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To Paywall or not to Paywall?

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Editor's Note: In response to the somewhat frantic emails I've been receiving today, let me reiterate (pre-iterate?) what it says in large text below: this is not something we're considering. I would not expect anyone to pay for the free blog you've come to know and love and tell your friends about. If you like what you read here on a daily basis, I'd love you to take our relationship to the magazine subscription level. But please stop worrying that we're about to send you a bill (and please stop emailing to tell me about those worries). I'll let David take it from here... --Jason

What if you came back to this blog tomorrow and suddenly found most of our content now hidden behind a paywall? How much would you be willing to fork over for your daily _floss fix?

Okay, take a breath.

Relax! Don't worry! We have no intention of doing any such thing.

I just raise the question because it's a hot topic right now in the social media world. Obviously, the idea behind blogs and social media is that it's meant to be consumed and shared. But paid content can't be shared, unless, of course, those receiving the link subscribe to the same paid content.

It's such a hot topic right now, that The Economist, which hides a lot of its print magazine content behind online paywalls, has declared 2010 "The year of the paywall," citing numerous newspapers and magazines that will try to adopt the Wall Street Journal's successful model of charging for a lot of its online content. The New York Times is considering such a switch, and, according to The Economist article, "Even the Guardian, a British newspaper that has long been an evangelist for free news online, has launched a paid-for iPhone application (though accessing stories is free once the app has been downloaded)."

We're all so used to major news sites like The New York Times being free, you can understand why it's such a hot topic. An Ipsos/PHD survey recently found that 55% of consumers "would be very or extremely unlikely to pay for online newspaper or magazine content."

According to this piece on's Mediashift, "After New York's Newsday locked most of its content behind a paywall, its web traffic dropped by 21 percent. On top of that, longtime Newsday columnist, Saul Friedman, resigned over the decision to charge. One of the reasons he cited for his resignation was that a pay wall would prevent him from sending his column to people who don't subscribe to Newsday."

What about you all? Do you fall into the above quoted survey's 55% or the other 45%? Give us a reason or two to back your position. The debate starts now...

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Live Smarter
You Can Now Order Food Through Facebook
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After a bit of controversy over its way of aggregating news feeds and some questionable content censoring policies, it’s nice to have Facebook roll out a feature everyone can agree on: allowing you to order food without leaving the social media site.

According to a press release, Facebook says that the company decided to begin offering food delivery options after realizing that many of its users come to the social media hub to rate and discuss local eateries. Rather than hop from Facebook to the restaurant or a delivery service, you’ll be able to stay within the app and select from a menu of food choices. Just click “Order Food” from the Explore menu on a desktop interface or under the “More” option on Android or iOS devices. There, you’ll be presented with options that will accept takeout or delivery orders, as well as businesses participating with services like or EatStreet.

If you need to sign up and create an account with or Jimmy John’s, for example, you can do that without leaving Facebook. The feature is expected to be available nationally, effective immediately.

[h/t Forbes]

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5 Quick Facts About the Hashtag
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The use of the hashtag as a Twitter tool to denote a specific topic in order for the masses to follow along turns 10 years old today, having first been suggested (in a Tweet, naturally) by Silicon Valley regular and early adopter Chris Messina back in 2007. Here’s a little history on its evolution from the humble numerical sign to the social media giant it is today.


There’s no definitive origin story for the hash (or pound) symbol, but one belief is that when 14th-century Latin began to abbreviate the term for pound weight—libra pondo—to “lb,” a horizontal slash was added to denote the letters were connected. (The bar was called a tittle.) As people began to write more quickly, the letters and the tittle became amalgamated, eventually morphing into the symbol we see today.


The symbol portion of the hashtag eventually made its way to dial-button telephones, the result of AT&T looking forward to phones interacting with computers. In order to complete a square keypad with 10 digits (including 0), they added the numerical sign and an asterisk. AT&T employee Don MacPherson thought the sign needed a more official name, so he chose Octothorpe—“octo” because it has eight points, and “thorpe” because he was a fan of football hero Jim Thorpe.


When web marketer Messina had the notion to add hashtags to keep track of conversations, he stopped by Twitter’s offices to make an informal pitch. He came at a bad time: Co-founder Biz Stone was trying to get the software back online after a crash and dismissed the idea with a “Sure, we’ll get right on that” burn. Undeterred, Messina started using them and the habit caught on.


By 2014, respect for the hashtag had grown to the point where the venerable Oxford English Dictionary gave the word its stamp of approval. Their entry: "hashtag n. (on social media web sites and applications) a word or phrase preceded by a hash and used to identify messages relating to a specific topic; (also) the hash symbol itself, when used in this way."


Hashtags can highlight interest in everything from political movements to breaking news stories, but the frequency of their use is often tied into popular culture. The most popular TV-related tag has been #TheWalkingDead; #StarWars sees a lot of action; and #NFL dominates sports-related Tweets.  


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