Less reading, more browsing and playing

editorsweblog.org: US: spending for reading materials divided by 3 in 40 years:

AdAge has presented a very disturbing study on what the Americans are buying and why. Between 1960 and 2003, the spending for reading materials (including newspapers) was divided by three! According to the study, “The share of money spent on entertainment has hovered around 5% since 1950, but priorities have shifted. Spending on consumer electronics has soared; spending on newspapers, magazines and books has plummeted…..

Call it “bleople power”

FT.com / Industries / IT – Bloggers unleash people power:

It started with a simple gripe posted on a weblog the blogger was unhappy that his new cellphone did not work as advertised.

It wasn’t long before other angry bloggers chimed in with their own stories, flooding the “blogosphere” with a stream of complaints that culminated last month in a class action lawsuit against the second-largest wireless network operator in the US.

The lawsuit against Verizon Wireless and the way it came about highlights the challenges that weblogs, popularly known as blogs, pose to corporations.

WSJ.com – U.S. Hiring Picks Up Steam, But Falls Short of ForecastsBut Falls Short of Forecasts

WSJ.com – U.S. Hiring Picks Up Steam, But Falls Short of Forecasts:

President Bush was promising 300,000 new jobs a month by last January. We’re still at just 146,000 new jobs a month, so we’re getting less than half our deficit spending’s worth. Unemployment “fell” to 5.2%, but, oh, there were 29,000 fewer jobs created in November and December than we thought.

The prevarication in the headline should embarrass the editors of the Journal.

Finally a little good news for the dollar

FT.com / World / US – Dollar surges on Greenspan US deficit comments :

The dollar rallied on Friday to a near three-month high against the euro following reassuring comments on the US current account deficit by Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Speaking at a conference ahead of the Group of Seven meeting in London, Mr Greenspan listed a range of factors poised to contribute to the narrowing of the US current account deficit.

These included market forces – an increasing unwillingness by international exporters to see their profit margins squeezed by the low dollar as well as growing success by US exporters – and a changed political environment.

In afternoon trading, the dollar rose against the euro to $1.2947, the strongest since November 12.

Mr Greenspan said the US economy might be approaching, if it had not already reached, the point at which exporters to the US would not longer choose to absorb a future reduction in profit margins due to the declining dollar.

He then mentioned political pressures: “Besides market pressures, which appear poised to stabilise and over the longer run possibly to decrease the US current account deficit and its attendant financing requirements, some forces in the domestic US economy seem to head in the same direction.”

He added: “The voice of fiscal restraint, barely audible a year ago, has at least partially regained volume. If actions are taken to reduce federal government dissaving, pressures to borrow from abroad will presumably diminish.”



And more, but, basically, it’s still just dollar PR for the time being. The U.S.’ current account deficit may narrow, but the absurd federal deficit spending is only going to widen. Every time President Bush promises a contraction of the debt, we get an unbudgeted surprise. If the Social Security “reform” goes through, it will add another several trillion dollars of debt, but all we hear is that he will cut the deficit in half by 2009 (there was no deficit when he got into office). Amazing that Greenspan parrots this shit.

It bears repeating what Lucas says, but don’t trust me….

the weblog of Lucas Gonze:

I’ve been pondering how to apply the Marqui paid-blogging model to the music industry. Ethical chicken aside, the business value of mentions on alpha MP3 blogs is huge, and bloggers deserve money for their hard work. Blogging suffers from very serious ethical problems in the first place, putting cash up front makes the ethical issues more transparent rather than less. However, the paid-blogging model has to grow up, and there are a lot of details to be taken care of.

For one, future paid bloggers won’t be able to write about paid blogging; that topic is pretty well owned by Marqui. They’ll have to write about the product itself, which is not easy.

Types of blog entries should be broken out. For example the contract might call for two 10-word mentions, one 100-word entry, and one 800-word entry.

Paid bloggers need to write on a topic already associated with their sponsor. For example, mentions on this blog would be a lot more valuable to an internet music product than to a content management system.

Paid blog stints have to account for the natural lifetime of a topic. There just isn’t that much to say. Marqui blog contracts were for three months; this should be halved to six weeks.

Marqui’s rates were perfect. $200 a week is what it costs to get a blogger to take the project seriously.

Online auctions: The tarnish appears

TheNewsTribune.com | Tacoma, WA | Top stories:

The number of complaints filed with the Federal Trade Commission over Internet auctions has nearly doubled over the last two years, the agency said Tuesday.

More than 98,000 grievances about online auction transactions were filed with the FTC in 2004, up from 51,000 in 2002, according to the agency’s annual report on consumer fraud and identity theft complaints.

The online auction concerns covered issues ranging from the failure of sellers to deliver their goods or services to the winning bidder to consumers claiming that their new purchase wasn’t worth the money they paid.

Now what am I going to do with all the junk in the garage?

We are the world, so fuck off

FT.com – Geldof laments role as celebrity campaigner:

Sir Bob Geldof has found himself at the centre of controversy again after the outspoken pop star and agitator revealed he was often “profoundly” bored by Africa – the continent whose problems he has done so much to bring to the attention of the wider world.

The Irish-born singer, who 20 years ago launched Live Aid to assist famine-stricken Ethiopia, told Britain’s Radio Times magazine “the pace of change is far too slow and Africans excuse their own complicity in exactly the same way as our politicians”.

Sir Bob, noted for his earthy language, said he was as blunt with African leaders as he was “with our lot”, but that he “knew the consequences of saying ‘fuck off’, so I’m more patient”.

Smart Mobs: Manuel Castells, Open Source, Tech of Cooperation

Smart Mobs: Manuel Castells, Open Source, Tech of Cooperation:

Manuel Castells’ address at the World Social Forum addresses open source production methods as a technology of cooperation.

(Thank you, Henrique!)

Conventionally, in a capitalist economy, property is the right to exclude others from the use of a good or service. In open source, property is configured fundamentally around the right to distribute, not to exclude. The source code for open source is published and distributed for the use by anyone who wishes. And because the source code is known, users can modify it, and can modify or generate new applications. Free source code is open, public, and non proprietary. This new form of property, that is entirely contradictory with the usual regime of intellectual property rights, is supported by a governance system that holds together a community of producers. It is based on human motivation to work within this logic and is supported by an evolving set of organizational structures to coordinate behavior.