Tendências emergentes, factos e dados reveladores da evolução dos media, cultura, economia e sociedade. Impacto social, económico e cultural da tecnologia.


domingo, maio 31, 2009

Google Waves Goodbye to E - Webmonkey

<cite>Google Waves Goodbye to E - Webmonkey</cite>: "
It's a peculiar model we haven't seen before, sort of a 'chat inside e-mail' approach that has the potential to profoundly alter the way we share information and collaborate with one another.There are few effective ways to communicate within small groups, whether co-workers, friends, or family. Most of us use e-mail, just addressing a new message to a bunch of people. This starts a thread, which eventually gets twisted and fragmented into side conversations and becomes more and more confusing. The more-organized among us use tools like IM or IRC chat rooms, wikis, group blogs or web apps built for threaded communications, such as FriendFeed.Google Wave is an attempt to replace not one but all of these methods, rolling threaded conversations, real-time chat, nested comments, media sharing, link sharing and wiki-style collaboration into a familiar interface that looks and behaves like an e-mail inbox, complete with folders for keeping things organized and a search box for digging up older threads.

domingo, maio 24, 2009

Wolfram Alpha asks some searching questions of the web

<cite>FT.com / Columnists / John Gapper - Wolfram Alpha asks some searching questions of the web</cite>: "
That is what makes Wolfram Alpha so radical � it is a challenge not just to Google but to the internet as a whole. Instead of grappling with all the data that are theoretically discoverable on the web, Mr Wolfram has got around the difficulties by building his own black box.Similar struggles for dominance between private databases and open information systems are common. In financial services, stock exchanges contend with 'dark pools' of liquidity � private networks of banks and institutional investors that allow them to trade with each other.So far in the history of the internet, the public has soundly defeated the private. Private networks such as the original AOL and Compuserve gave way to the internet as a whole, made comprehensible by Google.Now that faces a challenge. If all the data on the internet are simply too messy to be analysed and structured, Google will be unable to produce a service rivalling Wolfram Alpha in clarity and reliability.This would not spell the end for Google and other search engines. But it would mean that search itself � on which we rely to map the internet � had bumped up against its natural limits. Let battle begin.

Twitter is a sucker's game that only serves the needs of a tiny elite, says Seth Finkelstein | Technology | The Guardian

<cite>Read me first: Twitter is a sucker's game that only serves the needs of a tiny elite, says Seth Finkelstein | Technology | The Guardian</cite>: "
Twitter is low-level celebrity for the chattering class. And the pathologies of celebrity are all on display, including the exploitative industries that prey on the human desire to be heard and noticed. My answer to Twitter's slogan of 'What are you doing?' is: 'Not playing a sucker's game.'

No optimismo, Portugal é fácil de descobrir

<cite>ContraFactos & Argumentos: No optimismo, Portugal é fácil de descobrir</cite>: "
No optimismo, Portugal �f�cil de descobrirStudy indicates people by nature are universally optimistic: optimism is highest in Ireland, Brazil, Denmark, and New Zealand and lowest in Zimbabwe, Egypt, Haiti and Bulgaria.The Whole World Is Optimistic, Survey Finds: Nearly 90 percent of people around the globe expect the next five years to be as good or better than life today.

To curb finance

Quite simply, the sector imposes massive negative externalities (or costs) on bystanders. Thus, the recommendation “that the financial sector be allowed to recalibrate its activities according to the sentiments and demands of the market” is wrong. A market works well if, and only if, decision-makers confront the consequences of their decisions. This is not – and probably cannot be – the case in finance: certainly, people now sit on fortunes earned in activities that have led to unprecedented rescues and the worst recession since the 1930s. Given this, the industry has become too big. If implicit and explicit guarantees and externalities, including volatility, were fully charged, the sector would surely shrink.

So how should one manage a sector that produces such “bads”? The answer is: in the same way as any polluting activity. One taxes it. At this point, the authors of the report will surely ask: “How can you suggest taxing a sector so vital to the UK economy?” The answer is: easily. Financial services generate only 8 per cent of gross domestic product. They are more important for taxation and the balance of payments. But this tax revenue turns out to be perilously volatile. True, in 2007, the last year before the crisis, the UK ran a trade surplus of £37bn in financial services, partially offsetting an £89bn deficit in goods. But smaller net earnings from financial services would have generated a lower real exchange rate and more earnings elsewhere. Given the costs imposed by the financial sector, a more diversified economy would have been healthier. Such sacrilegious ideas are, of course, not to be found in the Bischoff report.
Martin Wolf, FT

Twitter Literacy

Everyone has a different mix of these elements, which is part of the charm of Twitter. My personal opinion is that I need to keep some personal element going, but not to overdo it. I am careful to not crank up the self-promotion too much. I don't ask questions often, but when I do, I always get a huge payoff. I needed an authoritative guide to Spanish-language online publications about social media for a course I was designing to be taught at the (online) Open University of Catalunya. I got five. In five minutes.

If it isn't fun, it won't be useful. If you don't put out, you don't get back. But you have to spend some time tuning and feeding if Twitter is going to be more than an idle amusement to you and your followers (and idle amusement is a perfectly legit use of the medium).

