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Venngage Offers Inexpensive Data Visualization Tools for Businesses


Name: Venngage

Quick Pitch: Easy-to-use online data visualization tools for creating infographics.

Genius Idea:Venngage provides a cheap and intuitive platform to help businesses create quality infographics without the expense of in-house designers.

Say goodbye to outsourcing infographics and worrying about the expense of in-house work.

Venngage, a Toronto-based firm,offers an affordable and simple platform for businesses to create quality infographics without the expense of in-house designers.

We’re designed for the end users, Venngage CMO Lucas Walker toldMashable. We’re made for those who gather the information and use it.

Venngage is an offshoot of, a startup that launched last year to help consumers transform the information on their LinkedIn profiles into infographic resumes. This new effort focuses more on business needs and broadens the scope of use cases for data visualization tools well beyond job hunting.

The service is ideal for small businesses and teams looking to package information in a more aesthetically pleasing way for investors. For example, if a startup needs investors to understand how traffic from social networks and external sites is influencing its growth, a good infographic can be key.

Tableau offers similar software, but it costs $999 for the Desktop Personal Edition and $1,999 for the Desktop Professional Edition. IBM also offers a similar service called Cognos Business Intelligence that starts at $500 and you must also download software.

What sets Venngage apart is its online-only platform that doesn’t require any downloads. Users can login and begin creating infographics within seconds through a click-and-drag interface. Though ease of use is a major factor in Venngage’s appeal to small businesses, the low cost of the service may be the bigger sell.

There are three account types that are available: Basic (which is free but contains a watermark on each graphic), Professional (for $20 a month per account, users can access API plugins to Facebook and Google Analytics to enhance their visualizations) and Enterprise (which offers real-time analytics and custom algorithms for data gathering for a range of prices.)

Venngage’s demo day is Oct. 23.

Get Your Tickets to Mashable Media Summit

The Mashable Media Summit 2012 will explore the impact that technology is having on media, and how digital media is affecting our lives and changing the world. This one-day conference will bring together the brightest minds in media, including content creators, technology leaders, entrepreneurs, social media executives and journalists.

Date: Friday, Nov. 2, 2012

Time: 10:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.

Location: The TimesCenter, 242 West 41st Street, New York, NY 10036

Tickets: Purchase early bird tickets on Eventbrite.

A Look Back at Last Year’s Mashable Media Summit

How The Media Avoids Getting Celebrity Death News Wrong

When news of Nora Ephron’s death ricocheted around Twitter Tuesday afternoon, it was hard to tell whether the filmmaker and author had indeed died or whether the news was just another celebrity death hoax. As it turned out, it was neither: the tweets were based on a prematurely released tribute (since removed) on written by Ephron’s friend, the gossip writer Liz Smith (who later said she regretted prematurely reporting the news, and didn’t try to confirm it with Ephron’s family because she didn’t want to bother them). When Ephron did pass away later that evening, the news was reported – accurately – by the Washington Post.

Early reports of Ephron’s death, like Smith’s, were greeted with skepticism because few outside of her close circle of friends and family even knew she was ill. But we live in a world where every news-related tweet, no matter how seemingly far-fetched, needs to be taken seriously – even though inaccurate reports of celebrity deaths surface on Twitter all the time, often as pranks.

With all the fake death reports on the Internet, you just become instantly more skeptical, says Us Weekly senior online editor Justin Ravitz. I was on call when Whitney Houston died and when someone with the inside scoop said, ‘I’m hearing a rumor that Whitney Houston died,’ I’m like, that’s ridiculous – that sounds like a Twitter hoax. It seemed like a classic fake story.

Long gone are the days when the New York Times was the only reliable source for a celebrity death. The problem now is that sometimes Twitter is actually right. So now, when a famous person dies, reporters – and everyone else – must sift through often-conflicting layers of news from all corners of the internet. Over the past few years, the climate has grown even faster and competitive. (Just think what hearing about Kurt Cobain’s suicide on Twitter would have been like.)

Bill McDonald, the obituaries editor for the New York Times, has been in his current position at the paper for six years, and says that even when he started there was a lot less noise on the Internet to sift through. We would look at what the L.A. Times or Washington Post did, but there weren’t as many blogs or news sites, he says. Now obviously there’s a much more diverse news in the sense of [the number of] outlets. In some ways that’s useful because you do often hear of things now that we might not have before.

But sometimes outlets report different things, making the job much more difficult. McDonald has seen a number of celebrity death hoaxes over the past six years, including rumors that Jeff Goldblum had fallen off a cliff while filming a movie around the time of Michael Jackson’s death. He says his team doesn’t follow Twitter that closely, and confirms deaths with celebrities’ reps before hastily running with sketchy reports. We have to be vigilant and not do anything impulsively, he says.

