Rethink Digg v1 Preview; New Design Looks Promising

Earlier this month, it was reported that the once-popular community powered news website Digg.com was acquired by Betaworks, the team behind the popular link shortening service bitly and News.me.

The small company with a highly innovative team took up a challenge to redesign Digg complete from scratch, with the announcement of “rethink Digg” program, and promised to release the first version, or (re)launch the service on August 1.

Rethink Digg brings the previous Digg team and the Betaworks team to work together and revamp the entire website, including the way it aggregates news. The mission is to save the once-popular service from being buried in a virtual bone yard.

Just two weeks after the acquisition, the team had asked users all over the Internet to provide feedback and advice by asking them to fill out a quick survey. Surprisingly, 92 percent of those who took the survey said that they would not recommended the current Digg to their friends.

Today, the team has published and shared the first mock-ups and screenshots of the new Digg v1, and has also provided a brief explanation on what the user experience on the site will look like:

Digg v1 Mock-up

The current Digg design is more text oriented, however, by looking at the above screenshot, the new Digg design is heavily focused on images. According to Betaworks, the new design will provide a “beautiful, image-friendly, and ad-free experience.” It is also said that the “Diggbar” will be removed from the new design.

It is interesting to see how the Digg score is being made use of, with the integration of Facebook and Twitter. Currently, the Digg count moves a story closer to the top depending on the number of votes it has generated. However, with the new design, Digg counts will not be taken into consideration, but the number of Facebook shares and Tweets will help identify what the Internet is talking about.

Digg v1 Mock-up - Facebook, Twitter Integration

The v1 will not include the commenting system, however, the team will be conducting a few experiments in commenting that will inform more permanent features, and will enable commenting in future.

Overall, the new Digg v1 preview, mock-ups and screenshots look promising, and honestly speaking, I really like it. I’m quite excited and eagerly waiting for the release of the new design. You can check all the released mock-up designs here.

Facebook Redesigns Photos With New Mosaic View

Yet again the social networking giant Facebook has announced a new look and feel for its photo layout, with a change that gives users a new photo viewing experience, and making photos appear larger and easier to interact with.

When you click on the “Photos” button link on top of your friend’s profile age, you will get the new mosaic photo view feature, which looks like this:

New Photo Layout - Facebook

The new layout it pretty neat, with photos arranged in random order. At the top, you will see the new menu comprising of three button — Photos of You, Photos, and Albums. Facebook says you can use the new menu to find the photos that you have been tagged in, pictures that you have shared, and different albums created by the user.

With all this, users on their own page can use the highlight feature to showcase their favorite photos, making it easier to show it to their friends. All you need to do is click the star button to make important photos stand out.

The new photo layout is mainly introduced to get more interaction on photos as users browse through them. Hovering over a photo will bring up the title, “like” and comment button, including the number of users who have “liked” and interacted with the photo.

Here’s the current view of the photo layout:

Facebook Albums

Facebook says that it has already started to roll out the new photo layout, and will be made available to all users soon.

Facebook has made several new changes in the recent past. We saw the newly designed Facebook Events, with the new calendar and list view. Also, the company has been testing a new design for its Timeline, in which the user information is placed on top of the cover photo.

Facebook User Base Reaches 50 Million Mark in India

Back in 2010, Facebook started their first India operations office in Hyderabad, and the total number of user base in India was roughly around 8 million. Today, two years later, Facebook records that the Indian user base has increased to over 50 million in number.

According to latest reports, Kirthiga Reddy, director of online operations, Facebook India had confirmed to the media in an event organized by Indo-American Chamber of Commerce that, “the user numbers — eight million in 2010 and 50 million in 2012 — tell the growth story. India is one of the countries with the largest number of active users.”

This is an enormous growth for Facebook. The social networking giant is the world’s biggest social network, and is one of the most popular social media tool amongst the Indians. The new records makes India one among the other countries with such a huge number of active users.

 Kirthiga Reddy, Director of Online Operations, Facebook India

The most fascinating thing about this statistic is that an increasing percentage of users access the social site from their mobile phones, which should be pretty convincing enough for Facebook to rethink its business model for India.

For other countries like the US, Kirthiga Reddy states that, “many started using Facebook on desktop, which was first used to get in to the portal, in case of India it was the mobile phone. Most of the 50 million Facebook users are on mobile. Realising this, we have launched Facebook (application) for every phone.”

