Links for July 5th 2011 through July 12th 2011:

  • China’s first ‘virtual property’ insurance launched for online gaming sector [Global Times] – “A Chinese insurance company has unveiled a new type of “virtual property” insurance that might be the first of its kind in the world. The new service, tailored for online game players, was jointly launched by Sunshine Insurance Group Corporation and online game operator and manufacturer Gamebar. The two companies agreed to create the virtual property insurance amid an increasing number of disputes between online game operators and their customers, often related to the loss or theft of players’ “virtual property” such as “land” and “currency.” Over 300 million people engage in online gaming in China, and these players sometimes become involved in arguments with game operators due to the loss of property.” [Via]
  • First lesson of viral video: No monkey business [Online Video News] – “Apes with assault rifles are just a bad idea: That’s the lesson 20th Century Fox wanted to convey with a viral video it published on YouTube last week. The video shows a group of soldiers from an unidentified African country having some fun with a chimpanzee. Then one of the soldiers hands the ape an AK-47, and the animal takes aim at the soldiers. The clip is a viral video ad for the upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie, complete with a semi-authentic and amateurish look and some subtle branding that identifies it as content of the “20th Century Fox Research Library.” And so far it has been a success, if you only measure view counts: The video has attracted more than 4.5 million views since being published last Wednesday. But a look at the YouTube comment section tells a different story: A substantial number of commenters take the opportunity to drop the n-word, compare black people to monkeys or publish other kinds of racial slurs.”
  • Fifty Million [Matt Mullenweg] – On July 11, 2001, Worpress “passed over 50,000,000 websites, blogs, portfolios, stores, pet projects, and of course cat websites powered by WordPress.” That’s a lot! 🙂
  • Smartphone Adoption and Usage – 11 July 2011 [Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] – “In its first standalone measure of smartphone ownership, the Pew Internet Project finds that one third of American adults – 35% – own smartphones. The Project’s May survey found that 83% of US adults have a cell phone of some kind, and that 42% of them own a smartphone. That translates into 35% of all adults. […] Some 87% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their handheld, including two-thirds (68%) who do so on a typical day. When asked what device they normally use to access the internet, 25% of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer.” [Full Report PDF]
  • Apple App Store: 15 Billion Downloads & Counting [Mashable] – “Apple’s App Store has generated 15 billion downloads since its launch in July 2008, Apple has announced. The App Store now offers more than 425,000 apps, 100,000 of which are created specifically for Apple’s tablet, the iPad. Apple has paid developers more than $2.5 billion to date. Given Apple’s 30/70 revenue split with app developers, that means Apple itself has netted more than $1 billion directly from app sales. In January 2010, the App Store surpassed 3 billion downloads, and in January 2011, Apple announced that the App Store surpassed 10 billion downloads. It took Apple’s App Store only six months to jump from 10 billion to 15 billion downloads.”
  • Zynga Launches PrivacyVille, a Gamified Version of Its Privacy Policies [Inside Social Games] – Gamification of Zynga’s privacy policy! “As Zynga edges closer to its initial public offering, the social game developer seems concerned with educating the masses both on social game revenue models and on the actual fine print of social game privacy policies. Today, the company announces PrivacyVille, an interactive walkthrough of its privacy policies that rewards participants with zPoints to spend in gift network RewardVille. The experience can be clicked through in about two minutes, with each structure on the CityVille-like map representing a different component of Zynga’s privacy policy. The tutorial text seems to stress to readers that Zynga will collect players’ information from Facebook and from mobile devices and share it with third-party service providers, the legal system in the case of a court ordered disclosure, and with other players in cases where a player’s icon displays a link back to their Facebook account.”
  • Natalie Tran: Down Under’s Top YouTuber Considers Her Next Move [Forbes] – Quick profile of Natalie Tran, the person behind Australia’s most subscribed to YouTube channel (communitychannel): “Around the world, young adults like Natalie Tran are facing a key moment in their lives: they’ve been graduated from university and are examining the success and failures of their academic years to decide which direction to take their careers. It’s just that most of those students have not built an international fan-base at this point. Tran, 23, has. The Sydney, Australia resident recently received her Digital Media degree from the University of New South Wales. I hope she got at least one high mark for this fact: Tran is Australia’s most-subscribed-to YouTuber. Over the past five years, her “communitychannel” has amassed nearly 1 million subscribers and her videos have garnered nearly 400 million upload views. Reasons: Smart, funny, quirky, beautiful. Why complicate matters?”
  • Google Realtime goes dark after Twitter agreement expires [VentureBeat] – “Google has taken its powerful Realtime search product offline after a 2009 agreement to display up-to-the-minute Twitter results expired. The shutdown of Realtime comes just as Google is in the process of rolling out Google+, its new social networking initiative that competes with Twitter. Google said it planned to relaunch Realtime search after retooling it and adding in Google+ results. “Since October of 2009, we have had an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results through a special feed, and that agreement expired on July 2,” Google told Search Engine Land. “While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google. Our vision is to have google.com/realtime include Google+ information along with other realtime data from a variety of sources.””
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Links for June 30th 2011 through July 4th 2011:

