Is Media Stuck in the Stone Ages?

Traditional media such as the music and movie industries are notoriously slow to accept new technology. While the internet has provided access to pirated movies, music, and software. It has also opened up new avenues for marketing and distribution. The real threat to record labels and movie studios isn’t pirated movies and music but the lower barrier to entry for small independent bands and movie makers. Therefore, the “big dogs” should worry less about piracy and more about providing the best service, for both consumers and their employees (i.e. Directors, Writers, Bands…etc).

Sugar and Spice

I think sometimes people look too hard for the answer when there are plenty of obvious ones available. A key reason more women aren’t studying computer science is likely the same reason that more men aren’t, stereotypes. The gaming, cave dwelling socially awkward nerds are not an attractive prospect for many people. If we want to attract more women to the computer science profession, the first step is to polish the image of the computer scientist.

We are family…

Family history has long been a focus of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Nowadays there are several sites providing several similar services to those offered by familysearch.org (i.e. ancestry.com…). This is due in large part to the collaborative nature of the internet. Because family history is inherently social, the internet allows greater collaboration, enabling users to share and connect their research with others much more easy. Building our family history is no longer relegated to just experts and those with lots of time on their hands, anyone can do it!

Black & White

Technology is a double-bladed sword used for both good and evil. Therefore, attempting to classify the internet and many of the tools as simply black and white is short sided and ignorant. Whether a tool or piece of technology is good or bad is mainly dependent on the person using it.

The Bazaar or Cathedral?

WordPress, a popular open source project, is a hybrid of both the cathedral and bazaar methodologies. It is firmly in the world of the Bazaar as an open source project. However, it also has elements of the Cathedral world, because Matt Mullenweg, its creator, founded a company and one of its goals is to push forward the development of WordPress. This model allows Automattic to develop as if they have many more employees than they actually do. This results in better software for us and for their paid service at WordPress.com, resulting in a win-win situation for all parties involved. Open source is not only for the hobbyist, is a great place for businesses and businessmen as well, as proven by the hundreds of companies basing their business on open source software (i.e. Linux Hosting, Red Hat, WordPress.com, DrupalGardens.com).

References:

  1. Revolution OS
  2. The Cathedral & The Bazaar

The Clock goes Cuckoo, Cuckoo…

Today we routinely upload our personal information to sites such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. However, sometimes these sites “improperly” use the information that we give them.  Although we complain, we really should not blame anyone other than ourselves because we gave them the information in the first place; if we do not want this information to be public, we should not post it on a public site.

The internet is changing the way we do nearly everything, including the way we communicate and socialize with others.  People who refuse to join various social network sites for privacy concerns, risk becoming social pariahs. Therefore, keeping information completely off of these sites is not a practical solution. In today’s world, the best defense against the abuse of personal information is remaining well-informed and selective about who you give information to and what kind of information you give them. Just as it was for Cliff Stoll the best defense against information abuse is to be well-informed about what is happening in the world around us.

References:

  1. The Cuckoo’s Egg by Cliff Stoll

Competitive Spirit

In a day and age of Government funded bail-outs and stimulus packages, it is refreshing to read about someone who isn’t crying to the government to fix their problem; especially when that problem is competition from Web Search Engine Google. The CEO of a new search engine Blekko recently said this about the ongoing Google hearings:

We don’t need federal intervention to level the playing field with Google. Innovation and competition are far more powerful instruments to battle companies that have grown powerful and influential. Which has been more detrimental to Microsoft’s business? The lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice in the 90s, or the innovative products Apple has brought to the marketplace?

This provides a valuable example to people everywhere, if some “nobody” search engine can take on the web search reigning king, head-on no less, the rest of the country can start worrying about themselves and not waiting for the government to swoop in and fix everything.

Reference:

 

Copyright Protection

Google recently settled a dispute with the American federal government; they were displaying links for Canadian pharmacies allowing people to buy prescription drugs without a prescription, a practice that is currently illegal in the US. Google recently announced several improvements that allow copyright holders to better protect their intellectual property. However, a Google search for “Harry Potter Torrent” returns over 18 million hits with the first page devoted completely to links for illegal downloads (Bing and Yahoo had similar results), suggesting that these improvements are not extremely effective. Although search engines don’t directly benefit from this practice, by continually providing these results, they are much more likely to attract people who are looking to illegally obtain various digital media. Similar to  providing links to illegal services, continuing to index and provide links to pirated media must stop immediately in the interest of protecting intellectual property.

References:

  1. Google Highlights Advances in Copyright Protection
  2. Neil Postman: Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change

Patent Wars

Everyday there is a new article about a new patent lawsuit being; whether, it is the latest salvo in the current smart phone war, or a  “Patent Troll” looking for its next victim. The constitution defines patents and copyrights as:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

However, rather than promoting progress patents have actually become a hindrance to progress. The computer and technology industry moves faster than any previous industry, what made sense as proprietary technology 10 years ago does not necessarily make sense today. Also the process for issuing patents needs much stricter rules ensuring that a patent is 100% unique , and that it adequately describes the technology. While these measures will not solve all the current problems it will certainly be a step in the right direction.

References