👓 Sorry, Sony Music, you don’t own the rights to Bach’s music on Facebook | Ars Technica

Read Sorry, Sony Music, you don’t own the rights to Bach’s music on Facebook (Ars Technica)
Public shaming forces publisher to abandon ridiculous claim to classical music.

When is the industry going to finally fix this issue of false positives like this. Surely in the case of Bach, it should be even easier?

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👓 What Do They Want from Us? On the Return of Big Bookstore Chains | The Millions

Read What Do They Want from Us? On the Return of Big Bookstore Chains by Jon Roemer (The Millions)

Bookstores have become cultural Rorschach tests. After the past decade or so, you’ve either been traumatized by watching your favorite store go dark, or you’re fine with the coffee and craft cocktails now served alongside exquisitely curated books.

This fall begins a new era, or maybe a retro one, marked by the reemergence of national bookstore chains and two prototype stores opening next month. In New York, Shakespeare & Co. is growing to three locations, laying the groundwork for its national expansion, while Indigo, Canada’s largest bookstore chain, is opening its first U.S. store in New Jersey, staking its claim before growing west. Both believe there’s big potential in general bookstore chains despite wildly different ideas about how we buy books.

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📺 MoviePass is using you to ruin the movies | YouTube

Watched MoviePass is using you to ruin the movies from YouTube
MoviePass announced a movie theater subscription plan that seemed too good to be true in 2018. As it turns out, it was. As the service bled cash, subscribers were actually the ones taking the hit, with their subscriptions being swapped, changed, or even revoked entirely. So while MoviePass isn’t the movie industry’s savior, it could illuminate a path forward for theaters to take control of their own destinies.

👓 MoviePass outage caused by company temporarily running out of cash | Business Insider

Read The MoviePass outage was caused by the company temporarily running out of money, and it borrowed $5 million in cash to turn the service back on (Business Insider)
Following a service interruption of MoviePass on Thursday, its parent company, Helios and Matheson, borrowed $5 million to bring the service back online.
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👓 Soon There Will Be Only One Blockbuster Left in the United States | The New York Times

Read Soon There Will Be Only One Blockbuster Left in the United States (nytimes.com)
The upcoming closings of two Blockbuster video stores in Alaska will leave one store in central Oregon as the last one in the United States.
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👓 Vice Media Was Built on a Bluff. What Happens When It Gets Called? | Daily Intelligencer | New York Magazine

Read Vice Media Was Built on a Bluff. What Happens When It Gets Called? by Reeves Wiedeman (Daily Intelligencer)
For almost 25 years, Shane Smith’s plan was that, by the time the suckers caught on, he’d never be stuck owning the company he co-founded.

A fantastic article.

This reminds me a lot of the recent Theranos stories and book. It’s sad how companies don’t do enough due diligence on potential investments like this. When I think about how much basic work and discussion Marcus Lemonis does for $100,000 investments, I’m appalled to hear what people are doing for multi-millions. It’s stunning that a company can get to this size and be worth nearly nothing. Using the relative size (ie number of employees) of business units like human resources and legal within a particular industry could be a reasonable guide for the internal management of a company.

This is also a good example that while investments may give a company a particular valuation, it can rarely be the actual potential present value of the company. As a result, workers who are working for near free plus stock should be paying closer attention to company internals to know that their stock portion is going to be completely worthless.

Worse, I’m always pained to hear that young people (rich or otherwise) are essentially giving away their work and sweat equity away for free to big companies that could easily pay them. Eventually the pendulum is going to swing back the other way and companies are going to need to pay more.

One of my favorite quotes from the piece:

“Shane would always say that young people are the No. 1 bullshit detector, which was annoying once you realized that the thing he mastered is getting young people to buy shit,” says a recently departed senior employee.

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👓 MoviePass is no longer too good to be true | The Verge

Read MoviePass is no longer too good to be true by Nick Statt (The Verge)
Restrictions and no longer selling its one-movie-per-day plan, are bad signs

Sad to hear this is happening. Hopefully they can hang along to get the expected economies of scale they were aiming to get before they go under. Of course, somehow the market is going to equilibrate on them.

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❤️ Microsub bridge by Ryan Barrett

Liked Microsub bridge by Ryan Barrett (snarfed.org)
If you’re familiar with much of my IndieWeb work, you probably know I’m drawn to building translators, proxies, and bridges to connect different protocols and services that do similar things. There’s been a lot of activity recently around Microsub, a standard API for feed reader clients to talk to feed reader servers. Many existing readers have APIs, so I’ve been thinking about a bridge that would translate those APIs to Microsub, so that reader clients like Together and Indigenous could use traditional reader services like Feedly and NewsBlur as their backend.

