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Social media and Web 2.0 (a term that, incidentally, we don't hear much of anymore) were supposed to make the internet a more democratic place. On today's internet, just about everybody has a printing press, and the little guy has equal opportunity to distribute a message. The best, we're often told, will rise to the top.
Of course, anyone who is involved with user-generated content and the popular web services through which user-generated content is shared and promoted, eventually learns that the internet isn't as democratic as it's supposed to be.
Looking to watch the latest episode of your favorite TV show? Apple wants to rent it to you. Yesterday, the Mountain View-based company unveiled the latest incarnation of Apple TV. And like most of Apple's newest consumer electronics devices, behind the hardware is a business model to move content.
In addition to $4.99 high-definition movie rentals, Apple TV offers up 99 cent rentals of popular television shows from Fox and ABC. But will Apple TV do for television shows what the iPod and iTunes did for music? That may depend on how Apple deals with the competition. If the counter attack Amazon has already launched is any indication, the competition may be pretty fierce.
Tumblr, which has been described as a publishing tool that's somewhere between Twitter/Facebook and a full-fledged blog, is a fast-rising star in the crowded world of social media. It recently passed the one billion post mark, and it counts some pretty prominent publishers, including The Economist and Newsweek, as users.
The latest recognizable name in publishing to jump on the Tumblr bandwagon is The Atlantic. It doesn't know what to expect from its Tumblr experiment, but it's getting involved with Tumblr nonetheless.
If you list some of the most popular and important companies on the internet today, you'll notice that most have one thing in common: they offer an API. And, in most cases, for good reason. APIs can be a valuable asset for an internet business.
But is an API a business development asset, and over time, should it cannibalize business development?
According to BBC Director-General Mark Thompson, "British ideas are no longer strangers in LA and the world’s other media capitals." But those outside of the UK -- including British citizens -- can't officially get their fix of British content through the BBC's iPlayer.
That's something Thompson hopes will be fixed, and fixed soon. In a speech at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, Thompson told attendees "Within a year we aim to launch an international commercial version of the iPlayer. Subject to Trust approval, we also want to find a way of letting UK licence payers and servicemen and servicewomen use a version of the UK BBC iPlayer wherever they are in the world."
Digg may have been a Web 2.0 pioneer, but out of all the mature startups loosely grouped into the 'social media' category, it's one of the companies some might argue is well past its prime. While other upstarts born around mid-decade, such as Facebook and Twitter, continue to rise, Digg seems to be treading water.
That, of course, is not to say that Digg isn't very popular. It is. And that's not to say that it can't do wonderful things for publishers who hit the front page. It can.
But for both consumers and publishers alike, the Facebook and Twitters of the world have largely become more important when it comes to sharing and discovering interesting content on the web.
The business model of the recording industry is broken. Just about everyone knows it, including record label executives. But the industry collectively still seems to have a hard time admitting it.
So it's really no surprise that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has gone so far as to sue grandmothers for illegal music downloads, is singing a new heartbreaker: copyright law is broken.
Even if you're one of the brave few who tries to make it through the world without a copy of Microsoft Office, chances are you can't live without a decent word processor and spreadsheet program. For those who want something free and are wary of cloud-based solutions like Google Apps, one free, there's a decent chance you've considered OpenOffice.org, a popular open source productivity suite that offers a lot for very little ($0).
But OpenOffice.org's future is being called into question. That's because OpenOffice.org in its current form had much of its development funded by Sun Microsystems, which agreed to be acquired by Oracle in 2009.
There can be little doubt that there's a market for content produced by so-called content farms. And that this is having an impact on the market for online content in general.
But are content farms sprouting profits that match the popularity of their business model? Perhaps not.
This week on Start Me Up we speak to Martin Harrison, CEO of Copify.
Whatever kind of marketing you are involved in, there's almost always a need for quality, relevant copy. Copify is attempting to take the hard work out of sourcing freelance copy at short notice.
While conventional thinking tells us that tech geeks and early adopters tend to have a Y chromosome, research shows that women are increasingly the most prolific users of hardware and networks, spending more time online and engaging more often and more meaningfully.
With the launch of the Glamour Magazine app, Conde Nast is taking steps to engage this important market more directly.
Have a pressing question? Need an answer? Chances are you'll turn to your friends and family, but doing so isn't always easy. Time and distance often separate us from the people we know, and sometimes a second or third opinion is needed.
So what's the solution? If the company has its way, the answer to that question is Facebook. Yesterday, the world's largest social network announced that its much-anticipated product, Facebook Questions, has entered beta and is being released to a growing number of Facebook users.