Older blog entries for dmarti (starting at number 434)

Hey, kids! Blogroll!

As you can probably tell if you've been reading this site on a browser and not in a feed reader, I've been dorking around with the layout. Right now the whole three-column thing is gone and everything is in one column. I don't know if I'm going to do a media query thing to move stuff into other columns, or just clean up the one-column thing and have it look all minimal and stuff.

Anyway, the blogroll section here has gotten a little out of date, and since I now have a Python script that now pulls in...let's see...3875 feeds, I made it dynamically generate the blogroll based on who's actually posting, and what I've been linking to. Some obvious ones in there ("Schneier on Security", "Doc Searls Weblog") and some not so obvious.

Yes, I know that the grumpy wizards are at work in the blogroll iframe but not on the rest of the page, I'll see what I can do.

Syndicated 2012-08-17 14:11:17 from Don Marti

Media shoppers rejoice: DRM-free labeling is here

OPEN: DRM-Free Technology logo DRM-Free logo



Back in the day, Lydia Kinata at Linux Journal came up with a nifty logo for "Open: DRM-Free Technology", and we got a bunch of stickers printed up, made the logo free to copy and redistribute, and handed them out at LinuxWorld...where they promptly got collected with a bunch of other stickers and stuff and, I guess, forgotten. Even at a technology event, we had to explain to a lot of people what "DRM" is.

I still think DRM-free labeling is a great idea, though, so it's good to see the Defective By Design project now doing a "DRM-Free" logo, which is now in use at Magnatune, oreilly.com, and other places. RTWT for more links.

Bonus link (if you read one article on DRM and business, make it this one): Charles Stross explains how going DRM-free matters to publishers and authors.

Syndicated 2012-08-16 12:47:51 from Don Marti

Advertising with the wrong signaling, a sighting

Good example of an advertising signaling problem: Chris Castle on BMW’s Response to Ads for Its Brands on Pirate Sites. Somehow, BMW advertising ended up running on an unlicensed album download page, on a site called mp3crank.

Castle writes: "Brands like BMW are in a unique position to both (a) stop the money and (b) demand a rebate from their ad agency or ad network. But then we are always told that none of these ad networks (or ad exchanges) profit from piracy because their contracts say they don’t."

But this isn't just a problem with ads ending up on user-generated content, or user-"generated" infringing content. The power of the ad is in its ability to signal that the advertiser spend money on the ad. An ad on a cheesy illegal download carries no signal at best, and more likely a signal in the wrong direction.

Dalton Caldwell writes about the problem of advertising on inexpensive content here: Hot Dogs & Caviar. He makes the excellent point that the Valley hasn't converted cheap content "hot dogs" into high-performing ad "caviar". Now it seems that we're starting to realize that there is no adtech Holy Grail. Infringing, user-generated, and other cheap content fails to carry the signal that costly content does, no matter how much math you do on it.

Couple of bonus links. This piece, How BuzzFeed is bucking banner ads with curated content and social advertising, has a—well, let's just say "direct"—view of online advertising's effectiveness: "99% of internet users do not click ads and those that do are often members of the wrong audience—older, lower income, basically irrelevant." (They probably drink Thunderbird wine and run Microsoft Internet Explorer, too. Who needs them?)

Interesting post by Bill Lee: Marketing Is Dead. (Maybe the answer is two steps: first stop treating "social" as part of marketing, and second, stop de-skilling customer service jobs, and unblock experienced service and support people's access to social sites.)

Syndicated 2012-08-14 14:43:05 from Don Marti

Assorted links


The Unbearable Stasis of "Accelerating Change" (via Charles Stross: Deconstructing our future)

A Day in the Life of a Developer Evangelist

Failure of Leadership in the GitHub Model of Collaborative Software Development

Maybe We’d Behave Better With Horrible Winters

News from the patent wars: Don’t Feed the Troll!

Engendering Change? Gender Advocacy in Open Source

Ikea data viz hack FTW: Desk with Meters

What Are The Politics Of The Internet?

Google On The L Train: Sci-fi, Wifi And The MTA

Intellectual Ventures Loses Its Shine: Will Its Business Model Ever Work?

