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In Defense of Qwiki – The Machine That Reads to You

first_img4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… Video artist Ze Frank used to say that it would take him all day long to produce each of his five to ten minute long pieces. That’s not unusual: creation of multi-media content is incredibly time and resource expensive, especially compared to the creation of text content. That’s why I have a lot of interest in today’s public launch of Qwiki – a service that combines speech-to-text and assembled multi-media to create little slideshows based on Wikipedia entries.Geeks are engaged in heated debate, some arguing that the technology is lightweight, that the product is limited and that the funding of the company to the tune of $8 million by Facebook’s exiled co-founder Eduardo Saverin and others is a sign that Silicon Valley has lost its mind like it did in the original days of the dot com bubble. You know what, though? Mainstream audiences are really excited about Qwiki. I am too.CNN and PC World gave Qwiki rave reviews today. PC World’s Sara Yin called it “Flipboard meets Wikipedia.” (Links to those sites not included, of course, because mainstream media knows that links to other sites can make you catch cooties.) CNN’s Dan Simon went to the company’s headquarters for an interview and called it a “site that could compete with Google.” (Well, duh, what general search engine doesn’t? Translate that attempt to speak to mainstream audiences though and you’ll see that Simon means Qwiki could be a viable search competitor, presumably because of its wow factor and smarts.) ABC News went with the dorky headline “Get Ready for a Qwiki” and said “this interactive, talking search engine may be the next big Internet sensation.” Forty thousand people “Liked” Qwiki on Facebook before it even launched, and not just based on the visibility it got from winning a TechCrunch award. People like it a lot. Is Qwiki a sign that Silicon Valley venture capitalists have gone insane? For what it’s worth, we searched through the archives of 150 venture capital blogs and found just one mention of Qwiki across any of them, ever. “I was excited to see what Qwiki is all about, but there isn’t much to see,” wrote Nic Brisbourne in October. Otherwise? Nothing. So chill.Yes, Qwiki is simple: it reads the first few sentences of a Wikipedia entry and then slaps up associated images with a Ken Burns effect. A few standard forms of data, like city populations, get turned into slick looking graphs. Simplicity can be a virtue, though. Watching these awkward little video vignettes may be slower than reading the text, but it’s also more entertaining. I’ve watched probably 50 “Qwikis” now and the quality of the delivery is just good enough to keep me clicking for more. For the bread and circus crowd, Wikipedia read-aloud in a voice just short of the uncanny valley, with images dancing on the screen, could be the difference between Wikipedia content consumed and ignored.Qwiki’s biggest problem as far as I can tell? That the pieces are too short. I’d love to hear the whole Wikipedia entries read out loud by robots. I’d like to create a playlist of Wikipedia entries for it to read and just let it fly while I’m walking my dogs or riding the city bus.The web is filled with high-quality written content. Wikipedia, a collection of documents that scores of people have edited on top of each other for years, is a great place for Qwiki to start. That’s not where the company will stop, though. It’s building a service. Qwiki hopes its technology will be used by all kinds of publishers. “Whether you’re planning a vacation on the web, evaluating restaurants on your phone, or helping with homework in front of the family Google TV, Qwiki is working to deliver information in a format that’s quintessentially human – via storytelling instead of search.” The company lists examples that include real estate listings (good idea) through dating sites (bad idea, sounds like the Tim Ferris dating-for-creeps method, like outsourcing human introductions under false pretense).The point is, Qwiki wants to let a robot make beautiful movies for you to passively learn about any topic, any text, that you choose. The web is an interactive place, but sometimes it’s good to sit back and enjoy the fruits of that interactivity in a way that asks less of you as a user.Traditional multi-media content is too expensive to scale to serve the long-tail of would-be consumers. The days of broadcast, mass-media as “the only game in town” are gone. If we’re all going to get multi-media satisfaction, for all our obscure interests, a lot of it is going to need to be created by robots. Not all of it, but a lot of it. There’s no shame in liking that.Qwiki says it will release an iPad app soon and that could be a big win. Do you want a robot to read well to you, and serve up fancy looking slideshows while it does? I do. I’m not alone, either. Far from it. 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout Related Posts center_img marshall kirkpatrick 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… Tags:#Multimedia#web last_img read more

Six Strikes Anti-Piracy System Makes Its Debut

first_imgWhat if every time you shared an illegally downloaded file a copyright alert went off and notified your Internet service provider? Well, that day is pretty much here.It’s the new “six strikes” plan against alleged pirates, formally known as the Copyright Alert System. It’s been slow to get off the ground, having first been scheduled for launch last July, and then again last November. It may amount to little more than a wrist slap for copyright violators. But it is exactly what the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) and five major ISPS – Verizon, Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable – are apparently finally launching this week to try to scare you out of sharing pirated material.The plan, backed by ISPs and Hollywood studios, has been a running joke in some quarters due to the internal tensions of its backing coalition and the general toothlessness of its sanctions. The CCI itself insists its system is intended to educate consumers, not punish them. Online chatter about this new system depicts it as less “big brother” and more as a big bother.But we should care about Six Strikes, because it’s likely to slow down the Web for some, subject others to burdens such as “mandatory” online educational courses, and widely violate the privacy of Web users – whether they’re really pirating movies and music or not.Bark Or Bite?Back in November, leaked documents reported by TorrentFreak revealed that Verizon would monitor BitTorrent users and respond to alleged copyright violators in a staged fashion, starting with two email warnings. Should users continue their alleged infringing activity, Verizon will push out third and fourth warnings in the form of intrusive popups that force users to confirm receipt. If that doesn’t do the trick, the ISP would slow down Internet connections to roughly dialup speed for 14 days.But that’s just Verizon – every ISP will be free to tailor restrictions. Last October, TorrentFreak likewise reported that AT&T will block users until they complete a copyright course, and in November relayed that Time Warner will temporarily disrupt service.Here’s the service in action, in a soothing video produced by the CCI: Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… adam popescu 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#copyright#privacy#security What To ExpectMajor ISPs actively monitoring and “trolling” our usage remains a major privacy issue, even if so far the modus operandi isn’t as nefarious as it might sound. The simple fact that third-party outfits can identify the IP address of someone sharing or distributing copyrighted material and then report them to the ISPs is likely to alarm many users once these alerts start going out.The new system doesn’t force ISPs to shut off Web service to repeat offenders, but you can probably count on ISPs sharing the identities of alleged violators with copyright owners to pursue legal action. In the above video, the CCI says it won’t give out customer information, but if the backers of the program – many of them the creators themselves – lean hard enough, ISPs will probably cave.As it stands now, Six Strikes won’t stop piracy. On the one hand, it’s just too easy to get around – widely available VPNs, proxies and similar measures all bypass the kind of monitoring that’s central to the system. Committed users can also just ignore the notifications, since there are apparently no sanctions past the sixth warning at ISPs like Verizon.Still, this is interference, big time, from ISPs of a sort that Americans haven’t previously experienced. Even in attenuated form, Six Strikes could have unexpected consequences, such as killing public Wi-Fi. (Though the CCI denies that coffeehouse hotspots are in any danger.) And it’s not at all unreasonable to think that the sanctions could get more Draconian, given Hollywood’s well-known history of pushing for ever-stronger restrictions once the camel’s nose is under the tent.So mind your bits and torrents, folks. This could get nasty.Photo courtesy of Shutterstock Related Posts last_img read more

Super Bowl: Patriots vs Rams in a meeting of Past vs Future

first_imgLATEST STORIES Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 OT Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town It put an end to the dream of a rematch between two teams of the future — Rams vs. Chiefs — who delivered a wildly entertaining, defense-optional touchdown-fest in a 54-51 Rams victory in November.Instead, we get a “rematch” of that 2002 Super Bowl, won by the Patriots 20-17.The Rams came into that game as a franchise on the edge of a dynasty.They were one season removed from their first Super Bowl win, led by quarterback Kurt Warner and known as “The Greatest Show on Turf” for the fake grass they burned up at their seven-year-old home in St. Louis. They had amassed what was then unheard of — 500-plus points in three straight seasons — and were a two-touchdown favorite against Belichick and Brady, who was in his second year and best known as the sixth-round draft pick Belichick stuck with after Drew Bledsoe got injured.New England used ball control, defense and a last-second field goal to topple Warner and the Rams. On the surface, the task figures to not be all that different this time around, though Brady is showing he’s perfectly capable of matching opponents touchdown-for-touchdown. Sunday’s win adds to a Week 6 victory over Kansas City by the score of 43-40. The Patriots ranked fifth in overall offense this season, only 28 yards a game behind LA.Theirs is an offense built around Brady, his mastery of diagnosing defenses at the line of scrimmage and his ability to use interchangeable parts on his offense over the years. (Receiver Julian Edelman and tight end Rob Gronkowski have stood out most recently.)And stability.Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has interviewed for jobs virtually every year since returning to Foxborough after short stints in Denver and St. Louis. He was out the door for Indy last year, but changed his mind and returned once again to call plays for Belichick.As for the Rams, they improved from 10th last year in offense to second this season, as McVay and Goff found their footing. But maybe the most telling sign of their success is that McVay’s offensive assistants are, as a group, the most sought-after sideline talent in the league. Two left after last season. Two more, quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor and tight ends coach Shane Waldron, are drawing attention this season.Now, the ultimate question: If they leave, will they do so with a Super Bowl ring? US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes MOST READ Lacson backs proposal to elect president and vice president in tandem Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations This hasn’t: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.The duo, every bit as formidable now as when they won that first title, face the Rams, now back in Los Angeles, in a Super Bowl rematch of sorts that pits the NFL’s past against its future.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsAt 32, Sean McVay is the youngest Super Bowl coach. At 66, Bill Belichick has an NFL-record 30 playoff wins.At 24, Jared Goff is the youngest quarterback to win the NFC championship. At 41, Brady will be the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates with his teammates after the AFC Championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)It began in 2002, back when the Rams were in St. Louis and the Patriots were a plucky underdog standing in the way of a potential dynasty.So much has changed.ADVERTISEMENT PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss The Rams (15-3) are back in the Super Bowl for the first time since that meeting against the Patriots — and for the first time as the “Los Angeles Rams” since 1980, when they fell to the Steelers. The Patriots (13-5) are back for the third straight time — they lost to Philly last year — the fourth in five seasons and the ninth since Belichick got the New England dynasty on track in the 2002 win over St. Louis.The Rams duo of McVay and Goff has spent the past two seasons heralding the coming of a new age of football — one in which McVay’s reimagined offense has dealt a blow to the old, increasingly dated adage that teams ultimately must win championships with defense. The Rams have cracked 30 points in 13 of their 18 games this season. A generation ago, that would’ve been novel; now, it’s normal.But to officially usher the NFL into a new era, the Rams will have to get past New England, which is a 1-point favorite for the game in Atlanta, set for Feb. 3 — exactly 17 years to the date of the last Super Bowl showdown, and a bit more than three months since the Boston Red Sox topped the LA Dodgers for the World Series. (Who will Magic and Bird cheer for? Stay tuned.)Is Brady up to it?Well, on Sunday, he drove the Patriots down the field for three straight touchdowns — two in the fourth quarter and once in overtime — for a 37-31 victory over the Chiefs, the only team that gained more yards than Los Angeles this season.ADVERTISEMENT View commentslast_img read more