iFive: Google's NFC Payments, Street View Site Revamp, Link Tagging Robot Released, Net Wins Over Newspapers, Japan Data Cables

1. NFC is really taking off--and Google wants in on the game (bad news for Apple?). It's soon to start testing an NFC smartphone credit payment system in New York and San Francisco, possibly inside four months, leveraging its own smartphone and Google Checkout expertise and Verifone's EPOS card processing hardware.

2. Google just totally overhauled its site that explains its Street View service, for the first time since 2009. The idea is to boost education about the sometimes very controversial street-level photo captures, and to explain what vehicles are used (including the tricycles and hand-carts) as well as showing where Street View vehicles are at any moment.

3. Two ex-MySpace execs have just launched a new company level service that you may well encounter in the near future: It's an automated link tagging and curation service dubbed Tagging Robot. Why's it clever? It churns through your Facebook newsfeed looking for links, then applies clever language algorithms to work out what they mean before aggregating them in categories. The idea is to bring the interesting "signals" out from the "noise," and it's already so successful in beta-testing the robot will expand beyond Facebook soon.

4. A Pew report just revealed an interesting stat: For the first time, in 2010, more people in the U.S. used Net tools to access the news compared to traditional newspapers. This represents a sea-change in the industry, and reinforces a trend that's been continuing for quite a while. From this point on, paper-based newspaper publishers will have to reinvent, innovate, and fight for their trade--the report also says every sector in the news industry grew last year, except paper publishing.

5. The tragedy in Japan has had another unexpected technological effect: Many of the transoceanic data cables that connect to and from the nation have been damaged by the natural disaster, which is affecting Internet traffic crossing the pacific from the Americas to Asia--a key data and trade connection. The companies that own the lines are reported to be rushing to fix them.

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