links for 2010-04-05

  • Interesting tidbit in this piece: Apparently if you have renter's or homeowner's insurance, you can get a defamation rider pretty cheaply. Useful for bloggers, social media users, and online publishers.

    "A SLAPP, or “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” is a little known but widespread threat to the First Amendment. SLAPPs are meritless suits brought by companies, individuals and sometimes the government, not to win, but to silence critics. Congress is now considering federal anti-SLAPP legislation."

links for 2010-04-04

  • "Nationally, the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals is  working on a project trying to figure out how to get more women into cycling as part of their broader effort to “change transportation culture.” A major component of the APBP’s early effort is a survey for women and girls that they’re conducting through May 15. As such, the questions focus heavily on women’s experiences riding on streets, their interactions with cars, and their comfort on bike trails vs. bike lanes. But it also includes questions about other provisions women might want (in the office, around town) to make cycling easier. The APBP says the aim of the survey is to give engineers, city officials, and transportation planners the information needed to design improved, practical cycling infrastructure."
  • "It's not just about the gadget, it's about the content. Or, more specifically, how the content adapts and evolves in our blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, YouTubing times. Yes, the so-called legacy media companies (print, television, radio) create content — informative, valuable content, many of it crucial to our democracy. But, for the most part, they fail to realize how their content fits in a larger news ecosystem, one that's being increasingly driven not just by the select few who create the news but the online masses who consume it. And then want to engage with it, question it or tweak it, pass it around, and make it their own.

    "The Internet provides the means for communities to share what they know. At no cost. The marginal cost of sharing information is zero," Jarvis said. "We as journalists then have to ask how we add value to that.

  • Good roundup of simple ways to make a wordpress site mobile-friendly. Includes WP themes and 3rd-party services.
  • "The Labor Department says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay interns properly and expanding efforts to educate companies, colleges and students on the law regarding internships.

    “If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division."

  • "The Labor Department says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay interns properly and expanding efforts to educate companies, colleges and students on the law regarding internships.

    “If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division."

    "The rules for unpaid interns are less strict for non-profit groups like charities because people are allowed to do volunteer work for non-profits."

links for 2010-04-03

  • Great audio podcast from 2009 Where 2.0 conference!

    "Mapping space and the heavens is harder than anything found on Earth. Chris Spurgeon a technology junkie with a passion for the oddities of history charts us a course across the heavens. As spaceborne objects rarely hold the same spot in the sky from night to night scientists have been forced to develop unique tools for measuring their location over time.

    "From tracking satellites to finding out where Jupiter's meridian lies Spurgeon takes us on a journey across the solar system that starts in the early days of astrology to the most recent missions in space. If you'd like to swing on a star or carry a moon map home in a jar Chris Spurgeon discusses some of the tools you can use in mapping space."

  • "Newsroom (and Production) Net: The tablet demands new investment, mainly in new hires, somewhat in new training. With papers still in cutting mode, where will the money come from?

    "Circulation Net: News and magazine publishers now see a second digital revenue line. It’s 70 percent of X (the retail price) multiplied by Y (volume of sales). As news companies reinvent not only products, but new business arrangements with the distributors of the day — from Google/Amazon/Yahoo to Comcast/AT&T/Verizon — expect to see the Apple model invoked as “fair.”

    "Ad Net: Tablet-based advertising should add, unexpectedly, to top line revenues in the second half of 2010 and more strongly in 2011. Companies I call the Digital Dozen, the 12-15 companies w/ natl/global publishing reach & resources, will create the best out-of-the-box news and magazine products – and they’ll be rewarded with a small surge in ad revenue. Those unable to play at a significant level will in turn reap few rewards.

  • A lot of journos are objecting to this job description. It may indeed be a crappy job, I dunno — but I say that mainly because it's working for a huge corporation. However, I don't bristle at terms like "content objects." I suspect many writers and editors have a romantic attachment to the way they used to talk about their work, and are averse to new approaches simply because they're new.
  • "Developers have come to realize that a bigger screen fundamentally changes how users can interact with a touch-based device.

    "The touch technology of the iPad is the same as the iPhone," says David Jones, who teamed up with designer Amy Burton to create Sudoku Real Edition for the iPad. While two-handed gestures are impractical on the iPhone's small screen, they're logical on the iPad, says Jones. "I don't know if the iPad has a limit on the number of points of contact [it can detect], it's more whether or not those points of contact start merging," he adds.

    Jones and Burton created their own gestures for interacting with the game board, some of which drew inspiration from an existing tablet-based device, the Fujitsu T2010, which uses directional swipes for everyday activities like cut, copy, and paste.

  • In what has proven to be its most sophisticated April Fools’ Day prank ever, Google admitted this morning that the uncensoring of its Chinese language search engine is actually a hoax.

    In an post to the Official Google Blog, company co-founder Sergey Brin wrote:

    Really, we’re just kidding. Did you honestly believe we’d abandon a market with 1.3 billion people in it for Falun Gong and the Dalai Lama? I don’t think so. As of April 2 we are relaunching our site, with full content-filtering in place.

links for 2010-04-02

  • "I'm sorry to say that I won't be releasing the Facebook data I'd hoped to share with the research community. In fact I've destroyed my own copies of the information, under threat of a lawsuit from Facebook.

    "As you can imagine I'm not very happy about this, especially since nobody ever alleged that my data gathering was outside the rules the web has operated by since crawlers existed. I followed their robots.txt directions, and was even helped by microformatting in the public profile pages. Literally hundreds of commercial search engines have followed the same path and have the same data. You can even pull identical information from Google's cache if you don't want to hit Facebook's servers. So why am I destroying the data? This area has never been litigated and I don't have enough money to be a test case."

  • "A researcher who collected data from more than 210 million public Facebook profiles and used it to create a rich picture of connections among users of the social network has deleted the entire database after being threatened with a lawsuit by the company. Pete Warden, who says he had expressions of interest from more than 50 scientists who wanted to use the information in their research, writes in a blog post that he was asked by the company to destroy it because he didn’t ask the site’s permission to harvest it — and that since he doesn’t have the funds to contest a lawsuit, he complied."

links for 2010-04-01

  • "Your wireless company wants to lock you into paying hundreds of dollars a month for mobile voice and data service, and to accomplish that it will sell you a subsidized smartphone for much less than the company paid for it. Spending more up front for an unsubsidized phone, however, might save you money in the long run. PCWorld contributing editor JR Raphael compared the fees for an unsubsidized $529 Nexus One phone (and an à la carte contract with T-Mobile) with those for the iPhone 3GS and the Motorola Droid, which are available only with a two-year contract (from AT&T and Verizon, respectively). The cost savings over two years: $1350, thanks largely to T-Mobile's $80-per-month unlimited voice, text, and data plan (no contract required).

    The Fix: Do the math. As more vendors move toward an "open" handset model, paying more up front can save you a bundle in the long run.

  • Darren Rowse's exit strategy: Get bought by Google. Not bad.
  • Engadget sounds skeptical about the German WePad Android tablet.
  • German Android table "WePad" is apparently striking deals with major publishers for content. We'll know more what's really going on 4/12.
  • "In the printed newspaper, you’re trading choice for trust. It’s harder to find precisely the stories you know you want, but you’ve got the opportunity to let the editor surprise you. It isn’t always the case, but the most surprising story I encounter in a given day is often something put forward by the “Old Gray Lady“.

    "If it’s possible to engineer serendipity with ninteenth century technology, it’s certainly possible with the resources we have today. But it’s not easy. Most recommendation technologies – the algorithms Amazon or NetFlix use to suggest what movies you might watch next – are a form of collaborative filtering."

  • 2009 SXSW session notes on discovery and serendipity in music. Lists a bunch of useful resources, tools.
  • "Twitter, social networks and services such as Stumble Upon have shown the potential for people-powered serendipity engines. Bizarrely, Darlin argues in his New York Times article that this is “group-think” rather than serendipity. He writes: “Everything we need to know comes filtered and vetted.”

    "Does he think that newspapers and magazines are put together by magic or completely at random? They are filtered and vetted too. And our allegiance to a particular printed news source is often the result of those “existing prejudices” that Pete Marcus warns about.

    "Our impression of offline serendipity is just an illusion, a way of turning the limitations of media bundles into a virtue.

  • " international writing event in which participants take on the challenge of writing 100 pages of scripted material in the month of April. No fee to participate; there are also no valuable prizes awarded or "best" scripts singled out.

    "The 5 Basic Rules of Script Frenzy

    1) To be crowned an official Script Frenzy winner, you must write a script (or multiple scripts) of at least 100 total pages and verify this tally on

    2) You may write individually or with a partner. Writing teams will have a 100-page total goal for their co-written script or scripts.

    3) Script writing may begin no earlier than 12:00:01 AM on April 1 and must cease no later than 11:59:59 PM on April 30, local time.

    4) You may write screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, short films, comic book and graphic novel scripts, adaptations of novels, or any other type of script your heart desires.

    5) You must, at some point, have ridiculous amounts of fun.

    (tags: writing events)
  • "I read regularly about 20 different blogs or other filters, and each day through them I'm exposed to literally hundreds of articles and clips and conversations and songs and parodies that I had no idea about when I woke up that morning. I'm constantly stumbling across random things online that make me think: what is the deal with that anyway? And then an hour later, I'm thinking: how did I get here? I can't tell you how many ideas that eventually made it into published books and articles of mine began with that kind of unexpected online encounter.

    "Yes, those initial starting points are filters defined by my initial tastes. But my taste is for surprise and novelty — and that's what they deliver. Serendipity is not randomness, not noise. It's stumbling across something accidentally that is nonetheless of interest to you. The web is much better at capturing that mix of surprise and relevance than book stacks or print encyclopedias."

  • Highlights from Retrevo's Findings:

    – 59% of people said they found the shopping information they were looking for, when using a mobile phone.
    – Only 8% of people said they did not intend to shop from their mobile phone
    – Only 9% of people, over 35 years old, have responded to an ad on their mobile phone, compared to 20% of people under 35.
    – 55% of people, ages 18 – 24, have used a mobile phone to aid in the shopping process.
    – 52% of people, ages 25 – 34 " "
    – 36% of people, ages 35, 44, " "
    – 17% of people, ages 45 and up, " "
    – 17% of people, ages 18 – 24, have made a purchase using their mobile phone.
    – 15% of people, ages 25 – 34, have made a purchase using their mobile phone.
    – 10% of people, ages 35 – 44, have made a purchase using their mobile phone.
    – 3% of people, ages 45 and above, have made a purchase using their mobile phone.

  • Schmidt: "the current mobile ecosystem and its future incarnation are the result of three intertwining factors: computing power, connectivity and cloud computing. "The Internet is humongous. The notion of publishing and microblogging is an explosion that will drive networks further into everything we do," he said. "Today's generation doesn't call it a mobile phone; they call it a phone. That's a win for everybody sitting here."

    "The mobile phone is the meeting point of these three trends, he said, and furthermore, any device that is not connecting in this way is considered not interesting, but lonely."

    "…"mobile first" doctrine, as Google programmers are doing work on mobile applications and technology first, because "mobile apps are better apps" and that's what top programmers want to develop. "It's more specific, more human, more location-aware, more satisfying to them," Schmidt said."

  • "During a presentation yesterday about the future of news media with Clay Shirky, the idea of "a chatroulette for news" was jokingly mentioned by Chris Thorpe. Inspired by this, and knowing that we produce lots of interesting content that is never promoted on our front page, I decided to see if I could build something to help people discover this content.

    "This is the result of that experiment: Going to that site will give you a random webpage from today's Guardian. It's surprisingly addictive. It's just another way to find stories on our site."

  • "…I’m naturally hostile to the Tea Party as a political organization. What if someone created a roulette that automatically generated news content sympathetic to the Tea Party? And what if they found a way to key it to my news consumption patterns even more strongly, i.e., if somehow the roulette knew I was a regular New York Times reader and would pick Tea Party friendly articles written either by the Times or outlets like the Times (rather than, say, random angry blog posts?)

    "I think this is interesting, because it would basically hack the entire logic of the web. The beauty of the web is that it can direct you towards ever more finely grained content which is exactly what you want to read. It would somehow know what you wanted even before you did. In other words, it might be the opposite of what Mark S. Luckie called “a Pandora for news.” And it would solve a very real social problem — or at least a highly theorized social problem [homophily)."

  • let's consider what new subsystems a "modern" Internet Operating System might contain:
    – search
    – media access
    – communications
    – identity and the social graph
    – payment
    – advertising
    – location
    – activity streams
    – time
    – image and speech recognition
    – government data
  • quick overview of paypal, Apple, Facebook
  • "When we read a paper and find a good story that we couldn’t have predicted we’d have liked, we think that is serendipity. But there’s some reason we like it, that we find it relevant to us. Maybe that relevance is the unknown but now fed curiosity, maybe it’s enjoyment of good writing or a certain kind of tale, maybe the gift of some interesting fact we want to share and gain social equity for, maybe it’s a challenge to our ideas, maybe an answer to a question that has bugged us. In the end, it has value to us; it’s relevant."
  • independent media aimed at low-income communities.