Word of the Week: Clickbait

"Clickbait" can have a lot of definitions, depending on where you look and what your preconceived notion is of it to begin with. The definition that I felt best fit the bill was "an eye-catching link on a website that encourages people to read on." This can be in the form of, for example, an open-ended question, a controversial statement, or something bizarre and/or shocking.

The point of clickbait is to lure people into a website to drum up page views, not necessarily to provide "good" content. Although some legitimate news sources have subscribed to clickbait recently, its mostly used to give the reader a headline that doesn't quite describe the content of what they're about to click on, but gives them an incentive to go there just to check it out. Along with page views, sometimes websites use clickbait to bring readers to a page that requires some kind of payment or registration, or lead them to a page that is one in a series of pages they have to go through.

Many people view clickbait as a harmless distraction, but there is some ire in the internet community, especially when it comes to actual news sources using clickbait to grab readers' attention. In the age of information overload, not to mention the 24 hour news cycle, some people look at clickbait as just another example of sensationalism, rather than real news. However, others think that an eye-catching headline, even if it doesn't quite give the reader the most accurate depiction of the news story, is fair game–just a journalism trick of the trade to get people to look at their site for news.

Sources:

1. http://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/open-dictionary/entries/click-bait.htm

2. http://www.computerhope.com/jargon/c/click-bait.htm

3.http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=244359728

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality, or the Open Internet, is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) such as Verizon and government agencies should treat all data on the internet equally and not deny access to users based on what content they access, create, or share with others. The term was coined by Columbia Law professor Tim Wu who, in his 2003 paper Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination, argues that net neutrality is a design principle wherein “information networks are often more valuable when they are less specialized and are a platform for multiple uses.”

The issue of net neutrality has been the topic of debate tracing back to the late 1990s when analysts identified threats to the “end-to-end” network model. In a perfect world, the end-to-end principle would result in a “dumb network” wherein intelligent devices would not interfere with the applications being conducted. One particular concern was that cable firms and Internet Service Providers would vertically integrate and in doing so limit the content that can be viewed by consumers by either slowing down the delivery of said content or blocking it all together. This would, in effect, direct users to their services if they want a specific piece of content for a fee.

Proponents of Net Neutrality argue that broadband carriers should not discriminate content because it runs counter to innovation and democracy (particularly freedom of expression). Greater restrictions on access to web content would in effect limit those with lesser means from being able to gain access to information that others who are well off would be able to pay for. It would also hurt small start-ups who wouldn’t be able to pay the expensive premiums that large corporations such as Facebook and Amazon would be able to pay for priority access from ISPs.

On the other hand, opponents of Net Neutrality argue that in it’s absence, companies will be able to more closely monitor consumer habits through the “targeting” that Google does now and thus stimulate the economy. Another argument is that a tiered model of the internet will provide businesses with better services and that the added revenue from these premiums can be used to increase bandwidth.

Recent developments have thrown kindle on this fiery debate. In January 2014, as a result of a Verizon lawsuit, the DC District Court struck down the FCC’s net neutrality rules. While the Court made clear that the FCC has authority over Internet access generally, it found that the Open Internet rules specifically were built on a flawed legal foundation.

The future of Net Neutrality remains to be seen. Some see it as the beginning of the end. Since this ruling, Verizon has been accused of slowing services to customers who stream Netflix after Netflix agreed to a deal with Comcast to better their services. Verizon denies this. Meanwhile, the FCC has stated that they plan to formulate new rules that enhance Net Neutrality while complying with the January ruling.

Sources:

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/n/net_neutrality/

http://timwu.org/network_neutrality.html

http://www.wired.com/2014/01/three-dangers-net-neutrality-nobodys-really-talking/

http://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/comcasts-makes-case-super-merger-twc/#!DtlxC

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/24/business/media/comcast-and-netflix-reach-a-streaming-agreement.html?_r=0

Word of the Week: Orphan Works

Orphan works is “a term used to describe the situation where the owner of a copyrighted work cannot be identified and located by someone who wishes to make use of the work in a manner that requires permission of the copyright owner.” Orphan works have long been a legal gray area of copyright infringement. Throughout the years, two distinct camps on the subject have arisen. There is the group of people who believe that even if the copyright owner can't be found, the copyright should still remain intact. While the other group of people argue that doing so would hold back the advancement of creativity and our knowledge base. So orphan works are quite the conundrum.

