Bing, the Imitator, Often Goes Google One Better
by David Pogue
July 8, 2009, New York Times
“The name, presumably, is supposed to evoke the sound of a winning game-show bell. The cynics online, however, joke that Bing is an acronym for “But It’s Not Google.” Here’s the shocker, though: in many ways, Bing is better. That’s quite a statement, of course — almost heresy. But check it out yourself. It’s easy to compare the two, thanks to sites like bing-vs-google.com. Here, you’re shown search results from both Bing and Google, side by side, on a split screen.” . . .
Broadband Initiatives Program and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program Workshops
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) have announced the first series of public workshops about the application process for $4 billion in broadband grants and loans under the Recovery Act. Workshops will include an overview of BTOP-BIP, a review of the application process for NTIA and RUS grants and loans and remarks from notable public officials. The presentation materials are available at http://broadbandusa.sc.egov.usda.gov/workshop.htm.
Pre-registration will close for each city approximately 24 hours prior to each workshop. All workshops run from 9am-4:30pm local time
– Albuquerque, NM – July 23, 2009, Marriott Albuquerque Pyramid North, 87109, 800-262-2043
– Billings, MT – July 17, 2009 – Holiday Inn Grand Montana, 888-465-4329
– Birmingham, AL – July 14, 2009 – Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, 205-324-5000
– Charleston, WV – July 10, 2009 – Holiday Inn Charleston House, 888-465-4329
– Lonoke, AR – July 16, 2009 – Arkansas Rural Water Association/Dale Bumpers Training Facility
– Los Angeles, CA – July 24, 2009, Omni Los Angeles Hotel at California Plaza, 888-444-6664
– Memphis, TN – July 15, 2009 – Holiday Inn Hotel University of Memphis, 888-465-4329
– Minneapolis, MN – July 18, 2009 – Crowne Plaza St. Paul – Riverfront, 800-593-5708
See “Impressions From the First Broadband Stimulus Workshop,” by Bernie Arnason, July 7, 2009, Telecompetitor. See http://www.telecompetitor.com/impressions-from-the-first-broadband-stimulus-workshop/
Call for Reviewers: Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
July 6, 2009
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce is soliciting volunteers to serve as panelists to evaluate grant proposals for the $4.7 billion Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), an important part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. NTIA is accepting applications for its first round of BTOP grants from July 14, 2009 until August 14, 2009, and will conduct panel reviews through at least the end of September, 2009.
As a reviewer, your evaluations will be an important factor considered by NTIA in determining whether to award grant funding. To be considered as a reviewer you must have significant expertise and experience in at least one of the following areas: 1) the design, funding, construction, and operation of broadband networks or public computer centers; 2) broadband-related outreach, training, or education; and 3) innovative programs to increase the demand for broadband services. In addition you must agree to comply with Department of Commerce policies on conflict of interest and confidentiality.
College Lectures Should Be Free Online, Argues ‘Wired Magazine’ Editor in New Book
by Jeffrey R. Young
July 7, 2009, Chronicle of Higher Ed
“College lectures are one of the many information products that should be free to all online, according to Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired Magazine, in his new book Free: The Future of a Radical Price. Mr. Anderson praises the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other universities for giving away course materials, though he does not advocate making tuition free. ‘A college education is more than lectures and readings,” he writes. “For universities, free content is marketing. Top students get their pick of schools. Sampling the mind-blowing fare of a particular program or professor can win them over.’ “
“Free lectures can be even bigger wins for professors than for their institutions, he argues, giving the example of Richard A. Muller, a physics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. The professor’s lectures on “Physics for Future Presidents” became a hit on YouTube, scoring some two million views, which helped him land a book contract.” . . .
Priced to Sell: Is Free the Future?
by Malcolm Gladwell
July 6, 2009, The New Yorker
“At a hearing on Capitol Hill in May, James Moroney, the publisher of the Dallas Morning News, told Congress about negotiations he’d just had with the online retailer Amazon. The idea was to license his newspaper’s content to the Kindle, Amazon’s new electronic reader. “They want seventy per cent of the subscription revenue,” Moroney testified.” . . .
