Oct 162011

Greece Volos BarterAccording to Richard Florida, readily available digital tools like Firefox and Final Cut were supposed to empower artists, designers, and other “creatives” to steer the world’s future in a 21st-century Creative Economy. So why aren’t we all employed in creative industries by now?

It’s easy to point to the usual suspects like job outsourcing to China and Wall Street fat cats. But it is also true that some creative economies are thriving–even in epicenters of economic recession such as Greece–but they are organized around barter and free software rather than dollars or drachma.

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Sep 282011

Thought up a foldable power-cord or a new device for straining pasta? Pitch it to “social product-development” Web site Quirky, where crowdsourcing meets professionals.

Now if only Quirky didn’t outsource its manufacturing to China. Maybe someone could launch a site that connects local ideas to local fabricators. (Any of your neighbors have 3D printers…?)

“Quirky was based on my realization of how hard it is to find a manufacturer, get financing (and) know all the disciplines like industrial design, mechanical engineering, prototyping, merchandising, retail logistics,” [Ben] Kaufman, 24, told Wired.com by phone. “All these things need to come together just to push one little product out into the real world. Basically, if you have the right idea, we’ll do all the heavy lifting to make the idea you have in your head see the light of day.”


Sep 242011

As new laws force ISPs to become copyright cops, the ramifications of intellectual property in the digital age just get more and more absurd.

Anti-Piracy Lawyers Accuse Blind Man of Downloading Films

“As the mass-lawsuits against BitTorrent users in the United States drag on, detail on the collateral damage this extortion-like scheme is costing becomes clear. It is likely that thousands of people have been wrongfully accused of sharing copyrighted material, yet they see no other option than to pay up. One of the cases that stands out is that of a California man who’s incapable of watching the adult film he is accused of sharing because he is legally blind.”


Maybe he just liked the music?

Can a Monkey Get a Copyright & Issue a Takedown?

“Last week, the Daily Mail published a story about some monkeys in Indonesia who happened upon a camera and took some photos of themselves. The photos are quite cute. However, Techdirt noticed that the photos had copyright notices on them, and started a discussion over who actually held the copyright in question, noting that, if anyone did, the monkeys had the best claim, and certainly not the photographer. Yet, the news agency who claimed copyright issued a takedown to Techdirt! When presented with the point that it’s unlikely the news agency could hold a legitimate copyright, the agency told Techdirt it didn’t matter. Techdirt claims that using the photos for such a discussion is a clear case of fair use, an argument which has so far been ignored.”


“Dice Age,” sounds like…?

Dice Age — Indie Gaming Project vs. Hollywood

“Dice Age, a independent game project that raised nearly $35K through Kickstarter, is apparently facing some scrutiny from a certain movie studio that has produced movies with a similar name. From the latest project update: ‘As if the Ice Age was exclusively the name of a movie, or if Dice Age was a movie itself, the 20th century fox has just asked for an extent of time (till 10-26-2011) to oppose to the registering of our beloved Dice Age game name. My point of view, as a scientist, is the Ice age is a geological era before it is a movie.”"


Wendy Seltzer is an ace cyberlawyer who’s worked with Still Water to craft more enlightened forms of intellectual property law.

ISPs Will Now Be Copyright Cops

“Wendy Seltzer, Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy, talks about the new plan by ISPs and content providers to ‘crack down on what users can do with their internet connections’ using a 6-step warning system to curb online copyright infringement.”


Looks like six is the new three:

“American Internet users, get ready for three strikes^W^W ‘six strikes.’ Major US Internet providers — including AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable — have just signed on to a voluntary agreement with the movie and music businesses to crack down on online copyright infringers. But they will protect subscriber privacy and they won’t filter or monitor their own networks for infringement. And after the sixth ‘strike,’ you won’t necessarily be ‘out.’” It’s not suspicious at all that most of the ISPs signing on for this are owned by or own media companies.


On the pro-sharing front:

A federal judge ruled Monday that publishing an entire article without the rights holder’s authorization was a fair use of the work, in yet another blow to newspaper copyright troll Righthaven. It’s not often that republishing an entire work without permission is deemed fair use.


