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So Y Combinator, a start up incubator is launching 63 companies into the world today, the most in its history. What is it? It’s a way for start up companies to get the time and funding to ready their ideas and tech for demos with investors. They’ve helped get sites like Dropbox, Posterous, and Reddit up on their feet. So if you want to check out some of the web’s next services from the beginning, now’s your chance.

Check out the list of sites and brief descriptions over on All Things D.

Two travel brands are essentially telling you to leave your laptop home this summer.  If you use any of the Google services like Gmail you won’t need it. Why?  They’re offering free Chromebooks for their passenger and customer use. Starting July 1, Virgin America and the Ace Hotel will provide the devices to their customers. The idea is that all your information is in the cloud so the device will let you go out and grab it.  The Ace has even created an app for the device that provides a field guide to New York.

Infomous is a dynamic and intuitive navigation solution – perhaps soon to pop up on websites you visit.  Web developers for content-rich sites have integrated word cloud and tablet-style flip navigation over the past few years, but this is a solution that seems to combine aspects of both: reference triggers and dynamic script.  The tool is currently available in preview/beta version through a relationship with the provider, but will roll out later this year, ready for embed.  More info at Infomous – they have a demo up for world news, a version for sports news, entertainment news, science news.  It’s easy to explore and find links to try.

For at least fifteen years the Internet has been fairly mainstream and inventing new things or ways to do things.  It’s changed how we shop, manage money, communicate, research, write, absorb information, etc.  The list goes on and on.  In all that time there have only been brief mentions of what these changes do to us emotionally (I’ve personally seen the most from author Douglas Coupland).

I tripped across this post recently that outlines Five Emotions Invented by the Internet. The emotions range from a general ennui to a dull anger. Even though the site they come from isn’t a representation of modern psychology, the post does a good job of highlighting how many people are feeling less tethered to their lives as they become more connected. My favorite is:

The state of being ‘installed’ at a computer or laptop for an extended period of time without purpose, characterized by a blurry, formless anxiety undercut with something hard like desperation.

According to a recent article in Wired magazine, the World Wide Web constitutes a steadily decreasing percentage of total Internet traffic in the US. (As seen in the chart below, it’s currently hovering at just a little over 20% of total traffic.)

What’s responsible for the downshift? As it turns out, smart phones, Skype, Netflix, and other such committed service or content platforms are the culprits: every time you use an iPhone app, chat, or stream a movie , you’ve used the Internet – while totally bypassing the web.

As the proliferation of closed channel, Internet-driven tools and entertainment continues, it will be interesting to watch the innovations that drive advertising on such platforms, as well as the potential impacts of these new mediums. A recent PC World article concerning Apple’s foray into mobile advertising, iAd, touches on several. With the advent of the HTML5 standard, there are rich possibilities for content dynamism in this type of advertising. And this type of advertising could have implications for the current relationship between creatives and content creators, as the latter become more integral to the creative process.

Perhaps it was those all long nights during production week which I spent editing articles and designing pages for my high school newspaper that gives me a great appreciation for newspapers.  As a journalism major I can’t help but sometimes fear for the future of news and the newspaper as reports of large daily papers downsizing or going completely out of business become more frequent.

However, a report issued by the Newspaper National Network the number of unique visitors to newspapers web sites in the top 25 markets grew 10 percent from March to April, reaching 83.7 million.  So while people are not picking up paper copies of their daily newspaper, they are still reading the paper—it just happens to be online.  Jason Klein, CEO of the Newspaper National Network, reported that newspaper web sites recorded 2 billion page views in the top 25 markets in April alone.

So the problem for major newspapers is not how to increase traffic to their web sites, but how to make a profit off their online versions.  These online trends are promising, especially during a time when advertisers are currently reducing their reliance on print advertising.  While online advertising is still considered by many advertisers as ‘uncharted territory,’ national advertisers would be foolish to ignore the data provided by the Newspaper National Network.  The increasing trend of unique visitors to online newspaper web sites will hopefully inject more confidence in advertisers who have already taken their ad dollars to the web.

Newspapers and the news industry are guilty of helping create a culture in which people are accustomed to getting their news virtually for free.  Large newspapers must work collectively to begin to change the culture of ‘free news’ if they want to remain in business.  The New York Times has already started to implement a type of payment plan for frequent viewers, but until other large newspapers begin adopting similar measures people will always have the option of circumventing paying for their news.

While their paper versions might be faltering, online newspapers in top markets are doing well, and they must begin to take advantage of this success by promoting online advertising.  The internet has helped sustain and revitalize this old medium, but now it is up to the newspaper industry as a whole to work hard to incorporate advertisers in this new medium and change a culture in which people are used to paying little, if any, for accurate and trustworthy news.

A little while back Tom wrote about Kickstarter, the site where people ask strangers to fund their projects. Today I tripped across Fiverr, a website where you can purchase services from strangers for $5. What can you really get for $5 you ask? It turns out you can get a wide variety of things, including:

  • Someone to post fliers for you around their college campus
  • Astrological readings
  • Transcription Services
  • Custom created birthday cards
  • Voiceovers
  • Advice
  • Exposure for your website

While much of it is silly, it’s a sign of how the web creates personalized products and services, micro-services if you will. While $5 might not seem like much, if someone can perform a $5 task several times in an hour or leverage the power of their own social network to advertise over and over again, they might make a little bit of extra money. More importantly, services like this and Kickstarter continue to lower the time and money investment needed to start something new.