Social software and online media

Analysis of social software, blogging, microblogging, and online media. Related subjects include:

January 18, 2012

SOPA’s potentially chilling effect on public debate

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.

January 17, 2012

Freemium journalism business models, or the Launch of the Spawn of TechCrunch

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:

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.

Read more

September 14, 2011

Social technology in the enterprise

The recent Dreamforce conference (i.e,’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.

Denis Pombriant obviously attended the same Marc Benioff session I did. Dion Hinchcliffe blogged the whole story in considerable detail.

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.

Read more

October 24, 2010

Notes, links, and comments, October 24, 2010

Time for a notes/links/comments post just for Text Technologies:  Read more

September 28, 2010

A framework for thinking about New Media journalism

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:

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

September 26, 2010

How to preserve investigative reporting in the New Media Era

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

April 4, 2010

Ike Pigott on the future of reporting

Ike Pigott argues that, as the number of conventional journalists plummets, corporations will have to hire their own “embedded” journalists to fill the void. Read more

April 1, 2010

April Fool’s Day highlights

It’s April 1, and hence time for jests, online or otherwise. Highlights this year include:

Edit: And more being added as I find them:

Related links

March 28, 2010

A new attitude toward online reputation?

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:

If anything, Arrington understated the case, by focusing on two kinds of disclosure:

That overlooks two other threats:

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.

Related links

May 29, 2009

Google Wave — finally a Microsoft killer?

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:

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

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