A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘internet

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • io9 notes that kale, cauliflower, and collards all are product of the same species.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze speculates on the detection of Earth analogues late in their lifespan and notes the failure to discover a predicted circumbinary brown dwarf at V471 Tauri.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares Lockheed’s suggestion that it is on the verge of developing a 300-kilowatt laser weapon.
  • Far Outliers considers the question of who is to blame for the Khmer Rouge.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that One Million Moms is hostile to the free WiFi of McDonald’s.
  • Spacing Toronto notes an 1855 circus riot sparked by a visit of clowns to the wrong brothel.
  • Torontoist notes how demographic changes in different Toronto neighbourhoods means some schools are closing while others are straining.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes a California court ruling not recognizing the competence of the Iranian judicial system in a civil case on the grounds of its discrimination against religious minorities and women.
  • Window on Eurasia considers the implications of peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine, notes the steady integration of Abkhazia and South Ossetia into Russia, and notes Russian fascism.

[LINK] “The Digital Future of TV Networks & The Original Series Crunch”

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Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen linked to an interesting essay by Liam Boluk at Media Redefined, talking about how the relative inflexibility of television networks limits their ability to reliably produce popular content.

When we think of the future of TV – or more specifically, the digital future of network TV – we tend to think around key concepts: over-the-top and direct-to-consumer distribution, à la carte availability, dynamic ad insertion, data-driven green-lights and so on. Yet, what’s always missing from this analysis is a more fundamental examination of what a digital network could actually be.

One of the primary problems here is the starting point: TV Everywhere. TV Everywhere, to put it plainly, does not a digital network make. It’s about taking a linear product and putting it on the web – not rethinking the network construct itself. At its core, the traditional, linear TV business model is defined by its constraints. Each network has a finite number of programming slots (and even fewer primetime slots), which forces it to focus on maximizing “eyeballs” among a specific target demographic (or demographics) and programming thematically and/or tonally similar content. A digital network, however, faces none of these limitations. There’s no maximum – or minimum – amount of programming required, no limit to the number of genres and demographics it can serve, “no one size fits all” lead in show and no single performance metric. This fundamentally changes what a “TV” network can look like and be.

Netflix, for example, can be many things to many people. And it shows.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, Netflix delivered more minutes of video in the United States than the average broadcast network, twice as many as the industry’s largest cable network (The Disney Channel) and more than the bottom 113 (of some 200) cable networks combined. What’s more, this figure is up an estimated 40% (or 38 billion minutes) year over year.

Netflix is able to achieve this scale and rate of growth because in consumers’ minds, it is the Disney Channel. And AMC. And Syfy. And National Geographic. At first, Netflix’s streaming service was seen as a Pay TV competitor. Today, it’s most often viewed as premium cable network such as HBO (Netflix CEO Reed Hastings loves to make this very comparison). Yet it’s more accurate to describe the company as a multi-channel network group – a Time Warner or NBCU, not an HBO or USA.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 13, 2015 at 10:49 pm

[LINK] “Millions of Facebook users have no idea they’re using the internet”

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Leo Mirani’s Quartz article suggesting that, for an increasing number of people, Facebook so dominates their online usage that they see the Internet as something entirely different from Facebook. This, obviously, has consequences.

Indonesians surveyed by [Helena Galpaya three years ago] told her that they didn’t use the internet. But in focus groups, they would talk enthusiastically about how much time they spent on Facebook. Galpaya, a researcher (and now CEO) with LIRNEasia, a think tank, called Rohan Samarajiva, her boss at the time, to tell him what she had discovered. “It seemed that in their minds, the Internet did not exist; only Facebook,” he concluded.

In Africa, Christoph Stork stumbled upon something similar. Looking at results from a survey on communications use for Research ICT Africa, Stork found what looked like an error. The number of people who had responded saying they used Facebook was much higher than those who said they used the internet. The discrepancy accounted for some 3% to 4% of mobile phone users, he says.

Since at least 2013, Facebook has been making noises about connecting the entire world to the internet. But even Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s operations head, admits that there are Facebook users who don’t know they’re on the internet. So is Facebook succeeding in its goal if the people it is connecting have no idea they are using the internet? And what does it mean if masses of first-time adopters come online not via the open web, but the closed, proprietary network where they must play by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s rules?

This is more than a matter of semantics. The expectations and behaviors of the next billion people to come online will have profound effects on how the internet evolves. If the majority of the world’s online population spends time on Facebook, then policymakers, businesses, startups, developers, nonprofits, publishers, and anyone else interested in communicating with them will also, if they are to be effective, go to Facebook. That means they, too, must then play by the rules of one company. And that has implications for us all.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 10, 2015 at 11:42 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • blogTO notes plans for building a new condo complex at Front and Spadina.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper simulating the emission spectra of super-Earths.
  • The Dragon’s Tales suggests that the emergence of continents was crucial for the Great Oxidation Event and claims Mars took longer to lose its atmosphere than many people think.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that the Archbishop of San Francisco is, among other things, strongly anti-masturbation.
  • Language Log notes the death of feminist, linguist and science fiction writer Suzette Haden Elgin.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money makes a case somewhat in defense of Brian Williams.
  • Spacing Toronto makes the case that lovers should buy Valentine’s Day gifts at its store.
  • The Tin Man considers his complicated relationship with the musical Falsettos.
  • Torontoist looks at the evolution of CAMH over the years.
  • Towleroad notes the active support of Pope Francis for an anti-gay referendum in Slovakia.
  • Transit Toronto notes the steady expansion of the TTC’s WiFi network throughout the subway system.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers the challenges facing a Lohan family lawsuit against Fox News.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that Ukraine can’t accept Russian demands because they’ll keep coming, argues that Russians are noticing domestic incompetence, and notes internal border changes in Russia.

