Emergent Applications — YouTube, Police Oversight and Public Discourse

Consumer oversight of the LAPDpdf

It is a relatively recent development for police behavior to be subject to such close and instantaneous public scrutiny. The public was once dependent on TV photographers, with their then-bulky equipment, for images of controversial police activity. Then, in 1991, George Holliday was trying out his new video camera when he saw police officers clubbing Rodney King. His tape, replayed countless times on TV, changed history.

Today, any bystander is likely to be reasonably proficient with a cellphone camera and to have the know-how — or at least, a preteen at home with the know-how — to post the images on YouTube. That makes certain subjects, like arrests, more likely to be captured and displayed repeatedly. On YouTube are thousands of other arrest-related videos from around the world, in addition to the Cardenas clip.

That’s mostly a good thing. Public confidence in the police requires monitoring outside the regular channels of self-review, and technology has democratized the process. (Of course, it could also be used to subvert it.) The video-viewing blogosphere has become a sophisticated community, famous for ferreting out fakes and identifying nuances. The blog debate on the Cardenas beating is typical in that it includes the usual pro- and anti-police diatribes, but it goes further, spotlighting details of the video. Was the suspect, for example, pinching one of the officers in the thigh, and could that have justified the brutal punches?

Later: The WaPo points out that this is an international development — some stories from Malaysia: Amateur Videos Are Putting Official Abuse in New Lightpdf; later: A third incident, a new videopdf

See also Malaysia: Cellphone video captures police excess

And *I* Thought “Red and White” Was A Grocery Store Chain

Sports Artist Sued for Mixing Crimson and Tide

Daniel A. Moore, who painted “The Sack” and scores of other renditions of signal moments in Alabama football history, said he felt something similar last year, when his fax machine began to spit out a lawsuit from the university.

Mr. Moore’s paintings, reproduced in prints and on merchandise, violated the university’s trademark rights, the suit said. It asked a federal judge to forbid him to, among other things, use the university’s “famous crimson and white color scheme.”

Athletes, sports leagues and universities around the nation have become increasingly aggressive in protecting what they say is their intellectual property, and their claims have met with a mixed response from judges and fans. But almost no one here thinks the suit against Mr. Moore is a good idea.


I know that there has been a real paucity of postings lately. It’s been kind of busy here, and I don’t expect that to change much before the end of the week. I have a few tasks, including getting ready for a Visiting Committee meeting next week as well as a couple of papers, so my apologies. I will be back, though!

Catching Up: KaZaA Settlement?

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.

Creativity and Music

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.”

Missed This

Spy agencies now share the Wikipedia waypdf

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.

What Could Be More Boring?

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 Lifepdf

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.

The Digital Border

U.S. Plans to Screen All Who Enter, Leave Countrypdf

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.”

Google Spreads Out

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.

Adaptation and Distribution

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.