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January 20 2012

17:12

Poll: What Do You Think About the Anti-SOPA Protests?

Can online protests make a difference? In the past, they've had mixed success but with enough people pushing against the twin anti-piracy bills, SOPA and PIPA, the U.S. Congress was forced to pay heed. They have now put off bringing the bills to a vote, while contemplating rewrites and changes to the bills. Google alone collected more than 7 million signatures online for a petition against the bills. So what was your experience on Wednesday during the day of protest? Were you moved or unmoved? Did you take action or did life go on as normal? Share your experience in the comments below, and vote in our poll.


What do you think about the anti-SOPA protests?

For more on the protests, check out these recent stories on MediaShift:

> Mediatwits #34: SOPA Protests Make a Difference; Yang Out at Yahoo

> Your Guide to the Anti-SOPA Protests

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

16:00

This Week in Review: The SOPA standoff, and Apple takes on textbooks with ebooks

The web flexes its political muscle: After a couple of months of growing concern, the online backlash against the anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA reached a rather impressive peak this week. There’s a lot of moving parts to this, so I’ll break it down into three parts: the arguments for and against the bill, the status of the bill, and this week’s protests.

The bills’ opponents have covered a wide variety of arguments over the past few months, but there were still a few more new angles this week in the arguments against SOPA. NYU prof Clay Shirky put the bill in historical context in a 14-minute TED talk, and social-media researcher danah boyd parsed out both the competitive and cultural facets of piracy. At the Harvard Business Review, James Allworth and Maxwell Wessel framed the issue as a struggle between big content companies and smaller innovators. The New York Times asked six contributors for their ideas about viable SOPA alternatives in fighting piracy, and at Slate, Matthew Yglesias argued that piracy actually has some real benefits for society and the entertainment industry.

The most prominent SOPA supporter on the web this week was News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, who went on a Twitter rant against SOPA opponents and Google in particular, reportedly after seeing a Google TV presentation in which the company said it wouldn’t remove links in search to illegal movie streams. Both j-prof Jeff Jarvis and GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram responded that Murdoch doesn’t understand how the Internet works, with Jarvis arguing that Murdoch isn’t opposed so much to piracy as the entire architecture of the web. At the Guardian, however, Dan Gillmor disagreed with the idea that Murdoch doesn’t get the web, saying that he and other big-media execs know exactly the threat it represents to their longstanding control of media content.

Now for the status of the bill itself: Late last week, SOPA was temporarily weakened and delayed, as its sponsor, Lamar Smith, said he would remove domain-name blocking until the issue has been “studied,” and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he won’t bring the bill to the House floor until some real consensus about the bill can be found.

That consensus became a bit less likely this week, after the White House came out forcefully against SOPA and PIPA, calling for, as Techdirt described it, a “hard reset” on the bills. The real blow to the bills came after Wednesday’s protests, when dozens of members of Congress announced their opposition. The fight is far from over, though — as Mathew Ingram noted, PIPA still has plenty of steam, and the House Judiciary Committee will resume its work on SOPA next month.

But easily the biggest news surrounding SOPA and PIPA this week was the massive protests of it around the web. Hundreds of sites, including such heavyweights as Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla, BoingBoing, and WordPress, blacked out on Wednesday, and other sites such as Google and Wired joined with “censored” versions of their home pages. As I noted above, the protest was extremely successful politically, as some key members of Congress backed off their support of the bill, leading The New York Times to call it a “political coming of age” for the tech industry.

The most prominent of those protesting sites was Wikipedia, which redirected site users to an anti-SOPA action page on Wednesday. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales’ announcement of the protest was met with derision in some corners, with Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and PandoDaily’s Paul Carr chastising the global site for doing something so drastic in response to a single national issue. Wales defended the decision by saying that the law will affect web users around the world, and he also got support from writers like Mathew Ingram and the Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal, who argued that Wikipedia and Google’s protests could help take the issue out of the tech community and into the mainstream.

