Thursday, June 20, 2002
A Challenge to the 'Blog Plumbers: Making a Buck on 'Blogging
"Many of you know that there is a growing class of weblogs that speak to each other through 'news aggregators;' the one you're reading right now is one of them. When I post an item here, some unknown number of other weblog authors read that item on a customized web page, from which they can post the item on their own weblog. It makes for a very fast and efficient way of disseminating news and opinion.
This strikes me -- in theory, at least -- as an excellent way for professional news gatherers to distribute information to paying clients. I know a ton of un- and semi-employed journos all over the world, and it would be an interesting exercise to get them filing real news for pay.
Here's what would be required to make that work:
- a multiuser weblog that
- allows for content categorization and
- which generates material for a news aggregator that
- can be kept out of the public eye.
An electronic commerce addition might be interesting too, so that sites could subscribe on a monthly or annual basis, or that casual readers could see an abstract and pay on a per-story basis. Given the prior lack of success for micropayments, I wouldn't expect anyone to rush to develop that last one. There are other ways outside the weblog mechanism to handle subscriptions, so this might be a blind alley." [Over the Edge]
I've had similar thoughts that are colored by my own bias - libraries. It makes perfect sense that the next generation of news aggregators should have an authentication mechanism built in. As with the web in general, your content had better be pretty damn good (or unique) if you expect people to make even the smallest of micropayments for it, but as we continue barreling down the road of focused markets (as opposed to mass markets), there probably are a few sites that each of us would pay a nominal fee to receive in our aggregators (based on individual preferences, of course).
Often, though, people just don't want to pay or the subscription fee is too high. That's where libraries could come in. Many libraries already provide remote access to their databases for their residents, and there's no reason that couldn't translate over into aggregators. Historically, remote access has been based on archives, but such a model could work for current issues, too. Lots of people still come into the public library to read the daily paper (especially seniors), so why shouldn't we be able to provide that same access in a personal aggregator? We subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and authenticate your library barcode number against our database, which in turn gets individual WSJ posts into your aggregator.
Or what about the library paying for a subscription to an online serial that makes it available to residents. Theoretically, a user with a valid library barcode would go to the library's web site, enter the barcode, and be authenticated through to the full version. But what if that journal provided an RSS feed? Abstracts are available to everyone, but if your barcode number is entered in your aggregator, when you click through on a link, you see the full story. Think about what a great service this would be for medical libraries to provide to their physicians!
Or here's another idea - what about an AP or Reuters made up of bloggers. Newspapers could subscribe to the service and pick up stories, and so could libraries. In a way, the concept isn't that far removed from NewsIsFree, to which the library would then subscribe.
I know we're not at that point yet, and most folks won't pay to view blogs, but if there's any future there, it's in the aggregator. Once you're hooked reading blogs and serials (magazines and newspapers) online, you reach a point where an aggregator becomes a necessity in order to keep up. That's why I believe they'll play such a big part of our information lives in the future, especially as we become more and more mobile. As with the print world, libraries can be a major player in providing access there, too.
Yahoo to Send E-mails Based on Search Engine Activity
"Yahoo Inc. announced today that it will debut a service that will let direct marketers send targeted e-mails to consumers based on their search engine activity."
The service, Yahoo Impulse Mail, tracks Yahoo e-mail users' search engine activity on Yahoo.com. It categorizes a few thousand words and 200 search categories, and matches that search information with the e-mail user's opt-in data. A marketer selling something that relates to that search can then send a targeted e-mail to the user. (from Industry Click via Search Engine Guide)"
LS Thoughts - Memo to self: Remember to perform really odd searches on Yahoo to get really funny marketing e-mail. How about Frogs for Dinner and Glass seaweed. [Library Stuff]
"Astronomers say an asteroid moving at 10 kph came within 75,000 miles of the Earth last week. They didn't see it until three days after it would have hit.
'The destructive force might have been comparable to an asteroid or comet that exploded over Siberia in 1908, which flattened 77 square miles (2,000 square km) of trees, according to the NEO.'
Wouldn't that have ruined your day..." [Over the Edge]
"Living robot" Escapes Lab, Makes It To...Parking Lot
"jerkychew writes 'This is either really cool or really scary, depending on how you look at it. According to this article, scientists in England have been experimenting with so-called 'living robots' that think and act for themselves. During an exercise that pitted the machines against each other in battle, one of the machines, named Gaak, was taken out of the competition and left alone for fifteen minutes. When the scientist returned to retrieve Gaak, he found that the machine had broken free from its 'cage', and made it all the way to the lab's parking lot before it was apprehended! Can the T-1000 be far behind?' Update: 06/20 20:36 GMT by T: Thanks to skywalker404, who points out the Magna site and Professor Noel Sharkey's web page." [Slashdot]
This was easily the story that most captured my imagination today. Luckily, all's well that ends well. Right? What does it say at the end of the movie Flash Gordon? "The End. ????????"
