Four short links: 30 March 2010

ACTA, Google Books, and APIs vs Data

  1. PublicACTA — New Zealand is hosting the final round of ACTA negotiations, and InternetNZ and other concerned technology-aware citizens will also host a PublicACTA conference. The goal is to produce a statement from the citizens, one which can be given to the negotiators ahead of the final round. If you can’t make it to NZ for April 10, the site has an interesting blog and the conference itself will be live streamed.
  2. Submission on Copying in the Digital Environment — ahead of the ACTA round, New Zealand negotiators invited submissions around certain questions. This fantastic response from an artist and author reminds me why the fight is so important. 2. The idea that all copying must be authorised (or else be illegal) makes no sense in the digital environment. The internet works through copying – that’s how the technology of it functions, and it’s also how its power to promote and market ideas and art is unleashed. For example, when my work “goes viral” – i.e. is copied from website to blog to aggregation site to tweet to email (and so on) – I benefit enormously from that exposure. This is not something I can engineer or control, and when it has happened it has always come as a pleasant surprise. I have benefited from these frenzies of “unauthorised” copying in a number of ways, from international commissions to increased sales. I have learned that such copying is in my interests; in fact, it is essential to my success in the digital environment. (via starrjulie on Twitter)
  3. Jon Orwant of Google Books — Jon’s an O’Reilly alum, and engineering manager for Google Books. David Weinberger liveblogged a talk Jon gave to Harvard librarians. Google Books want to scan all books. Has done 12M out of the 120 works (which have 174 manifestations — different versions and editions, etc.). About 4B pages, 40+ libraries, 400 languages (“Three in Klingon”). Google Books is in the first stage: Scanning. Second: Scaling. Third: What do we do with all this? 20% are public domain.
  4. We Have an API — Nat Friedman asks for a “download all the data” link instead of an API that dribbles out data like a pensioner with a prostate problem (my words, not his). I loved Francis Irving’s observation, buried in the comments, that A “download data” item is just an API call that can return all the data..
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