Saturday, November 17, 2007

Microsoft’s Plan to Be King of All Media

From The New York Times - In November 1994, I had breakfast with Nathan Myhrvold, then the chief technology officer of Microsoft. He talked about how the soon-to-be-introduced MSN online service would best America Online. Central to his thinking was that MSN would give publishers a higher percentage of the per-minute fee for using the service. This would draw more content and thus more users to Microsoft and allow it to earn a smaller fee on a larger block of minutes.

This strategy was misguided for so many reasons. Most notably, the open standard of the Internet allowed publishers to reach out directly to users, without MSN or AOL as the tollbooth. | Read full article

NBC brings Web series "Quarterlife" to TV network

From Yahoo - NBC on Friday said it will begin airing the highly touted Web series "Quarterlife" on its television network early next year, making the program the first to originate online and then move to a major U.S. broadcaster.

The deal with "Quarterlife" creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, Emmy-winning producers of shows "thirtysomething" and "My So-Called Life," comes as a strike by screenwriters against Hollywood's studios nears the end of a second week. | Read full article

In Korea, a Boot Camp Cure for Web Obsession

Sign me up!

From The New York Times - MOKCHEON, South Korea — The compound — part boot camp, part rehab center — resembles programs around the world for troubled youths. Drill instructors drive young men through military-style obstacle courses, counselors lead group sessions, and there are even therapeutic workshops on pottery and drumming.

But these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly addiction: cyberspace.

They come here, to the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, the first camp of its kind in South Korea and possibly the world, to be cured. | Read full story

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Is Wikipedia Planning a Facebook Competitor?

From Center Networks - Matthew Buckland out of South Africa has an interesting recap of a presentation by Jimmy Wales last evening. In his recap, Matthew wonders if Wales is planning a competitor to Facebook based on the slides that were shown. The slides were supposed to be about a new search product but Buckland saw it another way. He notes, "the screenshot that Wales briefly showed the audience looked very much like a Facebook profile page, than a search page. In fact it looked pretty much identical to a Facebook profile page. Could this mean Wales is developing a social networking, Facebook competitor too? Could it be some kind of search/social networking hybrid?"

With Wikipedia in the Top 10 of all trafficked sites and most likely larger than Facebook worldwide, a social network by Wikipedia could prove a serious competitor. Built on top of the network already in place on Wikipedia. | Read full article

Beatles Catalog to Finally Go Digital in ’08

From The New York Times - Clues to when the Beatles’ catalog would finally arrive online have been trickling out in bits and pieces for the past year. Now, Paul McCartney tells Billboard that he’s “pretty sure” the band’s music would go digital in 2008. Still, he didn’t offer a hint as to what part of 2008 the music would be accessible on the internet. McCartney attributed the holdup to contractual red-tape in part, as well as the desire to time the release just right: “The whole thing is primed, ready to go—there’s just maybe one little sticking point left, and I think it’s being cleared up as we speak, so it shouldn’t be too long. It’s down to fine-tuning...” | Read full story

Tim Berners-Lee Warns of ‘Walled Gardens’ for Mobile Internet

From The New York Times - There may be all kinds of technology issues, business plan problems and potential failures to address before the mobile Internet becomes a success. But for Tim Berners-Lee there's really only one issue.

On the opening day of Mobile Internet World in Boston, the man credited with inventing the World Wide Web told a packed hall that the mobile Internet needs to be fully and completely the Internet, nothing more and nothing less. It needs to be free of central control, universal, and embodied in open standards.

"The Web is an open platform on which you build other things," he said. "That's how you get this innovation. The Web is universal: you can run it on any hardware, on any operating system, it can be used by people of different languages...It's a sandbox where people can [play and] exercise their creativity. It's very important to keep the Web universal as we merge the Internet with mobile." | Read full story

Romancing the robot

From The Globe And Mail - This month, artificial intelligence expert David Levy released Love + Sex with Robots: The Evolution of Human-Robot Relationships. In the book, he predicts that by 2050, men and women will be enjoying physical and emotional bonds with extremely lifelike, apparently conscious and remarkably suave robots.

Using examples of human-robot interactions from around the world, Dr. Levy - who won the 1997 Loebner Prize for developing conversational software and who earned his PhD with his thesis "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners" - explains why he thinks artificial beings will soon become a source of real companionship and the object of human desire.

In conversation, Dr. Levy explains how machines will make superior lovers and why men should be nervous, but his wife should not. | Read full article

Apple Notes: Finding Clues About Movie Rentals

From The New York Times - Where do you look for hints about what Apple is doing next? In bits of text woven into Apple software. Evan DiBiase, an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon, poked around the most recent release of iTunes and found some new phrases added like “rental-content,” “source-rental-info” and “supportsRentals.”

The conclusion? Apple is preparing to offer movie rentals through iTunes, something that might well help boost the utility of the Apple TV box. This move has been rumored for some time and other clues have been found. | Read full article

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Skype 2.0 beta for Linux adds video chat, works with webcam on Asus Eee PC

From Ars Technica - Skype has released a new beta version for Linux that finally adds long-awaited support for video chat, the single most requested feature for Skype on Linux. The Skype 2.0 beta, which is available for download from Skype's web site, includes a number of other minor feature improvements in addition to the new video functionality. You can check out the release notes for an overview.

The Skype 2.0 beta requires Qt 4.2.1, D-Bus 1.0, at least 20MB of free disk space, and a video card driver with Xv support. Packages are available in DEB and RPM formats for several distributions. A tarball with a generic binary is also available. | Read full article

Bebo's Anti-Hulu Pitch: We Play Your Video, You Keep The $

From Silicone Alley Insider - CBS and Viacom have yet to join up with Hulu, the NBC/Fox JV. But they're happy to get their stuff on Bebo, the raucous social network that has 40 million users and a dominant foothold in the UK.

At the rollout of Bebo's "Open Media" platform today at the Bryant Park hotel, Bebo's bizdev director Ziv Navoth was able to concisely explain his company's appeal to new content partners: "Come to Bebo; you keep 100% of the ad revenue yourself," he said. "We're not interested in taking a cut." | Read full article

Wall St. Journal to End Fee for Web

From The New York Times - Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of the News Corporation, said today that he intended to make access to The Wall Street Journal’s Web site free, trading subscription fees for anticipated ad revenue.

“We are studying it and we expect to make that free, and instead of having one million, having at least 10 million-15 million in every corner of the earth,” Mr. Murdoch said, referring to The Journal’s online readership.

The News Corporation has signed an agreement to acquire Dow Jones & Company, and the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. A special shareholders meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13 in New York. | Read full article