Links – catching up – through to August 22nd:

  • Instagram 3.0 – Photo Maps & More [Instagram Blog]– Instagram releases a substantial new update for iOS and Android, adding a new photo maps feature. If the user chooses to do so, the photo maps places all geotagged photos onto an interactive map of the globe which can be navigated by Instagram users’ contacts.
    Instagram 3.0 – Photo Maps Walkthrough from Instagram on Vimeo.

    While the maps function is being rolled out with very clear warnings about revealing locations publicly – with tools to remove geotags from some, groups or all photos – this rollout will no doubt remind (and shock many) users that the geographic tags on their photos mean that these aren’t just photos – they’re important and complex assemblages of data that can be reused and repurposed in a variety of ways.

  • Google to push pirate sites down search results [BBC – Newsbeat] – “Google is changing the way it calculates search results in an effort to make sure legal download websites appear higher than pirate sites. The world’s biggest search engine announced the change in a blog post on its website. The move has been welcomed by record companies in the UK and Hollywood film studios. Movie and music firms have complained in the past that Google should have been doing more to fight piracy. They say searching for an artist, song or film often brings up pages of illegal sites, making it hard to find a place to download a legal version. From next week, search results will take into account the number of “valid copyright removal notices”. Sites with more notices will rank lower, although Google has not said what it considers a valid notice.”
  • Gotye – Somebodies: A YouTube Orchestra [YouTube]– Fantastic remix by Gotye, using a huge range of fan remixes of Somebody that I Used to Know and mashing them together. Comes with a full credits list, too: http://gotye.com/reader/items/original-videos-used-in-somebodies-a-youtube-orchestra.html (A great example for Web Media 207.)
  • Facebook removes ‘racist’ page in Australia [BBC News] – “A Facebook page that depicted Aboriginal people in Australia as drunks and welfare cheats has been removed after a public outcry. The Aboriginal Memes page had allowed users to post jokes about indigenous people. An online petition calling for the removal of “the racist page” has generated thousands of signatures. The government has also condemned it. The page’s creator is believed to be a 16-year-old boy in Perth, reports say. “We recognise the public concern that controversial meme pages that Australians have created on Facebook have caused,” Facebook said in a statement to local media. A meme is an idea that spreads through the internet.”
  • Twitter ‘sorry’ for suspending Guy Adams as NBC withdraws complaint [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Twitter on Tuesday reinstated the account of a British journalist it suspended for publishing the email address of an executive at NBC, which had been attracting a significant amount of incoming fire over its Olympics coverage. The incident has not done Guy Adams of the Independent much harm. Apart perhaps from a little hurt pride, he has returned to the twittersphere with tens of thousands of new followers. For NBC, it was another blow to its already battered reputation over its coverage of the London Olympic Games. But Twitter found itself in a deeply unfamiliar situation: as the subject of one of the firestorms of indignation that characterises the platform, but which are usually directed at others.”
  • Murdoch’s tablet The Daily lays off nearly a third of its staff [Media | guardian.co.uk] – “The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s tablet newspaper, has laid off close to a third of its staff just 18 months after its glitzy launch. Executives at the News Corp-owned title told its 170 employees on Tuesday that 50 of them would be let go. Sources told the Guardian that security staff were brought onto the Daily’s editorial floor at News Corp in New York to escort the laid-off employees out of the building. Earlier this month the paper’s editor-in-chief Jesse Angelo denied reports that the media giant had put the title “on watch” and was considering closing it. In a statement Tuesday Angelo said the title was dropping its opinion section and would be taking sports coverage from Fox Sports, also part of News Corp, and other partners. In another cost-saving move the title will also stop producing pages that can be read vertically and horizontally on a tablet, sticking to straight up and down.”
  • If Twitter doesn’t reinstate Guy Adams, it’s a defining moment [Dan Gillmor | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk] – “Once again, we’re reminded of a maxim when it comes to publishing on other people’s platforms: we publish at their sufferance. But there’s a corollary: When they take down what we publish, they take an enormous risk with their own futures.
    This time, Twitter has suspended the account of a British journalist who tweeted the corporate email address of an NBC executive. The reporter, Guy Adams of the Independent, has been acerbic in his criticisms of NBC’s (awful) performance during the Olympics in London. Adams has posted his correspondence with Twitter, which claims he published a private email address. It was nothing of the kind, as many, including the Deadspin sports blog, have pointed out. … What makes this a serious issue is that Twitter has partnered with NBC during the Olympics. And it was NBC’s complaint about Adams that led to the suspension. That alone raises reasonable suspicions about Twitter’s motives.”