“Had James Moroney read Chris Anderson’s new book, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” (Hyperion; $26.99), Amazon’s offer might not have seemed quite so surprising. Anderson is the editor of Wired and the author of the 2006 best-seller “The Long Tail,” and “Free” is essentially an extended elaboration of Stewart Brand’s famous declaration that “information wants to be free.”
“The digital age, Anderson argues, is exerting an inexorable downward pressure on the prices of all things ‘made of ideas.’ Anderson does not consider this a passing trend. Rather, he seems to think of it as an iron law: ‘In the digital realm you can try to keep Free at bay with laws and locks, but eventually the force of economic gravity will win.’ To musicians who believe that their music is being pirated, Anderson is blunt. They should stop complaining, and capitalize on the added exposure that piracy provides by making money through touring, merchandise sales, and ‘yes, the sale of some of [their] music to people who still want CDs or prefer to buy their music online.’ To the Dallas Morning News, he would say the same thing. Newspapers need to accept that content is never again going to be worth what they want it to be worth, and reinvent their business. ‘Out of the bloodbath will come a new role for professional journalists,’ he predicts”….
Kuali: The Next Open Source Movement
by Scott Jaschik
July 6, 2009, Inside Higher Ed
“While the open source movement has taken off in course management systems, with Moodle and Sakai as alternatives to the dominant Blackboard, the administrative side of the house has been almost entirely corporate. While some colleges use home-grown systems, the norm has been to use any of a number of vendors for systems that allow colleges to manage and report on budgets, billing and many other functions crucial to running a college. These administrative software systems cost millions of dollars to install and manage, and any malfunctions can be hugely frustrating to institutions.” . . .
“The colleges involved say they have the potential to achieve millions in savings while gaining more control over technology systems that are essential to the smooth functioning of their institutions. The fact that two institutions have now moved from the idea stage to actual use — and a number of other prominent institutions are preparing to do so — could enable Kuali to become a major force in administrative systems, say not only those behind the project but some other observers as well. That’s because many colleges are anxious for open source alternatives, but don’t want to be the pioneers who are taking the potential risk of going first.” . . .
“Kuali was founded as a nonprofit in 2004 — the name is a Malaysian word for a small wok, consistent with the group’s idea that it is creating tools that can be used for many purposes. The basic idea is applying open source to the administrative side of operating systems, with consortium members contributing their expertise and helping one another with the creation of tools, fixing problems, adding new applications and so forth. Participating colleges pay membership fees (with a sliding scale based on their annual budgets) with no individual fee topping $25,000, which is a relatively modest amount when compared to the sums spent on major administrative computing systems, and then they pay costs of installing systems and training people to use them. Further, colleges pledge to help other members on projects, sharing expertise as appropriate.” . . .
Challenge to the Kindle
by Doug Lederman
July 6, 2009
“The slow but inexorable move to electronic textbooks, accelerated by the emergence of e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader, holds great promise for students who are visually impaired. Digital formats can easily be transferred into audio recordings or texts printed in Braille, avoiding the piecemeal system by which most colleges’ disability resource centers turn individual textbooks into versions that are accessible to the blind.”
“But instead of welcoming May’s news that numerous colleges were experimenting with Amazon’s Kindle DX as a way to bring digital textbooks to their students, advocates for the visually impaired are strenuously objecting to it. The National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind filed a lawsuit last month against Arizona State University, saying that its plan to use the Kindle to distribute books to students is illegal because blind people cannot use the device as currently configured. (The groups also asked the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to examine the Kindle deployments planned by the five other colleges.) The Kindle DX has built-in technology that translates digital books into audio, but users can get to that feature only through on-screen menus that are not accessible to the blind.” . . .
