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Edward Snowden Interview: The NSA and Its Willing Helpers - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Edward Snowden Interview: The NSA and Its Willing Helpers - SPIEGEL ONLINE | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
In an interview conducted using encrypted e-mails, whistleblower Edward Snowden discusses the power of the NSA, how it is "in bed together with the Germans" and the vast scope of Internet spying conducted by the United States and Britain.
Artur Alves's insight:

Yet another confirmation.

"Interviewer: Did the NSA help to create Stuxnet? (Stuxnet is the computer worm that was deployed against the Iranian nuclear program.)

Snowden: NSA and Israel co-wrote it."

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Is Facebook moving away from "social"? - GeekWire

Is Facebook moving away from "social"? - GeekWire | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
I'm giving up on Facebook, because it no longer delivers on its core value proposition: to let me quickly and easily see status updates from my friends.
Artur Alves's insight:

The drive for profitability and mobile advertising is edging away the social features that captivated users. What does that mean for the future of social networking?

 

«Facebook has deliberately moved away from that original value for its consumers by automatically presenting its News Feed in a “top stories” order and, if one remembers to select “most recent stories” (which will automatically default back to “top stories” at some mysterious Facebook-specified point), displays them in not the promised “most recent stories” sequence, but in a bizarre and unstated most-recent-activity-on-stories order. Meaning comments on friends’ status updates by people I don’t know override more recent status updates by people I do know.«

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Merchants of Culture: A Meditation on the Future of Publishing

Merchants of Culture: A Meditation on the Future of Publishing | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
What Gogol, Seth Godin and TED have to do with the fate of the written word.

The year has barely begun and already it's been a tremendous
Artur Alves's insight:

Maria Popova points to a few signposts of the future of publishing, including Amazon's drive to dominate the sector.

 

«The year has barely begun and already it’s been a tremendously disruptive month for the publishing industry, with a number of noteworthy developments that bespeak a collective blend of optimism, fear and utter confusion about what the future holds for the written word as its purveyors try to make sense — and use — of digital platforms. Here are just a handful of important, potentially game-changing, events in the publishing world that took place in the past month alone«

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The history of Android

The history of Android | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Follow the endless iterations from Android 0.5 to Android 4.4.
Artur Alves's insight:

«Android has been with us in one form or another for more than six years. During that time, we've seen an absolutely breathtaking rate of change unlike any other development cycle that has ever existed. When it came time for Google to dive in to the smartphone wars, the company took its rapid-iteration, Web-style update cycle and applied it to an operating system, and the result has been an onslaught of continual improvement. Lately, Android has even been running on a previously unheard of six-month development cycle, and that's slower than it used to be.«

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A Threat to Internet Freedom - short documentary with Tim Wu and Lawrence Lessig

A Threat to Internet Freedom - short documentary with Tim Wu and Lawrence Lessig | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
New rules proposed by the F.C.C. could divide the Internet into fast lanes and slow lanes, violating the central concept of "net neutrality." Produced by: Br...
Artur Alves's insight:

A short video on net neutrality with Tim Wu and Lawrence Lessig.

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Is Social Media Keeping Science Trustworthy?

Is Social Media Keeping Science Trustworthy? | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Online discussions and post-publication analyses are catching mistakes that sneak past editorial review.
Artur Alves's insight:

Who is afraid of wide-open public visibility for science?

 

"Evaluating research after it’s been published has, of course, always been a crucial element of science. Scientists will challenge published results in letters to journals and arguments at conferences. But those are typically solo efforts by established scientists. Social media and online discussion forums are changing that: they make it easier for junior scientists to participate, let readers compare notes, and, most importantly, provide a public space that is not under the control of journal editors and conference organizers.

 

(...)

 

Peer-review is based on trust, but as the international scientific community grows, scientists won’t spend their careers in the small, trusted networks of known colleagues that earlier generations of researchers were used to. Journals and reviewers need to step up their efforts to check for misconduct, but inevitably, papers with major problems will get through. Crowd-sourced, post-publication review through social media is an effective, publicly open way for science to stay trustworthy"

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Energy: Consider the global impacts of oil pipelines

