03.20.08

Spam test

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:33 pm by Erik

Even though I’m using the latest WordPress version now, my blog has been hammered by some nasty spam-bots, going so far to overwrite the actual content of posts with spam. I’ve disabled all suspicious user accounts & reset passwords; this is a test to see if a random new post will still get spam injections.

(Compare the relevant WordPress forum thread.)

02.14.07

Definition of Free Cultural Works 1.0 Released

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:31 am by Erik

The Internet, February 14, 2007.

A diverse group of writers has released the first version of the “Definition of Free Cultural Works.” The authors have identified a minimum set of freedoms which they believe should be granted to all users of copyrighted materials. Created on a wiki with the feedback of Wikipedia users, open source hackers, artists, scientists, and lawyers, the definition lists the following core freedoms:

* The freedom to use and perform the work
* The freedom to study the work and apply the information
* The freedom to redistribute copies
* The freedom to distribute derivative works.

Inspired by the Free Software Definition and the ideals of the free software and open source movements, these conditions are meant to apply to any conceivable work. In reality, these freedoms must be granted explicitly by authors, through the use of licenses which confer them. On the website of the definition, <http://freedomdefined.org/> a list of these licenses can be found. Furthermore, authors are encouraged to identify their works as Free Cultural Works using a set of logos and buttons.

The definition was initiated by Benjamin Mako Hill, a Debian GNU/Linux developer, and Erik Möller, an author and long-time Wikipedia user. Wikipedia already follows similar principles to those established by the definition. Angela Beesley, Wikimedia Advisory Board Chair and co-founder of Wikia.com; Mia Garlick, general counsel of Creative Commons; and Elizabeth Stark of the Free Culture Student Movement acted as moderators, while Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation and Lawrence Lessig of Creative Commons provided helpful feedback.

As more and more people recognize that there are alternatives to traditional copyright, phrases like “open source,” “open access,” “open content,” “free content,” and “commons” are increasingly used. But many of these phrases are ambiguous when it comes to distinguishing works and licenses which grant all the above freedoms, and those which only confer limited rights. For example, a popular license restricts the commercial use of works, whereas the authors believe that such use must be permitted for a work to be considered Free. Instead of limiting commercial use, they recommend using a clever legal trick called “copyleft:” requiring all users of the work to make their combined and derivative works freely available.

Möller and Hill encourage authors to rethink copyright law and use one of the Free Culture Licenses to help build a genuine free and open culture.

Links

* http://freedomdefined.org/ – Official homepage of the definition
* http://freedomdefined.org/Licenses – Information about specific licenses
*http://freedomdefined.org/Logos_and_buttons – Logos and buttons for identifying free cultural works

Contact

* Erik Möller – eloquence (at) gmail (dot) com – +49-30-45491008
* Benjamin Mako Hill – mako (at) atdot (dot) cc

01.28.07

Google’s Mystery Meat Image Search

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:52 am by Erik

It seems that one of Google’s UI designers must have gone to art school, as there can be no rational explanation for the mystery meat navigation they chose to implement for Google Image Search. As of now, a search result page does no longer give you all the information about the results, such as the originating website, the full resolution of the image, or its size. Instead, in a nod to web 2.0 design, we get a cool blue “highlight” when we hover with the mouse over a thumbnail, and the additional information is shown only while the mouse is hovering in this area. This is known as “mystery meat navigation”.

I’m sure Google apologists will try to explain that, oh, the user interface is so much cleaner this way! So much whitespace! It makes the user feel welcome, and reduces confusion with information the average searcher will not understand! Rubbish. The information is still there, just randomly popping up, being more confusing and distracting than ever. The change also reduces accessibility. For instance, the link “More results from ..” that will appear under some thumbnails disappears if the web user accidentally moves their mouse of the area of that particular image. Which is exactly the kind of mistake newbie users are likely to make. The lack of information makes it harder to ignore results from spammy sites, and on repeated searches for the same query, more difficult to distinguish known from unknown hits.

I have found no way to switch back to the old modus operandi. I find the new behavior so annoying that I will probably switch to Yahoo! Image search. Still, it’s somewhat reassuring that even the deviously clever folks at Google occasionally make profoundly idiotic UI decisions.