Links through to April 22nd (catching up!):

  • Siri secrets stored for up to 2 years [WA Today] – “Siri isn’t just a pretty voice with the answers. It’s also been recording and keeping all the questions users ask. Exactly what the voice assistant does with the data isn’t clear, but Apple confirmed that it keeps users’ questions for up to two years. Siri, which needs to be connected to the internet to function, sends all of its users’ queries to Apple. Apple revealed the information after
    Wired posted an article raising the question and highlighting the fact that the privacy statement for Siri wasn’t very clear about how long that information is kept or what would be done with it.”
  • Now playing: Twitter #music [Twitter Blog] – Not content to be TV’s second screen, Twitter wants to be the locus of conversations about music, too: “Today, we’re releasing Twitter #music, a new service that will change the way people find music, based on Twitter. It uses Twitter activity, including Tweets and engagement, to detect and surface the most popular tracks and emerging artists. It also brings artists’ music-related Twitter activity front and center: go to their profiles to see which music artists they follow and listen to songs by those artists. And, of course, you can tweet songs right from the app. The songs on Twitter #music currently come from three sources: iTunes, Spotify or Rdio. By default, you will hear previews from iTunes when exploring music in the app. Subscribers to Rdio and Spotify can log in to their accounts to enjoy full tracks that are available in those respective catalogs.
  • Android To Reach 1 Billion This Year | Google, Eric Schmidt, Mobiles [The Age] – “Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt predicts there will be more than 1 billion Android smartphones in use by the end of the year.”
  • Soda Fountains, Speeding, and Password Sharing [The Chutry Experiment] – Fascinating post about the phenomenon of Netflix and HBO Go password sharing in the US. When a NY Times journalist admitted to this (seemingly mainstream) practice, it provoked a wide-ranging discussion about the ethics and legality of many people pooling resources to buy a single account. Is this theft? Is it illegal (apparently so)? And, of course, Game of Thrones take a centre seat!
  • “Welcome to the New Prohibition” [Andy Baio on Vimeo] – Insightful talk from Andy Baio about the devolution of copyright into an enforcement tool and revenue extraction device rather than protecting or further the production of artistic material in any meaningful way. For background to this video see Baio’s posts “No Copyright Intended” and “Kind of Screwed”.
  • Instagram Today: 100 Million People [Instagram Blog] – Instagram crosses the 100 million (monthly) user mark.

Links for March 26th through March 30th:

  • The Dark Knight Rises Trailer 2: IN LEGO [YouTube] – Beautifully put together Lego version of the new Dark Knight trailer. “LEGO Dark Knight Rises Movie Trailer By ParanickFilmz. http://paranickfilmz.co.nr/ Thanks to Adviceversas for the mouth animation and JediMasterSoda for the CGI. Movie (2012) HD.”
  • CBS Blocks Use of Unused ‘Star Trek’ Script by Spinrad [NYTimes.com] – “For “Star Trek” fans it was like finding a lost Shakespeare play — only to have it snatched away by the playwright’s heirs.Last fall an unused script for the cult 1960s television show turned up after being forgotten for years. Its author, the science-fiction writer Norman Spinrad, announced that it would become an episode of a popular Web series, “Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II,” which features amateur actors in the classic roles of Capt. James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock and other crew members of the starship Enterprise. But then another player stepped in: CBS, which said it owned the script and blocked a planned Web production of it. Trekkies were appalled. “These executives should be phasered on heavy stun,” said Harmon Fields of Manhattan, who called himself “a ‘Star Trek’ fan of galactic proportions.” … By all indications CBS is within its rights. In the entertainment industry the paid writer of a teleplay generally cedes the rights to the material, even if it remains unproduced.”
  • Shitter: Social Media has never been so disposable – Online service that prints a twitter feed onto toilet paper. I suppose such a thing was inevitable.
  • Pay TV piracy hits News [AFR] – A detailed investigative report accuses NewsCorp of actively promoting and facilitating the piracy of competitors pay TV network content: ” A secret unit within Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation promoted a wave of high-tech piracy in Australia that damaged Austar, Optus and Foxtel at a time when News was moving to take control of the Australian pay TV industry.” These are hugely important accusations both in terms of NewsCorp but also in terms of how piracy is framed and understood.
  • What book publishers should learn from Harry Potter — Tech News and Analysis – Useful post detailing the DRM-free release of the Harry Potter ebooks and audio books for sale on J K Rowling’s Pottermore website. The lesson here is that DRM really isn’t necessary, and you’re more likely to reach a wider audience without it. Admittedly Rowling has unprecedented clout in managing her own books in electronic form, and has already made so much money off these books there’s no real risk involved, but the strategy is an important one nevertheless.
  • Angry Birds Space gets 10m downloads in three days [BBC] – The latest version of the Angry Birds game notched up 10 million download in its first three days of release, says its developer Rovio. Angry Birds Space only came out on 22 March, but in a tweet on Monday Rovio announced the game’s swift success. … The new Angry Birds instalment features 60 initial levels and six new characters and has what Rovio calls a “unique twist in a variable gravity environment”. As well as Google Android and Apple iOS devices, last week also saw the game released simultaneously on PC and Mac. Nasa was also involved in promoting the game, posting a video showing an astronaut on the International Space Station explaining the laws of physics using Angry Bird characters.
    The space agency called it “an exciting way to get people engaged with Nasa’s missions of exploration and discover”.
  • Google ordered to suspend autocomplete function over cyber-harassment [The Japan Times Online] – “The Tokyo District Court approved a petition demanding that Google Inc. suspend its autocomplete search feature for Internet browsers after a man alleged that it breached his privacy and got him fired, his lawyer said Sunday. Google is refusing to suspend the feature, saying that its headquarters in the United States will not be regulated by Japanese law and that the case does not warrant deleting the autocomplete suggestions related to the petition under its in-house privacy policy, lawyer Hiroyuki Tomita said. The case, which was adjudicated on March 19, is believed to be the first to order the suspension of the Web search feature, which attempts to instantly anticipate and list the words or phrases a person will type into a browser’s search box, Tomita said. [..] The man discovered that when people type his name into Google’s search engine, words suggesting criminal acts, which he is unfamiliar with, appear.”
  • Facebook Asserts Trademark on Word ‘Book’ in New User Agreement [Threat Level | Wired.com] – “Facebook is trying to expand its trademark rights over the word “book” by adding the claim to a newly revised version of its “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” the agreement all users implicitly consent to by using or accessing Facebook.”

