Backdown on internet filter plan [SMH] – YAY! “The [Australian] government has finally backed down on its plan for a controversial mandatory internet filter, and will instead rely on major service providers to block ”the worst of the worst” child abuse sites. The retreat on the filter, which Labor proposed from early in its term, comes after a strong campaign by providers. Opponents argued it would not be effective, would be costly and slow down services, and involved too much censorship. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy, who strongly argued the case for years, will announce on Friday that providers blocking the Interpol worst of the worst list ”will help keep children safe from abuse”. ”It meets community expectations, and fulfils the government’s commitment to preventing Australian internet users from accessing child-abuse material online.” The government will use its powers under the telecommunications legislation, so Senator Conroy will say a filter law will not be needed.”
Mobile Apps Have a Ravenous Ability to Collect Personal Data [NYTimes.com] – “Angry Birds, the top-selling paid mobile app for the iPhone in the United States and Europe, has been downloaded more than a billion times by devoted game players around the world, who often spend hours slinging squawking fowl at groups of egg-stealing pigs. While regular players are familiar with the particular destructive qualities of certain of these birds, many are unaware of one facet: The game possesses a ravenous ability to collect personal information on its users. When Jason Hong, an associate professor at the Human Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, surveyed 40 users, all but two were unaware that the game was noting and storing their locations so that they could later be the targets of advertising.”
Apple, Microsoft refuse to appear before IT pricing inquiry [The Age] - “A[n Australian] parliamentary committee wants to force computer giant Apple to appear before it after members became frustrated with the company’s refusal to co-operate. Hearings into the pricing of software and other IT-related material such as games and music downloads will begin in Sydney tomorrow but neither Apple nor Microsoft will appear. ”Some of the big names in IT have taken local consumers for a ride for years but when legitimate questions are asked about their pricing, they disappear in a flash,” Labor MP and committee member Ed Husic told Fairfax Media. ”Within our growing digital economy, there are reasonable questions to be answered by major IT companies on their Australian pricing. These companies would never treat US consumers in this way.” Both Microsoft and Adobe provided submissions to the inquiry.”
Don’t tweet if you want TV, London fans told [The Age] – “Sports fans attending the London Olympics were told on Sunday to avoid non-urgent text messages and tweets during events because overloading of data networks was affecting television coverage. Commentators on Saturday’s men’s cycling road race were unable to tell viewers how far the leaders were ahead of the chasing pack because data could not get through from the GPS satellite navigation system travelling with the cyclists. It was particularly annoying for British viewers, who had tuned in hoping to see a medal for sprint king Mark Cavendish. Many inadvertently made matters worse by venting their anger on Twitter at the lack of information. An International Olympic Committee spokesman said the network problem had been caused by the messages sent by the hundreds of thousands of fans who lined the streets to cheer on the British team. “Of course, if you want to send something, we are not going to say ‘Don’t, you can’t do it’,… “
38% of cell owners used their phone to keep themselves occupied during commercials or breaks in something they were watching
23% used their phone to exchange text messages with someone else who was watching the same program in a different location
22% used their phone to check whether something they heard on television was true
20% used their phone to visit a website that was mentioned on television
11% used their phone to see what other people were saying online about a program they were watching, and 11% posted their own comments online about a program they were watching using their mobile phone
Taken together, 52% of all cell owners are “connected viewers”—meaning they use their phones while watching television …”
RIAA: Online Music Piracy Pales In Comparison to Offline Swapping [TorrentFreak] – “A leaked presentation from the RIAA shows that online file-sharing isn’t the biggest source of illegal music acquisition in the U.S. The confidential data reveals that 65% of all music files are “unpaid” but the vast majority of these are obtained through offline swapping. [...] In total, 15 percent of all acquired music (paid + unpaid) comes from P2P file-sharing and just 4 percent from cyberlockers. Offline swapping in the form of hard drive trading and burning/ripping from others is much more prevalent with 19 and 27 percent respectively. This leads to the, for us, surprising conclusion that more than 70% of all unpaid music comes from offline swapping. The chart is marked “confidential” which suggests that the RIAA doesn’t want this data to be out in the open. This is perhaps understandable since the figures don’t really help their crusade against online piracy.”
