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{Friday, January 30, 2004}

Trust me, I'm a Doctor

Under the cover story by Jim McClellan
Unlike music, the book business's core demographic is older and female and not drawn to piracy. But the fear of "Napsterisation" has led to rather stringent DRM measures in e-publishing.
[...] Thanks to the spread of MP3 players, digital audio books are beginning to sell. According to Jonathan Korzen, spokesman for Audible.com, the leading player in the field, they offer obvious advantages. You don't have to struggle with loads of tapes. The audio version of even a long novel can be downloaded pretty quickly. You can store several at once on the average MP3 player. [...] In line with founder Donald Katz's idea that the net lets you sell a wider range of spoken word products, Audible.com now sells audio editions of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, available to be downloaded in the morning.
The company has also commissioned original audio content from the likes of comedian Robin Williams. "We are not competitors to the traditional audio book publishers, we're their partners," says Korzen. "We introduce more people to the spoken word and audio books than we 'cannibalise' sales from traditional audio book publishers."

John Woodford - Newspapers need to adopt multi-media strategy, says editor
"The main financial danger looming before newspapers specifically is that "we could cannibalize ourselves," [Ellen] Soeteber said. Such an outcome is possible, she said, if classified advertising "migrates out of newspapers" into one of the other media formats, which could cost newspapers "from a quarter to a third" of their revenue.
Soeteber also pointed to another worry, the fragmentation of TV viewership under the pressure of "nascent online usage." Emerging broadband technologies that amalgamate print, audio and video pose yet another challenge."

Discovery Channel: Incan Counting System Decoded?
"Recent studies are investigating the hypothesis that elaborated knotted strings known as khipu contain a hidden written language stored following a seven-bit binary code. Nobody, however, had been able to explain the meaning of these geometrical tablets known as yupana.
Different in size and shape, the yupana had been often interpreted as a stylized fortress model. Some scholars also interpreted it as a counting board, but how the abacus would have worked remained a mystery.
"It took me about 40 minutes to solve the riddle. I am not an expert on pre-Columbian civilizations. I simply decoded a 16th century drawing from a book on mathematical enigmas I received as a Christmas present," engineer Nicolino De Pasquale said."
Rossella Lorenzi

John M. Unsworth - The Next Wave: Liberation Technology [via MGK]
"Since the beginning of Internet time and before, Liberation Technology has been intertwined with and opposed to another ideology. Call it Command and Control. You see Command and Control at work in the military roots of the Internet, in the Recording Industry Association of America's prosecution of file-sharing college students, and in Microsoft's doubly possessive and oddly revealing slogan ("your potential, our passion"). Liberation Technology wants to keep information free; Command and Control wants to make the Internet safe for private property.
To be sure, not all proprietary operations oppose open inquiry, but the key to the business success of open-source products like Linux is that they allow people to make money by selling them, without allowing the seller exclusive control. Especially with information goods, the notion of nonexclusive commercial rights is key."

Media, Attention, and the Colonization of Consciousness: A Buddhist Perspective
"In fact, our indecisiveness about whether the media really cause behavioral changes or simply reflect them is rooted in the metaphysical blind-spot that results from insistently excluding the middle ground between what 'is' and what 'is-not'. If we accept the Buddha's claim that 'is' and 'is-not' are the twin barbs on which all humankind is impaled, the belief that we can and should distinguish between these different (at least, possible) manifestations of the media is precisely what keeps us from being able to see how the media institutionalize suffering and what we might do to resist.
[...] Like the species in a zoo or the goods in a shopping mall, we co-exist with one another, but are no longer fully interdependent. We have forfeited the dramatic commons on which we are able to immediately contribute to one another's welfare -- the signal characteristic of any diverse community or environment. And, for the most part, we have done so quite willingly, insisting that it is an exercise of our freedom." Peter D. Hershock

The Tyranny of Copyright? by Robert S. Boynton [via Copyfight: the Politics of IP]
[...] Lessig is one of the most prominent and eloquent defenders of the Copy Left's belief that copyright law should return to its Jeffersonian roots. ''We are invoking ideas that should be central to the American tradition, such as that a free society is richer than a control society,'' he says. ''But in the cultural sphere, big media wants to build a new Soviet empire where you need permission from the central party to do anything.'' He complains that Americans have been reduced to ''an Oliver Twist-like position,'' in which they have to ask, ''Please, sir, may I?'' every time we want to use something under copyright -- and then only if we are fortunate enough to have the assistance of a high-priced lawyer.
[...] One of the central ideas of the Copy Left is that the Internet has been a catalyst for re-engaging with the culture -- for interacting with the things we read and watch and listen to, as opposed to just sitting back and absorbing them. This vision of how culture works stands in contrast to what the Copy Left calls the ''broadcast model'' -- the arrangement in which a small group of content producers disseminate their creations (television, movies, music) through controlled routes (cable, theaters, radio-TV stations) to passive consumers. Yochai Benkler, the law professor at Yale, argues that people want to be more engaged in their culture, despite the broadcast technology, like television, that he says has narcotized us. ''People are users,'' he says. ''They are producers, storytellers, consumers, interactors -- complex, varied beings, not just people who go to the store, buy a packaged good off the shelf and consume.''
[...] The future of the Copy Left's efforts is still an open question. James Boyle has likened the movement's efforts to establish a cultural commons to those of the environmental movement in its infancy. Like Rachel Carson in the years before Earth Day, the Copy Left today is trying to raise awareness of the intellectual ''land'' to which they believe we ought to feel entitled and to propose policies and laws that will preserve it. Just as the idea of environmentalism became viable in the wake of the last century's advances in industrial production, the growth of this century's information technologies, Boyle argues, will force the country to address the erosion of the cultural commons. ''The environmentalists helped us to see the world differently,'' he writes, ''to see that there was such a thing as 'the environment' rather than just my pond, your forest, his canal. We need to do the same thing in the information environment. We have to 'invent' the public domain before we can save it.''

