Sunday, 27 September 2009

How to Spotify iTunes

Interesting - and totally legal - hack. How to access and use the data of your iTunes library via Spotify. Via Alfie's Twitter feed.

And an example of what the hack can achieve here.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Ikea's new online magazine

A nice, though perhaps overly complex, piece of advertising material just came through my virtual letterbox. More here.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

How to run a non-profit news site (and how Labour Matters could be that site)

Interesting story about how to run a non-profit news site, via Tom Watson's Twitter feed. Everything's so awfully expensive, even so. There must be a better way of making donations more discrete. Smaller sponsorship spread more evenly around a community is what I mean.

Not the discreet of hidden influences. The discrete of a decentralised Internet.

Not the Ashcroft way.

More a true cooperative of common interests.

Take Labour Matters for example. A project ripe for wider development, if there ever was one. An online campaigning tabloid capable of being up there with the best of them. The potential to spread like wildfire.

The issue is, of course, one of funding. But even if we could find a progressive Lord Ashcroft, would we want him or her? Wouldn't it be precisely the wrong move to make in a virtual world full of zero hierarchies, direct messages, consumer-producers and multi-directional communication channels?

Isn't it time, surely, for the cooperative structures of egalitarian power-sharing to support the progressive projects we would like to push forwards?

Surely we should, in essence, be able to practise what we preach ...

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Espresso (but not coffee) (that is to say, an ATM for books)

I first heard of this machine in 2001, when I was studying for my Master in Publishing in Madrid. Everyone feared the advent of the beast - it would lead to the destruction of an entire sector of production. Distributors were terrified that large pieces of their action would go up in smoke as processes radically changed. They were probably right.

Wherever you look, Google is there. Whatever you see, Google wants you to see it through them.

And thus it is that the company would appear to be unmanageably disparate in its focus and future.

But the truth of the matter is that they are currently about as right as you can get. Better access to information is what ties their mission together. Whether it's books, whether it's search results, whether it's pictures or videos, Google wants to help you find more effectively.

Will they resist the temptation to tie you into proprietorial systems? I think we've moved on from there. I think they have no choice, because, most precisely, we have more choice than ever before.

Google will not be a Microsoft of the 21st century for not even Microsoft will manage to achieve that feat. If you don't believe me, try this kind of story on for size. It's not the only one - there are plenty more of these under the radar, if you care to look beyond the press releases organisations like the BBC are regularly happy to publish as hard news. There was one just the other day which talked about how the "powerful" chips in some third-rate video console were helping scientists carry out hard research. This piece of news coincided with the relaunch of a competing machine. And thus the churnalism of technology pulls the wool over our eyes.

Anyhow. Back to the Espresso machine which doesn't make coffee. So what does it do? Well, it prints books at the point-of-sale. As I said at the beginning of this post, I was entranced by the prospect of such a machine as long ago as 2001.

I've had to wait until today for the technology and the content to come together productively enough to make it a useful alternative to previous processes.

Background here, whilst the video below gives you a taster of the glorious world to come.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Electronic books rule (at last)!

The revolution has finally evolved to the point where it seems a perfectly natural step - no longer a sudden rattlesnaking tale of threatened sectorial destruction. After so many years of unfulfilled promise, e-books begin to rule. More here.

For those of us who live in Britain, our only dilemma now is which e-reader to buy.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Twitter's new terms of service

Always interesting to read between the lines when new terms of service for online sites are launched.

One such entrail-reading experience can be found here, with an overview of Twitter's new terms of service.

(Funny how the virtual world can change at will - and what's more unilaterally - the nature of the contractual relationship between provider and user.)

Monday, 7 September 2009

Catching up on Murdoch's pay-wall

Nice phrase, that. "Pay-wall" describes it perfectly. It won't work. But it will be fun watching it not work. More here from snowflake5.

New media is now media

Interesting observations from John Naughton, who consistently sees the shape of the future through a perspicacious understanding of our shared presents:
[...] 20th century mass media were mainly machines for churning out standardised products and enhancing shareholder value along the way. Sometimes, of course, they played an important role in the democratic process, but that was not their core business, any more than non-stick frying pans were the core business of the Apollo program. If journalism is to thrive in the new ecosystem then, as Beckett says, it has to make the shift “from a manufacturing to a service industry” and its practitioners will have to change from “providing a product to acting as facilitators and connectors”. My guess is that most journalists conditioned in the old ecosystem will find this an uncomfortable or downright impossible switch.
More along these lines as well as links to other useful articles here.