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May 31, 2004

Public Media's Role in the Digital Age

First Monday is one of my favorite publications, and this article illustrates why. The topic is slightly beyond what we normally cover here at SNTReport.com, but given its applicability to what libraries do and provide, I thought it a welcome departure.

The paper was presented at the Fifth Annual Conference on Libraries and Museums in the Digital World, sponsored by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

"The other phenomenon is that we’re rapidly moving beyond the one–way mass communications model to one in which there is increasing interaction between members of the audience and the communicators, and among members of the audience as well. Interactive media are taking many new forms, including the use of cell phone text messaging for audiences to register their responses to broadcast programming. Viewers and listeners and readers go online to participate in forums and conversations, and to access additional audio, video and text which were not included in the broadcast program.

"But what is 'the voice' with which they hear us speaking when they visit with us online?"

David B. Liroff. The Power and Problems of Public Media. First Monday. May 2004.

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Berry Sexy

"Blackberry devices have given Washington professionals a way to Ping-Pong witty messages back and forth with potential love interests around the clock. The BlackBerry's mobility makes exchanging personal e-mail at all hours a lot more convenient than using a computer, and it offers protection from the awkwardness that voice communication can present.

"Never mind liquid courage: this is digital courage."

Jennifer 8. Lee. A Blackberry Throbs and a Wonk Has a Date. The New York Times. May 30, 2004.

(Editor’s Note: The Times allows free access to their stories on the Web for seven days before sending the stories to the paper’s fee-based Archive.)

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Apple's iPod Not the Dominant MP3 Player

"Apple officials are careful to state that they're referring only to markets in the U.S., Japan, and Western Europe, where they believe they have good tracking data. Although no one monitors overall international numbers, most analysts have assumed Apple has well over 25% of worldwide digital-music player sales. They base that view on Apple's strength in those three key markets.

"Too bad their assumption is off base: The iPod's global market share may actually fall well below the 25% mark."

Alex Salkever. iPod: Leader, but Not Ruler. Business Week. May 27, 2004.

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Royale with Cheese... WiFi on the Side

"For Wayport, McDonald's is a new kind of gig. The company has built a successful presence in the travel and hospitality sector, providing hot-spot services to mobile professionals—the people most likely to use them—in more than 800 hotels, a dozen airports and 16 Laptop Lane business service centers.

"So, why on earth is it fooling around with retail? Does it really expect to make money in an environment where laptops share tables with special sauce, Cherry Cokes and sticky fingers?"

Carol Ellison. Want WiFi With That?. eWeek. May 26, 2004.

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Many Switch to Broadband

"High-speed connections have been around for several years, but Americans have been signing up for them at record rates recently, thanks to falling prices and a growing number of options.

"After years of hiccups, broadband providers have also streamlined the application and installation processes and, crucially, expanded the coverage areas. As of the end of last year, 23 percent of households nationwide had signed up for a broadband plan, according to the Yankee Group, a market research firm."

Many high-speed access options are offered by cable companies, who make most of their money by enticing consumers to add additional, premium cable services into the total access package in exchange for a lower monthly broadband price. For example, if you add premium channels on your cable plan, you usually will pay a slightly lower monthly fee on the broadband portion of your package than if you ordered the broadband package alone.

Telephone companies who offer broadband access, like Verizon, traditionally have operated in the same way. For example, if you get Verizon's Freedom Package with DSL, which combines unlimited domestic local and long-distance telephone service with DSL service, you will pay less than if you purchased each service unbundled.

Typically, though, the single-price, bundled package includes options that some customers may find unnecessary -- for example, I really didn't need the caller ID option -- therefore customers tend to pay more for a single-price bundle because they are paying for options they neither want nor use.

And, of course, the prerequisite with both telephone companies has been that in order to get the broadband access from them at all, you also had to be an existing telephone service customer. The net effect: if you wanted to -- or had to -- switch phone carriers, you also lost your broadband service. "Consumer groups argued that this practice locked customers into services with the Baby Bells, while shutting out other DSL competitors," according to a News.com story.

This practice, however, is changing. Last week, Verizon announced that it would follow the lead of Qwest Communications and offer broadband service to consumers regardless of whether those customers also buy its local phone service. Qwest announced their "naked" DSL offering in February.

Ken Belson. The Express Lane to the Internet, Now With Fewer Bumps. The New York Times. May 30, 2004.

Marguerite Reardon. Verizon to Offer "Naked" DSL. News.com. May 26, 2004.

Marguerite Reardon. Qwest unties DSL from its phone service. News.com. Feb. 25, 2004.

(Editor’s Note: The Times allows free access to their stories on the Web for seven days before sending the stories to the paper’s fee-based Archive.)

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New Creative Commons Licenses

Creative Commons has just released its second version of licenses. Among other things, version 2.0 cuts the number of available licenses to six (from 12), makes attribution standard, and allows an option that may require hyperlinks as attribution.

Currently, SNTReport.com licenses original content on this site through the first version of CC's non-commercial, no-derivative-works, attribution license (also known as "Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial 1.0"). SNTReport.com will continue to license original content on this site through version 2.0 of the same license.

Creative Commons. Announcing (and Explaining) Our New 2.0 Licenses. May 24, 2004.

Creative Commons. Choose License. No date.

Update: One of the new licenses is Recombo, which allows artists to "sample, mash-up, or otherwise creatively transform a work for commercial or noncommercial purposes," subject to certain conditions.

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May 30, 2004

Get a Life

(Editor's Note: This, ahem, is not me. Yet.)

"To celebrate four years of marriage, Richard Wiggins and his wife, Judy Matthews, recently spent a week in Key West, Fla. Early on the morning of their anniversary, Ms. Matthews heard her husband get up and go into the bathroom. He stayed there for a long time.

"'I didn't hear any water running, so I wondered what was going on,' Ms. Matthews said. When she knocked on the door, she found him seated with his laptop balanced on his knees, typing into his Web log, a collection of observations about the technical world, over a wireless link."

Katie Hafner. For Some the Blogging Never Stops. The New York Times. May 27, 2004.

(Editor’s Note: The Times allows free access to their stories on the Web for seven days before sending the stories to the paper’s fee-based Archive.)

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IM the Vote

"Nonprofit groups have begun collecting the cell numbers of college-age voters as part of wider registration efforts. Their aim is to contact young people through wireless calls and text messaging to improve upon the turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds, which the Census Bureau reported was 32 percent in 2000.

"But in opening a wireless front on apathy among young adults, voter groups are also raising privacy questions about how the cellphone numbers might be used. At least one organization, the New Voters Project, plans to offer the numbers it is now gathering to political marketers to increase access to younger voters. What makes such a list of cell numbers valuable, and potentially open to misuse, is that at this point there is no national cellphone directory, making the numbers hard to come by for outsiders."

Mark Walsh. Wanted: Young Voters' Cellphone Numbers. The New York Times. May 27, 2004.

