phiffer.org

Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer is an Internet enthusiast based in Troy, NY

What should Zoë Keating do about YouTube?zoekeating.tumblr.com

YouTube’s Content ID technology lets a musician take a cut of the advertising that runs on videos using their music, which is great for the Zoë Keatings of the world.

I got started with Content ID a couple of years ago when someone from Youtube reached out to me and I was offered a content management account to “claim” the soundtracks of these videos. The videos are dance performances, documentaries, amateur films, slideshows, animations, art projects, soundtracks to people doing things like skiing, miming, calligraphy or just playing video games. I love the variety of them all. Who knew there could be so many different ways to dance to my music?

Unfortunately this arrangement is changing as YouTube reconfigures itself to become a Spotify competitor. One of the requirements of the new service stipulates that Keating must post her entire catalog to participate.

Is such control too much for an artist to ask for in 2015? It’s one thing for individuals to upload all my music for free listening (it doesn’t bother me). It’s another thing entirely for a major corporation to force me to. I was encouraged to participate and now, after I’m invested, I’m being pressured into something I don’t want to do.

See also: Zoë Keating’s albums on Bandcamp.

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Leaving Facebookistanwww.newyorker.com

Steve Coll in The New Yorker’s Daily Comment:

Through its bedrock appeals to friendship, community, public identity, and activism—and its commercial exploitation of these values—Facebook is an unprecedented synthesis of corporate and public spaces. The corporation’s social contract with users is ambitious, yet neither its governance system nor its young ruler seem trustworthy.

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Clay Shirky on newspaper article thresholdswww.shirky.com

If only 2% of New York Times online visitors trigger the 20 per month article threshold, their former mass advertising audience turns into a niche of self-selecting paid customers.

There has never been a mass market for good journalism in this country. What there used to be was a mass market for print ads, coupled with a mass market for a physical bundle of entertainment, opinion, and information; these were tied to an institutional agreement to subsidize a modicum of real journalism. In that mass market, the opinions of the politically engaged readers didn’t matter much, outnumbered as they were by people checking their horoscopes. This suited advertisers fine; they have always preferred a centrist and distanced political outlook, the better not to alienate potential customers. When the politically engaged readers are also the only paying readers, however, their opinion will come matter more, and in ways that will sometimes contradict the advertisers’ desires for anodyne coverage.

See also: The Times’ Paywall and Newsletter Economics, from a year ago

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Forbes goes trollingwww.forbes.com

Following up on the link-bait article “If I Was a Poor Black Kid”, Kashmir Hill — a staff writer from Forbescontemplates the conflict of interest in their contributor payment model:

Forbes has a stable of 850+ writers who are “contributors” — they get a little special tag on their pages that says, “The opinions expressed are those of the writer.” Forbes pays these folks for the unique visitors and repeat visitors they attract.

She poses a rhetorical question:

Does having a payment model that rewards controversy encourage writers to bait readers with offensive material?

Yes, I believe that is the problem. She offers a surprising “market-based” solution:

So what keeps people from trolling? When your name and face are attached to what you write, you start to develop what our CPO Lewis D’Vorkin loves to call “a personal brand.” I think of it as voice, authenticity, and reputation. As writers’ bylines become bigger and our photos become more prominent, this comes to matter more. After a certain amount of race- and gender-baiting, you establish a “troll” brand and that brand may become so toxic that you become irrelevant. And that is the worst fate for any writer (and every troll): to be ignored.

Personal brands and larger byline photos? No, sorry, this is basic editorial irresponsibility. As much as they’d like us to believe otherwise, the brand here is Forbes. Some commenters are applauding the piece for its “transparency,” but it’s a useless kind of transparency. Nobody is seriously going to start evaluating each and every author under the masthead, having now been informed of the publication’s tiered contributor model.

The solution is simple: fire the trolls, and fix the broken revenue model that rewards trolling.

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See also: Cord Jefferson’s response in GOOD

Why Cooper Union matterswww.brooklynrail.org

Litia Perta in the Brooklyn Rail:

American higher education now justifies itself on economic grounds: that we are producing the workforce for a global world. Such rhetoric has defined its function and has become its purpose. When was the last time debates around education articulated the virtues of higher thought, scholarship, a liberal education in the sense of one that frees the mind? When was the last time we explored the impact an idea, a novel, or a work of art can have on a person and on what they might decide to do with it? The danger of losing Cooper Union to the privatized, tuition-based educational model is not simply that we would lose one of the last bastions of non-instrumentalized education. The danger lies also in the fact that it would be like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, as even tuition-based institutions are faltering everywhere.

See also: Kevin Slavin’s rousing speech at the Cooper Union Community Summit

Also related: cooperunion.biz, a satire of both Cooper Union’s financial situation, and the “educational colonialism” model of NYU

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A personal appeal from Mozillamozilla.org

Marco Arment:

Most Firefox users don’t know how the company pays its bills. The majority of its income — about $100 million annually — is from Google, who pays Mozilla for using Google by default in the stock homepage and built-in search box. But the term of that deal just ended, and apparently nobody from either Mozilla or Google will confirm whether it has been renewed.

In response to this financial uncertainty, Mozilla have launched a campaign to shore up grassroots donations. Like Arment, I’m a bit saddened by the direction of Firefox. There have been too many meaningless releases with no sense of forward progress. But I’ve never been able to bring myself to switch to anything else. In large part because of its thriving plugin community, I haven’t found satisfactory replacements for Firebug or Greasemonkey in other browsers. So I’m sticking with team Mozilla.

Here are a couple videos about Mozilla’s origins that you should watch:

And then go donate!

Wall Street Isn’t Winning It’s Cheatingwww.rollingstone.com

Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone:

Success is the national religion, and almost everyone is a believer. Americans love winners. But that’s just the problem. These guys on Wall Street are not winning—they’re cheating. And as much as we love the self-made success story, we hate the cheater that much more.

And also this part:

The banks borrow billions at zero and lend mortgages to us at four percent, or credit cards at twenty or twenty-five percent. This is essentially an official government license to be rich, handed out at the expense of prudent ordinary citizens, who now no longer receive much interest on their CDs or other saved income. It is virtually impossible to not make money in banking when you have unlimited access to free money, especially when the government keeps buying its own cash back from you at market rates.

Your average chimpanzee couldn’t fuck up that business plan, which makes it all the more incredible that most of the too-big-to-fail banks are nonetheless still functionally insolvent, and dependent upon bailouts and phony accounting to stay above water. Where do the protesters go to sign up for their interest-free billion-dollar loans?

The Ebert Clubblogs.suntimes.com

I just got my first email from The Ebert Club and realized I forgot to link to it here. Roger Ebert says:

I want to make some money from the web. It may appear that I have an enormously successful web site here. I do. But I’m not making any money. In the years since the site began, my share of the profits has come to a pauper’s penny. The Far-Flung Correspondents aren’t the only ones here working for free. To be sure, the Sun-Times pays me handsomely, although less handsomely since we all went through a “belt-tightening,” so as not to lose our pants.

He goes on to discuss Negroponte’s micropayment future that never came to pass. It’s a simple problem that has evaded that particular simple solution:

The web that we surf every day is not paying for itself, and we sure as hell aren’t paying for it. You read me for free, and I read everybody else for free. This is not news.

If you like Ebert’s writing, or even if you’re not very familiar with it, read more about The Ebert Club and consider sending him five bucks.

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