“We are continuing to collect information about BART’s actions and will be taking steps to hear from stakeholders about the important issues those actions raised, including protecting public safety and ensuring the availability of communications networks.”—
This is a great story, because, while the constitutional issues at stake here are kind of murky, it’s easy to forget that the FCC is also supposed to be looking out for communications networks on a purely regulatory and functional level, not even on a fundamental rights level.
“It is no secret, especially here in America, that we live in a post-Enlightenment age in which rationality, science, evidence, logical argument and debate have lost the battle in many sectors, and perhaps even in society generally, to superstition, faith, opinion and orthodoxy. While we continue to make giant technological advances, we may be the first generation to have turned back the epochal clock — to have gone backward intellectually from advanced modes of thinking into old modes of belief. But post-Enlightenment and post-idea, while related, are not exactly the same.”—
This kind of anti-futurism crops up a lot, and I guess I just wanted to add that I don’t entirely believe that this is the truth. It’s important to remember that the enlightened, scientific and rational thinkers and movements that we hold in such high esteem now were almost uniformly the minority (often a very slim minority) in every previous era in which they existed. The Enlightenment was made up of rich people trying to push back against the overwhelming tide of superstition and gut-feelings. I’d say that we now just live in Phase 2 of that push, not the unprecedented reversal of that push.
Since their release in 1978, hit albums like Bruce Springsteen’s “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Billy Joel’s “52nd Street,” the Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute,” Kenny Rogers’s “Gambler” and Funkadelic’s “One Nation Under a Groove” have generated tens of millions of dollars for record companies. But thanks to a little-noted provision in United States copyright law, those artists — and thousands more — now have the right to reclaim ownership of their recordings, potentially leaving the labels out in the cold.
This is kind of crazy news. I think when these revisions were made (and they were fought tooth and nail by record companies even back then), it was hard to anticipate just how much record companies would come to rely on the revenue from these master recordings.
Think about it: this means that every year, from here forward, new songs recorded between 1978 and now will possibly become the property, once again, of the artists who recorded them. Some might even try, as an experiment, releasing some of this stuff to the public domain / creative commons, the kinds of experimental things that couldn’t be done when the rights ultimately belonged to the record companies.
Imagine people selling older music using the newest innovations and technologies… it should be exciting! (Though it will take a likely expensive and lengthy court case to actually happen, I’m still pretty jazzed!)
Ironically, the only way to get to the bottom of this mystery if everyone tries posting Google+ links in their Facebook profile.
The problem is that people are using a ubiquitous social network to try to gather their friends towards the more sleek challenger. People treat Facebook like dumb pipes, like the telephone: content-unaware, conveying a message as delivered. But that’s not what it is.
Now if all you’re interested in is the text, the words on the page, then maybe the parchment might not matter. The Magna Carta matters beyond its material presence, that is certainly true. But no text exists outside of its material manifestation. And this is where the pro-digitization folks seem blind to me. So much of that rhetoric has focused on access: let’s digitize these books/manuscripts/bits of paper and parchment so that more people can read them. And that is a great thing, it really is, especially when they are open access and available to folks who might not be able to travel far and wide to research libraries and who might not have the right credentials to get into those libraries. That sort of access is radical.
But access is not all that digitization can do for us. Why should we limit ourselves to thinking about digital facsimiles as being akin to photographs? Why should we think about these artifacts in terms only of the texts they transmit? Let’s instead think about digitization as a new tool that can do things for us that we wouldn’t be able to see without it. Let’s use digitization not only to access text but to explore the physical artifact. What would be the book equivalent of the extreme zooms, as you have in Google’s Art Project’s depiction of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or in the alternate lighting view of their image of Chris Ofili’s “No Woman, No Cry”? Could we have digitized books that let us virtually unsew the leaves and examine the formes in which they were printed? Could we strip black ink off of pages to let us better see the watermarks and chainlines? Could we alternate between regular light and raking light so that we can see the impression left by bearing type? Those are pretty tame suggestions off the top of my head. What could we come up with if we put some open-minded bibliographers and keen coders in a room together?
I love the idea of introducing the idea of “artifact” into the digital book world, instead of entirely severing text from artifact. Very cool.
Yeah, I think putting in an audio imperfection to watermark files sold to people paying a premium for audio LACKING imperfections, you’ve made a mistake. And the best remedy for that mistake is, unfortunately, piracy.
The story is that Marvel is running a promotion that requires retailers to rip off and send a certain number of DC comic book covers (thereby destroying a portion of their DC sales stock) to get a special edition of some Marvel book. The story raises some interesting questions, but I mostly just love this quote.
“You currently operate under a business plan strongly reliant on lobbied concessions and federal court and federal agency consent decrees and settlements, setting reduced royalty and licensing rates that expire in 2015 and that ordinary rates, not subject to such extraordinary measures, to which you may be subject upon the expiration of these exceptions make your current business plan unsustainable, as discussed in your risk factors on page 15 and 16;”—SEC Told Pandora To Be More Explicit In Its IPO That Its Business Is Likely Unsustainable Due To Crazy Licensing Rates. The headline basically speaks for itself.
“The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco concluded that Bagdasarian’s statements were “particularly repugnant” because they directly encourage violence. “We nevertheless hold that neither of them constitutes an offense within the meaning of the threat statute under which Bagdasarian was convicted,” the appeals court wrote.”—
Note that they did not hold that this speech was constitutional and couldn’t be limited. They held that the law, as written, didn’t apply to what the defendant said. The decision implies that a law written to ACTUALLY apply to the threats the defendant made WOULD be constitutional. Just worth remembering, I think.
