September 20, 2010
In The News
- NPR is reporting on the rise of religious or faith-based search engines. These are designed to filter out search results that are offensive, too secular, or containing content that conflicts with dogma. Search engines that are listed are SeekFind (Christian), Jewogle (Jewish), and I'mHalal (Muslin). A search for Barack Obama in SeekFind shows the first result as "Is Barack Obama the antichrist?" To it's credit, the content of that result suggests that it is un-biblical to demonize individuals with whom they disagree by calling them the antichrist. What follows is a description of the antichrist's characteristics, concluding that while the President shares some of those characteristics, so do lots of other people. A Google search for religious search engines brings up several other choices. Jewogle apes the Google logo with a similar multicolored typeface presentation. I wondered at first if Google might go after them the way Best Buy went after a church that used the term God Squad, claiming it was too close to Best Buy's own Geek Squad. Then I noticed that the ads on Jewogle were provided by Google.
- The Chronicle of Higher Education is reporting that some academic libraries are using Netflix subscriptions to acquire temporary use of DVDs for media presentation in the classroom. The practice sounds like a good alternative to interlibrary loan but for the fact that Netflix claims that it violates their terms of service. Though Netflix objects, the company apparently hasn't done anything (yet) to curb the practice. Some of the accounts in the story claim that some libraries were very up front with Netflix about their use of institutional subscriptions and have not been asked to stop using rentals for classrooms. Kevin Smith, scholarly communications officer at Duke University, is noted to suggest that fair use is separate from the contract issue.
- And finally, Larry Downes, nonresident fellow at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet & Society, argues that the recent Vernor decision which upheld the license portion of software EULAs is a great thing, What's wrong with renting, he says. It streamlines the distribution model for information, separating it from the unnecessary physical embodiment, putting vendors in control of the product. How is that bad? The comment section of the essay seems to disagree with him. Some note that while the data created with the rented software is theirs, vendor control of the software makes the viability of that data iffy over time. This comes from upgrade cycles that may cost more than parts of the market could bear, or the incompatibilities forced upgrades could bring. Downes suggests that the market would sort out which information lessors are kinder to their customers, using Amazon's 1984 eBook removal as an example. I'm sure libraries would feel just as comfortable if vendors trended to prevent copying or printing of electronic journals using the argument that some features of access simply cost more. The essay is in CNET, here. [MG]
September 20, 2010 in Current Affairs, Film, Religion | Permalink
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