Energy: Consider the global impacts of oil pipelines | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Debates over oil-sands infrastructure obscure a broken policy process that overlooks broad climate, energy and environment issues
Artur Alves's insight:
« [D] rama over the pipelines obscures a larger problem — a broken policy process. Both Canada and the United States treat oil-sands production, transportation, climate and environmental policies as separate issues, assessing each new proposal in isolation. A more coherent approach, one that evaluates all oil-sands projects in the context of broader, integrated energy and climate strategies, is sorely needed. Although Keystone XL and Northern Gateway are among the first major North American projects to highlight flaws in oil-sands policies, more than a dozen other projects are on the drawing board. Meanwhile, the US government is considering its first oil-sands leases on federal lands, as bitumen mining expands on state land in Utah’s Uinta Basin. As scientists spanning diverse disciplines, we urge North American leaders to take a step back: no new oil-sands projects should move forward unless developments are consistent with national and international commitments to reducing carbon pollution. Anything less demonstrates flawed policies and failed leadership. With such high stakes, our nations and the world cannot afford a series of ad hoc, fragmented decisions»
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Steven Pinker Uses Theories from Evolutionary Biology to Explain Why Academic Writing is So Bad

Steven Pinker Uses Theories from Evolutionary Biology to Explain Why Academic Writing is So Bad | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
There are many theories as to why this is so.
Artur Alves's insight:
« For Pinker, the tendency of academics to use “passives, abstractions, and ‘zombie nouns’” stems not primarily from “nefarious motives” or the desire to “sound sophisticated and recherché and try to bamboozle their readers with high-falutin’ verbiage.” He doesn’t deny that this takes place on occasion, but contra George Orwell’s claim in “Politics and the English Language” that bad writing generally hopes to disguise bad political and economic motives, Pinker defers to evolutionary biology, and refers to “mental habits” and the “mismatch between ordinary thinking and speaking and what we have to do as academics.” He goes on to explain, in some fairly academic terms, his theory of how our primate mind, which did not evolve to think thoughts about sociology or literary criticism, struggles to schematize “learned abstractions” that are not a part of everyday experience. It’s a plausible theory that doesn’t rule out other reasonable alternatives (like the perfectly straightforward claim that clear, concise writing poses a formidable challenge for academics as much as anyone else.) «
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The embedded power of algorithms | openDemocracy

The embedded power of algorithms | openDemocracy | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
David Beer on Facebook's "experiment" and what it reveals about the power of algorithms to shape our lives and perception.
Artur Alves's insight:
« Rather than being an exception, the Facebook news feed revelations might actually be understood as just one revealing example of the embedded part that algorithms now play in our lives. The power of algorithms is to be found in the way that they sort, filter and manipulate the things that we encounter. This is not new. This is part of an established set of media infrastructures in which we now live – the power of which has been escalating over recent years with the incorporation of mobile devices into our bodily practices, with new types of mediated consumption, streaming, and the general rise of data accumulation and extraction. If we pause to reflect, we can begin to imagine the scale of influence that algorithms are now capable of having upon our lives. Algorithms define what is visible to us. The result is that they have the power to shape our tastes, to reconfigure our interests and to potentially define how we understand and engage with the world around us. (...) But what emerges from the Facebook news feed story is the critical point that these algorithmic media forms are not neutral. That is to say, it is not just when they are explicitly being used to manipulate emotions that they have consequences. These algorithms are always filtering and sorting, and as such, they are making decisions about what is visible. These are active systems that shape our encounters and our everyday experiences. In many instances they are largely invisible within the technical structures of which they are a part. Each of these algorithmic processes might look inconsequential: a recommendation of a TV show here, or a suggestion of who to follow there. But taken collectively, we can see their potential power. «
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What will happen when the wealthy can live until 120 and the poor die at 60? – Linda Marsa

What will happen when the wealthy can live until 120 and the poor die at 60? – Linda Marsa | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Costly new longevity drugs could help the wealthy live 120 years or more – but will everyone else die young?
Artur Alves's insight:

Life extension and trans-humanism need a proper democratic debate, or they will boost the already widening income gap into an even sharper life expectancy (and quality) gulf.

 

«The life expectancy gap between the affluent and the poor and working class in the US, for instance, now clocks in at 12.2 years. College-educated white men can expect to live to age 80, while counterparts without a high-school diploma die by age 67. White women with a college degree have a life expectancy of nearly 84, compared with uneducated women, who live to 73.

 

(...)

 

Extensive research on centenarians reaching age 100 and beyond show it’s not healthier habits or positive attitudes that contribute to longevity, but largely genes. Now scientists are busily sifting through millions of DNA markers to spot the constellation of longevity genes carried in every cell of these centenarians’ bodies. The hope here is to concoct an anti-ageing pill by synthesising what these genes make.«

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Facebook’s Unethical Experiment Manipulated Users’ Emotions

Facebook’s Unethical Experiment Manipulated Users’ Emotions | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

Facebook has been experimenting on us. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that Facebook intentionally manipulated the news feeds of almost 700,000 users in order to study “emotional contagion through social networks.”  The study raises a number of ethics and privacy issues, since no authorization or warning was issued for the experiment.

