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Links for November 11th 2010 through November 17th 2010:
- The Shadow Scholar [The Chronicle of Higher Education] – A truly fascinating, albeit hugely disheartening, piece describing the inner workings of a paid student essay mill from the inside. The pseudonymous author talks candidly about her/his range and rates, as well as the sort of relationships that can form with repeat customers, who use this sort of service to pass entire degrees. It’s a huge indictment of huge chunks of the global education system, but also contains some implicit points about how to write assignments that are much harder to plagiarise. Some of the comments are well worth reading, too, although many are more about name-calling than taking the issues raised seriously.
- Riding the tube [SMH] – Profile of Natalie Tran, Australia’s most successful YouTuber, with near to a million subscribers, making a healthy living off the advertising.
- Twitter + Ping = Discovering More Music [Twitter Blog] – Now Twitter can be integrated into Apple’s Ping proto-social network, so you can share your musical likes in your Twitter stream. Ping is still at a very early, underdeveloped stage … I’m not sure what this will add for Twitter except a bunch of musical likes. For Apple, it’s a huge win since those links are pointing back to the Apple store (with integration into the new twitter, so you can click directly on the songs to purchase).
- Fox.com joins NBC, ABC and CBS by blocking Google TV [Engadget] – Google have some deals to strike with the networks very soon if Google TV is actually going to have any TV on it: “Looks like Fox has finally made a decision, following the other major networks, Hulu and several cable channels by opting to block streaming video on its website from Google TV devices. Blocking by Flash ID is the order of the day and takes simple browser workarounds out of play, so unless users want to go the PlayOn route, there’s large swaths of legitimate video on the web that’s now inaccessible.”
Amongst the hoppla about Apple’s revamped-once-more iPod updates this week, something slightly different emerged: Steve Jobs announced the release of Apple’s new music-based social network Ping. Given Apple’s reputation for designing hardware and software with the philosophy “It Just Works”, you’d imagine Ping would be worth exploring. At this stage, at least, though, you’d be wrong: as a social network, Ping is dead on arrival. Perhaps that’s because Jobs originally wanted to connect Ping with Facebook so users could populate their friend connections easily. Apparently that hasn’t happened because Apple and Facebook have their own terms and conditions for playing in their walled gardens, and the two aren’t compatible (the New York Times is now calling the two companies ‘frenemies’).
In Dave Winer’s wrap-up of Ping, he highlights the major problems: no one’s using it yet, it’s really hard to actually find other users, it only runs in iTunes (not traditional browsers), and it’s based on your purchase history – not your listening history – with no option to add non-purchased music to your own interests. In short, Ping’s all about your iTunes store purchases; clearly Apple’s motivation is to build more interaction and recommendations between users, but unless you’re a big iTunes store purchasers, I can’t see how this service will ever ‘know’ enough about you to be useful (and, no, I wouldn’t take the trouble to list my interests even if I could now, since the only way for people to find me is to string search for names or emails). Beyond that, spammers are already moving in.
Apple have implemented pretty simple privacy controls, but given your Ping identity has to be the name associated with your iTunes Store account, it’s unclear whether anyone can use nicknames (I can’t find a way) which leads to its own privacy issues. Sure, this is the first iteration of Ping, and it’s likely to be improved, but there’s a long way to go and releasing this minimal a social network really doesn’t do Apple any favours. While Mashable suggested Ping would be the last nail in MySpace’s coffin, the amount Apple got wrong with Ping actually reminds us that MySpace really wasn’t (and for many people, isn’t) that bad! Ping: it just doesn’t work.
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