Links for January 28th 2011 through February 1st 2011:

  • Apple Moves to Tighten Control of App Store [NYTimes.com] – Apple’s Walled Garden App Store is building even Bigger Walls: “Apple is further tightening its control of the App Store. The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store. Apple rejected Sony’s iPhone application, which would have let people buy and read e-books bought from the Sony Reader Store. Apple told Sony that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple, said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division. The move could affect companies like Amazon.com and others that sell e-book readers that compete with Apple’s iPad tablet and offer free mobile apps so customers can read their e-book purchases on other devices. An iPad owner, for instance, has not needed to own a Kindle to read Kindle books bought from Amazon. That may now change.”
  • Intel warns of $1bn cost of chip fix [Technology | The Guardian] – Ouch! “The chipmaker Intel has halted shipments of its new Sandy Bridge processors and says it will have to spend a total of $1bn (£600m) fixing a fault, delaying hundreds of new PC models for up to three months and potentially stifling growth in the personal computer market. Launched early in January, the Sandy Bridge chip combines standard processing and graphics units on a single die. But Intel said today it had found flaws in a support chip, called Cougar Point, which would have led to failures over time in connections to hard drives and DVDs. The fault will upset production on more than 500 computer models that were to have used the processors. That in turn will hit the PC industry, which has already been suffering from slowing growth in the US and other regions last year. It could also open the door to Intel’s longstanding rival, AMD, which has a similar processor, named Fusion. After the news AMD shares jumped by 5% in early trading in New York, while Intel shares slid by 1.5%”
  • Wary of Egypt Unrest, China Censors Web [NYTimes.com] – “In another era, China’s leaders might have been content to let discussion of the protests in Egypt float around among private citizens, then fizzle out. But challenges in recent years to authoritarian governments around the globe and violent uprisings in parts of China itself have made Chinese officials increasingly wary of leaving such talk unchecked, especially on the Internet, the medium some officials see as central to fanning the flames of unrest. [...] two of the nation’s biggest online portals — blocked keyword searches of the word “Egypt,” though the mass protests were being discussed on some Internet chat rooms on Monday. The use of “Egypt” has also been blocked on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Censoring the Internet is not the only approach. The Chinese government has also tried to get out ahead of the discussion, framing the Egyptian protests in a few editorials and articles in state-controlled news publications…”
  • Wikipedia Ponders Its Gender-Skewed Contributions [NYTimes.com] – “About a year ago, the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia, collaborated on a study of Wikipedia’s contributor base and discovered that it was barely 13 percent women; the average age of a contributor was in the mid-20s, according to the study by a joint center of the United Nations University and Maastricht University. Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation, has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but she is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women. Her effort is not diversity for diversity’s sake, she says. “This is about wanting to ensure that the encyclopedia is as good as it could be,” Ms. Gardner said in an interview on Thursday. “The difference between Wikipedia and other editorially created products is that Wikipedians are not professionals, they are only asked to bring what they know.””
  • Google unveils Web-free ‘tweeting’ in Egypt move [AFP] – “Google, in response to the Internet blockade in Egypt, said Monday that it had created a way to post messages to microblogging service Twitter by making telephone calls. Google worked with Twitter and freshly acquired SayNow, a startup specializing in social online voice platforms, to make it possible for anyone to “tweet” by leaving a message at any of three telephone numbers. “Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground,” Google product manager Abdel-Karim Mardini and SayNow co-founder Ujjwal Singh said in a blog post. “Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service — the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection,” they said.”
  • Man jailed over anti-semitic video [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “A 39-year-old Perth man has been sentenced to three years’ jail for posting an anti-semitic video on the internet. Brendon Lee O’Connell is the first person in Western Australia to be convicted under the state’s racial vilification laws. A jury found him guilty last week of six offences. O’Connell posted a video on YouTube showing him insulting a young Jewish man in 2009. The video also showed O’Connell standing in front of the Perth Bell Tower telling Jews their days were numbered.”
  • Facebook launches mobile deals [BBC News] – In a very clear challenge to FourSquare: “Facebook is launching a service that lets British users earn discounts from high street businesses. Users who visit participating shops can log in from their mobile phones to receive rewards. Companies, meanwhile can use Facebook Deals as a virtual loyalty card or coupon system. The social network has already lined up promotions with several businesses including Starbucks, Debenhams and mobile network O2. The service ties into Facebook Places, an add-on for mobile phones that launched in 2010 as a way for users to share their location with friends. Users who login to Places via the dedicated Facebook app for the iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android system can update their whereabouts – or “check in” – whenever they visit a variety of shops, restaurants and other venues. With Deals, users will not just be able to tell other people their location, but can also take advantage of any special offers that the retailer has.”
  • Android overtakes Symbian in smartphone sales [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Google’s Android overtook the long-time market leader, Nokia’s Symbian, as the world’s most popular smartphone platform in the fourth quarter, according to the research firm Canalys. In total, 32.9m phones running Android were sold to retailers and mobile networks in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared with Symbian’s total sales of 31m in the quarter, the researcher said. In a press release, Canalys noted that Nokia had however retained its lead as the single biggest smartphone vendor, with a 30.6% share of phones shipped. The rise of Android to the top of the smartphone sales chart indicates the popularity of the free operating system with vendors, which do not have to pay a licence fee to use it on their phones.”
  • Angry Birds Go Hollywood [NYTimes.com] – “Angry Birds, the cellphone game that has turned into a cultural phenomenon with 75 million downloads and counting, is lending its wings to a 20th Century Fox movie. To promote the April 15 release of “Rio,” an animated film starring two rare macaws, Fox and Rovio, the small Finnish company behind Angry Birds, said on Friday that Rovio would release Angry Birds Rio. The special edition of the game – the original Angry Birds are kidnapped and taken to Rio – will be made available in March. The announcement was made at an only-in-Hollywood press event on the Fox lot in Los Angeles. As a quartet of Brazilian bongo drummers pounded away on their instruments and reporters guzzled drinks made with Brazilian rum, Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, broke the news.”
  • Amazon Kindle e-book downloads outsell paperbacks [BBC News] – “Amazon has announced that in the US it sold more e-books for its Kindle device than it sold paperback books in the last three months of 2010. [...] Amazon announced that in the US since the start of the year it had sold 115 e-book downloads for every 100 paperback books, even excluding its downloads of free books. But it stressed that sales of paperback books were also growing. “Last July we announced that Kindle books had passed hardcovers and predicted that Kindle would surpass paperbacks in the second quarter of this year,” said Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. “So this milestone has come even sooner than we expected – and it’s on top of continued growth in paperback sales.” It has not said how many of its Kindle devices it has sold, but did say that they had overtaken the final book in the Harry Potter series to become the top-selling item in Amazon’s history.”
  • Egypt cuts off internet access [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Egypt appears to have cut off almost all access to the internet from inside and outside the country from late on Thursday night, in a move that has concerned observers of the protests that have been building in strength through the week. “According to our analysis, 88% of the ‘Egyptian internet’ has fallen off the internet,” said Andree Toonk at BGPmon, a monitoring site that checks connectivity of countries and networks. “What’s different in this case as compared to other ‘similar’ cases is that all of the major ISP’s seem to be almost completely offline. Whereas in other cases, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were typically blocked, in this case the government seems to be taking a shotgun approach by ordering ISPs to stop routing all networks.””