A federal judge backed the music storage-locker business model Monday while ruling that companies may develop services that store their customers’ songs in the cloud. The closely watched case brought by EMI against MP3tunes comes as Amazon and Google recently launched similar services without the music labels’ consent. Apple is expected to launch a cloud-storage service… http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/XGIJztQaOPw/

Who knew? Maybe the Pirate Bay should start an ecommerce site called Arrrrmazon.com.

Suppressed Report Shows Pirates Are Good Customers

“The movie and music industry think pirates are criminals and parasites who cost both industries billions of dollars in lost sales. In order to prove this fact a number of studies have been commissioned to help demonstrate the effect a pirate has on sales of entertainment. GfK Group is one of the largest market research companies in the world and is often used by the movie industry to carry out research and studies into piracy. Talking to a source within GfK who wished to remain anonymous, Telepolis found that a recent study looking at pirates and their purchasing activities found them to be almost the complete opposite of the criminal parasites the entertainment industry want them to be. The study states that it is much more typical for a pirate to download an illegal copy of a movie to try it before purchasing. They are also found to purchase more DVDs than the average consumer, and they visit the movie theater more, especially for opening weekend releases which typically cost more to attend.”


Sep 132011

On the occasion of his retiring, Apple’s CEO is being hailed as the “recombinant mash-up” innovator par excellence.

The New York Times quotes innovation consultant John Kao as summing up the essence of Steve Jobs’ creative achievements as “recombinant mash-ups”–products like the iPhone that remix elements of existing technologies in new ways.


Wired, meanwhile, contrasts Jobs’ artsy inclinations with the engineering bent of his rivals Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

What is the secret to Apple’s success? After introducing the iPad 2 in March, Steve Jobs gave one answer:

“It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing — and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices….”

Without Jobs, Apple’s only missing piece is the role he unofficially filled for years: Chief Advocate for Media, Humanities and Liberal Arts. If that sounds trivial, remember this: at several key points in its history, Jobs’ skill in this role saved and transformed the company.

Jobs famously isn’t a trained programmer, engineer or MBA, or even a wünderkind dropout steeped in any of those fields like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. (The New York Times even did a discussion panel earlier this year titled “Career Counselor: Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?” contrasting the two founders’ engineering vs liberal arts approach to education….)

Apple’s unique success with the iTunes store shows that “technology married with the liberal arts” is not just an issue of making devices that look pretty and are easy to use. User-centered design is a huge component of what Apple does and why it and other companies have been successful in the consumer market. But it’s also a question of being able to translate between technology, media and creative industries. This ability is what delivers key partnerships; this ability is what allows technology companies to build platforms.


Sep 032011

Librarians loaning out people and companies replacing bots with humans is both sensible and creepy. Is this newest form of human capital just an innocent way to reverse unemployment through automation, or a prelude to The Matrix?

If I’m gonna be a battery, I hope I get to be rechargeable.

Canadian Library to Loan Out People

Wouldn’t it be easier to learn Chinese from a native speaker than from a book, or explore a religion from an actual practitioner rather than words on a page? A library in Surrey, B.C. thinks so and has introduced a “human library” program. Visitors will be able to “check-out” real people to learn about their experiences and specific knowledge. From the article: “…The goal is to break down stereotypes and start discussions, said deputy chief librarian Melanie Houlden. ‘What we’re aiming to do is bring the library to life for people. There are huge repositories of experience and knowledge in their own brains,’ she said.” As long as you stay out of the horror section, this sounds like a great idea.


Crowdsourcing Makes an API For Human Intelligence “A startup called MobileWorks claims to offer human-level intelligence to any piece of software, with APIs for image, text or speech processing that crowdsource tasks to workers in India. Unlike Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, jobs can be sent in by software without human help and can also be completed in “real time” with a turnaround of a few seconds. The company claims that for problems like OCR and image recognition it makes more sense to find ways to use human intelligence than developing complex custom algorithms.” Not a bad plan — sounds like they’ve lifting a page from the business model of captcha-cracking spammers.


Sep 012011

Why lose $20 reselling that engineering book or Shakespeare reader, when you can pay Amazon $5 and keep your notes in the cloud when you’re done?

Amazon Lets Students Rent Digital Textbooks http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/07/18/1654246/Amazon-Lets-Students-Rent-Digital-Textbooks

“Amazon has unveiled a new digital textbook rental service, allowing students to choose how long they’d like access to an eBook-version of a textbook via their Kindle or app — with the retailer claiming savings as high as 80%. Kindle Textbook Rental will let students use a text for between 30 and 360 days, adding extra days as they need to. Any notes or highlighted text will be saved via the Amazon Cloud for students to reference after the book is ‘returned.’ Amazon said tens of thousands of books would be available to rent for the next school year.”

While iPads have been getting the headlines, there are plenty more e-readers to choose from.

Study This: E-Textbook Readers Compared

The iPad was supposed to wipe out standalone e-readers, but they’re still here, and they’re a big deal on campus.


Aug 232011

A decade ago, Sun founder Bill Joy prophesied a future without fixed prices, where bots would negotiate our most quotidian economic transactions. His future is about to become our present.

TaskRabbit is like eBay for real-world labor….It was a wintry night in February 2008, when [ Leah ] Busque, a 28-year-old engineer at IBM in Cambridge, Massachusetts, realized that she needed dog food for her yellow lab, Kobe. She wanted nothing more than to get someone else to trudge outside in the snow. “I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if there were a place online you could go,” she says. “A site where you could name the price you were willing to pay for any task. There had to be someone in my neighborhood who was willing to get that dog food for what I was willing to pay.”


Got parking?

A new iPhone app has created a marketplace for public parking, connecting those vacating a space with those searching for one — for a fee.

Parking Auction launched earlier this week on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The matchmaking service is beta-testing, and the folks behind it hope to expand worldwide, creating communities of relaxed, smartphone-armed parkers.

“If I’m parked on the street and wouldn’t mind moving my car to a spot half a mile away that isn’t residential, I may be happy to give it up to my neighbor that just got home from East Hampton on a Sunday night with two kids in a car she has to unload,” said founder Brian Rosetti. “We think that’s quite a neighborly and valuable service.”


Aug 182011

Why write a bot that spams people with Viagra ads when you can write a bot that just wrings coins directly out of their computer chip?

For the uninitiated, Bitcoins are a digital currency that can be minted from excess CPU cycles of a computer and used in a variety of Internet contexts. More on Bitcoins:


So the money being “stolen” is not existing cash that is somehow withdrawn from your bank account or charged to your credit card, but is new money “printed” when your computer is hijacked by the malware.

This is kind of like breaking into an alchemist’s shop and making gold from his leftover iron.

GPGPU Bitcoin Mining Trojan

“Security researchers have unearthed a piece of malware that mints a digital currency known as Bitcoins by harnessing the immense power of an infected machine’s graphical processing units. According to new research from antivirus provider Symantec, Trojan.Badminer uses GPUs to generate virtual coins through a practice known as minting. That’s the term for solving difficult cryptographic proof-of-work problems and being rewarded with 50 Bitcoins for each per correct block.”

Jul 062011

Conventional wisdom has it that internships are the next best thing to an entry-level job, especially when there are few jobs to be found. But some are questioning the value of unpaid internships.

(Unpaid internships were a staple of the New York art world in the 1990s, because there were few other ways to break into the business. And while many were spent faxing, photocopying and filing, that was an accurate if sad reflection on entry-level jobs.)

Calling BS On Unpaid Internships

http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/07/02/1925227/Calling-BS-On-Unpaid-Internships “Getting an intern is so hot right now,’ writes Stewart Curry. ‘It’s also bull**** 99% of the time.’ IrishStu also provides his list of Interning’s Big Lies: 1. ‘You’ll get training.’ 2. ‘We might hire you after the internship.’ 3. ‘You get to work with an awesome team.’ 4. ‘It will look great on your CV.’ 5. ‘You’ll make great contacts.’ So, who does it really hurt, Stu? ‘Here’s who it hurts — interns. You have them working for nothing. Here’s who it hurts — people who need a wage in order to survive. Here’s who it hurts — companies that want to pay people a decent wage for work they do.’ Inside Higher Ed also checks in on The Great Intern Debate.”

For all it’s disdain of internships, Slashdot isn’t exactly sanguine about certificates as an alternative–unless you roll your own.

Ask Slashdot: Best Certifications To Get? http://ask.slashdot.org/story/11/05/31/0153235/Ask-Slashdot-Best-Certifications-To-Get “Our recent discussion about how much your degree is worth got me thinking. I’ve been working in the IT field for several years now, but I don’t have anything to my name other than an A+ certificate and vendor specific training (e.g., Dell certified). Now I’m looking to move up in the IT field, and I want some stuff on my resume to demonstrate to future employers that I know what I’m doing, enough that I can get in the door for an interview. So my question to Slashdot is this: What certifications are the most valuable and sought-after? What will impress potential employers and be most likely to help land a decent job for someone who doesn’t have a degree, but knows how to troubleshoot and can do a bit of programming if needed?”

Jul 012011

Several sources are claiming that new media jobs are cropping up in smaller towns across the United States. Which is good, because a new study claims city life can fry your brain.

The Economic Rebound: It Isn’t What You Think http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/i_ueiW8obG0/ Wired News: Top Stories Work is cropping up in new tech corridors, booming small towns and surprising industries — so get ready for the era of smart jobs.

What Cities Want Your IT Skills? http://news.slashdot.org/story/11/06/07/2125251/What-Cities-Want-Your-IT-Skills?utm_source=rss1.0&utm_medium=feed Slashdot “Are you a SQL expert? Check out apartments in Jacksonville, Florida. Oracle more your speed? Head down to Dallas, Texas. Looking for a job that uses your Windows skills? Send some resumes to Providence, R.I. Blogger Kevin Fogarty looks at the top skills in demand in the fastest-growing US IT job markets and finds that different cities want different kinds of techies.”

Small Cities Feed the Knowledge Economy http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/tbZWHUXcdCs/ Wired News: Top Stories Places you’d never expect (try Omaha, Nebraska) are luring entrepreneurs and other imaginative types at levels exceeding the US average.

City Life Could Change Your Brain for the Worse http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/pocDFoDptAo/ Wired News: Top Stories Between the crowds and the noise and the pressure, city life often seems to set one’s brain on edge. Turns out that could literally be true. A study of German college students suggests that urbanite brains are more susceptible to stress, particularly social stress, than those of country dwellers.

Jun 122011

Imagine a future in which a single worldwide currency is distributed among peers rather than centralized in a handful of wealthy banks. Freed from the intrusions of national governments and the manipulation of Wall Street fat cats, these virtual coins could be “mined” and spent by individual citizens anywhere on the Internet. Based on an open-source standard and difficult to trace, these immaterial coins would quickly become the ideal payment option for privacy advocates, political dissidents, and narcotics dealers.

This future is already here, and it’s called Bitcoin.

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May 222011

The Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI) is hiring someone with writing, technical and graphics skills at the MERI Center for Marine Studies in Blue Hill, Maine. Meanwhile this Tuesday the Bangor Chamber of Commerce is showcasing business advice from L. L. Bean, Black Dinah Chocolatiers, and yes, Shipyard Brewing Company.

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May 152011

Why buy your own car/CDs/power tools, when your neighbors already have loads of them?

Rachel Botsman makes the case:


NeighborGoods is already up to 2.0:

http://www.wired.com/beyond_the_beyond/2011/03/neighborgoods-kickstarter/ (Via Bruce Sterling).


Thanks to you, NeighborGoods has quickly become the leading online community for local resource sharing. Now, we’re reaching out directly to our members to help us take NeighborGoods to the next level.

We’re gearing up to launch NeighborGoods 2.0, which focuses on creating sharing communities for organizations, companies and and groups of all sizes.

