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March 16 2012

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Yochai Benkler on Truthiness and the Networked Public Sphere

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Hochgeladen von BerkmanCenter am 16.03.2012

Yochai Benkler tells four stories of how misinformation spreads, and is corrected (sometimes), online: the story of how the agenda around Wikileaks was set; the story of a national broadband strategy influenced by industry; the story of Obama's $200 million/day trip to India; and the story of a bipartisan internet piracy bill that took a left turn when the public got wind.

More information here:

February 17 2012

Publishing News: Let's remember why we got into this business

TOC 2012In this special edition of the Publishing Week in Review, I'm taking a look at highlights from the 2012 Tools of Change for Publishing Conference held in New York City earlier this week.

Publishing isn't about print vs digital or incompatible ereading formats — it's about storytelling

As far as inspiration goes, it doesn't get much better than LeVar Burton's TOC keynote address. Burton first talked about how he came to literature and publishing. Going back to his childhood, he reminisced that you were either reading a book or getting hit by one — his mother didn't care how, but "in her house, you were going to have an encounter with the written word."

His experiences with storytelling became more profound when he landed a major role on the miniseries "Roots," which taught him about the transformative nature of literature when combined with a visual medium. That experience was so profound for Burton that he left his priesthood studies, deciding storytelling was more effective at reaching people. This decision also later led to 25 years of "Reading Rainbow," the series that used TV to get kids interested in books.

Burton said that "stories are bridges to real-world experiences" and that he's a "firm believer between that which we imagine and that which we create."

"The stories that we tell each other and have told each other throughout the history of the development of civilization are integrally important, are inextricably linked, to how we continue to invent the world in which we live."

Burton said reading and storytelling go far beyond discussions of print versus digital or which digital format should prevail:

"We are going to be absolutely fine, so long as we do not fail ourselves in the one fundamental aspect of who it is we are and what we bring to the table. Remember, human beings are manifesting machines. We are just like that child watching the episodes of 'Star Trek,' seeing those images, using our imaginations, coming up with a piece of technology that actually serves humanity going forward.

"Our imaginations always have been, always will be, our continuing link into ourselves in order to make contact with ourselves so that then we might share the beauty of ourselves through culture with the rest of the world ... I encourage you to remember the nature of what it is you signed on for. You've come here to make a difference. You've come here to use your imaginations in the service of storytelling. Doing the same things we have done for years with a new opportunity, with new tools, a few more bells and whistles — it's still, and always will be, about storytelling."

Burton's full keynote is available in the following video:

The Publishing Panic of 2015 is coming. Can we stop it?

Joe Karaganis, vice president of The American Assembly at Columbia University, addressed issues of piracy and enforcement in a keynote address. Using his work with the Media Piracy in Emerging Economies project as a backdrop, Karaganis said the opposition to SOPA/PIPA and ACTA has moved the conversation beyond online piracy to the convergence of citizenship, democratic accountability and different rights.

The main ingredients of piracy, Karaganis said, are "high prices, low incomes and cheap digital technologies" and that "enforcement has been irrelevant — it's what happens around the edges of these underlying economic drivers." He argued that the current system doesn't scale well and that prosecution rarely occurs:

"When you look at how enforcement works in middle- and low-income countries, you find a pretty simple, consistent pattern: You find raid-based enforcement, characterized by the ramping up of police actions and little to no follow through. There's little likelihood that these cases will make it to trial, and in fact, little expectation that they will."

There's a simple explanation for the discrepancy: "It's cheaper to buy cops than lawyers — raids are cheap, but due process is expensive and slow." He argued that the new enforcement measures (SOPA/PIPA/ACTA) realize this futility and so they instead focus on abridging due process: "The only way to scale up enforcement is to take it out of the courts, to make it an administrative function, and whenever possible, and automated one."

Karaganis said his research showed there's a lot of casual infringement, but very little large-scale or hard-core infringement — 1-3% are hard-core pirates, according to his data.

Bringing the discussion around to publishing, specifically the education market, Karaganis asked, "What happens when the access problem is solved without any corresponding solution to the crisis of the library or the commercial markets — there will be access; the question is, who will make it convenient and affordable?" Using open-education research as an example, he said the problem is that they're not competing with the commercial market, they're competing with the pirate market:

"They're competing with a 'copy culture' that hasn't waited for approved institutional solutions to emerge. As digital readers get very, very cheap in the next few years, that copy culture is going to grow exponentially and produce a huge democratization in educational opportunity and access to knowledge. That will be a hugely disruptive challenge to all parties involved and produce its own cause for enforcement and control."

Karaganis referred to this impending phenomenon as "The Publishing Panic of 2015," and to address it we'll need more than just opposition to legislation like SOPA and PIPA:

"It's not enough to simply say SOPA is bad or enforcement doesn't work, even among people who agree. We need to develop a positive set of proposals for what we want, collectively, for what the public interest is in and around intellectual property. 'What's the positive agenda?' is a very fair question."

More background on Karaganis' research can be found at The American Assembly website. The "Media Piracy in Emerging Economies" report can be downloaded here.

Karaganis' full keynote can be viewed in the following video:

Bookstores: It's about monetizing relationships and experiences, not about selling books

The "Kepler's 2020: Building the Community Bookstore of the 21st Century" session created quite a buzz at the show. For a bit of background, The Kepler's 2020 Project release described it:

"The project aims to create an innovative hybrid business model that includes a for-profit, community-owned-and-operated bookstore, and a nonprofit organization that will feature on-stage author interviews, lectures by leading intellectuals, educational workshops and other literary and cultural events."

Thad McIlroy, owner of, opened the conference session with thoughts on reinventing "the notion of the bookstore in the midst of this crazy time of change." McIlroy said that the Kepler's 2020 project, being led by literary entrepreneur Praveen Madan, is blazing a trail.

Madan's subsequent presentation focused on debunking industry myths. Specifically, printed books are not going to survive and we don't need bookstores in the age of instantly downloadable ebooks.

Madan shared a survey finding that revealed overwhelming support (95%) for using bookstores as "a place for browsing and discovering new ideas" and (72%) as "a place to buy books." He pointed out that more than half of the responders had ereading devices.

Madan also offered two trends that explain why bookstores need to be reinvented and why they still have a future:

  1. Technology is having an isolating impact — "People are more and more disconnected from each other." We are working from home, shopping from home, and community gathering places (churches, schools, community centers) aren't as effective. So, what places are going to bring people together? "We think that can be bookstores," Madan said. "Bookstores need to be re-imagined as those places."
  2. Browsing — We still need showrooms for books. "The reality is that 18 years after Amazon started tweaking its algorithms for recommending books, a well-curated, physical, in-store experience is still better at helping readers discover books," Madan said.

"What we really need is for someone in the technology world to step up and say, "I think there is an opportunity here," he said. Madan also insisted it needs to be open: "We'll pay for the services and we'll pay for the development, but the platform needs to be open source."

The buzz was heightened at the end of the Q&A session when Madan said he was looking to partner with Amazon to sell ebooks through his store:

"[Ebooks are] something we want to provide; we want to be part of the overall experience. But the solution and the technology has to come from somebody else. I'm very serious about looking at [partnering with] Amazon and just giving away Kindles and telling people it's okay — you have our permission. Walk into the bookstore, browse the books and download the books on your Kindle."

When people ask Madan how he'll make money, he answers that that isn't the point — he doesn't need to make money on every downloaded book; he'll make money on the relationships in other ways.

You can learn more about The Kepler's 2020 Project in the following short video:

If you couldn't make it to TOC, or you missed a session you wanted to see, sign up for the TOC 2012 Complete Video Compilation and check out our archive of free keynotes and interviews.


February 10 2012

Four short links: 10 February 2012

  1. Monki Gras 2012 (Stephen Walli) -- nice roundup of highlights of the Redmonk conference in London. Sample talk: Why Most UX is Shite.
  2. Frozen -- flow-based programming, intent is to build the toolbox of small pieces loosely joined by ZeroMQ for big data programming.
  3. Arctext.js -- jQuery plugin for curving text on web pages. (via Javascript Weekly)
  4. Hi, My Name is Diane Feinstein (BuyTheVote) -- presents the SOPA position and the entertainment industry's campaign contributions together with a little narrative. Clever and powerful. (via BoingBoing)

February 09 2012

Knapp 2 Millionen Nutzer unterzeichnen Petition gegen ACTA

Die Proteste gegen das Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) mobilisieren aktuell insbesondere auch in Europa soviele Menschen wie noch nie, wenn es um urheberrechtliche Gesetzesverschärfungen und geplante Überwachungsmaßnahmen des Internets geht. Nach den Protesten gegen die Gesetzesverschärfungen SOPA und PIPA in den USA erlebt das politische Europa nun ebenfalls das erste Mal eine hoch frequentierte Gegenbewegung.

Auf der Plattform haben bereits knapp zwei Millionen Menschen eine Petition gegen das ACTA-Abkommen unterzeichnet. In der Petition an die Abgeordneten des EU-Parlamentes heißt es: “Als besorgte Bürger der Welt rufen wir Sie dazu auf, für ein freies und offenes Internet einzustehen und die Ratifizierung des Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) abzulehnen. Das Internet ist ein wichtiges Mittel für den weltweiten Gedankenaustausch und die Förderung von Demokratie. Zeigen Sie echtes globales Führungsverhalten und schützen Sie unsere Rechte.” Im Sekundentakt erhöht sich aktuell die Zahl der Unterzeichner. hat einen kleinen Einstieg in ACTA sowie eine Übersicht über die europaweiten Demonstrationen gegen ACTA am kommenden Samstag veröffentlicht.

February 06 2012

Les plans répressifs de la Commission européenne au-delà de l'ACTA

Paris, le 6 février 2012 – La Commission européenne défend sans relâche ACTA, l'accord commercial anti-contrefaçon, qui provoque une vague d'opposition en Europe et au-delà. En présentant ACTA comme un accord sans danger, la Commission ouvre la voie à une politique de protection du droit d'auteur ultra-répressive, comme le révèlent des documents tout juste publiés. Les citoyens européens et leurs représentants élus doivent dénoncer cette dangereuse dérive du processus politique, vouée à saper les libertés en ligne et la structure même d'Internet, et exiger en lieu et place une réforme approfondie du droit d'auteur.

La semaine dernière, Neelie Kroes (Commissaire européenne en charge de l'Agenda numérique) et Viviane Reding (Commissaire européenne en charge de la Justice, de la Citoyenneté et des Droits fondamentaux), ont toutes deux apporté leur soutien à ACTA, épaulant Karel De Gucht, Commissaire européen chargé du Commerce international, dans sa promotion auprès du Parlement européen de cet accord illégitime. Le commissaire De Gucht a passé beaucoup de temps en lobbying au Parlement européen la semaine dernière, rencontrant divers groupes politiques pour les convaincre que l'opposition à ACTA est fondée sur de la désinformation, et que le Parlement doit accepter cet accord.

Voir Neelie Kroes et Viviane Reding rester ainsi indifférentes aux nombreuses critiques exprimées contre ACTA est très préoccupant. Comme le souligne La Quadrature dans un document1 participatif, les arguments avancés par les Commissaires européens en faveur de l'ACTA ne résistent pas à l'analyse.

Plus dérangeant encore, sans même attendre la décision du Parlement européen d'accepter ou non ACTA, le Commissaire Michel Barnier, en charge du Marché intérieur, fait déjà pression en faveur de nouvelles mesures répressives en matière de droit d'auteur, similaires à celles prévues par les lois SOPA et PIPA aux États-Unis. Une feuille de route récemment publiée sur la révision de la directive IPRED2 confirme que la Commission souhaite se concentrer sur les infractions en ligne, utilisant ACTA pour mettre en place des mécanismes de censure privée dans le droit européen3.

Le document laisse entendre que le retrait extra-judiciaire et expéditif de contenu en ligne, l'embargo financier contre des sites prétendument en infraction et même des mesures de filtrage du trafic Internet4 sont à l'étude, sous couvert de coopération entre les acteurs d'Internet et les industriels du copyright5. De plus, il y a une volonté claire d'étendre le champ des sanctions par une définition de l'« échelle commerciale » qui inclurait toute activité pouvant être considérée comme entraînant une perte de revenus pour les majors du film et de la musique6.

« La Commission européenne essaie de contourner la démocratie pour imposer des mesures répressives qui seront rendues inévitables par l'ACTA. Alors que Michel Barnier travaille déjà à la mise en œuvre des dispositions répressives contenues dans ACTA à travers la révision d'IPRED, les Commissaires De Gucht, Kroes et Reding demandent au Parlement d'accepter ACTA comme s'il s'agissait d'un accord inoffensif. En vérité, la Commission tente d'imposer l'agenda des industriels pour faire appliquer un droit d'auteur, des brevets et un droit des marques par des sanctions pénales extrêmement sévères et des mesures extra-judiciaires. », déclare Jérémie Zimmermann, porte-parole de l'organisation citoyenne La Quadrature du Net.

