I’ve been out of the loop for the last few days thanks to a wonderful long weekend with Andrea in Atlanta, which included a Braves-Sox game, tours of the CNN Center and Coke Museum, and a sentimental trip to some favorite restaurants and hangouts. If you’re ever in Atlanta, the CNN tour is probably worth checking out, although I was a little disappointed by its relative brevity. Still, spotting Ali Velshi working the newsroom on his way to the anchor’s desk was sort of fun. I’ve got a couple of other entries lined up, so hopefully, I’ll have some new (and substantive) content soon. Now, for some links:
- Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker review of Chris Anderson’s latest book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, captures many of the reservations I’ve had about Anderson’s argument when I first encountered it in a Wired Magazine article a few months ago. Essentially, Anderson argues that as bandwidth and server space becomes less expensive content creators can profit from giving away some of their content for free. Gladwell, in his review, challenges a number of key assumptions in Anderson’s “technological utopian” argument, in part by deconstructing one of Anderson’s key case studies, YouTube, which still hasn’t shown a profit despite Google’s investment, and showing how giving content away for free often masks other costs. I’ll try to write up a full review of the book when it comes out in July.
- In the most recent issue of FlowTV, Ted Friedman offers a welcome corrective to some of the technological utopianism that has been swirling around the events in Iran in recent weeks, a celebration of Twitter and YouTube that sometimes swept me up in its massive scope. However, as Frieman points out, there are only a small number of Twitter users among the thousands of protestors in Iran, and the cyberutopian rhetoric often obscures what supporters of Ahmadinejad may be doing with these social networks. Finally, it has the potential to obscure some of the genuine, on-the-ground activity that may be taking place in the protests on behlaf of Mousavi.
- One of the case studies I address in the book is the contest sponsored by Netflix, in which the video rental service invited people to create a better recommednation algorithm than their current version. According to Cinematical, Netflix is ready to declare a winner of the $1 million prize. Wired Magazine also discusses the contest, reporting that two front-running teams, Team Pragmatic Theory and Team Bellkor in Chaos, joined forces to create the winning algorithm.
- The Scholarly Kitchen has an interesting discussion of the Impact Factor, a tool used to determine how much impact a sholarly book or journal has based on the number of citations in peer-reviewed journals. The Schoarly Kitchen argues that such rubrics are now obsolete, given that citations can now appear anywhere, including tweets, blog posts, and Facebook status updates. While these citations may not be equivalent with a mention in a peer-reviewed journal, theyoften do come from peers in the field. This is something we’ve been talking about for a long time now at MediaCommons, but I think it is worth highlighting othes who are thinking about the ways in which digital media are enmeshed with questions of scholarly impact.
- Finally, I’ll go on the record, about a week too late to matter, in saying that expanding the number of Best Picture nominees may do a little to open up a usually restrictive category to some non-traditional nominees. As a number of people have noted, having ten nominees last year likely would have allowed popular and critical favorites, The Dark Knight and Wall-E, to get nominations. This year, a successful, if overrated comedy such as The Hangover, could even be nominated, as Patrick Goldstein speculates in his analysis of the Oscar news. The move might also allow documentaries and forign films to get nominated. I’ll add that I’m not that concerned abut watering down the significance of a nomination (which seems like a relatively trivial issue for the most part), but it does have an intriguing marketing twist that allows five more films to use the little gold statuette in advertising and promotions. For a low-budget indie or documentary, something like that could be pretty significant.