Links for October 4th 2010 through October 9th 2010:

  • Perhaps a revolution is not what we need [Confessions of an Aca/Fan] – Henry Jenkins offers a powerful rebuke of Malcolm Gladwell’s claim that Twitter and other social media aren’t revolutionary: “The Civil Rights Movement certainly tapped into networks of all kinds — from the congregations of churches to the sisterhood of sororities, and deployed a broad range of communications technologies available at the time. Twitter is however simply one of many communications platforms through which we forge politics in the 21st century. There’s a tendency to look at it and try to read its features as totally embodying a new kind of public, but that is profoundly misleading. We do not live on a platform; we live across platforms. We choose the right tools for the right jobs.”
  • 5% of babies “have a social media profile” [Next Web] – “As social media becomes an increasingly important part of life, it’s perhaps unsurprising to find out that parents are creating digital presences for their children – sometimes while they’re still in the womb. You may think that it would only be a handful of particularly geeky parents who would bother to set up a Twitter or Facebook account for their unborn child, but a study published today by Internet security firm AVG found that 5% of babies under 2 have social media profiles, while 7% have an email address. The main reason for doing this, it seems, is to share baby scans and and information about the pregnancy with family and friends. Meanwhile, many more babies are “online” in some form or other. 23% of fetuses had images of their antenatal scans uploaded before birth.”
  • Libya takes hard line on .ly link shortening domains [BBC News] – The perils of URL shortening: “The Libyan government has removed an adult-friendly link-shortening service from the web, saying that it fell foul of local laws. It could have an impact on similar services registered in Libya. The domain vb.ly was revoked[...] Co-founder of vb.ly Ben Metcalfe warned that “other ly domains are being deregistered and removed without warning”. “The domain was seized by the Libyan domain registry for reasons which seemed to be kept obscure until we escalated the issue,” he wrote. “We eventually discovered that the domain has been seized because the content of our website, in their opinion, fell outside of Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law.” URL shortening is a technique that allows users to significantly condense often long web addresses to more manageable and memorable links. The Libyan crackdown could come as a blow to other url shortening services such as bit.ly, which is particularly popular on Twitter where all messages have to be limited to 140 characters.”
  • The Man Who First Said ‘Cyborg,’ 50 Years Later – Alexis Madrigal [The Atlantic] – “We’re gathered here today to celebrate Manfred Clynes. Fifty years ago, he coined the word “cyborg” to describe an emerging hybrid of man’s machines and man himself. The word itself combined cybernetics, the then-emerging discipline of feedback and control, and organism. The word appeared in an article called “Cyborgs and Space,” in the journal Astronautics’ September 1960 issue. Just to be precise, here’s how the word was introduced: “For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term ‘Cyborg,'” wrote Clynes and his co-author Nathan Kline, both of Rockland State University. From that catchy description, it might not have been immediately apparent that Cyborg was destined to become the label for a profound myth, hope and fear specific to our era.”
  • Twitter CEO Evan Williams steps down [Technology | The Guardian] – Evan Williams stands down as CEO, handing Dick Costolo the reigns as Twitter starts thinking about itself as a serious long-term business, not a start-up.
  • Cyberbully Is Found Guilty on Multiple Counts in Dead Sea Scrolls Case [The Chronicle of Higher Education] – “A professor’s adult son was convicted in a New York State court of 30 criminal charges on Thursday for using online aliases to try to harass and discredit scholars whom his father opposed in a bitter debate over the Dead Sea Scrolls. The jury found Raphael H. Golb, the 50-year-old son of the prominent religious-studies scholar Norman Golb of the University of Chicago, guilty all but one of the 31 counts against him, according to an Associated Press report. It convicted him of forgery, harassment, and identity theft in connection with a sustained electronic campaign in which he impersonated five people and used about 70 phony e-mail accounts to harass and try to damage the reputations of scholars. Of particular note to academics who were following the case, the jurors rejected a defense lawyer’s argument that the damaging statements that Raphael Golb had made about others under assumed names amounted to parody or irony intended to expose what he saw as scholarly lies…”

Links for September 6th 2010 through September 8th 2010:

