It's Halloween - All Hallows Eve, which is an interesting story of a word. To hallow is to make holy, as in to revere as holy, and the Catholic church was trying to turn an old Celtic rite to its own use, making the day after All Saints' Day. The end of October was a dark time for the Celts and, specifically, the Druids. This was the official end of summer and the night Samhain (pronounced SOW-in
), when the dead walked the earth. It was supposed to be a time auspicious for foretelling the future. People would build large bonfires, sacrificing animals and crops, and they would dress in animal costumes.
The Romans ruled the Celts for hundreds of years, and traditions of the cultures intermingled. Romans has festivals for the dead in October as well, and also a day to honor the goddess of fruit and trees - hence bobbing for apples today. I haven't yet found where the handing out of candy (technically, buying off kids who would otherwise play a trick) started, though this sounds suspiciously like wassailing. And in Ireland, there is still a tradition of the barmbrack, a cake with a plain ring baked in, which sounds like a Gateau Roi (King's Cake), but in this case, the person who gets the ring is supposed to find his or her true love the coming year. Talk about pressure for a pre-teen.
Labels: Halloween, history, origin, words
Time Turning to Cafeteria Style Subscriptions
In a break from the traditional way of subscribing to particular magazines, Time Inc. is trying something new
. Customers will be able to get things from different magazines on a pay-as-you-go basis. This could have some interesting repercussions in the publishing world. For a long time, comapnies ahve assumed that people would take everything in all issues of magazines through subscriptions. There was no way of telling what people actually found of value.
But now, editors and publishers could actually learn what interests readers, rather than assuming, via focus groups, that what they do in general is the driving factor of sales. Maybe it's not. What if, over a large group of people, you see what they really want is one or two columns only? Not only does this have the possibility of letting publishers get a lot smarter, but it could take a lot of hot air out of editorial egos. Think of some of the questions you could ask. Do certain writers drive sales, or is it topics? Do the personalities and "brands" of editors matter at all? Do some topics drive print sales but not individual article sales? What happens when readers no longer have to buy an entire magazine to get the promised answer to some come-on line on the cover?
If this is successful at all, you can expect that things could start changing radically on the publishing front in the next few years - assuming, of course, that publishers and editors really want the answers that might now be possible.
Labels: magazine, online, subscriptions, Time Inc.
Russia Looks to Control Internet
Last week, I mentioned how Italy seemed to be looking for control over bloggers
. It seems that Russia is as well
, according to the Washington Post:
Allies of President Vladimir Putin are creating pro-government news and pop culture Web sites while purchasing some established online outlets known for independent journalism. They are nurturing a network of friendly bloggers ready to disseminate propaganda on command. And there is talk of creating a new Russian computer network -- one that would be separate from the Internet at large and, potentially, much easier for the authorities to control.
I remember early on, people claiming that the Internet could not be controlled. But now we've seen multiple models of control: cutting off what a governement doesn't want citizens to see (China, Myanmar), registration (Italy), and using search engine optimization to bury opposition (Russia). Of all the approaches, though, Russia's is the most chilling, because it uses the very features of the Internet to turn it into a propoganda dissemination machine.
There is a growing number of companies in the US that use such techniques to promote their clients or themselves and to crowd out any opposing voices. I wonder how long it will be - assuming this isn't already established - before political parties and those in power use the same techniques to promote their views and interests and to crowd out the inconvenient gadflies.
Actually, a simple search on Google shows that it's already happening. Here's one company
that offers a number of Internet consulting services to political campaigns, including online reputation management:
We can effectively displace or bury pretty much any article that's showing up in search engine results pages. We can also preemptively develop and optimize multiple pages allowing us to control the search results for a keyword, and keep any negative listings from popping right to the top.
Someone pass the vodka.
Labels: censorship, Internet, Russia
Italy Wants to Curb Bloggers
According to Beppe Grillo, the Italian government is trying to restrict bloggers
by requiring each one to officially register, and pay a tax. Anyone with a blog or web site would also be required to have a publishing company and "a journalist who is on the register of professionals as the responsible director." I don't think the law applies to sites and blogs hosted in other countries, but couldn't swear to that. And here I thought that Italy was a democracy...
