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Astroturfers Revisited

Good piece (video) by Jon Ronson about astroturfing: Esc and Ctrl: Jon Ronson investigates astroturfing – video In the second part of Jon Ronson’s series about the struggle for control of the internet, he looks at online astroturfing – when unpopular institutions post fake blogs to seem more favourable. He meets the former vice president of corporate communications for US healthcare company Cigna, who confirms his involvement in this kind of activity He talks about the “death panels”: the Cigna whistleblower, Wendell Potter [Wikipedia] tells him that the company created lots of fake blogs and groups, all of which have since disappeared, including from archive.org,Continue readingAstroturfers Revisited

The Missed Call: The Decade’s Zeitgeist?

By Jeremy Wagstaff (this is a longer version of an upcoming syndicated column.) When people look back at the last decade for a technology zeitgeist they may choose SMS, or the iPod, or maybe even Facebook. Me? I’d choose the cellphone call that rings, briefly, and then is silent. It’s one of those social phenomena that has so embedded itself in the culture that we don’t even notice it. It developed its own syntax, its own meaning, and even shifted the boundaries of cultural mores and social intercourse. Even I didn’t realise it was so widespread until I started researching this article. And yet, atContinue readingThe Missed Call: The Decade’s Zeitgeist?

A pale white man shows us what journalism is

My weekly Loose Wire Service column. Is the Internet replacing journalism? It’s a question that popped up as I gazed at the blurred, distorted web-stream of a press conference from London by the founder of WikiLeaks, a website designed to “protect whistleblowers, journalists and activists who have sensitive materials to communicate to the public”. On the podium there’s Julian Assange. You can’t make a guy like this up. White haired, articulate and defensive, aloof and grungy, specific and then sweepingly angry. Fascinating. In a world of people obsessed by the shininess of their iPhones, Assange is either a throwback to the past or a gulfContinue readingA pale white man shows us what journalism is

The Cup Final, the Uplifting Video and the iPod

Hang on, let me check my iPod first Technology, however small, can be the difference between winning a cup final and losing it. Manchester United faced Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup Final on Sunday, and it’s instructive how video technology was, in a way, the difference between the two sides. After no goals in 120 minutes, there was nothing between the sides, and it came down to a penalty shoot-out. (Each take five.) Now I’m a Tottenham fan, if that means anything to you, so this is painful to relate, but it’s striking. The Spurs manager, old school Harry Rednapp, had got his staffContinue readingThe Cup Final, the Uplifting Video and the iPod

Sit Still, I’m Trying to Steal Your Hair

A Jakarta pickpocket tries to steal a woman’s hair to make keyrings: Hair today, gone tomorrow for victim of mane mugger The hazards of riding the city’s public buses are many — pickpockets, gropers, drivers who stop in the middle of the road, wandering musicians plunking away on ukuleles in the hopes of annoying a few rupiah out of passengers — but until Monday, commuters might have thought that at least their hair was safe. Certainly Nuryamah, 35, did — until a thief cut 40 centimeters of her knee-length locks off while she sat aboard a bus going through Senayan. “It took me six yearsContinue readingSit Still, I’m Trying to Steal Your Hair

Lame PR Responses #34,223(b)

When independent blogger Mary Jo Foley, who knows more about Microsoft than Microsoft does, interviewed the company’s new Corporate VP of its Searching and Advertising Group recently, she was told that Microsoft had recently launched an ad-funded version of Microsoft Works, the application suite you think will be a cheap alternative to Office but turns out not to be. She couldn’t find it online anywhere so, she asked Microsoft PR. Which is always a mistake: I’ve asked Microsoft for more information on the new ad-funded Works suite. No word back yet. Update: Even though Microsoft’s own vice president discussed the product, no one will talk. The official comment,Continue readingLame PR Responses #34,223(b)

Piracy Helps Some Countries Grow

One can only imagine Bill Gates’ discomfort: Standing silently as the Romanian president told the world that pirated Microsoft software helped his country become what it is: Pirated Microsoft Corp software helped Romania to build a vibrant technology industry, Romanian President Traian Basescu told the company’s co-founder Bill Gates on Thursday. “Piracy,” Reuters quoted him as saying during a joint news conference to mark the opening of a Microsoft global technical center in the Romanian capital, “helped the young generation discover computers. It set off the development of the IT industry in Romania.” True, but as Reuters points out, 70 percent of software used inContinue readingPiracy Helps Some Countries Grow

An Unlikely Blogger Expelled

Although it’s not good for Sudan, I think it’s good for blogging: CNN reports that  The government of Sudan on Sunday gave the top U.N. official in the country three days to leave, marking the latest hurdle in international efforts to bring peace to the nation torn apart by civil war. Sudan expelled Jan Pronk, the top U.N. envoy to Sudan, who has openly criticized Khartoum as well as rebel groups on his Web log. Pronk has been running a blog for nearly a year and while it doesn’t look like your average blog (really long posts, no external links, no comments, blogs numbered asContinue readingAn Unlikely Blogger Expelled

The Wrong Guy Goes to Hollywood

The ‘Wrong Guy’ story just keeps going. The Congo-Brazzaville man who was interviewed on the BBC mistakenly as a computer pundit back in May could have his own movie, according to the BBC: The incident involving Guy Goma is the basis for a film being planned by Alison Rosenzweig, who produced the 2002 Nicolas Cage film Windtalkers. “If they want to do a movie, I don’t mind talking with them,” Mr Goma, 38, told the Associated Press news agency. .. “He’s a fun, kind of internationally famous person that I think is an interesting source for movie material,” Ms Rosenzweig said. “We’re developing the project,Continue readingThe Wrong Guy Goes to Hollywood

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