There have been  several legislative actions taken by Congress to address this issue, such as the Orphan Works Act of 2006Orphan Works Act of 2008, and Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008. The U.S. Copyright Office also published a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in the U.S. Federal Register on October 22, 2012 on the topic of orphan works. Congress and the US Copyright Office have been responsible for all of the standards regarding orphan works. Yet so far, neither has come up with a definitive answer to the copyright orphan works question. Instead these legislations have only offered slight repercussions to using copyrighted material without thoroughly determining whether or not it is actually an orphan.

Even though nothing definitive has been decided. I would have to hazard a guess that we are moving towards one. This is a controversial topic, and only grows more so with the continued advancement of digitized libraries. With no owners to defend the orphan works, I think that the future legislation will rule in favor of reverting orphan works to the public domain after a prescribed amount of time and effort in locating the works owner.

Sources:

http://www.copyright.gov/orphan/orphan-report.pdf

http://www.copyright.gov/orphan/

http://web.law.duke.edu/cspd/orphanworks.html

http://www.lib.umich.edu/orphan-works

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/copyright/orphan

SOPA/PIPA: What All the Fuss is About

We've all heard of SOPA and PIPA: those looming bills introduced in 2011 that caused the internet to go into a tailspin in 2012. But what has had everyone in such an uproar? What are the ideas behind these acronyms?

SOPA
"SOPA" stands for the Stop Online Piracy Act. This bill was presented in the House of Representatives, and it aimed to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content. For example, the bill would block access to websites such as The Pirate Bay or MegaUpload. In other words, any site that demonstrated violation of copyright in any way would be blocked from U.S. servers.

PIPA
"PIPA" is short for the Protect IP Act. This and SOPA are often mentioned in the same breath because they are essentially the same bill, only PIPA is the Senate's equivalent. SOPA seemed to get more attention from the media, and PIPA ended up flying under the radar.

Positives
SOPA and PIPA would help to protect artists, such as filmmakers and musicians, from having their work stolen and distributed by anyone other than themselves. They would also allow creatives to get more money from sales. Essentially, the entertainment industry would gain a lot from having these two laws in effect.

Negatives (That Most Definitely Overshadow the Positives)
Popular torrenting sites like The Pirate Bay often have servers physically outside of the U.S. SOPA and PIPA would allow the government to require U.S. search engines, advertising networks and other providers on the internet to withhold their services to these sites. This promotes censorship and could lead to the destruction of the freedom of expression!
It could also be problematic for start-up companies, as the government could shut down their sites if they decide that they aren't filtering well enough.
Not only can these rulings destroy creative freedom, they could also make the internet unsafe because of the amount of messing around with it's inner workings that would happen.

So, What Happened?
The bills have been suspended, but keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned; they may make a return sometime in the future (hopefully with some amendments). They essentially caused an all-out war between Hollywood and Silicon Valley–The Entertainment Industry versus the Technology Industry. Of course members of the entertainment industry want their property protected, but preventing access to sites that may have had one or two links that infringe on copyright laws would create so many closed doors to websites that actually have useful content!

All in all, SOPA and PIPA were bills that just weren't thoroughly thought out. Hopefully we won't see their return anytime soon, but if we do, there would need to be some major changes made.

Useful Links:
Fight for the Future Video & Petition
Presentation and Resources

 

Addressing Blocks: The Accidental Creative

 

I've generally had a difficult time finding a podcast that I like, so I was thrilled when I discovered The Accidental Creative. The episodes vary in length from a mere six minutes to a half-hour. The show tackles all issues of creativity, from setting goals to the topic of one of the more recent episodes, the creative flow state. Host Todd Henry addresses what most people see as the roadblocks of creativity, and provides methods to create on a day-to-day basis. The show is succinct yet insightful. Henry interviews sources who work in the field, who have insight into the various trials and tribulations of the creative process. I would highly recommend this podcast for those who suffer from procrastination, a tough inner-critic, or writer's block. Learning about the scientific roots of creativity allows listeners the opportunity to gain a better understanding of how to successfully reach a high level of productivity. Being a victim of procrastination myself, this podcast is definitely worth investing some time in.

