Tuesday, April 02, 2002
"Emergent Music: Uncover the undiscovered in new music is now officially launched.
In my own words I'd describe EM as:
A site with collaborative new music recommendations that the community in turn rates and then our fancy math (based on Bayesian statistics) figures out not only the best recommendations but also the best people at creating and improving them (who we then reward).
It's part MetaFilter, part Slashdot, part CNET, part Amazon and part Wiki. It's a place you can go everyday to find out about new music; new music that is being suggested by the community not new music which is being recommended by a radio station funded with payola." [Matt Goyer]
New recommendations here.
"The villa probably belonged to Lucius Calpurnius Piso, father-in-law of Julius Caesar and one of the rulers of the Roman republic. In AD79, a century after his death, it was buried under 30 metres of volcanic debris by the same Vesuvius eruption that wiped out Pompeii and Herculaneum....
Several of the experts involved in the campaign to save the villa agree there may be lost plays by Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus, or even the lost dialogues of Aristotle, as well as works by many other Greek writers, in the lower level.
A contemporary copy of the Lucretius poem On the Nature of Things - which has been recovered - suggests that the villa may yield copies of Virgil's Aeneid, or copies of Horace, or even Catullus.
And it is possible that a family capable of owning such a villa also possessed a copy of Livy's History of Rome, of which more than 100 of the original 142 books are missing....
In the meantime, the buried villa is threatened, in the short term by flooding, in the long term by renewed volcanic activity. What is needed is money to restart the excavation and sufficient will on the part of the Italian authorities to see the project through." [The Age, via MetaFilter]
Now that's preservation. Insert your own joke here about copyright and/or the obsolescence of digital formats.
Here are a bunch of links I am archiving because I'll need them for the next phase of the SLS portal.
Today I plunked down the money for Blue Squirrel's BluePaste software for Palms. The software lets you select any amount of text on a web page and press a button on your keyboard or in Internet Explorer to automatically send it to your Palm during the next hotsync. I bought it because I'm having trouble keeping up with some of the longer blog posts I want to spend some time on, and this way I'll always have them with me in meetings, waiting in lines, etc. For example, I'm still trying to get some time thoroughly read through Jon Udell's piece on Instant Outlining and Dave's take on Jon's piece.
Part of the reason I did this is that it seems much easier than going through the convolated process involved with adding a single page sync via AvantGo.
Consensus at Lawyerpoint: Being a True Account of of the Undertakings of the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group
"The Broadcast Protection Working Group is an obscure cabal of Hollywood Studios and cowed technologists who're skating down the slippery edge of the wedge. They're building a 'consensus' standard for digital television devices.
On the face of it, this seems pretty innocuous. Who cares about digital TV? What's wrong with a consensus? And what do the internals of set-top boxes matter, anyway?
Don't be fooled. All over-the-air TV signals will be digital by the year 2006 (so sayeth the FCC), so the standards set down by the BPDG will govern every television set in four years time. What's more, the range of devices that the BPDG's standard extends far beyond simple TVs. If your computer has a capture card (or could be equipped with one), the BPDG's decisions will govern your OS vendor, your hard-drive supplier, and the specs for your video card, cables and motherboard.
The worst part is that this 'consensus' won't be optional. Once the BPDG signs off on its technophobic panic, they will go to Congress or the FCC and quietly get their "standard" written into the law. This is how the Anti-Mammal Dinosaur Protection Act may come into law -- not with one sweeping bill that inspires a Million Geek March on Washington (Why Washington? Why not Hollywood?), but with a series of mini-SSSCAs, each one picking off another technology.
The BPDG isn't a secret, but they're just not telling anyone about ti. It has an 'open' mailing list that no one outside of the cabal receives and "open" meetings that no one outside of the cabal attends 00 and that the press is barred from.