Labels: blogs, censorship, Italy
Technology Becomes a Whipping Boy
In discussion about privacy or intellectual property, you're bound to come across the following statement: "Technology has outstripped the laws dealing with the subject." But I think that's simply a stylish thing to say, because typically the argument is used in favor of why traditional limitations on human action should be removed. Technology makes it easier to do many things, good or bad. However, it doesn't generally change the inherent nature of those actions. If I can use someone's copyrighted material more easily without permission, that doesn't make it right, only more convenient to steal material. If I can easily look into the deep recesses of a person's life without restraint, I'm nothing more than an efficient and effective peeping Tom.
The problem is not that the law is so out of date with technology, but that technology tends to give people the opportunity to more easily show their true colors. Then when we don't like what we see, some apologist comes along, says that the problem is what we see should
be acceptable because technology enables it, and laws are simply short-sighted. They rarely are. It's people that lose sight - of ethics, honor, and propriety.
Labels: Excuses, law, technology
Understanding the New York Times Bestseller List
New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt spent a column on the paper's bestseller book list
. It's an interesting read to see some of the things that the survey of booksellers does and does not do. The people in charge will, at times, decide that a best seller has been on the list long enough and take it off. The list of stores they query changes all the time, and it's all done via computer. And still this scientific method bows to the decision by someone in the research department that a book can be on "too long," in his or her opinion, no matter how well it sells.
Labels: best seller, New York Times
Wikipedia and the Kindness of Strangers
A Dartmouth study preliminarily released in 2005 and out in a final version in April 2007 shows that those who infrequently and anonymously contribute to Wikipedia
, nicknamed Good Samaritans, are as reliable as those who are registered frequent contributors with public reputations to maintain:
"This finding was both novel and unexpected," says Denise Anthony, associate professor of sociology. "In traditional laboratory studies of collective goods, we don't include Good Samaritans, those people who just happen to pass by and contribute, because those carefully designed studies don't allow for outside actors. It took a real-life situation for us to recognize and appreciate the contributions of Good Samaritans to web content."
Furthermore, those who rarely contribute tend to offer more reliable updates, while for people who contribute often, it's the registered that are more reliable. Here's the PDF of the original research paper
. It's findings include that the highest accuracy are for people who contribute only once. Maybe after that the thrill was gone.
Labels: Dartmouth, Good Samaritan, Wikipedia
Online Travel Photo Tutorial
While browsing about, I came across a series of tutorials and tips at Fodor.com on how to take better travel pictures
. There's a bias toward discussing film, which makes me think that this was written some time ago. But the fundamentals will apply, whether film or digital, so take a look before you take off on your next trip.
Labels: Fodor, photos, pictures, travel
The London Times online books section has an interesting promotion. Readers can sign up to receive letters from famous authors
. The plaintive missives are excerpts from a book called Four Letter Word: Invented Correspondence from the Edge of Modern Romance
, a fiction collection in which the editors asked over 40 authors to contribute a love letter. It's a new twist on the romance genre.
Labels: book, letters, love, romance
Ann Coulter Continues Trying to Rationalize Her Irrationality
Some people hate blacks and some hate whites. Some hate men; some, women. Apparently, Ann Coulter only likes those who would have fit in the 2004 Republican National Convention. Lord knows, that probably includes a few non-whites and non-Christians - that's what tolerance is, after all: putting up with a small amount of what you don't like builds character. As I mentioned last week, Coulter had a ... revealing moment
on CNBC's The Big Idea. And now Media Matters for America reports that on Bill O'Reilly's show, Coulter claimed that Orthodox Jews agreed with her
and that it's a conflict between the religious and the non-religious. She's attempting to frame this as a matter of being Christian - and in a peculiar way, if it were someone else who less often spouted venom, I might understand the rationale. If you are a serious follower of a religion that claims its way is the only way to live, then I would pretty much expect you to think that a non-believer was worse off than a believer.
