Testing Blackbird Pie

Twitter just released Blackbird Pie, an (oddly named) tool that makes it easy to generate embeddable tweets.  Testing here:

Josh Ritter’s new album (http://bit.ly/9uzdiz) ain’t bad, but to me Historical Conquests (http://bit.ly/b9DjA9) blows it away.less than a minute ago via Echofon

Hm, good start, but needs improvement. I like that it carries over my profile background. The code itself is ridiculously long, though, and because it’s HTML-based it picks up all of my blog’s CSS formatting (thus the weird yellow highlighting). I guess I could dive into my stylesheet and try to figure out what’s going on, but that’s a hurdle I’m just not willing to jump over. I’d prefer a simpler (Flash?) implementation. I also think the layout could be economized even more to save space. I’d much prefer the sleeker implementation shown here.

Decision: William & Mary Law School

After much deliberation over many months and miles, I have finally made a decision: I will be a proud member of the Class of 2013 (!) at William & Mary’s Marshall-Wythe School of Law.  I couldn’t go wrong with the choices I had, but W&M just… feels right.  It feels right the same way Davidson felt right in 2003, and every student, faculty member, and alum I’ve spoken with talks about W&M the same way my friends and I talk about Davidson.  It is, in short, a very special place.

I have also accepted a fellowship with the law school’s Center for Legal and Court Technology.  Among other things, I will be working with the CLCT’s website (which, I think you’ll agree, needs a major overhaul).  I will likely serve in an editorial capacity, helping to get the word out about its various projects and accomplishments.  Once I am up to speed, I want to look into launching the CLCT’s voice into the social networking world, where it can join the real-time conversation with its peer organizations.  In addition to my first-year academics, it should be a lot of fun to continue some hands-on project work at the same time.

It sure will be tough to leave a dream job at Google at the end of July, but I am also excited to get back into full-time academics and continue my professional development.  Moving across the country (literally) from San Francisco to tiny Williamsburg will also be tough, but I know this is the right move at the right time for me.

More details to come!

A Proud Google Moment

Yesterday, Google launched the Government Requests tool.  The site shows the number of requests for user data and content removals that Google received from governments worldwide, from July through December 2009.  Chief Legal Officer David Drummond explains our motivation here (and also published an op-ed in the Washington Post on the subject), but the gist is best summarized in this simple sentence:

“We believe that greater transparency will lead to less censorship.”

This is an important moment not only for Google, but also for our users and the rest of the industry.  I am proud to have helped gather much of the data for this project, and I look forward to seeing other organizations follow our lead.

Why I’m interested in copyright law

© Geek and Poke / cc-by-nd

I think some friends and family wonder why I am so enthralled by copyright law.  Others may also wonder how it applies to my wider interest in technology law.  For some time, I wasn’t quite sure myself.  Indeed, over the past few years I’ve sometimes found myself discouraged by the seemingly wonky nature of the subject.  Looking back, for example, at my grandfather’s legal career in civil rights, I wondered if I was being too selfish with my interests.

I’ve recently come to understand that this isn’t the case, that copyright law (and its reform) is an important matter for the American public to understand and discuss.  Why?  Because copyright presents a fundamental conflict between capitalism (or, profit) and freedom of speech, with nothing less than the fate of our creative culture at stake.  The way we go about resolving this conflict says much about America as a liberal democracy and cultural leader in the world.  And right now, we’re not doing so hot.

Read on →

Tip of the Hat: Mr. Mike Masnick

photo: TechPolicySummit (via Flickr) / cc-by-nc

Those of you who follow me on Twitter have seen me retweet or otherwise link to some posts from Techdirt.  The blog covers the very topic I’m most passionate about: the intersection of law and technology.  If you have any interest in copyright, privacy, or anything else as it relates to our digital world, then you definitely should check it out.

Mike Masnick is the lead blogger for Techdirt, and he is a machine.  Quite literally, I do not understand how he does what he does.  Since 1997, he has personally published over 30,000 individual posts.  He publishes at least 10 posts a day (including today, and it’s only 2:30pm on a Friday).  Now while his posts are usually very brief (no longer than a paragraph or two) and mostly editorialize around a third-party link, he is somehow able to very expertly summarize and contextualize the points at hand.  He even manages to recall previous Techdirt posts on the same topic, linking them from the new post to give us the history of his analysis.

Though reviled by some for his contentious views on copyright and the industry it has spawned, Mike never fails to impress me with the rare combination of volume, quality, and uniqueness that he brings to the table.  And that is why, on this day, I give him a tip of my hat.

You can follow Mike at Techdirt or on Twitter.

I hope to turn this “tip of the hat” idea into a recurring feature here.  I’m not sure how frequently I’ll run it, but be on the lookout for more hat tipping in the future..

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