August 17, 2007

*More* Google Bashing [3:13 pm]

Myopias of the traditional press: It’s not journalismpdf

Many publishers consider the Internet, and Google in particular, a greater threat to their livelihoods than Osama bin Laden. Among those who have taken particular offense at Google are some current and aspiring newspaper publishers, including Sam Zell whos in the process of buying Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times, who once famously asked, “If all of the newspapers in America did not allow Google to steal their content, how profitable would Google be?”

[...] But Google now is doing yet another thing that’s bound to get under journalists’ skin. This month, it announced plans to let people and organizations comment on the stories written about them. [...]

There will be some valuable responses too, plugging holes in stories or correcting mistaken impressions. Google, however, won’t help readers separate the factual wheat from the public-relations chaff — a reminder that Google may strive to be the world’s index, but it’s not journalism.

Rebuttal from the Online Journalism Review: The L.A. Times tells its readers: ‘Shut up’

The Los Angeles Times this morning insulted its readers in a stunning editorial that compared Google with Osama bin Laden and showed why Times editors simply do not understand the medium that is growing to dominate the news publishing industry. [...]

[...] Smart news organizations need to be blowing up their old ways of producing journalism — not just publishing it, but reporting it as well — in order to better provide more accurate and insightful journalism to beat the increased competition from millions of new content publishers online. To do that, publishers need to hear fresh perspectives, from their employees… and from the public.

But what does The Times tell them with this editorial?

“Shut up.”

Related: How the New York Times can fight back and win

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Embarrassment Via WikiScanner [12:37 pm]

See? On the internet, they *do* sometimes know if you’re a dog! CIA, FBI computers used for Wikipedia editspdf

The program, WikiScanner, was developed by Virgil Griffith of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico and posted this month on a Web site that was quickly overwhelmed with searches.

The program allows users to track the source of computers used to make changes to the popular Internet encyclopedia where anyone can submit and edit entries.

WikiScanner revealed that CIA computers were used to edit an entry on the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. A graphic on casualties was edited to add that many figures were estimated and were not broken down by class.

[...] Griffith said he developed WikiScanner “to create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike (and) to see what ‘interesting organizations’ (which I am neutral towards) are up to.”

Later: Seeing Corporate Fingerprints in Wikipedia Edits

[WikiMedia Foundation founder Jimmy] Wales, who called the scanner “a very clever idea,” said he was considering some changes to Wikipedia to help visitors better understand what information is recorded about them.

“When someone clicks on ‘edit,’ it would be interesting if we could say, ‘Hi, thank you for editing. We see you’re logged in from The New York Times. Keep in mind that we know that, and it’s public information,’ ” he said. “That might make them stop and think.”

Later: Slate’s Wikipedia Unmasked

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A Repeat of the MTV Model [8:58 am]

After all, what were music videos but ads anyway? Now, the Clicking Is to Watch the Ads, Not Skip Them

Oddly, the trend runs counter to another powerful impulse among consumers: the growing desire to avoid advertising. TV viewers, for instance, are spending billions of dollars a year for TiVo and other digital video recorders that help them zip through or zap commercials, and click-through rates for banner Web ads are declining.

The difference between “watching a commercial on a Web site and in your living room,” said Michael Jacobs, executive vice president and executive creative director at MRM Worldwide in New York, is that online is “an opt-in audience; you’re choosing to be there.”

“It’s the nature of the Web to offer a destination you know you can go to and know what you’re going to see,” said Mr. Jacobs, whose agency is part of the McCann Worldgroup division of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

“There’s certainly an audience for entertainment as part of the offering,” he added. “The numbers seem to support it.”

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Another Way To Bitch About Google [8:50 am]

Are we really prepared to make “search” a basis for copyright infringement prosecutions? I mean, that’s the logical conclusion of the way that the MP3 battle has been fought, so we shouldn’t be surprised by these suits, but it reveals just how poorly we have chosen to frame the policy question. Lyrics sites out of tune with copyrights

How does that song go? We’ve all used the Internet to search for the lyrics to songs whose tune we know but words we just can’t muster.

Often the Web sites we end up on have misspellings, incomplete and inaccurate lyrics, not to mention annoying pop-up and flashing ads. But there’s another problem with the sites–many of them are violating copyright by republishing the lyrics without permission. And they are making money doing so from the Google text ads that appear on the site.

That’s money that could be going into the pocket of people like Alexander Perls Rousmaniere, a Los Angeles-based artist who writes and produces dance club tracks, including some pop hits.

Perhaps not so surprisingly, Google–the company that’s been sued for $1 billion by Viacom because of its YouTube unit and has been the target of increasingly testy attacks from all sorts of publishers–finds itself in the center of yet another copyright storm. This time, it’s the people who write music–some of them well known and some of them obscure–complaining that the search giant is helping others step on their copyrights.

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Another “Shock of the Old” Moment [8:34 am]

As Billboards, Public Phones Always Work

There is a reason for their survival: Public telephones are one of the stranger cash cows in city finance. Not because of the coins that are fed into them, but rather because of the millions upon millions that companies are willing to pay to put ads on them.

The phone kiosks generate $62 million in advertising revenue annually — and last year the city got $13.7 million of the take. Last year its income from ads was triple what it pulled in from calls.

Over all, the number of pay phones in New York is falling, as it is throughout the country. But in a phenomenon unique to New York, the phones are more valuable than ever, thanks to the intense competition among advertisers for attention in a city of eight million.

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Hey, We Have It, We Should Use It! [8:29 am]

Liberties Advocates Fear Abuse of Satellite Images

For years, a handful of civilian agencies have used limited images from the nation’s constellation of spy satellites to track hurricane damage, monitor climate change and create topographical maps.

But a new plan to allow emergency response, border control and, eventually, law enforcement agencies greater access to sophisticated satellites and other sensors that monitor American territory has drawn sharp criticism from civil liberties advocates who say the government is overstepping the use of military technology for domestic surveillance.

“It potentially marks a transformation of American political culture toward a surveillance state in which the entire public domain is subject to official monitoring,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists.

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