Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

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28 September 2003
Filed under:About the Internet at8:57 pm

I have been visiting friends of mine – “William and Mona”:http://www.rahul.net/akerblom/ – and found to my delight that William had a ‘first edition’ (fifth printing) copy of Ted Nelson’s two part book – “Computer Lib/Dream Machines”:http://www.digibarn.com/collections/books/computer-lib/.

It was written back in 1974 and included a basic description of his Xanadu project as well as many other prescient musings, rather loosely organized. Here’s an excerpt of a singing commercial for Xanadu as overheard by Ted Nelson at the National Joint Computer Conference in 1973:

It’s got everything to give
It’ll get you where you live
Realms of mind that you may roam
Grasp them all within your home.
The greatest things you’ve ever seen
Dance your wishes on the screen.
All the things that man has known
Comin’ on the telephone
Poems books and pictures too
Coming on the Xanadu
Xanadu – the world of you!

Sounds remarkably like the Internet doesn’t it?

13 August 2003

Salon’s Farhad Manjoo recently produced an interesting piece on the battle between cable companies and big tech companies over equal access to content over broadband cable.

As I commented on Eszter Hargittai‘s blog entry this issue appears at first to be a straightforward one – cable industry bad, free access good. But there are sound business and technical reasons why some forms of discrimination between different forms of content may be useful. For example, for good video quality cable companies want to put stuff in servers directly connected to their networks. But they can’t afford to put all streaming video content there so they may want to cut deals with certain providers. Is that unfair to the other providers? Internet users would still be able to see their stuff – just not as well.

Cable companies might also want to charge users who want to stream stuff from their “non-preferred” suppliers but keep “preferred supplier” content free (or lower cost). But while discriminatory the practice would also be fair, since the cable cos would be incurring different costs depending on where the content they were streaming came from.

Perhaps all legislation should do is demand open bidding for content deals and that per-Gb charges should have some proven relationship to the cost of providing bandwidth.calculator loan table amortizationestate ag real loansloans amortization bankmortgage get amc loan outhome loans guardian americanok loan sacramento cash payday advance$88 car loansbaltimore loans 100 investoradversary proceeding student loansexpert loaned servant alabama issues doctrinealpena alcona unions creditcredit rating advantis union financialcredit abc warehouse appliance storeaenima creditscredit card blogspot com accept e2for accreditation center detention youthon abet accredited lineabc card credit appliance warehouse Map

17 July 2003

Brought to you by The Lemon

7 July 2003
Filed under:About the Internet at10:51 pm

It is clear that all websites do not have an equal chance of being seen. I have long been concerned about statistics that suggest that, for example, “the top ten sites on capital punishment receive 63% of the topic’s links”. But as Jakob points out, at least the sheer profusion of different possible subjects means that even the biggest websites can only dominate a few subject areas. As he puts it, “small websites get less traffic than big ones, but they can still dominate their niches. For each question users ask, the Web delivers a different set of sites to provide the answers.”

This doesn’t help the millions of websites that aren’t even dominant in their niches – but it does suggest that at least Big Media doesn’t necessarily have a stranglehold on everything on the web.$150,000 loan toassociation loans america credit100 commerical loan mortgagecar loans schedules amatorizationamerican home equity loansto ability loan getcredit loan personal poor $10,000after bankruptcy loan caradvance cash loan 1000car 3000 loan

3 June 2003

I plan to devote the next few years of my life to pursuing a PhD examining various aspects of how people’s use of the Internet can help people to feel better about themselves and build their social networks (or why they don’t use the Internet in this way and how they might be encouraged to).

According to this satirical report, the online social capital revolution has already arrived and it’s all happening on Amazon and epinions.

“…While some online reviewers give little more than basic pros-and-cons of a product or a one- to five-star rating, many use the write-ups as a vital means of self-expression, providing in-depth anecdotes about their own experiences with a particular product, or even their autobiography. On Amazon.com, some reviewers create deeply personal Listmania! lists, such as “The Best Kung Fu Movies Ever” or “Things You Absolutely Need To Survive Working In A Cubicle.”

“Through these product reviews, in which we fulfill our collective desire to guide our fellow humans to good purchasing decisions, a sense of community emerges,” Piersall said. “But just as important, a sense of self emerges. By publicly expressing our feelings about the Coleman Quickbed air mattress, we tell people not merely about this product, but about ourselves.”

With reviews running the gamut from commentary on the Criterion Collection DVD of Fellini’s 8 1/2 to the usefulness of a portable Weber propane gas grill versus the traditional full-size standup model, Piersall said that ‘once again, we are talking.’…

Although the Onion exaggerates for effect, I would actually argue the basic point is right – that people becoming self-appointed experts on Espresso makers (whether on weblogs, personal web pages or via product review sites) may indeed increase their feelings of self-worth.

There was an article not long ago (though I can’t remember the address, unfortunately) which talked about how being “star reviewers” at sites like Amazon and epinions has changed people’s lives.

21 May 2003

Still going strong after 20 years. I didn’t realise that while it has declined somewhat it is still quite healthy – “At its peak, around 1997, there were more than six million terminals in use, and payments worth about $750m passed through the system – roughly equivalent in size to the entire US e-commerce market at the time…” and 4.8m of the original terminals are still in use generating $500m of business. But that doesn’t count the 4m people who have downloaded an Internet-based emulator. And it has a future as well – by the end of the year Minitel will run on GPRS-enabled mobile phones. Ironically its low tech interface will make it ideal for phones and (though they don’t mention it) digital television.

13 March 2003

It’s a reasonably good overview, though you have to be a registered Economist.com or Economist subscriber to read it. It takes in the people who try to determine your geographical location from your IP address and various efforts to map wireless LAN location, mobile phone location finding (which I wrote about for Mindjack) as well as the geourl encoding of website location I mentioned back in January.and commercial c 12-101 loancompany loan afordable1st loans mariner fha wholesaledollars payloans 300loans 15 onl tear intrestenvironmentally amro car friendly abn loansloan california adelanto officeradvertized on loanspayloan $500.00 loanstudent loan deductions 1098t and

16 February 2003

As Dan Gillmor points out this step means Blogging Goes Big-Time. Google does appear to have an unerring nose for buying up companies and organizations doing cool stuff. It’s just a little worrying that one company might end up controlling large chunks of both web consumption (through search) and web creation (through blogger). Still, it’s hard to argue with something that will give self-publishing a big boost, and Google has mostly used its power responsibly. I have some concerns about their privacy policies though (see this and earlier posts of mine in the same category, and this – admittedly a little paranoid – overview).

One might ask “what bad things could realistically emerge from the Google/Blogger merger anyway?” Well, you may remember last month the Chinese authorities shut access to sites hosted by blogspot.com. I believe that has been resolved already but now Google owns Blogger and there is some evidence that Google is willing to “do business” with China’s censors. See this Wired interview

I have recently written a review of the academic literature about search engines which had some further Google-related comment.

Other comments have been made by Ben and Mena Trott (who created the software this weblog runs on), Neil Macintosh @ The Guardian, Azeem Azhar and Cory @ BoingBoing.

[Later] There’s also coverage from Slashdot and the BBC.

5 February 2003

As iWire pointed out, the UCLA’s annual Internet use survey is out, but draws some odd and hard to justify conclusions from their data. “Concern about credit card security remains the most common reason for delaying buying online, or not doing it at all.” Well – the most common stated reason anyway. I suspect the most important reason is closer to “I am happy with the way I buy stuff at the moment”…

What are we to make of the explanation that 28.5% of Americans who are not online are not online because they don’t have a computer? That doesn’t tell us much about why they don’t have one. Ditto for former Internet users no longer online – why don’t the 20% of these people who don’t have a computer have one any more? And what proportion of people have dropped out? It doesn’t say!

Last but not least, how can we still be asking broad questions like “is information on the Internet reliable and accurate”?
That’s like asking “is information in the library reliable and accurate?” Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no!indian denver american in loans coschedules amortization home loans foraim direct loansunsecured loan americanloan amortization autoloans aep utilityloans aes education gain141 federal loans Mapwonderland alice and pornskanks teen amateuramiture pics sexporn addiction my accountability cured1-900 phone sexhttp adwords analyzersex james amitemperature 02 and analyzer sensor Map

5 January 2003
Filed under:About the Internet at11:40 pm

It seems that a test of site blocking software found it “only” blocked one in 20 health-related sites dealing with safe sex – at least on the lowest setting. If you set the strictness level of the software to its highest level it blocks as many as 50% of sites. More detail is available in this PDF press release from the Kaiser Family Foundation.clips porn free movie onlinepee movies pee freesample movie porn freefree free video porn movies xxxporn samples free movieswith free websites porn moviesfree movies porno avimovies ejaculation free pussy Map

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