Ars Technica



Justice Dept. defends public’s constitutional ‘right to record’ cops
Kim ZetterKim Zetter, Ars TechnicaArs Technica, 2012/05/18

Via Metafilter: "In a surprising letter (PDF) sent on Monday to attorneys for the Baltimore Police Department, the Justice Department also strongly asserted that officers who seize and destroy such recordings without a warrant or without due process are in strict violation of the individual’s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights." It really is time that governments (or at least those that defend civil liberties) were clear on the rights of citizens to make digital media, to store digital media, and to share digital media, without unreasonable interference from the state (or for that matter those individuals who don't want to be seen, discussed or filmed doing things they should not be doing in public).

Today: Total:55 [Comment] [Direct Link]
Google+ updates its user interface, refines navigation and photos
Cesar TorresCesar Torres, Ars TechnicaArs Technica, 2012/04/11

Google+ has a new look, characterized most of all by a huge swath of white space (this is the space that will later be filled with promotions and marketing, no doubt - it reminds me of Twitter's new home page, which has a tiny window for me, and huge areas devoted to making me follow Ashton Kutcher and Priit Hõbemägi (that's what it says today; vacuous celebrities vary by location). No RSS in or out? Nope. Google+ can change the design all it wants, it won't fix the basic problem that Google+ doesn't play well with others. Today: Total:53 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Apple to announce tools, platform to "digitally destroy" textbook publishing
Chris ForesmanChris Foresman, Ars TechnicaArs Technica, 2012/01/17

There have been hints aplenty laid down about Apple's forthcoming announcement with the suggestion that it will impact online learning directly. If it's as suggested in this article - "Apple will announce tools to help create interactive e-books - the 'GarageBand for e-books,'" - then there may be something to it. Me, I've had a 'GarageBand for eBooks' for years - it's called my word processor or text editor, and I've been using it to distribute interactive multimedia content on the web for years. But maybe what I really needed was a proprietary interface and the Apple brand. And maybe a file format that won't play on the open web? Ah - but maybe I'm too cynical. Prepare to read the gushing reviews Thursday. More Here. And here. Today: Total:47 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The sods must be crazy: OLPC to drop tablets from helicopters to isolated villages
Ryan PaulRyan Paul, Ars TechnicaArs Technica, 2011/11/08

I'm not sure whether the idea is genius or insane (though I suspect most people would be tending to suspect the latter). "The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) ... organization plans to drop the touchscreen computers from helicopters near remote villages in developing countries. The devices will then be abandoned and left for the villagers to find, distribute, support, and use on their own." And people say we don't give learners in our MOOCs enough support! This is way out there. John Connell says, "I can’t help but see a few poten­tial flaws." Yeah. In related OLPC news, Wayan Vota accuses the organization of eating its own supporters. "The OLPC Association is taking legal action against programs that are trying to implement One Laptop Per Child deployments" over the use of the OLPC name. Because the OLPC name, I guess, is reserved only for turkey drops. "Oh my god they're computers!" Today: Total:92 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Judge blocks law against private messages between teachers and kids
Casey JohnstonCasey Johnston, Ars TechnicaArs Technica, 2011/09/01

It's interesting that there is no more widespread resistence to the simple (and kneejerk) response of simply blocking access to social media when people start using it in unusual or subversive ways (I'm using the words 'unusual' and 'subversive' to try to characterize a type of use that really defies characterization, except, of course, for the fact that someone in authority wants to ban it). In one case, for example, a judge blocked a law banning private messages between students and teachers (can one imagibe the reaction to a similar law blocking phone calls, written notes, or personal conversations?). In another, the British government has backed away from plans to shut down Twitter and Facebook during 'crises' (by which they mean 'riots'). Today: Total:49 [Comment] [Direct Link]

What Google knows about you and how to tweak it
Jacqui ChengJacqui Cheng, Ars TechnicaArs Technica, 2010/11/18

"In some ways," writes Jacqui Cheng, "it's freaky how much honest info people unwittingly hand over to Google, but the company insists that it's all under user control, and can be removed at any time." Some of the links of relevance I found through reading her article include:
- Google Dashboard
- Google privacy settings
- Opt out of behavioural advertising generally
- Google products page
Do follow these; they are eye-openers. Via Everyday Literacies.
Today: Total:52 [Comment] [Direct Link]

How will we know when the Internet is dead?
Matthew LasarMatthew Lasar, Ars TechnicaArs Technica, 2010/11/15

A group of internet pioneers has filed a statement with the FCC under their notice of proposed rulemaking entitled Further Inquiry into Two Under-developed Issues in the Open Internet Proceeding.

"If a service provides prioritized access to a particular application or endpoint/destination, it is not an open Internet service," writes Matthew Lasar. With the rise in specialized services and the increasing practice of traffic or bandwidth shaping (aka "throttling") questions about the future of the open internet are being raised. "Will managed or specialized services increase or reduce investment in broadband network deployment and upgrades?" the FCC asked out loud. "Will network providers provide sufficient capacity for robust broadband Internet access service on shared networks used for managed or specialized services?" The answer, of course, is that investment will flow toward the promise of greater returns, and this is less and less support for the open internet.

David Reed writes: "the Open Internet is not a closed 'service platform' or a 'walled garden', but an open interchange that crosses cultures, languages, and other traditional barriers. It would be sad if ATT, Verizon, Comcast, Google, or any other corporation were deemed to have the right to 'own' your participation in the Internet, or to decide which tiny subset of content, which tiny part of the world you are paying to communicate with."

More coverage (in part courtesy Bill St. Arnauld):
- Slashdot picks up the Grant Gross/IDG story
- Rob Powell: Definitions, Dialogue, and the FCC
- Joly Macfie/ISOC-NY: Internet to FCC dont mess!
- Grant Gross: 'Net pioneers: Open Internet should be separate (ComputerWorld; reprinted on PCWorld, NetworkWorld, CIO, ITWorld)
- Robin Chase: The Internet is not Triple Play
- Jon Lebkowsky: Advocating for the Open Internet:
- Kenneth Carter: Defining the Open Internet
- David Isenberg: Towards an Open Internet
- Paul Jones: Identifying the Internet (for the FCC)
- Gene Gaines posted the Press Release
- Brough Turner/Netblazr: Seeking Federal Recognition for the Open Internet
- David Weinberger: Identifying the Internet
- Joint Statement - On Advancing the Open Internet by Distinguishing it from Specialized Services
- Exclusive: Big Name Industry Pioneers & Experts Push FCC for Open Internet
- David Reed: A Statement from Various Advocates for an Open Internet Why I Signed On
- Jean-Jacques Sahel, EU laws already protect the open Internet

Today: Total:90 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Format shifting, low damages put Canada on IP watch list
Nate AndersonNate Anderson, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

Though the debate in Canada over copyright is ongoing, it won't be influenced by the US 301 reports. "In regard to the watch list, Canada does not recognize the 301 watch list process. It basically lacks reliable and objective analysis. It's driven entirely by US industry. We have repeatedly raised this issue of the lack of objective analysis in the 301 watch list process with our US counterparts." This article makes clear some of the reasons why. Today: Total:76 [Comment] [Direct Link]

California Open Source Digital Textbook Plan Faces Barriers
Ryan PaulRyan Paul, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

John Concilus sent me this item, about California's newly announced effort to push Open Content textbooks and we've been having a conversation about the top-down nature of the initiative, the idea of "a state approved list of standards-aligned, open-source digital textbooks," and the idewa of 'collaboration' by sending your submission to a central agency. This Ars Technica article has more details. And today we see a Slashdot thread that mostly misses the point. Today: Total:68 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Wikipedia Hoax Points to Limits of Journalists' Research
John TimmerJohn Timmer, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

This article serves as evidence that readers should check the veracity of any report they read, even those published in reputable sources, because the authors of those reports may have simply copied their material from Wikipedia. And it's not just the Wikipedia cites. "Several studies have explored things in a systematic manner, and the results are pretty discouraging. Press releases, the raw material of a lot of journalism, don't always acknowledge the limitations of studies and, at least partially as a result, relevant information is missing from many press reports." Today: Total:52 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Journalism Online: Time to Start Paying for Online News
Nate AndersonNate Anderson, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

I fundamentally disagree with this article, the tenor of which (as the title suggests) is to argue that we need to start paying, on some sort of subscription basis, for online news. It's not going to happen. Even if the pay sites manage to lobby to close down free online news sources such as the CBC or BBC, I feel confident I would get all the news I need from my social networks. This is especially the case given that so much of what constitutes traditional news is not what I need, consisting as it does of press releases, marketing content, and manufactured crises. Still, that's not going to stop some organizations from trying to charge for news. Fine with me; they're just writing themselves out of the internet conversation. Today: Total:68 [Comment] [Direct Link]

2008: Year of Information Overload?
Nate AndersonNate Anderson, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

This is a prediction that has gotten some traction in the blogosphere, but as George Siemens comments, "ok, and the last ten years were what?" Perhaps we'll hear more about intelligent software agents and data visualization, but I really don't expect either to make great strides forward in 2008. Nor do I think that problems related to information overload will lead to a new renaissance for libraries. I expect people to respond passively (I mean, is they any other way?) by ignoring information sources that aren't useful to them. What this means in practical terms is that they'll skip more emails, 'mark all as read' more RSS feeds, read fewer websites, journals or publications. Today: Total:47 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Leaked Media Defender E-Mails Reveal Secret Government Project
Ryan PaulRyan Paul, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

This was a pretty big story in the hacking and file sharing community over the week-end. After repeatedly denying it was trying to set up 'honeypot' lures for file sharers, MediaDefender, a site affiliated with music publishers was caught red-handed after hundreds of leaked emails showed them heavily involved in a site called MiiVi. Allegations were originally made last July but the story broke this weekend with the release of the emails. "Apparently, MediaDefender employee Jay Mairs forwarded all of his company e-mails to a Gmail account, which was eventually infiltrated." The emails not only contained detailed descriuptions of the project and contracts with Universal Music Group, but also information about government participation in the project. Today: Total:87 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Google Selleth Then Taketh Away, Proving the Need for DRM Circumvention
Ken FisherKen Fisher, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

One thing Google's commerical video service had was DRM, meaning essentially that your computer would call (Google) home every time you watched one of the videos you purchased. This week, Google shut down the service, leaving the people who (thought they) had bought videos high and dry. "By picking up its marbles and going home, Google just demonstrated how completely bizarre and anti-consumer DRM technology can be." Via Simon Willison. Today: Total:75 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Survey Says: Only DRM-Free Music Is Worth Paying For
Ken FisherKen Fisher, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

I am now on my fourth MP3 player. This after a lifetime that has included vinyl albums, eight-track tapes, casette tapes and CD ROMs. Had my music been DRM-protected, I would have no music left. No way I would pay for anything but free and open MP3 music. Turns out, I am not aone in my assessment. Today: Total:50 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Open Source Projects Threatened by e-learning Patent
Ryan PaulRyan Paul, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

There has been much more discussion about the Blackboard patent case following the filing of two separate appeals to the U.S. patent board last week - in addition to the one filed by the open source LMS organizations, as Seb Schmoller reports in detail, Desire2Learn files it's own appeal with the U.S. Patent Bureau. Ars Technica focuses on the open source application. Coverage from Inside Higher Education. The Chronicle, meanwhile, remains the one source of coverage you can't read (don't know why they even bother, really). Sakai's statement and FAQ. . Michael Feldstein argues that the challenges have less to dfo with open source than with the fact that it's Blackboard's customers that are taking this action. Feldstein also explains in detail the distinction between ex parte and inter partes patent re-examinations. Today: Total:220 [Comment] [Direct Link]

The Question of Banning Laptops in Class: It's Academic, Silly
Ken FisherKen Fisher, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

The Chronicle of Higher Education has come out with yet another vaguely anti-technology article, this time about giving professors the capacity to shut down wireless access in a classroom. But more interesting is this essay in response by Ken Fisher pointing out that shutting down wireless will not only annoy students, it merely delays the inevitable. "Telecommunications companies such as Verizon already offer high-speed wireless EVDO to laptop users in major metropolitan cities, and short of violating federal law, schools cannot block those signals." Via Assorted Stuff. Today: Total:75 [Comment] [Direct Link]

Making Money Selling Music Without DRM: The Rise of eMusic
Nate AndersonNate Anderson, Ars TechnicaArs Technica,

Interesting article about a site that is making money selling independent music by subscription in MP3 format - with no digital rights management (DRM) at all. The major lables, of course, cannot fathom how such a business could make money, but eMusic is the number two retailer of downloadable music behind the iTunes Music Store. Also worth noting is that the company decided "to hire several distinguished music critics to serve as 'curators' for the site." This is the beginning of the newsmastering rend. As Jeff Jarvis observes, "TiVo announced today that it had recruited critics, magazine editors, and such to recommend TV shows - to create ad hoc networks, in other words." Via Michael Geist. Today: Total:64 [Comment] [Direct Link]


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