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.”

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 December 7th 2010 through December 13th 2010:

  • The state, the press and a hyperdemocracy [Unleashed (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – Mark Pesce provokes a much larger debate about Wikileaks … is it really ‘the press’? “WikiLeaks is the press, but not the press as we have known it. This is the press of the 21st century, the press that comes after we’re all connected. Suddenly, all of the friendliest computers have become the deadliest weapons, and we are fenced in, encircled by threats – which are also opportunities. This threat is two-sided, Janus-faced. The state finds its ability to maintain the smooth functioning of power short-circuited by the exposure of its secrets. That is a fundamental, existential threat. In the same moment, the press recognises that its ability to act has been constrained at every point: servers get shut down, domain names fail to resolve, bank accounts freeze. These are the new selection pressures on both sides, a sudden quickening of culture’s two-step.”
  • The Atlantic Turns a Profit, With an Eye on the Web [NYTimes.com] – The Atlantic turns a profit by thinking digitally, and employing bloggers: “How did a 153-year-old magazine — one that first published the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and gave voice to the abolitionist and transcendentalist movements — reinvent itself for the 21st century? By pretending it was a Silicon Valley start-up that needed to kill itself to survive. The Atlantic, the intellectual’s monthly that always seemed more comfortable as an academic exercise than a business, is on track to turn a tidy profit of $1.8 million this year. That would be the first time in at least a decade that it had not lost money. Getting there took a cultural transfusion, a dose of counterintuition and a lot of digital advertising revenue. “We imagined ourselves as a venture-capital-backed start-up in Silicon Valley whose mission was to attack and disrupt The Atlantic,” […] “In essence, we brainstormed the question, ‘What would we do if the goal was to aggressively cannibalize ourselves?’””
  • Angry Birds, Flocking to Cellphones Everywhere [NYTimes.com] – “It sounds like a tough sell: a game that involves catapulting birds at elaborate fortresses constructed by evil pigs. But Angry Birds, a hit game by Rovio, a small Finnish company, is one of the unlikeliest pop-culture crazes of the year — and perhaps the first to make the leap from cellphone screens to the mainstream. Angry Birds, in which the birds seek revenge on the egg-stealing pigs, is meant to be easily played in the checkout line and during other short windows of downtime — but some players have trouble stopping. Rovio says people around the world rack up 200 million minutes of game play each day. (Put another way, that is 16 human-years of bird-throwing every hour.) The game has inspired parodies, homages and fervent testimonials. Homemade Angry Birds costumes were big hits on Halloween. Conan O’Brien demonstrated the game in a YouTube video promoting his new show, and a sketch from an Israeli TV show about a birds-and-pigs peace treaty was popular online ….”
  • Assange And WikiLeaks Have Parallels With Spycatcher [SMH] – Malcolm Turnbull on Wikileaks: “Governments and politicians should be careful not to make a martyr of Assange and fools of themselves. Julia Gillard’s claim that Assange had broken Australian laws, when it is clear he has not, demonstrates how out of her depth she is. One may well ask whether her denunciations would be so shrill if the documents had been handed to a powerful newspaper group – if the contents were being dribbled out by The Australian, would she be accusing Rupert Murdoch of high crimes and misdemeanours? Assange is an Australian citizen. No matter how much the government disapproves of his actions, it should make it clear that he is entitled to return to Australia if he wishes and to receive consular assistance if the charges of sexual assault proceed in Sweden.”
  • Wikileaks and the Long Haul [Clay Shirky] – Some thoughts from Clay Shiry regarding Wikileaks which are well worth reading: “Over the long haul, we will need new checks and balances for newly increased transparency — Wikileaks shouldn’t be able to operate as a law unto itself anymore than the US should be able to. In the short haul, though, Wikileaks is our Amsterdam. Whatever restrictions we eventually end up enacting, we need to keep Wikileaks alive today, while we work through the process democracies always go through to react to change. If it’s OK for a democracy to just decide to run someone off the internet for doing something they wouldn’t prosecute a newspaper for doing, the idea of an internet that further democratizes the public sphere will have taken a mortal blow.”

