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This Week in Social Media: The Newsworthy Edition

Chronicling a whole week's worth of social media headlines.

"This Week in Social Media" is a completely straightforward and unbiased recap of recent industry moves and hot topics, pulled from all over the Web, so that you can go out on Friday night and impress people with how in-the-know you are.

This week, the venerable Rupert Murdoch almost reached Us Weekly-worthy levels of overexposure (I say "almost" because, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster, there was no nudity involved) as his News Corp. empire appeared to have proven successful in its bid to purchase Wall Street Journal parent company Dow Jones. The amount of fuss over Murdoch's new toy, from the presidential campaign trail to the RSS feeds of Gawker, has been enough to prove to all of us that old media just ain't dead yet.

But it was a big week for the newer face of news as well--I'm trying very hard not to say "News 2.0" or "next-generation" here, but it just isn't working. We saw the beta launch of editorial-meets-automation aggregator Newser, and critics have already started to highlight a minor oversight: it doesn't aggregate blogs. Geek banter hub Slashdot launched "Firehose," a new rate-the-news feature that suspiciously resembles Digg. Local newspapers, meanwhile, have begun to test the video-to-the-editor waters.

On the money side, community-based news media site NowPublic raked in $10.6 million in funding. And one of blogging's scintillating successes, TreeHugger, was uprooted by that company that runs that channel that shows "Shark Week" once a year.

But we also saw evidence that these quirky little new-media experiments don't always work: the Associated Press has decided to euthanize ASAP, its podcast- and video-heavy "youth-oriented" spinoff.

Facebook, meanwhile, continued its streak of being completely unable to stay out of the news. The site experienced an odd little outage on Tuesday, which had plenty of people recalling MySpace's chaotic summer meltdown last year and even speculating that perhaps the Mark Zuckerberg-created (well, according to most people) social networking service had been hacked. Turns out it was a boring little proxy error. How dull!

Then there was that whole "Lunch 2.0" thing at Facebook's offices this week, which was really more of a happy hour than a lunch, and which Robert Scoble considered to be "one of those parties that in about five years we'll all be looking back on as a major inflection point in the valley." Um, hype much? The word on the street at Non-Lunch 2.0, at least for Scoble, was that web-based organization service Plaxo is very close to launching a social networking site that may or may not rival Facebook by being "open and controllable."

We'll see Plaxo's "Pulse" on Monday. In the meantime, everybody's already chattering about the prospects of an "open social network," as opposed to Facebook's "locked" model, from Fred Wilson wishing he could export more Facebook content to outside services to Pete Cashmore speculating that "identity aggregation without lock-in" might help deflate the shiny mylar Facebook balloon. Jason Calacanis, on the other hand, is talking bankruptcy.

Really, there hasn't been this much discussion of lockboxes since Al Gore's previous incarnation as a politician. (Remember that, way back when?)

Also of newsworthy note, this week it was John C. Dvorak who jumped onto the "let's talk about bubbles" bandwagon, which begs the question of whether doomsday hype about Bubble 2.0 is, in fact, itself a bubble... Yahoo Video decides to form Voltron in its battle against the Evil Emperor YouTube and maybe even introducing video into Flickr... the only real notoriety at Michael Arrington's bash last week was the online hookup posting and the well-documented presence of Manhattan journo-socialite Julia Allison... Some MySpace users want a prettier poster boy (or girl)... The violet interiors of Virgin America's droolworthy flying machines were unveiled. Intra-plane IMing? Sounds like it was deliberately installed for lonely Mile High Club hopefuls.