“Selfies, Selfies and more selfies: so much so it is the word of the year and in order to celebrate and understand the concept of selfie, I decided to curate seven of the best pieces I have read around selfies.” So said Om Malik in his regular “7 stories to read this weekend” feature.” Included is what he terms the “definitive” article on selfie culture by Jenna Wortham.
The major selfie artist of our time is, of course, Kim Kardashian. Her sister Khloe recently gave an interview in which she revealed Kim’s top secret: shoot from above to avoid double chins. The front-facing camera of the iPhone 4 spurred the rise of the craze, but there’s more to the story than hardware as Kate Losse pointed out in The Return of the Selfie in the New Yorker in June:
“For teen-age social-media users, who generally prefer on-the-go mobile applications, like Instagram and Snapchat, the self is the message and the selfie is the medium. The Instagram selfie, with its soft, artfully faded tones, has replaced the stern, harshly lit mug-shot style of years past. The small, square photo, displayed on one’s phone, invites the photographer and the viewer to form a personal connection. There is little space on Instagram for delivering context or depicting a large group of people; the confines of the app make single subjects more legible than complex scenes. A face in an Instagram photograph, filtered to eliminate any glare or unflattering light, appears star-like, as if captured by a deft paparazzo.”
In his list, Om Malik adds a link to the marvellous selfie taken by astronaut Aki Hoshide while working outside the International Space. Next stop for the selfie? Mars. But wait. Been there. Done that.Tweet
A rum lot of politicians and publishers have gathered in Munich for the annual Medientage talk fest. They’re being aided and abetted in their deliberations by the bureaucrats of Germany’s media apparatus, who intone the yearly incantations about the vital role that newspapers and state broadcasters play in preserving democracy. That these pieties are nothing but a tawdry appeal for protectionism against the inroads being made by the new media is lost on no one, but they must be uttered to ward off the dark shadows being cast by GAFA. That’s Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, by the way. Europe’s total failure to produce its own GAFA is never openly discussed at events like the Munich Medientage for fear that it might expose how dependent the continent’s media industry is now on the kindness of more innovative strangers.
And when it comes to the future of journalism, the shape of things to come won’t be defined in Europe, either. Yesterday’s announcement by Pierre Omidyar that he was “in the very early stages of creating a new mass media organization… that will be independent of my other organizations” suggests that it won’t be paper based or based in Omidyar’s native France, for that matter. He made his money by founding eBay and now lives in Honolulu.
Then there’s the agora, that space in which democracies conduct open discussion. According to the Munich media apparatchiks, state gatekeepers are best placed to take care of that. In the real world, however, the critical service for the well-being of the global public sphere is going to be Twitter. So, make that GAFAT.
— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) October 1, 2013
This just in: The International Journalism Festival, set to take place in April 2014 in Perugia, has been cancelled. Reason? The thing that’s said to be the root of all evil. In this case, the lack of it. The organizers should have asked @pierre for a few dollars. He’s got them and he’s hot on journalism. Major fail, that, Europe.Tweet
When one thinks of Barcelona and urban design, the name that immediately comes to mind is that of Antoni Gaudí, but there’s a case to made that Ildefons Cerdà was the better builder. A civil engineer by training, Cerdà was also an urban planner, an architect and a health specialist: an ideal city-creator, in other words. The avenues and boulevards of Cerdà’s l’Eixample (Expansion) plan made life both pleasant and healthy for the barceloní/barcelonina used to five centuries of “rambling” on La Rambla, one of the world’s greatest people streets.
Cerdà built upon tradition and his limit of seven to nine stories for buildings throughout the plan made the entire urban “room” feel human in scale. Barcelona has broken this rule in recent decades, but when it has, high-rise buildings such as Jean Nouvel’s impressive Torre Agbar have added to the character of the city. Cerdà would be pleased with this timelapse clip by Alexandr Kravtsov.Tweet
Let’s start with the wrong way to do it as we have been gifted a perfect example by that fine Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail. In an exemplary piece of reporting on the RIM nightmare titled Inside the fall of BlackBerry: How the smartphone inventor failed to adapt, readers are offered a pop-up “INFOGRAPHIC” labeled “The roller-coaster ride of BlackBerry’s shares”. Those who click on the thumbnail image get a smudgy JPG image of a graph so totally lacking in interactivity and imagination that one assumes it was created by the very same RIM engineers who have driven BlackBerry to the edge of its cellular grave.
