Gregory Ferenstein


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  • YouTube Launches ‘American Idol’ Search For The Best Teachers

    YouTube Launches ‘American Idol’ Search For The Best Teachers

    YouTube is looking to give some much-needed celebrity status to the most engaging teachers in the world. They’re conducting an Internet-wide competition of the best video lessons, which will be judged by an all-star panel of online educators, such as Sal Khan of Khan Academy. The rise of online educational videos is giving learners access to the world’s greatest thinkers and… Read More

  • No More Needles: ‘Painless’ Laser Injects Drugs

    No More Needles: ‘Painless’ Laser Injects Drugs

    The end of needles is nigh: researches have developed a laser-based system “that blasts microscopic jets of drugs into the skin could soon make getting a shot as painless as being hit with a puff of air,” reports phys.org. The laser system works by creating microsecond bubbles of air that penetrate the skin and injects a drug through a narrow space about as wide as a human hair. Read More

  • Shiny New iPhone > Impending Military Conflict

    Shiny New iPhone > Impending Military Conflict

    Our national fixation with shiny new Apple gadgets has overshadowed impending military action in Libya for the killing of an American diplomat. If CNN’s public “news pulse” is any indication, iPhone 5 news was more than twice as popular as an international crisis that has our Commander-in-Chief sending two Navy destroyers armed with Tomahawk missiles off the coast of Libya. Read More

  • Airtime Launches Topic Chatrooms; Debate Who Should Win Disrupt Battlefield

    Airtime Launches Topic Chatrooms; Debate Who Should Win Disrupt Battlefield

    How often do you finish reading an article and want to chat about it with someone right away? Especially if it’s a politics piece that I feel strongly about, I’ll be feverishly curious about how anyone could possibly disagree with the argument. Well, now you can find the perfect debate or conversation partner: video chat pairing service, Airtime, has launched topic-specific… Read More

  • Investor And Director Greg Yaitanes Releases ‘Banshee’ Promo

    Investor And Director Greg Yaitanes Releases ‘Banshee’ Promo

    Emmy award-winning director, angel investor, and TechCrunch Disrupt Judge, Greg Yaitanes, has released the promo to Banshee, his much-anticipated follow up to House (the most popular show on the planet, while he was directing). As an early investor in Twitter, Square, and Pinterest, Yaitanes made his mark by bringing the latest technology to his shows. During Banshee, for instance… Read More

  • Important Study: Facebook Quadruples The Power Of Campaign Messages

    Important Study: Facebook Quadruples The Power Of Campaign Messages

    The first large-scale experimental research on the political influence of social networks finds that Facebook quadruples the power of get-out-the-vote messages. While the single-message study produced a moderately successful boost in turnout (a 2.2% increase in verified votes), the most important finding was that 80% of the study’s impact came from “social contagion”… Read More

  • Ron Conway And SF Mayor Ed Lee On Crucial Upcoming Tech Policy

    Ron Conway And SF Mayor Ed Lee On Crucial Upcoming Tech Policy

    Ron Conway and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee sat down with TechCrunch to chat about two crucial upcoming policies for the technology industry. First among them was Proposition E, a ballot initiative to reverse an old payroll tax policy that charged companies on their payroll, rather than on their revenue (“gross receipts”). Given that many technology startups aren’t making… Read More

  • Google Launches Open Course Builder

    Google Launches Open Course Builder

    Google launched an open source course building web application for the growing list of K-12 and big-name universities developing online classes. The barebones website is a lightweight way to bring course material online, track student engagement (with web traffic and surveys), and evaluate performance. “We want to use this launch to show that Google believes it can contribute to… Read More

  • Mayor Booker Wants To Hack Government, Make It Performance-Based

    Mayor Booker Wants To Hack Government, Make It Performance-Based

    “It’s all about what you can measure in the private sector, and it should be in the public sector, as well,” says Newark Mayor Cory Booker, in a candid discussion about how the government must adopt performance-based standards that define success in the marketplace. “We’ve got to find a way to drive towards real, true accountability.” Read More

  • Online Political Power Is Back: Obama Out-Raises Romney With 300K New Donors

    Online Political Power Is Back: Obama Out-Raises Romney With 300K New Donors

    The power of online fundraising is back in action: Barack Obama beat his fundraising losing streak by raising $114 million in August, narrowly inching head of Romney by just $3 million. Leveraging the power of unlimited campaign donations that was granted by the Supreme Court in Citizens United, Republicans have enjoyed a huge financial advantage with deep-pocketed SuperPACs and billionaires. Read More

