Four short links: 2 December 2009

Dow Jones Tanty, When a Purchase Isn't a Purchase, Surveillance Surprises, and an Open World Bank?

  1. Dow Jones CEO’s Sandbox Tantrum — keynote by Dow Jones CEO at the World Newspaper Congress. Highlights include: “the content kleptomaniacs of the Internet”, “a lot of newspaper people were taken in by
    the game-changing gospel of the internet age”
    , “Free costs too much”, “Consumers will seek the valuable over the vapid because they always do”. Dow Jones is owned by News Corp, whose Rupert Murdoch is on a campaign to build a Maginot paywall around news.
  2. What Does It Mean to “Buy” an Ebook?There is a disconnect of language here, probably a side effect of legacy businesses working with their legal teams to try and grab control while the consumer base, disorganized as it naturally is, is expected if not forced to make its arguments with the rubric set by the producers. In other words, “buying” an e-book is different than “buying” a book, even though from the consumer’s standpoint, it shouldn’t be.
  3. 8 Million Reasons for Real Surveillance Oversight — Sprint set up a self-service portal for law enforcement and returned 8 million requests for cellphone GPS locations in the first year. This is an incredibly comprehensive analysis of published and revealed numbers of surveillance–it’s orders of magnitude larger than anyone had realised. See also the leaked law enforcement howtos from Facebook, MySpace, and Yahoo!.
  4. World Bank Announces Landmark Policy on Access to InformationThe policy on access to information provides for the disclosure of more information than ever before – on projects under preparation, projects under implementation, analytic and advisory activities (AAA), and Board proceedings. This information will be easily accessible on the World Bank’s external website and available through the InfoShop, public information centers, and the World Bank Group Archives. At the same time, the policy strikes a balance between maximum access to information and respect for the confidentiality of information pertaining to its clients, shareholders, employees, and other parties. Recognizing that the sensitivity of some information declines over time, the policy provides for the eventual declassification and disclosure of restricted information over a period of five, 10 or 20 years, depending upon information type. A major international institution promises transparency, one which has been criticised for secrecy and opacity in the past.
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  • 2 December 2009 ?

  • Bill

    Just an fyi: it’s December (“Four short links: 2 November 2009”)

  • Brandon

    Nah, we’re suppose to party like it’s November…

  • O'Reilly Media

    Thanks for catching that — fixed!

  • Alex Tolley

    Re: Dow Jones CEO’s Sandbox Tantrum

    Strip the rhetoric and we have the same old business approach:

    1. restrict supply to generate scarcity. Even better when competitors are eliminated.
    2. sufficient scarcity ensure price in-elasticity for advertisers and readers.
    3. milk the excess profits.

    Note that Hinton talks about “quality” a lot, but in reality the WSJ is mostly bundled fluff to support the advertising. As an ex-subscriber I never read the “Life & Style”, “Careers” and “Real Estate” sections to name just three. But I had to pay for them as they were part of the bundle. In practice, much of the real value of the journal is on front page and the “Markets” section is obsolete in the internet age.

    If the journal really believed its rhetoric, it would unbundle the journal and offer ala carte pricing for the pieces.

    There is certainly a role for quality journalism and it must be paid for to work. But the lesson we get from the media (newspapers, radio and tv), including the WSJ, is that generating volume to support ads is a more profitable strategy than maintaining quality, with well supported news desks and investigative reporting. In the US, the WSJ is the de facto national business newspaper and it is that position that it wants to maintain and ensure it has no competitors. They may succeed, but I wonder when a genuine competitor will emerge to threaten their near monopoly of this segment.

  • Alex Tolley

    Follow up. Even though I no longer subscribe to the WSJ, Hinton doesn’t seem to notice the irony that the WSJ uses free internet services to spam me every week with offers to buy this or that from them. If only I could charge them for use of the email application display space for their “advertising”.

  • bowerbird

    customers who “buy” an e-book will soon decide
    that they will indeed treat it as a regular “purchase”
    even if the legalese says they’ve only “licensed” it…