An example of the right way to do data visualization is provided by Natalia Rojas, a “Creative Technologist”, who was born in Buenos Aires and now lives in Miami. Her “Faces of Facebook” maps the profile photos of the social network’s 1,276,388,529 (and counting) users on one web page and is organized from top left to bottom right by the date each user joined. The result is a fascinating interactive image that rewards pixel clicking with a user’s name and position in the Facebook chronology. For example, face #6,145,640 is that of Stuart Knott.
For those challenged by the visualization of Big Data, there’s hope on the horizon. The Danish Design Center will hold “The Big Data Visualization Seminar” on 24 October in Copenhagen. It’s not just Canadian journalists who would benefit from attending. Meanwhile, Al Boardman shows how to take some data about mountains and turn it into something beautiful.
In an interview with the German paper the Berliner-Zeitung last year, Jeff Bezos described newspapers as a luxury item headed for extinction:
“There is one thing I’m certain about: there won’t be printed newspapers in twenty years. Maybe as luxury items in some hotels that want to offer them as an extravagant service. Printed papers won’t be normal in twenty years.”
In his letter to the Washington Post employees, who are now his employees, Bezos has this to say: “There will, of course, be change at The Post over the coming years. That’s essential and would have happened with or without new ownership. The Internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs. There is no map, and charting a path ahead will not be easy.”
With his purchase of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos has become one of the most influential content creators in the world. Consider this: Amazon’s e-book publishing unit recently scored its first million-copy hit when sales of the Hangman’s Daughter series broke through the seven-figure mark. Last week, Amazon Studios announced five new video-on-demand programme pilots, and its new video games wing is advertising for more than a dozen posts. Content is king, clearly.
Based on your previous purchases, Jeff Bezos, you might also like: — The Los Angeles Times — The Orlando Sentinel — Newsweek
— Marc Ambinder (@marcambinder) August 5, 2013
“To create or modify an existing service as to make an application of it which in turn can be used in a larger application.” Urban Dictionary
The iOS App Store opened its virtual portals five years ago today. At GIGAOM, Erica Ogg notes that more than 50 billion apps have been downloaded since then, and that individual software makers, small startups and large corporations “have been able to build thriving businesses off of the platform. Apple says it has paid out $10 billion in revenues to its third-party app makers.” She ponders the pricing model and wonders about the search function and asks relevant questions about the future of the model, but today is a day for celebrating the brilliance of the idea and the genius of Steve Jobs. On 10 July 2008, he told USA Today that the App Store contained 500 third-party applications for the iPhone. Now, it’s approaching one million.
Note: In January 2011, app was awarded the honour of being named 2010′s “Word of the Year” by the American Dialect Society.Tweet
Spent part of the weekend reading part of The New Digital Age by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen. The book exudes positivity and Richard Waters noted in the Financial Times that “it lays out a mainly optimistic case for why the world’s tyrants should tremble in the face of universal internet access.”
In their Introduction, the two authors sing the praises of “digital empowerment”, the result of which is that “authoritarian governments will find their newly connection populations more difficult to control, repress and influence, while democratic states will be forced to include many more voices (individuals, organizations and companies) in their affairs.” Then, comes this sentence: “To be sure, governments will always find ways to use new levels of connectivity to their advantage, but because of the way current network technology is structured, it truly favors the citizen, in ways we will explore later.”
Is “the citizen” here Jared Cohen or Edward Snowdon? The revelations about the PRISM project would appear to suggest the transition to a total surveillance society is underway and while Schmidt and Cohen don’t dismiss such dangers, they come across as somewhat naïve when they write: “In fact, technology will empower people to police the police in a plethora of creative ways never before possible, including through real-time monitoring systems allowing citizens to publicly rate every police officer in their home-town. Commerce, education, health care and the justice system will all become more efficient, transparent and inclusive as major institutions opt in to the digital age.”
