The Search, for News: an interjection to John Battelle’s Book

Dec 14 ’07 Media

Why do we read what we read? 

This question interests me as a reader; it must interest John Battelle even more as a publisher. Battelle was a cofounding editor of Wired and founder of The Industry Standard; he now helms the online publishing venture Federated Media. Two years ago, he wrote The Search, about Google and its impact on business and culture. At the close of the book he appealed to his readers to send him corrections and updates to the book: “I am committed to updating this work at the Searchblog site.”

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Reflections on the Future of Reputation

Dec 07 ’07 Internet | Accountability

This coming weekend I'm planning on attending the Reputation Economies conference at Yale, so I bought, and read, Daniel Solove's The Future of Reputation.

The book was a delight to read, intensely footnoted and calmly presented. While there is no shortage of rhetoric extolling the virtues of new media, Solove takes that as obvious enough, and presents instead the dark side of cyberspace.

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Fringe Infringements

Nov 28 ’07

John Tehranian, a University of Utah law professor, recently published an article “Infringment Nation” where he claimed that a typical American might be violating copyright at an astonishing rate: 83 acts of infringement and a potential liability of $12.45 million a day.

Those sort of numbers echoed by BoingBoing, by Valleywag, by Ars Technica, and by David Ardia of the Citizen Media Law Project of the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School.

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GeoRating — your phone wants to know

Dec 07 ’07

Last month, I sketched out how geotagging could be useful in major emergencies— such as knowing, should your community be ravished by wildfires, when it is safe to move back (under the presumption that your neighbors have been geotagging their own photos). As such catastrophes don't happen every day, such an idea will take a while to get traction. Maybe another tack is necessary.

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Goodbye Inbox, Hello Pitchbox

Nov 06 ’07 Media | Pitching
I read in the Times that the most wired magazine (well, Wired), still has to put up with email pitches. Editor Chris Anderson grew tired of all the PR pitches and announced to the world that he was blacklisting all of the email addresses. They should be more…

Geotagging Emergency Media

Nov 03 ’07 Media | Access/Network

When Andrew Rasiej, the co-founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, ran for Public Advocate of New York City in 2005, he campaigned on a novel civic idea: the city should create a service that enabled residents to report potholes using their cameraphones. He even set up the website for it. Gothamist mentioned it. Tom Friedman (whose stature as an Internet swami I've recently examined in depth) virtually gave Raisej his August 3rd column to expound upon this and similar ideas.

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The TimesSelect Reader

Oct 12 ’07

Two years ago, and ten years into its web era, the New York Times introduced TimesSelect as a value-added service for its 2 million subscribers; ultimately 227,000 subscribers paid a fifth of what either Sunday or Mon-Sat subscribers were paying. The values included access to 100 articles a month from the archives, as well as access to its popular columnists, no longer free to the casual Internet reader. The service was much derided by bloggers, who had felt that the attaching of a fee to previously free material was heresy, or bad for business, or both. The service ended last week after a two-year run.

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Privacy Considerations of Third Party Website Trackers

Dec 21 ’07 Internet | Accountability

In recent months, there have been a heightened awareness about privacy risks online. Facebook's Beacon program, which had pulled in information from users' online purchases on from partner sites, was roundly criticized before the company backtracked. The Google/Doubleclick merger brought intense attention from the U.S. Congress and privacy groups, but the Federal Trade Commission went ahead and approved the deal this week. The attention that these companies attract is undoubtedly due to their reach and virtual omniscience: Google knows where people surf, and Facebook knows who people are.

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TIME and again — shoddy journalism and the net critics

Dec 07 ’07 Media | Accountability

TIME Magazine publishes an article regarding important legislation before the the United States Congress. The article is based on some flimsy research, and netizens immediately pounce on it. The article's author addresses his critics online, and the magazine publishes a correction, sort of. Online media critics, particularly at Wired magazine, are unsatisfied.

Joe Klein, and his column over the FISA bill in 2007? No, Philip Elmer-Dewitt and the “Cyberporn” cover story in 1995. Both Klein and Elmer-DeWitt, were roasted by liberals/libertarians of handing conservatives a political victory on a speech/privacy issue.

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Part 5: TimesSelect, SEO, and Google

Oct 22 ’07 Media | Language/Structure

In the previous section, we suggested that the Times, or any other newspaper, could well offer a premium service which allowed for perks like ad-free viewing and unmoderated discussion posts. Charging for content, on the other hand, has the effect of reducing the visibility to new audiences.

Some observers, without having done any calculations, assumed that instead of reducing influence, TimesSelect represented an absolute closure. Jay Rosen, in his PressThink blog wrote: “Times agrees to drop Times Select, which was a barrier to Google–and the blogosphere–working the right way.” Barbara Quint, in her otherwise excellent article in the trade publication Information Today similarly remarked: “The opening of content also allows blogs, social networks, and other online sources to link to NYTimes.com articles and draw Web users to the site.”

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