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FCC reallocates, reduces funding for schools and libraries internet access
July 16, 2014 | 10:24 am

fcc_thumb.gifThe U.S. Federal Communications Commission has just passed a new proposal for reallocation of resources in its program for support for internet and telecoms access for schools and libraries. However, the proposal has attracted strong and partisan criticism from both Republican and Democrat quarters, as well as independent institutions, and saw its target funding cut from $5 billion to $2 billion for the period 2016 to 2018. According to the FCC's own introduction, "the schools and libraries universal service support program, commonly known as the E-rate program, helps schools and libraries to obtain affordable telecommunications services, broadband Internet access and internal...

If the Internet isn’t responsible for the decline in newspapers…what is?
June 12, 2014 | 3:27 am

Here’s an article from Science Daily that posits that all the claims that the Internet (or, more specifically, Internet advertising) is responsible for newspapers’ downfall are false…but then it doesn’t propose any alternative reasons to replace it. The article cites a research paper by University of Chicago Booth School of Business Professor Matthew Gentzkow, published in the American Economic Review. Gentzkow looks at the differences in rates and views between on-line and newspaper ads. The perception that the Internet is responsible for newspapers’ downfall, Gentzkow posits, is based on the idea that on-line ad revenues are lower than print...

European newspaper publishers argue web browsing is copyright infringement
June 5, 2014 | 3:46 pm

One of the points often made by supporters of the Google Books fair use ruling is that if copying material to build a search index is not legal, then so is the entire underpinning of the web, which relies on being able to make digital copies and index them. Lest you believe nobody would try to make that claim, Ars Technica reports on a European Union Court of Justice ruling which saw an organization of newspapers try to claim that browsing the web amounted to copyright infringement due to the digital copies of material made on people’s computers while...

‘Slenderman’ Internet fiction blamed in pre-teen stabbing; creepypasta sites issue statements
June 4, 2014 | 4:58 pm

slendermanYou know, I really want to believe the best of human nature, but then I run across something like this. There’s a genre of Internet writing called “creepypasta.” It’s a subcategory of, and its name derives from, “copypasta,” which simply means a block of text that’s short and interesting enough that it gets copied and pasted over and over again, thousands of times through the Internet. As you might guess from the name, “creepypasta” is short but interesting horror stories. One particular creepypasta that turned into a meme is the “Slenderman,” an Internet-made horror story about a supernaturally...

John Oliver: Let’s call ‘net neutrality’ what it really is
June 3, 2014 | 7:15 am

Origin 632014 52418 AM.bmpDaily Show alum John Oliver has turned his keen wit toward net neutrality. In a scathing 13-minute segment of Last Week Tonight, Oliver astutely points out that the cable companies are winning the net neutrality fight by making it so boring that it slips right under the average person’s radar. Hence, instead of “net neutrality,” the term the activists should really be using is “preventing cable company f**kery.” As The Daily Kos notes: Oliver on the Federal Communications Commissions Chairman Tom Wheeler's two-tiered internet: "If we let cable companies offer two speeds of service, they...

Aretha Franklin sues satire site over viral fake news story
April 17, 2014 | 4:09 am

aretha-21If you spend much time on social media, you’ve seen those stories show up in your friend feed—a satirical piece that someone assumed was true. Sometimes it’s easy to catch, if it comes from a known satire site like The Onion or Duffelblog (though Duffelblog may not be as familiar to people who don’t have a lot of ex-military social media friends). But if it’s an unfamiliar site, the stories can sometimes seem believable enough that you believe them yourself for a bit. (It’s especially common around April Fools Day, but thanks to sites like this, it’s now...

Tinder Foundation report details minute costs, massive benefits of bridging Britain’s digital divide
March 20, 2014 | 10:32 am

tinder foundationThe UK's Tinder Foundation, "a not-for-profit social enterprise that makes good things happen with digital technology, established in December 2011," recently released a report, "A Leading Digital Nation by 2020: Calculating the cost of delivering online skills for all," that looked at "the investment needed to get everyone in the UK using the internet regularly with Basic Online Skills." And it turns out that the outlay required to upskill the UK's "11 million people still left without the basics needed to use the web in the 21st century" is comparatively minimal: £875 million ($1.45 billion) to be exact. And, as the...

Konrath, Rice and the anonymous reviewer
March 14, 2014 | 4:38 pm

Troll mode 'on' pink The inimitable Joe Konrath has weighed in on the petition the also inimitable Anne Rice has engaged in, asking Amazon to end the practice of permitting anonymous reviews. Rice aims to stop on-line bullying. Konrath rightfully points out that there are innocent, non-bullying reasons one might want to remain anonymous, such as writing a review of adult content without your child seeing it, or writing a review on a political topic without making yourself a target and so on. These are all arguments I have seen before, and they are arguments I agree with. My 'real name' has a very identifiable...

The Debate Over Paying for News
September 30, 2013 | 3:11 pm

Matthew Ingram has a great write-up on the question of paying for news. Will people do it? Do paywalls actually generate revenue for traditional newspapers? The sobering answer is, not really---unless you are the New York Times. From the article: "Take Gannett, for example. The newspaper chain is the largest newspaper publisher in the U.S. as measured by circulation, with more than 81 daily papers, and it has been betting heavily on paywalls to drive additional revenue at its various properties. So after two years or so of trying to push its paywall strategy, how many of Gannett’s newspaper readers have been convinced...

Internet Basics 101: Back Up Your Stuff, Back Up Your Stuff, Back Up Your Stuff!
September 26, 2013 | 3:01 pm

From my friends at GigaOM comes this write-up about the perils of relying on the 'Cloud' for keeping your stuff: author Geoffrey Goetz writes about some music he had which disappeared from his Apple iCloud account when Apple stopped carrying the songs in question. It seems their cloud matching program only works for items they presently list in their catalogue, or that you've uploaded yourself. If Goetz had downloaded his purchases and then re-uploaded them manually, he could have kept them. I feel for Goetz and his difficulties, but really this should be Internet 101 at this point. Thou shalt back...

Op-Ed: Too Much Tech To Keep Up
September 1, 2013 | 1:42 pm

techI had an amusing phone chat with a client earlier this week. He called to tell me he was losing his YouTube virginity. (Really? Doesn’t he know that sort of thing tends to go viral?) Ahem. Anyway, the video in question wouldn’t upload from his phone, and he couldn’t figure out how to get it on his computer to upload from there. I walked him through hooking his phone to his computer via USB cable, and when I finished my explanation, he said, “Dang! That was so simple. Please don’t tell anyone I had to call you.” Why? Because he used to...

Eyeball-licking trend in Japan debunked by sharp-eyed reporter
August 31, 2013 | 9:38 pm

JapanWhen the Guardian posted a "news article" earlier this year headlined "Eyeball-licking: the fetish that is making Japanese teenagers sick," all hell broke loose. That's because the "story" was a hoax, and the Guardian, along with a number of news-gathering outlets, did not do the proper fact-checking that such stories warrant. But thanks to the Tokyo-based American journalist Mark Schreiber—he's been writing, reporting and translating in Japan since 1965—the fake story has been debunked, and the Guardian has since apologized and taken the article down. Case closed? Not really, because this kind of thing happens a lot in the digital age, where fact-checkers...