Good news, Silicon Alley denizens. After much demand from fellow gossip-mongers, Betabeat has decided to resurrect your favorite recurring Friday feature. Welcome back to Rumor Roundup! Overheard a juicy tidbit about impending departures or imminent acquisitions? Dying to dish about startup blunders or frothy financing? Holler at your girls: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE SUN SOMETIMES SETS ON THE AOL EMPIRE Multiple sources have told Betabeat that AOL Ventures plans on shutting down QLabs–the press-shy experimental think tank in Soho located at 670 Broadway. “The time frame must be darn near immediate,” one source told Betabeat, alluding to some urgency around winding down existing projects. “It’s dead,” said a source with indirect knowledge of the decision. “Their funding ran out,” the second source added, speculating that the initiative had a set funding size, but “nothing yielded.”
The head of Joseph Kony, minus his teeth, sells for $1 million. His actual teeth go for $50,000, depending on availability. A little too pricey? How about $100 for a thank you letter from Richard Gere for funding a Tibetan militia to resist Chinese rule. A mere $25 will also get you a personal thank you for donating to build a “discrete tactical vehicle” for U.S. military interrogators.
That’s the nightmarish world depicted by Kickstriker, a hoax built by a group of NYU grad students from the Tisch School’s ITP program for Clay Shirky’s tech communications class. The object of the fake site is to get people to think about “how a world of crowdfunded warfare might not be so far away,” reports Wired.
The Medium is The Message
Much like Lena Dunham on last night’s episode of “Girls,” New York technophiles seem to be embracing their “experimental” side. Some side projects are more facetious than others. But a new leisure pursuit from News.me general manager Jake Levine and designer Justin Van Slembrouck released today falls into the more utilitarian camp. Welcome to the Last Great Thing. Each day for a month, the duo plan on featuring a single link to the last great thing someone saw online.
The twist is that the site is “purposefully ephemeral,” Mr. Levine told Betabeat by email. “There will be no archive. What’s visible on Tuesday won’t be findable on Wednesday.” As far as gimmicks go, the disappearing link tops “by invitation only” in our book. We already feel a sense of panic over missing something great! Today’s entry from Clay Shirky is off to a stellar start.
It’s the sad truth of the Internet: you can tweet and blog your sweet little heart out, but there’s no guarantee that anyone is actually listening. But what if there was a platform that gave you the chance to deliver whatever thoughts, feelings or advice you had, right to the intimate confines of someone’s inbox? And they actually voluntarily signed up for the chance to hear you?
It’s not a newsletter or a shared-interest listserv: it’s a new project out of NYU’s ITP masters program called The Listserve that gives the chance for one person each day to share their thoughts with thousands through a random lottery email system. Users sign up to receive one email daily from a randomly selected user. The email can be about anything–from what they had for breakfast that morning, to a picture of a kitten, to a politically-motivated diatribe–and it’s sent, either publicly or anonymously, out to the other Listserve subscribers.
Clay Shirky and Jay Rosen—respectively, the bestselling author on technological innovation (and Observer profilee) and the revered head of NYU’s journalism program/ubiquitous new media guru—have been tapped by James O’Keefe as the latest stars of one of his “gotcha” propaganda videos. This marks the first time prominent media figures have been targeted by O’Keefe for the full feature treatment.