Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/24/2004 - 08:51
Andrew Sullivan, in Time magazine, illustrates perfectly the changing landscape of writing, journalism, and more generally, the power of the Web that we now all have in our hands. Here is the most instructive quote from the article.
"Ten years ago I edited a money-losing magazine, The New Republic, which had 100,000 subscribers. Two weeks ago on my four-year-old blog, AndrewSullivan.com, I had 100,000 readers in one day alone. After four years of blogging, I haven't lost a cent and have eked out a small salary. And I don't even have an editor! Technology did this. And it's a big deal most people have yet to understand."
Not all of us are going to be bloggers. The really successful ones have a passion for something and are also great writers. But we are all users of content, and these new information channels, applied on a community level, will get good and useful information to us about our communities quickly and easily.
We also need to make sure that our children continue to learn the difference between truth and falsehoods, the difference between sarcasm and thoughtful commentary, and the difference between typing and writing (hat tip to Truman Capote). These are exciting times, and we still have much to do, but the technology, used appropriately, can make our communities truly great places.
Submitted by acohill on Thu, 09/23/2004 - 14:23
According to this article in the UK Independent, the record companies are making a killing from online music sales. The paper says that of the average ninety-nine cent cost of a downloaded song, the record companies are taking sixty-two cents, or apparently almost double what they made on a CD. Not only that, their distribution costs have fallen to virtually zero.
Meanwhile, the same record companies have been prosecuting grandmothers and 14 year olds, claiming online music was killing the business.
The online stores are making a paltry four cents, which will cause most of them to go out of business, says the paper. And the artists? Well, apparently the artists, who actually create the product, aren't making a penny more. That's why many artists, like this one, don't even bother to sigh with a record company. They cut their own CDs, make a lot of live appearances, and sell their CDs online and at their concerts. It's a living, apparently. Jah Works has been around since at least '96.
For music lovers, as more bands forgo the record scene, it's likely more music with more variety will be available over the long term.
Submitted by acohill on Fri, 09/03/2004 - 08:58
Apparently at least one faculty member at MIT has been off the 'net entirely for the past twenty years. This story discusses Professor Keith Hampton's iNeighbor network.
Distributed by the New York Times New Service, apparently both MIT and the Times failed to do even a single Google search for "community network," which would have shown that there is not only a well-established national organization focused on online communities of place (the Association For Community Networking), but also hundreds of thriving local community network projects, some of them more than a decade old.
The article has the look and feel of a press release; apparently the Times no longer bothers to do any research or get second opinions. It's almost laughable in parts, especially where someone describes in glowing terms how they found a tennis partner online. This is news? Community networks have been supporting local social networking since the eighties.
Submitted by acohill on Wed, 09/01/2004 - 09:31
Community portals should be clean, simple, and easy to use. Jakob Nielsen, one of the top Web usability experts in the country, has a new column out on the importance of good, usable Web sites.
I see too many community portals that make the same mistakes Nielsen outlines.
Your community portal is how the rest of the world learns about your community. You want to put your best foot forward, so that you attract Knowledge Economy businesses and entrepreneurs who will want your broadband and your great quality of life. If your community Web sites are the very best they can be, you are missing a lot of economic development prospects. Disclaimer: Design Nine helps communities design and develop high quality community and local government portals.
Submitted by acohill on Tue, 08/10/2004 - 15:09
Congressman Rick Boucher (D, Virginia) represents southwest Virginia, including Blacksburg. Boucher is guest-hosting law professor Lawrence Lessig's blog this week, and there is a cogent and fascinating discussion of the Induce Act. The Induce Act would build on the already questionable DCMA law to make it more difficult (in theory) to pirate digital media.
The Induce Act has already created a firestorm of criticism for its overbroad attempt to stifle piracy by making it illegal to introduct any new technology or device that MIGHT be used for illegal sharing. In other words, as it has been pointed out, the iPod and indeed, all MP3 players would be illegal. Boucher is co-sponsor of a bill that would try to hold back the Induce tide.
Submitted by acohill on Fri, 07/02/2004 - 09:59
The Register reports that China continues to be the world's primary source of spam Web sites--hosting the Web sites that show up in all that email spam. The U.S. continues to be the source of most email spam.
Why China if most spammers are in the United States? It's getting harder and harder to find a U.S. based Web hosting firm that wants the headaches associated with the complaints and problems associated with spam Web sites. China, half a world a way and run by a communist government that tends to turn a blind eye towards things like respecting copyrights and other niceties of the free world, is happy to take spammers' money for hosting the sites.
Submitted by acohill on Fri, 04/30/2004 - 10:02
The San Francisco Chronicle is one of many papers covering the impending Google IPO. I've written extensively on Google, and I still expect the stock to be grossly overpriced, because Google is overrated. Not as a search service, but as a company. Google's two recent forays into other services, the controversial Gmail and the quickly aborted Friendster-style social software indicates that the company has much work to do. It is almost beyond belief that the company thought Gmail's instrusive scanning of private email would not cause protest, but apparently they did. Google's Friendster imitation lasted all of two weeks and disappeared quickly because of massive security holes, which indicates Google is not immune to a common disease in the IT industry--the "we don't need to test our software because we got it right the first time" syndrome.
Finally, Google does not have a monopoly on good results from a search engine. Try Gigablast. The Google IPO could encourage investors to free up cash to fuel innovation in the IT industry, which has been starved for cash since the dot-com bubble burst. That would be a good thing. But it could also set off a new round of fanciful businesses based on the same arrogance and hubris that created the last bubble.
Submitted by acohill on Mon, 04/26/2004 - 07:11
Just as Google is finally going to sell stock to the public, yet another search engine, called Gigablast, has appeared, with a name that is at least partly a sly pun (google is a '1' with a hundred zeroes after it; 'giga' is a billion).
Gigablast appears to have a different set of algorithms than Google, and a few queries I tried seemed to offer slightly better results, with fewer extraneous hits. As always, competition is a good thing, especially with Google's strategy of late of trying to tie their own content to search results--not a good thing fr
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