The incentive to create.

Copyright brings up an interesting point:

Remember, the goal of copyright is not to maximize the profits of any one industry, but to foster creativity by regulating just enough to ensure an adequate incentive to create.

If copyright is strengthened, would that essentially have the negative effect of taking away the incentive to create?

What’s wrong with this picture?

Something has always bothered me about the euphemistically termed “wardrobe malfunction” at last year’s Super Bowl.

A black woman is dancing when a white man suddenly rips her top off – assault, maybe even sexual assault – and the black woman gets the blame.

Maybe it’s just me, but that just seems wrong on so many levels.

Who owns the research?

Today’s San Jose Mercury News (free registration required) highlights the fact that we often pay twice for research; taxpayers provide the funding for the initial research, which is then provided to journals which sell it to research institutions, libraries, and the public at large. And those journal costs are rising:

According to the Association of Research Libraries, the price of the average journal subscription shot up 215 percent from 1986 to 2003, more than three times the rate of inflation. The average chemistry journal cost $2,695 last year; the average health science journal, $975.

In response, the National Institutes of Health is considering making results of its sponsored research free to the public, within six months after it is published. Other organizations like Science Commons and Public Library of Science, or PLoS, have been trying to make information freely available to the public, part of an “open access” movement that is gaining momentum. OAIster is a similar initiative.

The other day the Toronto Star (free registration may be required) had a little item about the province of Ontario, in Canada, providing $7 million to develop a new Web-based forum, dubbed International Governance Leadership Organizations Online, to allow scientists and governments from around the world to share their findings.

There is a wealth of collaborative technologies like blogs, wikis, RSS, and Atom available. Colaborative projects like Wikipedia are working very well.

Why do some feel the need to build yet another proprietary environment, the result of which is probably less sharing, not more? And at the very least, why not piggyback on some other proven efforts? The goal ought to be to get as much information as possible to as many people as possible. They’ve already paid for it anyway.

The “no nofollow” movement.

A site called NONOFOLLOW has sprung up, providing 12 reasons against the use of the “nofollow” tag. The first and most obvious reason is that “nofollow” does not prevent comment spam, though that was the impetus behind its development.

Robert Scoble has a post in support of the tag in which he refutes each of the twelve reasons, with a pretty lively comment section both for and against.

It does seem that given substantial opposition to the tag, its creators are somewhat glib about the dissent, with Robert really basing his support on the benefits to him, as opposed to the upside or downside for others.

The nofollow tag does not block comment spam for you and I; it makes it easy for Google to block it. Nofollow applied to all comments may limit my ability to find interesting blogs in the future. And though it is great to see competitors work together, the tag was developed with little consultation.

The concerns need to be aired and not just dismissed, if only to guarantee that we do better next time.

Auto-Tag me.

I rarely tag my posts. I do have categories set up, but I often either can’t decide what category they fit in, or I just forget to tag them. I’m not really bothered by this, though Dave Winer felt so guilty about it that he stopped using categories, and AKMA isn’t convinced of the value.

Other people extol the virtues of tagging and the resultant social effects – whether people will want to be aggregated into larger groups (i.e. humor) or smaller groups (humor of former standup comedians whose television shows lasted more than five seasons).

I know that I’m going to forget to tag occasionally (okay mostly) but I probably want by posts to show up, so I want to be aggregated. It would be nice if my publishing software could analyze my post – latent semantic analysis perhaps – and automatically tag it if I ask it to. Or maybe Flickr or Technorati could auto-tag it for me. This would allow “tagsonomists” to impart some hierarchichal tag structure if I let them, while still allowing me fine control if I wish it.

In the same spirit as the “nofollow” tag, couldn’t there be an “autotag” tag?

Google’s lead is narrowing?

Though Google’s percentage of searches is up to 51.9% from 46.6% last year, Yahoo is making significant gains according to Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch.

At the same time Google has dropped to the number two brand, after Apple.

Bad news is relative though. I’m sure most companies would kill to be in Google’s position. There’s no reason to be concerned about second place when you’re up against someone like Apple.

Frequency.

Kuro5hin has a great post about useful dead technologies – technologies that have been replace by something else or just allowed to go away.

The one that caught my attention most was the loss of the Volume Control Knob on car radios. My car still has the volume knob, but I really miss the tuning knob, which has been replaced by Seek/Scan buttons. I really hate being at the whim of my radio’s ability to find a station. If I happen to be in a poor reception area my radio refuses to lock the station, or even if it does the signal is poor. I miss the days when I could find a weak station, or just tune the radio slightly to improve reception.

Does this kind of change really make things better for anybody?

Read my lips.

A Superior Court judge in the province of Ontario, Canada, has ruled that politicians are not required to keep the promises they make. The judge said that anyone who believes a campaign promise is naive about the democratic system.

During the 2003 election Dalton McGuinty, now premier of Ontario, signed a written pledge that he would not raise taxes or implement new ones “without the explicit consent of Ontario voters.” Soon after being elected, he presided over the largest tax increase in the province’s history.

An attempt to disguise the new tax by calling it a health care “premium” has also backfired. Many unions have clauses in their contracts requiring that their employers pay any health care premiums, so courts are now forcing employers, including the government itself, to pay the tax on behalf of the employees.

How much proof is necessary?

We had guests this weekend so I finally got around to reading the Saturday and Sunday Toronto Star newspapers. Having read net coverage indicating that about 60 percent of the 13 million registered voters went to the polls on Sunday to vote for democratically elected leaders, I was surprised to see Linda McQuaig rather harsh column declaring that “today’s charade is simply about Iraq’s oil”.

She states “If large numbers of people are too terrified to vote, the results won’t reflect the popular will”. Apparently a majority of Iraqi citizens do believe in democracy, though I suppose that a 60% turnout still would not be legitimate in her mind.

Yet just the day before, the Star had this to say:

Canada may have given the war itself a wide berth, but our nation’s fingerprints are all over this first brush with democracy. From the secret conference in Ottawa, which last month mapped out international oversight for tomorrow’s election, to the ballot boxes themselves, the Maple Leaf will, in its own way, play midwife to what will likely be a turning point for Iraq.

The article doesn’t state exactly what Canada did.

The Toronto Star can’t seem to decide. Is this democracy or not?