November 6, 2006

Catching Up: KaZaA Settlement? [7:14 pm]

Kazaa Said to Agree to Pay $10 Million to Music Publishers

Kazaa, the file sharing network that record companies have been battling for years, has tentatively resolved the last of the major lawsuits that were hanging over its head.

Under the settlement with the National Music Publishers’ Association, Kazaa agreed to pay music publishers and songwriters a “substantial sum,” the association said. Though the exact terms of the deal remain confidential, a person with knowledge of the agreement said the amount was about $10 million.

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Creativity and Music [7:07 pm]

Or something: A New Wave of Musicians Updates That Old-Time Sound

“We’ve been called a band that takes old music and makes it sound new,” Mike Merenda said. “On this album we take new music and make it sound old. We play these instruments because they’re the instruments we know how to play, but what’s exciting is to take them out of the realm of expectation.”

[...] “There have always been the preservationists and the experimentalists in old-time music,” Ms. Ungar said. “The only difference now is that the experimentalists are more dominant. Most musicians in our generation aren’t such sticklers for tradition. They aren’t saying: ‘If you change the music, you ruined it. You’ve shown a lack of respect.’ When you feel less compulsion to duplicate an old recording, you can be freer and have more fun.

On the other hand, counters Mr. Rodriguez-Seeger, her bandmate, “I thank God every day for people like my Uncle Mike and places like the Library of Congress. Without them, we’d be toast. If they hadn’t preserved our cultural past, those of us who like to steal old things and make something new of them wouldn’t have anything to steal from.”

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Missed This [3:18 pm]

Spy agencies now share the Wikipedia way - pdf

The CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have created a computer system that uses software from a popular Internet encyclopedia site to gather content on sensitive topics from analysts across the spy community, part of an effort to fix problems that plagued prewar estimates on Iraq.

[...] The system allows analysts from all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies to weigh in on debates on North Korea’s nuclear program and other sensitive topics, creating internal websites that are constantly updated with new information and analysis, officials said.

The system, which the public cannot access, is divided into classification categories starting with “sensitive but unclassified” and ending at “top secret.” The program is still being developed, officials said, and has not replaced procedures used to create intelligence reports for President Bush and other policymakers. But it is being used to assemble preliminary judgments for a National Intelligence Estimate on Nigeria and may replace unwieldy methods for creating such reports.

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What Could Be More Boring? [11:50 am]

After all, isn’t everyone in Second Life, by definition, already playing Big Brother? Linden Lab’s server logs, anyone? “Big Brother” to be launched in Second Life - pdf

The popular reality TV show “Big Brother” plans to expand into virtual reality with a new edition in the online world of Second Life, the Dutch unit of television programmer Endemol said on Monday.

[...] Endemol will select 15 international Second Life contestants to spend at least eight hours a day inside a specially constructed glass-walled house for one month. As in the real-world version of “Big Brother,” the contestants will be voted off until only one remains.

[...] “Big Brother Second Life represents a fantastic opportunity to amass knowledge of the virtual world. In the future, we will use this experience to develop specific content for online communities,” said Endemol Netherlands Managing Director Paul Romer.

As I’ve said before, I’m getting old.

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The Digital Border [11:41 am]

U.S. Plans to Screen All Who Enter, Leave Country - pdf

The federal government disclosed details yesterday of a border-security program to screen all people who enter and leave the United States, create a terrorism risk profile of each individual and retain that information for up to 40 years.

[...] The department [of Homeland Security] intends to use a program called the Automated Targeting System, originally designed to screen shipping cargo, to store and analyze the data.

[...] Civil libertarians expressed concern that risk profiling on such a scale would be intrusive and would not adequately protect citizens’ privacy rights, issues similar to those that have surrounded systems profiling air passengers.

[...] “ATS started as a tool to prevent the entry of drugs with cargo into the U.S.,” said one [Congressional] aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “We are not aware of Congress specifically legislating to make this expansion possible.”

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Google Spreads Out [7:18 am]

Newspapers to Test Plan to Sell Ads on Google

In a move into the old-fashioned business of ink on paper, Google is going to start selling advertisements that will appear in the print editions of 50 major newspapers.

Google’s plan will give the publishing business a high-tech twist: the company will expand its computer system, which already auctions off advertisements on millions of Web sites, to take bids for newspaper ads as well. Hoping to reach out to a new crop of customers, such as small businesses and online retailers, many of the largest newspaper companies, including Gannett, the Tribune Company, The New York Times Company, the Washington Post Company and Hearst, have agreed to try the system in a three-month test set to start later this month.

For Google, the test is an important step to the company’s audacious long-term goal: to build a single computer system through which advertisers can promote their products in any medium. For the newspaper industry, reeling from the loss of both readers and advertisers, this new system offers a curious bargain: the publishers can get much-needed revenue but in doing so they may well make Google — which is already the biggest seller of online advertising — even stronger.

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Adaptation and Distribution [7:14 am]

The CMJ Big Break? Not Such a Big Deal

Recording contracts aren’t as glamorous as they used to be, not with major labels floundering. MTV and commercial broadcast radio haven’t helped by narrowing their offerings to a few nearly incompatible genres: self-pitying emo rock, bump-and-grind rhythm-and-blues and catchphrase hip-hop. At the CMJ showcases, some bands were still aiming for careers in current mass-market rock. They were the ones slavishly imitating Fall Out Boy’s punk-pop hooks and making music-video rock-star faces.

[...] The do-it-yourself circuit was once a patchwork of live shows and sporadic college-radio exposure, but the Internet has changed that. Now, the most obscure band can put up a page on myspace.com and have its music streamed on any Internet connection, any time. So a showcase at CMJ or its springtime counterpart, South by Southwest, is no longer such a make-or-break moment.

But a live performance, something more tangible, hi-fi and sloppy than a faceless MP3 file, can still make a band vivid. Born Ruffians, a band from Toronto, writes crisp, staccato songs about awkward feelings, harking back to the early Talking Heads. The songs can easily stand on their own. But onstage the band’s lead singer, Luke LaLonde, brought an extra dollop of endearing, unabashed nerdiness to the music.

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Personalization Technologies & Voting [7:10 am]

A handful of articles the day before the midterms:

  • New Telemarketing Ploy Steers Voters on Republican Path

    During the automated calls, which last about a minute, the moderator first asks whether the listener is a registered voter or which candidate he favors. Voters receive different sets of questions depending on how they answer. The system then asks a series of “yes” or “no” questions about different issues, and each answer guides the system forward.

    For instance, in the Montana race, if a voter agrees that liberal-leaning judges seem to go too far, the moderator quickly jumps to another question that highlights the differences between Mr. Tester and the Republican incumbent, Senator Conrad Burns: “Does the fact that Jon Tester says he would have voted against common-sense, pro-life judges like Samuel Alito and John Roberts, and Conrad Burns supported them, make you less favorable toward Jon Tester?”

    In Tennessee, after listeners are asked if terrorists should have the same rights as Americans, this comparison between Representative Harold E. Ford Jr., the Democratic Senate candidate, and Bob Corker, the Republican, is given: “Fact: Harold Ford Jr. voted against the recommendations of the 9/11 commission and voted against renewing the Patriot Act, which treats terrorists as terrorists. Fact: Bob Corker supports renewal of the Patriot Act and how it would treat terrorists.”

  • With bits of data, parties assemble a voter portrait -

    Seeking to match a highly successful Republican strategy that many say resulted in President Bush’s reelection in 2004, Democrats have spent many millions of dollars on “microtargeting,” compiling what they believe is the most sophisticated and accurate portrait of voters they have ever assembled, relying on consumer data about everything from car ownership to hunting licenses to magazine subscriptions.

    Now, according to party leaders, even the smallest campaigns across the country can constantly upload and download data about millions of potential voters. Campaign specialists said the data could be crucial in improving field organizations, which can make up to a 4 percent difference in elections — more than enough to be decisive in many close races.

Some more general political articles

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