language

What Is SOPA? [Sopa]

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5877000/what-is-sopa

What Is SOPA?If you hadn’t heard of SOPA before, you probably have by now: Some of the internet’s most influential sites—Reddit and Wikipedia among them—are going dark to protest the much-maligned anti-piracy bill. But other than being a very bad thing, what is SOPA? And what will it mean for you if it passes?

SOPA is an anti-piracy bill working its way through Congress…

House Judiciary Committee Chair and Texas Republican Lamar Smith, along with 12 co-sponsors, introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act on October 26th of last year. Debate on H.R. 3261, as it’s formally known, has consisted of one hearing on November 16th and a “mark-up period” on December 15th, which was designed to make the bill more agreeable to both parties. Its counterpart in the Senate is the Protect IP Act (S. 968). Also known by it’s cuter-but-still-deadly name: PIPA. There will likely be a vote on PIPA next Wednesday; SOPA discussions had been placed on hold but will resume in February of this year.

…that would grant content creators extraordinary power over the internet…

The beating heart of SOPA is the ability of intellectual property owners (read: movie studios and record labels) to effectively pull the plug on foreign sites against whom they have a copyright claim. If Warner Bros., for example, says that a site in Italy is torrenting a copy of The Dark Knight, the studio could demand that Google remove that site from its search results, that PayPal no longer accept payments to or from that site, that ad services pull all ads and finances from it, and—most dangerously—that the site’s ISP prevent people from even going there.

…which would go almost comedically unchecked…

Perhaps the most galling thing about SOPA in its original construction is that it let IP owners take these actions without a single court appearance or judicial sign-off. All it required was a single letter claiming a “good faith belief” that the target site has infringed on its content. Once Google or PayPal or whoever received the quarantine notice, they would have five days to either abide or to challenge the claim in court. Rights holders still have the power to request that kind of blockade, but in the most recent version of the bill the five day window has softened, and companies now would need the court’s permission.

The language in SOPA implies that it’s aimed squarely at foreign offenders; that’s why it focuses on cutting off sources of funding and traffic (generally US-based) rather than directly attacking a targeted site (which is outside of US legal jurisdiction) directly. But that’s just part of it.

…to the point of potentially creating an “Internet Blacklist”…

Here’s the other thing: Payment processors or content providers like Visa or YouTube don’t even need a letter shut off a site’s resources. The bill’s “vigilante” provision gives broad immunity to any provider who proactively shutters sites it considers to be infringers. Which means the MPAA just needs to publicize one list of infringing sites to get those sites blacklisted from the internet.

Potential for abuse is rampant. As Public Knowledge points out, Google could easily take it upon itself to delist every viral video site on the internet with a “good faith belief” that they’re hosting copyrighted material. Leaving YouTube as the only major video portal. Comcast (an ISP) owns NBC (a content provider). Think they might have an interest in shuttering some rival domains? Under SOPA, they can do it without even asking for permission.

…while exacting a huge cost from nearly every site you use daily…

SOPA also includes an “anti-circumvention” clause, which holds that telling people how to work around SOPA is nearly as bad as violating its main provisions. In other words: if your status update links to The Pirate Bay, Facebook would be legally obligated to remove it. Ditto tweets, YouTube videos, Tumblr or WordPress posts, or sites indexed by Google. And if Google, Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, etc. let it stand? They face a government “enjoinment.” They could and would be shut down.

The resources it would take to self-police are monumental for established companies, and unattainable for start-ups. SOPA would censor every online social outlet you have, and prevent new ones from emerging.

…and potentially disappearing your entire digital life…

The party line on SOPA is that it only affects seedy off-shore torrent sites. That’s false. As the big legal brains at Bricoleur point out, the potential collateral damage is huge. And it’s you. Because while Facebook and Twitter have the financial wherewithal to stave off anti-circumvention shut down notices, the smaller sites you use to store your photos, your videos, and your thoughts may not. If the government decides any part of that site infringes on copyright and proves it in court? Poof. Your digital life is gone, and you can’t get it back.

…while still managing to be both unnecessary and ineffective…

What’s saddest about SOPA is that it’s pointless on two fronts. In the US, the MPAA, and RIAA already have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to request that infringing material be taken down. We’ve all seen enough “video removed” messages to know that it works just fine.

As for the foreign operators, you might as well be throwing darts at a tse-tse fly. The poster child of overseas torrenting, Pirate Bay, has made it perfectly clear that they’re not frightened in the least. And why should they be? Its proprietors have successfully evaded any technological attempt to shut them down so far. Its advertising partners aren’t US-based, so they can’t be choked out. But more important than Pirate Bay itself is the idea of Pirate Bay, and the hundreds or thousands of sites like it, as populous and resilient as mushrooms in a marsh. Forget the question of should SOPA succeed. It’s incredibly unlikely that it could. At least at its stated goals.