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.”

Links for November 19th 2010 through November 24th 2010:

  • Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality [Scientific American] – Inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, in a passionate defense of the open web (and a few pointed jabs at Facebook): “The Web is now more critical to free speech than any other medium. It brings principles established in the U.S. Constitution, the British Magna Carta and other important documents into the network age: freedom from being snooped on, filtered, censored and disconnected. […] If we want to track what government is doing, see what companies are doing, understand the true state of the planet, find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, not to mention easily share our photos with our friends, we the public, the scientific community and the press must make sure the Web’s principles remain intact—not just to preserve what we have gained but to benefit from the great advances that are still to come.”
  • Everything is a Remix – Part 1 [Vimeo] – Kirby Ferguson’s great video about remix, focusing on musical culture and the long history of remix as a core creative process (long before the web).
  • The Attention-Span Myth [NYTimes.com] – A great read: “Whether the Web is making us smarter or dumber, isn’t there something just unconvincing about the idea that an occult “span” in the brain makes certain cultural objects more compelling than others? So a kid loves the drums but can hardly get through a chapter of “The Sun Also Rises”; and another aces algebra tests but can’t even understand how Call of Duty is played. The actions of these children may dismay or please adults, but anyone who has ever been bored by one practice and absorbed by another can explain the kids’ choices more persuasively than does the dominant model, which ignores the content of activities in favor of a wonky span thought vaguely to be in the brain. So how did we find ourselves with this unhappy attention-span conceit, and with the companion idea that a big attention span is humankind’s best moral and aesthetic asset? […] Instead, the problem with the attention-span discourse is that it’s founded on the phantom idea of an attention span.”
  • New Facebook Messaging Continues to Block Some Links [Epicenter | Wired.com] – Facebook’s “not email” email system will block certain links. Definitely not email. “Facebook’s “modern messaging system” may make it convenient to seamlessly move between instant messaging and a Facebook.com e-mail account, but not if you are sharing a link to a file sharing site. Facebook began blocking BitTorrent link-sharing on Facebook walls and news feeds last spring, and also started blocking private messages between users that included a link to torrents on the Pirate Bay. Facebook says that content censorship policy isn’t changing, even as its new Facebook Messages service gives users e-mail accounts and encourages them to communicate even more through Facebook. “We have systems in place to prevent abuse on Facebook and prevent spam which we’ll continue to deploy with the new Messages,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a written statement. “We don’t share specifics on those systems.””
  • Facebook credits go on sale in UK [guardian.co.uk] – This is Facebook’s answer to the app store; watch the money flow! “Online currency, with which Facebook users can purchase pixel-based virtual farm animals or pay to attend virtual events, might seem small beer. But now the online goods economy may be about to boom in the UK, as Tesco and the games retailer Game start selling Facebook credits in more than 1,000 high street stores. The UK’s 33 million Facebook users will be able to buy so-called “Facebook credits” in the non-pixellated world. The gift cards, costing £10 or £20, will only be redeemable on Facebook, where users can spend the converted currency on any number of nonexistent objects. The virtual goods economy, where money is spent on items that only exist on the internet, is expected to exceed £550m for social gaming such as Zynga’s Farmville by the end of this year, according to a recent Inside Virtual Goods report.”