We Have Too Many Patents, Not Too Few

Why Is Job Growth Tepid?—Posner

Reinventing Affordable Housing: Tiny and cheap instead of large and expensively subsidized

Alameda to allow construction of new apartments

When the Army Was Democratic

Fight For Your Right to Go Paleo

The End of Free Conference Calls

Japanese Robot Can Beat Humans At Rock-Paper-Scissors Every Time

The Best Sales Reps Avoid "Talkers"

Earn Customer Loyalty Without Losing Your Shirt

Developer evangelism tasks: pre-emptive writing

The Twin Cities' broadband challenge

How to Grow Food in a Drought

Dumping iron at sea can bury carbon for centuries, study shows

I can understand that it wasn't Free from day one, but why not code escrow to protect your favorite applications from being acq-hired into oblivion? The real reason we’re upset about Sparrow’s acquisition

Walkability, Mobility, and Freedom (and you don't have software freedom either, if you don't know how to use it.)

Advertising Gets Personal

I Am the Intern Who Reads All of Your Mocking Tweets at the Official Taco Bell Twitter Account by Liz Arcury

The economics of Google Fiber and what it means for U.S. broadband

3D printed weapons and FUD.

Can We Quantify a Good Walk?

Parking Policy in Seattle Gets Less Bad

The Guerilla Guide to Social Business

Ask A Writer: In Which I Exhort You To Care Less

How to work from home and not suck at it

HuffPo, The Daily and the flawed iPad content model

The new environmentalism: where men must act 'as gods' to save the planet | Paul Kingsnorth

Effective web managers tackle digital governance

Man, if someone could combine the addictivness of gaming with the benefits of exercise, life would be good. Hope this guy can pull it off: The Most Ambitious Project I’ve Ever Announced

Do Not Track in the Windows 8 Setup Experience

What Google Fiber Says about Tech Policy: Fiber Rings Fit Deregulatory Hands

MIT Economist: Here's How Copyright Laws Impoverish Wikipedia

LibreOffice progress to 3.6.0

Karen McGrane – Content Strategy for Mobile

Is the Hacker Dojo worth saving? (spoilers: yes!)

Important DMCA/SEO connection that I'm surprised wasn't there already: An update to our search algorithms

And a response: Paved with Good Intentions

It’s A Dark Time To Be A Consumer In The Cloud

Google Copyright Transparency Report

All Your Work Should Be Sand Castles

Good demo video, showing email as part of workflow: Alfresco demo showing rule based on lat/lon, Mobile App, & CMIS

I could not sleep after I read this in hardcover: Hugo-nominated sf novel Blindsight available for free

Better than some of the crazy crap they're selling at the Post Office now: How to Save the Postal Service

Atul Gawande: Can hospital chains improve the medical industry?

Syndicated 2012-08-14 14:10:26 from Don Marti

Best Linux distribution for new users?

Rikki Endsley just put up a blog post on picking a Linux distribution: Which Linux Is “The Best Linux” for Windows Users? There's a quote from me in there, which I based on this thing I wrote a while ago: How to pick a distribution, for hobbyists. My humble opinion here is that the best distribution for a new user is the one that's easiest to get help on, which means something that your source of Linux help is familiar with. Much of the stuff that's trickiest for new users is the stuff that's different from distribution to distribution.

But I think I'm probably just pushing the problem up a level. I have no idea how I would find a productive user group or other forum, starting from scratch today. Work outward from my regular social network, I guess. Or go to a community conference such as SCaLE, and see who has a good presence there.

Benjamin Mako Hill covers A Model of Free Software Success, and points out that the ethical component of the choice to work on Free Software is vitally important, especially if you're at the stage that Linux was, pre-1998. "Essentially, a few hackers are motivated enough by the ethical principles behind free software that they are willing to contribute to it even when it isn't clearly better than proprietary alternatives."

To me, it looks like the appeal has three components: pure hack value, or the desire to build something fun and elegant; freedom value, the desire to develop/legislate (Code is Law, remember) a better technology layer for society; and the desire to make a living. Everyone I know in the Free Software scene has some of each. How well does today's Linux scene, as seen by a new user, appeal to each of those? I don't think the making a living is a problem, since there are plenty of good Linux and free software job opportunities, but how well does the public-facing community show the appeal of hacking and making Freedom? Maybe the availabilty of the Dell Sputnik, plus the ambitious Ubuntu community will be a positive step.

