Links for September 6th 2010 through September 8th 2010:
In ‘Bed Intruder Song,’ Gregory Brothers Have Billboard Hit [NYTimes.com] – “Viral videos tend to have a short lifespan online. […] But in one of the stranger twists in recent pop-music history, a musical remake of a local news clip transcended YouTube fame and reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August. It was a rare case of a product of Web culture jumping the species barrier and becoming a pop hit. The song’s source material could not have been more unlikely: A local TV news report from Huntsville, Ala., about an intruder who climbed into a woman’s bed and tried to assault her. But with some clever editing and the use of software that can turn speech into singing, the Gregory Brothers, a quartet of musicians living in Brooklyn, transformed an animated and angry rant by the victim’s brother into something genuinely catchy. The resulting track, “Bed Intruder Song,” has sold more than 91,000 copies on iTunes, and last week it was at No. 39 on the iTunes singles chart. Its video has been viewed more than 16 million times on YouTube.” The background to this meme:
Avatar activism [Le Monde diplomatique] – Henry Jenkins on the mobilisation of popular cultural in protest movements: “Five Palestinian, Israeli and international activists painted themselves blue to resemble the Na’vi from James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar (1) in February, and marched through the occupied village of Bil’in. The Israeli military used tear gas and sound bombs on the azure-skinned protestors, who wore traditional keffiyahs with their Na’vi tails and pointy ears. The camcorder footage of the incident was juxtaposed with borrowed shots from the film and circulated on YouTube. We hear the movie characters proclaim: “We will show the Sky People that they can not take whatever they want! This, this is our land!” The event is a reminder of how people around the world are mobilising icons and myths from popular culture as resources for political speech, which we can call Avatar activism.”
Reputation bankruptcy :[The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It] – Should we be able to purge our online reputation record and declare reputation bankruptcy? Jonathan Zittrain: “As real identity grows in importance on the Net, the intermediaries demanding it ought to consider making available a form of reputation bankruptcy. Like personal financial bankruptcy, or the way in which a state often seals a juvenile criminal record and gives a child a “fresh start” as an adult, we ought to consider how to implement the idea of a second or third chance into our digital spaces. People ought to be able to express a choice to de-emphasize if not entirely delete older information that has been generated about them by and through various systems: political preferences, activities, youthful likes and dislikes. If every action ends up on one’s “permanent record,” the press conference effect can set in. Reputation bankruptcy has the potential to facilitate desirably experimental social behavior and break up the monotony of static communities online and offline.”
What Are BP, Apple, Amazon, and Others Spending on Google Advertising? [Fast Company] – A peak into adword spending: “Google is typically very secretive about the specifics of its search revenue. I can’t actually recall any other leak quite like this one, in which the budgets of specific companies are laid out–kudos to AdAge for snagging the internal document with such rarely seen information. Much of the list, which covers the month of June 2010, will be of no surprise to anyone that uses Google Search regularly (which is pretty much everyone): AT&T spends ridiculous amounts of money, as do Apollo Group (which owns the University of Phoenix), Amazon, and Expedia. It’s worthwhile to note that some of AT&T’s $8.08 million budget was probably due to the launch of the wireless carrier’s biggest product of the year, the Apple iPhone 4. Apple itself spent slightly less than $1 million, which puts the company in the upper echelon of Google spending but not all that close to the top. 47 companies spent over $1 million, so Apple was, at best, in the top 50.”
On Wikipedia, Cultural Patrimony, and Historiography [booktwo.org] – A fantastic way to illustrate the importance of Wikipedia histories: “… Wikipedia is a useful subset of the entire internet, and as such a subset of all human culture. It’s not only a resource for collating all human knowledge, but a framework for understanding how that knowledge came to be and to be understood; what was allowed to stand and what was not; what we agree on, and what we cannot. As is my wont, I made a book to illustrate this. Physical objects are useful props in debates like this: immediately illustrative, and useful to hang an argument and peoples’ attention on. This particular book—or rather, set of books—is every edit made to a single Wikipedia article, The Iraq War, during the five years between the article’s inception in December 2004 and November 2009, a total of 12,000 changes and almost 7,000 pages.”
