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Storm news roundup 09-12-11

Our favourite web(ish) stories from the week…


“Google has released an open call for social networks (read Twitter & Facebook) to start participating in a new project called Analytics Social Data Hub.

The new project is ‘a free platform that social networks and other social platforms can use to integrate their activity streams— like +1, votes, and comments—with Google Analytics’. Sounds pretty awesome to me and will add a rich new layer to the already fantastic information you can pull out of Google Analytics.

Google already has Google Plus, Digg, Reddit and a few others signed up, but to make the service really worthwhile, they need deals with Facebook and Twitter.”


“Two related news stories signal interesting times ahead for the world of ebooks.

Both the European Commission the US DoJ are investigating the so-called “agency” pricing model for being anticompetitive. This seems self evident to me. The idea that a publisher should get to set the *retail* price that a store charges for their books has always seemed wrong, whether it’s a dead-tree or ebook. The idea that Amazon cannot sell me a book cheaper (while still paying the publisher the same) because that would somehow “devalue” the book is frankly ludicrous. The book publishing industry is increasingly looking even more self-destructive than the music and film industries.

Amazon fired a small shot across the bow of the self-same publishing companies with the launch of KDP Select (KDP = Kindle Direct Self-Publishing). Self-publishing authors who sign up agree to let their books be put in the Kindle Lending Library and will receive a share of $500,000 based on the number of times there book is borrowed. So if 1% of all loans that month were for your book you’d make a reasonable $5,000. There’s a 90 day exclusivity period, but that seems a small concession. After having the KLL snubbed by the major publishers last month, Amazon has clearly decided that it is deadly serious about becoming a publisher in its own right.”


“So, I can’t claim to be a Siri expert, but I have played with it – and wasn’t a fan what so ever. Interestingly, I picked up on this article on the chron blog – the general feeling is that Siri is clearly a fantastic idea, and that Apple has a fantastic opportunity to hone the technology for inclusion in later devices such as Apple TV’s. However, Siri’s rough edges make it feel like a real ‘beta’ product, and Beta isn’t something that Apple ever really lets the public near.”


“So hard to choose between new Twitter homepages (yawn), new Google products (yawn) and Europe (yawn). My favourite thing of the week isn’t really news, but it is a real-time stream of Wikipedia edits. Ace.”


“Microsoft are taking on the Apple geniuses, with their Answer Desk online service. While it’s been a feature of Microsoft stores in the US for a while, it’s now available online and lets you buy training, “Tune-ups”, Virus removal and software support. All seems a bit of a waste of money to me, really, but i’m sure it’ll be useful to less techy folks!”


“Check out this TED video about Captcha and some of the ideas around how else to use small contributions by many on the Internet for greater good”