Syndicated 2012-08-14 13:23:41 from Don Marti

Sunday morning articles

Recent thought-provoking articles from the RSS-o-sphere. Enjoy.

Ken Murray follows up on How Doctors Die with Doctors Really Do Die Differently. "When asked whether they would want cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, if they were in a chronic coma, about 90 percent of the Johns Hopkins doctors said no. Only about 25 percent of the public gives the same answer."

Media is not converging, it is diverging (convergence only leads to conflict). Good point of view on the differences between marketing and social. (Maybe we should just stop calling it "social media" because that sounds like something you can throw advertising at.)

John Scalzi: A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It.

Doug Saunders: The Three Lies Michele Bachmann Tells about American Muslims. "All data point to Muslim immigrants and their children integrating into their surrounding societies as fast as, and sometimes faster than, the poor Catholics and Jews of the last century."

Barry Eisler: You Will Be Assimilated. "What are the warning signs, the real metrics a well-intentioned and clear-eyed journalist should consider before her subornment begins, and by which she can judge whether her integrity is slowly being compromised, corroded, and lost?"

Syndicated 2012-08-12 14:44:49 from Don Marti

Who's pocketing open source wealth?

Shane Greenstein asks, Does the clothesline paradox apply to IT? If you use the sun to dry your clothes instead of an electric dryer, your clothes are just as dry, but measured economic activity goes down. Same for open source software. Greenstein writes,

[W]hen a new technology (which uses the free inputs) substitutes for existing economic activity, on first glance it looks like the new technology brings about a decline in total economic activity. That appearance is misleading, of course, because the savings goes into other economic activity, but those gains are diffuse and difficult to identify.

Where do the gains go? Some of them must end up with open-source-using companies. Simon Phipps, citing a report from O'Reilly and Associates, calls this effect the stealth stimulus package. But gains are also ending up in paychecks. Software is really two complementary goods: the codebase and the maintenance programming. Push the price of one good to zero, and the price of the other goes up. For example, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reported on a survey done by Dice.com and the Linux Foundation.

"While the average pay increase for tech professionals averaged just two percent in 2011...according to Dice's annual Salary Survey, in 2011, Linux professionals saw a five percent increase, year-over-year, in their pay as well as a 15 percent jump in bonus payouts."

And that's for "Linux professionals" in general. For authors of important code on which other code depends, the deal can be much sweeter. Joey Hess writes, in a blog comment on David N. Welton's "In Thrall to Scarcity," "I think that the scarcity I am taking advantage of is that of deep knowledge of infrastructure. The kind of knowledge that you get by writing pieces of code that become infrastructure."

Using open source in business is sort of like hiring an employee who owns his or her own tools. In the case of hiring an open source developer, though, the "ownership" of the tools is in the form of expertise, something that's personal and that can't be sold or securitized. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Karl Marx.)

So who else is profiting from open source? The tax man. A lot of corporate tax returns look something like this: "We actually didn't make any profit because we had to send all our money to Example.com Software Licensing Trust in Taxhavenistan, so we owe nothing." As open source tends to reduce easily relocatable licensing streams, and increase paychecks in Portland and Mountain View, the public sector is getting a piece of the open source gains as well.

Syndicated 2012-08-06 14:00:52 from Don Marti

Economics links: subsidies, inequality, startups...

Jerry Brito explains How copyright is like Solyndra, a government subsidy program.

Steve Randy Waldman: Trade-offs between inequality, productivity, and employment. How much of our accumulated wealth do we use in a zero-sum struggle against each other? Can we ever get enough?

It's illegal to discriminate by race or national origin, but what about favorite stores or music? Alistair Croll: Big Data is our generation’s civil rights issue, and we don’t know it.

Paul Craig Roberts: Escape From Economics. "[T]he problem is that the discipline both lags an ever-changing world and got some things wrong at the beginning. Consequently, learning economics places one inside a box where some of the tools and understanding provided are outdated and incorrect."