The New York Times’ David Pogue was put off by some aspects of the SOPA outrage and argued that some of the bill’s opposition grew out of a philosophy that was little more than, “Don’t take my free stuff!” And ReadWriteWeb’s Joe Brockmeier was concerned about what happens after the protest is over, when Congress goes back to business as usual and the public remains largely in the dark about what they’re doing. “Even if SOPA goes down in flames, it’s not over. It’s never over,” he wrote.

Apple’s bid to reinvent the textbook: Apple announced yesterday its plans to add educational publishing to the many industries it’s radically disrupted, through its new iBooks and iBooks Author systems. Wired’s Tim Carmody, who’s been consistently producing the sharpest stuff on this subject, has the best summary of what Apple’s rolling out: A better iBooks platform, a program (iBooks Author) allowing authors to design their own iBooks, textbooks in the iBookstore, and a classroom management app called iTunes U.

After news of the announcement was broken earlier this week by Ars Technica, the Lab’s Joshua Benton explained some of the reasons the textbook industry is ripe for disruption and wondered about the new tool’s usability. (Afterward, he listed some of the change’s implications, including for the news industry.) Tim Carmody, meanwhile, gave some historical perspective on Steve Jobs’ approach to education reform.

As Carmody detailed after the announcement, education publishing is a big business for Apple to come crashing into. But The Atlantic’s Megan Garber explained that that isn’t exactly what Apple’s doing here; instead, it’s simply “identifying transformative currents and building the right tools to navigate them.” Still, Reuters’ Jack Shafer asserted that what’s bad for these companies is good for readers like him.

But while Apple talked about reinventing the textbook, several observers didn’t see revolutionary changes around the corner. ReadWriteWeb’s John Paul Titlow noted that Apple is teaming up with big publishers, not killing them, and Paul Carr of PandoDaily argued that iBook Author’s self-made ebooks won’t challenge the professionally produced and marketed ones. All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka did the math to show the publishers should still get plenty of the new revenue streams.

The news still brought plenty of concerns: At CNET, Lindsey Turrentine wondered how many schools will have the funds to afford the hardware for iBooks, and David Carnoy and Scott Stein questioned how open Apple’s new platforms would be. That theme was echoed elsewhere, especially by developer Dan Wineman, who found that through its user agreement, Apple will essentially assert rights to anything produced with its iBooks file format. That level of control gave some, like GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram, pause, but Paul Carr said we shouldn’t be surprised: This is what Apple does, he said, and we all buy its products anyway.

Making ‘truth vigilantes’ mainstream: The outrage late last week over New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane’s column asking whether the paper’s reporters should challenge misleading claims by officials continued to yield thoughtful responses this week. After his column last week voicing his support for journalism’s “truth vigilantes,” j-prof Robert Niles created a site to honor them, pointing out instances in which reporters call out their sources for lying. Salon’s Gene Lyons, meanwhile, said that attitudes like Brisbane’s are a big part of what’s led to the erosion of trust in the Times and the mainstream press.

The two sharpest takes on the issue this week came from The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf and from Columbia Ph.D. student Lucas Graves here at the Lab. Friedersdorf took on journalists’ argument that people should read the news section for unvarnished facts and the opinion section for analysis: That argument doesn’t work, he said, because readers don’t consume a publication as a bundle anymore.

Graves analyzed the issue in light of both the audience’s expectations for news and the growth of the fact-checking movement. He argued for fact-checking to be incorporated into journalists’ everyday work, rather than remaining a specialized form of journalism. Reuters’ Felix Salmon agreed, asserting that “the greatest triumph of the fact-checking movement will come when it puts itself out of work, because journalists are doing its job for it as a matter of course.” At the Lab, Craig Newmark of Craigslist also chimed in, prescribing more rigorous fact-checking efforts as a way for journalists to regain the public’s trust.

Reading roundup: Not a ton of other news developments per se this week, but plenty of good reads nonetheless. Here’s a sample:

— There was one major development on the ongoing News Corp. phone hacking case: The company settled 36 lawsuits by victims, admitting a cover-up of the hacking. Here’s the basic story from Reuters and more in-depth live coverage from the Guardian.

