Special guest Alllan Frank at tomorrow night’s Refresh Philly

Kellie Carter and Dave Cooksey will lead a discussion on user-centered design and ways in which to improve Philadelphia.

For details on Monday’s get together check out refreshphilly.org.

Its an important discussion and I believe some positive efforts for the city are bound to spring from it.

Porn and Music are the canaries in a coal mine

While it can be argued that the attention economy has hurt the pornography and music industries the most over the past few years, I’d turn that around and say they are both spheres where real innovation can be found. Two cases in point:

Andrew Chen: Freemium business model case study: AdultFriendFinder ARPU, churn, and conversion rates

NYTimes: Songs From the Heart of a Marketing Plan:

While people still love music enough to track it down, collect it, argue over it and judge their Facebook friends by it, many see no reason to pay for it. The emerging practical solution is to let music sell something else: a concert, a T-shirt, Web-site pop-up ads or a brand.

Musicians have to eat and want to be heard, and if that means accompanying someone else’s sales pitch or videogame, well, it’s a living.

“A New Media Tells Different Stories” by Bruno Giussani

“A New Media Tells Different Stories” by Bruno Giussani April, 1997:

There are also many other ramifications that the new journalist will have to take into consideration while handling information and exploiting the different tools.

quote First, the behavior of online information seekers is very different than the traditional readers: some surf, some search. The first group is satisfied which just seeing what’s there – they seek pleasure and surprise. The second group is looking for specific information – their priorities are easy and rapid access, and accuracy.

Second, geography is no longer an issue. Because of the Internet global reach, geographical audiences and ethnic audiences can overlap (for instance, Swiss readers living in the United States access our magazine online) as well as thematic audiences (say, worldwide car racing fans hooking up to an Indianapolis newspaper).

Thirdly, the development of the many different types of intelligent agents will double the human public in all of its diversity by becoming an artificial public. We will have to think of a way to present our information so that it reaches both people and robots: software which behaves according to their owners’ desires.

Forth, we will have to handle many different types of information that previously were not taken into consideration and which do not necessarily respond to the traditional definition of news: weather forecasts, traffic updates, sport results, real estate markets, transcripts of school board meetings, unedited documents, etc.

Fifth, we will have to face new competitors coming from outside the field of publishing, using different approaches and different techniques. The first name that comes to mind is, of course, Microsoft, a software company which has recently rolled out a magazine (Slate), launched a TV/Web station (MSNBC), and started projects for local Web guides (Sidewalk). But there are thousands more doing the same, becoming news publishers all the while being car manufacturers or phone companies.

Finally, and it’s an essential point, we are going to witness an explosion in the media diversity. It would be incredibly naive to envision the future looking only at what we can see today – the computer as a plastic box with a screen and a keyboard. The digital revolution is giving birth to multiple new forms of devices bringing together the quality of television images, the communication power of telephones, the memory and speed of computers, the selection and ease of use of newspapers. They are spreading out in different shapes and forms and locations: cellular phones with e-mail capability, network computers, videotext, electronic paper, digital wallets, voice recognition, audiotex, pagers, beep-watches, and so on. The future will allow us to access worldwide information, in many different forms, adapted to needs and places

Living in the public – not there yet

Jeff Jarvis: The perils of publicness:

There’s an old social norm at work here that is, I think, an extension of old media, which says: You put yourself out there, so you put yourself at risk for getting attacked. This implies it is almost your fault for getting attacked. This is a basis of the public-figure defense in libel, the presumed right to go after people in the public eye. Once you become public, you give up the cloak and protection of privacy.

But now we are all public. Does that norm still hold online, when 180 million people have started blogs and countless more put videos on YouTube and photos on Flickr? Are they all, should they all be targets for the snipers and snarkers? Well, they all could be. But what’s our attitude about that? Is there a new norm emerging?

Bruce Schneier: The Future of Ephemeral Conversation:

Until our CEOs blog, our Congressmen Twitter, and our world leaders send each other LOLcats – until we have a Presidential election where both candidates have a complete history on social networking sites from before they were teenagers- we aren’t fully an information age society.

When everyone leaves a public digital trail of their personal thoughts since birth, no one will think twice about it being there. Obama might be on the younger side of the generation gap, but the rules he’s operating under were written by the older side. It will take another generation before society’s tolerance for digital ephemera changes.

rc3.orgWhen everything is recorded:

What I wonder, though, is whether we’re going to see some kind of crest in terms of how harshly people are punished for their previous online behavior. When there are embarrassing photos of everyone online, then by definition their existence will no longer be sensational.

Yep. Me too. Reaching that crest will be painful, ugly, and people are going to be hurt. I still don’t know if we will go over that ledge however, to reach the other side that Jarvis says is already here or Schneier says is on the way someday.

Social Software Links: Activism and Privacy Edition

Penny Arcade! posted a comic that summarizes what many think of online anonymity and the Internet: John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory: Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Fuckwad.

Up until the past few weeks, I would have agreed. But now I am starting to adopt a more nuanced view.

I don’t want to get into what has triggered the change of heart, and no – I am not anonymously blogging – my name lends credibility that I am not willing to trade. However, I have come to realize there are those who need to be able to speak out, and without anonymity cannot do so.

It’s confusing subject matter, so here are a few links of various viewpoints:

CNet: U.N. agency eyes curbs on Internet anonymity

Business Week: Busting a Rogue Blogger: Troll Tracker has been unmasked as a patent lawyer for Cisco. Now they’re both facing litigation

SSRN: Anonymous Blogging and Defamation: Balancing Interests of the Internet: It is important not to silence communication on the Internet, but it is just as important not to silence victims of defamation. Therefore, this comment argues for the protection of libel plaintiffs facing defamatory comments from anonymous bloggers.

Media Bloggers Association: Announces Libel Insurance For Bloggers – huge news for those who intend to pursue acts of journalism independently.

Must See Video: Hope2604 – Steve Rambam Pt 1 – Privacy Is Dead – Get Over It

Must See Video: Hope2604 – Steve Rambam Pt 2 – Privacy Is Dead – Get Over It

Wired.com: ‘Anonymous’ Member Unmasked, Charged With Web Attack on Scientology

Bruce Schneier: Essays and Op Eds

Time Berners-Lee’s new World Wide Web Foundation

Global Voices Online: Global Voices Advocacy: A project of Global Voices Online, we seek to build a global anti-censorship network of bloggers and online activists dedicated to protecting freedom of expression and free access to information online.

Reporters Without Borders

Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Risks Digest

Slashdot: Your Rights Online

Tim Berners-Lee new foundation the W3F is timely

The World Wide Web Foundation has a broad scope as described in its one page concept paper, but in short, where the w3c focuses on technologies and interoperability the w3f looks to to focus on technology and society.

arstechnica.com: WWW creator Berners-Lee launches ambitious Web Foundation

BBC.com: Warning sounded on web’s future

The Register: Berners-Lee backs web truthiness labelling scheme

Wow. Talk about timing!

Take the current campaign for President. How could a labeling scheme help or hurt?

Take a walk outside of your political bias for a moment, and realize, you might not be part of the majority, nor may your take on ‘truth’ be the prevailing ‘truth’ as per attention influence on the Web (anyone with high SERPs on Google for example).

Marc Ambinder: What We Learned This Weekend:

The McCain campaign has gone thoroughly post-modern on us! Truth? Schmuth? It’s all a struggle for power.

ScienceBlogs.com: Cognitive Dissonance And Politics:

…dissonant facts made them double-down. It would be too painful to be wrong, and so they convinced themselves that they were right.

USNews: The Campaign, “The Matrix,” and the GOP Offensive Against Truth:

Among historians, there’s a raging Great Debate about the question of Truth.

Wall Street Journal: The Triumph of Culture Over Politics:

For this season has given us the first truly postmodern election. Modern political campaigns are amalgams of politics, spectacle and entertainment. Postmodern campaigns teem with fluid identities, unmoored meanings and blurred boundaries to the point that stable terms like “politics,” “spectacle” and “entertainment” barely exist as separate concepts. These innovations, if you will, are shifts in the culture, and the total submersion of politics in a cultural atmosphere is a trend perfectly suited to the party of organic culture.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Barack Obama:

In my book “True Enough: Learning To Live in a Post-Fact Society”, published earlier this year, I argued that in the digital world, facts are a stock of faltering value. The phenomenon that scholars call “media fragmentation”–the disintegration of the mass media into the many niches of the Web, cable news, and talk radio–lets us consume news that we like and avoid news that we don’t, leading people to perceive reality in a way that conforms to their long-held beliefs. Not everyone agrees with me that our new infosphere will open the floodgates to fiction, but it’s clear that the McCain camp is benefiting from some of the forces I described.

If postmodern behavior is just human nature (and I am not convinced), then ‘truth’ is in serious trouble since the Web mirrors human nature.

I guarantee you a labeling scheme, in the political sphere, would favor the those who could utilize attention influence the most effectively, and have little to do with actual ‘truth’.

Is the reason why Steven Colbert rocks so damn hard is because he confronts us with our lack of belief in a common ‘truth’ ?

YouTube: Stephen Colbert on The O’Reilly Factor

Google Video: Colbert Roasts President Bush – 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner

What to do or not do? Are there technological solutions, or does technology have no role to play? Or are we dealing with human nature at work, and if so, is it something to embrace, and we’ve come to a core reason why computer programming is so… flawed – that software is an attempt to model processes where there is no true or false, with a tool that only understands true or false?

And if it seems odd that I am making connections between tech, media and politics, well Dave Winer posted yesterday “People thought I stopped writing about technology but the technology and politics are all one and the same.”.

I’m just asking questions here, I have no answers. And probably need to drink less coffee in the morning.

Stack Overflow launches

I like what I see at Stack Overflow so far. Growing an online community of any sort can be tricky, but this collaboration engine looks smart. Additional info at Joel Spolksy’s. Hmmm… I might post a Java, Emacs, or Python question shortly to give it a whirl.

Who is Clay Shirky?

For coworkers (you know who you are…):

Jeff Atwood says, It’s Clay Shirky’s Internet, We Just Live In It

Hugh Macleod says there is only Clay Shirky’s Law: Equality. Fairness. Opportunity. Pick Two.

Ted: Clay Shirky: Institutions vs. collaboration:

Clay Shirky is author of the recent “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations” (on my must-read list), and from his bio:

Mr. Shirky divides his time between consulting, teaching, and writing on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. His consulting practice is focused on the rise of decentralized technologies such as peer-to-peer, web services, and wireless networks that provide alternatives to the wired client/server infrastructure that characterizes the Web. Current clients include Nokia, GBN, the Library of Congress, the Highlands Forum, the Markle Foundation, and the BBC.

In addition to his consulting work, Mr. Shirky is an adjunct professor in NYU’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where he teaches courses on the interrelated effects of social and technological network topology — how our networks shape culture and vice-versa. His current course, Social Weather, examines the cues we use to understand group dynamics in online spaces and the possible ways of improving user interaction by redesigning our social software to better reflect the emergent properties of groups.

Mr. Shirky has written extensively about the internet since 1996. Over the years, he has had regular columns in Business 2.0, FEED, OpenP2P.com and ACM Net_Worker, and his writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, Wired, Release 1.0, Computerworld, and IEEE Computer. He has been interviewed by Slashdot, Red Herring, Media Life, and the Economist’s Ebusiness Forum. He has written about biotechnology in his “After Darwin” column in FEED magazine, and serves as a technical reviewer for O’Reilly’s bioinformatics series. He helps program the “Biological Models of Computation” track for O’Reilly’s Emerging Technology conferences.

Among his must read essays for anyone developing a social app of any kind:

A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy

Power Laws, Weblogs, , and Inequality

Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing

Communities, Audiences, and Scale

Shirky, to me, is noteworthy for his balanced views on the Web and its applications to and effects from society.

Far more here.

YouTube: Clay Shirky on Love, Internet Style:

Why Mozilla sticks with Gecko over WebKit

arstechnica.com: Why Mozilla is committed to Gecko as WebKit popularity grows:

From a technical perspective, Gecko is now very solid and no longer lags behind WebKit. A testament to the rate at which Gecko has been improving is its newfound viability in the mobile space, where it was practically considered a nonstarter not too long ago. Mozilla clearly has the resources, developer expertise, and community support to take Gecko anywhere that WebKit can go.

It’s also worth noting that some of Gecko’s unique and seemingly idiosyncratic features are becoming useful to third-party adopters. There are a growing number of applications being built on top of the Mozilla platform that leverage XUL with impressive results.

BTW – Songbird is pretty darn cool and I can’t wait to see it reach 1.0.

Social Media/Software Links for Today

NYTimes: Brave New World of Digital Intimacy: About social networks and software and how we are using them to connect with one another.

Mind Hacks: The distant sound of well-armed sociologists – Reflections on the above mentioned NYTimes story.

wordle.net – generates graphical ‘word clouds’ from the text provided.

Reflections of a Newsosaur: Newspaper sales fall record $3B in 6 mos.

NPR.org: An Uneasy America: ‘Why We Hate Us’:

The Reality Club: A coversation On “Is Google Making Us Stoopid”.

J-School: Philly.com’s Convention Coverage and the Ethic of the Link

J-School: The Future of Journalism

Annenberg’s FactCheck.org: is doing a great job fact checking our candidates. Anyone listening?

SciAm.com: The Political Brain – Brain-imaging study shows political predilections are a product of unconscious confirmation bias. How we see reality is biased towards our own currently held beliefs.