internet – Rex Hammock's Fri, 16 Feb 2018 15:34:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Internet Archive Liberates a Mountain of Materials Published Between 1923-1941 Wed, 11 Oct 2017 12:10:43 +0000

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The Internet Archive (in my book, one of the few “wonders of the internet”) is now using a little known, and perhaps never used, provision of US copyright law (Section 108h) which allows libraries to scan and make available materials published 1923 to 1941 if they are not being actively sold. (Note: While I am not an anti-copyright advocate, I believe that certain types of copyrights should sunset in 14 years, renewable once if the copyright holder took actions to renew it. That’s 28 years. Okay, round it up to 30. But forever? At the bottom of this post, there’s a link to two articles I wrote on about Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and their beliefs on the topic.)

Quote from the Internet Archive blog:

Elizabeth Townsend Gard, a copyright scholar at Tulane University calls this “Library Public Domain.”  She and her students helped bring the first scanned books of this era available online in a collection named for the author of the bill making this necessary: The Sonny Bono Memorial Collection. Thousands more books will be added in the near future as we automate. We hope this will encourage libraries that have been reticent to scan beyond 1923 to start mass scanning their books and other works, at least up to 1942. (…)


If the Founding Fathers had their way, almost all works from the 20th century would be public domain by now (14-year copyright term, renewable once if you took extra actions).


Some corporations saw adding works to the public domain to be a problem, and when Sonny Bono got elected to the House of Representatives, representing part of Los Angeles, he helped push through a law extending copyright’s duration another 20 years to keep things locked-up back to 1923. This has been called the Mickey Mouse Protection Act due to one of the motivators behind the law, but it was also a result of Europe extending copyright terms an additional twenty years first. If not for this law, works from 1923 and beyond would have been in the public domain decades ago.


Today we announce the “Sonny Bono Memorial Collection” containing the first books to be liberated. Anyone can download, read, and enjoy these works that have been long out of print. We will add another 10,000 books and other works in the near future.


Professor Townsend Gard had two legal interns work with the Internet Archive last summer to find how we can automate finding appropriate scanned books that could be liberated, and hand-vetted the first books for the collection. Professor Townsend Gard has just released an in-depth paper giving libraries guidance as to how to implement Section 108(h) based on her work with the Archive and other libraries. Together, we have called them “Last Twenty” Collections, as libraries and archives can copy and distribute to the general public qualified works in the last twenty years of their copyright.

Sidenote by Rex: Here are a couple of articles I wrote a few years ago for about the founding fathers, patents, and copyrights.

Benjamin Franklin Never Sought a Patent or Copyright

Thomas Jefferson’s Views on Patents and Intellectual Property Rights

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Competitive Outrage Sat, 01 Aug 2015 21:41:28 +0000

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I haven’t commented on the outrage of the week, the killing of Zimbabwe’s “most beloved lion,” Cecil, by a big game hunting dentist from Minnesota named Walter Palmer.

By the time I was aware of the Cecil killing, the internet outrage was far more than anything I could come up with, so I passed even tweeting about it. Besides, the only thing I could think of to say that I hadn’t seen before was how white the dentist’s teeth were — obviously, a Photoshop job.

The competitive nature of internet outrage is fascinating.

My recent post about the Confederate flag could certainly be categorized in the competitive outrage genre. And I’ve been holding off on a review of Go Set a Watchman because, after reading it, I haven’t been able to care enough about the book to conjure up the competitive outrage it deserves.

Rather than attempt to explain what I mean by competitive, I’ve decided I can’t come close to the essay, “My Outrage is Better Than Your Outrage,” by James Hamblin at

He does it so much better. Quote:

“The Internet launders outrage and returns it to us as validation, in the form of likes and stars and hearts. The greatest return comes from a strong and superior point of view, on high moral ground. And there is, fortunately and unfortunately, always higher moral ground. Even when a dentist kills an adorable lion, and everyone is upset about it, there’s better outrage ground to be won.

