Google baulks at Conroy’s call to censor YouTube [SMH] – Google tells Stephen Conroy it won’t be filtering YouTube for him! Australian “Communications Minister Stephen Conroy referred to Google’s censorship on behalf of the Chinese and Thai governments in making his case for the company to impose censorship locally. Google Australia’s head of policy, Iarla Flynn, said the company had a bias in favour of freedom of expression in everything it did and Conroy’s comparisons between how Australia and China deal with access to information were not “helpful or relevant”. Google has recently threatened to pull out of China, partly due to continuing requests for it to censor material. “YouTube has clear policies about what content is not allowed, for example hate speech and pornography, and we enforce these, but we can’t give any assurances that we would voluntarily remove all Refused Classification content from YouTube,” Flynn said.”
WARNING: Google Buzz Has A Huge Privacy Flaw [Business Insider] – The privacy problems with Buzz defaults: “There is a huge privacy flaw in Google’s new Twitter/Facebook competitor, Google Buzz. When you first go into Google Buzz, it automatically sets you up with followers and people to follow. A Google spokesperson tells us these people are chosen based on whom the users emails and chats with most using Gmail. That’s fine. The problem is that — by default — the people you follow and the people that follow you are made public to anyone who looks at your profile. In other words, before you ever touch any settings in Google Buzz, someone could go into your profile and see who are the people you email and chat with most. In my profession – where anonymous sourcing is a crucial tool — the implications are terrifying. But it’s bad for others too. Two obvious scenarios come to mind: imagine if a wife discovering that her husband emails and chats with an old girlfriend a ton. Imagine a boss discovers a subordinate emails with executives at a competitor”
More Fun than Blackboard – A satirical blog which documents things which might be “more fun that Blackboard’s discussion board system”. So far, blog entries include root canal surgery and running with scissors!
Links for February 3rd 2010 through February 7th 2010:
Blogging: a great pastime for the elderly [Rough Type – Nicholas Carr’s Blog] – LOL: “I remember when it was kind of cool to be a blogger. You’d walk around with a swagger in your step, a twinkle in your eye. Now it’s just humiliating. Blogging has become like mahjong or needlepoint or clipping coupons out of Walgreens circulars: something old folks do while waiting to croak. Did you see that new Pew study that came out yesterday? It put a big fat exclamation point on what a lot of us have come to realize recently: blogging is now the uncoolest thing you can do on the Internet. It’s even uncooler than editing Wikipedia articles or having a Second Life avatar. In 2006, 28% of teens were blogging. Now, just three years later, the percentage has tumbled to 14%. Among twentysomethings, the percentage who write blogs has fallen from 24% to 15%. Writing comments on blogs is also down sharply among the young. It’s only geezers – those over 30 – who are doing more blogging…”
Symbian phone operating system goes open source [BBC News] – This is a bit like Netscape going open source (and becoming Firefox) BEFORE they went broke! A good idea, if you ask me: “The group behind the world’s most popular smartphone operating system – Symbian – is giving away “billions of dollars” worth of code for free. The Symbian Foundation’s decision to make its code open source means that any organisation or individual can now use and modify it “for any purpose”. Symbian has shipped in more than 330m mobile phones, the foundation says. It believes the move will attract new developers to work on the system and help speed up the pace of improvements.”
Memes as Mechanisms: How Digital Subculture Informs the Real World [MIT Convergence Culture Consortium] – Alex Leavitt takes a look at memes (especially the Downfall meme), their mixed reception depending on context and familiarity, and gives a great overview of the many instances of the Hitler YouTube parodies, concluding: “Memes tend to be jokes, first, but they represent a valuable example of networked knowledge online. Although most memes do not escape the subcultural barriers of small Internet communities, a few do make an impact on the real world. Of course, many Internet memes are simply humor. But the evolutionary structure of some memes create a strong cultural value that acts as a grammar for information networks.”
Links for January 18th 2010 through January 19th 2010:
Android Karenina [Quirk] – What a great idea of a mashup novel! "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters co-author Ben H. Winters is back with an all-new collaborator, legendary Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, and the result is Android Karenina—an enhanced edition of the classic love story set in a dystopian world of robots, cyborgs, and interstellar space travel."
