Media Leekage and Pop Culture's Immortality
I got an email from Salon and noticed a title I couldn't resist: I work with the most annoying man alive
I work at a community college and come into daily contact with a man who has absolutely no idea that his mannerisms drive everyone around him crazy! He is a very nice man and goes the extra mile on everything, but he likes to talk in a faux Jamaican or Southern accent about half the time.
He high-fives people constantly when either he or they make some kind of statement he thinks is "right on" -- even folks who barely know him and don't share his gregarious personality. He also says "Oh nooooo!" in a high-pitched Mr. Bill voice, or "Are we having fun yet?" more times a day than I can count.
This is apparently (for I've started a subscription to Salon via the Well - and I don't know how long I'll keep it going) an advice column written by Cary Tennis and the complaint a letter looking for advice.
Tennis answered with a first line that excited me (sorry, low excitement threshold today): "One of the lesser-studied problems of the postmodern world is that of fictional seepage." Tennis plays it for a laugh, how fictional characters seep through the membrane between the real and fictional worlds. But let's think about this a bit, because there's a lot more to this concept than humor.
There's no doubt on my part that the content of the media, taken in total, has a shaping influence on our culture. Simply look at how many people end up quoting lines from sitcoms or movies or even television commercials. This isn't something new. I've seen song lyrics and plays and literature from the 19th century, at least, that had popular culture references from the time that are unrecognizable now.
Politicians do it because they want to show that they're hip and in-touch with the people (which makes me think of the ironic story former child star Patty Duke tells of having to learn popular dances from teenagers hired as tutors when she was on a popular television show in which she played the stereotypical teenager). People do it because they like to be clever. But I think they also do so because they see such references as iconic. These snippets of dialog come with a range of associations indicating thoughts, observations, reactions, and emotions. The few words become more of an image than language, presenting a synthesized (as in completed and artificial at the same time) experience. There's no need to work and digest personal experiences, understand their meaning, and find your own way to express them. You just reach for the off-the-shelf part.
The more we sit in a bath of tepid media - don't want to shock the audience out of a buying mindset, after all - the greater our collection of parts. Obviously the co-worker isn't a specific character from a BBC comedy, as Tennis jokes. But there's a good chance that the high-fives come from one image of how modern people act, the Mr. Bill imitation from Saturday Night Live reruns, the accents from somewhere else. It's a darkly amusing thought until you turn the light onto yourself. Which of my pet phrases come from something I've heard, watched, or read, even if I no longer remember the original source? How much of my body language and mannerisms are so much aping? What opinions or beliefs do I have where I haven't worked them out, but have just accepted them from the New York Times or talk radio, and I only parrot? How often do I force myself to find a new way to express a concern or question the ideas I hold dear. When you start looking around and at yourself, and try to distill the original from the imposed copies, suddenly the concept isn't so funny. It's not seepage; it's a fire hose that can drown you if you're not careful.
Labels: authentic, Cary Tennis, media, Mr. Bill, Patty Duke, Saturday Night Live, Slate
Book Review: The Lunatic
I had never heard of Anthony C. Winkler
before receiving information from Akashic Books
that they were republishing his 1980s comic novel, The Lunatic
. But I've seen interesting titles from the house before, so asked for a review copy - and I'm delighted that I did.
The story concerns a Aloysius, a Jamaican madman who claims a thousand names, who talks to trees, bushes, and rocks and lives alone in the open forests. He eventually meets a German tourist who sees the world through the lens of a camera and sex. They improbably become lovers, eventually add a third - a butcher - and go through a series of experiences and situations, culminating in the robbery of a rich man's house.