Links for October 19th 2010 through October 23rd 2010:

  • Facebook Advertisers Can Glean Private Data [NYTimes.com] – So Facebook is basically leaking private data? “Online advertising offers marketers the chance to aim ads at very specific groups of people — say, golf players in Illinois who make more than $150,000 a year and vacation in Hawaii. But two recent academic papers show some potential pitfalls of such precise tailoring. Both papers focus on Facebook ads and show that in certain circumstances, advertisers — or snoops posing as advertisers — may be able to learn sensitive profile information, like a person’s sexual orientation or religion, even if the person is sharing that information only with a small circle of friends. Facebook does not share such information with advertisers. The papers come amid an intense focus on vulnerabilities in Facebook’s privacy safeguards.”
  • iMovie blocks studio names in new trailers [Engadget] – iMovie 11 and the words you can’t say: “Perhaps its testament to the quality of the iMovie ’11 trailers that Apple is blocking the use of big name studios in the titles. Ironic since Apple provides templates that ape the Paramount snow-capped mountain […] and familiar Universal Studios globe. Just don’t try to enter those studio names into the title sequence — the words “Paramount” and “Universal” will be replaced with hyphens. We suspect other studios are affected as well. Hard to say if this is Apple’s doing or the studios as both are notoriously controlling. We’d laugh if only we could stop crying.”
  • Big Networks Block Web Shows From Google TV [NYTimes.com] – Will Google TV suffer the unending legal battles that have besieged Google Books? “In the latest sign that Google may struggle to transform television viewing with Google TV, its new service for Internet-connected TVs, three major broadcast networks and Hulu are blocking people from using the service to watch full-length TV shows on their Web sites. Initially, people could watch the full shows on TVs and set-top boxes that use the Google TV software, which Sony and Logitech began selling this month. But as of Thursday, most of the full shows on the sites of NBC, ABC, CBS and Hulu were blocked. People could still visit the sites to read text and, in some cases, watch short vignettes, but not full shows.”
  • Google’s Street View broke Canadian privacy laws [The Register] – “The Canadian privacy watchdog today said Google’s Street View fleet broke the law when it collected payload data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks. An investigation by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, one of dozens launched around the world earlier this year, also found the practice was the result of a single Google engineer’s “careless error”, as well as a wider lack of controls at the firm. In some cases, Street View cars intercepted entire emails, said Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. […] She did not announce any punitive measures, but recommended Google should destroy the data, tighten its privacy governance processes, and improve privacy training for its employees. The investigation will be closed in February next year, subject to confirmation Google has taken those actions.”
  • Facebook Vows to Fix a Flaw in Data Protection [NYTimes.com] – “When you sign up for Facebook, you enter into a bargain. You share personal information with the site, and Facebook agrees to obey your wishes when it comes to who can see what you post. At the same time, you agree that Facebook can use that data to decide what ads to show you. It is a complicated deal that many people enter into without perhaps fully understanding what will happen to their information. It also involves some trust — which is why any hint that Facebook may not be holding up its end of the bargain is sure to kick up plenty of controversy. The latest challenge to that trust came on Monday, when Facebook acknowledged that some applications on its site, including the popular game FarmVille, had improperly shared identifying information about users, and in some cases their friends, with advertisers and Web tracking companies.”

Links for August 25th 2010 through August 26th 2010:

