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Links for January 25th through January 30th:
- Twitter Is a Critical Tool in Republican Campaigns [NYTimes.com] – “When Newt Gingrich said in a recent debate that he was a man of “grandiose” ideas, Mitt Romney’s campaign pounced. It sent mocking Twitter messages with a hashtag, “#grandiosenewt”, encouraging voters to add their own examples of occasions when they felt Mr. Gingrich had been “grandiose.” Within minutes, the hashtag was trending on Twitter. Reporters picked up on it, sending out their own Twitter posts and writing their own articles. The result: for at least one news cycle, the Romney campaign had stamped a virtual “grandiose” on Mr. Gingrich’s forehead. If the 2008 presidential race embraced a 24/7 news cycle, four years later politicos are finding themselves in the middle of an election most starkly defined by Twitter, complete with 24-second news cycles and pithy bursts. With 100 million active users, more than 10 times as many as in the 2008 election, Twitter has emerged as a critical tool for political campaigns, allowing them to reach voters, gather data and respond …”
- Google CEO Larry Page: Identity Is A ‘Deep, Deep Part Of What We’re Doing’ [Huffington Post] – “Watch out: Google is getting personal. CEO Larry Page emphasized that Google is determined to deliver online experiences tailored to each individual’s interests and social circles, an ambitious goal that requires the web giant to learn even more about its users’ preferences and personal information. “Engaging with users, really deeply understanding who they are, and delivering things that make sense for them is really, really important. We’re at the early stages of that and Google+ is a big effort,” said Page during an earnings call Thursday. “This notion of identity is a deep, deep part of what we’re doing and an example of how we can make all our products better by understanding people.” Though Google already knows a great deal about the people who use its services, from what YouTube videos they’ve watched to whom they email most on Gmail, the web giant still lusts after the treasure trove of personal data Facebook has accumulated over the past eight years …”
- Twitter uncloaks a year’s worth of DMCA takedown notices, 4,410 in all [Ars Technica] – “On almost any given day, Twitter receives a handful of requests to delete tweets that link to pirated versions of copyrighted content—and quickly complies by erasing the offending tweets from its site. That fact itself is probably unsurprising to people familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown process, which gives sites like Twitter a “safe harbor” against lawsuits related to user behavior and uploads—so long as the sites don’t knowingly tolerate pirated material or links to such material. But Twitter has taken the unusual step of making DMCA takedown notices public, in partnership with Chilling Effects, a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several universities. […] Scrolling through recent takedown notices, you’ll see names like Magnolia Pictures, Simon and Schuster, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, among those of many other media companies.”
- Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China [NYTimes.com] – Long and important piece which looks at the poor working conditions in some of the factories which assemble and supply the parts for Apple’s most popular products. It balances the enormous profits Apple makes with the human cost which have, in some cases, led to worker suicide.
- MPAA Wins the Oscar Screener Battle, but Loses the War [Epicenter | Wired.com] – “Every year, the MPAA tries desperately to stop Oscar screeners — the review copies sent to Academy voters — from leaking online. And every year, teenage boys battling for street cred always seem to defeat whatever obstacles Hollywood throws at them. For the last 10 years, I’ve tracked the online distribution of Oscar-nominated films, going back to 2003. Using a number of sources (see below for methodology), I’ve compiled a massive spreadsheet, now updated to include 310 films. This year, for the first time, I’m calling it: The MPAA is winning the battle to stop screener leaks. A record 37 films were nominated this year, and the studios sent out screeners for all but four of them. But, so far, only eight of those 33 screeners have leaked online, a record low that continues the downward trend from last year. They may be winning the battle, but they’ve lost the war. While screeners declined in popularity, 34 of the nominated films (92 percent) were leaked online by nomination day …”
- Tweets still must flow [Twitter Blog] – Twitter starts blocking tweets nationally: “As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content. Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why. We haven’t yet used this ability, but if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld.”
- No More Résumés, Say Some Firms [WSJ.com] – “Union Square Ventures recently posted an opening for an investment analyst. Instead of asking for résumés, the New York venture-capital firm—which has invested in Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga and other technology companies—asked applicants to send links representing their “Web presence,” such as a Twitter account or Tumblr blog. Applicants also had to submit short videos demonstrating their interest in the position. Union Square says its process nets better-quality candidates —especially for a venture-capital operation that invests heavily in the Internet and social-media—and the firm plans to use it going forward to fill analyst positions and other jobs. Companies are increasingly relying on social networks such as LinkedIn, video profiles and online quizzes to gauge candidates’ suitability for a job. While most still request a résumé as part of the application package, some are bypassing the staid requirement altogether.”
- Online echo chambers: A study of 250 million Facebook users reveals the Web isn’t as polarized as we thought. – Slate Magazine – A large-scale controlled study of Facebook users and their sharing habits suggests that far from an echo chamber (our social networks reinforcing the views and interests of our strong ties), Facebook users appear to get as much information from their weak ties (ie not as good friends/acquaintances) and thus suggesting social networks introduce diversity of information and perspectives. [Read Eytan Bakshy’s Rethinking Information Diversity in Networks]
Links for January 21st:
- iBooks Textbooks for iPad [Apple – Education] – Apple jumps into the textbook market, with impressive pricing and engaging looking media-rich books which, of course, rely on students already owning an iPad. However, with a proprietary book creation tool, iBooks and a supposedly course-encompassing tool iTunes U which reduces education to content provision, at the very least Apple’s latest entry into education will need to be carefully contextualised and managed by educators. Kathleen Fitzpatrick highlights some other important concerns, too.
- US prosecutors shut down one of world’s largest file-sharing sites, Megaupload [The Washington Post] – “One of the world’s largest file-sharing sites was shut down Thursday, and its founder and several company executives were charged with violating piracy laws, federal prosecutors said. An indictment accuses Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content. The indictment was unsealed one day after websites including Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down in protest of two congressional proposals intended to thwart online piracy. The Justice Department said in a statement said that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three others were arrested Thursday in New Zealand at the request of U.S. officials. Two other defendants are at large. Megaupload was unique not only because of its massive size and the volume of downloaded content, but also because it had high-profile support from celebrities, musicians and other content producers who are most often the victims of copyright infringement and piracy.”
- Eastman Kodak files for bankruptcy protection [BBC News] – “Eastman Kodak, the company that invented the hand-held camera, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The move gives the company time to reorganise itself without facing its creditors, and Kodak said that it would mean business as normal for customers. The company has recently moved away from cameras to refocus on making printers, to stem falling profits. The 133-year-old firm has struggled to keep up with competitors who were quicker to adapt to the digital era. “Kodak made all its money from selling film, then the digital camera came along and now no-ones buying film. It’s not like they didn’t see it coming. Kodak hesitated because they didn’t want to eviscerate their business,” said Rupert Goodwins, editor of technology website ZDNet.” For visuals, see [The Guardian’s Kodachrome Photo Retrospective]
- Teenagers Sharing Passwords as Show of Affection [NYTimes.com] – “Young couples have long signaled their devotion to each other by various means — the gift of a letterman jacket, or an exchange of class rings or ID bracelets. Best friends share locker combinations. The digital era has given rise to a more intimate custom. It has become fashionable for young people to express their affection for each other by sharing their passwords to e-mail, Facebook and other accounts. Boyfriends and girlfriends sometimes even create identical passwords, and let each other read their private e-mails and texts. They say they know such digital entanglements are risky, because a souring relationship can lead to people using online secrets against each other. But that, they say, is part of what makes the symbolism of the shared password so powerful.”
