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Friday Five – January 20, 2012

So the big news in the tech world this week was… Newt Gingrich. Just kidding it was SOPA – a proposed piece of garbage legislation written people that don’t manage their own Facebook and Twitter accounts that, if enacted, could cause disastrous harm to innovation and the tech industry. This issue was so important that Wikipedia blacked itself out in protest, essentially making the source of reference unavailable for the millions that use it. So kicking off the Friday Five this week is…


#1 – Thank you. [Wikipedia]

The Wikipedia blackout is over — and you have spoken.

More than 162 million people saw our message asking if you could imagine a world without free knowledge. You said no. You shut down Congress’s switchboards. You melted their servers. Your voice was loud and strong. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet.

For us, this is not about money. It’s about knowledge. As a community of authors, editors, photographers, and programmers, we invite everyone to share and build upon our work.

Our mission is to empower and engage people to document the sum of all human knowledge, and to make it available to all humanity, in perpetuity. We care passionately about the rights of authors, because we are authors.

SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows. What’s happened in the last 24 hours, though, is extraordinary. The Internet has enabled creativity, knowledge, and innovation to shine, and as Wikipedia went dark, you’ve directed your energy to protecting it.

We’re turning the lights back on. Help us keep them shining brightly.

There’s also a “read more” page to find out more about the milestones of the blackout, and of course about the issue itself.



#2 – Megaupload Taken Down On Piracy Allegations [TechCrunch]

Popular file-hosting site Megaupload, probably known to our readers for a variety of reasons, has been taken down after the FBI charged some of its staff with copyright infringement and “conspiracy to commit racketeering.” Seven people have been charged, and four arrested (in New Zealand), and the site itself appears to be down as authorities around the world closed in on the site’s resources.

The day after the SOPA/PIPA protests, the FBI illustrates why we don’t need those bills by orchestrating an international takedown of a site that was a haven for piracy. The system works, and if you break the law, the law will come and take away all your toys.



#3 – Twitter Is Making A Gigantic Move (And Going To War With A Board Member) [Business Insider]

Twitter is slowly finding a way to curate its own massive fire hose of information.

Twitter has typically been a pure stream of information that’s gone uninterrupted. Thousands of tweets fly across the Internet in a given second — sometimes tens of thousands, depending if there’s a big event.

But just moments ago, Twitter announced it acquired Summify, a service that crunches Twitter and other social media sites and creates a personalized news digest based on that information.

I subscribe to the Summify service – it does a pretty impressive job of curating your social feeds and sending you highlights of things that are of interest to you. This is particularly useful if you’re not continuously plugged in to your networks scanning for the latest news, or if, you know, sleep. This acquisition should be making the future of the Twitterverse interesting to see how the integration works. Hopefully they do a better job than they did maiming Tweetdeck.



#4 – The Wired Q&A: ICANN President Rod Beckstrom on ‘the Biggest Change in DNS Since Dot-Com’ [Wired]

Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 12 — midnight UTC, to be exact — the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) starts accepting applications for new, bespoke top level domains (TLDs). This will be the first time website owners (at least governments and businesses) will be able to request their own replacement for .com, .net and .org. Think .facebook, .losangeles and .lolcats.

The number of top level domains was originally restricted to give the internet user some idea of what kind of a site they were going to – .com for commercial, .edu for educational, .org for a nonprofit, etc. Of course, the vast majority of TLDs accessed in the U.S. are .com, which forces some institutions to register multiple so that unsuspecting folks don’t end up at the wrong site (remember that whole whitehouse.com debacle?).

Countries also have their own country-specific TLDs (.jp for Japan, .de for Germany, and the ever-spammy .ru for Russia), and then some companies, especially those URL shorteners, found they could get cute and repurpose, say, Libya’s TLD .ly to create sites like bit.ly, although one of the original domain “artists” was none other than del.icio.us, using the relatively unused TLD for the United States.

So the underlying question is, will all hell break loose now that anyone (with $185,000) can get their own top level domain? Not likely. People don’t rely on the TLD anymore to know where they’re going. In fact, with browser search integration, a lot of people don’t even realize they’re typing “amazon.com” into Google instead of the address bar. Search and social media will drive people to sites, so any new TLDs will just be a new kitschy advertising device.



#5 – Every Presentation Ever: Communication FAIL [Habitudes for Communicators]

Watch it. Then hang your head in shame at how many of these things we’ve all done.

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