Tuesday, January 31, 2012

National Geographic Photo of the Day: Best of 2011 + Online Presence

National Geographic is well known for their AMAZING PHOTOGRAPHY... take a look!

Photo: Camel thorn trees silhouetted against sand dunes

Camel Thorn Trees, Namibia

Photograph by Frans Lanting, National Geographic

Tinted orange by the morning sun, a soaring dune is the backdrop for the hulks of camel thorn trees in Namib-Naukluft Park.

See more pictures from the June 2011 feature story "Africa's Super Park."

Photo: Whitetip shark and diver

Oceanic Whitetip Shark, Bahamas

Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

Oceanic whitetip shark and diver in the Bahamas

(From the National Geographic book Ocean Soul by Brian Skerry)

Photo: Roots of a birch tree wrap around a glacial boulder

Yellow Birch, Adirondacks

Photograph by Michael Melford, National Geographic

On the trail to Goodnow Mountain, a yellow birch appears to be ingesting a boulder left behind by a glacier. With its tenacious trees and rebounding wildlife,Adirondack Park is a miracle of regeneration. Committed advocates and legal protections written into New York’s state constitution offer hope that it will remain forever wild.

See more pictures from the September 2011 feature story "Forever Wild."

Photo: Tops of skyscrapers emerge from fog

Skyscrapers, Dubai

Photograph by Catalin Marin, Your Shot

Every year around the month of October, Dubai experiences heavy fog due to the still-high humidity and the falling temperatures. With all the new high-rise buildings (including the tallest in the world, Burj Khalifa) this provides a great photographic opportunity.

Photo: A cottonmouth snake showing its fangs

Cottonmouth, North Carolina

Photograph by Jared Skye, My Shot

While working as a field researcher for a biodiversity study on pine plantations in North Carolina, I found this Agkistrodon piscivorus in a drainage ditch. It's seen here displaying the classic defensive posture that gives it the common name "cottonmouth."

Photo: People jumping from a platform into Lake Superior

Swimmers, Lake Superior, Minnesota

Photograph by Nick Otto, My Shot

I love all the empty space around the swimming platform. It shows how the lake is both huge and peaceful. The figures of the people become very small, and what makes the shot is the person jumping from the platform and appearing especially tiny surrounded by all that water.—Catherine Karnow

Photo Tip: Don’t be afraid to have a lot of open space in your photos. Wide open space is as much an element as the objects and subjects in your photos.

Photo: A blacktip reef shark swimming among fish

Blacktip Reef Shark, Maldives

Photograph by Paul Wilkinson, Your Shot

Smaller fish keep their distance when a blacktip reef shark swims amongst them in shallow water in the Maldives.

Photo: Kung fu master standing near mountain retreat

Kung Fu Master, China

Photograph by Fritz Hoffmann, National Geographic

Buddhist monk and kung fu master Shi Dejian (above) and his disciples hauled bags of cement and roof tiles up steep mountain paths to build an isolated retreat (in background) away from the tourist crowds at the Shaolin Temple.

See more photographs from the March 2011 feature story "Battle for the Soul of Kung Fu."

Photo: A pathway covered in red autumn leaves in a German forest

Autumn Woods, Germany

Photograph by Jonathan Manshack

This photo was taken during autumn in Hameln, Germany, which is the birthplace of the infamous Rattenfänger—or Pied Piper as we Americans know it. This shot is actually on top of the last few hills that soon sink into the state of Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). This area is essentially lowland plains—hence the name Lower Saxony!

(This photo and caption were submitted to the 2011 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.)

Photo: Decorated elephant

Elephant Festival, India

Photograph by Marjorie Lang, My Shot

The Elephant Festival is one of the most popular festivals in Jaipur and takes place at the famous Chaugan Stadium in March. It begins with a beautiful procession of bedecked elephants, camels, horses, and folk dancers. The mahouts proudly embellish their elephants with vibrant colors, jhools (saddle cloth), and heavy jewelry.

Photo: Snow-covered trees in a field

Alberta, Canada

Photograph by Dwayne Holmwood, My Shot

Beautiful frost at sunset in Alberta


source: National Geographic



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Monday, January 23, 2012

Online Presence & Visibility....Defined!


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Google Online Search Domination / Visibility Expert Santa Monica Los Angeles
310 251 9728


 Expert: Advertising + Business Process Improvement + Design + Direct Mail + Marketing + Printing + Google Search Domination + SEO/Link-Building + Social Media
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rethinking Information Diversity in Networks + Google Search Visibility Expertise

"Making the WORLD More Open & Connected." ~Mark Zuckerberg

How do your friends shape the information you see and read online? Social networking technologies like
Facebook let us connect to hundreds, even thousands of people -- and have fundamentally changed how people get their information.


While much of our time is spent communicating with close friends about events in our personal lives [1], we also use online networks to share breaking news, discuss political issues and learn about new trends.  In 2010, my colleagues Itamar Rosenn, Cameron Marlow, Lada Adamic and I conducted a study on Facebook to understand the nature of information spread in social networks.


Some claim that social networks act like echo chambers in which people only consume and share information from likeminded close friends, stifling the spread of diverse information. Our study paints a different picture of the world.


Instead, we found that even though people are more likely to consume and share information that comes from close contacts that they interact with frequently (like discussing a photo from last night’s party), the vast majority of information comes from contacts that they interact with infrequently.  These distant contacts are also more likely to share novel information, demonstrating that social networks can act as a powerful medium for sharing new ideas, highlighting new products and discussing current events.


The research suggests that Facebook isn’t the echo chamber that some might expect – online social networks actually increase the spread of novel information and diverse viewpoints.



Social Networks as Information Pathways

 Economic sociologist Mark Granovetter was one of the first to popularize the use of social networks in understanding the spread of information.  In his seminal 1973 paper, The Strength of Weak Ties [2], Granovetter found that surprisingly, people are more likely to acquire jobs that they learned about through individuals they interact with infrequently rather than their close personal contacts. 


To explain this phenomenon Granovetter used social graphs to illustrate how networks relate to information access (Figure 1). When a person interacts with two individuals frequently, those individuals are also likely to interact with one another.  It follows that people tend to form dense clusters of strong ties who are all connected.


Figure 1: We are connected to core groups of strong ties that we interact with frequently and weak ties that we interact with infrequently. Granovetter's hypothesis about the "strength of weak ties" states that weak ties facilitate information flow from disparate clusters of people.



What do these structures have to do with information access? Since people in these clusters all know each other, any information that is available to one individual spreads quickly to others within the cluster. These tight-knit social circles tend to be small relative to people's entire social network, and when it comes to information about future job opportunities, it can be hard to find new leads.


Granovetter used the relationship between interaction frequency and social structure to explain why information about jobs is instead found through weak ties that we interact with infrequently.  Weak ties help spread novel information by bridging the gap between clusters of strong tie contacts.  The strength of weak ties informs much of the popular understanding of information spread in social networks.



Birds of a Feather Surf Together

 But what about information that is more widely available, like news on the Internet? To understand the flow of more general types of information in society, it’s important not only to take into account how people are connected, but also the commonalities that promote the spread of information.  One of the most robust findings in social networks is that of homophily [3], the tendency of individuals with similar characteristics to associate with one another.  Individuals are connected to each other through workplaces, professions, schools, clubs, hobbies, political beliefs and other affiliations.  The homophily principle holds true for any kind of social network you can think of: close friends, professional contacts, classmates and even the people you ride the bus with. 


Today, these commonalities not only shape how often people interact and what they talk about, but also what kinds of information they as individuals seek on the Web.  Homophily suggests that people who interact frequently are similar and may consume more of the same information.  Individuals that interact less often tend to be dissimilar and may consume more diverse information.  This view of the world is illustrated in Figure 2 below.


Figure 2: Information spread in online social networks. Our study suggests that strong ties are similar and more likely to be tuned into the same web sites. Weak ties, being more dissimilar, tend to visit different websites.



Interest & Novelty

 To understand how online social networks affect the spread of information, we used random variation in the News Feed to determine how likely a person is to share Web content if she did or did not see the content shared by her friends.  We found that people are more likely to share the information they were exposed to by their strong ties than by their weak ties on Facebook (Figure 3).   


Figure 3:
People are more likely to share information (links to Web pages) that they were exposed to by strong ties in their News Feed [4]. Tie strength between two individuals is measured by the number of comments a person received from their friend on Facebook. Other measurements of tie strength, like the number of messages, co-appearances in photos, and discussion on posts are discussed in our paper [5].


There are many possible explanations for the increased flow of information across strong ties. One reason is that close contacts are more likely to be similar to one another, and therefore find content shared by their close friends more interesting.  An alternative explanation is that strong ties are more "influential", so that people are more likely to be persuaded to share information from their close contacts. 


We also investigate how Facebook amplifies information distribution. That is, if a friend shares something on Facebook, how many times more likely are you to share that information as a result of seeing it in the News Feed? The figure below shows how this multiplicative effect depends on the strength of your tie with that friend.


Figure 4:
Weak ties spread novel information that people are unlikely to otherwise see. The figure above shows how many times more likely people are to share a page because of exposure via the News Feed from strong and weak ties.


We found that information shared by a person's weak ties is unlikely to be shared at a later point in time independently of those friends. Therefore, seeing content from a weak tie leads to a nearly tenfold increase in the likelihood that a person will share a link. In contrast, seeing information shared by a strong tie in News Feed makes people just six times as likely to share. In short, weak ties have the greatest potential to expose their friends to information that they would not have otherwise discovered.



The Collective Influence of Weak Ties

 Ultimately, we are interested in how these network effects shape information spread as a whole.  Even though a person is more likely to share a single piece of information from one of their close contacts, it turns out that weak ties are collectively responsible for the majority of information spread. 


Let's consider a hypothetical example (illustrated in Figure 5). Let's say a person has 100 contacts that are weak tie friends, and 10 that are strong tie friends.  Suppose the chance that you'll share something is very high for strong tie friends, say 50%, but the weak tie friends tend to share less interesting stuff, so the likelihood of sharing is only 15%. Therefore the amount of information spread due to weak and strong ties would be 100*0.15 = 15, and 10*0.50 = 5 respectively, so in total, people would end up sharing more from their weak tie friends.


Figure 5: People are more likely to share information from their strong ties, but because of their abundance, weak ties are primarily responsible for the majority of information spread on Facebook. The figure above illustrates how a majority of influence (orange) can be generated by weak ties, even if strong ties are individually more influential.


It turns out that the mathematics of information spread on Facebook is quite similar to our hypothetical example: the majority of people’s contacts are weak tie friends, and if we carry out this same computation using the empirical distribution of tie strengths and their corresponding probabilities, we find that weak ties generate the majority of information spread.




 The information we consume and share on Facebook is actually much more diverse in nature than conventional wisdom might suggest.  We are exposed to and spread more information from our distant contacts than our close friends.  Since these distant contacts tend to be different from us, the bulk of information we consume and share comes from people with different perspectives. This may provide some comfort to those who worry that social networks are simply an echo chamber where people are only exposed to those who share the same opinions.  Our work is among the first to rigorously quantify influence at a mass scale, and shows that online social networks can serve as an important medium for sharing new perspectives, products and world events. 




 [1] Common experience would suggest that we spend most of our time communicating with only a few individuals on Facebook.  To a large extent, this is true, and documented in Backstrom, et al. Center of Attention: How Facebook Users allocate Attention. ICWSM, 2011.

[2] M. Granovetter. The Strength of Weak Ties. American Journal of Sociology, 1973.

[3] An extensive and accessible introduction to homophily can be found in McPherson et al.  Birds of a Feather Flock Together. Annual Review of Sociology, 2001.

[4] It is important to note that very often, information does not "cascade" very far along the network.  This phenomenon has been observed in earlier research on Twitter in Everyone's an Influencer: Quantifying Influence on Twitter by Bakshy et al. and has been studied across other networks more extensively in upcoming work by Sharad Goel and Duncan Watts at Yahoo! Research, NY.

[5] The Role of Social Networks in Information Diffusion. Bakshy et al. 2012



source: Eytan Bakshy via Mark Zuckerberg





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This leading to undisputed DOMINANT VISIBILITY RESULTS.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Google's Success May Mark The End Of Everything Else | Google Online Search Domination / Visibility Expert

To use a phrase from Highlander, "There can be only one."

That is the direction that Google is heading, intentionally or not. As the dominate player in search, adding social media through Google+ and local business controls through a revamped Google Places, we're heading down a road where nobody else will be able to compete.

Google Earth

Over the past decade, Google's success has hinged around one major product--search. They have had some success with other products such as Gmail and many of their acquisitions, such as YouTube, have flourished. For every success, there are several other failures both in products they have designed and in acquisitions.

When you're on pace for $30 billion in revenue from one product (Adwords), you have room to make mistakes. Now, it seems, Google's 3 latest major endeavors--Google+, Google Places, and Android--are well on their way to being shining examples of further success. The difference this time is that the combination of the three mixed with the unfathomable amount of data they have collected on the Internet over the years could mean "game over" for most others trying to make moves in search, social, mobile, and local verticals.

Unless Google slips up somewhere, the races will eventually be for second place. First place will be locked down by the big G.

Social Media

Google Plus

Many would argue that Facebook has too big of a lead and to embedded of a userbase to fear annihilation. Sure, Google+ is a major competitor, but MySpace was a major competitor and they couldn't stay together. Twitter has been a pseudo-competitor for years but are still no threat to Facebook's existence.

Is Google+ simply something that Facebook will have to compete against or is there a real possibility that they could be dumped as quickly as MySpace got dumped once Facebook grew to a tipping point?

Looking at the interfaces, the platforms upon which both are built, and the general mobility of each company, it's possible that Facebook could be caught in a MySpace-esque failure within 18 months.

With Facebook trapped in MySQL, they face scalability issues that make many database experts wonder how they've made it this far. There are too many conversations going on at any given moment for the platform to remain stable indefinitely. It's not a matter of if Facebook will crash. Like "the big one" that will eventually hit Southern California, it's only a question of when Facebook will crash unless they are able to make major changes before it happens.

A month ago, the risk of a Facebook crash was not a huge concern. Facebook is approaching 800 million users and there were no viable alternatives. People would suffer through the crash and come back when it was over because it was the only place that had all of their friends, family, images, and videos stored in one location.

Google+ changes things. Now, there is a force that offers most of what Facebook has and several things that it doesn't have. It's a name that is recognized by everyone and trusted by many. A crash of the system in whole or in part could spook people enough to have them leaving in droves.

Even if the technology issues can be secured, Google has another major advantage. Android devices are being activated at the astounding rate of 550,000 per day. Each activation requires a Google account. When Google+ goes public (as soon as next week) each of these accounts will be encouraged to join. Google+ apps will eventually be pre-loaded into Android devices. Forced adoption does not mean that people will use it, but many will. If Google plays its cards right, they will adopt it and they will love it.

Android isn't just about social. The domination continues with mobile...


Google Mobile

It goes beyond the amazing activation numbers as we discuss Google mobile progress. The mobile war is much more than just about device sales and operating system preferences. Mobile as an industry is becoming the central point for everything else. Social, search, and local are all falling into orbit around mobile devices and our addiction to them.

In this market, the race will be for #3. Android and iOS will own mobile for the foreseeable future. Debates can rage over which is better and who will eventually win, but the Blackberry days are fading and the Windows Phone 7 days never really got started.

Android will continue to chug along tossing out more phones while the iPhone will continue to set records for individual handhelds. iPad is showing signs of weakness, but not nearly enough to scare Apple. In the end, Android will win in bulk and iOS will win in profits. Everyone else will lose.

How does all of this equate to Google domination? If Apple is in the picture, there can't truly be an "end to everything else," right? Actually, it can, and it does.

Apple's place in the mobile market will always be as a provider. Despite attention towards a relationship with Twitter and having ties with Microsoft, Apple will not fight Google in an open war the way they have fought individual phone providers and software companies such as Adobe. Like it or not, Apple will have to be in a constant state of truce with Google as a company because people like the services. If Apple were to completely remove Google apps from the iPhone, it would hurt them more than it would hurt Google.

They are the only "Google-proof" company. They can co-exist with Google and feed off of their developments. It wouldn't make sense to go head to head just as it never made sense for the USSR and the USA to fight a war back in the high-tension Reagan years. If Apple and Google truly fought openly, everyone would lose.

Google needs Apple nearly as much. While Google may play a little in the hardware realm, Apple owns it. Google products must be present on Apple devices for the success of both companies. In mobile, there can be 2 winners.

In local, however, there truly can be only one...


Google Place Sushi

Everyone should have seen it coming. When Google launched Places last year, it started showing reviews from 3rd party sites. It would pull from Yelp and TripAdvisor (which neither appreciated) and other sites to entice people to check out the reviews and learn about the places they were considering. Once they added an option to add reviews directly through Google, the end was officially announced.

Those who wanted to stop having their reviews published in Google Places go their wish. Others, such as DealerRater, were crushed by the change last week when Google pulled 3rd party reviews.

It had become part of the business model for many. Being listed as an influencer over Google Places reviews and star rankings was big. Now, it's all gone. The reasons are many, including quality and consistency, but it really boils down to Google needing content to make the Places pages useful until they had enough of their own content to use their own instead.

Most Places pages have links to other review sites, but it's often low on the page and it doesn't affect star-ratings anymore. As Google Places picks up steam over the next couple of years, smaller companies will fall off. The bigger ones like Yelp will still have a niche to fill, but they will be fighting for second place.

Check-in services are also at risk. Foursquare should consider falling into the Google empire, while Facebook places needs to get stronger adoption from businesses to keep the check-ins coming in consistently. Without check-ins, the service becomes useless.

The Data


This is where it all comes together. Google search domination is increasing and while it's highly unlikely that Microsoft will ever put Bing on the chopping block, it's still barely a competitor simply because it's a distant #2.

The data that Google has about the Internet is unmatched. The information that they have scraped and indexed about the companies, governments, places, and people on the Internet is exponentially greater than anyone else. The knowledge they can produce as a result of all of this information is mind-blowing.

With successful domination in social, mobile, and local, the combined integration will make all other entities and companies vying for our attention online unnecessary. In essence, Google will have a presence in everything.

We will do business through research or recommendation on Google.

We will communicate with friends, family, and the rest of the world through products powered-by or integrated with Google.

We will make decisions based upon what a Google-powered device tells us.

This is where people will say, "No, it will never get like that. The government will stop it. The people will stop it. Someone will compete. Someone will challenge them."

No. No they won't. Unless Google truly messes up in the next two years, they will become an unstoppable force. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Actually, the more I think about it, it truly is a bad thing. It's only a matter of time, now.

source: FC Expert Blogger JD Rucker

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Google Online Search Domination / Visibility Expert Santa Monica Los Angeles
310 251 9728

Expert: Advertising + Business Process Improvement + Design + Direct Mail + Marketing + Printing + Google Search Domination + SEO/Link-Building + Social Media
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