I've seen references to Winkler
as Jamaica's Mark Twain. His humor manages to be both earthy - the running comments about sex and how it dominates life are funny in a way I find little sexual humor to be - and cerebral at the same time. But the humor isn't something to be enjoyed for its own sake. Winkler
uses smiles and laughs as tools to further both the story and the ideas behind it. He deftly starts blending the worlds of the sane and the mad until they mingle, and suddenly he shows how much of modern society really is crazy, and how basic decency is too often viewed as a type of insanity. But that quality really is redemptive.Winkler's
use of symbolism is smooth and deep. The thousand names theme, for example, brings an association with the Hindi concept of the thousand names of God, each of which describe an aspect of the deity. The list of words - Aloysius Gossamer Longshoreman Technocracy Predominate Involuted
... and so on - actually read like a list of attributes of life and of people. They were all names he heard, sneaking outside a classroom because he had a desire to learn something. Aloysius isn't a deity, yet he seems to walk with God. Instead of seeing the change in him, we see the changes he works, just by his presence, in all around him. He calls forth mercy, a connection to the world, and true love.Winkler
is also a master of language. The book's pacing is smart - fast but not driven - and his use of dialect leaves the characters, and eventually the narration, ringing in your mind. Well, at least mine.
I'd strongly recommend this book for a pleasure read that lets something more substantial sneak up on you.
Labels: Jamaican, lunatic, novel, Winkler
In the great tradition of Orwell's 1984, politicians - like advertisers - often redefine common words to suit their own purpose. But the fundamental games that Dick Cheney's office has been playing with the very definition of the Vice President's office have been astounding in their gall and audaciousness. When people sought names of people with whom he met, to see to what degree special interests might be having an effect on policy, he claimed the secrecy of executive privilege.
Now the National Archives is trying to enforce its mandate from the office of the President and gain copies of records. Cheney still doesn't want to reveal anything, and so now claims to be part of the legislative branch because the Vice President is also President of the Senate. No matter that the Constitution clearly defines the Vice President as part of the executive branch.
So what's next? A claim to be part of the judiciary? Obviously there is some ... uncertainty about just what role the current Vice President actually plays in government. Perhaps we need a new branch just for this office:
Or perhaps the best choice would be to call the Vice President part of the Imperial branch of government.
A note of irony - the National Archives has a slogan: "Democracy Starts Here." Maybe it can add the word "usually" to the end.
Labels: branch, Cheney, executive, imperial, legislative, National Archives
Judge Bans Use of Word Rape in Trial
When I first heard about the Salon art ice
about a Nebraska judge granted the motion of defense attorneys to ban from a trial the use of the words and terms rape
, sexual assault
, and sexual assault kit
, I was frothing at the mouth. (OK, flecks of foam.) But when I actually got to the article itself, I started having some sympathy for the judge.
Language is the stuff of thought. As George Orwell noted in his novel 1984, if you control the meaning of words, you control what thoughts someone can think. The situation under trial is complex. Two people had drinks. The woman apparently blacked out and, awaking the next morning, found the man having intercourse with her. She asked him to stop and he did.
Did the woman consent when drunk? Did either of them know what they were doing? Clearly the woman's experience was bad. Someone having an indifferent intimate evening with another doesn't charge rape out of ennui. But is the situation somewhere between rape and consent? Does calling the act sex or intercourse alone provide an assumption of legitimacy?
It's complex, and finding the truth is at least difficult, if even possible. But either the state has charged the man with rape or it hasn't. How can people address a criminal charge when the system dares not allow attorneys to speak the name of the crime?
Labels: bans, crime, judge, rape, trial
Lee Kaplan Post Comment Deconstruction and Moderation
I eventually put my food related blog
on comment moderation. I didn't like anonymous remarks that had all the signs of up-beat marketing talk appearing in response to a couple of my product reviews. If you want to disagree, that's fine, but you've got to say who you are and make a case.
I've just had to do the same with this blog. A comment came in about my Small Claims Court Becomes SLAPP Slip
post. It's tone made it sound like it was either from Kaplan himself or some partisan supporter. That's fine, but how about attaching your name to the post, Anonymous? Are you afraid to stand up for what you say? Apparently so, and I took down the post. But I don't like the idea of censoring, so I'm putting in here along with an examination.
