May 31, 2004
What Does it Mean When A Blog Stops Updating?
So what is dead, what is not updated, what is abandoned? Well, I think, reasonably, dead is a 404, as in, the information is no longer available. I think the archives of blogs, and their linking histories are actually very interesting, so the fact that Technorati keeps them in the index to me is important and useful. I mean, Google doesn't delete webpages when they haven't been updated after three months. In fact, when a page goes 404, they still keep the cache. So what's up with the dismissiveness of the NYT article?
I would say that not updated means that it's not recent, and for me, abandoned might mean after six months? Maybe? It depends on the blog, how it's used, what the readers feel about it, what the writer considers is the status, whether it keeps getting links, even if the dates on the posts at the top grow old. It depends on what the information is used for, what the blog is about, whether people still discuss and leave comments, why it is not longer updated. There are many factors as complicated and non-standard as people are, because blogs reflect the highly complex and unpredictable lives people lead. After all, most blogs are not paying gigs, but rather complements to, expressions of, or reactions to something, and with that in mind, it's no wonder that people come and go, or abandon all together. Especially if they don't find an online community to talk with. It's not so much about having a big audience for the great majority, but it is nice to have a few folks that matter, conversing with you. Writing is a lot of work, and so those online relationships are sustaining for some people. In a series of interviews with bloggers I did this spring, I asked whether they liked writing their blogs. One third like writing very much, and the rest hated it, but did it because the rewards, and they were varied, were worth it.
I know a number of bloggers who are only travel bloggers, so they post when traveling, say over three months through South America, and they email us when they start up. And then when they return home, the blogging stops for a while, until their next trip. Or the ones who do it for knowledge management, and so, blog over the school year, but take the winter break and summer off. Or for research projects of limited duration. Or the ones that blog for a specific event, leading up to it, through it and just after, and then not posting again for a while, until the next big event.
Blogs are flexible, and people use them for as many different reasons as blogs exist generally. It's stupid to characterize the genre as being just one thing. I think the NYT piece was simplistic in a way, stating that because a blog hasn't been updated or is used for a purpose that is not about daily postings.
That's not to say that I am in that category. I will be back regularly, but I'm still figuring out things, getting things back in order.
Social Networks Get Strange
First they were cute, then slighly annoying. Then I ignored them. Then Orkut came along and we collected baseball cards. Then I ignored Orkut. Then Orkut spammed the people I invited, but hadn't responded to my first invite, but didn't ask me if I wanted everyone re-spammed. Then they sent me notes telling me how many people had joined my network, post-spam, and how many had joined my friend's lists, etc. Then I started getting "requests" to accept people's invitations to link to them on Orkut, but the personal notes they typed into the email were coercive, and kind of heavy handed, especially since I'd never met them, didn't know them, and wouldn't link to them normally.
So what now? We know that explicit linking is problematic, because people link for various "soft" reasons, to people they may not know, because they don't want to cut off future potential relationships, or they know of them, or they all have different definitions of what it means to "know" someone, etc. But does this mean we add the category of being forced into it? I mean, I could say no to those people, but is that inviting a lot of bad blood? Geez. It was just for fun, people.
May 24, 2004
Social Media Panel Notes
I've been at AdTech in SF, and attending the social media panel. I'm actually really enjoying this conference, even if it is all about ads. There are lots of people here in other businesses, and really interesting stuff going on. Notes are below under more. AdTech blog here.
MODERATOR: Rick Bruner, President, Executive Summary Consulting
PANELISTS: Heath Row, Editorial and Community Director, Fastcompany
Adrian Scott Ph.D, CEO & Founder, Ryze
David Reis, President & CEO, DEI Worldwide
Evan Williams, Program Manager, Blogger, Google
Mena Trott, Co-Founder and President, Six Apart
Social media list from Rick:
* Social Networks
* Craig's List
* Message Boards
Evan - this is the "new social web"
Microsoft is building social media into word (blogs mostly)
Examples of blogs used for or in business as screenshots:
* Stoneyfield farms
* Jones Soda
* MS employees
* Nokia photo phone blog (3650)
* Seth Godin - blog book tour
* Nick Denton's stuff
* Richards Interactive -> invited bloggers to participate in product launches
* Hello.com - photo games
* Textamerica - moblogs
* SMS Ads
* Reality Adverts -KFC, Fox Pitch-o-rama, MoveOn
Evan - this is the "people powered internet" and is about making links
Mena - largest influx of mainstream users is coming now, there will be more communications between small communities that matter; Business: it's really important to communicate well with your community, as we saw last week... told MT story of freeware to asking people to pay.. trackbacks led to her seeing users tell her everything from "FU MT, to it's cool, to everyone else is a winer..."
