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MTVU, Cisco Launch Online Apps

Cisco and mtvU have launched five online applications conceived, developed and run by digital pioneers from within the college audience.

The new Digital Incubator projects give students a chance to crush opposing “nerdcore” rappers on campuses across the country or join in a mysterious game of mobile-phone-based espionage.

The new interactive projects from mtvU and Cisco’s joint Digital Incubator initiative, which each year offers students up to $250,000 in grants and a national platform to shine, were unveiled Wednesday on www.digitalincubator.net.

The applications are:

-- RapHappy (New York University: www.RapHappy.com). This new online and mobile-phone-based hip hop community enables members to record, collaborate on, search and listen to freestyle or written raps, without any need for software or file uploading.

-- Osiris (Brown University: www.Launchosiris.com). Osiris is a first-of-its-kind MP3 visualizer using song lyrics to dynamically generate music videos, using images pulled from Flickr and a user’s own hard disk. This free application gives users a whole new way to enjoy their music, using each song’s lyrical narrative to tell a visual story.

-- Casablanca (New York University http://casablancathegame.com). This free online and mobile-phone-based ice-breaker party game combines elements of social networking, espionage and alternative-reality gaming. Two teams square off, with members messaging each other online and off, making friends and forming alliances as they vie for control of a virtual city. The game is played online, through text messaging and email. Anyone can start their own game at the abovementioned site.

-- Selectricity (M.I.T.: www.selectricity.org). An online communal ranking technology, Selectricity focuses on preferential decision-making, shifting away from a winner-take-all paradigm to a more democratic standard. Using a drag-and-drop mechanism, users rank choices in order of preference and the Selectricity application generates a winner that is most acceptable to the group as a whole. Anyone can set up a Selectricity question in under 30 seconds and tap their friends to help settle daily dilemmas such as, “which restaurant should we eat at tonight?” “what bar does everybody most want to go to?” and, “who are the best indie rock bands out right now?”

-- How Do I Say This? (UCLA: www.HowDoISayThis.com). The site is an interactive Web-based advice wiki, where users help script and create video messages for people with problems that have left them at a loss for words. A new topic is selected every month and members weigh in with advice and suggestions, in the form of user-generated videos, illustrations, photos, prose, poetry and cartoons. Past episodes have addressed quandaries such as a user wanting to tell a friend he’s a terrible actor, a smitten student with a Valentine’s Day crush, and an ex still in love with an old flame. HowDoISayThis.com was greenlighted as an mtvU series, and short-form content from the first season – “How Do I Say This? I’m Gay” – is scheduled to start appearing on the channel in October.