Erik Sherman writes from total ignorance in the Salahi vs Kaplan case.
I was actually writing more about how small claims might circumvent a state's anti-SLAPP legislation, and this is an area I've researched in the past.
First, Salahi write demonstrably false information on the Internet to attack Kaplan's professional reputation as a journalist, a tort.
Writing something that is demonstrably (please use the spell checker) false about someone could be
a tort. Did the writer think that the information was correct? Did the writer back up the work with research, repeat a rumor, or make something up with the interest of doing damage? A court would have to decide in such a situation whether there had been a tort.
Salahi sent threatening emails and made phone calls to Kaplan's employers that cost Kaplan a job.
First, Kaplan appears to be a freelance writer, so he has clients, not employers. Second, according to the links that Anonymous provides (more on this later), Kaplan nearly
lost a client. Nearly to me means didn't. Furthermore, one of the links that goes into this makes it pretty muddy exactly what caused the problem for Kaplan - sorry, but on multiple readings, I couldn't figure out what he was saying, other than it had something to do with a switch of images, accompanying an article Kaplan wrote, somewhere or other.
Salahi claims his free speech was curtailed, yet says he will continue to libel Kaplan on the Web and that nobody told him he had to take the smear site he set up against Kaplan down.
Yes, Salahi claims that the suit has made it more difficult to express himself, which is why I wrote about this as a potential case of small claims courts possibly being a new way for people and companies to try using legal tactics to control speech. Possibly is the operative word here.
So wheres the violation of the First Amendment?
I never said that there was a violation of the First Amendment. That would require a government body restricting speech. The term First Amendment doesn't appear in the body of my post. It is a label for the post, because it's a free speech issue, and someone looking for First Amendment topics might find this interesting.
Salahi is asking the blogging community to pay the judgment for him, but why should they.
I don't know, as I never said that they should. In fact, I never even mentioned that he was looking for people to donate money.
His crying about the First Amendment is a con to get sympathy and donors.
A con? And just how do you prove that he doesn't believe what he's writing? He'd have to for this to be a con. Don't rant about people libeling others on the web and then do exactly what you complain about.
As for the SLAPP nonsense, it did not apply to the case.
SLAPP nonsense? Sorry, but there are too many cases where law suits have become instruments to silence people. The question was whether Kaplan took action because he really felt injured or did so to silence a critic. I can't know that for sure, but it's certainly a possibility. Now go back and see at the beginning of my post where I wrote that this case may
be one of the latest to get around anti-SLAPP restrictions.
Salahi had free legal help and it was Kaplan who had to bear the brunt of his own lawsuit.
Hello, this was small claims court. I assume that Anonymous meant that Kaplan had to bear the costs of his suit. The cost
to file for a $7,500 claim (which happens to be the largest that the court allows) is $75. Sorry, but that doesn't seem to be an overwhelming amount, and as you can't bring a lawyer into the court, that limits the amount of the legal bill. In other words, his costs were minimum and he was going for the largest amount of damage - and most painful penalty - he could while minimizing his own expenses.
By the way, it was proven in court that Salahi lied about the SLAPP motion that he mistakenly claimed he could use a year ago.
? An interesting assertion without any proof cited. And what is it that Anonymous means? Lied about raising it? Try collecting yourself and thinking through what it is that you want to say, please.
The article attacking Kaplan was written by an anti-Israel rag and reporter that has done hit pieces on Kaplan before, and has nothing to do with the court case or the evidence.
Ah, I see - Anonymous doesn't like the presumed politics of the article's publisher. But this is empty rhetoric, as it doesn't show one way or the other that what was in the article was inaccurate. A critical view isn't necessarily a "hit piece," which sounds as though it's written strictly to discredit someone and not to investigate a story. Those who are interested can actually see Kaplan's own response
to the article in question. While he does refute a number of things, I don't think he refuted the part about disrupting events.
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=28816 to get the real story...