David Reis - DEI is an interactive product placement firm
90% of content on internet users put up and aren't commercial
How do you make people advocates?
Believes the future is txt based.
Heath Row - media diet?
Rich networks are used to diseminate information, but it's tricky. As soon as a blogger is a paid shill, no one will read that blog..
Common threads of trends? What's in it for marketers?
Is there a private Ryze area, ex: the "saturn" users?
Scott - the more conversation within a group - the more difficult it is to scale, so these conversations work better with a small group
Deis -- KEY: you must represent a company honestly and be willing to get feedback and converse with your customers -- if you do this you can represent products to people
Are there good or bad examples?
Melissa Barron, SrVP of Sales at Salon from Audience: at another conf on this, the iMedia guy said: we'll grab the best bloggers from Salon and shill to them to get them to promote our stuff (she was exasperated by this)
Rick - "blogs are the ultimate meritocracy"
-- Live Journals and Zanga appeal to kids but there are many other genre's
-- Bad example is the Raging Cow thing where Pepsi said to the kids "don't tell anyone" we gave you the tshirts and other stuff, and the press had a field day, though Pepsi didn't necessarily tell the kids what to write...
Mena: gave the example of the post she did on teh Samsung E715, because she really likes the phone. But when she realized the traffic, she put an ad at the bottom and has made $250 for that post alone. She didn't write it to make money, but it turned out that it did.
Heath -- if you're honest, you can do things like that an people don't mind, but if you hide, people get mad.
Reis -- most ad copy, PR stuff, like Marcom, doesn't work -- it doesn't reflect how people talk and people know it's crap
Heath -- their blog increased traffic 25% over their website - it was one of the first business blogs; blogs and social media are key to getting people to "connect, communicate and collaborate" -> get people to do it and then they will make more content for you
?? audience person from Ad Agency: how do we recommend to clients that they do this?
Heath: every company should have a blog, no matter how small; people will get a sense from the blog that the company is alive, make it personal; can't wait until Bill Gates blogs for himself and has actual typos. Typos mean you are human, it's direct, immediate, not perfect.
? from audience, Media and PR: If you have a client, the volumn for an ad deal means that only 3 or so blogs will fit the topic and traffic requirements, so what do you do, trying to advertise on blogs? There is a volume challenge.
Heath: for books, you can see Seth Godin on the NYT and WSJ's lists at #1, but you can also look at Technorati's book list and see it there, because people are talking about it.
Dies: It's a mistake to think that lots of traffic is all the same. The question is, Is every impression the same? No. Does broad scope (broadcasting) sell your product? The types of impressions are very important.
Rick: txt ads for subserviant chicken might resonate more with bloggers.
?? audience, where is the business model for Social Networks?
Scott: Ryze is making steady progress, and is the only profitable SN....
Blogpulse guy from the audience: What extent are we going into a new phase on blogging? Thinks mobile phones and moblogging are key to more mass adoption.
Example: Nokia Life Blog.
Mena: people say blogs take too much thought, but moblogs are easy -- here to stay.
Example: poptarts.com uses to sell tickets to American Idol, gave the tickets away one day early and got twice the response as the number of secret codes they gave away.
May 21, 2004
Blogads Survey Results Are Out: 55% Find Blogs Extremely Useful for News
Blogads/Henry Copeland conducted a survey, where 17k people responded. Results are here.
Interesting things: respondents were women at 20%, men at 79%. Henry emailed that the women on average were 10 years older than the men.
Educators were the highest responding industry, at 14%, though computer professionals were the largest job category at 11%. 43% consider themselves opinion makers, 40% democrat, 91% from the US, and self-identified spending online was highest at $0 for every category (from travel to music to consumer electronics) except books, which had 23% of the respondents saying they spend $100-199 per year online. Amazon must be thrilled.
But the most interesting stuff for me is that 54% get their news primarily from the internet, and 55% find blogs "extremely useful," reading an average of 5 blogs per day. Also, they spend 10 hours per week on blog reading. Why? They reported that they do it for news they can't find elsewhere (79%) and for a different perspective (77%).
