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Links for July 10th through July 19th:
- Jon Stewart Blasts Viacom For Stupid Blackout; Viacom Sheepishly Turns Web Streams Back On [Techdirt] – Geography isn’t the only rationale behind imposing digital distance: “Last week, we wrote about Viacom’s really short-sighted decision to use its fans as hostages in a silly dispute with DirecTV over fees. To prevent any DirecTV customer from seeing any of its key shows, Viacom stopped streaming them online… for all customers, meaning that even those who had nothing to do with any of this couldn’t legally watch the shows they liked. As we noted, this would likely only serve to drive more people to find unauthorized versions…. Of course, one of Viacom’s most popular shows — and one of the key ones turned off from streaming — is The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which had been on break last week anyway. However, it returned last night with a vengeance, and target number one: his corporate masters at Viacom for acting as if they were China in blocking the internet, and likely driving more fans to unauthorized streams.”
- Face blurring: when footage requires anonymity [YouTube Blog] – YouTube launches a face-blurring tool within YouTube: “Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your 8-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube.”
- Shell social media oil spill a ‘coordinated online assassination’ [The Age] – Shell’s brand has been hijacked in what marketing experts say is a “social media oil spill” and a “coordinated online assassination of the Shell brand”. It’s a fake PR disaster that has snowballed into a very real one for Shell as web users are under the impression that it is an official company campaign. It started when an Arctic Ready website appeared online about two months ago that looked almost identical to the Arctic section on Shell’s own site. The site appeared to be an educational site about Shell’s oil drilling in the Arctic – complete with “Angry Bergs” kids game – but invited people to create their own ads by adding their own marketing copy over supplied photographs of the Arctic. User-generated ads could then be shared on social media. … For all intents and purposes, it looks like a real Shell marketing idea that has spun out of control …
But in reality … the Arctic Ready website, and the viral video, were created by activists Greenpeace and The Yes Men.”
- Downloads: ‘It’s cheaper to pay a wage, fly to the US and back twice’ [SMH]– “Australians are paying 50 per cent more than American shoppers for downloaded music and games, as well as computer software and hardware, consumer watchdog Choice says. In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into IT Pricing, Choice says Australians are on the wrong end of of international price discrimination by copyright holders. New research carried out by the group found price differences across a range of IT products including iTunes downloads, PC games, personal and business software, Wii console games and computer hardware. “In Australia you pay, on average, 52 per cent more than an American consumer will for the same 50 top iTunes songs,” says Choice head of campaigns, Matt Levey.””A selection of 44 popular home and business software products were, on average, 34 per cent more expensive in Australia than the US.”
- Council’s new social media policy – rethinking our networks [Marketing Summit 2012] – While these things are never perfect, the new Australia Council for the Arts Social Media Policy is well-written, mindful of the specificities of social media platforms and engagement (not risk!) centred. This policy will probably prove a useful template for corporations and organisations trying to figure out their own policies for social media use. Kudos to former Creative Commons stalwart Elliot Bledsoe for spearheading the new policy development.
- Facebook scans chats and posts for criminal activity [Internet & Media – CNET News] – Facebook is intensively data-mining Facebook chat; the justification: “If [Facebook] detects suspicious behavior, it flags the content and determines if further steps, such as informing the police, are required. The new tidbit about the company’s monitoring system comes from a Reuters interview with Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan. Here’s the lead-in to the Reuters story: “A man in his early 30s was chatting about sex with a 13-year-old South Florida girl and planned to meet her after middle-school classes the next day. Facebook’s extensive but little-discussed technology for scanning postings and chats for criminal activity automatically flagged the conversation for employees, who read it and quickly called police. Officers took control of the teenager’s computer and arrested the man the next day.” Facebook’s software focuses on conversations between members who have a loose relationship on the social network.”
- Facebook set to unfriend anonymous snooping[The Independent]– I genuinely doubt this will be rolled out on Timelines; it’d reduce time spent on Facebook. Stalking – more advertising views, after all.”The end is nigh for anonymous stalking on the social media website Facebook. The website has announced that it is going to start letting users know who has viewed items on the social network, a change which is expected to cause the amount of online snooping to plummet. For now, the change to the Facebook website, which has more than 900m active users, applies to group pages, meaning users can see who has visited any group of which they are a member. But already there are suggestions that Facebook may unfurl the technology across the site, meaning the naughty-naughty-stalky-stalky generation may soon see their fingerprint-free snooping habits curtailed, or face the embarrassment of their ex’s new boyfriend/girlfriend realising they were too curious to resist an online-curtain twitch.”
