Links for August 13th 2011 through August 15th 2011:

  • Google looks to ‘supercharge’ Android with Motorola Mobility [guardian.co.uk] – Wow, Google take their ball and head straight onto Apple’s turf (and Microsoft’s by way of Nokia): “Google is to acquire Motorola Mobility, the US mobile company’s smartphone business, in a $12.5bn (£7.6bn) cash deal. The takeover will boost Google’s increasing dominance in the nascent smartphone and tablet computer market. The $40 a share deal is a 63% premium on Motorola Mobility’s closing price on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. Larry Page, Google chief executive, said: “Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.””
  • Schools employ company to monitor students online [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – Inevitable, but deeply troubling: “Independent schools are using private companies to monitor what their students say and do online on sites such as Facebook. An internet monitoring company, SR7, says it is been employed by some private high schools around Australia to keep track of students’ social media activity. Privacy advocates have expressed concerns, but the “social media intelligence” company says its work will help prevent cyber bullying. S7R partner James Griffin says the company identifies and “attempts to stop” cyber bullying that is increasingly occurring on Facebook and another social media platform, Formspring. Mr Griffin says the increasing number of fake profiles is “striking”.”
  • “If you don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s that simple.” ORLY? [Social Media Collective] – Great post by Alice Marwick looking at the problems with the idea that you can simply stop using social media and other technologies due to issues or challenges they pose. Refuting (easy) opting out, or technology refusal, is important is showing how much people actually have to give up if they do opt out, and why it’s a decision many people can’t (or won’t) readily make.
  • Sexting punishment is unjust says magistrate [SMH] – “A senior Victorian magistrate who presided over a case in which a youth pleaded guilty to teenage sexting offences has condemned as ”so unjust” the mandatory laws that meant the young man was registered as a sex offender. The magistrate, who works in country Victoria, said the lack of judicial discretion in such cases meant severe consequences for young people who posed no threat to society and were often guilty of little more than naivety. The magistrate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had made the unusual decision to speak out because he was troubled by cases recently identified by Fairfax. He presided over the case of the country youth, then aged 18, who was sent four uninvited text message pictures of girls, aged between 15 and 17 years, topless or in their underwear. Police found the pictures on his mobile phone and laptop and charged him with child pornography offences.”
  • Don’t shoot the instant messenger: David Cameron’s social media shutdown plan won’t stop UK riots [The Conversation] – Axel Bruns refutes the logic of social media control or blocking in times of crisis (regarding the UK riots): “David Cameron’s thought bubble (let’s be charitable and call it that) in the UK parliament on Thursday, in which he said it might be a good idea to shut down social networking services if there were to be a repeat of the riots that have rocked Britain, is one such moment. It is, to be blunt, just staggeringly dumb. Where do we even begin? Consider, for example, the fact that Cameron, along with just about all the other leaders of the Western world – you know, we who claim to believe in freedom of expression – lauded the role of social media in the “Arab spring” uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere. But now he wants to shut Twitter and Facebook down, just because someone, somewhere might use them to plan criminal activities? You must be joking. By the same reasoning, why not take out the entire Internet and phone network as well?”
  • Panicked over social media, Mr. Cameron joins company of autocrats [The Globe and Mail] – “Eight months ago, as Egyptians flooded the streets of Cairo in protest, the government tried to stem the tide by cutting off access to Twitter and Facebook – social networks that had been so associated with democratic uprisings that labels such as “the Twitter Revolution” were being bandied about. On Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the rioting that swept his country and declared that he was looking into blocking unspecified troublemakers’ access to Twitter and another network, BlackBerry Messenger. With the speed of a looter on the make, social networks have gone from heroes of the Arab Spring to the newly-anointed villains of the British riots. One day, implement of utopia; the next, yob’s best friend. Throwing his digital lot in with Hosni Mubarak is hardly a flattering comparison for Mr. Cameron. But his choice of target reflects a very real public unease with the way social networks seem to inspire people to action.”
  • London riot social media blocks ‘totalitarian’ [The Age] – “Social media and legal experts have ridiculed a proposal by British Prime Minister David Cameron to restrict the use of services like Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger to prevent riots. The services were used by rioters to organise looting and vandalism across London and beyond, prompting Cameron to demand the companies take more responsibility for content posted on their networks. Home secretary Theresa May is due to hold meetings with Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion this week. But social media experts and free speech campaigners have rejected the idea, saying it is an impractical knee-jerk response that is akin to moves by Arab rulers to block online communications during this year’s pro-democracy uprisings.”

Links for April 29th 2011 through May 12th 2011:

  • Millions of Facebook users under 10 [The Age] – “Some 7.5 million of the 20 million US minors who used Facebook in the past year were younger than 13, and a million of them were bullied, harassed or threatened on the site, an American study shows. More than 5 million Facebook users were aged 10 or younger, and they were allowed to use Facebook largely without parental supervision, the State of the Net survey by Consumer Reports found.”
  • chrome-angry-birds [Nelson's Weblog] – Angry Birds comes in HTML5, too! “One of Google’s big announcements this week was the launch of Chrome Angry Birds, a port of the hugely popular mobile game to Google’s browser. But calling it “Chrome Angry Birds” is missing the point because what’s really interesting is that it’s a real-time multimedia cross-platform HTML 5 app. It runs fine in MSIE 9 and Firefox on Windows (sound and save games included) and I’ve heard reports it works in Safari on Macs, too. And because the game is based on open browser technologies, we can easily pull it apart and see how it’s built just like we’ve been pulling apart web pages since 1993 via the magic of “view source”. [Play.]
  • Chromebook – Google partners to release Chromebooks, cloud-centric computers which boot amazingly fast are are designed to operate with everything in and from the cloud. Built upon the Chrome ‘browser’ (or OS) technology.
  • Introducing Music Beta by Google [YouTube] – Google introduces “Music Beta”, their entry into the cloud music services, allowing individuals to upload their music collection, then use Google or Android to stream that music to portable and fixed devices. (Currently invitation-only and US-only.)
  • Zynga goes Gaga! Lady Gaga and Zynga team up to celebrate new album “Born This Way” [Zynga] – Well, Zynga and Gaga get points for an original combination of media elements, at least: “Lady Gaga and Zynga today announced a partnership to launch the mega-artist’s new album “Born this Way.” Launching May 17, the first-of-its-kind program gives “little monsters” throughout the world a first listen to exclusive un-released songs from the upcoming when they visit GagaVille, a uniquely designed neighboring farm in FarmVille (There will be unicorns and crystals. Enough said.). The full album also comes bundled as a free download with the purchase of a special Zynga $25 game card, available exclusively at Best Buy. The program reaches across Zynga games and across platforms. Words With Friends, the popular mobile social game available iPhone, iPad, as well as Android devices, will feature a daily “Words with Gaga” contest …”
  • Google Launches Movie Rentals on Android Market: Online Video News [GigaOm] – Android rentals: “Google announced a new cloud movie service for Android that will be available as part of the Android Market. At its Google I/O developers conference Tuesday, the company said the service will have “thousands of movies available,” with titles including Inception, The King’s Speech and Despicable Me, and rentals starting at $1.99. Users will be able to rent titles on the Android Market’s website and then watch them on the web, stream them to Android devices and even download them to play on the go where no network connectivity is available.”
  • Watching Together: Twitter and TV [Twitter Blog] – “Last week, Twitter enjoyed its widest television integration to date via the live coverage of the royal wedding, as Chloe Sladden from our media team discusses on the Twitter Media blog. During the wedding, users interacted with ABC News’ coverage by using the hashtags #RoyalSuccess and #RoyalMess to voice their opinion about the events unfolding in London. They shared their thoughts with CNN by including the hashtag #CNNTV in their Tweets, causing #CNNTV to trend early in the event. And as audiences around the world watched the events live on TV, they posted millions of Tweets, peaking at 16,000 Tweets per minute between 5 and 6 a.m. EST. The royal wedding is just one example of how real-time Twitter integration can enhance TV coverage and help drive viewership …” [ Related YouTube clip: http://youtu.be/Jc8TQppzORE ]
  • Obi Wan Obama, Bin Laden’s Death, and Tumblr [Unmuzzled Thoughts] – Kelli Marshall looks at the memes and reactions emerging on Tumblr after US president Barack Obama announced that long saught terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden had been killed by US forces in Pakistan. (The post includes a useful archive of images.)
  • Corporate Rule of Cyberspace – Slavoj Žižek [ Inside Higher Ed] – Slavoj Žižek Vs Cloud Computing: “To put it simply, Steve Jobs is no better than Bill Gates: whether it be Apple or Microsoft, global access is increasingly grounded in the virtually monopolistic privatization of the cloud which provides this access. The more an individual user is given access to universal public space, the more that space is privatized. Apologists present cloud computing as the next logical step in the “natural evolution” of the Internet, and while in an abstract-technological way this is true, there is nothing “natural” in the progressive privatization of global cyberspace. There is nothing “natural” in the fact that two or three companies in a quasi-monopolistic position can not only set prices at will but also filter the software they provide to give its “universality” a particular twist depending on commercial and ideological interests.”
  • South Korea bans youngsters from playing online games after midnight [News.com.au] – “Young South Koreans will be banned from playing online video games later than midnight after lawmakers passed a new curfew law. Yonhap news agency reported the new law – which bans anyone under 16 from playing online into the early hours – was passed by lawmakers worried about growing levels of addiction to gaming among youngsters. Gaming companies fiercely contested the legislation but the Youth Protection bill passed late Friday.”
  • Superman threatens to renounce US citizenship [Books | guardian.co.uk] – “After years of declaring he stood for “truth, justice and the American way,” Superman has provoked the ire of rightwingers by threatening to renounce his US citizenship. In the latest issue of Action Comics, which went on sale on Wednesday, the Man of Steel decides to take the step after he intervenes in a protest against the Iranian government. After the Islamic regime brands his non-violent protest as an act of war taken on behalf of the US president, the DC comic hero says he will renounce his citizenship before the United Nations. “I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of US policy,” he says. Although Superman never actually renounces his citizenship in the story, conservative commentators reacted with disgust.”
  • Instagram Spawns a Photo Ecosystem [NYTimes.com] – “Instagram, the social-meets-photos app for the iPhone that transforms plain cellphone pictures into vintage-looking works of art, has attracted millions of users. In recent months, it has also begun to draw entrepreneurs who are eager to capitalize on its growing popularity. In particular, people are creating services that revolve around bringing Instagram photos, typically viewed on a phone screen, into the real world. Keepsy lets people quickly build a photobook of their favorite Instagram pictures and share it on Facebook and Twitter. They can then print a hard copy of the photobook for about $30. There is also Postagram, which lets its users mail a postcard created from an Instagram photo to a recipient of their choice for 99 cents. And Hatchcraft will frame favorite Instagram pictures in hand-carved bamboo shadow boxes that can be hung on a wall.”