The problem is that from her long-documented readiness to attack, to lie about facts, to twist words, to denigrate people, and, in general, heartily and regularly engage in behaviors that would be considered non-Christian, the argument doesn't hold up. This isn't about being religious versus being non-religious. Her statements were clearly about wanting to feel superior or, even worse, being ready to use hateful language to create controversy to further her own career and book sales. To claim that the incident was about the religious versus the non-religious leaves us with a distasteful choice. Either she meant her statement was to that end, meaning that she'd have to consider Jews to be non-religious - which, for all I know, she might. Or she'd mean specifically the conversation between her and Donny Deutsch - in which case, she's passing judgment on whether or not he's religious, and by his assertion, he is practicing. Or should could mean that the outcry - largely from Jewish groups - was the non-religious against the religious, in which case we're back to saying that Jews aren't religious. Such use of language is beyond cynicism, actually reaching sociopathic
heights, as nothing and no one matters so long as the speaker gets what she, in this case, wants.
Labels: Ann Coulter, anti-semitism, Donny Deutsch, Media Matters
Book By Committee
Consultant (I think) Barry Libert is one of the names on the book We are Smarter Than Me: How to Unleash the Power of Crowds in Your Business
, but the number of contributors runs into the thousands. That's because Libert and his other named co-author Jon Spector used a wiki, inviting contributions from what eventually became 4,000 people, to cover how businesses can work with communities. However, the question is what a contribution actually is. In an interview
, Libert said:
To be honest, we got more feedback about the book writing process and the tools we used, i.e. the wiki, than we did on the actual prose. We had over 250 blog posts about the project and some provided positive and negative feedback. Most were curious as to whether or not the project would succeed.
Hey, I said
it was a book by committee. Sounds like most committees I've seen.
Labels: books, business, collaboration, community, wiki
Bladerunner: the Final Word
just mentioned a clip that was in the New York Times
at the end of last month. Yet another version of Bladerunner is coming out, this time digitized and enhanced (read that as restoring lost color and clarity from the original film). Apparently, director Ridley Scott came out and said definitely that the lead character, Deckard, the cop that hunts replicants, is artificial himself. It's disappointing that the most human character is manufactured:
How to explain such a drastic change? The veteran television producers Bud Yorkin and Jerry Perenchio put up one third of the film’s $22 million budget and the completion bond, which stipulated that if the film went over budget they had to pay the overrun but would also take ownership of the movie. The film went $7 million over budget.
Preview screenings were disastrous. Crowds went to see the new Harrison Ford movie, thinking it would be like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and they were befuddled. Mr. Yorkin and Mr. Perenchio, whose relations with Mr. Scott were always tense, took over.
Hence, a happy ending instead of two androids going off into the night to run for the rest of their lives - or existences, or whatever the proper term would be.
It is interesting, and sad, to see how much more success that author Philip K. Dick
, on whose work Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
, saw after death than during his time here. Unfortunately, such is often the world of authorship.
Labels: Bladerunner, Philip K. Dick, Ridley Scott
Technique: Adding Scale to Images
Photographs can offer an odd view of the world. When you look at a scene, you may focus on one part, but you really see it in a larger context. That isn't necessarily so in an image, leaving it seem unreal. A good example is the type of landscape you'll see many people take - a beautiful vista, but somehow off-putting. Often the problem is that everything is far away and there is no visual comparison in size. Great landscapes usually have some sense of scale, to make the viewer better understand the grandeur of the scene. For example, look at the Ansel Adams photo Bridalveil Fall
. Seeing the tops of the trees adds a reference to give a sense of just how far the water is falling. You might include a person, a vehicle, a building, an object, or almost anything else to act as a type of measuring stick. What is interesting is that something can act as a scale reference when included in a picture, but can lose that quality when photographed by itself. To provide a scale reference, you need an item that offers a contrast in size, and which is also familiar enough so that the viewer will be familiar with its size from ordinary experience.
Labels: composition, scale
Dorris Lessing on Winning Nobel Prize for Literature
Here are some quotes from Dorris Lessing
, reported by the New York Times
, on being asked about winning the Nobel Prize for literature:
Reporters opened the door and told her she had won the Nobel Prize for literature, to which she responded: "Oh Christ! ... I couldn't care less."
"I was a bit surprised because I had forgotten about it actually," she said. "My name has been on the short list for such a long time."
Ms. Lessing said that on second thought, she was not as surprised "because this has been going on for something like 40 years," referring to the number of times she has been mentioned as a likely honoree. "Either they were going to give it to me sometime before I popped off or not at all."
"Now I’m going to go in to answer my telephone," she said. "I swear I’m going upstairs to find some suitable sentences, which I will be using from now on."
