June 3, 2007

Picking on Ed [11:10 pm]

We’ll see if he lets him get away with it: The Internets, They Can Be Cruel

Professor Felten describes himself on the Net neutrality issue as believing “there is a problem, but I don’t think government can solve it.” But he said his sympathy for the senator [Ted Stevens] had nothing to do with a shared outlook. Instead, he preached humility.

“The Internet is pretty complicated,” he said. “Nobody understands everything about how the Internet works.” He then spoke about the complexity of “emergent behavior” and some other ideas I hadn’t heard before.

When I told him that, of course the Internet wasn’t a bunch of tubes, it was a “bunch of wires,” he laughed. “Saying the Internet is a ‘bunch of wires’ is like saying your body is a bunch of meat.”

Know-it-all.

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OT: Some Glitches To Work Out [4:51 pm]

Hi, all — sorry about the garbled text in some of the entries. The latest WordPress upgrade seems to have exposed some earlier flaws in the way that the system dealt with UTF-8 characters that I had noted, but not been disciplined about. So, there are going to be some messy looking entries until I hunt all the error down. Sorry.

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Watson Gets His Dataset [1:49 pm]

And he won’t be the last. But what will we do with it (see, for example, this earlier post)? And who will get access? 6 Billion Bits of Data About Me, Me, Me!

JAMES D. WATSON, who helped crack the DNA code half a century ago, last week became the first person handed the full text of his own DNA on a small computer disk. But he won’t be the last.

Soon enough, scientists say, we will all be able to decipher our own genomes — the six billion letters of genetic code containing the complete inventory of the traits we inherited from our parents — for as little as $1,000.

Just what we will do with the essence of who we are once we bottle it, however, is likely to be as much a social experiment as a scientific one.

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The Exceptional Industry Is An Exception No Longer? [1:27 pm]

Porn flourished with the rise of the internet, as opposed to other parts of the entertainment industry. But now several barriers to entry other than distribution (production and cultural, to name two) are falling. An extremely resilient industry trying to find a better business model: For Pornographers, Internet’s Virtues Turn to Vices

The Internet was supposed to be a tremendous boon for the pornography industry, creating a global market of images and videos accessible from the privacy of a home computer. For a time it worked, with wider distribution and social acceptance driving a steady increase in sales.

But now the established pornography business is in decline — and the Internet is being held responsible.

The online availability of free or low-cost photos and videos has begun to take a fierce toll on sales of X-rated DVDs. Inexpensive digital technology has paved the way for aspiring amateur pornographers, who are flooding the market, while everyone in the industry is giving away more material to lure paying customers.

Related: Web, reality TV help make porn pervasivepdf; discussing the APA’s recent report: Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls (Executive Summary)

Also, from today’s LATimes — A suite with a fireman’s pole? (pdf)

It used to be that only managers of by-the-hour motels were happy to have their properties mistaken for bordellos. But with soccer moms taking erotic dancing classes at the local community college and Carl’s Jr. using Paris Hilton (read: sex) to sell hamburgers, some hotels aren’t afraid to offer guests more than X-rated pay-per-view movies.

Julie Albright, who teaches classes on human sexuality and social psychology at USC, says easy access to sexual messages and images has shifted the bounds of what’s considered socially acceptable.

“It’s the pornification of mainstream society,” she said. “There’s more overt sexuality in our media, on television. More people have cable TV. More people are on the Internet.”

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