- Facebook: Making Your Political Opinions Less Private Since 2012 [Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union] – “Facebook announced yesterday that “every post and comment — both public and private — by a U.S. user that mentions a presidential candidate’s name will be fed through a sentiment analysis tool that spits out anonymized measures of the general U.S. Facebook population.” This analysis, along with reader polls and other information, will in turn be shared with politico.com. The brief announcement of this new feature raises serious questions and offers few answers. Most troubling is Facebook’s willingness to search and collect users’ private political preferences and thoughts, preferences they may have shared only with their closest friend in a private email. This raises at least three concerns. The first is that many users may not want to be part of any “sentiment analysis” or poll …”
Links for January 1st through January 12th:
- Amazon Launches iPad Kindle Store to Dodge Apple’s Restrictions [RWW] – Amazon launches even further into Apple’s regulated home turf: “Amazon has launched a more touch-friendly, Web-based iPad Kindle Store. A tablet-optimized Kindle store was available through the HTML5 Kindle Cloud Reader Amazon launched last August, but the new iPad Kindle Store is a standalone Web app. Upon visiting amazon.com/iPadKindleStore from Safari, a pop-up prompts the user to add it to the home screen. This is the most seamless way for Kindle users to buy books on the iPad. Apple’s in-app purchasing rules prevent e-book sellers from offering stores in their native apps (without giving Apple a 30% cut). The route around that was to include a link to the Web store inside the native reader app. Last July, Apple forced Amazon and other e-reader apps to remove this link, so users of e-book platforms other than Apple’s iBooks must buy their books in the browser, in a separate place from where they read.”
- Search, plus Your World [Inside Google Search]– Google adds more personalisation with “Search, plus Your World” which heavily (but OPTIONALLY) integrates Google+ and other social search results into the first page results when searching Google (if signed in to Google+).Twitter (and presumably Facebook) are unhappy since this competes with their social search roles, but Google have responded that this seems a bit rich since Twitter refused to let Google pay to index Twitter in realtime.
- Angry Birds named most downloaded paid app [Think Digit] – “Rovio’s Angry Birds has been named the most downloaded paid app for the smartphones and tablets in 2011. According to research firm Distimo, Angry Birds was downloaded more than any other application across all major operating systems including Android, iOS, Windows Phone and others. The only platform missing out on the list is BlackBerry. However, the game was recently made available on the BlackBerry’s App World. Angry Birds was followed by Fruit Ninja, while another variant of Angry Birds, Angry Birds Season grabbed the third spot on the list of the paid apps for the year 2011. Among the free apps, Facebook grabbed the top spot, while Pandora Radio followed at the second spot. The free versions of Word with Friends and Angry Birds remained on third and fourth position respectively. The Distimo report covers data collected from January to November 2011. The report has various notable findings such as Apple App Store has four times more revenue than Google’s Android Market.”
- Digital Music Sales Surpass Physical Music Sales For the First Time Ever [Moneyland | TIME.com] – “Last year, for the first time in history, digital music sales exceeded physical sales, according to a newly released Nielsen/Billboard report cited by CNNMoney. In 2011, digital music sales climbed past physical sales to take a 50.3% market share of all music purchases. In a continuation of a multi-year trend, digital sales increased by 8.4% from 2010, while physical sales declined 5%.
In the decade since Apple launched its iTunes music store, a host of digital music ventures have appeared, with varying degrees of success. iTunes remains the market leader but faces increasing competition from upstarts like Rdio, Spotify and Pandora, which went public earlier this year.”
- Angry Birds bags 6.5m Christmas Day downloads [guardian.co.uk] – Rovio Mobile says its three Angry Birds games generated 6.5m downloads on Christmas Day alone. The company’s vice president of franchise development Ville Heijari revealed the milestone to All Things Digital, while promising new games in the year ahead. “We’re really excited to have such a massive number of new people get acquainted with Angry Birds over the holidays – we have exciting new releases lined up for 2012, and can’t wait to introduce them to the public,” said Heijari. He did not break down the 6.5m figure by game – Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio are the three available titles – nor did he split them out by platform. While the lion’s share are likely to have come from iOS and Android, Angry Birds is also available on Windows Phone, while all three games are available for Nokia handsets and RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.” Angry Birds was downloaded more than 600 million times in 2011, with over a million branded toy and shirt sales each month.
