Rough sort

The following list will likely lengthen as Rough Type’s summer hiatus continues. Newest entry at top.

“The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003,” reports the New York Times. “As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s.”

Google adds instant messaging, calendars, and web publishing to its existing “private label” (ie, domain-specific) email service in a bid to entice small businesses and nonprofits away from Microsoft. Here are the terms of service.

A YouTube video of a Korean guitar virtuoso moves Virginia Heffernan to “find beauty in the speed and accuracy that the new internet world demands.”

The Washington Post covers the entry of news fraggers (formerly known as social bookmarkers) into the price system. Says one of the salaried elite: “I do not think this is about paying users. I consider this paying people to contribute quality content, which is not a new concept on the internet by any means.”

The New Statesman finds that “suddenly corporations are all over the blogosphere.”

Google’s Marissa Mayer says the internet “should cause users to consume more.” Finally, the truth slips out.

Writes Christopher Caldwell: “Although YouTube users describe their self-filmed offerings as creative and individualistic, viewer-generated video is unlikely to be more appealing, on average, than ‘diner-generated food’ would be in a restaurant. So a lot of the offerings have a corporate, even consumerist orientation. Some of YouTube’s most visited web pages are advertisements. The site is a meeting place for what Harold Rosenberg, the American art critic, called ‘the herd of independent minds,’ where everyone is unique in the same way.”

Bill Thompson, of the BBC, looks warily at Wikipedia’s emerging “architecture of control”: “What makes Wikipedia special and encourages those of us who are registered with it to participate in the community is the sense that we can all make a contribution. Putting more and more steps between editing and publishing risks damaging that sense of engagement and, as a result, could rapidly diminish Wikipedia’s usefulness.”

Fred Stutzman looks at the natural emergence of an A List at Digg: “The assumption that Digg is purely egalitarian falls apart just as any assumption that the blogosphere is egalitarian.” The rich are different from you and me; they have more links.

Unbubbly: The US IPO market remains in a deep funk, according to the latest data from Thomson Financial. expands its utility computing service to encompass processing as well as storage.

An experiment in the German edition of Wikipedia points to much tighter controls over the editing of the “encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”

Steve Rubel notes the rickety Ponzi scheme emerging as one of the economic drivers of Web 2.0 media: “The Web sites and blogs that cover Web 2.0 … are largely supported by ads from startups that also are hoping to capitalize in the rising interest in online advertising.” Take a look at the TechCrunch home page for a good example.

Calling digitally recorded music “atrocious,” Bob Dylan says, “I remember when that Napster guy came up across, it was like, ‘Everybody’s gettin’ music for free.’ I was like, ‘Well, why not? It ain’t worth nothing anyway.'” Relax, Bob, it’s good enough.

“Why is banking IT so boring now?” asks Computerworld’s Mitch Betts. The “culprit,” he says, is commoditization. “It’s as though the industry is trying to prove Nicholas Carr right.” I don’t think banks are trying to prove anyone right. They’re just acting in their best business interests.

An AMD executive suggests that Big Software’s resistance to simplified pricing may push more companies toward open-source alternatives.

Writes Dan Farber: “… we now have evidence of an appropriately simpler, virtualized, utility computing-based future (em)powering the entire planet, reducing the insoluble complexity quotient, but exactly what constitutes this transformation and how it transpires remains to be seen.” I would have said “(em)powering and/or controlling,” but otherwise it’s on the money.

Professional blog wrestling: Our Resident Billionaire versus Our Resident Philistine.

Steve Gillmor stops gesturing long enough to actually make some sense.

tinkerbellForrester Research boss George Colony believes that replacing the term “information technology” with “business technology” would have a magic-wand effect: “If you are the head of IT, you are no better than a glorified librarian, dispensing information. In contrast, if you are the head of BT, you are shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow executives who are running the operation.” It’s a nice, tinkerbellish notion, but it doesn’t wash. It’s who you are and what you do that matter. will on Tuesday announce a new service incorporating Google’s AdWords into its software for managing customer relationships, Steve Hamm reports.

