New URL for Digito Society

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I need to read this: Educating the Net Generation

This book -- Educating the Net Generation -- looks like a must read for all of us in higher ed.


Academic Freedom Cont'd: Danielle on Ohio Senate Bill 24

Danielle, a student at BGSU, offers up these thoughts on SB #24:
My more liberal professors, like the one I had last semester who forced us to read Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Robert McChesney and other assorted socialists, would say that a bill like SB 24 would make them feel limited as to what they could say, therefore they'd do the same thing to their students (One of my Poli Sci profs told me this). Well, don't they already limit their conservative students to what they can say by making conservative opinions completely outlawed?!?! I say: don't feel limited as to what you can say, but balance it with fact. I'm not paying tuition to hear a subjective, liberal rant. Just like liberal professors claim they have a right to their 'academic freedom' (to say what they want in the classroom), I think it's just as much my right, as a student, to receive an objective and informative education - so my generation of educators doesn't turn out to be one that lives to indoctrinate its students.

Well put, Danielle!

Grumblings Over Google's Updated Toolbar: Double opt-in anyone?

Dan Gillmore summarizes (or this) grumblings about the "autolink" feature in Google's tool bar beta edition:
At the very least, Google needs to make some changes in the installation process. As users install the toolbar they should be asked if they want features that change content on web pages. There should be an opt-in process, not an opt-out process, for such things.
This makes no sense to me. The choice to install Google's Toolbar is itself an opt-in process. Is Dan seriously advocting double opt-in?


Networking as a Mangement Style

Michael Barone outlines the superiority of networking vs. command and control management:
In mid-2003, when former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean surged ahead of other Democrats in fundraising and in the polls, much attention was given to campaign manager Joe Trippi's use of the Internet. He used it to bring volunteers and money into the campaign, and to allow Dean supporters to add their own words, literally, in the campaign blog. Many political supporters were impressed, and rightly so, that the Dean campaign amassed a list of 600,000 e-mail addresses. But few reporters at the time took note of the number of e-mail addresses the Bush campaign had collected: 6 million.

Over two years, the Bush campaign built an organization of 1.4 million active volunteers. This was unprecedented. By way of comparison, the Democratic National Committee has said it enlisted 233,000 volunteers during the 2004 campaign. The Bush volunteers worked not just in heavily Republican neighborhoods -- only 15 percent of Republican voters, Mehlman calculated, live in precincts that vote 65 percent or more Republican. Instead, they went everywhere, especially to rural counties, many of them slow-growing places where most politicians figure there are no more votes to be won, and to the fast-growing exurban areas at the edges of metropolitan areas, where most of the young families moving in tend to be Republican. Just as Sam Walton figured he could make huge profits selling things to people in low-income rural areas and in low-fashion exurbs, so Mehlman calculated that he could wring votes out of areas that most political strategists and political reporters ignored.

To make sure that those volunteers were achieving their goals, Mehlman established metrics -- numerical goals, measured by third parties. Every week, the leaders of the local, state, and national organizations got reports on whether those metrics had been achieved. Productive volunteers were given positive reinforcement, sometimes a call from Mehlman himself. Unproductive volunteers were replaced or persuaded to do more. Mehlman's management was very much like former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's management of the New York City Police Department: Precinct commanders were given goals -- low crime numbers -- which were independently validated. Those who produced were promoted; those who failed lost their jobs. As a result, crime in New York was cut by more than 50 percent -- more than even Giuliani thought was possible.

This is not command-and-control management, but management by networking, by holding people accountable and letting them learn from each other how to do better. And in post-industrial America, it got better results than command-and-control management. In crucial states with the largest volunteer organizations, the numbers speak as loud as Giuliani's -- turnout rose 28 percent from 2000 in fast-growing Florida and 20 percent in slow-growing Ohio.
Those results are nothing to sniff at. Interesting implications for for-profit organizations.

Academic Freedom and Ohio Senate Bill 24: Another Update

Mumford's proposed Ohio Senate Bill #24, an academic bill rights, continues to generate response:
The Cleveland Plain Dealer weighs in a story that includes various tid-bits. Fenwick, in trying to deny that indoctrination happens in the classroom instead seems to confirm the premise underlying Mumford's legislation:
"We want to get on record and say the assumption that we are all liberal radicals is unwarranted," said Rudy Fenwick, an Akron sociology professor and chairman of the faculty senate. "The assumption that we oppose all ideologies is unwarranted."
OK, so clearly you oppose some ideologies. 'nuff said. Continuing:

Cleveland State University's faculty senate couldn't reach a compromise earlier this month for its resolution. Most of the faculty vehemently oppose Mumper's bill, citing an infringement on academic freedom, but a strong minority thinks the proposal has merit.

"I think there needs to be a guarantee that no student will be prejudiced for voicing a personal opinion that might be at odds with the professor," said Cleveland State law professor David Forte, a self-described conservative.

Forte figures that more than 90 percent of college and university professors are liberals, and many of them cannot help but exude their bias in class, he says.

"If it is a political science class, [students] will get a liberal perspective and they won't hear many opposing views," Forte said. "Many students are uncomfortable with this."

Seems reasonable to me. Speaking of which, Mumford is sounding very reasonable here:
Forte said Mumper's bill isn't perfect and should not include private schools. The senator said he is willing to remove private schools from the bill.
Amanda Hooper captures the importance of Mumford's concession:
That being said, one of the fundamental flaws with Senate Bill 24 is that it would apply to all colleges in Ohio, public and private alike. To hold privately funded schools to state standards could be disastrous. Many private and parochial schools exist because the consumer is unsatisfied with the state funded options for learning. These institutions are accountable to the users that buy their service, not the government. What would become of private religious universities that choose a religious-based curriculum? Would they be forced to incorporate all religious viewpoints? The government has no right to legislate this marketplace that students choose to attend and pay for.
Meanwhile, the Graduate Student Senate at BGSU fears that:
The bill would also force professors to present dissenting sources and viewpoints besides their own, and to let students reach conclusions by themselves, reducing the role of debate in classrooms.
Unclear to me is how the presentation of alternate viewpoints, and allowing students to reach their own conclusions, would reduce debate in classrooms. Or, are these graduate students stating that they prefer to be told what to think? These folks wouldn't fare well in my classes. Yep, you guessed it, this twisted logic led the GSS to pass a resolution opposing the SB 24. I'd like to think that a room full of graduate students could develop more compelling reasons for opposing Mumford's proposed legislation. And I'm not sure what to make of the report that the director of health services spoke to the group about graduate students lying about their health insurance.


When Ralph Carbone addresses his students in class, he assumes they understand that the discussions may become controversial and heated.

"Most of what I do in class is confronting controversial topics and challenge the logic of both sides," said Washington State Community College chairman of the department of social and behavioral sciences. "The whole idea of liberal education is to question traditional values. I mean that's been the case since Socrates."
Meanwhile, down in Athens, Jordan Carr has this to say:
To deny there is extreme bias in the lectures that are given everyday is just absurd. Just one example: In my marketing class just before the election, we were lectured for an hour on the evils of Issue I and then dismissed. And the bias isn't always liberal -only about 99 percent of the time, I've had a professor that would make derogatory comments about John Kerry, and that was a business law class. Tell me how either of those are relevant to marketing or business law. This is a gross misuse of their position and a waste of the money I'm paying to learn about my relative subjects. Professors have a right to say whatever they want on their own time, but when they waste the time that I have paid for by lecturing about irrelevant subject matter, I feel I should have some meaningful recourse (and don't tell me the evaluations mean anything). This is exactly what Senate Bill 24 is trying to provide students.

Finally, WTAP reports:

A Marietta College professor says he agrees colleges are dominated by a liberal society, but passing a law is no way to handle it.

In addition, he says this bill is somewhat redundant.

He says at Marietta College, students who feel they've been discriminated against because of their beliefs can file a complaint.

It appears the "college professor" so fears speaking out that s/he choose anonymity. That, or WTAP's done some lousy reporting.


Paris Hilton: Publicity Hound Unparallelled

Paris Hilton continues to innovate new ways to spur buzz:
In an interview with Us Weekly magazine, on newsstands Friday, Hilton says: 'I feel horrible that, once again, someone has invaded my privacy. I want to apologize to all my friends and family. I don't know why this stuff always happens to me, but I wish it wouldn't anymore.
Um, right. It is hard to imagine a more perfect gorilla promo strategy for a socialite porn star. The cynicist in me can't help but wonder: Did Paris facilitate this data dump?