Robin Hood Airport tweet bomb joke man wins case [BBC News] – Finally: “A man found guilty of sending a menacing tweet threatening to blow up an airport has won a challenge against his conviction. Paul Chambers, 28, of Northern Ireland, was found guilty in May 2010 of sending a “menacing electronic communication”. He was living in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, when he tweeted that he would blow up nearby Robin Hood Airport when it closed after heavy snow.
After a hearing at the High Court in London his conviction was quashed.”
Music stars accuse Google of helping pirates rip off material [WA Today] – “LONDON: Roger Daltry of the Who and Brian May of Queen are among rock and pop stars who publicly attacked search engines such as Google for helping users get access to pirated copies of their music. Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin have also signed a letter to The Daily Telegraph in London calling for more action to tackle the illegal copying and distribution of music. Other signatories include the producer and creator of The X Factor, Simon Cowell. The letter, which will also be sent to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, this week, highlighted the role that search engines can play in giving people access to illegal copies. Search engines must ”play their part in protecting consumers and creators from illegal sites”, the signatories said, adding that broadband companies and online advertisers must also do more to prevent piracy.”
Hundreds of dollars, no sense as Gillard’s #cashforyou tweets backfire [The Age] – Poorly thought through promotional hashtags – a new Australian tradition, it seems: “The federal government has been bombarded with scorn on Twitter this morning after its ministers used the hashtag “cash for you” to promote its School Kids Bonus. [...] Ms Gillard’s advisers, known as TeamJG on Twitter, tweeted: “Talking to parents & students about the Schoolkids Bonus at Marrickville West Public School #cashforyou.” #cashforyou has quickly become the top trending topic on Twitter in Australia today, ahead of usual placegetters Justin Bieber and local singer Reece Mastin. But the hashtag has drawn scathing responses from users. “#CashForYou? That’s the line the ALP is going for? At least when Howard did middle-class welfare he wrapped it up in patriotism,” tweeted one. Another read: “I’m worried the #cashforyou message might be too subtle and nuanced to really cut through.”
YouTube chief mulls paid subscription [Reuters] – “YouTube is exploring selling subscriptions to access to some of its video offerings, potentially providing a way for certain cable channels to be available outside the traditional “bundles” offered by cable network providers, said YouTube boss Salar Kamangar. Cable channels with smaller audiences will in the future migrate to the Web and become available on an “a la carte” basis, Kamangar said at the Reuters Media and Technology Summit on Thursday. [...] “We don’t have anything to announce now. It is something that’s really important to a lot of our top existing content creators as well as ones that aren’t on YouTube today, so we’re taking very seriously and we’re thinking about it very carefully,” said Kamangar, Google senior vice president, YouTube and video.”
The IOC to show live coverage of the London 2012 Olympic Games on YouTube in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa [YouTube Blog] – In short, anyone in a country that DOESN’T have a broadcaster paying the IOC for exclusive rights TV rights will be getting the Olympics for free on YouTube. Australians, however, get a team led by Eddie McGuire. *sigh* “This summer, from July 27 to August 12, the world will turn their attention to London to watch the daily trials and triumphs of the greatest living athletes at the Summer Olympic Games. Today, we’re excited to announce that millions of Olympic fans from across 64 territories in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa will have a chance to watch the games live from London on the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/olympic. In total, the IOC’s YouTube Channel will offer fans in these countries over 2,200 hours of high-definition sporting event coverage from London 2012, including all the medal finals.”
The Yellow Australian Social Media Report 2012 [Sensis] – “The consumer survey found that 62% of internet users have a presence on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. Facebook dominates the social media space, capturing 97% of social networking users. it is used by more than 90% of social media users from both sexes and all age groups, with average users spending more than six hours a week on the site. Whilst some sites have dominated in the social media space, this is sometimes at the expense of other site. People were most likely to nominate having stopped using MySpace in the past year.” [Full Report PDF]
picplz shutting down [blog plz] – Just two months after Instagram launched their Android version and PicPlz, one of the better (and much earlier) Android photo tweaking and sharing apps is shutting their doors. They’ve given a month’s notice that all data will be deleted and PicPlz erased on 3 July 2012.
