The new version of Creative Commons is big news for writers, photographers, and anyone who uses the Internet.
Read more. [Image: Flickr/Giulio Zannol]
The Federal Aviation Administration lifted the ban on using portable electronic devices in planes during takeoff and landing last month, thanks to efforts of critics like the New York Times’ Nick Bilton.
The FAA’s ruling is a little more complicated than all phones, all the time. Rather, they’ll be “allowing passengers to use their devices from gate to gate, including takeoff, taxiing and landing. Cellphone calls will still banned,” Bilton explained. “People will probably be asked to turn their gadgets to ‘airplane mode’ when they fly.”
But it is probably only a matter of time before the airlines and the FAA give up on regulating their customers’ gadget usage. They are on the wrong side of history. And someday soon, the term “airplane mode” will likely become a true anachronism.
But what will become of the interface element? More to the point: ”What will they call ‘airplane mode?’” asks Bloomberg’s Eric Roston.
Let’s start with the dull stuff, because pragmatism.
The word “because,” in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, “because” has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I’m reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I’m reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which “because” lends itself.
I mention all that … because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use “because.” Linguists are calling it the “prepositional-because.” Or the “because-noun.”
You probably know it better, however, as explanation by way of Internet—explanation that maximizes efficiency and irony in equal measure. I’m late because YouTube. You’re reading this because procrastination. As the linguist Stan Carey delightfully sums it up: “‘Because’ has become a preposition, because grammar.”
The critic David E. Nye has theorized that there might be an American technological sublime. That is, sometime during the Industrial Revolution, he writes, Americans substituted the seemingly divine awe they felt when looking at nature for the awe they experience gazing at machines. Trains, light bulbs, the a-bomb: The magnitude, the enormity of these, demand a reverence from us.
So, on this brisk, late autumn Thursday, I ask you: Is it possible that a single webpage, and its near miraculous URL, might evoke such a feeling in you?
The answer is yes. Here is the URL of that webpage: ButtGenerator.com.
A crime is happening in our schools every day. And it’s not the type of crime that hall monitors or security cameras can solve. At issue: Only 39 percent of public schools have wireless network access for the whole school. But perhaps the greater offense—up to this point, at least—has been apathy.At work and at home, most of us live our very wired, connected lives—moving between wi-fi zones as we give little thought to the millions of schoolchildren around the country who go to school every day without Internet or broadband connections, without access to 1:1 computing, and without the benefit of modern handheld learning devices.Angry mobs of parents should be storming schools with pitchforks over this critical issue of broadband access, US Department of Education official Richard Culatta told this year’s SXSWedu festival. For their part, parents are not, but perhaps there is good reason to believe that the Storming of the Schoolhouse can be thwarted. For now.President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative, announced this summer, aims within five years to connect 99 percent of America’s students through next-generation broadband (at speeds no less than 100 Mbps and with a target of 1 Gbps) and high-speed wireless networks in schools. Now we’re talking.Read more. [Image: AP Photo]
Here is the weirdest thing about the modern web: humans are only one constituency, and maybe not the most profitable one.
Consider the case of an anonymous publishing executive who spoke with the media trade magazine, Digiday, about purchasing bulk robot traffic to his former company’s website.
By robot, I mean software that is designed to simulate a human being browsing the web. Bots, as they are known, are relatively easy to create, and now you can easily purchase their services to build a nice business, if you are willing to bend the rules of digital publishing.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
It used to be that a traveler could escape the reaches of the Internet by flying 30,000 feet into the air in a metal tube outfitted with jet engines. At those altitudes, it was difficult to provide broadband, so people did crossword puzzles, finally read that Patti Smith autobiography, made fun of SkyMall, and had too many whiskeys. A worker was not really expected to work, even if the hours were on the clock. A spreadsheet would open here. A highlighter might get chewed on there. Documents sat on tray tables in unlocked positions.
But really, planes were for sleeping and reading, being bored and getting tipsy. Sometimes, one talked with one’s seatmates, who were a real crapshoot, it must be said.
Gogo changed that. They started outfitting planes with WiFi. Then they charged customers to use it. They were a throwback business: an Internet Service Provider. But for the sky.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
The spectacle at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington during the buildup to 2011’s Super Bowl XLV was Texas-sized: More than 103,000 football fanatics crammed under the retractable roof of the lavish sports palace to watch the Green Bay Packers clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Another 3,000 diehards paid $200 each for the privilege of standing outside in frosty winter weather to view the broadcast on a Jumbotron.
According to a lawsuit filed October 21 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the pageantry also included two “multi-story” images of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made especially for the occasion, with one draped across the exterior of the stadium and the other covering the façade of a major Dallas hotel. David Stluka, the photographer who snapped the original image of Rodgers, says he wasn’t paid a cent for having his work displayed on the gigantic banners, and wasn’t aware of their existence until after the fact.
After 22 seasons on the sidelines, Stluka has witnessed and photographed a number of historic NFL moments, and he’s just one of several accomplished sports photographers to come forward recently with similar grievances.
Read more. [Image: AP/Tony Gutierrez]
As a teacher, I believe it’s my job to warn kids about the dangers of being online—and to show them the benefits.
Read more. [Image: Kin Cheung/Reuters]
Brian, 16, is instant-messaging. He’s chatting with a girl he’s never met in person—a girl who, by the looks of her avatar, seems both his age and more beautiful than any girl who’s ever deigned to talk to him. And she just asked to take the chat private.
Sitting at his laptop, in his room, Brian pauses for a moment; his mouth hangs between a smile and an inhaled breath. He gets up, hurries to the door, makes sure his parents aren’t on the other side. He locks it. He hustles around his room again, around his bed and back to his computer—I can see the disbelief, awe, anxiety on his face—and sits back down at the computer. They’re in a private chat room now, this girl and him.
He faces the laptop. On his screen, words appear from the girl: “What’s going on?”
The words appear on a tower as tall as a house behind Brian’s head. Hazy music wafts around him, music over which the girl—her name’s Rebecca—sings: “What’s going on?” The music swirls again.
Thousands of us are watching him, watching him respond, seeing what he’ll do next.
Read more. [Image: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera]
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