More “efficient”, no doubt. But more “transparent”? One has doubts. That, by the way, is from the first chapter, “The Future of Identity, Citizenship and Reporting”, which asserts: “Governments, too, will find it more difficult to maneuver as their citizens become more connected.” Really? The NSA data-mining PRISM project is, in fact, a partnership with at least nine big US internet companies, among them Google, Skype, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and Apple. Governments, it turns out, regardless of what Schmidt and Cohen say publicly, are very agile in The New Digital Age.
In a future where everyone is connected, Juvenal will be more relevant than ever: “Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (“But who will watch the watchers?”) he asked.Tweet
“Now we have a menace that is called Twitter. The best example of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.” As protests engulf Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is blaming social media for the unrest. His targeting of Twitter, which has become a hub for activists and a major news source as Turkey’s mainstream media have downplayed the crisis, will be watched with interest by Evgeny Morozov, who has made a profession out of his cynicism for the popular notion that the internet can be an agent of regime change. In the internet-inimical Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which hosts a regular Morozov column, the Belarus-born author argues that the net is, in fact, a tool for mass surveillance and political repression.
Echoing Morozov’s fears, the alleged-rapist, Julian Assange, took to the New York Times at the weekend and declared, “The advance of information technology epitomized by Google heralds the death of privacy for most people and shifts the world toward authoritarianism.” The notorious fugitive from justice was reviewing Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen’s book, The New Digital Age. He continued: “But while Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Cohen tell us that the death of privacy will aid governments in ‘repressive autocracies’ in ‘targeting their citizens,’ they also say governments in ‘open’ democracies will see it as ‘a gift’ enabling them to ‘better respond to citizen and customer concerns.’ In reality, the erosion of individual privacy in the West and the attendant centralization of power make abuses inevitable, moving the ‘good’ societies closer to the ‘bad’ ones.”
When the dictatorial Erdoğan, the seedy Assange and the skeptical Morozov are on the same page, it’s time to count our digital spoons.Tweet
The very first version of the WordPress blogging software saw the light of day a decade ago today. Among the advances it offered back on 27 May 2003 were “Highly Intelligent Line Breaks”. The “brand new function” added “line breaks except where there is already a block level tag or another line break,” promised 19-year-old programmer Matt Mullenweg. Today, WordPress is the world’s most popular Content Management System. And, according to the “State of the Word,” it’s getting bigger every day.
Although it powers the likes of TechCrunch, Engadget and Business Insider, WordPress was not designed to make Matt Mullenweg rich — it’s free. Because of that, WordPress has enabled many bloggers and enterprises to publish dynamic content economically, effectively and efficiently and, this is important, to monetize it. To earn some money from his coding, Mullenweg founded Automattic in 2005 and the company was in the news last week when it announced a $50 million investment from hedge fund and private-equity investor Tiger Global.
The recent sale of Tumblr to Yahoo for $1.1 billion shows that blogging has become big business. The money is out there and it’s chasing the platforms with the right numbers. Next up? Keep an eye on Medium, the brainchild of Twitter founders Ev Williams and Biz Stone. Other contenders include Soup.io from Vienna, Overblog from Paris and Salon.io from Berlin.
Rainy Day is proud to publish with WordPress.Tweet
This is turning into a significant week for Yahoo. And it’s only Tuesday. First up was Marissa’s acquisition of Tumblr in a $1.1 billion cash deal, and now comes a new-look Flickr with a free terabyte of free space. How big is a terabyte? Well, you could take a photo every hour for 40 years and you still wouldn’t fill a terabyte with your snaps.
In keeping with our Instagram times, the Flickr emphasis is now on images — full-resolution. Words are few and far between and the homepage is clean and visual. The other big meme of the day is social and the new-look Flickr allows users to push photos out to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Pinterest.Tweet