The Hunger Games Game [CollegeHumor Video] – A parody video from College Humor, turning The Hunger Games into a tween-girl fantasy boardgame focusing on the love-triangle, to great comic effect. On some level, though, this is also a pretty decent critique of the way a film which and certain elements of the fandom around it miss the core critique of authority and a media culture, reducing it to a vapid romance tale.
Dragon Tattoo Has Unique DVD Design – Sony’s DVD release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has confused some people because it’s designed to look like a ripped copy and, sporting letters which look like they’re written in felt-tip pen on a DVD-R. Confusing messages you’re sending there, Sony!
Twitter turns six [Twitter Blog] – On the sixth anniversary of Twitter’s launch, the service has reached 140 million users, with 340 million tweets made daily. That said, since most active users seem to tweet a lot more than 3 times a day, a significant proportion of users don’t actually seem to tweet much.
Game sales surpassed video in UK, says report [BBC News] – “Sales of computer games in the UK have surpassed those of videos for the first time, new figures suggest. The Electronic Retailers Association (ERA) said sales of £1.93bn in 2011 made the gaming industry the country’s biggest entertainment sector. By contrast, sales of DVDs and other video formats totalled £1.80bn, while music pulled in £1.07bn.”
Rob Reid: The $8 billion iPod | Video on TED.com – Fantastic TED parody explanation of the logic behind copyright lawsuits and litigation: copyright maths. From TED: “Comic author Rob Reid unveils Copyright Math (TM), a remarkable new field of study based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists. Rob Reid is a humor author and the founder of the company that created the music subscription service Rhapsody”
Links for September 7th 2011 through September 21st 2011:
Game over for Japanese teens as grey gamblers take prime slot at arcades [News.com.au] – “The country which gave the world classic arcade games such as “Space Invaders” and “PacMan” is facing a demographic crisis, with a dwindling birth rate and ever-swelling numbers of elderly people. So Japan’s amusement arcades, once an exclusive resort of youth, are increasingly becoming the abode of the old, The (London) Times said today. According to the Hello Taito game centre in the Tokyo suburb of Kameari, as many as 90 per cent of its weekday visitors are over 60 years old. In an effort to encourage elderly customers, the company is making concerted efforts to appeal to this unfamiliar demographic. Metal stools have been replaced by benches covered with old-fashioned tatami mats. Seaweed tea, popular among retired people, is provided free, as well as blankets and reading glasses. Even the deafening noises emitted by the arcade machines have been turned down to a minimum out of consideration for geriatric sensibilities.”
Ctrl-Z new media philosophy – New broadly-themed and inclusive academic journal looking for submissions under the broad umbrella of “New Media Philosophy”.
Harried, underpaid staff plan to flee the sector [The Australian] – *sigh* “Two in five academics under the age of 30 plan to leave Australian higher education within the next five to 10 years because of high levels of dissatisfaction caused by lack of job security, poor pay and mountains of paperwork and red tape. And for those aged between 30 and 40, the figure is one in three. Dissatisfaction and insecurity are so rife among casual and sessional staff that a new report for the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations estimates that close to half the academic workforce will retire, move to an overseas university or leave higher education altogether within the next decade.”
Online gamers crack AIDS enzyme puzzle [The Age] – Collaborative online gamers manage to crack a crucial enzyme which is key to combating HIV. This is tangible evidence of collective intelligence of game players when usefully directed and harnessed.
danah boyd | apophenia » Guilt Through Algorithmic Association – How algorithms can make someone look guilty or attached to something, even if it’s only other searchers making that connection: “You’re a 16-year-old Muslim kid in America. Say your name is Mohammad Abdullah. Your schoolmates are convinced that you’re a terrorist. They keep typing in Google queries likes “is Mohammad Abdullah a terrorist?” and “Mohammad Abdullah al Qaeda.” Google’s search engine learns. All of a sudden, auto-complete starts suggesting terms like “Al Qaeda” as the next term in relation to your name. You know that colleges are looking up your name and you’re afraid of the impression that they might get based on that auto-complete. You are already getting hostile comments in your hometown, a decidedly anti-Muslim environment. You know that you have nothing to do with Al Qaeda, but Google gives the impression that you do. And people are drawing that conclusion. You write to Google but nothing comes of it. What do you do? This is guilt through algorithmic association.”