Ah, now we get to the nub of it. The two sources were written by Kaplan, and Anonymous is a true believer. Reality suggests that in any dispute, the truth is generally somewhere between the two sides.
Now, to be fair, I realize that I inadvertently left out half a line from my previous post. The second to the last sentence should have started, "If this representation is correct..." I don't know what Kaplan actually does because I haven't been there and, frankly, am not interested in doing the amount of research on him that it might take to establish its veracity. But if this is how he acts, then it does sound like he wants to drown out opposing views.
Labels: 1st amendment, Berkeley, first amendment, Kaplan, Salahi, suit
2-Year-Old Joins Mensa
According to this story
, a 2-year-old has become the youngest member of Mensa
. Quick, what's a six-letter word for food? (Bottle.) The organization's web site states:
Mensa "provides a forum for intellectual exchange among members. Its activities include the exchange of ideas by lectures, discussions, journals, special-interest groups, and local, regional, national, and international gatherings; the investigations of members' opinions and attitudes; and assistance to researchers, inside and outside Mensa, in projects dealing with intelligence or Mensa."
So what discussions will the toddler enter? Skipping diaper training instead of grades?
Labels: 2, member, Mensa, toddler
15 Sites for Free Online Books
When I wrote about DailyLit.com, I thought of Bartleby.com and Project Gutenberg, which got me wondering about other online spots for free books. Got the itch to read but nothing new at hand? Here are 15 places to scratch:UPenn: The Online Books Page
(25,000 free books from the University of Pennsylvania)Internet Public Library
(not just books, but also some of the best research archives of online resources you'll find)eLibrary
(directory of ebooks with over 330 free titles)Project Gutenberg
(17,000 free public domain ebooks)Bartleby.com
(classic literature and reference books)Read-Print
(Thousands of free classics)bibliomania
(free classics, some references, articles, and interviews)Children's Books Online
(online antique illustrated children's books)FreeTechBooks.com
(free online computer science and programming books and lecture notes)Classic Bookshelf
(free online classics with a customizable interface)Daily Lit
(get free classics sent to you via email on a daily basis, chunk at a time)Page by Page Books
(hundreds of online classics in an online page format)Great Books and Classics
(great books from many fields; not just the "usual suspects")Turning the Pages
(online gallery of rare manuscripts from the British Museum)Classic Reader
(classic books, plays, poetry, and drams online)
Labels: books, classics, free, online
Is It Live or a Movie? National Theatre Uses Video Promotion
Looking for the National Theatre in London? Don’t bother with a plane, train, or cab. Instead, try YouTube
. The company is using online e-trailers as a marketing tool.
As have many other theatres, the National has wanted to reach people outside people who already see live productions. Some months ago, marketing director Sarah Shunt was surfing the web and came across a video trailer for the musical Wicked on Broadway.com. She wondered why the National couldn’t do so as well. Apparently there was no good reason, so it started experimenting.
“One of the first two e-trailers we created was for a new play called Market Boy,” she says. The David Eldridge script reflects on political life in the 1980s and is set in an East London market with “unusual staging” by Rufus Norris that made heavy use of period music. It seemed a good match for 20- and 30-somethings, although the Theatre thought that it might not be appealing to its traditional crowd – hence the online promotion along with an e-mail campaign.
“It was incredible,” Shunt says. “Market Boy became known wider than the theater-going public. “The data showed us that a larger portion of the people were first timers to the National Theatre, and for the fist time more people booked their tickets online than any other method.”
There was no professional video crew. The National had some cameras and a staff graphic designer that had become a good photographer and was willing to try video. To do an e-trailer for something like the current production of Maxim Gorky's Philistines takes only an hour with some cast members – in this case using a rehearsal room.
“This trailer is the best [among the others] at capturing the essence of the stage,” wrote Henrietta Clancy in the Guardian’s theater blog
. “Having seen Philistines, I can confirm that the trailer definitely shines a light on Gorky's play. It successfully embraces the real grit of live performance, yet I feel sure that it could be pushed further. The trailer could benefit from some footage of the rehearsal process or a few shots of the audience being shown to their seats and buying programmes.”