- Facebook Blamed For a Third of British Divorces [MediaCity] – “So Facebook is again at the other end of the blame-hammer, this time for precipitating about a third of divorces in Britain. The stats come from a website- the UK’s Divorce-Online, and cull stats from 5,000 divorce petitions. The same stats were pulled in 2009, and at that time, Facebook made an appearance in 20% of the petitions. Infidelity-related complaints were a forerunner, along with using Facebook walls to make nasty comments about soon to be exes.”
- The PostSecret App is Now Closed [PostSecret] – The PostSecret App (iPhone/iPad) closes after anonymous posts and comments prove unmanageable as part of a confessional community. (The closed app is now dubbed an “experimental community” that failed. Despite being a paid app, there is no mention, or apology, to those who paid for it in good faith.) From the PostSecret blog: “Like the PostSecret Blog, the App was designed so each secret was absolutely anonymous. Unfortunately, that absolute anonymity made it very challenging to permanently remove determined users with malicious intent. 99% of the secrets created were in the spirit of PostSecret. Unfortunately, the scale of secrets was so large that even 1% of bad content was overwhelming for our dedicated team of volunteer moderators who worked 24 hours a day 7 days a week removing content that was not just pornographic but also gruesome and at times threatening.”
- Year in Review: 2011 in Numbers [Instagram] – “We’ve seen the Instagram community grow from 1 million to over 15 million users in 2011. To celebrate, we’re recapping the year’s activity in our Year in Review series.
1 million: The number of accounts on Jan 1, 2011.
15 million (and counting): The number of accounts on Jan 1, 2012.
3: The average number of photos uploaded per second, one year ago.
60: The average number of photos uploaded per second, today.
400 million: The total number of photos shared on Instagram so far.”
Links for November 12th through November 17th:
- An Oscar for Andy? by Tama Leaver [Antenna] – My first Antenna post looks at the possibility of a synthespian in the running for an acting Oscar: “On the back of the unexpected success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the big news isn’t a planned sequel but rather a “a healthy seven-figure deal for Andy Serkis to reprise his role as lead ape Caesar” along with the announcement that 20th Century Fox will be mounting an Oscar campaign aimed at getting Serkis a long overdue nod for Best Supporting Actor. It’s significant, too, because we never see Andy Serkis directly in Rise; rather, Caesar was created by the meshing of Serkis’s visceral, physical acting and the state-of-the-art computer wizardry from Weta Digital. Whether you prefer the term virtual actor, synthespian (‘synthetic thespian’) or just performance capture, an Academy Award for Serkis would demonstrate a widening understanding of what ‘acting’ actually means.”
- Google Music is open for business [Official Google Blog] – Google’s competitor to Apple’s iTunes has gone live, cleverly basing itself in the Android store. Of course, it’s not yet available in Australia.
- Salman Rushdie claims victory in Facebook name battle [BBC News ] – “Author Salman Rushdie says he has won a battle with Facebook over what to call himself on his profile page on the social network. Rushdie’s dispute with Facebook began after he asked to be allowed to use his middle name Salman – the one he is known by across the world. But Facebook, which has strict real name policies, had insisted on Ahmed – the novelist’s first name. Rushdie says Facebook has “buckled” after he began tweeting about the row. “Victory! #Facebook has buckled! I’m Salman Rushdie again. I feel SO much better. An identity crisis at my age is no fun. Thank you Twitter!” wrote the British Indian author, who is known as SalmanRushdie on Twitter. “Just received an apology from The #Facebook Team. All is sweetness and light.””
- Aussie expat’s TV torrent site shut down as The Slap producers intervene [SMH] – “The producers of ABC1 drama The Slap have succeeded in shutting down a Netherlands-based piracy website that over 40,000 Australian and New Zealand expats use to illegally watch local shows. The site, diwana.org, is run by an Australian expat who started the site over five years ago and is popular with expats and others based overseas who are looking to access Australia and New Zealand TV content, which is often difficult to access internationally.[…] Despite the shutdown of Diwana.org, The Slap is still widely available on other pirate websites.”
