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A few links on music blanket licensing

It’s been a busy week so forgive me if I lean on other sites for content:

Ars has an interesting article about Jim Griffin, a consultant for Warner, talking up “blanket” licensing for digital music. While this would seem to be a huge step in the right direction for a major label – like so many things – the devil’s in the details. Read more

A Huge Win for Open Source Licenses

Hey remember when I used to talk about copyright?

Me neither.

Very interesting ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the case of Robert Jacobsen v. Matthew Katzer & Kamind Associates. Since I’ll presume not everyone shares my love of reading out of country judicial rulings (or pdf files) – here’s a brief summary for the copyright-interested: Read more

Join the (Ukraine) Army!

Rob, my brother, sent me a link to this recruitment video for the Ukrainian army. Compared to the Canadian (and US) ads I see constantly, I find the candor and lack of pretext refreshing.

Panning for gold in the sewer: Fun with internet critique

Friday’s post about Scott Kurtz’s take on interpreting critical feedback eventually generated a couple very interesting comments.

One thing everyone agreed upon was that that the “signal to noise” ratio for feedback (incorporating all pro/amateur/literary critique/”you suck” e-mail) for any creative work on the Internet is astoundingly low. So the question remains – as a creator of any subjective work on the Internet (comics, films, poetry, bonsai kittens) – how can one filter the responses one gets to get useful information out of the mire? Read more

Don’t let critical insulation become a padded room

Man I love Scott Kurtz. I’m not sure of anyone else who has that unique blend of high quality output I can’t resist – and then the occasional personal post that can just send me screaming around the bend wanting to rant and rage.

His latest blog post snarks Johanna Draper Carlson’s review of “How to Make Webcomics” (which I’ve said before is great and should be step one in any new artists plan for internet domination). Now while Johanna’s review is pretty much glowing Scott took umbrage at Johanna’s wondering why there was nothing in the book to suggest that occasionally criticism from critics or fans was deserved.
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Pssst… want to buy some unfiltered Chinese Olympic internet access?

In all the recent hooplah about China (gasp) reneging on it’s commitment to provide unfiltered Internet access for Olympic journalists, I’m quite surprised that more media outlets aren’t coming to the plate to publicaly announce that they’ll be circumventing any attempts made at censorship.

I suspect that it will come as a shock to absolutely no one that filtering the internet is almost impossible, and there are a wide range of public and private options to circumvent filtering. As well I know many (I suspect most) major media outlets use VPNs, or other secured on-line platforms to submit their stories… obtaining web content through this “protected corridor” would be trivial.

More interesting to me than the global hand-wringing going on (which gives the impression that the Chinese government has all the power in this equation) would be if more organizations would publicly come out and state that filtering web access based on URL or even content keywords would have absolutely no impact whatsoever on their operations, or their ability to access whatever information they want while in Beijing.

Heck, why isn’t a major news outlet vowing to take a stand and provide their own encrypted internet corridor for any accredited journalist who wants to use it while in Beijing? Then we’d have a story.

Perhaps, as Chris Matyszczyk posited at CNet the real censorship issue doesn’t start with the Chinese government, but with Western press reluctance to rock the boat.

[Edit 07/30/08 - Only hours later it looks like The IOC knew China had no intention of honouring their commitment - and even did a deal with them allowing this. While making the IOC seem unusually feckless, even by IOC standards, it doesn't change my underlying position. If the media is truly outraged, let's see them stand up and resolve the situation publically (instead of privately). I have no doubt they'd start getting tossed out of the country left and right, but it would be a lot more interesting to see the IOC try to worm it's way out of that situation with a "well we're only concerned about the sports themselves".]

Do Engineers Dream of 0wnz0red sheep?

I’m a long time proponent of so-called hard science-fiction. While I generally enjoy fiction in all it’s forms, there is something uniquely interesting, and often eye-opening, about those well versed in esoteric (sometimes impenetrable) subsets of the science community trying to extrapolate the cutting-edge developments of their fields into ethical, moral, or straight-adventure tales.

It’s telling that one of two physical pulp-and-paper magazines I still subscribe to is the venerable Analog. While Wikipedia may be right that it can be “a bit puritanical”, I have never picked up an issue that didn’t contain at least one story or science article that made me reconsider a pre-conceived notion about the universe we live in, or our place in it.

George Dyson’s “Engineer’s Dreams” is a great story, but also a great example of this unique blend of fiction (and also how hard it is to find a venue to publish such works). It blends the history of computer sciences, approaches to computer logic, and examination of Google network topography to construct a fictional tale about man’s ever shifting view of what a “computer” is. It actually just occured to me that it’s an interesting counterpoint to Cory Doctrow’s “0wnz0red” (a 2003 Nebula finalist) in that “0wnz0red” examines what application of computer logic could do to alter our concept of “human” and “Engineer’s Dreams” is the inverse.

Both are excellent stories that raise interesting questions. So you should go read them.

Dear Robot Developers: Why Do You Want Your Creations to Kill Us All?

I was talking to someone the other day about a documentary from HotDocs called “Mechanical Love“. One of the themes the film touches on is how Japan has an official initiative of Robot integration to replace their rapidly ageing population (by 2055, over 40% of the population will be older than 65).

One of the engineers in the film (I think working on a guide robot for shopping malls) talked about how difficult it is to program certain basic empathic processes, such as recognizing that someone is disoriented or separated from their group, and in need of assistance.

While I’m no robophobe (heck one of my best friends growing up was Robo-Canadian) may I kindly suggest to engineers worldwide that programming robots which can recognize when someone is disoriented or separated from their group is a terrible idea. Because while you’re doing that, these guys are making terrifying all-terain quadrepeds (seriously check out the point in the video where ice, piles of rubble, and kicking the thing over don’t even slow it down)… and these guys are perfecting terrifying teddy-bear heads, and using people as human sheilds, and we know they’ve already mastered speaking to us in a soothing manner while planning to kill us all.

What I’m really getting at here is you think they don’t all talk to each other and pool their new abilities?. I have seen the future and it is not one I’m entirely comfortable with: