Tag: Google

YouTube paid channels are part of a possible future

Friday, 10 May, 2013 0 Comments

YouTube has launched a paid channels experiment that can be accessed by paying a variable subscription fee, which starts at $0.99 a month. National Geographic is there, and so is TNA Wrestling Plus. Among the other offerings: Fix My Hog and Gay Direct. And there’s more to come. Notorious B-movie producer and director Roger Corman has announced that he will launch a paid YouTube channel this summer. “Corman’s Drive-In” will showcase his library of around 400, er, classics.

For all those who equate YouTube with free, this will come as a shock, but Jaron Lanier, the computer scientist who popularized the term “virtual reality”, will be pleased. Who Owns the Future? is the title of his new book and in it he pleads for a radical rethink of how all those busily engaged in creating the digital commons should be compensated. The Lanier solution? If information is worth money (and the share price of Google would suggest it is), then people must be paid for what they contribute to the web. He proposes an intricate system in which Facebook, for example, is no longer free, but also stops getting user data for free. Information creators of would be rewarded with nanopayments generated by users of information in Lanier’s scheme.

The internet, claims Lanier, is currently biased in favour of “siren servers” (big companies) that convince users to exchange data for “free” services — search, e-mail, social networks. But instead of heralding a new age of prosperity, he writes, the net is making us poorer. Careers in professions such as music and writing are disappearing, thanks to the ease of copying, and more traditional middle-class jobs will certainly follow. “To grasp the Huffington Post’s business model, picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates,” wrote Tim Rutten. While some grow fat, creatives are not paid and many are driven to destitution by those who pretend that they have our interests at heart. Jaron Lanier’s heart is in the right place, but his nanopayment proposal is unworkable. Paid channels offer a better solution.


Drop the Glass, Google

Friday, 1 March, 2013 0 Comments

“Don’t be evil.” Heard that one before? Let’s have a quick look now at that famous corporate Code of Conduct: “Googlers generally apply those words to how we serve our users. But ‘Don’t be evil’ is much more than that. Yes, it’s about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can. But it’s also about doing the right thing more generally — following the law, acting honorably and treating each other with respect.”

Google cofounder Sergey Brin spoke at the TED 2013 Conference this week and showed off Google Glass, a hands-free, voice-activated augmented-reality headset developed by the search engine. Brin used the presentation to take a swipe at the phone. “We get information by disconnecting from other people, looking down into our smartphone,” he said. “Is this the way you’re meant to interact with other people? Is the future of connection just people walking around hunched up, looking down, rubbing a featureless piece of glass? It’s kind of emasculating. Is this what you’re meant to do with your body?”

That made headlines and his use of “emasculating” provoked intense reaction, but Mark Hurst, founder of Creative Good, ignored the frenzy and focused instead on “The Google Glass feature no one is talking about.” And what have we all missed in our gadgetry excitement? Snippet:

Google Glass is like one camera car for each of the thousands, possibly millions, of people who will wear the device — every single day, everywhere they go — on sidewalks, into restaurants, up elevators, around your office, into your home. From now on, starting today, anywhere you go within range of a Google Glass device, everything you do could be recorded and uploaded to Google’s cloud, and stored there for the rest of your life. You won’t know if you’re being recorded or not; and even if you do, you’ll have no way to stop it.

And that, my friends, is the experience that Google Glass creates. That is the experience we should be thinking about. The most important Google Glass experience is not the user experience — it’s the experience of everyone else. The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change.

Just think: if a million Google Glasses go out into the world and start storing audio and video of the world around them, the scope of Google search suddenly gets much, much bigger, and that search index will include you. Let me paint a picture. Ten years from now, someone, some company, or some organization, takes an interest in you, wants to know if you’ve ever said anything they consider offensive, or threatening, or just includes a mention of a certain word or phrase they find interesting. A single search query within Google’s cloud — whether initiated by a publicly available search, or a federal subpoena, or anything in between — will instantly bring up documentation of every word you’ve ever spoken within earshot of a Google Glass device.

If the Google Code of Conduct is “about doing the right thing”, the company should drop the Glass device right now. It has the potential for evil.

