Tag Archives: amazon

Digital Culture Links: January 12th

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.
    Accounts
    1 million: The number of accounts on Jan 1, 2011.
    15 million (and counting): The number of accounts on Jan 1, 2012.
    Photos
    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.”

Digital Culture Links: December 15th

Links, catching up through to December 15th:

  • What Louis CK knows that most media companies don’t — Tech News and Analysis – Good round up of Louis CK’s online non-DRMed release of “Live at the Beacon Theater”. While a direct plea to fans didn’t prevent pirate versions altogether, CK’s fantastic online sales and healthy profit within 4 days show that this is a huge success (and arguably the torrent versions may still be helping with publicity).
  • Facebook riot page: Danny Cook jailed for 30 months [BBC News] – “A man has been jailed for 30 months for creating a Facebook group page called “Letz start a riot”. Danny Cook, 22, of Marlpool Place, Kidderminster, admitted intentionally encouraging or assisting in the commission of theft or criminal damage. Worcester Crown Court heard he made the Facebook page during the August riots. The judge, Mr Justice Butterfield, said: “I would be failing in my public duty if I did not impose a substantial custodial sentence.”"
  • Louis CK – Live at the Beacon Theater Statement – Comedian Louis CK released his new standup video “Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theater” online for $5 via PayPal, available anywhere in the world, which in his words has “No DRM, no regional restrictions, no crap. You can download this file, play it as much as you like, burn it to a DVD, whatever.” A bold experiment in doing away with any sort of rights restrictions or DRM, Louis CK has released a statement thanking his fans and showing that this experiment has been a huge success. After just 4 days of sales: “As of Today, we’ve sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58).”
  • Google buys licensing firm RightsFlow‎ [guardian.co.uk] – “Google is getting serious about paying artists royalties for songs that are used as soundtracks or videos on YouTube. The company said on Friday that it has acquired RightsFlow, a New York-based company that will help it identify the owners of music that people use in videos they post. “YouTube has had a long-standing commitment to solving the really tough challenges around online copyright – how to manage content rights in a quickly evolving technology world,” said David King, YouTube’s product manager, in a blog post. “We’ve already invested tens of millions of dollars in content management technology such as Content ID. We want to keep pushing things forward.” The deal should help YouTube, part of Google, manage the complex relationship it has with content owners, who are rarely consulted when their work is put online for free.”
  • No Copyright Intended [Waxy.org] – Great post from Andy Baio on the immense confusion around copyright and remix: “These “no copyright infringement intended” messages are everywhere on YouTube, and about as effective as a drug dealer asking if you’re a cop. It’s like a little voodoo charm that people post on their videos to ward off evil spirits. How pervasive is it? There are about 489,000 YouTube videos that say “no copyright intended” or some variation, and about 664,000 videos have a “copyright disclaimer” citing the fair use provision in Section 107 of the Copyright Act. [...] On YouTube’s support forums, there’s rampant confusion over what copyright is. People genuinely confused that their videos were blocked even with a disclosure, confused that audio was removed even though there was no “intentional copyright infringement.” Some ask for the best wording of a disclaimer, not knowing that virtually all video is blocked without human intervention using ContentID.”
  • (New) Twitter: Yours to discover – Twitter’s official announcement of the new interface. It’s a bit busier, with more of a nod towards larger social networking sites, shifting away from the focus on the trademark tweet brevity. Mashable has some useful notes on the new version.
  • Judge Hits Blogger with $2.5 Million Charge for Not Being a Journalist – In a case that’s sending a frightening message to the blogger community, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that a blogger must pay $2.5 million to an investment firm she wrote about — because she isn’t a real journalist. As reported by, Judge Marco A. Hernandez said Crystal Cox, who runs several blogs, wasn’t entitled to the protections afforded to journalists — specifically, Oregon’s media shield law for sources — because she wasn’t “affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system.” The Obsidian Finance Group sued Cox in January for $10 million for writing several blog posts critical of the company and its co-founder, Kevin Padrick. Obsidian argued that the writing was defamatory. Cox represented herself in court.”
  • H&M;’s New Lingerie Models Are Computer-Generated [The Cut - NY Mag] – “The models fronting H&M;’s new holiday lingerie campaign are unreal, literally. Jezebel translated an article from Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in which H&M; press officer Håcan Andersson confirms that their new lingerie-clad bodies are “completely virtual.” For H&M;’s website or catalogues, much of the store’s clothing is now shot on mannequins, which are then humanized via photo-editing software — which explains the eerily uniform pose now increasingly commonplace online.H&M; also shot real models for the campaign, but only to superimpose their heads on the standard body form. Aptly, H&M; calls them “facial models,” who are apparently aware of their abridged role in the finished catalogue shots.”
  • PS3: Delete Browser Cookies and Cache [Technipages] – Useful if iView is buggy on PS3 in Australia.
  • Swiss Govt: Downloading Movies and Music Will Stay Legal [TorrentFreak] - “One in three people in Switzerland download unauthorized music, movies and games from the Internet and since last year the government has been wondering what to do about it. This week their response was published and it was crystal clear. Not only will downloading for personal use stay completely legal, but the copyright holders won’t suffer because of it, since people eventually spend the money saved on entertainment products. In Switzerland, just as in dozens of other countries, the entertainment industries have been complaining about dramatic losses in revenue due to online piracy. In a response, the Swiss government has been conducting a study into the impact downloading has on society, and this week their findings were presented. [...] The report states that around a third of Swiss citizens over 15 years old download pirated music, movies and games from the Internet. However, these people don’t spend less money as a result …”
  • Many Online Book Buyers First Shop Around in Stores [NYTimes.com] - “Bookstore owners everywhere have a lurking suspicion: that the customers who type into their smartphones while browsing in the store, and then leave, are planning to buy the books online later — probably at a steep discount from the bookstores’ archrival, Amazon.com. Now a survey has confirmed that the practice, known among booksellers as showrooming, is not a figment of their imaginations. According to the survey, conducted in October by the Codex Group, a book market research and consulting company, 24 percent of people who said they had bought books from an online retailer in the last month also said they had seen the book in a brick-and-mortar bookstore first. Thirty-nine percent of people who bought books from Amazon in the same period said they had looked at the book in a bookstore before buying it from Amazon, the survey said.”
  • Zynga Sets Offering Price at $8.50 to $10 a Share [NYTimes.com] - “Zynga set the price range for its initial public offering at $8.50 to $10 a share, a highly anticipated debut that could value the company at $7 billion. At the top end of that range, the company, a four-year-old online game maker, is on track to raise $1 billion, which would make it the largest United States-based Internet offering since Google in 2004. [...] Zynga, unlike many of its peers, is churning out a profit, a crucial selling point as it starts its road show on Monday. It recorded earnings of $30.7 million for the first nine months of this year, on revenue of $828.9 million. The company, which makes the bulk of its money from the sale of virtual goods, is the top game maker on Facebook, with some 227 million monthly active users. Its latest franchise, Castleville, which started about two weeks ago, has already attracted about 20 million users on Facebook, according to AppData, a site that tracks online games.”
  • 9 In 10 Moms Are Facebook Friends With Their Kids [All Facebook] - “While 90 percent of mothers are friends with their children on Facebook, 46 percent of them restrict their kids’ access to their profiles, according to a study by the publisher of Parenting and Babytalk magazines. This percentage is significantly higher than what we’ve seen in a Kaplan survey of teens, about 65 percent of whom said they are Facebook friends with their parents. We wonder whether the moms have a more idealized view of things, but it’s possible that some of these mothers might have separate, made-up aliases for befriending their kids on Facebook. Meanwhile, other findings from the email survey of 1,146 mothers by The Parenting Group are: 33 percent of mothers allowed their children to create Facebook pages by age 12, despite the age limit of 13 set by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the social network’s own rules. 73 percent of moms who aren’t Facebook friends with their kids monitor their Facebook usage by accessing their pages as someone else.”
  • Facebook Extends Maximum Status Update 12-Fold [All Facebook] - “Facebook has extended the maximum length of status updates to 60,000 characters, 12 times what it used to be. Perhaps this move intends to offset the site’s recently announced plan to end support of RSS in the Notes application.The change might offer longer thoughts better visibility in the news feed than the old Notes had.  However, longer statuses don’t jibe with the ticker, which tends to clip posts after a period mark.”
  • PS3: Delete Browser Cookies and Cache [Technipages] - Useful if iView is buggy on PS3 in Australia.
  • Fail! Qantas red-faced after Twitter campaign backfires [Perth Now] - Social media #fail: “It probably seemed like a great idea in the marketing meeting. But a social media campaign in the midst of a bitter industrial battle spilling over to thousands of angry passengers has backfired for Qantas. The airline posted a seemingly innocent tweet this morning using the hashtag #qantasluxury asking for entries to a competition with suggestions for a dream in-flight experience: @QantasAirwaysTo enter tell us ‘What is your dream luxury inflight experience? (Be creative!) Answer must include #QantasLuxury. Little did they know just how “creative” – and angry – the responses would be as Twitter users seized the opportunity to have their say in their hundreds. While many of the tweets were sarcastic, most were from passengers unhappy with the state of the airline or who had experienced the disruption first-hand.  timwattsau#qantasluxury was being abandoned at Heathrow for 4 days in the snow with no customer support while trying to get home to 8mo pregnant wife!”