"I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all, the whole lot, OK?" Lessing said, making her way through the crowd. "It's a royal flush."
It was interesting to see the censorship/story shaping that goes on in how you report a quote. We have:
"I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all, the whole lot, OK?" Lessing said, making her way through the crowd. "It's a royal flush."
from the Associated Press, and
"I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I'm delighted to win them all. It's a royal flush," she said.
from AFP. And the latter didn't use the "I couldn't care less" quote. Agenda, anyone?
Labels: Dorris Lessing, literature, Nobel, prize
The Evolution of Language
Two papers in the journal Nature
this week examine the evolution of language
. One measured the frequency at which verbs become more regular (use a simple -ed ending for past tense) over time at a rate inversely proportionate to the square root of their usage frequency. The site Science Codex has an article on the paper
with interviews with some of the involved researchers.
The other paper looks at why some words use similar word forms across the entire Indo-European language family while others appear as unrelated forms. According to a press release from Nature:
Mark Pagel and colleagues used a statistical modelling technique to analyse four Indo-European languages: English, Spanish, Russian and Greek, and compared this to a database of 200 fundamental vocabulary meanings in 87 languages. They found that across all 200 meanings, commonly used words, such as numbers, evolve much more slowly, suggesting that the frequency with which specific words are used affects their rate of replacement over thousands of years.
Again, and with some appeal to common sense, the conclusion is that frequent use cements the form more thoroughly through the act of repetition.
Labels: evolution, language, linguistics, Nature
Wikipedia Work Slows
For various technical reasons, Wikipedia has not compiled statistics on the English version for about a year, now. However, someone decided to analyze log files and the edit histories
of 6% of all 118,793 articles - which, if taken completely at random, would be a statistically significant cut. The result? The rate of edits peaked in April 2007 and have been declining since. This is apparently a big difference, as edits had before been climbing exponentially. Article creation topped out in early 2006. Does this mean we've come to the end of human knowledge, or is it a case of all the knows that's fit this print?
Labels: articles, edits, statistics, Wikipedia
Ann Coulter Says Jews Need "Perfecting" Into Christians
Editor & Publisher (major trade magazine of the newspaper business) has an article - including a transcript - about yet another unbelievably stupid appearance by Ann Coulter
. Her rampant paternalistic and disgusting attitude toward others comes out as she suggests that Jews need to be "perfected." I sometimes do wonder whether she is emotionally disturbed. Yes, I understand that even Bill O'Riley admitted on the Colbert Report that his on-air persona is an act, but for someone like Coulter to apparently promote herself by allowing puddles of insolence, intolerance, and twisted hatred to drool out of her mouth like saliva pours forth from a St. Bernard is almost unbelievable. Who could want notoriety badly enough to act in such a way? And who could talk in this way and claim it was a result of being a Christian? Someone should get her into a 12-step program - surely she must be indulging overly in something other than venom. I wouldn't be surprised if Donny Deutsch, host of CNBS's The Big Idea
, had to take a shower after the interview.
Labels: Ann Coulter, anti-semitism, Donny Deutsch
Make Screen Sized Photos a Habit
If you're interested in selling photos, then you need to make a habit of creating versions with proper size and resolution for a computer screen. In a digital world, editors want to see what you have now. Don't clog someone's inbox with an image that will appear large enough to cover the state of North Dakota. Instead, have versions intended to be viewed on a monitor and send them with the explanation that high resolution files are also available for the asking. That way, the recipient can quickly review what you have and call for the big versions for which the person is willing to pay. You'll need some photo editing software, but that can be a minor expense.
Labels: image size, images, resizing, resolution
The Little Difference a Word Makes
Sometimes lawmakers find that one little word can make all the difference in the impact of a legislative action. Back in May, I mentioned how a Missouri state senator, taking the advice of a home-schooled high schooler, used the word "tocology" in a bill to legalize midwifery
without other legislators being the wiser at the time. Now we have another example of an Arkansas law with unintended consequences
, as the Associated Press notes:
The law, which took effect July 31, was intended to establish 18 as the minimum age to marry while also allowing pregnant minors to marry with parental consent. An extraneous "not" in the bill, however, allows anyone who is not pregnant to marry at any age with if the parents allow it.