  • Gmail Offers Phone Service via Web [NYTimes.com] – “Google entered a new business beyond Internet search on Wednesday with a service within Gmail to make phone calls over the Web to landlines or cellphones. The service will thrust Google into direct competition with Skype, the Internet telephone company, and with telecommunications providers. It could also make Google a more ubiquitous part of people’s social interactions by uniting the service for phone calls with e-mail, text messages and video chats. “It’s one place where you can get in touch with the people that you care about, and how that happens from a network perspective is less important,” said Charles S. Golvin, a telecommunications analyst at Forrester Research. Gmail has offered voice and video chat for two years, but both parties must be at their computers.” (It works from Australia, too.)
  • Woman caught dumping cat in bin ‘profoundly sorry’ [The Age] – 4chan really love cats: “A woman caught on camera dumping a cat in a bin says she is “profoundly sorry for a split second of misjudgment”. Mary Bale, 44, of Coventry in England, was named and shamed by users of the online forum 4chan after footage of the incident was posted on Facebook and YouTube. She was caught dumping a family’s cat into a large green rubbish bin by the family’s CCTV camera. The cat, Lola, was trapped in the bin for 15 hours before its owners found her.”
  • Facebook censors website critical of it [jill/txt] – More Facebook censorship: Openbook is a website that lets you search public status messages on Facebook. Try searching for “hate my boss” or “playing hooky” for interesting results. Or, as Twitter posts keep mentioning today, search for “mosk” to see how many people who hate muslims don’t know how to spell mosque. I tried to send someone a message on Facebook including a link to Openbook, and was surprised when I couldn’t. Then I tried to post a link to Openbook to my profile. Nope. Of course I let Facebook know that I think this is an error. Because come ON – censoring a website so obviously critical of them? Not impressive. “
  • ABC presenter reprimanded over Twitter [SMH] – “Perth’s ABC morning radio presenter Geoff Hutchison has been reprimanded by the national broadcaster for his comments on Twitter attacking Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. While Mr Abbott appeared on the ABC’s Q and A program on Monday night, Hutchison used his Twitter account @hutchabc to unleash several tweets criticising the Liberal leader. Hutchison made fun of Mr Abbott on Twitter, saying: “I have gay Muslim friends says Tony. But I don’t really like them.” He also wrote that Mr Abbott had said homosexuals were “morally dubious, but big tobacco is all right by me”. The ABC ordered Hutchison to delete his Twitter account, saying it breached the broadcaster’s social media policy which states employees “should not mix professional and personal in ways likely to bring the ABC into disrepute”. “Geoff has been reminded of his obligations under the ABC’s social media guidelines and that any future use of Twitter should be in accordance with ABC policy,” an ABC spokesman said.”
  • Star Wars Uncut — Emmy Winner [Digits – WSJ]The Star Wars Uncut project, where fans re-shot 15-second sequences from Star Wars, in whichever style they liked, one an Emmy award for “creative achievement in interactive media – fiction” at the recent awards.

Links for July 29th 2010 through August 2nd 2010:

  • The Way We Live Now – I Tweet, Therefore I Am [NYTimes.com] – Peggy Orensein muses, in a charmingly disarming way, about the threshold between describing ourselves and purposefully constructing and performing ourselves, when using social media. There’s nothing really new in this short column, but, despite evoking Goffman and citing Turkle, the question is asked in a way which most people will probably relate to.
  • Link by Link – WikiLeaks Turns to the News Media to Package the Information [NYTimes.com] – Wikileaks works more closely with traditional news media to make the leaks count: “The four stages of a political movement, as Gandhi told it, were: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” For the whistle-blower Web site WikiLeaks, the release last week of secret field reports on the war in Afghanistan that it obtained from American military sources certainly looked like a victory. Not only did The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel devote hundreds of hours of reporters’ and editors’ time to analyzing and confirming the information in the documents, the three agreed to coordinate publication for last Monday, ensuring there would be blanket news media coverage on at least two continents.”
  • A 21st Century Sherlock [Antenna] – Sean Duncan’s reading of the new BBC Sherlock series (which, from the first episode, at least, looks magnificent): “The Holmes and Watson of the 21st century both engage with modern technology, but unlike Rathbone/Bruce also have their inner thought processes represented in manners that remediate popular media. To be a plausible 21st century Holmes, one must be shown as thinking like a 21st century person, within a network of mobile phones, Internet-enabled devices, and even video games.”
  • MasterChef website racks up 48m page views [TV Tonight] – Biog ratings = TV + web: “MasterChef Australia wasn’t only a hit on air, but a hit online with bumper results for the show’s official website. Page views for the season reached 48 million, an increase of 32 per cent over last year’s numbers, reports The Australian. Video views rose by 44 per cent this year to 13.1 million, according to data from Omniture. There were 233,000 fans on Facebook.”
  • YouTube banned by Russian court [guardian.co.uk] – “Russia’s blogosphere reacted with anger today after a regional court banned YouTube because it carried a single video containing “extremist” content. The court in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in Khabarovsk region in the Russian far east ordered Rosnet, a local internet provider, to block YouTube as well as three online libraries and a website that archives deleted web pages. The regional ban was made because YouTube hosted Russia For Russians, an ultra-nationalist video which was added to the justice ministry’s federal list of banned extremist materials after a separate court decision in Samara region in November. […] The YouTube ruling is likely to be an embarrassment for President Dmitry Medvedev, who recently launched his own channel on the video-sharing site. Other countries that have banned YouTube include China, Pakistan, Turky and Iran.”

