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Links for August 13th 2011 through August 15th 2011:
- Google looks to ‘supercharge’ Android with Motorola Mobility [guardian.co.uk] – Wow, Google take their ball and head straight onto Apple’s turf (and Microsoft’s by way of Nokia): “Google is to acquire Motorola Mobility, the US mobile company’s smartphone business, in a $12.5bn (£7.6bn) cash deal. The takeover will boost Google’s increasing dominance in the nascent smartphone and tablet computer market. The $40 a share deal is a 63% premium on Motorola Mobility’s closing price on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday. Larry Page, Google chief executive, said: “Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.””
- Schools employ company to monitor students online [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – Inevitable, but deeply troubling: “Independent schools are using private companies to monitor what their students say and do online on sites such as Facebook. An internet monitoring company, SR7, says it is been employed by some private high schools around Australia to keep track of students’ social media activity. Privacy advocates have expressed concerns, but the “social media intelligence” company says its work will help prevent cyber bullying. S7R partner James Griffin says the company identifies and “attempts to stop” cyber bullying that is increasingly occurring on Facebook and another social media platform, Formspring. Mr Griffin says the increasing number of fake profiles is “striking”.”
- “If you don’t like it, don’t use it. It’s that simple.” ORLY? [Social Media Collective] – Great post by Alice Marwick looking at the problems with the idea that you can simply stop using social media and other technologies due to issues or challenges they pose. Refuting (easy) opting out, or technology refusal, is important is showing how much people actually have to give up if they do opt out, and why it’s a decision many people can’t (or won’t) readily make.
- Sexting punishment is unjust says magistrate [SMH] – “A senior Victorian magistrate who presided over a case in which a youth pleaded guilty to teenage sexting offences has condemned as ”so unjust” the mandatory laws that meant the young man was registered as a sex offender. The magistrate, who works in country Victoria, said the lack of judicial discretion in such cases meant severe consequences for young people who posed no threat to society and were often guilty of little more than naivety. The magistrate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had made the unusual decision to speak out because he was troubled by cases recently identified by Fairfax. He presided over the case of the country youth, then aged 18, who was sent four uninvited text message pictures of girls, aged between 15 and 17 years, topless or in their underwear. Police found the pictures on his mobile phone and laptop and charged him with child pornography offences.”
- Don’t shoot the instant messenger: David Cameron’s social media shutdown plan won’t stop UK riots [The Conversation] – Axel Bruns refutes the logic of social media control or blocking in times of crisis (regarding the UK riots): “David Cameron’s thought bubble (let’s be charitable and call it that) in the UK parliament on Thursday, in which he said it might be a good idea to shut down social networking services if there were to be a repeat of the riots that have rocked Britain, is one such moment. It is, to be blunt, just staggeringly dumb. Where do we even begin? Consider, for example, the fact that Cameron, along with just about all the other leaders of the Western world – you know, we who claim to believe in freedom of expression – lauded the role of social media in the “Arab spring” uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere. But now he wants to shut Twitter and Facebook down, just because someone, somewhere might use them to plan criminal activities? You must be joking. By the same reasoning, why not take out the entire Internet and phone network as well?”
- Panicked over social media, Mr. Cameron joins company of autocrats [The Globe and Mail] – “Eight months ago, as Egyptians flooded the streets of Cairo in protest, the government tried to stem the tide by cutting off access to Twitter and Facebook – social networks that had been so associated with democratic uprisings that labels such as “the Twitter Revolution” were being bandied about. On Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron addressed the rioting that swept his country and declared that he was looking into blocking unspecified troublemakers’ access to Twitter and another network, BlackBerry Messenger. With the speed of a looter on the make, social networks have gone from heroes of the Arab Spring to the newly-anointed villains of the British riots. One day, implement of utopia; the next, yob’s best friend. Throwing his digital lot in with Hosni Mubarak is hardly a flattering comparison for Mr. Cameron. But his choice of target reflects a very real public unease with the way social networks seem to inspire people to action.”
- London riot social media blocks ‘totalitarian’ [The Age] – “Social media and legal experts have ridiculed a proposal by British Prime Minister David Cameron to restrict the use of services like Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger to prevent riots. The services were used by rioters to organise looting and vandalism across London and beyond, prompting Cameron to demand the companies take more responsibility for content posted on their networks. Home secretary Theresa May is due to hold meetings with Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion this week. But social media experts and free speech campaigners have rejected the idea, saying it is an impractical knee-jerk response that is akin to moves by Arab rulers to block online communications during this year’s pro-democracy uprisings.”
