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Two things about SOPA/PIPA and then I'll shut up google.com
312 points by johnthedebs  5 hours ago   87 comments top 20
VMG 4 hours ago 4 replies      
I forgot that political parties had to pay for TV time in the US and how this influences elections. In Germany, we actually have (nearly?) the system Joel describes with equal time for everybody which has some interesting consequences:

* I don't think campaign financing is that big of a deal in Germany

* There are a lot of TV ads from politically extreme or plain weird parties during election time. There also is a satirical party that makes pretty funny ads.

* The politically extreme parties can refund their advertising costs if they are above a certain threshold of votes, which causes some controversy

Edit for clarity: of course every party can refund their expenses, but for politically extreme parties this is controversial

tzs 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
> Create a legal doctrine that merely linking is protected free speech

I disagree with this one. How about this instead?

* Create a legal doctrine that linking is legally the equivalent of a citation in a printed publication

If something is protected free speech in a book or magazine or newspaper or flyer, it should be so on the internet. If something would not be protected free speech when published in a book, etc., then I don't see why merely being published on the internet should make a difference.

In other words, the internet is just another publication medium. In most areas it does not need different laws. The ones we have for other media are fine.

amirmc 4 hours ago 1 reply      
> "And ponies. We want ponies. We don't have to get all this stuff. We merely have to tie them up fighting it, and re-center the 'compromise' position"

I bet the MPAA et al have used this tactic to their own advantage thus far. I'm aware of this concept from negotiation tactics and it's made me think of the current situation in a completely different way. Thanks Joel.

tzs 55 minutes ago 1 reply      
On the issue of copyright terms, one thing I've not seen discussed much is the idea of having different terms for different copyright rights. Copyright is not a monolithic things--it encompasses several rights. In particular, there is the right to make and distribute copies, and there is the right to make derivative works. (There are other rights, but those are the most important).

I think a good case can be made that different durations are appropriate for these rights, and also that different durations are appropriate for different kinds of works.

Let's start with artistic works. In particular, let's consider the infamous Mickey Mouse copyrights.

The reproduction right should be fairly short. It's purpose is to allow the creator to get paid for their time and effort in creating the work. We maximize creating of new works if creators can get paid for creating. If creators cannot do so, and so have to turn to ancillary methods of making money, they have less time for creating. (This is why the argument that musicians can make their living touring is not persuasive to me. I'd much rather have great musicians creating new music than spending a lot of time playing their old songs over and over and over to make a living. How would we feel as programmers if employers did not pay us to program--they hired us to do tech support, and then told us that we should be writing programs on our down time so there would be something to provide tech support for?).

I think it is quite reasonable for the derivative works right, on the other hand, to have a very long term. That encourages other artists to come up with new characters to tell their stories. I think we'd have a lot less great cartoon characters if everyone who wants to make a cartoon could just make their own Mickey Mouse cartoon.

A long derivative works right also helps preserve our culture, by preserving the artistic integrity of bodies of work. A fictional character, such as a Mickey Mouse, or a Frodo, or a Harry Potter, or a Sherlock Holmes, has a personality, character, mannerisms, morals, etc., developed by the creator. They become in a sense real and part of our culture. If someone else comes along and starts producing fiction with those characters that does not fit in with how those characters should behave, it diminishes the value of the original to society. If you want to write stories about hot boy on boy wizard sex, make up your own wizards--leave Harry and Ron alone.

To summarize so far, for artistic works like films (including cartoons) and fictional books, I'd like to see a relatively short reproduction right combined with very long derivative works rights.

For utilitarian works, such as computer programs, it would not make sense to have a long derivative works right. Programs do not become beloved parts of our culture. (Characters introduced in programs sometimes do--Mario and Zelda are good examples, so I'd argue that while the game code for a Zelda game should have a short derivative work right because it is a program, if you make a game based on it you would have to come up with new characters).

toyg 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The problem is not just campaign contributions; it's also the "revolving doors" system, of which Mr. Christopher Dodds is such a shining example. That's extremely difficult to regulate, so the best option is to find some place where ex-political operatives can be "re-purposed" for the tech community.

