Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Chumby!

I have written about the Chumby previously, and now there is a 2nd-gen Chumby available that is even better than the first one (although I think I like the look of the first one a little better). Cory Doctorow notes it with some links over at boingboing. As Cory writes, "everything from the circuit board designs to the software is open-licensed and freely downloadable. The idea is to produce an adorable, versatile device that any hacker, anywhere, can improve, so that all Chumby owners can get more out of it." Pure win, as they say on teh intarwebs. (Wow it is actually difficult to type in Internet-speak sometimes.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lessig on Copyright and Balance

Yes, one of my favorite topics, but lawyers are pretty good sources to listen to when it comes to copyright laws. The video is the PPT, so starts off blank (it's working, don't worry).

Lessig discusses balance and different situations where copyright is used. Accessible and enlightening as always. From, embedded below. Via boingboing. About an hour long.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Market Research, Design, and Choices

I was writing a contact in the marketing world and I realized why I do not want to do market research for some types of companies, and why I prefer to work in the social media world.

I do not want to work at a research firm where I would have to do research for a fast food company, a tobacco company, or a soda company. I think one important aspect of good marketing, and good understanding of the market, is to make a good product that fits consumer need. This does not mean you make products that manipulate people's brains on a chemical level (fats, sugars, nicotine, empty calories) . Good design is important to me, products that harm people's health are defective by design and I do not tolerate treating people like that.

One reason I like social media is because it can make people's lives better, and it needs to be designed well to do that.

Good design makes life better. Some products are designed to enrich some at the cost of others, but are marketed in quite a different way. For more on fast food, read Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation.

Monday, November 2, 2009

100 Year Old Griefing

Susan Douglas (one of my PhD advisors), in her 1987 book Inventing American Broadcasting, detailed a 1907 New York Times story about a young man who used wireless. Although the precursor to modern radio, it was not at all like today's radio. There were no stations playing music, it was Morse code, and it was all individuals sending and receiving messages. These individuals could be some young guy in New Jersey, or the radio man on a ship, or a commercial "station" of sort (such as a newspaper contacting ships at sea for news), or the navy.

For the most part (probably exclusively), it was young and technologically-savvy men. But, it was also anonymous, since there was no automatic way to identify people. And, when you have a communication technology and anonymity, you have griefing. Douglas wrote how, in about 1910, “deliberate interference... began to get out of control, and to the military, in particular, it ceased to be in any way innocent or amusing.” (p. 207) Congestion of the airwaves, and general interference, was increasing, but so was “malicious interference” (p. 208)

Some amateurs deliberately sent false or obscene messages, especially to the navy. The temptation to indulge in such practical joking was enhanced by the fact that detection was virtually impossible. Amateurs would pretend to be military officials or commercial operators, and they dispatched ships on all sorts of fabricated missions. Navy operators would receive emergency messages about a ship that was sinking off the coast. After hours of searching in vain, the navy would hear the truth: the “foundering” ship had just arrived safely in port. (p. 208)

Sending navy operators “profane messages” was something else that the amateurs did. The navy, trying to assert some control over the airwaves, would issue “statements about the grave danger posed by the amateurs, and cited many instances of unpatriotic interference.” (p. 210)

Much like today, anonymity played a large part in people’s behavior. “The anonymity made possible by wireless had a leveling effect on the status and power of naval officials: in the airwaves, rank was irrelevant; only technical strength mattered.” (p. 210)