Ohio recently passed a law that makes it a crime for inmates to have photographs of their victims (and also for anyone that committed a crime against a juvenile to have ANY pictures of juveniles). Banning acces to DIRECT COMMUNICATION with victims seems like it’s certainly sensible. Thoughts?
I love this quote, and not only because that’s how I think of the internet, but also because it should have (and seems to have had) far reaching effects on education. It’s better to learn how to classify and find information than to actually learn the information itself.
The Flynn effect has always been tinged with mystery. First popularized by the political scientist James Flynn, the effect refers to the widespread increase in IQ scores over time. Some measures of intelligence — such as performance on Raven’s Progressive Matrices in Des Moines and Scotland — have been increasing for at least 100 years. What’s most peculiar is how scores have increased:
1) Scores have increased the most on the problem-solving portion of intelligence tests. 2) Verbal intelligence has remained relatively flat, while non-verbal scores continue to rise. 3) Performance gains have occurred across all age groups. 4) The rise in scores exists primarily on those tests with content that does not appear to be easily learned.
Just a brief follow-up from my “Someone Should Figure This Out” post from not too long ago. Interesting read that provides some context for the Flynn Effect.
This great little article (via Boing Boing) demonstrates that, while statistics are very useful in seeing of something is actually happening, it’s also worth taking a step back to see if what is happening is useful.
There are a lot of situations in which this kind of thinking could reveal some surprising truths. Like, for instance, the music industry has taken a hit since the days of Virgin Megastore, but it might be worth looking at just how huge the industry remains despite that hit. Artists and music distributors are still very rich people.
It’s probably a flawed assumption to say that there were 18 million individuals that committed different acts of piracy. However, let’s say that there were one million people that committed 18 acts of piracy each that month, which is a more reasonable kind of assumption. That still means that about 1.5% of France’s population, according to French law, will be disconnected from the Internet. With these (very liberal) estimates, that’d be the equivalent of the US government shutting off the Internet for every single citizen of Los Angeles.
What I’m getting at is that, as I’ve said over and over, you don’t minimize harmful practices by making commonplace activities illegal, you minimize harmful practices by incentivizing good ones and turning good ones into commonplace activities.
The prosecution is trying to make themselves look a little better by saying that they don’t actually demand the password, only that the accused type it in. By my reckoning, demanding that someone unencrypt their computer for you is certainly just as much self-incrimination as having them tell you their password. We’ll see how this case shakes down.
I’ve changed my mind. **The kind of naming policy that Facebook and Google Plus have is actually a radical departure from the way identity and speech interact in the real world. **They attach identity more strongly to every act of online speech than almost any real world situation does.
I want to walk you through how I’ve come to this understanding. Because I’ve been obsessively listening to Philosophy Bites podcasts, I’m going to use a thought experiment.
Imagine you’re walking down the street and you say out loud, “Down with the government!” For all non-megastars, the vast majority of people within earshot will have no idea who you are. They won’t have access to your employment history or your social network or any of the other things that a Google search allows one to find. The only information they really have about you is your physical characteristics and mode of dress, which are data-rich but which cannot be directly or easily connected to your actual identity. In my case, bystanders would know that a 5’9”, 165 pound probably Caucasian male with half a beard said, “Down with the government!” Neither my speech or the context in which it occurred is preserved. And as soon as I leave the immediate vicinity, no one can definitively prove that I said, “Down with the government!”
In your head, adjust the settings for this thought experiment (you say it at work or your hometown or on television) or what you say (something racist, something intensely valuable, something criminal) or who you are (child, celebrity, politician) or who is listening (reporters, no one, coworkers, family). What I think you’ll find is that we have different expectations for the publicness and persistence of a statement depending on a variety of factors. There is a continuum of publicness and persistence and anonymity. But in real life, we expect very few statements to be public, persistent, and attached to your real identity. Basically, only people talking on television or to the media can expect such treatment. And even then, the vast majority of their statements don’t become part of the searchable Internet.
This is a really smart observation! I have a lot to say about this whole “real name” thing, but this is a very good start!
This article (which is titled “Bootstrapped,” a title that I love) is about how a fake entry in a dictionary caught on and started getting some real traction, despite being nothing more than a copyright trap.
Some background: these kinds of fictitious entries are put into maps, dictionaries, mathematical tables, and anything else where someone could steal huge amounts of work from someone and be screened by the fact that the thing they are selling is supposed to reflect reality accurately, not be creative. If one of these fake words happens to show up, though, it’s suddenly obvious that there’s been some stealing, no matter how fact-based the endeavor might be.
1. I love the idea that a fake word reported to be real by a reputable source is taken as real, rendering its use as a copyright trap dubious almost immediately. That basically means that anyone with authority that can set agendas in their field can’t make stuff up; people will just assume it’s real and totally run with it.
Pretty soon, the fake information will show up organically in other fact-based compendiums, no copying necessary. A dictionary that sees the fake word in a blog post that saw it in the original dictionary can’t be accused of stealing anything. They’re just trying to accurately reflect the warped reality created by the original dictionary.
2. This idea of making fake things real and the role of fakeness in reality is a central theme in the EXCELLENT BOOK Paper Towns, by John Green. Read it.
In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:
“Yes,” said the young man. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?”
“Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.”
Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere.
I’d also like to point out that the series in question, “The Guild” is very funny and quite artful. So not only is the distribution model pretty innovative and effective, that model has also created a good platform for art. It’s kind of ideal!
Bjork is releasing a new album, and she’s starting the release process using a bunch of iOS apps. This is her basically acknowledging that she kind of hopes that someone breaks these apps open and makes her music available in the traditional ways. The Techdirt article asks an important question: ok, yeah, nice attitude and all, but wouldn’t sales have been a bit better if she just released the thing normally as well?