March 31st, 2011
07:30 PM ET

April Fools’ Day Pranks – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Let me start by clearing a few things up:

  • Scientists have NOT proven the existence of the Loch Ness Monster
  • Abba are NOT reuniting to perform ‘Dancing Queen’ at Kate and William’s reception
  • Snoop Dogg has NOT been neutered
  • Charlie Sheen is NOT a nice person 

At this time of year, news outlets revel in their readerships’ gullibility. But the art of media foolery is so rampant that an increasingly skeptical public is starting to doubt the veracity of stories long before April 1.

Take Rebecca Black for example. We almost needed to believe that ‘Friday’ was a hoax, despite its mid-March emergence. So indescribably offensive was this autotuned iniquity, the conspiracy theorists flooded online forums within hours. Sadly, we’ll have to chalk that down to wishful thinking.


March 31st, 2011
06:01 AM ET

Gold rush for Chinese internet stocks

Oh, if only we could predict the future, then we might be millionaires today.

This week News Stream, CNN International’s news and tech show, is focusing on some of China’s hottest tech stocks. The business segment I suggested for them: how much money would you have made if you were smart – or lucky – enough to have invested early on and cashed out today. The answers might make you shake your head and wish you had put up some money. Or they might make you smile a bit broader as you head out for your steak and lobster dinner.

Five years ago, share prices for Baidu, Tencent and Sina were affordable to many more investors, ranging between $5 and $30. Today that range has rocketed to the $100 to $200 level – and out of reach to the casual buyer.


March 29th, 2011
06:23 PM ET

Examining Baidu's unique culture

There was a time, maybe four or five years ago, where I thought to myself, "If I read another article about the Google cafeteria, I may have to throw my laptop across the room."  I admit we have an odd obsession with work life at the elite tech companies. Perhaps it is the fantasy that some day my office's mediocre vending machine that is filled with instant noodles and potato chips will metamorphosize into free, fresh salads and quesadillas for all.

When planning New Stream's week-long focus on the  internet in China, I realized that I had no idea what working at a Chinese  internet company was like. Did young college graduates in China dream of a job at Baidu or Tencent? Did the creativity that permeates places like Facebook apply to China's tech giants as well?

Well, CNN's Eunice Yoon went inside Baidu to find out. Check out her refreshing look at life as a worker-bee at a Chinese internet giant. By the way, she told me the canteen there was excellent.Try the hot pot.

[cnn-video url="http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/business/2011/03/29/yoon.china.baidu.workers.cnn"%5D
March 29th, 2011
10:29 AM ET

One to bookmark: Baidu Beat

For any China nerd, this is a blog to bookmark

For example, this is one of the top ten search results today: "qiang xing qu shen" (强行取肾) refers to a young man in Hunan who had his kidney forcibly removed by criminals. The classic, and sordid, urban legend is retold in today's China.

And early last week, a "list of uncivilized civilians" or "bu wenming shimin" (不文明市民) made it to the top of Baidu's real-time search results. Officials in Wuhan turned to naming and shaming bad drivers, jaywalkers and litterbugs to crackdown on bad behavior. Unsurprisingly, the move generated much online debate.

Baidu Beat also keeps an eye on new phrases coined by China's Netizens. For example, "ni dong de" (你懂的). It translates as "you know it" and is used to indicate something better left unsaid be it something between friends or a sensitive political issue. Net meme hipsters take note - "ni dong de" scored as Baidu's top new Internet phrase of last year.

March 29th, 2011
09:36 AM ET

Who are China's Netizens?

China has 457 million Internet users, more than other country in the world. If you look beyond that number, you can learn a lot about China's netizens. More than 30% are students and more than a quarter are rural residents, living far from the booming cities of Beijing or Shanghai. Gaming and instant messaging are still very popular, but Internet users are increasingly undertaking e-commerce activities like banking or shopping. Kristie Lu Stout looks at the profiles of three different Chinese netizens to explain who's online in China and how they are spending their time.

[cnn-video url="http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/tech/2011/03/28/lu.stout.china.cnn"%5D
March 28th, 2011
01:55 PM ET

Behind the Great Firewall: China's 'first blogger' speaks out

The battle of Chinese censors to block political commentary on the internet is akin to "a snake swallowing its own tail," said Isaac Mao, an influential Chinese blogger.
[cnn-video url="http://cnn.com/video/?/video/tech/2011/03/28/issac.mao.intv.cnn"%5D

"I think the problem to the whole country is that if we censor more and more keywords, we will be stopping the country from more and more innovations," said Mao, considered China's "first blogger" and outspoken critic of his country's online censorship. "I described it as a snake swallowing its own tail because the snake is trying to find the food and attack, but eventually he found his own tail."


March 25th, 2011
11:56 AM ET

News Stream @ 100

Friday, March 25, marks the 100th episode of News Stream.

This may not be an achievement even remotely close to Larry King’s 25 years on air... But it’s an important milestone for us, and one I can’t believe we’ve reached.


March 25th, 2011
11:55 AM ET

News Stream's Top 100 on Twitter: follow them... or else. #nscnn

On the day of our 100th episode, I've compiled a Twitter list of the 100 people who have informed and inspired our coverage from day one.

In no particular order (drum roll please)...


Filed under: General • Social networking
March 22nd, 2011
01:20 PM ET

Rebecca Black: The Future of Music or a Cautionary Tale?

Rebecca Black. Love her or hate her. But if you’re leaning towards the latter, take a moment to put yourself in her shoes. If you were an ambitious, borderline-precocious 13-year-old Californian whose mommy and daddy could pay to make you a star, would you refuse their offer? I very much doubt it.

By all means hate the track with which Black has risen to YouTube infamy. “Friday” is Ke$ha without the booze references, and if you knew the true toxicity of my venom towards Ke$ha, you’d appreciate how much I despise it. The lyrics appear to have been conceived by a bargain basement Taiwanese robot armed only with a calendar and admittedly admirable "copy and paste" skills. The melody has all the merits of a rejected Daphne & Celeste B-side. And that thing they’ve done to her voice? If the producers used a button entitled “Singing under the bathwater with a wired-up TV thrown in for good measure”, I’d have to concede they’ve nailed it. FULL POST

March 21st, 2011
05:40 PM ET

Twitter: Five Years On

To tweet or not to tweet? Well, when you work on a show with the tagline “Where News and Technology Meet”, it seems pretty apt to give it a go. So, Happy Birthday, Twitter. Here's to the next five years!

I ought to confess that I didn’t really “get” Twitter before the launch of News Stream. I didn’t even attempt to.  From a news perspective, a site on which Lady Gaga (self-proclaimed gay – but not gay – icon, purveyor of occasionally catchy music), Justin Bieber (hair icon, purveyor of perpetually dismal music) and Britney Spears (comedy icon, purveyor of largely unintentional entertainment) command more followers than the U.S. President, it hardly seemed necessary. FULL POST

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