Returning to my use of the word literacy to describe both a set of skills for encoding and decoding as well as the community to which those skills provide entrance, I see that the use of Twitter to build personal learning networks, communities of practice, tuned information radars involves more than one literacy. The business about tuning and feeding, trust and reciprocity, and social capital is a form of network literacy that we discuss in my classes. Knowing that Twitter is a flow, not a queue like your email inbox, to be sampled judiciously is only one part of the attention literacy I started to blog about – knowing that it takes ten to twenty minutes to regain full focus when returning to a task that requires concentrated attention, learning to recognize what to pluck from the flow right now because it is valuable enough to pay attention to now, what to open in a new tab for later today, what to bookmark and get out of my way, and what to pass over with no more than a glance, are all other aspects of attention literacy that effective use of Twitter requires. My students who learn about the presentation of self and construction of identity in the psychology and sociology literature see the theories they are reading come to life on the Twitter stage every day - an essential foundation for participatory media literacy.

If you think "literacy" is too fancy, then just remember to use the word "social" in reasonable proximity to your mention of encoding and decoding skills needed in the mobile and multimedia milieu. It's not just about knowing how. It's about knowing how and knowing who and knowing who knows who knows what. Whatever you call this blend of craft and community, one of the most important challenges posed by the real-time, ubiquitous, wireless, always-on, often alienating interwebs are the skills required for the use of media to be productive and to foster authentic interpersonal connection, rather than waste of time and attention on phony, banal, alienated pseudo-communication. Know-how is where the difference lies.
Howard Rheingold

domingo, maio 17, 2009

A Failure of Capitalism

During the housing bubble, for example, sitting out the mortgage boom meant forgoing large profits. “Even if you know you’re riding a bubble and are scared to be doing so,” Posner writes, “it is difficult to climb off without paying a big price.” So people made decisions that were individually rational but collectively irrational. To see the crisis through populist spectacles, as President Obama does when he attributes it to “irresponsibility,” is to misunderstand the whole problem by blaming capitalists for a failure of capitalism.

And so — here is the part libertarians will hate — markets, entirely of their own accord, will sometimes capsize and be unable to right themselves completely for years at a stretch. (See: Japan, “lost decade” of.) Nor can monetary policy be counted on to counteract markets’ tippy tendencies, as so many economists had come to believe.

Alas, economists and policy makers got cocksure. They thought they had consigned depressions to history. As a result, they missed warning signs and failed to prepare for the worst. “We are learning,” Posner writes, “that we need a more active and intelligent government to keep our model of a capitalist economy from running off the rails.”

By doing what, exactly? Posner thinks laissez-faire economics has nothing relevant to say. The rest of the economics profession is all over the map. The system of financial regulation will need an overhaul, but Posner argues that the time for that is not now, in the heat of crisis. Anyway, no one is sure what to do. He halfheartedly suggests a few reforms but concedes they are “pretty small beer.” If pressed, I suspect, he might also acknowledge some 20-20 hindsight in his insistence that the government should have prepared for an event that hardly anyone thought ­possible.

By the last page, not a single lazy generalization has survived Posner’s merciless scrutiny, not one populist cliché remains standing. “A Failure of Capitalism” clears away whole forests of cant but leaves readers at a loss as to where to go from here. In other words, it is only a starting point — but an indispensable one.

sábado, maio 16, 2009

Europe's new pecking order | A new pecking order | The Economist

<cite>Europe's new pecking order | A new pecking order | The Economist</cite>: "
Not what you aim for, but how you do itIf there is to be an argument about which model is best, then this newspaper stands firmly on the side of the liberal Anglo-Saxon model�not least because it leaves more power in the hands of individuals rather than the state. But the truth is that the governments on both sides of the intellectual divide could go a long way to making their models work better, without changing their underlying beliefs.On the continental side, there is nothing especially socially cohesive about labour laws that favour insiders over outsiders, or rules that make the costs of starting a business excessive. Even Colbert might admit that Europe's tax burdens are too onerous today, particularly since they are likely to have to rise in the future to meet the looming cost of the continent's rapidly ageing populations.For the liberals, even if the cycle swings back in their direction, the financial crisis and the recession have shown up defects in the way they too implemented their model. Getting regulation right matters as much as freeing up markets; an efficient public sector may count as much as an efficient private one; public investment in transport, schools and health care, done well, can pay dividends. The pecking order may change, but pragmatism and efficiency will always count.

Execs reveal why newspapers don't block Google

For several months, leaders at some of the nation's most influential newspapers and periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, and the online arm of Forbes magazine have begun blaming Google and similar Web services for at least some of their deepening financial troubles. Google sells ads tied to the news blurbs it "scrapes" from news sites. It links back to the Web sites from which it acquired the content but doesn't share ad revenue with them. This isn't fair, many media execs say.
(Credit: Forbes.com)

In all the very public bashing of Google, however, few if any of the critics has answered why they don't just cut Google out of the equation by preventing the search engine from indexing their Web pages. The task could be accomplished by inserting a single line of code into their URLs. If Forbes.com added a line such as forbes.com/robots.txt, content from the site would be rendered invisible to Google.

