Current Cites has been published continuously since August 1990. It is an Annotated Bibliography of Selected Articles, Books and Digital Documents on Information Technology. “A team of librarians monitors information technology literature, selecting only the best items to annotate for this free publication.”
How we organize what we find and or where to find it will only become more important in the future.
This is the Current Issue Nov 2013
The Internet Scout
Published continuously since 1994 it posts an issue every Friday. It covers Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
The Scout Report is the flagship publication of the Internet Scout Research Group. Published every Friday both on the Web and by email subscription, it provides a fast, convenient way to stay informed of valuable STEM and humanities resources on the Internet. Our team of librarians and subject matter experts selects, researches, and annotates each resource.
This is the Current Issue
Terry Hart and his collaborators review the latest court cases on and about copyright in the US. A lot of the material is sprinkled with Latin lawyer jargon, (although pains are taken to explain the terminology as it appears) it does present a clear look at the current law on copyright. It is also noteworthy in its use of footnotes with links to source materials used in creating their articles.
An excellent example is the recent post:
Righthaven Revisited: What the Ninth Circuit Got Wrong
(News and Media Sites could use more of this type of linking to allow readers to make up their own minds on the articles veracity.)
Copyright is the entity allowing creative artists to make a living from their work. Distributors/Publishers are the middlemen that can help or hinder you in making money from your work. Assigning all your rights to a single entity is a recipe for suicide.
Monopolies have no incentive to work hard for you. Think I am wrong? Just ask your cell phone company.
Nina Paley writes this at Techdirt:
Middlemen will only have monopolies if artists keep granting them. They’re not going to give them up on their own. It falls on us artists to simply refuse to grant these monopolies in the first place. A copyleft license sends a clear, simple, and non-negotiable message to middlemen that they need to innovate and compete to profit from the work. Only we artists can supply the incentives they need to do their jobs well; and we can only do that by refusing monopolies.
The Problem Isn’t Middlemen, It’s Monopolies | Techdirt.
If a middleman says they need exclusivity, run away.
Last week, owners of the Amazon Kindle discovered that those who had purchased certain copies of 1984 had them deleted by Amazon. They were given a refund, but it was some time before an explanation of this unilateral action was made. Amazon stated that the copies deleted were sold without ‘some’ copyright.
The Kindle is one of those ‘dancing bear’ devices. Some folks such as myself see how badly the thing works with a monochrome screen ‘ fer christsakes, a single format, being smeared with fecal DRM, and a case of the paranoids long before Kindlegate. The idea that when you turn it on, it phones home, and you having no idea of who is maintaining the connection, what information they are gathering, who they are selling it to, or giving it away either in explicitly personal terms or aggregate. Then there are the folks who actually ‘bought’ one because they are amazed that the bear dances at all. And having a dancing bear somehow validates their geekiness without actually understanding what is wrong with dancing bears.
The irony of 1984 being the poster child of Amazon’s ability to remove things you bought at their discretion underscores why digital books and devices are not ready for prime time. This action is like your bookstore sending a clerk into your house, removing a book you bought and paid for and leaving money on the nightstand. Like they will get past my dogs.
Stowe Boyd has the “Agreement” on his site with a few pithy comments.
Every ugly’ fuck the customer’ term and condition is there. Mandatory Arbitration, DMCA proscriptions, licensing rather than selling the material neatly sidestepping the First Sale Doctrine, that allows you to sell things you buy that have copyright like books, CD’s, DVD’s, etc. , unilateral changes to the agreement by Amazon without your consent, and further more your automatic agreement with their actions.
If i want to rent a book, there are things called Public Library’s that are a hell of a lot cheaper. If I Buy something I Own IT!
If you ever see me with a Kindle in my hands, just shoot me. Really.
Copyright is seriously screwed up. Don’t get me started.
Now the Copyright Office is seriously screwed up. The Washington Post has this:
© 2009? Wishful Thinking, Perhaps, as Backlog Mounts
For $35 you can file electronically, for $45 you can file by mail, (which is going up to $65 in August) and for $695 bucks you can file an ‘expedited’ registration. Nowhere in the intent of Copyright was a class system mentioned.
Being granted copyright and registering it are two different animals, with serious implications.
Maybe we should outsource the Copyright Office to Google, as they seem to be the only folks who can copy, present, publish and announce stuff in near real time.
HTML is the language of websites. For a number of years the W3C has been the accepted authority on the bits of code and tags that make up what shows up on your screen. As technology has changed, there has been a number of people who think about and are working on coming up with a new version of HTML which includes various hooks to display different types of information.
The point of various ‘standards’ is to try to get what is written to show up hopefully the same in the various browsers. This is a battle that has been going on since the second browser showed up. There is work on a new standard taking place right now. It is not going well. Shelley Powers has a great post on what it means, and the spitballing going on.
A lot of what is creating confusion is not deciding what a tag does, but more in what can be hooked up to it, and what can be extracted from it. Where cases can be made for Sematic tags, RDF Frameworks, common tags for extraction, all of this disconnects the writer from the user, and opens the door for forming technologies that manipulate these various elements in ‘novel’ ways. The problem with machine readable tagging is the garbage in, garbage out, problem. If you can’t get it on the screen in the browser it doesn’t matter what you can do with it.
