As with our colleges, so with a hundred "modern improvements"; there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance.
The devil goes on exacting compound interest to the last for his early share and numerous succeeding investments in them. Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; ... We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.
Source: Chapter Economy http://www.princeton.edu/~batke/thoreau/
The NYT has an interesting article on people who make money with the regular video shows (apparently all comedy). Through YouTube's partner program (where people can register to have adds shown next to their video -- so that youtube can be sure not to show adds on pirated content). According the a company spokesperson, there are "hundreds of YouTube partners are making thousands of dollars a month." One of the shows as an average of about 200'000 viewers with popular episodes up to three million.
Mr. Williams, who counts about 180,000 subscribers to his videos, said he was earning $17,000 to $20,000 a month via YouTube. Half of the profits come from YouTube’s advertisements, and the other half come from sponsorships and product placements within his videos, a model that he has borrowed from traditional media.
On YouTube, it is evident that established media entities and the up-and-coming users are learning from each other. The amateur users are creating narrative arcs and once-a-week videos, enticing viewers to visit regularly. Some, like Mr. Williams, are also adding product-placement spots to their videos. Meanwhile, brand-name companies are embedding their videos on other sites, taking cues from users about online promotion. Mr. Walk calls it a subtle “cross-pollination” of ideas.
In June 2008, the Canadian government introduced Bill C-61, new copyright legislation that closely followed the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The public response to the bill was both immediate and angry - tens of thousands of Canadians wrote to the Minister and their local Members of Parliament, leading to town hall meetings, negative press coverage, and the growing realization that copyright was fast becoming a mainstream political and policy issue. This film, produced by Michael Geist and Daniel Albahary, asks Canadians from across the country and from a wide range of sectors the question - "why copyright?"
Jeffrey Rosen has an interesting article in the NYT Magazine asking "Are Google’s gatekeepers determining the limits of free speech?" He looks at various cases where Google decided how to respond to demands that it blocks access to material, most notably on YouTube.
On the balance that Google seeks to strike, he quotes Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor and a former scholar in residence at Google:
“To love Google, you have to be a little bit of a monarchist, you have to have faith in the way people traditionally felt about the king. One reason they’re good at the moment is they live and die on trust, and as soon as you lose trust in Google, it’s over for them.” Google’s claim on our trust is a fragile thing. After all, it’s hard to be a company whose mission is to give people all the information they want and to insist at the same time on deciding what information they get.
Google claims that it can detect the outbreak of the common flu two weeks earlier than the US Center for Desease Control, based on sudden spikes in relevant search terms -- e.g. flu systems, muscale ache -- that people are using. The set up a site to track this called "Flu Trends." They write
We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of course, not every person who searches for "flu" is actually sick, but a pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries from each state and region are added together. We compared our query counts with data from a surveillance system managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and discovered that some search queries tend to be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is circulating in various regions of the United States.
It's pretty clear that while we are learning about the world through Google, google is learning about us. And it does so in real time. While we have to wait for someone to put material out there, Google as access to enormous amounts of raw data as it is being produced and can process it any way it wants, most profitably, one can imagine, for marketing. I guess the pharmaceutical industry is quite interesting in such data. One can imagine that publishing (or witholding) such real time monitoring data is having a real effect in the developing of the underlying phenomena itself.
I'm doing research on the early practices of remixing and came across this gem from the late 19th century, by Eugène Bataille a member of an art group called "les incoherènts" which I had never heard of, quite frankly. Yet they did many of the things that later the dadaist and surealists would do, a full generation earlier.
Today appeared on the ORF website appeared an interview with Konrad Becker and myself on social and political aspects of search engines. This is all part of the preparation leading up to our Deep Search conference on Nov. 8.
Die Konferenz "Deep Search", die am Samstag in Wien stattfindet, untersucht die gesellschaftliche Macht der Suchmaschinen. ORF.at hat mit den Konferenzveranstaltern Konrad Becker und Felix Stalder vom World Information Institute über digitale Wissensordnungen, Bürgerrechte bei Google und Paranoia als Erkenntnisinstrument gesprochen.
Giorgos Cheliotis, assistant professor of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore done one of the, if not the, first network analysis and network visualization of a remix community, based on the ccMixter.
One of the visualizations, consisting of all uploaded audio tracks that have been remixed and all remixes thereof, is shown below. I was very surprised by the structure, density and connectedness of the resulting network. I was expecting to see a more weakly connected set of “islands of common interest”, as defined by genre, friendships or location. Instead, before we even go into deeper analysis, the figure suggests that the creative reuse of cultural content (such as enabled by licenses like Creative Commons) leads to a very high degree of cross-pollination across authors and across works, forming a dense network of greatly enhanced collaboration and creativity through open sharing and reuse. We have posted a working paper and more cool hi-res visuals on the Participatory Media Lab wiki.
This seems to suggest that cultural -- or at least musical -- styles are becoming ever more fluid as the range of source is becoming ever more wide.
Seems like Google is quickly moving to settle major copyright issues, first in respect to youtube, now with in the case of Google Book Search. On October 28, 2008 the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and Google announced the landmark settlement of Authors Guild v. Google. This is a major deal, both in terms of providing a new economic infra-structure based on the abundance of information, rather than its scarcity, but also, worryingly, in further cementing Google's central position as provider of the world's information. It's clearly another move in centralizing basic services on the Internet.
As Google explains the settlement:
What does the settlement provide?
If approved, the Settlement will authorize Google to continue to scan in-copyright Books and Inserts; to develop an electronic Books database; to sell subscriptions to the Books database to schools, corporations and other institutions; to sell individual Books to consumers; and to place advertisements next to pages of Books. Google will pay Rightsholders, through a Book Rights Registry (“Registry”), 63% of all revenues earned from these uses, and the Registry will distribute those revenues to the Rightsholders of the Books and Inserts who register with the Registry. Distribution will be made pursuant to an Author-Publisher Agreement and a Plan of Allocation, which are part of the Settlement Agreement.
The proposed Settlement also will authorize Google to provide public and higher education libraries with free access to the Books database. Certain libraries that are providing Books to Google for scanning are authorized to make limited "non-display uses" of the Books. Those uses are described in the Notice and the Settlement Agreement.