Critiques and Comparisons with NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour

Many of NPR's live radio shows are available in podcast form, but one I had never listened to is its weekly Pop Culture Happy Hour.

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The Pop Culture Happy Hour is packed full of deep discussions about our favorite films, movies, books, and celebrity events. Each episode falls around 40 minutes, not actually an hour. That is, however, the actual content length of hour long TV shows, so I'll forgive it. Host Linda Holmes begins each episode introducing that days panel, usually three or four other contributes to NPR's other radios shows and blogs. They begin by discussing the main topic of the week. They give their critiques and go beyond personal likes and dislikes to deeper discussions on how that work fits into a bigger picture of pop culture. For example, the most recent episode discusses the recent film Divergent. They talk about how it stood up to the novel and then went on to talk about the recent trend of YA dystopias with strong female leads. It is a great listen for anyone who likes to not only consume entertainment, but also discuss it.

You can download the episodes on iTunes or via their website.

Grantland's The Andy Greenwald Podcast

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The podcast has never been a medium I have spent much time exploring. Until recently, I didn’t even know podcasts could be anything but audio alone. Maybe that isn’t the best thing to admit, but we all have a few things to learn. My contact with podcasting has been limited to me sitting next to my best friend as he downloads his favorite shows to listen to at a later (internet-less) part of the day. I turned to him to find the right podcast for this post, or to at least get a few suggestions in the right direction.

I ended up finding something that fit my interests at Grantland. Grantland is a sports and culture blog that is loosely affiliated with ESPN so I was incredibly skeptical when my friend sent me to their podcasts. Turns out they have a wide coverage of culture and pop-culture, not just sports culture. Even though Grantland features many interesting podcasts and on-air personalities, I ended up listening to an episode of The Andy Greenwald Podcast all the way through.

The Andy Greenwald Podcast focuses on television. He interviews TV personalities and they discuss the shows, projects, and genres the individuals are involved with. The show I listened to ran just over an hour and, though it may have been the subject matter of the particular interview, I was sucked right in. This particular show featured Anthony Bourdain and focused on his experiences along with food television in general. It was really fascinating. The interview was so casual but I felt like I was learning a lot by just listening to these two guys talk. I don’t have a huge passion for the behind the scenes world of television but somehow these two made it very interesting and accessible. I didn’t feel lost or like I needed to have seen every episode of Bourdain’s various TV shows to understand what was being discussed and how the references were relevant. I really enjoyed feeling like I was a part of such an intimate industry discussion.

I think I might actually be a podcast convert. I see doors opening for my relationship with the new (to me) medium.

Geek History Lesson Podcast

 

Geek History Lesson Cover Image

As I was looking through various iTunes podcasts, I stumbled upon the Geek History Lesson podcast. The podcast is described as "A podcast that will educate you about a different character of pop culture each week. Geek out, laugh, and learn. Get ready to enter your mind university." And this truly describes the podcast, and is exactly why I chose to write about this podcast.  Each episode is about 45 to 50 minutes long. There are a total of 9 episodes, since the podcast first began to air in February 2014. The podcast airs weekly. They have covered characters such as Teen Wolf, Lex Luthor, Loki, and Robocop. I really enjoyed this podcast because the speakers make it fun and interesting. My favorite part of the podcasts are when they discuss the origin story of each character. They work a lot of fun tidbits about each character into each podcast. Geek History Lesson is just pure fun, and quite satisfying to the curious! You should check it out when you have a few minutes to spare.

Make a Trip Down to Harmontown

Harmontown

As a fan of Community’s off-beat and hilarious jokes, I was instantly intrigued when I found out Dan Harmon, the creative genius behind the show, has a podcast. “Harmontown” is, as one might guess, a show mostly about Dan Harmon and his opinions. It’s recorded in front of an audience, and features many different (often famous) guests. Because Harmontown is primarily a live show, the podcast might lose some of the hilarity that ensues from seeing comedians live. However, the show is still plenty funny. Without the restrictions of network TV and a script, “Mayor Harmon” and friends are irreverent, a little innapropriate, and very opinionated. For fans of Dan Harmon’s other shows or anyone looking for a new comedy podcast, Harmontown is definitely worth a listen.

