What's in Fashion: L'Wren Scott Found Dead, Madonna Goes Full On Game of Thrones, Instagram Nail Art

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Photo by insidemyvault via Instagram
Gone to soon.
Every week lots of breaking fashion news hits the interwebs and I don't want you to miss one bit of it. So, I present 10 of the biggest headlines packaged by me each week for your reading pleasure. Click and enjoy.

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What's in Fashion: Topshop Is Coming, Ban the Fanny Pack, Target Photoshop Fail

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Photo by Eastgate Basildon via Wikimedia Commons
Every week lots of breaking fashion news hits the interwebs and I don't want you to miss one bit of it. So, I present 10 of the biggest headlines packaged by me each week for your reading pleasure. Click and enjoy,

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WhatsApp With Facebook Taking Over the World?

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Double the pleasure, double the fun.
I try my best to keep up with all the web goings-on that the kids are into: For one, it's a part of my job and for two, it makes me feel not so old. But I won't lie; I had never even heard the word WhatsApp before two weeks ago when my step-mother, who lives in Mexico, suggested I download it so we can chat. Yes, my step-mother told me about it. I am lame.

But now, WhatsApp is all over my radar - and everyone else's who cares about Facebook's world domination -- due to the purchase of the app by Mark Zuckerberg and Co. If you are like me and had not heard of the app before, or even before reading this right now, it is basically a text messaging application that enables you to chat with people via the Internet. It's like Skype but for texting, and it's free for the most part.

Last week, Facebook shocked the universe by buying the app for a whopping $16 billion dollars! Billion with a B. Thus far, this is the largest purchase of a start-up ever in the history of the word start-up.

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Uber & Food Trucks: How the Internet Stokes the Flame of Once Little-Known Causes

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Internet users hope a grassroots campaign will give Uber a foothold in Houston.
When Howard Dean was a Democratic candidate for president, he did something no other national candidate had ever done -- no, not the scream in Iowa -- he raised a significant portion of his campaign funds using the Internet. That might not sound like a big deal today, but at the time it was revolutionary, and it substantively changed how candidates, big and small, raise money for campaigns and causes.

Now anyone with a cause or a business offer can raise money online. And if you are able to tap into a small niche group and its desires, you can likely bring in quite a bit of cash. Social media, in particular, has become a rallying point for problems most of us didn't even know existed...and often didn't care about.

Last year, Houston city council chambers were packed with young mostly urban dwellers. Having raised awareness for their cause using social media, they rounded up followers on a Tuesday morning and, one after another, strode to the podium and passionately made their case. You might think the cause was violent crime plaguing neighborhoods or broken streets badly in need of repair, but you'd be wrong. In this case, it was food trucks, and not complaints over their health and safety, but rather the demand they be allowed to operate downtown -- an ordinance had long prevented it.

Before this "problem" was publicized through social media, very few people even realized it was an issue. In fact, despite the extreme rise in popularity of food trucks over the past few years for those who live in or near the city, it is barely a blip on the radar for the vast majority of Houstonians.

Yet food trucks are another example of a niche cause turning into a political debate thanks to the web.

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Pop Rocks: 1995 Newsweek "Why the Internet Will Fail" Essay Actually Predicts Its Successes

Categories: The Web

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Imagine how THIS would have freaked people out in 1995.
In 1995, Newsweek writer Clifford Stoll decided the Internet was nothing more than a passing fancy. He was so convinced, he penned a hearty screed decrying prognosticators who suggested the Internet would amount to anything more than a noisy, cluttered nuisance of random data. Stoll was, obviously, quite wrong. He even admitted as much in a comment response to Boing Boing's story about the recent resurrection of his piece on a blog, saying "Of my many mistakes, flubs, and howlers, few have been as public as my 1995 howler."

But what is fascinating about the story "The Internet? Bah!" is how eerily accurate much of it is, just in the opposite direction. Many of the things Stoll believed would never happen actually happened and in remarkable fashion. But, digging deeper, Stoll wasn't wrong about everything and he did hit upon a significant problem plaguing the web today without being close to understanding its magnitude.

First, let's address what he got wrong.