I'd also be careful not to stir the hornets' nest that is the patents system. Depending on how you do it, you end up on the opposite side of companies like Apple and Microsoft, which you need on board for any push on copyright (easing copyright rules would make it easier for them to keep building tools for creatives; easing the patent system will just make life easier for their competitors). Patents, copyright and trademarks are not as closely intertwined as some people believe, they are actually very different concepts.

thebigshane 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am in full support of Joel's intentions here. But...

1) How are we going to prevent this powerful lobby group from betraying us (the smaller guys) in the laws they lobby for?

2) How are we going to determine who gets to participate in this equal share of air time on these YouTube/FaceBook spots? Do I get a spot if I want one? Who gets to decide? The same GOP/DNC? How do we prevent YouTube/Facebook from working deals with candidates for favors after they get elected? How do we guarantee candidate A has the same face time as candidate B? What if candidate B is campaigning on shutting down this technology lobby, will he still get face time?

I suppose all of his suggestions are better than the current situation, but I don't feel they are that much better. We are still going to have to become incredibly vigilant and anti-apathetic with these new powerful groups we form, and I just don't think that's realistic, given our current situation.

crazygringo 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Indeed... why isn't there an IIAA (Internet Industry Association of America), modelled along the same lines of the MPAA/RIAA?

Google, Facebook, etc. could be the main contributors, but smaller companies would donate too (there might be a very significant long tail).

It could lobby for everything Joel talks about.

mark_l_watson 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Excellent. Is the EFF a reasonable organization to lead this fight? I am not a member of the EFF but sometimes I give them tiny bits of money when they do something that I particularly like.

I am not 100% sure about this, but isn't the "Internet economy" much, much larger than the "Entertainment economy?"

I don't hold out much hope of curing the corruption in our political system but I do hope that we can continue shining a bright light at corruption so more people know what is happening. Unfortunately it is the threat of a bright light of public accountability that causes attacks on Internet freedoms.

techiferous 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
Per Joel's second point, I've recently noted at how absurd it is that campaigns spend so much money communicating their message when technology has made it extremely easy to communicate a message to millions of people at very low cost.

I fully support a move away from TV-dominated campaigns to Internet-dominated campaigns, especially since the Internet is more interactive anyway.

twainer 2 hours ago 3 replies      
A modest proposal for Joel:

Ten years as a period for copyright? How about you go first.

Since the tech industry understands copyright so much better than everyone else it might be good for them to set an example and show all the 'old' dodo-like industries how it's done.

After ten years all code should be made open-source. Google has made plenty of money - and I think it's time that they release their algorithm so other innovative and disruptive companies can make better use of it. I mean, how many Google bikes can one ride behind?

Fogcreek has had a nice run too - surely some open-sourced FogBugz would be of great value in second and third world countries that have emergent tech sectors but can't possibly afford the cost of the real service? Certainly, even 10-year-old Fogbugz is going to help society a lot more than license-free copies of My Big Fat Greek Wedding [2002] or Stuart Little 2 [2002].

Anyway, since many of these places exchange rates means they could never purchase software in the first place, it's not like there would be any lost sales, right?

Oh another thing: very important:: a short term of copyright like a few years would be the biggest boon to Hollywood ever as they could simply sit and wait for works to drop into the public domain before turning around and producing them without paying the creators a penny. There would be tons of creators strung along via a studio option - just long enough till the work dropped into the public domain. It would harder than ever for individuals to profit from their creative work and easier than ever for Hollywood to make money off of it.

So - sorry to say - I'm a bit disappointed! But that's just my fault - assuming that people who knew so well the cure for the ills of the content industry would actually have an idea about how that world works. My bad.

cmcewen 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
It seems like most people agree that "something should be done", but the question remains what can be done? Should there be a day where everyone calls and complains to Congress about copyright issues? Start an Internet Industry Association of America?

I think calling Congress could be effective, but it'd be hard to get the volume required to make a difference, and there is no bill to explicitly support. Likewise, an IIAA might work, but it seems like Google, Facebook, and Twitter would have to be deeply involved to make a difference.