“The most widely accepted hierarchy of outrage seems to be (note: I’ve added rearranged Hamblin’s following list into a graphic hierarchy):

*************End of all life due to uninhabitable planet
***********Systematic killing of humans
*********Systematic oppression/torture of people
******Systematic killing of animals
****Multiple animals killed
**Single animal killed
Single animal injured

“To say that there’s a more important issue in the world is always true, except in the case of climate change ending all life, both human and animal. So it’s meaningless, even if it’s fun, to go around one-upping people’s outrage. Try it. Someone will express legitimate concern over something, and all you have to do is say there are more important things to be concerned about.

“All you have to do is use the phrase “spare me” and then say something about global warming. You can literally write, “My outrage is more legit than your outrage! Ahhh!”

Read the entire essay here.

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In praise of a banner ad Sat, 20 Mar 2010 17:56:50 +0000

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aflac banner ad

This post is a review of this banner ad, but clicking on it won’t take you anywhere.

I feel fairly confident this post marks the first time in this blog’s near decade-long history that I’ve written a review of a banner ad.

But first, I have a disclosure. While I have no, none whatsoever, nada, association with the company Aflac, I did, however, grow up eating scrambled dogs (scroll down to Georgia) at the Dinglewood Pharmacy, directly across the street from its headquarters in Columbus, Ga.

With that disclosed, I feel I have enough objectivity to observe a tiny blip in the gigantic advertising efforts of the company that was known as American Family Life Assurance Company (thus, AFLAC) during the era when I was eating those scrambled dogs. Unlike when small companies decide to do it, when large brand-dependent marketing companies shorten their names to initials (IBM) or portmanteaus (FedEx), they realize their customers won’t immediately associate the before-and-after (although FedEx actually followed its customers in shortening its name — I don’t recall Coke’s or Bud’s shortening, but I’m guessing those, too, were customer initiated).

In reality, it often takes years — and untold millions of dollars — for a company to pull off the transition from name to initials. In Aflac’s case, the initials formed an acronym that, when read as a word, sounded to someone like a duck’s quack. Rather than fight it, the company boldly decided to follow an advertising agency’s advice and establish its brand with a massive advertising campaign based on the onomatopoeia of an acronym — and thus, AFLAC became Aflac, and a duck became the quacking pitch man.

Over the 12 or so years of the campaign, we’ve seen the duck evolve from a live duck actor (with Gilbert Gottfried’s voice) playing a crotchety old(?) man(?) (although, I understand that in Japan, the duck has been a kinder, gentler bird) into a more robotic-seeming duck that sometimes, at least to me, seems to drift into the uncanny valley, to a cartoon character that has become a part of Aflac’s logo and the version of the duck affixed to the 99 car in the company’s NASCAR (Nascar?) sponsorship. (Think, Donald Duck with no clothes.)

And then, today, I ran across this banner ad on the Wall Street Journal’s website.

I don’t even know where to begin describing the heroic, stylized interpretation of the Aflac duck that appears in that ad. To me, it’s right up there with the Obama campaign poster, except in this case, Aflac actually owns the intellectual property on which the work is based. And the ad’s approach to using an IAB standard format as a canvas for an animation-free exploration of negative and positive shapes strikes me as a bold declaration that there’s a higher calling for the banner ad than the crap usually jammed into one.

Well done, Aflac. Even though I didn’t click on it, that banner is almost as good as a Dinglewood pharmacy scrambled dog.

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If ‘advertising’ is your middle name, your surveys will always suggest the solution is … Thu, 12 Nov 2009 19:31:52 +0000

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But who is going to bell the cat?

I have a theory that goes something like this: If the name of your organization is Interactive Advertising Bureau, any study of the needs of internet marketers is going to suggest that “advertising” is the solution. According to my theory, such a study will focus on how media companies should involve getting a salesforce of “category experts” and interactive marketing gurus who can help develop more “engaging options and formats.”