Smartphones help:

People will ditch their cars and embrace mass transit if they have the tools to manage their commutes. Enter the smartphone … http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/iPSyBkh6X_g/ Xatori unveils a free iPhone app that enables drivers to punch in their destinations and locate outlet owners who are willing to share. http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=fa66fe847e6ccd56e61dde5770c4ffbf

Now, to Find a Parking Spot, Drivers Look on Their Phones http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=d9838be80c3361a169de04e52c21ba99

And Zipcar’s IPO is meteoric:

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/vQEd37Mmv0A/ via Byline

Zipcar raises $174 million and sees its stock price soar a whopping 60 percent in its first day as a public company. The decade-old car sharing company, maybe the most disruptive entrant in the automobile rental space since Rent-A-Wreck, is now a billion-dollar operation.

Apr 282011

If Slashdot is to be believed, Google and Microsoft have begun an “epic” hiring war. And nude coders have never been more in demand.

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/04/21/0312235/Google-Microsoft-In-Epic-Hiring-War?utm_source=rss1.0&utm_medium=feed via Byline

“Looking for a new job? Then Google and Microsoft have 6200 roles globally this quarter up for grabs, the first salvos in a costly war for talent. Google alone will hire 6200 engineers, executives and sales staff this year — its biggest intake ever. This story details where the biggest bucks and most fun jobs are to be had and how you can apply for them. There’s even a job for an Xbox PR person — fancy being paid to play with toys all day?”

Another company hiring is AVOS, run by the founders of YouTube, which just purchased the bookmarking site Delicious: http://www.AVOS.com/jobs

Of course, different companies have different…perks.

http://idle.slashdot.org/story/11/04/05/157229/Software-Firm-Looking-To-Hire-Naked-Coders?utm_source=rss1.0&utm_medium=feed via Byline

Nude House, a Buckinghamshire computer software and naturist company, is looking for coders who aren’t afraid to let a few Cheetos fall where no Cheetos have fallen before. The company would like to become the first all nude tech business. From the article: “Company spokesman Chris Taylor told The Register: ‘As far as I am aware this is not only the first UK office job for naturists in web-coding or web-selling, but is also the first worldwide facility for naturists to earn substantial sums of money from work that incidentally provides them with the capability to work entirely without clothes.

Apr 022011

How do photojournalists get paid if their traditional business model is drying up? A story from the front lines of crowdfunding, plus a photographer applies a technique from a New Media capstone to traverse the Appalachian Trail in four minutes.

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/89mLw4IOQdY/ via Byline

A month after the launch of the new crowd-funding platform for photojournalism, Emphas.is, one of its users reports from the road. Belgian photographer and Emphas.is fundraiser Tomas van Houtryve tells us about the good, the bad and the future of a work in progress….

The pressure of time has been the hardest challenge for van Houtryve, “I would not recommend tight schedules where one has to juggle shooting, fundraising and a withering travel schedule. It’s been very intense keeping all the elements on track.”

Despite travails, van Houtryve sees a lot of promise. “It’s an intuitive model,” he says. “Backers have started to pose relevant questions. As my project proposal has made its way through social networks and attracted support from strangers, I’ve made some really fruitful new connections. In addition to generous funding contributions, several individuals have stepped forward with key contacts and very precise and helpful advice. I have already managed to make stronger photos due to their input. This is a pleasant shift over the lone-wolf existence.”

Meanwhile, on the Appalachian Trail photographers are documenting their trek using a technique that sounds a lot like NMD alumnus Sam Lynch’s iGlasses:

http://feeds.wired.com/~r/wired/index/~3/uhDLuMVI0AM/ via Byline

Kevin Gallagher spent six months hiking the 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Then he compiled his 4,000 still photos taken along the way and turned them into an amazing 4-minute video travelog.

Feb 012011

In January Facebook staff realized that the Tunisian government had installed software that tracked its citizens in unconscionable ways. Fortunately Facebook has now repaired that glaring security hole, and returned to its usual routine of tracking its own users in unconscionable ways. Like putting your face on Starbucks ads without your permission.

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