A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘internet

[BRIEF NOTE] On how Peeple, an app to rate people Yelp-style, is a terrible idea

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Joe. My. God. and Wired were among the news sources sharing the news of a new app, a Yelp for people, described in this CBC report.

An app that allows users to rate people like they would rate a restaurant is scheduled for a November release, but it already has the internet up in arms.

Calgary-developed Peeple will allow users to rate other humans on a scale of one to five stars, much like a Yelp review.

All you need to create a profile for someone is their cellphone number. The subject of the profile cannot delete the comments or the rating, according to an article in the Washington Post.

“You’re going to rate people in the three categories that you can possibly know somebody — professionally, personally or romantically,” Peeple CEO and co-founder Julia Cordray told CBC Calgary in September. “So you’d be able to go on and choose your five-star rating, write a comment and you will not be anonymous.”

Negative comments will sit unpublished in the person’s inbox for 48 hours, giving them the opportunity to work out any disputes with the person who posted them, according to Peeple’s website. If the dispute can’t be resolved in that time, the comment will go live. The person can publicly defend themselves by commenting on the negative review.

They’re Canadian. How wonderful.

Vox had a somewhat neutral article suggesting that it might not be that bad.

Peeple says it will take a number of precautions to prevent the service from becoming a cesspool of nasty reviews. Reviewers will be required to use their real identities as verified by Facebook, and new Facebook profiles won’t be allowed to participate.

Positive reviews of another person — those rated three or more stars on a five-star scale — will be posted immediately, but negative reviews will be held until the subject has time to review them. If someone refuses to register for the site, those negative reviews will be kept private indefinitely.

So the emerging caricature of Peeple as an app for stalkers and disgruntled exes may turn out to be wrong. It may actually be harder to harass people on Peeple than on existing social media platforms.

The thing is, I have seen people making comments on public websites using their Facebook identities. This scarcely restrains them at all. An app like Peeple could easily serve as a platform to let shameless people do terrible things to other, without any identifiable recourse. The Internet is forever, but at least it was better than high school.

The real shame? Even if Peeple is stopped, or radically transformed, other like apps are likely to develop.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 3, 2015 at 1:06 am

[LINK] Two links on the evolution of La Presse, and journalism generally

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I found out earlier this week, ultimately from the CBC, that Montréal French-language daily was ceasing daily publication to focus on its tablet app and it Saturday issue.

Montreal’s La Presse, one of the country’s oldest and largest newspapers, has announced the end of its weekday print edition.

Starting in January, the print edition of the 130-year-old French-language publication will only be available on Saturdays, president and publisher Guy Crevier announced Wednesday.

The newspaper launched its free tablet edition La Presse+ in 2013 at a cost $40 million.

Crevier said the tablet edition has more than double to number of readers of its print edition and ad revenue from the tablet edition accounts for 70 per cent of the company’s total revenue.

“Thirty months after its launch, La Presse+ is now more successful than the print version of La Presse after 131 years of existence,” Crevier said in a statement.

I also found out that La Presse has announced massive layoffs.

Montreal news institution La Presse announced on Thursday 158 people would be leaving the newspaper, including 43 positions within its editorial department.

Of the 158, 102 of the positions are permanent, full-time jobs.
The newspaper said in a news release that the jobs include unionized, non-unionized and contract staff.

There will be 633 staff members left at La Presse after the laid-off staff leave.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 25, 2015 at 7:34 pm

[LINK] “Schoolkids Don’t Just Need iPads. They Need Data Plans”

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Wired‘s Issie Lapowsky reports on how some students in California, given iPads for class work, now also have data plans allowing them access from home. This is good, but I’m actually a bit shocked someone thought it a good idea to implement tablet-based education before ensuring everyone actually had Internet access.

On a cloudy Tuesday afternoon in San Marcos, California, Guadalupe Lopez is guiding me through Alvin Dunn Elementary’s concrete grid of a campus. Dressed in a black sweatshirt with Minnie Mouse ears on the hood, she’s striding along with the eager confidence of a soon-to-be 7th grader just weeks away from the first day of summer. And she has something special she wants to show me.

Charging several steps ahead, she leads me into the school’s cafeteria, where dozens of black and white photos of Alvin Dunn sixth graders cover the wall. The photos, Lopez explains, are part of a research project that she and a small group of her classmates recently completed on why American businesses and government agencies should invest in at-risk youth.

“They’re spending so much on prisons, but they’re leaving us behind,” Lopez tells me, sounding far more sophisticated than she should at 12. To illustrate their point, Lopez and her group took photos of each of their classmates and asked them all to write captions explaining why they’re worth the investment. “Some of them just touch your heart,” Lopez tells me, sincerity radiating from her big brown eyes.

During the month she spent researching both in and out of school, this topic has become deeply personal to Lopez, and as she stares up at the wall, it’s clear she is proud of her hard work—work that would have been a lot harder if not for the fact that a few months earlier, the school gave every sixth grader a Samsung tablet to take home with them.