Digital Culture Links: October 17th 2011

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”.”

Digital Culture Links: July 26th 2011

Links for July 21st 2011 through July 26th 2011:

  • Bradley Horowitz – Google+ – Google addresses a number of the concerns arising from the ‘real names’ policy in Google+. Not all the issues are resolved by a long shot, but Google+ is in trial mode and many solutions seems forthcoming. Also: “MYTH: Not abiding by the Google+ common name policy can lead to wholesale suspension of one’s entire Google account. When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed. Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won’t be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you’ll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on. (Of course there are other Google-wide policies (e.g. egregious spamming, illegal activity, etc) that do apply to all Google products, and violations of these policies could in fact lead to a Google-wide suspension.)”
  • iPad Book Apps Hobbled: Only Existing Account-Holders Can Use The Apps, Google Books Booted [TechCrunch] – Apple takes 30%, or your app dies: “At the beginning of the year, Apple said it wanted 30% of everything sold through the iPad platform. You could sell almost anything – books, downloadable content, magazines, pictures of kittens – but, according to their subscription rules, everything had to go through Apple itself and you could not, in short, go out to a web page to complete the transaction. That promise – to shut down external web stores on the iPad – has been fulfilled and the Nook, Kindle, Kobo, and Google Books apps have just been either drastically changed or removed from the App Store entirely. Nook, Kindle, and Kobo now have no access to the web-based bookstore and you can no longer create accounts in the app.”
  • Not rocket science – Angry Birds boss puffs his chest at Fortune tech conference [News.com.au] – Convergence in action: “Peter Vesterbacka, the chief marketing officer of Angry Birds creator Rovio, outlined the company’s ambitions last week at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference at a Colorado ski resort. … downloads of the addictive Angry Birds game had hit 300 million. Angry Birds involves catapulting cartoonish birds into fortresses built by egg-stealing green pigs but Mr Vesterbacka said Rovio was “not a games company”. “What we are building is a next generation entertainment franchise,” he said. “I think we’re the fastest growing consumer franchise ever.” Mr Vesterbacka said Rovio had acquired an animation studio and started producing two-minute animated Angry Birds shorts, and a full-length movie was two or three years away. “We’re working on new Angry Birds experiences,” he said. “We’ll expose a bit more of the Angry Birds story.” The Rovio executive said the company’s next project was its first book. “It’s the Angry Birds cookbook,” he said.”
  • Does Google+ hate women? [Bug Girl’s Blog] – As Google’s new social network Google+ matches Facebook in demanding that users only use their real (legal) names, a host of issues emerge for people who have good and legitimate reasons to use anonymity or pseudonymity online (including those who wish to address hate, abuse and other crimes without explicitly naming names or having that cemented to their online selves). Importantly, too, as Google+ is linked to Google in general, declaring a real name (or your age) on Google+ can end up forfitting other Google services, such as GMail, which can be a much larger issue.
  • NYU Prof Vows Never to Probe Cheating Again—and Faces a Backlash [The Chronicle of Higher Education] – “A New York University professor’s blog post is opening a rare public window on the painful classroom consequences of using plagiarism-detection software to aggressively police cheating students. And the post, by Panagiotis Ipeirotis, raises questions about whether the incentives in higher education are set up to reward such vigilance. But after the candid personal tale went viral online this week, drawing hundreds of thousands of readers, the professor took it down on NYU’s advice. As Mr. Ipeirotis understands it, a faculty member from another university sent NYU a cease-and-desist letter saying his blog post violated a federal law protecting students’ privacy.”
  • Start-Up Handles Social Media Background Checks [NYTimes.com] – “Companies have long used criminal background checks, credit reports and even searches on Google and LinkedIn to probe the previous lives of prospective employees. Now, some companies are requiring job candidates to also pass a social media background check. A year-old start-up, Social Intelligence, scrapes the Internet for everything prospective employees may have said or done online in the past seven years. Then it assembles a dossier with examples of professional honors and charitable work, along with negative information that meets specific criteria: online evidence of racist remarks; references to drugs; sexually explicit photos, text messages or videos; flagrant displays of weapons or bombs and clearly identifiable violent activity. “We are not detectives,” said Max Drucker, chief executive of the company, which is based in Santa Barbara, Calif. “All we assemble is what is publicly available on the Internet today.””