Turkey Terrorizes Ohio State Troopers

Hmm ... as though our state troopers don't have enough challenges, the local turkey population has taken to terrorizing troopers: Pics and video. (note: video Firefox hostile).


Apple to Spam Your iPod With Ads

Here's another reason to avoid Apple's iPod portable music players: BBspot reports
Among the features of this new firmware are enhanced playback functionality, a simpler user interface, better song shuffling, and a new banner ad feature that will display information on new Apple and other relevant products.
There's more:
users who don't want to see ads on their iPod that an ad-free iPod would have to buy a "Drink Pepsi" branded iPod for $650 and a $10 monthly fee.
As if paying a premium price for an iPod weren't punishment enough. This sheds new light on Apple's oft stated concern for managing the "total customer experience." This is a keen spoof on Apple's Arrogance. Thanks BBspot!

UPDATE (2005-2-26): To the folks over at Anumati that can't recognize a joke when fictional status is stated: go ahead, pour ALL of your life savings into APPL.


Brand Autopsy Blinks on Gladwell?

In jumping to assume an association between Malcolm Gladwell and Big Pharma, it appears that Brand Autopsy has blinked.

Ascendancy of Not So Bigness?

Grant observes:
the problem is that as a room becomes “too giant, it loses its connection with its inhabitants.” This means that the NYT is now prepared to join the apostasy by Susanka’s “Not so big house” movement that has been in the works for some time now.
Interesting. The "not so big" trend appears to generalize beyond housing. The iPod shuffle exemplifies this trend. So, too, does consumer trending away from monster SUVs, in favor of smaller vehicles. I wonder: where else is this not so bigness trend evident?

On another note, I added the This Blog Sits at The ... blog to my feed list a few weeks ago. Yet, only tonight did I discover that it is Grant McCracken's blog. What a wonderful surprise! I've been following Grant's work since I was a wet behind the ears PhD student in the late '80s. I've a preorder at Amazon.com for Grant's latest book Culture and Consumption II. I'll post a review when I get a copy.

Digital camera boom cresting?

Is the digital camera market about to crest?
The PMAI says 52% of households will own a digital camera by the end of the year. Many consumers are already on their second digital camera purchase, suggesting the market is maturing earlier than expected, says Chris Chute, an analyst with market research firm IDC.

As a result, manufacturers are adding features and dropping prices. 'The competition will be fierce,' Chute says.

That's great news for consumers.

Photofinishers, from small one-hour photo labs to the local Wal-Mart (WMT) and CVS drugstore (CVS), are getting more aggressive in pushing digital printing. The average cost of a lab-produced 4-by-6 print in 2004 was 30 cents, down from 61 cents in 2000, says the PMAI.

52% penetration of the consumer market is just astounding. It appears that the consumer digital imaging market is rapidly reforming to strongly resemble the film-based consumer market.


Napster's Business Model Cracked

Napster's new subscription business model is cracked:
Users have found a way to skirt copy protection on Napster Inc's portable music subscription service just days after its high-profile launch, potentially letting them make CDs with hundreds of thousands of songs for free.

Check these specifics:
Engadget.com said by installing the digital music programme Winamp and then adding a secondary programme to Winamp called Output Stacker, users could convert the digitally protected files from one format to another that can then be burned, unencumbered, onto CDs.

"We're not going to advise you to do anything untoward, but apparently if you install Winamp along with the Output Stacker plug-in you can convert those protected WMA files to WAV files and then burn them to CD without paying a penny. Or at least an extra penny," Engadget.com said in an item on its site.
Here's the original post on engadget. And a follow-up post claiming no big deal. I dunno, this could be a big deal to ONU students come spring quarter.

Academic Freedom Cont'd: Yet more on Ohio Senate bill 24

The Faculty Senate at Ohio University "unanimously passed a resolution opposing Ohio Senate Bill 24, which calls for the establishment of a so-called 'Academic Bill of Rights.'" Hmm ... no reporter bias here. I believe David Horowitz does, in fact, call it an Academic Bill of Rights. No "so-called" required.

University faculty, including those at OU, largely have opposed such efforts, saying they violate academic freedom and duplicate grievance processes already available to disgruntled students.

The OU faculty resolution claims that such a law would "shift responsibility for conducting and monitoring academic affairs from universities and professional accrediting organizations to state government," and that the body "vigorously opposes S.B. 24 both in spirit and substance and calls for withdrawal of the (state) Senate bill."
Parsing out the elements:
  • Restricts academic freedom. As I've argued before, the whining about restricting academic freedom just doesn't hold water. If faculty are teaching their discipline, the law would have no effect on them. If that's the case, then why the intense opposition?

  • Duplicates existing processes. If the law does duplicate existing processes available to students, that's seems the glimmer an argument with some substance. To argue that processes exist inspires the obvious next question: are existing student grievance processes sufficient or effective. I am aware of an instance in which a faculty at a university in the Ohio State system menacingly warned a class that he kept a gun. No students reported the incident because they lacked sufficient confidence that the established "student grievance procedures" would protect them or their grade in the class.

  • Shifts responsibility. I believe the "shift responsibility" argument misses the primary point that this legislation is aimed primarily at university administrators; that it inspires university administrators to ensure that students are receiving the education they believe they are paying for. Yes, but isn't this what university administrators are supposed to do? Yes. Do they? Sometimes. Is this legislation the best way to increase the accountability of university administrators? Probably not. The legislature controls the budgets of all Ohio system Universities. Budgetary control would seem to provide legislators their most powerful weapon for ensuring that state universities support free discourse. Ultimately, this legislation is a warning shot that should not be ignored.

This irony from Megan, a student at BGSU:

And what exactly is there to protect us from? From hearing someone voice an opinion we disagree with?

Listening to other people say things you don't like is something that will happen a lot in your lifetime. You can't enact a law for every situation where your opinion could potentially meet adversity.

Accept it. Embrace it. Have a heated discussion, become passionate, let someone offend you every once in awhile. It's not going to kill you.

If you disagree that wholeheartedly with someone, a professor or anybody else, it will only remind you of why you feel the way you do. It will affirm your views and make your convictions that much stronger.

After all, isn't that what becoming an educated person is all about?

I agree completely with Megan that encountering alternate perspectives is essential to growth. Yet, I believe Megan misses the point of SB #24. SB #24 is all about spirited debate and fervent exploration of contrasting positions. SB #24 actually encourages such a climate. Unfortunately, some faculty believe they have a right to grade students on the basis the ideology they express rather than the quality of their reasoning. That is not what becoming an educated person is about. This is the faculty behavior SB #24 addresses. Mastering the skill of collecting facts and organizing them into a coherent (possibly contradictory) position is what becoming an educated person is all about.

Megan concludes she is against SB #24. Yet, the arguments she advances instead suggest strong support for the thesis behind SB #24. SB #24 is all about expanding the variety of positions that you, and all students, have the opportunity to experience. How ironic.


Podcasting: All You Need to Know

Podcasting: all you need to know is packed into this 4 Minutes About Podcasting.

Update: A summary of the structural factors that are aligning to suggest rapid diffusion of podcasting. Compelling.

The Power of Google's Long Tail

TheLongTail offers a supurb summary of what makes Google's business model so intriguing:
What Google has done is to find and monetize the Long Tails of both advertisers and publishers. These include millions of small companies and individuals who may never have advertised before, at least not nationally. They were considered sub-scale--too small to be worth a call or visit from an ad salesperson, possible too small to even think of themselves as an advertiser at all. But Google ads are self-service, cheap, and performance based (pay-per-click), which all combine to dramatically lower the barrier to entry.

Matching these advertisers are hundreds of thousands of previously sub-scale 'publishers', from blogs to niche commercial sites. Most are too small to have their own ad sales business, but they can now run relevant Google ads by just adding a few lines of HTML to their site. About half of Google's business now comes from such 'partners', rather than from ads sold against search results themselves.
eBay works similar wonders.