Links for February 1st 2011 through February 7th 2011:
- The ex factor: when love doesn’t click, revenge does … online [SMH] – Another digital shadow: “In dating land, revenge is now a dish best served online, with jilted lovers using Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to dish the dirt on their exes. And what would once have been a heat-of-the-moment spray can now live on forever, dredged up by a simple Google search. As the online reputation management company SR7 says, “what happens in Vegas stays on Facebook”. In the latest example, an angry ex-girlfriend took her ex-boyfriend’s professional photograph and overlaid it with derogatory text – then uploaded dozens of different versions to the web. They now come up every time someone Googles his name. The feud was first spotted by the SEO Roundtable blog, which also uncovered that the ex-boyfriend’s mother sought help from the Google Webmaster Help forum. The post has now been removed but not before hitting the blogosphere.”
- Big business buys up to outsmart ‘typosquatters’ [The Age] – “BIG Australian companies are buying up ”misspelt” internet domain names to stop others making money from their brand. Corporations such as Qantas, Westpac and Woolworths have registered the incorrectly spelt internet names because many people are terrible typists or cannot spell. Consumers can type in quantas.com.au and still get to the airline’s website. And if they leave the ”s” off the end of Woolworths, they are still diverted to the giant retailer’s website. Australia Post has registered austaliapost.com.au and australipost.com.au to make sure clumsy typists can still get access. Another company, Weather.com.au, has also registered whether.com.au and wether .com.au. Internet authorities are also cracking down on so-called ”typosquatters” who register deliberately misspelt domain names to make money from big business. The ”domainers” run ads on the misspelt websites and get paid up to $20 a click by the advertisers.”
- WikiLeaks has created a new media landscape [Clay Shirky | Comment is free | The Guardian] – Clay Shirky on Wikileaks: “WikiLeaks allows leakers transnational escape from national controls. Now, and from now on, a leaker with domestic secrets has no need of the domestic press, and indeed will avoid leaking directly to them if possible, to escape national pressure on national publishers to keep national secrets. WikiLeaks has not been a series of unfortunate events, and Assange is not a magician – he is simply an early and brilliant executor of what is being revealed as a much more general pattern, now spreading. Al-Jazeera and the Guardian created a transnational network to release the Palestine papers, without using WikiLeaks as an intermediary, and Daniel Domscheit-Berg is in the process of launching OpenLeaks, which will bring WikiLeaks-like capability to any publisher that wants it. It is possible to imagine that secrets from Moscow, Rome or Johannesburg will be routed through Iceland, Costa Rica, or even a transnational network of servers volunteered by private citizens.”
- Single or Spoken For? Facebook Can Alert Your World [NYTimes.com] – “Why do so many Facebook users agree to announce their romantic entanglements? “What is a wedding ring, but a status report?” said Nancy Baym, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas and the author of “Personal Communications in the Digital Age.” But she noted that Facebook had changed the way people report developments in their love lives to the wider community, creating the ability to instantly send out an update, which, she said, “forces you to make things explicit.” “It can force you to have discussions, or arguments, or decision points,” she added. “When you start dating somebody, you go through the transition, ‘Gee, we are hanging out and having fun,’ you don’t usually make an announcement.””
- Finding the Global Village through a Twitter Bot [Just TV] – Media scholar Jason Mittell has responded to the misuse of Marshall McLuhan on Twitter by creating a Twitter bot which automatically assails tweets which mention MchLuhan with a famous line from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. In that scene the real McLuhan confronts a pompous academic who misunderstands McLuhan, responding “You know nothing of my work! You mean my whole fallacy is wrong.” Now the Twitter bot shares that same retort; the Twitter profile points back to a YouTube clip of the scene in question, so anyone getting autotwittered at can share the joke (although not everyone does). Is this comedy, criticism, spam or the new face of the “digital humanities”? 🙂
- ePub Converter – Online electronic publication converter. Creates .mobi and .epub out of lots of different formats, including Word documents and PDFs.