Digital Culture Links: May 25th 2011

Links for May 14th 2011 through May 25th 2011:

  • Lady Gaga Fans Swamp Amazon for a Cut-Rate Copy of a New Album [NYTimes.com] – “Lady Gaga has made herself a paragon of pop ambition and a spokeswoman for equal rights, but on Monday she became an unwitting symbol for something else: the pitfalls of cloud computing. “Born This Way” (Interscope), her new album, arrived with a blitz of marketing, and Amazon surprised the singer’s fans by offering a one-day sale of the MP3 version of the album for 99 cents, a full $11 less than its price at iTunes, the Web’s dominant music retailer. The discount was widely seen as a way for Amazon to promote its new Cloud Drive service, which allows users to store music files on remote servers and stream them over the Internet to their computer or smartphone. But Amazon may have underestimated the zeal (or thrift) of Lady Gaga’s fans. By early afternoon the company’s servers stalled, and many users were unable to download or listen to the album in full. Frustrated customers quickly took to Twitter and to Amazon’s user review page for “Born This Way.” “
  • Lady Gaga’s $0.99 Album Download Overwhelms Amazon [Mashable] – “Lady Gaga fans were delighted Monday to learn that they could download her new album, Born This Way, from Amazon for a mere $0.99 — until, of course, technical difficulties set in. Downloads of the album are delayed, leaving folks unable to get the entire album immediately upon purchase. Amazon issued the following statement: “Amazon is experiencing high volume and downloads are delayed. If customers order today, they will get the full Lady Gaga, Born This Way album for $0.99. Thanks for your patience.” However, the damage has already been done, as users are meting out one-star ratings in droves, most of which deal with Amazon’s slow service as opposed to the quality of the music …”
  • How to Use Your Android as a Photo Tool + Top 10 Apps | Photojojo – Good list of current, useful Android photo apps. Still no Instagram, but getting close.
  • Zuckerberg: Kids under 13 should be allowed on Facebook [Fortune Tech] – Mark Zuckerberg wants under-13s to be legally able to join Facebook due to the educational value of social networking. There are much better spaces online and offline, to learn these lessons! “Zuckerberg said he wants younger kids to be allowed on social networking sites like Facebook. Currently, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mandates that websites that collect information about users (like Facebook does) aren’t allowed to sign on anyone under the age of 13. But Zuckerberg is determined to change this. “That will be a fight we take on at some point,” he said. “My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.” But just how would Facebook’s social features be used by younger children? “Because of the restrictions we haven’t even begun this learning process,” Zuckerberg said. “If they’re lifted then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe.”"
  • Angry Birds: 200m downloads are the tip of the mobile gaming iceberg [guardian.co.uk] – “The Angry Birds phenomenon shows no sign of slowing up. Developer Rovio Mobile says that the franchise has now generated more than 200m downloads across all platforms, with its latest incarnation Angry Birds Rio racking up 35m since its launch in March. Depending which report you read, Rovio is now making preparations for an IPO sometime in the next two to three years, or planning to launch location-based services around the Angry Birds brand. The company’s executives also have a fairly transparent strategy of talking Rovio up as a potential Disney. Angry Birds is now a cross-platform success, with a big share of its last 100m downloads coming from Android devices …”
  • How Viral PDFs Of A Naughty Bedtime Book Exploded The Old Publishing Model [Fast Company] – Did the massive online distribution of a ‘pirated’ PDF lead to satirical kids book for adults _Go The Fuck To Sleep_ hitting the #1 spot on Amazon’s book sales list even before the official publication date? Looks like it.
  • NCIS, Idol Top TVGuide.com’s List of the Most Social Shows [TVGuide.com] – A TVGuide.com (of 1586 people) reports significant use of social media to discuss TV shows both before, during and after, although conversations during shows being the least active of these three periods. Twitter users are more likely to talk about the shows they are watching (50% of the time) than Facebook users (35% of the time). More results and graphs at the TVGuide website.(This survey was conducted in April 2011 on TVGuide.com, with 1,586 respondents. )

Digital Culture Links: April 12th 2011

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.”

Digital Culture Links: April 2nd 2011

Links for April 3rd 2011:

  • Google +1 Button – +1 = Google’s answer to Facebook’s “Like” button, bringing social recommendations thundering into Google (opt-in for now).
  • GoDaddy CEO Shoots Elephant, Injures Brand [Mashable] – “GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons may have achieved a new social media equivalent of jumping the shark. Call it “shooting the elephant.” A video of Parsons shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe made the rounds Thursday, causing the domain registry company to become a Google Hot Topic and the subject of criticism. Leading the charge is PETA, the animal rights group, which has closed its account with GoDaddy and is asking others to follow suit. Parsons, a Vietnam vet known for his brash image, brought on the publicity by posting the video on his blog. The video shows the damage elephants caused by trampling a farmer’s sorghum field. Parsons and his fellow hunters are shown waiting at night for the elephants to return. Then Parsons shoots and kills one of the elephants. [...] . Anticipating a backlash, GoDaddy competitor NameCheap.com has already swooped in. The company is running a transfer from GoDaddy to Namecheap.com [...] domains for $4.99 with 20% of the proceeds going to SaveTheElephants”
  • Facebook ban for boy accused of eliciting webcam porn [WA Today] – “A teenage boy has been barred from social networking sites while he awaits court proceedings for which he has been accused of pressuring girls into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam and posting the videos on Facebook. The 16-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was charged with encouraging a child aged 13 to 16 to commit an indecent act, procuring a child aged 13 to 16 to commit an indecent act, producing child exploitation material and distributing child exploitation material. [...] Today the boy briefly fronted the Perth Children’s Court with both his parents, but was not required to enter a plea as he had not yet sought legal advice. He was remanded on bail to appear again in April. The state prosecutor successfully sought to have his bail conditions tightened, which already banned his use of Facebook and other social media, to include a ban preventing him from any form of contact with either girl.”
  • Pediatrics Gets it Wrong about ‘Facebook Depression’ [World of Psychology] – “You know it’s not good when one of the most prestigious pediatric journals, Pediatrics, can’t differentiate between correlation and causation. And yet this is exactly what the authors of a “clinical report” did in reporting on the impact of social media on children and teens. Especially in their discussion of “Facebook depression,” a term that the authors simply made up to describe the phenomenon observed when depressed people use social media. Shoddy research? You bet. That’s why Pediatrics calls it a “clinical report” — because it’s at the level of a bad blog post written by people with a clear agenda. [...] The problem now is that news outlets suggesting not only that it exists, but that researchers have found the online world somehow “triggers” depression in teens. Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics should be ashamed of this shoddy clinical report, and retract the entire section about “Facebook depression.”
  • A new book, more or less accidental [Observations on film art] – As David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson’s new book Minding Movies: Observations on the Art, Craft, and Business of Film is published, collecting a number fo essays and observations from their blog, the pair reflect on blogging and publishing, the relationship between the two and beyond. For scholars who blog (or might blog) these thoughts are well worth reading. I truly hope their book sells well and moves from ‘experiment’ to ‘successful experiment’ with blog-based publication.
  • Amazon Cloud Player goes live, streams music on your computer and Android [Engadget] – Amazon’s new cloud-based music and storage service, just released for users in the US only (for now): “Look who just ate Apple’s and Google’s lunch here? Amazon has just pushed out its very own music streaming service, which is conveniently dubbed the Amazon Cloud Player. Existing customers in the US can now upload their MP3 purchases to their 5GB cloud space — upgradable to a one-year 20GB plan for free upon purchasing an MP3 album, with additional plans starting at $20 a year — and then start streaming on their computers or Android devices. Oh, and did we mention that this service is free of charge as well? Meanwhile, someone will have some catching up to do, but we have a feeling it won’t take them too long.” [Amazon Mp3 CloudDrive]