This could probably get Facebook to bring innovative services via mobile to its Indian user base. One of the highly anticipated services was to make Facebook available in regional languages like Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, and so on.

However, Facebook’s biggest concern is about the age restriction policy, which does not allow children below 13 years of age to use the social networking site. With an increasing number of school kids joining Facebook, it has become a challenging task for the team to take strict actions, however, Kirthiga says that they are coping up with that.

Facebook is also taking up education initiatives for children and parents in order to understand how the network works and how parents can prevent their children from misusing it: “Facebook is like any other medium. When we were growing up, our parents used to tell how much time we should spend watching TV. The same applies for internet too. It is about what you do with the medium,” she said.

Yet another concern for Facebook is the Indian government. In the recent past, we had seen the government of India taking control over social networks and asking them to block certain contents from being posted on their networks. The government has provided certain protocols and requests in order to regulate the network. However, Kirthiga didn’t share the exact number of requests.

Recently, Facebook associated with FICCI in India to help local businesses benefit from the network, which could again help the networking giant get more number of users to the site.

Mark Zuckerberg Says “Facebook Phone” Makes No Sense

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed in a statement that the company is not planning to step into the hardware world, and is not interested in developing its own version of mobile phone.

During the company’s first-ever quarterly earnings after the it went public, Zuckerberg stated in a statement that the company is not planning on a “Facebook Phone.” When Zuckerberg was asked whether the company needs a mobile device of this own, the CEO said, Facebook is “the most used app on basically every mobile platform. So when we think about what we want to do right now, we want to increase the depth of experience in addition to just growing users.”

He then went on to say that Facebook doesn’t really fit into the hardware world, and developing a mobile device makes no sense – “There are lots of things that you can build in other operating systems as well that aren’t really like building out a whole phone, which I think wouldn’t really make much sense for us to do. So I do think that there’s a big opportunity for us here.”

Mark Zuckerberg

However, Zuckerberg’s statement doesn’t mean that the company will help OEMs, like HTC, to build a smartphone with deeper Facebook integration than the current Android smartphones. Currently, Facebook is working on a deeper integration in iOS device, which enables Facebook users to directly login to Facebook-integrated apps without having to create new accounts.

Although Mark Zuckerberg ruled out the possibility of a “Facebook phone”, Facebook is looking forward to work closely with existing operating systems such as Apple’s iOS. Just before he said the above statements, Zuckerberg said, “We want to support a development ecosystem where other apps can build on top of Facebook.”

Regardless of what Zuckerberg has said, mobile phone is something that is currently the most important thing for Facebook. Facebook users spend a lot of time in Facebook apps. In the Q2 financial results, Facebook revealed that Mobile Monthly Active Users (MMAU) have increased rapidly to 543 million with people showing 67 percent year-over-year growth.

With such a huge growth in mobile users, Facebook is still looking out for a good way to monetize its growing mobile audience.

Earlier this week, Facebook said in an official statement:

“Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”

What we could see is a smartphone with better Facebook integration across Android and iOS devices, however, a “Facebook phone” is not something we can expect anytime soon.

Facebook Launches the ‘Recommendations Bar,’ a New Social Plug-in

Facebook has launched a new social plugin for the site called the Recommendations Bar, which helps people filter and find articles based on the “likes” made by their friends. The little bar pops up from the bottom-right of the screen while you’re reading an article and reach the end of it.

Facebook announced the Recommendations bar last year during its f8 conference, and today it has officially launched it. The new plugin works the same way as the current “Like” button; when a user “likes” an article using the Recommendations Bar, the story is posted back on the user’s timeline and friends’ news feed.

Facebook Recommendations Bar

“As a person reads an article, a small pop-up surfaces at the bottom of the screen highlighting recommended articles and prompting them to like the page,” writes Facebook engineer Jeffrey Spehar on the company blog.

For developers and site owners, the integration of the new plugin is pretty simple. All you need to do is copy the provided code from here, and paste it on your site. The functionality is also available as part of the Facebook for WordPress plug-in. However, it is recommended that you use Facebook’s Open Graph mark-ups on your articles for the new Facebook plugin to work correctly.

This is very much similar to the WordPress plugins, upPrev and nrelate Flyout. These plugins are used by site owners to increase, or accelerate more page views, and avoid heavy bounce rates. Many sites, including MashableWetpaint, and The Mirror have replaced the current flyouts with the new Recommendations Bar. In early tests, Facebook reports that sites are seeing 3x the click through on the stories it recommends than through the Recommendations Box.