On the privacy front with the aforementioned code lunacy and allowing third party scripting reporting to someone trying to sell you something, collating your viewing and surfing habits, are a number of tools to stop this behavior. Tools like AdBlock Plus can cut down on a significant invasion of your privacy. Highly Recommended!
Adobe and its Macromedia product Flash which runs so many video sites, sets cookies in non standard locations for tracking, and are not easily removed. If you try to block them, sites break. Never mind that Adobe has never respected either your privacy nor your choice in your home. One of the first versions of the Flash Player turned on your webcam and microphone by default, and you had to change it to regain your privacy. Getting rid of Flash cookies is harder, But Wladimir Palant has a trick for doing that.
Getting rid of Flash cookies It is a little complicated, which just points out the lengths that companies and organizations will go to in order to invade your privacy and sell you down the river.
Copyright in the US is irretrievably broken. It has moved from a simple limited time monopoly for writers and artists into a gigantic entitlement program for the Industrial Entertainment Complex. Mike Masnick at Tech Dirt has a great writeup on a conference celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Copyright Act of 1909 .
Read the posting.
Significant were the conclusions that International treaties are bullshit. I have long been an advocate of reducing Copyright back to 14 years, and re instituting Registration for Protection. Registration does not have to be a big deal especially in the internet age. Nor does it have to be expensive. Such a registration methodology can eliminate a lot of the present court time being sucked up litigating copyright issues, when a simple online search of the Registration Database can answer these questions.
Copyright is not a welfare program for the entertainment industry.
Over at the Guardian UK, yet another reporter, Henry Porter blames Google for killing newspapers, and fostering what he claims is an Amoral Menace. He drags up all of the old arguments about piracy, and other crimes. He blathers on for a while until we get to the heart of his rant, that being Google is killing the newspaper industry and offers this chestnut as justification:
“newspapers are the only means of holding local hospitals, schools, councils and the police to account, and on a national level they are absolutely essential for the good functioning of democracy.”
This is bullshit on so many levels as to be almost laughable. When you look at your local newspaper, see how much is actual local reporting by boots on the ground vs regurgitated crap by-lined by one of the wire services. Since a lot of cities and towns have gone online, the need to have ‘professional’ reportage, is nowhere as dire as Porter would have us believe. Anybody with a computer and a few moments with a search engine, and yes there are alternatives to Google, can find just about anything on any issue in their own home town, your home town, or some place that you will probably never see. The internet has opened up all of these local areas to the floodlights of citizen participation.
An interesting case in point locally is the Phoenix police raiding the home of blogger Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, who has been critical of the department. This is a significant story as a lot of the information that Jeff publishes comes from sources inside the Phoenix Police Department. Additionally, despite the fact that the police seized his computers, modems and files, he is still publishing, from anywhere he can find an internet connection. You cannot say that about local newpaper operations in the case of catastrophe.
He then points out how evil Google is with this:
“Despite the aura of heroic young enterprise that still miraculously attaches to the web, what we are seeing is a much older and toxic capitalist model – the classic monopoly that destroys industries and individual enterprise in its bid for ever greater profits. Despite its diversification, Google is in the final analysis a parasite that creates nothing, merely offering little aggregation, lists and the ordering of information generated by people who have invested their capital, skill and time.”
That sounds awfully familiar, considering the revenue model that has driven newspapers which for the most part enjoy a monopolistic position outside of major metro areas, out of the news business and into the advertising business. As for little aggregation, again I point to how much of local news is actually in local newspapers vs wire service copy.
As for ordering of information, whose fault is it that news organizations use the AP style,(putting the conclusion of the article in the first paragraph, and using the rest of the story as filler), making going any further an exercise in regurgitation.
One other note. Somebody who whines about ‘individual enterprise’ while collecting a paycheck from a organization that held a monopolistic position might to examine their own role in that toxic capitalist model.
But he is still not done. He figures that he has one last card to play, the censorship card.
There is a brattish, clever amorality about Google that allows it to censor the pages on its Chinese service without the slightest self doubt, store vast quantities of unnecessary information about every Google search, and menace the delicate instruments of democratic scrutiny.
Here is the problem with censorship. It is a concept that brings out fear, uncertainty and doubt. Censorship takes many forms. I wonder how many stories Henry has had ‘spiked’ or killed, by some editor or other management wienie, due to a conflict of interest, of editorial ‘guidance’, or advertising pressures. This is censorship. No I do not buy the chinese wall argument. There have been too many reported cases where pressure from advertisers and or ‘interested’ parties have distorted reporting. And when they get caught they look like assholes, and credibility crashes.
Another interesting look on censorship is the standard usage of unnamed sources, and the refusal to publish documents, notes and background materials that go into newspaper stories. Yes it is true that newspapers have limited space, but whose fault is that? On the internet we can publish and provide links to our source materials, so that the readers can make up their own minds, so the actual ‘good functioning of democracy’ can take place. Keeping that in mind, newspapers online and news organizations are still producing Father Knows Best reporting, telling us what they think we need to know . This is censorship of a far subtle nature and just as damaging than anything Winston Smith in 1984 was subjected to.
The newspaper industry in its current mold is dead, and the collateral damage to reporters is as real as it gets. But blaming somebody else for the failure of a system that was the precursor of what is replacing it, is just a failure to get the facts, and to adapt.