  • The impact of social media use on children, adolescents and families – Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, American Academy of Pediatrics [Australian Policy Online] – “Using social media Web sites is among the most common activity of today’s children and adolescents. Any Web site that allows social interaction is considered a social media site, including social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter; gaming sites and virtual worlds such as Club Penguin, Second Life, and the Sims; video sites such as YouTube; and blogs. Such sites offer today’s youth a portal for entertainment and communication and have grown exponentially in recent years. For this reason, it is important that parents become aware of the nature of social media sites, given that not all of them are healthy environments for children and adolescents. Pediatricians are in a unique position to help families understand these sites and to encourage healthy use and urge parents to monitor for potential problems with cyberbullying, “Facebook depression,” sexting, and exposure to inappropriate content.” [PDF]
  • Australians buy 1 million mobile phones monthly: IDC [The Australian] – AUSTRALIANS’ love affair with mobile phones shows no sign of abating with more than 1 million units purchased each month last year. This means just over 34,000 mobile phones were sold every day in 2010. In coming months Google Android will unseat Nokia’s Symbian as the leading smartphone platform in Australia, IDC predicts. However, despite intense pressure from rivals, Nokia retained its number-one position in overall mobile phone sector after aggressively slashing prices to woo customers. [...] According to statistics from IDC Australia, 12.74 million mobiles were sold last year, a sharp increase from 10.99 million in 2009. The research house combines mobile phone sales from two categories: smartphones and feature phones. According to IDC, smartphones — unlike feature phones — run on a standalone operating system such as Apple iOS, Google Android, BlackBerry OS and Windows Phone. Smartphones accounted for around 57 per cent of mobile phones sold last year …”
  • Rebecca Black’s First-Week Sales: Not Bad, But Not In The Millions … [Billboard.biz] – “…Rebecca Black is not netting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the more than 33 million YouTube views of her uber-viral video “Friday” or its digital sales. However, she’s not doing badly. The 13-year-old is netting roughly $24,900 per week from track sales of her surprise hit song, according to my calculations. It’s the start of a great college fund, but she’s not making the kind of money from iTunes sales that some writers have estimated. Forbes.com erroneously reported her digital iTunes sales at 2 million, a figure that was picked up by other publications (Forbes has since posted a correction). So how many tracks is she selling? I’d estimate less than 40,000 in the U.S. last week and probably more this week. [...] Black appears to own the copyright to her sound recordings — the label is listed as “2011 Rebecca Black” on iTunes and Amazon MP3 lists “2011 Rebecca Black” in the “copyright” field of the song page.” (I’m impressed she kept the copyright! )
  • High-Tech Flirting Turns Explicit, Altering Young Lives [NYTimes.com] – A cautionary tale from the New York Times about teens, ‘sexting’ and the long-term impact of digital reputation.
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins Tama Leaver / Curtin University [Flow 13.10, March 2011] – Short article about the Australian-made Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins which began life as a throw-away one line comment in a film review on a radio show and a year later was a fan-made feature film complete with digital download a niche cinema screenings. Convergence, digitisation and all that.
  • Lady Gaga first to have nine million Twitter followers [BBC - Newsbeat] – Twitter goes GaGa for GaGa: “Lady Gaga is the first person to have nine million followers on Twitter. The American singer, 24, became the most popular person on the social networking site last August overtaking Britney Spears when they both had just over 5.7 million followers. She joined Twitter in 2008 with her first Tweet saying she was rehearsing for the Just Dance video. Justin Bieber is the second most popular celebrity on the site, with just over 8.3 million followers.”