A single word can make or break days, weeks, and months of research, drafting, and negotiation. Look at the current brouhaha about the House resolution stating that the Ottoman Empire's killing of 1.5 million Armenians was genocide. The Turks are in an outrage
, according to AFP, the government there calling it "irresponsible" and adding:
It is unacceptable that the Turkish nation should be accused of a crime that it never committed in its history.
Of course not. However, let's put that aside for the moment and look at the House's use of the word genocide. It might be nothing but home politics, to court the Armenian-American vote. But what else might it be? As the Bush administration keeps pointing out, to pass the resolution might antagonize the Turks, who could retaliate by not allowing the US to use its air space and facilities to run the vast majority of the supply line for the war in Iraq. Perhaps that's the intent. If you can't supply troops, you can't keep them in place. Maybe this is the House pitting the power of the word genocide against the power of a word Bush has come recently to appreciate: no.
Labels: bush, genocide, House, Iraq, power, Turkey, White House, words
Japanese Officials in Hot Water Over Wikipedia
According to the Associated Press, six people in Japan's Agriculture Ministry received reprimands for spending work time contributing to Wikipedia
articles that had nothing to do with agriculture. Taken together, the six contributed 408 times to the user-edited knowledge bank, including one person who contributed 260 times on articles about Gundam, a long-running animated series about giant robots:
"The Agriculture Ministry is not in charge of Gundam," said ministry official Tsutomu Shimomura.
Spoilsport. The others contributed to articles about "movies, typographical mistakes on billboard signs and local politics."
The ministry, however, did not object to their limited contributions on the World Trade Organization and free trade agreements.
Obviously a bunch of wet blanket policy wonks.
Labels: agriculture, Gundam, Japan, ministry, Wikipedia
Photographer Wins Copyright Suit Under Digital Millennium Copyright Act
According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Seattle-based photographer Lloyd Shugart won a $1.32 million judgment
against shoe manufacturer Propét USA. According to the story, this appears to be the first time that someone has won such a ruling under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, generally used by copyright holders to force web sites to remove content posted without their consent.
Labels: copyright, Digital Millennium Copyright Act, photographer, Propét
Cheap Photo Editing Software for the Mac
I don't use a Mac, so can't offer a first-hand view of this, but Wired has a review of a program called Pixelmator
. Simpler than Photoshop, it has the usual tools you might expect at a cost of only $60. (A Mac version of Photoshop Elements - the inexpensive version - won't be out until next year.)
Labels: editing, image, photo
Thinking Small with Nikon
Nikon's photomicrography competition
has been running for 30 years. The images are surprising, as they're all pictures of the world as seen through microscopes. Even the odd can be intriguing, as in this antique slide showing a thin section of diseased ivory
. The next round of submissions end April 30, 2008, in case you want to dig out your microscope.
Labels: competition, Nikon, photomicrography
Photographer Faces Possible Return to Jail
The New York Times has a story about a photographer
who had served 13 years for manslaughter when he was a teenager. Eventually out on parole, he became a news photographer for the New York Post. But because of some minor brushes with police in his photojournalistic work, Jason Nicholas might end up serving the six-year remainder of his parolled sentence.
Labels: Jason Nicholas, photographer, police
Hit Man Spam Scam
The Associated Press has a story about a new twist on the email scam. Instead of offering a lottery winning or transfer of $23,467,416.28 to your bank (just need the account number), this one promises to cancel the contract out on the recipient's life for a payment
. Nearly identical versions of the email have surfaced in Arizona and New Jersey, and, in under a month last winter, the FBI received 115 complaints of receiving something similar. Some incorporate publicly available information on people to make them seem legitimate. Maybe the "to whom it may concern" should have been a giveaway?
Labels: hit man, scams, spam
New Douglas Adams Radio Serial
The ultimate version of the Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy was the original radio production, which came before the book. Making evocative use of the medium, it created a zany world that neither the eventual book nor the recent movie (good though it was) could touch. Of course, how could it go wrong with Peter Jones as The Book. Now Dirk Mags, who adapted Adams's
later books in the Hitchhiker's
series, is bringing Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency to the radio as well
. Tune in, bring a towel, and don't panic.
