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November 30, 2007

Institutional truthiness

Dan Gillmor continues to hold Time’s feet to the fire for it’s reluctance to correct Joe Klein’s factual errors.

Time is giving us as good as example as we could have asked for of the down side of relying on institutions that depend on being perceived as authoritative.

[Tags: media joe_klein authority everything_is_miscellaneous dan_gillmor ]

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Facebook chooses sides

I’m glad Facebook decided to reverse its most egregious defaults so that not clicking “yes” will now mean “no.” Good.

But in this matter Facebok overall is showing itself not to be on its users side. There is no reason not to give users a big red opt out button — making the whole thing opt in would be even better — except that FB knows we would use it. FB is choosing its own interests over its users’.

And, no, not every company does that. Sure, there’s self-interest in all that we do and all that our organizations do. But companies choose sides. Almost all companies use their customers. A few are truly on their customers’ side. Now we know where FB stands. [Tags: facebook ]

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November 29, 2007

Howard Rheingold’s most excellent review

Pardon my self-puffery, but this means a lot to me. Howard Rheingold, who is way up on my list of Net heroes, picked his three favorite books of the year for strategy + business, the Booz Allen Hamilton magazine:

Of the three books, I believe David Weinberger’s is the standout; it is not just prescient and useful, but profound. Weinberger looks deep below the obviously lucrative business model of Internet search and sees how the ability to tag and search extends human knowledge the way mathematics and the alphabet did. Everything Is Miscellaneous is not just the best book on behavioral theory of 2007, it’s the best book I’ve read all year — a rare combination of important social science and business insight, and fun to read…

Thank you, Howard. [Tags: everything_is_miscellaneous howard_rheingold ]

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EMI reducing its sue-our-customers budget

From the DigitalFreedom site:

EMI done paying to prosecute its customers

What happens when the people you pay to represent you, stop acting in your best interest? If you are EMI – one of the largest record labels in the world who has recently come under new ownership – you stop footing the bill. The RIAA has spent millions of dollars to alienate and even prosecute its customers and apparently at least one of its Big Four members is beginning to wonder why and at what cost.

It has been reported that British label EMI is considering a significant cut to the amount of money it provides the trade groups on an annual basis. “EMI, along with each of the Big Four record labels contributes approximately $132.3 million to fund the operations of the IFPI, RIAA, and other national recording industry trade groups. That money is used in part to fund the industry’s antipiracy efforts—including the close to 30,000 file-sharing lawsuits filed by the record labels in the US alone.”

Today’s announcement should come as no surprise to anyone, and certainly not the RIAA. EMI has been at the forefront of understanding their customer’s needs and wants – leading the way in the recent movement away from DRM locked music, and opening the door to customer choice and content flexibility for Amazon.com, Wal-Mart.com, and even Microsoft who now offers millions of DRM free songs.

The RIAA has publicly acknowledged that their strategy to ‘combat piracy’ is costing its members millions with no end in sight. Let’s hope the RIAA gets the message EMI is trying to send and puts their resources back into serving the best interest of its members instead of prosecuting their customers.

[Tags: drm copyright emi riaa marketing ]

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November 28, 2007

Facebook user poll: Privacy, please

The Wall Street Journal did a poll of 200 Facebook users (which doesn’t sound like a very significant number). Theresults:

If Facebook could tell your friends what you do on other sites — buying movie tickets, clothes, etc. — when would you want to share that information? Of the 200 respondents, 1.5% chose always, 30.5% chose often, sometimes or rarely and 68% chose never.

[Tags: facebook privacy ]

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Facebook user poll: Privacy, please

The Wall Street Journal did a poll of 200 Facebook users (which doesn’t sound like a very significant number). The results:

If Facebook could tell your friends what you do on other sites — buying movie tickets, clothes, etc. — when would you want to share that information? Of the 200 respondents, 1.5% chose always, 30.5% chose often, sometimes or rarely and 68% chose never.

[Tags: facebook privacy ]

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Isenberg and Crawford on Verizon’s new openness pledge

Yesterday I blogged Harold Feld‘s analysis of Verizon’s pledge to open its wireless networks. Here’s David Isenberg’s take on it.

If David and Harold — two of the smartest, sharpest, and most dedicated defenders of network values — find hope here, then hope is in order.

On the other hand, Susan Crawford raises an eyebrow of suspicion… [Tags: verizon net_neutrality david_isenberg harold_feld susan_crawford ]

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November 27, 2007

Kindle and openness

Harvard Business Review online is running a brief post of mine on why Kindle may end up as an open device, and, more generally, why there’s often competitive pressure for openness.

[Tags: kindle amazon ebooks openness ]

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understanding Verizon’s open wireless

Harold Feld explains the what and why of Verizon’s announcement that it will open its wireless networks to any device and any application.

[Tags: harold_feld verizon net_neutrality ]

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Berkman lunch: Michael Anti on Chinese blogging

Michael Anti was a NY Times correspondent in Beijing and was a well-known Chinese blogger until the government shut the blog down. He is now a Niemann Fellow at Harvard. He’s giving a Berkman lunchtime talk. (As always, I’m typing quickly, paraphrasing, and missing stuff. You can hear the entire talk at MediaBerkman.)