Time to shine a light on the 'consensus.' The EFF's first-ever blog is a true account of the undertakings of the BPDG. If the BPDG isn't going to explain its workings to the world, someone's gotta. This is one of those situations where Google makes the bad guys crings -- by the time the BPDG's spin-doctors get their act together and put up a brochureware site full of bland, reassuring homilies about the wonderful high-def utopia on the horizon, the EFF's BPDG blog will have so much Googlejuice that it will rule the top slot on BPDG queries forever." [bOing bOing]
Wow - another big issue to speak up on and watch.
"Hokeyspokes: 'unique bicycle safety lights that allow riders to display computer-generated images and text inside the spoke cages while riding at night. Not only are Hokey Spokes fun and interesting, but they also provide important side visibility, which is mostly unavailable in today's standard bicycle lights." [bOing bOing]
Hey Kate - we didn't think about bicycles! Actually, I think these are way cool!
For All in Search of Skeletons, U.S. Opened Its Closet at Midnight
" 'I want to see if he was living with his second wife, Dora, or if he had gone off and married another woman without divorcing her,' Mr. Leclerc said shortly before the microfilm was made public at the stroke of midnight. 'He was married five times that I know of, four times I can prove and as many as seven times to hear my relatives talk.'
Such were the prickly personal questions that brought genealogy buffs out during vampire hours here and across the country for the unveiling of information on individuals and families gathered in the 1930 census. Under federal law, this data, which, most juicily, discloses who was living with whom and in what dwelling, is kept secret for privacy reasons until 72 years have come and gone....
The 1930 census asked 32 questions of 123 million people. Those questions included, ``language spoken in home before coming to the United States,'' relationship of individuals to the head of the family (wives were designated by the initial H, which stood for homemaker) and, for the first time, whether there was a radio in the home. Nineteen thirty was the last time all Americans answered the same questions in a census and the last time all homes were visited by a census taker." [NY Times]
Except if you're Mickey Mouse, I guess. Then you're still under lock and key.
Too bad its not online, but then I suppose they would have run into the same problems the British did with the 1901 census of England and Wales. I hope online access is coming down the road, although I don't see any mention of the new data anywhere on the U.S. Census Bureau web site.
"A New York online ad technology firm, United Virtualities, is preparing to introduce a product that will allow advertisers to automatically change the appearance of Web browsers, usurping some of the functions built into popular browsers designed by Microsoft Corp. and Netscape Communications, a unit of AOL Time Warner Inc.
Weather.com, a unit of Atlanta-based Weather Channel Enterprises, is considering using the new technology on its Web site within the next month, said Paul Iaffaldano, chief revenue officer. The Web site is testing the new product but hasn't yet committed to using it, he added.
In a demo version of a Weather.com-themed browser prepared by United Virtualities, visitors can see their gray browser toolbars transformed into an image of a setting sun, with the Weather.com logo appearing behind the toolbar icons.
Even the toolbar options would change. The 'home' icon on Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, for instance, would become a ''Weather Channel'' icon, steering users back to Weather.com's main page when they click on it. Sponsored links to other Web sites would replace Internet Explorer tools like ''edit'' and a link to RealNetworks Inc.'s Real.com Web site. Users don't have to download any software to set the process in motion." [Silicon Valley]
I really hope this is an April Fool's Day joke, but somehow I doubt it. You can find the Opera browser here.
"This is cool. A KaZaA client clone called KaZaA lite. No spamware, ads, or pop-ups. Otherwise, it works exactly the same as the actual KaZaA client." [John Robb's Radio Weblog]
"Walking down a city street, your mobile phone rings with a warning. You are getting too close to a high-crime area, as a quick glance at the mugging rate on the screen's 3D city map reveals, and the automated system offers better directions to where you want to go. But if you need to summon a taxi or call for more urgent help, rest assured the location data will be sent automatically. The emergency services will know exactly where to find you.
This is the near future according to LBS, or location-based services, on phones, palmtop computers and in-car navigation systems with an alphabet soup of fancy features. These could include voice communications (GSM), always-on internet connections (GPRS) and the ability to get a fix from the network of global positioning satellites (GPS). But what really helps turn these raw technologies into useful services is the GIS (geographical information system) running in the background. In other words, a very smart map....
Being able to put different data sets on the same map allows all sorts of possibilities, especially if you have maps of things like crime incidents, road accidents, house prices and supermarket purchases. British police forces may not want to make detailed maps of crime patterns publicly available, with animations to show changes by time of day and things like school holidays, but it will happen in parts of the US, if it hasn't already....
Guillaume Dordes, vice president of marketing for Alcatel's Nextenso, explains: 3G 'allows for a new business model' where the phone becomes a marketing medium, like television. 'The current operator model is based on paying services, but with 3G, you can either have a free service with advertisements, or else you pay.'
So if you don't pay for directions, or whatever, you may find that every shop within three streets will want to buzz your smart phone with virtual flyers and money-off coupons. And if you are ever involved in an accident, its colourful little screen could become a prime site for wireless adverts for ambulance services, private hospitals, and special offers on insurance policies. I'm sure you are looking forward to that." [Guardian Unlimited, via Lockergnome Bytes]
An interesting article with a U.K. perspective that also explores business applications of this technology and the hurdles the whole process still has to jump (standards, implementation, etc.).
With all of the local community information libraries collect, it'd be nice if we could sneak in under the radar and provide location-based services for folks. For example, I was involved in administering NorthStarNet for a while, and this network of community sites run by public libraries pulls together a lot of information that a new resident, visitor, or even a long-time resident might want to know.
With many libraries already aggregating and organizing this kind of information (especially online), we'd be extending our services if we could get that information to nearby people knowing they are in our town right now. Plus, we could notify them about events at the library, and maybe even let them search Zagat's and other commercial databases for relevant restaurant reviews, etc. Most regionally-based portals have failed miserably because the business model just isn't there (at least, not yet), but we're all about freely disseminating it.
It's interesting to think about the different class of databases libraries might want to pursue in a pervasive-internet world.
"Opponents of the law say its ironclad protections against copyright infringement threaten to douse the fires of innovation and artistic expression heralded by the Internet age, replacing them with expanded and unprecedented corporate control. They describe a world where consumers have little choice over how they use the intellectual property they own, where movies, music, and e-books can be played on only one device, and where copying and sharing works is forbidden--making libraries obsolete....
The DMCA provides some fair use exemptions, but critics argue they are so narrow, or implausible, that they may be unusable. Consider one exemption to the "you hack, you go to jail" rules meant as an olive branch to the libraries. That exception says an employee of a nonprofit organization, library, archive, or educational institution can legally circumvent the encryption of a copyright-protected work if no other identical copy of the work is reasonably available, and if they are hacking it solely for the good faith purpose of seeing whether they want to purchase a legal copy.
"This is a mockery of our laws. It's a complete joke," Zittrain says of the exemption. "The fact that Congress solemnly inserted this provision that will be used over the next 25 years exactly zero times ... makes me embarrassed to say that I am a law professor in the U.S."
Because the DMCA limits users' capability to share and copy works, some opponents claim it is unconstitutional and threatens to unravel the entire copyright system.
"If somebody designs a system that doesn't even allow you to lend a work, like an e-book that can only be played on one computer, you can't lend it out as a library!" Zittrain said." [PC World News]
Although this article doesn't focus solely on libraries, I'm glad to see a national source illustrating the potential consequences this issue will force on us. It's a succinct summary, too, in case you need a starting point for educating your colleagues. I'm disappointed that I haven't seen similar articles and essays like this in the library press so far. Or am I missing them?
"Handhelds from Hewlett-Packard and IBM with built-in talking capabilities are still in development. But one talking PDA, known as the Phraselator, is due to be shipped in the next few days to U.S. troops in Afghanistan....
VoxTec's Phraselator can translate among hundreds of languages. The 500 devices on their way to Afghanistan have preprogrammed phrases already translated to Urdu, with different tones for the announcements, said Marine Acoustics spokesman Bernie Patterson.
A stern, authoritarian voice shouts certain phrases such as 'Halt!' and 'Drop your weapon!' while a more gentle tone is used for phrases like 'Can I help you?'...
Among other talking gadgets, IBM is working on a translation engine available on the Web from AltaVista for its devices. And HP has a prototype device called "The Translator" that is actually a working Jornada with three existing external elements--a camera, a scanner and translation software--attached to it.
The Jornada uses the camera to take a photograph. An optical scanner then lifts the text off the photograph and sends it to the translation software. There, the phrases are matched against thousands of phrases on tap." [ZDNet News]
These could be pretty handy at libraries that have multi-language populations, too. A "can I help you" version, not the "drop your weapon" one, of course.
Why the Feds CAN'T Protect Kids from Internet Porn
There is so much wrong with this article, that I don't even want to quote from it. However, I just couldn't let this particular little gem pass:
"The problem is, opponents of library filtering haven't yet come up with any good alternatives."
I wanted to personally respond to all of the uninformed comments at the bottom of the page, too, (especially the one about libraries not providing internet access and everyone just paying for it over at Kinko's), but I just don't have that kind of time today. I hope David Coursey will do some actual research on this issue next time, but in the meantime, I'm going to look for some URLs to send him for educational purposes. Feel free to do the same.
Ernie responds to my questions about the Adobe-Hacker case:
"But forget the legal arguments; they always represent the trees in important debates like this. Here's some things that I have noticed about the struggle for digital rights (which includes Napster, DMCA, etc)....
- Information is a valuable resource, and it should be allowed to move about freely
- People are hungry for knowledge and entertainment, which are forms of information
- The government's job is to facilitate that which increases learning and knowledge
- There's a lot of money at stake and so people get "confused" easily
The digital rights issue (I hate to call it "intellectual property" for the reason given by Richard Stallman) should be especially interesting for us Americans, who were weened on cheap literature. Did you know that in 1843 the average Londoner who wanted a copy of Dicken's A Christmas Carol would've paid the equivalent of $2.50 where the average American would have paid $0.06? [Cite p. 50]. That's because, as shocking as this may sound, we didn't always have broad copyright laws. And that's another thing to celebrate in November when you are carving the turkey. Think about it. Our country, at a critical time in its development, was the beneficiary of the weak protection given to foreign authors such as Charles Dickens. And my question is: what if we had not had access to cheap information?" [Ernie the Attorney]
The Kazaa Ruling: What It Means
"The Dutch ruling, and any other international decisions, could be made irrelevant in the coming months as two international treaties go into effect.
The World Intellectual Property Organization ratified two treaties this year that laid the framework for digital copyright law similar to the DMCA. The treaties, which will be used to craft national laws in 30 countries, would outlaw anti-circumvention technologies and create basic standards for digital security....
Since the DMCA was crafted with Sony Betamax in mind, the new international laws will likely address the defense used by Kazaa BV, Lehman said....
It's not clear sailing for proponents of the DMCA. The law -- long the basis for the WIPO treaties -- faces serious legal challenges in the United States, which could ultimately bring down the one law that entertainment companies have successfully used to combat digital piracy.
If the DMCA fails a constitutionality test, the future of digital copyright laws could be seriously jeopardized, Lehman said. 'Most other countries have taken a much less copyright-friendly stance, so I think this Netherlands case might be a big deal,' Lehman said." [Wired News]
"The German companies Bocatel, Webwasher and Intranet, together with the University of Dortmund, develop an internet censorship system, which should be able to deny access to selected URLs for everybody. It is a combination of intelligent routers with a transparent proxy and a centrally managed database of unwanted URLs, Ports and IPs....
There are still plans to block rotten.com and Google (no joke!) – Google because it's a cache.
The internet initiative ODEM and the German hacker organisation Chaos Computer Club (CCC) now perform an online petition and real life demonstration against internet censorship and for freedom of information in the internet.
Although the censorship system will be first used in Germany, there is no doubt that it will be sold and installed worldwide. There are a lot of organisations, which will be interested in such a next generation of censorware, e.g. MPAA; IFPI, Scientology etc. So please sign the petition!" [kuro5hin.org]