Category: Society

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It’s Not Your Spam, Ma`am, But His

Reducing spam is painful. I sent a friend e-mail at the domain she owns. She didn’t get the message, because she changed her e-mail handle off her domain. The reason isn’t rocket science: spam.

I feel her pain. I recently sold a domain I owned since 1995. In parting with the domain, I relinquished an e-mail addressed used for almost nine years. The e-mail change is liberating, because of the greatly diminished amount of spam. 

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Must Be: Familiar, Approachable, Extending and Better Enough

My prevailing thinking on why high-tech products succeed or fail boils down to four criteria. Editor’s Note 2/8/2014: I expanded the number to eight and wrote book about them: The Principles of Disruptive Design.

A product must:

  1. Build on the familiar
  2. Do what it’s supposed to do really well
  3. Allow people to do something they wished they could do
  4. When displacing something else, offer significantly better experience
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Spanish Solidarity

I would like express my solidarity with and condolences to the people in Spain whose lives were ripped apart by this week’s devastating and unconscionable bombing.

But, watching Spaniards fill Madrid streets with grieving and protest elicits great regret. Americans acted more like victims following the 9-11 attacks that felled both World Trade Center towers. Rather than outrage, Americans withdrew—from traveling, spending, and living. Raised fingers looked to blame everyone but ourselves. 

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Whatever Happened to the Free Spirit that spawned the Modern Internet?

This afternoon, I was reading a story about cancelled flights—more concerns about terrorist threats—over at MSNBC. The story included an interactive element that lets the reader try out being a baggage screener for two minutes. Beneath the interactive element, “Can You Spot The THREATS?” is this option: “License this Interactive for your Web site.” Clicking through leads to Rights Links (powered) by Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. The cost: $99 for a single Website. Yeah, you read that right. MSNBC is charging for that interactive element.

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Let’s Eat at the Audio Lunchbox

I discovered a cool, new music site today. I was looking around MusicMatch, which had profiled The Distillers album “Coral Fang.” I listened to the songs first on MusicMatch MX radio; some rad punk. So I checked out the band’s homepage where there was a post about The Distillers going digital, with songs for sale over at Audio Lunchbox.

Audo Lunchbox is a legal download site hawking indie music. Lots of it, and stuff you’d buy from Apple’s iTunes Music Store (that means rights protection) or one of those Windows Media Audio outfits like MusicMatch (that also means rights protection). The problem with the rights-protected (a.k.a. digital rights management) stuff isn’t the restriction on playback (three PC cap for most music) but the compatibility. Apple’s music format and WMA aren’t compatible. The songs usually won’t play in the same media player or portable music player. 

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Voter Profiling

I guess privacy doesn’t mean much during an election year. According to a Reuters story by Andy Sullivan, politicians are “drawing detailed profiles” of voters. Mr. Sullivan quotes Grassroots Solutions founder Robert Richman as saying, “It’s pretty scary, the stuff you can get on people”.

It’s funny how politicians often talk big about protecting people’s privacy (except maybe with regard to Homeland security). But in the crunch, some won’t hesitate to mine data the same as businesses. 

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Racism and Naiveté

Growing up in Northern Maine, a white wonderland in more ways than just snow, doesn’t seem like the best place for exposure to other races, or even cultures. But, my hometown Caribou also was where many kids from “the base”, as in Loring over in Limestone, went to school.

My best buds growing up tended be a different color from me, like the Chung brothers, Davis and Winchell. Not that I noticed. I was colorblind to skin. I remember learning about slavery, civil rights, and racism in eighth grade, a concept that made no sense to me. 

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If You’re Political, Then say So

Should journalists make political contributions? That’s a quandary raised in a today’s Washington Post story by reporter Howard Kurtz. The situation is this: Some news organizations allow staffers—and that includes editors and reporters—to make political contributions. Such contributions could infer bias and so tarnish the contributor’s and/or news operation’s neutrality.

As a former journalist too often disgusted by the news media misbehaviors, I’m in favor of the contributions, as long as there is full disclosure. My reasoning is simple. Reporters, editors, and publishers are people. That means they do have biases and even agendas. But the mask of so-called neutrality often hides the real story behind news stories. I like the idea of those purporting to deliver unbiased news stories and analyses offering readers insight into their political leanings. 

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Blog the Vote

According to a story in yesterday’s Washington Post, political candidates wooing younger voters should skip the ads and blog. The story, by Brian Krebs, cites a study sponsored by the Council for Excellence in Government’s Center for Democracy and Citizenship program and the Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement center at the University of Maryland.

According to Mr. Krebs, “The survey suggests that the Internet is most effective for candidates pursuing young people who are already interested in politics or passionate about certain key issues.”