Sunday, November 29, 2009

Xbox iPlayer launch delayed indefinitely

John Naughton reports on the above and hits the nail on the head:
Could this have anything to do with the fact that Rupert Murdoch and Microsoft are in, er, talks, about Redmond paying the Digger to let Bing have exclusive ‘indexing rights’ to News Corp content?

Fact: the Digger (and his various offspring) detests the BBC and would like to shut it down.
More here.

In the meantime, you can always enjoy iPlayer on the Wii. I've started using it frequently myself and can happily report it works brilliantly on LCD TVs. The Wii acquires a utility I never anticipated it could ever have.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Feedback on Google Wave

Yesterday, Google published the results of a survey I missed on what people like and don't like about Wave.  I would tend to agree with the respondents - a great place to meet but integration with standard email would be good.

You can find more at Google's blog here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crowdsourcing, taxation and the new digital economy

Governments need taxes - need things they can tax - to operate effectively, to have the resources to provide all the services we agree we all need.  But the problem with the new digital economy is that large portions of what is created these days is done voluntarily, out of hours and by people who care more for a cause than the buck they could turn.  Wikipedia exists because of this crowdsourcing effect, and usefully defines the term thus

How social networks may drive us towards Microsoft-type monopolies once again

And here I was thinking that socialising networks would release us from the monopolistic attentions of capitalism - only for the natural algorithms that underlie their behaviours to bring me sharply to my senses.  John Naughton writes this today in the Observer:
[O'Reilly's] argument is that since Web 2.0 services get better the more people use them, so they have a natural tendency towards monopolistic specialisation. So he thinks we're headed for "a world with one dominant search engine, one dominant online encyclopedia, one dominant online retailer, one dominant auction site, one dominant online classified site, and we've been readying ourselves for one dominant social network".

It's difficult to argue with this analysis. And each of the network's local monopolies is doing everything it can to keep us inside its walled garden. Google executives, for example, constantly blather on about how they value the "open" internet, freedom of choice etc, while at the same time frantically constructing an online environment which provides a cornucopia of services sufficiently rich to ensure that subscribers need never leave the Google embrace. The same is true of Amazon, Facebook and eBay.
The truth of the matter is that if you don't own the means of production, you don't own anything.  We're back to the same sad truth time and again.  I truly believe in an open Internet.  But I'm beginning to truly believe in neither governments nor corporations.  As Naughton caustically adds:
[...] common sense, not to mention bitter experience, tells us that the company that voluntarily turns its back on the prospect of monopolistic power has yet to be incorporated.
More here from Naughton.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BBC iPlayer on the Wii

You can now get BBC iPlayer on the Wii.  I tested it out this evening whilst watching the latest episode of Dr Who.  High quality images, far better than on a PC in fact, coupled with a perfectly skip-free delivery made for an enjoyable experience.  The British TV licence fee just added an extra string to its evermore digitally rich and melodious bow.  The people responsible should feel proud of the software they've produced, as well as the development process they've followed, whilst private industry competitors such as Sky and Virgin Media should be looking over their shoulders.

If you're interested, more background to this product and service can be found here and here.  It's a clear example if there ever was one of how public software applications can be used to support and re-energise private industry at crucial moments in our economic history.  One caveat - you do need your Wii to be set to the United Kingdom for the program to run as expected.  And you do, of course, need to have paid your BBC licence fee.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Community computing and that $80 computer

Here's something really special.  For the price of a Windows operating system licence, you get an operating system and a computer to boot (or reboot as the fancy might take you).  More here.  Via lirazsiri's Twitter feed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The thinking behind Twitter's new retweeting functionality (the organic version, I mean)

Evan Williams explains it with clarity. You may agree or you may not.  I'm not sure I do - it seems to structure too aggressively what you can and can't do.  Manual retweeting may remain as a least worst option.  Or, alternatively, we'll carry on using our Twitter clients - just as we have been doing so up to now.

It's a classic example of eco-system and third party support, though -  the give-and-take between originator and business opportunists.  A leaf out of Microsoft's book, if there ever was one.  So how do these Twitter client developers hope - long-term - to make any money?  A sheer and utter mystery to me.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

When five sevenths of your electorate is already on Facebook - what then?

The fascination with all things virtual grows exponentially.  I remember teletext as a monumental revolution but for my children there has never been a world without.  I remember reading recently that adults go online but for our offspring there's no difference between online or off.  It's one and the same.

That is not the future.  That is their present.

Now we discover, via Tom Watson's Twitter feed, that by next year's attorney general elections, five sevenths of California's Democrat voters will be on Facebook.

More on this astonishing statistic here.

And yet even so, those who do not understand that software code is our new method of writing constitutional frameworks will continue to kick against overwhelming social change and believe we can impose old 19th century ways of thinking on 21st century trends.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

How socialists might engage with the idea of reform rather than revolution

A thoughtful - and engaging - piece from Dave today on the subject of reform.  Well worth reading - and well worth internalising its lessons.  His conclusion - as much a product as a cause of virtualised Web 2.0 tendencies (certainly we could apply them to that part of the Internet which still fiercely resists all attempts at monetisation) - runs as follows: