Epic! Facebook Goes Public: What People Are Talking About Online This Week, May 14-18

We could get off easy this week and hit the beach or something on this sunny May day. Because it seems all people are talking about online this week is the long-awaited Facebook IPO. The several billion dollar social network went public this morning and is expected to be worth more than $100 billion by the time you finish reading this post – or by the end of the day, whichever comes first.

Boy wonder CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on Wall Street to ring NASDAQ’s opening bell, and post a status update while he was at it (epic!).

In the lead up to this morning’s excitement, there were no less than 17 billion online stories, editorials, blog posts, tweets and pings about Facebook. (We may be underestimating that number). These included speculations on whether Facebook as a cool new toy under the Christmas tree may have “jumped the shark”, co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s “defriending” the United States in the lead up to becoming a billionaire and an interactive quiz that lets you know exactly how much you’re worth to Facebook. Our worth? A paltry $47, or about a share and a quarter of the world’s biggest social network.

In other online chatter:

  • There are other social networks, in case you’ve forgotten. Remember Twitter? Here’s some tips on how not be annoying with your 140-character allotment.
  • Ever since Mitt Romney’s political policies were likened to an Etch-a-Sketch, have you been jonesing for that old school toy? No need to troll the aisles of Toys R Us or place bids on eBay. Now you can turn your iPad into one!
  • Speaking of Mitt, the Gregory Brothers give him a musical video mashup about liking lakes and music.
  • And speaking of music, the real kind, we lost disco legend Donna Summer to cancer this week. She was 63. Love to love you, babe.

Catch up on these stories and more over at the Online Media Roundup. Join the online conversation. You could win an iPad, and then turn it into an Etch-a-Sketch!

Image courtesy of Gizmodo.

Has Facebook Jumped the Shark?

One last post about Facebook before it goes public with its IPO offering tomorrow morning at $38 a share.

The world’s largest social network, the one that started this online connectivity craze just 8 years ago by Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room, is expected to raise billions. According to a report in USA Today this afternoon, Facebook could be worth some $104 billion tomorrow at this time. That would make it worth more than Disney, Ford and Kraft Foods. That’s a lot of mouse ears, mini vans and cheese slices! 

The question on everyone’s lips – from Silicon Valley and Wall Street types to those people who only log on to Facebook to play Farmville is, of course, is it worth it? In terms of something being overdone, has Facebook “jumped the shark”?

I’ve been observing online culture for a couple of years, and I’ve noticed something about Facebook in the last 6 months or so. It doesn’t seem to be as fun as it used to be.

In 2008, 2009, it was the bright shiny new toy under the Christmas tree. It was the coolest thing since Google’ing and far more revealing. No need to type in the name of that ex-girlfriend anymore and hope you’d come across public records that showed a tax lien on her house or a DUI (or worse, that she was happily married and a Pulitzer Prize winner). Now you could “friend” your exes, their exes and people from high school you didn’t talk to then, but now discovered you both loved pottery and voted for Barack Obama. What a wonderful small world it had become!

And then it got smaller. I, for one, seemed to reach my maximum potential of new “friends”. I still pick up one here or there, but the avalanche of family, friends and acquaintances coming out of the woodwork seemed to peak some time in 2010. Some, in fact, have even left the social network for a variety of reasons like “time suck”, “depression” and “divorce” (not to mention “death” – which has happened to at least one of my friends).

But the friending frenzy that was Facebook in its earlier days, or as we’ll now remember, “pre-IPO” is not what Facebook is about. As New York Magazine writer Paul Ford reported last week, “Even if Facebook never adds another user, it will keep growing: It has become a fundamental substrate, a difficult-to-avoid component of any site or app that requires users to register—making it essential to nearly every major web innovation now and in the future.”

Ford asks, “Is Facebook ever going to be cool again?” He answers, “That’s like asking ‘Is the phone company cool?'”

For many, Facebook has replaced email, at least for making personal plans and connections. Your time spent “logged in” to Facebook may seem less, thus making it less interesting (or have we just seen all the cute cat photos in the world and clicked “like” for every cause that could ever matter to anyone ever again?). But your use of Facebook to communicate and run any number of mobile apps continues to grow.

