Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cam whore

Four years ago as a college freshman I wrote a paper for a sociological deviance class on the topic of webcams as a loophole for underage pornography and the dynamic between the viewer and the cam "actress". I knew the danger because I had experienced it first hand, hosting my own show when I was in high school. In hindsight I realized this behavior was unsafe and I wondered why more parents weren't aware and more articles weren't written.

This recent New York Times article profiles one "cam whore" and explains how many teens are duped into sexual acts and nudity in exchange for friendship and gifts. The in-depth story reveals some of the most frightening parts, that the adults who watch these videos communicate with one another as to what teen is revealing the most, they steal the images and archive them and frequently sell them to porn sites. All these great new technolgies like high speed internet, video chat and paypal have facilitated this..some computers today even have cameras directly built in.

The risks of myspace have become widely publicized in the past few months but this is the first major article I've seen on "cam whores". Hopefully both the law officials and parents will start catching on to this hidden practice.

UPDATE:On April 3rd Justin told his story to the house committee on capitol hill, warning law makers that "Unless something changes, the child predators will win often enough that dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of children will be lost forever"
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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Radio Disney

I put forth that myspace will play a major role in teaching and setting standards for blogging because it has such a huge young audience. I think Radio Disney will do the same for podcasting, as I was exploring their site it seemed to employ a lot of tech savvy. It gives kids several ways to download a podcast and offers banner ads they can put into the html of their webpages (so the listeners basically advertise the site..smart). In the blogosphere the big concern is about their use of ads; they've taken on a big ad contract and will start editing ads into their casts starting in June. A big company like disney will set the standard for how products will be marketed to kids in this medium and what the worth of podcast advertising is.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Britannica vs. Wikipedia

My mom is a middle school librarian who regularly helps kids with research in books and online. When she checked her e-mail this morning she had a message from Encyclopedia Britannica addressing a recent study by Nature magazine comparing the accuracy of Britannica's entries to those of Wikipedia. Their findings suggested that the encyclopedia was only slightly more accurate than Wikipedia. Out of 42 articles reviewed by experts 162 errors were found in Wikipedia, 123 in Brittanica.

This new open source technology is clearly threatening to a company like Britannica, and they wanted to make sure my mom knew why the study was wrong and why wikipedia was no good and why she should keep on buying new sets of books every 5 years for near $600. You can read all 7000 words of Britannica's response here, but in short they argue Nature used the wrong entries from the encyclopedia, the headline of the article was misleading and some things they thought were errors were in fact correct.

update: Nature's response can be found here

It's going to be interesting to see how this fight evolves in the future: if Brittanica will adopt some sort of open source exclusively for experts, if wikipedia will institute some sort of expert review.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

myspace adds RSS..and no one notices

Myspace blogs were previously only available to other myspace members, and they could "subscribe" to them and have updates alerted through their myspace account. After several hacks were created to add in RSS, it seems myspace has responded and added a feed to every blog. I only noticed the feed on mine today, it seems they were added very quietly some time in February. Evidently it is a very simple feed, quite similar to livejournal. I searched for articles on the addition of RSS and could scarcely find any. Remarkable considering they host over 27.7 million blogs and growing. They have also added podcast enclosure. In my last blog I put forth the question: how are people supposed to learn these new technologies? Looks like myspace may be one answer.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Podcast ignorance

Spin magazine has been progressive in connecting their print publication to music resources available online. During a redesign a few months ago they added a section in front with a list of "music you need to download now", mostly live or remixed songs unavailable to the mainstream. They also include a section for podcasts, where they feature five broadcasts a month. Admittedly I, a multimedia journalism student, have yet to listen to any of them, and apparently no one else is either. In the new March issue's 2005 reader's poll under the category "Best podcast", #1 is SPINsider (spin's own podcast), the second is Blink 182 frontman Mark Hoppus' Hi My Name Is Mark. And the last one is simply the statement "What the fuck is a podcast?".

This has to mean that so few people voted in this category that there was no third winner. I consider myself highly tech savvy but it was only this week that I learned how to even download a podcast. There's a real gap in people learning how to use this new technology and I'm not sure how they're supposed to do it.

One of the reasons Hoppus' site seems to be successful is that at the top of the page he tells how (in plain english), using itunes, to subscribe to his podcast. He also talks openly in his blog about his tech difficulties, and in a really relateable way about what intrigues him about the internet. Podcasts still has this air of tech savvy that seems inaccessible to the mainstream, not to mention the word "podcast" is a misnomer. People need to stop being made to feel stupid or behind the times and just be flat out told how to use podcasts.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Fox uses myspace: Black.White

Well Fox has started using myspace. For the debut of their controversial new FX series Black.White, the commercials don't refer viewers to a fxnetworks.com website but to their myspace page. This is a genius little bit of marketing for a show that people want to talk about; hundreds have already commented on the photos of the race switched families as to whether they pass. The show, which premieres March 8th, already has 26,502 friends and 1,224 comments in their forum. Utilizing myspace music applications, Executive Producer Ice Cube has recorded a song, Race Card, which they offer for download on the site as either an mp3 or a ringtone. This simultaneously advertises Ice Cube's new album "Laugh now, cry later".

This form of advertisement is known as viral marketing, and relies on people's word of mouth and social networking to exponentially pass an advertisement'ss message. FX entertained huge success last season with their page for Nip/Tuck's villian The Carver and seem to be replicating it with Black.White.

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Girlstart successes

I've mentioned before that I volunteer with Girlstart in the Web Divas program, which aims to get girls interested in computers and web development. The past two sessions we've been teaching them to write html and make web pages. To see a room full of 7th graders working with a language that was always so intimidating to me is really neat, they were having tons of fun, figuring out problems on their own and helping one another when they couldn't. Putting this education in a fun format that appeals to their natural skills as females is the key. I also think that putting them in a classroom without boys makes the process easier and less distracting. In short I'm really proud of these girls, they hand coded all of this html and they deserve to show it off.

I also want to urge other women to volunteer or donate to girlstart. Many of the girls who come to the Saturday sessions are minorities and I think having more woman of color teaching the program would show these girls that a future in the tech industry really is possible for them.

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