Yahoo Capitalizing on Fact You No Longer Think It’s Useless


From Bloomberg:

“The series of 30-minute episodes will be available on its website and through mobile applications, the company said in a statement yesterday. One program, called “Other Space,” will be developed by Paul Feig, who is known for “Freaks and Geeks” and “Bridesmaids.” Mike Tollin, who is behind “One Tree Hill” and “Varsity Blues,” will create a show called “Sin City Saints,” about managers of a professional basketball team.

Video is a key part of Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer’s effort to turn around the struggling Web portal. The new shows come as the company attracts more video viewers, with the number of visitors climbing 11 percent in the U.S. during March, according to ComScore Inc. Yahoo ranks fourth, trailing Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and AOL Inc.”

Canadian Telecoms Tight Lipped on Loose-Lipped Relationship with Government

From CBC:

“Canada’s privacy commissioner says telecom companies are refusing to tell her office how many times they have handed over personal customer information to the federal government without a warrant.

Chantal Bernier, the interim privacy commissioner, said her office has repeatedly asked telecom companies to disclose statistics and the scope of warrantless disclosure of data, to no avail. (…)

“We have tried many times. We have sought out information from the telecoms to find out,” she said. “They’ve given us very general comments.” “!/content/1.2626286

Tribune Co. OK if You Stop Reading Its Articles

From Bloomberg:

“While consumers may be reading daily newspapers less, one morning habit hasn’t changed: the commute. Now, the Tribune Co.’s innovation and technology unit wants drivers and bus riders to listen to audio versions of its stories.

Newsbeat, the first major consumer product by Tribune Digital Ventures, will use human readers and text-to-speech technology to create audio versions of the stories, according to Shashi Seth, president of the unit. Taking a page from Pandora Media, the application personalizes stories according to user interests and other signals. It even uses mapping tools to anticipate how long the audio should play before the commute ends.à

Tribune is stepping up efforts to find more ways to attract customers as news habits change. With Newsbeat, the company is trying to tap into the growing demand for digital entertainment when users are in their vehicles. Apple and Google — whose operating systems dominate the smartphone market – have unveiled new efforts to get their software into cars.”

NBC Not Drinking Twitter’s Viewership Kool-Aid Yet






(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Recode:

“You know how Twitter is supposed to be TV’s friend?

Things look a little less congenial today.

That’s after a pointed article in the Financial Times, where a top NBC executive says that Twitter’s most important selling point to the TV industry — “We’ll deliver eyeballs to your shows” — hasn’t panned out.

That’s a red flag for Twitter, which has been trying to create a symbiosis with the TV Industrial Complex for years, and is selling that link to investors as well.

But there’s no there there, says NBCUniversal* research chief Alan Wurtzel.

He comes to that conclusion after looking at the effect of Twitter, as well as Facebook, on NBCU’s ratings during the Winter Olympics. Wurtzel saw lots of chatter about Sochi on social media, but none of that seemed to translate to increased viewership.”

Fox News Drops Ball on Cliven Bundy coverage … says Fox News Host


From Huff Post:

“MediaBuzz host Howard Kurtz said that Fox News “fell seriously short” in its coverage of Bundy following an interview with the New York Times published Wednesday in which Bundy wondered if black Americans were “better off as slaves” or “under government subsidy.”

Kurtz slammed Bundy’s “blatantly racist comments” and called out Fox News for giving minimal coverage to his racism even as other networks were covering it aggressively.

“There was virtually no mention of these racist remarks by Cliven Bundy when everybody else was covering it [Thursday],” Kurtz said. “I think that to ignore a major story that was on the front page of the New York Times…I think that gives him ammunition to Fox’s detractors.” (…)

The network as a whole devoted 4 hours and 40 minutes of coverage to Bundy in its late afternoon and evening programs, according to Media Matters. But, as Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone pointed out, the network was largely silent on Thursday when news of the rancher’s racism was revealed.”

Readers regard native ads the same way they’d like to feel about Lost’s final episode

From Digiday:

“A new survey by HubShout, an online marketing firm based in Falls Church, Va., offers a bit of mixed news for brands. Two-thirds of readers surveyed have read a native ad, but almost an equal number didn’t remember what it was about or who the advertiser was. (Respondents were shown examples of what native ads look like.)

Still, half of the respondents stated that they find equal value in sponsored and non-sponsored content — and only slightly less felt native ads had the potential to be relevant.

HubShout does have a vested interest in promoting native advertising, so the results should be taken with a grain of salt, Nonetheless, the results offer some indication of consumer sentiment.”

NYT Chooses Site Commenters Same Way Laptop Does Your Taxes

From New York Times:

Screenshot 2014-04-29 15.22.18

“I asked Sasha Koren, the deputy editor of interactive news, whose bailiwick this is, about this. She and Bassey Etim, the community manager, responded:

Verified commenters are selected algorithmically based on the breadth and quality of the comments they have submitted over time. First, we require a certain number of total submissions over the course of their entire commenting history for the Times, and we also require a certain number of submissions over the past few months. Then, in both of those categories, we require a very high percentage rate of comments approved by our moderators versus those rejected.