  • Accept It: Both Democrats And Republicans Are Equally Smart

    Accept It: Both Democrats And Republicans Are Equally Smart

    “People with strong attachments to the Republican Party were more likely to see their paper as leaning toward Clinton, independent of the paper’s actual coverage. Similarly, people with strong democratic identification were likely to see their newspaper as leaning toward Bush,” wrote (PDF) Professor Russell Dalton, in an eye-opening 1992 study about how partisanship blinds us… Read More

  • Dear @Google_Surveys, The Statistics Addict In Me Wants To Hug You

    Dear @Google_Surveys, The Statistics Addict In Me Wants To Hug You

    The data scientist in me has a new crush: Google Surveys. Last night, Google’s consumer marketing division released a deliciously rich dataset of citizen reaction to the Democratic National Convention speeches with a rapid response survey. Unlike the notoriously young, liberal bias of social media sites, nearly everyone with an internet connection uses Google (it is a verb, after all). Read More

  • Underdog No More: How Romney’s Digital Director, Zac Moffatt, Got Silicon Valley To Power The Campaign

    Underdog No More: How Romney’s Digital Director, Zac Moffatt, Got Silicon Valley To Power The Campaign

    “As a campaign we would not presume to know more than the collective intelligence and resources of the marketplace. We find the best firms in the country and glue them together to achieve our goals,” says Zac Moffatt, Mitt Romney’s Digital Director. Without the luxury of a 4 year head start to build out it’s own campaign tools, Moffatt has won digital parity with the… Read More

  • From A Disrupt Win To $13M In Funding, Getaround Tells All

    From A Disrupt Win To $13M In Funding, Getaround Tells All

    Peer-to-Peer car sharing service, Getaround, is making waves in the crowded sharing economy market, signing up over 10,000 cars in the last year. Before Getaround raised $13.9 million from VCs, such as Shervin Pishevar and Marissa Mayer, the startup was shot to Silicon Valley fame after winning TechCrunch Disrupt’s battlefield competition in 2011. Read More

  • Study: Dumb Robots Cause Students To Learn More Quickly

    Study: Dumb Robots Cause Students To Learn More Quickly

    Students learn faster when learning from robots that make mistakes. The counter-intuitive study finds that Japanese children learn English quicker when they correct the intentional translation errors of a toy robot–exploiting a well-known fact among educators that students learn best when they help teach others. Robots that appeared to “learn” from the instruction of… Read More

  • How Obama Stole Romney’s RNC Thunder With Clever Social Media

    How Obama Stole Romney’s RNC Thunder With Clever Social Media

    President Barack Obama managed to steal an impressive amount of Gov. Mitt Romney’s press coverage with a few, cheap social media tricks, including the most retweeted post of the convention. In comparison to the Republican National Convention’s all-out multi-million dollar conservative carnival, Obama made front page Google News with dramatically less effort and at no cost with… Read More

  • Do Women Love Ann Romney? Only Facebook Knows

    Do Women Love Ann Romney? Only Facebook Knows

    For all the millions spent on the Republican National Convention, the entire operation could only speculate whether their keynote speeches had any meaningful impact. Until Facebook achieved near universal adoption among the voting class, brands had no reliable way to gage public opinion. Large surveys are subject to respondents’ notoriously bad memories, focus groups are too tiny to… Read More

  • Berkeley Study: Half-Star Change In Yelp Rating Can Make Or Break A Restaurant

    Berkeley Study: Half-Star Change In Yelp Rating Can Make Or Break A Restaurant

    Two Berkeley economists have found that the tiniest changes in online restaurant reviews can make or break a restaurant. A simple half-star improvement on Yelp’s 5-star rating makes it 30-49% more likely that a restaurant will sell out its evening seats. Online reviews, the researchers conclude, “play an increasingly important role in how consumers judge the quality of goods… Read More

  • Labor Day Ready: White House Releases Beer Recipe Thanks To Direct Democracy

    Labor Day Ready: White House Releases Beer Recipe Thanks To Direct Democracy

    Ready your grocery list for Labor Day: the White House has released the recipe for its official home brew, The White House Honey Ale. In a pun-tastic blog, Assistant Chef, Sam Kass, buckled to overwhelming demand from the White House online petition platform, We The People, “with public excitement about White House beer fermenting such a buzz, we decided we better hop right to it.” Read More

  • The Loudest Voice At A Political Convention Is A Tech Company

    The Loudest Voice At A Political Convention Is A Tech Company

    How times have changed: the loudest voice at the Republican National Convention wasn’t an oil conglomerate or SuperPAC; it was a tech company, Google. A free coffee shop, blazing-fast Wifi and a broadcast studio was enough to make Google’s swanky convention digs the hip hangout spot at the conservative quadrennial mecca. But, beyond the cutesy “MTV cribs”-style stories… Read More