100 Years of Photographs Now Free to Embed -
Getty Images is dropping the watermark for the bulk of its collection, in exchange for an open-embed program that will let users drop in any image they want, as long as the service gets to append a footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page. For a small-scale WordPress blog with no photo budget, this looks an awful lot like free stock imagery.
Implications abound but this one is particularly interesting:
The biggest effect might be on the nature of the web itself. Embeds from Twitter and YouTube are already a crucial part of the modern web, but they’ve also enabled a more advanced kind of link rot, as deleted tweets and videos leave holes in old blog posts. If the new embeds take off, becoming a standard for low-rent WordPress blogs, they’ll extend that webby decay to the images themselves. On an embed-powered web, a change in contracts could leave millions of posts with no lead image, or completely erase a post like this one.
An Oral History of Street Fighter 2
Totally fun long-read from Polygon, which takes you through the entire evolution of creating the game as told in snippets from the people behind it. Full of weird anecdotes, like Brian Duke (of Capcom USA) describing Yoshiki Okamoto (Head of Arcade Development):
He would prank you. He’d send over ideas for video games and want me to give him my input, and it would turn out to be porn. … I just remember putting the CD into my laptop and playing it for [then Vice President of Sales and Marketing Bill Cravens] and some other people who were in my office at the time, because I thought [it showed] new games and I wanted to get their input on it as well. And instead, I treated them to a porn display.
Catching Up with Ukraine
Two quick resources for those trying to follow what’s happening in Ukraine.
Poynter has a growing list of journalists to follow on Twitter to keep pace of with what’s happening in Ukraine.
The Guardian’s live blog demonstrates just how much has happened and changed throughout the course of the day.
Image: A Ukrainian soldier tries to persuade Russian troops to move away from a Ukrainian military base in Balaklava, Crimea on Saturday. Photograph: Anton Pedko/EPA, via The Guardian.
Among the various breeds of online brain-candy, by far one of the most insidious is the so-called Listicle. A portmanteau of “list” and “article,” the word sounds like what would result if you tattooed your grocery list on a particular part of the male anatomy (which would probably fit right in with the adventuresome inksters at Whole Foods, actually). Milk, eggs and what else? Permit me to unzip and check my listicle.
The listicle is usually comprised of a thin lead, a series of bullet points and a vague summary. I’ve written dozens – or rather, I’ve filed dozens when I was too hung over or bored to write something that required extra line breaks to fill a column inch. This is not one of those moments, tempting as it is to enumerate the “5 Reasons I Missed My Deadline Again” (No. 3: “Deadline, I thought you said ‘bed lyin’ – so I slept in”) or “3 Ways to Have a 3 Way Without Your Marriage Counselor Trying to Get Involved – with Your Wife.”
List-inclined writers often struggle to get as many words into their work as bullet points. Consequently, their pieces read like Bonnie and Clyde’s Flathead Ford. Sure, it drives but…
This isn’t a problem for me since I usually don’t know enough about any one subject to have more than a couple of bullets about it. And I’ve got to gussy those up with copious amounts of verbiage lest my readers notice the holes in my liberal arts education. Actually, there’s just one hole, but it’s vast and black and inhaled a lot of money into oblivion some years ago.
Predictably, the listicle concept has turned in on itself resulting in listicles about listicles. I’m guilty of having once written, Top Ten Top Ten Lists. Last month, my colleague Rachel Edidin, at Wired’s Underwire blog, published 5 Reasons Listicles Are Here to Stay, and Why That’s OK. Obviously, it’s okay – Listicle.co has based its business on the concept. “Listicle is a social blogging platform that allows everyone to create and share listicles,” its site explains. Great, more amateurs pushing out the professionals. Good for you, Internet.
Cracked, the humor site that spun out of its print magazine, has mastered the listicle principle in its own cockeyed way. Every ounce of its content is effectively a list: as in, 5 Random Coincidences That Invented Modern Pop Culture – No. 5: Stan Lee’s Laziness Led to the X-Men.” Apparently, Lee forewent the work necessary to create origin stories and asked instead, “What if they were just born that way?”
Perhaps that’s how listicles themselves came to be – they’re not undernourished articles reduced to a collection of skeletal subheads, but rather mutations. With superpowers. And maligned by bigots who fear them. In short, heroes here to clean up the joint, through brute force if necessary.
As Wolverine says, “I’m the best at what I do but what I do best isn’t very nice.” Yes, Listicles are kicking my ass.
But why? Because, according to Edidin, “2. Lists Give Us Additional Ways to Interact With Information … Lists let us process complicated information spatially, transforming it from cluster to linear progression.” Since much of real life is a cluster (add your own four-letter word here), let alone some newspaper columns. Perhaps listicles are the solution to all our problems, perhaps not. All I know is that my name has been on one since grammar school – usually circled and with a check next to it.
That said, I don’t doubt I’m doing it wrong. I should try to use the power of the list as a force for good – like not forgetting to buy butter at Whole Foods. Okay, sign me up for a listicle. Just one thing, how bad does it hurt?
Via David Beck.
We need news organizations to help our curiosity by signaling how their stories fit into the larger themes on which a sincere capacity for interest depends. To grow interested in any piece of information, we need somewhere to “put” it, which means some way of connecting it to an issue we already know how to care about. A section of the human brain might be pictured as a library in which information is shelved under certain fundamental categories. Most of what we hear about day to day easily signals where in the stacks it should go and gets immediately and unconsciously filed: News of an affair is put on the heavily burdened shelf dedicated to How Relationships Work, a story of the sudden sacking of a CEO slots into our evolving understanding of Work & Status.
But the stranger or the smaller stories become, the harder the shelving process grows. What we colloquially call “feeling bored” is just the mind, acting out of a self-preserving reflex, ejecting information it has despaired of knowing where to place. —
Alain de Botton, The Future of News, The Week.
The piece is an excerpt from his new book The News: A User’s Manual, which we’re currently reading and will have thoughts to tumble about soon. In the meantime, it’s an important conversation to have. Here’s a take on some key points from a review in The Guardian:
These are all worthy areas, to be sure. They are what intelligent, concerned citizens ought to want to know about the world that surrounds them. Perhaps, two centuries ago, the general populace could manage without The News most of the time. But now it’s omnipresent, inescapable and, on this thesis, stuck in too many arcane ruts, pandering to fear and pessimism, relishing disappointment.
Yet you can’t make the whole journey merely by playing the dissatisfied consumer.
[…] News starts with you, your family, your interests, your street. It expands via TV, captured by the people and lives you see on screen. (It was more interested in foreign coverage when it seemed the cold war could destroy us all at the push of a button). It is a box of fragments you try to assemble for yourself, rather than a finished jigsaw. Which means that it can’t be pinned down in a handy user’s guide. But at least it’s worth thinking about constantly, fine, frisky, philosophical minds applied. For the construct is you.
How Teens Actually Use the Internet
danah boyd, superstar researcher of media, culture and teens, has just published It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked teens, which you can learn about and purchase here, or download (for free!) here.
We’ve yet to read it ourselves, but in this excellent round-up of questions and answers from Ethan Zuckerman, you can get a good sense of the content she covers and the myths about teen habits online that she busts. For example: the fact that teens want to gather in physical space rather than rely on connecting through the web, but we’ve restricted their ability to participate in public life and so they must rely on the web.
The book is organized around myths associated with youth and online media: the idea that youth are digital natives, that online spaces are heavily sexualized, and that online spaces are dangerous to youth.
Her overall takeaway from this research: we have spent thirty years restricting the ability of youth to get together face to face in the physical world. These technologies give youth access to public life once again and to make meaning of the world around them. Youth want to gather and socialize with their friends and become part of public life. Many youth would rather get together in real life, but turn to online spaces because those are the only spaces where young people can interact with one another in public life.
“There’s so much learning, so much opportunity through being part of public life”, says danah. We need to accept the idea that these online spaces are the key public spaces for young people.
Image: A prezi visualizing danah’s talk to the Berkman Center luncheon.
Nilay Patel considers the end of Network Neutrality at The Verge:
Massive companies like AT&T and Comcast have spent the first two months of 2014 boldly announcing plans to close and control the internet through additional fees, pay-to-play schemes, and sheer brutal size — all while the legal rules designed to protect against these kinds of abuses were struck down in court for basically making too much sense. “Broadband providers represent a threat to internet openness,” concluded Judge David Tatel in Verizon’s case against the FCC’s Open Internet order, adding that the FCC had provided ample evidence of internet companies abusing their market power and had made “a rational connection between the facts found and the choices made.” Verizon argued strenuously, but had offered the court “no persuasive reason to question that judgement.”
Then Tatel cut the FCC off at the knees for making “a rather half-hearted argument” in support of its authority to properly police these threats and vacated the rules protecting the open internet, surprising observers on both sides of the industry and sending new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler into a tailspin of empty promises seemingly designed to disappoint everyone.
Looking for a recommendation to bring Network Neutrality back? Make your voice heard by emailing and calling FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Looking for a different perspective? Try GigaOm where Mathew Ingram pulls together a Twitter conversation between Marc Andreessen and assorted journalists about how enforcing Network Neutrality is a lost cause. Instead, Andreessen argues, bandwidth isn’t infinite and the focus should be on the cable monopolies that erode innovation.
Looking for more background? Try the EFF, Why the FCC Can’t Actually Save Network Neutrality; or these posts from the Free Press on the FCC and media policy.
Image: How to Unfuck the Internet, via The Verge.
Eastern vs. Western Perspectives on Daily Life
via Drama Fever:
Yang Liu is an artist who was born in China but lived in Germany from the time she was 14. She designed this series of infographics to represent her observations about Chinese culture and German culture. She covers a broad variety of subjects, from what a typical party looks like to attitudes towards waiting in line.
They’re all pretty great and true. Above: Moods & Weather.
I’m looking for a young, feeble mind to mold. Inquire within.
FJP: Do it.
