RELEVANT:How Netflix is demanding a pardon from the White House

A dash of pop-culture, a touch of presidential politics and this story becomes really interesting.

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Have you seen the “We the People” website? I think it’s an amazing resource that should be leveraged more often. Basically, people can create a petition there and gather signatures. If your petition reaches 100,000 signatures or more within 30 days then the White House Administration will respond to it directly.

As soon as I learned about it, I had a feeling this could be amazingly hilarious. The Christian Post has a nice summary of really funny petitions and awkward responses from the White House.

In this case, the petition is real, but it’s informed primarily by a Netflix series called “Making a Murderer”. Forbes Magazine calls it “Netflix’s most significant show ever” primarily because

This feels like the first truly national conversation Netflix has started about one of its shows… this feels like something much more profound. A genuine phenomenon, possibly the service’s first.

So combine an amazingly unique and anger-inducing documentary series on Netflix, with a population-driven mechanism to demand a response from the White House and you’ve got a really interesting story.

Here’s the whole petition (which you can still sign if you like).

Source: Relevant Magazine

Reuters: Facebook fights for free Internet in India, global test-case

Can Zuckerberg’s Internet.org really raise 1 in 10 people out of poverty in India?

India has become a battleground over the right to unrestricted Internet access, with local tech start-ups joining the front line against Facebook Inc founder Mark Zuckerberg and his plan to roll out free Internet to the country’s masses.

~ Reuters.com

This is a big story worth watching. A large US-based internet company is trying to provide free internet to countries which have a very low connection rate per their population.

It’s being debated in India at the moment. There are really generous and “BIG” ideas about how powerful this could be for marginalized people in countries like India. But there are also very loud and intelligent skeptics who see Facebook’s strategy as a corporate grab for market-share rather than a benevolent act of charity.

The crux of the matter is whether or not Facebook can provide, via it’s service Internet.org, a free and unfettered Internet access, or whether — by it’s very nature — it would bias or provide benefits to internet sites with bigger pockets. The word used to describe a “free and unfettered Internet access” is called “Net Neutrality”.

Historically, Facebook is a very significant proponent of Net Neutrality. It’s in their best interest for as many people as possible to not only be able to access Facebook.com, but also any and all services and articles that are linked to Facebook. Nevertheless, here’s the summary of concerns that some in India (and other places) are voicing:

It is our belief that Facebook is improperly defining net neutrality in public statements and building a walled garden in which the world’s poorest people will only be able to access a limited set of insecure websites and services. Further, we are deeply concerned that Internet.org has been misleadingly marketed as providing access to the full Internet, when in fact it only provides access to a limited number of Internet-connected services that are approved by Facebook and local ISPs. In its present conception, Internet.org thereby violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy and innovation.

Read their whole Open Letter here (ironically posted on Facebook).

To these concerns, Mark Zuckerberg has his own post on his platform:

Internet.org doesn’t block or throttle any other services or create fast lanes — and it never will. We’re open for all mobile operators and we’re not stopping anyone from joining. We want as many internet providers to join so as many people as possible can be connected.

Arguments about net neutrality shouldn’t be used to prevent the most disadvantaged people in society from gaining access or to deprive people of opportunity. Eliminating programs that bring more people online won’t increase social inclusion or close the digital divide. It will only deprive all of us of the ideas and contributions of the two thirds of the world who are not connected.

It’s also a bit interesting that the ruckus over Internet.org in India comes on the coattails of seeing it abruptly shut-down in Egypt just weeks ago.

My bottom line is that the aims of Internet.org are praise-worthy. And what they were providing in Egypt and would like to provide in India also seems praise-worthy. But — as we say in the U.S. — the “proof is in the pudding”. There’s no real way to know whether this initiative really can lift 1 in 10 people out of poverty (as Zuckerberg claims in Reuters article) until it has a long-lasting and well-tested trial in a country where it’s impact could be significant.

That could be India. There is no shortage of tech-saavy users and advanced developers in India. But there is a shortage of Internet availability. Here’s to hoping for the best.

This article is a commentary on the article of the same title on Reuters.com

Longreads: Best of 2015 in Business & Tech

Wow. This is an amazing list of long-form articles on Business & Tech worth kicking off 2016 with.