Google Scholar Citations [Google Scholar Blog] – Google launches (in very limited release) Google Scholar Citations, their own citation statistics for scholarly articles and books. Google Scholar has appeared to be one of Google’s least loved and least developed projects, so I’m glad to see it’s getting some TLC. That said, citation metrics are funny things and tend to be used in far more ways than intended, especially in evaluating ‘academic performance’. What sets these metrics apart from others is that thanks to Google Books, many citations from books and of books are in here too (many citation metrics are articles only). Which leaves me with one big question for now: carrot (what Google can do for struggling scholars out to prove their worth) or stick (is your data in Google Books, and if not, why aren’t you hassling your publisher to get included and thus get better metrics?)?
Pottermore and Google team up to enable Harry Potter ebooks push to Google Books libraries [Inside Google Books] – Google Potter – definitely a win for Google: “When JK Rowling’s new website Pottermore opens its doors this Fall, we’ll provide services to help fans make the most of their ebook purchasing experience. Pottermore and Google are teaming up to integrate Pottermore with a number of Google products and APIs. So when the series of Harry Potter ebooks launches on Pottermore.com in early October, these bestsellers will be available in the U.S. via the open Google eBooks platform. When you buy a Harry Potter ebook from Pottermore, you will be able to choose to keep it in your Google Books library in-the-cloud, as well as on other e-reading platforms. [...] Also under this agreement, Google Checkout will be the preferred third party payment platform for all purchases made on Pottermore.com.”
Australian Cinema Tickets Most Expensive: Choice [WA Today] – Throw in 3D for good measure and it’s close to $100 for a family of 4! “Australian cinema-goers pay more for their silver screen experience than anyone else in the Western world, according to consumer advocate Choice. Spokeswoman Ingrid Just said that Australians heading to the cinema paid far more than movie audiences in the US and New Zealand. Research found that, on average, Australian adults paid around $18 per ticket, while families of four can expect to fork out up to $67 for admission to the local multi-national cinema complex. “Taking into account exchange rates, an Aussie family of four spends just over $34 more than a New Zealand family and $28 more than a US family on a trip to the flicks,” Ms Just said.”
LulzSec hack into Murdoch’s British websites [The Age] – “Hackers who broke into the News Corporation network and forced its British websites offline claim to have stolen sensitive data from the company including emails and usernames/passwords. All of News Corporation’s British websites were taken offline today following an attack on the website of tabloid The Sun, which earlier today was redirecting to a fake story about Rupert Murdoch’s death. Further pain is expected for the media mogul as the hacker group responsible for the attack claims to have also stolen emails and passwords for News International executives and journalists. It said it would release more information tomorrow. [...] The infamous hacking group LulzSec have claimed responsibility for taking over The Sun’s website, linking to a site with the fake story under the headline “Media moguls body discovered”, with “Lulz” printed at the bottom of the page.”
A life in writing: Slavoj Žižek [Culture | The Guardian] – Short and sweet interview with Slavoj Žižek. Notable quote regarding Wikileaks: “”We learned nothing new really from WikiLeaks,” he tells me later. “Julian is like the boy who tells us the emperor is naked – until the boy says it everybody could pretend the emperor wasn’t. Don’t confuse this with the usual bourgeois heroism which says there is rottenness but the system is basically sound. [...] Julian strips away that pretence. All power is hypocritical like this. What power finds intolerable is when the hypocrisy is revealed.””
BBC rents out Doctor Who via Facebook [TV Tonight] – “BBC Worldwide will offer a series of digitally remastered Doctor Who stories to ‘rent’ via Facebook in Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. By using Facebook credits, users visiting the official Doctor Who page will be able to stream a selection of nine stories (each containing several episodes) from the history of the Time Lord, including digitally remastered classics such as ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’, ‘Silence in the Library’ and ‘End of the World’. [...] John Smith, Chief Executive at BBC Worldwide said “As we have grown internationally, we’ve seen through our Facebook channel that fans who are loving the new series are asking for a guide into our rich Doctor Who back catalogue. Our approach to Facebook and other leading edge platforms is to be right there alongside them in fostering innovation. We see this service as a perfect way to give our fans what they want, as well as a great way for them to get their fix between now and the autumn when Series Six continues.”
