aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Does file sharing depress ticket sales?
CNet’s been tracking Sicko’s bootleg presence online to see if it depressed ticket sales:
In the end, nobody really knows what effects copyright infringement has on a movie’s earning potential, said Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at Oxford University. Zittrain does, however, see one benefit from the controversy.
“The real benefit of this kind of leakage,” Zittrain said, “is that it pressures Hollywood to think outside of the box instead of hoping the Internet will just go away.”
Early indications are that Hollywood’s missing a big opportunity to learn from the record industry!
Sicko’s clean bill of health
Home in Georgia, Sicko’s not playing anywhere near me despite adding 200 more theaters today. Maybe it will open Friday in Macon; I’ll be taking groups from my town.
Expect to read a lot about it here; we certainly can’t count on the mainstream media - which is busy now atoning for its earlier honest hoorays for the film. A case in point, CNN sent a “team” to investigate the film’s claims:
We found that his numbers were mostly right, but his arguments could use a little more context. As we dug deep to uncover the numbers, we found surprisingly few inaccuracies in the film. In fact, most pundits or health-care experts we spoke to spent more time on errors of omission rather than disputing the actual claims in the film. [...]
Moore says that the U.S. spends more of its gross domestic product on health care than any other country.
Again, that’s true. The United States spends more than 15 percent of its GDP on health care—no other nation even comes close to that number. France spends about 11 percent, and Canadians spend 10 percent.
Like Moore, we also found that more money does not equal better care. Both the French and Canadian systems rank in the Top 10 of the world’s best health-care systems, according to the World Health Organization. The United States comes in at No. 37. The rankings are based on general health of the population, access, patient satisfaction and how the care’s paid for.
So he’s got his facts right but he should have put in other stuff. Well, golly, maybe CNN should make a film about healthcare?
RELATED: Facing South has the stats that show how the South has a higher percentage of uninsured residents than the nation as a whole and says that SiCKO demonstrates a better way that need not bankrupt us.
Monday, July 02, 2007
My visit has been rich and wonderful, the weather these past few days spectacular! I go home today. Blogging will be light until I get there.
New public photography rules in NYC
Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.
New rules being considered by the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance.
The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment. [...]
The rules are intended to set standards for professional filmmakers and photographers, said Ms. Cho, assistant commissioner of the film office, but the language of the draft makes no such distinction.
I hear and understand the critics’ concerns, but I don’t share them (and that first paragraph of the NYTimes story is unnecessarily provocative). Apparently, not many of us do. The city held a public hearing on the issue. No one came.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Wikipedia as news source
I’ll be reading the Sunday Times Magazine piece on Wikipedia as a news innovation on the plane home:
Love it or hate it, though, its success is past denying - 6.8 million registered users worldwide, at last count, and 1.8 million separate articles in the English-language Wikipedia alone - and that success has borne an interesting side effect. Just as the Internet has accelerated most incarnations of what we mean by the word “information,” so it has sped up what we mean when we employ the very term “encyclopedia.” For centuries, an encyclopedia was synonymous with a fixed, archival idea about the retrievability of information from the past. But Wikipedia’s notion of the past has enlarged to include things that haven’t even stopped happening yet. Increasingly, it has become a go-to source not just for reference material but for real-time breaking news - to the point where, following the mass murder at Virginia Tech, one newspaper in Virginia praised Wikipedia as a crucial source of detailed information.
Independents to swing 2008?
[B]ad news for both parties, but better news for the Democrats:
(1) The Republicans continue to lose independent voter support.
(2) Independent voter unhappiness with Washington and both parties could bolster a strong independent, third party candidate.
Read on for the details.
The iPhone contrarians
The iPhone hype hides a basic problem with the product - Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) inside the iPhone means that it wont be under your control. Apple has built this “smart” phone to dumb you down. They also want you to switch your cell phone service to AT&T - who collaborated with the National Security Agency (NSA) in its massive, illegal program to wiretap and data mine Americans’ communications.
Working Assets says don’t buy it:
Working Assets called for action through their online activism arm, Act For Change, which released a petition where consumers vowed to boycott the iPhone. "Apple's new iPhone could be easily portable across wireless carriers," the group complained on their mailing list.
An open market could mean cheaper service for consumers, they argued, and Apple "could use its influence to set an example…" Steve Jobs responded Thursday when questioned by Wall Street Journal columnist Walter Mossberg. One of the six questions Mossberg asked went straight to the controversy.
"Why does the iPhone only work with a single carrier, AT&T?" Jobs countered that AT&T had "been investing billions of dollars in the last couple of years to create a great network." Using a GSM network will allow Apple to make the iPhone "a world phone," according to Jobs — functional in "80% of the world." But Mossberg had also asked Jobs if iPhone owners would ever be allowed to use other U.S. carriers — and Jobs conveniently ducked the question.
Tim Wu says the iPhone isn’t yet a revolutionary device:
Seen as a phone, the iPhone is striking. Seen as a small computer, it’s limited, and compromised by the existing business models of the wireless industry. [...]
It is in some ways astonishing that AT&T and Apple are partners at all. AT&T is the oldest of the old school-the most ancient major high-tech firm in the United States, founded in 1878. Unfazed by spending the last 23 years in suspended animation (after the great breakup of 1984), AT&T is back to its classic business model: own the largest networks and everything on them. Apple, meanwhile, is the original hippie computer company, a child of the 1970s, not the 1870s. At least in its origins, Apple is an ideological foe of IBM and AT&T. (Remember that 1984 ad?) Considering that these firms were born on the opposite sides of the tech Kulturkampf, the iPhone cannot help but be a little strange.
He’s most frustrated that it’s locked - “Imagine buying a Dell that worked only with Comcast Internet access or a VCR that worked only with NBC” - and doesn’t have WiFi access.
Jack Shafer has the iPhone suck-up watch, “In their stories they first scorn the universal hype over the iPhone, then they multiply it by sending a tempered message of love to their favorite new piece of gear.”
Joe Nocera’s bugged by the battery - “Did Apple really expect people to mail their iPhones to Apple HQ and wait for the company to return it with a new battery? It was bad enough that the company did that with the iPod - but a cellphone?”
Me, I went to the 5th Avenue Apple Store last night and used one to call and leave a welcome home message for Doug. The shopping bags are really quite wonderful. I’m off now to the Central Park Carousel with a friend who collects shopping bags. He’ll love this one!