Typically, you are told to turn off your cell phone before a performance. But at a recent Saturday matinee of the Tony Award winning Broadway musical Spring Awakening, the audience was told to do just the opposite. "Win Your Chance to Come Backstage!" said a flier inserted into the Playbill, which encouraged theatergoers to send the text message "bdway spring" to a five-digit number before the end of intermission. After the show, Becky Mitchell, 18, received a text message that she had won. Sixty-two people sent text messages, which included their telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. All of their information went into a database that will be used to pitch Broadway tickets and other promotions. In exchange, contestants were sent a ring tone of a popular song in Spring Awakening and a photograph from the show to use as wallpaper on their phones. Both of the souvenirs are potential conversation starters with friends, whom the producers think of as would-be ticket buyers. "Those are numbers talking to numbers talking to numbers," said Damian Bazadona, president of Situation Marketing, who is working with the producers and the owner of the theater, Jujamcyn Theaters, on the pilot program. "A year or two years down the road, that's how you're talking to markets."
Boingo connects you on the road
Boingo Wireless, one of the biggest Wi-Fi aggregators with more than 100,000 hot spots, has introduced what it says is the first worldwide flat-rate plan for Wi-Fi hot spots. For a monthly fee of $39, subscribers can use any of the company's affiliated hot spots for as long as they want. No particular software is needed, though Boingo recommends that clients download GoBoingo, a program that alerts users when they are in range of a Boingo hot spot. "We are targeting the globe-trotting international traveler who passes through many major cities," CEO David Hagan said.
Campaign watchdog links with debate site
With the jabber of the 2008 elections getting loud, an organization that promotes transparency in politics hopes one slice of the Web can promote intelligent debate. The Center for Responsive Politics is working with Web start-up Helium Inc. to spark discussion on such topics as "Should there be spending limits on political campaigns?" What sets Helium apart as a soapbox is that the items voted the most valuable by the site's members rise to the top of its page (http://opensecrets.helium.com), consigning - in theory, at least - hot-tempered or otherwise poorly constructed commentary to the scrap heap.
Pew: A third of online teens harassed
Nearly a third of online teens say they have been harassed on the Internet, with girls and participants of social-networking sites more likely to be targets, a study finds. However, two-thirds of teens say bullying and harassment occur more often offline. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the most common forms of cyberbullying are publicly disclosing someone else's private e-mail or messages, sending threatening or aggressive messages and spreading rumors online. Pew also counts as cyberbullying the posting of an embarrassing picture of someone else without permission.
Teens boost cell use in the summer
A Disney Mobile "Cell and Tell" survey found that cellphone usage among kids 10 to 17 years old jumps by more than an hour a day in the summer, to more than three hours and 45 minutes, compared with usage during school days. The poll of more than 1,500 teens and preteens found that 44 percent use text messages as their primary form of communication. More than half of them - 52 percent - say they send text messages from a movie theater, while 28 percent said they have sent messages from the dinner table.