Scripting News for 6/21/2008

Dancers in the park 

Morning coffee notes 

It’s going to be another scorcher here in Berkeley and the rest of the Bay Area. You can just feel it. Everything is still hot from yesterday, no time for things to cool off, and while the low humidity means that the outside temp is in the 60s, as soon as the sun rises it’s going to get hot again. No buffer.

BTW, to people from Austin and Florida, even the northeast, who say this is nothing, they deal with much worse — you have air conditioning. Almost no one does in the Bay Area. So when it gets hot, it just gets hot. Indoors and out.

Yesterday the AP-blogger crisis ended. I still think the blogosphere over-reacted, I don’t think there was ever a chance that the AP would pursue the case, but it’s right to be concerned that it’s not over yet. It seems the AP wants to protect their headline and lead paragraphs (why do they call it “lede” — makes no sense to me). If you take a step back and think of them instead of you for a moment (hard to do, I know) — this is the most expensive copy they have, the most crafted. As a writer myself (Jay Rosen says so) I respect the quality of writing in heds and ledes. As a blogger and a user of sites that aggregate them, though, I see the other side.

It also seems that fair use is on their side, btw. The headline and lead paragraph summarize what’s in the body of the article. If you’re reacting to the whole article then just link to it, as I link to Saul Hansell’s article in the previous paragraph. On the other hand, in most cases the pubs want you to link to their article enough to give up a bit of their rights. It’s like companies don’t object if you publish their commercials on YouTube, the more exposure the better. But the AP is a bit of an albatross, they make nothing on flow, they are in the licensing business. So this battle may just be about AP and Reuters, not USA Today and the NY Times, which use a different business model.

What would be great is to have a discussion, even an argument, without the posturing and breast-beating. It’s all bluffing, a play for more attention, page-reads, flow, money.

Anyway…

The AP issue is fertile ground for a blogger shitstorm, but there are other issues worth looking at. However if technology is at issue, most users (and most bloggers are users not developers) say “You fix it” — never stopping to realize that developers have interests too, and my interests might be different from that of a big company or a company that wants to be big. The BigCos take advantage of that confusion. Very often it’s the users who get screwed in the process.

I was forwarded an email yesterday posted by a Twitter employee to their developer mailing list that suggests that once Twitter is healthy the terms will change, requiring developers to get a license from the company to use data that previously was available without a license. This is exactly what developers hate, because Twitter gets to decide how much competition they want, they can reserve markets for themselves, even ones they’re not serving. No one should have this power, it’s not a healthy situation for anyone, not even Twitter, imho. Can’t help but think they’re killing the goose that laid the golden egg here. Also feels a bit screwy that we helped them build their network, for free (isn’t it funny people only look at how they give stuff away) — only to find that now they want to take back what was open about it.

Twitter lost a lot of momentum with users in the last months. Now is not the time, as the service appears to be coming back on line, to introduce doubt about its future. It has lots of that. We need more certainty.

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