Representatives from the Journal and AP declined to comment for this story, but their Web sites speak volumes for them. None of the companies has severed ties with Google and risked losing access to the search engine's millions of users. Traditional print publications, which have seen ad revenue plummet, mass layoffs, and in some cases the shut down of operations, are now hopelessly dependent on Google to lure readers, says media executives. Jim Brady, the Washington Post's former digital chief, says the question of whether Google is good or bad for print journalism is almost irrelevant at this point. Print publications are helpless to do anything about it.

"Get out a sheet of paper and write down all the things Google does for you," said Brady, former executive editor of Washingtonpost.com, as he offered advice to his former peers in old media. "Google allows your content to be exposed to people who would never see it otherwise. If you're able to code your pages well, then you can get an awful lot of leads from Google. It's up to your site to turn those leads into loyal customers...Google is not going away."

quarta-feira, maio 13, 2009

Shift From Spending to Saving May Be Slump’s Lasting Impact - NYTimes.com

<cite>Shift From Spending to Saving May Be Slump’s Lasting Impact - NYTimes.com</cite>: "
'I expect that the savings rate will end up at the end of this recession higher than it was going into it,' said Jonathan A. Parker, a finance professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. 'It's hard to see how it wouldn't.'Sustained increases in household saving would cause a difficult period of restructuring for the American economy, which has become increasingly driven by consumer spending. Such spending makes up about 70 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.Add the decline in consumer spending to the planned expiration of government stimulus spending, and a painful readjustment in demand for goods and services could occur, economists say. The effect would be felt here and abroad, as many developing economies also depend on America's big-spending ways.

terça-feira, maio 12, 2009

How tax havens helped to create a crisis

<cite>FT.com / Comment / Opinion - How tax havens helped to create a crisis</cite>: "
For multinationals and rich investors the point is the same: returns on financial transactions are ultimately taxed at a low or zero rate, making them far more profitable than genuine business endeavours. This distortion of the tax system has greatly fuelled the excess of liquidity channelled into largely speculative financial transactions. The offshore secrecy system has been a main element of the opacity that has undermined corporate and financial regulation.The remedies lie in fundamental reforms of international fiscal and financial regulatory co-operation, and their co-ordination. International tax co-operation requires a comprehensive, multilateral system for both obtaining and exchanging information for all tax purposes, with proper safeguards for taxpayers.

domingo, maio 03, 2009

O Financiamento do Ensino Superior - A partilha de custos

Os portugueses são os que mais esforço financeiro têm de fazer, a seguir aos ingleses, para pagar uma educação superior, segundo um estudo que compara Portugal com dez países europeus mais ricos. Os gastos das famílias com o ensino superior correspondem a 11% do PIB per capita português (valores de 2005) , ou seja, dez vezes mais do que na Finlândia, quase quatro vezes mais do que o esforço despendido na Bélgica, Suécia e Irlanda, mais do dobro dos gastos na Áustria e quase o dobro dos 6% que pagam os franceses (ver quadro).

Apesar de suportarem uma carga pesada, os estudantes nacionais são ainda dos que menos apoio recebem, da accão social, segundo a tese de doutoramento"O Financiamento do Ensino Superior - A partilha de custos" , de Luísa Cerdeira, administradora da Universidade de Lisboa, a que o DN teve acesso. Os apoios só cobrem 18% dos custos dos alunos que beneficiavam de acção social, contra percentagens que variam entre 20 e 93 por cento em vários países europeus, com excepção de Itália e Irlanda, ainda mais desafavoráveis que Portugal.

With Kindle, Can You Tell It’s Proust?

The publishing world is all caught up in weighty questions about the Kindle and other such devices: Will they help or hurt book sales and authors’ advances? Cannibalize the industry? Galvanize it?

Please, they’re overlooking the really important concern: How will the Kindle affect literary snobbism? If you have 1,500 books on your Kindle — that’s how many it holds — does that make you any more or less of a bibliophile than if you have the same 1,500 books displayed on a shelf? (For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you’ve actually read a couple of them.)

The practice of judging people by the covers of their books is old and time-honored. And the Kindle, which looks kind of like a giant white calculator, is the technology equivalent of a plain brown wrapper. If people jettison their book collections or stop buying new volumes, it will grow increasingly hard to form snap opinions about them by wandering casually into their living rooms.

“I always notice how many books there are on the bookshelves, and what the books are,” said Ammon Shea, who spent a year reading the entire Oxford English Dictionary and published a book about it. “It’s the faux-intellectual version of sniffing through someone’s medicine cabinet.”

It’s a safe bet that the Kindle is unlikely to attract people who seldom pick up a book or, on the other end of the spectrum, people who prowl antiquarian book fairs for first editions. But for the purpose of sizing up a stranger from afar, perhaps the biggest problem with Kindle or its kin is the camouflage factor: when no one can tell what you’re reading, how can you make it clear that you’re poring over the new Lincoln biography as opposed to, say, “He’s Just Not That Into You”?