Digital Culture Links: March 25th 2011

Links for March 21st 2011 through March 25th 2011:

  • Record Industry: Limewire Could Owe $75 Trillion – Judge: “Absurd” [Crunch Gear] – “… this is beyond ridiculous. This is… sublime. The record companies suing Limewire were asked to estimate the damages that should be paid by the file-sharing service. Their estimate? $400 Billion on the low end, and at the high end — $75 trillion dollars. That’s more than the GDP of the entire world. The judge, in a refreshing stroke of good sense, deemed these potential damages “absurd” and the plaintiff’s approach “untenable”. The $75tn figure relies on an interpretation of copyright law that provides statutory damages for each instance of copying, and with the numbers of downloads and individual songs the industry is alleging, the money adds up quickly. Even the $400bn figure is certainly grossly inflated, however “conservative” it may appear to Virgin, Atlantic, Sony, and so on. It was decided that an interpretation of copyright law enabling the music industry to sue for more money than they’ve made in the history of recorded music was necessarily wrong…”
  • Troll jailed for posting child porn on tribute pages for dead children [News.com.au] – A MAN charged over Facebook vandalism for plastering child pornography over sites set up to pay tribute to two slain schoolchildren has been jailed. The Brisbane District Court was told Bradley Paul Hampson, 29, posted offensive messages and photographs on Facebook “RIP tribute” pages for a 12-year-old boy stabbed at a Brisbane school and a nine-year-old Bundaberg girl abducted and murdered in February last year. Hampson, of Tarragindi, on Brisbane’s southside, today pleaded guilty to two counts using a carriage service, the internet, to cause offence and one each of distributing and possessing child exploitation material between February 14 and June 4 last year. [...] Judge Kerry O’Brien jailed Hamspon for three years, but ordered he be released after serving 12 months. Judge O’Brien ordered Hampson be placed on a two-year probation order upon his release from jail.”
  • Tweeting with the telly on [BBC News] – Twitter TV – it can be more than just #qanda! “The days of families reverentially gathered around the box may be long gone but the doom-mongers who said that on-demand would kill linear TV completely may also be somewhat off the mark. A new generation of viewers is watching what has been dubbed social TV – a synthesis between TV and social networking. A recent study from marketing agency Digital Clarity found that 80% of under-25s used a second screen to communicate with friends while watching TV and 72% used Twitter, Facebook or a mobile app to comment on shows. Currently it is little more sophisticated than watching TV with one eye on Twitter or Facebook, but that is beginning to change as TV executives start to experiment with greater social networking integration. In New Zealand, TVNZ has just launched a new youth channel which sees Facebook heavily integrated to create an interactive entertainment and music show.”
  • Amazon Appstore: what does it mean for developers? [guardian.co.uk] – Amazon launch their new Android App store. Testimony to the choice available on an open system. However, launching it US-only seems ridiculous. Rovio’s ‘Angry Birds Rio’ is free for the first day of Amazon’s App Store, but no one in the US can ‘buy’ it (ie download it) at all. Not a terribly auspicious start. (Oh, and Apple are going to sue them for use of ‘App’ in the name of their App Store.)
  • Piracy: are we being conned? [The Age] – A thoroughly research article which rebukes some of the ridiculous claims in several recent industry-backed “piracy” scare reports: “This month, a new lobbying group, the Australian Content Industry Group (ACIG), released new statistics to The Age, which claimed piracy was costing Australian content industries $900 million a year and 8000 jobs. The report claims 4.7 million Australian internet users engaged in illegal downloading and this was set to increase to 8 million by 2016. By that time, the claimed losses to piracy would jump to $5.2 billion a year and 40,000 jobs. But the report, which is just 12 pages long, is fundamentally flawed. It takes a model provided by an earlier European piracy study (which itself has been thoroughly debunked) and attempts to shoe-horn in extrapolated Australian figures that are at best highly questionable and at worst just made up.”
  • Google accuses China of interfering with Gmail email system [The Guardian] – Google vs China, round two: “Google has accused the Chinese government of interfering with its popular Gmail email system. The move follows extensive attempts by the Chinese authorities to crack down on the “jasmine revolution” – an online dissident movement inspired by events in the Middle East. According to the search giant, Chinese customers and advertisers have increasingly been complaining about their Gmail service in the past month. Attempts by users to send messages, mark messages as unread and use other services have generated problems for Gmail customers. In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Japan, Google set up an application to help people find relatives and friends lost in the disaster. This service too seems to have been compromised. “Relating to Google there is no issue on our side. We have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail,” said a Google spokesman.”

Digital Culture Links: February 1st 2011

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.”"

Digital Culture Links: December 2nd 2010

Links for November 25th 2010 through December 2nd 2010:

  • Report on video games clears way for R18+ rating [News.com.au] – This is a BIG DEAL in the battle to get an R18+ rating for Aussie videogames: “Violent video games have no “greater impact” on players than movies or music clips, government research has found just days ahead of a decision expected to allow the sale of R18+ games. Games are currently limited to a top rating of MA15+, which means violent titles are either banned outright or have some graphic content removed. In some cases, games have been given a MA15+ rating here despite copping an 18+ rating overseas. Australia’s attorneys-general will meet in Canberra tomorrow to discuss the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games, bringing their ratings into line with those of films and literature. Both the gaming community and family groups believe the adult rating is almost a certainty after Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor yesterday released a research paper into their impact on encouraging violent behaviour.” (See full report here.)
  • Justin Bieber Swears Off YouTube For Facebook, Unwittingly Steps In Copyright Minefield [Forbes] – “Over the past weekend, Internet pop sensation Justin Bieber went to upload the music video of his new song called “Pray” to his personal YouTube site. He was in for a rude surprise: YouTube automatically blocked his video upload on “copyright grounds” that the video contained content from Universal Music Group (UMG), parent company to Bieber’s record label, Island Def Jam records. “yo youtube…how u gonna block my own song?!?!?!” wrote an outraged Bieber on his Twitter account. In another Twitter update, he wrote, “dear youtube…we started this journey and now u r cheatin on me with this vevo chica…i see how it is…i will be over here with facebook [sic].” (Vevo is the music video website responsible for Bieber’s official YouTube syndication, and is a joint venture between music giants Sony Music Entertainment, UMG and Abu Dhabi Media.) In response, YouTube wrote back to Bieber on its Twitter account, “sorry about the upload pain around ‘Pray’. That’s between you and your label …”
  • WikiLeaks website pulled by Amazon after US political pressure [Media | The Guardian] – “The US struck its first blow against WikiLeaks after Amazon.com pulled the plug on hosting the whistleblowing website in reaction to heavy political pressure. The company announced it was cutting WikiLeaks off yesterday only 24 hours after being contacted by the staff of Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate’s committee on homeland security. WikiLeaks expressed disappointment with Amazon, and insisted it was a breach of freedom of speech as enshrined in the US constitution’s first amendment. The organisation, in a message sent via Twitter, said if Amazon was “so uncomfortable with the first amendment, they should get out of the business of selling books.” While freedom of speech is a sensitive issue in the US, scope for a full-blown row is limited, given that Democrats and Republicans will largely applaud Amazon’s move. Lieberman, though an independent, is a former Republican who switched to the Democrats last year.”
  • Report: In-Game Purchases To Blow Mobile Games Revenues Past $11 Billion By 2015 [TechCrunch] – “A new report from Juniper Research forecasts global mobile games revenues to surpass $11 billion by 2015, nearly double what they were in 2009. All in all, it’s a fairly conservative prediction in my opinion, but what’s interesting is that the research firm also says in-game purchases will overtake the traditional pay-per-download model, with Apple’s in-app billing mechanism leading the way, as the primary source of monetizing mobile games in about two years (by 2013). At the same time, Juniper Research acknowledges that, with the ever-increasing amount of apps on all popular platforms (and app stores for that matter), discoverability remains a problem for game developers and publishers alike.”
  • Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards [State Library of Western Australia] – Significantly, this year, the WA Premier’s Book Awards will be offering a Digital Narrative Award which has a $5000 prize attached to it, and fairly broad parameters of what a digital narrative might be. (Only open to Australians, though, sorry!)
  • Facebook looks to trademark the word ‘face’ [BBC News] – My MyFace, FaceWorld and CyFace domains will be worthless! “The social networking giant Facebook is a few steps away from trademarking the word face, online documents reveal. The site has been asked to detail a “statement of use” by the US Patent and Trademark Office, explaining how it intends to use the word. If granted, the trademark will only apply to online sites and services used to exchange messages. It could limit the use of the word in other social networks and services, such as Apple’s Facetime, lawyers said.”
  • Axl Rose sues Guitar Hero makers over animated Slash [Music | guardian.co.uk] – “Axl Rose even hates the cartoon version of Slash. The Guns N’ Roses frontman is suing the makers of Guitar Hero for $20m (£12.6m), claiming they “spun a web of lies and deception” by including an animated Slash in the video-game version of his band. Slash left the group in 1996. According to his claim, Rose licensed Welcome to the Jungle to Guitar Hero III on the condition that any reference to the departed guitarist or his new band, Velvet Revolver, would be omitted. But in early versions of the game, a Slash-like character could be seen parading around the stage in the guitarist’s trademark top hat, sunglasses and nose piercing. [...] One of the highest-grossing video games of all time, Guitar Hero III has amassed more than $1bn. “This lawsuit is about protecting Guns N’ Roses and Welcome to the Jungle, and is about holding Activision accountable for its misuse of these incredibly valuable assets,” Rose’s lawyer insisted.”