D103.com: Archive
This is an archived page of D103.com, a daily weblog by Daryl Lang.

"I want to buy a smoked ham."

» With President Clinton's book due out June 30, I went online to see if somebody still has a copy of the hilarious "Final Days" movie from 2000. (You know, the one where Clinton, playing himself, gives a press conference and the only person who attends is Helen Thomas? Where Clinton asks the Dell Dude to show him how to use eBay?) Happily, the video still available on this web site. Check it out if you need a good laugh and a little nostalgia.

» Regarding my screed against Creative Commons Thursday... Tom pointed out something important. A lot of people display that logo simply because the web publishing program Movable Type can set it up automatically. It probably seems like a good idea at the time, and then why bother turning it off? That explains why CC has caught on so quickly, despite its flaws. (This is by no means a blemish on Movable Type, an excellent program which has made it easier for countless people to start blogs.)

» Did you see? ... The New York Times dedicated more than half of its op-ed page yesterday to this column by Nick Hornby about the state of rock and roll.

- Daryl

Score one for the good guys

» Yesterday I wrote about a really bad Internet idea. Today I'm going to write about a really good Internet idea. Google, one of the most powerful Internet companies in the world, has decided to use its heft tackle the seemingly impossible problem of "adware." (I wrote about my frustrations with adware earlier this month.)

Google is working on a set of principles, a code of ethics if you will, for software developers. This might seem like a flight of fancy, given how reluctant spammers are to follow rules. But do not underestimate the influence of Google. When Google says "jump," Internet developers ask "How high?" Remember, Google could easily block all searches for web sites that contain software that doesn't conform to its principles. We should commend Google for flexing is muscle to do something virtuous. Now how do I get a piece of that stock?

- Daryl

Steal this blog

» Heads up, people! I'm about to expose the worst idea in web publishing today. It is:

The Creative Commons License! Creative Commons icon

You'll notice this little CC graphic on some web sites. Before I talk about what's wrong with it, let me explain what it means.

A Creative Commons license is a way for creative people to tell their audiences how much copy protection they desire for their work. For example, I could tell others it's okay to republish my writing only for noncommercial purposes and with credit to me. In addition to the handy little logo, CC provides you with a page of legal language and some lines of computer code that CC predicts will be recognized by search engines of the future. Of course, as Creative Commons rightly acknowledges, everything you create and publish is automatically protected by copyright anyway! So all Creative Commons can do is help you set the conditions under which people can lift your work. Assuming you actually want to do this, Creative Commons has the advantage of being easier and more official-looking than writing your own copyright license. The futuristic vision of Creative Commons, described nicely in a recent Business 2.0 magazine article, is to create a vast community of shared creative works.

So why do I think this such a terrible thing? First, people steal. If you think Internet users give a damn about intellectual property ownership, just look at how fast music file sharing got out of hand. In a community that flagrantly disregards copyright law, how many people are going to take the time to learn what these little CC icons mean? Already, other bloggers frequently steal photos of Brooklyn off my web site, thanks in part to the ease of Google Image Search. A handful of web sites actually try to link to photos on my own server without permission even though (a) it's illegal, and (b) my images don't even work when they do this! (Examples here and here.)

Second, and more seriously, some of the sites that sport Creative Commons licenses are actually stealing content, chiefly photos, from other non-CC sources. (I'm not going to single any of them out, but they include some pretty prominent blogs.) No lawyer actually vets any content to see if it qualifies for a Creative Commons license. So you can't always trust that CC logo. Moreover, even if you don't use a CC license yourself, someone could be stealing your stuff and labeling it as fair game for others to copy! Thanks, Creative Commons!

And finally, when you display a Creative Commons license, you're pulling the neat trick of acting pretentious while cheapening the value of your name. Yeah, your work is so great and so many people want it that you're willing to surrender all creative control. Great thinking, Michelangelo.

As for CC's hope that this technology will foster creative cooperation among artists, that's not a bad idea in a utopian world where everyone plays by the rules. Yet even then, isn't it in the spirit of the creative process to talk to other artists, person to person, and ask them to borrow their work, instead of just trolling for it on the web? There's certainly no shortage of web sites that promote independent music, art, photography, video and writing.

I agree that our current copyright laws are behind the times. We need to update them and keep thinking ahead. Until then, Creative Commons won't make things any better.

I'd welcome anyone's thoughts on this. Original thoughts preferred.

- Daryl

Worth missing "American Idol"

» Cheryl, Jeremy and I went to a reading last night in Park Slope hosted by Ned. The writers, Tony Fletcher and Amy Sohn, were excellent, and Ned has set the bar high for the series he's now hosting. Jeremy managed to win himself two pairs of transparent boy-shorts panties by correctly answering a question asked by Sohn, a former sex columnist. (The question was something about Carl Jung.)

» Tomorrow: I intend to expose the worst idea currently stewing in the world of web publishing. Don't miss it.

- Daryl

Assorted notes

» The cost of regular unleaded gas at the Mobil station on the West Side Highway outside the Holland Tunnel: $2.29 a gallon.

» Want to cook a cicada? Here's a page of recipes. (PDF format.)

» Howard Dean had an interesting column on marriage rights in the Boston Globe yesterday.

» Finalists for 2012 Olympics: New York, London, Madrid, Moscow and Paris. Is it too early to rent out my room?

- Daryl

Back up north

» Here are some photos from the weekend. Congratulations Gerritt! Nice to see my family, as well as Tom, Bret, and the rest of Gerritt's Wesley pals.

» On the flight home yesterday, I had an amazing view of the New York harbor out of my window seat. "Where do you live?" asked the man next to me as we began our descent to LaGuardia. I pointed out the window and said, "Right down there." At that moment, we were right over the elevated subway tracks along 9th Street in Brooklyn. After we landed, I took the bus and then the subway home from the airport, then walked home from the F station, rolling my suitcase along Seventh Avenue. It was a perfect May Sunday, and the good people of Park Slope were passing the time eating outside at cafés, walking dogs, buying and selling stuff at stoop sales. The whole place felt brilliant, a city street where everybody has a different look, a different style, and has arrived from a different place. I rolled my suitcase home past all of it, smiling and happy to be back.

- Daryl

Burning both ends of the night

» After a long commencement ceremony for the College of Engineering and dinner in Roanoke, we went over to a party at one of Gerritt's friend's apartments. We saw a bunch of people hanging out on the deck, then inside, beer pong, country music, and NASCAR on the television. A bunch of big engineer-type guys sang along to Garth Brooks, David Allen Coe, and that "She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy" song. I borrowed a cowboy hat, filled a red plastic SOLO cup with Coors, and sang along. It was a graduation party, mostly grads and their friends, but some family, too. A man who looked like Kenny Rogers was drinking whiskey and water and did what he could to help clean up the kitchen. He also tried and failed to eat, without the help of utnensils, some baked beans he had ladeled off the stove into a plastic SOLO cup. So there we were hanging out with a bunch of southerners drunk, watching racin', and singing along to Skynyrd, having a great time.

» Earlier in the day, at the College of Engineering commencement ceremony, the dean of the college gave an interesting address to the graduates. He instructed them to try to bring the country back up to where it was a few years ago. To make America a place more respected in the world, a place that turns to violence as a last resort, a place of invention and ingenuity. The speech drew minimal applause and even a few boos, but I was impressed by what he said.

- Daryl

"Maps" - Yeah Yeah Yeahs - 5.19.04