Home Weekly Wrapup: Facebook Principles, Amazon Public Data, Times Open, And More…

Weekly Wrapup: Facebook Principles, Amazon Public Data, Times Open, And More…

In this edition of the Weekly Wrapup, our newsletter summarising the top stories of the week, we look into Facebook’s controversial new “principles”, check out the latest OpenID trends, cover Amazon’s public data initiative, analyze Wikipedia’s possible future as a development platform, investigate the future of ‘touch’ apps, and more. Also we cover the highlights from our Enterprise Channel and Jobwire, ReadWriteWeb’s new product which tracks hires in tech and new media.

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Web Trends

Facebook Management Has Lost Its Grip on Reality

Facebook made one of the most important announcements in the young company’s history this week. It has proposed a set of foundational documents, including the first official statement of Facebook Principles. The proposal is made to Facebook’s users, who will now have 30 days to read, comment and perhaps vote on the documents. Looking just below the surface of this big news, though, there are a number of things going on that make absolutely no sense to us. Facebook’s management appears to have lost its grip on reality. The population of Facebook dwarfs that of scores of countries in the physical world; these foundational documents are of immense importance and raise big red flags.

See also: Open Thread: Thoughts on Facebook’s New Constitution

Bad News for OpenID: People Still Using Same Password Everywhere

A new survey from Gartner Research delivers some bad news regarding our online security practices: two-thirds of U.S. consumers use the same one or two passwords for all the websites they access. And they like it that way. Although people claim they’re concerned about security, they still tend to use unsafe password management techniques rather than exploring new methods – be they new hardware, software, or new authentication frameworks like OpenID.

Related: Biometrics for Identification or Authentication Still Has a Way to Go

Could Wikipedia’s Future Be as a Development Platform?

Content creation at Wikipedia is slowing down. The already small number of active regular editors is on the decline and Jimmy Wales has called for live edits to be held for approval on many pages, a step sure to slow contributions even further. The tapering of fresh content doesn’t have to mean Wikipedia’s death, though. The site contains a gargantuan amount of human created and tended but largely machine readable and structured data. That’s a potential gold mine in terms of a potential pay-off in innovation. Wikipedia can offer developers opportunities to glean analysis, supplemental content and structured data from its years-old store of collaboratively generated information. All of that is possible, but Wikipedia as a platform can’t be taken for granted.

The Future of Touch

It’s tempting to give Apple’s iPhone credit for the birth of touch-based computing, but it was not the first touchscreen user interface – nor is it the only one in existence today. Long before the iPhone, touchscreen LCDs were common, as were touch smartphones from Palm, Sony Ericsson, HTC, and others. In addition, back in 2001 – long before the iPhone launch – Microsoft began work on Microsoft Surface, a touchscreen tabletop computer. Yet it was the iPhone’s multi-touch capabilities along with its stellar design that really got the ball rolling for touch computing. The only question that remains now is what will come next?


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Changes at Google.org

Search engine giant Google is in the middle of reorganizing its philanthropic arm Google.org and this week the company announced a couple of key personnel changes. Dr. Larry Brilliant will step down as Executive Director to take the position of Chief Philanthropy Evangelist. Vice President of New Business Development Megan Smith will assume the role of General Manager. Smith will continue in her Vice President role in addition to taking on this new role.

See also additional coverage and insight from ReadWriteWeb.


Web Products

Amazon Exposes 1 Terabyte of Public Data to Developers

Amazon.com changed the retail world. In the process the company built up so much surplus computing power that it started a dirt cheap “computing in the cloud” business that changed the computing world. This week the company’s newest project Public Data Sets on Amazon Web Services began offering more than 1 Terabyte (1000 GB) of fascinating public data for developers to access on the fly through Amazon’s cloud computing service. We’re talking about an annotated collection of all publicly available DNA sequences, including the Human Genome, huge amounts of chemistry data, machine readable encyclopedic entries about millions of different topics and an entire dump of Wikipedia. US Census data, data from the US Department of Transportation and more. It’s all accessible by web applications in no time at all. What do you think this is going to change?

Google Announces Pricing for App Engine: Allows Developers to Scale Beyond Free Quotas

Google has finally announced its pricing plans for its App Engine service. Google’s App Engine allows developers to run their web applications on Google’s infrastructure and, until now, was only available in a free, but restricted, version. The free version currently gives developers up to 500MB of persistent storage and CPU power and bandwidth for about 5 million page views a month. Starting this week, however, developers will also be able to purchase additional resources, which will enable them to scale their apps beyond these free quotas.

Times Open: Developers Gather to Discuss The New York Times APIs

Here at ReadWriteWeb, we’re big fans of the Times Open strategy, the program that focuses on making the data of The New York Times more accessible to the developer community. We heralded the launch of the program, covered the first available API, and marveled at the access to content the APIs have begun to provide. Now the Times has taken another momentous step forward: bringing developers together for Times Open, the publication’s inaugural API seminar.

Related: NYT Times Newswire API: All the News That Will Fit

Don’t be Silly – The Kindle 2 is No Threat to Audiobooks

A few weeks ago, just after the introduction of the new Kindle 2, the Authors Guildcomplained that Amazon’s eBook reader had a text-to-speech function. According to Paul Aitken, the Guild’s executive director, this meant that Amazon would have to pay for audio rights for every book downloaded onto the device. This week, Roy Blount Jr., the Guild’s president, echoed this sentiment in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.



The Other Decoupling Theory

A lifetime ago, before the market meltdown, when it was just an ordinary recession, there was a theory that the big emerging markets (BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India, China) were “decoupled” from the US economy. According to this theory, when America had problems due to subprime mortgages, these countries would only be affected marginally. Well, that theory has been totally discredited. It turns out that the other web, the web of financial transactions, makes the global economy tightly coupled. But it is possible, faintly possible, that there is another form of decoupling happening between the traditional economy and the innovation economy.

Email us if you’re interested in writing for ReadWriteWeb’s Enterprise Channel.


That’s a wrap for another week! Enjoy your weekend everyone.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

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