Google Glass


Google bails out France

Wednesday, 6 February, 2013 0 Comments

There they were, François Hollande, the president of France, and Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, doing what the leaders of middle-ranking powers do so well: holding a joint press conference, shaking hands while posing for the camera signing important-looking documents. And what was it all about? In short, a €60 million bailout. Cheap […]

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Google ideas

Monday, 4 February, 2013 1 Comment

It’s time to get familiar with the name Jared Cohen. The 31-year old former US State Department hot shot founded and runs Google Ideas, the search engine’s think tank, and he’s co-written what may well be the most important book of 2013, The New Digital Age. The other name on the cover is that of Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt.

The New Digital Age will be strong on the dangers represented by the “illicit networks” run by Chinese and Russian cyber authoritarians. Quote:

“The increasing ubiquity of connection technologies will both empower those driving illicit networks as well as the citizens seeking to curb them. These networks have been around for centuries, but one thing has changed — the vast majority of people now have a mobile device, empowering citizens with the potential to disrupt the secrecy, discretion, and fear that allow illicit networks to persist. As illicit networks grow in scope and complexity, society’s strategy to reduce their negative impact must draw on the tremendous power of technology.”

Yes, Google is a hard-headed business, and it is determined to dominate the search industry, but the company is far more idealistic than its rivals and Schmidt and Cohen are to be applauded for their determination to defend the cause of democracy from its enemies. More about this on Wednesday here.


“She cries, but she’s eating”

Thursday, 13 December, 2012 0 Comments

When the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great, engineered the Partition of Poland in 1772, his strategic power play greatly distressed the Holy Roman Empress, Maria Theresa, sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma, Duchess of Lorraine and Grand Duchess of Tuscany. Asked about the reaction […]

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A terrible year for journalism is ending badly

Friday, 7 December, 2012 1 Comment

From the New York Post, which has abandoned ethics, to Newsweek, which is laying off staff, the journalism landscape is littered with bad news. In Germany, change-resistant publishers are trying to shake down Google, while in Britain the headline makers have been making horrid headlines: “The BBC has issued an unreserved apology for a Newsnight report which led to Lord McAlpine being wrongly implicated in the alleged sexual abuse of children at north Wales care homes.”

Journalism in 2012 was replaced by the very worst aspects of Gawkism and HuffPostism.


When Manuel Castells predicted that Nokia would rule the world

Monday, 2 July, 2012

The true hoarder never throws anything away. This obsession leads to all kind of complications, though, not the least of which is domestic strife. Still, there are moments when the hoarder’s passion is vindicated. This is one such instance. We have here a faded newspaper clipping dated 18 June 1999. The publication is The Observer […]

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The living tradition

Thursday, 10 May, 2012

In our time of virtual reality, always-on connectivity and Google Glasses, folk music functions as a kind of acoustic way-back machine. But it’s not a stick-in-the-mud tradition. In Britain, The Unthanks prove that Northumberland folk is elastic enough to merge the mainstream with 200-year-old songs and create something that sounds ultra-modern. Mumford & Sons and […]

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Tempus fugit

Friday, 2 March, 2012

With its users only spending an average of three minutes per month on the site, Google+ is a “virtual ghost town” compared to Facebook and other social networking sites. The Wall Street Journal looks at the big search engine’s social network in “The Mounting Minuses at Google+“.

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Big Data, Big Bucks

Monday, 13 February, 2012

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, data was declared a new class of economic asset, like currency or gold, during the presentation of a report titled “Big Data, Big Impact“. Here’s the Executive Summary:

“A flood of data is created every day by the interactions of billions of people using computers, GPS devices, cell phones, and medical devices. Many of these interactions occur through the use of mobile devices being used by people in the developing world, people whose needs and habits have been poorly understood until now. Researchers and policymakers are beginning to realise the potential for channelling these torrents of data into actionable information that can be used to identify needs, provide services, and predict and prevent crises for the benefit of low-income populations. Concerted action is needed by governments, development organisations, and companies to ensure that this data helps the individuals and the communities who create it.”

Those fine aspirations aside, the reality is that it’s the indefatigable masters of data harvesting, Google and Facebook, who will benefit most from purse seineing the web. Big bucks beckon for these Big Data behemots.


The crooked Path

Thursday, 9 February, 2012

A year ago, the tech press was all abuzz with rumours that Path, a social photo sharing and messaging service for mobile devices led by former Facebook executive Dave Morin, had received a $100-million buyout offer from Google (with $20 million more in incentives). Drunk on the hype of his entrepreneurial virtuosity, Morin rejected the […]

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