- The New York Times vs. Fox News [POLITICO.com] – Damn right: “New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller has become the most prominent media figure so far to blame Fox News for the polarized discourse that has become such a hot topic in the wake of the Tucson shooting. During an interview with Marvin Kalb in at the National Press Club in Washington Monday night, Keller expanded his complaint with Rupert Murdoch beyond the scope of the Wall Street Journal’s newspaper war with the Times, accusing Murdoch of poisoning the American discourse through Fox News. “I think the effect of Fox News on American public life has been to create a level of cynicism about the news in general,” Keller said. “It has contributed to the sense that they are all just out there with a political agenda, but Fox is just more overt about it. And I think that’s unhealthy.””
- Media Life and Protests in the Arab World [Deuzeblog] – Mark Deuze: “It is safe to say that just about every news organization and technology-blog spends significant time these days engaging with the ongoing protests and turmoil across the Arab world and the role of internet and mobile media in general and Al-Jazeera, Twitter, Facebook, and texting in particular. […] I’m covering this debate in my (work-in-progress) Media Life book, aiming to articulate a position beyond whether ‘media did it’, instead suggesting that lived experience is synonymous with mediated experience, and therefore we cannot experience a revolution or indeed any kind of process of social change outside of media.”
Links for January 28th 2011 through February 1st 2011:
- Apple Moves to Tighten Control of App Store [NYTimes.com] – Apple’s Walled Garden App Store is building even Bigger Walls: “Apple is further tightening its control of the App Store. The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store. Apple rejected Sony’s iPhone application, which would have let people buy and read e-books bought from the Sony Reader Store. Apple told Sony that from now on, all in-app purchases would have to go through Apple, said Steve Haber, president of Sony’s digital reading division. The move could affect companies like Amazon.com and others that sell e-book readers that compete with Apple’s iPad tablet and offer free mobile apps so customers can read their e-book purchases on other devices. An iPad owner, for instance, has not needed to own a Kindle to read Kindle books bought from Amazon. That may now change.”
- Intel warns of $1bn cost of chip fix [Technology | The Guardian] – Ouch! “The chipmaker Intel has halted shipments of its new Sandy Bridge processors and says it will have to spend a total of $1bn (£600m) fixing a fault, delaying hundreds of new PC models for up to three months and potentially stifling growth in the personal computer market. Launched early in January, the Sandy Bridge chip combines standard processing and graphics units on a single die. But Intel said today it had found flaws in a support chip, called Cougar Point, which would have led to failures over time in connections to hard drives and DVDs. The fault will upset production on more than 500 computer models that were to have used the processors. That in turn will hit the PC industry, which has already been suffering from slowing growth in the US and other regions last year. It could also open the door to Intel’s longstanding rival, AMD, which has a similar processor, named Fusion. After the news AMD shares jumped by 5% in early trading in New York, while Intel shares slid by 1.5%”
- Wary of Egypt Unrest, China Censors Web [NYTimes.com] – “In another era, China’s leaders might have been content to let discussion of the protests in Egypt float around among private citizens, then fizzle out. But challenges in recent years to authoritarian governments around the globe and violent uprisings in parts of China itself have made Chinese officials increasingly wary of leaving such talk unchecked, especially on the Internet, the medium some officials see as central to fanning the flames of unrest. […] two of the nation’s biggest online portals — blocked keyword searches of the word “Egypt,” though the mass protests were being discussed on some Internet chat rooms on Monday. The use of “Egypt” has also been blocked on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Censoring the Internet is not the only approach. The Chinese government has also tried to get out ahead of the discussion, framing the Egyptian protests in a few editorials and articles in state-controlled news publications…”
- Wikipedia Ponders Its Gender-Skewed Contributions [NYTimes.com] – “About a year ago, the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia, collaborated on a study of Wikipedia’s contributor base and discovered that it was barely 13 percent women; the average age of a contributor was in the mid-20s, according to the study by a joint center of the United Nations University and Maastricht University. Sue Gardner, the executive director of the foundation, has set a goal to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but she is running up against the traditions of the computer world and an obsessive fact-loving realm that is dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women. Her effort is not diversity for diversity’s sake, she says. “This is about wanting to ensure that the encyclopedia is as good as it could be,” Ms. Gardner said in an interview on Thursday. “The difference between Wikipedia and other editorially created products is that Wikipedians are not professionals, they are only asked to bring what they know.””