« Ce qu'il faut, ce n'est pas une répression plus dure encore, mais un débat ouvert sur la manière dont réformer positivement un droit d'auteur qui est de plus en plus contraire aux droits fondamentaux et à l'innovation. S'il était ratifié, ACTA créerait des obstacles majeurs à toute réforme. Les citoyens européens doivent continuer à appeler leurs représentants élus à rejeter l'ACTA. C'est la seule manière de mettre fin à cette véritable fuite en avant répressive et développer un cadre positif pour les activités créatives dans l'environnement numérique et les nouvelles pratiques culturelles. » déclare Philippe Aigrain, co-fondateur de La Quadrature du Net.

Contactez les parlementaires européens, et assurez-vous qu'ils comprennent vraiment ce qu'est ACTA. Visitez notre page de campagne dédiée.
  • 1.
  • 2. Voir notre dossier sur IPRED :
  • 3. Selon ce document, « l'anonymat sur Internet, sa nature transfrontalière et ses services adaptés à l’utilisateur et au consommateur, accessibles partout dans le monde, ont créé un environnement en ligne où les auteurs d'infractions sont difficiles à identifier, les preuves numériques difficiles à conserver, les dommages dus aux ventes en lignes difficiles à évaluer et où, après avoir été découverts, les contrevenants “réapparaissent” rapidement sous un nom différent ». Voir :
  • 4. Comme l'article 27 de l'ACTA, IPRED prévoit déjà des mesures pour « prévenir les infractions futures ». Il semble que la Commission veut imposer des mesures ad hoc pour empêcher les infractions.
    Lors d'une audition du Parlement européen sur les marques déposées en janvier, Jean Bergevin, chef de l'unité pour l'application des Droits de Propriété Intellectuelle, a fait remarquer que le blocage par DNS était étudié comme dernier recours quand l'application du droit civil ne permettait pas d'empêcher l'infraction.
  • 5. La « coopération » est un terme inventé pour désigner des mesures extra-judiciaires. ACTA encourage une telle coopération pour s'attaquer au contenu en ligne prétendument en infraction (article 27.4). La feuille de route du document relatif à IPRED précise :
    «  Des mesures complémentaires sous la forme d'outils de "soft-law" conçus pour interrompre la chaîne de valeur des contrefacteurs et accroître la coopération entre détenteurs de droits de propriété intellectuelle et les intermédiaires (ie : fournisseurs de service internet, transporteurs et coursiers, fournisseurs de services de paiement etc.) ne peuvent être exclues » (traduction par nos soins, original : “Complementary measures in soft-law instruments designed at disrupting the business/value chain of counterfeiters and at increasing the cooperation between intellectual property rights holders and intermediaries (e.g. internet service providers, shippers and couriers, payment-service providers etc) could not be excluded”).
    Ceci reprend clairement les provisions de SOPA et PIPA. Dès notification par les industries du divertissement, les moteurs de recherche, fournisseurs de services financiers et régies publicitaires se verraient interdits de fournir des services ou de contracter avec les sites visés, sans décision judiciaire. Pour une analyse de ces dispositions dans les projets de loi américains, voir : (en anglais).

    Pour en savoir plus sur la récupération du mot « coopération » par les politiques d'application du droit d'auteur :

  • 6. Voir les contre-arguments aux déclarations de la Commission selon lesquelles ACTA ne concerne que la contrefaçon à grande échelle : (en anglais)

January 23 2012

Après SOPA et PIPA aux États-Unis, ACTA arrive au Parlement européen

Paris, 23 janvier 2012 – Après l'impressionnant mouvement d'opposition aux draconiens projets de loi anti-partage SOPA et PIPA, en discussion aux États-Unis, le Parlement européen entame ses travaux sur leur équivalent international : ACTA, l'accord commercial anti-contrefaçon. Les citoyens de toute l'Europe doivent lutter contre cet accord illégitime, voué à remettre en cause la liberté d'expression en ligne, ainsi que l'accès à la connaissance et l'innovation au niveau mondial.

Demain, la commission « développement » du Parlement européen (DEVE) tiendra son premier débat sur le projet de rapport pour avis1 relatif à ACTA, présenté par le rapporteur Jan Zahradil2, un conservateur euro-sceptique de la République Tchèque.

