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City picks entrepreneur to lead digital efforts. Meet Rachel Sterne. The 27-year-old entrepreneur was tapped by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to be the city's first "chief digital officer." Stern, the founder of a citizen news portal called GroundReport, told The Wall Street Journal she's "so excited" because "roles like this just didn't exist five, six, seven years ago." Her first order of business? Expanding the city's digital footprint and re-jiggering nyc.gov. She might even take a cue from her snarky friends, who posted suggestions like this on her Facebook profile: "maybe while you're there you can teach mike how to check accuweather.com."

Small banks to get $30 billion in aid. Remember the "Small Business Lending Fund" President Obama plugged in his last State of the Union address? One year later, the money is about to start flowing. The fund offers community banks capital that becomes cheaper as they boost their lending to small businesses, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. But the Washington Post says the plan is facing a big hurdle: many banks and businesses have no intention of tapping the fund, "either because they were well capitalized or weren't seeing loan demand."

"The Beer Industry's Mad Inventor." The BottomsUp beer dispenser functions as its name implies: it fills a cup with beer from the bottom. But what makes the product so unique is how quickly the cups are filled. A YouTube demonstration proves it can fill 56 cups in 60 seconds—an "unofficial world record." OPEN Forum reports the story of the product's inventor, Josh Springer, a 28-year-old with a vision for a faster pouring dispenser. According to OPEN, the YouTube video "helped transform Springer's invention from an online oddity into a breakthrough product that is now filling beer cups in some 25 venues around the country, including National Football League stadiums in Jacksonville and San Diego as well as Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals."

Want to buy a pink cow? You'll need some "Facebook Credits" for that. Facebook said third-party game developers must use its virtual currency in all game apps played on the social network. According to the Wall Street Journal, "Facebook is aiming to build an online payments business that observers believe could one day augment its advertising business, the company's primary source of revenue...But Facebook's push to drive adoption of its virtual currency has been controversial among game developers because the social network takes a 30% slice of every transaction made with Facebook Credits." The requirement takes effect July 1.

A one-stop shop for the news. What else is new? Two-year-old start-up Ongo is the latest to take a crack at aggregating news while also turning a profit. Debuting today, the site is backed by three media giants: Gannett, which publishes USA Today, The New York Times Company and The Washington Post Company.

Twitter blocked in Egypt. As with the Iranian protests of 2009 and the recent uprising in Tunisia, Twitter and Facebook are increasingly being used to rally the masses for a political cause. Egypt is the latest country to block the microblogging service after violent protesters poured into the streets of Cairo, demanding President Hosni Mubarak's resignation. TechCrunch has the story.

A veteran innovator. Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, reports on his website that software developed by Renford Patch, a Department of Veteran Affairs employee, is being used to expedite complicated paper processes. The software is designed to evaluate a veteran's hearing loss and feeds that information into the claims process. "This kind of thing is fairly novel in Washington," writes Newmark, "but we're seeing it start to happen a lot there, particularly in those areas that have embraced Open Government."

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Last updated: Jan 25, 2011




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