Also see “Lawsuit says ASU Discriminates by Using E-books,” by Melissa Blasius
July 2, 2009, 12 News – http://www.azcentral.com/12news/news/articles/2009/07/02/20090702kindlelawsuit07022009-CR.html
Rise of Web Video, Beyond 2-Minute Clips
by Brian Stelter
July 5, 2009, New York Times
“When motion pictures were invented at the end of the 19th century, most films were shorter than a minute, because of the limitations of technology. A little more than a hundred years later when Web videos were introduced, they were also cut short, but for social as well as technical reasons. Video creators, by and large, thought their audiences were impatient. A three-minute-long comedy skit? Shrink it to 90 seconds. Slow Internet connections made for tedious viewing, and there were few ads to cover high delivery costs. And so it became the first commandment of online video: Keep it short.”
“New Web habits, aided by the screen-filling video that faster Internet access allows, are now debunking the rule. As the Internet becomes a jukebox for every imaginable type of video — from baby videos to “Masterpiece Theater” — producers and advertisers are discovering that users will watch for more than two minutes at a time.” . . .
Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On
by Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle
. . . “From Google and Amazon to Wikipedia, eBay, and craigslist, we saw that the value was facilitated by the software, but was co-created by and for the community of connected users. Since then, powerful new platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have demonstrated that same insight in new ways. Web 2.0 is all about harnessing collective intelligence. Collective intelligence applications depend on managing, understanding, and responding to massive amounts of user-generated data in real time. The “subsystems” of the emerging internet operating system are increasingly data subsystems: location, identity (of people, products, and places), and the skeins of meaning that tie them together. This leads to new levers of competitive advantage: Data is the “Intel Inside” of the next generation of computer applications.” . . .
“With more users and sensors feeding more applications and platforms, developers are able to tackle serious real-world problems. As a result, the Web opportunity is no longer growing arithmetically; it’s growing exponentially. Hence our theme for this year: Web Squared. 1990-2004 was the match being struck; 2005-2009 was the fuse; and 2010 will be the explosion.” . . . “The Web is no longer a collection of static pages of HTML that describe something in the world. Increasingly, the Web is the world – everything and everyone in the world casts an “information shadow,” an aura of data which, when captured and processed intelligently, offers extraordinary opportunity and mind bending implications. Web Squared is our way of exploring this phenomenon and giving it a name.” . . .
Enduring Questions: Pilot Course Grants
National Endowment for the Humanities
CFDA No. 45.163
Application Deadline: Sept. 15, 2009
Award Ceiling: $25,000
The Enduring Questions grant program supports a faculty member’s development of a new course that will foster intellectual community through the study of an enduring question. This course will encourage undergraduate students and a teacher to grapple with a fundamental question addressed by the humanities, and to join together in a deep and sustained program of reading in order to encounter influential thinkers over the centuries and into the present day. Examples include: What is the good life? What is freedom? What is beauty? Is there a human nature? What is the relationship between humans and the natural world? How do science and ethics relate to one another? What is good government? An Enduring Questions course may be taught by a faculty member from any department or discipline inside or outside the humanities so long as humanities sources are central to the course. The grant supports the work of a faculty member in designing, preparing, and assessing the course. It may also be used for ancillary activities that enhance faculty-student intellectual community, such as visits to museums and artistic or cultural events.
American Masterpieces: Presenting
National Endowment for the Arts
CFDA No. 45.024
Application Deadline: Sept. 24, 2009
Award: 40 grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000. All grants require a nonfederal match of at least 1 to 1.
American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius is a major initiative to acquaint Americans with the best of their cultural and artistic legacy. Through American Masterpieces, the National Endowment for the Arts will sponsor performances, exhibitions, tours, and educational programs across all art forms that will reach large and small communities in all 50 states. This component of American Masterpieces will celebrate the extraordinary and rich contribution that presenting organizations make in American communities. Through American Masterpieces: Presenting, presentations of the performing, visual, media, design, and literary arts of the highest quality will be experienced by Americans in communities across the nation. Projects must be accompanied by related educational, interpretive, or contextual components. These may include discussions, master classes, seminars, exhibitions, program material, or cooperative learning projects with educational or community institutions. Curriculum-based educational components for children and youth must ensure the application of national or state arts education standards.