According to Shunt, the reviewer was a bit off-base from what the National was trying to achieve, which is an impression of the play, and not a representation. The 2 minute and 8 second video is a montage of images; characters addressing the viewer in close-ups, a sepia-toned black & white treatment; sensitive lighting that adds a dimension of depth to a medium that usually seems visually flat. In other words, this is a commercial of the best kind. Instead of focusing on an artificial brand image, the National is trying to communicate the essence of what it is and what it does. That's real marketing.
Take this an early sign of just how useful modern communications can be to the life of theater. It's difficult to bring new audiences into what can seem like an alien ground if you haven’t been brought up in and around it. But now a company can invite guests, give them a taste of what they will experience, all using media that makes them comfortable Video is intimate, seductive. Advertisers have known that for literal decades. Large commercial producers of musicals have been using television over the years, and now smaller venues can.
The National doesn’t stop with videos. There's a presence on MySpace.com
. The company’s own web site has RSS feeds about books, exhibitions, productions, and news. Podcasts carry interviews with directors, writers, and actors. Reaching out to audiences isn't about doing the same things repeatedly, or even about pandering to what a theatre thinks its audience wants. It's about communicating honestly and in a way to convey the emotion of live theater. “We’re in the 21st century,” Shunt says. “This is how people are communicating. It’s a moving poster.”
The National does have significant resources, but this isn’t technology restricted to large organizations. Small groups that depend upon the kindness of volunteers could likely find web designers, practiced photographers and videographers, and the technically-adept who could learn to generate compressed video that could run on a free site like YouTube or MySpace and email an invitation for a taste of the latest production. By taking drama of contemporary times and using modern communications, a company can build a mirrored door to theater and make it relevant to generations that haven’t yet been acquainted.
Labels: e-trailers, Gorky, Henrietta Clancy, Market Boy, marketing, National Theatre, video, YouTube
No Web 2.0
You may have heard the term Web 2.0, which is supposed to be the next incarnation of applications that do ... oh ... something or other with ... uh ... communities and ... mm ... interactive whatchamacallits. I think. Confused? Join the club. Marc Andreessen, Netscape founder, had an interesting post
on his blog about how Web 2.0 originated as the name of a technical conference, and that people had been moving toward an understanding of what exactly the Web is. So there isn't really a Web 2.0, just a web. Unfortunately, those looking to make money don't always leave well enough alone:
Web 2.0 has been picked up as a term by the entrepreneurial community and its corollaries in venture capital, the press, analysts, large media and Internet companies, and Wall Street to describe a theoretical new category of startup companies.
Reminds me of when everything was an ERP system ... uh ... supply chain optimization system ... ohhh ... [dancing around here as though in dire need of a toilet] ... marketplace ... errr ... CRM ...
Sometimes you have to forget coming up with new terminology and just do something.
Labels: Andreessen, entrepreneurs, Netscape, venture capital, web, Web 2.0
Small Claims Court Becomes SLAPP Slip
A SLAPP - strategic lawsuit against public participation - is a mechanism that many people use to stifle public criticism or debate by using the legal system as a weapon. When the critics have to spend too much time or money defending themselves, they can't afford to keep speaking their minds. Some states, like California
, have statutes giving the defendant a way of challenging the motives of the suit. But companies and individuals keep trying to find ways of circumventing the statutes, and one of the latest attempts may involve California's small claims courts
Berkeley sophomore Yaman Salahi started a blog called Lee Kaplan Watch
, following the work of a journalist by that name. Kaplan ended up suing him for libel
in small claims court - a fairly unusual move. And apparently he's been ordered by the court to pay $7,500 in damages. Under California law, small claims judges aren't required to file written opinions, so it's difficult for Salahi to find grounds to challenge the decision. Oh, and the same day the judgment came out, Kaplan applauded a writer's U.S. court victory in a libel case because a $120,000 UK judgment could have bankrupted her and effectively kept her from speaking her mind. Ah, the irony. And here's an article
about Kaplan's relationship to the Arab-Israeli conflicts and pro-Palestinian voices in the U.S.:
The self-appointed watchdog of the Bay Area's pro-Palestinian groups, he has made it his mission in life to disrupt their events, confront their leaders, and reveal them to the world as he sees them. He uses tactics that others call extreme, and he calls necessary: He has infiltrated their conferences and gone in disguise to their training sessions, with tape recorder and hidden camera. When his foes are college students, he calls their deans. When they're Jewish, he contacts their families. Kaplan acknowledges that such tactics won't resolve any conflicts, here or abroad, but he doesn't believe that compromise is possible with the current pro-Palestinian groups.
