The short answer, from a fresh look at some of the evidence, is yes – but probably not as much as some of the Web boosters have been claiming.
A study of this year’s US primary campaign by the Fox School of Business at Temple University concludes that the internet has opened the political field to new entrants who would not have got a look in otherwise (the invaluable TechPresident points to this research today, and also supplies a password to access the research – “templeowls”.) The study also claims to find a correlation between ideas being promoted in the blogosphere and the results of opinion surveys, suggesting that bloggers help to shape broader public opinion.
A battle of the boxes began today between Blockbuster and Netflix, the principal online DVD rental services in the US.
Blockbuster announced its MediaPoint digital media player to serve movies to TVs over the internet. Its response to Netflix’s Roku box, launched six months ago, differs in some important respects.
How much does spam cost? It’s hard to quantify in terms of bandwidth, time and effort blocking it, and general nuisance. But here’s a figure to mull over: $873m.
That’s how much Facebook has been awarded in damages against a spammer in a US court for sending unsolicited messages on the Facebook network. And if it sounds trivial in this era of multi-billion dollar bailouts, it’s a lot more than Facebook’s expected revenues for 2008 – more than double, in fact.
Twitter’s $500m takeover talks with Facebook may baffle its non-users. While Twitter has a devoted community of millions, sceptics have dismissed its 140-character “micro-blog” posts as nothing more than Facebook’s existing status update feature. Both allow people to answer Twitter’s central question: What are you doing?
For Twitter’s co-founder, Biz Stone, the answer seems to be “quite a lot” towards making a greater distinction between a feature and a business.
Google has made two very interesting moves this week. The first was to close Lively, the company’s version of Second Life. The second was to launch SearchWiki, or personalised search results.
On the surface, these don’t look related. Closing the virtual world Lively might look like a simple investment call, but Google hardly has to worry about cashflow. The company has many projects that on the surface don’t make a great deal of money.
Nokia, the world’s leading mobile handset maker, has been giving some mixed signals about its research direction of late, an area where it spent more than $8bn in 2007.
Bob Iannucci, its first non-Finn chief technology officer, stepped down at the end of September after only nine months in the job. He had been based in Palo Alto and was head of the Nokia Research Center there, from when it first opened two years ago.
Depending how you define them, Finland’s Nokia is by far the largest supplier of smartphones.
But Nokia position in the business smartphone market has been constrained in the past because, unlike BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion, it lacked the tools to enable companies to directly connect their corporate email systems to Nokia devices.
Xbox users may be taking on a different personality with the launch of a new interface for the Microsoft game console.
Xbox Live’s 14m members are being urged to download the New Xbox Experience or NXE from Wednesday, which offers a 3-D interface and the chance to create your own avatar.
It looks like the message finally got through.
Steve Ballmer has already said it more than once. For good measure, he said it again today in front of Microsoft’s own shareholders: “We are done with all acquisition discussions with Yahoo.”
As consumers watch what they spend more closely in these credit-squeezed times, services such as Mint.com’s personal finance site could come into their own.
As a Mint user, I can see bar graphs of my monthly spending in particular categories. I can also compare my spending to that of other users in San Francisco, in California or the US as a whole.