RSS Synopsis

VentureBlog offers a very nice synopsis of RSS. I find this crystal ball prediction most intriguing:
Another direction is enterprise use for RSS. Imagine replacing Microsoft Exchange with an interlocking array of RSS feeds. Each user with Outlook receives their shared calendar, contacts, and other information from subscriptions to RSS feeds. Or they become contributors, sharing one of their calendars with others. I'm sure reading that sentence inspires a host of potential objections for why RSS can not do that. Yet.
Thought provoking.

The IM Divide

Many2Many offers this intriguing hypothesis summary:
  • The divide is due to a recognition of IM as a presence tool vs. just seeing it as a communication tool.
  • The just-came-to-chat folks assert a power differential between peers by demanding that the always-on’rs pay attention to them when they appear.
  • IM exacerbates power-differentials by implying that there is equality in participants, as though it is an equalizing context.
There is a cultural divide between different groups of users of IM, namely the always-on’rs and the just-came-to-chat folks.

This is brought to you in synopsis of a brain candy rant on apophenia.

Interesting. Today attempted a discussion about privacy issues with my eCommerce class. In the course of things, I asked if they had any privacy concerns about their IM away messages. After they finished staring at me like I had just sprouted a third head, someone ventured, "well, you know it's public. besides, only my buddies see it." Hmm ...


College Student Trivia: 90% own a computer ...etc ...

Here's a revealing roundup of college student product ownership trivia:
College students have $122 bln in spending power, of which $24 bln in discretionary spending. Their average annual per capita spending is $13,000. 90% of college students own a computer, 65% of those students have broadband connection. 62% own a stereo, a cell phone (77%), a printer (77%), a television (84%) and a calculator (86%). 74% own a DVD player and 55% own a gaming system. 62% of college students use their cell phone for text messaging and playing games (70%). 41% of students with cell phones can access the Internet through their mobile phone.
Meanwhile: College student cell phone ownership is depriving universities of a high margin revenue stream.

More Consumers Paying for Music Downloads

Now, this is interesting:
About 47 percent of people who downloaded music in December and who were age 12 or older paid a fee to do so, the market researcher said. That's up from 22 percent a year ago. The study is based on data from a sample of 1,112 respondents.

This reinforces the notion that consumers are willing to pay for value.

Hat tip to ITFacts.biz where you can also find an excellent round-up of music statistics.

Gray America: The Next Frontier for Internet Diffusion

MediaPost reports:
The online presence of Americans aged 65 and older jumped 25 percent this year, to a total of almost 10 million surfers, while 55- to 64-year-olds increased their numbers by 15 percent, to almost 16 million, according to a new study by Nielsen//NetRatings.

Despite the increases, this age group still has a long way to go. Only 22 percent of Americans over 65 go online, the study shows, compared with 75 percent of those ages 30 to 49.

The 65 market in America:
  • 42% have used a computer
  • 41% have a computer at home
  • 31% have ever gone online
  • 33% have Internet access at home
According to studies from the Kaiser Family Foundation and Pew, e-mail is the top activity for this market. Among Americans 65 and over, 93 percent of wired seniors use e-mail.

Other findings include:
  • 68% have checked the weather online
  • 67% read news online
  • 58% go online for hobby information
  • 57% have bought a product such as books, clothes, or plane tickets online.
  • 53% search for health and medical information
  • 53% browse for fun
To put a personal spin on this: the Digito Daughters routinely email with their grandparents. Email is my primary communication medium with my parents. Ditto for the Digito Spouse. The great grandparents do not have a computer.

Digital Camera Growth to Peak in 2005

The Photo Marketing Association predicts:
'Digital cameras are expected to continue their growth in 2006 before reaching their peak at the end of that year or the next,' PMA said. 'As the digital camera market matures, industry revenue will increasingly depend on accessories, consumables and services.'
This Indian perspective on the digital photography boom is quite interesting.

Only one adjective captures the diffusion rate of digital photography: Phenomenal!

Academic Freedom Cont'd: Roundup of Latest Reactions to Ohio Senate Bill 24

Commentary on Ohio SB #24 -- a warning shot to the academic community that should not be ignored -- continues to pour in. Here's a round-up of the latest:

Students a the University of Toledo have poked at SB 24 with this resolution:

. . . deeming Senate Bill 24 'a bill of statuary requirements, with no rational bearing, which will have an adverse impact on ... the colleges and universities in the state of Ohio.'

S.B. 24, a bill authored by Ohio State Senator Larry Mumper, asks that college courses be based on facts rather than the opinions of, what Mumper says, are mostly liberal professors.

Samuel Nelson, assistant professor of political science, spoke against S.B. 24 at the senate meeting.

'If I have to think about what the state legislature thinks of my syllabus ... I would self censor,' he said, adding that such a bill would have a 'chilling effect' on what professors could do in classes.

The resolution passed 30 to one."
If a professor of political science can't distinguish between facts and opinions, perhaps he should consider another career.

Faculty at Ohio U. have also weighed in:

On the one hand, some OU faculty are running down the misguided First Amendment alley:
"It's a disaster waiting to happen," warned Faculty Senate Chair Phyllis Bernt, a professor in the School of Communication System Management. "American higher education is built upon free speech and the open exchange of ideas. We don't need to protect students from ideas."
While other faculty recognize why four Ohio Senators are motivated to launch this legislative warning shot:
"Richard Vedder, distinguished professor of economics, maintained that while the bill contains flaws and vague provisions, it does address legitimate issues. "I think institutions themselves need to be rigidly impartial and neutral regarding major political issues of the day," he said. "Increasingly, they are violating that proposition, weighing in on everything from gay marriage to tax policy. They are now paying the cost for this."

"Vedder argued that universities have created the problems that the bill seeks to fix. "By trying to enforce political correctness, imposing student speech codes and other violations of First Amendment rights, universities have brought this on themselves," he said. "What is surprising is not this bill, but that it has taken this long to materialize."
Meanwhile, Martin Tuck, OU's associate provost for academic affairs, prefers a head-in-sand posture:
"Bills like this make me incredibly nervous, Professors should show good judgment about these issues. I'm against legislation to force it."
A rather bland statement from the administrator responsible for making sure faculty are doing their jobs. If professors are, indeed, showing good judgment, then SB #24 would have no discernible effect on academic discourse.
Several faculty and student views are captured in this Marion Star article.

CAIR-Ohio weighs in:
CAIR, along with the ACLU and other civil rights organizations, opposes passage of this bill because it could be used to curtail academic freedom and to encourage thought policing in our institutes of higher education. The bill would have a chilling effect on freedom of inquiry on Ohio's campuses.
David Horowitz -- author of the Academic Bill of Rights on which SB #24 is modeled -- responds to CAIR-Ohio and other critics of SB #24:
The campaign against Mumper's Bill, as against the Academic Bill of Rights generally, is as unscrupulous as it is mendacious. Both of these organizations charge that the Academic Bill of Rights legislation would put academic discourse under government control and restrict academic free speech. In fact, the Academic Bill of Rights and Senate Bill 24 are specifically designed to do just the opposite: to encourage diverse views and to restrict none. They are aimed at an academic orthodoxy that currently suppresses opposition and that makes frauds like Ward Churchill – the very antithesis of a scholar and teacher – chairs of academic departments. Who could object to such legislation? Like-minded ideologues could.
Read the rest.

CNSNews has this round-up.


Virus Epidemic: Our Future?

IBM reports this cherry news:
In what International Business Machines Corp. calls a 'new and troubling trend,' 2005 should see an epidemic of viruses and worms attacking handheld devices, cellphones, wireless networks and embedded computers, which include car and satellite communication systems.

Oh, boy! Ultimately, I suppose that amounts to a call for ecosystem diversity.


Digital Music Sales < 2% of Total Music Sales

According to this source: "'Digital music sales make up less than two percent of the total music business" ... interesting. The creator of MP3Tunes.com offers an explanation:
because many consumers know they aren't really buying the music - they're renting it from a big corporation that controls what software, computer and portable devices they can use," Robertson said. "A consumer-friendly digital music store that provides true music ownership to paying customers can triple the digital music business almost overnight."
He hopes.


GPS is Disrupting Lighthouses

Here's an interesting illustration of how GPS technology is causing:disruption in one industry:
The popularity of the satellite-based global positioning system has led to the closure of lighthouses along the German coast. Many more may soon be extinguished. But critics question whether the new system is reliable and safe enough to warrant the closure of these historical beacons of safety.

Curious about PodCasting? Have 4 Mins?

Curious about PodCasting? Here's a brief 4 Minutes About Podcasting. Enjoy.

Great Read: Why this "Internet thing" is just starting

Seth Godin offers 10 compelling reasons on Why this "Internet thing" is just starting. Good stuff. My favorite points:
7. Grandmothers. It is no longer necessary to explain to the average American (of any generation) what this "Internet thing" is. Google has made the world safe for entrepreneurs. Don't underestimate how important this is.

I think that Seth underplays this one. I'd replace grandmothers with Great-grandparents. Most grand parents I know are active internet users: emailing their grand kids or shopping on the web.
8. Teenagers. The Yahoo generation is now getting driver's licenses!! These are kids who have grown up without encyclopedias or videocassettes or lps. These are kids who have completely and permanently integrated the Net into their lives and are about to go to work and to college.
Is higher ed ready for this? I don't think so.

Lecture Causes Censure of Academic freedom

Professor Hans Hoppe's experience at UNLV illustrates the type of academic freedom that Mumford's Ohio House Senate Bill 24 is designed to protect. When a faculty member is subjected to hearings for delivering a lecture that included facts directly related to the class topic, that some find uncomfortable, academic freedom is under siege.

Free Speech Confusion: More on Mumford's Ohio Senate Bill #24

Editorialists at Youngstown State and Ohio University share common ground in their diatribes against House Bill 24:
"In a blatant attempt to drastically limit the freedom of expression, which is still protected by the First Amendment last time anyone checked," (Daniel Rinder)
Neither understands the boundaries of freedom of speech. Neither realizes that freedom of speech does not apply to the work place. Neither understands that freedom of expression is limited on college campuses. Hey, guys and gals, why do you think your university has a designated "free speech zone"? You don't enjoy unlimited freedom of expression now, nor would this law impact you.

I agree a classroom should be a safe place to exchange differing ideas and complementary facts, and to do without concern about reprisals for expressing those ideas or facts. However, I believe it is reasonable to expect that classroom discussion be bounded to ideas pertinent to the domain of the class generally, and the topic of discussion specifically.

To advocate that individuals have a right to spew whatever viewpoint they prefer, about any topic, in any classroom, creates a scenario that yields chaos in the classroom. Inhibits a productive dialog and does not reflect an effective learning environment.

As mentioned before, I do not support this law. I do, however support the spirit motivating the law. Specifically, I support the idea that faculty should spend class time on topics that directly pertain to the class. I also believe in the free exchange of different positions as long as those alternate positions are grounded in concepts or facts relevant to the class and the topic under investigation. I also believe students should not be penalized should they, after due consideration of the available evidence, reach a conclusion different from mine.

Ultimately, I am curious: Why do these students feel it is so onerous to ask faculty to use class time teaching their discipline?


Halftime 2005: No Unnecessary Boobage

I watched exactly one half of a football game last year. Yep, it was the Superbowl. When the second quarter ended, I urged the girls to get ready for bed. "Can we watch the half-time show first?" they plead. "Sure!" I replied, thinking it would be more interesting than the game. I wasn't prepared for Justin's bump-grind with Janet. Nor was I prepared for the "wardrobe malfunction," immediately after which the eldest Digito Daughter turned to me and stated in a matter-of-fact voice, "That was unnecessary."

True to form, I've again watched exactly .5 football games this year. Yep, the half-time show was boob-free. Indeed, there wasn't a single female evident on-stage during the half-time show. Fox must have been feeling a tad gun-shy after last year's Viagra overdosed debacle.

I'm relieved. The stars have realigned. The Superbowl is again truly "family" entertainment. The world is right again. Amen.

Update: Out of compassion, I reduced the size of the image. A student complained that the image caused a kurfluffle when he was reading Digito Society via his laptop while in class (not mine!). From here on out I'll use the "safe for in-class reading" criteria when choosing images.


Kodak Tops Sony in Digicam Shipments

Kodak tops Sony in digicam shipments. Interesting or not? I'm inclined toward not. Sony has never been a brand for the Wal-Mart masses. Kodak has. Methinks this reflects the digicam market settling toward long-term equilibrium.


Ohio Legislator Proposes that Academics Teach their Discipline

Ohio Legislator Larry Mumford is fed up with academics preaching ideology rather than teaching their discipline. Mumford has proposed legislation that would require academics in Ohio to reach their discipline and require that
be graded solely on the basis of their reasoned answers and appropriate knowledge of the subjects and disciplines they study and shall not be discriminated against on the basis of their political, ideological, or religious beliefs. Faculty and instructors shall not use their courses or their positions for the purpose of political, ideological, religious, or antireligious indoctrination.
David Horowitz' Academic Bill of Rights inspired Mumford

The left and Democrats (is that a posimoron?) are having a hissy fit. Here | Here | Here | Here | Google News.

I find it ironic that the Bowling Green State University faculty senate discussed extending benefits to gay/lesbian employee partners that same day they railed against Mumford's proposed legislation.

To be clear: I do not support Mumford's legislation. I do think that Mumford's legislation offers a potent indictment of the academy.

That said, the left would be wise to recognize a shot across the bow when one comes within glancing distance. My liberal academic friends that work for state institutions suggest that the state legislators -- the very legislators that determine the budget for their institutions -- are "dumb" and "don't get it." Familiar rhetoric. Mumford's legislation should give them reason to look in the mirror and ask, "what have we done to precipitate this"?

UPDATE: A student's view:
While professors may feel as though this bill could limit academic freedom or their ability to run their classrooms in a free and unrestricted manner, don't we, the students, deserve an unbiased education?
Hmm ... sounds reasonable to me. An education consumer expecting an education.

The Marion Star sounds off. The ACLU steps in.

Update 2 (Feb6 @ 2:15 p.m.): Welcome Instapundit readers!


Subscription Shipping

Amazon.com just introduced Amazon Prime ... a subscription shipping offer. Here's the scoop:
Unlimited Express Shipping
  • Free Two-Day Shipping on over a million in-stock items
  • Overnight Shipping for only $3.99 per item—order as late as 6:30 PM ET
Effortless Shopping
  • No minimum purchase required
  • No need to consolidate items to save on shipping
Convenient Sharing
  • Share the benefits of your Amazon Prime membership with up to four family members living in the same household
Hmm ... very interesting. It would be interesting to compare the purchasing behavior under these different shipping rate pricing strategies:
  • Subscription (pre-paid) shipping
  • Tiered shipping rates in which
    • the larger your cumulative purchases over a time-period, the lower your shipping rates, or
    • a threshold is defined that, once reached, all shipping charges paid to date are refunded, or
    • A cap is placed on cumulative shipping charges over the course of a time period.
  • Free shipping.
  • "Standard" shipping
UPDATE (2/6 @ 5 p.m.): Seth Goodin suggests:
But this has nothing to do with saving money on shipping and everything to do with Amazon's innate understanding of human nature. Once you buy in, every single time you buy something from any other store (online or off) you'll say to yourself, "ouch, I can't buy this here. I'll be wasting the money I spent at Amazon."
Hmm ... a pre-pay lock-in. Is this an effective long-run strategy when the pre-pay is for an add-on that complements the core value offering? Especially when those of us with patience can avoid shipping/handling charges altogether for many Amazon purchases?

That's an important difference relative to this scenario that Seth suggests:
Imagine a new chain of cafes that offers a coffee club. For a flat fee, you get all the wifi and lattes you can handle. With the markup on both, the owner does great, and people would feel terrible every time they strayed.
Here, as the pre-pay is tied to the core value offering, this type of approach strikes me as offering considerably more long-term potential.


What Sucks Makes for Good Learning

Vincent Flanders' Web Pages That Suck is a classic in the web (mis)design genre. Check out his Biggest Web Design Mistakes of 2004. Good stuff. Hat tip to Seth.

The Long Tail

There are interesting rumblings over at The Long Tail. This array of Long Tail Definitions is especially tasty.

Interestingly, the long tail has long dominated activity in the [academic] research community and is a key factor contributing to its vitality and diversity. As the traditional richness/reach frontier has been demolished -- thanks to the increasing volume of academic literature accessible digitally -- the potential for previously obscure works to exert powerful influence is greater than any time in history.

Yet, this makes me wonder: what is happening over at The Long Tail that adds additional variance explained to what Evans and colleagues have written in their HBR piece, or book Blown to Bits? Curious.


RSS Adoption: Why it is and will be slow

Here's a nice summary on Why RSS adoption is low.

Let's push this through a bit further: Recall the 5 product factors that impact the adoption rate of a new tech? No? Well, here they are:
  1. Relative advantage. In what ways is RSS better than existing ways of acquiring information? For informnavores, RSS is a life-saving, life-saving tech. For non-informnavores, RSS is a big, "so what?" Overall negative.
  2. Compatibility with current work-flow and other ways of acquiring information. RSS currently requires developing new habits. Overall negative.
  3. Complexity. How difficult is it to use? RSS requires a separate program or going to a specific web site. Overall negative.
  4. Communicability. How easy is it to communicate the benefits? The benefits are easy to communicate. Whether someone values those benefits is another issue. Mild positive.
  5. Trialability. RSS is easy to try if you are one of the small number of folks using FireFox. Otherwise, trial of RSS requires adopting Bloglines, or a dedicated feed reader. Overall negative.
Four negatives and one mild positive. Not encouraging.

This raises the question: Will RSS remain a niche info delivery method?

Branded Nation: Another View

Brand Autopsy brands James Twitchell's Branded Nation a worthless read:
Twitchell examines how the seemingly non-commercial worlds of colleges and universities, churches, and museums have become commercialized by embracing the religion of marketing. The book reads like a series of long-form white papers with general and somewhat interesting observations, but no actionable takeaways. I should warn ya … Twitchell is extremely verbose … he carries on from page-to-page like a know-it-all who doesn’t know when the reader has had enough.
I agree that Twitchell avoids the contempory business book bullet point style; a style exemplified by the Change This manifestos. Yes, Twitchell does like to delve into myriad nooks and crannies as he explores the terraign of his chosen topic. That, I'll concede. At half its length, the book would perhaps be more effective.

As to "no actionable takeaways," BrandAutopsy has perhaps misjudged the book's target market. True, Twitchell says little that is news to marketers. However, Twitchell's pounds home a message that many in higher ed desperately need to hear and absorb into their DNA if their college or university is to compete in today's environment. The take-away is not a laundry list of tactics, rather the take-away for those in higher ed is a reframing of their value offering. Many in higher ed (and churches) could benefit from this reframing.

Twitchell's book is well paired with John Seely Brown's The Social Life of Information, especially the chapters dealing with higher ed as credential granting institutions. Those in church would do well to pair Twitchell's book with Callahan's Small Strong Congregations

Dell FireFox Hostile

I discovered today that Dell.com is FireFox hostile. While searching support at Dell.com to find out why my Dell DJ-20 (origional version) is not compatible with Audible.com, I tried Dell's "find you service tag number." No can do, it spat back. "Incompatible Browser or Operating System" read the error. Hmm ... OS is WinXP. FireFox is the browser. Yep, Dell is FireFox hostile. I gave up. Two punts on Dell's "customer service" in one sitting.

Dell Punts on DJ's Incompatibility with Audible.com

I explored Audible.com yesterday, thinking audio book downloads would ease the pain of my daily commute. To my dismay, I learned that my Dell DJ-20, portable music device, is not included among the devices compatible with Audible.com. Oddly, two of Dell's PDA's are "Audible.com compatible," but none of Dell's portable music players are compatible.

So, I contacted "Dell Chat":
Welcome to Dell Chat. Please wait for an available agent. You will be notified when your chat is accepted by an agent.
The session has been accepted.

{Paul 1:57:56 PM} Thank you for contacting Dell Consumer Customer Care Chat. My name is Pradeep, but you may call me Paul. How may I help you today? [WTF ... I typed in a question already, why can't "Paul" see it??]

{ 1:58:29 PM} audible.com does not support the dell dj
{ 1:58:54 PM} is a software update planned so the dj will work with audible.com?

{Paul 1:59:56 PM} Please allow me a moment to review your question.
{Paul 2:02:28 PM} I apologize for the delay in responding to your question. Due to the high volume of chats, I will be answering questions in the order received. Thank you for your patience. [So nice to know that Dell values my business.]
{Paul 2:03:09 PM} As I understand that you would like to know why the particular web site is not supporting Dell DJ. Is that correct?

{ 2:03:31 PM} yes ... two dell PDAs are supported. the DJs are not. very odd.

{Paul 2:03:58 PM} Rob, I suggest you Chat with our technical support as they would be the best people to assist you with this issue. You can contact our tech chat queue at http://support.dell.com/support/topics/global.aspx/support/en/chat?c=us&cs=19&amp;amp;l=en&s=dhs or you can call them at 1-800-624-9896, extension 66955. They are open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Toggling to the URL provided, I discovered that the tech support folks are all too busy to help me. Sigh.
{ 2:05:34 PM} um ... none of those folks are available.
{Paul 2:08:04 PM} The above mentioned link is Chat link for the tech support, sure they will be glad to assist you with this issue, you can select any session for tech support chat.
Sigh ... I gave up.

Quicken Upgrades Cause Hissey Fit

Boingboing launched a hissey fit over a letter they received from Quicken. /. jumped into the frey. The blind started leading the blind down a path of Quicken bashing. Anonymous Coward finally offered some words of reason. Jeesh! Quicken

Missed in the entire discussion is that fact that Quicken is phasing out QIF import format for checking accounts switching to OFX support. Quicken spins the discontinuation because QIF "was designed for technical support purposes, it was not for transaction download." Hmm ... QIF seemed to work fine for that purpose.

In contrast, " OFX offers customers an easier, faster and more accurate download experience." Um, OK.

Reading between the lines, the key reason Quicken introduced the change is that it allows Intuit a bigger hammer to entice banks to become a partner.

On a personal note, I first became of the changes when I received in the mail a package from Intuit containing a disk with Quicken 2005 Premier. A free upgrade! That's good.

A consequence is that I can not download transaction data from either of my financial institutions-- First Federal or Sky Financial; neither supports the OFX format. I've called and emailed First Federal's online banking support folks several times over the past 6 months enquiring about their timetable for updating their system. I'm still waiting for a target date. Meanwhile, I'm without the ability to download checking account transactions. What a PITA!!


A Concise Summary of the Iraq War

Cold Fury offers a concise summary of why U.S. troops are in Iraq.

US consumer Electronics Sales

Here's a fascinating round-up of US consumer electronics sales data.

Student Government Campaigning: New Media Style

Clearly, some college students were tuned into the important communication advances modeled during the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Email and Blogs complement face-to-face campaigning. Check out this email from a student:
Hey everyone. I'm going to take this opportunity to ask for your support for the 2005 ROCA-SMYER student senate presidential and vice presidential campaign.

You can read about our platform on our online blog at http://tribex.typepad.com/rae_anns_blog/
If you have already visited the site, feel free to visit again as it is updated frequently.

Justin and I have great vision for this campus, especially regarding diversity needs. As each of you know, our hearts are huge and our dedication, motivation and inspirational abilities are even bigger.

Also on our blog, you can find the link for voting, which will begin Monday at 8am and run through Friday at 7pm. Voting is all online and is 24 hours.

You can help us by:
1) voting for us.
2) telling your friends, greek brothers and sisters, aquaintances, classes and memberships about our campaign.
3) putting our info in your instant message profile and away messages.
4) letting us know where more fliers, signs and posters should go.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you have ANY questions, please don't hesitate to ask us or post it on our blog and we will answer ASAP.

Thanks again.

Impressive tactics on a campus of 3300 students. It will be interesting to see if and whether the other candidates respond in kind. Will blogswarms emerge? We'll see.

Creative Problem Solving: Thinking Outside the Bottle

This Slovak gent found a very creative solution to a life threatening problem.


iPod Business Model

Cringely offers an interesting meditation on the iPod business model. Speaking of iPods. In class yesterday I used iPods as an example. One student asked, "What's an iPod?"

Cyborg Consumer?

Here's new new lingo for CB texts:
The cyborg consumer, Giesler said, is one that uses several different technologies -- from cell phones to Viagra -- and is highly connected, technically and socially.
Hmm ... do I sense a flavour of "Star Trek: The Next Gen"? Jeez, what's new here? Shibutani made a similar point 50 years ago.


