TECHNOLOGY

The Internet Never Forgets

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The Web of regret. Memory in the age of omnipresent Internet is the subject of The New York Times Magazine's cover story this week, which highlights some fascinating (or disturbing, depending on which side of the equation you fall into) statistics. One: 75 percent of recruiters and HR professionals research candidates online - from blogs to Twitter to last night's photos on Facebook. And 70 percent say they've rejected candidates due to findings. The story cites a British gal fired from her office job for posting on Facebook: "I'm so totally bored!"? And remember the 25-year-old teacher denied a degree (and, ostensibly, a job) due to an MySpace photo of her posing as a "drunken pirate?" A federal district judge rejected the teacher's claim that the university had violated her First Amendment rights. The Times's take-away? "It's often said that we live in a permissive era, one with infinite second chances. But the truth is that for a great many people, the permanent memory bank of the Web increasingly means there are no second chances - no opportunities to escape a scarlet letter in your digital past."

Playboy goes PG-13. As if there weren't enough workplace distractions on the Internet, the TheSmokingJacket.com, a nod to Hef's signature uniform. There are no nude ladies, but the 84-year-old Hefner says in the site's welcome video, "Next to the mansion, it's the best hangout on the planet." Think of it as Cosmo for men, with more sports recaps and fewer beauty tips. Tribune media columnist Phil Rosenthal writes that the site is a last-ditch effort to "unlock the brand's value" in a changing media landscape, as Hefner himself has bid $185 million for the shares of the company that he doesn't already own, a move that would take Playboy Enterprises private. Also vying for ownership of the brand is Penthouse magazine, which offered a competitive $210 million bid last week.

Can you still succeed with abysmal customer service? If Facebook is any indication, the answer seems to be yes. A recent survey conducted by ForeSee Results ranked customer satisfaction for Facebook as one of the lowest in its category, edged out by MySpace by a hair (via Mashable). Courtney Rubin notes on Inc.com that it's extremely rare to be so popular, and yet so disliked. And yet the company continues to thrive and expects to hit the 500 million user mark later this week. The post postulates that there isn't a strong enough competitor to swipe the dissatisfied elements of Facebook's market share. So unless you're the uncontested leader in your industry, you should probably read our guide on improving your customer service.

Criminals latch on to skyrocketing virtual goods market. Worldwide sales of virtual goods - digital items in games and social networks -reached $2.2 billion last year, but the Wall Street Journal reports that their vendors were also more vulnerable to fraud. Merchants selling digital goods lost 1.9 percent of revenue to fraud in 2009, compared with a 1.1 percent fraud rate for companies selling physical goods online. "At first glance it's hard to imagine fraudsters' interest in items like computerized swords for a fantasy game," the Journal says. "But these goods are often easier to obtain than physical goods and criminals have learned that there are ways to convert them in to cash." Still, virtual goods is a vibrant market expected to reach $6 billion by 2013. Here's how to get started.

Number of start-up-created jobs hits an all-time low. A recent report from Challenge, Gray & Christmas, an outplacement and executive coaching firm that has been tracking this data for almost 25 years, found that the number of unemployed job seekers who started their own company hit a record low in the first half of 2010. Only 3.7 percent of out-of-work people seeking jobs chose to start a business, as opposed to 9.6 percent in the second half of 2009, or even 4.4 percent in the second half of 2008. Along with the Kauffman Foundation's July report highlighting the crucial role start-ups play in creating jobs, says it "may explain why job creation in the U.S. remains low: fewer start-ups founded, fewer jobs created," says ReadWriteStart. CEO John Challenger says it's difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind this drop, "It could be that the job market has improved to the point that many do not feel compelled to take the risk of going it alone. Then there is the fragility of the recovery and the uncertainty that comes with it." Here at Inc., we've been obsessing over the same issues, which is why for July's cover story we put together highly practical, eminently doable, totally reasonable plan to create a million new jobs.

From the hardwood and gridiron to real estate development. Sure, plenty of athletes dump their money upon retirement into restaurants and night clubs. But an increasing number of retired athletes are taking their competitive drive into real estate development, the New York Times reports. From former Nets player Tate George developing affordable housing in Newark to former Mets slugger Mo Vaughn rehabilitating blighted apartment buildings in Brooklyn, athletes are mixing business-savvy with community improvement. "What I'm doing is not self-serving, but other-serving," George says.

Losing friends and alienating people. When he decided to write about starting his new restaurant for the New York Times, Bruce Buschel didn't expect to get an "unrelenting hate wave." But he did. And yesterday afternoon, he went ahead and hated back a bit, by posting a list of the 100 people who had hated on him worst. It's a fairly lighthearted list, including his drumming teacher, four people who, inspired by Buschel's list of rules for waitstaff, started a Facebook boycott, and a fictional character. Oh, and his wife. Check it out.

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Last updated: Jul 21, 2010

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.




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