That, in and of itself, wasn’t all that special. Alvin Dunn students had been using iPads in class for years. But what made a truly deep impact in Lopez’s life was the fact that the tablet had its own data plan. That meant she could actually take it home with her and use it. It was a tiny difference, but for Lopez, it changed everything. Like about 30 percent of American schoolchildren—and more than half the sixth grade class at Alvin Dunn—Lopez has no Internet access at home.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 24, 2015 at 9:27 pm

[LINK] “Facebook’s dominance deepens”

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Open Democracy’s Digital Liberties project features an essay by Matthew Linares noting the implications of Facebook’s increasing dominance of the Internet. The gated garden is impending.

Regulator Tom Wheeler noted the internet’s status as a “core of free expression and democratic principles” as reason to uphold net neutrality; the fact that this idea determines legislative treatment colours the debate about what kind of beast Facebook has become. If it assumes so much control that it significantly alters who sees what and how, the effect on access to information will be similar to that of ISPs throttling content for cash, whilst possibly affecting a wider customer base. If the legislative problem is about a level playing field, the Facebook effect cannot prudently be ignored. Despite change rendering even web monoliths precarious, network effects make the biggest players something more than just another firm in a marketplace. Facebook may require us to rethink what sort of thing can be considered a public utility.

A recent product from Facebook, “Instant Articles” is an integration of full pieces from publishers directly inside of Facebook. A user can now click on an article in their news feed, and immediately see the full thing, rich and colourful in Facebook, without wasting 8 seconds to leave and load it at the publisher’s website.

On one reading, this is a boon for all. Facebook’s technical prowess makes news and media smoother and more enjoyable. That’s what great firms do, bettering service both for publishers, advertisers and users.

However, this is also something like the ‘walled garden’ tendency common to commercial providers who seek to control users. Instant Articles reduce the reasons to leave Facebook. Users then spend longer within Facebook, consuming media as they socialise. Facebook continues to curate the user news feed that acts as an ever greater tributary of all internet content. This feature is visible elsewhere as publisher platforms become prevalent, but Facebook is the main contender.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 24, 2015 at 9:16 pm

[LINK] “Canadian newspaper tries radical experiment with iTunes-style micropayments”

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CBC News’ Don Pittis reports on this experiment by the Winnipeg Free Press.

Despite its name, regular readers of the Winnipeg Free Press can no longer see articles for free.

Paywalls are nothing new in the world of online newspapers, but this summer, the “Freep,” as it is affectionately known, introduced a method of charging for online “print” media that everyone thought was dead: micropayments.

After a free trial period of one month, anyone interested in reading the Free Press has two choices. As with other papers, readers can buy a subscription at the standard rates.

Or, they can do something regular daily newspaper readers have never been able to do before. They can pay a one-time fee for the individual article they want to read.

“There are all these readers out there who want to read what we have,” says Free Press publisher Bob Cox.

“You go to Amazon, you buy one at a time. You go to the Apple iTunes store, you buy one at a time. This is the method people use online for purchasing things.”

Written by Randy McDonald

September 23, 2015 at 5:17 pm

[META] What blogs do you read?

What blogs do you read?

Let me know in the comments. I like coming across new things.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 29, 2015 at 3:54 am

Posted in Meta, Writing

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[LINK] “How Coolness Defined the World Wide Web of the 1990s”

Megan Sapnar Ankerson’s article in The Atlantic from July 2014 is insightful. Back when I had a home page and plans to expand it, a curated collection of cool sites is something I wanted to have.

Summer is the ideal season to contemplate that perennial, overused, and ever-elusive concept of cool. This summer is particularly ripe, for August marks the 20th anniversary of an early web phenomenon known as “Cool Site of the Day”—or CSotD for those in the know.

If you weren’t online in the mid-1990s, you might have missed the tremendous effort devoted to curating, sharing, and circulating the coolness of the World Wide Web. The early web was simply teeming with declarations of cool: Cool Sites of the Day, the Night, the Week, the Year; Cool Surf Spots; Cool Picks; Way Cool Websites; Project Cool Sightings. Coolness awards once besieged the web’s virtual landscape like an overgrown trophy collection.

These recognitions were regarded as welcomed honors, visually stamped on the distinguished site with a graphical status icon that bestowed a mark of “quality.” Accumulate enough of these accolades and new awards.html pages would be erected to showcase the entire collection.

Maybe today’s users find the early web’s preoccupation with cool to seem little more than the juvenile boasting of Internet novices. But a closer look at sites like Cool Site of the Day, and the countless other cool directories like Netscape’s “What’s Cool?” and Yahoo!’s Cool Sites listing, might actually tell us something about how and why networked technology and digital culture forged such an enduring link to the concept of cool.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 26, 2015 at 7:47 pm


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