Products interacting with users

I was read­ing this story about Apple’s “deep bench” in the absence of Steve Jobs, who has just taken med­ical leave from the com­pany.  Describ­ing the influ­ence of Jonny Ive, Apple’s senior vice pres­i­dent of indus­trial design, an ana­lyst said this:

He’s arguably the most impor­tant per­son there out­side of Steve. […] He’s respon­si­ble for the look and feel of the prod­ucts, the way they inter­act with users.”

The way prod­ucts inter­act with users.  This could eas­ily have been a slip — maybe the ana­lyst meant to say “the way users inter­act with prod­ucts.”  Either way, I think the idea of prod­ucts inter­act­ing with users is a really fas­ci­nat­ing con­cept.

What is more com­plex?  Your iPhone or you?  You, of course.  And you’re dif­fer­ent from every other human.  We shouldn’t have to learn a sin­gle sys­tem.  Sys­tems should have to learn us.

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Someone please build Google Reader + Techmeme

I haven’t seri­ously opened Google Reader in months.  That might be because I’m in law school and have lim­ited time to read besides for courses.  I don’t think this is true, though, because I still fre­quent Twit­ter, Tech­meme, Google News, NYTimes, Face­book.… yeah, I have plenty of time for other stuff.  It might be because I have 144 sub­scrip­tions, lead­ing my unread count to reach the dreaded “1000+” in a mat­ter of days.  But shouldn’t Reader’s “sort by magic” help with that?

I think the real rea­son that I recoil from RSS these days is because of orga­ni­za­tion.  Let’s do a lit­tle his­tory lesson, and then I’ll make a pro­posal for some­thing bet­ter.

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Of Copyrights and Campaigns: Fox News Network v. Carnahan for Senate

My sec­ond post for the William & Mary IP blog is up.  It dives a lit­tle deeper into one of the cam­paign video cases that my pre­vi­ous post cov­ered:

In Sep­tem­ber, Fox News filed a copy­right infringe­ment suit against the cam­paign of Robin Car­na­han, the Demo­c­ra­tic then-can­di­date for Missouri’s U.S. Sen­ate seat.  (Cara­han was even­tu­ally defeated at the polls by Repub­li­can Roy Blunt.)  The com­plaint alleged that Carnahan’s cam­paign “usurped pro­pri­etary footage from the Fox News Net­work to made it appear – falsely – that [Fox News] and Christo­pher Wal­lace, one of the nation’s most respected polit­i­cal jour­nal­ists, are endors­ing Robin Carnahan’s cam­paign.”  The ad (which you can watchhere) con­sists almost entirely of footage taken from Wallace’s inter­view of Blunt on Fox News ear­lier this year.  In addi­tion to copy­right infringe­ment, the com­plaint alleges inva­sions of Wallace’s pri­vacy and pub­lic­ity rights.

There are at least two key issues at stake in this law­suit.  The first is the nature of the rights that Fox News is seek­ing to pro­tect.  Instead of alleg­ing an infringe­ment of eco­nomic rights to its work, Fox News focuses its com­plaint largely around the effect of the unau­tho­rized use of its work on its rep­u­ta­tion.  Through­out its com­plaint, Fox News speaks of the ad “com­pro­mis­ing its appar­ent objec­tiv­ity” and “mis­lead­ing” its view­ers into think­ing that it endorsed Car­na­han as a can­di­date.

The afore­men­tioned CDT reports put it best: “These are not copy­right inter­ests.”

Click through to read the rest.  [Update: It’s also now live on State of Elec­tions.]

A Realistic Approach to Piracy

From a post dis­cussing pos­si­ble soft­ware licens­ing approaches comes this nugget of hard truth:

There are a num­ber of ways to pro­tect your appli­ca­tion from piracy. How­ever, when it comes down to it, piracy can­not be stopped. Whether you like it or not, if some­one wants to steal your appli­ca­tion, they will. On this note, pirated copies should not be con­sid­ered lost sales. Most pirates had no inten­tion of pur­chas­ing your appli­ca­tion in the first place. Don?t hurt your real cus­tomers. If your appli­ca­tion is good enough, peo­ple will buy it. The best way to pre­vent piracy?

Make great apps.

Indeed.

Hat tip to Tim Bray [via Twit­ter] for the link.

One useful Ping thing

Apple’s new Ping ser­vice is pretty lack­lus­ter.  Even if they were able to get a deal with Face­book to let users import their graphs, it’s still pretty use­less.  It’s out­side the browser, it revolves around iTunes Music Store pur­chases, and it’s just kinda slow and clunky.  I have no good rea­son to visit it on a reg­u­lar basis.

How­ever, as I was brows­ing the iTunes Music Store today, I spot­ted a Ping inte­gra­tion that seems use­ful.  See above.  It is nice know­ing if a friend or influ­encer has an album that I’m inter­est­ing in buy­ing.  Even more use­ful would be that friend/influencer’s rat­ings or com­ments about the album, if they’ve made any, to let me know if they think it’s good or bad.  It’d be even cooler to see implicit data from my friends, telling me how often they lis­ten to that album com­pared to their other music, or how recently they lis­tened to it.  All with their opt-in, of course.

From this per­spec­tive, Ping has promise.  But I think it’ll only achieve notable suc­cess when it (and the store, and the player) move to the cloud and browser envi­ron­ment.