Pew Internet Reports: The Web is the "New Normal"

A new report from Pew Internet & American Life Project chronicles the internet's impact on daily life:
On a typical day at the end of 2004, some 70 million American adults logged onto the Internet to use email, get news, access government information, check out health and medical information, participate in auctions, book travel reservations, research their genealogy, gamble, seek out romantic partners, and engage in countless other activities. That represents a 37 percent increase from the 51 million Americans who were online on an average day in 2000 when the Pew Internet & American Life Project began its study of online life.

For the most part, the online world mirrors the offline world. People bring to the Internet the activities, interests, and behaviors that preoccupied them before the Web existed. Still, the Internet has also enabled new kinds of activities that no one ever dreamed of doing before–certainly not in the way people are doing them now. For example, on a typical day, 5 million people post or share some kind of material on the Web through their own Web logs (or “blogs”) or other content-creating applications; at least 4 million share music files on peer-to-peer networks; and 3 million people use the Internet to rate a person, product, or service.


View the full report here (pdf)

Walking the Walk

Dana, over at AMAblog, has an affirming response to my earlier observation that the AMA sponsored "hot topic" seminars on blogs was blogless. Dana kindly points me to the subsequently launched AMAblog.* Walking the walk, indeed. Whew!

Dana clarifies:
. . . our target market here is not "THE BLOGGER", but rather the professional marketing practitioner who is interested, but not yet on the bandwagon. The final 'pull onto the wagon' is our job, and now that we've got them here, we can segue into the blog world, hence the blog you're reading now.
Indeed. I have echos of Web 101 seminars of days gone by. The spirit of exciting new frontiers unfolding has returned. And it is fun.

The honeymoon phase of blog-as-marketing-communication-tool will be very short and abrupt. Unlike the early days of the web, blogging tools (software) and infrastructure (broadband) are in place. To top it off, blogging tools are easier to use (and understand!) than any publishing toolkit yet to appear. The elements are aligned for meteoric ascent.

Then what? Surveys of other domains suggest that blogging's simplicity will reveal unexpected complexities; simplicity will yield complex structures with capabilities both unpredictable and previously unknown. The 2004 U.S. presidential election cycle afforded a sampling of the potential.

Strategy that harnesses and guides this potential is a pressing task. For example:
  • How do individuals and organizations maximize the potential of this new communication media?
  • How are blogs best integrated with other tools the marketing communication mix?
  • For what marketing communication objectives are blogs best suited?
  • What unknown marketing communication tasks will blogs make apparent?
  • Will swarm management become a staple skill required to execute an integrated marketing communication program?
  • etc.
I suspect the next 6 to 12 months will prove enlightening.

* Don't get me started on AMA's bizarre branding strategy ... AMA stands for: American Medical Association, Australian Medical Association, American Management Association, American Motorcyclist Association, Academy of Model Aeronautics ... ? Beats me. And I've been a member of AMA (American Marketing Association) for about 20 years.

Google to Branch into voIP?

Intriguing speculation that Google may be set to offer free voIP calls:
Mr Hewitt added that search results could be linked to its Net phone service, which allows customers to call a company by clicking on a link. Netimperative suggest that there are many ways for Google to extract value from this service. These range from charging users by the minute to employing their AdSense model, where companies pay the cost if a customer calls from a Google advert.
Organizing all the information in the world, indeed.

Business Models for Digital Archive Access

Dan Gillmor advocates that a keyword-advertising based business model replace subscription, pay per access, or piece-rate business models for newspaper archives. I suppose Dan's logic could be extended to stock photo, and other digital archives. Dan suggests an ad-based business model may yield greater revenues and influence for the media firm. That hypothesis should certainly be tested empirically.

This has me dreaming: what about an effective automated micro-payment system, instead? Content providers would be compensated directly by those that consume their content. A dream system would enable the content creator to specify rights that are then auto negotiated. For example, a content provider might allow a journalist (or other blogger) rights to use their content for no fee. Logic? Such use amounts to promotion for the content. The system could also be configured to reward such promotional use. Perhaps the system could be configured to automatically pay, or otherwise credit, the blogger's account. This isn't too far-fetched. The "karma" counters built into some p2p networks implement a similar scheme.

Versioning offers another alternate business models. Under a versioning strategy, individuals desiring access to the latest & greatest content could pay at a rate higher than those accessing content at a later date.

A keyword advertising based business model is certainly simpler. Yet, an advertising based business model perpetuates the illusion of free content. a business model viable in the long-run?


Blogs: A New Arrow for the Marketing Communication Quiver

Some features of blogs as a marketing communication tool:
  1. Blogs are disruptive. Dan Gillmor makes a strong case that blogs are a disruptive technology reshaping business models and value chains in the news industry.
  2. Blogs are viral. RSS (i.e., XML formatted files slurped up by a reader client) speeds transmission to any and all interested.
  3. Blogs bust the richness/reach tradeoff (see also Evans & Wurster 1997 HBR) that have traditionally bounded word of mouth communications. Blogs also break the reach constraint that typified most discussion groups and usenet news groups: group membership defined the audience size and breadth of resources available. Blogs published to the web are visible to anyone with an internet connection.
  4. Blogs leverage Reed's law. Each blogger--due to his/her singular perspective-- adds unique value to the network.
  5. Blogs empower smart mob swarming. Blog swarms enable self-organized word-of-mouth buzz intensity previously unknown.
  6. The blogosphere occupies an inherently invisible mindspace.
  7. Blogs are a "high involvement" media that require relatively high levels of motivation, opportunity, and ability to process. Blog creators and readers are not not your average golden retriever.
  8. Blogs compete with all other media and non-media diversions for individual's finite attention.
  9. Blog swarms achieve visibility to the nonblog-obsessed when (if) their theme feeds back to traditional media channels.
Simplified ability to create, distribute, and identify newly created content are the features central to the blog value proposition. As a marketing communication tool, blogs afford a channel for proactive communication of timely content with strikingly little effort at exceptionally low cost. Imagine how useful blogs would have been to Johnson & Johnson when negotiating their trial by cyanide. Or for announcing product recalls. Or for announcing new products. Yes, simple announcements. Or, like Bob Lutz, as a tool for cultivating a direct link between top management and a companies end-users.

Yet, these efforts nibble around the ankles of traditional marketing communications efforts. Or do they?

Reconfiguring the Primary Ed Value Chain

Here's an intriguing way to reconfigure the primary education value chain:
A Welsh primary school is considering whether to supervise its pupils with electronic tags due to a shortage of teaching assistants.

Under the proposed system, an alarm sounds if any of the 350-pupils leave Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Lonlas Primary School, Swansea, at any point during the day.
Hmm ... I suppose supervising kids on recess is a form of inventory management.


Humor: Microsoft's AntiSpyware Tool Removes Internet Explorer

BBspot reports:
Many Microsoft Windows users who downloaded the recently released AntiSpyware program from Microsoft, or had it installed through an automatic Windows update, woke up to a surprise. Unintentionally, the heuristics of the software detected Internet Explorer as spyware, and removed the program from their systems.

AntiSpywareMicrosoft has pulled the program from its website until the problem can be corrected. Elias Weatherbee, a Microsoft representative, said the program was 'only in beta' and that 'a fix was forthcoming.' >>more>>
Ah, were it only true.


Future of Internet News?

A Slashdot thread on the Future of Internet News. Nothing too profound, but the comments provide a nice survey of the territory. I think they are missing the big point which is that an increasing number of news consumers expect customized news, something traditional dead-trees news channels can't provide.


Blog Irony: Promise vs. Practice

The American Marketing Association (AMA) has announced a "AMA Hot Topic Series" seminar titled Blogs: Marketing Beyond the Website. Despite promises to " show how to incorporate the newest internet-based strategy into your organization’s marketing plan." Seminar promotion relies on old media (web and direct mail). Visit the promotional web page (yes, literally a page) and you find standard promotional boiler plate.

What's missing? The seminar organizers don't leverage the tools the seminar claims they will show participants how to use: where is the (pre) conference blog? the RSS feed? Where is evidence the conference organziers are applying the techniques the promotional pieces claim are so essential to success in today's business environment? Absent. Rather, the message is: "do as I say, not as I do."

Spend your time more productively: read Hugh Hewitt's Blog or Dan Gillmor's We the Media..


Pew Internet Reports on Internet Evolution

Here's a round-up of Pew Internet studies on The Future of the Internet and its evolution.

Pew's biggest prediction is the expectation that the internet will be the target of massive attacks. Attacks that will prove ever more disabling as internet capabilities become further integrated with daily activities. How cheery.

