Tara says bye-bye to Riya

Respected “Pinko Marketeer” and good friend Tara “Miss Rouge” Hunt has announced she is quitting Riya (the photo search start-up) as a full-time employee.

Tara Hunt

This comes just a few months after Chris “Factory Joe” Messina (her lovingly-entitled Partner-in-Crime) quit browser start-up Flock.

Tara was involved with the marketing of the product, something I think she’s done very well (she’s v. good at it, you see). From her blog, it sounds like Riya wants to take theirb marketing strategy main-stream (which is a shame, but perhaps inevitable as more VC’s jump onto the bandwagon).

Being based in sunny San Fran I’m sure she’ll have no problems picking up another great gig elsewhere.

(And of course, this Friday is my last day at that quaint little not-so-start-up-broadcaster-turned-internet-thingy on this side of the pond – maybe we should all do something together?)

Pirate Bay crew arrested, site down

According Swedish news websites Expressen and SvD (thanks to The Mrs for spotting this!) three people from the popular Bit Torrent site The Pirate Bay have been arrested interviewed by detectives.

The Pirate Bay Logo

Swedish police officers raided their offices (/bedrooms) and also took away their server farm for investigation.

Brokep from Pirate Bay told Slyck:
“…The police right now is taking all of our servers, to check if there is a crime there or not (they are actually not sure),”

A few weeks ago the winner of Toppkandidaterna, (The Top Candidates) a popular reality TV show in Sweden publicly stated he would donate 20% of his winnings to the site. And before that, “Piratbyrån” (the Pirate Bureau) political party was formed to campaign for the reform of copyright and file distribution laws both in Sweden and the wider world.

Traditionally, copyright laws have always been far more relaxed in Sweden than the rest of the EU. Until recently it was not even illegal to distribute copyrighted materials for your own use. In terms of bit torrent usage, this was usually thought to allow the download of bit torrent files but not the upload.

However, in the past year the law has been harmonised with the rest of Europe, many believe in response to political pressure caused by the popularity of The Pirate Bay.

It’s worth pointing out, for those not familiar with Bit Torrent, that The Pirate Bay never held, stored or distributed copyright material – only the trackers that referenced the third-party seeds and peers where the material was available from.

It is in that respect, as Copyright Reform organisation, that I have supported the work of The Pirate Bay since it’s inception.

I believe that it’s recent move into the political sphere and the high-profile donation from the Toppkandidaterna contestant has elevated the site too far into the mainstream for the Swedish authorities to continue to ignore.

Whilst I don’t believe the folks at The Bay are committing anything illegal with their work, clearly it’s “sailing close to the wind” of legality, and politically pisses a lot of people off both in the entertainment industry and Swedish political circles.

I hope the site is back online soon.

Why SecondLife/Flickr Mashup is REALLY cool…

What’s really cool about Matt Biddulph’s SecondLife/Flickr mashup is that he’s managed to embed images from the Internet straight into Second Life.

Why is that cool? Well because if you want to display images in SecondLife you previously had to upload them at a cost of LD$10 a pop (currently LD$300 to the US$1, yes you have to pay!).

Sure that ain’t loads, but what if you want to work with 1000 images? Or 10,000 images? etc.

Arhh, the real power of the network — circumvention!

Also, when you start to call external scripts (which Matt uses to power his mashup) then you can start doing all sorts of interesting tracking too.

(Yes, the actual concept is cool too)

O’Reilly claim copyright over “Web2.0″

This must be a joke, misunderstanding or a lawyer gone AWOL…

According to his blog, Tom Raftery has been sent a C&D latter (Cease and Desist) by lawyers working on behalf of CMP Media (who organise the Web2.0 conference with O’Reilly).

They are asserting that he is not allowed to use the term “web2.0″ in his does-what-it-says-on-the-tin “IT@Cork Web 2.0 half day Conference” named event.

“Basically O’Reilly are claiming to have applied for a trademark for the term “Web 2.0″ and therefore IT@Cork can’t use the term for its conference. Apparantly (sic) use of the term “Web 2.0″ is a “flagrant violation” of their trademark rights!”

Copy of the letter

I simply can’t believe O’Reilly are doing this, and I almost feel like the need to check my calendar to confirm it’s not April 1st!

META: Does this site need a new skin?

Just a quick off-topic question…

Do you think I should change (ahem, improve) this blog skin?

I’ve been trying to work out whether I would get more of an audience if the design looked more like a serious blog site, and less like an after-thought?

(That’s despite the fact I’ve elected for a skin that is clean, simple and minimal?)

What do you want to see from this blog’s skin, or from the blog in general?

Orkut and Blogger: Algorithms aren’t the answer to everything

USA Today brings us the news that Google is to close some of it’s Orkut communities.

My initial reaction was disappointment that Google were interfering with organically grown online communities.

However, when I discovered some Brazilian users (it’s a very popular service in Brazil) were using Orkut to coordinate drug deals, human rights abuses and organised football violence, I was shocked.

How could things get this out of hand? Why didn’t Google step in and sort this mess out? Why did it need to fall to the Brazilian government have to bring this to Google’s attention?

Orkut, it appears, has become a bit like Blogger – a positive social space that has slowly eroded under the weight of abuse applied to it.

Google’s public motto may be to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, what they really do best is algorithms.

But the problem is algorithms aren’t the answer to everything.

If companies are going to operate social spaces, then they have a duty of care to their user base to ensure that the space is not abused. How they achieve this is up them – but until an algorithm is invented that does this automatically, I believe it’s up to them to provide the human effort required to keep things clean.

Matt Mullenweg’s Akismet is a great example of combined computer/human effort. Akismet is a spam filter that uses the community to help identify what is and isn’t spam. Automattic (Matt’s start-up) uses the Akismet algorithm combined with the continued human-powered knowledge to identify splogs (spam blogs) on WordPress.com.

Back to Orkut, Google are now going to setup a Portuguese team to monitor the Brazilian part of the Orkut service. But surely such a move only demonstrates that human-monitoring of the entire system is needed – and other Google social spaces such as Blogger?

Google Mail (+ Google Talk) down and unavailable

It’s back up now, hmm but I’m missing mail :(

(I forward a copy of my domain email to GMail but I can see there are (important) mails on my domain’s unix account that aren’t in GMail)

Looks like Google Mail (GMail) and Google Talk are currently down and unavailable:

Google Error

I also get a blank buddy page on Google Talk too, even when I elect to “show all friends including those off-line”.

Anyone know what’s going on?

Podcast.com launches

Another belated post, I’m afraid. This one about the launch of the Podcast.com alpha.

Podcast.com logo

My friends at Podcast.com, which includes CTO Kosso (aka Blugg) and VP Lee Wilkins in addition to the gang in Boston, have come out of ‘stealth mode’ with their Podcast.com offering.

(Previously it was a two-bit link-fest site that I think was designed to make it look like the domain was just being used to cyber-squatting)

The site is still in Alpha, so be warned! However it demonstrates some interesting approaches to OPML that other podcasting sites are failing to utilise. I think it’s fair to say Kosso’s been providing the technical and design genius behind this, and it’s a great example of where his multi-skill approach was under-utilised at the BBC.

They are also experimenting with a presence in Second Life, which is very interesting considering the numerous audio and video streaming options there are in Second Life through which they could provide content.

Best of luck guys!

See also Kosso’s post and Lee’s post.