  • In ‘Bed Intruder Song,’ Gregory Brothers Have Billboard Hit [NYTimes.com] – “Viral videos tend to have a short lifespan online. [...] But in one of the stranger twists in recent pop-music history, a musical remake of a local news clip transcended YouTube fame and reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August. It was a rare case of a product of Web culture jumping the species barrier and becoming a pop hit. The song’s source material could not have been more unlikely: A local TV news report from Huntsville, Ala., about an intruder who climbed into a woman’s bed and tried to assault her. But with some clever editing and the use of software that can turn speech into singing, the Gregory Brothers, a quartet of musicians living in Brooklyn, transformed an animated and angry rant by the victim’s brother into something genuinely catchy. The resulting track, “Bed Intruder Song,” has sold more than 91,000 copies on iTunes, and last week it was at No. 39 on the iTunes singles chart. Its video has been viewed more than 16 million times on YouTube.” The background to this meme:
  • Avatar activism [Le Monde diplomatique] – Henry Jenkins on the mobilisation of popular cultural in protest movements: “Five Palestinian, Israeli and international activists painted themselves blue to resemble the Na’vi from James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar (1) in February, and marched through the occupied village of Bil’in. The Israeli military used tear gas and sound bombs on the azure-skinned protestors, who wore traditional keffiyahs with their Na’vi tails and pointy ears. The camcorder footage of the incident was juxtaposed with borrowed shots from the film and circulated on YouTube. We hear the movie characters proclaim: “We will show the Sky People that they can not take whatever they want! This, this is our land!” The event is a reminder of how people around the world are mobilising icons and myths from popular culture as resources for political speech, which we can call Avatar activism.”
  • Reputation bankruptcy :[The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It] – Should we be able to purge our online reputation record and declare reputation bankruptcy? Jonathan Zittrain: “As real identity grows in importance on the Net, the intermediaries demanding it ought to consider making available a form of reputation bankruptcy. Like personal financial bankruptcy, or the way in which a state often seals a juvenile criminal record and gives a child a “fresh start” as an adult, we ought to consider how to implement the idea of a second or third chance into our digital spaces. People ought to be able to express a choice to de-emphasize if not entirely delete older information that has been generated about them by and through various systems: political preferences, activities, youthful likes and dislikes. If every action ends up on one’s “permanent record,” the press conference effect can set in. Reputation bankruptcy has the potential to facilitate desirably experimental social behavior and break up the monotony of static communities online and offline.”
  • What Are BP, Apple, Amazon, and Others Spending on Google Advertising? [Fast Company] – A peak into adword spending: “Google is typically very secretive about the specifics of its search revenue. I can’t actually recall any other leak quite like this one, in which the budgets of specific companies are laid out–kudos to AdAge for snagging the internal document with such rarely seen information. Much of the list, which covers the month of June 2010, will be of no surprise to anyone that uses Google Search regularly (which is pretty much everyone): AT&T spends ridiculous amounts of money, as do Apollo Group (which owns the University of Phoenix), Amazon, and Expedia. It’s worthwhile to note that some of AT&T’s $8.08 million budget was probably due to the launch of the wireless carrier’s biggest product of the year, the Apple iPhone 4. Apple itself spent slightly less than $1 million, which puts the company in the upper echelon of Google spending but not all that close to the top. 47 companies spent over $1 million, so Apple was, at best, in the top 50.”
  • On Wikipedia, Cultural Patrimony, and Historiography [booktwo.org] – A fantastic way to illustrate the importance of Wikipedia histories: “… Wikipedia is a useful subset of the entire internet, and as such a subset of all human culture. It’s not only a resource for collating all human knowledge, but a framework for understanding how that knowledge came to be and to be understood; what was allowed to stand and what was not; what we agree on, and what we cannot. As is my wont, I made a book to illustrate this. Physical objects are useful props in debates like this: immediately illustrative, and useful to hang an argument and peoples’ attention on. This particular book—or rather, set of books—is every edit made to a single Wikipedia article, The Iraq War, during the five years between the article’s inception in December 2004 and November 2009, a total of 12,000 changes and almost 7,000 pages.”

