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Archive for October, 2008

Tracker tracks the trackers

This site has a tracker that tracks all the electoral college tracking polls. Each row represents a different tracker.

We can only hope that there are several of these sites, so we can track the trackers tracking the trackers.

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Big book news from Google

Google has reached a settlement agreement in the lawsuit brought by publishers who were afraid that awareness of the existence of the publishers’ books might leak out onto the Internet. (Non-biased translation: Google has settled with the publishers suing over its book search service.)

As far as I can tell from Google’s plain-English explanation (which, overall, is exceptionally clear), the default for out-of-print books that are still under copyright will be that they are available through Google Book Search. You’ll be able to not only see snippets (as now) but will be able to purchase them, with the money being distributed through a new, independent, book rights registry. In addition, libraries and universities will be able to purchase site licenses for all the books Google’s scanned.

For books currently in print and under copyright, it sounds like not much has changed. Google says publishers can “turn on” the purchase and preview options. Couldn’t they before?

Once this settlement is agreed on, we will have what sounds like a reasonable program for working within the bounds of copyright. Much will depend, of course, on what the pricing is.

Now we have to work on fixing copyright so that it serves its original purpose — providing an incentive sufficient to bring authors to write — rather than being used to create an artificial scarcity to serve the economic interests of an industry entrenched in a ditch carved into paper.

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Linking to defamation is not defamation

A Canadian court has decided that linking to a defamatory page is not itself an act of defamation. It does leave admit exceptions, such as repeating the content of the defamatory passage or linking the phrase “The truth about Wayne Crookes is found here.”

The chilling effect if the court had decided otherwise would have been positively arctic.

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Tweeting museum

Leslie Madsen Brooks at BlogHer writes about museums using Twitter. It’s a whole lotta links and a whole lotta love, including a link to Beth Kanter’s interview with MuseumTweets (= Amy Fox).

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Twittering for fair elections

Volunteer programmers, designers and activists across the country will coordinate in online chat rooms and at real-world coding parties on Friday to build Twitter Vote Report, a groundbreaking web election monitoring system to fight voter suppression and disruption efforts. Anyone with a account will be able to use their cell phones or computers to send a message notifying voters, election monitors, and the media of problems around the country. A web map will display incidents in real-time.

For more info about how you can help, here. And if you want to help out on Friday’s code jam, go here. [Tags: ]

Video your vote

YouTube and PBS are asking us to video and post our voting experience. The videos will be collected here.

I was already planning on Flickring my absentee vote for Obama, just for the joy of it. [Tags: ]

Crowd-sourcing the slush pile

Publishers mean no disrespect when they refer to the load of unsolicited manuscripts as the “slush pile.” Actually, they do mean disrespect. But we all know that somewhere in the slush there must be some manuscripts worth publishing.

So, Harper Collins is crowd-sourcing it. At Authonomy, you can add your own ms, or vote on those of others. The top 5 at the end of every month get a once-over from a HC editor. And the rest can go publish themselves at Lulu, where you can find my own non-award-winning young adult novel, My $100 Million Dollar Secret.

(Thanks to Elaine Warner at A Broad Abroad for the link.)

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Permanent links for legislative documents

Thanks to prompting from the ever-more-amazing Sunlight Foundation, the US Congress’ site will provide legislative documents with permanent URLs. That means you can link to them and have some confidence that the links will work tomorrow, which means discussion can more easily more forward. Unique IDs accrete meaning.

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Innovation and the Open Internet: Joi Ito

Joi Ito is giving a talk at a Copenhagen media conference. He says that he wants to show us the world the way it looks to an “Internet geek.” [Note: I’m live-blogging, and poorly. Full of mistakes and omissions.]

Way back when, it was difficult to connect computers. Then we got Ethernet, then TCP/IP, and then HTTP (the Web). These new layers allow participation without permission. The cost of sending information and the cost of innovation have gone down (because the cost of failure has gone down). Now we’re getting another layer: Creative Commons. “By standardizing and simplifying the legal layer … I think we will lower the costs and create another explosion of innovation.”

Most innovation on the Net comes about through small projects with lots of connections. E.g., Google could start up for a few thousands dollars without having to get bilateral agreements with countries, etc. Europe is getting more innovative because it’s easier to pull together the pieces and easier to participate in the worldwide conversation. Now we have to figure out how to let amateur innovation into the system.

Distribution used to be the biggest problem. Experts went into distribution. Now we’re in danger of losing that expertise. Bloggers can’t fly into distant places to do a story, and can’t protect themselves from libel suits. We need to stop fighting with one another and find a way for these professionals to survive.

Joi gives a subset of Larry Lessig’s copyright talk. We’ve gone from a mostly unregulated zone for books to a mostly regulated one, for every digital use requires making copies. The digital realm also enables more control. Creative Commons aims at the middle between all rights reserved and no rights reserved. CC wants to make it easier to negotiate rights. It’s a “user interface for copyright” so people can be clear about how they are willing to have their stuff used. Four major properties: Attribution, modification, commercial use, share-alike. 130M works use CC. “Star Wreck” is 100% collaborative, 8M downloads. Instead of distribution, it’s about discovery, and links help with this. And giving stuff away helps gets links. He points to Nine Inch Nails giving away an album, as well as selling collectors’ version of physical media.

CC is becoming part of the media infrastructure, he says.

In response to a question, he says that amateurs who reuse his photos generally give him credit, but professional media folks tend not to, because the latter assume money is the currency. We need to teach them that respect is, he says.

Q: Could CC be used in the real world?
A: Yes, it already is. There is a “materials transfer agreement” that lowers the friction for using, say, a mouse from another lab in an experiment. [Tags: ]

GooseGrade lets readers of a blog highlight mistakes of the copy-edit sort so that the blogger can fix them. It stops spammers by grading each copy-editor based on whether her suggested changes are accepted by the blogger. Here’s a C-NET article about it.

I’d try it at this blog, because I do occasionally (= constantly) make mistakes, but I’m on the road and can’t easily update my template…

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