Links for March 11th through March 14th:

  • A Sign of the Times: Encyclopaedia Britannica to End Its Print Run [The Atlantic] – “After nearly two-and-a-half centuries in print, the publishers of the Encyclopaedia Britannica are expected to announce tomorrow that they are stopping their presses … As Wikipedia emerged over the past decade, the question has always been, but how does it compare to the Encyclopaedia Britannica? (Answer: mostly favorably, with bonus points for breadth and accessibility.) … Recent years have seen a sharp decline: The 1990 edition sold 120,000 editions in the United States — the most ever — but the 2010 edition sold just 8,000. Four thousand copies are still in a warehouse, waiting for owners. Today, the printed encyclopedia accounts for less than one percent of the company’s revenues. Britannica, as a whole, is not moribund, though: a half a million people pay $70 each year for complete access online.”
  • Apple Reveals New “All-Time Top Apps” Following 25 Billion Downloads [Mac Stories] – Following the downloading of the 25 billionth app from the App Store, Apple have release top-downloads of all time charts for iPhone and iPad, breaking them down into free and paid lists. Angry Birds features prominently on all lists!
  • The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On [YouTube] – Well-made little video which tells the history of the now iconic and meme-ready ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster which was originally designed and produced in England during the Second World War.
  • A Show with Ze Frank by Ze Frank [Kickstarter] – Ze Frank (of ‘The Show with Ze Frank’) uses Kickstarter to ask fans to contribute to a new version of The Show, aiming to raise $50,000 to do The Show for a year. Instead, he raised $146,752, with over 3,900 backers (with one parting with $4000 … that’s a LOT of love for The Show)!

Happy New Year! Links for December 21st through January 1st:

  • My New Year Wish [Neil Gaiman’s Journal:] – As New Years wishes go, I think Neil Gaiman wins this year: “I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
  • Henchminion Sends In the Tale of “The Magna Carta Essay!” [College Misery] – In 2005 a frustrated US college professor wrote a fake essay about the Magna Carta – filled with notable errors, jokes and almost no substance – and posted it online to several notable paper mills and plagiarism websites. Six years later it’s still out there and still being quoted. A notable tale for would-be undergraduates cutting corners with their research and citation!
  • Marvel’s lawyers get into fanboy flamewar with IRS about human-status of its mutants [Boing Boing] – Marvel’s lawyers argue that the X-Men aren’t human for tax purposes. Of course, this undermines almost 50 years of the X-Men as repressed and misunderstood humanity. Looks like the lawyers are running Marvel!
  • Doctor Who Meets Star Wars Episode I – The Prequel Menace [Mashup] – Extremely silly, but made with so much love and affection that it’s well worth 6 minutes of your time! :)
  • ‘Doctor Who’ Tops ‘Modern Family’ as iTunes Best-Seller of 2011 [Anglophenia | BBC America] – “Never underestimate the power of Whovians. That loyal fan base has lifted Doctor Who to the very top of iTunes’ list of most downloaded full TV seasons of 2011! Yes, more than any other show on TV. Can I get a Woo-Who? That means Doctor Who beat ABC’s hit, Emmy-winning sitcom Modern Family (No. 2), Dexter (No. 3), Breaking Bad (No. 4), and True Blood (No. 5) in downloads. Just behind them at No. 6 is BBC America’s Top Gear. Here’s the full top 10 via The Hollywood Reporter:
    TOP-SELLING SEASONS:
    1. Doctor Who
    2. Modern Family
    3. Dexter
    4. Breaking Bad
    5. True Blood
    6. Top Gear
    7. Glee
    8. Entourage
    9. Archer
    10. The Walking Dead”
  • Company sues ex-employee for his Twitter followers [The Guardian] – “A Twitter user is being sued for £217,000 by his former employer for taking his online followers with him when he switched jobs. Noah Kravitz, a writer from Oakland, California, amassed 17,000 followers on the social networking site when he worked for PhoneDog, a website providing news and reviews about mobile phones. He posted Twitter messages under the name @Phonedog_Noah, but in October 2010 he left the company, renamed his account @noahkravitz and took his following with him. PhoneDog has launched legal proceedings seeking damages of $2.50 a month per follower for eight months, for a total of $340,000. The company is arguing that Kravitz’s list of followers constitutes a customer database and the valuation is an estimate of how much each follower is worth to the company.”
  • ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ Pirate Sentenced to One Year in Prison [ComicsAlliance] – “A man who’s confessed to uploading an early cut of X-Men Origins: Wolverine to the Internet a month before the film was to debut in cinemas has been sentenced to a year in federal prison. Deadline reports that 49-year-old Gilberto Sanchez pleaded guilty in March to one count of “uploading a copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution,” a charge which United States District Judge Margaret M. Morrow described as “extremely serious.” The early leaking of the DVD-quality workprint of Wolverine created quite a commotion back in 2009. The pirated cut was downloaded at least four million times, which according to Reuters could have translated to $28.7 million in lost ticket sales if the downloaders opted out of seeing Wolverine in the theater. Compounding fears, the leaked copy was missing final special effects shots and other material, and the advance spoiler-filled reviews were incredibly damning of the X-Men sequel, which cost $150 million to produce.”

Links for November 12th through November 17th:

  • An Oscar for Andy? by Tama Leaver [Antenna] – My first Antenna post looks at the possibility of a synthespian in the running for an acting Oscar: “On the back of the unexpected success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the big news isn’t a planned sequel but rather a “a healthy seven-figure deal for Andy Serkis to reprise his role as lead ape Caesar” along with the announcement that 20th Century Fox will be mounting an Oscar campaign aimed at getting Serkis a long overdue nod for Best Supporting Actor. It’s significant, too, because we never see Andy Serkis directly in Rise; rather, Caesar was created by the meshing of Serkis’s visceral, physical acting and the state-of-the-art computer wizardry from Weta Digital. Whether you prefer the term virtual actor, synthespian (‘synthetic thespian’) or just performance capture, an Academy Award for Serkis would demonstrate a widening understanding of what ‘acting’ actually means.”
  • Google Music is open for business [Official Google Blog] – Google’s competitor to Apple’s iTunes has gone live, cleverly basing itself in the Android store. Of course, it’s not yet available in Australia.
  • Salman Rushdie claims victory in Facebook name battle [BBC News ] – “Author Salman Rushdie says he has won a battle with Facebook over what to call himself on his profile page on the social network. Rushdie’s dispute with Facebook began after he asked to be allowed to use his middle name Salman – the one he is known by across the world. But Facebook, which has strict real name policies, had insisted on Ahmed – the novelist’s first name. Rushdie says Facebook has “buckled” after he began tweeting about the row. “Victory! #Facebook has buckled! I’m Salman Rushdie again. I feel SO much better. An identity crisis at my age is no fun. Thank you Twitter!” wrote the British Indian author, who is known as SalmanRushdie on Twitter. “Just received an apology from The #Facebook Team. All is sweetness and light.””
  • Aussie expat’s TV torrent site shut down as The Slap producers intervene [SMH] – “The producers of ABC1 drama The Slap have succeeded in shutting down a Netherlands-based piracy website that over 40,000 Australian and New Zealand expats use to illegally watch local shows. The site, diwana.org, is run by an Australian expat who started the site over five years ago and is popular with expats and others based overseas who are looking to access Australia and New Zealand TV content, which is often difficult to access internationally.[…] Despite the shutdown of Diwana.org, The Slap is still widely available on other pirate websites.”
  • Exfoliate for Facebook [Android Market] – Android app to delete unwanted Facebook history: “Exfoliate automates the removal of old, forgotten, content from Facebook(tm). Old content on social networking sites is a threat to your privacy. Removing this old content by hand is tedious, and practically impossible. On your wall, Exfoliate can remove any post, comment, or like, whether made by you or by others, older than a time you specify. Exfoliate can remove your own posts, comments, and likes, from your friends’ walls too. You can choose the age of items you wish removed, and Exfoliate will remove any items that are at least as old as your selection from any of your selected content areas. It is important, though, to understand that Exfoliate truly deletes the content. It is not backed up and it is not recoverable – well, that’s kinda the point. […] Exfoliate is a network and battery hog, and there’s simply no way around this. To manage the impact, you can stop Exfoliate at any time, and restart Exfoliate later.”
  • Jailbreak the Patriarchy: my first Chrome extension [Danielle Sucher] – Clever: “I just released my first Chrome extension! It’s called Jailbreak the Patriarchy, and if you’re running Chrome, you can head over here to install it. What does it do? Jailbreak the Patriarchy genderswaps the world for you. When it’s installed, everything you read in Chrome (except for gmail, so far) loads with pronouns and a reasonably thorough set of other gendered words swapped. For example: “he loved his mother very much” would read as “she loved her father very much”, “the patriarchy also hurts men” would read as “the matriarchy also hurts women”, that sort of thing. This makes reading stuff on the internet a pretty fascinating and eye-opening experience, I must say. What would the world be like if we reversed the way we speak about women and men? Well, now you can find out!”

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”.”

Links for August 25th 2011 through August 30th 2011:

  • Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist [The Guardian] – George Monbiot looks at the monopolistic world of academic publishing and finds a world where profits are soaring while the broader media landscape around them is crumbling. On the ethical side, the important question: should publicly funded reseach end up in journals that cost $20+ an article to read if you’re not attached to a university? Open access might be one answer to the problem!
  • Teen hacks ex-mate’s Facebook [Toowoomba Chronicle] – “Bad blood between former teenage mates had driven one to hack into the other’s Facebook page and leave a posting that he was gay and wanted to come out of the closet, Toowoomba Magistrates Court heard yesterday. […] Woodside then hacked into the victim’s Facebook page and posted that the victim was gay and wanted to “come out of the closet”, a posting which anyone accessing the page could have read, the court heard.”
  • “Does This Technology Serve Human Purposes?”: A “Necessary Conversation” with Sherry Turkle (Part Three) [Confessions of an Aca/Fan: Archives] – Sherry Turkle interviewed by Henry Jenkins, clarifying many important points from Alone Together: “My earlier enthusiasm for identity play on the Internet, […] relied heavily on the work of psychologist and psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. Erikson wrote about the developmental need for a moratorium or “time out” during adolescence, a kind of play space in which one had a chance to experiment with identity. In the mid-1990s, I wrote about the Internet as a space where anonymity was possible and where one could experiment with aspects of self in a safe environment. Today, adolescents grow up with a sense of wearing their online selves on their backs “like a turtle” for the rest of their lives. The internet is forever. And anonymity on the Internet seems a dream of another century, another technology.” [Part 1] [Part 2]
  • Apple cancels iTunes TV rentals [GigaOM] – “Despite its role as a major selling point of the revamped Apple TV last fall, Apple has done away with TV show rentals. Several bloggers noticed the option to rent individual episodes missing from iTunes and Apple TV Friday, and Apple later confirmed the decision was based on lack of interest. “iTunes customers have shown they overwhelmingly prefer buying TV shows,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told AllThingsD Friday. “iTunes in the Cloud lets customers download and watch their past TV purchases from their iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac or PC allowing them to enjoy their programming whenever and however they choose.” Very few TV studios were on board with the idea in the first place–only Fox and ABC–so this isn’t a huge change. But now the only option in iTunes when it comes to TV shows is to buy. You can buy a full season or “Season Pass,” or if you want to cherry pick a season, you can still buy individual episodes.”
  • Case History Of A Wikipedia Page: Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ [The Awl] – Fascinating: “Entries such as the one on Lolita demonstrate why perfection on Wikipedia remains an “unattainable” goal—when the topic is contentious, perfection will always butt heads against “is completely neutral and unbiased.” One man’s undeniable literary masterpiece is another man’s abominable pedophilic trash, and they’re both editors on Wikipedia. The edits to the Lolita page (and any Wikipedia page) can seem tedious and petty, and many of them are. But the users’ vigilance in keeping some words and changing others, and debating over content and style, does have a purpose: it keeps critical thinking alive and well. The writing, editing, rewriting and re-editing process of a Wikipedia page creates a new entity—the Lolita Wikipedia page, which is not Nabokov’s Lolita, but a work in its own right. In the collaborative editing process, any reader can use the Lolita page to challenge its meaning. In fact, he can reach right in and edit it himself, until someone else edits it again.”

Apple_iCloud

Today Apple made some big announcements about their desktop operating system OS X Lion and their mobile iOS 5, and most importantly the service which will more intimately bind these two: iCloud. Globally, news services will continue their iFetish and splash reports everywhere, so I’ll leave you to catch the full details elsewhere. However, the iCloud is interesting for all sorts of reasons, not least of all because Apple, Google and Amazon are all dancing around the same territory, so I thought I’d take a minute and consider who (apart from Apple, of course) are the obvious winners and losers in the wake of the iCloud announcements.

The Big Winners:

  • The Big Music Companies. Here’s Apple’s description of iMatch service, part of the iCloud:
    iTunes determines which songs in your collection are available in the iTunes Store. Any music with a match is automatically added to your iCloud library for you to listen to anytime, on any device. Since there are more than 18 million songs in the iTunes Store, most of your music is probably already in iCloud. All you have to upload is what iTunes can’t match. Which is much faster than starting from scratch. And all the music iTunes matches plays back at 256-Kbps iTunes Plus quality — even if your original copy was of lower quality.

    Those songs that iTunes can’t match may very well be unauthorised downloads, but once you’ve paid $25 to use iTunes in the cloud, you’ve got access to it on any Apple device. And where is that money going? Estimates suggest the bulk is going to the music labels, with Apple keeping their customary 30% (which might just pay for the service, but this item by itself is probably going to be making a loss, especially for people who have huge music libraries).  As Mashable note, Apple Has Just Monetized Pirated Content. The music labels are once again getting paid for ‘pirated’ music – a big win for them!

  • Twitter: iOS 5 integrates Twitter into almost everything, making Apple the Twitter OS of choice (and implicitly waving goodbye to Apple’s failed music social network, Ping). As the official Twitter blog celebrates: “Building Twitter into iOS 5 truly creates the easiest way to share everything that’s happening in your world. Take a picture, tap “Tweet”. Tweeting has never been simpler.”
  • And, of course, “The Cloud”: while the cloud and cloud computing are nebulous terms, Sony’s recent PlayStation Network hacks have really dampened the reputation of web-based storage and services, especially in terms of security. Now that Apple have stuck and ‘i’ in front of the cloud, Steve Jobs’ “it just works” magic will no doubt ensure the cloud stays cool and secure (even their brushed metal iCloud logo emphasises strength and security).

The Big Losers:

  • PC manufacturers and Microsoft: iOS 5, and the cloud-based services, will all be available on Apple devices (iPhones, iPads ,touchscreen iPods) without needing to connect to a PC. These devices can now be activated on their own terms, working using cloud services, and for many people may do away with the need for a PC altogether. A big plus for Apple hardware sales, but a really clear slap in the face to standard PC manufacturers. I wonder, though, if this will force PC makers to form more robust alliances with Google (or maybe Amazon) to keep a competitive edge? Perhaps PC manufacturers will suddenly be falling over themselves to create Chromebooks. None of this will help Microsoft, because these conversations don’t involve anyone needing to run Windows anymore!
  • Amazon/Google: Apple is almost certainly running iMatch and the iTunes in the cloud services  as a loss-leader (ie making little or no profit), using these services to drive hardware sales. Google and Amazon have both been trying to carve out the same cloud-based music sharing (and other services) but don’t have the core hardware sales business to offset the cost of keeping the music labels on side.  It’s hard to see how they’ll compete without having to at least match Apple’s costs and security imperatives.
  • Point’n’click camera manufacturers: a smaller change in iOS 5, but a big one of you rely on your iPhone for photography, is that you can go straight to the iPhone camera from the locked phone in one click. This makes photography a lot easier, and avoids the clicks through the navigation screens. This does seems a small change, but for many folks the only reason to carry a point’n’click camera and an iPhone was that the camera could get to the point of actually taking a shot faster – it really doesn’t look like that’ll be the case soon.

One to watch: I’m really curious how Apple’s End User License Agreements will shape the iCloud. If users are really going to rely on Apple to make mp3s available via the cloud, regardless of whether there is any evidence of a legal purchase or otherwise, Apple will own an vast and important database of what people actually possess. While the big music labels are implicitly supporting the iCloud and iMatch service for now, what happens if the relationship sours? How will Apple react to lawsuits demanding individually identifiable information, especially, say, for music which is leaked or not legally available in one country or another? Even the date of access would be enough to show unauthorized file-sharing  in action and do we really trust Apple to be a custodian of that information? (For those interested in this issue, you should really read Jonathan Zittrain’s The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It.)

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.”

Links for January 5th 2011:

  • Billionaires take a turn at initiating ‘brand’ damage [SMH] – The Australian retail industry has jumped the shark. In an effort to ‘combat’ consumers getting better deals online, the retail giants have banded together to lobby the government to remove an exclusion that means purchases for overseas goods totally under $1000 don’t have the GST added. Customers, in turn, have pointed out very loudly that they shop online because of the terrible state of retail shops in Australia. Whoever thought up a PR campaign that basically tells consumers that the rich retail giants want consumers to be taxed more because they’re becoming too savvy and demanding better choice clearly failed Marketing 101!
  • How iTunes buyers are ripped off [Perth Now] – Australians are sick of the tyranny of digital distance: “Australian music fans are forging foreign iTunes accounts to make big savings on their purchases. The practice, which is a direct breach to iTunes terms and conditions, has exposed the inflated price that Australians pay to access songs off the popular music and entertainment site. By creating an American iTunes account through the use of a US credit card or gift card, users are saving up to 80c per song and $7 per album. The recently released Beatles box set collection can be bought with a saving of more than $A100. […] Numerous forums have surfaced on the net explaining the details of how to access the store which include creating a fake American billing address. Some have even used the address of the Apple corporation in the US to gain access.”
  • Facebook Users Uploaded A Record 750 Million Photos Over New Year’s [Tech Crunch] – “It doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but it’s still staggering to think about: over the New Year’s weekend, Facebook saw 750 million photo uploads from its users. That’s a lot of celebrating, and it sets a new Facebook record. The stat was just tweeted by Facebook marketing director Randi Zuckerberg (who is also founder Mark Zuckerberg’s sister). We’ve reached out to Facebook to ask what the last record was, but I’m guessing it was set over Halloween, which has historically been the biggest day for Facebook Photos. To give some context to that number, in July Facebook said that more than 100 million photos get uploaded every day (that average is higher now, obviously).”
  • Angry Birds launch for Sony’s Playstation 3 and PSP [BBC – Newsbeat] – Angry Birds makes the jump from mobile gaming to the consoles: “Sony has announced that Angry Birds is going to be released on its PlayStation 3 and PSP consoles. The game was originally developed for smart phones and proved a huge success with iPhone and Android users. Since being released in late 2009 it’s been downloaded nearly 40 million times. But with the Japanese entertainment giant now firmly on board developers Rovio have high hopes about bringing the game to a new audience. Released on January 5th it will be available to download for £2.49. “
  • What Could Have Been Entering the Public Domain on January 1, 2011? [Center for the Study of the Public Domain] – “Waiting for . . . Waiting for Godot and Lord of the Flies, The Doors of Perception, Rear Window, Seven Samurai, Creature from the Black Lagoon, the first issues of Sports Illustrated, Horton Hears a Who! . . . . Current US law extends copyright protections for 70 years from the date of the author’s death. (Corporate “works-for-hire” are copyrighted for 95 years.) But prior to the 1976 Copyright Act (which became effective in 1978), the maximum copyright term was 56 years (an initial term of 28 years, renewable for another 28 years). Under those laws, works published in 1954 would be passing into the public domain on January 1, 2011. What might you be able to read or print online, quote as much as you want, or translate, republish or make a play or a movie from? How about William Golding’s Lord of the Flies?”
  • You might do a job on yourself [The Age] – Recruiters and interview panels are increasingly examining web presences: “Thank twice before uploading another photo or status update if you are about to have a job interview – employers are watching you. In an age of oversharing online, with a third of the Australian population on Facebook, many recruiters and companies cannot resist the temptation to screen potential candidates via social media. US employers have taken screening one step further, asking some job candidates to log in to their Facebook pages during the interview. There is no sign of this happening in Australia, recruiters say. But employers were interested in looking beyond a person’s resumé, said Kate Kendall, who specialises in recruitment via social media. “Companies are more interested in a holistic view of who they are hiring,” she said. “You can’t really try to hide.””
  • Instagram Quickly Passes 1 Million Users [NYTimes.com] – “Instagram, a social photo-sharing company that opened its shutters to iPhone owners just two months ago, announced Tuesday that it passed a major milestone of 1 million registered users. The company began offering its simple photo service in mid-October that allows people to share images from a mobile phone and then add unique and fun filters. Since then, Instagram has quickly become the talk of the tech community as people have flocked to the service even with stiff competition from a number of well-financed competitors, including PicPlz, Flickr and Path.”

Links for November 11th 2010 through November 17th 2010:

  • The Shadow Scholar [The Chronicle of Higher Education] – A truly fascinating, albeit hugely disheartening, piece describing the inner workings of a paid student essay mill from the inside. The pseudonymous author talks candidly about her/his range and rates, as well as the sort of relationships that can form with repeat customers, who use this sort of service to pass entire degrees. It’s a huge indictment of huge chunks of the global education system, but also contains some implicit points about how to write assignments that are much harder to plagiarise. Some of the comments are well worth reading, too, although many are more about name-calling than taking the issues raised seriously.
  • Riding the tube [SMH] – Profile of Natalie Tran, Australia’s most successful YouTuber, with near to a million subscribers, making a healthy living off the advertising.
  • Twitter + Ping = Discovering More Music [Twitter Blog] – Now Twitter can be integrated into Apple’s Ping proto-social network, so you can share your musical likes in your Twitter stream. Ping is still at a very early, underdeveloped stage … I’m not sure what this will add for Twitter except a bunch of musical likes. For Apple, it’s a huge win since those links are pointing back to the Apple store (with integration into the new twitter, so you can click directly on the songs to purchase).
  • Fox.com joins NBC, ABC and CBS by blocking Google TV [Engadget] – Google have some deals to strike with the networks very soon if Google TV is actually going to have any TV on it: “Looks like Fox has finally made a decision, following the other major networks, Hulu and several cable channels by opting to block streaming video on its website from Google TV devices. Blocking by Flash ID is the order of the day and takes simple browser workarounds out of play, so unless users want to go the PlayOn route, there’s large swaths of legitimate video on the web that’s now inaccessible.”

Links for September 30th 2010 through October 4th 2010:

  • The Short Lifespan of a Tweet: Retweets Only Happen Within the First Hour [Read Write Web] – Interesting stats on the lifespan of a tweet: “For some, Twitter is a social network and for others it is just a broadcast medium. Judging from the latest data from social media analytics and monitoring service Sysomos, for the majority of users, Twitter is indeed mostly a broadcast medium. After analyzing over 1.2 billion tweets, the Sysomos team found that only 29% of tweets actually produce a reaction – that is, a reply or a retweet. According to Sysomos, just 6% of all tweets are retweeted and these retweets have a very short lifespan. Virtually all retweets happen within the first hour after the original tweet. If you are looking to get retweeted and nobody picks your tweet up within the first hour, chances are that nobody ever will. Only 1.63% of all retweets happen in the second hour and a minuscule 0.94% in the third hour. The same is true for @replies, too; 97% of all replies happen within the first hour.”
  • MP in strife over Overland Facebook slur [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “A Victorian Liberal MP has used Facebook to attack the state’s Police Chief Commissioner, Simon Overland. Upper House backbencher Bernie Finn yesterday wrote he was “dreaming of when Victoria will have a real police officer as Chief Commissioner”. The post labelled Mr Overland and his predecessor, Christine Nixon, as “political appointees” who have “proven themselves incompetent in the areas of law enforcement and community protection”. Asked by a Facebook follower when Victoria might have a “real copper running the show”, Mr Finn replies: “after November 27…”, which is the date of Victoria’s looming state election.”
  • Can companies ignore social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? [BBC News] – Beware or harness? “Once upon a time companies could afford to be rude. Unhappy customers would grumble to a few friends, withdraw their custom, but there was little else they could do. Today, they still tell their friends, but they do it online, using social media websites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Take the Canadian folk singer, Dave Carroll. After nine months of complaining he had had enough. United Airlines baggage handlers had damaged his $3,500 guitar, but the airline refused to pay compensation and its customer service agents were less than courteous. So he made a music video about the experience and on 6 July 2009 posted it on YouTube. Within three days it had been watched half a million times; by mid-August it had reached five million. United had a massive public relations crisis at its hands, not least as thousands of other unhappy customers now came forward to vent their frustration. These days one witty Tweet, one clever blog post, one devastating video …”
  • Twitter Now Getting More Traffic Than MySpace [Mashable] – “Twitter’s number of monthly unique visitors finally surpassed that of MySpace in August. Though it ranked third among social networking sites, Twitter ranked #50 in the list of top 50 properties overall. The numbers were crunched by the marketing research firm comScore. Twitter’s (Twitter) lead over MySpace (MySpace) was marginal — 96 million versus 95 million — but the trend over time paints a prettier picture of the microblogging service. Between August 2009 and August 2010, Twitter grew 76% while MySpace dropped 17%.”
  • U.S. single digital music sales flat this year: Nielsen [Reuters] – I wonder how this compares to the rise of micropayments for App purchases? “The rapid rise of single digital music sales has stalled in the United States, the world’s biggest and most important market, with sales in the first half of 2010 flat compared with a year before. According to research group Nielsen, digital sales for single track downloads were flat in the U.S. market after a 13 percent increase from 2008 to 2009 and 28 percent growth from 2007 to 2008. When combined with the growth in digital album sales, overall digital music sales were up over 5 percent in the U.S. Major music companies such as Vivendi’s Universal Music and EMI have pinned their hopes on boosting legal digital sales to counter online piracy and the collapse in CD sales.”