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Storm news roundup 09-12-11


December 9, 2011 | by Mike Ellis

Our favourite web(ish) stories from the week…

Adam:

“Google has released an open call for social networks (read Twitter & Facebook) to start participating in a new project called Analytics Social Data Hub.

The new project is ‘a free platform that social networks and other social platforms can use to integrate their activity streams— like +1, votes, and comments—with Google Analytics’. Sounds pretty awesome to me and will add a rich new layer to the already fantastic information you can pull out of Google Analytics.

Google already has Google Plus, Digg, Reddit and a few others signed up, but to make the service really worthwhile, they need deals with Facebook and Twitter.”

Paul:

“Two related news stories signal interesting times ahead for the world of ebooks.

Both the European Commission the US DoJ are investigating the so-called “agency” pricing model for being anticompetitive. This seems self evident to me. The idea that a publisher should get to set the *retail* price that a store charges for their books has always seemed wrong, whether it’s a dead-tree or ebook. The idea that Amazon cannot sell me a book cheaper (while still paying the publisher the same) because that would somehow “devalue” the book is frankly ludicrous. The book publishing industry is increasingly looking even more self-destructive than the music and film industries. http://www.theverge.com/2011/12/8/2620127/ebook-price-fixing

Amazon fired a small shot across the bow of the self-same publishing companies with the launch of KDP Select (KDP = Kindle Direct Self-Publishing). Self-publishing authors who sign up agree to let their books be put in the Kindle Lending Library and will receive a share of $500,000 based on the number of times there book is borrowed. So if 1% of all loans that month were for your book you’d make a reasonable $5,000. There’s a 90 day exclusivity period, but that seems a small concession. After having the KLL snubbed by the major publishers last month, Amazon has clearly decided that it is deadly serious about becoming a publisher in its own right. http://www.theverge.com/2011/12/8/2620807/amazon-kdp-select-self-published-kindle-lending-library”

Dave:

“So, I can’t claim to be a Siri expert, but I have played with it – and wasn’t a fan what so ever. Interestingly, I picked up on this article on the chron blog – the general feeling is that Siri is clearly a fantastic idea, and that Apple has a fantastic opportunity to hone the technology for inclusion in later devices such as Apple TV’s. However, Siri’s rough edges make it feel like a real ‘beta’ product, and Beta isn’t something that Apple ever really lets the public near.”

Mike:

“So hard to choose between new Twitter homepages (yawn), new Google products (yawn) and Europe (yawn). My favourite thing of the week isn’t really news, but it is a real-time stream of Wikipedia edits. Ace.”

Liam:

“Microsoft are taking on the Apple geniuses, with their Answer Desk online service. While it’s been a feature of Microsoft stores in the US for a while, it’s now available online and lets you buy training, “Tune-ups”, Virus removal and software support. All seems a bit of a waste of money to me, really, but i’m sure it’ll be useful to less techy folks!”

Andrew:

“Check out this TED video about Captcha and some of the ideas around how else to use small contributions by many on the Internet for greater good”