So, having this theory, I’m not in the least bit surprised that a new study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and Bain & Company suggests the following:

*Online ad formats and creative have not evolved to meet marketers’ needs

*Media companies lack category expertise when they sell to brand marketers and engage with them too late in the media planning process

*Marketers want integrated campaigns instead of platform-specific media programs

*While marketers see high value in online advertising and believe that it could be effective at all stages of the purchase funnel, current industry practices inhibit greater investment of brand ad dollars

*Marketers express needs for differentiated services for their brands and believe that media companies and agencies have to meet those differentiated needs for online advertising to grow.

Nor am I surprised that the study recommends “media companies” need to take six steps, based on the needs expressed by marketers:

*Create segmented offerings to meet the separate needs of advertisers who are focused on building brands and those who are looking for direct response

*Make brand-focused marketers a priority by building a sales force of category experts who respond directly to those marketers’ specific needs

*Develop a full range of solutions with more engaging options and formats, including social networks, video and other rich media

*Offer deeper service and support customized to vertical industries, to help advertisers plan, create and measure the brand impact of online ads

*Optimize the ways that ad inventories are sold, with a range of approaches from full-service to self-service to partnership with ad networks and resellers

*Enhance organizational effectiveness by setting the right priorities, clarifying internal roles and accountability and investing in sales staff skills and incentives

Wow. I wonder how much the IAB paid Bain for that? Here’s the reality — free from me having to convince marketers that “advertising” is the solution — as “Rex” is my middle name, not “advertising”:

*If you’re a media company, chances are, you don’t think of yourself as a marketing services firm, so therefore the solutions you will develop will be programs to utilize the media properties you own. If you’re a media company, you have a certain DNA that prevents you from suggesting that even a portion of the clients’ “advertising” budget goes to the competition’s URLs, even if its in the best “branding” interest of the client. Perhaps Bain and the IAB can come up with a commission structure for selling the competitor’s URL’s inventory. Maybe there will be talk about such, but push-comes-to-shove, whose property are you going to suggest — the one that serves the marketers branding needs best, or the one that serves your shareholders and personal bank-account’s best? This reality is why the entire institution of “marketing agency” exists. As much as traditional media companies want to be in the marketing services business, the “brand” they market best is their own.

*That “the thing formerly known as advertising” doesn’t fit neatly into formats — or, at least, a set of formats that can ever be standardized

*That “marketers” who create awful advertising in all the current formats will create awful advertising in any new format.

*That coming up with recommendations like the IAB/Bain’s is akin to the Aesop fable about the National Mouse Association who commissioned Bain to do a survey of mice recently eaten by a cat. (Short version: Bain survey suggests putting a bell around the cat’s neck to serve as early warning signal that the cat’s around. In the parable, a mouse blogger then asks, “But who’s going to ‘bell the cat'”?)

With my own “bell the cat” suggestion, here is all that marketers need to do to succeed in using advertising or un-advertising, no matter what the format or who’s selling it:

*Create great products and services that a specific group of people believe are great.

*Talk constantly with those people

*Find where those people are talking with one-another, join in

*Find where those people are talking with people who haven’t yet discovered your product

*Spend your marketing budget supporting those places: Providing great sponsored content, hosting events, underwriting whatever you can, paying for free wifi at airports for those people. Make those people think you are everywhere, because you are everywhere they are. Oh, and buy lots of banner ads in those places, also.

*Wake up each morning and go to bed each night reminding yourself this: The passion for my product and service is bigger than any one URL

*Fill your own URL with great content that supports those people’s use of your product or service. Give them how-to support and finger-tip access to any question they could ever dream of having about your product or service. And did I mention that such content should be filled with words and terms that people use when searching for information about your product or service?

*Find ways to enable them to share knowledge about how to use your product or service better than you could ever tell them — you just make it, they’re the ones using it all day.

*And always remember, advertising is not just a format.

*Get a clue

(Cross-posted on the site of Hammock Inc., a content marketing and custom media company filled with people who understand un-advertising.)