In the case of Ephron, her son Jacob Bernstein, a contributor to the paper, was in touch with the writer of our obituary, so we were not going to do anything until we heard from him, McDonald says. Once they noticed the Smith post, they started making calls to find out if it was true, but the Times isn’t always necessarily concerned with getting the news of a celebrity death up first. We also like to be prepared and have an obituary ready, so we may not be as eager to tell the world right away, particularly if none of the world is aware of it, he says. (The Times prepares obituaries for older celebrities, but when someone younger like Adam Yauch dies, they often don’t have anything on file.)

It’s also easier to confirm news about celebrities who are in the news more often, as Us editor Ravitz explains: With [a celebrity like] Lindsay Lohan, we have a lot of sources. Someone like Nora Ephron doesn’t have tons of reps and sources we would deal with on a daily basis. He says they also took note of Smith’s post, but found out from Ephron’s publisher that she was still alive and prepped their post to publish only when they got confirmation of Ephron’s passing. In this instance, they weren’t worried about being first with the news – though sometimes the site does post death reports before receiving confirmation, as in the case of a celebrity of intense interest to the Us Weekly audience, like Whitney Houston. You wait and sort of say, well, okay, TMZ is saying that Whitney Houston died, and if we’re still waiting for confirmation, you can kind of go up with the headline and post it as a report and say reps cannot be reached, Ravitz says. If people don’t come out of the woodwork and say she’s alive and well, you put it up because you know people are going to start talking about it and searching for it.

Though Washington Post media writer Paul Farhi notes that TMZ doesn’t have a perfect track record, they have accurately reported major stories like Michael Jackson’s death and Mel Gibson’s meltdown before other sources. But I would not go with TMZ reporting without independently verifying, he says. I think it’s generally accurate but not always. Do I trust the Washington Post or the New York Times or other sources more? Yeah, I do I trust them more.

Farhi sees another value in TMZ: they are not beholden to publicists or reps who negotiate stories about their celebrity clients with many mainstream publications. I like the fact that there is now a completely oppositional, anti-celeb medium like TMZ because these things have punched through the tremendous management of information that surrounded celebs for so long, he says. The instinct to report the truth about celebs is a very good one because there’s so much untruth about them. TMZ may be able to get their news out more quickly because they don’t care about getting exclusive wedding photos, Farhi adds. The parking lot attendant, the paramedic, and the cops tend to be TMZ sources.

Everyone seems to agree, Twitter is not to be trusted. After all, I typed Lindsay Lohan dead into the site’s search box just before publishing this story, and this is what I saw:

Twitter is essentially people shouting on the corner, Farhi says. You wouldn’t give people shouting on the corner any real credibility. They may turn out to be right but there’s a fairly low prospect that’s going to happen.

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The Shirk Report Volume 289


Welcome to the Shirk Report where you will find 25 funny images, 10 interesting articles and 5 entertaining videos from the last 7 days of sifting. Most images found on Reddit; articles from Twitter, RSS and email; videos come from everywhere. Any suggestions? Send a note to



It’s campaign season and Dan is doing it right | A challenger has risen!

Well that was fun while it lasted

It finally happened

The perfect ad for the opposing team’s bench

I’ll stop them!

Elbow grease

Someone goofed

What a cyber criminal looks like

Buster Keaton doing his thing

Hat me

*Tips fedora

This guy looks pretty proud of himself

Jimmy Fallon and Shaq trade jackets | The Rock gets pebbled


Let the game begin


This car has a working clock in its spare tire

Now that’s classy

How things breathe

Mayyyyybe the guy on the package should be using the actual product?

This shower head is awesome

Just blowing bubbles with my boy

Until next week

Stay sifty my friends


Please Stop Complaining About How Busy You Are

Reddit Confessional: Today I f*cked up by making a stupid assumption about my adopted son | Follow-up

Tim Cook Speaks Up

The 10 greatest changes of the past 1,000 years

Marvel Debuts New Phase 3 Movies

The World’s Greatest Counterfeiter

Why NASA Blew Up a Rocket Just After Launch

How to Buy Food: The Psychology of the Supermarket

Tinder, the Fast-Growing Dating App, Taps an Age-Old Truth

What’s so bad about gluten?


Reference for those unfamiliar

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Community Post: Lance Armstrong: I’m Still Not Guilty

2003 Tour De France Christophe Ena / AP

Lance Armstrong’s attorney sent a two-page letter to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on Thursday before the agency announced it will strip the cyclist of his seven Tour de France titles. The letter addressed the organization’s dogged pursuit of Armstrong, a scolding a federal judge gave the USADA despite throwing out a court case Armstrong’s attorneys filed, and the organization’s violation of its own statue of limitations (USADA claims that it restarted an investigation that was halted while Armstrong was investigated by federal prosecutors).

Any organization that is serious about fair play, integrity, and respect for rules, would take Judge Sparks’ criticisms to heart, rather than waste taxpayer money in the vindictive pursuit of Mr. Armstrong. Sadly, based upon our experience with USADA over the recent months, we have little confidence that USADA has the institutional character for that task. Indeed, the Court further observed that

USADA’s apparent single-minded determination to force Armstrong to arbitrate’ indicated that USADA was acting according to less noble motives than to combat doping.