From the above article: "And he added: 'But there's no need to worry, as although they can escape they are perfectly harmless and won't be taking over just yet.' "
"Ultimately, Yiddish and Perl share the potentially detractive qualities of complexity and inconsistency, but turn them in their favour due to the huge amount of character they provide. This is because they have History. This has resulted in Culture and Community, and a great degree of affection.
So if you want to inject some joy into your hacking, go shteig a bissel Perl. And learn some Yiddish, because frankly, it needs all the help it can get." [For Andy B., Yoz Grahame's Commonplace Megaphone, via Doc Searls Weblog]
I haven't read through the full decision yet but based on what Doc and Mary Lu are saying, it doesn't sound good in regards to webcasting rates. Mary Lu has a full copy of the decision and the table of costs, while Doc is collecting reactions.
<sigh> Adam, can I still get a hug? </sigh>
Addendum: The New York Times has a story on this now.
"The government on Thursday decided that songs delivered online by Internet music broadcasters will be charged royalty fees at a rate that is half of what was originally proposed by an arbitration panel....
The recording industry, which had sought higher royalties to compensate artists and music labels for using their songs, criticized the new lower rate....
Jonathan Potter, executive director of the Digital Media Association, which represents webcasters, called the decision a positive step away from a higher rate, but said 'there's still going to be a lot of pain in the industry....'
Opponents to Thursday's ruling can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit within 30 days. The court could modify or set aside the decision if it finds the ruling was highly unreasonable.
If the decision is not changed, the first monthly royalty payments will be due in November. The fees are retroactive to 1998 and full payment of royalties from past years will be due Oct. 20."
So the Librarian of Congress understood that the proposed CARP rates were too high, so he cut them in half. That's good, certainly not as bad as it could have been. But it's not enough to help smaller webcasters stay in business because the new rates are not structured to take into account the revenue actually coming in to the station. That's bad.
I imagine the webcasters will appeal it (as might the recording industry), so this probably isn't over yet. I'm still disappointed, but at least Mr. Billington wasn't reeled in on the recording industry's fishing line, netted, and hung on the wall.
NPR Rethinking the Deep Link Rule
"A Wired News story by Farhad Manjoo chronicles the growing resentment against National Public Radio's linking policy, which requires permission for deep links.
NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin has just told me that the legal, news and Web side will reconsider the policy this afternoon--he himself will participate. I'll think good thoughts.
During our conversation, he asked some open-minded questions about the nature of deep linking, and I promised to use this blog to point him to background on the topic, including a Christian Science Monitor article on a Scottish linking feud between two newspapers.
Meanwhile people might want to hold off on the protest until they learn how the decision goes. You can use NPR's home page to stay updated....
Thought: Nina Totenberg should cover this controversy if it continues and maybe even if it stops. Just what will NRP's legal maven on the news side have to say?..." [TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home]
I haven't posted anything about this story until now because I figured the link request form was just an old page on their that they had forgotten about. So it was disturbing to read Jeffrey Dvorkin defend the policy in the Wired article, but the fact that they are meeting today to reconsider it is a good sign. I'm confident they'll reach a more informed decision this time around.
In parallel to the earlier story about the byline strike at the Providence Journal, it will be interesting to see if NPR notes the story and resolution on its home page. Check their Linking Policy page later today.
Addendum: David has an update on the meeting at NPR.
"Jeffrey Dvorkin, National Public Radio ombudsman, tells me that the network most likely will loosen the Web-link rules requiring permission. A final decision, following a meeting earlier today, could come in days or weeks. He asks that protest letters stop as he's quite swamped.
Meanwhile the issue of who can link, without a hassle, is apparently still alive, even now."
Radio, Radio: Where Did All the Music Go?
"Radio listeners are listening less. In 1993, they spent an average of 23 hours per week with the radio on; last year, it was down to 20 1/2 hours, according to Arbitron numbers.
Those most likely to turn off the radio: teen-agers, long among the medium's mainstays. Among girls age 12-17, the radio is on just 16 hours a week. For boys, it's just 12 1/2 hours. That's bad news for the country's 11,047 commercial radio stations.
Why the turn-off?
Some, like musicians Prince and Little Steven Van Zandt, blame playlists so strict they make the old Top 40 format seem extravagant.
Others blame a 1996 law that opened the door for corporate ownership of hundreds of radio stations, replacing often-eccentric local owners with a legion of sound-alike voices and formats....
Today, Infinity Broadcasting -- home to Stern and Imus -- owns 180 radio stations in 22 states. Emmis Communications' three New York stations control 14 percent of the revenue in the nation's No. 1 market; in other markets, that number can quadruple.
But the big daddy of the business is San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications, which owns 1,200 stations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Clear Channel estimates that each day, it reaches 54 percent of people age 18-49 in the United States.
It owns eight channels in Washington, seven in Dallas. Its ascension to the nation's No. 1 radio operation has raised many questions; the latest controversy involves 'voicetracking,' a new system that replaces on-air talent with pre-recorded material....
Despite the complaints, independent studies have shown that deregulation has increased choices on the dial. Hogan explained how that was possible.
Pre-1996, four companies might run classic rock stations in a single market. Multiple ownership now allows multiple formats -- although, he acknowledged, some of those formats could mean repeating the same 10 songs ad infinitum." [CNN]
I'd sure like to see those studies.... Personally, I'm at a point where a price drop would get me to try the Sony XM Receiver.
Thanks to Jake Savin, Radio users can now emulate David Sifry's GoogleSearch tag for Movable Type. Jake has created a googleTitleSearch macro and provides instructions for how to implement it. I'll try this when I have a few minutes, but I'm still concerned about the best way to use titles on my posts so that abridged feed readers and Bloglet subscribers (even though Bloglet isn't working right now) have the same options for accessing my post and the original post as web site visitors and regular feed readers do. Tough call.
"Welcome, Leah." [The Peanut Gallery]
Thanks to Rick Klau's article on LLRX about Personal KM and Radio, we've got an academic law librarian on board! Not only that, "I'm a retired Judge Advocate, I'm also interested in military issues and military law." Should be a great intersection of topics. Welcome to my aggregator, Leah!
Wow - check out Matt Mower's blog Curiouser and Curiouser. He's hacked Radio to add a keywords field for posts. On his blog, the keywords appear at the end of each item and they link to related posts in an outline format that uses Marc Barrot's activeRenderer tool! I L-O-V-E this! They're traditional library "see also" references!
So Matt, how do I add this to my site? I guess I should get serious about a thesaurus, too.
L.A. Tops the List for Drivers Getting Stuck Fuming
"Traffic jams in the United States are costing Americans $68 billion each year in wasted time and fuel, according to a new report.
Based on the analysis of 75 U.S. cities, the annual Urban Mobility Report from the Texas Transportation Institute finds the average rush-hour driver -- not just commuters, but all drivers -- wastes about 62 hours in traffic each year.
That's not total travel time, that's just the extra time spent going slow or going nowhere because of traffic congestion....
The study also found that rush hours are lasting longer. In 1982, the report found traffic was congested about 4.5 hours a day for the 75 cities studied. In 2000, traffic was congested an average of seven hours a day." [CNN]
I just had to post this because I got caught in traffic this morning. I was already trying to figure out a new route to work since I just found out that 400 new homes are going up along the two-lane road that marks the main road north out of town. I think I'd go crazy in traffic without my Archos Jukebox and Audible Otis.
"Three years ago today: I took my eye off My.UserLand.Com for a few weeks and while I was dozing, Ian Davis of Internet Alchemy was doing some very innovative stuff with RSS. I'm still just figuring out what he's done, and where he wants to go." [Scripting News]
I don't know - do you think this is the one Dave would pick? Even though I don't know what it means, my other candidate was:
"One year ago today. A new Perl implementation of XML-RPC from Randy Ray." [Scripting News]
Teachers Wanna Hold a Handheld
"Texas Instruments also hopes to expand its image beyond that of a graphing calculator for science and math classes to that of a handheld that can be used in other subject areas.
Many schools already use the devices and could download new applications onto them for use in other classes.
'We're not focused on doing PDAs for business,' said Tom Ferrio, vice president of education for TI. 'This is specifically designed for students.'
The company introduced a new, durable keyboard that is built to withstand the hazards of a backpack. It's packaged with a word processing software application so that students can take notes. Other new applications include customizable flashcards and multiple choice questions....
In the fall, TI will introduce a product called the TI Navigator, a wireless hub for teachers that can collect student work stored on the individual TI-83s, then move them to the teacher's computer to be evaluated." [Wired News]
What I don't think we're working enough on is the support from the school and public library for kids using these handhelds. Ebooks are the most obvious applicatiobn, but few implementations are even integrating them. Then there's wireless access to remote databases, bibliographies on-the-go, "ask-a-librarian" text-based chatting, integrating due dates into the calendar (yes, I know Innovative is working on this), and other mechanisms the library could support.
Maybe we can convince TI to help us develop some library apps for PDAs.
Internet Pinball Database
" 'The Internet Pinball Database is the most comprehensive list of pinball machines that have been manufactured. It currently contains information on more than 4000 different machines, and includes photographs of well over a third of the games.'
LS Thoughts - First Gary's RSS feed hits the library blog world, now this!! Not only can you search this database, but there is an advanced search form and you can even download the whole she-bang to your desktop. If you are a fan of the pinball world (I am having flashbacks to the many nights spent in front of these babies), you can always help the owners Name That Game. I would like to have seen some sort of directory for fun browsing purposes, but, hey, I'm not complaining!!" [Library Stuff]
Can't comment on this myself because I'm too busy getting misty-eyed remembering Haunted House and Taxi. Sniff, sniff.