This article brings such warmth to my heart. It’s even beyond what I had originally envisioned in Feed Reader Revolution.

I’m salivating what this portends for the web and my ability to read it better in the future!

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Facebook is Censoring My Notes

I don’t post “notes” to Facebook often, but I’d noticed a few weeks ago that several pieces I’d published like this a while back were apparently unpublished by the platform. I hadn’t seen or heard anything from Facebook about them being unpublished or having issues, so I didn’t realize the problem until I randomly stumbled back across my notes page.

They did have a piece of UI to indicate that I wanted to contest and republish them, so I clicked on it. Apparently this puts these notes into some type of limbo “review” process, but it’s been a few weeks now and there’s no response about either of them. They’re still both sitting unseen in my dashboard with sad notes above them saying:

We’re reviewing this post against our Community Standards.

There is no real indication if they’ll ever come back online. Currently my only option is to delete them. There’s also no indication, clear or otherwise, of which community standard they may have violated.

I can’t imagine how either of the posts may have run afoul of their community standards, or why “notes” in particular seem to be more prone to this sort of censorship in comparison with typical status updates. I’m curious if others have had this same experience?

We’re reviewing these posts against our Community Standards.

This is just another excellent example of why one shouldn’t trust third parties over which you have no control to publish your content on the web. Fortunately I’ve got my own website with the original versions of these posts [1][2] that are freely readable. If you’ve experienced this or other pernicious problems in social media, I recommend you take a look at the helpful IndieWeb community which has some excellent ideas and lots of help for re-exerting control over your online presence.

Notes Functionality

Notes on Facebook were an early 2009 era attempt for Facebook to have more blog-like content and included a rather clean posting interface, not un-reminiscent of Medium’s interface, that also allowed one to include images and even hyperlinks into pages.

The note post type has long since fallen by the wayside and I rarely, if ever, come across people using it anymore in the wild despite the fact that it’s a richer experience than traditional status updates. I suspect the Facebook black box algorithm doesn’t encourage its use. I might posit that it’s not encouraged as unlike most Facebook functionality, hyperlinks in notes on desktop browsers physically take one out of the Facebook experience and into new windows!

The majority of notes about me are spammy chain mail posts like “25 Random Things About Me”, which also helpfully included written instructions for how to actually use notes.

25 Random Things About Me

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

Most of my published notes were experiments in syndicating my content from my own blog to Facebook (via POSSE). At the time, the engagement didn’t seem much different than posting raw text as status updates, so I abandoned it. Perhaps I’ll try again with this post to see what happens? I did rather like the ability to actually have links to content and other resources in my posts there.

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Brief Review of The Atlantic Interview Podcast

An awesome policy-focused and interview-based podcasts from one of the premiere news outlets of our day.

I’ve now listened to a dozen of the opening episodes of The Atlantic Interview and am enamored. It’s officially ensconced at the top of my regular rotation.

The weekly show, hosted by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic’s editor in chief, features him doing a relatively in-depth interview of a single guest for about thirty minutes.

I almost look at this podcast as a far better version of some of the “Sunday shows” where the guest isn’t always so heavily guarded because it would be impolitic or that they’re lost in a sea of voices amongst a larger panel where they just can’t develop some longer coherent thoughts or theses.

To some extent, this podcast is starting to fill a hole in my daily schedule that was created by the disappearance of The Charlie Rose show late last year. The sad part is that, at only once a week, I’m going to wish I had a lot more when I’m done binge-listening to the short backlog I’ve got. On The Atlantic Interview I appreciate that the “thing guests may be selling” (book, article, show, film, etc.) takes a pointed back seat to the broader topic(s) at hand.

Much of the strength of what I’ve heard thus far stems from interviews with people that are slightly off the beaten path, but with serious messages and interesting viewpoints. They’ve all been journalisticly solid and almost always provide me with news, viewpoints, and subtle information that I didn’t have before. Another strength is that the show can give guests additional time and depth than they might receive on other traditional shows. The guests so far have been very smart, cogent, and interesting. Their selection has been well balanced for gender, topic, and general variety within the space the show occupies. The show has generally impeccable audio and production values.

While initial guests seem to have an air of familiarity with the host as the result of closer (disclosed) interpersonal connections, I suspect that even when the list of immediate friends in his Rolodex runs dry, the show will easily have enough value and gravitas to successfully run on long beyond this.