[LINK] “The Cobweb”

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The Longreads Blog linked to Jill Lepore’s article in The New Yorker noting how link rot is an increasingly serious problem for the Internet and its historians. (I wonder how many of A Bit More Detail’s links still work.)

Web pages don’t have to be deliberately deleted to disappear. Sites hosted by corporations tend to die with their hosts. When MySpace, GeoCities, and Friendster were reconfigured or sold, millions of accounts vanished. (Some of those companies may have notified users, but Jason Scott, who started an outfit called Archive Team—its motto is “We are going to rescue your shit”—says that such notification is usually purely notional: “They were sending e-mail to dead e-mail addresses, saying, ‘Hello, Arthur Dent, your house is going to be crushed.’ ”) Facebook has been around for only a decade; it won’t be around forever. Twitter is a rare case: it has arranged to archive all of its tweets at the Library of Congress. In 2010, after the announcement, Andy Borowitz tweeted, “Library of Congress to acquire entire Twitter archive—will rename itself Museum of Crap.” Not long after that, Borowitz abandoned that Twitter account. You might, one day, be able to find his old tweets at the Library of Congress, but not anytime soon: the Twitter Archive is not yet open for research. Meanwhile, on the Web, if you click on a link to Borowitz’s tweet about the Museum of Crap, you get this message: “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”

The Web dwells in a never-ending present. It is—elementally—ethereal, ephemeral, unstable, and unreliable. Sometimes when you try to visit a Web page what you see is an error message: “Page Not Found.” This is known as “link rot,” and it’s a drag, but it’s better than the alternative. More often, you see an updated Web page; most likely the original has been overwritten. (To overwrite, in computing, means to destroy old data by storing new data in their place; overwriting is an artifact of an era when computer storage was very expensive.) Or maybe the page has been moved and something else is where it used to be. This is known as “content drift,” and it’s more pernicious than an error message, because it’s impossible to tell that what you’re seeing isn’t what you went to look for: the overwriting, erasure, or moving of the original is invisible. For the law and for the courts, link rot and content drift, which are collectively known as “reference rot,” have been disastrous. In providing evidence, legal scholars, lawyers, and judges often cite Web pages in their footnotes; they expect that evidence to remain where they found it as their proof, the way that evidence on paper—in court records and books and law journals—remains where they found it, in libraries and courthouses. But a 2013 survey of law- and policy-related publications found that, at the end of six years, nearly fifty per cent of the URLs cited in those publications no longer worked. According to a 2014 study conducted at Harvard Law School, “more than 70% of the URLs within the Harvard Law Review and other journals, and 50% of the URLs within United States Supreme Court opinions, do not link to the originally cited information.” The overwriting, drifting, and rotting of the Web is no less catastrophic for engineers, scientists, and doctors. Last month, a team of digital library researchers based at Los Alamos National Laboratory reported the results of an exacting study of three and a half million scholarly articles published in science, technology, and medical journals between 1997 and 2012: one in five links provided in the notes suffers from reference rot. It’s like trying to stand on quicksand.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 3, 2015 at 11:33 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

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  • The Big Picture shares photos of aspiring K-pop stars.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly notes how being rich and being happy do not necessarily coincide.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest post from Andrew Lepage looking at the potential habitability of more than two dozen exoplanets. (Three look good.)
  • Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin reports on the election in the Australian state of Queensland.
  • D-Brief notes the numerous surprises associated with the Rosetta comet probe.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that near-contact binary star system ZZ Eridani might have a brown dwarf in orbit.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Uranus’ moon Ariel is warmer than expected.
  • A Fistful of Euros notes the potential for change in Greece.
  • Language Hat links to an Irish Times essay arguing Ireland stayed much more Irish in language than people give it credit.
  • Language Log suggests in a guest post that the Chinese script is responsible for high levels of myopia.
  • The Planetary Society Blog features a report by Marc Rayman on the Dawn probe’s approach to Ceres.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer argues that the small Caribbean basin states which depend on Venezuela’s Petrocaribe can survive that corporation’s collapse.
  • Savage Minds recommends that writers should read more.
  • Spacing Toronto wonders what will be next for the TTC after the decision to let minors ride for free.
  • The Transit Toronto blog notes the expansion of wireless Internet across the GO Transit network.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the growth of fascism in Russia, notes the politicization of the Russian diaspora, observes the launching of websites for Russophone secessionists in the Baltic States, and wonders about whether or not Putin distinguishes between lies and the truth.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Big Picture shares photos of the falling shoreline of the Dead Sea.
  • blogTO shows the heritage buildings that have survived condo development at Yonge and St. Joseph.
  • Crooked Timber wonders at the threat of anti-vaccination people.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that red dwarfs might help produce abiotic atmospheric oxygen comparable to Earth on some worlds and suggests that certain low-mass stars which produce abundant extreme ultraviolet radiation may dessicate their potentially habitable worlds.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper examining the ancient likely shorelines of Mars.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a Christian activist’s takeover of the microphone at a Muslim event in Texas.
  • Language Hat links to a paper that finds weak links between language and genetic history.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a robot-run hotel in Japan and suggests Sweden is overrated.
  • Spacing calls for much-improved mass transit in Halifax.
  • Torontoist wonders about possible improvements in snow removal.
  • Towleroad notes a legal challenge mounted by an American dismissed for anti-gay attitudes.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that Herbert Hoover’s vice-president, Charles Curtis, was an American Indian.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russia’s turn to fascism and examines how Russian Internet trolls are recruited by the state.

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