August 23, 2014

Huffington-India, the cold water challenge and a monkey's selfie

Huffington Post is among the top blog-turned news portals in the world. This week, it has entered into a partnership with Times Internet, with a view to launch the portal’s Indian edition. The Indian edition of this influential ‘digital first’ news biggie is expected to come up later this year. This will be HuffPost’s 12th edition.

Huffington Post boasts of over 85 million monthly unique visitors and the Times Internet maintains the topmost portal in India and news sites of its various print publications (notably indiatimes, the Times of India and the Economic Times), clocking over 100 million visitors a month.

By the way, the much loved and hated (for its taking stand against governments and celebrities and its slightly leftist bias) website began as a collective blog in 2005. Another association of Huffington Post with blogging is its blogging platform. HuffPost says, it will open blogging on its Indian edition when it starts. 

When social media helps chill celebrity heads

We have been seeing, again and again, how social media amplifies negative communication as it is easily and effectively exploited by drug pedlars, child porn industry, terrorists and other criminals and anti-social elements. A recent example of this is the abuse of social media by ISIS. In the last few months, however, we have seen social media helping spread a benign craze – to be seen pouring bucket-full of ice-cold water on one’s head. Called ‘ice bucket challenge’, this stunt has been very successfully used by the ALS Association  of the USA for raising funds for research into a debilitating disease called ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).

The ALS Association says, it has raised over $53 million through this activity, mostly propagated by the social media. The ‘ice bucket challenge’ calls upon people to post videos showing them or someone else dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads. They must publicly name others to do the same within 24 hours and/or donate $100 to the ALS Association. Many international celebrities have helped spread the craze by accepting the challenge.

What seems to have made the charity stunt a great fundraising success is ease of doing it and the fun involved in it. It gives celebrities, always hungry for social attention, another occasion to promote themselves; and people love to follow celebrities besides generating some publicity for themselves. Less of charity and more of self-promotion and fun; but why care when it helps raise funds for charity?

Indians have not remained too far behind, with a few Bollywood celebrities leading in getting their heads chilled. 

This monkey clicked her selfie and had the last laugh, no joke!

monkey selfieNow this one, though a recycled old story, is a virtual monkey business! A selfie taken by a female macaque three years back and posted on Wikimedia has been challenged by the photographer whose camera she snatched and used to click photographs.

Wikimedia has maintained that since these pictures were taken by an animal, these are un-copyrightable. On such photographas (one shown here) it says, "This file is in the public domain, because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested." Interestingly, to clear the air, the US Copyright Office (USCO) has released fresh guidelines saying that animals or divine or supernatural beings cannot hold copyright over a picture.