Live video isn’t working for newspapers because they try to do TV (which has its own problems) & it’s not done well -
In the past five years, the Times, the Journal, the Post, POLITICO and others have dedicated more resources to video than to any other new endeavor, and, to date, have lost money in every case, sources at those organizations said. Creating compelling television, it turned out, meant more than putting talking heads around a table. It required millions of dollars, new innovations, and, most important, experienced producers and compelling on-air talent.
Now, the hope for live digital television is all but dead, and the entire industry is on a “course correction.” The focus has shifted from live programming to brief video packages requiring minimal cost and production efforts. Even here, news organizations have struggled to turn video into a lucrative business, let alone a robust revenue generator. In 2013, the Times couldn’t even draw enough viewers to deliver on its advertisement deals.
FJP: Let’s bring lack of imagination into this equation.
Just as early radio emulated print, and early TV emulated radio, early Web-based video is emulating contemporary TV.
When there are global events such as the recent Ukrainian uprising, hundreds of thousand tuned into Epreso TV. Same same when we watched Tahrir Square via Al Jazeera.
This doesn’t happen often though so consider what the Web delivery system actually is: text, graphics, video, words, interaction. It’s not TV and shouldn’t try to be.
Your successful video is created within that context, and within that delivery mechanism. Think through your medium and program accordingly. — Michael
To Alyssa Royse, a sex and relationships blogger, for saying that she hated The Dark Knight: “you are clearly retarded, i hope someone shoots then rapes you.” To Kathy Sierra, a technology writer, for blogging about software, coding, and design: “i hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob.” To Lindy West, a writer at the women’s website Jezebel, for critiquing a comedian’s rape joke: “I just want to rape her with a traffic cone.” To Rebecca Watson, an atheist commentator, for blogging about sexism in the skeptic community: “If I lived in Boston I’d put a bullet in your brain.” To Catherine Mayer, a journalist at Time magazine, for no particular reason: “A BOMB HAS BEEN PLACED OUTSIDE YOUR HOME. IT WILL GO OFF AT EXACTLY 10:47 PM ON A TIMER AND TRIGGER DESTROYING EVERYTHING.” —
Amanda Hess, Pacific Standard. Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet.
Find time. Read this:
But no matter how hard we attempt to ignore it, this type of gendered harassment — and the sheer volume of it — has severe implications for women’s status on the Internet. Threats of rape, death, and stalking can overpower our emotional bandwidth, take up our time, and cost us money through legal fees, online protection services, and missed wages. I’ve spent countless hours over the past four years logging the online activity of one particularly committed cyberstalker, just in case. And as the Internet becomes increasingly central to the human experience, the ability of women to live and work freely online will be shaped, and too often limited, by the technology companies that host these threats, the constellation of local and federal law enforcement officers who investigate them, and the popular commentators who dismiss them—all arenas that remain dominated by men, many of whom have little personal understanding of what women face online every day.
Take, for example, the case of Jessica Valenti, founder of Feministing:
When rape and death threats first started pouring into her inbox, she vacated her apartment for a week, changed her bank accounts, and got a new cell number. When the next wave of threats came, she got in touch with law enforcement officials, who warned her that though the men emailing her were unlikely to follow through on their threats, the level of vitriol indicated that she should be vigilant for a far less identifiable threat: silent “hunters” who lurk behind the tweeting “hollerers.” The FBI advised Valenti to leave her home until the threats blew over, to never walk outside of her apartment alone, and to keep aware of any cars or men who might show up repeatedly outside her door. “It was totally impossible advice,” she says. “You have to be paranoid about everything. You can’t just not be in a public place.”
Along with the psychological, emotional and professional toll such trolling takes, Hess’ article also explores the role technology platforms (could) play in alleviating abuse, law enforcement issues around cyberstalking, the sociology of online and offline spaces and much much more.
How to spot the difference between a terrorist and a journalist -
A note to governments from Index on Censorship:
Index on Censorship here. We’ve noticed some you have had trouble telling the difference between terrorists and journalist lately (yes, you too Barack: put the BlackBerry down). So we thought as people with some experience of the journalism thing, we could offer you a few handy tips to refer to the next time you find yourself asking: journalist or terrorist?
Have a look at your suspect. Is he carrying a) a notebook with weird squiggly lines on it, or b) an RPG-7. If the latter, odds on he’s a terrorist. The former? Most likely a journalist. Those squiggly lines are called “shorthand” – it’s what reporters do when they’re writing things down for, er, reporting. It might look a bit like Arabic, but it’s not, and even if it was, that wouldn’t be a good enough reason to lock the guy up.
Still not clear? Let’s move on to the questioning part.
Background: In Egypt, Al Jazeera journalists are on trial for having links to a “terrorist organization”; in England, a court ruled that the detention of Glenn Greenwald’s partner at Heathrow Airport was legal because carrying the Edward Snowden NSA documents is, um, terroristy; in Morocco, a journalist was charged last fall with “inciting terrorism” because he linked to an Al Qaeda video; and in the United States the government admits that journalists could be targeted with counter-terrorism laws as they do their jobs (see here, here, and here for all things depressing).
We could go on.