Return of the natives by Slavoj Zizek [New Statesman] – Slavoj Zizek gets stuck into Avatar: “So where is Cameron’s film here? Nowhere: in Orissa, there are no noble princesses waiting for white heroes to seduce them and help their people, just the Maoists organising the starving farmers. The film enables us to practise a typical ideological division: sympathising with the idealised aborigines while rejecting their actual struggle. The same people who enjoy the film and admire its aboriginal rebels would in all probability turn away in horror from the Naxalites, dismissing them as murderous terrorists. The true avatar is thus Avatar itself – the film substituting for reality.”
Adventures in the Wild, Wild West: Media140 Perth [media140.org] – Official wrap-up post for Perth Media 140 (Feb 2010), including links to pretty much everyone involved and a snappy little video summarising some of the key themes (if you watch closely you can see what 10 seconds of my talking head looks like after presenting a talk in a room which is warmer that 40 degrees Celsius!).
Study: Ages of social network users [Royal Pingdom] – A really useful breakdown of social networking websites by age, including these stats:
“* Bebo appeals to a much younger audience than the other sites with 44% of its users being aged 17 or less. For MySpace, this number is also large; 33%.
* Classmates.com has the largest share of users being aged 65 or more, 8%, and 78% are 35 or older.
* 64% of Twitter’s users are aged 35 or older.
* 61% of Facebooks’s users are aged 35 or older. […]
* The average social network user is 37 years old.
* LinkedIn, with its business focus, has a predictably high average user age; 44.
* The average Twitter user is 39 years old.
* The average Facebook user is 38 years old.
* The average MySpace user is 31 years old.
* Bebo has by far the youngest users, as witnessed earlier, with an average age of 28.”
Twitter Hits 10 Billion Tweets [Mashable] – “It’s official: Twitter has surpassed 10 billion tweets. […] you can tell by the actual tweet ID numbers that we have crossed the magical threshold. The milestone shows that Twitter’s still growing at a rapid pace: it broke 1 billion tweets in November 2008 and 5 billion tweets just four months ago.”
Terms of (Ab)Use: US and UK Consumers Dance to Different iTunes [Electronic Frontier Foundation] – Further illustration of the insanity of different national licensing agreements: “For example, as with many TOS agreements, the iTunes U.S. Terms purport to allow Apple to terminate any part of the service, including access to any music or other content available through iTunes, at any time without warning. The U.K. Terms step back from that extreme position. In particular, the U.K. Terms do not allow Apple to affect a user’s access to content already purchased. Furthermore, before terminating a user’s access to iTunes, the U.K. Terms require there at least be “strong grounds,” rather than mere “suspicion,” to believe the user has violated the agreement, and also obligates iTunes to provide notice of any planned modification, suspension, or termination to the extent possible. In other words, the U.K. Terms provide customers at least some guidance as to the grounds for termination, rather than leave them to worry their access to iTunes can be terminated at any moment for any reason.”
After Three Months, Only 35 Subscriptions for Newsday’s Web Site [The New York Observer] – So, how’s that paywall going? “In late October, Newsday, the Long Island daily that the Dolans bought for $650 million, put its web site, newsday.com, behind a pay wall. The paper was one of the first non-business newspapers to take the plunge by putting up a pay wall, so in media circles it has been followed with interest. Could its fate be a sign of what others, including The New York Times, might expect? So, three months later, how many people have signed up to pay $5 a week, or $260 a year, to get unfettered access to newsday.com? The answer: 35 people. As in fewer than three dozen. As in a decent-sized elementary-school class. That astoundingly low figure was revealed in a newsroom-wide meeting last week by publisher Terry Jimenez when a reporter asked how many people had signed up for the site. Mr. Jimenez didn’t know the number off the top of his head, so he asked a deputy sitting near him. He replied 35.”