Google Chrome hits 20% global share as Microsoft continues browser slide [Network World] – “Google Chrome’s rise in popularity has been remarkably fast and it’s just hit a new milestone: more than 20% of all browser usage, according to StatCounter. Chrome rose from only 2.8% in June 2009 to 20.7% worldwide in June 2011, while Microsoft’s Internet Explorer fell from 59% to 44% in the same time frame. Firefox dropped only slightly in the past two years, from 30% to 28%.”
Angry Birds film takes off [guardian.co.uk] – “An Angry Birds movie is slingshotting its way into development with the announcement that former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel has been recruited as a special adviser by Rovio – the mobile game company that developed the popular pig-popping franchise. “There has been so much chatter about an Angry Birds movie, but it’s now real,” Maisel told Variety. “The process is starting now.” Maisel, who was responsible for shepherding mega-hits such as Iron Man to the big screen while at Marvel, said he was interested in the “emotional connection” that players have with the Angry Birds characters.”
Australian Social Trends, Jun 2011 – Summary data released in the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2011 about social and cultural trends in Australia (as measured by a variety of stats). Useful for lectures.
Chinese faked photograph leaves officials on street of shame [The Guardian] – “For government officials in Huili, a distinctly modest county in a rural corner of south-west China, attracting national media coverage would normally seem a dream come true. Unfortunately, their moment in the spotlight was not so welcome: mass ridicule over what may well be one of the worst-doctored photographs in internet history. The saga began on Monday when Huili’s website published a picture showing, according to the accompanying story, three local officials inspecting a newly completed road construction project this month. The picture certainly portrayed the men, and the road, but the officials appeared to be levitating several inches above the tarmac. As photographic fakery goes it was astonishingly clumsy.” [Gallery of photoshop 'responses.]
Credit Is Due (The Attribution Song) [YouTube] – Nina Paley’s excellent short video explaining why copying WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION is plagiarism. (And why that’s wrong.) Surely this clip will find its way into first-year university lectures everywhere!
Parents using Facebook to attack school staff, Principals Federation says [Perth Now] – “Parents are using Facebook and other social networks to attack principals and teachers they dislike or believe have wronged them or their children. The growing practice of raging against school staff online has sparked calls for the Education Department to step in. “These forums can also fuel the sort of misplaced anger and hatred that can end in physical confrontations and school lockdowns,” Australian Principals Federation president Chris Cotching said. Lawyers acting for the federation have warned the department it could be legally culpable if it continued to ignore online campaigns against staff.”
Palin Fans Trying to Edit Wikipedia Paul Revere Page [Little Green Footballs] – Interesting case study on Wikipedia’s accuracy – after Sarah Palin gets history wrong, her supporteres try and edit Wikipedia to make the Palin version; drama and editorial warfare ensue: “Man, you’ve gotta almost admire the sheer blind dedication of Sarah Palin’s wingnut acolytes. Now they’re trying like crazy to edit the Wikipedia page for “Paul Revere” to make it match Palin’s botched version of history. Here’s the Revision history of Paul Revere; check out the edits that are being reversed. Also see the discussion page for an entertaining exchange between Wikipedia editors and a would-be revisionist.”
Google Chrome: Lady Gaga [YouTube] – Clever ad for Google Chrome featuring Lady Gaga (and simultaneously a Lady Gaga ad featuring Chrome!) which really highlights how she’s deeply engaging with her fanbase via social media.
Google’s YouTube policy for Android users is copyright extremism [guardian.co.uk] – Cory Doctorow laments Google’s copyright-driven philosophical contradictions: “The news that Android users who have jailbroken their phones will be denied access to the new commercial YouTube pay-per-view service is as neat an example of copyright extremism as you could hope for. Android, of course, is Google’s wildly popular alternative to Apple’s iOS (the operating system found on iPhones and iPads). Android is free and open – it costs nothing to copy, it can be legally modified and those modifications can be legally distributed [...] unless you’re running a very specific version of Google’s software on your phone or tablet, you can’t “rent” movies on YouTube. Google – the vendor – and the studios – the rights holders – are using copyright to control something much more profound than mere copying. In this version of copyright, making a movie gives you the right to specify what kind of device can play the movie back, and how that device must be configured.”