Archive for January, 2013

Jan 12 2013

A Tribute: Remembering Aaron Swartz

Published by under News

A lot has been written about Aaron Swartz – Reddit co-founder and child prodigy extraordinaire – who was found dead in his Brooklyn apartment on January 11, 2012. He hanged himself weeks before he was about to stand trial. His crime? – Unauthorized downloading of articles from a digital library in order to make them freely available to the online community at a later date.

A statement from his family read thus:

“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”

Whatever be the reason for his suicide, there is no doubt that we have lost an individual who contributed significantly to how the Internet functions today. Through this article, we highlight the different milestones in Aaron’s life:

  • In 1999 – at the age of 13 – Aaron won the ArsDigita Prize award, which has been constituted to recognize young people who developed useful and collaborative non-commercial sites. This was his first ever recognition and gave him an opportunity to interact with Internet gurus at MIT.
  • In 2000, he joined the RSS-DEV Working Group and co-authored the RSS 1.0 specification, which has pioneered the way we publish stories on the Internet.
  • In 2005, Aaron launched the wiki platform Infogami, which later merged with Reddit. Slowly but steadily, the newly formed Reddit grew to a site amassing millions in daily visitors. Reddit was bought by CondéNet in 2006 and Aaron continued to work with them. In 2007, Aaron was asked to resign from the company he actually helped to found. This led Aaron to a state of depression though much of 2007.
  • In 2010, Aaron founded Demand Progress, a group that fought for digital rights and successfully prevented the passing of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill. Aaron provided strong support in favor of Open access (OA), a practice that provided unrestricted access to scholarly journal articles via the Internet.

Post-2010, Aaron was charged with unlawfully extracting information from a protected computer – this charge is in relation to his downloading of close to 4 million academic articles from JOSTOR, a digital library that traces its roots back to 1995. The charges carried a potential fine of up to $1 million and a potential prison term of up to 35 years.

Aaron was only 26 years old when he left us for another world – a promising life cut short. He will be missed by the Internet fraternity.

We depart with this wonderful quote by Birgitta Jonsdottir, Icelandic Member of Parliament:

“Aaron Swartz was the embodiment of the future for the information age and its freedoms we hold so dear. The internet was our mutual home and I feel even if I never met him in person that I lost someone from my tribe. He was and will be an inspiration to carry on our fight to keep the internet free, wild and borderless. Rest in Pixels.”

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Jan 05 2013

Interview with Dave Sarro, CEO, Promo Direct

Published by under News

Dave Sarro is a successful entrepreneur and plays a key role in the promotional industry. As CEO of Promo Direct, he drives the company’s mission to provide quality and cost-effective promotional products to firms across the U.S.A. In this free-wheeling interview with Andrew H., Dave talks about his company and sheds some light on the promotional industry.

A.H.: It’s been more than 20 years since you founded Promo Direct. How has the journey been so far?

D.S.: The journey has been very satisfying. Over the years, Promo Direct has evolved and incorporated newer technologies. We have streamlined our processes and made them more efficient towards achieving our business goals and ensuring better customer satisfaction.

When I launched the company in 1991, I only had a handful of people to support me. Today, Promo Direct employs people worldwide, comprising skilled experts from the fields of marketing, product management, customer support and many others.

A.H.: What are the major differences between the promotional industry of today and that of 1991, when you started out?

D.S.: The evolution of the Internet has revolutionized the way our industry breathes and functions. Today, the success of a promotional product company depends on how well they are able to adapt to the online world. Back in the nineties, the Internet was still in an early stage and I had to rely on word of mouth to do business.

A.H.: What, according to you, are the major factors that favor promotional products over other forms of advertising?

D.S.: I am not aware of any other advertising channel that provides the amount of ROI that promotional products provide.

Our products are inexpensive and can be customized to represent a company. Businesses can imprint their logos on them to ensure high recall value for their brands.

Business gifts are never discarded and find pride of place on the recipients’ desk or wall, giving excellent visibility for brands.