Ce désastreux projet de rapport pour avis est trompeur en ce qu'il tente de justifier des mesures répressives extrémistes pour protéger un régime dépassé du droit d'auteur, des brevets et du droit des marques3.

Plus inquiétant encore, la version de travail du rapport fait complètement l'impasse sur les très nombreuses critiques émises contre ACTA4, venant non seulement d'ONG défendant l'accès aux médicaments, comme OXFAM ou Health Action International, mais également des principaux partenaires commerciaux de l'UE.

Étrangement, le projet de rapport pour avis ne remet pas en question le bien-fondé d'ACTA, et n'émet aucune critique sur la manière dont il a été négocié. La commission DEVE trouve-t-elle normal que des fonctionnaires non-élus proches des lobbyistes de l'industrie négocient de mesures pénales sans véritable contrôle démocratique ? Ou que les pays émergents et en développement aient été totalement exclus du processus ?

Le projet de rapport pour avis DEVE doit être amendé pour refléter les problèmes majeurs soulevés par l'ACTA. Même l'étude commanditée par le Parlement européen lui-même reconnaît qu'ACTA ne peut être accepté en l'état5.

« Encouragé par les même lobbies extrémistes que PIPA et SOPA aux États-Unis, ACTA est une initiative globale visant à protéger des industries rentières qui dominent l'économie mondiale. Le projet de rapport pour avis présenté par M. Zahradil en commission DEVE néglige tous les problèmes cruciaux posés par ACTA : son absence de légitimité démocratique, la vision dépassée du commerce international qu'il promeut, son impact sur l'accès aux médicaments dans les pays en développement, mais aussi sur la liberté d'expression et l'innovation de par le monde. Les membres du Parlement européen, à commencer par la commission en charge du développement, doivent prendre pleinement en compte ces différents problèmes et rejeter ACTA une fois pour toutes. Les citoyens doivent agir pour s'assurer que le Parlement européen reçoit le message. », déclare Jérémie Zimmermann, porte-parole de La Quadrature du Net.

S'informer et agir contre ACTA

Pour savoir comment agir contre ACTA maintenant, rendez vous sur notre page de campagne dédiée.

Vous pouvez ajouter cette vidéo à votre site, faites un simple copier/coller du code HTML suivant :

<iframe src="" 
style="width: 640px; height: 500px; border: 0; overflow: hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0"></iframe>

Vous pouvez également partager cette vidéo sur YouTube :
et sur Dailymotion :

La procédure ACTA au Parlement européen

  • La commission Commerce International (INTA) du Parlement européen est la principale commission travaillant sur ACTA.
  • Les commissions Affaires Juridiques (DEVE), Libertés Publiques (LIBE) et Industrie (ITRE) seront les premières à voter sur leurs rapports pour avis.
  • Ces derniers seront envoyés à INTA pour influencer son rapport final, qui sera ensuite transmis à l'ensemble du Parlement européen pour lui recommander de voter pour ou contre la ratification d'ACTA.

Voir la fiche de procédure d'ACTA :

Wochenrückblick: Megaupload, SOPA, Grooveshark

Megaupload wird geschlossen und die Mitarbeiter verhaftet, das SOPA-Gesetz liegt vorerst auf Eis, der Streamingdienst Grooveshark schließt seinen deutschen Dienst.


January 20 2012

Top stories: January 16-20, 2012

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

SOPA and PIPA are bad industrial policy
Tim O'Reilly: SOPA and PIPA not only harm the Internet, they support existing content companies in their attempts to hold back innovative business models that will actually grow the market and deliver new value to consumers. (See also: Why O'Reilly went dark on 1/18/12 and The President's challenge.)

Big data market survey: Hadoop solutions
Edd Dumbill explores the Hadoop-based big data solutions available on the market, contrasts the approaches of EMC Greenplum, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle and provides an overview of Hadoop distributions.

Mobile interfaces: Mistakes to avoid and trends to watch
"Designing Mobile Interfaces" co-author Steven Hoober discusses common mobile interface mistakes, and he offers his thoughts on the latest mobile device trends — including why the addition of gestures and sensors isn't wholly positive.

From SOPA to speech: Seven tech trends to monitor
Mike Loukides weighs in on the tech trends — good and bad — that will exert considerable influence in 2012.

Early thoughts on iBooks Author and Apple's textbook move
James Turner considers Apple's new authoring platform and its restrictive policies. Will those restrictions limit the program's potential?

