In my view, Google Books provides significant public benefits. It advances the progress of the arts and sciences,while maintaining respectful consideration for the rights of authors and other creative individuals, and without adversely impacting the rights of copyright holders. It has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers,librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books. It has given scholars the ability, for the first time, to conduct full-text searches of tens of millions of books. It preserves books, in particular out-of-print and old books that have been forgotten in the bowels of libraries, and it gives them new life. It facilitates access to books for print-disabled and remote or underserved populations. It generates new audiences and creates new sources of income for authors and publishers. Indeed, all society benefits.
A recent study shows that, on average, @-reply tweets are getting shorter because people are using fewer and shorter words — especially jargon and coined words.
Authors Christian M. Alis and May T. Lim, also broke out the length of tweets geographically across the U.S. and found that states with a higher percentage of African American residents tended to have shorter tweets.
Louisiana had the shortest average @-reply tweets, for example, at 27 characters.
Among the data from the U.S., the study showed that, for geo-located tweets, our own state of Montana produced the longest @-reply tweets at an average of 43 characters apiece.
Louisiana had the shortest at an average 27 characters. Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina also had relatively short conversational tweets.
Montana, with its small population of African Americans, had the longest average tweets at 43 characters.
Alis and Lim used Census data and compared this to 229 million tweets gathered from September 2009 to December 2012. However, the subset of those tweets that the authors could map using the tweets’ embedded geo-data was significantly smaller than the total, which could mean their theory about tweet’s length and its connection to race is not solid.
Their explanation for the seeming race connection? Twitter users have broken into sub-groups as the number of users has grown, and these users develop their own language shortcuts. African Americans, the authors say, may “converse more distinctly and more characteristically than other racial groups.” In full:
The observation of geographic variability is not entirely unexpected because of the existence of dialects. What is more surprising is that the utterance length is (anti)correlated with the resident Black population…. A possible explanation is that Blacks converse more distinctly and more characteristically than other racial groups. Since utterances are only weakly correlated with median income and educational attainment then perhaps the shorter utterance lengths is a characteristic of their race–perhaps pointing towards the controversial language of EbonicsThe authors are quick to back down from the mere mention of Ebonics, adding at the end of the paragraph that it is “beyond the scope of this work to look for actual evidence of Ebonics in the tweets.”
I learned about Twitter’s new custom timelines feature when I logged in to Tweetdeck this morning. I have to admit, like this user, I immediately thought of Storify.
After all, custom timelines does exactly what Storify does — well, if you discount the fact that Storify includes tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram images, RSS feeds, plain old Web pages, and more. I mean, if forget all of that, then I suppose custom timelines are like Storify — a really inadequate version clone of it.
But then again, perhaps it’s not that inadequate. Twitter is, after all, the running water cooler conversation of the (online and tech savvy) country. Twitter’s owners want to make sure it stays that way. Hence we have a new tool to use Twitter in a slightly different way than we could before.
How slight is the difference? Well, consider your favorites list on Twitter. Many people use the “favorite” button as a sort of “like” button. For me, it’s a much more selective process; I probably add six tweets to my favorites list per year. At any rate, all you’re doing with the favorites tool is creating a custom timeline.
Then consider lists — a feature I contend Twitter is trying to phase out because of how inconveniently the company has placed it in its native iOS apps. Lists create custom timelines as well. The difference being that you only control the people on them and not the individual tweets.
Finally, remember the humble retweet. When you retweet something, it too goes on to a timeline of your RTs — same as a custom timeline.
In fact, the only new feature of custom timelines is proliferation. You can have only one list of RTs and one favorites list, but you can make as many custom timelines as you want.
That’s the slight difference, and I think it’s probably interesting enough to foster all kinds of experimentation over the first few weeks. Will it hold out in the long term? Maybe. It seems very attention-intensive, but perhaps its no more attention-intensive than trying to keep up with your regular timeline as it is. Lauren Hockenson at GigaOm doesn’t feel like its prospects are good.
The limiting factor right now seems to be that it’s only on Tweetdeck, and given that it’s a drag-and-drop interface, it’s probably only for desktop Tweetdeck users. If the feature shows early success, though, I’m sure we’ll see methods for adding Tweets to your favorites filter out to the mobile platforms as well.
I stumbled upon this old page on CNN’s site today while searching for something in Google.
The interesting thing is, despite the template being very similar to the one I remember being on the site on 9/11, it’s got live breaking news on it.
That’s right, the underlying architecture of CNN’s breaking news in its content management system apparently worked the same way on 9/11 as it does today.
That’s consistency, friends.
I was delighted to see this tweet come through my timeline today.
Vannevar Bush's Memex, as imagined by Life Magazine after they syndicated our 1945 story: pic.twitter.com/TDGal7FjNK— Alexis C. Madrigal (@alexismadrigal) July 5, 2013
As the description says, this is a hypothetical drawing of Vanvevar Bush’s memex device, one of the first hypertext machines imagined. I wrote about this machine in my thesis in graduate school.
