New Yorker Archives In Digital Form

80 Years of The New Yorker to Be Offered in Disc Form — I will be interested to see what the format will actually be; eBooks? Or will they gamble on an open format?

The collection, titled “The Complete New Yorker,” will consist of eight DVD’s containing high-resolution digital images of every page of the 4,109 issues of the magazine from February 1925 through the 80th anniversary issue, published last February. Included on the discs will be “every cover, every piece of writing, every drawing, listing, newsbreak, poem and advertisement,” David Remnick, editor of the magazine, has written in an introduction to the collection.

The collection, which will also include a 123-page book containing Mr. Remnick’s essay, a New Yorker timeline and highlights of selected pages from the magazine, is being published by the magazine and will be distributed to stores by Random House. It will have a cover price of $100, although it is likely to be sold in many bookstores and online for considerably less. The magazine also plans to issue annual updates to the disc collection, and it expects a first printing of 200,000 copies.

BitTorrent and Distribution

The Other Side of BitTorrent

But one industry’s threat is another’s opportunity. There’s an upside to allowing viewers to transfer copyright material content over BitTorrent.

As noted by Japanese entrepreneur Joi Ito, fans of the Japanese anime series Naruto regularly post translated episodes of the show to BitTorrent, which attracts more fans to the series.

The relatively obscure program has spawned a global following in online forums, internet relay chat channels and fan sites.

Later: The Other Side of BitTorrent

The Realities of eTailing

Study: Shoppers Naive About ‘Customized’ Retail Pricing Online

Most American consumers don’t realize Internet merchants and even traditional retailers sometimes charge different prices to different customers for the same products, according to a new survey.

The study, “Open to Exploitation,” found nearly two-thirds of adult Internet users believed incorrectly it was illegal to charge different people different prices, a practice retailers call “price customization.” More than two-thirds of people surveyed also said they believed online travel sites are required by law to offer the lowest airline prices possible.

The study, expected to be released Wednesday by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, is the latest to cast doubt on the notion of sophisticated consumers in the digital age.

The report – Open to Exploitation (press release, 17 Facts American Shoppers Need To Know — But Don’t)

From the report Overview:

The arrival of behavioral targeting and price discrimination in a severely competitive offline/online marketplace indicates that the U.S. is entering a new Way. Retailers in the twenty-first century are basing their relationships with consumers on fundamentally new assumptions and technologies. Underlying these changes are crucial issues of social fairness and marketplace transparency. A few experimental studies have shown that when researchers confront consumers with situations featuring price discrimination, the consumers reduce their trust in the retailers doing the discriminating. Until now, however, no one has asked what consumers would say if retailers justified price discrimination to consumers with arguments that sometimes they may benefit from it.

In fact, until now no one has explored what the U.S. public knows and thinks about these activities that promise to be key parts of twenty-first century marketing. How much do Americans know about who is allowed to control behavioral and other personal information about them in the online/offline marketplace? Are consumers aware of the existence of price discrimination based on behavioral targeting and other profiling? If they are aware of it, do they accept it as part of economic life, do they resent it, or do they simply believe that the government places limits on it in the interest of fairness?

Later: Online Shoppers Naive About Online Prices

Later, these two related articles – You’ve Been Scammed Again? Maybe the Problem Isn’t Your Computer; Women Are Keen to Shop Online. Merchants Are Eager to Oblige.

Unnerving Library Practice

Want to use the Web? Your fingerprint, please [pdf]

The Internet may have changed our intellectual landscape by opening doors to vast amounts of knowledge, but it’s also made that landscape increasingly treacherous. Meanwhile, efforts to improve security — whether scanning for fingerprints or requiring more personal information for access to wireless networks — raise questions about how to keep a valuable resource open to all without letting it be abused, and whether it’s possible to balance security with privacy.

[…] While the Naperville library has had a couple of encounters with the law over Internet use — once when someone was apparently sending threatening e-mails to a local journalist, and once when a man was charged with committing an act of public indecency while viewing a porn site — the fingerprint decision was prompted by the more mundane realization that patrons, especially children, were swapping library cards to sign on to the Internet. Like a number of libraries, Naperville requires a library card and ID to go online, and it allows parents to limit children’s Internet access with a filtering system. To bypass filters, kids simply used their friends’ cards.

Still, the move worries some privacy advocates, including the American Library Association (ALA). Just the idea of requiring computer users to identify themselves is troublesome, says Judith Krug, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “They say they destroy the records…. The problem is that while you can delete them from your mail, you have several layers under there,” says Ms. Krug. “I understand the question [of Internet abuse] and I’m sympathetic to it, but I don’t know how to deal with it. Where do you draw the line?”

tp://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/06/03/1157250&from=rss”>Anonymous Library Cards An Option?

OT: Another Mystery

With the unveiling of Deep Throat, USAToday speculates about another long-standing mystery: You probably think this story’s about… [pdf]

For more than 30 years, one of America’s best-kept secrets has remained a pop culture mystery. No, not Deep Throat. We’re talking about Carly Simon and her hit song You’re So Vain. Who was she singing about?

“It’s about Mark Felt!” Simon, 59, joked by phone Wednesday from her home in Martha’s Vineyard, referring to the former FBI official who has said he was Deep Throat.

[…] But unlike the Watergate principals, Simon says she’ll never reveal the answer, not even when she or the song’s subject dies. “I don’t see why I ever would. What would it advance?

USAToday on Ringtones

Cell phone ringtones dial into pop culture [pdf]. Nothing really new here, except possibly this bit of economic info:

Revenue is typically split by carriers, music labels, artists and independent sellers. Carriers usually reap the biggest cut. “Lots of people change every few weeks, and ka-ching! It’s another $1.50 for the carrier,” [Ovum Research’s Roger] Entner says.

Online Product Differentiation

A BusinessWeek article on MusicGiants: tackling one of the objections to current online music – lossy compression: Is This Digital Music’s Future? [pdf]

[A]nother question is going to become an important issue for an increasing percentage of consumers: Namely, what will the sound quality of this music be? Today, songs pulled off the Net are skimpy facsimiles of the ones you get on a CD. They’re highly compressed — stripped of millions of digital bits that leave them with about one-tenth of the data found on a CD track (that’s assuming the typical “bit rate” of 128 kilobits-per-second). You can transfer the files fast, but the sacrifice is sound quality.

That’s fine for now, since most people listen to digital music on their PCs or MP3 players — devices normally used with cheap speakers that mask any sound quality deficiencies. And compression has played a vital role in the development of the market so far. It’s the magic that makes iPod-mania possible, by enabling even tiny devices with limited storage to carry thousands of songs.

But if the digital music revolution is to reach its full potential — an all-digital future, perhaps, in which CDs racks are no longer needed — analysts say the industry will have to hit a far better-sounding note. Already, tech-savvy consumers are dabbling with ways to distribute their digital tunes more freely, to play them on their good living-room speakers, wall-rattling home theaters, or slick car audio systems.

[…] MusicGiants offers some interesting features that provide a glimpse into the future of digital music. The service is clearly designed to be used with a big-screen TV in the living room, not the PC in the den. The company has designed a wireless keyboard and handheld mouse to navigate the site, and three remote-control manufacturers are designing compatible models. And the uncluttered user interface was created with the technically challenged in mind. It’s devoid of geek-speak. Rather than “rip,” for example, there’s an icon simply labeled “Copy from CD.”

Related: Some frank talk from another BusinessWeek Q&A article — A Cacophony of Music Formats

Reader James Morse asks: I’m confused about which digital music player to buy, an iPod or an MP3 player? Why are there different formats? Can either play the other’s format?

[…] There are lots of technical arguments about the virtues and flaws of each of these formats and protection schemes, but it’s really all about locking users into certain services and devices. The net effect is to make things very confusing for consumers.

EFF (Donna?) Broadcast Flag Speculations

CommDaily: MPAA May Not Seek Broadcast Flag in DTV Bill (also Donna’s Copyfight post)

Also, a CRS report: Copyright Protection of Digital Television: The “Broadcast Flag”

From the report:

Possible Implications of the Broadcast Flag. While the broadcast flag is intended to “prevent the indiscriminate redistribution of [digital broadcast] content over the Internet or through similar means,” the goal of the flag was not to impede a consumer’s ability to copy or use content lawfully in the home, nor was the policy intended to “foreclose use of the Internet to send digital broadcast content where it can be adequately protected from indiscriminate redistribution.” However, current technological limitations have the potential to hinder some activities which might normally be considered “fair use” under existing copyright law. For example, a consumer who wished to record a program to watch at a later time, or at a different location (time-shifting, and space-shifting, respectively), might be prevented when otherwise approved technologies do not allow for such activities, or do not integrate well with one another, or with older, “legacy” devices. In addition, future fair or reasonable uses may be precluded by these limitations. For example, a student would be unable to email herself a copy of a project with digital video content because no current secure system exists for email transmission.

In addition, some consumer electronics and information technology groups contend that the licensing terms for approving new compliant devices are limiting, and may potentially stifle innovation, especially with regard to computer hardware. While the FCC in its Report and Order declined to establish formal guidelines for which “objective criteria should be used to evaluate new content protection and recording technology,” it has stated an intention to take up these issues in the future.

Finally, consumer rights and civil liberties groups worry about the possibility that such content protections will limit the free flow of information and hamper the First Amendment. This concern is expressed most prominently regarding news or public interest-based content, or works that have already entered the public domain. Despite suggestions raised by consumer rights groups, the FCC has so far declined to adopt language to prevent content providers from using the broadcast flag on such programs, largely because of the “practical and legal difficulties of determining which types of broadcast content merit protection from indiscriminate redistribution and which do not.”

See also Broadcast Flag at Half Mast?; Slashdot’s MPAA Giving Up on Broadcast Flag… For Now?

The Evolution of the Cellphone

Not really that new, but a big push is indicated here: $5,000? Put It On My Cell

In the beginning, the cell phone was a phone — handy for making calls but little else. Then manufacturers added cameras, e-mail, music, and even television to their phones, making the gadgets an essential part of daily routines. Now, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc. wants to entrench the once-humble cell phone even deeper into consumer lifestyles by turning it into an electronic wallet. After introducing handsets last year that double as debit cards — allowing users to pay for small purchases such as soda or coffee from vending machines and convenience stores — the company this year plans to make those phones full-fledged credit cards.