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December 20 2011

O'Reilly Radar Script & Links: December 20, 2011

Below you'll find the script and associated links from the December 20, 2011 edition of O'Reilly Radar. An archive of past shows is available through O'Reilly Media's YouTube channel. You can find scripts and links for other episodes here.

In this episode of O’Reilly Radar, find out why Joe Wikert thinks Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library is a bad deal for publishers.

We’ll also take a look at top stories published recently across O’Reilly’s platforms.

And LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman discusses technology’s role in job creation.

Now we’ll get to all that in just a moment, but up first we’re going to take a look at some of the news that’s on our radar.

Radar news & analysis

Many of us rely on mapping services like Google Maps to get from point A to point B. But the utility of these tools abruptly cuts off when we reach the front doors of our destinations.

Indoor navigation has, until recently, been defined by posted signs and the kindness of strangers.

But what if you could pull out your mobile device and easily navigate unfamiliar indoor locations?

Meridian, Nokia and other companies have been working to make indoor navigation useful. Now, Google is jumping into the indoor fray as well.

A new release of Google Maps for Android includes floor plans for a number of airports, malls and retailers in the U.S. and Japan.

Google’s indoor maps can guide you from spot to spot, and they even know which floor you're on.

For now, Google's indoor navigation is available in a limited roll-out. The feature is only compatible with Android devices and the list of participating outlets is pretty slim.

Nonetheless, this is one of those “we’ve always needed this” sorts of tools. So watch for indoor nav from the likes of Google and others to quickly transition from novelty to an established -- and expected -- part of future mapping apps.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the evolution of these geo tools and nav applications through continuing coverage on O’Reilly Radar, and at O’Reilly’s upcoming Where Conference.

The Radar interview: Joe Wikert

Coming up next I find out why O’Reilly’s Joe Wikert thinks Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library is a bad deal for publishers. Joe also weighs in on Amazon Prime, and he reveals some of the trends he’s spotting as he preps for February’s Tools of Change for Publishing conference.

Radar posts of note

Here’s a look at some of the top stories recently published across O’Reilly’s platforms.

Clay Johnson, author of the forthcoming book “The Information Diet,” has a problem with the term “information overload.” Johnson believes that information consumption is what really needs to be addressed. Read the post.

In a short and informative case study, discover how Omnivore Books, a small cookbook store in San Francisco, uses Twitter to solidify relationships with customers and break through the publisher blockade. The store has distilled its Twitter process into a dead simple rule: be ⅓ personal and ⅔ professional. Read the post.

Finally, what happens when everyone has access to your Starbucks card? Author Jonathan Stark found out this past summer when he conducted a unique social experiment. He shares what he learned in this interview. Read the post.

You can find links to these posts and other resources mentioned during this episode at

Radar video spotlight

In this episode’s Video Spotlight, we’re featuring Alex Howard’s recent interview with LinedIn founder Reid Hoffman.

Hoffman explains how technology, often perceived as a threat to jobs, can actually help create them.

Just a reminder that you can always catch episodes of O’Reilly Radar at And links mentioned in each episode are posted at

That’s all we have for this episode. Thanks for joining us and we’ll see you again soon.

November 18 2011

Publishing News: Tech patent wars spill into the book world

Here are a few stories that caught my eye this week in the publishing space.

Patent wars heat up as B&N's position against Microsoft goes public

Barnes & Noble's presentation and accompanying exhibits outlining its position against Microsoft's patent licensing fees for Android devices were made public this week (see the lawsuit here and some background here). Groklaw summed up the situation succinctly, saying, "In effect, Barnes & Noble says Microsoft is doing what's it's done in the past against Netscape and Java, only now the target is Android and the weapon of choice is patents." A later Groklaw post excerpted one of the letters Barnes & Noble gave to the Justice Department:

Simply put, Microsoft is attempting to monopolize the mobile operating systems market and suppress competition by Android and other open source operating systems by, inter alia, demanding oppressive licensing terms directed to the entirety of Android, asserting this dominant position over Android on the basis of patents covering only trivial design choices and entering into a horizontal offensive patent agreement with Nokia ...

