Review: Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back

The Scholarly Kitchen • July 26, 2012

Race to the bottom? This review of Robert Levine's Free Ride: How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back offers an alternate perspective on "open" culture and its consequences. Levine pins most of the blame for failing newspapers, cratering music sales and struggling publishers on technology companies' support and proliferation of the "free content" mentality, aided and abetted by copyright reform advocates. You may not agree with him, but his viewpoint is worth checking out.

In my circles I don't usually hear Lawrence Lessig and PLoS called out as the bad guys but it is certainly true that tech companies are the ones that have benefited most from the availability and continuing demand for "free" content. The author lauds Apple for at least returning a revenue stream to creators. But those single song sales don't add up to much. One of my former colleagues, Zoe Keating, is the poster child for an independent musician fostering a career online. She does an interesting reveal about the monetary return from online music services. (Michalko)

James Howard Kunstler on Why Technology Won't Save Us

Rolling Stone • July 12, 2012

Inconvenient truths? Read this interview with counter-culture author James Howard Kunstler (Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation), who casts a critical eye on hopes that technology can fix all of the deeply complex problems we face: "I'm serenely convinced that we are heading into what will amount to a 'time out' from technological progress as we know it. A lot of these intoxications and deliriums and beliefs about technology are going to run into a serious wall of disappointment . . . if you run out of energy, you can't plug in technology." This is sobering reading—especially in the light of organizations' current drive toward digital transformation—and reminds us that there's something to be said for the endurance record of ink on paper.

Wow. He's blunt, opinionated and probably right about a lot. Is "the rule of law AWOL in American economic matters"? Does technology never stop "demonstrating unintended consequences"? This fellow will get you mad regardless of the way you'd answer. (Michalko)

Not So Fast

Think Quarterly (Google) • The Speed Issue

"We ain't seen nothin' yet." Media pundit Jeff Jarvis says it's easy to forget that the full ramifications of technological breakthroughs are generally discernable only decades or (more often) centuries after their onset. Using the example of the Gutenberg press, Jarvis extrapolates that any claim to "futurism expertise" is foolish; our best bet to finding out what the future holds is to careen full tilt down the path of change.

This one is not like the others. It's a paean to the way the network is reconfiguring everything. A little breathless for me but at least I've been introduced to the "Gutenberg parenthesis" hypothesis. (Michalko)

Why Data Should Be Our Guiding Light on Public Policy

GigaOM • July 27, 2012

Listen to the data. Technology journalist Derrick Harris provides illuminating examples of ways even relative techno-novices can use data sets available at data marketplaces such as Factual and Infochimps to inform and bolster their positions with facts rather than feelings. Public policy making is fraught with the consequences of "gut" emotions—adding facts to the discourse would greatly elevate the rhetoric.

My interesting take-away from this article is not about the increasing availability of public information data sets for analysis (even The Guardian newspaper has data inventory store). These are valued but what makes them get use is the emergence of analysis tools for the non-programmer. Business Optics interested me in this regard. (Michalko)

Prescriptivists vs. Descriptivists: The Fifth Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary

The Millions • July 19, 2012

Frame of reference. If you don't own an American Heritage Dictionary already, Bill Morris's essay will make you wish you did. Read on for a reminder of why clicking on can't measure up to the companionship of old hardcopy favorites.

I guess I'm a prescriptivist. There's a first edition AHD on top of a bookshelf in our offices (still bearing my brother's name and his dorm room address) and a Webster's New International Dictionary (second edition, 1934), ghost words and all, at home. Did anybody seriously consider that the volume of erroneous use would justify allowing the word credible to substitute for credulous? I'm in-credible. (Michalko)

Curation Techniques, Types and Tips

The Buttry Diary • July 19, 2012

Giving credit. Media specialist Steve Buttry says, "Linking and attribution are the nearly non-negotiable ethical principles of curation . . . In almost all cases, you should both attribute and link." Read on for Buttry's "dos and don'ts" on curating media channels such as Twitter feeds and YouTube videos. Curators are all about adding value, and providing appropriate attribution is the first step in the process.

I give ATF good marks against the criteria in this short essay. What do you think? (Michalko)

Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what is Europe's digital library, archive and museum?

Get the answer.