I don’t think I read one single article of any of these in 2015. Yet, the very first one I grabbed (Easy DNA Editing) just about blew my mind into space within the first couple paragraphs.

I’d say this is a great list to kick-off 2016 with.

Source: Longreads

GOOD.IS: Instead of Snacks, This Vending Machine Spits Out Short Stories

GOOD.IS: Instead of Snacks, This Vending Machine Spits Out Short Stories

The vending machine—what better symbol is there of Western civilization’s culture of convenience and unhealthy snacks? But what if one could instead feast on words, stories, and ideas?

This is an amazing idea. Grab a short-story or haiku print out while walking around town, maybe between meetings or your daily commute. Pick a 1, 3, or 5 minute read from some of the best modern literature.

My only suggestion would be that after it picks up steam I’d hope that they could suggest or require a payment of some sort. This could be applied in a couple ways

  • A small portion would go directly to the author
  • A small portion to the maintenance of the machines
  • Everything else could be donated to literacy programs or charities that focus on the advancement of literature in general.

Check out the coverage on Reuters about it too:

Source: Instead of Snacks, This Vending Machine Spits Out Short Stories

Engadget: Spotify pledges to fix the music industry’s royalty problems

Streaming services can’t fix artist salaries. Musicians should go straight to market IMHO

Paying artists for streams isn’t just Spotify’s problem — the whole industry is stuck with a royalty model that’s better suited for physical sales than streaming. Spotify is the one that’s pledging to fix that

As a musician I’m always excited for any and all ways in which musical artists can be more adequately compensated for all the hours of music they provide.

I also love streaming music, but it’s been a problem for a lot of artists. Have you read this piece? “My song was played 168 million times on Pandora. I Received $4,000…” It’s a really damning piece on the inherent problems with copyright, record labels, and streaming services.

So if Spotify is saying it’s going to remedy that issue, then I’d go out an by stock in Spotify today. But based on this article, so far all that they are saying is that Spotify is committed to solving the problem at some point.

What Spotify (or Pandora) currently pays in royalties to me is not as important as making sure money from song plays gets into musicians pockets. I personally don’t think that’s a problem a streaming service can fix. It’s a record label issue. The more musicians are enabled to go direct to market the better.

Similarly to WordPress plugin shops, musicians should start considering running their own online shops where end users can purchase mp3’s and streaming services can purchase licenses.

http://www.engadget.com/2015/12/25/spotify-pledges-to-fix-the-music-industrys-royalty-problems/

The National Memo: The Simple, Clear, And Still Radical Meaning Of The Christmas Story

Christmas means welcoming the stranger, not assigning them stars on jackets or special ID’s

The story of Christmas is not a political parable but an allegory of light brought into a dark and suffering world, on a date that coincides not accidentally with the winter solstice. Its newborn prophet is a harbinger of divine love for all, most emphatically including the sinners, the impious, the unclean, the unaccepted, the foreigner, the stranger, and the impoverished.

I have this thing about Christmas. I actually try hard every year to celebrate it. For me, that often means I call it “Incarnation Day” instead of Christmas. It means that we actually do “stockings” in our house on St Nicolaus Day (Dec 6) instead of the 25th. It means while we have a traditional Christmas dinner, while we dine we talk about poverty, not gifts. We talk about presence, not presents.

Incarnation Day for me, means welcoming the stranger — not assigning them a scarlet letter, or a star on their jackets, or a special ID card based on their religion.

Source: The National Memo

The world’s first website went online 25 years ago today

It’s the 25th birthday of the oldest website on the world wide web. Yeah!

Invented by Tim Berners Lee, the first website went live at research lab CERN in 1990

Feeling a little old right about now. To be roughly 13+ years older than the oldest website… hmmm…

Nevertheless, it’s crazy to consider all the change, all the progress that’s been made in this world as a result of the internet.

Say what you want about the proliferation of porn, or the “loss” of privacy. When you consider all the ways in which information is being made public, international and truly global collaboration is made possible, education is made more accessible and easier to communicate, new technologies evolve more rapidly and cheaply, all because of the “Internet” — this is a day to celebrate.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/internet/12061803/The-worlds-first-website-went-online-25-years-ago-today.html