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.


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.