Check it out here!

 

Listening to Elements with BBC World Service

Elements PodcastElements is a fairly new podcast by BBC World Service, which accomplishes exactly what the name implies: Each episode explores the history, properties and applications of an element in the span of 26 minutes.  It's been broadcasting weekly since February 8th, so there are only four episodes.  So far, they've covered phosphorous, helium, carbon, and tin.

As I was picking through the iTunes directory for a podcast to write about, I found myself drawn to Elements for a couple of reasons—mainly that it is educational and, in the midst of 1+ hour long podcasts, relatively short.  (Plus, BBC's pretty much nailed the conversational-educational tone.  Who doesn't want to learn from someone cooing factoids in a sophisticated accent?)

Since podcasts are an audio format, Elements educates with discussion of the element in question, but it even provides sound effects for the elements themselves.  You get to listen to tin bending, carbon dioxide dissolving, and coal burning.  The audio also lends a sense of movement to the podcast.  We don't just listen to a couple of guys talking in a vacuum about carbon use.  We travel from a locomotive museum, where we can hear the chatter of museum visitors in the background, to the National Composite Center in Bristol, where we hear the industrial whirrs and mechanical drone of a factory space behind the interview.

I really enjoyed listening to Elements, and if I had a mobile audio streaming device, I could definitely see myself getting into an educational podcast like this for my commute.  As a visual learner, though, I would've loved to have seen the people in this podcast and the elements they discuss.

A Podcast You Should Know: Fun Facts and Tidbits with Chuck and Josh

Stuff You Should KnowI'll admit, I don't listen to many podcasts, simply because I've never found something interesting enough to listen to. So I asked my friends what they listen to, and one recommended this gem: Stuff You Should Know. Her description was, "It sounds like it would be boring, but the hosts are great".

Stuff You Should Know is, at its core, a show about random and little-known facts, from history to tattoos, health to the supernatural, economics to pets. With over 500 podcasts and over 100 million downloads from iTunes, there is plenty of knowledge being spread around by hosts Chuck and Josh.

In a way, Stuff You Should Know works in the way that the show "How It's Made" does, by presenting little-known facts in an interesting, engaging light. It definitely makes for a cerebral listen, though nothing as daunting as a lecture.

Chuck and Josh

There are a lot of good things going on with this podcast. First, the sheer number of episodes is a wonderful foundation, allowing listeners to click around and find a topic that interests them (which, with so many episodes, there's bound to be something for everyone). Second, Chuck and Josh themselves speak clearly and calmly, cracking subtle jokes while explaining the topic at hand to make for a fun listen. Lastly, the show is also available not only on iTunes, but also on their centralized website.

If I don't have you convinced, here's a short and sweet episode that answers what is (I'm sure) your most burning question: Can I Survive a Shark Attack by Gouging Out Its Eyes?

 

Let's Drink About It: Pairing Everyday Situations with Delectable Libations

As I was browsing iTunes for the perfect podcast to discover and report on, I came across "Let's Drink About It." It's a fairly new podcast, with it's first episode released on March 18th of this year, and as I began to listen, I realized that it was just two guys sitting around, talking about their lives and just having normal conversation. I would have thought I'd be bored about five minutes in, but soon I realized that fifteen minutes had gone by, and I was fully engaged in their banter!

Let's Drink About It Podcast

The first two episodes consist of Chris (from Toronto) and Ben (from Brooklyn) talking about events in their lives, then pairing cocktails with the situations they had found themselves in. They use a catchy track for their intro and outro music, and also include it when switching from subject to subject. There's a lot of laughter, a lot of talking about current events, and the feel of the show is very casual and not too structured. There is obviously some planning that's gone on, but they transition seamlessly from one subject to another and don't segment the show into obvious "event to drink-making" sections.

What's also great about this show is that they are planning on taking situation suggestions from their Twitter following and featuring their life events on the show as they prepare custom cocktails tailored to their fans' lives. What a great way to connect with their audience!

This podcast is incredibly relatable and very timely, as the popularity of perfecting the cocktail has grown in the recent past. "Let's Drink About It" is definitely a show that deserves a round of applause!

(Get it? "Round?" Like a "round" of drinks? …I give up on the alcohol puns.)