Brits race online

The National Statistics Office report on the state of online in Britain reports that nearly a million extra homes have gone online in the past year and eight out of ten connections were now broadband. This prompted Today to quiz web grandfather Vince Cern about the need for regulation to control the spread of user generated content. He handled himself very well, sounding eminently reasonable.

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UGC makes it to print

Jeff Jarvis reports that the Chicago Tribune has starting taking users generated content and putting it in a print publication and delivering to a few suburbs. He raves about opportunities this points to. For instance:

You can go to the local bloggers and get news from their blogs. You can encourage them to do more and get more bloggers to blog. You can pay them to encourage them to contribute what you need (it’ll be cheaper than paying staff and they won’t complain as much). The bloggers can perhaps take charge of organizing the news in the community and you help them. You make the product the center of a hyperlocal ad netework, which any of the participants can sell into.

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Why competition is a good thing

For many years Microsoft’s dominance of the desktop was virtually total – and it is still powering ahead today – but things are happening to shake their confidence. One is obviously the rise of Google and the alternative vision of simple applications – Google Docs and Spreadsheets and the rumoured presentation package expected shortly – hosted centrally and available for free supported by ads. The other is the resurgence of a confident Apple, powered by innovative new products – the iPod and iPhone – and great new designs. This newly confident and commercially powerful Apple has caused MS to look again at the quality of its products and inspired the huge effort behind Vista. This is a good thing: MS is finally developing with the ordinary consumer in mind.

One simple example: I was setting up a new router yesterday and adding 128-bit WEP security. I had to go round the various computers in the house to add the long string of characters. On the Mac there’s a check box which allows you to show the characters (instead of just ****) while you type. This is incredibly useful as you can check the string to make sure it’s right (before unchecking the box again). Next I repeated the operation for the XP machines. No such option – and several goes to get the typing right! Our new Vista machine was a breeze, however. Guess what? The same treatment as the Mac. That’s progress.

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Go forth and blog, young man

Jeff Jarvis quoting some good advice for would-be journalists:

Again, for those at the back: if you think you want to be a journalist, I now don’t think there’s any excuse not to have a blog. The closer you get to looking around for jobs, the better it should be maintained. If you enter the jobs market without one, no matter how good your degree, you’re increasingly likely to lose out to people who better present all they can do, and have the experience of creating and curating their own site.

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CIA and FBI changing Wikipedia pages

Great story from eWeek telling how a new program called Wikiscanner has unearthed the fact that various stories have been edited on CIA and FBI computers. The fact that this is happened is not remarkable – it would be rather surprising if this didn’t happen from time to time. The interesting thing is the accuracy that the new tool is able to bring to the party:

WikiScanner revealed that CIA computers were used to edit an entry on the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. A graphic on casualties was edited to add that many figures were estimated and were not broken down by class.

Another entry on former CIA chief William Colby was edited by CIA computers to expand his career history and discuss the merits of a Vietnam War rural pacification program that he headed.

Aerial and satellite images of the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were removed using a computer traced to the FBI, WikiScanner showed.

Wikipedia says the edits may have violated their conflict-of-interest guidelines.

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Google in the firing line

TechCrunch on the “hypocrisy” displayed by Google as it stops others crawling its news content on Google News (which of course relies on news  providers allowing their content to be crawled). It’s particularly galling, argues Michael Arrington (TechCruch founder) as they are now allowing people involved in the story to comment on it, thereby getting into the original content game themselves.


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New ways to pay for content

Jeff Jarvis has a piece on a new Edgeio widget which will allow for a new way of charging for, and distributing, content within a site – via a widget. The step-by-step approach is amazingly simple, but the thing that excites Jeff is that all sorts of paid-for relationships could be developed which go beyond the paid-for walled-garden approach he hates so much. And, there’s a built-in mechanism for syndication and revenue-sharing.

Interesting stuff…


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