(Editor’s Note: The Times allows free access to their stories on the Web for seven days before sending the stories to the paper’s fee-based Archive.)

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Entire Cities Become WiFi-Enabled

"The upscale suburb of Chaska, MA will soon become one of the few, but growing, U.S. cities almost entirely within a 'hot spot' of high-speed wireless access to the Internet. The Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) network will blanket virtually every home, business and city office with broadband-grade bandwidth —that is, super-fast access to the Internet without a hard-wired connection.

"Chaska is also one of the first cities to offer Wi-Fi as a municipal service that competes with commercial broadband providers. At about $16 a month for home users, the city service will be cheaper than the national companies."

Associated Press. Wireless Network to Turn City into One Big Hot Spot. eWeek. May 26, 2004.

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Big City, USA: Unplugged

"Portland got knocked off its throne as America’s most unwired city as Intel released its latest survey of America’s most unwired cities. The new leader is the San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland basin. Portland dropped to fifth place behind Austin, Washington D. C. and Orange County, if you can imagine."

"With all due respect to the naysayers, who fear that wireless access will open your network to hackers, America is rapidly going wireless."

John Tredennick. Who’s Unwired? Law Practice Today. May 2004.

Intel Corporation. Most Unwired Cities Survey. No date.

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Cable Turns to Internet Telephony

"U.S. cable company Comcast said Wednesday during an annual meeting that it will outfit half its network with voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) by year's end and have the entire network outfitted by the end of 2005. The executives said that the company will use the technology to sell phone services this year in Philadelphia, Indianapolis and Springfield, Mass. Comcast will begin selling phone service nationwide in 2006 to about 40 million households, the executives said.

"With Comcast embracing the technology--a move that follows last month's VoIP endorsement from rival Cox Communications--some analysts said the cable industry is in its best position yet to challenge the Bell operating companies, which have dominated the local phone market for a century."

Ben Charny. Comcast Jumps on VoIP Train. News.com. May 26, 2004.

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Controversy Over Movable Type License Increases

(Editor's Note: This post is long overdue. It concerns the controversy over the new licensing structure for Movable Type 3.0. We believe the licensing changes, and attendant controversy, are quite important given the number of people who use and depend Movable Type and TypePad, Six Apart's well-regarded blogging tools.)

"With 3.0 we have revised our licenses and pricing structure to address this issue. We feel that with this new release we have created licensing that allows and encourages the development of software and services paid or free. We will be offering a variety of licensing options for small to large sized business, educational institutions and we are also beginning to sign-up qualified companies who are interested in hosting Movable Type (we'll be announcing a few partnerships very soon).

"And for the many large institutions and businesses who want to use Movable Type, we finally have a coherent licensing structure that benefits both the end user and Six Apart.

"Yes, there will be a free version of Movable Type 3.0."

Mena Trott. It's About Time. Mena's Corner. May 13, 2004.

Six Apart. Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition. May 15, 2004.

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May 29, 2004

Is Search Getting Worse?

"News of Google’s initial public offering has turned the search engine business into headline news. Reports of the pending IPO have sent both big-name competitors and second tier search properties into a tizzy of activity and initiatives.

"For serious web searchers more interested in search engines as information seeking tools rather than investment vehicles, the current buzz surrounding search engines disguises the fact that, despite persistent attempts by the search engines at promoting their indexes as better than ever, search is getting worse."

Rita Vine. Coming Soon - The Death of Search Engines?. LLRX.com. May 24, 2004.

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Multimedia: Search's Next Frontier

"Some media companies with audio and video content are aggressively seeking ways to get programming listed in Internet search engine results. Search engine companies are eager to extend their empires from the static world of text to video and audio, but technical hurdles are holding them back.

"Most 'spiders' that crawl and index the Web are effectively blind to audio and video content, making certain content -- like radio programming featured on National Public Radio -- all but invisible to mainstream search engines. Indexing files by looking at their audio features is still a work in progress for big search engines, including Google. So NPR eventually hit on a plan to instantly turn audio broadcasts into text files that can be recognized and picked up by search engine spiders."

Stefanie Olsen. Search Engines Try to Find Their Sound. News.com. May 27, 2004.

Update: "NPR appears to be cloaking content, something that got WhenU thrown out of indexes at Google and Yahoo earlier this month with much publicity. Google has long warned against cloaking, showing its spider content that a regular user can't see. NPR's method of showing transcripts does exactly this."

Danny Sullivan. Cloaking By NPR OK At Google. Search Engine Watch. May 28, 2004.

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Better Building, Fewer Hours

Such an irony: build a new library building that costs $165 million, cut service hours by 15 percent ...

Rebekah Denn. Jewel of a Building Will Still Have Shortened Hours. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. May 20, 2004.

... but the building still has books.

Michael Upchurch. The Real Star of Seattle's Central Library? The Books. Seattle Times. May 23, 2004.

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RSS vs. E-Mail

"E-mail as a sales driver has had dramatic success over the years. The debate should move away from RSS v. E-mail and move to how RSS can become part of the marketing mix."

Alex Barnett. Email v. RSS, Let Us Move On.... Alex Barnett Blog. May 25, 2004.

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RSS Raves & Revenues

"As each day passes, more RSS news feeds become available. What's crucial to understand with this is that whoever provides the reader to the public also owns the engine, and THAT is the business end of RSS. It means advertising can be crafted into the design of the reader and delivered based on the choices, habits and interests of the end user. It's contextual advertising nirvana. This type of business currently does not exist, but it's ideal for local media outlets."

Terry L. Heaton. TV News in a Postmodern World: The Busine$$ of RSS. Donata Communications. No date.

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May 28, 2004

The Ulitmate Location Finder

"Dodgeball.com is an online networking community that allows users to keep track of their friends as well as broadcast their own whereabouts during an evening out, via their mobile phones.

Registered users check in via their mobile phones from one of 4,000 bars or restaurants that are listed on the Dodgeball Web site. The site immediately broadcasts their location to all their friends, and also checks for friends of their friends who are at restaurants or bars within 10 blocks."

Dodgeball.com is available in 10 major U.S. cities, including New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

Ranajit Sankar Dam. Barhoppers Connect Via Cell Phone Network with Dodgeball. Relish. May 27, 2004.

Attribution: SNTReport.com first discovered news of the Dodgeball service through a posting in The Shifted Librarian, edited by Jenny Levine.

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Searching the Law

"From products designed to search data on a single PC, to those aimed at small, medium or large companies, there is an ever growing number of vendors promoting full-text search products for document management systems (DMS), litigation support, databases, email, intranets, and some that try to do it all, high-end, enterprise search engines such as Autonomy, Verity and Recommind, just to name a few.

"Where does WestKM and the Lexis Total Search products fit into the mix?"

LawLib Tech. West KM/Lexis TotalSearch or Enterprise Search Engine?. May 25, 2004.

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E-Mail is Spammed to Death

"Some e-mail volume may have been taken over by instant messaging, as people often stay in touch that way now. But I've never been an IM user, and the rise of instant messaging doesn't explain the sudden change from e-mail to snail mail that I'm seeing. And although my e-mail address is somewhat buried and perhaps my reader base is not as skilled as before, I'm not convinced that these facts explain other people's observations about an e-mail decline.

"It's quite possible that spam alone is killing e-mail. Add all the bogus messages containing viruses and you can see people becoming disillusioned."

Editor's Comment: One of the reasons that folks have moved to instant messaging (IM) and the blog/syndication combo is to return to receiving reliable information that is not compromised by advertisements or viruses. (A recent study estimates that nearly 70 percent of all e-mail messages nowadays are spam.) But is it just a matter of time before blog and IM users have to bear the same spam burden? I already receive advertisements cloaked as RSS news items in my aggregator.

BBC News. Spam Messages on the Increase. May 25, 2004.

John C. Dvorak. The Death of E-Mail. PC Magazine. May 24, 2004.

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Give It Away Now!!

Courtesy of the Creative Commons blog, I have just read an interesting story about how a creator might use the Creative Commons licensing program and still manage to make some money in the process. In particular, the story analyzes Lawrence Lessig's decision (along with his publisher, Penguin) to distribute free electronic copies of his new book Free Culture, and the business model any author might use in order to earn money from a creative work in the age of digital reproduction and distribution.

"Let's say you've written a book. A book that is worth publishing. Let's say you've got a publisher for your book. A publisher that people have heard of. What happens when you convince your publisher to give your book away, for free, to anyone who wants it? This isn't about giving review copies to journalists, this is about converting the book into an electronic format and giving it away to the general public so that they don't have to spend their hard-earned cash on buying a hardcopy for their hardwood bookshelf.

"If you believed the RIAA and other proponents of draconian copyright legislation, what happens when there is a choice between a free (legal or otherwise) download and a bought physical product, people will choose the free version over the bought version. Thus, say the RIAA, each time the free version is downloaded a sale is lost and the creators (read: rights holders) lose out financially.

"By this logic, giving away your book, even with the consent of your publisher, is a bad idea. Commercial suicide even. It's not something that any sane author should do, surely?"

Suw Charman. Something for Nothing: The Free Culture AudioBook Project. Chocolate and Vodka. May 24, 2004.

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New Microsoft OS to Focus on Searchability

"Longhorn, the long-anticipated upgrade to Windows, will have a completely new, search-centric file system. One of Microsoft's lead developers last week offered a tantalizingly brief preview of search on this upcoming system."

Chris Sherman. An Insider's View of Microsoft's Longhorn Search. Search Engine Watch. May 24, 2004.

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Apple's DRM for iTunes

"On a panel a few weeks ago, I asked the head lawyer for Apple's iTunes Music Store whether Apple would, if it could, drop the FairPlay DRM from tracks purchased at the Music Store," said Fred von Lohmann, counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "He said 'no.' I was puzzled, because I assumed that the DRM obligation was imposed by the major labels on a grudging Apple.

"Thanks to the recent Berkman Center report on the iTunes Music Store, I think I understand. Apple's warm embrace of DRM here is every bit as reprehensible as Lexmark's effort to use DRM to eliminate interoperable printer cartridges and Chamberlain's effort to use DRM against replacement garage door clickers."

Electronic Frontier Foundation. FairPlay: Another Anticompetitive Use of DRM. Deep Links. May 25, 2004.

A Copyfighter's Musings. Welfare Economics of FairPlay and DRM Lock-in. May 15, 2004.

Digital Media Project, Berkman Center for Internet & Society. iTunes: How Copyright, Contract, and Technology Shape the Business of Digital Media. (.pdf) (Green Paper, v. 1.2) April 10, 2004.

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WebEx's Training Center Upgraded

WebEx, the online conferencing service, has released its newest Training Center, which integrates e-commerce capabilities into the service so companies can charge attendees to take a training course or charge back a department within an enterprise for training. The revisions to the Training Center helps companies make money from offering training.

Matt Hicks. WebEx Turns Training into Cash. eWeek. May 25, 2004.

Webex. Training Center Datasheet.

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May 27, 2004

Finding a Middle Ground for Social Software

"The other day, a CIO was complaining about how users at his company were running roughshod over corporate systems and networks. The most recent problems came to light when a network failure cut off e-mail and Web access throughout the company's far-flung operations.

"Instead of simply calling it a day, creative employees quickly implemented workarounds. One group installed a quick and dirty Wiki to enable team communications. Another took advantage of America Online Inc.'s Instant Messenger application to route files and messages between geographically remote employees. Others used Web e-mail and wireless networking to keep the company's business flowing."

"The CIO moved quickly to lock down corporate desktops and laptops to prohibit users from installing unapproved software. It's not the first time I've seen such a dramatic, knee-jerk response to user-supplied productivity tools."

Jim Louderback. Finding Middle Ground in Office Use of Collaboration Tools. eWeek. May 24, 2004.

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Update: Yahoo!'s Paid Inclusion Program

"In March, Yahoo rolled out its new Site Match paid inclusion program, which quickly drew wide-spread criticism. It was a terrible blow for Yahoo in its quest to win searchers away from Google. The move infuriated plenty of advertisers, as well.

"What is Yahoo doing? How does it impact the advertiser and searcher? Are there changes Yahoo should be making? Let's dive in."

Danny Sullivan. Yahoo Reawakens The Paid Inclusion Debate. Search Engine Watch. May 17, 2004.

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Leveraging Search for Advertising

Search and sponsored links company Kanoodle has announced it will license technology and audience data from 24/7 Real Media to launch a behaviorally targeted ad network called BehaviorTarget. The new offering marks the first time behavioral targeting technology will be used in a sponsored links environment, though at least one competitor is developing such a network."

Bambi Francisco. Behavior Sponsored Links Unveiled. CBS MarketWatch. May 24, 2004.

Zachary Rodgers. Kanoodle to Target Sponsored Links Behaviorally. ClickZ News. May 24, 2004.

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Ring in the New Copyright Battle

"Xingtone's new software, which lets anyone create unique cellular phone rings for free, has some record labels worried it will kill the cash cow that is the ringtone. The software evokes the same 'oh wow, oh no' reaction from the labels that greeted the original Napster. The fear is that people will make ringtones out of pirated songs, thus compounding the file-sharing problem while robbing the music industry of a new source of revenue.

The quest for a distinctive cell phone ring has created a $3 billion global market for everything from computer-generated renditions of such classics as The Temptations 'Just My Imagination,' to near-CD-quality snippets of popular songs like OutKast's 'Hey Ya!.'"

Dawn C. Chmielewski. Do-It-Yourself Ringtone Software Encroaching on Potential Profits, Some Record Labels Say. The Mercury News. May 17, 2004.

Xingtone. Getting Started with Xingtone.

