Monthly Archives: March 2010

Youtube Hits

Youtube is awesome. We all know that. The question for me was, until recently, out of the millions of videos on Youtube, which are the ones actually worth watching? A while ago, I stumbled across this list of the “100 Most Iconic Internet Videos” ( Interestingly enough, The Machine is Us/ing Us sneaks in at number ninety. While I haven’t seen them all as of yet, I’m trying to work my way through the list. I would personally recommend: 8, 18, 32, 55, 58, 70, 71, and 73. However, there are a lot of videos that I love which didn’t make the list, including such great memes as “The Count Censored”, “INVASION!”, “Who’s That Pokemon” and “Brilliant Woman Solves All Of California’s Problems”. What are some of your favorite Youtube videos that did/didn’t make the list?

Speak of the Devil!

Today, the same day as our discussion, Youtube redid its page layouts and has introduced a renting option for videos with copywrights. See

What timing, eh?

3/31/10 Reading: Thoughts

Y’know, it’s weird… When it comes to controversies regarding technology and its (mis?)use and (il?)legalities, I tend to be really liberal and progressive. I really like to see technology move forward, unshackled by capitalism and corporate corruption, but at the same time, this YouTube issue has always been one that I’m kind of on the fence about.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always seen a difference between television/video and music/radio/MP3s. Perhaps its because one’s commonly more expensive, one was more accessible to me as a kid, I dunno. But I’ve always seen the pirating of television shows/movies as far worse than downloading MP3s illegally.

It’s probably just because I don’t do it as much. I mean, I can see the benefits of it, and I by all means appreciate the ability to watch entire movies I don’t particularly want to actually buy on YouTube, but at the same time… I don’t really make a habit of it, and there’s a tinge of guilt every time I do it.

So I feel pulled between both sides. Does anyone else feel this way?

Ad infested Youtube now with Audio and complete video removal!

After reading the articles for class today I started to think about how youtube has really devolved in my view. Yes it may be a bit more user friendly and now has the gigantic veiny Google Brain behind it but it has become way too stringent.
I remember the good old days when there were no ads or commercials, no limitation on use, and the only bad thing was the time limit. Ahh, the embedding was universal and the content so free.
I feel like such an old timer when I talk about this but it has been such a short time period since the change that it really sucks.

I feel bad about the people such as Kevin Lee who worked so hard on their work only to have it stripped because the software detected the digital watermark and deemed it as copyright infringement. All in all, these topics are very provocative and delicate.

Battle of the Titans

Google and Viacom are at each other’s throats right now over over copyright concerns.  The title of this post is not just bluster; it pits Google against the media conglomerate Viacom.  The story is interesting for a few reasons and actually sets the stage for our discussions for Wednesday quite nicely.  The story pits two corporations against each other in a struggle for both corporate dominance and legal superiority.  Thus, it reminds us that copyright law that can pit individuals against corporations can also pit companies against each other.  For its part, Viacom has spent a huge amount of time and money alleging that YouTube knew about the copyright violations that were prominent on the site in its early days.  They have damning quotes citing the YouTube founders themselves commenting on the illegal activities of many of their users.  As was mentioned in the first Salon article that we read today, YouTube has survived because it has claimed that its service is NOT intended primarily for illegal activity, while Napster was almost entirely designed to be used for piracy.  If Viacom can prove that YouTube was actually aware of the piracy on its site and that YouTube did little to prohibit the piracy that was directly contributing to YouTube’s (and, later, Google’s) bottom line.

Google, on the other hand, has not hesitated in combatting Viacom’s charges.  First, Google has noted that it has developed ground-breaking technology that locates and disables copywritten content, as many viewers of silent clips can attest.  It also notes that its technology gives copyright holders the option to display ads on the bottom of pirated content and have those funds be directly relayed to the copyright holder.  Google continues by saying that this option is actually one of the more common responses to piracy, suggesting that YouTube’s model may allow companies to actualy effectively monetize piracy.  Then, Google essentially blames Viacom for the confusion regarding the clips that have remained on YouTube.  Incredibly, as Google’s official documents have revealed, Viacom simultaniously uploads vidoes (often surrepitiously to create “buzz” for new shows) and takes other “pirated” videos down.  Viacom is seemingly so large that it cannot effectively coordinate these activities, as evidenced by Viacom’s insistence that Google take down content that Viacom produced and uploaded.  (Actually, you might not want to blame Viacom the next time a video is taken down, since they seem to outsource this work to this company.)  With inconsistent inforcement and conflicting messages, YouTube argues that it cannot effectively protect Viacom’s content in this atmosphere.

Usually, I am sympathetic to Google, and I think that Google’s legal argument here is pretty sound.  YouTube is not designed as a piracy service, and Google has basically made it incredibly easy for companies like Viacom to either take down pirated content or monetize it in a way that pays for the content that was pirated.    On the other hand, when you have the founder of YouTube saying that pirated content makes YouTube’s “traffic soar” and when Google confessed that YouTube was “sustained by pirated content” before the merger, you have problems with Google’s argument that the service is not intended as a way to pirate content online.

Retweet and win!

I’ve entered hundreds of sweepstakes, contests, and raffles over the course of my lifetime, and not once did I win anything.  Until now.  Last week, photographer Todd Selby called his followers to retweet the link to his new book.  One person would receive a free signed copy.  I obliged, and, a few hours later, received a personal message stating I was the lucky winner.  Wahoo!

First, I want to link you to Todd Selby’s website.  He’s an LA-based artist who takes photos of eccentric houses all across the globe and interviews the people who live in them.  His new book profiles hundreds more.  Don’t open it unless you have a few hours to spare—you might not be able to pull away!

Second, do you think promotional retweeting is tacky?  It annoys me when those I follow subject me to ad-like retweets in hopes of winning stuff.  If it happens too often, I unfollow them.  Yet I did the same with my Selby book retweet.

Should there be a restriction on ad-like tweets?  Could user-aided advertisements negatively affect Twitter in the way they have affected Myspace and other social networking websites, or do its character/image limitations safeguard against this?

Copyrighted genes no more?

Yesterday there was a story in the Times about how a recent lawsuit is throwing into question where human genes are protected over copyright. Biotech companies have argued that isolating the genes involves transforming them, which means they are different from what occurs naturally. The judge in this case, however, ruled that this was nothing more than a “lawyers’ trick.” The big question now is what implications this has for future genetic research. Obviously, taking away the copyright mechanism hugely de-incentivizes further work in this field. Unlike copyrighted media, this research could have life-saving benefits in the future. So here’s my question: is it ever acceptable to maintain copyrights that may be unseemly (for natural elements like genes, for example) if it benefits society as a whole?

3/29/10 Discussion: Video

I was looking up Mac vs. PC commercials tonight before bed, and ran across this on that gave me a bit of a chuckle (and was also related to what we discussed in class today!)



I’ll update with a more conventional blog this Wednesday, I promise, guys!

3/24/10 Discussion: Thoughts

Ahhhhh, I’ve gotten ultra-behind on my blog posts due to a rather large art project I had to do over the course of the past week, so right now I’m going to make an effort to at least catch up. Expect regular updates again from me after tonight, though!

In any case, concerning the discussion of Wikipedia and other such sites on Wednesday the 24th, well… I was going to post a link to that video “Professor Wikipedia,” but it looks like the facilitators for that day kind of beat me to the punch. I suppose that’s my fault for being tardy with this post, though…

So I guess instead I’ll just post how I personally use Wikipedia, and also invite others to discuss their uses for Wikipedia. I use Wikipedia for a variety of reasons; first off, it’s a great spring board when looking for sources and scholarly writing. If you’re researching a topic that you happen to know has a fair amount of scholarly writing on it already (i.e. topics like the Civil War, Napoleon, etc.), you can bet you’ll probably find at least a few of them in the “Works Cited” section of the topic’s page. Naturally, it takes a bit of discretion on your own part to sift through the good essays/articles and the bad ones, but for the most part, it’s a good place to start. And to think — your teacher never needs to know that you were using Wikipedia for your term paper (gasp!).

It also functions well as a spring board in the sense that it can relay to you general facts on the subject to get you started — things like names, dates, locations, quotes, etc. are all fairly accessible and trust-worthy, but it’s still good to verify the information you find with another source. Nevertheless, Wikipedia can help you find that source by giving you a term or a keyword to search for.

Also, my second, and probably more primary use for Wikipedia (for better or for worse), is music. Wikipedia is chocked full of categories, lists, and other conglomerations of information based on topic or genre. Like a band, but want to find others like it? Wikipedia can help you do that! Just figure out how it categorizes the band you like, and chances are it will have a list of other bands that fall under that category (and if they have a category for Viking metal, I’m pretty sure they have a category for, like, anything else).

It’s also great for trivia concerning bands that you may not even be able to find on the band’s website, but unfortunately that information is less likely to be as reliable seeing as there’s no concrete way to verify it.

Nonetheless, I think Wikipedia is an amazing resource. I feel it deserves a lot more recognition, though, especially in the scholarly realm, because honestly, I don’t think it will ever meet up with the scholarly standards if the scholars simply refuse to accept it because of its anonymity, lack of renowned authors, etc. Wikipedia can’t help these factors — in fact, it doesn’t want to help these factors. Opposing these sorts of standards is what Wikipedia stands for, and I’d bet money that even if Wikipedia met the scholarly standards, people wouldn’t accept it in the same way they do Encyclopedia Britannica.

It has nothing to do with the information or the reliability, though — it’s all about a social stigma that is going to take a very long time to change.

Adding Tags to Our Posts?

I’ve been looking through the blog recently and thinking that it would be really nice if we each went back through our old posts and tagged them. I myself have not been doing it so far but I honestly don’t think it would take very long, and it would make the blog a lot easier to navigate. Given all the emphasis in our discussions on linking information, it would make sense for us to utilize this method ourselves

It would help if we could all agree on some general guidelines for how we would do it. Obviously it would be useful to be able to look back at everyone’s response to a certain reading or see every post that has made a reference to Apple, but that will only work if we can agree on how we would tag those sorts of things. PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO THE DISCUSSION!