Friday, July 31, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
In the digital age are we consumers and owners – or subscribers and renters?
Amazon’s deletion of George Orwell’s 1984 from people’s personal Kindle ebooks caused a furore of protest. What a book to choose for such an authoritarian, Big Brother act. You couldn’t make it up, could you?
These people legitimately purchased their copy of the classic. They believe that they own it. Like buying a tin of beans. Tesco’s doesn’t send a till girl to your kitchen to demand it back - unless you nicked it.
‘A copyright issue’ says Amazon. ‘We got it wrong. We didn’t have the rights to sell it to you.’
So their cyber fingers reached out silently into the Kindles and took it back – without the knowledge of the new ‘owners’ until they got a refund statement.
Here’s where the fun starts.
Users on the Kindle Boards website are apoplectic. They say:
"Amazon offered a product, which I legally purchased, and had in my possession until their electronic burglar stole it from me."
“This is analogous to Amazon selling me a hard cover book and then later sending someone to my home to steal it back after learning that they erred in offering it for sale in the first place! Ridiculous!!!”
“They've essentially invaded MY PRIVATE KINDLE to remove MY books, WITHOUT MY ADVANCE KNOWLEDGE OR PERMISSION. Ironic that my George Orwell collection has now been stolen back by "Big Brother," isn't it?”
Oh, the wrath. A bit like the old ‘My house is my castle’ arguments of yesteryear, before we discovered that anyone from the cops to the gas board could invade our ‘castle’ at will.
The Guardian opines:
‘ It's as if they walked into a bookshop to pick up a new best-seller, only to discover later that the shop was actually a library and they had to give it back.’
This is the problem with ‘cloud-enabled’ products like Kindle or iphone. Very sexy to own as long as you realise you have an appliance controlled by the manufacturer and not the owner - you. Apple can reach into your iphone and delete an app at will.
Imagine your kettle is 'cloud-enabled'. You get a message saying. ‘Your megaKettle has been updated. It now cooks rice, too!’
The following day comes a deletion: ‘Apologies. MegaRice corp own the rights. We’ve deleted the upgrade. It’s just a kettle again.’
The key to this, as ever, is to BACK UP. Then 1984 would still be in your computer.
So, you don’t ‘own’ your appliance – you’re merely leasing it. You bought a husk of plastic. They control what goes into it and what it does.
I’m happy my Sony Reader doesn’t phone home – yet. With Sony’s DRM track record it’s only a matter of time. Or have I missed the control button already?
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Scientists in Edinburgh carried out a cunning plan to test our honesty. They scattered wallets about the streets to see how many were returned. And prominent inside each was a different picture. Each wallet had either:
a) a smiling baby
b) a cute puppy
c) a happy family or
d) an elderly couple.
Amazingly nearly half the 240 ‘lost’ wallets were returned. Well done, Britain (Scotland?)
But those wallets with a picture of a pretty baby inside were the most returned. 88% of them came back. Next was the puppy wallet with 53%. Happy family dropped to 48%. The old couple staggered in last at 28% returned.
The conclusion Dr Richard Wiseman and his team of psychologists came to here was that we all have an inbuilt compassion towards vulnerable infants. A compassion that has evolved to ensure the survival of future generations of our species. Even any hardened criminals who found the baby picture in a wallet must have gone all soft and gooey and returned their booty.
I think most parents could tell the good doctor that information for free.
Interesting that the puppy came second? Just shows what a pushover we are for animals. (I certainly am). But the mega low score for the elderly picture suggests what we already know. That Britain is not the place to be if you’re old.
Interesting to ponder what the results might have been in other countries? Certainly baby would always come out on top. But in what order the others?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
It is said that nothing is new. Just history repeating itself. Does this quote have a familiar ring?
It has been very judiciously observed that a commercial country has more to dread from the golden baits of avarice, the airy hopes of projectors and the wild enthusiastic dreams of speculators than from any external dangers.
John Millar, An authentic Account of the South Sea Scheme 1845
Saturday, July 11, 2009
At 5.30am every morning of her life Twyla’s day begins in the gym. She was a renowned dancer, as this 1974 picture below it shows. Twyla moved on to even greater glory as the choreographer who merged modern dance with ballet. She began dancing at 4 years old and hasn’t stopped since.
Twyla created original works for the New York City Ballet, The Paris Opera Ballet and The Royal Ballet amongst many others. It is rumoured she had a famous affair with Mikhail Baryshnikov. She weaves classics, jazz and pop music into her original works.
She is an admitted obsessive, expecting an almost religious allegiance from her dancers. Her works are world renown. When she speaks on the creative process – it’s best we listen.
Her book ‘The Creative Habit – learn it and use it for life’ by Simon & Shuster ISBN 978-7432-3527-3 is a brilliant guide for all. Whether you are a dancer, painter, writer, musician, businessman or simply an individual yearning to put your creativity to use, this is the one to have to unlock your head.
Refreshingly, it isn’t about getting that lightning bolt of inspiration people call ‘talent’ that’s supposed to split the ‘great’ from the ordinary. Instead it’s about how good preparation, routine and good habits are the artistic necessities that will lead to unlocking the creative process. And they are available to everyone.
She says it’s the rituals of that preparation that matter. Creativity is the result of developing good work habits. There’s no such thing as a ‘genius.’ Hard work creates them. A kind of ‘muscle-memory’ that leads you on to be better.
She starts with a simple box. Into it she puts everything connected to the work in progress. Notebooks, news clippings, CD’s, videos, photographs, poetry, toys. It makes you feel organized. That you have your act together and you know where you’re going. Then writing the name of your project on the box states that the work has officially started in your head. You can’t walk away from it. It’s there – on the shelf - in the box.
To read this book is to be immersed in the brilliant Twyla’s thinking process. Her many secrets to the everyday problems we all face trying to create something. I guarantee that after reading it you will come away with some solutions.
Here’s to many more birthdays, Twyla!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Sunday, July 5, 2009