To be clear: Mr. Armstrong is not requesting a AAA arbitration because – unlike USADA he respects the rules applicable to him and not because of any belief that USADA’s charges have merit or any fear of what a fair proceeding would establish.

Finally, you are on notice that if USADA makes any public statement claiming, without jurisdiction, to sanction Mr. Armstrong, or to falsely characterize Mr. Armstrong’s reasons for not requesting an arbitration as anything other than a recognition of UCI jurisdiction and authority, USADA and anyone involved in the making of the statement will be liable.

2002 Tour de France PETER DEJONG / AP

Armstrong, for his part, added a statement saying he wanted to move on with his life.

There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, Enough is enough. For me, that time is now. I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999. Over the past three years, I have been subjected to a two-year federal criminal investigation followed by Travis Tygart’s unconstitutional witch hunt. The toll this has taken on my family, and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today finished with this nonsense.

Lance Armstrong during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York in September 22 of 2010. Lucas Jackson / Reuters / Reuters

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After This Mom Bombed at a Craft Fair, Twitter Stepped In and Did Something Amazing

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Success Goggles: Why Your View Of Success Is The Only One That Matters

The Wolf of Wall Street/Paramount PicturesThe Wolf of Wall Street/Paramount Pictures

The Wolf of Wall Street/Paramount Pictures

It is generally accepted that there is no consensus on what makes a person successful. For some, success is embodied by the pursuit of knowledge; for others, it is intricately tied to financial gain and so on.

But, determining what success means to you, as an individual, is usually a question that requires significant life experience to answer.

Unfortunately, from a young age, we are constantly plagued by conventional ideas about success, which, ultimately, distorts our whole perspective on life.

The one example I’m sure everyone can relate to is the concept of grades, which are ubiquitous in education systems throughout the world. Shortly after we begin formal schooling, we’re led to believe that a number between 0 and 100 accurately represents our mastery of a subject.

If we receive above a certain number multiple times, we’re generally honored for it by receiving shiny certificates or fancy plaques that make us feel happy in materialistic ways.

But, does this mean we’re successful? Or, merely that we knew the correct topics to study, the right answers to give and the proper way to play the game?

The point here, of course, is that whether or not you consider yourself to be successful is entirely subjective. Perhaps you focused on studying and understanding the material in order to achieve a high grade, in which case, you should feel a genuine sense of accomplishment.

Conversely, maybe all the questions were unchanged from last year’s exam, so you were able to ace it, just by memorizing and without an iota of deeper understanding.

However, regardless of how you achieved this feat, you still receive the same positive result: that lovely A+ grade on your transcript.

The problem I’m trying to illustrate is that receiving external praise tends to shift our attention away from our own ideas of success. Instead, we begin to focus on how best to maintain the psychological high that comes from being told we’re doing well, even if it’s not based on our own standards.

This dilemma is at the heart of an issue many young people face today. Society tends to give us sparkling accolades for certain accomplishments, while it completely ignores others.

As a result, we find ourselves biased toward certain jobs, college programs or even hobbies, merely for the sake of maintaining this positive feedback loop.

Consequently, we tend to turn blind eyes to many other interests we might have because we become reliant on external praise to motivate us.

The bottom line is that when you are too obsessed with hearing about how well you’ve done, it seems ridiculous to attempt anything new for fear of failure.

I used to be one of these people. I always achieved high grades in school, received many awards for them and, eventually, found myself caring more about the number on my transcript than what I learned.

I felt as if my happiness was contingent on continuing to achieve this type of success, and it placed an enormous amount of pressure on me.

It’s only now, once I’ve removed my so-called success goggles, that I am able to clearly see and understand that society forces us to care more about the act of succeeding than that atwhich we are succeeding.

In fact, when I finished writing my first novel, I remember feeling a distinct sense of pride that usually wasn’t present when I received perfect scores on tests. The interesting part of this was that very few people even cared about this story.

No one necessarily gave me any praise and I certainly didn’t receive any awards for it. However, the reason it was so meaningful was simply because the goal was born not out of society’s expectations, but of my own vision of success.

What truly made me feel successful was the simple fact that I set out on this important goal to writea novel and saw it through, from beginning to end.

This was just one example of how success seems more real when it is untainted by external influences and, instead, shaped by personal passions.

To be clear, the point of this piece is not to convince you to completely disregard what society, your peers or even your family says. Instead, it argues that a life built around an idea of success, perpetuated by others is simply not sustainable in the long term.

Just because you are told you are good at something does not mean it is what you have to study in school, do for a career or even practice in your spare time.

Eventually, you’ll realize that you cannot achieve happiness by following someone else’s vision for success. Trust in yourself and never underestimate the sound of your inner voice in a world filled with noise.

Above all, do not allow society to dictate when you are succeeding or what is worthy of being meaningful. Success should not be restricted to conventional ideas, like receiving awards in school, getting job promotions or buying expensive cars.

It is the responsibility of every individual to formulate his or her own definition of success; it is one of the first steps toward leading a fulfilling life.

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