Wow. That backs up the surveys I did earlier this spring, where people self reported 45 minutes per day on average of online news reading, and said they read blogs primarily for the two reasons in the last paragraph. That demographics was a Craig's readership, with broadband at home. While the data from the Blogads survey is a sample of people who visit Henry Copeland's site, or were directed there by other bloggers, the information he has collected is extremely interesting of this subset of the populace.
May 19, 2004
Comments Are Back On
People were complaining, so I restored them, after the barrage of comment spam last Thursday through Sunday. However, if they come back, and MT-Blacklist gets overwhelmed by the rate of spamming, or we don't figure out the longer term issues with Moveable Type and upgrading, I may have to turn them off again (by blowing away the comment templates -- there is no global on/off switch).
May 18, 2004
Moveable Types New Licensing, Pricing for 3.0
Everyone and their blogging dogs have commented on Six Apart's new Moveable type licensing and pricing, complaining vociferiously. My thought is, I know they need to sell the software to have a business model and stay sustainable. But my group blogs would be $702 and $599 respectively under their new upgrade scheme (which we really need for a couple of massive fixes), though they are on educational sites; asked them and still no word on educational prices, though they've asked us to wait while they figure it out. I'm a little unhappy because I'm the one that got a couple of departments at Berkeley to install MT, and now most of those people want to change to other services. So instead of those crazy licensing schemes that don't fit anything, at least that I'm involved in, how about a flat fee?
What about $50 a blog/site, no matter how many authors or installs that make up "one" blog? Posts are posts, aggregated on one blog, no matter who does them. How about, "one" blog with "one" name. Got a different name, with a different URL, implying different content? Then it's another $50. And then charge extra for support, which we don't need anyway and never had or got used to. Frankly, I'd pay $150, including $50 for napsterization, plus foot the bill for the two group blogs even if they are hosted on educational servers. But all my activities together would run around $1500 as it stands now and I can't upgrade for that. It just seems like too much.
It's not what they are doing, it's how they are doing it. I think if they went to the user base and asked how the users would like to see it happen, they would get much more cooperation in getting people to pay for their software and suggestions for fringe cases like the group educational blogs. But they don't appear to have done that, or at least across the 100 or so blogs I read daily, I never heard about any survey to see what Six Apart users thought or got any notice though my blog pings MT with each post. I can say I'm guilty of not visiting the Six Apart site regularly for their latest. But then I don't visit Microsoft or Macromedia either.
I'd love to see Six Apart work something out that works for both bloggers and the company. I've really enjoyed using their software and teaching it to dozens and dozens of others. But they need to change what they are doing or risk their whole community of users.
May 17, 2004
Ar∑ma∑ged∑don with Comments
You know, I love comments. I love being able to leave comments on another's site, on a topic that is not part of my Napsterization topic area, or any of the other blogs I sometimes write on in group blogs. I love people who don't have blogs being able to comment here. But this is too much.
Last Thursday, I had over 1000 comment spam, each with a different IP, different email address, different message, different URL which means that I had to individually add each URL to MT-Blacklist, though the root URL was mostly the same over about every 120 spam. Tried to kill, as more and more spam was flying in, and got nowhere. Tried blocking IPs but no dice. Tried changing the templates and URL's but nothing there either. They adapted. Friday, had another 1000. Saturday, 1500. Sunday, I shut comments off, even though the logs were denying tons of attempted spam.
So maybe it's a bit dramatic to say it's a decisive or catastrophic conflict. But I'm not kidding, 4500 spam (and 4500 separate email notifications from those Borg spammers who want us to think resistence is futile) in four days is absolutely fucking ridiculous. Assholes ruining our discussion. I mean fucking hell. What is this? Hours spent removing this crap is totally frustrating. Why? It's not like they are succeeding with their Google pagerank. Google doesn't appear to index comments anyway. Hello. Stop with the fucking spam okay?
I know the new Moveable Type 3.0 has a registration system, but I'm not sure that's the answer, though I haven't upgraded yet due to waiting to hear from them on emailed questions about their licensing for educational purposes (though I'd really like to because living with the couple of whopper bugs has been awful the past few months). Yes, I'd like to see everyone with their own blog. But then, when someone wants to comment, it means, if they comment once a month, that they actually have one post a month on their blog, possibly on many different topics. Not sure that's a great solution for people who are not regular bloggers.
And comments attached to a particular post mean that all the comments are in one place, though I know Technorati can help find conversations across blogs but only if there are links to one another or everyone uses the same key words. However, it means that over time, blogs and links have to be maintained if they comment on other blogs on other servers, in order to keep the whole conversation alive. While I would like to see this, sometimes dead blogs just get removed or links break. So comments from infrequent commenters are nice to have all in one place at one discussion.
I want to have comments, I don't want to have registration (for many reasons), I do want MT-Blacklist to have the functionality to take care of these issues. Maybe it would stop comments once a barrage starts -- no more than 5 comments in an hour, and then the ability to force a temporary halt to the publishing of comments without owner approval. Whatever it is, the system needs much more flexibility to see and control submissions. And MT should functionallly allow the global turning off of comments, and the global turning back on, once civility has been restored. Right now I have that choice only by blowing away the various comment's templates which I did a day or so ago.
May 14, 2004
Dirty Little Secrets
Okay, here is a dirty little secret of SIMS:
Those of us graduating, even though yesterday at 5pm was the deadline for everything, are still working on something today. Extensions, quiet little agreements, whatever. Almost everyone I talked with last night, getting drinks after everyone presented their work publicly for the department, murmured quietly and rather grimly that in fact, they still have more to do today.
SIMS and the masters thing elicit four phases: there's the first semester, where most everyone is slammed with an enormous amount of work in core classes, followed by phase two, the first spring semester, where everyone tries to do everything, break out of the core, experiment, in preparation for the final big project in a year. People are still reading everything assigned, plus a lot that's recommended, and doing lots of extra work just because. 18 graduate units that you complete fully. Burn out by May means you don't get rested up until around July.
August starts, and you start phase three: less reading is getting done, negotiating projects, people, working relationships with profs and researchers, still an enormous number of credits. Phase four, the second Spring semester, fewer credits, the hard decisions, committing to a final project, which is research and theory, making a system, design and usability, documentation and analysis, a huge write up (150 pages until I reduced the font to 10pt to get it to 125) and 30 minute public presentation. And then your classes demand work too and you have to fit that in, though reading the second half of the semester becomes a real struggle. It was very hard to concentrate on socio-technical theory or UI design theory when under the pressure of the projects and finishing deadlines. And yet you do it. Classmates of mine apparently suffered breakdowns, went to whatever the health thing is on campus for some sort of prescriptive calming agent, sleeping pills, etc, for the pressure. People freaking out, stressed. I overheard a project group two weeks ago, where one person said to another (after months of round the clock work) "I don't know what we're doing here, I mean, what does our system do anyway?"
Thank god I was working with two really brilliant guys, and didn't totally freak out, beyond my ten days at spring break, where I couldn't do anything, which took two weeks for catching up, and the guilt almost killed me. But things were cool after that. It is an extremely stressful process, though I can't imagine there is much worse in industry, and therefore, for that alone it was an instructive process, not to mention what we each created is valuable, extremely interesting and really cool to watch presented. I cannot remember my own presentation and have no idea how it went. People said it was good, but you go into a zone and that's it, you deliver. You answer the questions at the end, and then you eat for the first time that day, at 6pm. And you mind is numb.
So, I still have one thing today, before the ceremonious end tomorrow. Will return to blogging in a bit I guess.
May 09, 2004
Translating Doc Searls and Ernie Miller
There is every chance that I'll totally screw this up, that I'm getting this wrong. But I just spent an hour talking to Ernie Miller, who started out by saying that Doc, who's been talking about the content metaphor, the commodification of knowledge and containers and why this doesn't work for him because it leads to business as shipping as a metaphor, is missing the point. In our conversation this morning, Doc said he'd like to see the shipping as business metaphor unpacked and rethought, to include a kind of humanity that the content metaphor doesn't now allow us.
But by the end of the call with Ernie, I realized that he and Doc are saying things that actually agree, but they are talking about them with words that they each mean differently. Doc is talking about shipping as a container to be shipped, with content inside, and wants the content to be regarded as a reflection of our humanity. It's a noun Doc is referring to there in the container. Though I don't think he is putting forth a replacement for what he sees as a very broken metaphor, that leads to the property metaphor when dealing with content, which props up the broken copyright system we now have.
Ernie is talking about content, regardless of its importance, so that as an indistinguishable item, it cannot be discriminated against, no matter how base a reflection of ourselves it is, and that the real issue is that in its indistinguishable state, distribution is what matters for speech and first amendment protection. And through the conduit of the speech metaphor, we get the humanity to speak whatever we are, and it's all protected, regardless of what it is. Even with commodification, there is a recognition of equality of speech across media types and expressions. Ernie is talking about the verb of shipping, where the act of shipping is distribution and to him that is most important.
To state it simply, it's shipping as a container (noun) which is a bad metaphor verses shipping as distribution (verb) which is a good metaphor. They are both using shipping but thinking of them in two different ways, where Doc is wanting to stop the use of the bad metaphor, but doesn't yet have a replacement, and Ernie is thinking about information existing only in it's transfer, where if you can't transfer it, it's meaningless. And it is in the transferal, via a network, and the act of shipping, that the word shipping gets meaning for him as a first amendment protected speech mechanism.
(Now, back to work!)
Tastes Like Early August
Right now I'm supposed to be writing a paper on the socio-technical aspects of linking, which I've been working on all day. But right now instead, I'm about to blog two conversations, and I'm eating the most incredible white peaches, the sort that drip down your chin when you bite into them, where the spiciness of the juice almost stings as it falls down the skin on your chest, and it's like eating summer. I know, it's May. How could this happen? These peaches, via the farmer's market, are from Merced in the central valley (I had no idea this early variety existed but it's some sort of heirloom), and they are organic and for just a second, with a little goat milk creme fraiche, I can taste the hot summer, ignore living my end of school frenzy, 4 papers and a system with presentation due Thursday, May 13.
Please forgive my eratic blogging.. last week and this. I have thoughts but no business doing anything but finishing school until after Thursday.
Dada and Surealism: Frank Field and the Folding Chair
Frank has a response to Ernie's question: What is DRM for? (that's digital restrictions management). Frank thinks it's like the folding chairs people use in Boston to mark parking spaces they've cleared of snow, and want to save for themselves for later. They are sending a message that if the space is taken by another, there will be trouble, regardless of how easy it is to get around the folding chair. In other words, DRM is a place holder so people know they are doing something wrong when the break it, even if the restrictive quality is easy to get around.
Frank a little later with Cynicism 2:
- DRM is part of a process to break us of the nasty habit of thinking culture is a common good. Like a speed bump, itís not about making us stop; itís about making us recognize that someone thinks what we're doing is wrong. And then using our own naÔvitť to get us to stop.
Doc Searls was talking this morning about how using the word "content" buys into the idea that culture, human knowledge, creativity, are commodities and if that is our metaphor, then shipping the content is central. And this debases our humanity, and keeps us from models where we can iterate knowledge in a commons for the good of everyone, as well as focus on ways to create business in the new digital internet-based system. If we rethink this, we have a chance at understanding that distribution is a central feature to be emphasized, as well as protected as a first amendment activity, which is something Ernie Miller thinks about a lot.
May 07, 2004
May 12 Panel on Non Fiction Media (Blogging v. Journalism)
YAJvBP. Okay it doesn't have the ring of a YASN, but what does? Anyway, I'm hoping this discussion is less about Journalism v. Blogs and more about how they complement each other, how they differ and why that is important to the media biz and biz in general as it tries to navigate the new media landscape, because how the discussion of blogs are this or that is irrelevant in the same way that describing a book as any one thing would be silly; who would say all books are diaries, or cookbooks, or novels or children's pop-ups? These are genres in the sense that they are publishing tools, but that's it. They are not any one genre of types of material or people or writing or photos or whatever. A Blog is not a moblog any more than a blog is a diary or a list of links or a rant or a content management system or a corporate marketing tool.
Or how about discussing the definition of interactivity (as in, let the user be able to reconfigure the environment and alter the content), why linking is key to life on the web and why it makes the web different from other media, how honesty prevails (and fast) in online discussions, or debate verses true deliberation (where many views and truths can be distributed and discusses for the good of the commons and democracy), or what about the commodification of news information to the extent that you can't make money online with that, and instead you have to rely on metadata, clicks and ads, and relationships with your communities of interest?
I say this all not so much because I know anything about how this panel will proceed, but more because so many panels in the past have just stayed on the Blog v J topic.
So you might say those are high hopes, but then check out the panel:
Dan told me the other day that he has refused to address this question (the YABvJP question) for the longest time because it's long gone as a topic, and I know Susan is totally down with that, and I'm guessing the rest of them won't go for the simple blogs v. J thing either. So, go to the panel for the good stuff! An interesting discussion iterating the topics that matter to date with digital non-fiction media....
Wednesday, May 12, 2004 6:30 to 8:30pm at Fenwick & West at 801 California St. Mountain View, CA.
May 03, 2004
JD Lasica's Put His New Book Draft on a Wiki
- I just published the first few chapters of "Darknet" -- my upcoming book on the digital media revolution and the conflict between Hollywood and technology enthusiasts -- on a public wiki.
How very au currant. Participatory book editing. Napsterization approves. Prrrrrrrr.
May 02, 2004
DRUMS: Scott Matthews Proposes a File-Sharing Solution for Media Metadata
DRUMS is here. Scott has been working on Andromeda, an MP3 server system for a while. c|net, PCUser, techTV, Macworld, ClearChannel, O'Reilly and more have all used and endorsed that system for streaming your MP3s. Scott's new idea, which stands for Digital Rights Uniform Metadata Service, is worth considering and while it's a work in progress, it's a great start. It's a "new centralized/distributed metadatabase of authored works."
- Essentially, the idea is to create a central database, along with an authority (or a handful of authorities) that can add/update it. The root DRUMS database would likely include data such as author names, work titles, publication dates, types of work, file checksums, flags indicating which rights remain reserved and which rights have been granted, and so on. It would not contain the actual works themselves.
It would then be propogated across the internet, so that when people release works that are open for copying, systems will have a metadata reference to check this, and then maybe check for new releases as well. It would allow DJ's and others to find works that could be freely shared. Or find works that are licensed in some particular way, so that people can respond appropriately.
Send Scott suggestions as he considers this a group process.
May 01, 2004
Bo ke: weblog in Chinese -- Andrew Lih
From The Challenges of the New Media in China panel.
Isaac Mao: 300k bloggers in china -- 150k on CNblog.com. Another problem in the Chinese blogosphere is that the communication tends to be one way from English blogs and media to Chinese blogs.
Isaac Mao, then Fons Tuinstra, then Andrew Lih (L to R)
Andrew Lih on wikis and wikipedia. Make it easy to do good, and make it about a neutral point of view. Make it copyleft.
He reports a five-fold increase in wikipedia use. It's a many-to-many participatory model. It has not been blocked by the PRC.
(We're going through speed presentations on the last panel, because the conference is a little behind. But really, we could have spent all day on the Public Opinion in Chinese Cyberspace panel earlier today, but they only had an hour. I was just getting a handle on the conflicts and issues they navigate as they deal with subtle pressures over content and online communications... when it ended... they talked about different levels of these pressures from the government, from minimal, to more intense issues and censorship. Also, sometime there is no government pressure, and instead they feel it companies like Intel and Microsoft. Also, one of them mentioned that often the regular press is stifled over some particular issue but that online publishers don't get any pressure for writing on the same issues. This may be due to the fact that there are 78 million users, and 40 million computers, so it's less than 10% of the populace that even gets online.
Also, it's the 10th year anniversary of internet access in China. To support the business of the internet, short text messages are encouraged, on cell phones usually, but the discussion is "bad" and so higher level discussion and understanding is often lost. Also, with 40 million computers/78 million users, life in internet cafe's is very controlled and surveilled by the government.)
Madanmohan Rao, research director of the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre, from India is speed reading his presentation. It's hot in the auditorium (they forgot the airconditioning for the weekend -- thanks to the engineering department who is renting the hall to the jschool...). He's talking about content management, weblogs, sharing knowledge, wireless. Yeah, everyone's all for it. We vote yes. Okay, it's grueling. But we're hanging on.
Next up: Fons Tuinstra, chief editor of Chinabiz Ltd. "Blogging from China." Says that people don't take blogging seriously, because there are few bloggers. Is 300k bloggers a lot? Yeah, it's a lot more than when he first arrived in Shanghai.
Chinanewsman.net -- we were asked to look at it, but it's been blocked, so we get nothing. Maybe the maker of that site will switch to Chinanewsman.org next.
Andrew Lih: I consider Howard Dean the Napster of elections. We still have P2P, even though Napster is gone.
Xiao Qiang: (in closing) I think the last panel sounds quite technologically deterministic to me. It's a long way to say that the Chinese society can be so free. But I don't want to end on a pessimistic note. I havne't been back to China since 1989. But at that time, the Chinese were so fixed in their social structure, they belonged to their communes or whatever, and there was very little horizontal communcation, and no technology underpinning the market economy. But now, how many people have cell phones, how many are on the internet, how many travel? Yes, still totalitarian. But it's more interconnected, from the bottom up, and sociologists will tell you that more interconnectedness means more openness. But is that good? Is it all for good. That's why we had this conversation here.... To follow China is to follow a great unfolding.
Moblog of the China Digital Future Conf
China Digital Conference Day II: Larry Lessig Keynote.
Xiao Qiang (our host and organizer of the conference): The conference is about China, but not static country, but a dynamic, changing, interconnected country. With that, introduced Larry Lessig (the following are notes from his talk).
Larry Lessig: China's Digital Future (title). 15 years ago he bought his first ticket to China, and was graduating from Law School and wanted to celebrate. His plane was to land on June 3rd, 1989. But they were diverted to the Phillipines, and eventually he made his way to Beijing. It was an astonishing way to recognize Beijing compared to the picutures on the news the previous two months. On a train from Beijing to Shanghi, on a train sitting with a professor who spoke English, and chatted about what all this meant. Lessig was proud of his heritage, traditions, but wanted insight about China. And so wanted the core ideal. But that is also a blindness. The issue of the internet upon thinking about it, may be a blindness, a core, an insight to realize.
Daguerrotype led to Kodak, which led to an expanding market. Question in the courts over whether one needed permission to take and then publish the photo. The answer was no. You were free to capture and share images, and then at that point the explosion of growth in photography took off. But if the courts decided to not make it free, things would have been different. It would have been:
So is there an insight here for China? (Onscreen:) Insight: China.
...."to steal a book is an elegant offense" -- William P. Alford. Recognizing the complexity of intellectual property. But there is blindness in China too. Cybercafes where monitoring comes up. Surveillance. Access to the internet and control of it shut it down. Cybercafes in the US are the opposite. Very strong freedom for cafes to be free of surveillance in cafes in CA. But there is blindness in the US, too. Blindness about Intellectual Property. The question is the freedom in the context of IP. The stakes of course are different. And don't mean to equate the context and weight in both situations. But do want to look at the parallel. To find what we can teach each other, find the insights. An opportunity to recognize the blindness in each other's cultures, and respectfully tell each other. In the same way that the men on the train to Shanghi thought each needed to know certain things before they could understand each other's cutlures.
Radical change. Dimensions: term, scope, force, reach.
Term: 14 years, x2, but now it's 70 years after death, and for Irving Berlin, his most famous work gets 140 years. Before, the renewal was not done half the time, so the average length of a term was >33 years. But now, the maximum is the average.
Scope: only copyright granted if you registered, but now, everything is automatically copyrighted. Which means that in the beginning of the US, only about 1% was copyrighted, so that 99% was in the public domain. So after 1976, everything gets the benefit of copyright, and the formalities have been eliminated, so that was 25% regulated before 76, is now 100% regulated. Before the Internet, courts and humans regulated. Now: the rule is regulated by technology under-which access is granted. Code. Law. Code is law.
Example, Middlemarch is a public domain book, but the Adobe EBook reader does not reflect this. You can only copy 10 pages every 10 days, print 10 pages every ten days, and read aloud. It's machine readable controls that are enforced by the system.
http://aibopet.com. This site gave info on how to hack your Aibo to "teach your Aibo jazz." Not a crime to dance in the US. Not a crime to teach your dog to dance. But when this Aibo site gave instructures, they were C&D'd by Sony for sharing the hack so that you could have your dog dance. The law protecting the code, protecting access to the code, says the maker has final say, not the owner of the Aibo.
Reach: Used to be that fair use meant that you had free use for certain ordinary uses. But now all those uses can be regulated by machines.
Dimenions: term, scope, force, reach.
Never has the law granted this much power to the few to control "creativity." Very different than when Walt Disney could be creative without asking his lawyers first. The internet squares this ability to create that Disney knew.
Gave a couple of examples including the Grey Album and the Read My Lips video of Tony Blair and George Bush which the audience totally cracked up over. Obviously they'd never seen it. A lot of clapping and giggling.
So when people ask him why he does copyright law, it's because this regulation of copyright law, when tied to digital technology ,says something about how culture and democracy could develop. And yet all the examples are illegal art. And yet none could be sustained. And each sought permission to use the materials. And in each case, the lawyers responded that "it's not funny." But the system of permission forces creators to be disaddents or comply. But if they comply, they can say much less.
So here's the core. The blindness. We see this system regulating potential. Changing the freedom to speak. To speak differently. Not broadcast democracy, or a kind of Soviet system, but as a bottom up system. Not a NYTimes democracy, but a blog democracy. A p2p democracy. The ideals of free culture. That is lost. Because the law has said that without seeking permission first, the answer is no.
Jesse Jordan, at RPI, decided he would make something to allow people to search files on the RPI network. So he tinkered with the technology to enable people to search better and produced a 1 million file network, 2/3 of which had nothing to do with music. But he got C&D'd by the RIAA, and because copyright infringement is $150k per infringement, he had $15,000,000 of exposure. So the RIAA took his $12k in student savings for making a search engine. And in talking with his lawyer-uncle who said he would help, but it would probably cost $250k. So the choice is to send the $12k or spend $250k.
In 1987, the J. M. Barrie estate had "the Little White Bird" enter the public domain. In 1928, Barrie also produced "the Boy that Would Not Grow Up" which will enter the public domain in 2023. This was the basis of Peter Pan. In 2002 Emily Somma wrote "After the Rain" about how people should want to grow up. But she was informed that she would have to wait until ALL the Peter Pan stuff is in the public domain before she can publish her work.
Another example: a film maker wants to publish his documentary with a Meet the Press clip but NBC told him it "does not make the President look good" so he was denied the clip, though the interview was about matters of national importance. So he is not using it.
And there are the Diebold memos and the C&Ds using the DMCA to force the take down of the memos at Swarthmore (and elsewhere including Berkeley).
Copyright is increasingly a feature that stifles. But this is a conference about China and the internet. Where there is a different kind of control. But we can say the same from a different perspective. There is the Yahoo France case, where the French court told Yahoo to take Nazi content down for France. In the US, there was outrage that France was regulating the internet and violating the first amendment. And yet a couple of years before, there was the iCraveTV case in the US where TV was available on the itnernet. In Canada, there was a law that allowed the rebroadcast of TV, so it was made available, but the US court said that Canada had to block US users, and the court asked how well the blocking would have and the answer was 98%. That wasn't good enough, so the US court shut down the Canadian site. So the nature of the case was different, and the content was differet, but the blindness was the same. The core blindness is the same.
The stuff is different, but teh ideal is the same: freedom. Not anarchy. Not a world where standards are not obeyed. But think about the freedom and the prosperity it produced. Not a world without intellectual property. But a world where there are limits over the control. And if we can hear others, and they can hear us, then there is a potential to understand the Kodak moment. Where the moment where freedom that comes from recognizing that blindness is in in both places.
QandA: LL: this is a message for right wing conservatives about control. People have to begin to recognize this is a political issue. When he proposed a reduction in copyright, the MPAA said that it was too much of a burden on poor copyright owners to ask them, 50 years after the origin of the work, to pay $1 to reregister.
Orvill Schell: reflect on china, how important is it for a society to have a first amendment, something to lay out free speech, before it can have it?
LEssig: train, need foundational docs. prof: docs are words, need a culture that recognizes these values first. I think it's an insanely complicated thing to figure this out. Docs have never been used here to lay out culture. Though amendments, 13th, 14th and 15th were the first constitutional laws to attempt make a change in the culture and were totaly unsuccesfull for the frist 100 years. But then when it became a social and culture movement, the change started happening. So docs might be a useful step. But it requires more than just documents to really change.
Q; didn't explain Creative Commons, and we are working on CC in China, and how this will work?
A: CC started 2 years ago, so that creators could mark content, with a some rights reserved model, with human readable, lawyer readable, and machine readable expression, that for ex, Yahoo can now read, for say, photos. Got a million CC licenses out in the first year, but now Yahoo says it's 3 million, in a year and a half. To port the legal code into different systems, and there are more than 50 countries to date, Japan, Brazil, etc., and another 25 coming, it requires making one for each system. But these the code and CC licenses rest on copyright law in each country. Working on this in China.
Q from Jang: always talk about copyright in China, but want to hear about the challenges of piracy, for video, software, my observation is that the most important thing is to cut a balance. In China it's already outlawed. But it's a "lower circus of globalization" where migrant workers who can't find jobs and then they engage in this illegal activity.
A: In the spirit of recognizing the common blindenss. We in the US were born a pirate nation. We didn't protect foreign copyrights until 1889. This was a mistake. Every nation needs to respect foreign IP. But there is a difference between "piracy" and "piracy" which is one, reselling, verses two, creatively reusing as in the examples above.
A lawyer, who said to LL, do you realize that there is a kid with 400k songs on his computer? And LL said, do you really think that that kid would actually buy that or listen to that much music? So what is reasonable? Are you really losing those sales?
You can criticize piracy, and you should, but it's also about ideas of free trade, especially with respect to developing nations. There is something about making a balance here between them.