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    nmw 16:26:04 on 2014/09/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , online,   

    Legal Online Content 

    This phrase bothers me.

    I’ve been traveling a lot over the summer and also the past couple weeks, so I haven’t had much chance to get online and post. But today I saw this phrase in the newspaper (again), and it stuck out as such an obvious piece of propaganda that I thought I should post a remark about just how absurd and ridiculous it is.

    There is no such thing as “online content” — content resides on storage devices, it can be read by computers, shared by servers, etc. … but there simply is no such thing as online content. I imagine some idiot thought up the phrase while he was floating on cloud nine.

    Even worse than that, the stupidity of “online content” is actually trumped by the completely vacuous “legal online content“. Legal according to which laws?!? The buffoon who came up with this zinger must get paid a lot of dough, and I bet 9 out of 10 consumers will swallow all of it without batting an eyelash.

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    nmw 12:53:20 on 2014/09/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , enlightenment, , , , , , , , , online, , , , , , publishing industry, , , , , , traditional publishing, traditional publishing complex, , , ,   

    How the Traditional Publishing Complex Tamed the Mob … and What Outsiders Could Learn from Justine Musk 

    So far, the Internet has only experienced one major crash: The very poorly named “Dot Com” crash of 2001. This had nothing to do with the “dot com” top-level domain per se. It had much more to do with a much more general and very much premature hyping of all things Internet — and then when it became clear that 9 out of 10 ideas were hare-brained, 9 out of 10 online business models went out of business. Note, however, that by this time the Internet had already become — or at the very least it had started to become — a force to be reckoned with. This was the first heyday of bloggers and wikis — for example, consider what happened when Trent Lott spoke on December 5, 2002 at the 100th birthday party of Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina:

    In the wake of controversy, Lott resigned as Senate Republican Leader on December 20, 2002, effective at the start of the next session, January 3, 2003. Bill Frist of Tennessee was later elected to the leadership position. In the book Free Culture, Lawrence Lessig argues that Lott’s resignation would not have occurred had it not been for the effect of Internet blogs. He says that though the story “disappear[ed] from the mainstream press within forty-eight hours”, “bloggers kept researching the story” until, “finally, the story broke back into the mainstream press.

    By the time Digg was founded in 2004, it had become very clear to the traditional publishing industry that something was afoot: their business was eroding from beneath — and if something didn’t happen quite soon, then the traditional publishing industry would be gone in short shrift.

    Note that the traditional publishing industry had been a crucial element in many advanced economies worldwide, strongly influencing education, research, propaganda and much, much more. If this were to simply crumble and break overnight, a much larger traditional publishing complex would probably go down with it — and therefore many people were very worried. Some more examples of this worrisome trend included many new websites created around a “classified advertising” model (such as craigslist), and Google’s then-still-new AdWords system.

    Then, some time around 2006, things began to change. Perhaps the most indicative instance of how things were changing was the “Google Press Day” event held on May 10, 2006 (Google has since removed links to the documentation it had disclosed about these presentations from its investor.google.com website). Although this event was not widely covered by the press, it was attended by many leaders in the publishing industry. Google officers explained their business model, and how they were tweaking their algorithms so that searches for terms such as “credit card” would be made to return search engine results pages (SERPs) with the brand names of companies doing business in that market segment. All in all, Google seemed to be making a case for mutual collaboration with the traditional publishing complex, rather than competing with it.

    Since then, many other websites are using a similar approach — and most prominent among this new model of “co-opetition” is, of course: Facebook. Yet large parts of the so-called “mobile web” are also very much about advertising to users, and also tracking user behavior. Google, Facebook & Co. had now become transformed from a “Wild West” marketplace into a partner that more and more members of the traditional publishing complex could work with quite well — and thereby increasingly publish traditional publishing stories in a newfangled way… called “social media“.

    The advantage of this new approach for members of the traditional media complex is that they no longer need to compete with the revolutionary mobs found in the innumerable and uncontrolled spaces on the “Wild West Web”. Google, Facebook, Twitter, et. al. would reduce such “unknown” people into insignificance, and instead promote those brands which the entire traditional publishing complex have come to rely on. Although many people will probably not recognize the similarity to the way some North African governments collaborated with North African Internet service providers to basically “turn off the Internet” in North Africa during the Arab Spring, the leading brand names operating in the “social media” space can very effectively squelch out any message that is in opposition to the messages advertisers seek to get across.

    If you are not an advertiser, not a publisher, not a member of the traditional publishing complex,… — if you are not affiliated with this industry in any way, then what can you do (if you want to be heard)?

    Some people may choose to go out on the streets and protest, but others may find that to be a nuisance… — or at least a rather ineffective alternative. Also: It is not clear whether the best solutions are to be found by figuring out which group can shout the loudest. What if your aim is to find solutions to problems through rational thought?

    Beyond polishing up rational thinking skills, such outsiders might also need to brush up on literacy skills — especially those literacy skills that are not taught in most educational systems: The ability to effectively express and also to publish your own ideas in a manner that will enable readers who are thirsty for enlightenment to easily grasp the useful and practical advice such information can provide.

    One of my favorite leaders in this field is Justine Musk — not necessarily because of the topics she writes about, but primarily because of her great skill in doing so. Justine has a knack for explaining topics in a very simple and straightforward manner — and these are topics her readers are very thirsty to read more about. Her arguments are usually well thought out, and therefore they are usually also very compelling.

    I have not read any of Justine’s fiction-writing, but in my opinion most of her non-fiction writing campaigns are very successful.

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    feedwordpress 20:04:48 on 2014/02/08 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , First Look, First Look Media, , , , kill, killing, , mainsream media, , , , online, , , , , , , , wasted, wasting   

    Are You Wasting Your Time? 

    I think the vast majority of people use the Internet to waste time (they might, for example, visit websites like bored.com … that is, if they aren’t “hanging out” / “killing time” on facebook.com). The often play games, chat with people who happen to be online at the same time that they are online, or maybe engage in some sort of “gossip”-themed discussion.

    I am different… — I am not online for entertainment. I want to make the world a better place — even (as I wrote just the other day) the best place possible by using information technology. I believe people can be educated to use such technologies reasonably and effectively to improve their lives and also other people’s lives.

    When I was involved with the omidyar.net online community (an Omidyar Network project), I met many like-minded people, and I learned many things from many of these people. Now Omidyar Network is in the process of launching another project — this one is apparently more focused on journalism (mainstream media / news)… see e.g. this “guest post” by Sue Braiden.

    I’ve also heard that Andy Carvin is going to join this new project — and I find that very inspiring. Andy was also part of the omidyar.net online community project, and I recall from my interactions with him there (and also later on other websites, such as twitter.com — which I no longer actively use) that he is very knowledgeable concerning online media, digital literacy, the so-called “digital divide” and so on.

    I wish Pam and Pierre Omidyar much luck with this project. To find out more about it, please visit “First Look Media“. :)

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    feedwordpress 21:21:25 on 2013/10/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , convergence, divergence, , , , , online, recreation, recreational,   

    The End of the Media Convergence Hoax 

    For several years already we have been hearing a lot of hot air along the lines of “all media are the same bits and pieces of information”. This utter nonsense is going to come to a stop sooner or later — and not only do I wish it would be sooner, I also see signs that it will be soon.

    The primary sign I see is the divergence of data. Whereas machine readable formats are becoming increasingly semantically codified, non-machine readable formats are becoming increasingly raw. For example: when content on Facebook is “liked”, that is but one bit of information. Likewise, online friendship is nothing more than a simple switch that gets turned on or off. On the other hand, image files, video files, audio files — all not “machine readable” (meaning there is no code a machine could use to “understand” the meaning or significance of the individual bits — as there might be for “like” or “friendship”) is incessantly being upgraded to ever more high definition — meaning more bits per unit.

    This divergence is becoming increasingly obvious whereever there are limits to the volume of data that can be transported. A 4K screen will require such large amounts of data that transporting such large files over the Internet might become prohibitively expensive, especially in bandwidth-constrained environments.

    While at the turn of the millennium there was much talk about all bits being the same, it is becoming more and more apparent that whereas codified information belongs on a computer, audio and video files belong in different a setting — the “lean back” media center in the living room, not the “lean forward” business machine in the den.

    On one of my browser apps, I already have images turned off, because I am mostly interested in machine-readable text. I expect at some point the illustrated magazine will experience a comeback… perhaps not quite in paper, but in returning to the living room setting, and away from the environment of the more computational den.

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