- Google unveils Web-free ‘tweeting’ in Egypt move [AFP] – “Google, in response to the Internet blockade in Egypt, said Monday that it had created a way to post messages to microblogging service Twitter by making telephone calls. Google worked with Twitter and freshly acquired SayNow, a startup specializing in social online voice platforms, to make it possible for anyone to “tweet” by leaving a message at any of three telephone numbers. “Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground,” Google product manager Abdel-Karim Mardini and SayNow co-founder Ujjwal Singh said in a blog post. “Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service — the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection,” they said.”
- Man jailed over anti-semitic video [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “A 39-year-old Perth man has been sentenced to three years’ jail for posting an anti-semitic video on the internet. Brendon Lee O’Connell is the first person in Western Australia to be convicted under the state’s racial vilification laws. A jury found him guilty last week of six offences. O’Connell posted a video on YouTube showing him insulting a young Jewish man in 2009. The video also showed O’Connell standing in front of the Perth Bell Tower telling Jews their days were numbered.”
- Facebook launches mobile deals [BBC News] – In a very clear challenge to FourSquare: “Facebook is launching a service that lets British users earn discounts from high street businesses. Users who visit participating shops can log in from their mobile phones to receive rewards. Companies, meanwhile can use Facebook Deals as a virtual loyalty card or coupon system. The social network has already lined up promotions with several businesses including Starbucks, Debenhams and mobile network O2. The service ties into Facebook Places, an add-on for mobile phones that launched in 2010 as a way for users to share their location with friends. Users who login to Places via the dedicated Facebook app for the iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android system can update their whereabouts – or “check in” – whenever they visit a variety of shops, restaurants and other venues. With Deals, users will not just be able to tell other people their location, but can also take advantage of any special offers that the retailer has.”
- Android overtakes Symbian in smartphone sales [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Google’s Android overtook the long-time market leader, Nokia’s Symbian, as the world’s most popular smartphone platform in the fourth quarter, according to the research firm Canalys. In total, 32.9m phones running Android were sold to retailers and mobile networks in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared with Symbian’s total sales of 31m in the quarter, the researcher said. In a press release, Canalys noted that Nokia had however retained its lead as the single biggest smartphone vendor, with a 30.6% share of phones shipped. The rise of Android to the top of the smartphone sales chart indicates the popularity of the free operating system with vendors, which do not have to pay a licence fee to use it on their phones.”
- Angry Birds Go Hollywood [NYTimes.com] – “Angry Birds, the cellphone game that has turned into a cultural phenomenon with 75 million downloads and counting, is lending its wings to a 20th Century Fox movie. To promote the April 15 release of “Rio,” an animated film starring two rare macaws, Fox and Rovio, the small Finnish company behind Angry Birds, said on Friday that Rovio would release Angry Birds Rio. The special edition of the game – the original Angry Birds are kidnapped and taken to Rio – will be made available in March. The announcement was made at an only-in-Hollywood press event on the Fox lot in Los Angeles. As a quartet of Brazilian bongo drummers pounded away on their instruments and reporters guzzled drinks made with Brazilian rum, Jim Gianopulos, co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment, broke the news.”
- Amazon Kindle e-book downloads outsell paperbacks [BBC News] – “Amazon has announced that in the US it sold more e-books for its Kindle device than it sold paperback books in the last three months of 2010. […] Amazon announced that in the US since the start of the year it had sold 115 e-book downloads for every 100 paperback books, even excluding its downloads of free books. But it stressed that sales of paperback books were also growing. “Last July we announced that Kindle books had passed hardcovers and predicted that Kindle would surpass paperbacks in the second quarter of this year,” said Amazon boss Jeff Bezos. “So this milestone has come even sooner than we expected – and it’s on top of continued growth in paperback sales.” It has not said how many of its Kindle devices it has sold, but did say that they had overtaken the final book in the Harry Potter series to become the top-selling item in Amazon’s history.”
- Egypt cuts off internet access [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Egypt appears to have cut off almost all access to the internet from inside and outside the country from late on Thursday night, in a move that has concerned observers of the protests that have been building in strength through the week. “According to our analysis, 88% of the ‘Egyptian internet’ has fallen off the internet,” said Andree Toonk at BGPmon, a monitoring site that checks connectivity of countries and networks. “What’s different in this case as compared to other ‘similar’ cases is that all of the major ISP’s seem to be almost completely offline. Whereas in other cases, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were typically blocked, in this case the government seems to be taking a shotgun approach by ordering ISPs to stop routing all networks.””
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