- Exfoliate for Facebook [Android Market] – Android app to delete unwanted Facebook history: “Exfoliate automates the removal of old, forgotten, content from Facebook(tm). Old content on social networking sites is a threat to your privacy. Removing this old content by hand is tedious, and practically impossible. On your wall, Exfoliate can remove any post, comment, or like, whether made by you or by others, older than a time you specify. Exfoliate can remove your own posts, comments, and likes, from your friends’ walls too. You can choose the age of items you wish removed, and Exfoliate will remove any items that are at least as old as your selection from any of your selected content areas. It is important, though, to understand that Exfoliate truly deletes the content. It is not backed up and it is not recoverable – well, that’s kinda the point. […] Exfoliate is a network and battery hog, and there’s simply no way around this. To manage the impact, you can stop Exfoliate at any time, and restart Exfoliate later.”
- Jailbreak the Patriarchy: my first Chrome extension [Danielle Sucher] – Clever: “I just released my first Chrome extension! It’s called Jailbreak the Patriarchy, and if you’re running Chrome, you can head over here to install it. What does it do? Jailbreak the Patriarchy genderswaps the world for you. When it’s installed, everything you read in Chrome (except for gmail, so far) loads with pronouns and a reasonably thorough set of other gendered words swapped. For example: “he loved his mother very much” would read as “she loved her father very much”, “the patriarchy also hurts men” would read as “the matriarchy also hurts women”, that sort of thing. This makes reading stuff on the internet a pretty fascinating and eye-opening experience, I must say. What would the world be like if we reversed the way we speak about women and men? Well, now you can find out!”
Links for November 6th through November 8th:
- It’s as easy as d.me [Delicious] – As the new owners, Avos make some useful changes to Delicious, add Posterous-like email updating and d.me as a permanent shorturl.
- Screen Time Higher Than Ever for Children, Study Finds [NYTimes.com] – “Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ longstanding recommendations to the contrary, children under 8 are spending more time than ever in front of screens, according to a study scheduled for release Tuesday. The report also documents for the first time an emerging “app gap” in which affluent children are likely to use mobile educational games while those in low-income families are the most likely to have televisions in their bedrooms. The study, by Common Sense Media, a San Francisco nonprofit group, is the first of its kind since apps became widespread, and the first to look at screen time from birth. It found that almost half the families with incomes above $75,000 had downloaded apps specifically for their young children, compared with one in eight of the families earning less than $30,000. More than a third of those low-income parents said they did not know what an “app” — short for application — was.”
- Google eBooks arrive Down Under [Official Google Australia Blog] – Google eBooks are now for sale in Australia.
- State of the Blogosphere 2011 [Technorati] – Using a survey of just over 4000 self-identified bloggers, Technorati has produced this year’s statistical snapshot of blogging. Interestingly, as with last year, they’ve not mad any attempt to quanify how many blogs are out there. Notable stats:
* 82% of blogger surveyed are using Twitter.
* 89% use Facebook.
* Unsurprisingly, Facebook and Twitter were the services that most effective drove traffic back to blogs.
* Just over 60% use Google+ (demonstrating exactly who was likely to respond to this sort of survey!).
* Significantly, even amongst people who identify as bloggers, only 54% had blogged in the past 3 months, and only 11% in the last 24 hours.
* Blogging is dominated by the middle-aged, not the young.
Links for October 5th 2011 through October 17th 2011 (catching up on a backlog of good links!):
- New YouTube features for music artists [YouTube Blog] – YouTube gets even further on the disintermediation bandwagon (ie cutting out the middle people), letting bands and music partners offer merchandising, concert tickets and link to digital sales (including iTunes) from their music videos. It’s all about the integration!
- Amazon Rewrites the Rules of Book Publishing [NYTimes.com] – “Amazon.com has taught readers that they do not need bookstores. Now it is encouraging writers to cast aside their publishers. Amazon will publish 122 books this fall in an array of genres, in both physical and e-book form. It is a striking acceleration of the retailer’s fledging publishing program that will place Amazon squarely in competition with the New York houses that are also its most prominent suppliers. It has set up a flagship line run by a publishing veteran, Laurence Kirshbaum, to bring out brand-name fiction and nonfiction. It signed its first deal with the self-help author Tim Ferriss. Last week it announced a memoir by the actress and director Penny Marshall, for which it paid $800,000, a person with direct knowledge of the deal said. Publishers say Amazon is aggressively wooing some of their top authors. And the company is gnawing away at the services that publishers, critics and agents used to provide.”
- Buyers dodge court’s Samsung tablet ban [The Age] – Surprising no one: “Australians are making a mockery of a Federal Court injunction banning the sale of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets in Australia by ordering them from online stores. Meanwhile, in the US, Samsung’s own lawyers were left red-faced after being unable to differentiate between Samsung’s and Apple’s tablets in court. Samsung has been forbidden by Federal Court Justice Annabelle Bennett from selling or marketing the device in Australia until a full hearing in its patent infringement case with Apple, which isn’t expected to take place until next year. Justice Bennett said Apple had a prima facie case that Samsung infringed two of its patents. But online sellers on eBay, and web stores such as MobiCity.com.au, Expansys, Techrific and dMavo, are bypassing Samsung Australia and obtaining stock from other countries, such as Hong Kong.”
- Google Announces Third Quarter 2011 Financial Results (GooglePlus = 40 million+) [Google Investor Relations] – In their third quarter financial resuts, Larry Page announces that Goole+ has passed 40 million users.
- Lady Gaga bans Lady Goo Goo song [BBC News] – Given Lady Gaga’s rhetoric about respecting her fans ignoring (her) copyright and that this effort seems like parody to me, I’ll be interested to see how this is justified: “Lady Gaga has won an injunction at London’s High Court to stop animated character Lady Goo Goo from releasing a single, its makers have said. Lady Goo Goo, a baby with a long blonde fringe from the Moshi Monsters online game – owned by UK firm Mind Candy – released The Moshi Dance on YouTube. But Lady Gaga’s injunction has stopped its full release, Mind Candy said. Law firm Mishcon de Reya confirmed it had represented Lady Gaga but said it could not comment further.”
- A fall sweep [Official Google Blog] – Google is killing off a number of poorly performing products. Google Buzz is the most notable closure. Hopefully Google learnt a lot from Buzz, especially about privacy.
- Felicia Day turns to Hangouts to promote new show [NewTeeVee – Online Video News] – “Web series veteran Felicia Day will promote her new online show Dragon Age: Redemption with a unique twist on Google+ Hangouts: The actress will be experimenting with something she dubbed Hangout Housecalls this coming Tuesday. Day is promising to visit as many Hangouts of her fans within a three-hour window as possible. She announced the house calls on Google+, where she explained: I’ll answer questions about the show and we can even pose for a photo that you can screencap and post later! Cool? Cool. The Dragon Age: Redemption house calls will kick off with a post on Day’s Google+ profile on Tuesday at 10 a.m. PST that will ask viewers to post links to their Hangouts in the comments. Day will then click through those links, visiting one Hangout after another.”
- The Guild turns product placement into merchandising gold [NewTeeVee – Online Video News] – Good wrap-up of the many, many different types of merchandise now available surrounding Felicia Day’s web series The Guild. Also interesting are both the careful deals – finding merchandise options which don’t threaten existing sponsorship from Microsoft and Sprint – but also how a lot of merchandise was strategically linked to Comic Conventions so that, eventually, they could be integrated into Season Five of The Guild which is largely set at a con. Day really is a canny business person and shows how far a recognisable web series can the deployed to make money across a wide range of products and tie-ins.
- 200 million Creative Commons photos and counting! [Flickr Blog] – Flickr users have now explicitly licensed and shared over 200 million photos using Creative Commons licenses. This is a fantastic and valuable resource. However, given there are more than 5 billion photos on Flickr, surely there could be more under CC licenses if the world was really spread? After all, being able to specify your license is one of the key things that Facebook really can’t do right now/
- Barcode Scanner for Zotero [Android App] – Android barcode scanning app for Zotero. If the barcode links to a book metadata, you can automatically add it to your Zotero library. “Scanner For Zotero brings Zotero’s magic wand tool out into the physical world. Scan the ISBN barcode on any book, and Scanner For Zotero will fetch that item’s bibliographic info from the web and allow you to add it to your Zotero library.That’s pretty cool.”
- Facebook’s privacy lie: Aussie exposes ‘tracking’ as new patent uncovered [The Age] – “Facebook has been caught telling porkies by an Australian technologist whose revelations that the site tracks its 800 million users even when they are logged out have embroiled Facebook in a global public policy – and legal – nightmare. Facebook’s assurances that “we have no interest in tracking people” have been laid bare by a new Facebook patent, dated this month, that describes a method “for tracking information about the activities of users of a social networking system while on another domain”.”
Links for August 25th 2011 through August 30th 2011:
- Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist [The Guardian] – George Monbiot looks at the monopolistic world of academic publishing and finds a world where profits are soaring while the broader media landscape around them is crumbling. On the ethical side, the important question: should publicly funded reseach end up in journals that cost $20+ an article to read if you’re not attached to a university? Open access might be one answer to the problem!
- Teen hacks ex-mate’s Facebook [Toowoomba Chronicle] – “Bad blood between former teenage mates had driven one to hack into the other’s Facebook page and leave a posting that he was gay and wanted to come out of the closet, Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard yesterday. […] Woodside then hacked into the victim’s Facebook page and posted that the victim was gay and wanted to “come out of the closet”, a posting which anyone accessing the page could have read, the court heard.”
- “Does This Technology Serve Human Purposes?”: A “Necessary Conversation” with Sherry Turkle (Part Three) [Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Archives] – Sherry Turkle interviewed by Henry Jenkins, clarifying many important points from Alone Together: “My earlier enthusiasm for identity play on the Internet, […] relied heavily on the work of psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. Erikson wrote about the developmental need for a moratorium or “time out” during adolescence, a kind of play space in which one had a chance to experiment with identity. In the mid-1990s, I wrote about the Internet as a space where anonymity was possible and where one could experiment with aspects of self in a safe environment. Today, adolescents grow up with a sense of wearing their online selves on their backs “like a turtle” for the rest of their lives. The internet is forever. And anonymity on the Internet seems a dream of another century, another technology.” [Part 1] [Part 2]
- Apple cancels iTunes TV rentals [GigaOM] – “Despite its role as a major selling point of the revamped Apple TV last fall, Apple has done away with TV show rentals. Several bloggers noticed the option to rent individual episodes missing from iTunes and Apple TV Friday, and Apple later confirmed the decision was based on lack of interest. “iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD Friday. “iTunes in the Cloud lets customers download and watch their past TV purchases from their iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac or PC allowing them to enjoy their programming whenever and however they choose.” Very few TV studios were on board with the idea in the first place–only Fox and ABC–so this isn’t a huge change. But now the only option in iTunes when it comes to TV shows is to buy. You can buy a full season or “Season Pass,” or if you want to cherry pick a season, you can still buy individual episodes.”
- Case History Of A Wikipedia Page: Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ [The Awl] – Fascinating: “Entries such as the one on Lolita demonstrate why perfection on Wikipedia remains an “unattainable” goal—when the topic is contentious, perfection will always butt heads against “is completely neutral and unbiased.” One man’s undeniable literary masterpiece is another man’s abominable pedophilic trash, and they’re both editors on Wikipedia. The edits to the Lolita page (and any Wikipedia page) can seem tedious and petty, and many of them are. But the users’ vigilance in keeping some words and changing others, and debating over content and style, does have a purpose: it keeps critical thinking alive and well. The writing, editing, rewriting and re-editing process of a Wikipedia page creates a new entity—the Lolita Wikipedia page, which is not Nabokov’s Lolita, but a work in its own right. In the collaborative editing process, any reader can use the Lolita page to challenge its meaning. In fact, he can reach right in and edit it himself, until someone else edits it again.”