Google Doodle For Australia Day Missing Aboriginal Flag [SMH] – “An Australia Day artwork by student Jessie Du will be viewed by millions on Google’s home page today but one feature of her original design is conspicuously absent – the Aboriginal flag. Jessie’s Australia-themed version of the Google logo beat thousands of other entrants in the search giant’s Doodle 4 Google competition […] Jessie, 11, is a student at Rydalmere East Public School. Her entry fashioned the letters in Google’s logo out of native Australian animals, such as the kangaroo, koala and emu. The central “o” in the original design was the Aboriginal flag but this has been edited out of the final version that adorns Google’s home page today. The discrepancy caused much consternation on Twitter, but a Google spokeswoman explained that the editing of Jessie’s design was due to a copyright dispute. The designer of the flag, Harold Thomas, who owns the copyright to the flag, refused to give Google permission to reproduce the design on its website…”
Stop pining for life on Pandora and come back to planet Earth [Telegraph] – Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson on Avatar: “It is a feature of powerful military empires that they like to romanticise their victims and luxuriate guiltily in the pathos of their suffering. Think of the Roman crowds pleading for the lives of captured barbarians in the amphitheatre.[…] And I can’t believe that many of these gloomy post-Avatar Westerners, when they really think about it, would want to up sticks to Pandora and take part in Na’vi society, with its obstinate illiteracy, undemocratic adherence to a monarchy based on male primogeniture and complete absence of restaurants. The final irony, of course, is that this entrancing vision of prelapsarian innocence is the product of the most ruthless and sophisticated money-machine the world has ever seen. With a budget of $237 million and with takings already at £1 billion, this exquisite capitalist guilt trip represents one of the great triumphs of capitalism.”
Aliases, creeping, and wall cleaning: Understanding privacy in the age of Facebook by Kate Raynes-Goldie [First Monday 15.1, Jan 2010] – Timely look at Facebook, privacy and young adults: “This paper explores how 20–something Facebook users understand and navigate privacy concerns. Based on a year–long ethnographic study in Toronto, Canada, this paper looks at how — contrary to many mainstream accounts — younger users do indeed care about protecting and controlling their personal information. However, their concerns revolve around what I call social privacy, rather than the more conventional institutional privacy. This paper also examines the somewhat subversive practices which users engaged in to enhance their own social privacy, and in some cases, violate that of others. Finally, this paper examines some of the reasons that users may continue using the site, despite privacy concerns.”
Rogue Marketers Can Mine Your Info on Facebook [Wired.com] – Another reason Facebook’s new privacy settings suck: “Got an e-mail list of customers or readers and want to know more about each — such as their full name, friends, gender, age, interests, location, job and education level? Facebook has just the free feature you’re looking for, thanks to its recent privacy changes. The hack, first publicized by blogger Max Klein, repurposes a Facebook feature that lets people find their friends on Facebook by scanning through e-mail addresses in their contact list. But as Klein points out, a marketer could take a list of 1,000 e-mail addresses, either legally or illegally collected — and upload those through a dummy account — which then lets the user see all the profiles created using those addresses. Given Facebook’s ubiquity and most people’s reliance on a single e-mail address, the harvest could be quite rich.”
The MLA, @briancroxall, and the non-rise of the Digital Humanities [academhack] – An interesting follow-up to the social media prominence of Brian Croxall’s MLA paper: “two observations: 1. The fact that Brian’s making public of his paper was an oddity worth noticing means that we are far away from the rise of the digital humanities. 2. The fact that a prominent digital scholar like Brian doesn’t even get one interview at the MLA means more than the economy is bad, that tenure track jobs are not being offered, but rather that Universities are still valuing the wrong stuff. They are looking for “real somebodies” instead of “virtual somebodies.” Something which the digital humanities has the potential of changing (although I remain skeptical).” [Via Chuck]
Pocohontar [Boing Boing] – Yes, James Cameron’s Avatar is very similar to Disney’s Pocahontas and here’s the script treatment to “prove” it.
Apple’s App Store Downloads Top Three Billion – Just as Google unveils their Nexus One phone, Apple reminds everyone that their App store will be a hard one to beat: “Apple® today announced that more than three billion apps have been downloaded from its revolutionary App Store by iPhone® and iPod touch® users worldwide. “Three billion applications downloaded in less than 18 months—this is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “The revolutionary App Store offers iPhone and iPod touch users an experience unlike anything else available on other mobile devices, and we see no signs of the competition catching up anytime soon.”” 3 billions apps … wowzers!