…but stands a shockingly good chance of passing…

SOPA is, objectively, an unfeasible trainwreck of a bill, one that willfully misunderstands the nature of the internet and portends huge financial and cultural losses. The White House has come out strongly against it. As have hundreds of venture capitalists and dozens of the men and women who helped build the internet in the first place. In spite of all this, it remains popular in the House of Representatives.

That mark-up period on December 15th, the one that was supposed to transform the bill into something more manageable? Useless. Twenty sanity-fueled amendments were flat-out rejected. And while the bill’s most controversial provision—mandatory DNS filtering—was thankfully taken off the table recently, in practice internet providers would almost certainly still use DNS as a tool to shut an accused site down.

…unless we do something about it.

The momentum behind the anti-SOPA movement has been slow to build, but we’re finally at a saturation point. Wikipedia, BoingBoing, WordPress, TwitPic: they’ll all be dark on January 18th. An anti-SOPA rally has been planned for tomorrow afternoon in New York. The list of companies supporting SOPA is long but shrinking, thanks in no small part to the emails and phone calls they’ve received in the last few months.

So keep calling. Keep emailing. Most of all, keep making it known that the internet was built on the same principles of freedom that this country was. It should be afforded to the same rights.


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Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 news No Comments

Watson now hunting down patent trolls, plans Ken Jennings’ elaborate demise

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/09/watson-now-hunting-down-patent-trolls-plans-ken-jennings-elabo/

The Watson supercomputer used its speech recognition, natural language processing, machine learning and data mining abilities to crush puny human Ken Jennings’ dreams of winning at “Jeopardy!”, but now Big Blue has it chasing down medical patent trolls for fun. Incorporating the Strategic IP Insight Platform, IBM has now programmed Watson to scan millions of pharmaceutical patents and biomedical journals to discover, analyze, and record any info pertaining to drug discovery. SIIP can then look for the names of chemical compounds, related diagrams, the company and scientist who invented and works with the compounds and related words to determine a patent’s rightful owner. The SIIP function can also highlight which patents could be targeted for acquisition by trolls looking to control a property via a lawsuit or licensing agreement. Click past the break for a video outlining the project, along with Watson’s announcement of its engagement to “Skynet“.

Continue reading Watson now hunting down patent trolls, plans Ken Jennings’ elaborate demise

Watson now hunting down patent trolls, plans Ken Jennings’ elaborate demise originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 09 Dec 2011 05:20:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Friday, December 9th, 2011 news No Comments

What Cliched Work Phrases Would You Retire? [Communication]

Source: http://lifehacker.com/5866409/avoid-using-these-cliched-phrases

What Cliched Work Phrases Would You Retire?If you’ve worked in an office, chances are you’re surrounded by people who use cliched phrases like “touch base” and “circle back” every time they’re in a meeting, delivering a presentation, or giving a speech. Whether or not these phrases once had meaning, they’ve long since lost their meaning for many. They’ve actually got the opposite effect now, because they’re so cliched. So which phrases should you avoid? Meeting Boy has a list.

Here are the top ten in his poll of 25 (hit his site to see more).

  • think outside the box (16%)
  • circle back (15%)
  • synergy (14%)
  • it is what it is (13%)
  • touch base (13%)
  • at the end of the day (13%)
  • let’s take this offline (12%)
  • low-hanging fruit (11%)
  • value-added (11%)
  • proactive (10%)

If you know anyone who uses these phrases feel free to show them this post. You can’t blame the words, but it’s worth keeping your language fresh and cliche-free when possible to avoid weakening the point you’re trying to make. You’ve heard my take (and Meeting Boy’s), but let’s hear your most hated work cliches.

The Most Hated Buzzword | Meeting Boy


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Thursday, December 8th, 2011 news No Comments

Samsung Rockets Past Apple To Take The Lead In Smartphones (AAPL)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-samsung-smartphone-2011-10


Smartphone shipments for Q3

We knew this was coming, but now it’s more official-ish.

Samsung is the world’s biggest smartphone dealer, beating Apple soundly in the third quarter of this year, according to data compiled by Strategy Analytics.

Strategy Analytics says Samsung “shipped” 28 million smartphones versus Apple’s 17.1 million.

Tiny caveat: In its earnings release Apple says it sold 17.1 million smartphones. We don’t think Samsung is stuffing 11 million smartphones in the channel to take the top spot, but it’s worth making a note of the distinction in language.

Apple was the top smartphone dealer in Q2, but it had a down quarter as consumers waited for the iPhone 4S. It’s unlikely to return to the top spot unless it has a mammoth fourth quarter.

And for all the Apple bulls out there who will predictably say, “So what, Apple has all the profits.” You’re right! Apple earns considerably more more money on the iPhone than Samsung earns on smartphones.

However, as we’ve pointed out over and over: This is a platform war. The more success Samsung has with the Android platform, the worse it is for Apple and iOS.

And the more phones Samsung sells, the fewer iPhones Apple can sell.

Please follow SAI on Twitter and Facebook.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Friday, October 28th, 2011 news No Comments

This Is What Your Wikipedia Edits Look Like

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5495353/this-is-what-your-wikipedia-edits-look-like

Normally I’d file this image under our “what is this” image cache, but as you’ve already clocked, it’s somehow related to our Memory [Forever] theme. Those pretty colors are a visualization of the thousands of Wikipedia edits made by a bot.

It’s not just a one-off visualization for adding to our Tumblrs either. It’s the work of Many Eyes, a website set up by a pair of computer scientists at IBM, to catalog visual representations of data. Looking at the site now, two years after Wired brought it to light and interviewed founder Martin Wattenberg, recent artworks tackle the issue of migration in the US, and cremations.

When asked by Wired back then why he’s so keen to visualize data, Watterberg responded that:

“Language is one of the best data-compression mechanisms we have. The information contained in literature, or even email, encodes our identity as human beings. The entire literary canon may be smaller than what comes out of particle accelerators or models of the human brain, but the meaning coded into words can’t be measured in bytes. It’s deeply compressed. Twelve words from Voltaire can hold a lifetime of experience.”

Wikipedia data remains a favorite for them though, thanks to the “idea of completeness” Watterberg talks about, that even though all the data on Wikipedia equals a terabyte or so, “it’s huge in terms of encompassing human knowledge.” [Many Eyes via Wired]

Memory [Forever] is our week-long consideration of what it really means when our memories, encoded in bits, flow in a million directions, and might truly live forever.

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Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 news No Comments

Aardvark Publishes A Research Paper Offering Unprecedented Insights Into Social Search

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/IMDRrISRf-8/

In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin published a paper[PDF] titled Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Search Engine, in which they outlined the core technology behind Google and the theory behind PageRank. Now, twelve years after that paper was published, the team behind social search engine Aardvark has drafted its own research paper that looks at the social side of search. Dubbed Anatomy of a Large-Scale Social Search Engine, the paper has just been accepted to WWW2010, the same conference where the classic Google paper was published.

Aardvark will be posting the paper in its entirety on its official blog at 9 AM PST, and they gave us the chance to take a sneak peek at it. It’s an interesting read to say the least, outlining some of the fundamental principles that could turn Aardvark and other social search engines into powerful complements to Google and its ilk. The paper likens Aardvark to a ‘Village’ search model, where answers come from the people in your social network; Google is part of ‘Library’ search, where the answers lie in already-written texts. The paper is well worth reading in its entirety (and most of it is pretty accessible), but here are some key points:

  • On traditional search engines like Google, the ‘long-tail’ of information can be acquired with the use of very thorough crawlers. With Aardvark, a breadth of knowledge is totally reliant on how many knowledgeable users are on the service. This leads Aardvark to conclude that “the strategy for increasing the knowledge base of Aardvark crucially involves creating a good experience for users so that they remain active and are inclined to invite their friends”. This will likely be one of Aardvark’s greatest challenges.
  • Beyond asking you about the topics you’re most familiar with, Aardvark will actually look at your past blog posts, existing online profiles, and tweets to identify what topics you know about.
  • If you seem to know about a topic and your friends do too, the system assumes you’re more knowledgeable than if you were the only one in a group of friends to know about that topic.
  • Aardvark concludes that while the amount of trust users place in information on engines like Google is related to a source website’s authority, the amount they trust a source on Aardvark is based on intimacy, and how they’re connected to the person giving them information
  • Some parts of the search process are actually easier for Aardvark’s technology than they are for traditional search engines. On Google, when you type in a query, the engine has to pair you up with exact websites that hold the answer to your query. On Aardvark, it only has to pair you with a person who knows about the topic — it doesn’t have to worry about actually finding the answer, and can be more flexible with how the query is worded.
  • As of October 2009, Aardvark had 90,361 users, of whom 55.9% had created content (asked or answered a question). The site’s average query volume was 3,167.2 questions per day, with the median active user asking 3.1 questions per month. Interestingly, mobile users are more active than desktop users. The Aardvark team attributes this to users wanting quick, short answers on their phones without having to dig for anything. They also think people are more used to using more natural language patterns on their phones.
  • The average query length was 18.6 words (median of 13) versus 2.2-2.9 words on a standard search engine.  Some of this difference comes from the more natural language people use (with words like “a”, “the”, and “if”).  It’s also because people tend to add more context to their queries, with the knowledge that it will be read by a human and will likely lead to a better answer.
  • 98.1% of questions asked on Aardvark were unique, compared with between 57 and 63% on traditional search engines.
  • 87.7% of questions submitted were answered, and nearly 60% of them were answered within 10 minutes.  The median answering time was 6 minutes and 37 seconds, with the average question receiving two answers.  70.4% of answers were deemed to be ‘good’, with 14.1% as ‘OK’ and 15.5% were rated as bad.
  • 86.7% of Aardvark users had been asked by Aardvark to answer a question, of whom 70% actually looked at the question and 38% could answer.  50% of all members had answered a question (including 75% of all users who had ever actually interacted with the site), though 20% of users accounted for 85% of answers.
Information provided by CrunchBase


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Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 digital No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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