In 1945, Bush was the director of the government’s Office of Scientific Research and Development. In the wake of World War II, so much research was being done that the centuries-old means of scholarly communication wasn’t keeping up. Something had to be done to modernize it, and Bush proposed a punch card-driven device he called the “memex.”
Here’s how I described it a few years ago:
The memex was intended to model human memory. A memex user might read a text and then link it to another text by association. These “trails” were what Bush saw as the “essential feature of the memex” because they allowed the user to return to what he or she was doing, perhaps months later, and recall those same trails with the push of a button.
A lot of people see the memex notion as the predecessor of the hyperlink, which, of course, we all use everyday.
In a week in which the creator of the computer mouse and modern user interface design passed away, it’s good to remember your Internet roots.
A quick one-off post today: Did you know that Bozeman entrepreneur extraordinaire Greg Gianforte has had claim to the domain “bozeman.com” since 1995?
Registry records show the site is registered to Bozeman Technology Incubator Inc., a company run by Gianforte to mentor Montana entrepreneurs. The administrative contact on the domain is a Thomas Jinneman at RightNow Technologies. The domain record was created on Feb. 21, 1995.
In case you’re rusty on your Internet history, that’s just two years after the U.S. Department of Commerce, along with public and private organizations, created InterNIC to centralize the management of domain names online.
To round out the top-level domains:
- bozeman.net is owned by the city of Bozeman
- bozeman.org is owned by the Prospera Business Network
Montana’s attorney general has joined with his counterparts in 39 other states and territories to demand the Federal Trade Commission do something about mobile cramming.
Cramming, you might recall, is the practice of adding third-party charges — often unauthorized — onto a person’s phone bill. People who discover the charges on their bills rarely get a full refund, Attorney General Tim Fox said in a written statement.
“Consumers who see suspicious charges, which can range from one-time-only charges to monthly ‘subscriptions,’ should call their cellphone carrier, ask how long the unauthorized charges have been placed on their bills, and demand a refund,” Fox said.
The letter from the states’ attorneys general asks the FTC to look into four main areas of concern:
- Cramming itself
- Inadequate disclosure of third-party charges on mobile phone bills
- Inadequate methods to block cramming and obtain refunds
- A lack of federal protections for consumers in disputes over cramming charges
The FTC held a roundtable discussion on cramming on May 8. The transcript of that meeting is online here.
In the transcript, Stephanie Rosenthal, chief of staff of the Division of Financial Practices at the FTC, said the agency has been looking into landline cramming for years but only recently brought its first case against mobile crammers.
In 2012, the FCC announced new rules to help prevent cramming, partially in light of a study by the commission that found that only 1 in 20 cramming victims realized they’ve been had.
Short post tonight. A recent Gallup poll shows that, once again, fewer people than ever measured before have a high level of trust in newspapers. A total of 23 percent of Americans polled said they had a high level of trust in newspapers. The number has declined steadily since 1979, when the number was 51 percent.
Sadly, the poll differentiated between liberals, conservatives and moderates, further reinforcing the stereotypes of ideological rifts dividing the country and the idea that conservatives inherently distrust mainstream media sources.
A new project by social media data provider GNIP maps more than 280 million tweets published from mobile devices in the U.S., showing patterns of use that few people have ever laid eyes on before.
The map lets you display the tweets selectively, so you can see which kind of device posted them and where. The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch blog makes a connection between Android and iOS use and affluence in areas shown on the map. They see Android devices being heavily used in areas known to be poorer, while iOS devices are used primarily in richer areas.
Does this pan out? Well, a look at the map for Bozeman, an affluent city, shows that mobile tweets posted from here are overwhelmingly posted via iOS devices. The map for Billings, a less affluent city, shows mostly Android devices in use (and far fewer tweets). It’s not a scientific result, but it does seem like a trend — if you believe that Android phones are the poor man’s smartphone, and a case could probably be made for that.
Whether you believe MarketWatch or not, the map makes fascinating browsing.
It is worthwhile to be reminded from time to time that the idea that there was once such a thing as the “good old days” is a myth. The same complains gets repeated generation after generation. Case in point: Many moderns argue that the old means of communication are dying.
- There is the lostart of letterwriting.
- There’s the lost art of conversation.
- The Internet makes you a loner.
- Text messaging kills your grammar knowledge.
- Writing will make us all dullards without the ability to remember anything on our own.
The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.“Said” is here meant ironically, considering that the only proof we have Plato ever said anything was because somebody wrote it down — years after the fact, likely wrongly and probably with a heavy interjection of personal interpretation. I’m looking at you, Socrates.
But I digress.
The point is, every communications technology is disruptive to the technologies that existed before. There will always be adherents to the old ways, and the old ways will always be useful. It’s good to remember that there is no “right” way to communicate. There are merely different ways to communicate, and change to the standards by which we communicate should not be judged as better or worse because in the long-run, they are simply different that what came before.
(And yes, I fully realize the irony of me saying this when I work for a company that primarily makes its money from selling ink on paper carrying yesterday’s news.)
And now for some greatness from Web-comic XKCD, whose strip below inspired this post.