A.H.: What are the major challenges faced by the promotional industry?

D.S.: At this time, I do not see any major challenges. However, I do believe that companies must be online in order to compete long-term as more business buyers buy online.

A.H.: Is Promo Direct undertaking any social initiatives?

D.S.: Promo Direct is a socially responsible company. We have an extensive range of eco-friendly products to help ensure minimal impact on the environment.

A lot of our clients belong to the educational and healthcare sectors. We will continue in our endeavor to provide products that will help spread awareness and aid in social causes. We have frequently offered products at discounted prices to support educational and health awareness issues.

Recently, we launched pink-themed products to help companies promote breast cancer awareness.

A.H.: What does the future hold for Promo Direct?

D.S.: Promo Direct continues to grow and I fully expect Promo Direct to be an industry leader for many years to come. My focus today is growth and profitability.

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Jan 01 2013

2012 – A Retrospective Through Google Zeitgeist

Published by under Business & Marketing,News

With the year 2012 firmly behind us, we look forward to the New Year with hope and zeal. But what are the highs and lows experienced by people from across the world in 2012? The best way to find out is to explore the 2012 Zeitgeist list, which features the top trending Google search topics for the year gone by.

This Top 10 list sheds some light on the tragedies, success stories and disasters that help captive the imagination of people across the world:

Whitney Houston: Mere words cannot describe Whitney Houston’s voice. She was the darling of the masses but the downward spiral in her final years was a cause of considerable anguish for her fans. She died on February 9, 2012 – her body was found submerged in the bathtub.

In a career spanning 35 years, Whitney Houston has sung some of pop’s most recognizable hits. Her starring role opposite Kevin Costner in “The Bodyguard” further cemented her role in popular culture.

Gangnam Style: This Korean pop single was released on July 15, 2012 and quickly became a rage across the world. Singer PSY has been around for more than a decade but it is this single that has propelled him to enviable superstardom.

Gangnam Style is the first video to be viewed more than a billion times in Internet history.

Hurricane Sandy: This infamous superstorm killed 253 people across seven countries. It will take years for Americans to recover from the wounds inflicted by Sandy.

iPad 3: Steve Jobs passed away on October 5, 2011 but he has shared with us a legacy that will last forever. The iPad 3 was released on March 16, 2012 to world-wide acclaim. An estimated 750 people waited outside Apple’s Fifth Avenue store in New York City. Here is a mind-boggling statistic – three million iPads were sold in the first three days itself!

Diablo 3: The first installment of the Diablo video game was released on December 31, 1996. Prior to the release of Diablo 3, an estimated 25 million copies of this adrenaline-pumping game was sold world-wide. In the months leading up to the launch, game enthusiasts frantically checked for updates, ensuring that the game features in Google’s top search trends.

Kate Middleton: She got married to Prince William in 2011 but has managed to stay in the midst of people’s minds through 2012 as well. Several sleazy tabloids published private pictures of the celebrity, ensuring that people kept looking for her online.

Olympics 2012: The Summer Olympics that was held between July 27 and August 12, 2012. The event was a major success and Americans returned with 104 medals – 46 Gold, 29 Silver and 29 Bronze – more than other country.

Amanda Todd: Amanda was young. Very young. She was barely 16 when she committed suicide but had gone through several horrors in her brief life.

Amanda was sexually abused, blackmailed by a ‘friend’ and bullied to the point of suicide. Her death received widespread support and people kept looking for more information on her, resulting in her climb to the top of Google Search trends.

Michael Clarke Duncan: Who can forget the gentle giant John Coffee from the movie ‘Green Mile’? Michael Clarke Duncan was a reputed movie star with significant roles in a host of acclaimed movies. His formidable presence will be missed in Hollywood.

BBB 12: Who doesn’t love reality shows? The twelfth season of Big Brother Brasil featured 16 participants from different walks of life. Surprised that BBB 12 made to the list? Its high ranking on the 2012 Zeitgeist list is proof of the show’s overwhelming popularity among fans.

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