Iraq suspends the licences 10 Satellite News Stations

Attention statisticians and undergraduates!

The BBC is reporting today that Iraq has suspended the broadcasting licences of 10 satellite news stations after a wave of sectarian violence swept (and is still sweeping) over the country. The sectarian lines in the greater part of Iraq are divided between Sunni and Shia muslims; Iraq has a Shia majority but while Saddam Hussein was in power, the Sunni majority were represented by his Ba’ath party and thus held all the power.

It would be interesting to see if this effective ban has an effect in reducing or increasing the violence across the country. In the BBC report the correspondent says that most of the stations are ‘Sunni-owned while Qatar-based al-Jazeera is perceived as more pro-Sunni in its Arabic-language reporting in Iraq.’

If the rates of violence reduce, what does this mean for societies around the world in times of crisis? 24-hour news is one of the defining characteristics of the 21st century, with effects that are as yet unclear – 24 hour news may or may not increase partisanship, paranoia, negative perceptions of the world, and lead to more unverified reporting, of the people who consume it in great numbers. But to what extent is this an effect of the actual phenomenon of 24 hour news, or is it simply a vector for manipulation that was more traditionally seen in the newspapers? I say this because one negative example of this culture that my mind leapt to was the United States, where you are either a Fox person or a CNN person with no apparent room for someone in between.

So in Iraq, they are suspending these 10 satellite news stations, but the report does not say if it is banning all satellite news stations. In any case, we can only wait and see what happens in Iraq for the period of the license suspension, which is not given in the report…


The Ain’t Broke Test

The ‘Ain’t Broke’ Test

More and more news in tech seems to be lacking in innovation, or even reasoning. As more and more headlines fail the ‘ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ test, does this signal the end of our tech bubble?

Earlier this evening (afternoon in the U.S. I imagine), it was announced that Apple are releasing a new device, the iPad Mini, just in time for Christmas. This is a device which will rival the Nexus, from Google, and the Kindle Fire (I’m still unsure about that name) from Amazon. It enters into a semi crowded field, in that if you have an iPhone, iPad and main apple computing device of some sort (desktop or laptop), why on earth you are going to need or want one of these is beyond me. It seems to be an exercise in conspicuous superfluousness, which is an idea that is occurring to me more and more frequently reading tech news these days. The ultimate question is, with technology seemingly tilting towards proliferation and away from innovation, is the tech bubble about to burst?

Austin Carr at Fast Company wrote a great article about the floundering of Hipstamatic, an app that initially tapped in to the ‘photo-oldify-share’ spiel that has made Instagram such a success, but lost out to the aforementioned app because, well, they seemed to have gotten lost with where to take the app further to distinguish it from it’s competitors. Similarly, there was news this week that Color, an app that does the same thing with video (which hasn’t been released yet) has been snapped up by Apple for a ludicrous amount. It seems to be a cutthroat time to be an app developer now; if you’ve got a good idea, prepare for a hostile takeover. Rumour has it Color was bought not because of the potential of the app as a sharing tool, to be bolted on to the next iPhone to emulate the success of Instagram, but for some patents that Color possessed. It seems a bit much to me to buy a hair salon because you intensely covet the shampoo (forgive the metaphor) but there’s something about this rumour which is leading me down the path of thinking this end is nigh.

We’ve had Le Credit Crunch in the financial markets and it looks like we are now heading towards Le IP Crunch in technology.

Mark Piesing in the Guardian reports on some electronics metamaterial business coming out the Oxford University’s ISIS unit, which, if implemented successfully, could radically improve the recyclability of electronic components. If you didn’t know, much of the worst waste produced around the world comes from the production and crappy disposal of electronic devices, so as well as being made by children without pay (yeah we have ‘internships’ over here too, Foxconn!) or in sweatshop conditions, you’re scumming up the Earth too – I’ll let your conscience sit on that for a mo. So, why don’t we have this innovation already?

Mark Stevens, one of the senior scientists connected to the project, mentions two companies in the report – Microsoft and Samsung. The former were directly approached regarding this technology to put it in their new tablet and didn’t bite. Samsung are mentioned indirectly as a company with the power to push this science experiment through the barriers and into consumer electronics. Unless Samsung have called Dr Stevens since, they don’t seem to be biting either. Innovations that are worth developing are being left out to dry by companies who don’t want to take a chance on them, while incremental developments (or stuff that’s fine as it is, like Instagram) or items with their IP already sorted (like Color) are having money thrown at them. Thus we return to the mini iPad, a good example of duplication, not innovation, on the part of technology. In Le Financial Crunch, business who need the money aren’t receiving it (in the UK anyway) while the banks are sitting on generally safe bets (themselves) and not taking a chance lending.

Is this an unfounded comparison or do you think there’s something to it?

…In which I did finally start a Tumblr

Thanks Tumblr I think, for the infographic, though I fished out of a random site on google.A post a few months ago I considered beginning a tumblr in order to record some of the silly mistakes i see around a lot. So I did, and gave it the suitable tumblr-ish name and a theme with Helvetica font and block colours in.

I’ve found using it though that sometimes I do just want to share stuff without necessarily having errors in, it is difficult to stick to my proverbial mandate. I’ve also noticed that tumblr possibly destroys your attention span. It’s a twitter with pictures and humans are visual creatures, though also tumblr does not choke up Opera (at least, for me) as much as twitter does since its redesign. My attention span was only as long as my finger anyway, but I treasured what I had!

Tech update on unthink:
Sank like a stone in a unoxygenated lake. Pretty much all its PR occurred in two months (when I signed up for my trial) but it is now unreachable. I have not been emailed telling me about its unstatus as the unfacebook!

Alright, alright, I’m done now.

Seriously though, for apparently having 100,000 users, surely there’s some sort of business filing to be had in just disappearing off the face of the electronic earth with all your users information without so much as a peep.

So what should I try next? Pinterest?

“Anyone who fights with monsters should take care that he does not in the process become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” – Beyond Good and Evil