Instead of focusing on innovation and the development of new products for consumers, Microsoft has decided to invest its efforts into driving open source developers from the mobile operating systems market. Through the use of offensive licensing agreements and the demand for unreasonable licensing fees, Microsoft is hindering creativity in the mobile operating systems market ... Through the use of oppressive licensing terms that amount to a veto power over a wide variety of innovative features in Android devices of all kinds, as well as its prohibitively expensive licensing fees, Microsoft is attempting to push open source software developers out of the market altogether.

The summary slide from the presentation highlights B&N's main assertions of Microsoft's anti-competitive offenses:

Slide from Barnes & Noble presentation for the Justice Department

Geekwire posted the entire presentation, and Groklaw has a nice presentation and analysis of the other five exhibits Barnes & Noble presented with the slides.

Anti-SOPA equals pro-pirate?

Congress was busy this week with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) hearing, in which Google boldly stood against, well, pretty much everyone else at the hearing. A post at Ars Technica reported that "Google's lawyer was the only one of the six to object to the bill in a meaningful way," and that "[t]his wasn't a hearing designed to elicit complex thoughts about complex issues of free speech, censorship, and online piracy ... the hearing was designed to shove the legislation forward and to brand companies who object as siding with 'the pirates'."

The controversial act (nicely explained here) looks to establish legislation to punish companies and websites that allow pirated content. Opponents of the act, including Google, Yahoo and Facebook, say it goes too far and would give the government too much power (Ars Technica outlines the major issues here). The Washington Post explains:

SOPA protects artists' intellectual property, enabling them to pursue a profit — which, in the case of record labels and movie companies, cuts off consumers' paths to free downloads and pushes them toward purchasing the work. But the types of content that would be prohibited under SOPA would also include amateur remix works, like YouTube covers of songs or mash-ups of movies. These works would be considered copyright violations, and not only could the creator of the work be legally vulnerable, but also could the host of the content.

The Washington Post also quoted Michael O'Leary, who represents the Motion Picture Association of America (which supports the Act), as saying, "Fundamentally, this is about jobs." In a tongue-in-cheek post, Edward J. Black at HuffPo agreed the Act will create jobs ... for lawyers, judicial employees, cyber security engineers, government, Internet monitors/censors, and pornographers. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) — who, as Ars Technica points out, "helped author the key Internet safe harbors that keep sites like Google, Yahoo, and eBay from being sued into oblivion for the actions of others" had a succinct, level-headed comment on the situation:

We took the opportunity to pass a law that said that neutral parties on the net are not liable for the actions of bad actors. So now, as we again debate web censorship, let's ask ourselves: what next generation of innovations won't be realized if we backtrack on that principal now? Yes, the Internet needs reasonable laws and bad actors need to be pursued, but the freedoms of billions of individual Internet users should not be sacrificed in the interest of easing that pursuit.

Authors now cry foul on Amazon's Kindle Owner's Lending Library

The Kindle Owner's Lending Library took a hit this week from the Authors Guild. When Amazon launched its new lending service a couple weeks ago, publishers — including O'Reilly's GM Joe Wikert — were the first to voice concerns. Now, the Authors Guild is arguing the program is a breach of contract. A post on the Guild's site asks, "Are any of the books in Amazon's new e-book subscription/lending program properly there?" The post purports that the Big Six refused to participate in Amazon's program, but "[n]o matter. Amazon simply disregarded these publishers' wishes, and enrolled many of their titles in the program anyway."


The Authors Guild post also points out that the smaller publishing houses that agreed to participate in the Lending Library program might not have the right to:

While these publishers generally have the right to license e-book uses for many of their authors' titles (just as most trade publishers do), our reading of the standard terms of these contracts is that they do not have the right to do so without the prior approval of the books' authors.

The Guild concludes with instructions on how authors can get their books removed from the program and says:

Under most (perhaps all) publishing contracts, a license to Amazon's Lending Library is outside the bounds of the publisher's licensing authority. This isn't a minor matter — in order to protect the author's interests, all publishers should be asking permission before entering into such a bulk licensing agreement, and most would need to seek a contract amendment to do so.

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb. 13-15, 2012 in New York City, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012


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