‘Avatar’ tops $1 billion at worldwide box office [Variety] – “Twentieth Century Fox and James Cameron’s “Avatar” rang in the New Year with an estimated worldwide cume of $[US]1 billion through Sunday, becoming the fourth highest grosser of all time. Domestic cume was $352.1 million, including a weekend take of $68.3 million, the best gross ever for a film in its third weekend. Overseas, the pic’s cume through Sunday was $670.2 million.”
We All Live In Public Now. Get Used To It. [TechCrunch] – If we start from the premise that everything we do online is public, and then ask “how do I make this private” for specific bits and pieces, it’s more likely privacy will actually exist: “As the Web becomes more social, privacy becomes harder and harder to come by. People are over-sharing on Facebook and Twitter, broadcasting their whereabouts every ten steps on Foursquare and Gowalla, and uploading photos and videos of their most private moments to the Web for all to see. It’s easy to say that privacy is dead, we all live in public now, and just deal with it. But things are a bit more complicated. It used to be that we lived in private and chose to make parts of our lives public. Now that is being turned on its head. […] Public is the new default.”
Social media terms are Words Of The Year 2009 [Computerworld] – “Words from the world of technology and social media are among those identified as the “Words of the Year 2009” in a list commissioned by Oxford University Press. The New Oxford American Dictionary had already announced the verb ‘unfriend’ (“To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook”) as its word of the year, confirming the social-networking term’s ubiquity. […] Also derived from Twitter is the word “Hastag” – meaning the # [hash] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets that contain similarly tagged items. “Tag cloud” (a visual depiction of the word content of a website, or of user-generated tags attached to online content) was also picked out as one of the words of the year.”
In 2009, Social Media Overtook Web 2.0 – GRAPHS [Mashable] – “Web 2.0. A few years ago, it was the hottest buzzword around. It refers to the second generation of web apps following the Internet bubble that devastated not only Silicon Valley, but our economy in general. Social Media. While its definition is not yet etched in stone, most believe it describes a new type of media and communication that creates a world conversation and dialogue. Instead of being fed news (a one-to-many dissemination approach), everyone is welcomed to be a content creator and to generate a debate around that content. While its focus is the web, it goes beyond it as well. Web 2.0 is a term that has been around since 2004. And as this graph of Google search volume indicates, it reached its peak in 2007 and 2008. But while the term is less frequently used and is in many ways outdated, its been a far more well-known and popular term than social media — until now.”
Location, Location, Location: 5 Big Predictions for 2010 [Mashable] – Will location be the next big thing in social media? Where did you update your Facebook status from … and did you really want to share it? “GPS-aware mobile devices have become commonplace, which means connecting the dots between what you’re doing and where you’re doing it is easier than ever. In 2009, location-sharing applications finally emerged in user-friendly formats, altering the way we think about where we are and helping us understand more of the meaning behind the data in aggregate. Technology early adopters showed a predilection towards mobile location-based games, discovering that check-ins could mean something and that being the mayor of a venue might earn them a free drink. Now that businesses are actively exploring the opportunities that these location-aware services provide, we’ll see location matter more than ever in 2010. 1. Facebook Status Updates Will Become Location-Aware […] 5. Location Will Be Both Media Darling and Cautionary Tale”
[MLA 09] “Blogging, Scholarship, and the Networked Public Sphere” Draft [The Chutry Experiment ] – Chuck Tryon takes a fresh look at scholarly blogging from the 2009 MLA: “… the most notable aspect of blogging may be the temporal orientation that encourages daily or semi-daily publication. Although writing frequently may seem to discourage the deeper reflection privileged in academic essays, writing often, for a large audience, also provides the opportunity not only to benefit from the expertise of a wide range of readers–whether scholars or industry professionals–but also to build a well-developed, cross-referenced archive that can serve as a kind of history of the present. In this sense, it is worthwhile to return to Shambu’s comments about what he values about blogging: blogs allow us to educate ourselves in public, to learn collectively about pertinent issues, as we seek to make sense of our current moment of media transition.”