Dan Gillmor's eJournal - Needed: A Joan Kroc for Open Technology and Public Domain
"A thought: Clearly, peace, poverty and health care matter more than other issues, but I'd like to see someone of similar financial stature [to Joan Kroc] make it a life mission to push for reform of the "intellectual property" system. This would include fixing the broken patent system, pushing for open source development so technology is more affordable to everyone -- not held in cartels -- and promotion of the public domain in a general sense."

Dan Gillmor's suggestion [writes Johnny Lovestocking] elicited numerous astute comments including those of David H. Rothman whose blog is here TeleRead: Bring the E-Books Home

Rogue State 0 : Elephant Corporation 3

A Whodunit for the Digital Age by Kari L. Dean
"Cybersnoops, aspiring Web detectives and electronic voyeurs searching for a new kind of fix might find it in an emerging form of e-book fiction with a twist: the digital epistolary novel, or DEN.
Created by Greatamericannovel.com, a DEN reveals its story line through a series of simulated e-mails, Web pages and instant messages. "E-books spend too much time looking like paper; they need some device," said Eric Brown, a former literature professor and founder of Greatamericannovel.com. "This is the story of stuff we expect to see on the screen. It's compelling and fun."
Upon downloading a DEN from Greatamericannovel.com, a reader advances through the story by clicking through chains of e-mails between main characters. The reader also witnesses instant-messaging conversations in progress, sees which websites the characters visit, and views the wireless text messages they send and receive. Through these simulated communications, the events of the story unfurl.
"I thought of how we go back and forth on e-mail, and sometimes misinterpret, but yet reconnect," said Brown, current president of Communications Associates, a Memphis, Tennessee, consulting firm that also operates the DEN website. "I started with the idea of the missent e-mail, wrote the story and gave the interface I envisioned to a programmer," Brown said. And so the DEN, a new e-book genre, was born."

Forbes.com: Philips Unveils Ultra-Thin, Flexible Display by Charles Choi
Flexible displays not only could replace bulky computer monitors and rigid flat screens, but also supplant paper in books, newspapers and elsewhere in print.
"There aren't enough trees in China to make enough schoolbooks for their kids. And kids are trudging around in their 40-lbs. backpacks here," said Michael McCreary, vice president of advanced research at E Ink of Cambridge, Mass., the company whose electronic ink technology is the imaging layer for the Philip's flexible display. "You could just have a single electronic book with a flexible display that gets updated each year."
All the world's newspapers, which are printed and read once and then go to landfills or are recycled, could be replaced, McCreary told UPI. "You could have the entire Library of Congress on the fraction of one bookshelf."

New Scientist - Most flexible electronic paper yet revealed [via gizmodo]
"The most flexible electronic display yet developed has been revealed by researchers at electronics giant Philips. The company says it plans to begin mass producing such displays within a few years.
There are many projects aiming to develop "electronic paper". Such a display could, for example, be used create a fully updatable newspaper which could rolled up into a coat pocket. Flexible displays could also be used to create new mobile phones and other easily collapsible gadgets.
Philips's new display was made possible by the development of a way to print organic electronics onto a thin plastic film - previously, it was only possible to print these components on glass. However, after experimenting with various different plastics, Philips now has a technique that works on polyimide film.
Precise details of the fabrication method have not been revealed due to their commercially sensitive nature, says the company. But the process has enabled the company to produce a screen that can be rolled into a tube just two centimetres in diameter - the most flexible electronic display ever made."
Will Knight

The Vigenere Square cipher + Simon Singh's The Code Book Reviewed
"Coding goes hand in hand with the alphabet."
Melvyn Bragg

CommsDesign - Philips unit unveils 'rollable' displays
"By 2005, the rollable displays, which can now be used to read e-mail, could initially be used in military applications as electronic, updatable maps on the battlefield, van Rens predicted."
Junko Yoshida

World Wide News in English : Java Image Map Applet : hypermap.com

posted by Andrew 1/30/2004 06:41:00 PM