If this representation is correct, then, in other words, free speech is fine - if it's "correct" free speech. Didn't Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia have similar approaches?
[Edited to explicitly acknowledge that I can't know if the article about Kaplan is correct in what it states.]
Labels: 1st amendment, Berkeley, first amendment, Kaplan, Salahi, suit
Serialized Books by Email
I was doing a bit of research, updating the materials for a course about online research that I've offered to journalists when I stumbled across DailyLit.com
. The site has over 250 public domain books. You choose something you'd like to read and the service sends you the book in chunks, each of which can be read in about five minutes, on a regular basis. You can even specify what days and times you'll receive updates. You can search for books by title, author, or category, and if you finish one of the installments and want more, you can get it delivered immediately. Imagine: Dante's Inferno in 38 easy reading installments.
Labels: books, email, installments, lierature
National Archives Find Lincoln Note
The Associated Press reports
that the National Archives stumbled upon an important historic document:
a handwritten note by Abraham Lincoln exhorting his generals to pursue Robert E. Lee's army after the battle of Gettysburg, underscoring one of the great missed opportunities for an early end to the Civil War.
The text had been public knowledge because it was addressed to a general who then telegraphed the contents to the front lines at Gettysburg. Archivist Trevor Plante had literally been looking for something else when he came across this paper stuck in a desk drawer.
Labels: archives, Gettysburg, history, Lincoln
Internet Word Tests Confusing Users
You've seen them - the distorted collections of letters and numbers against odd background where you discern the characters and type them into a box so a web site knows it's dealing with a person and not a spam bot. The New York Times had an article
about how the tests to fool spammers, called captchas (Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart), are starting to twist the minds of people, as well. I know that I've seen one or two where I had to try a couple of different times: Is it upper or lower case, or a 1 or l? They keep getting tougher because people develop programs to defeat them.
Labels: captcha, spam, spammers
No Joy In Bookstoresville For Harry Potter Won't Strike Out
Book stores are braced for the waves of people who will be pouring through the doors to pick up a copy of the final book in the Harry Potter series. But they're not smiling. According to Reuters, competitive pressure has driven down what sellers can get for the volume to such low levels that many will make hardly anything from it. And I have a funny feeling that most people aren't picking up a second book to go along with it. It brings to mind the old business saying: We'll lose a little on each sale but hope to make it up in volume. But then, you never do make it up.
Labels: book stores, books, Harry Potter
New York Post Misses Full Story on CNN Correspondent
I came across a story
in the New York Post alleging that Jeff Koinange, CNN's chief Africa correspondent since 2001, was canned by the network "after dozens of lascivious e-mails he wrote to a woman ended up on the Internet."
The woman was a Swiss author, Marianne Briner. This sounded like such a peculiar story that I did some additional checking on the web. Go to a blog
called Kumekucha You Missed This and you see an accusation of date rape. Then head to the Journal-Isms column
at the Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education site and you learn that supposedly Briner has accused a number of Kenyan government ministers of being involved with her and then said that she had an affair with former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi. This tale of words over the Internet and perhaps more is clearly far more complicated than the Post indicated, even though it's report is dated after these other postings came out. Maybe it's time to revisit some basics - like research.
