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Why Silicon Valley’s Current Boom Isn’t At All Like 1999
July 09, 2011

There’s a time warp along the stretch of Highway 101 that runs between San Jose and Marin County in Northern California. To many there, it looks like 1999 all over again. While the rest of the country is landscaped with foreclosed homes and empty big-box stores, San Francisco and Silicon Valley have a shortage of office space. Established tech companies like Google are offering seven-figure bonuses to retain talented engineers, while the Sand Hill Road offices of venture capitalists are full of optimistic twentysomethings looking for funding—and many of them are getting more than they need.

Obama’s Twitter Town Hall and His Guarded, Lame Approach to Social Media
July 07, 2011

President Obama’s Twitter Town Hall was kind of lame. Admittedly, it wasn’t as lame as I thought it would be. But it still showed the White House has yet to fully embrace social media, at least when it comes to the president himself. I had expected that Wednesday’s event would unfold like the social media interviews the president has conducted in the past. Steve Grove, head of YouTube News and Politics, has hosted two interviews with the president using text and video questions selected by YouTube users.

Myspace and the Curse of Success
June 29, 2011

Today, Specific Media, a digital advertising company, announced that it has purchased Myspace (remember Myspace?) from News Corp. Just five years ago, News Corp paid $580 million for Myspace, but since then, the once-powerful social networking site has shed users and been overtaken by Facebook. In January, Myspace laid off nearly half its staff, and Specific Media, according to a number of reports, paid just $35 million for it. How could Myspace have fallen so far, so fast? According to one 2009 study, the website may have been a victim of its own success.

Tim Pawlenty: Why It’s Way Too Soon to Count Him Out
June 24, 2011

As the 2012 Republican presidential field began to take shape earlier this year, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty looked like the perfect on-paper candidate: a former blue-state, blue-collar governor from the Midwest who was cozy with both social conservatives and Tea Party folk, and who didn’t have Mitt Romney’s problem of heretical past positions.

Slideshow: Saudi Arabian Women Defy the Driving Ban
June 18, 2011

On Friday the women of Saudi Arabia staged a protest against the nation’s unwritten but often brutally enforced rule that only men may drive. The protest was called for by activist Manal al-Sharif, a 32-year-old Internet consultant for the state-run oil company Aramco. Al-Sharif had been arrested on May 21 after posting this video of herself driving on YouTube.  In late May Al-Sharif had also posted messages on Twitter and Facebook calling for a nationwide protest on June 17.

Hawk Cam: What Are We Looking for When We Watch Birds?
June 15, 2011

For the better part of this spring, as I write or look at websites or putter around at home, I’ve kept open in a corner of my screen the Hawk Cam run by the City Desk at The New York Times. The red-tailed hawks, christened Violet and Bobby—like all reality TV stars, they have both a Facebook page and a Twitter feed—built their nest over the winter on a ledge outside the office of NYU’s president; in March, Violet laid three eggs. I started watching in late April, when the City Room blog announced that the eggs were about to hatch.

Mitt Romney: The Campaign Within the Conservative Movement to Take Him Down
June 15, 2011

Mitt Romney’s coming off quite a good week and a half. Last month’s depressing job numbers bolstered his desired narrative about being the man most suited to save the economy, his opponents have largely (and inexplicably) shied away from taking potshots at his Massachusetts health care bill, and he looked far and away the most presidential of all the candidates in Monday’s GOP debate. Yet after talking to conservative activists over the past week, I’m by no means convinced that he is in the clear.

Facebook Fight
May 28, 2011

On Tuesday, Representative Patrick McHenry called Elizabeth Warren a liar. Twice. As Obama’s advisor for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren has grown accustomed to conservative ire. But this grew personal. First, while chairing a House subcommittee hearing, the North Carolina Republican accused Warren of misleading testimony. Then, after she testified, she asked to be excused for another meeting, which she claimed to have previously discussed with the congressman’s staff.

The Love of Monopoly
May 19, 2011

Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications By Richard R. John (Belknap Press, 520 pp., $39.95) Once upon a time, some thought it obvious that competition was a bad thing, particularly in communications. As Theodore Vail, the president of AT&T, put it in 1913, “The public as a whole has never benefited” from competition. Monopoly, he said, was the better choice. The reason, he argued, is that “all costs of aggressive, uncontrolled competition are eventually borne, directly or indirectly, by the public.” Nowadays corporate executives carefully avoid expressing such sentiments.

LinkedIn vs. Facebook: Showdown
May 18, 2011

LinkedIn is the name on everyone's lips today on Wall Street. The business-focused social networking site announced it will be offering shares at an initial price of $45, with LinkedIn valued at $4.3 billion. Some market watchers think the price is too high, but others believe LinkedIn could lead another round of big internet IPOs. (When the company initially announced its IPO, observers expected a valuation of $2 billion, and in early May LinkedIn was still predicted to be valued at $3 billion; in the past week, the IPO price has gone up $10.

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