Artur Alves's insight:

Social scientists team up with Facebook, manipulate data feeds, and ignore ethical good practices in experiments with human subjects.

 

 

«Facebook has been experimenting on us. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that Facebook intentionally manipulated the news feeds of almost 700,000 users in order to study “emotional contagion through social networks.”

The researchers, who are affiliated with Facebook, Cornell, and the University of California–San Francisco, tested whether reducing the number of positive messages people saw made those people less likely to post positive content themselves. The same went for negative messages: Would scrubbing posts with sad or angry words from someone’s Facebook feed make that person write fewer gloomy updates?

(...)

Here is the only mention of “informed consent” in the paper: The research “was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research.”

That is not how most social scientists define informed consent.

 

(...)

Over the course of the study, it appears, the social network made some of us happier or sadder than we would otherwise have been. Now it’s made all of us more mistrustful. «

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Wastewater well suspended after “frackquakes” rock Colorado

Wastewater well suspended after “frackquakes” rock Colorado | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Regulators are calling the move a "cautionary step"
Artur Alves's insight:

«

The (literally) earth-shattering implications of fracking have officially hit Colorado, where officials suspended a well used to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas drilling after researchers linked it to seismic activity in the area.

A 3.4 magnitude earthquake rocked the typically “aseismic” Greeley on May 31, its epicenter about 2 miles from the wastewater injection site. But it was a second, 2.6 magnitude quake this past Monday, picked up by a team of researchers from the University of Colorado that had been monitoring the area, that convinced regulators to take action.

In a statement, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission explained that it ordered High Sierra Water Services, the well’s operator, to stop disposing wastewater for 20 days, “as a cautionary step.”

...

The U.S. has about 145,000 wells like the one suspended in Colorado; they’ve been linked to hundreds of quakes in Ohio. In April, Ohio suspended drilling at a number of wells after officials confirmed that there was a “probable connection” between earthquakes and fracking itself.

«

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Don’t Force Google to ‘Forget’, by Jonathan Zittrain

Don’t Force Google to ‘Forget’, by Jonathan Zittrain | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

THE European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that Europeans have a limited “right to be forgotten” by search engines like Google. According to the ruling, an individual can compel Google to remove certain reputation-harming search results that are generated by Googling the individual’s name.

Artur Alves's insight:

Jonathan Zittrain weighs in on the ECJ ruling about the "right to forget".

 

«The court’s decision is both too broad and curiously narrow. It is too broad in that it allows individuals to impede access to facts about themselves found in public documents. This is a form of censorship, one that would most likely be unconstitutional if attempted in the United States. Moreover, the test for removal that search engines are expected to use is so vague — search results are to be excluded if they are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” — that search engines are likely to err on the safe side and accede to most requests.

But the decision is oddly narrow in that it doesn’t require that unwanted information be removed from the web. The court doesn’t have a problem with web pages that mention the name of the plaintiff in this case (Mario Costeja González) and the thing he regrets (a property foreclosure); it has a problem only with search engines that list those pages — including this article and possibly the court’s own ruling — as results to a query on the basis of Mr. González’s name. So nothing is being “forgotten,” despite the court’s stated attempt to protect such a right.»

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Tesla Motors opens up its electric car patents

Tesla Motors opens up its electric car patents | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.
Artur Alves's insight:
Tesla opened its patents.. CEO Elon Musk says « At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.«
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William Gibson: the man who saw tomorrow

William Gibson: the man who saw tomorrow | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
William Gibson's science-fiction novel, 30 years old this month, leapt into cyberspace almost before it existed, writes Ed Cumming
Artur Alves's insight:

"As the world has caught up with Gibson's vision, the author, now 66, has turned his gaze closer to the present. (His next novel, The Peripheral, will be the first he has set in the far future.) Neuromancer is Gibson's most famous novel but not his most accomplished. Pattern Recognition was written in the wake of 9/11 and published in 2003. If Neuromancer looks at the future through a high-powered telescope, Pattern Recognition has its face pressed right up to the glass. Set partly in Camden Town, London, the book has as its protagonist Cayce Pollard, a marketing consultant who has a literal allergy to brands and logos. This makes her valuable to companies keen to seem cooler and less corporate.

 

(...)

 

Gibson has written many times of his belief that all cultural change is essentially technologically driven. As the progress of technology speeds up, it becomes more incumbent on authors to examine its effects. It is unthinkable that you could write a novel set in the UK today that did not in some address way the spread of computers into every crevice of the world."