  • 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.
  • Exclusive: Myspace to Be Sold to Specific Media for $35 Million [AllThingsD] – MySpace purchase price in 2005: $580 million.
    MySpace sale price in 2011: $35 million.
    NewsCorp: not winning.
  • 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!
  • Bitcoins [Rocketboom] – Molly on Rocketboom makes a valiant, if slightly confused, effort to explain Bitcoins.
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Links for May 31st 2011 through June 6th 2011:

  • 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.”
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Links for May 26th 2011 through May 30th 2011:

  • China used prisoners in lucrative internet gaming work [guardian.co.uk] – Chinese prisons used as gold farms (ie playing games to earn virtual gold to sale): “As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells. Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for “illegally petitioning” the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.”
  • Better Facebook – Browser Extension – Nifty browser extension that makes Facebook more useful – including tracking comments, far more detailed filtering options, unfriend tracking, themes and so forth. Works on most browsers except IE.
  • “Literally Unbelievable” – The extremely odd, disheartening and worrying Tumblr blog which captures people’s reactions to stories in The Onion without realising they’re parody and satire. All a little worrying.
  • The Tunnel – The Tunnel is an Australian horror film released in May 2011 which took the unique approach of officially and legally releasing the entire film exclusively as a Bittorrent file, while offering other ways to support the film (buy stills and various types of DVDs and extras), betting that working with p2p communities rather than against them would win fans and financial support in the long run. There’s a quick write-up in the SMH and some fascinating background: IMDb initially refused to let the film be listed since it wasn’t using any recognised channels for release (eventually IMDb bowed to fan pressure and it’s listed there now).
  • Thanks, YouTube community, for two BIG gifts on our sixth birthday! [YouTube Blog] – YouTube turns six with some amazing stats: “Today, more than 48 hours (two days worth) of video are uploaded to the site every minute, a 37% increase over the last six months and 100% over last year. […] We’re amazed that over this last weekend, you drove YouTube past the 3 billion views a day mark, a 50% increase over last year. That’s the equivalent of nearly half the world’s population watching a YouTube video each day, or every U.S. resident watching at least nine videos a day.”Last year YouTube celebrated their 5th birthday with a dedicated channel page and a 5-year YouTube timeline which are still useful, too.
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Links for April 5th 2011 through April 12th 2011:

  • Logies 2011: Twitter Banned [The Age] – “When Australian television’s biggest stars walk the Logies red carpet on May 1, there will be one notable absence. This year, Twitter is not invited to the party. Having snaffled back-to-back awards for Most Attention-Seeking Performance in 2009 and 2010, Twitter has been effectively blackballed by organisers of this year’s awards. Invitations to the ceremony at Crown carry, in very small print, the words: ”Please note, mobiles will not be permitted. Your co-operation is appreciated.”” Unsurprisingly, tweeting celebs and followers alike are unimpressed.
  • Google ‘to boost spend on original YouTube content’ [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Broadcast YourTV just doesn’t have the same ring to it: “Google is strengthening its relationship with Hollywood and online programme-makers in an attempt to reposition YouTube for the rise of internet-connected TV. The world’s most popular video website will invest tens of millions of dollars in professionally-produced original programming as more viewers watch YouTube from their living room. Google is also reported to be planning a “major overhaul” of YouTube this year, with the introduction of channels for topics such as arts and sports. About 20 of these channels would feature several hours of professional programming a week, according to the Wall Street Journal. The move would represent a big shift away from the user-generated video that made YouTube the third most-popular site on the planet.”
  • ‘School asked us to airbrush class photo,’ company says [The Age] – “A photographic company that digitally altered the school portraits of six Melbourne students says the girls’ college at the centre of the controversy specifically requested for the images to be airbrushed. Parents were outraged yesterday when their daughters returned home from Our Lady of Sion College in Box Hill with school photographs that had been touched up to change hairstyles, hide ears and eliminate earrings. Several students’ had their ponytails removed, while one parent, Mary, said her 16-year-old daughter had hair drawn across her ears and ended up sporting a ridiculous ‘‘bouffant’’. ‘‘It didn’t even look like her in the end, it just didn’t look like her at all,’’ said Mary, who did not want to reveal her name to protect the identity of her daughter. ‘‘My daughter said to me, ‘What was wrong with me mum? Why did they need to do that?’ It’s just sending the wrong message to the girls. Their self-esteem isn’t the best at that age.’’”
  • Amazon’s new Cloud Drive rains on everyone’s parade [Technology | The Observer] – A solid piece which explains why Google, Apple and the music companies are probably feeling a little threatened by Amazon’s new Cloud Drive and, more importantly, the CloudPlayer which makes Amazon purchased music or any other music you own accessible on smartphones and other mobile media devices as streaming media.
  • ‘Angry Birds Rio’ a Big Hit: 10 Million Downloads in 10 Days – “Angry Birds fans can’t get enough of the bird-hurling application and game franchise from mobile developer Rovio. Angry Birds Rio, the latest iOS and Android edition of the game, features a theme based on the upcoming FOX animated motion picture Rio. The app saw ten million downloads in its first ten days after release. The milestone metric spans all free and paid versions available in the App Store, Android Marketplace and Amazon Appstore. The stat was first announced on Rovio’s Twitter account.”
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Links for March 16th 2011 through March 20th 2011:

  • Why Curation Is Just as Important as Creation [Mashable] – “The folks who run the online galleries — the curators — aren’t asking permission or giving a revenue share, which means that content creators need to get comfortable with the idea that in the new world of the link economy, curating and creating aren’t mutually exclusive. Exhibit A: Seth Godin. He is one of the web’s best-known marketing wizards. […]. And he says that content creators can’t ignore curation any longer. “We don’t have an information shortage; we have an attention shortage,” Godin said. “There’s always someone who’s going to supply you with information that you’re going to curate. The Guggenheim doesn’t have a shortage of art. They don’t pay you to hang paintings for a show — in fact you have to pay for the insurance. […] As Godin sees it, power is shifting from content makers to content curators: “If we live in a world where information drives what we do, the information we get becomes the most important thing. The person who chooses that information has power.””
  • Why Do We Hate Rebecca Black? [Brow Beat] – “It’s Fri-ee-day! Here in New York, where the long-awaited sunshine is making everyone slightly loopy, “Friday”—Rebecca Black’s so-awful-it’s-kind-of-genius viral sensation—makes for a highly appropriate soundtrack. Like her lyricists, I, too, can barely form coherent sentences, because we-we-we so excited about all the fun ahead of us tonight. A quick recap, for anyone who’s missed the frenzy: Rebecca Black, an eighth-grader from Orange County, recorded a song and produced a video with vanity label Ark Music Factory, which specializes in tweenybopper “artists.” Last week, Black’s video starting ricocheting around the Web, to the delight and horror of millions of viewers. No one, it seems, can believe that anything this terrible could possibly exist. […] So her parents paid $2,000 for her to pretend to be a star. […] and for an unexpected dose of media training.
  • xxx marks the spot [SMH] – “The group in charge of internet addresses has opened the door for adult-content websites ending with .xxx but delayed deciding whether to open the floodgates for other suffixes. The non-profit internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board voted to approve a petition to add .xxx to the list of “generic top-level domains” – endings that include .com, .net and .org. […] The request had been rejected about five years ago and was reconsidered after an appeal.”
  • Bullying Video’s “Little Zangief” A Hero Online [WA Today] – “It was inevitable. The Sydney boy who retaliated against a younger student at school after an apparent bullying attack has been transformed from a victim to an online hero. Since video of the incident at a western Sydney school this week was posted online, it immediately went viral. The 16-year-old “victim” has been dubbed “Little Zangief” – a character from the Street Fighter video game – and likened to the Incredible Hulk and The Punisher, with websites, mash-up videos and even a Twitter account set up in his honour. The video, which has since been featured on US and British news sites, shows a smaller 12-year-old boy punching the bigger boy. The bigger boy then picks up his tormentor and throws him to the ground. The issue dominated talkback radio after it happened.” [More at Know Your Meme] [More Remixes]
  • 40th anniversary of the computer virus [Net Security] – “1971: Creeper: catch me if you can. While theories on self-replicating automatas were developed by genius mathematician Von Neumann in the early 50s, the first real computer virus was released “in lab” in 1971 by an employee of a company working on building ARPANET, the Internet’s ancestor. Intriguing feature: Creeper looks for a machine on the network, transfers to it, displays the message “I’m the creeper, catch me if you can!” and starts over, thereby hoping from system to system. It was a pure proof of concept that ties the roots of computer viruses to those of the Internet.”
  • The Rise of Twitter Poetry [NYTimes.com] – “… there’s evidence that the literary flowering of Twitter may actually be taking place. The Twitter haiku movement — “twaiku” to its initiates — is well under way. Science fiction and mystery enthusiasts especially have gravitated to its communal immediacy. And even litterateurs, with a capital L, seem to be warming to it. For two years, John Wray, the author of the well-regarded novel “Lowboy,” has been spinning out a Twitter story based on a character named Citizen that he cut from the novel, a contemporary version of the serialization that Dickens and other fiction writers once enjoyed. “I don’t view the constraints of the format as in any way necessarily precluding literary quality,” he said. “It’s just a different form. And it’s still early days, so people are still really trying to figure out how to communicate with it, beyond just reporting that their Cheerios are soggy.””
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Late last year I was interviewed about online teaching by the team UNSW’s COFA team for their Learning to Teach Online project which aims to build a rich library of resources for teachers working online in various forms.  You can find my talking head peppered throughout a number of their video episodes, but the main one, and one I’m really pleased to see up, is all about Understanding Creative Commons for education. I’ve embedded the video below, but you can also get a printable resources hand-out over and the Learning to Teaching Online page.

Incidentally, it’s worth mentioning that this video is about both how teachers and use Creative Commons licenses, but also, and quite importantly, about how students can use CC licenses when producing their own worth, be that text, photos, video or other combinations of media. If you’re an educator interested in this area, you might also enjoy the short paper I wrote a few years ago called ‘The Creative Commons: An Overview for Educators’.

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