TwitterWhere is the latest Twitter mash-up to come out the wildfires in San Diego California, and while it has uses far beyond that, it’s fairly obvious that tracking the fires was at least partially the impetus for the new service.
TwitterWhere does what it sounds like it does — enter a location (by city, state or postal code) and a radius and TwitterWhere will track all the tweets coming from that region. You can then add the resulting RSS feed to your reader for quick access.
There’s also an XML feed that mimic the public timeline on Twitter if you’d like to take the data from TwitterWhere and do something further with it.
The Times Online is reporting that Burma’s ruling military dictatorship is trying to seize United Nations computers, which contain information about opposition activists. The hard drives reportedly contain information that could help the junta identify and detain opposition leaders and bloggers who have been reporting on the brutal repression by government forces in Burma.
Many of the images and video of the tens of thousands of monks parading through Rangoon and the subsequent beatings and round-ups have come from e-mails and blog posts by brave Burmese citizens, many of whom have been forced into hiding as a result.
Carnegie Mellon University, the distinguished birthplace of most cutting edge robotics, one time study hall of mathematician John Nash and host to an undergraduate Andy Warhol, is also the birthplace of a somewhat more suspect invention: the smiley.
Love it or hate it, the smiley is well embedded into our cultural syntax at this point and today marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of its first appearance. Carnegie Mellon University professor Scott E. Fahlman says he was the first to use the now ubiquitous keystrokes that gave birth to a whole range of emoticons.
Fahlman posted the first emoticon Sept. 19, 1982 in answer to a discussion about the limits of humor in online test and how users could denote comments meant to be taken lightly. Despite the protests of many an English professor, who claim (quite correctly) that the limits of humor in text are the result of poor writing skills, emoticons are here to stay.
For the record Fahlman is open to the idea that he didn’t invent the emoticon, though he does claim that he has never seen hard evidence that the sequence was in use before his posting. If you happen to know different head over to Fahlman’s page and set him straight.
Google’s privacy chief, Peter Fleischer, has called on the U.N. to help set up global privacy standards for the future of the internet. Speaking just before a UN agency conference, Mr Fleischer said, “Three quarters of the countries in the world have no privacy regimes at all and among those that do have laws, many of them were largely adopted before the rise of the internet.”
Google says that, because vast amounts of personal data are regularly sent around the globe electronically, we need some sort of privacy framework to govern those transactions. The BBC quotes Mr Fleischer as saying, “every time a person uses a credit card their information may cross six or seven national boundaries.”
I’m sure that the irony of Google calling for worldwide privacy rules is not lost on Compiler readers. The search giant has been under fire in recent months for its own privacy policies. Although Google has made some changes to how it stores user data, many still think it has a long way to go; one report characterized Google as outright hostile to privacy concerns.
Apple’s announcement that it would begin selling ringtones through the iTunes Store has kicked off quite a debate over ringtones. New York Times columnist David Pogue recently asked his readers to explain to them why the heck anyone would want to pay for ringtones and got back some interesting answers — no one wants to.
So why are we paying for ringtones? Well, if you read the Wired How To Wiki on the subject, hopefully you’re not, but if you are, here’s a thought from copyright attorney Nilay Patel: You’re a sucker.
Well, actually Patel doesn’t say that, he merely points out that there’s no legal basis whatsoever for charging for ringtones.
In fact, the dreaded RIAA made sure that was the case by successfully arguing, as Patel says, “since making a ringtone doesn’t count as a derivative work, you’re not infringing any copyrights. Just don’t sell or distribute anything, and you should be fine.”
The reason the RIAA wanted that decision was because it wanted to collect royalties from those who sell ringtones, without giving any money back to the artists who created the songs. In order to set that up, the RIAA had to first prove ringtones were not derivative works, and a judge agreed with them.
The only thing I can conclude from this is that turning around and paying for ringtones makes us all suckers.