felix's blog

RIAA-funded copyright curriculum

Ars Technica has an article on how the cultural industries are pushing their "copyright curriculum"  into US schools. An much expanded update of that old classic "don't copy that floppy" and similar to Canadian attempt of 2006, Captain Copyright (soon abandoned). Bottom line: it's a disgrace to the very idea of education.

print-on-demand for google books

CNet has this story, highlighting the two way processes of digitization and materlialization

On Demand Books, makers of the Espresso Book Machine, are expected to announce Thursday that they have been granted access to Google's library of public domain digital books for use with their product. The Espresso Book Machine can print a 300-page book in four minutes, complete with a cover and a bound edge. It ranges in price from $75,000 to $97,000, depending on the configuration, and is found mostly at universities, libraries, and institutions around the globe.

The books thus produced are probably so cheap that it's more economical for libraries to simply give them away that to loan, track, process the return, and re-shelve them (which costs quite a bit, I think  Brewster Kahle, archive.org, once put a figure of $4 on it, though obviously that depends on a lot of variables.) See also this article with details on pricing (sales price at about $8 per book).

Motivations for creating derivative works

From PDF to MP3: Motivations for creating derivative works
by John Hilton III.
First Monday, Volume 14, Number 9 - 7 September 2009
http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/viewAr...

From the conclusion:

This study indicates that individuals are willing to create derivatives because they want to help others access a given work and they want to make it more convenient to access it personally. Some derivatives, such as changing file formats, can take little time to create. Other derivatives, such as language translations, can be extremely time–consuming. However, individuals are willing to voluntarily create both types of derivatives. Nearly all those surveyed indicated they were glad that they had created derivative works, feeling like they were part of a community effort to share a given work with others. These creators of derivatives believe that as the awareness of open licenses increases others will be encouraged to create derivative works.

The study is fairly limited -- only 17 people were interviewed, and the original works were all books on the subject area -- but it's interesting nevertheless since it focusses on the motivations of people who do relatively uncreative mundane work, but still enjoy doing it because a sense of identity this creates.

SellYourRights.com

An attempt to implement a street-performer protocol type platform for music.
http://sellyourrights.com/. Still in closed beta, but I'm not overly optimististic that this will work.
See also futurezone article.

An Empirical Analysis of Filesharing

Olson’s Paradox Revisited : An Empirical Analysis of Filesharing
Thierry Pénard, Sylvain Dejean, Raphaël Suire (June, 2009)

Abstract:

This article aims to examine the impact of group size on the provision of collective good provided by P2P file-sharing communities. Olson (1965) argued that small communities are more able to provide collective actions. Using an original database on Bittorrent file-sharing communities, our article finds a positive relation between the size of a community and the amount of collective good provided. However, the individual propensity to cooperate decreases with group size. These two features seem to indicate that P2P file-sharing communities provide a pure (non rival) public good. We also show that specialized communities are more efficient than general communities to encourage cooperative behavior. Finally, the rules designed by the managers of a community play an active role to stimulate voluntary contributions and improve the self-sustainability of file-sharing.

Source and full paper
See also Janko Roettgers article in this

UNU-Merit Survey of Wikipedia Readers and Contributors

Rishab Aiyer Ghosh 's Groups, UNU-MERIT, has done a large survery of wikipedia readers and contributors (130'000 completed surveys). Among the key (preliminary) results with regard to gender are:

  • Readers and contributors are on average in their mid-twenties, and predominantly male (75%)
  • Women, with a share of 25% in all respondents, are more strongly
    represented among readers (32%) and less strongly represented among
    contributors (13%).

Source: Wikimedia Blog, April 16, 2009
A short discussion of these results at salon.com

hexagon.cc: file-sharing goes semi-private

Perhaps the days of the general file sharing nodes, like piratebay, isohunt, or even mininova are over. But certainly not the days of unregulated file-sharing. As far as one can tell, private-trackers are thriving and now the founder of isohunt is creating a new system called hexagon.cc which centers around the ability of users to create groups of people with whom they want to share.

torrentfreak.org wirtes: “The main difference that sets Hexagon.cc apart from other social file sharing and BitTorrent sites, is everything is centered around groups. Be it file sharing networks or flash video sites, a key piece we found missing is social context,” isoHunt’s founder Gary Fung said.

With Hexagon Fung hopes to bridge this gap by allowing people to
start groups where they can share content within a certain niche. These groups help to organize content and allow people to share with others who are interested in the same material, privately or in public.

Update: See also this article by Janko Roettgers (Sept.05.)

The Internet has not transformed civic engagement... yet

Ars Technica reports on the new study The Internet and Civic Engagement which found that there is a strong correlation between income and political activity and that there is little difference between online and offline, except that online more people sign petitions. Looks like the Internet is not really broadening the social basis of political involvement.


Data source: Pew Internet & American Life Project

Collaborative Filtering with Ensembles

Article on new collaborative platforms for software development

One of the most interesting insights from the results of the Netflix challenge is that while the algorithms, the psychology, and good knowledge of statistics goes a long way, it was ultimately the cross-team collaboration that ended the contest. "The Ensemble" team, appropriately named for the technique they used to merge their results consists of over 30 people. Likewise, the runner up team ("BellKor") is a collaborative effort of several distinct groups that merged their results. It is easy to overlook this fact, except that it is not a one-time occurrence. The leaderboard for the recent GitHub contest also clearly shows over half of the top ten entries as ensemble techniques!

test not on front page

this should not not be on the front page

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