- CV Dazzle: Camouflage From Computer Vision by Adam Harvey – “CV Dazzle™ is camouflage from computer vision (CV). It is a form of expressive interference that combines makeup and hair styling (or other modifications) with face-detection thwarting designs. The name is derived from a type of camouflage used during WWI, called Dazzle, which was used to break apart the gestalt-image of warships, making it hard to discern their directionality, size, and orientation. Likewise, the goal of CV Dazzle is to break apart the gestalt of a face, or object, and make it undetectable to computer vision algorithms, in particular face detection. Because face detection is the first step in automated facial recognition, CV Dazzle can be used in any environment where automated face recognition systems are in use, such as Google’s Picasa, Flickr, or Facebook (see CV Dazzle vs PhotoTagger by Face.com). [Via Jill]
Links for March 16th through March 22nd:
- The Hunger Games Game [CollegeHumor Video] – A parody video from College Humor, turning The Hunger Games into a tween-girl fantasy boardgame focusing on the love-triangle, to great comic effect. On some level, though, this is also a pretty decent critique of the way a film which and certain elements of the fandom around it miss the core critique of authority and a media culture, reducing it to a vapid romance tale.
- Dragon Tattoo Has Unique DVD Design – Sony’s DVD release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has confused some people because it’s designed to look like a ripped copy and, sporting letters which look like they’re written in felt-tip pen on a DVD-R. Confusing messages you’re sending there, Sony!
- Twitter turns six [Twitter Blog] – On the sixth anniversary of Twitter’s launch, the service has reached 140 million users, with 340 million tweets made daily. That said, since most active users seem to tweet a lot more than 3 times a day, a significant proportion of users don’t actually seem to tweet much.
- Game sales surpassed video in UK, says report [BBC News] – “Sales of computer games in the UK have surpassed those of videos for the first time, new figures suggest. The Electronic Retailers Association (ERA) said sales of £1.93bn in 2011 made the gaming industry the country’s biggest entertainment sector. By contrast, sales of DVDs and other video formats totalled £1.80bn, while music pulled in £1.07bn.”
- Will The Real Mitt Romney Please Stand Up (feat. Eminem) – YouTube – Clever political mashup video in search of the ‘real’ Mitt Romney featuring Romney and Obama in the style of Eninem’s Slim Shady.
- Rob Reid: The $8 billion iPod | Video on TED.com – Fantastic TED parody explanation of the logic behind copyright lawsuits and litigation: copyright maths. From TED: “Comic author Rob Reid unveils Copyright Math (TM), a remarkable new field of study based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists. Rob Reid is a humor author and the founder of the company that created the music subscription service Rhapsody”
Links for March 2nd 2011 through March 8th 2011:
- Angry Birds is coming to Facebook, which means it has now pretty much conquered the entire world [News.com.au] – I’m genuinely curious how a hugely popular single-player game will deploy the social dynamics of Facebook in when Angry Birds is re-engineered as a social game: “ANGRY Birds will be flinging itself onto Facebook next month, the makers of the hugely popular game said today. Finland-based Rovio Mobile told tech magazine Wired UK that the Facebook version of Angry Birds will include new aspects of gameplay. “There will be completely new aspects to it that just haven’t been experienced on any other platform,” said Rovio chief executive Mikael Hed. “The pigs will have a more prominent role.””
- Angry Birds – Letters from the Front Lines [McSweeney’s Internet Tendency] – “Dearest Martha, It has been some time since I’ve had the opportunity to write you, perhaps seven or eight levels. The green pigs have fortified their defenses and there seems to be no end to this madness. They are an industrious lot who have remarkable construction skills in spite of their lack of arms or legs. They’re a formidable enemy but I still envision the day we can bring our eggs home safely. Keep the nest warm for me, Yellow Bird” There’s a lot more where that came from! 🙂
- Twitter Spoils the Oscars Party for Channel Nine [Mapping Online Publics] – “In addition to their massive global TV audience, the 2011 Academy Awards also featured the #Oscars hashtag for the first time, of course, encouraging even more discussion of the Oscar ceremony on Twitter. And discuss they did – globally, over 500,000 tweets were posted during the marathon five-hour live event of the red carpet arrivals and awards ceremony, peaking at nearly 2500 tweets per minute during the tongue-in-cheek ‘best movie’ song montage. […] what’s especially interesting from our perspective in Australia is the local takeup of Twitter to discuss the Oscars. With ‘spoilers’ about winners and losers being posted on Twitter and other social media sites, it’s now almost impossible not to be aware of the Oscar results well before they reach our screens in the evening – which means that local viewers may still watch the delayed telecast to catch the full pomp and circumstance of the Academy Awards, but the party’s already over by then.”
- German minister quits amid plagiarism scandal [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “Germany’s popular defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has announced his resignation a month after being stripped of his doctoral title over accusations of plagiarism. […] The suave aristocrat, who can trace his family back to the 12th century and whose wife is a direct descendent of the 19th century “Iron Chancellor” Otto von Bismarck, had been dubbed “Baron Cut-And-Paste” and “Zu Googleberg” by the media. […] the plagiarism row, which broke after a law professor close to the opposition went through his doctoral thesis, was what finally broke him. Internet sleuths set up a wiki, or collaborative website, to comb through the 475 pages, concluding that more than two-thirds of the dissertation contained evidence of unattributed copying.”
- Bloody battle over Mortal Kombat ban as critics decry ‘broken’ classification system [The Age] – Australian Video Game Classification: Still Broken, Still Confusing Everyone. “Warner Bros. is appealing a ban on one of the most anticipated game releases of the year, Mortal Kombat, as the federal government’s censors defend their decision to ban Mortal Kombat while allowing a sexy spanking game to be classified PG. Earlier this week it was revealed that the Classification Board had given Mortal Kombat a “refused classification” rating due to its violent gameplay, effectively banning it from sale in this country unless the publisher, Warner Bros., submits a more toned-down version. At the same time, a new risqué title for the Wii, We Dare, is due for release tomorrow and has been given a PG rating despite the game promoting spanking, stripping and sexual partner swapping. The Australian Christian Lobby said the We Dare decision showed the classification system was “broken”. Even the game’s publisher, Ubisoft, says the game is intended for an “adult” audience.”
- Charlie Sheen Joins Twitter [The Age] – Could the whole Sheen meltdown be part of a campaign to sell a brand of milk? (I’m joking … I think?)
“Charlie Sheen has once again become an advocate for chocolate milk consumption in his much-anticipated debut on Twitter this morning. The troubled actor, who has been racking up a phenomenal 100,000 followers an hour after joining the micro-blogging site overnight, posted a Twitpic of himself in a kitchen holding a bottle of flavoured milk. Last month the Hollywood bad boy received a round of applause from a university baseball team in California when he offered some anti-drug advice during a congratulatory speech. “Stay off the crack. Drink a chocolate milk,” Sheen said at the time. In an apparent reference to that, the dairy fan posted on Twitter a photograph of himself, the milk and porn star Bree Olson, one of two “goddesses” who lives with him in his Los Angeles home. Olson is pictured holding organic “Naked” juice.”
Unless you’ve been buried under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the amazing successful Old Spice viral video marketing campaign (I’ve mentioned it here, and here). Since the original videos became popular, there have been a lot of parodies, but the recent “Smell Like a Monster” parody video from Sesame Street is just brilliant, so here you go:
PS If you really don’t get why that’s funny, re-watch it after you’ve check out the original ad:
(Which has now clocked over 20 million views on YouTube!) [Via Peter Black]
Links for July 15th 2010 through July 18th 2010:
- As Older Users Join Facebook, Network Grapples With Death [NYTimes.com] – How Facebook does (and doesn’t) deal with death: “For a site the size of Facebook, automation is “key to social media success,” said Josh Bernoff, […] “The way to make this work in cases where machines can’t make decisions is to tap into the members,” he said, pointing to Facebook’s buttons that allow users to flag material they find inappropriate. “One way to automate the ‘Is he dead’ problem is to have a place where people can report it.” That’s just what Facebook does. To memorialize a profile, a family member or friend must fill out a form on the site and provide proof of the death, like a link to an obituary or news article, which a staff member at Facebook will then review. But this option is not well publicized, so many profiles of dead members never are converted to tribute pages. Those people continue to appear on other members’ pages as friend suggestions, or in features like the “reconnect” box …”
- Facebook Breaks All Bit.ly Links, Marks Them as Abusive [Mashable] – For a period of time, all bit.ly links were blocked on Facebook; clicking on them returned a ‘reported as abusive’ page from Facebook. I’m sure this will be resolved relatively quickly, but it does underscore the danger of URL shorteners as platforms (not just Facebook) battle phishing and spam. Blocking a whole domain is overkill, of course, but it’s going to happen and it’s worth asking about the extra burden that one extra (shortened) step brings to the internet at large. (It’s fixed now.)
- New Spice | Study like a scholar, scholar [YouTube] – Definitely my favourite parody of the Old Spice guy so far: “Do you want to be a scholar? Then study at the Harold B. Lee Library. Do your research here, study here, and be a scholar!” I’m on a cart …
- Everything you need to know about the internet [Technology | The Observer] – Nine ‘big picture’ notions about what the internet is and isn’t from John Naughton (Professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University). Useful as a primer for Web Communications 101.
- The Trouble at Twitter Inc. [Gawker] – Gawker’s rumour-ridden piece suggesting that Evan Williams may be losing the reigns as CEO of Twitter.
- World Vision I Old Spice [YouTube] – Tim Costello from World Vision makes his own Old Spice guy (parody) reply, pitching World Vision as the charity of the future. It’s actually quite funny.
- O’Farrell lays low after Twitter gaffe [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – “New South Wales Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell is laying low after posting an embarrassing message this morning on the social networking site Twitter. Believing he was sending a private message to journalist Latika Bourke’s Twitter account, Mr O’Farrell opened up on his thoughts about the delay on candidate selection. […] “Deeply off the record – I think the timetable and struggle to get candidates reflects internal poll – pre and post the ranga,” he tweeted, a reference to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.”
Links for July 2nd 2010:
- Google to Add Pay to Cover a Tax for Same-Sex Benefits [NYTimes.com] – On this front, at least, Google have got their ‘Don’t be Evil’ stance right: “On Thursday, Google is going to begin covering a cost that gay and lesbian employees must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax that heterosexual married couples do not pay. The increase will be retroactive to the beginning of the year. “It’s a fairly cutting edge thing to do,” said Todd A. Solomon, a partner in the employee benefits department of McDermott Will & Emery, a law firm in Chicago, and author of “Domestic Partner Benefits: An Employer’s Guide.” Google is not the first company to make up for the extra tax. At least a few large employers already do. But benefits experts say Google’s move could inspire its Silicon Valley competitors to follow suit, because they compete for the same talent.”
- Don’t buy The Australian iPad app [Refined Geek – Blog] – A detailed look at the shortcomings of The Australian’s iPad application (almost all text is presented as images, for example, which is silly to start with …)
- [Media] Cognitive surplus, the soma of television and being on Newsnight with Clay Shirky [Aleks Krotoski] – Aleks Krotoski outlines her disagreements with Clay Shirky’s ‘cognitive surplus’ argument: basically, she suggests Shirky makes too sweeping an argument, which encompasses too many people, and devalues the participatory nature of earlier media forms, especially television, in ways less visible to contemporary social media forms.
- Foursquare Puts Money Before Privacy [Threat Level | Wired.com] – Foursquare demonstrates they really don’t care about users’ privacy, when they take a long time to fix one privacy flaw, fail to fix two more, don’t disclose any of this to users, and spend most of their energies pursuing more funding.
- Apple introduces iHand: the right way to hold your iPhone [Scoopertino] – Yes, it’s a parody: “Responding to complaints that the new iPhone 4 loses signal when held by a human hand, Apple today launched iHand — a synthetic appendage that makes it easy for anyone to “get a grip” on iPhone and remain connected. iHand is so easy to use, it doesn’t require a manual. Simply insert iPhone 4 into iHand’s adjustable fingers, raise it to your ear and start talking. With iHand, you get all the functionality of the human hand, without the signal-sucking biology that encumbers most iPhone owners.”
Links for April 21st 2010:
- Hitler Is Very Upset That Constantin Film Is Taking Down Hitler Parodies [TechCrunch] – It looks like the Hitler Gets Upset About [Whatever] meme might be drawing to an end thanks to copyright issues. Constantin Film, the production company behind Downfall (Der Untergang in German) have asserted their copyright over the Downfall footage and YouTube’s automated system appears to be pulling the clips down all over their service. I’d like to think everyone will be filing counter-claims since this is clearly Fair Use according to US copyright law (how could this not be parody or satire?) but we’ll have to see what happens. (An Open Video Alliance post notes that the”videos were blocked by YouTube’s Content ID system, not taken down via DMCA notices”). Meanwhile, until it disappears, here’s Hitler’s thoughts on the Downfall videos disappearing.
- More Changes to Facebook Privacy, and More to Come [Social Hacking] – “… Facebook is changing the “Become a Fan” buttons to “Like” buttons. If you want to connect with a page for something you’re interested in, you now will simply “like” the page. In a blog post, Facebook spun the connections as an exciting improvement: “Instead of just boring text, these connections are actually Pages, so your profile will become immediately more connected to the places, things and experiences that matter to you.” I can see three main reasons why Facebook would make this change, and none of them involve text being boring. […] First, this helps software more easily process your interests. […] Second, the shift to “liking” reduces friction. The semantics may be subtle, but I’m sure Facebook has done research on this. “Liking” implies a simple, casual gesture […] Third, this increases the useful data Facebook can offer to others.”
Also, since a few people asked, I’ve used Feedburner to allow email subscriptions here, so if you want an email each time this blog is updated, click here and pop your email address in the ‘Subscribe by email …’ widget on the right.
Links for February 2nd 2010 through February 3rd 2010:
- Technology Blamed For Bad Grammar Despite Total Lack Of Causal Evidence [Techdirt] – Sometimes, you just have to blame the journalism: "We were just recently reporting on yet another in a very long line of studies that showed that instant messaging and texting was actually helping kids have better writing skills. So, it was interesting to see an article published up in Canada (thanks to Marcus Carab for sending this in) that claimed a study "proving" that Twitter and texting was causing grammar and spelling problems for students. But, if you read the details of the article, they don’t say that at all. It’s entirely made up by the reporter."
- Charlie Brooker – How To Report The News [YouTube] – An outstanding video which demonstrates how many tv news reports are put together. (Language warning!)
- Tablet [The Chromium Projects] – Early visualisations of the proposed Google tablet (gPad?) driven by the Chrome OS. It’s a long way from built, but the timing of these "visual explorations" is sure to irk Apple. And, to be honest, I’d prefer Chrome OS over Apple’s locked-down App store options!
- Attorney-General Michael Atkinson vows to repeal election internet censorship law amid reader furore [Adelaide Now] – An important backdown on censoring political speech online in South Australia: "Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has made a "humiliating" backdown and announced he will retrospectively repeal his law censoring internet comment on the state election. After a furious reaction on AdelaideNow to The Advertiser’s exclusive report on the new laws, Mr Atkinson at 10pm released this statement: "From the feedback we’ve received through AdelaideNow, the blogging generation believes that the law supported by all MPs and all political parties is unduly restrictive. I have listened. "I will immediately after the election move to repeal the law retrospectively." Mr Atkinson said the law would not be enforced for comments posted on AdelaideNow during the upcoming election campaign, even though it was technically applicable. "It may be humiliating for me, but that’s politics in a democracy and I’ll take my lumps," he continued in the statement."
- iPad Hardware Reveals Potential Slot for Camera – A built-in webcam would counter a lot of the initial iPad design bashing (and would make it a lot more attractive as a travel-device instead of a netbook): "Perhaps we haven’t learned everything about the iPad just yet. Could an iPad with a camera be in the near future? Mission Repair, a company that fixes broken Apple products, apparently got their hands on some iPad parts. Their pictures showed off the internal frame, which curiously enough has a small hole on the top of the frame. When the Mission Repair team took a camera out of a MacBook and placed it inside the iPad’s top hole, it fight right in."
- Aussies play on through the gloom [Sydney Morning Herald Blogs] – "For the first time, Australians spent over $2 billion on video gaming in 2009, a new record for the industry. Publishers and distributors were ecstatic by the growth of 4 per cent given the much publicised financial crisis. The increase was in stark contrast to the declines seen in most other Western markets, which analysts have blamed on the music genre slump and a lack of innovation in the industry, as well as the GFC. Nintendo continued its dominance of the industry: two thirds of all hardware sold during 2009 in Australia was Nintendo-branded."
Links for October 1st 2009 through October 4th 2009:
- Margaret Pomeranz on R18+ [Byteside] – Film critic and arts commentator Margaret Pomeranz discussed why an R18+ rating for video games is all too due for Australia! (Posted on: October 1, 2009)
- You’re banned for life: MasterChef’s George in ‘sell out’ Twitter spat [The Age] – Journalist and food writer Winsor Dobbin got more than he bargained for after a quick tweet deriding MasterChef’s George Calombaris for pimping Coles. Calombaris phoned him personally to complain, call Dobbin a moron, and ban the food critic for all fo Colambaris’ five restaurants. Seems Calombaris needs to stop reading Twitter. (Or maybe he’s just annoyed that the premiere of Celebrity Masterchef got caned on Twitter in favour of the Hey, Hey Reunion?)
- The Social Media Guru [YouTube] – Biting satire about the world of social media gurus, who charge the world to tell you about Twitter … by explaining the point is to learn about it yourself. “It’s social media, baby.” (Oh, BTW: Some very colourful language!)
- The Wikipedia Knowledge Dump – Interesting blog flagging and archiving Wikipedia content that has been marked for possible deletion.
Sometimes the simplest parodies are the most effective. Case in point: Adam Sacks’ brilliant, satirical take on the power of a range of Apple iPhone applications.
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