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Digital Culture Links: January 27th 2010
Links for January 27th 2010:
- 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.”
- Australia Set to Introduce Internet Filter that Could Block Access to Thousands of Anime, Comics, Gaming (ACG) and Slash Fan Sites by Mark McLelland, University of Wollongong [Guest Post: Confessions of an Aca-Fan] – Guest post by Mark McLelland looking at the implications of the Australian government’s forthcoming ISP-level internet filtering legislation on slash, anime, manga sites and thus fans in Australia. Outlook: poor.
- 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.”
Obama’s Change includes embracing the Creative Commons
While Obama’s policies were very much pro-Net Neutrality and open access during the campaign, it has taken a little while to see these policies in action (although, to be fair, he’s not actually President yet). Today, though, an important step: Obama’s transition website, change.gov is now licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning the information can be shared, reused and repurposed by pretty much anyone, as long as they note where the information came from. Here’s a capture of the website’s copyright notice:
Admittedly there was some confusion because all official federal government websites in the US are supposedly in the public domain, but is a president-elect bound by these rules? The answer seems ambiguous, but the CC BY license, apart from requiring attribution, is pretty much as good as the public domain anyway. Creative Commons heavyweights Lawrence Lessig, Joi Ito and Cory Doctorow have all expressed their delight at seeing Obama’s transition online presence sporting a CC license. I’m delighted, too, and can’t help but think that it would be marvellous to see more of Australia’s government websites and documents under Creative Commons licenses, too! And since Kevin Rudd has styled his own online presence on Obama’s, perhaps his information sharing policies could follow suit rather than being misdirected by this ridiculous internet filtering regime.
Annotated Links of Interest: November 14th 2008
Links of interest for November 13th 2008 through November 14th 2008:
- Too many twitters drown out Rudd website [SMH] – “So many people were signing up to follow [Australian] Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s short text message updates on Twitter last night that his new page on the social networking site crashed. A spokeswoman for Mr Rudd said the Prime Minister had 670 Twitter followers late last night, but he lost most of them when the page crashed due to high demand. Having witnessed the power of the web in the US presidential election campaign, the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader are engaged in a high-tech arms race to win the hearts and minds of switched-on Australians. Mr Rudd effectively used internet profiles on MySpace and Facebook and his slick Kevin07 website during last year’s federal election but, since becoming Prime Minister, he hasn’t had much time for the web.” (Yes, I am following our PM – let’s see if this really will be used as a conversation, not a lecture!)
- Google Earth revives ancient Rome [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “Google has added a new twist to its popular 3D map tool, Google Earth, offering millions of users the chance to visit a virtual ancient Rome. Google has reconstructed the sprawling city – inhabited by more than one million people as long ago as AD320. Users can zoom around the map to visit the Forum of Julius Caesar, stand in the centre of the Colosseum or swoop over the Basilica. Researchers behind the project say it adds to five centuries of knowledge. “This is another step in creating a virtual time machine,” said Bernard Frischer of Virginia University, which worked with Google on the Roman reconstruction.” (I wish they’d had this when I studied Ancient History as an undergraduate!)
- High quality YouTube video hack [Kottke] – A quick hack to embed high-quality versions of YouTube clips rather than the standard crappy quality ones.
Links for June 2nd 2008
Interesting links for June 2nd 2008:
- It Really Looks Like Ice on Mars [Universe Today] – The Phoenix Lander on Mars may have uncovered ice. As anyone with a passing interesting in Mars science fiction will know, actually finding water/ice on Mars is the single either makes or breaks the possibility of terraforming Mars! 🙂
- ABC Earth [ABC Online] – “The ABC Earth content layer (to be viewed using the Google Earth 4.3 application) is a trial that consists of video, images and content developed by the ABC. The layer includes National News and video …” (Fun way of engaging with news!)
- Facebook ban for PM’s staff [Australian IT] – “Staffers working in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s office and on his household staff have been asked to remove their Facebook profiles.” (A move sure to reinforce the image of Australia’s PM as something of a control junkie!)
- Town forces Google to scrap street images [The Age] – “The small, private community of North Oaks in Minnesota enforces its trespassing ordinance, and Google Maps is no exception. The mapping service’s Street View feature allows users to see what a certain address or intersection looks like …”
Australia’s Internet Censorship Regime
The first big concern for 2008 is that the newly-elected Rudd Labor Government in Australia has introduced laws requiring across-the-board filtering of the internet by ISPs. While the plan may have some good intentions behind it, if implemented in the way currently envisaged it will almost certainly make the internet in Australia slower, make internet services more expensive and likely infringe on privacy and civil liberties of Australian net users (seriously, a PIN number of equivalent to log on to the internet – why not have just been honest and kept the Australian ID card?!).
For an overview of the changes, see Bookbuster; and for a good wrap-up of the increasingly negative media response, check out Peter Black’s solid overview here. Facebook users might want to join the Australian ISP filtering plan is stupid! or People against mandatory internet filters in Australia groups.
Update: As you might expect, the most sensible response thus far from an Australia politician to Labor’s internet censorship plan has been from Senator Andrew Bartlett:
As with every aspect of the measure, until the full details are known its impossible to judge. However, comments like Conroy’s make it much harder to be confident that the government is doing anything other than populist pandering, putting up a feel-good measure which will have no practical impact but create the illusion of doing something effective.