January 21, 2009

My _Guardian_ column on Real Sex And The Google Search

"Google should learn the difference between real sex and spam"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/jan/22/google-censorship

"If humans argue so much about distinguishing between erotica and pornography, imagine the difficulty search algorithms have"

I can live with the title, but I suggested per above "Real Sex And The Google Search" - the idea was to make a pun on the search [real sex] discussed in the article, and real sex in reference to the sex-bloggers rather than commercial material aimed at purely prurient interest.

Amusingly (and self-referentially), right now the article is ranking at position #4 for a Google search for [real sex].

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware , google , press | on January 21, 2009 09:36 PM | (Infothought permalink) | Comments (3)
January 15, 2009

Roger McNamee (Venture Capitalist) on Wikimedia Advisory Board - THE MONEY

When I wrote Roger McNamee, "Elevation Partners", and Don't Think Small on Wikipedia, I said:

It's not about the minor Google-juice that the commercial digital-sharecropping startup company "Wikia Inc." gets from the nonprofit mothership Wikipedia (and that trick doesn't even seem to work anyway). ... It's not about trying to put a $1,300 dinner on a charity's expense account. It's not even about pocketing fat speaking fees, though that must be a nice perk.

Looks at millions of dollars, if you can wrap your mind around that. Anybody who is rainmaking a literal million dollars of donations has an angle where they're going to get comparable value back.

With the announcement of Roger McNamee appointed to Wikimedia Advisory Board, I re-iterate that point. I severely doubt that the idea is to convert Wikipedia itself to some sort of profit center. That's too risky.

Instead, just speculating, I suspect what's going on here is a continuation of the strategy of digital sharecropping. Note this item in a profile

One such acquisition was Investopedia, the leading online portal for investment-related research, which Forbes bought in April 2007. Another was Clipmarks, a small company that lets users tag, store, organize, and share snippets of webpages, acquired in November 2007

Having insidery access to various deals and start-ups is likely the benefit, not direct commercialization of Wikipedia itself.

[Update : Hmm... "Roger McNamee will act as a special advisor to the Executive Director on business and strategy issues." ]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on January 15, 2009 03:04 PM | (Infothought permalink) | Comments (4)
January 11, 2009

Walt Crawford "Discursive Glossary"

Walt Crawford has a "Discursive Glossary" as the latest Cites & Insights edition, starting "A was for AAC", which gives a good idea of why it's of interest (AAC == "Advanced Audio Coding, the form of lossy compression used by Apple iTunes"). He disclaims the previous edition "was a set of miniature essays organized as a glossary. Neither is this set intended as more than a set of commentaries."

But mainly this post is because it has an entry about me, and still in Newish Year mode, it's actually a capsule summary. He writes:

Finkelstein, Seth

Then: A consulting programmer and censorware activist and researcher; youíll find lots more at sethf.com, including Finkelsteinís own weblog. Cites & Insights uses "censorware" rather than "filters" after reading and considering Finkelsteinís arguments...

Now: The blog, Infothought, has been heavy on matters related to Wikipedia and Wikia, but he continues to focus on censorware, Google and copyright as well. Ignore his tick of considering himself unread (although he does frequently publish columns in the Guardian, something other "unread bloggers" canít say). Heís worth reading.

Thanks for the kind words, especially the "worth reading".

Note I've found that Guardian columns drive very little blog traffic. It's just a handful of hits. Publishing such columns does not make my my blog widely read. So, at the risk of boring repetition, the question is: Why write any post?

Anyway, these days, I'm thinking the Google field has become highly crowded, with several big Google-and-society books on the one hand, while search startups are crashing and burning on the other (poor Ask.com - they really do try harder). It connects to Wikia as I'm really disappointed with Wikia Search, on top of the exploitative digital-sharecropping economy. I got drawn into writing about Wikipedia, and then thought I could do some good debunking the hype. But objectively, it all doesn't seem to have done much good though :-(.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in activism | on January 11, 2009 11:59 PM | (Infothought permalink) | Comments (3)
January 05, 2009

New Year's Resolutions 2009

Revisiting and updating what has gone before:

0) Looking back at e.g., 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, be aware that I tend to repeat myself in frustration, and try to address the reasons for that.

[Still failing here :-(]

1) Stop arguing with marketers about "conversation". It wastes my time, and it annoys the flack. It's not going to do any good.

[God, what a huge amount of time I've wasted on this, squeaking against bullhorns]

2) Stop being delusional about ever having more influence. That ship has sailed.

[Sigh ...]

3) Keep OUT of the "Net Neutrality" politics. It'll only hurt me.

4) "Life Trumps Blogging"

[Need more work here, though making progress :-(]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in activism | on January 05, 2009 09:00 AM | (Infothought permalink) | Comments (12)