Another big Web company erodes user trust

This article was originally published on on December 3, 2010.

Yahoo says it’ll sell bookmarking service, a reminder that we exist online at other people’s whims


(Please see the note at the bottom of this piece.)

Yahoo says it will try to sell its Web bookmarking service, Delicious. This news, posted on the Delicious blog, comes a day after widespread reports — unchallenged until now by Yahoo — that the company was shuttering the service.

One result of the earlier reports was a frenzied search for a new social bookmarking service to replace what many people, including me, have used over the years to stockpile and organize links to online material we’ve found interesting. A second result was a further hit to Yahoo’s declining reputation.

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Will WikiLeaks lead to licensing of journalists?

This article was originally published on on December 9, 2010.

By defending the organization as media, which we should, we may invite some unwanted consequences

Twitter may be the worst medium around for nuance, but a series of 140-character messages can at least clarify a disagreement. A couple of conversations there last night brought home some fundamental issues in the WikiLeaks affair, at least as it affects the future of journalism and free speech.

One conversation was with a journalist friend, Jason Pontin, editor of the MIT Technology Review. Like many people, he’s not thrilled with all of what Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks team are doing. But when he boiled down a key issue to this — “Is @wikileaks a media entity, and is Assange a journalist?” — he hit the heart of a debate that is going to rage in coming weeks and months.

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Galactic Rights to Your Work Are Wrong Way to Go

Wall Street Journal: Lawyerese Goes Galactic as Contracts Try to Master the Universe – Lawyers for years have added language to some contracts that stretches beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. But more and more people are encountering such everywhere-and-forever language as entertainment companies tap into amateur talent and try to anticipate every possible future stream of revenue.

Big Media companies have figured out that they can profit handsomely by persuading amateurs to make fools of themselves. That’s bad enough, but the really sleazy part of this is not rewarding the performers more fairly, if they reward them at all.

It’s one thing to host a website where others post their work and reserve rights to reuse that work, but still ensuring that the creators own the work in question. As long as everyone knows what’s going on, there’s no problem. It’s another thing to take this to wild extremes, as Hollywood does.

When you are in a position of taking something with what you’ve created to a big-media company, you need to recognize that they hold all the power. This is why we need better mechanisms for pushing some of the power back to the creators. I’m working on some ideas and will be sharing them here, soon.