Strata 2012, Feb. 28-March 1 in Santa Clara, Calif., will offer three full days of hands-on data training and information-rich sessions. Strata brings together the people, tools, and technologies you need to make data work. Save 20% on Strata registration with the code RADAR20.

Four short links: 20 January 2012

  1. On the Problem of Money, Politics, and SOPA (John Battelle) -- My first step will be to read this new book from Larry Lessig, an intellectual warrior who many (including myself) lament as bailing on our core issue of IP law to tilt at the supposed windmill of political corruption. But I think, upon deeper reflection, that Larry is simply playing chess a few moves ahead of us all. It’s time to catch up, and move forward together. THIS.
  2. Google+ Scraper (GitHub) -- Instead of scraping the HTML code itself, this script fights its way through OZ_initData, a big, mean and ugly inline JavaScript array containing the profile information. (via Pete Warden)
  3. Student Study Techniques -- How to focus in the age of distraction. cf Clay Johnson's Information Diet.
  4. Code Racer -- interesting addition to the "teach me to program" world: a competitive game to drill your HTML/CSS recall. You race to add HTML and CSS in response to prompts like "add a level 1 heading with the words: Racing Car". Requires Facebook login. It's how kids learn to type these days, so it just might work for web design too. (In my day it was with a typewriter and a bib)

January 19 2012

From SOPA to speech: Seven tech trends to monitor

Here's what's coming for 2012, starting with the bad.


Although SOPA has had a setback in the House, it would be a bad mistake to assume that this story is at an end, or that it will end any time soon. And its evil twin, PIPA, still rumbles along in the Senate. You've all read the arguments about how SOPA and PIPA have the potential to harm the Internet-based economy, and how it makes it nearly impossible to protect the integrity of the DNS, virtually guaranteeing an explosion of malware. But I'm more disturbed by the big legislative theme of 2011: rather than rule-by-law and innocent until proven guilty, we have rule by corporation and guilty if a wealthy corporation says you are. Laws that sneak around legal due process are not a good thing in a democracy, particularly when there's already a very lengthy history of copyright abuse by actors ranging from outright trolls such as Righthaven to supposedly reputable movie studios and record labels.

SOPA and PIPA aren't dead. The most important thing we can do in 2012 is see that they become dead. I wish I could predict some useful intellectual property reform for the next year (or even the next decade), but right now that train is heading in the wrong direction. A few bloggers have opined that we'll get patent reform when the big players realize that intensifying patent wars are counterproductive. I wish I could believe that.

Now to happier thoughts:


I was talking to Brady Forrest a few weeks ago, and I asked "what do you think the most important new thing is?" He said immediately "speech interfaces, because of Siri." And my reaction was "D'oh. Should have thought of that myself." I'm not terribly impressed by Siri. I've been using Google's voice commands for a couple of years now, and I've yet to see an interesting use case for Siri that Google voice commands couldn't match. I don't particularly need my mobile devices to talk back to me. But Brady is absolutely right, that Siri, backed by Apple's fan base, has put speech interfaces on the agenda in a way that Android hasn't.

In the long run, I don't think the winning speech applications will be as ambitious as Siri. Having a conversation with your phone is ultimately dull and sterile. But Siri will cause developers to push the envelope of what's possible, and what's desirable, in a speech interface. Speech opens up new possibilities in user interface and user experience design; we're just at the beginning of figuring out how to use it. A key question is whether Apple will open up APIs to Siri, so iOS developers can play with it. But even if Siri remains closed, companies such as Twilio (and many others; a quick Google search showed a surprising number of companies building cloud-based voice platforms) stand to benefit as developer rush to build voice-enabled software.

Strata 2012 — The 2012 Strata Conference, being held Feb. 28-March 1 in Santa Clara, Calif., will offer three full days of hands-on data training and information-rich sessions. Strata brings together the people, tools, and technologies you need to make data work.

Save 20% on registration with the code RADAR20

Deployment as a service

People have been talking about "the cloud" for a few years now. No big deal, right? It's been a while since we've seen a startup that wasn't built on top of a cloud vendor (usually Amazon). But there's been a change in the past year. Heroku and VMWare's Cloud Foundry have made huge steps in taking the pain out of deploying and managing cloud services. Heroku isn't new, but it's greatly expanded its offerings from Ruby on Rails to include Node.js, Java, Python and more. Cloud Foundry is a new open source product that runs everywhere from laptops to commercial clouds, and supports a similar set of application frameworks.