— Rolling Stone published a long, wide-ranging interview with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange as he awaits his final extradition hearing. Reuters’ Jack Shafer also wrote a thoughtful piece on the long-term journalistic implications of WikiLeaks, focusing particularly on the continued importance of institutions.

— Two interesting pieces of journalism-related research: Slate’s Farhad Manjoo described a Facebook-based study that throws some cold water on the idea of the web as a haven for like-minded echo chambers, and the Lab’s Andrew Phelps wrote about a study that describes and categorizes the significant group people who stumble across news online.

— In a thorough feature, Nick Summers of Newsweek/The Daily Beast laid out the concerns over how big ESPN is getting, and whether that’s good for ESPN itself and sports media in general.

— Finally, for those thinking about how to develop the programmer-journalists of the future, j-prof Matt Waite has a set of thoughts on the topic that functions as a great jumping-off point for more ideas and discussion.

15:20

Mediatwits #34: SOPA Protests Make a Difference; Yang Out at Yahoo

danny telegram.jpg

Welcome to the 34th episode of "The Mediatwits," the weekly audio podcast from MediaShift. The co-hosts are MediaShift's Mark Glaser and Rafat Ali. This week the show is mainly focused on the huge day of protest online Wednesday against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) before the U.S. Congress. After Wikipedia, Reddit and other sites went black, and millions signed petitions and called lawmakers, at least 40 representatives and Senators said they wouldn't support the bills in their current form. It was a breathtaking display of online organization that got results.

Special guest Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Watch discussed the role that Google played in educating people and helping them take action. Plus, Sullivan created one of the more creative memes by sending a telegram to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) because she didn't have an active Twitter or Facebook page. (Click the image above-left to see the telegram at full size.) In other news, Chief Yahoo and company co-founder Jerry Yang announced he was stepping down as Yahoo tries again to turn the tanker around. Special guest Eric Jackson, an activist investor in Yahoo, talks about the brightened prospects for the web giant now that Yang has departed.

Check it out!

mediatwits34.mp3

Subscribe to the podcast here

Subscribe to Mediatwits via iTunes

Follow @TheMediatwits on Twitter here

Intro and outro music by 3 Feet Up; mid-podcast music by Autumn Eyes via Mevio's Music Alley.

Here are some highlighted topics from the show:

danny_sullivan headshot.jpg

Intro

1:10: Rafat is going away to get married and to take a long honeymoon trip

3:00: There are more serious issues that should get this much attention

5:00: A clear explanation of the SOPA and PIPA bills before Congress

7:15: Rundown of topics on the podcast

Huge day of protesting SOPA online

8:00: Special guest Danny Sullivan

11:10: Sullivan: Big media companies should make content easier to find, buy

13:00: Should be an easier way to pull down infringing sites

15:10: Sullivan explains why he did the telegram for Sen. Feinstein

19:00: Obama comes out against the bills in their current form

Yang out at Yahoo

Eric Jackson head.jpg

20:20: Special guest Eric Jackson

22:40: Jackson: Investors have shied away from Yahoo stock

25:40: Jackson is heartened by new CEO Scott Thompson

28:00: Jackson: Shareholders could get a special dividend

More Reading

SOPA protest by the numbers: 162M pageviews, 7 million signatures at Ars Technica

Your Guide to the Anti-SOPA Protests at MediaShift

Put Down the Pitchforks on SOPA at NY Times

Where Do Your Members of Congress Stand on SOPA and PIPA? at ProPublica

Protect IP Act Senate whip count at OpenCongress

Senator Ron Wyden To The Internet: Thank You For Speaking Up... But We're Not Done Yet at TechDirt

With Twitter, Blackouts and Demonstrations, Web Flexes Its Muscle at NY Times

Google Blackens Its Logo To Protest SOPA/PIPA, While Bing & Yahoo Carry On As Usual at Search Engine Land

Protests lead to weakening support for Protect IP, SOPA at CNET

Jerry Yang's Departure Means Major Transformations for Yahoo! at Forbes.com

Yahoo's Yang is gone. That was the easy part at CNET

With Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang departed from board, Yahoo seeks a new course at Mercury News

Weekly Poll

Don't forget to vote in our weekly poll, this time about the anti-SOPA protests:


What do you think about the anti-SOPA protests?

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit. and Circle him on Google+

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

December 19 2011

17:41

Daily Must Reads, Dec. 19, 2011

The best stories across the web on media and technology, curated by Nathan Gibbs


1. Joshua Kopstein: Dear Congress, it's no longer OK to not know how the Internet works (Motherboard)

2. Schools explore rules to limit how teachers and students interact online (New York Times)

3. Demonstration of touchless control of smartphones and TVs (BBC News)

4. What does life after IPO look like for Zynga? (Inside Social Games)

5. Apple moves forward with TV plans (Wall Street Journal)

6. Mathew Ingram: Publishers still missing the point on e-book prices (GigaOM)



Subscribe to our daily Must Reads email newsletter and get the links in your in-box every weekday!



Subscribe to Daily Must Reads newsletter

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

September 16 2011

08:36

The Art of Social Change – Why You Should Care

The European Congress of Culture that just ended in Wroclaw, Poland, has been one of the most important European events during this year’s Polish presidency in the EU. Run with impetus, packed with intellectual and artistic personalities, the congress made an attempt to highlight Europe's most important art initiatives. What about this cultural project could be interesting in the context of the NetSquared Community?

Technology Meets Art for the Social Good

I can think about at least two things. First of all, the congress’ motto: “art for social change.” When social change is the goal, the means leading to it are secondary. Many community arts projects already have their roots in new technologies, and the projects presented at the congress were no exception. During the event, I participated in the “Idea Generator” — an experiment inspired by the Social Innovation Camp model. For more than 24 hours, I found myself locked in a designed creative space with 50 other people. I had no Internet connection; they also took away our mobiles. We had nothing else to do than to form groups, think, plan, and work — be creative within this carefully defined setup. Our projects were all art-driven, all supported by technology. The idea was to address a real social need with an art project with a strong online component. A prime example was “e-motion,” the project I worked on myself. “E-motion” is about creating a map layer (in a form of an application). This emotional map would be the result of a joined effort: a week of the tech and art teamwork with young and elderly representatives of a certain local community. After the 24-hour sprint, we presented the results of our hard work in front of the Soul for Europe — a parliamentarian working group of the European Parliament.

 


When Wanting to Make a Change, a Focus on People is a Plus

What I really liked about the project was how in its core, unlike the “real” Social Innovation Camp, it focused on the participants rather than projects. The atmosphere of an experiment, of a performance even, made us feel like we were the artists and the stars of it all. The projects that we were inspired to create were as much about us as they were about the social challenge that we were trying to meet. However, I do not believe that truly meaningful projects can be designed within 24 hours. Great ideas can be born, but not implemented in that timeframe. It seems more honest to focus on things that we can actually achieve in this short period of time. And we can carefully examine our skills, work style, the role we happen to take when working in a group, re-think issues that we find most important. We can also meet people, make connections — all because of and for social change, but the impact cannot be - and never is - immediate.

Europe: The Challenge of Encouraging Diversity and Becoming "One"

The other thing that might be appealing to the international community was a discussion devoted to the topic first highlighted by Zygmunt Bauman during the congress opening speech: "What is Europe?" The European Union, and Europe itself, stands for a social, cultural, and political concept. The idea of Europe, although it is possible to differentiate it from the images that other continents bring to our minds, remains vague, undefined, and complex. We want to feel European because we know that, unless we form a union, we will eventually become unimportant, and overshadowed by the world’s big economies. However, we still have not figured out what this attempt of becoming “one” really means. We all speak different languages, we cultivate small local differences, and — interestingly enough — we want to make this diversity our strength.

Fussiness And Euro-Centrism

I couldn’t help noticing the euro-centrism of the event when I found this little note in the daily newspaper that depicted ECC discussions so carefully: The film awarded with the Silver Lion at this year’s Film Festival in Venice is “People Mountain People See”. It tells the story of Chongqing, the world’s biggest city — located in China — with 35 million inhabitants. Chongquing's population almost exceeds that of Poland. And it is bigger than many European nations — groups of people that were privileged enough to form their own complex cultural identity. The old continent is fascinating, but the history of a long cultural dominance over the world spoiled it. Whoever wants to go international by going European has to keep this in mind. Europe is many things, and all of them deserve your full attention.

All the materials linked are available in English language.

July 31 2011

18:31

On Twitter - NBC News taps @InsideCongress for special Sunday, July 31

Lost Remote :: Several months ago, NBC News scheduled a massive, one-day shoot inside the U.S. House and Senate. Little did they know that last week’s shoot — and tonight, Sunday’s, airing of “Inside Congress” (@InsideCongress ) — would be perfectly timed with intense negotiations surrounding the debt crisis.

NBC launched the @InsideCongress Twitter account, asking users to suggest questions for Brian Williams’ interviews with Congressional leaders. @InsideCongress Washington D.C. includes tweets from @NBCNews producers and crew working on "Taking the Hill: Inside Congress" with @bwilliams. The special airs Sunday, July 31, 2011, at 7 p.m. ET.

Continue to read Cory Bergman, www.lostremote.com

July 01 2011

21:27

Politics and business as usual - Google hires 12 new lobbying firms

Politico :: Google’s new lobbyists will push back against antitrust affronts. - A federal probe of Google’s search industry dominance has the company mobilizing in Washington: It announced Friday it would hire 12 new lobbying firms in a move that will grow its Beltway footprint, influence and balance sheet. It will likely be a mix of new, outside Democratic and Republican pickups taking Google’s message to Congress, the FTC and beyond.

Via ssommerhalter

Continue to read Tony Romm, www.politico.com

July 28 2010

18:10

Get Ready to Say Goodbye: Congress API V2

As of Monday, August 9, we're pulling the plug on version 2 of the Congress API.

April 20 2010

06:42

AbreDatos, a project of Open Data in Spain

I come from Argentina, where the government isn’t obliged by law to give away public information to citizens or NGOs that request it. There are, though, some access-to-information projects ready to be discussed in Congress in the next few days. Still, this is why I’m always amazed by all the open data initiatives in the USA and UK.

But now I can show you an open data project from Spain called Desafío AbreDatos, organized by the ProBonoPúblico association and supported by the Basque Government.

AbreDatos 2010 consists of two days’ programming by groups of 4 developers building websites, apps, widgets or mashups with at least one source coming from a public organization in digital format (APIs, XML, CSV, SPARQL / RDF, HTML, PDF, scanned images). Many of those sources can be found in datospublicos.jottit.com.

Of course the initiative wants to encourage the opening up of public data and transparency of administrations, and some of the projects are very interesting (my favorite is a website that shows if Congress staff really earn their salaries).

One to keep an eye on.

March 31 2010

14:00

Maine Congresswoman requires earmarks to be submitted by video

One of my favorite dorky words is "affordances". As in, what are the affordances of, say, a push-bar across a fire-exit door: pushing, even when the user is panicked, and definitely does not afford for pulling.

Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine is using affordances brilliantly by requiring people to ask for earmarks via video submission. Video's affordances are that it's easily viewed, easily shareable, easily archiveable, easily citeable--and thus doesn't afford for less ethical requests:

As your Member of Congress, I am committed to doing everything I can to support the economic and community development important to the people of the First District---that means fighting for sound federal investments in our community that can grow our economy and create jobs.

This year, I am unveiling a new, transparent and open approach to how I receive, review and submit these federal funding requests: every requesting organization has been asked to make a short presentation, which has been recorded and posted online. This is in addition to extensive written materials they submit describing their funding request and how it will benefit Maine's first district. All of this information is particularly geared towards jobs retained or created and examining the long-term economic benefit of federal dollars. The videos and project descriptions will be posted on my website and the public is invited to comment on the projects.

Via My 2011 Appropriations Requests

February 23 2010

18:28

Introducing Version 3 of the Congress API

Version 3 of the Congress API offers many additions and revisions, making the API easy to use and more useful.
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