Labels: Africa, Biner, Koinange, New York Post
Foreign Names Amusement at NPR
I was listening to NPR this morning when Susan Stamberg did a piece on summer reading. One of the people she interviewed suggested a John Burdett detective novel with protagonist Sonchai Jitpleecheep, which pretty much sounds the way it's spelled. Ms. Stamberg made not one but two jokes based on sneezing - acting as though the interview subject had sneezed when he mentioned the character by name and then referring to the detective as Mr. Gesundheit. What a condescending attempt at humor for someone whose family, like virtually everyone else in this country, originally came from somewhere else, and whose name it its original version might, as is true of so many others, might have been similarly difficult for an "American" to pronounce. I suspect her name might also sound - let's generously say unusual - to someone from Thailand. Hopefully people there have better manners than to mock that with which they are unfamiliar.
Labels: Burdett, detective, language, novel, Stanberg, Thai, Thailand
"Got a Deal, Woe is Me"
The New York Observer has a somewhat amusing piece
about the pain some authors find when actually going about their business of writing books.
But the humor is pretty dark and condescending if you're in the business. I don't know why so many writers seem to go on and on and on and on and ... well, you get the idea. It's a litany of self-pity that more shows how clearly off-balance some writers are. Of course, some of the journalists quoting these authors may just want to believe that working a staff job or concentrating on something other than books they can't sell is better than writing a book. Or perhaps the people working the media beat have perverse senses of humor.
Labels: authors, books, deal
Books and Beer
There's often been a popular connection between writers and drinkers. Now the two are formally meeting in Chicago at the Drinking & Writing Festival
on June 9, which will take place at The Drinking & Writing Brewery. The site also has some writing as well as podcasts. Hopefully no one is spilling alcohol on the page or printers' ink into the glasses.
Labels: beer, Chicago, literature
Tag, You're It and Internet Privacy
What a few little words can do. According to an article
in the Harvard Law Review, when facial recognition software and image "tags" (the words used to describe the contents of a photo) meet the Internet, the growing possibility is that people will be losing their privacy.
The article has some interesting examples: Republican Bob Corker who had to face a bit of a scandal when a picture of his daughter kissing another girl showed up on someone's Facebook account, or television local news anchor Catherine Bosley lost her job after a picture surfaced of her taking part in a wet-t-shirt contest (in the presence of her husband and with some considerable psychology pressure after facing several life-threatening illnesses). But what happens when people can search the web to snoop on their friends, relatives, colleagues, and neighbors? Search for someone's name stuck to a picture and see what comes up.
Now expand the concept a bit. Millions of people keep blogs. What if they're adding subject tags to the blogs? What does that say about how they associate information? What will people - or employers or rivals or anyone else with an agenda - think about them and how will they react? What might you learn about someone, or what might someone learn about you, given the combinations of tags that are now associated with your name? The more you are on the Web in any way, shape, or form, the greater a chance you have of losing your privacy.
Labels: Harvard Law Review, Internet, privacy, tags
Amazon to Cut Number of Visible Reader Reviews
on gather.com notes that Amazon.com is reducing the number of visible customer reviews of books. Only three reviews will appear on the page with the book, and those will be the ones voted "most helpful" by others. New reviews will head right to a link page with all the reviews. So book sales are going to be heavily influenced by three reviewer voices per title.
I know that at times I've used Amazon I look at the reviews, see if there's a pattern, and then jump to other reviews if there seems to be some real disagreement. But three reviews? Hardly seems enough opinion - which is really pretty amusing, given how often in other areas I find myself heavily influenced by a single "professional" reviewer, who might know less than I do.
Labels: Amazon.com, book review, books, readers, reviews
Ultimate Price Important in Hollywood Scripts
It makes sense that Hollywood considers the potential cost of a movie before buying a script. But I still found this LA Times article
interesting, particularly as the columnist got his hand on scripts without studios knowing.
Labels: Hollywood, movies, scripts, studios