Social software and online media
Analysis of social software, blogging, microblogging, and online media. Related subjects include:
SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) is getting blasted all over the Internet. Even so, one of its major dangers has not yet been widely discussed. People seem to realize that SOPA can create censorship by governments, or businesses, or as collateral damage when governments and businesses pursue other interests. But they may not yet grasp that SOPA can allow individuals to stifle free speech as well.
To quote the owner of a popular sports fan discussion forum (emphasis mine):
The problem is several of the provisions in SOPA will force ISPs hosting websites (ie: the company that hosts our servers) to potentially disconnect us from the Internet if there’s a claim – unsubstantiated or not – that we’re infringing against copyright, regardless of if it has not been fully proved in court. The argument is that this would make it easy for someone to make false or weak claims against the site to take a us offline until we went to court.
That’s a headache I’m not prepared to deal with. The number of threats I get each year via e-mail from angry members from other teams we remove are pretty unreal and obviously you guys don’t see them, so giving any additional ammunition backed up by a law like this would be a potentially huge issue. I’ve been talking with other sites and it’s a very real concern that we’re all potentially going to be faced with if this goes through, unless it’s rewritten to better target the sites that are really the ones they’re looking to address.
And that’s just from the passions of sports fandom. The passions of the politics — or the commercial interests of those being criticized — are of even greater concern.
Indeed, SOPA-like legislation creates an easy way to take down any forum, blog, or other site that allows user-generated content: flood it with copyrighted content, then run to the regulators. We must never, ever, ever accept a legal regime in which publishers may be censored before they are PROVED to be guilty of wrongdoing.
In case you missed it, Sarah Lacy has launched Pando Daily, aka “Spawn of TechCrunch”. It has a clear mission statement, which she phrased as
the site-of-record for that startup root-system and everything that springs up from it, cycle-after-cycle
and mentor/investor/board member Mike Arrington simply called
to be the paper of record for Silicon Valley
That, I believe, is in the form a journalistic mission statement should take:
- “We (will) offer the best X about Y”, where …
- … “X” is something like news or analysis or opinion and …
- … “Y” is a particular subject area.
But there’s a problem with that template. One would ideally wish a mission statement of the form “We do the best A” to be followed up by “and, obviously, people will pay lots of money for A”. Journalistic mission statements don’t have that nice property.
Fortunately, at least in the case of tech blogging, they do tend to have a nice substitute. Let me explain.
The recent Dreamforce conference (i.e, salesforce.com’s extravaganza) focused attention on “the social enterprise” or, more generally, enterprises’ uses of social technology. salesforce is evidently serious about this push, with development/acquisition investment (e.g. Chatter, Radian 6), marketing focus (e.g. much of Dreamforce) and sales effort (Mark Benioff says he got thrown out of a CIO’s office because he wouldn’t stop talking about the “social” subject) all aligned.
It’s a cool story, and worthy of attention. But I’d like to step back and remind us that there are numerous different ways to use social technology in the enterprise, which probably shouldn’t be confused with each other. And then I’d like to discuss one area of social technology that’s relatively new to me: integration between social and operational applications.
Time for a notes/links/comments post just for Text Technologies: Read more
|Categories: Blogosphere, Online media, Sentiment analysis, Social software and online media, Text mining||Leave a Comment|
Jonathan Stray reminds us of an excellent point:
New Media journalism should be thought of as a product that people use, not as collection of stories or other pieces.
In particular, he argues:
- The value of journalism can only be assessed in connection with how people use it …
- … and their lack of enthusiasm about New Media news is a warning sign.
- Technology and form factor matter; imitating old media is likely not the best way to go.
- Personalization and targeting need to be a lot better. In particular:
- What’s most important is getting stories to the people who are likely to want to act on what’s in them. The true value of journalism lies in informing people’s choices and actions. (By contrast, he seems to denigrate the other main benefits of news, which are pure entertainment and/or the facilitation of social interaction.)