Links for July 21st 2010 through July 28th 2010:

  • How Twitter Is Being Used In The Election Campaign [National Times] – Axel Bruns offers a quick look at how Twitter is being used in the Australian politician election campaigning to date: short version, the candidates aren’t doing brilliantly well and #ausvotes is the real hashtag, while #ozvotes is all about electing wizards! 🙂
  • Julia Gillard Impersonators On The Rise [National Times] – There are a lot more fake Julia Gillards on Twitter than the real one (currently our PM); most of the fake ones are much funnier, and all of them get that Twitter isn’t just a broadcast platform (the real one hasn’t figured this out, yet).
  • Old Spice Sales Double With YouTube Campaign [Mashable] – Apparently social media + charismatic actor + great scripts = advertising gold: “You know those YouTube videos with that manly Old Spice guy and his hilarious responses to Twitter fans? Of course you do. So does everybody, it seems, because Old Spice body wash sales have increased 107% in the past month thanks to that social media marketing campaign. We already published stats from video analytics company Visible Measures that made it clear that the Old Spice guy was a hugely successful initiative from marketing firm Wieden + Kennedy, achieving millions of viral video views quicker than past hits like Susan Boyle and U.S. President Barack Obama’s election victory speech. The statistic of the 107% sales increase over the past month comes from Nielsen…”
  • Amazon’s ebook milestone: digital sales outstrip hardbacks for first time in US [The Guardian] – “In what could be a watershed for the publishing industry, Amazon said sales of digital books have outstripped US sales of hardbacks on its website for the first time. Amazon claims to have sold 143 digital books for its e-reader, the Kindle, for every 100 hardback books over the past three months. The pace of change is also accelerating.”
  • Skin Whitening, Tanning, and Vaseline’s Controversial Facebook Ad Campaign [danah boyd | apophenia] – An insightful look at a controversy that has sprung up about a Vaseline ad on Facebook, aimed at India, for a skin whitening cream which offers a preview of a whitened face. boyd does a great job of showing how racism is often culturally and historically specific, and that Americans who are deeply offended by the ads really need to engage with how the ads are read by the Indian internet users who are targeted. boyd stresses that most histories of racism and the meaning of skin-colour are deeply problematic, but the main point is that these operate quite differently in different places and cultures, and that these contexts need to be taken into consideration.
  • Gay zombie porn gets festival flick [The Age] – Film censorship returns to Australia – gay zombie film in peril: “The Australian censor has banned a film from screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival for the first time in seven years – a work described as ”gay zombie porn”. Festival director Richard Moore received a letter yesterday from the Film Classification Board director Donald McDonald, stating that L.A. Zombie, the latest offering from Canadian provocateur Bruce LaBruce, could not be screened as it would in his opinion be refused classification. The festival is not generally required to submit films for classification, but after reading a synopsis of the plot of L.A. Zombie, which features wound penetration and implied sex with corpses, the Classification Board requested a DVD to watch, and then refused to issue an exemption. It is the first film to be banned from the festival circuit since Larry Clark’s Ken Park in 2003.”