The Future (and Past) of the Internet

Hmm ... now this is intriguing: Imagining the Internet - Predictions Database A real live crustal ball! Kinda.

OpenURL 1.0 TO Google Scholar Firefox Extension

I've been intrigued by Google Scholar, yet frustrated. Like a horse led to water and want's to drink: Google Scholar leads me to many interesting articles; most of which I cannot access directly. Rather, I must use my university account to log into EBSCO or other article databases, locate the articles there, then download them. Apparently, others have shared my frustrations:
OPENLY ADDS OpenURL 1.0 TO GOOGLE SCHOLAR PLUGIN: "Bloomfield, New Jersey - January 11, 2005 - Openly Informatics, Inc. (http://www.openly.com/) today announced that it had added OpenURL 1.0 support, along with several other user-friendly features, to an Open Source browser plugin extension that adds linking to web pages in the Google Scholar service.

The plug-in software, called 'OpenURL Referrer', works with the Firefox Web Browser (http://www.getfirefox.com/) and was inspired by a 'proof-of-concept' released by Peter Binkley, a librarian at the University of Alberta Libraries. Although Google Scholar can very useful for identifying the title, author, and other bibliographic information associated with an article, very often users can't use Google Scholar to access the full text of an article. This is because Google Scholar links to many articles in restricted databases that require a subscription or payment to access the full text.

Users that have installed OpenURL Referrer see added 'OpenURL' links on Google Scholar web pages. These links work with library linking systems to provide access to full-text licensed by libraries. Because OpenURL is standard developed by the scholarly information community with the support of NISO, it works with linking systems developed by many different vendors."
The OpenURL Referrer extension is free and is available under open-source license http://www.openly.com/openurlref/.

I can't wait to give it a try. Stay tuned for a user experience report.

Hat tip to ResourceShelf.

Do I Smell a MSRaT?

Microsoft released an antispyware tool last week. Today, MS released a "Malicious Software Removal Tool" which, interestingly, acronym's down to MSRat. On the one hand, it is encouraging that MS has (finally!) adopted a proactive response to the myriad nasties targeting MS's bug-laden OS and office productivity suite.

On the other hand, does MS's advance into antispyware and antivirus solutions further the MS monoculture in a way that makes systems running MS software ever more, rather than less, susceptible to disabling attack?

Disabled Chicken

Dinner tonight featured a Purdue disabled chicken. What I thought was a whole chicken turned out to be leg-less and wing-less. It did have monster breasts. Go figure. I've never seen anything like it.

On the Meaning of "This Call Will be Recorded" ...

You've likely become accostomed to hearing "this call may be monitored for quality assurance" or some such phrase when you dial into a telemarkting or telesupport center. Here are some insights into what, exactly, that means. Hat tip: SlashDot.

New Fruit Announced at MacWorld

New fruit just announced at MacWorld.

Women in Video Games

Have you ever wondered if it is possible to design into a video game "a strong female character without the requisite augmented body and sexual references. 1UP.COM does .


NPR Magic Creates the Signature NPR Sound

Brand Autopsy reveals what happens behind the curtain at the land of NPR:
Have you wondered how everyone on National Public Radio (NPR) sounds so smooth, so perfect … and so amazingly articulate?

I have.

And thanks to John Solomon of NPR’s On the Media, we now know the dark room magic tricks NPR uses to make everyone sound so smooth, so perfect, and so articulate. [You can stream the audio (real media file) or read the transcript.]

Whew! I don't feel so inarticulate now.

Attention as a Social Fact

Many2Many provides a nice primer on Attention as a Social Fact.

NYT Makes Another Shocking Discovery: Frat Boys Drink. Oh, my!

Show casing the journalistic excellence characteristic of the NYT's post Jason Blair era, Benoit Denizet-Lewis discovers frat boys (and girls) still drink. Hmm ... call me stunned.

SMS Addiction: The next "it must be caused by the genes" disorder?

A front page headline in today's NYT proclaims: Young Cell Users Rack Up Debt, a Message at a Time (link requires free reg). I have to wonder: is it just a matter of time before SMS Addiction becomes the next "major" genetic disorder?


Does Internet-Connectedness Drive serendipity?

From SocialSoftwareWebLog;

In an latimes.com article dated January 9, 2005, Lynell George quotes Friendster’s Jonathan Abrams as saying that Friendster offers ways to “proactively influence serendipity.”

Hm, not my experience of Friendster but, Jonathan goes on to say: “You can be manipulating serendipity to make more efficient use of your social time…. Instead of looking for women who are this height and are ‘equally comfortable in jeans as in a cocktail dress,’ you can stumble upon people by their interests. You can drive serendipity.”

Drive serendipity?
Judith is sanguine, suggesting that our internet-connectedness is constrained by our email address book, buddy list, virtual office connectees, etc. I suppose. This suggests that a degree of membership openness is necessary for externally infused serendipity. Yet, I think Judith under-estimates (or is so embedded in that she can't see) the power of our various social networks running through the same medium. I IM with students, other faculty, friends, my wife, and my kids. Each of those networks is often active on my desktop simultaneously. That yields the potential for me to experience serendipitous connections.


Microsoft Product Announcement Bigfoots Symantec and McAffee Share Prices

While I take it as good news that Microsoft is offering Anti-sphere Tool:
The biggest software company in the world made a trial version of its free anti-spyware tool available on its website in a bid to increase the security of its dominant Windows operating system. Next week, it was expected to release a virus-removal program to round out the security package.

The anti-spyware software eliminates programs that generate unwanted pop-up ads and secretly record a computer user's activities, often crippling computer performance. The program was developed by Giant Company Software Inc., which Microsoft acquired last month.

Shares of the two largest computer-security-software vendors, Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc., fell sharply after Microsoft released details of its plans.
I am less excited about Microsoft entering the antivirus market. On the one hand, they can't afford not to, given the myriad weaknesses of MS Windows and Office. OTOH, by entering the anti-virus space, Microsoft furthers the mono-culture that has proven so suspectible to compromise. Put that way, maybe it isn't such a good idea for Microsoft to enter the anti-spyware space either.

UPDATE: MotleyFool echos my concerns:

Ultimately, the irony would run thick if Microsoft does manage to make a splash in the antivirus space. Not only is its operating system more susceptible to virtual misdeeds than Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL), but now it finds ways to profit from those deficiencies.

Ouch. That inoculation needle hurts!

Ouch, indeed! Ironically, by offering anti-virus software with update subscriptions Microsoft has incentive to make its operating system and other software even more vulnerable.

CNNMoney hits the nail in raising possible resistence by consumer and business markets:

But will consumers pony up to buy anti-virus software from the same company whose own operating system is so vulnerable to security lapses in the first place?

"For more sophisticated users, it's a small price to pay to get security that you know works from a vendor who has been doing it for 15 to 20 years. It's a different ball game for Microsoft who is not known for security," said Gregg Moskowitz, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group.

Kevin Trosian, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities, adds that large business customers will be skeptical of a Microsoft security software product because of the high number of security problems that have plagued corporate networks during the past few years.

"The disdain and contempt that enterprise customers have for the security lapses means it is likely they will not be rabid adopters of a Microsoft anti-virus product," Trosian said.

UPDATE 2: Flexbeta compares MS's new toy against Spy-Bot and Ad-Aware and concludes:

Though still in beta, Microsoft AntiSpyware was able to detect more infected files than the current leading anti-spyware applications in the market today, Ad-Aware and SpyBot S&D. AntiSpyware’s user interface is better looking than both SpyBot and Ad-Aware, not to mention much easier to use than SpyBot. Though Microsoft AntiSpyware was able to use better detection than both Ad-Aware and SpyBot, there is still the difference of cost between the three. Ad-Aware and SpyBot offer great performance for free, yet when Microsoft debuts its AntiSpyware application, it will require a subscription fee. Is Microsoft AntiSpyware really worth the subscription fee when there are currently good spyware removal applications out there that will do it for free? My answer to that question would be, if you can afford the fee, it is absolutely worth it; however, if you chose to use Microsoft AntiSpyware as your spyware removal tool, you will still need to run other tools such as Ad-Aware and SpyBot.

Blogs Replace Static Newsletters

What a great idea! Georgia State University Library reports on their use blogs to replace static newsletters:
To deliver information about library news, services and resources to the science faculty and students at Georgia State University, several librarians developed a blog, Science News. Despite the increasing popularity of blogs (or weblogs), few libraries have taken advantage of what they offer. Blogs can be updated easily, frequently and continuously, making them an appealing alternative to static newsletters. This article summarizes the librarians? rationale for moving to this dynamic format, how the technology was balanced with the needs of the librarians and patrons, and the issues and challenges that are being addressed to ensure that this will be a viable and successful newsdelivery system.' Article by Teri M. Vogel and Doug Goans will appear in Volume 10, Issue 1 of Internet Reference Services Quarterly, expected publication in March 2005.
Blog as newsletter substitute could generalize to all sorts of applications.

Has the Internet Disintermediated Libraries? Apparently Not

Internet threat to libraries analyzed
"A major national study conducted by the School of Informatics and the Urban Libraries Council found five years ago that increased Internet use in the U.S. had not produced a reduction in the public use of libraries. The study presented a new consumer model of the U.S. adult market for library and Internet services, one that consisted of "information seekers" who used both resources, but in different ways. With Internet use continuing to grow by leaps and bounds, the UB researchers now are poised to undertake a much larger national study to see what, if any, changes have taken place over the past five years." Hat tip to ResourceShelf.

Wacky Warning Label Contest Winners

Some consumer warning labels are so well done that they deserve special awards: Consider the label attached to a toilet brush that admonishes: "Do not use for personal hygiene.". Um, yeah. Or the "This product moves when used" label fastened to a scooter. I'd sure hope so. Then there's the oblique "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally." Unclear is whether the converse is admissible.

Thanks to the Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch for sponsoring this educational contest. Have you found a wacky warning label? Submit it here.

Jeff Bezos on Amazon's Anti-Wal-Mart Strategy

Wal-Mart's strategy is to sell what sells: high volume SKUs stay on the shelves, low volume SKUs are discontinued. In contrast, hard-to-find low-volume products are Amazon's bread-and-butter (and why I love Amazon.com). Check out this excerpt from Wired magazines interview with Jeff Bezos:
WIRED: Does Amazon actually create demand for hard-to-find products?

BEZOS: Absolutely. We not only help readers find books, we also help books find readers, with personalized recommendations based on the patterns we see. I remember one of the first times this struck me. The main book on the page was on Zen. There were other suggestions for Zen books, and in the middle of those was a book on how to have a clutter-free desk. That's not something that a human editor would have ever picked. But statistically, the people who were interested in the Zen books also wanted clutter-free desks. The computer is blind to the fact that these things are dissimilar in some way that's important to humans. It looks right through that and says yes, try this. And it works.
Read the rest of the interview.

Are Citizen Consumers Writing a Brand's First Draft?

Are Citizen Journalists Writing History's First Draft? Dan Gillmor thinks so:
We used to call mainstream journalism the 'first draft of history.' Now, I'd argue, much of that first draft is being written by citizen journalists. And what they're telling us is powerful indeed.
Switch contexts to grassroots product evangilism, and we have the makings for a transformed marketing landscape in which citizen consumers create a product's the first (and continuing?) story. Will branding ever be the same?


CDs: Preferred Format and Growing Sales More Talent or Fewer P2P Grannies?

The BBCreports:
US CD sales rose by 2.3% in 2004 - the first rise in four years - despite the growing popularity of legal digital music downloads.

The CD format still accounts for 98% of the 666 million albums sold, according to research company Nielsen Soundscan.

A total of 140 million digital tracks were legally downloaded last year, equivalent to 14 million albums.

R&B star Usher was the biggest-selling artist with his album Confessions selling eight million copies alone.

Other top sellers of the year were Norah Jones, Eminem and country stars Kenny Chesney and Gretchen Wilson.
Hmm ... did 2004's extra abundance of compelling talent entice more folks to purchase CDs this year? Nah. It must be because the RIAA has now sued enough grannies to stem the flow illegal file sharing. Yep, that must be it.

The Register weighs in:
CD sales rebounded for the first time in four years in the United States in 2004, according to Nielsen Soundscan, defying the predictions of big label executives. Overall music sales rose 1.6 per cent over 2003 but CD sales, which account for 98 per cent of all new music sold, saw a 2.6 per cent increase.

The new music stores contributed next to nothing directly: just 0.033 per cent, or 1 in 3000 album sales were Net downloads. Nielsen says 140.9 million tracks were sold through the "Nappletizers" - new music stores such as Apple's iTunes Music Store, and Napster, compared to 666.7 million physical CDs. Universal and Sony BMG accounted for 58.7 per cent of internet downloads between them.

But such figures are dwarfed by the P2P networks: over a billion tracks are downloaded each month, according to some estimates.

Is there a correlation between the new music services and a renewed interest in buying CDs? Are downloaders getting physical?

Evidence in the UK suggests that 92 per cent of people who bought from an online store preferred CDs. Hardly surprising, as the real thing sounds better, allows you to share the music with friends and you have something tangible at the end of the day. That's a lot of advantages to something that costs about the same, or in the case of discount CDs, is much cheaper.

Who wants to pay more to get less? ®

iTunes SOV Bites Apple

Apple's remarkable share of voice (SOV) in the portable digital music player space has attracted my comment before (here and here). BBC NEWS reports that Apple's SOV has ironic consequences:
A user of Apple's iTunes music service is suing the firm saying it is unfair he can only use an iPod to play songs.
This claim is central to the filing:
Apple has turned an open and interactive standard into an artifice that prevents consumers from using the portable hard drive digital music player of their choice,"
Could Apple's amazing (and unjustified IMO) SOV be responsible for this bloke's apparent belief that iTunes is the only source for digital music downloads; that he appears unaware that non iPod centric online music stores exist? Ironic indeed.

Pardon me while I download Brian Wilson's newest album Smile from Wal-Mart's music store and load it onto my Dell DJ20.

Microsoft Goes SpyWare Hunting (free beta)

Feeling the heat, Microsoft made available today Free AntiSpyware (caution beta). Can a Microsoft branded anti-virus solution be far behind?

It is about time Microsoft assumed responsibility for the vulnerabilities in the Windows and IE software that empower spyware and viri. But, is it too late? Has the accumulated aggravation reached such a crescendo that those of us migrating to alternate platforms (e.g., Firefox) will never migrate back? OTOH, after swearing off Windows Media player when it was in version 1 or 2, I'm now a reconvert. The tipping point? When MusicMatch--my previous jukebox steady--delivered a very buggy version 9 which crashed incessantly.

Women Will be Women and Men will be Neanderthals

A reminder that gender stereotypes run deep -- Diets - a guy and girl thing?:
When men watch their weight, they may do it differently than women.
But the recent low-carb revolution has changed the diet landscape, argues Amy Bentley, an associate professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. Bentley says high-protein mania has made dieting politically correct for men. A guy feels manly if he can go out in public and carve up a hunk of red meat at dinner.
Yep, the men as Neanderthals stereotype lives on. Sigh.

US Consumer On-Line Spending for Christmas: $23.2 Billion

Online Spending Christmas 2005:
US online consumers blew $23.2bn in the run-up to Christmas - a rise of 25 per cent from a year ago. Most of the cash went on clothing, toys, video games and consumer electronics, while items like jewellery, flowers and computer gear made big gains.


Photo Convergence: Kodak Integrates WiFi into Digital P&S Cameras and Printers

Imagine a digital camera with unlimited picture capacity. It's here! Kodak has introduced a WiFi enabled digital p&s camera: "The new Kodak Easyshare-One camera allows users to e-mail pictures directly from the camera via Wi-Fi ((802.11b Wireless LAN). In addition to this, users can also view online albums directly on the 3' touch screen display. The images can be stored on the Kodak Easyshare Gallery service, the new brand for Kodak's Ofoto service. An automatic software update service will also be available so users can update their cameras on-line."

With reveneus from film, processing, and prints declining rapidly, Kodak is striving boost the number of prints folks make from their digital snaps. Integrating WiFi is an intriguing approach to narrowing the chasm between pressing the shutter and hard-copy prints.

Another report here.

Granted, Canon introduced WiFi capabilities for the EOS 1Ds Mark II Digital SLR body a year ago, but to have WiFi embedded in a p&s is startling.

UPDATE: DP Review has more.