Friday, September 25, 2009

I've forgotten what this is about already

Researchers now say that the stress of not being able to process information as fast as it arrives – combined with the personal and social expectation that, say, you will answer every email – can deplete and demoralise you. Edward Hallowell, a psychiatrist and expert on attention-deficit disorders, argues that the modern workplace induces what he calls "attention deficit trait", with characteristics similar to those of the genetically based disorder. Author Linda Stone, who coined the term "continuous partial attention" to describe the mental state of today's knowledge workers, says she's now noticing – get this – "email apnea": the unconscious suspension of regular and steady breathing when you tackle your email.

There are even claims that the relentless cascade of information lowers people's intelligence. A few years ago, a study commissioned by Hewlett-Packard reported that the IQ scores of knowledge workers distracted by email and phone calls fell from their normal level by an average of 10 points – twice the decline recorded for those smoking marijuana, several commentators wryly noted.

The Guardian.

Instant trust: goodbye Google

For more than 10 years, Google has organized the Web by figuring out who has authority. The company measures which sites have the most links pointing to them—crucial votes of confidence—and checks to see whether a site grew to prominence slowly and organically, which tends to be a marker of quality. If a site amasses a zillion links overnight, it's almost certainly spam.

But the real-time Web behaves in the opposite fashion. It's all about "trending topics"—zOMG a plane crash!—which by their very nature generate a massive number of links and postings within minutes. And a search engine can't spend days deciding what is the most crucial site or posting; people want to know immediately.

So a new generation of search engines like Tweetmeme, OneRiot, Topsy, Scoopler, and Collecta are trying to redefine what makes a piece of information important.

From Wired.

Google books turns another page

The judge overseeing Google's controversial agreement with American publishers to digitise millions of books has delayed a hearing into the $125m deal - effectively shutting down the settlement and sending it back to the drawing board.

Instead of proceeding with the internet giant's plans to make millions of in-copyright books available online and take a slice of the proceeds - a deal first announced last year - the groups will now go back and renegotiate the settlement in way that satisfies critics including the US Department of Justice.

The Guardian

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cities and the matrix of the future

Nice piece: I remember talking in 1993 with Nicholas Negroponte about Archigram and their amazing ideas; now they are back again in the futurist. From Future Metro.

Archigram didn't build their visions, other architects brought aspects of them into the world. Echoes of their "Plug-in city" can undoubtedly be seen in Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers' Pompidou Centre in Paris. Much of the 'hi-tech' style of architecture (chiefly executed by British architects such as Rogers, Norman Foster and Nicholas Grimshaw) popular for corporate HQs and arts centers through the 80s and 90s can be traced back to, if not Archigram, then the same set of pop sci-fi influences that a generation of british schoolboys grew up with - into world-class architects.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Wireless: the new file sharing?

Wireless carriers shouldn't be allowed to block certain types of Internet traffic flowing over their networks, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission chairman said Monday in a speech that got a cool response from the industry.

Unless done very carefully, this extension of regulation risks stifling investment in Internet access, executives said.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said wireless carriers should be subject to the same "open Internet" rules that the agency has begun to apply to home broadband providers. That may mean that a carrier couldn't, for example, ban the use of file-sharing services on its wireless network, which AT&T Inc. does now.

From AP.

Trust me I'm a former spin doctor

Alastair Campbell on getting elected...
The first and most obvious step to authenticity is to be who and what you are. That does not mean not taking care of image, message, words, pictures, clothes, media management, voices of third party support, attacks on opponents. But they must all speak to a basic strategic reality, because in this more intense exposure, the public will get to the reality anyway.

...and what is it about this that sounds a little, er, forced about this argument?
In contrast: Nadav Kander's amazing pictures at Flowers East...Obama's People.

Micropayments: good if you are a monopoly

Reifman defends his approach by pointing to several successful models of payment for services, including iTunes, text messaging, TiVo, and broadband Internet. The first thing that leaped out at me is that three of those four things — iTunes, text messaging and broadband Internet — are a result of something approaching a monopoly (or an oligopoly or cartel, in the case of text messaging and broadband Internet). Apple can charge for music because it controls access to the songs from all the major record labels. Phone companies and cable companies can charge usurious rates for text messaging and Internet because they have little or no real competition. How does any of that apply to newspapers?

From the Nieman Journalism Review.

Grande skinny, slightly wet extra hot news

Terry Heaton's always interesting blog reflects on the news that: MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski is now sponsored by Starbucks. What happens when it is time for a story about, let's say, coffee wars and MSNBC...
...stayed away from the negative story about coffee. Think about this before you react, but in today’s world of thousands of news sources, what is really wrong with that? And wouldn’t people feel that the one place they could get the Starbucks’ “side” of the story would be “Morning Joe?”

If you assume that you are the ONLY source for news and that you have to market yourself as such, then the need for such purity is pretty obvious. But if you can bring yourself to accept that you don’t need to be the ONLY source for news, then the fundamentals of purity don’t matter as much. News is ubiquitous today

Slippery slope this news by osmosis stuff, so we can be trusted to always feel the bias. But it won't be the last time we hear this kind of thing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I thought I'd drop you a short hand-written

It's true that kids will write more and more on computers and cellphones. Nonetheless, humanity has learned to rediscover as sports and aesthetic pleasures many things that civilisation had eliminated as unnecessary.

People no longer travel on horseback but some go to a riding school; motor yachts exist but many people are as devoted to true sailing as the Phoenicians of 3,000 years ago; there are tunnels and railroads but many still enjoy walking or climbing Alpine passes; people collect stamps even in the age of email; and armies go to war with Kalashnikovs but we also hold peaceful fencing tournaments.

It would be a good thing if parents sent kids off to handwriting schools so they could take part in competitions and tournaments – not only to acquire grounding in what is beautiful, but also for psychomotor wellbeing.

Umberto Eco on handwriting in the Guardian.

Can't Buy Me Love?

The music industry dispute over illegal downloading intensified yesterday after talks between record labels and a rebel group of artists broke down.

The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) has spent a week in talks with record labels such as Sony and EMI, who back plans by Lord Mandelson to disconnect internet users who persistently download music illegally.

From The Times.

Is Google a Library?

Untitled from andrewkeen on Vimeo.

Andrew Keen interviews Siva Vaidhyanathan.

Pay day still someway off...

From Paid Content/the Guardian

Never mind the depth, Feel the speed

We may think metaphorically of the production of knowledge as a function of “information” and “attention,” with attention understood as the set of activities by which information is ultimately transformed into various forms of knowledge. By virtue of its unprecedented impact on the relative prices of information and human attention, information technology is driving a correspondingly profound transformation of knowledge production, the main feature of which is a shift of emphasis from “depth” to “speed.” This is simply because depth and nuance require time and attention to absorb. So as attention has become the dominant scarcity, depth has become less “affordable.” Moreover, with information so abundant, strategies are needed to process it more quickly, lest something of vital interest or importance is missed.

From the Globe and Mail.

Ex-Bankers: get into publishing now

Even though Muhtar Bakare has lived all his life in Nigeria, a country enamoured of Big Men, he gave up his position as a bank executive to start an independent publishing house. His reason? He worried that nobody was publishing fiction. He believed Nigerians had to "tell our own stories".

Trust, Again

The truth is the Internet didn’t steal the audience. We lost it. Today fewer people are systematically reading our papers and tuning into our news programs for a simple reason—many people don’t feel we serve them anymore. We are, literally, out of touch.

Today, people expect to share information, not be fed it. They expect to be listened to when they have knowledge and raise questions. They want news that connects with their lives and interests. They want control over their information. And they want connection—they give their trust to those they engage with—people who talk with them, listen and maintain a relationship.

Trust is key. Many younger people don’t look for news anymore because it comes to them. They simply assume their network of friends—those they trust—will tell them when something interesting or important happens and send them whatever their friends deem to be trustworthy sources, from articles, blogs, podcasts, Twitter feeds, or videos.

From Nieman.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Normal Service Resumes Tomorrow

That's Monday morning...

It has been a hard summer; and now it is time to get back to work.