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Beauty 2.0, Makeup in Your Pocket but Less Messy

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Photo by Cherise Luter
Beautylish brings me inspiration even in the line at the post office.
It should come as no surprise that fashion brands have adopted the mobile format en masse. An industry built on aspiration and impulse buys wants nothing more than to dwell in your pocket so the "buy me" message never goes interrupted.

Not only has the fashion industry jumped on the mobile bandwagon, but so has the beauty world. BeautyNow, a soon to be launched mobile optimized website for last minute beauty appointments, is attempting to bridge the gap between the customer and the salon. Think Blink by Groupon or, as founder Kathleen Jennings calls it, OpenTable for beauty appointments. The Houston based company is set to launch in the Houston and Dallas markets in Spring 2014, but hopes to help maintain the beauty regimens of busy woman everywhere.

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Facebook Dislike Button. Like or Dislike?

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You know when you're on Facebook, and someone posts something along the lines of, "The diagnoses came in, it's cancer." How do you respond? You may immediately comment that they are in your thoughts or "Noo!" or "So sorry to hear," or whatever you deem appropriate, but more often than not, there will be a good number of people "liking" the post. Do you mean you "like" that this person has cancer? Wow, you are a horrible human being.

But obviously, that is not the case and what you are really trying to say is that you acknowledge that they posted this comment and you want them to know that you now know that they have cancer. In terms of the American vernacular, the word "like" has taken on a wildly different meaning, connotatively.

For years, Facebookers have pleaded and fan-paged and even petitioned, "Give us a dislike button," for the love of God! Well that day has finally...not... come.

Last week, Facebook released a series of new "thumb" icons, including a thumbs down, meaning "dislike," to offer users more ways to express their emotions without having to use their big grown-up words that can be oh so cumbersome. But, the "stickers," as Facebook calls them, are only available by using the Instant Messenger feature. This very limited release, ironically, has not gotten very many "likes."

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Facebook stickers now available for Messenger.

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Facebook Losing Teens; Where Have All the Teenagers Gone

Categories: Internet, The Web

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In my spare time, I am a communication professor, and for the past few years I have been teaching a history of mass media course on the college level. Each semester, the students put together a media diary in which they monitor their media usage for three days. It's usually pretty eye-opening for them to see just how much media they consume. However, the past few semesters have also been eye-opening to me.

"I barely use Facebook anymore," one of my students said this semester, "because it's too annoying." (Italics, mine).

In fact, the majority of my students mentioned a decline in their use of the social media giant, opting instead for Instagram or Twitter. Given this information, I was not at all surprised with the report that came out this week stating that teens were leaving Facebook.

According to Facebook's Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman, teen usage of the social network fell in the last quarter.

"We did see a decrease in daily users, specifically among younger teens," Ebersman said, sending down the stock from the rise it saw after earnings were announced. "We wanted to share this with you now because we get a lot of questions about teens."


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Real Awards For Digital Things: A Social Media Look At The Houston Web Awards

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Photo by isiahcarey1.
An award and a cover, what could be better?
If you were ever curious if the people that make you laugh so much online are equally hilarious in real life, we've got good news: they are. If there was any takeaway from last night's 2013 Houston Web Awards, it's that funny people are funny even when they're not restricted to 140 characters or 6 seconds of video.

The Web Awards are a celebration of all the great things going on online, as well as a chance to get out from behind computer monitors for a few hours. But in the age of smart phones no one is ever really away from social media, and we've rounded up our favorite photos and tweets from a great night.

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The 2013 Houston Web Awards: The Devil is Busy

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When Fox26 investigative reporter Isiah Carey was in his mid-20s, he was just a young reporter working in Little Rock, Arkansas. He never thought that he would one day have a fan club in Ireland, but that's what the Internet can do for you. In Carey's case, the Internet and an Arkansas grasshopper that decided to take a trip into his mouth while taping a story. The result was a young man whose booming, authoritative voice turned "ghetto" and one of the more hilarious viral video clips you'll ever see on YouTube.

The fact Carey has taken it in stride and even accepted that an embarrassing moment he assumed had been left on the cutting room floor years ago had been resurrected online is an example of what a good sport he is and how he has learned how to turn that awkward moment into a strong social media presence.

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