Call for study of threat from "offline" filesharing [The Guardian] – Anyone remember pre-internet “piracy”? Time to scan USBs and harddrives at customs 😛 "Policymakers urgently need better information on people’s attitudes to copyright law, according to a report out today warning that friends swapping hard drives and memory sticks could pose as great a piracy threat to media companies as online filesharers. The Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property (Sabip): "There’s a whole big question here around what is happening offline digitally, the swapping of discs and data in that world. There’s a lot of it going on," said Sabip board member Dame Lynne Brindley. Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said existing research did not give a clear picture of consumer behaviour. While there was some data on the proportion of people buying counterfeit CDs, DVDs and video games – estimated at between 7% and 16% of the population – Sabip was concerned that more needed to be known about other copyright breaches, such as hard-drive swapping …"
Seven launches online catch-up, PLUS7 [TV Tonight] – "Seven today launched its online catch-up portal, PLUS7. The site offers legal streaming of Seven shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Home and Away, FlashForward, Private Practice, Heroes, Castle, Better Homes and Gardens, Parks and Recreation and more. As with the ABC’s iView, the site does not require a show to finish downloading before being available to start play. The site includes “mid-roll advertising” to show advertisements mid programme, much like commercial television. A spokesperson previously told TV Tonight they expect around 3-4 ads per show. Titles will remain online for between 7 – 28 days depending on rights. So far no ISPs are yet on board for unmetered content. The site can be viewed at au.tv.yahoo.com/plus7." (As expected, Plus7 is geo-locked, so only visible inside Australia. Sorry Brits, you’ll have to wait for Home and Away!)
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”).”
Why Academia Is No Longer A Smart Choice By Melissa Gregg [newmatilda.com] – “So often the perception of university life in Australia is a cosy existence involving luxurious philosophical debates, long holidays and international sabbaticals. The reality is far less glamorous. The past 10 years has seen an escalation of requirements for entry-level jobs so great that starting positions aren’t even advertised. The over-supply of PhD graduates has made competition so fierce for tenured positions that casual contracts have replaced ongoing junior positions. Our best graduates, fresh from the biggest challenge higher education can throw at them, face their most energetic years vying for the privilege of this state of insecurity. As the system currently stands, junior scholars are asked to prove their worth to universities in ways that those hiring them never had to.” (Depressing, but all too true.)
Murdoch madness [BuzzMachine] – Jeff Jarvis speaks with wisdom: “Were Bing to pay News Corp. to drop Google, it would be a double-play in Google’s favor: Microsoft would lose money and gain little. News Corp. would lose traffic, shifting away from the search engine with more than 60% penetration in the U.S. and more than 80% in the U.K. to one that has 10 percent here – and that’s just the search engine; it doesn’t account for the disparate popularity of Google and Bing News. […] News Corp. leaving Google would be a mosquito bite on an elephant’s ass. Unnotice by Google or by the audience. For there will always be – as Murdoch laments – free competitors: the BBC and Australian Broadcasting Corp, which he and his son complain about, not to mention the Guardian, the Telegraph, NPR, CBC, and any sensible news organization worldwide.”
Heads Of Major Movies Studios Claiming They Just Want To Help Poor Indie Films Harmed By Piracy [Techdirt] – “Just last month, we talked about a top exec at Paramount claiming that his “real worry” about movie piracy online was how it was going to harm indie films, since, as a big company, Paramount could take it. Then, just a week or so later, Sony Pictures’ boss, Michael Lynton, also started talking about how fewer movies were being made due to piracy. Unfortunately, he was wrong. In the past five years the number of films being released has more than doubled and the major studios are making more money than ever at the box office. And yet… they keep trying. … the CEO of Fox Films, Jim Gianopulos, is the latest to claim that movie “piracy” is harming independent films the most (while saying it’s harming everyone in the movie business, despite no evidence to support that claim). He made this statement while suggesting that the US needs to follow France in kicking people off the internet for file sharing accusations (not convictions).” (It’s called a straw man argument … or a lie!)
Links for November 3rd 2009 through November 5th 2009:
The ABC of social media use [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – How bizzare: social media use guidelines in a major corporation which actually make sense! “ABC managing director Mark Scott has announced new social media guidelines, which the national broadcaster’s journalists and staff must abide by. […] In an email sent to ABC staff this morning, the new Use of Social Media policy gives four standards which staff and contractors must follow when using both work and personal social media interaction:
1. Do not mix the professional and the personal in ways likely to bring the ABC into disrepute.
2. Do not undermine your effectiveness at work.
3. Do not imply ABC endorsement of your personal views.
4. Do not disclose confidential information obtained through work.”
The temporary web [BuzzMachine] – Jeff Jarvis articulates some important concerns about the way Twitter and other social services are contributing to a more temporary, less archivable (or, at least, less searchable in the long term) web: “…search is turning social and our search results are becoming personalized, thus we don’t all share the same search results and it becomes tougher to manage them through SEO. Put these factors together – the social stream – and relationships matter more than pages (but then, they always have). “
Internet piracy [Background Briefing – 1 November 2009] – Australia’s Radio National programme Backgroud Briefing takes a look at copyright in the digital age, featuring the big arguments and comments from everyone from AFACT to Lessig and Girl Talk. Segment by Oscar McLaren.
Links for September 11th 2009 through September 17th 2009:
50 Cent: Piracy Is A Part Of The Marketing [Techdirt] – “…rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) was apparently on CNBC recently talking about his “business acumen.” I have to admit that having three different people all trying to interview him at once is rather annoying — as they almost never let him complete a thought. However, when they ask him about piracy, and whether or not it makes him angry (around 2 minutes), he responds that: he sees it as a part of the marketing of a musician, because “the people who didn’t purchase the material, they end up at the concert.” He says that people can fall in love with the music either way, and then they’ll go to concerts. He notes that you can’t stop piracy either way, so why try to fight it? He also talks about other business opportunities for musicians.” (Can’t say I’m a fan of his music, but his perspective on piracy, fans and the business futures for music are spot on!)
Why the White House is Hiring a Social Media Archivist [Mashable] – The US White House is seeking to archive all of their social media presence and conversation. While their motivations are legal (they’re required to archive all correspondence of any sort) this is still an important archiving process of important historical value. It would be nice to see all national governments following a similar procedure for their national records (hello Mr Rudd).
Hands-On: iPod Nano vs. Flip SD [NewTeeVee] – The new iPod Nano with video-recording offers a direct challenge to the Flip market. Testing a new Nano versus a Flip HD, the results: “Overall — the Flip offered a MUCH better picture both indoor and out, providing way more detail in the image. The Flip microphone was also a little more discerning in our test, able to distinguish our subject’s voice in a crowded room much better than the Nano.
Wikipedia’s Rapid Reaction to Outburst During Obama Speech [The Lede Blog – NYTimes.com] – “If journalism is the first draft of history, what is a Wikipedia entry when it is updated within minutes of an event to reflect changes in a person’s biography? This is the very live issue that cropped up in a heated argument on the discussion page that accompanies Wikipedia’s entry on Representative Joe Wilson Wednesday night, just 30 minutes after the Republican from South Carolina interrupted President Barack Obama’s speech by shouting “You lie!””
Links for September 2nd 2009 through September 3rd 2009:
Copyright protection without the court action [Blogs – Twisted Wire – ZDNet Australia] – An excellent little podcast looking at the challenges challenges to copyright in the digital age, but more importantly exploring alternative distribution models which could circumvent many of the current big media strategy of litigation against a few file-sharers. Comments from Nic Suzor (Australia's Electronic Frontiers Australia), Peter Coroneos (Internet Industry Association (IIA)) and Mike O'Donnell, (CEO of iCopyright in the US). Amazingly, the idea of having better, quicker, more efficient ways to buy movies over the web was one of the main ideas put forward! 🙂 (See also the previous week's show & podcast where AFACT argued with Suzor and Coroneos about the role of ISPs in policing the content viewed by Australian internet users.)
YouTube Said to Be in Talks on Pay Movies [NYTimes.com] – "YouTube, the largest video site, is in negotiations with major Hollywood studios for a deal that would let its visitors pay to watch full-length movies, according to two people briefed on the negotiations. If an agreement is reached, it would be a major change for YouTube, which has built a huge audience by offering an eclectic collection of free video clips and earns most of its revenue from advertising. It would also put YouTube, which is owned by Google, in direct competition with services from Netflix, Amazon and Apple, which allow users to buy or rent movies online." (YouTube's creep away from a primary focus on supporting user-generated content continues …)
Media favours Coalition, study finds [ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – "Newspapers are left wing, television is right wing, and the media as a whole tends to favour the Coalition. And surprisingly, according to researchers from the Australian National University, the ABC Television news is the most pro-Coalition of them all. Former Liberal prime minister John Howard railed against the alleged left-wing bias of the ABC, but the researchers found Aunty was more likely to favour his side. Researchers pored over news stories from 1996 to 2007 to establish if the media was biased. The results, released today, point to the media being generally middle-of-the-road, with the coalition tending to win out."
Conroy urged to 'end net censorship farce' [The Age] – "The Federal Government's internet censorship trials have been repeatedly delayed over the past nine months, leading to claims from the Opposition that the Government is deliberately withholding the results to avoid embarrassment. The Opposition's communications spokesman, Nick Minchin, today called on the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, to "end this farce and produce his long overdue trial results for independent assessment". Live trials of the filtering policy, which is intended to block "prohibited content" for all Australians as determined by a secret Government blacklist, were initially slated to begin in December last year and take about six weeks. They were then pushed back until July, then September and, today, the Government is still unable to put a date on when it will release the results to the public."
TV facing 'iTunes moment' warns Microsoft's Ashley Highfield [Media | guardian.co.uk] – "The TV industry has as little as two years to create viable digital businesses or face a version of the "iTunes moment" that saw the music business cede the online future to Apple, according to Ashley Highfield. Highfield, the the managing director of consumer and online at Microsoft UK, said he believed the reluctance advertisers feel to advertise on sites such as Facebook will soon be a "non-issue", putting more pressure on broadcasters' advertising revenues. "Once this happens the shift of spending from TV to web will accelerate even more," he said, giving the Futureview address at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival today. "So realistically I think the industry has about two to three years to adapt or face its iTunes moment. And it will take at least that long for media brands to build credible, truly digital brands. But, importantly, I do believe TV does have a small two to three year window in which to respond.""
Illegal downloads soar as hard times bite [SMH] – Asher Moses suggests: “Hundreds of thousands more Australians have turned to illegal download sites in the past year to save money on movies, music, software and TV shows during the economic downturn, new figures show. Total visits by Australians to BitTorrent websites including Mininova, The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, TorrentReactor and Torrentz grew from 785,000 in April last year to 1,049,000 in April this year, Nielsen says. This is a year-on-year increase of 33.6 per cent. The figures, which do not include peer-to-peer software such as Limewire, are in line with a Newspoll survey of 700 Australians in April, which found almost two-thirds of respondents said they were more tempted to buy or obtain pirated products in tough financial times.” (I wonder if more immediate legal options to purchase tv would actually fare rather well in these tough times – more folks willing to pay a little to watch something at home rather than a cinema ticket?)
on url shorteners [joshua’s blog] – “… URL shorteners are bad for the rest of us. The worst problem is that shortening services add another layer of indirection to an already creaky system. A regular hyperlink implicates a browser, its DNS resolver, the publisher’s DNS server, and the publisher’s website. With a shortening service, you’re adding something that acts like a third DNS resolver, except one that is assembled out of unvetted PHP and MySQL, without the benevolent oversight of luminaries like Dan Kaminsky and St. Postel. There are three other parties in the ecosystem of a link: the publisher (the site the link points to), the transit (places where that shortened link is used, such as Twitter or Typepad), and the clicker (the person who ultimately follows the shortened links). Each is harmed to some extent by URL shortening.” (While I understand URL shortening for Twitter, I think they tend to obscure the actual destination and make evaluating a link very difficult!)
Facebook Blocks All Pirate Bay Links [TorrentFreak] – “… [in] March The Pirate Bay added new functionality to reach out to millions of Facebook users. Just over a week later and the world’s largest social networking site has blocked all links to torrents on the world’s largest and most infamous BitTorrent tracker. It was less than two weeks ago when The Pirate Bay implemented a new feature making it easier for site users to post links to torrents on their Facebook profile… The entertainment industries were not happy with the new feature, but since The Pirate Bay is not exclusively used to spread copyrighted material, there wasn’t much they could do about it. Facebook users responded positively and many began posting torrent links in their profile. This integration of the world’s largest tracker and the world’s largest social networking site generated hundreds of news articles and excitement. But it wasn’t to last. This morning Facebook … blocked not only the feature, but all links to Pirate Bay’s torrents.”