Times paywall

Recently the NY Times put their opinion columns behind a subscription-only “paywall” (that is – you have to pay a subscription fee to view the information). Of course, there are a few people who have paid the subscription fee, and then post on their blogs about their take on the article.

What this means is that the conversation continues regardless (of course), but the Times basically has no voice in it – the opinions that are published outside the paywall are the ones that get traction, while the Times’ articles almost become a secondary player, even though they originated the content.

And in some sense the Times has lost the “right-of-reply” because all of their stuff is hidden – from Google, from the blogs, from the general public – the (non-paying) public has to trust the people commenting on the original article and any response from the Times’ (in the form of follow-up articles) is lost.

Apart from all the issues with the subscription process, and the issues of information inequality (people who can pay the subscription vs. those who can’t), this seems like a lost opportunity for the Times to maintain it’s status in the changing media landscape.

Vote 1 Amy…

…well, not quite. Got this from Amy via email (also posted on her blog):

… Now, I have a favour to ask. As you may or may not be aware, I am involved in this year’s Noise festival, as an artist. There is a competition happening at the moment for most popular artist and I would love you forever if you could find it in your heart to vote for me.

Go to this page and at the bottom of the page there is a Vote button. Voting requires a valid email address, so unfortunately this is not some thing I can easily rig myself with incessant clicking of said vote button, which is why I need your help!

I’ve placed my vote. If ya like Amy’s pics, go and vote. If ya don’t know Amy’s pics, go check em out and I’m sure you’ll vote 😉

Chips…

SMH: High Court chips away at Sony’s stranglehold:

Computer games enthusiasts are free to modify their Playstations to run cheap games bought overseas or online, following a landmark High Court ruling.

Interesting ramifications indeed. All I can think of is DVD regional coding. I hope that the ruling sticks, but I’m not holding my breath…

ProgressWear

ProgressWear – cool tees with a message [via Zeldman]. This is a direction I was thinking about for huméco some time ago (along with Justin), but we swayed away from it (and in the end imploded) so I’m really glad to see someone putting out some cool “progressive” messages. Couldn’t find any info on the site about sourcing though – not sure if the product is ethically produced. This one’s my fave so far…

Donna Mulhearn

On the weekend I was privileged to hear Donna Mulhearn speak on Iraq, among other things. I’d heard some of the things she mentioned in her talk, although hearing a first-person account always has a big impact, as opposed to hearing about something third-hand via the net. However, Ang, who was there as well, was really quite taken aback – what Donna had to say was not the kind of thing you heard in the news.

We were both quite moved by the experience. It really made me question whether or not I was actually doing enough, whether my choices for action were sufficient, what more I could realistically do (with other life challenges in the mix). We can only do so much, of course, and I have to find that balance. But it is challenging in the face of such a plain description of the situation in Iraq to not overcommit.

There were two points in the discussion where the role of the media came up. One participant said “this isn’t something that we’re being told about” – in reference to the mainstream media. I felt compelled to point out that these stories were being told, but through the internet instead. Donna concurred and went on to discuss how the situation in Iraq is largely “old news” in the eyes of the media.

The second reference was when another participant was seriously questioning why the ABC and SBS weren’t covering the story more closely. I have lots of thoughts on why, but no time to explore them today. Suffice to say I was saddened by the lack of comprehension in the audience as to how problematic reliance on mainstream media is.

One suggestion that was made for peaceful, non-violent action: shift focus from protesting the government and shine the spotlight on our media agencies that are ignoring some core parts of the story in favour of more sensationalist angles. The suggestion was to protest outside a major news agency to ask for Donna’s story to be told. I’m not sure it would work, but it’s certainly an interesting take.

If you can, check out the stories at Donna’s site, along with her extensive collection of links. And if you get a chance to hear her talk, I would thoroughly recommend it.

Web 2.0

Jeremy pens Web 2.0, and other nauseating buzzwords.

I’ve seen a lot of banter on the blogs about what “Web 2.0” is along with some similar thoughts to Jeremy’s. Jeff Veen’s talk was great at putting forward an idea that was about more than technology (old problems, new technology, participation), but generally speaking I too think the term is largely devoid of meaning, for much the same reasons that Jeremy outlines.

As for the “MacOcracy” – well, I now use a Mac at work and home, so I’m hardly unbiased 😉 Suffice to say that I like Mac OS X because it is pleasant to use and usually doesn’t die on me the way my Windows box did when I used it for coding for a number of years. No random hardware or software conflicts. More consistent experience with new applications (although this is changing, as Brent Simmons documents).

But what switched me back to Mac OS X was the Unix underpinnings – the power plus the eye-candy is what I like. But there are lots of other subtle things that the Mac OS does that, to many people, make it a more elegant system to use.

Commenting

Thanks to those of you that posted comments on the Web Essentials stuff. My ISP has some very tight controls to prevent comment spam, and I’ve been made aware of at least one comment not coming through – so thanks also to those of you that tried to comment but couldn’t.

One comment came via email from Molly (I think it’s important to pass on):

Fascinating, and I’m very happy that my blog post helped change your
perception! Your original comment about paying money for topics and
speakers to hear me go on about the topics and speakers made me laugh
because it was true! However, it’s important to point out that a keynote
address is often just that: an introduction to the speakers, the ideas, and
the overall vision that the conference is presenting.

I’m very happy that my blog post helped expand that idea, and that you
ultimately had a valuable experience.

Warm regards,
Molly 🙂

Thanks Molly 🙂 It’s interesting – this is the first event of this kind that I’ve attended – so that’s definitely good to know for the future. Just wanted to add that, as with most good experiences that I have, the value of the conference is growing the more time I have to reflect on it. I really got a lot of value out of all of the presenters’ contributions.