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selective memory in tech politics

WordPress.org recently posted on why the abomination known as SOPA (House)/PIPA (Senate) needs to be stopped. Good arguments all around; the law has virtually no upside and a whole lot of draconian downside. But I found this bit interesting:

Laws are not like lines of PHP; they are not easily reverted if someone wakes up and realizes there is a better way to do things. We should not be so quick to codify something this far-reaching.

What, like massive restrictions on the financial industry that make it harder for tech startups to get funding? Or a hastily-written, multi-trillion dollar health care entitlement scheme? No? Never mind, then, carry on myopically.

northeast flight patterns

For those in the Northeast Corridor, the WSJ explains why NYC’s three area airports suck so hard:

In 2008, the FAA imposed restrictions on airline scheduling at Newark, similar to limits placed on New York’s other two major airports, Kennedy and La Guardia. At Newark, airlines can’t schedule more than 81 “operations”—takeoffs and landings combined—per hour. But because airlines schedule to the maximum limit, any delay during the day pushes the next hour over its capacity limit, then the next and the next. There’s little ability for the airport to catch up unless airlines cancel flights, which they have been doing more often, sacrificing regional airlines and their small-jet flights for takeoff and landing slots for larger jets with more passengers.

And earlier in the same article, now it’s not just New York’s airspace that’s the bottleneck:

Much of the bottleneck is in Washington, D.C. Both flights out of Newark have to fly through heavily congested airspace in the Washington area, Delta says, where much of the traffic headed into and out of the Northeast meshes together, creating a choke point for the nation’s air travel.

The reason the limits were imposed is that air traffic controllers are using decades-old equipment that requires more padding between flights in a given airspace to avoid collisions. If this weren’t a government operation, Mother Jones would have done eighteen stories on ATC’s negligence and how it’s killing babies, puppies, and immigrant mothers. And Matt Taibbi would’ve been full of anti-capitalist butthurt to boot.

why i never post my photos to facebook

With Flickr you can get out, via the API, every single piece of information you put into the system.

Every photo, in every size, plus the completely untouched original. (which we store for you indefinitely, whether or not you pay us) Every tag, every comment, every note, every people tag, every fave. Also your stats, view counts, and referers.

Not the most recent N, not a subset of the data. All of it.

It’s your data, and you’ve granted us a limited license to use it.

Additionally we provide a moderately competently built API that allows you to access your data at rates roughly 500x faster then the rate that will get you banned from Twitter.

Exactly. I’m super lazy about taking pictures. If I’m going to go through all that work, I’m going to make damn sure a) I can get those photos back, and b) they aren’t degraded to a crappy resolution.

[Kellan Elliott-McCrea, via Chairman Gruber.]

crushing entrepreneurs' capital

Or, “toldyousotoldyousotoldyouso.”

For years, James Taranto quoted novelist and journalist Mark Helprin in a running gag called “Homeless Rediscovery Watch”. In that quote, the latter (correctly) predicted the media would suddenly, magically, rediscover social problems that mysteriously disappeared from 1993 to 2001. Similarly, I’d like to introduce a new segment on this blog which will highlight things I predicted on Election Night to someone very close to me, when she asked why I wasn’t happy about something so “historic” happening. She can corroborate my story, though I no doubt bored her to tears with my sermon.

Today’s thing I predicted: the Obama administration and its Democratic Congress, despite being backed by tech pundits and the venture capitalists whose investments keep the employed, will destroy the capital necessary to keep the tech revolution going. The new bill proposed by retiring Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) will tightly regulate the financial instruments of any company it deems risky to the financial system. As the WSJ notes, that fly-by-night venture Apple Computers was once deemed too risky by state regulators:

[B]efore 1996, certain initial public offerings of stocks were subject to merit review in certain states, where the state decided if a security is a “bad” investment and thus not appropriate to be offered to its citizens. In fact, this is exactly what happened to Apple Computer when it first went public in 1980. Massachusetts prohibited the offering of Apple shares because they were “too risky,” and Apple did not even bother to offer its shares in Illinois due to strict state laws on new issues. What if federal bureaucrats had had the power to impose their judgment on a “risky” financial product (such as an IPO) on a nationwide scale, or every state followed Massachusetts’ lead? Would Apple have become the successful company that it is today?

So now we’re going to put this power in the hands of the Feds. Yeah, this is going to end well.

little red riding hood

The story animated and reimagined with infographics. It’s a design blog hit that I’m just getting around to posting.


Slagsmålsklubben – Sponsored by destiny from Tomas Nilsson on Vimeo.

mmm. . . irony

Do you like irony? Think the AP are being douche-barrels deserving to fall into oblivion with the rest of the modern newspaper industry? Then you’ll love the Obama poster kerfuffle!

The Associated Press are trying to sue LA artist Shepard Fairey for his use of an AP photo to create his vaguely cultish (and socialist realist) poster of President Obama. Farley and his lawyer, with all the facetiousness they could muster, countersued:

Fairey’s lawyers said in papers filed at a New York court Wednesday that the artist’s use of the photograph is protected by the First Amendment as well as by fair-use laws.

But the real attention-grabber was Fairey’s assertion that the AP itself violated copyright laws when it used a photo of the artist’s “Hope” poster without getting permission. In other words, he’s arguing that the AP can’t reproduce an image by Fairey that the artist himself appropriated from the AP.

The AP’s case probably has merit (Fairey certainly pushes the bounds of fair use), and Fairey’s case is clearly a sarcastic stretch being used to make a point, but I can’t help but laugh at a wire service that clearly does not get it.

how merlin mann made me feel better about my cynicism

I work very closely with social media in my job, but I might be one of the most cynical in my organization about its uses and merits. I’ve been working on being less of a jerk about the OMGWEB2.0WTFBBQ bandwagon, but Merlin Mann says it much better than I ever could in his excellent SxSW rant-duet with John Gruber:

Merlin Mann: Or, like, and my rant?—?and I’m sorry, I’m not gonna shut up about this?—?I’m so tired of every social media douche going “Zappo’s is on Twitter!”. And you’re like, “Yeah, they’re on Twitter; after putting millions of dollars into customer support.” It’s like, getting an account on Twitter does not make you Zappo’s. Having the resources behind serving the shit out of your audience makes you Zappo’s. And it doesn’t happen overnight, with a login and an email that you click on a link. So anyway; not to go on a rant.

John Gruber: Have you ever read… ’cause you know, Comcast is on Twitter.

. . .and. . .

Merlin Mann: So people think “Oh, you’re so down on social media. Why are you such a jerk?”. And I’m like, “‘Cause social media, when it’s really social media, is not about what you have to say; it’s having a tolerance for what people have to say about you.”?—?which is so different from posting about your great run. Social media is when they say “You’re a jackass. Stop talking about your run.” That’s social media. And that’s the conversation.

And one wonders if even social media experts understand that.

tech stifling we can believe in

I hate to say I told you so, techhie and dynamist Obamaniacs, but: I told you so.

President Obama plans to appoint current Federal Trade Commission member Jon Leibowitz to lead the agency, which partially enforces antitrust laws and has taken a recent interest in online advertising.
. . .
“Industry needs to do a better job of meaningful, rigorous self-regulation, or it will certainly invite legislation by Congress and a more regulatory approach by our commission,” he said earlier this month.

In November 2007, Leibowitz suggested that Internet companies should take an “opt in” approach to cookies instead of the current “opt out” approach, a requirement that would have roiled the industry. He also suggested the idea of a “Do Not Track” list for Web surfers.

In contrast to spam, which is a hellspawn phenomenon that should die a thousand bloody deaths, cookies are what enable perfectly legitimate organizations to see if you’ve ever been on their site before, and then customize content accordingly. It’s what enables web analysts (like yours truly) to track visitor behavior and improve site traffic, and what enables Amazon to recommend products to you. Leibowitz essentially wants me to fill out thirty registration forms before I can allow a site to track my browser. (I steadfastly refuse to fill out the one that the WaPo asks me to.) Now that’s the way to help improve online innovation!

Also, buried deep in almost all articles, was this note:

Leibowitz previously worked as a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America. Before that, he was chief counsel and staff director for a Senate antitrust subcommittee.

A former lobbyist, and for an industry organization that had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age? That’s the change I was believing in!

viral marketing on the death star


[via swissmiss]

the power of noodles

Teaching atomic properties and powers of two via pasta-making.

Science is delicious! (via Kottke)

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