There is no human intervention in the selection process besides the setting the parameters outlined above. However, verified status can be revoked from users for either a flagrant violation of our commenting rules or a series of violations that follow a warning from the Community team.”

From the makers of the NSA comes to you “White House Study on Big Data: Bad”

From Ars Technica:

“Next week, White House counselor John Podesta is set to present the results of a 90-day “big data” study, commissioned by President Barack Obama in January as part of a wave of NSA reform announcements. According to the Associated Press, Podesta’s study will hinge largely on the discriminatory potential of the mountains of data accumulated by public and private firms alike.

The AP report used private data clustering as an example of potential abuse, describing customers lumped into an “Ethnic Second-City Struggler” category. Loan applicants could be lumped into that category based on geographic and social-media information, flagging them for higher-interest loans than they’d be offered as anonymous, off-the-street customers.

Additionally, job applicants could be pre-declined based on the locations and durations of recent residencies, among other factors. Podesta didn’t speak to these specific examples of discrimination, nor did he confirm what recommendations he’ll make to the president in the wake of the study, other than a desire to update the Electronic Communications and Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, which he co-authored. (ECPA reform has been languishing in Congress for quite some time now.)”

… Now For Good News: Verizon NOT Hiding Fact Sells Users’ Info To Marketers


From The Sidney Morning Herald:

“The company says it’s “enhancing” its Relevant Mobile Advertising program, which it uses to collect data on customers’ online habits so that marketers can pitch stuff at them with greater precision.

“In addition to the customer information that’s currently part of the program, we will soon use an anonymous, unique identifier we create when you register on our websites,” Verizon Wireless is telling customers.

“This identifier may allow an advertiser to use information they have about your visits to websites from your desktop computer to deliver marketing messages to mobile devices on our network,” it says.

That means exactly what it looks like: Verizon will monitor not just your wireless activities but also what you do on your wired or Wi-Fi-connected laptop or desktop computer – even if your computer doesn’t have a Verizon connection.

The company will then share that additional data with marketers. (…)

Debra Lewis, a Verizon Wireless spokeswoman, explained to me that when a customer registers on the company’s “My Verizon” website to see a bill or watch TV online, a cookie, or tracking software, is downloaded onto the customer’s home computer.

Most cookies are benign, allowing websites to provide better service to frequent visitors.

Verizon Wireless’ cookie allows a data-collection company working on Verizon’s behalf – Lewis declined to name which one – to gather information on which sites you visit after you leave “My Verizon”.

That information is “anonymised”, Lewis said, to mask the Verizon customer’s identity and is then shared with marketers, which can use the info to provide ads on the customer’s Verizon Wireless device that match his or her home-computer interests. (…)

“I don’t fully understand the technology,” said Stephens at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. “But it apparently works and it’s extremely valuable to marketers.”

Lewis, at Verizon Wireless, didn’t fully understand the technology either. She acknowledged that a customer’s mobile number has to be known to marketers so they can target ads to that specific user, but insisted that the information collected from home computers remains anonymous.

Lewis also acknowledged that no explicit notice is given when the cookie is installed on people’s home computers from the “My Verizon” site, although there’s a link in the site’s “notification centre” to more information on the enhanced Relevant Mobile Advertising program.

Because no notice is given at the time the cookie is downloaded, it would obviously be up to individual Verizon Wireless customers to learn what’s happening and then find the appropriate page on Verizon Wireless’ website to opt out of the company’s surveillance.

Rival US telcos AT&T and T-Mobile both said they don’t have similar programs. An email to Sprint went unanswered.”

Conversnitch: the lamp that eavesdrops on conversations, then tweets content



(Photo credit: Twitter)

“As former NSA director Michael Hayden learned on an Amtrak train last year, anyone with a smartphone instantly can become a livetweeting snoop. Now a whole crowd of amateur eavesdroppers could be as close as the nearest light fixture.

Two artists have revealed Conversnitch, a device they built for less than $100 (£60) that resembles a lightbulb or lamp and surreptitiously listens in on nearby conversations and posts snippets of transcribed audio to Twitter. Kyle McDonald and Brian House say they hope to raise questions about the nature of public and private spaces in an era when anything can be broadcast by ubiquitous, Internet-connected listening devices. (…)

It screws into and draws power from any standard bulb socket. Then it uploads captured audio via the nearest open Wi-Fi network to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing platform, which McDonald and House pay small fees to transcribe the audio and post lines of conversation to Conversnitch’s Twitter account. “This is stuff you can buy and have running in a few hours,” says McDonald, a 28-year-old adjunct professor at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School of the Arts.”