Michael speaks informally. What happens when decentralized, open blogging meets the centralized, closed Chinese society? From 2004-2005, most dissenting news of China came through blogs. After that, it comes through chat rooms. Chat rooms started in Chinese in around 1998. Now China has gone back to that — very Web 1.0, Michael says. Email and mailing lists are also important for sharing dissenting news about politics, religion, etc. “We don’t use Web 2.0. Why not?” Web 2.0 is democratizing and decentralizing. But blogs aren’t really decentralized because they need centralized servers, which make them easy for the government to control. It is much harder for the government to find chat rooms and shut them down.

Before the Internet, the media were propaganda. With the Internet, people can do the job of traditional media in providing another voice. Michael finds this a more useful way of thinking about the Internet than considering it to be new media.

Sina.com aggregates Chinese newspapers for free. In 2005, they set up their own blog service. The bloggers are VIPs: journalists, professors, celebrities. Blogging has become very mainstream. Like the HuffingtonPost, it’s invited and not really the voice of the people. Bloggers there are like traditional columnists. The bloggers don’t serve as a check on the media; the media are the bloggers.

Michael was a hotel receptionist. He began writing on the Net about the Net. He got hired in 1999 as a journalist on the basis of that. H Thousands of netizens were hired as journalists. Journalism therefore “has an Internet heart.” Journalists welcomed bloggers during the “golden years” of 2004-2005. After that, bloggers and journalists couldn’t post anything sensitive.

The Chinese blogosphere is about recruiting people into the old media, not about new media.

“The guy who censored my blog… we’re close friends.” They talk frequently. “Sorry I have to close down your blog.” “I understand. How about if this weekend we go kayaking?” It’s his job to shut down blogs, but inside he is very liberal.

If you want to find citizen journalism in China, turn to the geeks. And they have “copycats” of the services on the Web that are easier to censor. (Michael says that gmail is popular and very important to the Chinese. It’s too important to government and business to block it.)

There is a network of elite blogs and there are chat rooms. These are the two faces of the social Internet in China. The dark side is that the government has successfully controlled the Internet. Everything is free to talk about except politics.

He doesn’t see any immediate change. China is becoming Singapore, not the US. He hopes that social networking and chatrooms will eventually steer the country towards freedom.

Q: What percentage of the Chinese people are involved in social movements and social networking?
A: Only the middle class and those committed to social change. That’s why I say “elite networking.”

Q: Is most blogging urban or rural?
A: I think blogging happens only in the cities.

Q: What’s the government doing to try to monitor and control chat rooms?
A: Conservatives like chat rooms, as well as liberals do. (In 2005, the anti-Japanese movement spread via chat rooms.) Anonymity is easy in chat rooms.

Q: (doc) Is Red Flag a knockoff of RedHat?
A: Yes. The government doesn’t trust RedHat. It only uses Red Flag. Microsoft gave much of the Windows source code to the government so the government verify there are no back doors.

Q: (ethanz) What percent of Chinese people do you think are aware of the levels of restriction and censorship, and are inclined to find a way around them?
A:The personal life of Chinese is so free that the first time I came to Europe and America I found it so conservative. In China we have sex before marriage, are more tolerant of homosexuality, we have no conservative party, we have no God, it’s very easy to create new companies. The Chinese government allows the people to have so much freedom about sex and business so they’ll accept the political restrictions. The new generation accepts this exchange. Only very weird people care. At least 95% of people don’t care about censorship. I don’t see any hope to change this. In the US, the Internet is Che Guevara. In China, it’s an harmonic ship.

Q: What do you mean by making China into a “big Singapore”?
A: Happy citizens without any political ideas.

Q: (colin) What’s next?
A: Forget anything centralized. E.g., Twitter won’t work. The elites will get further networked. If the political situation changes, China will become liberal very quickly because the media is already liberal on the inside. And if there’s an organizational collapse, the social networks on the Internet will come to the fore. I’m very confident about the future of China because of the Internet.

Q: (me) If there were anonymous blogging, would more people do it?
A: No, because in China it’s all about the name. If you don’t have a recognized name, who cares what you say? Tom Freidman without that name would be no one.
Q: Pseudonyms that gain traction by getting links, etc.?
A: Sometimes a blogger will break news, but after the media picks it up, the blogger is out of the picture.

Q: (colin) Anything that international companies can do?
A: If Congress banned Google from doing business with China, what would happen to gmail? If Microsoft left China, what about Messenger? For Congress, it’s easy to be black and white. But the Chinese people depend on these tools to communicate about freedom and rights. The real cost is Chinese freedom. (Yahoo is different. It’s “a real bad thing.” It “didn’t do any good to China.”) The Chinese authorities want to embrace the Internet, to be part of the international community, not like North Korea. So we should encourage them to do more with the Internet and to continue to say that the Internet is good. The outside world should encourage as well as blame the Chinese government. The Chinese people don’t like blame and don’t like being told what to do. [Tags: michael_anti china blogs censorship berkman ]

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