Links for February 5th 2009 through February 8th 2009:

  • Journalism Education’s Future: Broader, Deeper in Community [Center for Citizen Media] – Dan Gillmor, on the challenge for journalism educators in the C21st: “Journalism educators should be in the vanguard of an absolutely essential shift for society at large: helping our students, and people in our larger communities, to navigate and manage the myriad information streams of a media-saturated world.We need to help them understand why they need to become activists as consumers — by taking more responsibility for the quality of what they consume, in large part by becoming more critical thinkers. And they need to understand their emerging role as creators of media.

    In both cases, as consumers and creators, we start with principles.

    For media consumers:

    • Be Skeptical
    • Exercise Judgement
    • Open Your Mind
    • Keep Asking Questions
    • Learn Media Techniques

    For media creators (after incorporating the above):

    • Be Thorough
    • Get it Right
    • Insist on Fairness
    • Think Independently
    • Be Transparent, Demand Transparency”

  • Stimulus package Facebook activism [Larvatus Prodeo] – “Thanks to commenter Bird of paradox on a previous thread for drawing my attention to the creation of a Facebook group “Come on Turnbull, don’t take away my $950 bucks !”. As of this morning, it was the largest political Facebook group in Australia with 5000 members and a goal of 8000 by 9pm tonight. They’ll easily reach that. When I checked in five minutes ago, there were 7887 members. Another 60 have joined now. The group creator describes his motivation this way: ‘We are sending a clear message that Australians need this boost. As a uni student I need help to buy my text books, my mother is a single parent who needs help and my brother is heading into year 12 and he needs it… Think about how much difference this bonus will make to you and your families…’ The group page also provides information on how to lobby Senators. Very interesting indeed.” (Checking today there were more than 34,000 members!)
  • Australians desert MySpace for Facebook [The Age] – “Facebook celebrates its fifth birthday this week and the company has much to crow about, as new figures reveal the social network has twice as many monthly users in Australia as its nearest competitor, MySpace. According to web traffic monitor Nielsen Online, Facebook attracted 4,682,000 unique visitors in December, compared with just 2,362,000 for MySpace. Furthermore, each Facebook user viewed 381 pages on Facebook but MySpace users looked at only 252 pages.
    The figures show Australians appear to be deserting MySpace for Facebook … In Britain, the BBC reports, Facebook has 17 million users or three times as many as MySpace. Globally, ComScore released figures late last month showing 222 million people visited Facebook in December, versus 125 million for MySpace.”

Interesting links for May 1st 2008: