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Archive for April, 2009

RIAA DRM Mashup Smackdown

In its response to Charlie Nesson’s argument that one of the hearings in an RIAA suit ought to be webcast, the RIAA lawyer said:

“[The video footage] will be readily subject to editing and manipulation by any reasonably tech-savvy individual. Even without improper modification, statements may be taken out of context, spliced together with other statements and broadcast (sic) rebroadcast as if it were an accurate transcript. Such an outcome can only do damage to Petitioner’s case.”

So, Chris Soghoian is running a contest, asking you to mash up testimony given to the FTC about Digital Rights Management (DRM). The prize: He donates money to EFF. The real prize: The scalding breath of comedy.

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New criteria for academic recognition

The University of Maine has approved new guidelines for tenuring and promoting academics. The new guidelines allow crediting an academic for contributing to social media.

This the right thing to do not only because it is a more realistic assessment of an academic’s worth. It’s also the right thing to do because it helps to build the value of the network. If knowledge and expertise are becoming properties of the network, it is the social responsibility of our institutions to encourage the enhancement of that network.

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The future of the Boston Globe

The New York Times owns the Boston Globe and is asking the unions to come up with $20M in savings. According to a report on WBUR this morning, the Times isn’t even giving the unions enough time to go through their own legal processes for making such decisions. So, here are some possible outcomes:

The Globe folds.

The Globe is bought, presumably by someone with a drug problem.

The Globe becomes an insert in the New York Times. The insert covers not just local news but maintains some of the Globe’s identity, personality, and personalities. (Also, the comics.) If I were the NYT, I’d be running spreadsheets to see if folding the Globe into the NYT (quite literally) would increase local circulation and ads enough to make it worth the considerable operating expenses.

And, as an auxiliary idea, I wonder if people would be willing to pay for online access to the Globe if it did two things: 1. Continue to provide free access to individual articles, for we need to be able to link to them both to keep the Globe relevant and to grow our culture. 2. Enhance the current Globe site so that it has more of the unitary newspaper feel. That is, let us have more of a sense that we’re reading an object that has a start and a finish, so that we’re tempted to sit down with it once a day and go through it. Let us turn pages until we’re done. (Of course, the pages would be full of links.) Provide us with all the electronic reading tools we could ever want, but tempt us to treat it as a whole through which we take a walk every day. And charge us $100/ year for the privilege. Since we’d be able to get at any of the individual articles for free, the Globe would be charging us for the online equivalent of curling up with the paper in the morning.

I acknowledge that that may be the stupidest idea since unsliced bread, and perhaps it is merely an old fogey desire. But, heck, it’s not like I’m writing for a responsible newspaper!

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PhilosophyTalk goes miscellaneous

On Sunday, I was the guest on PhilosophyTalk, an NPR show that you can listen to via (free membership required). We talk about how and why we dice up the world the way we do.

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Public data becoming public! Viva Vivek!

The U.S. has announced that it will be making data public routinely at starting May. Vivek Kundra, our federal CIO gets the credit, since he did the same thing for DC.

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