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File Sharing Battles Continue

Mere days after our luddites and legislation posting, SNTReport.com has learned that Italy's parliament has voted in favor of imposing jail sentences of up to three years on anyone caught uploading or downloading unauthorized copyrighted material to and from the Net. The legislation makes Italy one of the first countries to enact legislation that specifically criminalizes file sharing and P2P activities.

While several credible studies have published recently have provided reliable evidence that file sharing and peer-to-peer networking are not the sole -- or even primary -- causes of the music industry's lost revenue, Leigh Phillips's brief story in Digital Media Europe suggests that today's children are simply doing other things.

"Under-25s spend much more money per year on mobile products than on music. Manifestly, this is not simply a case of youngsters downloading music instead of purchasing CDs, it is a wholesale shift in mindset and way of life from earlier generations," said Phillips. "The mobile, to many young people, maintains a place in their life that pop music did for my generation and that of my parents. There was a survey published last year that found that UK teens are also spending far less on cigarettes and chocolate than preceding generations. What are they spending the money on? Why, mobile phones, of course.

"Thus, this shows, once more, that what is affecting music sales is so much broader than the issue of downloading and piracy."

Leigh Phillips. Mobile Phones are the New Rock and Roll. Digital Media Europe. May 24, 2004.

Tony Smith. Italy Approves 'Jail for P2P Users' Law. The Register. May 20, 2004.

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May 26, 2004

Is Google Really the Best?

"A study conducted by Vividence, a market research firm, found that Google's success is based largely on the strength of its brand and its clean and simple presentation of search results. Google does not appear to benefit from any advantage based on actual search results returned, and places last in the index measuring overall ad activity and awareness. The report is the first to examine how the customer's online experience affects perceptions of search results and advertising, as well as search engine brands."

Matt Hines. Study Questions Google's Long-Term Dominance. News.com. May 25, 2004.

Vividence. Google Wins Users' Hearts, But Not Their Ad Clicks. May 25, 2004.

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Library Leads University Blog Initiative

"With the April launch of UThink, a program under the library's auspices to offer free blogs to the university community, the University of Minnesota is among the first university libraries to become the center for blogging. Blogging has become popular on campuses nationwide but not necessarily sponsored by the academic library. UM asserts that blogging is key to the library's mission, from collecting 'campus history' to facilitating academic discourse."

Andrew Albanese. UM Library Offers Free Blogs. Library Journal. May 17, 2004.

University of Minnesota University Libraries. UThink: Blogs at the University Libraries. April 12, 2004.

University of Minnesota University Libraries. UThink FAQ. No date.

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FTC Holds Info Session on RFID

(Editor's Note: Given the implications of RFID for libraries, librarians and other information professionals who work in and around the library environment may be very interested in this.)

"The FTC has extended until July 9, 2004 the deadline for filing comments on “Radio Frequency Identification: Applications and Implications for Consumers.” On April 12, 2004, the agency announced that it will hold a workshop to 'explore the uses, efficiencies, and implications for consumers associated with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. The workshop will address both current and anticipated uses of RFID tags and their impact on the marketplace.'"

Federal Trade Commission. Announced Action for May 20, 2004.

Federal Trade Commission. Radio Frequency IDentification: Applications and Implications for Consumers.

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Project Blogs for Project Management

"Posting a work plan on a Weblog made three key things happen. First, it forced the team to strategically organize its initiatives into a coherent roadmap fit for broader internal consumption. Next, it created a sense of accountability for these initiatives within the team because we had collectively agreed on the initiatives and documented the process. Finally, posting our plan for the entire company to see helped foster a sense of accountability to our non-IT colleagues within the company."

Chad Dickerson. Blogging Behind the Firewall. InfoWorld. May 21, 2004.

Chad Dickerson. RSS: Really Simple Solution. InfoWorld. Jan. 30, 2004.

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E-Gov Initiatives are Mixed

"The drive by public agencies to provide information and services on the Internet opens up a way for Americans to contact government that was not available a decade ago. This report (.pdf) takes stock of how e-government is faring by placing e-gov in the context of the other ways people get in touch with government, such as telephone calls, in-person visits, and letters. It then assesses whether different means of contact – or other factors – are connected to the rates of success and satisfaction that users report when they reach out to government. This comparative look at how Americans get hold government reveals the benefits and limits of e-government at its current stage of evolution."

Pew Internet & American Life Project. How Americans Get in Touch with Government. May 24, 2004.

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May 25, 2004

What Happens When Luddites Write Online Law

"A congressional hearing on Internet porn last week illustrates what happens when politicians try to ban technology they don't like or understand.

"The topic of Thursday's meeting of the House of Representatives' consumer protection subcommittee was a bill intended to require that programs like Kazaa and Grokster obtain parental consent before installation. The only problem: The bill that Stearns and his colleagues suggest as a solution is so broadly worded that it regulates far more than just peer-to-peer applications."

Declan McCullagh. Bad Laws, Bad Code, Bad Behavior. News.com. May 10, 2004.

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May 24, 2004

FCC Sees Wireless as Vital

"The Federal Communications Commission is stepping up efforts to establish wireless as a viable broadband option to cable and DSL in order to make high-speed Internet access available to all Americans by 2007.

"To achieve those goals, set by President Bush, the agency is looking at reallocating spectrum for broadcast television to wireless and expanding bands in the 5GHz range, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in a speech earlier this week at the FCC Wireless Broadband Forum in Washington, D.C."

Richard Shim. Powell: Wireless Vital to Broadband Future News.com. May 20, 2004.

Federal Communications Commission. 2004 Wireless Broadband Forum.

Hon. Michael K. Powell. Remarks at the FCC Wireless Broadband Forum. (.pdf) May 19, 2004.

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Aggregator Analysis & the Syndication Scene

Less than a week after my presentation, "Social Software in the Library," for the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C., today's SNTReport.com post brings you several items that discuss the importance of syndication within the social software toolset.

The first story is from Wired News, which publishes a review of RSS aggregators. "The Web is awash in little orange buttons. Those buttons take readers to pages filled with XML code for RSS or Atom syndication services. People who don't know about XML or RSS or Atom get a screen full of ugly computer code," says the Wired News article. "But those clued into the secret handshake -- or more accurately, the right decoding software -- know those buttons are the key to speed-reading the Web. Those buttons are for people who use aggregators (sometimes called newsreaders)."

"The aggregators come in many forms, sizes and prices. There are open-source apps for the desktop, Web-based applications and even readers for Palm PDAs. Wired News took a look at four leading readers to get a sense of which tools are the best for keeping an eye on breaking developments on the Web."

The second article, from Mary Jo Foley's excellent Microsoft Watch blog, outlines the importance of syndication, not only to the world's most influential computer company, but all of the world's most influential businesses.

"Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates found a way to explain Real Simple Syndication (RSS) to 100 CEOs, some of whom are barely comfortable checking their own e-mail, as part of his keynote that kicked off the company's eighth annual CEO summit," wrote Foley.

"The productivity benefits accrued by companies that aren't afraid to back 'bottoms-up empowerment' was a key theme for Gates during his hour-long address, attended by CEOs from Barnes & Noble, Berkshire-Hathaway, Dell, Delta, Fanny Mae, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot and other Fortune 1000 firms from around the world."

What Foley's article does not address is the extent to which Longhorn, Microsoft's operating system-in-development, will support RSS and other collaborative, social software tools. Preliminary indications suggest that Longhorn's support for social software will be strong.

Finally, we link to an interview with Microsoft's Robert Scoble, who discusses the blogging phenomenon.

Ryan Singel. A Scan of the Headline Scanners. Wired News. May 21, 2004.

Mary Jo Foley. Gates Pushes 'Power to the People' Message. Microsoft Watch. May 20, 2004.

Microsoft Business Solutions. The Four-Letter Word That Can Get People Excited About Your Products. April 30, 2004.

Atom Enabled Alliance. What Is Atom?. No date.

Technology at Harvard Law (Berkman Center). RSS 2.0 Specification. April 19, 2004.

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May 22, 2004

Google v. Microsoft: The Battle Royale

"Google is reportedly preparing to release downloadable software that helps people to search for text and files stored on their computer's hard drive," reports News.com. "In moving beyond Web search to the desktop, Google faces a slew of challenges: controversy over privacy, technological hurdles and the rivalry of Microsoft among them.

"By broadening into desktop file search, Google would put two businesses to the test. First, it would expand its Web-search advertising--its primary source of revenue, with sales of $914 million last year--to an ad-supported application running on the desktop. That would put Google much closer to controversial companies such as Claria (formerly Gator) and WhenU, which have been caught up in a growing consumer backlash against 'adware' and 'spyware' products."

Stefanie Olsen. Google's Desktop Bet. News.com. May 21, 2004.

Danny Sullivan. Google Desktop Search Tool Rumored & Software Principles Released. Search Engine Watch. May 19, 2004.

John Markoff. Google Moves Toward Clash With Microsoft. The New York Times. May 19, 2004.

(n.b. The Times keeps stories free on the Web for seven days from the date of publication before sending them to its fee-based Archive.)

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May 21, 2004

Will Internet Phone Calls Be Regulated?

"Handing a setback to emerging Internet phone services, the New York State Public Service Commission on Wednesday ruled that Vonage Holdings is a telephone company and thus subject to state regulation.

"New York is the latest state to weigh in on regulation of so-called voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, a hot-button policy issue that has some local officials worried about potential tax losses as the technology grows in popularity."

Evan Hansen. New York Classifies Vonage as Phone Company. News.com. May 19, 2004.

New York State Public Service Commission. Vonage is a Telephone Corporation as Defined by NYS Law (ruling). (.pdf) May 19, 2004.

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Making Value Judgments at Google

"The Google News page claims, 'The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program.' But this program didn't program itself, of course, and when pressed for more detail of what constitutes news or a news source, Google's explanations have been tortuous and evasive.

In a more recent case, Google issued a response to groups protesting the placement of a vile hate site at the top of a search for 'Jew.' 'The only sites we omit are those we are legally compelled to remove or those maliciously attempting to manipulate our results.' However, this doesn't entirely give the full picture: the People's Republic of China has succeeded where the Jewish Anti-Defamation League has failed, and Google censors results for Chinese Internet users. Few take such claims that the machines, or algorithms are solely responsible, at face value. We can argue that Google is right or wrong - but we can't dispute that it's making value judgements."

Andrew Orlowski. Google's Ethics Committee Revealed. The Register. May 17, 2004.

SNTReport.com. Google's Blog: More Than Idle Chatter?. May 14, 2004.

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May 20, 2004

Taking Gaming to the Global Level

"Until now, the multiplayer online game has been the realm of the hard-core gamer. Even the most popular online multiplayer titles like EverQuest or Ultima Online have never come close to the sales of single-player games like The Sims.

"But several developers of online games have ideas on how to boost the number of subscribers from just tens or hundreds of thousands into the millions, even as they acknowledge that they face major challenges in their attempts to do so."

Daniel Terdiman. How to Get Gamers to Play Online. Wired News. May 19, 2004.

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Only the Strong Remain in Wireless

Fresh off his scoop that wireless hot-spot provider Cometa Networks was closing its doors, Glenn Fleishman offers an analysis of the remaining wireless providers and where they stand.

"Wayport was founded to put Ethernet into hotel rooms, and still derives most of its revenue from that business. But it’s changing. With 12,000 McDonald’s under contract to get Wi-Fi service, thousands of UPS Store locations that they’ll operate for SBC as a managed services provider, and a network of hotels and airports that will top 1,000 this year, Wayport is the last brand standing. Wayport has raised as much as $100 million in funding across its five-plus years in business."

Glenn Fleishman. Which Hotspot Networks Still Stand?. Wi-Fi Networking News. May 19, 2004.

Glenn Fleishman. Cometa Networks Closes Its Doors Starting Tomorrow. Wi-Fi Networking News. May 18, 2004.

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May 19, 2004

P2P Passes Photos

"OurPictures plans to launch its service for letting subscribers share pictures over the Internet but without the constraints of e-mail attachments or Web sites. The idea behind the service, which is set to conclude a three-month test, is that subscribers can post pictures to a network of fellow subscribers who transfer the pictures directly from one computer to another."

Paul Festa. Point, Click and Swap -- Digital Photos Go P2P. News.com. May 17, 2004.

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Search Engines as Computer-Assisted Legal Research

Internet search engines are having a profound influence on judicial research -- a controversial trend that's so far garnered little attention outside legal circles. Some judges call Web search a crucial research tool, but critics of the trend are warning that searches on Google and its rivals are no substitute for the painstaking process of evidence and testimony.

"In the United States and abroad, judges are turning to search engines such as Google to check facts, to look up information about companies embroiled in litigation, and to challenge statistics presented by attorneys in court. Dozens of judges have penned opinions describing Google as a valuable -- and sometimes crucial -- source of knowledge."

Declan McCullagh. Search Engines Take the Stand. News.com. May 13, 2004.

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May 18, 2004

Project Blogs for Use in Information Organizations

"The blogging phenomenon has intriguingly useful implications for IT. I have to ask myself: Why wouldn't it make sense for an IT project manager to post a blog—or "plog" (project log)—to keep her team and its constituents up-to-date on project issues and concerns? Is it inherently inappropriate for an individual to post constructive observations about a project's progress? IT organizations that can effectively use blogs as managerial tools (or communication resources) are probably development environments that take both people and their ideas seriously."

Michael Schrage. The Virtues of Chit Chat. CIO. May 15, 2004.

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Personalization: Search's Next Level

Search is hot -- and even hotter is the idea of search personalization. This is where by knowing more about you, a search engine may potentially provide better results because it understands your preferences.

To date, the only released service I know of that's actually actively doing serious search personalization is Eurekster. It's a social networking service that lets who you know influence what you see in search results. The concept of personalized search has been that by knowing some things about you, a search engine might refine your results to make them more relevant. A teenager searching for music might get different matches than a senior citizen. A man looking for flowers might see different listings than a woman.

Eurekster's twist on this concept is to provide personalized results based not on who you are but who you know. Friends, colleagues and anyone in your Eurekster social network will influence the type of results you see.

Danny Sullivan. Is It Really Personalized Search? Search Engine Watch. May 12, 2004.

Danny Sullivan. Eurekster Launches Personalized Social Search. Search Engine Watch. Jan. 21, 2004.

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May 17, 2004

Google Groups Adds Features

Google has added new mailing list creation functionality to its Google Groups service, giving it a capability that competes directly with the Yahoo Groups service. Google Groups had been a service allowing people to search and post to Usenet discussion areas. The Google Groups 2 beta site expands this to allow people to create their own mailing list-based "groups" for free.

Danny Sullivan. Google Groups Adds Mailing Lists & Other Features, Competes With Yahoo Groups. Search Engine Watch. May 12, 2004.

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Competition Brings Innovation

The rivalry between Yahoo and Google escalated last week as the two search engines rolled out improvements to Web-mail and discussion-group services designed to lure users from one service to the other. Yahoo cut prices on its paid Web e-mail service by as much as a third, and announced that it will upgrade its free e-mail service to 100 MB of storage space (from its current 4 MB of storage space).

The announcement about Yahoo's mail and groups enhancements came just a day after the company said that the market for Internet searches will grow from $3 billion to $11 billion over the next five years, as computer users increasingly look for more local and product information online.

Leslie Walker. Search Engine Rivalry Brings Improvements. WashingtonPost.com. May 15, 2004.

David A. Vise. Yahoo Sees Huge Demand For Searches. WashingtonPost.com. May 14, 2004.

(n.b. The Post allows free access to their stories for 14 days before they are sent to the paper's fee-based archives.)

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May 14, 2004

IM & P2P Could Replace Extranets

"Peer-to-peer systems may provide complementary solutions and meet all of the core requirements that could be asked of an extranet. In this model, users directly access files saved on each other's computers. As a result, there is no one to pay for storage and no problem with stopping payment for the service.

"An unusual alternative for smaller projects is Microsoft Instant Messenger (Win|Mac), which has the potential to develop into something highly useful if combined with Microsoft's forthcoming database-driven operating system Longhorn."

Alec Milton. End in Sight for Extranets. Computer Weekly. May 12, 2004.

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Google's Blog: More Than Idle Chatter?

"Despite the breezy tone of the Google blog, the effort is apparently not as offhand as one might think," according to a News.com story. "In a move that seems out of character with the informality of blogging, Google edited itself in a Monday note about the Mountain View, Calif., company's recent expansion to Bangalore, India. In an earlier, more lighthearted version of the posting, Google said too much has been made out of U.S. companies outsourcing jobs in India. A later version of the note, posted Tuesday without identifying the changes, takes a less opinionated tone over what is a topic of heated political debate."

It will be interesting to see how this publication evolves, particularly as the company prepares its initial public offering of stock. SNTReport.com's quick review of the initial postings suggest that the blog may turn out to be nothing more than a sly way to distribute press releases.

For example, a May 11 posting reviews the company's position over search results that some saw as controversial. In early April, a person who entered "Jew" as a search term in Google was pointed to an anti-Jewish site as the first entry of the search results. The search results were amended a few weeks later in a such a way that the controversial site was listed much lower in the Google search result rankings. Google attributed the change to the timing of its spider's crawls, and possible ISP host changes.

Other companies, like Dell, also publish blogs, but the content of many other corporate blogs is more technical than editorial.

Update: The blog Google Watch reported on May 14 that Google has bought an ad for the search term "Jew" that points to the company's position statement. The new, revised search results for the term "Jew" can be seen here.

Stefanie Olsen. Google Blog Somewhat Less than '"Bloggy". News.com. May 11, 2004.

David Becker. Anti-Semitic Site Drops Off Google. News.com. April 26, 2004.

David Becker. Google Caught in Anti-Semitism Flap. News.com. April 7, 2004.

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A Fully Informed Review of Gmail

"When Google described Gmail, the free e-mail service it is testing, the prevailing public reaction was shock. The company said that its software would place ads in your incoming messages, relevant to their contents. It appeared to many people that Google had gone way beyond evil into Big Brother land. Privacy advocates went ballistic.

"Those reactions, as it turns out, are a tad overblown. Besides, if you're that kind of private, Gmail is the least of your worries. You'd better make sure that the people at credit-card companies, mail-order outfits and phone companies aren't sitting in back rooms giggling at your monthly statements. Still, you feel what you feel. If Gmail creeps you out, just don't sign up.

"That would be a shame, though, because you'd be missing a wonderful thing. Even in its current, early state, available only to a few thousand testers, Gmail appears destined to become one of the most useful Internet services since Google itself."

David Pogue. Google Mail: Virtue Lies in the In-Box. The New York Times. May 13, 2004.

(n.b. The Times keeps stories free on the Web for seven days before sending them to its fee-based Archive.)

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May 13, 2004

Gaming No Longer Just for Fun

Beginning in the Fall 2004 semester, students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -- internationally known for its mathematicians and engineering programs -- can minor in game studies.

Kathleen Ruiz, who is co-director of the new program, said in a Reuters article that RPI decided to create the program because video games have become "an important part of the [American] culture." Ruiz also teaches a course in the program called Experimental Game Design.

RPI's program announcement points to the increasing cultural, collaborative, communal and economic influence of video games, both here and abroad. RPI's gaming design program follows the creation of similar programs at Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, MIT and the University of Southern California.

Reuters. Colleges Offering Video Game Studies. WashingtonPost.com. May 12, 2004.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. GameFest To Kick Off New Minor in Game Studies at RPI. April 6, 2004.

(n.b. The Post allows free access to their stories for 14 days before they are sent to the paper's fee-based archives.)

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Reuters Syndicates Using RSS

As of last week, Reuters.com has adopted RSS technology to syndicate its headline news to publishers across the Web. The news agency has done so in order to meet increased demand for news via Web syndication. "Reuters has been more aggressive about promoting general news and video for consumption on its own Web site," according to a News.com story. "In the last year, it has pushed to highlight consumer-focused news online and sell more advertising on its Web site and Reuters Television. The RSS feeds may serve to drive traffic to Reuters.com."

The revelation that Reuters has selected RSS as its syndication platform comes mere days after Google announced that it had updated Blogger, the popular blog tool, and decided that Blogger would use only Atom, a syndication platform that competes with RSS.

Google bought Pyra Labs, the company that makes Blogger, in February 2003.

Stefanie Olsen. Reuters Picks Up Web Syndication Technology. News.com. May 11, 2004.

Stefanie Olsen. Google Polishes Up Blogger Site. News.com. May 9, 2004.

SNTReport.com story.

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CD-ROMs May Have Shorter Lives Than Anticipated

[Editor's Note: This story is slightly beyond the bounds of what we cover here at SNTReport.com, but as information professionals, we feel obliged to report on it.]

"The rotting can be due to poor manufacturing, according to Jerry Hartke, who runs Media Sciences Inc., a Marlborough, Mass., laboratory that tests CDs.

"The aluminum layer that reflects the light of the player's laser is separated from the CD label by a thin layer of lacquer. If the manufacturer applied the lacquer improperly, air can penetrate to oxidize the aluminum, eating it up much like iron rusts in air.

"But in Hartke's view, it's more common that discs are rendered unreadable by poor handling by the owner."

Associated Press. CD and DVD Owners Finding Techno-Rot. WashingtonPost.com. May 11, 2004.

(n.b. The Post allows free access to their stories for 14 days before they are sent to the paper's fee-based archives.)

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May 12, 2004

Google Does Keywords

Google is preparing new tools that could expand its profitable keyword advertising business and fuel growth as it prepares for a highly anticipated initial public offering. The new system, which will enable Google to examine the Web sites of large advertisers and to develop automated lists of keyword combinations that are likely to turn up in search queries, will match more searches to advertisements, creating new revenue as well as risks by increasing Google's reliance on automation.

The initiative could mark the beginning of the end of search engine optimization companies, which typically charge hefty fees in exchange for a promise or guarantee that a Web site or Web page will appear in the higher echelons of a given search.

Stefanie Olsen. Google preps new tool to juice revenue. News.com. May 10, 2004.

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Pros and Cons of IM

Coursey says: "Like any other tool, IM and chat are morally neutral How we use it is really up to us. And in my life, instant messaging is what enterprise folks like to call a 'mission critical' application. I use it all the time, every day, as an important part of my business.

"I work with people in both Texas and Nevada who help me with my business. While we often talk on the phone or send e-mail, we've found that for a quick question, or one that could be answered when the person returned to their desk, an IM works very well. We've also used IM as a 'back channel' to talk to a colleague while on a call with a client."

Dvorak says: "There are a lot of good reasons to hate chatting. You can hate it because it doesn't work right. You can hate it because people pester you. You can hate it because you can't pester the people you want to pester when you want to pester them. You can hate it because within the casual chatting environments most people are phonies or posers. You can hate it in the business environment because you are likely being spied on in casual chat. And you can hate it because it is just plain dumb."

David Coursey. Instant Messaging is What You Make It. eWeek. May 6, 2004.

John C. Dvorak. Death to Chat. PC Magazine. April 20, 2004.

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May 11, 2004

Social Networks: Worth A Fee?

"Social networks are a good thing. Everybody should have one--and everybody I know does, in some form or fashion. But whether you need an online social network and, particularly, whether you need one whose primary purpose is separating you from your money is another question entirely."

David Coursey. No Business in Social Networking. eWeek. May 4, 2004.

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Cell Phone Taxes Spent for Government, Not Emergencies

"New York State has collected $440 million since 1991 in special taxes on cellphones. But only about $30 million of that has gone to the program named on most cellphone bills as the purpose of the tax: enhanced 911 service, which can help police, fire and ambulance dispatchers locate a cellphone caller in need of emergency help.

"Most of the money goes far afield."

Edward Wyatt. Cellphone Tax Produces Little for Cellphones. The New York Times. May 10, 2004.

(n.b. The Times keeps stories free on the Web for seven days before sending them to its fee-based Archive.)

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May 10, 2004

Upgrading Librarians' Skills

"Blog! The tools are free. Blog internally and externally. Promote your stuff to your users. Promote the library to the staff. Bring out your staff's hidden creativity. It's time well spent.

"Send out your Web content via RSS. Not everyone may know what's up with RSS but they soon will. That little on your site says a lot!"

Michael Stephens. 10 Things A Library Can Do to Boost their Techie Stuff. Tame the Web. May 8, 2004.

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Blogger Upgraded

Google has launched an improved version of Blogger, the first major upgrade to the the popular web log service in nearly four years. New features include posting via email, comments and profiles.

Chris Sherman. Google Overhauls Blogger. Search Engine Watch. May 10, 2004.

Biz Stone. The Great Blogger Relaunch. Blogger.com. May 3, 2004.

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May 07, 2004

The Other Side

"Even as much of the Internet has come to resemble a pleasant, well-policed suburb, a little-known neighborhood known as Internet Relay Chat remains the Wild West. While copyright holders and law enforcement agencies take aim at their adversaries on Web sites and peer-to-peer file-sharing networks like Napster, I.R.C. remains the place where people with something to hide go to do business.

"Probably no more than 500,000 people are using I.R.C. worldwide at any time, and many of them are engaged in legitimate activities, network administrators say. Yet that pirated copy of Microsoft Office or Norton Utilities that turns up on a home-burned CD-ROM may well have originated on I.R.C. And the Internet viruses and "denial of service'' attacks that periodically make news generally get their start there, too. This week, the network's chat rooms were abuzz with what seemed like informed chatter about the Sasser worm, which infected hundreds of thousands of computers over the weekend."

Seth Schiesel. The Internet's Wilder Side. The New York Times. May 6, 2004.

(n.b. The Times keeps stories free on the Web for seven days before sending them to its fee-based Archive.)

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Digital Lifestyles on the Horizon

"Sony and Apple are looking closely at a long-predicted future, when digital 'convergence' potentially allows traditionally separate hardware and software markets to merge into a single device that can surf the Net, play movies, music and video games, and serve as the brain of a network that distributes that content to subsidiary devices around a home.

"The signs that this convergence is taking root are growing daily, driven by fast-rising adoption rates for broadband Internet services, home networking advances, and growing use of digital media such as video games and online music."

John Borland. Apple, Sony On a Collision Course?. News.com. May 5, 2004.

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May 06, 2004

Forget the Phone Bill, Check the Computer

"In some households, instant messaging has generated a fundamental shift in the way kids are communicating. And it turns out that monitoring the telephone was a lot easier than monitoring the computer.

"AOL doesn't disclose demographic information for its membership, but it does for AIM users. There are 36 million active screen names on AIM, and 25 percent are for users under 17. Two billion IMs fly through cyberspace every day -- for all ages."

Ellen Edwards. Buddy Lists and Mixed Messages. WashingtonPost.com. May 4, 2004.

(n.b. The Post allows free access to their stories for 14 days before they are sent to the paper's fee-based archives.)

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Why Pay for Social Networking?

"Social networks are a good thing. Everybody should have one--and everybody I know does, in some form or fashion. But whether you need an online social network and, particularly, whether you need one whose primary purpose is separating you from your money is another question entirely."

David Coursey. No Business in Social Networking. eWeek. May 4, 2004.

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May 05, 2004

Musicians Discuss Views on File Sharing

The Pew Internet & American Life Project presented at a conference some early findings of an online survey it did of more than 2,700 musicians to gather their views on copyright and file-sharing issues.

Among other things, these musicians are very divided about the problems and marketing potential of online file-sharing systems and they are not sure the recording industry campaign against illegal downloading will help them. Many of these artists themselves share some of their songs for free online and find that it helps them sell more CDs, draw bigger concert audiences, and get more playing time on commercial radio.

The survey of musicians and songwriters was conducted online between March 15 and April 15. While the sample for this survey is not representative or projectable to the entire population of musicians and songwriters, it brings many more voices into the debates about copyright laws, the impact of online music swapping, and the long-term prospects for the music industry.

Pew Internet & American Life Project. Pew Ineternet Project Data Memo: Preliminary Findings from a Web Survey of Musicians and Songwriters. (.pdf) May 2004.

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Does Privacy = Anti-Technology?

Declan McCullagh, Washington, DC correspondent for News.com, wrote another typically incisive column last week, analyzing the nature of privacy advocacy, particularly as it has been illustrated during the recent objections to Google's Gmail.

"The objections lodged against Gmail are telling, because they illuminate two different views about how to respond to new technologies. The protechnology view says customers of a company should be allowed to make up their own mind and that government regulation should be a last resort. Privacy fundamentalists, on the other hand, insist that new services they believe to be harmful should be banned, even if consumers are clamoring for them."

Declan McCullagh. Gmail and Its Discontents. News.com. April 26, 2004.

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File Sharing: The Sequel

Granted, the iTunes and iPod music distribution model is pretty decent for both consumers and artists. Let us forget, for a moment, that the downloading model turns what historically has been a music sale (which is covered by copyright law's first sale doctrine) into a music lease (which is not covered by federal copyright law, and instead is handled as a contract between buyer and seller, often with no negotiation and take-it-or-leave-it terms.)

The current downloading model reintroduces the single to American music buyers, and, at least in the case of iTunes, gives buyers relatively free reign to transfer their leased songs across different players (i.e. from computer to car to home stereo).

What the iTunes model doesn't really allow for right now, though, is capturing live performances. And many of the best artists -- Clapton, Prince, Dave Matthews Band, Parliament -- often give their best performances live. eMusicLive gives buyers the opportunity to capture these performances in an authorized fashion.

It will be interesting to see how much money the musicians make from this venture, particularly since it seems that live performances will again be the way that musicians make their money. Let's face it: radio is so tightly programmed that it is virtually impossible for new songs to get play on the airwaves, although satellite radio ventures like XM Radio and Sirius may provide some opportunities. Further, most of the music is laden with samples of pre-existing work, making it harder for many songwriters to make a living by peddling tunes.

And theft, whether it be on the Web or on the street, always hampers revenue flow.

As a result, the live performance has become even more important as a way for musicians to earn money.

Associated Press. 'Dude! This Thing Is Awesome!'. Wired News. April 29, 2004.

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May 04, 2004

Why Search Is So Hot Right Now

"We've long had competition in search, stretching back to when search engines as we know them started to emerge in 1994 and 1995. Even in those early days, search engines like Yahoo, Infoseek and Lycos were popular creatures with consumers. While some old players have passed and new players like Google emerged, the search sector itself has retained its popularity -- and the competition to gain users that goes with that.

If competition has always been there, then why are we hearing so much about the "search wars" now? Because in the past, popular search engines engaged in portal wars, rather than focusing on the search battlefront. The few survivors of those portal wars woke up to discover that search was hot, a money maker and increasingly dominated by a then upstart called Google."

Danny Sullivan. Search Wars: Battle Of The Search Superpowers. Search Engine Watch. April 29, 2004.

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No Free Lunch for RSS

The press coverage of RSS has been overwhelmingly positive thus far, and with good reason. This Wired News article, however, points out that if aggregators ever go mainstream, the tool's utility could diminish like e-mail's utility has diminished.

"What happens when everyone discovers the power of aggregators? Will the Web be able to handle it? In Internet boom-speak, will it scale?

"Already, aggregators have swamped some sites, slowing Web servers and eating up expensive bandwidth, according to bloggers and other Web publishers. The end may be near, unless something changes soon."

Ryan Singel. Will RSS Readers Clog the Web?. Wired News. April 30, 2004.

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May 03, 2004

Opening the Mall to Wi-Fi

"Frisbee-throwers and lawmakers alike could soon be able to access free wireless Internet on Washington's National Mall under a plan announced by a nonprofit group on Wednesday.

"Members of the Open Park Project already have set up a wireless access point covering the Supreme Court and the Capitol and say they hope to extend wireless broadband coverage across the capital's monument-filled core within a year." (Washington Post)

"Unwiring the downtown Washington, D.C. area is particularly interesting because of its potential for enhancing democratic discourse. Free wireless access in the heart of the Capitol's demonstration zone could enable more effective use of communication technologies, both by participants and observers, in covering political actions and events. In effect, wireless could extend the voices of demonstrators and allow observers to listen to political speech in ways that have not been possible before. (commons-blog)

Reuters. Free WiFi Planned for National Mall. WashingtonPost.com. April 28, 2004.

(n.b. The Post allows free access to their stories for 14 days before they are sent to the paper's fee-based archives.)

Information Commons. Wireless Access: An Idea to Enhance Democracy. commons-blog. April 29, 2004.

Posted by K. Matthew Dames at 06:54 AM | Send to a friend! | Comments (0)

Making Money From the Commons

"Allan Vilhan is a musician who has yet to hit it big in the United States. In part, that's because Vilhan lives in Filakovo, a small town in Slovakia's Cerova Vrchovina highlands. By day, he runs his family's restaurant. In his spare time, he mixes beats. A year ago, after completing his first full-length album, he put MP3s of all the songs online and encouraged fans to listen for free. Nevertheless, to date he's recorded a profit of more than $1,000.

"Vilhan is making money because he hosts his songs at Magnatune.com, an Internet music distributor that replaces standard "all rights reserved" copyright language with "some rights reserved" licenses drafted by Creative Commons. Magnatune demands payment when the music is used for commercial purposes.

"Creative Commons is like a marketing tool," says Magnatune founder John Buckman, who has grossed $180,000 for 126 musicians since May 2003. "Free distribution generates exposure, and that builds commercial demand, which is where the real money is."

Andy Raskin. Giving It Away (for Fun and Profit). Business 2.0. May 2004.

Posted by K. Matthew Dames at 06:28 AM | Send to a friend! | Comments (0)

RSS and Search Combine in Outlook

NewsGator Technologies, which offers a popular news aggregator that steers news postings to folders inside Microsoft Outlook, has signed a deal with Outlook search vendor X1 to speed up access to aggregated information stored in the popular e-mail application.

The partnership takes advantage of NewsGator's ability to aggregate RSS feeds in Outlook and provides users with a way to locate any entry in Outlook using X1's search technology.

X1 makes a Windows-platform software that finds any content in any email, file, attachment, or contact on a person's computer.

Ron Miller. NewsGator, X1 Push RSS-Search Connection. InternetNews.com. April 28, 2004.

Posted by K. Matthew Dames at 06:12 AM | Send to a friend! | Comments (0)