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How Uber's car-booking service can succeed in NY

NEW YORK--I had my Uber moment a few Sundays ago, standing on a corner in the hipster enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with my arms full of houseplants.

It had been raining off and on all afternoon. The subway line that could most reliably take me back to my apartment, following a lavish shopping spree at the borough's most notable gardening emporium, wasn't running because of weekend construction work. My alternative was to take a route that would involve two different subways followed by a 15-minute walk. With the houseplants. Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg's main drag, is a well-populated … Read more

Bin Laden, Twitter, and the frenzy of noise

It's difficult for the columns on a Twitter client app to resonate with emotion, but late Sunday evening, as the news unfolded that U.S. special forces had killed al-Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, they certainly did.

There were, at the beginning and end of President Obama's speech announcing the victory, 4,000 "tweets" per second, an estimate that the company increased to over 5,000 on Monday morning. Twitter also elaborated further and said that it experienced its highest sustained rate of tweets ever, with an average of 3,… Read more

Farewell, 2003: The Friendster apocalypse is nigh

Social network pioneer Friendster, as we know it, will be gone on May 31. The company today announced to members that as part of its conversion from would-be Facebook competitor to "the social gaming destination of choice," it would be keeping accounts alive but deleting all user photos, comments, blog posts, and other profile content. Users interested in preserving that data are encouraged to use a tool to export their profiles to their hard drives.

It's another sad chapter for the company that could have become the social network that everyone used--basically, what Facebook is now. Or … Read more

Let's get real about 'digital detoxing'

We should all be panicking, obviously: the omnipresence of glowing, wireless gadgets giving us constant access to an unlimited amount of news and social-media toys is bad for our brains.

To be more specific, earlier this month a team from the University of California at San Francisco published research that claimed digital information overload, from the onslaught of Twitter updates from the site of the latest natural disaster to your mom's FarmVille updates to that YouTube video of the baby raccoon freaking out in a bathtub, can impair mental performance. Appropriately, the results come right around a week designated … Read more

Twitter--too many cooks could spoil this bird

Over at Twitter, they like metaphors that involve birds. Maybe a little too much. So here's one for them: Right now, according to a couple of in-depth reports about Twitter's past and present executive structure, the whole company sure looks like a flock of birds that can't quite tell which among them is the leader. And as a result, they're all crashing into one another.

These reports run the gamut from well-researched to wildly speculative, from a Fortune profile of the company's current management turmoil--co-founder Evan Williams is out, ex-CEO Jack Dorsey is back, … Read more

Time to hit reload on Web 2.0 Expo?

SAN FRANCISCO--The Web 2.0 Expo this week was missing something. It might've been Tim O'Reilly, the founder of conference co-producer O'Reilly Media and a well-regarded, if slightly granola-inclined, industry sage. He was out of town; gone from the program was his traditional opening keynote, a quick but poignant take on the state of the industry.

Or it might have been the hype missing from the rather quiet halls of the Moscone Convention Center. A few years ago, it was a must-attend event for industry insiders and a launch pad for new start-ups looking to get onto … Read more

Color me curious: Five thoughts on the new app

For about a day and a half I've been testing out Color--the very public and very provocative new mobile photo-sharing app that made waves across the Web when reports revealed that the company behind it had already raised $41 million in venture capital.

After playing around with the Color app, I have a few thoughts. And I am, for sure, interested in seeing what happens in the near term with this one.

1. It's a whole new way to get to know your upstairs neighbors. I've been loading up Color inside CNET's New York office, … Read more

Lost innocence for start-ups at a flashier SXSWi?

I woke up on Monday morning to about two dozen text messages, and none of them were really for me.

Rather, they all came from two separate group messaging accounts set up through a start-up called GroupMe, both of which had been created in the prior few days specifically to corral people before the annual South by Southwest Interactive Festival--part of the broader South by Southwest music and film festival--kicks off Friday in Austin, Texas. One was a posse of New Yorkers trying to coordinate carpools to and from their Thursday and Friday flights. The other was a group … Read more

For SXSWi, Fast Society leaves no cork unpopped

Editor's Note: This is the second installment in a series about start-up Fast Society. Click here for the first part.

NEW YORK--The nightlife-heavy East Village neighborhood can, in fact, be very quiet and unassuming in daylight.

On this Saturday afternoon, for example, you'd never know that there was anything going on at White Noise, a bar hidden behind blacked-out windows in the space above a discount liquor store. Inside, it's Gilded Age excess meets glam rock sleaze, with black chandeliers holding red light bulbs, black vinyl couches with fake gold trim, and floor-to-ceiling velvet drapes framing dark … Read more

If it's on the Internet, does that make it quotable?

The news headlines in Grand Rapids, Mich., were dominated this week by local sports, a debate over wage raises for workers who receive tips, and a man who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for encouraging his dog to kill a raccoon. But there was also some newsroom controversy within the local Grand Rapids Press newspaper: Just how quotable is Twitter?

An entertainment reporter, Rachael Recker, wrote an article in which she quoted several Twitter users and identified them by username. For those of us accustomed to the tech press, this is no surprise--but for a local newspaper, it's unorthodox … Read more