How is this different, and where is it leading us? Deployment has always been the bête noire of web (and now mobile) development. It's easy to get something running on your laptop; a lot harder to get it running properly on your servers; and even harder to get it running in "the cloud," where everything is happening via remote control, as it were. If Heroku and Cloud Foundry succeed in making deployment of complex applications to the cloud as simple as deploying the application on your laptop, that will lead to a major change in the way cloud computing is used. Simplifying cloud deployment for complex real-world applications is obviously much more difficult in practice than in demo, but I hope they succeed. They're calling this "platform as a service" (PAAS), but I think it's a step farther. Deployment as a service?

Services, not apps

A while ago, I was talking to a mobile app developer who made an important comment. All the noise over whether you make more money selling apps for iOS or for Android was meaningless. Unless you have a mega-hit, you're talking about the difference between making $1,000 or $300, both of which are insignificant compared to the development effort. So I asked him what his plan was, and he said "we're selling a data service, not the app." The app is really just a proof of concept, something to help users get their heads around the data they're making available. What's really interesting, and what he's betting on, is that other people will build apps on top of their for-pay data service. That strikes me as a much more plausible strategy for building a profitable company than buying a ticket in the app lottery.

The social backbone

We've been saying for years that everything has to become social. But a good six or seven years into the social networking phenomenon, there's really not much that's social, particularly if you look at enterprise software.

There's a good reason for that: social networks aren't easy to build. It's not trivial for a company to make itself into the "next Facebook," particularly if it's really interested in selling clothing. Amazon, with its reviews and reviewer pages, may come closest, but you'd never mistake Amazon for a "social" site.

One of 2011's highlights was Google's long-anticipated entry into social networking with Google+. But most people missed the point. The point of Google+ isn't the social site that you see when you visit Nor is it the 400 million users it hopes to acquire by the end of 2012. I believe that Google is playing for bigger stakes. The Google+ page itself is only the proof of concept. Google's bigger strategy will be to get developers building social into their own apps, using the Google+ APIs.

Google+ is a general framework for "socialness," automatically integrated with all of Google's other features. If you want to build "social" into your ecommerce application, you no longer need to build your own Facebook: Google will deliver it, complete with well-staffed datacenters. And since Google itself is increasingly built on Google+ services, building on top of Google+ will be nothing less than integrating with Google itself.

Is that the not-so-hidden downside? Google certainly wants your data, and will put it to use. And if you get in bed with an elephant, you've got to worry about what happens when it rolls over. But Google strikes me as a more reliable, consistent partner for this kind of enterprise than the alternatives. Regardless of what I think, though, this year we'll see Social as a Service. Google-powered.

Microsoft gets its game back

I'm not a huge follower of the Microsoft borg, and certainly not a fan. And it's not news to anyone reading this that Microsoft has been something of a paper tiger over the past decade. However, one thing that I've noticed about Microsoft over the years is that it's a company that doesn't stop trying, and it's a company that can be surprisingly nimble when its life depends on it. I remember Microsoft trying to figure out how to package Internet services with Windows back in the early '90s. There were four successive strategies, within a period of about eight months, until Microsoft finally hit upon the right one, which was bundling Internet capability with the operating system. You might say that bundling Internet with Windows was the obvious right choice, and it should have done that first. Yeah, but it didn't, and hindsight is always 20/20.

Here's what I learned: Unlike many large companies, Microsoft realized it had made a mistake, fixed it, and kept fixing it until it got it right. Would AT&T do that? Would Oracle do that? Hey, would Apple do that? (Before you answer that last question, just contemplate the word "antenna" for a few minutes.)

So it's never wise to count Microsoft out. Starting with Windows 8, with a possibly revolutionary new interface design, continuing with the release of new Windows Mobile phones from Nokia, continuing to push more developers to Azure — this is clearly a big year. Microsoft has a lot to accomplish, or it'll be relegated to the dustbin of cyberhistory. But counting Microsoft out is always a mistake. It'll be back in the game.


The data train is chugging along. It's going to keep chugging. We're looking at a severe shortage of competent data scientists; the Hadoop space is becoming competitive, with Cloudera, Hortonworks, and MapR in the game, plus Oracle admitted that "big data" is important. Open source tools for working with streaming data are arriving (Storm and S4), and I expect that we'll see more.


