Who is Jacquie Lawson?

A few days ago I’d never heard of Jacquie Lawson. While we were visiting my parents’ house over Christmas, my father showed me several Jacquie Lawson flash e-cards that friends had sent him for Christmas. He explained that they had paid $8 for a yearly membership to do so. In this age of everything free on the internet, I was intrigued that people would do that, but several certainly had.

alarm:clock has a bit more on Ms. Lawson.


All your CD belong to us.

Arif opened his copy of the latest Coldplay CD to find a note telling him what he couldn’t do with the CD. In fact, there doesn’t appear to be anything on the list that he CAN do.

The note even lists several devices (9 different classes actually) on which the CD might not play.

Let’s not forget, this what record companies do to people who pay for their music.


News versus editorial.

Jeff Jarvis points out two views of the same event; Jeremy Hermanns view from inside the Alaska Air flight that depressurized and was forced to land, and a news story about it.

The news story reports the event in a straightforward non-emotional fashion. Jeremy’s account is very graphic and emotional and talks about his experience of the incident and how he feels about it. He even comments on the fact that the accident was caused by a non-union baggage handler:

The enraging fact is that a non-union baggage handler ran into the side of the plane moments prior to take-off … and that it was never reported.

The article he quotes does not actually state that though.

There is a reason these two accounts are different. News is news. But Jeremy’s account is news plus editorial. He gives us information as the news story does, but he goes further and adds opinion. He says the parents were confused, as fact that the news story can’t include without the comments of a confused parent. He adds his feelings; for example we know he is pro-union.

Perhaps that is the difference between bloggers and journalists. Journalists may try to avoid bias yet fail to do so, but at least they tried. Bloggers are driven by their passion to report information, and their reports are colored by that passion. The difference is the passion that drives them.



I agree until it affects me.

Michael Geist highlights a poll on Canadian attitudes toward copyright sponsored by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). The poll makes the following claims:

  • 91 percent of Canadians believe that artists should be protected by copyright
  • 55 percent view copyright as an election issue
  • 68 percent want stronger copyright laws
  • 32 percent would vote for a party pledging to establish stronger copyright laws (17 percent would not and it would not make a difference to 44 percent)

He makes excellent points about the questions they didn’t ask. For example:

What percentage of Canadians would say that the law should protect consumers against the secret installation of copy protection programs that threaten the security on their computer? What percentage of Canadians would say they should be entitled to view a store-bought DVD in their homes regardless of where it is purchased? What percentage of Canadians would say that they should be entitled to make a copy of their CDs to listen to on their iPod?

The article doesn’t explain the questions asked or the methodology so it isn’t clear how those polled may have been prompted to give their answers. However, I would be very surprised if more that 10% of Canadians actually gave a thought about copyright, let alone consider it an election issue.

I’d bet that most people don’t give copyright a thought until it keeps them from doing something they want to do. I was explaining the Broadcast Flag to my father, who said he agreed with that. I then explained that it meant that his very expensive new VCR would become useless and he would be unable to record a program the same way he always had. Suddenly he felt very differently.



Principles for sale.

Just before Warner Music went through their IPO, the band Linkin Park threatened legal action, ostensibly because they claimed that the company did not have the resources to promote them. Privately though, it seemed that the band just wanted a cut of the stock sale proceeds.

Now that Warner have offered a bunch more money and a higher royalty percentage, Linkin Park has re-signed with them:

Less than eight months after issuing a stinging, public vote of no-confidence in its record company, Warner Music Group, the multiplatinum rap-rock act Linkin Park has signed a lucrative new pact with the recording giant. The six-member Los Angeles band and its management company, the Firm, last week reached a deal with Warner calling for an estimated $15 million advance for the group’s next album, executives involved in the contract negotiations said. The pact provides the company’s Warner Brothers Records unit with an option for up to five more albums from the band, one more than had been called for in their original deal.

Warner also agreed to increase the musicians’ royalty rate to an estimated 20 percent. The next Linkin Park CD, still untitled, is expected to be released as early as mid-2006.

It’s hard to take these people seriously when it becomes obvious that their principles can be assuaged with more money. And it seems that contracts increasingly mean nothing. Linkin Park seems to not realize that they are just employees, albeit lucrative ones. They signed a contract that did not provide a share of any potential stock sale. That doesn’t mean that they can just tear it up when they don’t like the terms. Nor should sports stars, though they often seem to get away with it.




People constantly amaze me. The day after Christmas, my sons and I went to Starbucks and the bookstore. It was next to a big box electronics store, so we thought we would glance in and see what kind of sales they had.

The store was jammed with hundreds of people, so much so that we couldn’t even be bothered looking around.

A day after the biggest gift giving day, people are still looking for more.

Search is easy. Understanding isn’t.

Why do we assume that because search tools can find occurrences of words on the web, that they can divine what we intended when we entered the term?

Seth Godin posits that search is hard, because when he did a Google image search for 1964, one of the images was Soaring magazine. He doesn’t mention that it is a picture of the November 1964 issue of the magazine.

If I walk up to you, never having met you before, and say “1964″ to you, what is the first thing you would think of? My brother was born in 1964, so that’s the first thing I would think of, though you may think of something completely different. Now what are the first ten things you would think of? That’s a pretty reasonable analogy of what you are asking of Google.

Now add into that the fact that Google has only the words on the page to work with. No understanding of what the pages mean, or relations between them. Google can only work with the content it has available to it, and the relative number of occurrences of that content. With that, Google does an admirable job of returning images about and related to 1964.

Search is easy. Given the term “1964″, Google easily returns about 735,000 images. It may not return exactly what we are looking for, but that is a problem of understanding – the understanding of what we were looking for. It simply is not reasonable to assume that a single word search can discern what we want, when humans couldn’t do it either.



RSS in the mainstream.

Nik Cubrilovic knows what will happen once Microsoft Outlook integrates RSS – aggregator companies will fade into history:

The aggregator developers (all of them) are going to have to do something extra special in 2006 if they plan on surviving as stand-alone businesses. They have competition on two fronts, the open source tools (parsing RSS is not complicated) and then the big end of town giving away aggregation on top of existing tools and applications that have a respected and recognised market share.

As Nik notes, something else is going to happen too. Millions of Outlook users are suddenly going to start looking for RSS feeds, and the awareness of blogs is going to shoot up, which is a good thing.

The downside is that IT folks will suddenly be hit with higher bandwidth demands as everyone starts checking their feeds several times a day (shades of Pointcast from years gone by). And nervous executives will be concerned about productivity lost to blog reading. This will likely lead to the wholesale banning of RSS feeds in the office, a poor knee jerk response that will demonize blogs, and keep users from realizing the valuable range of information available to them.

Sadly. Microsoft making RSS feeds commonly available may be the event that casts blogs in a negative light for the corporate world.




Did MySpace actually block YouTube links and videos in their user pages?

Apart from the stupidity of offering people a place to call their own, and then limiting what they can actually do with it, this bodes poorly for the future of user generated content. Will social software providers start telling users just how social they can and can’t be, and whose sites they can link to and whose they can’t?

This also limits the value of any content created because it limits the creativity and freedom of that content. That might reflect badly on a company looking for investment.

Tip of the hat to Supr.c.ilio.us. Om Malik comments as well.