Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • More Are Viewing TV and Surfing The Web Simultaneously
  • Microsoft Developing Twitter Like Service Dubbed OfficeTalk
  • Twitter Cracking Down on Spammers
  • Google Showing Hotel Prices in Google Maps

More Are Viewing TV and Surfing The Web Simultaneously

It used to be that in many American households, after dinner, folks would sit down and enjoy a few hours with their favorite sitcom or drama in front of the TV. Then, when computers and broadband came around, others decided to instead spend a few hours online shopping, gaming or emailing.

Now it appears with laptops and other portable devices, more and more Americans are conducting these two past times simultaneously. Nearly 60% of Americans watch TV and use a computer at least once per month, with the average time conducting both activities around 3.5 hours.

Social networking is now creeping in to many parts of our lives, and I have seen Twitter users utilize the medium to discuss shows as they air, with conversations erupting about specific episodes, during the show! This is especially true with live events such as sports and the Grammys.

Also, with devices such as the iPad coming to market soon, this trend will surely rise. The iPad is essentially a coffee table computer that will make it fashionable to couch surf, enabling its users to reach out to the Web while snuggled up, watching content on TV.

Microsoft Developing Twitter Like Service Dubbed OfficeTalk

Microsoft is developing and testing a new microblogging service that will rival similar offerings including Twitter and the more business-friendly Yammer. Called OfficeTalk, the service is an on-premise utility (meaning it would live on a server inside a corporate firewall, much like SharePoint) that allows co-workers and teammates to swap messages of 140 characters or less.

Each user has their very own page which looks much like a Twitter user page with a personal image, title and brief bio. You can search for other users inside your company and subscribe to their messages. Also, users can view the "Company View" which shows all messages sent out throughout a company or organization. This feature might be noisy but could also spawn some fascinating conversations across business units inside the enterprise.

It's great to see Microsoft coming to the game with OfficeTalk. This functionality seems to be a natural extension to SharePoint and would inject some benefits of the "real-time web" into the enterprise environment.

Twitter Cracking Down on Spammers

Recently, Twitter seemed to be overrun with unwanted spam messages. That is, looking at the trending topics, one could see how spammers were utilizing the real-time conversation tool to pollute and take value away from the conversations on Twitter. Spammers would routinely hijack popular terms by sending out tweets with that term and a link to a spam site.

However, Twitter has implemented spam safeguards starting in 2009, and the results of these steps are beginning to manifest. According to to a post on Twitter's blog, spam tweets are now down to less than 1% of all tweets sent on the service, down from around 11% in August 2009.

For Twitter to remain viable and build consistent growth, controlling spam is vitally important. The company recently started a "Trust and Safety" team and also allows users to directly report spammers when they see these types of messages.

As ReadWriteWeb points out, Twitter hopes to monetize itself by selling access to the full stream of tweets to Google and Microsoft. If the stream is full of spam, this proposition becomes less attractive. One can only hope that Twitter's anti-spam measures continue to be effective.

Google Showing Hotel Prices in Google Maps

The world's largest search engine and king of online utility, Google, is considering adding more functionality to its already robust mapping solution. To aid travelers, Google is experimenting with displaying hotel prices for a group of testers.

According to Mashable, using the hotel search is quite easy: simply search for hotels in a specific region. Google Maps will then populate the map with pushpins that, when clicked, reveal the price for a nights' stay at that hotel. The data is based on advertised prices from sponsored results.

So, in essence, this is just a new way to display hotel ads on a map. However useful, does this type of utility for geographically set hotel ads interest you, dear reader?

To see another example of how this works, visit Kayak.com and search for hotels, then choose map view. These are actual hotel rates not based on specific ads from that hotel. Which, to me, is far more reliable and useful than the ad model described above.