One of my favorite parts of these podcasts are the somewhat snarky bumpers that Goldberg puts onto the the end encouraging people to give reviews and subscribe. I kind of wish he’d let loose a bit more and inject some of this kind of snark into the interviews too. If nothing else, he’s at least having fun with a part of the show that would otherwise be typically painful to trudge through.

Suggestions

I’d love to hear more about education policy, health care, public heath, internet, and foreign policy. A few guest ideas I’d love to hear in this format: Tressie McMillan Cottom, Mike Morrell, Susan J. Fowler, César A. Hidalgo, Tantek Çelik, Ellen J. MacKenzie, and Ezekiel Emanuel. Continuing in the vein of interviewing the interviewers, which I find terrifically fascinating, I’d love to see Judy Woodruff, Fareed Zakaria, W. Kamau Bell, Trevor Noah, and John Dickerson in the future. These aside, I suspect that anyone that Mssr. Goldberg finds intriguing, I’m sure I will as well.

Additional Technical Commentary

I really wish their podcast had individual web pages for each episode so I could more easily email, share, or target individual episodes for people. It would also be nice if the main page actually had .mp3 versions of the audio embedded in them to make it easier to bookmark and share through services like Huffduffer.com. I really don’t know why podcasters insist on using third party podcasting services to hide their .mp3 files from the outside world–it’s literally their most important product! Stop it! I find the practice to be as irksome as newspapers that use Facebook as their primary means of distribution, and just like that case, they’ll regret it in the long run.

While Megaphone.fm is a nice hosting platform for the show, I’m not sure why a publication the size and scope of The Atlantic isn’t simply self-hosing their own content using their own URLs.

The content for the show is still a bit scatter-brained. The main page on The Atlantic has the best and most comprehensive meta-descriptions of episodes, while the Megaphone page has some nice individual episode artwork that The Atlantic doesn’t have or present. This is sure to cause uneven experiences for people depending on how they choose to subscribe.

I appreciate that some of the early episodes went to the trouble to have full transcripts and some additional snippet content and images. I miss these transcripts. I do know that doing this can be painful and expensive, though perhaps services like Gretta.com might have some technology to help. If they want to go crazy, it would be cool to see Audiogram functionality, which they could use instead of relying on Megaphone or some other platform.

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👓 The MoviePass Tips You Need to Know | Lifehacker

Read The MoviePass Tips You Need to Know by Patrick Allan (Lifehacker)
MoviePass, the almost all-you-can-watch buffet of movies on the big screen, is a pretty sweet deal at $9.95 a month. But what if I told you that deal could be even sweeter? We’re talking scoring free popcorn, guaranteeing tickets to brand new releases, and easily avoiding the most common problems. All you need is the right tricks.
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👓 How Facebook Is Killing Comedy | Splitsider

Read How Facebook Is Killing Comedy by Sarah Aswell (Splitsider)
Last month, in its second round of layoffs in as many years, comedy hub Funny or Die reportedly eliminated its entire editorial team following a trend of comedy websites scaling back, shutting down, or restructuring their business model away from original online content. Hours after CEO Mike Farah delivered the news via an internal memo, Matt Klinman took to Twitter, writing, “Mark Zuckerberg just walked into Funny or Die and laid off all my friends.” It was a strong sentiment for the longtime comedy creator, who started out at UCB and The Onion before launching Pitch, the Funny or Die-incubated joke-writing app, in 2017.

This article really has so much. It also contains a microcosm of what’s been happening in journalism recently as well. I have a feeling that if outlets like Funny or Die were to go back and own their original content, there would still be a way for them to exist, we just need to evolve the internet away from the centralized direction we’ve been moving for the past decade and change.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

eliminated its entire editorial team following a trend of comedy websites scaling back, shutting down, or restructuring their business model away from original online content.  Hours after CEO Mike Farah delivered the news via an internal memo, Matt Klinman took to Twitter, writing, “Mark Zuckerberg just walked into Funny or Die and laid off all my friends.” It was a strong sentiment for the longtime comedy creator, who started out at UCB and The Onion before launching Pitch, the Funny or Die-incubated joke-writing app, in 2017.


“Mark Zuckerberg just walked into Funny or Die and laid off all my friends.”


The whole story is basically that Facebook gets so much traffic that they started convincing publishers to post things on Facebook. For a long time, that was fine. People posted things on Facebook, then you would click those links and go to their websites. But then, gradually, Facebook started exerting more and more control of what was being seen, to the point that they, not our website, essentially became the main publishers of everyone’s content. Today, there’s no reason to go to a comedy website that has a video if that video is just right on Facebook. And that would be fine if Facebook compensated those companies for the ad revenue that was generated from those videos, but because Facebook does not pay publishers, there quickly became no money in making high-quality content for the internet.