To learn more and get started with the Recommendations Bar, you can check out the documentation provided by Facebook.

Twitter Goes Down, Again! [Update: Service Returning to Normal]

You must have already noticed that Twitter is currently inaccessible and you are seeing the message — “Twitter is currently down for” when you visit the site via your browser. When we tried accessing the website on Google Chrome, we received an error message as follows –

Twitter Down

As you can see from the above screenshot, Twitter wasn’t loading properly. The images are missing and the message contains some funny characters Ruby on Rails markups.

Users checked if Twitter was down using the service downforeveryoneorjustme.com, and many users are unable to reach the site. Twitter is aware of the issue and is currently looking in to it. At the time of writing this post, Twitter issued a statement stating, “Users may be experiencing issues accessing Twitter. Our engineers are currently working to resolve the issue.”

This is second time Twitter is experiencing this problem in the last two months. Last time in June, the company stated that the site was down due to a “cascaded bug.”

Update #1: It appears that mobile version of Twitter is also down, and users are receiving the message “Twitter Error” when trying to access their tweets from Twitter apps and the mobile site mobile.twitter.com. There seems to be a huge problem that Twitter is facing.

Update #2: Users are unable to access their tweets from the last one hour. Here’s a Twitter status information graph by DownRightNow

Twitter Down Status History

Update #3: Twitter is back! It looks like service is returning to normal.

Update #4: 

Twitter reports about today’s outage:

The cause of today’s outage came from within our data centers. Data centers are designed to be redundant: when one system fails (as everything does at one time or another), a parallel system takes over. What was noteworthy about today’s outage was the coincidental failure of two parallel systems at nearly the same time.

I wish I could say that today’s outage could be explained by the Olympics or even acascading bug. Instead, it was due to this infrastructural double-whammy. We are investing aggressively in our systems to avoid this situation in the future.

Digg Has to Be Different; 92% Survey Respondents Won’t Recommend Digg

Two weeks back, Betaworks — the one that owns and operates link shortener Bit.ly — acquired the social news site Digg, and in an attempt to revive the site, News.me/Betaworks team has asserted stating that it would redesign the site from scratch in just under six weeks.

The team asked Digg users and users all over the Internet to provide feedback and advice by asking them to fill out a quick survey. The team today has announced the first round results of the Rethink Digg v1 survey; out of the total 3,754 people who took the survey, nearly 92 percent of them said that they would not recommended the current Digg to their friends.

“This level of dissatisfaction does not call for incremental improvement,” Levine said. “The problem we are trying to solve with v1 – how can we deliver the best of what the Internet is talking about right now? – calls for something else.”

Along with this, the v1 results also included some interesting stats on which social networking tool is popular among the all:

How users get their news - ReThink Digg Survey

Reddit and Hacker News topped the list, which is acceptable. However, the strange thing to notice here is that users rely on blogs and online newspaper sites for news, and not Twitter. Twitter falls fourth in the list after blogs and major online newspapers, which is a little surprising.

Another interesting stats the survey brought out is that many users use their phones to read news on the Internet.

Mobile Users - ReThink Digg

What Betaworks has to offer with Digg is unknown. The new Digg, as we know, will certainly not be an evolution of the current Digg, or a Reddit/Hacker News clone. The survey results calls for a different change, and Levine hasn’t revealed anything yet. However, from the facts that we know, what we understand is that the new Digg will revolve around news aggregation, and might also have a mobile version of it. Also, not to forget that Betaworks currently runs News.me, which could be a source of inspiration for the new Digg redesign.

We are not sure on how successful Betaworks is going to be on this. However, our take is that if the new Digg offers something more than what the current aggregators offer, it will sure take off and provide a tough competition. Well, as the saying goes, you will only know the outcome after time has passed. We hope to see great new changes come August 1.

Twitter to Allow Access to Old Tweets and Download Them

If you ever wanted to read a tweet that you posted a few months ago, then you’re out of luck. Unfortunately, Twitter lets you access only the last few thousand tweets that you made, and anything beyond that is not shown.

However, Twitter is now working on a tool that will enable its users to download (Twitter backup) their entire Twitter history, right from the beginning to the last tweet you posted. Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo said in a meeting with The New York Times, “We’re working on a tool to let users export all of their tweets. You’ll be able to download a file of them.”