Mitch Kapor describes the “spiritual experience” he had while watching a YouTube video of Suzanne Vega’s avatar giving a performance in Second Life: “And all of a sudden my sense of what was real expanded a million-fold. A fundamental shift of my awareness happened.” I can only imagine what’s going to happen when he watches the Duran Duran gig.

John Battelle worries about the supply-side boom.

Is illiteracy the new literacy? Berkeley’s Dan Perkel writes, in a paper, Cut and Paste Literacy, on MySpace profiles: “A social perspective of literacy helps show that a part of [the] problem in this framing of copying and pasting as a literacy practice is that it does not neatly fit within common educational practices. From the perspective of the social niche of traditional schooling, to copy and paste is to plagiarize, unless there is careful attribution of sources … An ‘ideological’ perspective points out that even the word ‘literacy’ is loaded with meaning and has ideological implications.” It doesn’t seem quite so complicated to me.

If you stare too long at a long tail, will you go blind? asks Douglas Galbi, in so many words.

“almost every discussion in cyberspace, about cyberspace, boils down to some sort of debate about Truth-In-Packaging.” I was rereading the infamous humdog rant from way back in 1994 when that line jumped out at me.

Writes Daniel Akst in the New York Times: “The digital revolution may be empowering amateurs even as it undermines the ability of blockbuster-free professionals – who often do the best work in writing, music and other fields – to make a living, since the long-tail effect is redistributing downward the scant share of rewards that the pros now enjoy.” Also in the Times, Kurt Eichenwald continues his important series on the internet’s dark markets.

What happens to those cute baby wikis when they grow up? They turn into bureaucracies, as Andrew McAfee discovers. (I’m with the wikipedian on this one. Enterprise, maybe. Enterprise 2.0? C’mon.)

Alex Bunardzic makes the case for throwaway software.

Kent Newsome gently dismantles a house of cards.

Stowe Boyd critiques my Great Unread post and some of the reactions to it. I’m going to withhold the “amen,” though, however charmingly innocent the fraud of his penultimate paragraph.

4 thoughts on “Rough sort

  1. Anonymous

    Sitting on their perch on hump of the bell curve if they cannot pick and choose from what they survey of the tail, tough to feel sorry for the “pros”.

    I have seen a marked improvement in certain MSM and industry analyst materials in the last year – those that are reading blogs and using that to embellish their own writing…and then there are others who just whine about the tail…

  2. Sid Steward

    Here’s an HTML copy of Cut and Paste Literacy. My own $0.02 of incremental mashup value.

    I think the web will be the birthplace for AI, only because it’s so much easier for a AI to seem human online. Dumbing-down the Turing test helps me in my ambition to create a synthetic social network army. Or am I already too late? ;-)

  3. Chris_B

    The humdog thing was good, have not seen that in a decade and I thank thee for the reminder. Even with the postmodern jargon, some important points are made there.

    As for the Kapor thing, I found this really telling: “to Mitch, Second Life is a disruptive technology on the level of the personal computer or the Internet.” To which I have to ask myself is this a long term after effect or is there some new bug juice out there causing otherwise smart people to take leave of their senses? I mean, I do honestly wish the Linden Labs the best of luck at continuing to fleece their sheep, but boy howdy, that sorta talk is just the last sales pitch I’d want for a company I had money in.

    I do say sheep intentionally since the customers are the providers of the wool that LL makes its money off of (as explained so nicely and so early on by humdog).

    Anyways, nice point counter point on those two.

  4. Jim Dermitt

    I’m sort of leaning towards throwaway software. People don’t want ads for everything, which is why books remain in fashion. As for adware, that idea was Web 1.0 and caused unlimited problems. With the Internet being the ultimate operating system, we won’t need as much software. If it’s treated more like a book than a BIC lighter, people will shelve it. Another thing that needs dusting. Both software and ads cost next to nothing to distribute, so there isn’t a shortage. More people are writing and the quality of the writing isn’t improving. We have tools that are better than us. Throwaway writing is growing, since so many people are writing worse and it is growing. It makes for great ads and is machine readable and all of that, but doesn’t make for much fiction. After it’s all over with, the fiction goes on. Machines don’t care about fiction and people do. Write fiction and forget the ads. They have drones for that and even the ad copy isn’t as good as it used to be.

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