Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cory Doctorow at UNC

Nice day to traipse across campus to Wilson Library to hear Cory Doctorow at Wilson Library. Billed, I think by Paul Jones, in Facebook as "Boingboing editor, EFF, SciFi Writer, Disney-obsessed Copyfighter, Fulbright Chair".

Cory was talking about DRM in an era where bits are always getting easier to copy, and how this reality will effect music, video, literature, and even the drivers for your computer.

DRM doesn't work, that's a reality, but media companies continue to try to push this business model. We consumers are hurt, because as media changes, we hold a shrinking set of rights to the media we own. It's only the fact that we're all pretty lazy consumers that the situation continues. What's it going to take? Observation that an iTunes release is followed on P-to-P pirate sites after a couple of minutes...what's the use.

A Q from the audience on how individual artists could suffer in a 'free' environment. Good points that current copyright does not benefit artists, only media companies. Joke about artist bargaining power with record labels. Efforts such as Creative Commons are an attempt to redefine media rights from the artists perspective, not the media company perspective. Most artists (tell me about it) are trying to overcome obscurity, not constrain use of their materials. I buy this line of argument, and had been less receptive to it in the past. Cory observed that we should judge a copyright system by whether it enriches participation.

Shouts out to the EFF and the various campus Free Culture Movement groups.

Two great consecutive presentations (yesterday was a ConsiderIT on SecondLife for Teaching and Learning). Went back and listened to James Brown on my iPod (all legal!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Article in Scientific American about Memex

Memex is a vague term, but this article (thanks to Dave Moffat) in Scientific American is a good primer.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cory Docorow at UNC

Reposting from information Paul Jones sent out...I'm going!

What: Pwned: How copyright turns us all into IP serfs

Who: Cory Doctorow

Quick on Cory: Boingboing editor, EFF, SciFi Writer, Disney-obsessed
Copyfighter, Fulbright Chair at Annenberg UCSD

When: 2 pm Thursday February 22nd (aka 2/22 at 2)

Where: Wilson Library
UNC-Chapel Hilll

Sponsors:, UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication,
Free Culture Carolina, School of Information and Library Science

Cory's previous trip to UNC:

More about Cory:

Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction novelist, blogger and technology activist. He is the co-editor of the popular weblog Boing Boing (, and a contributor to Wired, Popular Science, Make, the New York Times, and many other newspapers, magazines and websites. He was formerly Director of European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (, a non-profit civil liberties group that defends freedom in technology law, policy, standards and treaties. In that capacity, he worked to balance international treaties, polices and standards on copyright and related rights, advocating in the halls of governments, the United Nations, standards bodies, corporations, universities and non-profit. Presently, he serves as the Fulbright Chair at the Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California. His novels are published by Tor Books and simultaneously released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing, a move that increases his sales by enlisting his readers to help promote his work. He has won the Locus and Sunburst Awards, and been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and British Science Fiction Awards. He co-founded the open source peer-to-peer software company OpenCola, sold to OpenText, Inc in 2003, and presently serves on the boards and advisory boards of the Participatory Culture Foundation, the MetaBrainz Foundation, Technorati, Inc, Stikkit, Annenberg Center for the Study of Online Communities, SiteShuffle, and Onion Networks, Inc. His latest novel is Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

More on Second (Real) Life

Willi was blogging on some of the themes we've been kicking around regarding a merger between the physical campus and the virtual campus.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Social networking on mobiles is different...

I just ran across this, mostly because it shows why it's important when we think of the 'Mobile Web' to not consider a mobile phone as a small pc you operate with your thumb. In this case, pointing out how social networking on mobiles has a different intent than more traditional 'browser-based' social networks.

When we think about mobile services on campus, perhaps we should start identifying these niches in the college experience.

RENCI Lecture Series Yesterday

I took a trip out to the Friday Center to hear Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, who is IBM's VP for Technical Strategy and Innovation. This was part of RENCI's Distinguished Lecture Series. The program was about the coming '3D Internet'.

Dr. Wladowsky-Berger took a different tack from the typical future internet fodder, such as I peddle on this blog, and getting a fresh perspective from a different angle definitely made the trip worthwhile. The whole thing was about the emerging use of virtual environments as a way to interact with the web, implying a progression from the original 'text-and-flaming-gif', through the now mainstream mp3 and YouTube era, to an era of virtual reality and presence through an avatar as illustrated by Second Life. Examples ran from the obvious (for virtual meetings/lectures) through some interesting ideas about changing the online shopping model from catalog -> web to physical store -> virtual store. In the presentation, the idea was to model a real store, complete with sample merchandise and salespeople, in a virtual world. One could shop with their friends, interact with subject matter experts, etc. It's easy to get a picture of that in your mind.

Upon seeing the screen shots of this store model, it struck me that one should not think about directly modeling reality in such a 3D web. It's not about making the 3D web model a store, it's about creating a new store, where, for example, your identity, reputation, and social networks, all come into play. The example was given in the talk of a jazz section in a virtual record store, where you could talk to an avatar of a salesperson about the best (I think it's 'Kind of Blue', but I'm an old-school throwback) Miles album. Why not have the store note the 'section' you are in, and match the interests and reputation of the sales people to the interests of the person visiting the store? Why not make a connection between all of the avatars looking at trip-hop, and let them meet and share? Why not link people in real stores with people in virtual stores? That last idea is one I'm playing with.

The question that did come up at the talk was 'what about mobile web'? And this plays into some things I had been yapping about. How would the mobile web interact with the 3D web conception? Here's one idea...

ITS is looking at Second Life as an educational tool. At the same time, we've been looking at location aware services, GIS, GPS, and the like. Since UNC is building a virtual campus, could we map part of the virtual campus to an actual, physical campus location? Given that, we've got mobile devices with GPS capability, and a heads-up display. Could you integrate the virtual and the physical by navigating around the pit, for example, wearing a HUD, and visualizing the virtual people in the same location? I think this would be a cool demonstration, and given a 10 second look at some of the Second Life docs, it does not seem impossible...

The question becomes 'what could you do with that'? And I think there are a million cool things you could try...

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Why I have not been blogging...

Big presentation for a Sun conference, it's been crunch-time. I hope to recap some things this week. Willi hinted about some things in his new blog, in the meantime. I had to laugh, because the pic makes it look like we were video conferencing with Barbara Boxer, when actually we were looking at the Carolina game when we had a spare moment (this was on a Saturday, hence the pizza too). Working on weekends has some perks.