Twitter: Does it have to change the world?

Lépicié,_Nicolas-Bernardt<_Narcisse<_1771Janet Street-Porter has used her role as Editor-at-Large for The Independent newspaper to express her disdain for Twitter. She claims that, “tweeting has replaced sex as this summer’s hot activity,” so the genesis for the vitriol may have been a partic­u­larly ungra­cious brush-off. Whatever the genesis of the rant the article does highlight some inter­esting perspectives on Twitter from those who don’t seem to under­stand the potential of the service.

Her objec­tions seem to boil down to the perception that Twitter is,

  • Shallow
  • Narcissistic
  • Illiterate
  • Middle-class/middle-aged

Some of this is true but Twitter is a large community with many different types of people involved. The main area where I feel she misses the point though is that Twitter is about communities not individuals. Yes, the individual we love the NHS tweets don’t present a compre­hensive argument for the benefits of the NHS. The aggregate of the tweets is inter­esting though. Continue reading

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Attribution Matters

Missionary DiplomacyThe imaginary band album cover game has come back up on Facebook, perhaps it never really went away. It’s a chance operation game where you,

  1. Find a bandname via the Wikipedia random article function. The article title is the bandname.
  2. Find an album title via The Quotations Page random quota­tions page. The last three to five words of the last quote on the page are the title.
  3. Find an album cover by using Flickr’s “explore the last seven days” link that selects recent content ranked by Flickr’s “inter­est­ingness” algorithm. Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
  4. Combine the elements in an image editing program and share it with your friends.

I like random operation games very much and I started playing but something wasn’t right at step three for me. The problem was that Flickr includes all uploaded images in its inter­esting tag and this includes copyrighted images. This is just a light-hearted game but it is taking an image creating a deriv­ative work and sharing it. Doing this with copyrighted images is not legal. This started me thinking about copyright both from the creator’s and the user’s perspective. Continue reading

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Two Cultures Clash

Original image from bayerberg via Flickr (cc-sa2.0 license)

Original image from bayerberg via Flickr (cc-sa2.0 license)

Two recent events in the world of technology and the internet serve to bring into relief the diver­gence between two ways of viewing the devel­opment of technology in general, the refusal of GoogleVoice apps by the iPhone App Store and the grant of a patent to VoloMedia for “providing episodic media” which seems to mean podcasting.
The question boils down to, is the internet a new territory that will require new practices to flourish or is it an analogue of existing media that will accom­modate existing models and practices?

I feel this is a funda­mental division of perception of the medium. The internet and associated techno­logies are often seen through the frame of existing media like publishing, broadcast radio or television. That correl­a­tional viewpoint has some value but with a very limited scope. Web designers have been pulling their hair out for years trying to get web pages to behave like printed ones and the parlous state of internet radio is largely precip­itated by an attempt to apply a broadcast radio mindset to the levying of royalty payments.

TechCrunch reports that Apple is pulling all GoogleVoice enabled apps from the App Store. As Jason Kincaid states in his article this is probably being done to preserve Apple’s relationship with AT&T, the iPhone’s official carrier in the USA. The official reason reported is that these applic­a­tions, “duplicate features that come with the iPhone.” Though AT&T deny any involvement and put the blame firmly at Apple’s door.

The statement from Apple is weak. Yes, you can make and receive calls on the iPhone. You can even send SMS and use a voicemail service, but you can’t access the advantages GoogleVoice partic­u­larly free SMS and cheaper long distance call rates. Perhaps what rankles most is that this move seems to be about preserving a commercial partnership and customer service be damned. Continue reading

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