Today Apple made some big announcements about their desktop operating system OS X Lion and their mobile iOS 5, and most importantly the service which will more intimately bind these two: iCloud. Globally, news services will continue their iFetish and splash reports everywhere, so I’ll leave you to catch the full details elsewhere. However, the iCloud is interesting for all sorts of reasons, not least of all because Apple, Google and Amazon are all dancing around the same territory, so I thought I’d take a minute and consider who (apart from Apple, of course) are the obvious winners and losers in the wake of the iCloud announcements.
The Big Winners:
- The Big Music Companies. Here’s Apple’s description of iMatch service, part of the iCloud:
iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to your iCloud library for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, most of your music is probably already in iCloud. All you have to upload is what iTunes can’t match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. And all the music iTunes matches plays back at 256-Kbps iTunes Plus quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.
Those songs that iTunes can’t match may very well be unauthorised downloads, but once you’ve paid $25 to use iTunes in the cloud, you’ve got access to it on any Apple device. And where is that money going? Estimates suggest the bulk is going to the music labels, with Apple keeping their customary 30% (which might just pay for the service, but this item by itself is probably going to be making a loss, especially for people who have huge music libraries). As Mashable note, Apple Has Just Monetized Pirated Content. The music labels are once again getting paid for ‘pirated’ music – a big win for them!
- Twitter: iOS 5 integrates Twitter into almost everything, making Apple the Twitter OS of choice (and implicitly waving goodbye to Apple’s failed music social network, Ping). As the official Twitter blog celebrates: “Building Twitter into iOS 5 truly creates the easiest way to share everything that’s happening in your world. Take a picture, tap “Tweet”. Tweeting has never been simpler.”
- And, of course, “The Cloud”: while the cloud and cloud computing are nebulous terms, Sony’s recent PlayStation Network hacks have really dampened the reputation of web-based storage and services, especially in terms of security. Now that Apple have stuck and ‘i’ in front of the cloud, Steve Jobs’ “it just works” magic will no doubt ensure the cloud stays cool and secure (even their brushed metal iCloud logo emphasises strength and security).
The Big Losers:
- PC manufacturers and Microsoft: iOS 5, and the cloud-based services, will all be available on Apple devices (iPhones, iPads ,touchscreen iPods) without needing to connect to a PC. These devices can now be activated on their own terms, working using cloud services, and for many people may do away with the need for a PC altogether. A big plus for Apple hardware sales, but a really clear slap in the face to standard PC manufacturers. I wonder, though, if this will force PC makers to form more robust alliances with Google (or maybe Amazon) to keep a competitive edge? Perhaps PC manufacturers will suddenly be falling over themselves to create Chromebooks. None of this will help Microsoft, because these conversations don’t involve anyone needing to run Windows anymore!
- Amazon/Google: Apple is almost certainly running iMatch and the iTunes in the cloud services as a loss-leader (ie making little or no profit), using these services to drive hardware sales. Google and Amazon have both been trying to carve out the same cloud-based music sharing (and other services) but don’t have the core hardware sales business to offset the cost of keeping the music labels on side. It’s hard to see how they’ll compete without having to at least match Apple’s costs and security imperatives.
- Point’n’click camera manufacturers: a smaller change in iOS 5, but a big one of you rely on your iPhone for photography, is that you can go straight to the iPhone camera from the locked phone in one click. This makes photography a lot easier, and avoids the clicks through the navigation screens. This does seems a small change, but for many folks the only reason to carry a point’n’click camera and an iPhone was that the camera could get to the point of actually taking a shot faster – it really doesn’t look like that’ll be the case soon.
One to watch: I’m really curious how Apple’s End User License Agreements will shape the iCloud. If users are really going to rely on Apple to make mp3s available via the cloud, regardless of whether there is any evidence of a legal purchase or otherwise, Apple will own an vast and important database of what people actually possess. While the big music labels are implicitly supporting the iCloud and iMatch service for now, what happens if the relationship sours? How will Apple react to lawsuits demanding individually identifiable information, especially, say, for music which is leaked or not legally available in one country or another? Even the date of access would be enough to show unauthorized file-sharing in action and do we really trust Apple to be a custodian of that information? (For those interested in this issue, you should really read Jonathan Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It.)
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