• The Boycott Boomerang
    The Humane Society of the United States found itself stymied. Despite years of letter-writing campaigns, political lobbying, and raising consumer awareness with the most graphic, vivid and just plain adorable images known to conservationists, it couldn't save Canada's baby seals. So in 2005, Wayne Pacelle, president of the 10.5 million-member group, found himself invoking the activist version of thermonuclear warfare: the boycott.
  • Hot Buttons
    It's been a year in which some of the things we don't usually speak about publicly (or at least, not in polite company) began to be talked about at last. Movements toward political correctness, which swamped the media and public discourse for much of the past decade, met with a backlash, and seem to be giving way to a sort of new openness. Political seasons tend to bring these things to fore.
  • That's a Wrap
    It was 1974. My dad told me he had a surprise for me in the driveway. I ran as fast I could. Our baby blue VW bug was now wrapped entirely entirely in an ad for Camel cigarettes. "Just a way to bring in a few extra bucks," he said.
  • Run Free, Little Widget
    Yahoo has thrown open its mobile widget development platform. Yahoo Blueprint has been around for nearly a year as a tool for making widgets for the Yahoo Go mobile application. In September, the company updated the app to let developers build standalone widgets for Java, Windows and Symbian devices. (It's hinted that it's talking to Apple about enabling the iPhone.)
  • Clear, Blue, Skeezy
    It's okay to show men getting hit in the groin, just don't mention the fact that women urinate. That was the message loud and clear from network censors when New York-based agency Amalgamated first tried to air its "pee ship" spot for Clearblue Easy Digital Pregnancy Test.
  • Searching for a Defense
    In June, defense attorney Lawrence G. Walters walked into a Pensacola courtroom to defend Clinton McCowen, a Florida resident and owner of an adult Web site specializing in "facial content." While it may seem obscene to try to protect a porn site operator from obscenity charges, Walters argues that McCowen is merely supplying the community with something it demands. The defense team used Google Trends, which analyzes Google queries to compute how many searches have been done for specific terms, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time, and generates a graph illustrating the results.
  • War Games
    The U.S. Army had a short list of big cities with the right mix of minorities (high), unemployment (also high), income and education levels (both low) for optimum recruiting. Among Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Newark, N.J., and Los Angeles; Philly had the best retail space available. Working with digital marketing shop Ignited, the Army opened a sleek retail and video-game center in north Philadelphia's massive Franklin Mills mall in September.
  • Canned Rhetoric
    Here's something no one saw coming in 1789: First Amendment protections extend to some types of spam. In September, the Virginia Supreme Court vacated the 2004 conviction of Jeremy Jaynes, a notorious spammer, because the state's anti-spam law made no exceptions for political, religious or nonprofit groups. Instead, "it prohibits anonymous transmission of all unsolicited bulk e-mails," making Virginia's law "unconstitutionally overbroad," wrote Justice G. Steven Agee.
  • Ho-Ho-Ho Home Servers
    Santa's got a brand new bag of servers. The home media network may find some tech limelight this holiday season, if only by default. Since this is shaping up to be the blandest tech-shopping season in a decade - bellwether categories like Apple products, flat panel TVs, PCs and video games are absolutely bereft of major new products - home networks are a bigger deal that they might otherwise have been.
  • Teach the World to Ping
    This summer's Olympics served as a test bed for emerging media of all sorts, from massive online streaming to live and VOD mobile video. In one bleeding edge mobile trial that occurred around the venue itself, Coca-Cola and Chinese media company Pioco created an unprecedented network of 1,500 Bluetooth hot spots that broadcast Coke commercials to passers-by on their cell phones.
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