This is a great move from Twitter. Allowing to access older tweets is what users have been wanting from a long time. Currently, Twitter users rely on third-party services which help them take backup of their tweets, however, that process is a little cumbersome. Some of the third-party services that enable Twitter users to access their Twitter history are oldtweetsBackupMyTweets, and Beckism.

Twitter Backup

While the Twitter team is figuring out a way to let users download their old tweets, Costolo said that the feature will not be released anytime soon. However, he was confident enough that such a feature will be made available to its users, who will be able to look through their entire history of tweets.

“It’s two different search problems,” he said. “It’s a different way of architecting search, going through all tweets of all time. You can’t just put three engineers on it.”

Other social networking sites allow its users to download their information present on their site. Facebook has the Download Your Information tool, while Google has introduced the Google Takeout feature, which “allows you to download a copy of your data stored within Google products.”

Image credits: chethstudios.net

“Rethink Digg” – a New Version of Digg, Launching August 1

The once popular social news website Digg was acquired by a New York-based start-up incubator Betaworks — the one that owns and operates link shortner Bit.ly — on July 12 for an under-priced amount of $500,000. Back in 2008, Digg was almost acquired by Google for a whopping $200 million, however, the deal was off when Google didn’t find the Digg team reliable enough, and weren’t up to the standards of the search engine giant.

However, that is past and things have changed now. Betaworks and Digg together have a plan to start all over again, and rebuild the social news website from scratch. In a blog post, the start-up briefed on its plans to rebuild the site, as well as some details on why Betaworks purchased Digg in the first place.

Rethink Digg v1

In a new blog called “Rethink Digg,” the team stated that it requires help from its readers. Here’s what they have to say:

As Betaworks and Digg both announced on their blogs, we are taking over Digg and turning it back into a startup. What they didn’t mention is that we’re rebuilding it from scratch. In six weeks.

On August 1, after an adrenaline and caffeine-fueled six weeks, we’re rolling out a new v1. With this launch, we’re taking the first step towards (re)making Digg the best place to find, read and share the most interesting and talked about stories on the Internet – and we want your help.

The most interesting thing to note here is that it plans to do first versions revamp in just six weeks with a team of 10 developers, designers, and editors. During the week, the first thing they ought to do is to move the site from its old and expensive infrastructure to a more efficient setup. The Betaworks-Digg team has also promised that the reincarnation of Digg will be modern, fast, shiny and new. Additionally, they also have plans to build a user experience that is native to each device.

Digg can still compete with Reddit, however, in order to do that the team has a lot of things to cover, and this isn’t an overnight process. It would take several months for the team to rebuild the site completely. However, on August 1, we will find out if the new revamped Digg is really worth checking out or not.

You can also fill out a short survey and help the team “Rethink Digg” in a more user-friendly manner.

Marissa Mayer To Earn $1 Million Annually with Potential Stock Options of Up To $60 Million

CEO of Yahoo – Marissa Mayer

After being appointed as new CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer is a happy lady. She is not only going to enjoy leading one of the premier media giants in the world today but her bank balance will be in round numbers. Yahoo has announced that Mayer will be earning $1 million annually which works out at $83,333.33 a month. While it seems a mouthwatering salary, it just reflects one side of the spectrum.

Also Read: Dear Marissa Mayer, the Flickr Community Has a Request for You

Should Mayer be able to lead the company for five years, this package would spike drastically and could make her a fortune of $60 million. It will all depend on whether Mayer meets the set targets or not. During 2012, Mayer could participate in an incentive plan that see her monthly earnings rise by at least 200%. In case Mayer meets all targets set for 2012, she would witness her monthly earnings rise by a maximum of 400%. This could increment her earnings by $2 million to $4million more per annum.

Mayer will also be entitled to stock options worth $12 million subjected to the approval of the compensation committee. Through 2014, there will be $14 million in restricted stock units which includes $4 million in 2012, $7 million in 2013, and $3 million in 2014. This plan is to compensate Mayer for what she gave up at Google. In addition to this, there will be a $30 million retention equity award in restricted stock units (RSUs) and stock options through 2017.

All of this should be a great motivation for Mayer to step foot into her new position. However, given that Yahoo has been struggling and has observed 5 CEOs in five years, Mayer’s role will be continuously challenged.

Just for the note, Mayer’s first pay date will be July 25, 2012.

Also Read: Google’s Loss is Yahoo’s Gain. Will Marissa Mayer Make Yahoo Reputable Again?