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Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 07/06/2011

Obama’s Twitter townhall (#AskObama); the end of unlimited data plans; tracking malaria cures; rescuing dying languages; an all-renewable island


If she’s hoping to switch to Verizon’s unlimited data plan after July 7, she probably won’t be smiling for long. (Joe Raedle - GETTY IMAGES)
Good morning!

The spotlight will be on the social media world Wednesday, with Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg making his “awesome” announcement and President Obama holding his Twitter townhall.

Let’s get to the big stories:

1) The Post is all over Obama’s Twitter townhall

The Post will have tech reporter Cecilia Kang and National Innovations Editor Mark Luckie at the White House Wednesday, covering the president’s townhall, during which President Obama will field 140-character questions that have been curated by a Twitter staff-selected group of curators. The Post’s Chris Cillizza will also be live-blogging the event on The Fix, and, of course, there will be live video so you can watch it all as it happens.

Our own Dominic Basulto provided his take as to whether this is really the most effective way to bring in outside-the-Beltway voices and whether GroupMe is going to be the next big social media tool for the 2012 election.

2)Verizon to kill unlimited data plans on Thursday

If you’re hoping to get an unlimited data plan with Verizon, you better act fast — really fast. The company is ending its unlimited data plan on Thursday, following in the path of wireless competitor AT&T as the number of smart phone users continues to grow. The decision comes as Verizon prepares to open up an even faster 4G network connection.

According to Verizon spokeswoman Melanie Ortel, 95 percent of Verizon customers use less than 2 gigabytes per month. We asked Verizon why the change was coming now, as opposed to after the launch of Apple’s rumored iPhone 5. “Our data plans are not tied to devices and are for all of our smartphones,” wrote Ortel in an e-mail message. Verizon phones will also include an automatic alert system to notify users as they approach the 50, 75, 90, 100 and 110 percent usage points in their plan. Verizon will also provide data usage monitoring tools.

Ultimately, the good news is this: If you are a Verizon customer who currently has an unlimited data plan — whether or not you want to upgrade your phone, you can keep your unlimited plan.

If you’re new to Verizon after July 7, here’s what you can expect instead of a $30-a-month unlimited plan: One of four data plans that range from 75 megabytes of data for $10 to 10 gigabytes for $80 a month. And for those of you who like to tether your phone to your laptop or other Web-ready devices, be prepared to pay an additional $20.

With Verizon and AT&T, the only service providers for Apple’s popular iPhone in the U.S., starting to charge per-megabyte, the question arises: What will this do for Americans’ ability to innovate? For example, the iPhone now has HD video and face-to-face video calling features. Will this freeze the use of these capabilities, or is this merely an opening for a larger company — say, Google — to institute a national wi-fi hotspot?

Given this transition is inevitable, here’s a good tip sheet from Techland on the most data-hungry smart phone applications.

And for all of you cute-cat-picture lovers, your phone plan probably just got a lot pricier. Here’s why.

(MobileBeat)

3) Gates Foundation interactive tracks malaria prevention

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has introduced a new interactive feature that shows the number of lives saved and the methods used to save them in countries with high rates of malaria infection.

The graphic also features the difference in lives saved with and without increased interventions. The graphic is one of many introduced by the foundation to keep track of humanitarian efforts in global health, poverty eradication and development, and education and information.

(Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation via Mashable)

4) How hip-hop is keeping dying languages on life support

Could Chilean teenagers’ desire to make their text messages more exclusive breathe new life into a dying language? According to Samuel Herrara at the Institute of Anthropological Research in Mexico City: Yes. Yes, it can.

Mobiledia’s Margaret Rock writes that southern Chilean teens are incorporating the nearly dead language Huilliche into hip-hop videos they are uploading to YouTube.

Think “lol”(laughing out loud) and “brb”(be right back) if the abbreviations for English texting shorthand were part of another language.

(Mobiledia via Kottke.org)

5) The first all-renewable-fuel powered island?

Will El Hierro be the first island to be powered entirely by renewable fuel? According to energy company ABB, it will. The energy group issued a release detailing a new renewable fuels project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2011. The effort will replace El Hierros’s imported diesel-fuel power grid with an combined wind, hydroelectric and solar-energy grid.

(ABB via Earth Techling and Huffington Post)

Washington Post Co. Chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham is a member of Facebook’s board of directors.

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 07/06/2011

Categories:  Technology, Morning Read

 
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