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Journalism in a Sea of Open Information

Man and his dog

THREE figures which I tend to quote quite often are John Dvorak, Joel Spolsky, and Jeffrey Veen. There is a lot of discussion these days about the impact of the Internet on mainstream media and all of them address the issue regularly. Veen’s latest item is certainly worthy of special attention.

What we couldn’t have seen back then, and what is so obvious today, is that you can very effectively cut out the middleman. What happens when the entire audience is on the network and has access to the databases? And what happens when they have the tools to publish what they uncover? Some call it chaos, others call it the blogosphere. But you can’t deny that it is transforming media faster than we ever thought it would.

Previous items on the same topic:

Say Hello to the Google PC

Google on a computer screen

This article speaks for itself.

Google will unveil its own low-price personal computer or other device that connects to the Internet.

It was only a matter of time.

Related item:

Update (05/01/2006): Google renounce low-margin PC speculations

WordPress 2.0 Released

WordPress 2.0
WordPress 2.0: the new dashboard

WORDPRESS is a free PHP/MySQL blogging software, which has changed people’s perspective on self-hosted sites. With nearly a million downloads of its previous version, it accommodates a large number of sites where it is also used as a professional CMS. The alMatty (sic) WordPress 2.0 was out yesterday (that’s right! Boxing Day) and it offers many enhancements over its predecessor. In particular, it incorporates a WYSIWYG editor and makes state-of-the-art use of Javascript and CSS. You can finally get it while it’s hot. 5,000 downloads so far, in a matter of just hours.

Google & Microsoft: An Alliance?

Computer lab
Diversity for the benefits of science

Just when you thought it was by no means possible, Google, Microsoft and Sun Microsystem join forces.

Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are setting aside their bitter animosity to back a new Internet research laboratory aimed at helping entrepreneurs introduce more groundbreaking ideas to a mass audience.

Google and Sun have formed an pact 2 months ago, by the way. What wonders if they will use Java, Open Source (notably LAMP), or commercial software in the lab. Perhaps a mixture of all?

BBC’s ‘Digital face’ Generates 1,300 Complaints

Scare

A computer-generated face, which the BBC uses in a promotional trailer, has been dropped despite initial arguments in defence of it.

A promotional trailer for digital TV – which some viewers complained was “horrific” and “disturbingly psychotic” – has been dropped by the BBC.

The Faces campaign, which featured a giant animated head made up of smaller heads, generated 1,300 complaints.

Follow the links at the top and judge for yourself. I think the imagery might only be unnerving to children, unless one considers scenes from Silence of the Lambs.

Xbox 360 Off to a Slow Start in Japan

Sonic
The days of Sega and Sonic are sorely missed
and appear irreplaceable in its Japanese place of birth

XBOX 360 is a gaming console from Microsoft, which has hit the streets just weeks ahead of Christmas. The Xbox 360 brought with it great anticipation among games enthusiasts, so sales were expected to be exceptionally high. Nonetheless, it has been revealed that Japan is reluctant to embrace the Xbox 360:

“It’s not going to be a big hit in Japan,” said 26-year-old Kentaro Okamoto, one of the first Xbox 360 buyers. “I buy every new game console… but normally Japanese customers only buy a machine when it’s made by Sony or Nintendo.”

In a similar article which comes from the BBC:

Microsoft has launched its Xbox 360 games console in Japan to what seems like a more subdued response than it received in Europe and North America.

[...]

Sales of the first Microsoft Xbox in Japan have always lagged behind Sony PlayStation 2, which was launched two years before it.

It sound as though this model will make a complete 360, having solved none of its previous shortcomings. As a publicity stunt perhaps, it is understocked on the shelves though.

On top of it all, we recently heard of some serious bugs and great trouble surrounding the Xbox 360, which perhaps was unready for prime time. Consequently, lawsuits begin to loom over, which put the product’s reputation in jeopardy.

Open Source enthusiasts might be happy to hear that a “Linux on Xbox 360″ project has already been initiated. Microsoft are actually losing money for every unit that they sell. Profit is expected to be made using games sales. Having said that, units that are sold in vain give game programmers the illusions that the Xbox is popular, which urges more involvement. It is a similar case to Windows workstations that are wiped clean to give way to Linux, yet are still counted as Windows sales.

Related item: Is Nintendo Dying?

Tabs in E-mail Programs

Tabs in Thunderbird
Tabs corresponding to separate E-mail messages in Thunderbird

TABBED views in E-mail applications (also referred to as “mail clients”) are a brand new idea as far as I can gather. Thunderbird developers are now said to be going down this unprecedented route. From the recent article:

A developer has added tabbed browsing of e-mail messages to Mozilla’s Thunderbird e-mail client, mimicking one of the most popular features of the Firefox and Opera Web browsers.

Tabs in RSSOwl
Tabs corresponding to separate RSS feeds in Owl

I have seen tabs in feed readers before, namely in RSSOwl (shown above). Nonetheless, I believe that incorporation of tabs into E-mail/newsreaders would be uncalled for. Much-familiar applications like Thunderbird would prove confusing to many users unless tabs are shrewdly hidden, thereby protecting users from their freedom.

Tabs make the controls finer, maybe unnecessarily so. E-mail, as oppose to feed readers, is used by merely everybody (assuming Webmail is put aside for the sake of the argument). Not everyone who uses Outlook (Express) can handle higher levels of complexity, let alone those who are new to E-mail altogether. Overall, tabs can make the entry barrier even higher. In firefox, tabs do not appear by default until/unless a second one appears. This makes tabbed browsing a function which is easy to enable if/when the user feels confident. Yet, owing to smart UI design, it never contributes to unnecessary clutter.

Thunderbird and RSSOwl are of course Open Source projects that are not bound to desires of large companies. According to Wozniak (AKA Woz), who is co-founder of Apple, the worst applications come from the large companies, Apple included. To quote Woz, “Microsoft, Apple and AOL, they tend to turn out the crappiest products, you know, software-wise”.

CrossOver
A shrunk-down screenshot of Thunderbird
‘dressed’ with the CrossOver theme

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