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When you live in a culture of fear, even student hugs and helpful teachers are viewed as threats Thu, 28 May 2009 14:47:11 +0000

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I’m bothered when I read that some schools are banning students from hugging and (via danah boyd – and be sure to read the comments) other schools are banning any contact between students and teachers during “off-hours,” including any contact via non-school-hosted online forums (i.e., Facebook).

The assumption that hugging is aggressive behavior and the presumption of deviant motives of any teacher who would make themselves available to answer questions from students on Facebook are just two more examples of how fear-based regulations and rules that are instant responses to “crises” — real or imagined — often crush opportunities and positive results that could be achieved if cooler, more reasoned heads prevailed.

Are those schools trying to protect students who don’t want to be hugged? Are those schools trying to protect teachers who don’t want to be bothered by students outside the classroom? If so, they’ve chosen a rather ham-fisted solution.

Let me get this straight: I’m in no way suggesting that real issues — real deviant adults and real aggressive teenagers — did not create situations thatled to the specific hugging and friending bans reported in these two accounts. What I’m saying is this: I believe that bans on all hugging and all teacher-student “off-hours” collaboration will result in far more harm than good.

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To parents of teens, read this Sun, 17 May 2009 13:25:21 +0000

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I get asked lots of questions (from parents) about how teens use the Internet. Typically, the questions are phrased in such a way as to imply the Internet should be added to the list: sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. I can understand the concern. Among people I know, I’ve heard of some incredibly cruel and hurtful web-based acts among teens. Then, again, I’ve heard of similar acts that didn’t involve the web, so I’m not so sure it’s the web that’s the problem.

I’ve also been a part of many discussions with students and other discussions with parents about the appropriateness of things like “friending ones parents/kids” on Facebook. (Personal observation: Neither teens or parents understand how to use the privacy settings on Facebook.)

Despite having a teen and recent-teen in my in-house focus group, my answers to such questions are typically based on whatever danah boyd says. danah has spent the past several years researching how teens use the Internet, especially social networks. (Heck, I even have her PhD dissertation loaded on my Kindle.)

Yesterday, she invited the 11,000+ people who follow her on Twitter (@zephoria) to ask her questions about current web practices by teens.

She then compiled those questions and her answers into this extremely informative post.

In the immediate future, I’ll be using danah’s post as a crib-sheet to answer questions related to teens. However, if you want to cut out the middle-man, I suggest you bookmark that page for yourself.


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Wolfram Alpha is not a Twitter-killer Sat, 16 May 2009 17:17:13 +0000

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The title of this post is a joke, of course. Last night’s “softly launched” Wolfram Alpha “computational knowledge engine” (official “pre-launch” is Monday) has nothing to do with killing Twitter. Nor, for that matter, does it have anything to do with killing Google or Wikipedia. That hasn’t stopped most of the geek-oriented coverage from primarily comparing it to Google or Wikipedia. (To understand what the service is all about, I suggest Danny Sullivan’s post from a couple of weeks ago.)

My quick reaction to Wolfram Alpha: It has lots of wow factor, but it’s no Twitter.

Also, it lacks the intuitiveness of Google and the disambiguation clues of Wikipedia. But as it’s not supposed to be compared to them, forget that.

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HyperLincs: Celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday online Sun, 08 Feb 2009 01:17:50 +0000

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[CC /]

While Presidents Day (the third Monday in February) is the official day for celebrating the birthdays of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, this year is definitely a Lincoln year. Not only did the inauguration of President Obama provide the context for a great deal of recognition and exploration of the Lincoln presidency, but next Thursday, February 12, is the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday and it kicks off a year-long series of exhibits and celebrations.

If you’d like to get into the spirit of the celebration, here are some of the best of the countless Lincoln Bicentennial resources I’ve seen around the Internet:

The Official Lincoln Bicentennial Website: The site contains a list of Lincoln-related exhibits planned around the country. (However, its list of events doesn’t seem as complete.) The site contains a fairly thorough list of links to Lincoln-related educational resources and points of interest.