Labels: Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide
Anti-Spam Tool Used in Deciphering Digitized Texts
The BBC has a story about how researchers are using an anti-spam tool to help digitize old books
that machines can't read. You've probably seen a captcha
- one of those distorted images of text that you have to deciper and type into a box. Having users unscramble things is helping Carnegie Mellow University with its digitizing program. OCR (optical character recognition) is supposed to take scans of text and translate them into somethig you could edit in a word processor. But the age of these books can cause one mistake out of every ten words - a real pain for the scanning personnel to fix manually. But if you take each of those images, put them up in captchas, and have people from around the Internet take a few minutes and fix them, it goes a lot faster:
Thanks to the adoption of reCAPTCHAs by popular websites like Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon, the system is helping to decipher about one million words every day for CMU's book archiving project, according to [Luis von Ahn, a Professor at CMU].
Now, if only we had an equivalent system for deciphering the handwriting of doctors.
Labels: books, captcha, Carnegie Mellon, CMU, digitizing, Internet
Stop (In the Name of the Law)
Apparently the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn has found that drivers are distracted these days, and not necessarily paying attention to the little things in life, like stop signs. So officials have added secondary humorous stop signs
below the regulation ones at 50 intersections. The additional placards are shaped like traditional stop signs, but have different wordings, so the combination between the two might be "Stop Right There Pilgrim" or "Stop In The Name of Love." A blog called Neatorama has a fuller list of signage
. The town's administration hopes that the attempts at humor will yield better attention. Then again, yielding is probably not what they really want in Oak Lawn.
Labels: Chicago, humor, signs, stop
Celebrate Banned Book Week
It's well into the week, but never too late to read something other people don't want you to. Here's a link to the American Library Association site
Labels: American Library Association, banned, books
Think Like a Film Shooter
When I was first learning photography, it was with ancient cameras and roll film that I developed at home. I was a kid without a large allowance, so I couldn't be extravagant in my use of film. Instead, I'd look for the shots I really wanted.
Digital photography opens some great doors: low cost per image, quick gratification, and ability to manipulate images, whether b&w or color. But one thing people today are missing is visual discipline. You can take hundreds of images without thinking about whether you have enough film. When you are limited, you have to be judicious; you learn to get by with only a handful of shots that must count.
It's a good discipline worth trying. Go out to take pictures and limit yourself to 24 or 36 shots - and add a twist by using only a normal lens and make your eyes get creative.
Labels: composition, digital, film
Star-Crossworded Lovers Have Puzzling Proposal
A man in Boston proposed to his now-fiance through a crossword
. He commissioned a married pair of puzzle writers to create a special one to appear in the 9/23/07 Boston Sunday Globe. I would have thought this a unique idea, but I was recently working through a crossword collection from Will Shortz of the New York Times. One was a puzzle exactly like this, but from some time in the 1990s. If you'd like to see the Boston variety, click here
Labels: Boston Globe, crossword, proposal
Inmate Mails Egg, Judge Mimics Dr. Seuss
As the Associated Press reported, an inmate of a federal prison in New Hampshire was unhappy with the diet, so he sent a complaint - and a boiled egg - to a judge. U.S. District Court Judge James Muirhead answered as follows:
I do not like eggs in the file. I do not like them in any style. I will not take them fried or boiled. I will not take them poached or broiled. I will not take them soft or scrambled/Despite an argument well-rambled. No fan I am/Of the egg at hand. Destroy that egg! Today! Today! Today I say! Without delay!
I'd be interested in seeing the bookshelf in the judge's chambers.
Labels: Dr. Seuss, food, inmate, judge, Muirhead, prison
World's Languages Disappearing
had some interesting links about the current state of human languages. According to National Geographic, every two weeks another language dies
By 2100, more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth—many of them never yet recorded—will likely disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and how the human brain works.
And then the New York Times ran a piece about how 83 languages dominate modern communications
Labels: extinction, languages
New Company to Eavesdrop on Internet Calls
According to the Associated Press
, a company called Pudding Media
wants to make money with software that would let people make unlimited and free calls from their computers to any phone in North America. The catch? The system listens to the content of the conversation and then displays ads on the caller's screen, based on the subject of the conversation. Talk about a creepy idea. They want to eventually license their system to other companies providing voice conversations over the Internet. The system is similar, in that sense, to Google's Gmail service. I think I'm ready to move back to telegraph and smoke signals.
Labels: ads, Internet, Pudding Media, voice recognition, VoIP