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Other posts by Garson O'Toole

‘Kill’ the lawyers before they kill journalism?
May 17, 2009 | 1:05 am

image Two powerful media lawyers are proposing extreme measures to “save journalism.” Apparently Google must be stopped from indexing the web unless a vast armada of lawyers is deployed to vet ever jot and tittle whilst billing by the hour. Also for safety reasons “hot news” must be allowed to cool before the unwashed masses may touch it. That is my biased interpretation of this opinion piece: Laws That Could Save Journalism. Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine has a response titled First, stop the lawyers. This title is a gentler version of a famously bloodthirsty Shakespearian quote. Shakespeare's exact line ''The first thing we...

Google, Lessig challenge WSJ story
December 15, 2008 | 8:35 am

image Responses to a Wall Street Journal article are now appearing from Google and Larry Lessig---both have substantial criticisms of the article. An earlier TeleBlog item discussed the WSJ piece in terms of the possible e-book ramifications if the article were right. It isn't, according to Richard Whitt, the Washington Telecom and Media Counsel for Google (photo). "Net neutrality and the benefits of caching," reads his post in the Google Public Policy Blog, which offers  "Google's Views on government, policy and politics." And the GigaOm blog is running a story headlined "Google NOT Turning Its Back on Network...

How Google now extracts text from images in PDFs
November 1, 2008 | 1:24 am

image The official Google blog contains an announcement of a new strategy for building a more comprehensive index of the text on the web. A substantive fraction of Web documents are embodied in PDF (Portable Document Format) files that consist of images in series. These files do not contain text directly. Instead, they contain pictures of text, and any search engine that wants to include these documents in its search results must first perform additional processing to extract the text. Many of the PDF files that use images for each page were not "born digital." Often a paper book,...

Color e-paper debuts. Is it really e-paper?
October 30, 2008 | 12:13 pm

Color e-paper will debut in a display from Qualcomm reports Technology Review in their November issue. The publication uses a curious definition for "e-paper". They say it means the display "has no backlighting and thus can be read in direct sunlight." The display consists of "two layers of a reflective material". "Some wavelengths of light bounce off the first layer; some pass through and bounce off the second. Interference between the two beams creates the color, and electrostatic forces control the distance between the layers." So this technology appears to differ from the methods pioneered by E Ink based on...

‘Social DRM’ needs another name: ‘Watermark’
October 26, 2008 | 12:06 pm

Bill McCoy, the General Manager of ePublishing at Adobe, wrote an influential blog posting that catapulted the term "social DRM" into wide use. He said "For eBooks, I really like the 'social DRM' approach of The Pragmatic Programmers, who 'stamp' PDF eBooks with a 'For the Exclusive Use of ...' and the name of the purchaser." Traditional Digital Rights Management (DRM) requires implementing technological obstacles that prevent the purchaser of a digital object from copying, displaying, and accessing the object except in limited ways. These obstacles can cause endless aggravation to the consumer. For example a Kindle format e-book cannot...

Oprah’s new favorite gadget: The Kindle
October 24, 2008 | 12:13 am

A Financial Times (FT) journalist believes that Oprah is likely to endorse the Kindle on her show on Friday. The front page of the Amazon store displays a teaser video featuring the talk show star; however, it is modified so that the gadget Oprah holds in her hand is hidden behind a superimposed light burst. The video ends with the injunction, "Watch the Oprah show, then order yours at Amazon.com." FT says: Kindle sales appear likely to get a significant boost on Friday, with talk-show megastar Oprah Winfrey apparently about to endorse Amazon's digital book reader. Amazon is featuring a trailer of...

XO Laptops in New York City Schools
October 14, 2008 | 9:48 am

[Editors note:  any mistakes in this post are the editor's, not the contributor's.  PB] Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of One Laptop per Child (OLPC), originally wished to provide inexpensive laptops to poor children in developing countries. That seminal vision is now being realized in places like the rural community of Gaire in Papua New Guinea where the deployment of laptops is attested to by the canonical images of eager children gazing upon their new devices. Yet from the beginning some observers wanted low-priced individually-allocated laptops distributed in developed countries too. One commentator said "To have the United States be the only country...

OLPC innovator wants to market a screen “just for reading” within two years
October 8, 2008 | 11:44 pm

Mary Lou Jepsen is the designer of the remarkable display screen of the OLPC (One laptop per child). I have walked with an OLPC from the interior of a house into a sunny yard, and the experience is remarkable. The LCD (liquid-crystal display) image of the laptop is transformed from a full-color transmissive display while indoors into a black-and-white reflective display while outdoors in sunlight. In a new short interview appearing in Technology Review the innovator Jepsen is asked about the San Francisco startup company she co-founded earlier this year called Pixel Qi (pronounced "Pixel Chee"). Jepsen says that displays...

The Silly Putty factor: What if an award-winning author changes the original to do a ‘preferred edition’?
March 20, 2008 | 8:25 pm

imageModerator's note: Garson's essay is timely, given that Publishers Weekly is zapping online archives of E-Book Report and two other blogs. E-text is like Silly Putty---endlessly malleable. You can even go beyond that and delete it.  - D.R. While listening to an audiobook of a well-known multi-award winning novel I was surprised to find that the story seemed different from the story that I read many years ago. Major events in the book that critically defined the mental state of the main character had somehow been significantly altered. I wondered how my memory of the plot and settings could be...

Compulsory e-books—also known as ‘user manuals’
March 13, 2008 | 1:42 am

image "When will publishers and consumers accept e-books on a wide scale?" is a question that many readers of this blog have probably entertained. Some powerful companies have already unabashedly embraced e-books. Perhaps you think I am referring to Amazon or Sony? But the relationships Jeff Bezos and Howard Stringer have with e-books are mere dalliances compared to the liaisons of some other e-book swains. I am referring to companies that love e-books so passionately that they have made them mandatory. If you have purchased a gadget in recent years such as an automobile navigator, or a cell phone then...

Would you pay $250 for book annotations? Why the IDPF needs a standard for shared annotations
December 19, 2007 | 10:22 am

annotationModerator's note: How timely. Bryan Berry with the One Laptop Per Child K-12 project in Nepal, whom I met an an OLPC meeting last night, confirmed to me that shared annotations would be most welcome over there. Annotations are not just for high-level academia. - D.R. Lexicon Urthus by Michael Andre-Driussi is an out-of-print, expensive, and difficult to obtain book. Powell's Books, the famous book emporium, will sell it to you, but be prepared to pay $250. Amazon's prices range from $119 to $284 for a collectible editon. What does this book contain that would entice buyers to...

Google Book Search: A powerful tool for investigating phrase origins
December 18, 2007 | 10:56 am

Google Book SearchGoogle recently announced that Columbia University has become the 28th library to join with Google Book Search "to digitize works from its collections, and make them searchable and discoverable online." For many years TeleRead has been in the vanguard in advocating the creation of huge national digital libraries, ideally well-linked with each other and as comprehensive as possible. No, Google Book Search isn't TeleRead, but it does offer an enticing preview of the possibilities. Many months ago I used Google Book Search to investigate the origins of a supposed "ancient Chinese curse." I will update the results of this exploration...