 ($75,000) to anyone who would break both arms of a tweeter who threatened his daughter.

The 62-year-old Scot offered a £25,000 reward to anyone who could identify the tweeter calling himself @YuriVasilyev, to be doubled “if his arms were broken”.

The self-made millionaire quickly removed the post from his Twitter page, replacing it with another softer message promising “£30,000 reward for info leading to his arrest”.

Duncan Bannatyne offered a reward to anyone who would break the arms of a tweeter who threatened her daughter.Duncan Bannatyne offered a reward to anyone who would break the arms of a tweeter who threatened his daughter. 

Bannatyne received a message three days ago, saying: “I’m looking for a £35,000 investment to stop us hurting your Hollie Bannatyne. We will bring hurt and pain into your life. We are watching her. She is very attractive. Want photos?”

Another message said: “Duncan Bannatyne – Hollie is going to get hurt. We will bring pain and fear. You should have expected us. We are the men of Belarus.

“We do not give up. We will stand tall. You should have paid. £35,000 to stop it. Contact us to pay. We are watching. Expect us. We are the men of Belarus.”

Despite the messages, Bannatyne later said he suspected the sinister tweeter was based in Moscow.

“My family is well protected but I take any threat to them very seriously and will do all I can to ensure the person or people involved are caught,” Bannatyne said in a statement.

Dragons’ Den airs on Foxtel in Australia.

AFP

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

GOOGLE PLUS IS A SOCIAL GIANT MAKING LEAPS & BOUNDS

Google is a latecomer to social networking but its new site, Google+, is growing much more rapidly than Facebook, MySpace and Twitter did in their early days, technology experts said.

While Google+ may be the fastest-growing social network ever, it remains to be seen whether it can pose a serious threat to the social networking giant Facebook, which has more than 750 million members.

Andrew Lipsman, vice-president for industry analysis at tracking firm comScore, said Google+, which was launched by the internet search and advertising titan on June 28, had 25 million unique visitors as of July 24.

During a panel discussion on Google+ hosted by Wedbush Securities yesterday, Mr Lipsman said it took other social networks much longer to reach 25 million users: 22 months for MySpace, 33 months for Twitter and 37 months for Facebook.

“Obviously, this is a very strong growth trajectory,” Mr Lipsman said. He cautioned, however, that Google ”has a really large user base it can build off” with its 1 billion users worldwide.

And it still has a “really long way to go to be competitive with Facebook”, he said.

“Google+ is the fastest by a long shot but it’s important to realise that fastest may not always be best,” he said.

“Sometimes, that slow build can lead to a strong network effect that pays long-term dividends.”

Most Google+ users – 6.4 million – are in the USA, followed by 3.6 million in India, 1.1 million in Canada, 1.1 million in Britain and more than 920,000 in Germany, according to comScore.

Mr Lipsman said many Google+ users appear also to be users of Google’s email program Gmail and display a “very strong early adopter profile”.

He said the ratio of men to women was about two to one and that 60 per cent of Google+ users were between the ages of 18 and 34.

In the US, the highest numbers of Google+ users are in the tech-savvy cities of San Francisco and Austin, Texas, he said.

Steve Rubel, executive vice-president for global strategy and insights at public relations firm Edelman, said Facebook was not “vulnerable immediately” to Google.

“I don’t see [Google+] taking significant share from Facebook in the next 18 months,” Mr Rubel said.

At the same time, “what we have seen is that over the years there’s never been a social network or community that has had significant staying power”, he said.

“There’s always a shuffling every two or three years, a changing of the guard.

“We saw it with MySpace,” he said of the one-time social networking leader that has been eclipsed by Facebook and has been haemorrhaging users ever since.

Mr Rubel said Google was compelled to try its hand at social networking because Facebook was restricting the access of its search engine to Facebook content.

“What’s happening is more content is being created behind Facebook’s walls than ever before and a lot of that content is invisible to Google,” he said.

“Conceptually, at least, they’re building kind of an alternate web … There’s also an entire web that is app-based on mobile phones. That is also invisible to them.”

Mr Rubel said it was conceivable that more content would be invisible to them in five or 10 years than what the search engine can see today when created on Facebook or inside apps.

“So they had to make a play to get more people to create content on their site,” he continued. “It’s to get more people to spend time on Google.”

In unveiling Google+, Google stressed the ability it gives users to separate online friends and family into different “circles”, or networks, and to share information only with members of a particular circle.

One of the criticisms of Facebook is that updates are shared with all of one’s friends unless a user has gone through a relatively complicated process to create separate Facebook groups.

AFP

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha