Links for July 5th 2011 through July 12th 2011:

  • China’s first ‘virtual property’ insurance launched for online gaming sector [Global Times] – “A Chinese insurance company has unveiled a new type of “virtual property” insurance that might be the first of its kind in the world. The new service, tailored for online game players, was jointly launched by Sunshine Insurance Group Corporation and online game operator and manufacturer Gamebar. The two companies agreed to create the virtual property insurance amid an increasing number of disputes between online game operators and their customers, often related to the loss or theft of players’ “virtual property” such as “land” and “currency.” Over 300 million people engage in online gaming in China, and these players sometimes become involved in arguments with game operators due to the loss of property.” [Via]
  • First lesson of viral video: No monkey business [Online Video News] – “Apes with assault rifles are just a bad idea: That’s the lesson 20th Century Fox wanted to convey with a viral video it published on YouTube last week. The video shows a group of soldiers from an unidentified African country having some fun with a chimpanzee. Then one of the soldiers hands the ape an AK-47, and the animal takes aim at the soldiers. The clip is a viral video ad for the upcoming Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie, complete with a semi-authentic and amateurish look and some subtle branding that identifies it as content of the “20th Century Fox Research Library.” And so far it has been a success, if you only measure view counts: The video has attracted more than 4.5 million views since being published last Wednesday. But a look at the YouTube comment section tells a different story: A substantial number of commenters take the opportunity to drop the n-word, compare black people to monkeys or publish other kinds of racial slurs.”
  • Fifty Million [Matt Mullenweg] – On July 11, 2001, Worpress “passed over 50,000,000 websites, blogs, portfolios, stores, pet projects, and of course cat websites powered by WordPress.” That’s a lot! 🙂
  • Smartphone Adoption and Usage – 11 July 2011 [Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] – “In its first standalone measure of smartphone ownership, the Pew Internet Project finds that one third of American adults – 35% – own smartphones. The Project’s May survey found that 83% of US adults have a cell phone of some kind, and that 42% of them own a smartphone. That translates into 35% of all adults. […] Some 87% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their handheld, including two-thirds (68%) who do so on a typical day. When asked what device they normally use to access the internet, 25% of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer.” [Full Report PDF]
  • Apple App Store: 15 Billion Downloads & Counting [Mashable] – “Apple’s App Store has generated 15 billion downloads since its launch in July 2008, Apple has announced. The App Store now offers more than 425,000 apps, 100,000 of which are created specifically for Apple’s tablet, the iPad. Apple has paid developers more than $2.5 billion to date. Given Apple’s 30/70 revenue split with app developers, that means Apple itself has netted more than $1 billion directly from app sales. In January 2010, the App Store surpassed 3 billion downloads, and in January 2011, Apple announced that the App Store surpassed 10 billion downloads. It took Apple’s App Store only six months to jump from 10 billion to 15 billion downloads.”
  • Zynga Launches PrivacyVille, a Gamified Version of Its Privacy Policies [Inside Social Games] – Gamification of Zynga’s privacy policy! “As Zynga edges closer to its initial public offering, the social game developer seems concerned with educating the masses both on social game revenue models and on the actual fine print of social game privacy policies. Today, the company announces PrivacyVille, an interactive walkthrough of its privacy policies that rewards participants with zPoints to spend in gift network RewardVille. The experience can be clicked through in about two minutes, with each structure on the CityVille-like map representing a different component of Zynga’s privacy policy. The tutorial text seems to stress to readers that Zynga will collect players’ information from Facebook and from mobile devices and share it with third-party service providers, the legal system in the case of a court ordered disclosure, and with other players in cases where a player’s icon displays a link back to their Facebook account.”
  • Natalie Tran: Down Under’s Top YouTuber Considers Her Next Move [Forbes] – Quick profile of Natalie Tran, the person behind Australia’s most subscribed to YouTube channel (communitychannel): “Around the world, young adults like Natalie Tran are facing a key moment in their lives: they’ve been graduated from university and are examining the success and failures of their academic years to decide which direction to take their careers. It’s just that most of those students have not built an international fan-base at this point. Tran, 23, has. The Sydney, Australia resident recently received her Digital Media degree from the University of New South Wales. I hope she got at least one high mark for this fact: Tran is Australia’s most-subscribed-to YouTuber. Over the past five years, her “communitychannel” has amassed nearly 1 million subscribers and her videos have garnered nearly 400 million upload views. Reasons: Smart, funny, quirky, beautiful. Why complicate matters?”
  • Google Realtime goes dark after Twitter agreement expires [VentureBeat] – “Google has taken its powerful Realtime search product offline after a 2009 agreement to display up-to-the-minute Twitter results expired. The shutdown of Realtime comes just as Google is in the process of rolling out Google+, its new social networking initiative that competes with Twitter. Google said it planned to relaunch Realtime search after retooling it and adding in Google+ results. “Since October of 2009, we have had an agreement with Twitter to include their updates in our search results through a special feed, and that agreement expired on July 2,” Google told Search Engine Land. “While we will not have access to this special feed from Twitter, information on Twitter that’s publicly available to our crawlers will still be searchable and discoverable on Google. Our vision is to have google.com/realtime include Google+ information along with other realtime data from a variety of sources.””

Links for June 7th 2011 through June 24th 2011:

  • Harry Potter and the amazing exploding book industry [GigaOM] – “Despite the obvious demand, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has adamantly refused to offer electronic versions of her phenomenally popular series for young adults — until now. As part of Thursday’s launch of an interactive website called Pottermore, the billionaire writer also announced that e-book versions of the novels will be available directly through the site for all major platforms. In one fell swoop, Rowling has cut both her publishers and booksellers such as Amazon out of the picture. Not everyone has that kind of power, of course, but Rowling’s move shows how the playing field in publishing continues to be disrupted. The author said the Pottermore site will offer extra content that she has written about the characters in the books … There will also be a social network of sorts built into the site that allows readers to connect with each other, play games and share their thoughts about the novels and their characters.”
  • Google to be formally investigated over potential abuse of web dominance [guardian.co.uk] – “US regulators are poised to launch a formal investigation into whether Google has abused its dominance on the web, according to reports. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is days away from serving subpoenas on the internet giant in what could be the biggest investigation yet of the search company’s business, according to The Wall Street Journal. Both Google and the FTC declined to comment. A wide-ranging investigation into Google has been discussed for months. Google has faced several antitrust probes in recent years, and is already the subject of a similar investigation in Europe. In the US inquiries have so far largely been limited to reviews of the company’s mergers and acquisitions. The inquiry will examine the heart of Google’s search-advertising business, and the source of most of Google’s revenue. Google accounts for around two-thirds of internet searches in the US …”
  • Kind of Screwed [Waxy.org] – The really sad story of how Andy Baio ended up paying over $US30,000 for a pixel-art cover on an homage album because a photographer (and his lawyers) don’t believe it’s fair use: “Last year, I was threatened with a lawsuit over the pixel art album cover for Kind of Bloop. Despite my firm belief that I was legally in the right, I settled out of court to cut my losses. This ordeal was very nerve-wracking for me and my family, and I’ve had trouble writing about it publicly until now.”
  • The Social Network’s Aaron Sorkin quits Facebook [guardian.co.uk] – “Aaron Sorkin, 50, was speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity at a session alongside David Simon, creator of The Wire and Treme. His admission came as part of a discussion of the downsides of sites such as Twitter. Sorkin described himself as “this side of being a Luddite”, and said he had been on Facebook while he making the film, but had since given up his account. “I have a lot of opinions on social media that make me sound like a grumpy old man sitting on the porch yelling at kids,” he said. Sorkin’s scepticism of social media was shared by the film’s star, Jesse Eisenberg, who joined Facebook under a false name while in production but left soon afterwards, unnerved by the experience. “[I] was sent a message from Facebook suggesting people I should befriend,” Eisenberg said last October. “One of them was a girl my sister was friends with in high school. I don’t know how they found her, no idea. I signed off right then.””
  • “Teen Sexting and Its Impact on the Tech Industry” – Provocative talk well worth reading: “Most of you have probably read the panic-laden stories about teens who got caught sexting. You may even have read the salacious stories about teachers who sext with students. And, unless you’ve been on a remote island this month, you’ve probably heard countless jokes about Anthony Weiner’s recent sexting scandal. While most Americans had never heard of the term “sexting” a few years ago, it’s hot news these days. And while you might have read these stories in the press, you might not realize how relevant they are to you. More than any other teen phenomenon, more than Justin Bieber or cute cats, teen sexting is something that you need to deal with. And you need to deal with it ASAP, both because it’s the right thing to do and because you face serious legal liabilities if you don’t. When first coined by Australian press only a few short years ago …” (boyd, danah. 2011 Read Write Web 2WAY conference.New York, NY, June 13)
  • Facebook Changes Privacy Settings to Enable Facial Recognition [NYTimes.com] – “Facebook is pushing the privacy line once again, according to a new report from a security and antivirus company. According to the report, from Sophos, Facebook recently began changing its users’ privacy settings to automatically turn on a facial recognition feature that detects a user’s face in an image. Once the person’s face is detected, the Web site then encourages Facebook friends to tag them. Facebook introduced this feature last year for its North American users; it is now rolling it out globally. Facebook also doesn’t give users the option to avoid being tagged in a photo; instead, people who don’t want their name attached to an image must untag themselves after the fact. In response to a reporter’s inquiry, posted on a Facebook blog, the company said, “We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them.””
  • Apple’s new iOS5 features – really that new? [Ausdroid] – A quick comparison of Apple’s new iOS 5 mobile and the current offering from Android. Good points on both sides, but no clear “winner”.

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 10th 2011 through January 18th 2011:

  • Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales: App stores a clear and present danger [TECH.BLORGE.com] – Interesting: “The app store model is a more immediate threat to internet freedom than breaches of net neutrality. That’s the opinion of Wikipedia chief Jimmy Wales. According to Wales — who was quick to stress he was speaking in a purely personal capacity — set-ups such as the iTunes App Store can act as a “chokepoint that is very dangerous.” He said such it was time to ask if the model was “a threat to a diverse and open ecosystem” and made the argument that “we own [a] device, and we should control it.””
  • Wikipedia – an unplanned miracle | Clay Shirky [The Guardian] – “Wikipedia is the most widely used reference work in the world. That statement is both ordinary and astonishing: it’s a simple reflection of its enormous readership; and yet, by any traditional view about how the world works, Wikipedia shouldn’t even exist, much less have succeeded so dramatically in the space of a single decade. The cumulative effort of Wikipedia’s millions of contributors means you are a click away from figuring out what a myocardial infarction is, or the cause of the Agacher Strip war, or who Spangles Muldoon was. This is an unplanned miracle, like “the market” deciding how much bread goes in the store. Wikipedia, though, is even odder than the market: not only is all that material contributed for free, it is available to you free; even the servers and system administrators are funded through donations.”
  • YouTube mobile video viewing surges [The Age] – “YouTube has said it is serving up more than 200 million videos daily to smartphones and other internet-linked mobile devices. News of the milestone came as the Google-owned video-sharing service began routing Vevo music videos from artists such as Lady Gaga and U2 onto smartphones powered by newer versions of Google-backed Android software. “As the world goes mobile and more people watch videos on their smart phones, we expect more partners will take advantage of these new mobile advertising capabilities and make more of their content available across more devices,” YouTube mobile product manager Andrey Doronichev said in a blog post. Android smartphones running on “Froyo” or newer versions of the mobile operating software will be able to access Vevo’s music video library using a free YouTube application, according to Doronichev.”
  • MySpace to shut Australian office [The Age] – “MySpace looks set to close its Australian office as part of its move to cut 500 jobs – or nearly half its staff – potentially setting the stage for a sale of the social network owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.MySpace chief executive Mike Jones said in a statement today that the company would enter into strategic local partnerships to manage advertising sales and content in Australia, with details of partners yet to be finalised. He said the company would retain a core international team to work with partners. It is understood that all Australian positions within MySpace are under review with some opportunities for relocation to other divisions.”
  • MySpace cutting global workforce by half [BBC News] – Ouch: “Struggling MySpace is cutting almost half of its global workforce. The social networking website is getting rid of 500 positions, or 47% of its employees. The announcement comes as MySpace continues to be eclipsed by Facebook, and as it tries to reinvent itself as an entertainment website. MySpace was bought by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation for $580m (£372m) in 2005, but it has struggled to make money for its parent company. Mike Jones, MySpace’s chief executive, said the job cuts were “tough but necessary”, and had been taken to put the website on the path towards growth and profitability.”
  • ‘Angry Birds’ Exec Calls Android Too Complex [Angry Birds World] – “Those who use the Android might wanna whip some “Angry Birds” out on Peter Vesterbacka, the head of business development in North America for Rovio. While there’s a free version of “Angry Birds” for Android users available, a 99-cent version for the iPhone is a huge success. And the iPhone will continue to be “the No. 1 platform for a long time from a developer perspective.” Question is: why? Apple has “gotten so many things right. And they know what they are doing and they call the shots.” Android, too, is growing, he said, “But it’s also growing complexity at the same time.” While there are many devices and carriers that use Android, “device fragmentation (is) not the issue,” Vesterbacka said, “but rather the fragmentation of the ecosystem. So many different shops, so many different models. The carriers messing with the experience again. Open but not really open, a very Google-centric ecosystem. And paid content just doesn’t work on Android.””
  • Celebrities plugging products on Twitter could face legal action [Perth Now] – “As if they aren’t raking in enough money or freebie gifts, greedy British celebs are rapidly utilising the perk power of a new cash cow – their Twitter accounts. However, there could be consequences. Dozens of celebrities, including actress Liz Hurley and singer Lily Allen, face possible court action over claims that they are endorsing products through their Twitter accounts without declaring that they have been paid by the companies concerned, reports the Daily Mail. Celebs who fail to mention that they have a financial interest in ‘plugging’ goods online could be contacted by the UK’s consumer watchdog in the coming weeks. The crackdown has been ordered by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading, which has the power to take offenders to court.”

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 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 2nd 2010 through November 5th 2010:

  • Digital Primetime Arrives Just in Time to Crush the Net [The Steve Rubel Stream] – Will the massive increasing in demand for, and quality of, streaming online video create a ‘digital primetime’ which the current internet infrastructure is unable to cope with? Interesting question!
  • Woman to pay $1.5m for downloading music [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “A US jury has ordered a Minnesota woman to pay $US1.5 million for illegally downloading 24 songs in a high-profile digital piracy case. Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a single mother of four, was found liable by a jury on Wednesday (local time) of copyright infringement for using Kazaa, a peer-to-peer file-sharing network, to download the songs from the internet. She has been ordered to pay $US62,500 for each of the 24 songs – a total of $US1.5 million. The verdict is the third in the long-running case and it has been welcomed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[…] In December 2008, the RIAA said it would stop suing people who download music illegally and focus instead on getting internet service providers to take action.”
  • The Cooks Source Scandal: How a Magazine Profits on Theft [Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits] – The very sad and nasty story of Cooks Source Magazine, which appears to have been ripping large amounts of stories, photos and recipes off the internet, claiming the internet is entirely public domain, and ignoring all copyright on these works. Understandably, a number of people are upset, and the magazine’s editor has a lot of explaining to do.
  • iBookstore Australia Launch: iBookstore Opens In Australia [SMH] – “Australians can now use ther iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch as a serious e-book reader after Apple opened the doors to its iBookstore today. It’s taken the company five months since the iPad’s launch to get the store up and running but it has succeeded in signing up a wide range of book publishers including Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins, Hardie Grant, Murdoch Publishers and Wiley. Previously, Australians viewing the iBookstore could only access old out-of-copyright books but now there is a range of new release titles on offer. The exact number is unclear but an Apple spokeswoman said they numbered in the “thousands”.”
  • Children and ultra-violent video games: court to decide [SHM] – Wow: the ‘do violent videogames hurt kids’ debate rolls into the US Supreme Court: “The US Supreme Court has expressed sympathy for a California law that aims to keep children from buying ultra-violent video games in which players maim, kill or sexually assault images of people. But several justices said the law faces a high constitutional hurdle before going into effect. The high court has been reluctant to carve out exceptions to the First Amendment, striking down a ban on so-called “crush videos” that showed actual deaths of animals earlier this year. California officials argue that they should be allowed to limit minors’ ability to pick up violent video games on their own at retailers because of the purported damage they cause.”
  • Google gaining on booming smartphone market [The Age] – “Google’s Android software platform rose to the number two spot globally on the booming smartphone market in the third quarter, research firm Canalys said this week. Nokia’s Symbian continued to lead the market with a 37 per cent share, while Android had 17 per cent of the market. It has surpassed Research In Motion, Apple and Microsoft this year. Growing popularity of Android phones – made by companies including Motorola, HTC and Samsung Electronics – puts Google in a good position as handsets look set to surpass computers for browsing the web. Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said in September he expects mobile searches to generate most of the firm’s revenue eventually, but it could take a long time, despite growing at a rapid clip.”
  • Facebook posting boasting led to sack [WA Today] – Be ye not so stupid: “A West Australian schoolgirl who was sacked over Facebook for comments she made on the popular social network has had her dismissal upheld by the national workplace watchdog. The 15-year-old was fired after it was claimed she had written to a possible competitor of her employer, despite being told not to. In a peculiar twist, her employer then fired her via Facebook. The sacking has since been upheld by Fair Work Australia after the girl, who cannot be named, took too long to file a complaint. The case marks something of an increasing trend of workplace folly that has come from misuse of the social networking site. There have been at least five cases before Fair Work Australia where employees have been sacked after something they wrote or did was recorded on Facebook. There are likely to be many more dismissals that went unchallenged and never reached the tribunal.”

Links for October 13th 2010 through October 18th 2010:

  • Facebook in Online Privacy Breach; Applications Transmitting Identifying Information [WSJ.com] – *sigh* “Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found. The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure. […] The Journal found that all of the 10 most popular apps on Facebook were transmitting users’ IDs to outside companies. […] include Zynga Game Network Inc.’s FarmVille, with 59 million users, and Texas HoldEm Poker and FrontierVille. Three of the top 10 apps, including FarmVille, also have been transmitting personal information about a user’s friends to outside companies”
  • Apple stores teeming with germs [WA Today] – Finally, viruses come to Apple! 😛 “A leading Australian expert in infectious diseases says people who use display iPads and iPhones at Apple stores are risking serious infections and the company should do more to maintain hygiene. The call by Professor Peter Collignon, the director of infectious diseases and microbiology at the Australian National University, follows research that found a higher risk of transmitting pathogens from glass surfaces like iPads to human skin. “You wouldn’t have hundreds of people using the same glass or cup, but theoretically if hundreds of people share the same keyboard or touch pad, then effectively that’s what you’re doing,” Collignon said in a phone interview.”
  • Facebook and Microsoft Team Up on Social Search [NYTimes.com] – Searching your social graph? “Bing just got a little more help from its friend, Facebook. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that Facebook users would be able to see recommendations and relevant links from their friends in search results on Bing. “It isn’t just about the common connections between data and the offline world, it’s about the connections between people,” said Yusuf Mehdi, a senior vice president of online business at Microsoft, during an event held at Microsoft’s campus in Mountain View, Calif. Mr. Mehdi gave the example of a Bing user trying to decide whether or not to see the science fiction film “Inception.” When a user searches for the film on Bing, information about how many of their friends “liked” the movie on Facebook and relevant links they have shared will appear alongside reviews, ticketing information and movie show times, he said. […] Facebook and Microsoft are increasingly deepening ties, perhaps in an effort to better fend off a common adversary, Google”
  • Unlogo – Nifty! “Unlogo is a web service that eliminates logos and other corporate signage from videos. On a practical level, it takes back your personal media from the corporations and advertisers. On a technical level, it is a really cool combination of some brand new OpenCV and FFMPEG functionality. On a poetic level, it is a tool for focusing on what is important in the record of your life rather than the ubiquitous messages that advertisers want you to focus on. In short, Unlogo gives people the opportunity to opt out of having corporate messages permanently imprinted into the photographic record of their lives.” [Video: http://vimeo.com/14566198]
  • Facebook keeps ‘deleted’ user photos for years [WA Today] – “Even if you delete incriminating photos on your Facebook profile, the company is keeping them accessible to anyone online for up to 30 months. The social networking site admitted it had been keeping deleted photos for a “limited” amount of time. But users who have kept the direct link to photos that were originally uploaded to the social networking site have been able to still gain access to them months, even years after deletion. In one report, a Facebook user said they had deleted an image from the site 2.5 years ago (30 months), and that it was still available to see on the site. Another said a photo from April 2009 was still accessible after it was deleted.”
  • Baby Born From 20-Year-Old Frozen Embryo [io9] – “Cryopreservation was once the domain of sci-fi novels and B-rate movies. (Think Encino Man.) But it’s increasingly real, as the recent birth of a healthy boy from a frozen embryo created 20 years earlier shows. The birth, which is reported in a study in the online edition of the journal Fertility and Sterility, sets a record. Until now, no embryo frozen for this long has resulted in a live birth. The 42-year-old mother of the boy, who is not named in the study, began trying to get pregnant using IVF ten years ago. At the time, she and her husband received embryos from a heterosexual couple who had themselves undergone IVF. That couple had anonymously donated their leftover embryos after the woman successfully gave birth. Thing was, they did so in 1990 …”
  • Half of second-hand mobile phones contain personal data [SMH] – “Consumers are unwittingly passing much of their most private personal data to strangers when they discard mobile phones, with intimate photos and credit card numbers and pins frequently left on handsets, according to new research. An analysis of 50 handsets bought from second-hand resellers on eBay found that more than half contained personal messages or photos, according to exclusive research from the mobile and forensics experts Disklabs. More than 60 per cent still contained phone numbers left on a call log. A number were sold with pornographic material still on the phone. […] Personal security information, including home address, credit card numbers and pin numbers, was on 26 of the handsets.”

Links for September 16th 2010 through September 21st 2010:

  • Mobile phones are now our net tool of choice [News.com.au] – “The mobile phone, which not long ago was mainly for talking and texting, is now replacing the PC as the preferred way to surf the internet. A report shows half of users in their 30s accessed the web using their mobile device while at work or at home even though they had access to a computer. The behaviour comes as a result of the thriving smartphone market which was energised by the release of the iPhone more than two years ago. Christena Singh, author of the Sensis e-Business Report, said mobile internet use has become mainstream with use common across a wide age range. […] The most popular information accessed on mobile devices are maps and directions (67 per cent), the weather (64 per cent), news sites (59 per cent), social networking sites (56 per cent) and sports results (46 per cent).” [PDF of Sensis e-Business Report]
  • Downloads grow by 50% [The Age] – “Australia’s appetite for the internet continues to grow and the number of wireless internet connections has soared in the last year, a study has found. A report released yesterday by the Bureau of Statistics shows the amount of data downloaded in the June 2010 quarter increased by more than 50 per cent compared to the same period a year earlier. In the same period, the number of wireless broadband connections increased by 70 per cent to nearly 3.5 million, while the number of fixed-line broadband connections rose slightly to 4.2 million.”
  • Old Spice manufacturer ignores a smellers’ market [The Australian] – A slightly odd article which celebrates the US-created and focused 2010 viral Old Spice videos and campaign and the knock-on effect on Old Spice branded products (which have increased sales dramatically), but then complains not enough Old Spice products are actually sold in Australia. Certainly the global reach of YouTube as a viral advertising is worth noting, and I guess the Australia’s national newspaper is complaining that there aren’t enough Old Spice products in Australia on the back of the campaign’s success, that’s an even stronger testimony. (Or a waste of ink: you decide.)
  • A Baby Photo Becomes an Internet Meme [NYTimes.com] – “Sometime back in 2000, Allen S. Rout, a systems programmer from Gainesville, Fla., posted a few photos of his 5-month-old son, Stephen, on his personal Web site. They were the kind of photos that every parent takes, but one in particular stood out: Stephen wearing a pair of red overalls, smiling in a crib. “We’re really blessed,” Mr. Rout wrote as the caption. “Stephen is an amazingly happy baby.” The photo had faded from memory until last July, when Mr. Rout, curious about his online reputation, did a Google search of himself. Deep within the results pages, he found the picture of Stephen. Only, it wasn’t exactly the same picture. He was surrounded by cartoonish word bubbles filled with Japanese writing: “Don’t call me baby!” they read. “Call me Mr. Baby!” And there were other images in which the photo was transformed further…” [More on this here at Know Your Meme]
  • The Future of Television [YouTube] – Nice little video summary of television’s emergence, early history and where it might be going tomorrow. (Useful for Web Media 207.)
  • Internet Founder Tim Berners-Lee Details 4 Concerns About Future of Mobile Web (Nokia World 2010) ]RWW] – In a keynote at Nokia World 2010 in London, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, celebrated the emerging mobile web, but also noted four major challenges ahead: (1) Privacy – matching what smartphones etc can do/share with current needs and ideas about privacy will prove difficult; (2) Accountability – ensuring companies that collect data from mobile web users are transparent; (3) Neutrality – even the mobile web must be neutral, with no variation in charges for different types/tiers of data; and (4) the biggest challenge is still assisting the 80% of the global population who aren’t even online yet, let alone mobile web users.
  • Engineer’s Privacy Breach Raises Questions For Google [International Business Times] – The challenges of trusting the cloud, whoever happens to be running that part of it (even Google): “A significant privacy breach from a Google engineer has web privacy experts questioning the Mountain View, Calif. company’s control system and transparency methods. David Barksdale, a 27-year-old engineer who worked in Google’s Seattle office, leveraged his role as a member of an elite technical group to access private data about minors. Google fired Barksdale after getting complaints from the minor’s parents. […] For web privacy experts, the Barksdale incident is a huge red flag. Furthermore, Google reportedly told TechCrunch it was not the first time one of its engineers was fired for a privacy breach. Even though these are largely isolated incidents for a 10-year-old company with approximately 20,000 employees, it does signify some within the company has access to people’s critical, private data. What they do with it, is up to them.”

Links for September 10th 2010 through September 15th 2010:

  • Myths of the NBN myths [ABC The Drum Unleashed] – Stilgherrian rebukes the common myths associated with the National Broadband Network, showing their false logic and short-sightedness. A good read.
  • The Rise of Apps Culture [Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project] – New Pew study shows Apps are emerging, but far from ubiquitous just yet: “Some 35% of U.S. adults have software applications or “apps” on their phones, yet only 24% of adults use those apps. Many adults who have apps on their phones, particularly older adults, do not use them, and 11% of cell owners are not sure if their phone is equipped with apps. Among cell phone owners, 29% have downloaded apps to their phone and 13% have paid to download apps. “An apps culture is clearly emerging among some cell phone users, particularly men and young adults,” said Kristen Purcell, Associate Director for Research at the Pew Internet Project. “Still, it is clear that this is the early stage of adoption when many cell owners do not know what their phone can do. The apps market seems somewhat ahead of a majority of adult cell phone users.””
  • The Agnostic Cartographer – John Gravois [Washington Monthly] – Interesting article looking at the politics behind all maps, but especially Google Maps – trying to create one definitive map for the world, when so many maps are bound to particular nations, politics and cultures, means a lot of diplomacy or a lot of disputes (both are currently happening).
  • musing on child naming and the Internet [danah boyd | apophenia] – (Unborn) kids and digital footprints: “I am of the age where many of my friends are having kids and so I’ve been exposed to more conversations about what to name one’s child than I ever could’ve imagined. I’m sure people have always had long contested discussions with their partners and friends about naming, but I can’t help but laugh at the role that the Internet is playing in these conversations today. I clearly live in a tech-centric world so it shouldn’t be surprising that SEO and domain name availability are part of the conversation. But I’m intrigued by the implicit assumption in all of this… namely, that it’s beneficial for all individuals to be easily findable online and, thus, securing a fetus’ unique digital identity is a tremendous gift.”
  • ‘That is so gay!’ [ABC The Drum Unleashed] – Matthew Sini on Stephanie Rice’s recent Twitter controversy: “A certain tweeting swimmer used the word faggot recently in a haphazard, inelegant and wholly unconscious way the other day. As many Rice-lovers have vocally pointed out, the intention behind the word choice was clearly not to insult. But that is the point. When you can use this sort of language in such a casual way, you have displayed an ignorance of very material prejudice and a history of oppression and suffering. Both Stephanie Rice, and me and my friends, make light of this history of suffering, but the difference is Rice does not acknowledge it when making light. She can only be accused of ignorance. In the same way that many ‘kids today’ use the phrase ‘that’s so gay’ or some cognate of it to describe something that is undesirable.”
  • FarmVille – Facebook application metrics from AppData Facebook Application Metrics [AppData] – Statistics for Farmville use in terms of the Facebook plugin. 83,755,953 all-time high for monthly users to date.
  • App Store Review Guidelines [Apple – App Store Resource Center] – Apple releases their guidelines for reviewing Apps for the Apple App store. Finally, developers can figure out exactly what they need to do to ensure their Apps are accepted, and critics can evaluate how Apple wield their power in policing the iWalled Garden.