Internet Access and the New Divide


Telecommunications, which in theory should bind us together, has often divided us in practice. Until the late 20th century, the divide split those with phone access and those without it. Then it was the Web: in 1995 the Commerce Department published its first look at the “digital divide,” finding stark racial, economic and geographic gaps between those who could get online and those who could not.

“While a standard telephone line can be an individual’s pathway to the riches of the Information Age,” the report said, “a personal computer and modem are rapidly becoming the keys to the vault.” If you were white, middle-class and urban, the Internet was opening untold doors of information and opportunity. If you were poor, rural or a member of a minority group, you were fast being left behind.

Over the last decade, cheap Web access over phone lines brought millions to the Internet. But in recent years the emergence of services like video-on-demand, online medicine and Internet classrooms have redefined the state of the art: they require reliable, truly high-speed connections, the kind available almost exclusively from the nation’s small number of very powerful cable companies. Such access means expensive contracts, which many Americans simply cannot afford.

» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)

On Pirates and Piracy


Mashups, which have been repeatedly attacked by the entertainment industry, are by no means a new art form; they’ve been central to creativity for years (related examples are embedded below). Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” incorporate a number of popular songs of the era, including the always popular “Cabbages and Beets drove me away from you,” in its entirety, along with “Get closer to me, baby” (that’s what the German really means, except the “baby” part). So did Beethoven’s sonatas, particularly the second movement of the magnificent Opus 110 piano sonata (“Our cat had kittens” and ” I’m a slob, you’re a slob”). I could list examples for pages; musicologists spend entire careers searching for this stuff. The complexity with which these songs are woven into a much greater piece is amazing, but they’re there, they’ve obviously there once you know what to look for, and they go way beyond what would survive “fair use” and the DMCA, let alone SOPA and PIPA.

Even more fundamentally, there is no such thing as creativity that doesn’t rely on the past. Sometimes the links are very subtle and hidden; sometimes they’re out in the open, and we don’t notice them only because we’ve declared Bach and Beethoven “great composers” and forgotten the popular music of their day. Our peculiar post-Romantic notion that all real artists somehow create their works out of nothing is partly to blame. Nothing could be further from the truth. And it’s not just art. In a very rare moment of humility, Isaac Newton said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

So the notion that creativity can be owned, and that any use of someone else’s ideas requires compensation, is nothing but an attempt to steal all of creativity. Whoever can pay their lawyers the most wins. Anyone smell pirates in the room? I am not willing to sacrifice this generation’s great artists on the altar of Hollywood. I’m not willing to have the next Bach, Beethoven, or Shakespeare post their work online, only to have it taken down because they haven’t paid off a bunch of executives who think they own creativity.

» via O’Reilly Radar

You No Longer Have a Right to Privacy


The concept of privacy is undergoing a radical transformation, thanks to our continuing willingness to provide companies like Facebook and Google our data for free. If, before, we largely lived our lives in private, we now live our lives in public. In many cases, we no longer even know what is public and what is private, who has our information, and what they are doing with it.

It is increasingly the case that whatever we do online is now part of the public domain – even our so-called “private” lives on Facebook are now being opened up to public scrutiny on demand by employers and others. We are told, of course, that all of this tracking and monitoring by companies like Google and Facebook is helping to “personalize” the Web, to help us “filter” the right information and data, and to make our lives easier. However, is it the case that we no longer have a presumed right to privacy?

» via FutureLab

Social media is here to stay. We need to get past the point in which we celebrate it or lament it in order to figure out how to live productively with it.

When the country elected Barack Obama just four years ago, Twitter was a fledgling startup. During the campaign, Obama overtook Kevin Rose as the most followed person on Twitter, passing him at 56,482 followers.

Five years ago, according to Pew, less than half of Americans used email daily; less than a third used a search engine.

YouTube was founded in 2005 and Facebook in 2004 — and it would be a while after that until they became such integral parts of our day-to-day Internet experience.

Today nearly half of Americans own a smartphone. The iPhone is five years old.

// New.Myspace, New.Problems//


Those of you who have been following me for a while (or know me personally) know that Myspace is one of my favorite things to talk about. I have said before that I would drop everything to be the CEO of that company, and I’m only half kidding when I say that.

When Myspace released a video of their redesigned site I was elated. Watching (fictional person) David create an account and then scroll through pictures and friends, share music, connect with musicians… It seemed to echo many of the thoughts I had for the service; take the template for Myspace Music, and grow it. Make Myspace a place for artists. The New Myspace brings us closer to a social network for artists than any other site has before. And it does it with style. Myspace is damn pretty.


I have been using New Myspace almost two months. I think it’s pretty good. The site just opened to the public so I thought it would be worth putting some thoughts on down on text

As far as the gist of the site, the flow and basic day to day use, New Myspace makes more sense to me than Facebook. I would go as far as saying that New Myspace actually makes Facebook feel a little outdated, especially when you consider that we we live in a world of Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest.

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