Facebook has created a centrally designed internet. It’s a lamer, shittier looking internet.


The EU has a bunch of laws kicking in to keep this in check — one is algorithmic transparency, where these places need to tell me why they are showing me something.


If someone at Facebook sees this, I want them to know, if they care at all about the idea that was the internet, they need to start thinking through what they are doing. Otherwise, then you’re just like Lennie from Of Mice and Men — a big dumb oaf crushing the little mouse of the internet over and over and not realizing it.


And I want it to feel that way to other people so that when they go to a cool website, they are inspired: They see human beings putting love and care into something.


Facebook is essentially running a payola scam where you have to pay them if you want your own fans to see your content.


It’s like if The New York Times had their own subscriber base, but you had to pay the paperboy for every article you wanted to see.


And then it becomes impossible to know what a good thing to make is anymore.

This is where webmentions on sites can become valuable. People posting “read” posts or “watch” posts (or even comments) indicating that they saw something could be the indicator to the originating site that something is interesting/valuable and could be displayed by that site. (This is kind of like follower counts, but for individual pieces of content, so naturally one would need to be careful about gaming.)


Here’s another analogy, and I learned this in an ecology class: In the 1800s (or something), there were big lords, or kings or something, who had giant estates with these large forests. And there were these foresters who had this whole notion of how to make a perfectly designed forest, where the trees would be pristinely manicured and in these perfect rows, and they would get rid of all the gross stuff and dirt. It was just trees in a perfect, human-devised formation that you could walk through. Within a generation, these trees were emaciated and dying. Because that’s how a forest works — it needs to be chaotic. It needs bugs and leaves, it makes the whole thriving ecosystem possible. That’s what this new internet should be. It won’t survive as this human-designed, top-down thing that is optimized for programmatic ads. It feels like a desert. There’s no nutrition, there’s no opportunity to do anything cool.


Recommending things for people is a personal act, and there are people who are good at it. There are critics. There are blogs. It’s not beneficial to us to turn content recommendations over to an algorithm, especially one that’s been optimized for garbage.


the internet was a better place 3-4 years ago. It used to be fruitful, but it’s like a desert now.


Facebook is the great de-contextualizer.

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👓 Journalists Boycott Disney Films After L.A. Times Snub | Hollywood Reporter

Read Journalists Boycott Disney Films After L.A. Times Snub (The Hollywood Reporter)
The L.A. Times is currently barred from attending advance screenings of Disney movies.

I’m betting this doesn’t end well for Disney’s corporate image. How shortsighted can they be?

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Feed reader revolution

It's time to embrace open & disrupt social media

The state-of-the-art in feed readers was frozen in place sometime around 2010, if not before. By that time most of the format wars between RSS and Atom had long since died down and were all generally supported. The only new features to be added were simple functionalities like sharing out links from readers to social services like Facebook and Twitter. For fancier readers they also added the ability to share out to services like Evernote, OneNote, Pocket, Instapaper and other social silos or silo related services.

So the real question facing companies with stand alone traditional feed reader products–like Feedly, Digg Reader, The Old Reader, Inoreader, Reeder, NewsBlur, Netvibes, Tiny Tiny RSS, WordPress reader–and the cadre of others is:

  • What features could/should we add?
  • How can we improve?
  • How can we gain new users?
  • How can we increase our market share?

In short the primary question is:

What should a modern RSS feed reader be capable of doing?

Continue reading “Feed reader revolution”

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👓 I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died. | Vox

Read I worked in a video store for 25 years. Here’s what I learned as my industry died. by Dennis Perkins (Vox)

Some interesting analysis of what we’re loosing with the death of video stores. In particular, we’re losing some of the same type of recommendations and serendipity we’re loosing with the rise of e-books and less use of libraries/librarians. In particular, loosing well-curated collections is a big issue as we replace them with streaming services which don’t seem to have the same curatorial business models.

I particularly enjoyed this quote:

A great video store’s library of films is like a little bubble outside the march of technology or economics, preserving the fringes, the forgotten, the noncommercial, or the straight-up weird. Championed by a store’s small army of film geeks, such movies get more traffic than they did in their first life in the theater, or any time since. Not everything that was on VHS made the transition to DVD, and not every movie on DVD is available to stream. The decision to leave a movie behind on the next technological leap is market-driven, which makes video stores the last safety net for things our corporate overlords discard.

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