DERTy Link #4: Touch me, touch me

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Larry Larsen at on10 has filmed a demo of Microsoft’s most up-to-date Surface Computer

It’s nothing new – we’ve seen a few surface mechanics in before, including some older ones like MS’ PlayAnywhere, but this is the slickest version we’ve seen yet. The object recognition capapbility is very cool and the wi-fi camera connectivity is brilliant.

Apparently they’re gearing up for commercial deployment within the next 6-12 months;  we just can’t get over the fact they’ll be bitch to clean – don’t know about you, but there’s something very unsvoury about wiping down your TV screen every couple of days…

 Larry embeds all of his videos so we can’t post here. You’ll have to watch after the jump 

Seeing as it’s traditional to post a video of some sort here, we thought we’d throw in our favourite object recognition and interaction screen, Sony’s Revolution. Ancient, clunky and certainly surpassed by something a lot cooler, we still think this rules….

Which Witch Hunt!!!?

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Interesting debate raging over at Scobelizer at the moment. It seems his initial review of new ‘n’ improved Technorati received a bit of a hammering in the blogosphere as readers jumped all over his observations and tore them apart.

“I want you all to notice what happened last night while I was sleeping: my readers fact checked my ass. See, I got excited about Technorati based on the searches I was doing and the results that I was looking for. But then you all tried your own searches and brought other evidence to bear,” says Scoble

The Blogging Beheomoth found that his army of readers turned like rabid dogs while he snoozed, awaking to find…

“Why not just STOP with the knee jerk, poorly researched posts instead of relying on your audience to do the fact checking for you. Otherwise, what reason is there to visit your blog? comment by skc

Blimey! Calm down Skc, he’s commented on a web application upgrade, not butchered your first borne.

Certain (perceived) factual inaccuracies, posted following a reasonably short period of reivew (1 hour), have been hauled out and dragged through the blogosphere by his readers. Some of Scobles first thoughts and opinions have been taken and held up as evidence of his unreliability, as evidence of his poor analysis and even evidence of the weakness of blogs in general:

“Perhaps what this incident should teach us is that blogging really shouldn’t be taken very seriously, and is a lesser tool in the journalism toolkit…Anything posted on a blog is eclipsed by the amount of effort that goes into a printed or televised story. The reason for that is not only fact checking, but taking the time to review the whole picture and make sure that people really understand it, with a well conveyed story. comment by Chris”

Chris, You’re right. Blogging is nothing like print or broadcast journalism. Well done. terrific observations. Now go and sit down!

What the hell is the point of viewing a blog as an alternative to traditional media? Do bloggers like Scoble have the huge resources, timescales or fact-checking capabilities afforded by traditional media? No. What’s written is not always factually accurate, but it is certainly far more honest, and this is where the influence lies.

Bloggers write what they think, what they know,  and what they believe. The unedited nature of blogs allows ultimate freedom to say what you want. And when factual inaccuracies arise, they can be questioned, when an opinion is voiced, it can be debated and ultimately the truth will out. It’s not an alternative to the Sunday Times, it’s an arena to investigate it! 

What’s clear here is the misconception some readers have with the nature of blogging. As Scoble points out, I’m not a testing lab. If you’re expecting me to run 1,000 searches and be as thorough as Consumer Reports you’ll be sorely disappointed…this is my personal opinion. I didn’t represent my first opinions about Technorati as in-depth science.In fact, I still stand by my opinions. I like the new Technorati better than Google’s Blog Search.

By their very nature, blogs encourage the debate. Chris, John C. Welch, LayZ et al – by simply posting your comment on here you’re discrediting yourself – a blog post generates the debate, it encourages people to take the information they’ve got and actually THINK about it. Question it, argue it, scream blue-bloody-murder at it, it’s made you think about it and provided the opportunity to comment on it, post a response and indulge your pedantry by putting Scoble right there at the end of your keyboard, ready to respond to your argument. Take a step back and have a better look.

It’s a bloody conversation! Regardless of your newspaper corrections pages, your on-air discussions or your ‘strongly worded letter to the editor’, blogs are letting you voice your opinion in an unfettered tirade. Would any traditional media you know print/broadcast for 27 responses to the same story? Doubtful!

“Citizen Big Brother?”

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Robin Hamman at cybersoc.com has joined the beta test of Plazes, a new social networking site that “adds physical presence to the web. The Plazes website automatically detects your location and connects you to people and places nearby. See people in your area, discover other locations and follow the whereabouts of your friends.

So far, so ‘police state’.  Robin describes it as… “a service that tracks your mobile phone and/or the points where you connect to the internet and plots them on a map. You can then add descriptions and images to the new plazes you create so that other users can find them. Another nice bit of functionality is that you can search for Plazes and other users, including your contacts and others who have chosen to make their location visible, within a user determinable distance of 2 or 5 km.

It’s an interesting concept, merging offline with online worlds, but one that I’m still not wholly comfortable with. The UK isthe most scrutinised nation on earth; with 4 million cameras filming everyone – on average – 300 times a day, is there a need to amplify our Orwellian society with rampant web 2.0 narcissism?

I’m all for the expansion of social networks, but I find a system that uses mobile tracking to pin-point your location (albeit with the users’ consent) a little intrusive.

Robin’s going to continue with the beta test and write a fuller report sometime soon. I’ll keep you posted…

DERTY Link #3: OneStopPopShop

“I’m a self-facilitating media node, yeah… it’s well mexico!!!

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Popurls is the dashboard for the latest web-buzz, a single page that encapsulates up-to-the-minute headlines from the most popular sites on the internet. Launched in March, it gives “a quick glance on what’s happening on the web while keeping the common newsreader clean from short-term headlines…a gate to an editorial selection of the most popular sites on the internet, presented in a usable way

PopURLS gives you a snapshot of all the most popular links from the most widely used aggregators. That’s A LOT of headlines, people. 

In all honesty there’s just too much to take in at once, but to get a good indication of web-mentality, the key discussions and news agenda online, popurls can’t really be beaten. It takes a moment to get your head round it but when it comes in to focus, it’s pretty amazing.

The list as it stands at the moment:

Digg, del.icio.us, reddit, flickr, newsvine, metafilter, tailrank, youtube, news.google, news.yahoo, netscape, ifilm, wire, slashdot, boingboing, odeo, fark, nowpublic, shoutwire, metacafe, clipmarks, dzone, videoshift and video.aol.

I could link to all of these sites individually, but I honestly cannot be bothered. Similarly, I could not be ar$ed copying out the ludicrously comprehensive list of contributing blogs – just go and look for yourself, it’s what it’s there for. 

As Barley would say, “Keep it foolish!”

Magellan hits the social interweb…

Like some Tolkein-esque scrawl at the front of a dusty tome, XKCD has found a map of online communities.

Odd (clicky for larger)

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Citizen jouranlists?

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Suw Charman (ORG and Strange Attractor) has published a brilliant examination of citizen journlism at the Freedom of Expression project.

Read the whole article, or download the pdf. after the jump

The Changing Role of Journalists in a World Where Everyone Can Publish

info: Submitted by Lisa Horner on Sun, 2007-05-06 15:08.

by Suw Charman
Social media expert, writer and journalist

(Download a pdf version at the end of the paper)

Citizen journalism – when the general public investigate, fact-check and publish news stories – is changing the face of news. The historic role of gatekeeper, played until now by professional journalists, is obsolete. But new technology and increased civic participation are creating new opportunities for the mainstream media, and three key roles are emerging:

  1. Investigation – traditional in-depth investigative journalism made more transparent by publishing research and references.
  2. Curation – collecting trustworthy links and synthesising an informed and succinct overview of a story.
  3. Facilitation – working with the community to help people publish stories important to them.

What is ‘Citizen Journalism’?

Ask a dozen people to define ‘citizen journalism’, and you will undoubtedly get twelve different answers. This is not because agreement can’t be reached, but because many different activities have been lumped together under the same umbrella term. One definition might be:

“Citizen journalism: The execution of journalistic behaviours, such as investigation, fact-checking, and news publication, by the general public, usually on the internet.”

It doesn’t matter where these behaviours are exhibited, whether on a blog, a wiki, an independent website purpose-built to collect citizen journalism stories, or in a newspaper. Nor does it matter who is doing it – some journalists are also citizen journalists. What is important is that the general public now have the ability to investigate, report and fact-check news of every type and on every level, from international to hyperlocal.

However, some dislike the term ‘citizen journalism’, because:

  1. It sets up a false dichotomy between the professional journalist and the citizen journalist.
  2. The term ascribes the citizen journalist with a motivation – to become a professional journalist – that in the majority of cases does not exist.
  3. The term encourages people to make a value judgement, as if there is ‘real’ journalism and ‘citizen’ journalism, and that the former has more value than the latter.

There are many alternative phrases in use to describe mainstream media, including ‘participatory media’ and ‘distributed journalism’. But despite its flaws, the term ‘citizen journalism’ has gained currency and thus is the one this paper shall use.

Conclusion

The empowerment of the public has undoubtedly resulted in increased civic engagement30. Political apathy occurs when citizens feel disengaged from the political process, so it is essential to democracy that people are able to take part in public discourse: the ability to speak out, to be heard, and to make a difference is of vital importance in modern society. Citizen journalism plays a key part in this process, but with massive proliferation of information sources, we risk overwhelming ourselves, thus stifling instead of nurturing the conversation. The historical information bottleneck no longer exists, and the media are no longer in a position to act as gatekeepers who control the flow of information. Instead, they must now fulfil one of three core roles:

  1. Investigation – there will always be a real need for journalists who have the skill, time and resources to engage in investigation. The importance of this role in a functioning democracy should not be overlooked, particularly in the current climate of damaging cuts in the mainstream media’s newsgathering operations. However, journalists should publish their research and references wherever possible to provide more depth to their work.
  2. Curation – the more information is available, the more help we need to make sense of it, and the journalist who becomes expert at assessing other people’s content, creating a collection of trustworthy links and synthesising an informed and succinct overview of the story is performing a valuable service to a time- and attention-poor audience.
  3. Facilitation – there is a significant opportunity for journalists to work with the community as facilitators, helping people publish stories important to them, whether international or hyperlocal. These roles lie at the core of a healthy democracy, and we must consider their increasing importance in this connected, information-rich age.

Pandora gets back in its box

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It seems that Pandora, the internet radio station has finally lost it’s valiant battle against international licensing constraints. They’ve had  who had to cut off listeners of its internet radio service due to them not being US residents. The company is now pushing for effective, established and centralised licensing bodies worldwide.

 Jordi Ballera, the Deputy GM of Edelman’s Madria office received the following notification today. The UK manages to squeeze through the draconian US laws; unfortunately, the rest of Europe is not so lucky… 

Dear Pandora listener, 

Today we have some extremely disappointing news to share with you. Due to international licensing constraints, we are deeply, deeply sorry to say that we must begin proactively preventing access to Pandora’s streaming service for most countries outside of the U.S. It is difficult to convey just how disappointing this is for us. Our vision remains to eventually make Pandora a truly global service, but for the time being, we can no longer continue as we have been. As a small company, the best chance we have of realizing our dream of Pandora all around the world is to grow as the licensing landscape allows. We show your IP address is ‘85.62.33.130’, which indicates you are listening from Spain. If you believe you are seeing this by mistake, we offer our sincere apologies and ask that you please reply to this email.    

Delivery of Pandora is based on proper licensing from the people who created the music – we have always believed in honoring the guidelines as determined by legislators and regulators, artists and songwriters, and the labels and publishers they work with. In the U.S. there is a federal statute that provides this license for all the music streamed on Pandora. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent license outside the U.S. and there is no global licensing organization to enable us to legitimately offer Pandora around the world.

Other than in the U.K., we have not yet been able to make significant progress in our efforts to obtain a sufficient number of international licenses at terms that would enable us to run a viable business. The volume of listening on Pandora makes it a very expensive service to run. Streaming costs are very high, and since our inception, we have been making publishing and performance royalty payments for every song we play. Until now, we have not been able to tell where a listener is based, relying only on zip code information provided upon registration. We are now able to recognize a listener’s country of origin based on the IP address from which they are accessing the service. Consequently, on May 3rd, we will begin blocking access to Pandora to listeners from your country. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative.

We will be posting updates on our blog regarding our ongoing effort to launch in other countries, so please stay in touch. We will keep a record of your existing stations and bookmarked artists and songs, so that when we are able to launch in your country, they will be waiting for you. We deeply share your sense of disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding.

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-Tim Westergren
(Pandora founder)