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Leviathan Gas Field, Levantine Basin, Mediterranean Sea - Offshore Technology

Leviathan Gas Field, Levantine Basin, Mediterranean Sea - Offshore Technology | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Leviathan Natural Gas Field, located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea area, off the coast of Israel, was discovered in December 2010. The discovery is situated in 1,645m of water in the Levantine Basin, located approximately 130km west of Haifa,...
Artur Alves's insight:

"At the time of discovery, the Leviathan gas field was the most prominent field ever found in the sub-explored area of the Levantine Basin, which covers about 83,000 square kilometres of the eastern Mediterranean region.

The Leviathan field falls within the precinct of the Rachel and Amit licenses. Production is expected to commence in 2017.

(...)

Lebanon considered the Leviathan and Tamar gas fields to extend into Lebanese territory and claimed Israel was ignoring this fact. Israel retaliated by threatening to use force to protect its gas discoveries.

The rights dispute was resolved in August 2010 when the Lebanese Government presented its official view to the United Nations, where it stated that the two disputed gas fields, Tamar and Leviathan, do not fall within its territory.

"

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Defending the digital frontier

Defending the digital frontier | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
THE TERM “CYBERSPACE” was coined by William Gibson, a science-fiction writer. He first used it in a short story in 1982, and expanded on it a couple of years...
Artur Alves's insight:
"Securing cyberspace is hard because the architecture of the internet was designed to promote connectivity, not security. Its founders focused on getting it to work and did not worry much about threats because the network was affiliated with America’s military. As hackers turned up, layers of security, from antivirus programs to firewalls, were added to try to keep them at bay. Gartner, a research firm, reckons that last year organisations around the globe spent $67 billion on information security. On the whole, these defences have worked reasonably well. For all the talk about the risk of a “cyber 9/11” or a “cybergeddon”, the internet has proved remarkably resilient. Hundreds of millions of people turn on their computers every day and bank online, shop at virtual stores, swap gossip and photos with their friends on social networks and send all kinds of sensitive data over the web without ill effect. Companies and governments are shifting ever more services online."
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Edward Snowden urges professionals to encrypt client communications

Edward Snowden urges professionals to encrypt client communications | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Exclusive: Whistleblower says NSA revelations mean those with duty to protect confidentiality must urgently upgrade security Watch Snowden's interview with the Guardian in Moscow Read the full interview with Snowden by Alan Rusbridger and Ewen...
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The rise of the surveillance state - Peter Vlemmix - PANOPTICON (documentary)

A free documentary about the rise of the surveillance state by Peter Vlemmix.

Control on our daily lives increases and privacy is disappearing. How is this exactly happening and in which way will it effect all our lives?

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The Test We Can—and Should—Run on Facebook

The Test We Can—and Should—Run on Facebook | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
How to reclaim power in the era of perpetual experiment engines
Artur Alves's insight:
The Facebook social contagion study outrage has finally taken the ethics debate to social scientists' use of their data. What exactly is at stake when you manipulate data streams without consent and knowledge? Do you really need to apply manipulation methods to 700k people? What insights and/ or new information is to be acquired by such methods? And finally, why was this study not subjected to more stringent reviews?
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What tech offices tell us about the future work – Kate Losse – Aeon

What tech offices tell us about the future work – Kate Losse – Aeon | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Twitter has log cabins and Facebook has graffiti — what do the offices of tech giants tell us about the future of work?
Artur Alves's insight:

«What connects Facebook’s incongruous graffiti and Twitter’s incongruous log cabins is their expense. Both represent a complete renovation of the space, making graffiti and log cabins (not in themselves luxurious) seem like high-end amenities. The homesteader who originally lived in Twitter’s log cabin lived a much more rugged life than the office worker, and this contrast is part of the log cabin’s frisson in the office. Likewise the men’s clothing shops in fashionable areas of San Francisco such as Hayes Valley and the Mission that sell multiple styles of artisanal leather boots and allow the tech worker to model himself on a rugged 19th-century labourer. The rough-hewn, old-fashioned look of Twitter’s cabins is repeated in all the reclaimed wood that has crept into the high-tech workspace in recent years. Any splinters you get from these textures is a small price to pay for the tactile, pre-modern feeling of a place that is otherwise devoted to the collection of ethereal data. It is this very need to represent high-tech luxury at the same time as invoking its opposite that drives the modern baroque of early 21st-century tech offices.«

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The 5 Biggest Cybersecurity Myths, Debunked | Opinion | WIRED

The 5 Biggest Cybersecurity Myths, Debunked | Opinion | WIRED | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
While the Internet has given us the ability to run down the answer to almost any question, cybersecurity is a realm where past myth and future hype often weave together, obscuring what actually has happened and where we really are now. If we ever want to get anything effective done in securing the online world, we have to demystify it first.
Artur Alves's insight:

Myth #1: Cybersecurity Is Unlike Any Challenge We Have Faced

Myth #2: Every Day We Face “Millions of Cyber Attacks”

Myth #3 This Is a Technology Problem

Myth #4: The Best (Cyber) Defense Is a Good (Cyber) Offense

Myth #5: “Hackers” Are the Biggest Threat to the Internet Today

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The lost promise of the Internet: Meet the man who almost invented cyberspace

The lost promise of the Internet: Meet the man who almost invented cyberspace | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
In 1934, a little-known Belgian thinker published plans for a global network that could have changed everything
Artur Alves's insight:

«In 1934, a little-known Belgian bibliographer named Paul Otlet published his plans for the Mundaneum, a global network that would allow anyone in the world to tap into a vast repository of published information with a device that could send and receive text, display photographs, transcribe speech and auto-translate between languages. Otlet even imagined social networking-like features that would allow anyone to “participate, applaud, give ovations, sing in the chorus.”«

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The world wide web may be fracturing into a bunch of regional internets

The world wide web may be fracturing into a bunch of regional internets | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The World Wide Web celebrated its 25th birthday recently. Today the global network serves almost 3 billion people, and hundreds of thousands more join each day. If the Internet were a country, its economy would be among the five largest in the world. In 2011, according to the World Economic Forum, growth in the digital economy created six million...
Artur Alves's insight:

«Laura DeNardis, of American University, speculates that if the Internet becomes subject to direct governmental regulation, a cascade of destabilizing consequences could follow. In a complex gambit arranged by a consortium of European telecommunications providers, a bloc of African states tried in 2012 to use the ITU’s machinery to enact a new payment model dubbed “sending party pays.” In essence, the regulation would have required any content providers that transmit data between countries to pay an additional fee for the use of the service network in the destination country—a tax on international data transmission little different from a tariff wall on foreign goods. “If adopted, the proposal would have completely undermined the economic model of the Internet,” writes Vint Cerf, a senior executive at Google, in a paper he co-authored with two colleagues. The measure was never brought to a vote. But as the idea of a more heavily regulated Internet gains legitimacy, and as national governments and regional or international bodies begin to govern the Web, efforts to bend regulation to the advantage of business interests are sure to multiply. «

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Cory Doctorow - How Amazon is holding Hachette hostage

Cory Doctorow - How Amazon is holding Hachette hostage | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
By allowing Amazon to put a lock on its products, Hachette has allowed Amazon to usurp its relationship
with its customers. By Cory Doctorow
Artur Alves's insight:

«For some three weeks now, books from the Hachette publishing group – one of the "big five" publishers who dominate the globe – have been largely unavailable through Amazon.com. Amazon has taken away the pre-order buttons on forthcoming Hachette titles, and current Hachette titles are either not for sale (Amazon helpfully recommends used copies from its reseller network, as well as similar books from competing publishers), or are listed as being out of stock for the next several weeks.

The action was precipitated by the failure of Amazon and Hachette to come to terms on their next ebook sales-deal. Amazon is far and away the most successful ebook retailer in the world, and Hachette, like all the major publishers, depends on ebook revenue as a key piece of its bottom line. As the dispute drags on, it's becoming clear that Hachette needs Amazon more than Amazon needs Hachette.

(...)

Hachette, more than any other publisher in the industry, has had a single minded insistence on DRM since the earliest days. It's likely that every Hachette ebook ever sold has been locked with some company's proprietary DRM, and therein lies the rub.

(...)

It is an own-goal masterstroke. It is precisely because Hachette has been so successful in selling its ebooks through Amazon that it can't afford to walk away from the retailer. By allowing Amazon to put a lock on its products whose key only Amazon possessed, Hachette has allowed Amazon to utterly usurp its relationship with its customers. The law of DRM means that neither the writer who created a book, nor the publisher who invested in it, gets to control its digital destiny: the lion's share of copyright control goes to the ebook retailer whose sole contribution to the book was running it through a formatting script that locked it up with Amazon's DRM.

«

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Internet Governance is Our Shared Responsibility by Vinton G. Cerf, Patrick S. Ryan, Max Senges - SSRN

Internet Governance is Our Shared Responsibility by Vinton G. Cerf, Patrick S. Ryan, Max Senges - SSRN | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
This essay looks at the the different roles that multistakeholder institutions play in the Internet governance ecosystem. We propose a model for thinking of Int
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