And then there’s all that information we voluntarily have entered.

Has Facebook jumped the shark like Fonzie did in the waning days of “Happy Days”? Has it peaked? Should Mark Zuckerberg trade in his hoodie for a leather jacket and pair of water skis?

Nope. In lots of ways, Facebook is just getting started. These early days of pre-IPO Facebook will be remembered fondly, just like those early episodes of “Happy Days”, when the Fonz wore a white jacket before he traded it in for the leather one.

Sources: USA Today and New York Magazine, “No, Facebook Has Not Already Peaked” by Paul Ford. 

Online Grieving: R.I.P. Disco Queen Donna Summer

This post originally appeared on OpenSalon.com.

It’s always sad news when someone who has contributed to the soundtrack of your life passes on. A little piece of you hurts and you know every time from now on that you hear one of their songs you will recall good times (or maybe bad ones), but the nostalgia will be ebbed by the tiny strobe light that goes off in the back of your head reminding you that the singer has permanently left the stage.

When I woke up this morning I saw a Facebook status plea begging that this not be true: “Donna Summer, dead at 63.”

Online grieving immediately ensued. There is a method to this sadness, which starts not with disbelief or a sudden sense of loss, but a ho-hum “This is another hoax.”

Summer wouldn’t be the first victim of false reports of death. Cher, Jon Bon Jovi, Chris Brown have all been perfectly healthy when their “deaths” were reported on Twitter. Some say these reports were publicity stunts. Others claim the tweets left out a word or two – what they really meant to say was “[Insert singer’s name here] career is dead.”

Haven’t having heard much from Summer over the years, and losing a little bit of like for her after a 1980s’ dustup in the press reported that her born-again Christian beliefs ran counter to her legions of gay fans (later swept under the carpet as an unfortunate misunderstanding), my first reaction was that the report of her death was at best a mistake, or at worst a way to revive a career that had seen its zenith some 35 years ago.

Online grieving doesn’t exactly follow the Kubler-Ross model. It goes something like this. The unconfirmed news breaks on Facebook, which forces you to scroll through your news feed to see if anyone else has posted anything more concrete. You get distracted. Look at pictures of a birthday party 3,000 miles away, a couple of cat memes, another editorial praising Barack Obama’s evolution on same-sex marriage, and then remember the reason you’re still hanging out on Facebook instead of doing some work. Is Donna Summer really dead? You refresh the news feed and here come more cats, babies and rainbows. Switch to Twitter.

A couple of tweets report Summer’s death, but they link to sources like TMZ and The Inquisitr (which cites TMZ). You’re looking for something more reliable, Perez Hilton will do, but you stopped following him a year or two ago because he was too “distracting”.

Speaking of distractions…there’s some food truck news you need to know. Korean tacos down the street tonight, that sounds good. But not if this San Francisco wind and fog keep up. You reach for your iPhone to check the weather. Nope. Doesn’t look like street taco weather tonight. Sorry @koreantacoman.

It’s around this time, nearly an hour into your online day, that you remember to check your email. My email access is still via the Yahoo! homepage and that’s by design. I get real headline news there, stuff that comes from AP and Reuters and that slides me all the way to the end of the Kubler-Ross scale. Acceptance. “Disco Queen Donna Summer: Dead at 63”.

The cause of death was cancer. She did her best to keep her illness from the public, of which she was pretty successful. It’s adding a shock value to the online grieving and I will spend another hour reading obituaries, watching YouTube clips and commenting on Facebook statuses.

I will even write a blog post – because I’ve just put a phrase to this phenomenon of how we react when a celebrity dies, particularly one with a gifted musical talent a la Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson. It’s called “online grieving” and there is one more step Elisabeth Kubler-Ross didn’t live long enough to conceive. The obligatory click over to iTunes, to download Donna Summer’s Greatest Hits or to Spotify (via the Huffington Post) to stream a top 10 playlist.

Online grieving doesn’t allow a lot of time for sadness or reflection, so I’d like to take a minute here to remember the Disco Queen, Donna Summer in all her glory. The big hits like “I Feel Love” and “Bad Girls”, sure. But my personal favorite Summer song has always been “On the Radio”. It went up in stock for me when it was used as the theme song for the 1980 Jodie Foster film Foxes. And, now you probably know how old I am.

R.I.P. Madame Summer. Your songs have always been and will be on my radio – vinyl, cassette, CD, iTunes, streaming and whatever comes next.

Evolved! What People Are Talking About Online This Week, May 7-11

It’s official. President Barack Obama supports same-sex marriage. He said so, in his own words, on Wednesday afternoon at the White House in an interview with ABC correspondent Robin Roberts.

The historic announcement (which by the way, changes nothing for gays and lesbians struggling for recognition of relationships at the federal level or any of the states with discriminatory “marriage bans”) tweeted by our first social media President may have set a Twitter record as the most retweeted tweet of all time. Watch this space for how social media, which played a huge role in the 2008 Presidential race may once again give one candidate the edge over the other.

The President’s announcement came less than 18 hours after North Carolina enshrined discrimination into its constitution with the passage of Amendment One. The state had never recognized same-sex marriages, but just to be sure there were no loopholes, the nasty amendment now prohibits the state from recognizing any type of relationship or family other than one between a legally married man and woman. That’s right – even straight couples who choose to live together without tying the knot will now find their rights severely curtailed.

Plenty of folks have weighed in on every aspect of the battle for marriage equality. Many say that it will be the millennial generation that will lead us to a country where no one is discriminated against. Thinking of that day in the not-too-distant future warms our heart, until we read a blog post by the country’s most famous unwed teen (now a 20-something), Bristol Palin. The daughter of controversial 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin took Obama to task in a blog post criticizing his position on marriage, particularly the part where he credits his daughters, millennials Malia and Sasha, for helping him “evolve”. Oh well, Bristol. Malia and Sasha will soon be able to cancel out your vote, and then some.

Millennials voting potential and patterns will certainly make a difference to our future. This week we discover how much of an impact they are already having on the way we travel and learn. So get used to the trends they’re setting and find out what people are talking about on the Online Media Roundup. It’s never too early (or too late) to be a part of the online conversation.

Brown Is Not the New Black: What People Are Talking About Online This Week, April 30-May 4

Brown has made headlines this week in two unfortunate stories, neither of which will do much for this long-time second cousin to the far more versatile black. As April became May and thoughts of summer, beaches and suntans may have crossed more than a few minds, such thoughts came to a screeching halt when a photo of a grotesquely “tanorexic” 44-year-old New Jersey woman hit the interwebs.

Patricia Krentcil came to the attention of authorities when her 5-year-old daughter told a school nurse a burn on her arm was caused from time spent in a tanning booth – just like mommy. Although the child’s parents insist the burn is nothing more than good old-fashioned sunburn, damage has been done to more than Krentcil’s normally pale skin. She’s been arrested on “tan abuse” charges – not to her own body, but to that of her daughter.

Actor and tech investor Ashton Kutcher managed to keep the color brown trending online for another half a day when he struck a variety of poses for a Popchips’ ad. Kutcher posed as a redneck, a stoner, a fashionista and a Bollywood producer. Kutcher in brown face led to instant backlash and Popchips removed the pose from the ad. Guess we can rule out Kutcher – or any other white actor – ever reprising Peter Sellers’ role in The Party.

Did Popchips overreact to online complaints about Kutcher in “brown face”? Or, are they – like many others this week – just a little overly sensitive to a trend that’s been called out as “hipster racism”. You know, white people going to such extremes to deny even the slightest tinge of racism in their day-to-day that they must be, you know, um…racist.

Brown, white, yellow, red, black or any combination of the above – your organs are color blind. Why not give the gift of life in the event of your sudden demise by donating your heart, liver, lungs or more to save or improve the quality of someone else’s life once you are no longer living? Facebook took a leap in social media toward the greater good this week and added a function that lets you declare your intent to be an organ donor. Pledges increased dramatically. The greater good, however, does not come without a side of snark.

What else are people talking about online this week?

There’s more stories like these over at the Online Media Roundup to keep you talking. Head on over and join the conversation.

Photo courtesy of KazzaDrask Media.