Race and Social Network Sites: Putting Facebook’s Data in Context [apophenia] – danah boyd takes a hard look at race in relation to social networks: “A few weeks ago, Facebook’s data team released a set of data addressing a simple but complex question: How Diverse is Facebook? Given my own work over the last two years concerning the intersection of race/ethnicity/class and social network sites, I feel the need to respond. And, with pleasure, I’m going to respond by sharing a draft of a new paper. […] access is important. But I’m much more concerned about how racist and classist attitudes are shaping digital media, how technology reinforces inequality, and how our habit of assuming that everyone uses social media just like we do reinforces social divisions that we prefer to ignore.”
The Absent Presence: Today’s Faculty [Brian Croxall] – Brian Croxall’s MLA paper (presented in absentia) which clearly elucidates the casualisation of US academia (like Australia and elsewhere, too): “… having a faculty majority comprised of contingent faculty means a lot more than just conferences being less and less attended. In my case, it means that my students cannot easily meet with me for office hours since contingent faculty don’t really have offices. It means that they do not get effective, personal mentoring because I have too many students. It means that I cannot give the small and frequent assignments that I believe teach them more than a “3-paper class” because I do not have time to grade 90 students’ small and frequent assignments. It means that the courses they can take from me will not be updated as frequently as I think is ideal because I will be spending all of my spare time looking for more secure employment—or working a part-time job.”
HP camera ‘can’t see’ black faces [BBC News] – A very clear way to explain how race is still an issue in software and hardware design – it’s the presumption of a ‘normal user’ which is so often white: “A YouTube video suggesting that face recognition cameras installed in HP laptops cannot detect black faces has had over one million views. The short movie, uploaded earlier this month, features “Black Desi” and his colleague “White Wanda”. When Wanda, a white woman, is in front of the screen, the camera zooms to her face and moves as she moves. But when Desi, a black man, does the same, the camera does not respond by tracking him. The clip is light-hearted in tone but is titled “HP computers are racist”.” The video:
Avatar To Sink Titanic at Box Office [WA Today] – In Australian movie theatres: “Avatar has raced to almost $36 million in its first 13 days. Helped by higher ticket prices for 3-D, giant screen and premium cinema sessions, the science-fiction epic is expected to become one of the country’s top 10 highest-grossing movies by today or tomorrow. The general manager of film for the Greater Union chain, Peter Cody, predicted yesterday that Avatar would top Titanic after an ”outstanding” opening fortnight. ”There’s every likelihood it will go on to gross north of $60 million,” he said. ”Even if the film drops 50 per cent in week three – and I don’t think it will – that’s $50 million.’ […] Despite the financial downturn and the popularity of home cinema, the Australian box office is expected to break the $1 billion mark for the first time this year. Given it was up 15 per cent to the end of November, the annual tally is expected to easily top last year’s record $945.4 million.”
UK Government Report Shows That Digital Economy Bill Will Cost More Than Highest ‘Piracy’ Estimates, Drive 40,000 Offline [Techdirt] – Even just on the economic side this seems rather silly: “As the UK considers Peter Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill, a UK government report that looks into the likely impact of the law is incredibly damning. It finds that the plans to send threat letters to users and eventually kick them offline based on accusations (not convictions) would cost consumers in the neighborhood of £500 million. Note, of course, that the music industry itself claims that £200 million worth of music is downloaded in the UK per year (and, of course, that’s only “losses” if you use the ridiculous and obviously incorrect calculation that each download is a “lost sale”).”
Lively – Google’s answer to Second Life has arrived. However, it’s far more embedded (and embeddable) in existing web 2.0 scaffolding – following a YouTube logic – with a much thinner client. Only for Windows at this stage, though.
Getty Images + Flickr Make a Deal [Photojojo Blog] – Getty Images and Flickr strike a deal which will allow Getty to scour Flickr and, with easy-to-use tools, contact photo owners and offer licensing deals to push their work as stock photos. Apparently launching later this year.