Why O'Reilly went dark

On January 18, 2012, O'Reilly went dark to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act. The following notice was posted across

Screenshot of message on O'Reilly websites on Jan 18 2012
Screenshot of from January 18, 2012.

Today, we're going dark to show the world that O'Reilly Media does not support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the U.S. House of Representatives or the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the U.S. Senate.

We believe going dark is the principled action to take.

We're in one of the greatest periods of social and business transformation since the Industrial Revolution, a transformation driven by the open architecture of the Internet. New technologies, new companies, and new business models appear every day, creating benefits to society and the economy. But now, fundamental elements of that Internet architecture are under attack.

These legislative attacks are not motivated by clear thinking about the future of the Internet or the global economy, but instead seek to protect entrenched companies with outdated business models. Rather than adapting and competing with new and better services, these organizations are asking Congress for cover.

Any forward-looking country must encourage its emerging industries, not protect its laggards. Yet, in a time when the American economy needs to catalyze domestic innovation to succeed in a hyper-competitive global marketplace, members of the United States Congress have advanced legislation that could damage the industries of the future.

Over the weekend, President Obama's technology officials told the American people that they do not support SOPA or PROTECT IP as drafted. The White House's response to a "We The People" e-petition included a strong rebuttal against the DNS provisions in the bills. While it is heartening to hear from the White House that it "will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet," we believe these bills must be abandoned, not amended.

We urge you to keep the pressure on today and in the weeks to come.

Here's what you can do:

1) Learn if your U.S. Representative or Senators support SOPA or PROTECT IP through

2) Use the tools at, Engine Advocacy and POPVOX to tell Congress where you stand.

3) Call or meet with your representatives in Congress. The single most effective action any concerned citizen who wants to talk to Congress can take is to see your Senator or Representative in person. Failing that, call them. Write them a letter. Make sure your voice is heard.

January 18 2012

January 17 2012

Putting money where our mouths are

As Tim O'Reilly has pointed out, one of the major problems with SOPA and PIPA is that they regulate in favor of an "old economy," and against the new. It's sort of like the stage coach companies lobbying for regulations against the upstart railroads, and the railroads lobbying for regulation against the roads and airlines.

The problem isn't "piracy" or "theft." In fact, one of the big problems I have is the way the old media companies have been able to drive the language here. As Tim points out, piracy is "primarily the result of market failure" and ceases to be an issue when it's possible for customers to get what they want on terms that they can accept. It's about access, it's about people being able to get the media they want and do what they want with it.

In "
Scarcity is a Shitty Business Model
," Fred Wilson tells about being unable
to find a good movie to watch at home on a weekend night: nothing good
on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, or the cable company. The end
result is predictable: if the established means of
distribution make it difficult for customers to get what they want,
you can't blame the customers. If we've learned anything from the
Internet, it's the business that can't deliver the goods doesn't deserve
to survive.

Which begs a big question: If the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and their bedfellows are 20th century dinosaurs, when will we see the 21st century mammals that will
replace them? We're starting to see them now, particularly in music.
Musicians have already been screwed badly by the music industry, and
there are no small number of reasonably successful small musicians
working on a "pay what you like" DRM-free basis.
Businesses like Bandcamp
allow artists to sell directly to their
audiences, on a "name your price" basis. Bandcamp isn't Sony Music, but
it's one of the new breed, one of the small mammals that will
survive when the dinosaurs go extinct.

When will we see the same for the movie industry? Granted, making a
movie requires a much bigger upfront investment. But it's Hollywood's
lie that a move needs a multi-million-dollar budget. "The Blair Witch
Project" was produced for around $60,000 but grossed $249 million.
successful films with production budgets down to
$7,000. But what we don't have for low-budget films are studios
willing to take the risk of dealing directly with customers, or
companies like Bandcamp that aggregate independents' offerings and
distribute them directly to customers, cutting the obsolete 20th
century distribution channels out of the loop.

In short, SOPA and PIPA are attempts by the MPAA to preserve an
industry that has been fundamentally unchanged since the 1950s, if not
the 40s. Who's going to re-think video, in short (YouTube),
medium (TV) and long (film) form, and other forms that we haven't even
conceived? The Internet has created more new
industries than I can count. It's time for the Internet to create the
new industry that puts the old-time studios out of business. Who's
going to do that? It's a huge opportunity.


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