This is so cool.
Google was designed to play the role of a passive observer of the internet: web content was created for people, not specific Google queries, and Google would look around, take inventory of what was available, and give it to people who asked. Google’s general, big-picture algorithms probably haven’t changed much since the days when this was relatively accurate.—
But that’s no longer what web content looks like. Now, massive amounts of technically-not-spam sites are generated by penny-hungry affiliate marketers and sleazy web “content” startups to target long-tail Google queries en masse, scraping content from others or paying low-wage workers to churn out formulaic, minimally nutritious pages to answer them. Searching Google is now like asking a question in a crowded flea market of hungry, desperate, sleazy salesmen who all claim to have the answer to every question you ask.
“Hey, anyone know how to wire an outlet?”
“Did you say ‘how to wire an outlet’?”
“I can help you with how to wire an outlet!”
“Here is info on how to wire an outlet!”
“Bargain prices on how to wire an outlet!”
“Guide to wiring outlets in New York, right here!”
And none of them actually know a damn thing about what you’re asking, of course — they’re just offering meaningless, valueless words that seem to form sentences until you actually try to make use of them.
There are numerous reasons why the Zune has never taken off, but one of them is that people simply have no faith that the Zune architecture will be maintained, much less grow. And part of this is because Microsoft doesn’t follow through on its initiatives. It leaks, for example, the Courier tablet, but then cancels the project after the iPad’s success. And remember the touch coffee table from a few years ago? Didn’t we all expect the company to capitalize on this with some kind of consumer product? Microsoft is demonstrating concept cars at the car show, but selling Buicks at the dealership. Apple is selling concept cars.— (jeffmiller)
All things considered, who wouldn’t want a car with a spoiler, snow plow, and shark fin on it, or a browser that emulates one?
Firefox’s extensibility is the feature that keeps me from switching to Chrome.
Windows keeps trying to download and install updates for Microsoft Office. The thing is, I don’t have Office installed. I have Open Office installed, but nothing else.
ExtensionFM is a Chrome extension that creates an in-browser MP3 player that grabs tracks from music blogs and more. Lot of cool features in here and a sweet interface. I’ll probably stick with Hype Machine myself, but certainly cool to see this space and technology evolving.
(hat tip, Dan Kantor)
This looks awesome.
The people best equipped for navigating our world are those who have knowledge of multiple technologies, and multiple kinds of technologies. The Luddite and the techno-celebrant alike are crippled by the narrowness of their technological equipment.—
Alan Jacobs: the non-digital classroom
Read the whole thing.
This is a great discussion. Here are some notable selections:
By breaking up books into different licensable parts, Lessig fears that we are going to encounter the same problem with books that we do today with film. He gives the example of documentary films which are sometimes nearly impossible to restore or preserve in digital form because the rights to every song and clip of archive footage need to be cleared again. This is an artifact of the types of licensing contracts that became the norm for film, where each constituent part of a work carries its own copyrights into perpetuity, making it more difficult down the road to update into digital form or pass along as a piece of shared culture. Up until now, books for the most part are treated as one single work.
Yet the language of the Google Books settlement threatens to break books up into different constituent parts. The result is that you might be reading from a medical book on your iPhone in a hospital waiting room trying to figure out what’s wrong with your child, as Lessig did, only to find that a crucial illustration or table is missing because it is under a different license. As Lessig notes:
In real libraries, in real space, access is not metered at the level of the page (or the image on the page). Access is metered at the level of books (or magazines, or CDs, or DVDs).
Regulating copies simply makes no sense in a digital world where every piece of content is made up of bits because those bits must be copied before they can be consumed or shared. There is no digital equivalent of the library or used book store where culture can be preserved and found by anyone.
Lessig’s essay is here.
Let’s start by putting to rest the myth that audience follows talent. Howard Stern’s move from nationally syndicated radio to Sirius satellite might have made him a fortune, but it also lost him a huge chunk of his audience and almost all of his pop cultural influence. Likewise, the vast majority of high-profile bloggers who were given book deals have failed to earn back their advances through sales, despite publishers being certain that their millions of online readers would translate into book buyers. Those journalists who quit newspapers to go solo have struggled to pull in readers. And the idea that Conan’s audience will follow him online is equally ridiculous.—
Paul Carr at TechCrunch
My only comment here is that one cannot compare a move to web-only distribution—which is effectively free for the user—to book deals or a move from terrestrial to satellite. “Following” Howard Stern requires a significant investment in hardware and monthly subscription fees from the listener. A blog readership, no matter how significant, does not translate into book sales. Duh. But moving from free-on-TV (with fixed airing schedules) to free-on-the-interwebs (on-demand and with less-intrusive advertising) makes sense for the consumer because there’s no increase in cost. The only potential inconvenience is watching content on a monitor rather than a TV—but 1) users are becoming much more comfortable with it, and 2) technology to view web content on a TV is heading mainstream rapidly.
There were three people in the rows in front of us who had their cell phones open during the entire movie. They were text messaging and surfing the Internet and otherwise annoying people. As I saw those cell phone screens open during the movie, I observed that the people using them were not fully committed to being anywhere during those two hours. They were physically sitting in the theater, even sitting with others who accompanied them, but their minds and hearts were scattered all over the place. They were not fully present, in terms of their attention, to the visual and auditory experience in front of them, they were not fully present to their friends and family that they were sitting next to, and they were not geographically present to the people they were text messaging. They had a hand and foot in several different places that were disconnected, leaving them as some sort of radical amputees. They were everywhere and they were nowhere.— Trevin Wax
[…] I got to thinking about how handheld technology affects our sense of personal identity. So many people walk through their lives as ghosts, not fully present to anything, gliding through places and around people but not really seeing or experiencing or being seen or experienced.
An assistant professor of electrical engineering, using about $10 worth of parts from the hardware store, developed a way to turn a cell phone with a camera into a microscope that will allow people far from hospitals to screen for diseases like malaria. According to The New York Times, inventor Aydogan Ozgan has set up a company, Microskia, to bring the product to market. One professor at MIT told the Times, “This makes it possible for ordinary people to gather medical information in the field just by using a cell phone adapted with cheap parts.—