Sunday, September 21, 2003

And you thought that the Onion's story about Tanzania losing its name in a trademark dispute was ludicrous: Owner of Dewey Decimal System Sues New York's Library Hotel, not a joke. Apparently the owners are concerned that the hotel, which overlooks the New York Public Library, will cause a false association with the Dewey Decimal System because its rooms are named after Dewey categories, such as 800.001 for erotic literature. Which raises the question: I had no idea that the Dewey Decimal System was owned by anyone at all, and I suspect I'm not alone. If people think the system is in the public domain and thus does not indicate a source, how can there be confusion?

Monday, September 08, 2003

So, I have this blog because the new Google toolbar, a nice improvement on the older version, includes -- along with means to block popups, a form-filling button and an easy "search images" button -- a "BlogThis!" button lnked directly to Blogger, now owned by Google. I don't like being unable to have an RSS feed, though perhaps Blogger will eventually restore that option. But I like the convenience of blogging interesting news items by pressing a button.

This makes me think of fears expressed by Cass Sunstein and others that Internet content aggregators will allow us to see only news that we want to see, insulating our minds from new and different ideas. Blogging itself might be thought to be a challenge to that; I know I don't agree with Howard Bashman, but like the rest of us I read How Appealing. But what I find interesting is Google's use of its status as portal to push me not to particular content, but simply to a particular site where I put out my own content. That's not anything I would have anticipated when thinking about individualized aggregators. Maybe the only thing we know about individual speech on the Internet is that we don't know what it will look like in five years (though site traffic will probably still be subject to a power law).

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

The Onion does trademark law: The Onion | Tanzania Loses Name To Tanning-Salon Chain. Trademark seems to be replacing copyright as the new bad guy among the free speech crowd. Is this because we lost Eldred?

Commercial Closet

Commercial Closet is a great website with gay, lesbian and transgender-themed commercials. Some are funny and some are cruel. If you're interested in how homosexuality is becoming part of American culture and/or how homosexuality is getting commercialized (aren't they the same thing?), it's a great site. Though Commercial Closet warns it may be offensive, one of my favorites is "Stewards," by Travelocity.

Digital radio

What I hope is the future of digital music: LAUNCH: Music on Yahoo!

Edited: years later, poor customer service has left me disgusted with Launch, but I'm now trying Pandora, which has similar customization features. The music selection seems more limited, but that may not last.