Economist Yanis Varoufakis looks at one company with radically bottom-up organization: Why Valve? Or, what do we need corporations for and how does Valve’s management structure fit into today’s corporate world? Sort of like the "peer production" model in Coase's Penguin by Yochai Benkler, only within a single firm.

Aaron Swartz asks, "What do startup founders want?" and rules out money, fame, and power right away.

Syndicated 2012-08-06 00:38:12 from Don Marti

Adtech stinks.

Derek Thompson: Time to Admit What We Already Knew: Online Ads Stink. "Every single major tech and business story this week was the same story: Even companies with 100 million, 700 million, and 900 million free users don't know what to do about Internet advertising."

That's a good point, and that's even before the Facebook bot frenzy. But it looks like the real problem isn't the general idea of advertising on the internet, but the rat hole that we've gotten ourselves into with increasingly precise targeting. The better that ad targeting in a medium gets, the worse the ad medium works overall. Which is why radio and print pull in an oversized share of ad budgets, and web and mobile underperform.

Mike Downey, Vice President of Mobile Solutions for OpenX, has some advice for advertisers that should look familar by now. Real-time bidding is the next mobile ad breakthrough—here’s how you can profit. The answer, of course, is to collect more data, and throw more math at the problem.

We are seeing signals from our exchange that granular geo targeting is becoming a primary driver of bidding behavior in mobile. Publishers that are able to pass a longitude and latitude are seeing more than a 50% premium on their inventory. If you listen to the free version of Pandora on your mobile device you might have noticed that Panera Bread is selling sandwiches at lunchtime. The holy grail of driving local commerce via digital media seems to be getting closer and is eminently achievable with mobile.

(Yes, another knight of adtech seeks the holy grail.)

John Battelle, in Who’s On First? (A Modest Proposal To Solve The Problem with First- and Third-Party Marketing), wants site-by site control of third-party tracking. "I think we all already wear 'electronic clothing' that follows us around, and we seem to be unaware of it. That has to change." Battelle is a board member of the IAB. Bonus link from the same source: My, How the CMO Has Changed. General Motors has a "central video wall sporting constantly updated feeds reflecting consumer sentiment about GM and its brands."

Lois Beckett on ProPublica: Dark Money Political Groups Target Voters Based on Their Internet Habits. "Even when Internet users are sophisticated enough to spot a targeted ad, as Lauren Berns did, it is almost impossible for them to find out why a certain organization is targeting them—or what data about them is being used." (Just in case you needed another scare story about filter bubbles and creepy tracking.)

Extreme privacy measures from JR Conlin: Lying to the Internet. "My fake person gets her own browser (or browser profile for those that support it) where she is logged in to sites various sites long enough for me to get what i want and then leave. i tend to use her when visiting new sites to poke at things and see if that site has earned my trust (or at least provided enough value that i feel i could use it). Most of the time, the answer is 'no'."

I don't think we should all go as far as Conlin does, but if we redesign norms, infrastructure, and client software to make tracking less accurate, we're going to see both more total spending on Internet advertising and a larger share of that flowing through to publishers.

Syndicated 2012-07-31 14:24:46 from Don Marti

Links about connected organizations, and a must-read 1989 book

Islands in the Net: might as well read it because we're already living it. Some thought-provoking articles on networked organizations and related topics.

Ruslan Meshenberg explains Open Source at Netflix. "We’ve observed that the peer pressure from “Social Coding” has driven engineers to make sure code is clean and well structured, documentation is useful and up to date. What we’ve learned is that a component may be 'Good enough for running in production, but not good enough for Github'."

Mike Hendrickson tries the new developer laptop from Dell: Dell’s Sputnik – Git what you want. "As I explored, what struck me was that, out of the box, Sputnik was not full of unnecessary bloatware apps. Some folks have said that Macs don’t come with bloatware either. To them, I’d ask: have you used Safari? To me, it is not in the same class as Firefox or Chrome—yet you have to keep it on your system or all hell breaks loose."

Sean Park on designing a loosely coupled organization: The Connected Company. "By explicitly embracing a networked rather than hierarchical structure we have built in the ability to experiment and fail while at the same time giving us many more chances to succeed."

Syndicated 2012-07-31 13:52:27 from Don Marti

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