- It’s OK and natural that the people inclined to act — on a given story or indeed at all — are only a small fraction of the overall population.
I am in vehement agreement with much of what Stray has to say, although I think he understates the importance of general knowledge and the often serendipitous benefits of pursuing same. Read more
It is common to say that “On the whole, journalism will be fine even as the media industry is disrupted – but the investigative part of journalism may not fare so well.” Indeed, I took something like that stance in my May, 2009 post on where the information ecosystem is headed and even more directly in an earlier piece that month. However, I’ve changed my mind in an optimistic direction, and now believe:
There are still some things we need to do to preserve and extend the societal benefits of investigative reporting. But they are straightforward and very likely to happen.
Specifically, I recommend: Read more
It’s April 1, and hence time for jests, online or otherwise. Highlights this year include:
- In a charming blog post, Google annoucned the new Android Translate For Animals feature.
- Reddit has apparently made every user an administrator, throwing the whole site –or at least the Reddit hot stories list — into chaos.
- A video depicts icons falling off of an iPhone onto a table.
- Firetoys, Ltd., whoever they are, are promoting a Back To The Future style hoverboard. I want one!
Edit: And more being added as I find them:
- My recent roundup of past years’ April Fool’s highlights
- A companion roundup of other, even funnier pranks
- My alternative to pranks: April No-Fooling Day
Michael Arrington of TechCrunch stirred the post today with a post titled Reputation Is Dead: It’s Time To Overlook Our Indiscretions. The premise is:
- Embarrassing stuff about anybody can be found.
- Deal with it.
- If there’s embarrassing stuff about EVERYBODY out there, maybe our societal norms will loosen up and get more tolerant.
If anything, Arrington understated the case, by focusing on two kinds of disclosure:
- Specific pieces of information such as photographs, which were originally gathered in a well-intentioned way.
- Anonymous “reviews” — e.g., like those on Yelp, but soon about specific people as well.
That overlooks two other threats:
- Data aggregration or other technologically-advanced snooping used against one.
- Amateur, private-eye-like stakeouts, as cameras and other surveillance equipment get cheaper, and online publication becomes bone-simple.
I.e., Arrington was even more correct than he seemed to realize.
Fred Wilson responded by suggesting that the key issue is making sure that enough good things are said about you to more than compensate for the bad ones. I emphatically agree with that too, as per my 2008 online reputation dictum:
The internet WILL tell stories about you, true or otherwise. Make sure your own version is out there too.
Where Wilson fell down a bit is in suggesting that you should get so many good things said about you they should completely crowd the bad ones off the top page of search engine results. First, this is difficult. Second and more important, if somebody is checking you out for a job or whatever, there’s a good chance they’ll click through to the second page of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). But otherwise his thoughts are spot-on.
To paraphrase Andy Warhol, everybody is a celebrity for 15 minutes, or to an audience of 15 other people. And for many of us, you can tack a few 0s onto those figures. So there’s no reason to expect any more privacy than celebrities have — but there’s also no reason to expect any less tolerance for our failings than is shown to them.
Google held a superbly-received preview of a new technology called Google Wave, which promises to “reinvent communication.” In simplest terms, Google Wave is a software platform that:
- Offers the possibility to improve upon a broad range of communication, collaboration, and/or text-based product categories, such as:
- Word processing
- Instant messaging
- Mini-portals (Facebook-style)
- Mini-portals (Sharepoint-style)
- In particular, allows these applications to be both much more integrated and interactive than they now are.
- Will have open developer APIs.
- WIll be open-sourced.
If this all works out, Google Wave could play merry hell with Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, and more.
I suspect it will.
And by the way, there’s a cool “natural language” angle as well. Read more
|Categories: Google, Language recognition, Microblogging, Microsoft, Natural language processing (NLP), Search engines, Social software and online media, Software as a Service (SaaS)||3 Comments|