Links for May 26th 2011 through May 30th 2011:

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

My column ‘FlashForward or FlashBack: Television Distribution in 2010’ is now up as part of the latest edition of Flow TV.  The article concludes thus:

Promotional campaigns and social media discussions ensure that global markets are primed; the only thing missing is the means for viewers and fans in many countries to legally access their favourite shows. Whether it’s the US-produced FlashForward, the BBC’s Doctor Who or the Australian soapie Neighbours, if distributors don’t have their own flash forward to new distribution models it is likely that more and more of the people formerly know as the audience will see the second decade of the twenty-first century as the time to take distribution into their own hands.

If you’re interested to know how I got there, go read the full column.

Interesting links for August 10th 2008 through August 11th 2008:

  • having “exclusive rights” in a region is a remnant of the twentieth century’s mass media [jill/txt] – “The tyranny of digital distance is most often experienced by people outside of the United States. … Another aspect of these cultural blockades where being outside of the US has been an advantage is baseball. In the US, if you’ve moved away from where the team you support is based you often won’t be able to watch their games because the local television stations won’t broadcast them. So MLB.tv lets you subscribe to watch all baseball games – except local ones, because the local television stations have exclusive rights to them. If you live outside of the US, you have no local games – so you can watch every baseball game live, no holds barred.”
  • Wizard People, Dear Reader by Brad Neely (NOT Harry Potter) [Illegal Art] – Brad Neely’s hilarious “unauthorized re-envisioning of Harry Potter and the Philosophers/Sorcerer’s Stone”, released in 2004. It’s a long audio parody to be played at the same time as the DVD of the first Harry Potter film. Like a DVD commentary for evil! [YouTube Version] [Script] [Wikipedia Entry]
  • 1.8 million hits in four days for grocery pricing website. [WA Today] – “The new GROCERYchoice website received 1.8 million hits in its first four days, showing consumers are interested in the information it provides, federal Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen says. GROCERYchoice was launched last week by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to provide consumers with more information about grocery prices.”
  • How to Get Your Indie Film on iTunes (…It’s Not Easy) [CinemaTech] – Scott Kirsner’s really useful guide to distributing independent films via iTunes and (more feasibly) via their main competitors like Amazon Unbox. For the upcoming filmmakers of tomorrow, this is essential information! (Especially if you’re already planning your own Dr Horrible!)
  • Amazon Adds Universal Wish List [Micro Persuasion] – Amazon.com’s Wish List feature has been around a long time – over 10 years in fact. However, recently the e-commerce site expanded it with a new feature called The Universal Wish List. Using a simple bookmarklet … you can now add any item to your list from anywhere on the web.” (I use Amazon’s wish lists a lot, both for purchases and to fill out bibliographies of new books, so this looks like a really useful little addition to me!)