The Library of Congress’ Abraham Lincoln Flickr Set: The Library of Congress has posted a set of photos of Abraham Lincoln on its Flickr account that features public domain images from its collection. (Disappointment: The LOC has a special Lincoln-related exhibit taking place, but other than a press release, the exhibit does not have a corresponding website. Its “Mr. Lincoln’s Virtal Library” website seems “shovel-ready” for an overhaul.) I also ran across a collection of photographs of Abraham Lincoln and his family that an individual collected and used the MediaWiki software platform to organize.

Abraham Lincoln quotations ( A comprehensive listing of quotes that can be attributed with citation to President Lincoln (as well as a listing of quotes that can’t be cited, but are often attributed to him). The entry also includes a helpful list of links to Project Gutenberg free e-book versions of many of Lincoln’s most famous speeches and writings.

U.S. National Park Service Lincoln Bicentennial Website: Longtime readers of this blog know I’m a fan of national parks so I’m glad to see they have this website that pulls together information about what’s taking place over the coming year at the many Lincoln-related parks, sites and memorials they manage.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute and iTunes U: It never fails to astonish me that so few people have clicked on that little link on the front of iTunes that will take them to iTunes U where they can download countless hours of free lectures from dozens of universities, foundations and institutions. When it comes to American history topics, I’ve found one of the best sources on iTunes U is The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Over the past week or so, I’ve been listening to several Lincoln-related lectures they’ve posted on their outpost at iTunes U. On the Gilder Lehrman Website itself, you can see the website version of the current edition of its quarterly journal, History Now, which is a collection articles, lectures and a teachers guide called “Abraham Lincoln in His Time and Ours.”

C-SPAN’s Lincoln 200 Years Website: C-SPAN is a Lincoln-wonk’s heaven these days and this website pulls together all they are doing online and on their cable channels. From the “for-profit” world, and the History Channel are going all out for Lincoln’s 200th birthday, including this impressive website that features segments from lots of Lincoln-related documentaries in the History Channel’s vaults.

Have I missed anything special? Add a link in the comments.

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The’s “website of record” features Fri, 03 Oct 2008 19:57:56 +0000

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With this innovative video/transcript archival feature chronicling last night’s Veep debate (and last week’s first debate), the New York Times is displaying what a news website of record should be: The definitive spot where news-related media is collected, curated, analyzed and then organized in various ways that allow individuals to search and easily find everything they need to make up their own minds. For more of their interactive campaign features, visit here.

Sidenotes: Information design wonks will love the elegance of the interface of the video archive — the timeline especially. And on the business side, note that the archive has a single sponsor who gets lots of visibility thanks to the lack of noise on the page.


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The economy is losing jobs, but Apple still has Jobs Fri, 03 Oct 2008 16:53:38 +0000

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Poor Steve Jobs is like the U.S. economy, rumors of his demise keep being greatly exaggerated.

A month ago, Bloomberg (the news service, not the mayor) mistakenly published his obituary and this morning, a “citizen journalist” on CNN’s, posted a false report that Steve Jobs had a heart attack.

Jobs has been puny-looking and mysterious about his health recently, so there was enough truthiness in both the obit appearance and the fake rumor to make Apple shares fall — something they’ve been doing a lot of recently.

Or perhaps, it was the report this morning that jobs (the kind people are paid for) are what is having a heart attack is what made the stock slump.

Whatever, I think we all need to declare Steve Jobs’ health rumors a no-fly zone. If you see a report related to it, turn off your computer and TV for 30 minutes before reacting.

Sidenote: There is actually a name for a high profile — and harmful — malicious use of a user-contributed platform. It’s called a Seigenthaler incident and it refers to a series of events that began in May, 2005, involving a hoax article on Wikipedia. That unfortunate event led to lots of analysis and to tightening the requirements for individuals who edit Wikipedia. I feel certain today’s hack will lead to some re-thinking of such policies at & CNN, as well.

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