Saturday, 13 March 2010

On folkbildningsidealet

A "profoundly democratic vision of universal learning and education"?  It sounds lovely - though perhaps terribly out of place in this curiously uncertain and still undefinable 21st century.  We are wavering between an all-out and absolutist conception of humanity as money-generating appendages of giant corporations and that far finer understanding of common interest and intelligence that the first years of the Internet have brought us.

More on the subject of a new Alexandria here.  Thanks to John Naughton (as always) for the link.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

This is what you sign up to as an Apple Apps developer (or how to become an IT freemason in one simple step)

Do the words devil, sell and soul come to mind here?  The full text of the agreement can be found at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's website - but since one condition of being an Apps developer is that you don't reveal the terms and conditions pursuant to being an Apps developer, a Freedom of Information Act request was needed to obtain the gory details.  As I have mentioned on other blogs of mine, Microsoft seems a paragon of virtue compared to the current control freakery of the (once) beautiful Apple.  We can argue about whether we prefer open source to proprietary software, of course.  Even as a self-confessed addict of open source ways of doing things, I can see examples of when - at least as business people - we would prefer the latter to the former.  But proprietary terms and conditions?  Where you cannot reveal the context in which you are working to anyone who is not a member of your select club?  This is more like freemasonry for the digital world than a relationship between 21st century creators.

Definitely a bad day for electronic publishing, the day Apple got its grubby fingers in the pie.

More background here from John Naughton.

Monday, 1 March 2010

How Apps can provide that immersive reading experience (and save the hyperlinked intelligences we covet so much)

Magazines which earn income from adverts really need you to want to sit inside their covers and stay there for a while.  The Internet has broken down the reading experience into a disjointed butterfly-like flitting from one promiscuous hyperlink to another.  That is really why traditional publishing and the Internet don't go together.  A carefully bound publication creates its narrative across lush publicity.  Your (now) standard Internet surfer creates his or her own utility-focussed story of information, in many cases excising the irrelevance of marketing from the often crowdsourced and amateur-based editorial filters.

Traditional publishing is, however, still a powerful medium.  Here I mean powerful in the sense of appealing and not in the sense of overwhelmingly controlling.  There is, therefore, surely a place for both a paywall-less Internet of hyperlinked intelligences and a supremely structured set of top-notch editorial environments.  Recent attempts by people like Rupert Murdoch on the one hand and apparently successful Internet players such as the New York Times on the other to deconstruct the Internet of hyperlinked intelligences and block the flow of discourse and comment have threatened a whole eco-system; indeed a whole way of life.  Mistakenly, in my view, instead of trying - with all their resources - to reinvent a different distribution system altogether, they've wanted to bend quite out of shape a lovely medium which is currently on a wonderful intellectual high.

So is there any way out?  Perhaps it's time I revised my initial unhappiness with the Apple iPad.  If Apple, with its locked-down consumer software, can take out of the Internet equation the high-class publishers who want upfront income and an immersive reading experience instead of banner advertising and promiscuous thought crickets, perhaps at the same time it can remove the risk of disintegration that such publishers currently pose to the creative commons of millions of souls that is our dearly beloved worldwide web.

I do hope so.

More here - from John Naughton today.