January 31, 2008

A Little Market Research [2:40 pm]

From this week’s New York Times “Most Wanted” page [local copy]:

A look at the top 10 artists based on sales of album, and the top 10 artists based on downloads of digital track shows a divide. Fans of popuar and country music prefer albums, and fans of hip-hop and R&B download tracks. Only Linkin Park [...] made the list in both categories.

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Surveillance Tech: US-Made [2:27 pm]

And, of course, field-tested here: Keeping an Eye on China’s Security

[W]ith China now becoming wealthier and its citizens more mobile, the government is now embracing the extensive use of street-by-street surveillance technology — and the United States government is becoming less sure that American companies should be playing a central role in the effort.

The Commerce Department is drafting new rules on what security equipment American companies can sell to China. The move comes in response to rapid advances in surveillance technology and the increasing involvement of American companies in the Chinese market as the Olympics approach.

People involved with the process said the Commerce Department was singling out biometric technology — face-recognition software, in particular — which Chinese security agencies could use to identify political and religious dissidents.

[...] American companies heavily promote their equipment as being the most advanced on the market, in part because much of it was developed to fight the threat of terrorist attacks in the United States. Current American regulations allow the export of most surveillance equipment if regulators believe it could be used in a factory or office complex and is not intended exclusively for police work.

In addition to multinationals that export surveillance equipment from the United States, there are other security companies that are incorporated in the United States — and are mainly bankrolled by American hedge funds — but with virtually all of their employees in China.

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Technology: It Taketh and It Giveth [12:29 pm]

HDTV: The Super Bowls guaranteed MVPpdf

IMPROVED televisions hardly seem like harbingers of social change, but this technological evolution very well may alter how some people spend their time and relate to others.

If a football game or movie is exponentially better when viewed at home than in a stadium or theater, are we more likely to withdraw into our own private worlds? If a new generation of viewers grows up watching TV on some high-definition cellphone of the future, will fewer families gather around the big set together?

Though researchers are just beginning to study the effect of HDTV on human behavior, the new technology represents what sociologists call the privatization of leisure: People are less likely to seek entertainment in public social settings.

Whats complicating the outlook for the future, UCLA sociology professor David Halle says, is the Internet.

“While people are watching their HDTV, theyre also text-messaging their friends. This is not privatization in the old sense, but now in context of this tremendous web of relationships.”

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