If you're a fan of open source, you're a fan of licensing. Okay, maybe not a fan. But you still have to respect the legal power of the documents attached to open-source software and projects, which describe for you the exact ways you can and cannot use, modify, and pass-along the licensed material. While a newcomer to the open source might see these licenses as restrictive entities prohibiting commercial exploitation of a body of work, they're the lifeblood of those who spend untold hours poring over the bits and bytes of a dream. Not as a means of financial extortion for companies that want to use the software, rather, these licensing documents ensure that the spirit of open source carries on regardless of a project's potential iterations.
I sometimes wish I could apply a license to everything I do on the Internet. And perhaps you will too, once you realize that you're a content creator -- just like me, anyone who writes for this site, and any of the estimated 17 million (and counting) microbloggers on the popular Twitter service. As of yesterday, Twitter has joined forces with Threadless. The t-shirt retailer and community hub is now the centerpiece in a massive effort to transform your witty public Tweets into cash-generating, hipster t-shirts. But this partnership respects the spirit of licensing, even though the actual legal rights you hold as a Twitter user are still open for debate.
Fire up your best 140-word comment and click the jump to learn about this fashionable new deal!
Flock takes its Web 2.0 experience a few notches higher with the release of version 2.5 of its social networking browser. The new version updates its core code to Firefox 3.0.10, the latest Firefox build (in final release form) currently available.
New in version 2.5, Facebook Chat has now been integrated as an instant messaging service As has been Flock's M.O., users have the ability to drag content from web pages directly into the chat box. The Flock team also completely overhauled the browser's Twitter integration. Replies, now called @mentions, and direct mentions are now separated in the sidebar, and a new widget added to MyWorld makes it possible to perform and save Twitter searches.
Other new features include FlockCast, which allows users to broadcast actions from the web directly into Facebook, and the addition of Bebo as a People service.
When's the last time you surfed on over to your Pligg and updated what you were doing for the entire Internet to see? What about Elgg? Have you changed your favorite movies to reflect that big blockbuster hit you saw this weekend? You probably don't have to, because all of your friends using the Tweetero client on their iPhones could just log on and see exactly what you were up to. Or not. Because you aren't on Twitter -- you're on Identi.ca, the open-source equivalent of the popular messaging program.
Unlike the open-source software world, where even the smallest gems of programs can find a meaningful existence, the open-source social networking world depends on people. Masses of people. You can't just launch a new social networking platform and expect it to flourish if it doesn't have a decently sized audience. And you're never going to pull away the users that are already comfortable on their existing Web 2.0 platforms if you just imitate the best practices of the current litany of sites. But that's what's happening in the open-source social networking world right now. There's a healthy mix of innovation and duplication, giving some segments of the online world new and interesting applications... and others with their 25th version of Twitter.
Which areas of social networking are dead zones for open-source development? Click the jump to find out!
In the spirit of trying new and exciting things in the year ahead, this month I decided to upend my column-writing strategy: Instead of writing about whatever’s stuck in my craw, I asked the folks following my Twitter stream to tell me what I should write about—a contest of sorts. The responses of my fellow Twitterinos ranged from mildly kooky to wildly off-topic, and while there’s absolutely no way to write about everything suggested, I’m going to give it the ol’ Maximum PC try. Here we go.
The first respondent, @terryrobinson, wanted to know, “What’s next after we win the battle against DRM and GNU becomes the standard software license?” Well, while I love your optimism, Terry, I think it’s much too early to dream of a post-DRM world. We’ve made good progress against DRM in music, but there’s a long road in front of us with respect to movie and game content. And no one’s even talking about electronic books, like the Kindle and its proprietary locked format. So while I’m sure we’ll one day live in a magical Internet wonderland filled with open content, free software, and unicorns, for now at least, it remains a long way off.
Fellow Rock Band aficionado @strngwys wanted a column about how excited I am to unleash my inner Eddie Vedder when Ten is released this spring. No column required, stranger, just three words: REALLY, REALLY EXCITED.
Earlier this month the traffic monitoring service comScore released their global numbers for March of 2009. And, with those results came some astonishing numbers for everyone’s favorite compulsive microblogging service, Twitter.
Twitter.com’s worldwide visitors increased a whopping 95 percent in March from 9.8 million to 19.1 million, according to the report. It’s expected that Ashton Kutcher’s race with CNN to one million followers and Oprah’s introduction were both large parts of the traffic increase.
It should be noted though, that this is only traffic on Twitter’s site, not an actual tally of active users. And it doesn’t track users that use the service by means of desktop or mobile client. All things considered, these are still some pretty impressive numbers.
Really, Time Warner? Do I need to take you, and sit you in a corner? Because it’s clear to me that you just can’t right any of your wrongs. This time, a boneheaded exec at Warner Music Norway decided to lash out against an 18-year-old Norwegian student, calling him (and I quote the translation) a “stupid brat.”
A young blogger, identified only as Evan, was reportedly upset about his inability to download the new Dave Matthews Band album on iTunes. However, he was quick to identify that his problem wasn’t present for those in the United States. So, like any self-respecting member of the Internet, he Tweeted his concern, by stating (again, this is an approximate translation), “'I’m pissed! iTunes is only allowing downloads of the new Dave Matthews Band album if you live in the US! And they complain about pirating.”
Without delay, Warner Music Norway’s Terje Pedersen was there to solve the problem with some quick, and effective customer service. Pedersen, responding in the standard tweet format, stated, “Then I suggest you steal it and write about the process in your stupid brat blog. We don't want you to get upset.” Pedersen is of course, referring to Evan’s blog.
Wow, well played Pedersen. Clearly the concept of acting your age is lost on you.
Some researchers over at the Neural Interfaces Technology Research & Optimization Lab at the University of Wisconsin have been spending their time working on some wicked cool technology. But, most notably, their EEG controlled interface, dubbed “The Brain-Twitter Interface” (seriously) has garnered some heavy attention – and for good reason.
For many, their only experience with locked-in syndrome was the episode of House featuring Mos Def a few weeks back. But, in the interest of real people that are actually stuck in that situation, this brainwave controlled hat can help you type out words on a screen, allowing potentially complex thoughts to be communicated even by a vegetable.
More importantly, this opens the door for all of your thoughts to be communicated to text in real time, right away. That’s right Twitter users, there’s a very slight chance that in the not too distant future you could cut out the middleman between you and your followers – your hands.
Over Easter weekend, many Twitter fans were getting worms instead of finding Easter Eggs, as the developer of a rival microblogging site (StalkDaily), one 17-year-old Michael "Mikeyy" Mooney, was busy drawing Twitter users to his site through infected links and Twitter profiles. According to PCWorld and the Twitter status page, the infection has now been brought under control. But inquiring minds want to know, "what happened?" and "how can we stop a future attack?"
Doing a Google search for "Mikeyy" or "TwitterWorm" isn't the best way to find out, though, as the F-Secure security blog points out that fake news sites are being used to infect curious searchers with (unrelated) malware. To get the real scoop, join us after the jump.
For many, Twitter is a great way to let their friends and family know what they’re up to at any given moment, or keep track of their favorite public figures. But, a few towns in Minnesota have decided to use the micro-blogging service as a way to keep their inhabitants up to date on local affairs.
The towns of Falcon Heights, Minnetonka and Edina, Minnesota have all become “suburban government pioneers” by employing Twitter’s ease of use to inform locals of everything from snow emergencies to sewer backups.
According to the Falcon Heights parks department, using Twitter and Facebook to post notices is more efficient than traditional methods. And, for those in Eden Prairie, MN the use of YouTube for posting video bulletins (including a city promotional 13 different languages) has become common practice.
“Everybody's trying to figure out how to best do this, similar to when websites first became prevalent,” stated Justin Miller, Falcon Heights’ city manager. “Who can post? Who can publish? What's appropriate to put out there? These are the types of questions we think about.”
While to many the news isn’t that important (one such tweet reads “Today is NOT recycling day”), it is a neat first step towards putting even the localest of local news online. But, will it catch on?
If you use Twitter, chances are good that you’ve noticed a small change on your home page lately. Right under the “Home” tab, it used to say “@replies.” The only issue with that was that it would show tweets that began the message with your name, and left out others were you may have been referred. The new change fixes all that.
“The @Replies feature was introduced because we noticed lots of folks putting the @ symbol in front of Twitter usernames as a way of addressing one another,” wrote Biz Stone, a co-founder of Twitter on their official blog. “However, folks started getting more inventive as they often do. Now people include @username mentions in the middle of tweets as a way to simply reference another account. For example: I'm flying @jetblue to Boston. Also, folks reference multiple accounts in a single tweet like this: I'm flying @jetblue to Boston with @ev @crystal and @goldman.”
For most users, this change probably won’t be a game changer. But, for folks that use this as a communication tool it is a genuinely nice change that can help them see just who’s saying what about them!