My only remaining thought is to use the tactics of the MPAA and RIAA: hire a lobbyist. The only thing I could think of would be a sort of Kickstarter project. Everyone pledges money, and once a target is reached, a lobbyist is hired to draft a bill on Issue X, and lobby Congress for its passage. There'd have to be a sympathetic member of Congress in order to introduce the bill, and I'm sure a serious amount of money would have to be raised, but this is the only way I can think of that the average joe on the Internet could do anything besides complain on HN. Thoughts?

jeffool 4 hours ago 3 replies      
I can't agree enough. And the longer we take to address all if these problems, the harsher the backlash is going to be. I'm so disgruntled with copyright I almost think 10 years is too long.
beachgeek 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I got tired of seeing notices to "contact your senator" on Wikipedia/Craigslist etc and sent a note to Senator Feinstein. To my surprise someone from her office actually responded. My response was pretty similar to Joel's.

Its easy to kvetch on your favorite Internet forum, but if you get things started your Congressional reps will listen.

This is way easier than cold-calling a customer!

snowwrestler 3 hours ago 3 replies      
Political campaigns are not, in the broader context of the U.S. economy, that expensive. The average cost of a winning House campaign in 2010 was less than $1.5 million. The max limit on a personal donation to any federal political campaign is $2,500.

These are numbers that are pretty small compared to the value and salaries generated in either the entertainment or tech industries. The difference is that the entertainment industry has developed the culture and institutions to direct some of their value toward political activities. The tech industry largely has not.

Joel's idea of free political advertising on tech properties could be problematic because advertising, even if freely given, has an economic value. Corporations are expressly forbidden from donating money to federal political campaigns, so this whole idea might be squashed by the FEC.

ojbyrne 1 hour ago 0 replies      
After reading this, I donated to the EFF and the ACLU. Because there are already lobbying organizations for the tech viewpoint.
LVB 2 hours ago 1 reply      
A solution is for the Internet industry to start giving free advertising to political campaigns on our own new media assets... assets like YouTube that are rapidly displacing television.

I'm not sure what this fixes. I already get to see and hear campaign ads incessantly. What would be my desire to go watch more on YouTube? They've already become background noise to me because the messages originating from the candidates and super PACs range from heavily spun at best to plainly false. I don't learn anything from them.

Better would be to offer more compelling solutions than ads. Things like highly interactive, real-time Q/A and debating schemes would engage the electorate by allowing them to rapidly see who is for real and who is an empty, purchased, Presidential-looking shell.

I'll throw out one specific idea: during debates, let's have a Watson-like presence on stage that is, in real time, able to display the BS-factor of what's being uttered. Wouldn't that be fun?

signalsignal 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What are people's opinions on removing copyright laws? Not just copyrights on music and movies, but also all copyrights on software, computer graphics, wordpress themes, etc. Is this something that the YCombinator community is behind?
fufulabs 1 hour ago 0 replies      
There's a startup called Votizen that I think makes your voting profile visible and therefore be easily considered by political parties. I would imagine that if there is critical mass of people in that platform interesting tools can be derived for any mass actions for/against politicians.
yonasb 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is genius. I really hope this post gets some exposure
ph33t 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't think Joel is wrong per say, however, I don't think he is attacking the symptom not the problem. The answer lies in federalism and giving power to the states. If the federal government didn't have such broad and sweeping power it wouldn't be worth the money to fund their campaigns in the first place. Let's take the power away from the federal government. Big business can only benefit from massive donations if the clowns in power can give them a return.
Ask PG: Can you display some subdomains on urls?
35 points by nicholasreed  32 minutes ago   3 comments top 2
jemfinch 10 minutes ago 1 reply      
I'm not entirely sure why HN doesn't just display the full hostname. Displaying only the domain and TLD is actually harder than just displaying the full hostname, and I don't think there's a major risk of spammers using the hostname as some covert advertising mechanism.
newhouseb 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
It appears there is already support for this on a case by case basis. See, for example this post linking to wordpress: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3494340
Fields medalist Tim Gowers: Elsevier " my part in its downfall gowers.wordpress.com
206 points by randomwalker  9 hours ago   29 comments top 11
impendia 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I am an academic mathematician (albeit one with significantly less clout than Gowers). A few comments on both the article and some of the other comments:

(1) I wish I could upvote this article 100 times. I am in complete agreement with Gowers. I published a couple of articles in Elsevier journals in grad school, because my advisor thought it would be important to get my first job, but I'm pretty confident I can avoid this from now on.

(2) There are free online-only journals, e.g. http://www.integers-ejcnt.org/, unfortunately they are not very prestigious. I don't know what can be done to remedy this.

(3) One commenter suggested that peer reviewers should be compensated, but I disagree. First of all, you don't really "sign up" to do it; typically editors pick someone they know and just ask them to referee. I do a fair bit of this. It is not an unproductive use of time, as keeping up with research literature and thinking critically about it is already part of our job.

In addition, we are paid in a somewhat unusual way; we get flat salaries (plus grants) and are expected to do "service" in addition to research and teaching. If refereeing paid substantial money, where other informal methods of participating in the mathematical community do not, I think this would lead to an odd system of incentives. For example, for me a referee report might well take anywhere between five minutes and twenty hours. What amount of compensation would be fair? And would there be pressure for more favorable reviews?

(Note that "informal methods of participating in the mathematical community do not pay" is only mostly true.)

Feel free to ask me questions.

randomwalker 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Summary: Gowers outlines the extraordinarily oppressive business practices of academic publisher Elsevier, explains why they are able to continue to do so in spite of widespread anger amongst the community (collective action problem), and goes on to explain how we might be able to solve this problem by publicizing the actions of people who've taken a stand.
toyg 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Considering the entire system of journals and papers is about reputation rather than profit (from what I understand, nobody in academia gets money from the publishing process), it's a prime candidate for disruption. If a small group of universities started publishing all their papers on an official website (maybe with an opportune system of ranking, to somehow reflect quality of the reviewing process and make it really equivalent to traditional journal publishing), then the incentives to publish in an Elsevier paper would disappear. The system could then grow as more universities join.

I'm surprised nobody has done it yet, there must be some stumbling block I'm not aware of.

nohat 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is quite important. The main lock in effect of a Elsevier journal is the impact factor. Researchers careers are made on the regard for their papers, and the most visible component of that is the citation rate. The academics who can afford to refuse to publish in Elsevier journals are the well known and well regarded ones. So getting the top academics - such as Gowers - to publicly disavow Elsevier is the first step.
rd108 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The currently pending Research Works Act is a SOPA-like debacle that seeks to impede the free flow of scientific information to a degree previously unheard of. Thank you for lending your voice to stop this counter-productive madness.


zyfo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Tim Gowers is also the editor of the extraordinary mathematics companion Princeton Companion to Mathematics (http://www.amazon.com/Princeton-Companion-Mathematics-Timoth...)
6ren 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't a more effective boycott be of citation of articles in Elsevier journals?

Rough on those articles, and will leave (some) gaps in your references, but that is Elsevier's actual source of power.

saurabhnanda 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Okay, so where's the Reddit/Digg for scientific research papers and articles? There could be some sort of "dual voting system" where against each article two vote counts are maintained -- one set of votes by the editorial team ("peer review") and the other set of votes by the community at large.

The editorial team could be selected through a semi-democratic process, if required.

Is it that tough? How many big names in science are required to pull this through? The technology is dead-simple - the main problem is to cross the critical threshold of number of articles submitted and number of editors.

lhnz 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Is the peer review process explained in enough depth anywhere for a non-academic to try to build a tool to support it into some kind of publication web app?

edit; It turns out there is something worth taking a look at on the front page right now:


rotskoff 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Another reason the arxiv should pursue a serious refereeing system. Perhaps it should work something like Hacker News--high quality work could be measured by community support.
zerostar07 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't someone suggest credible OA journals to use instead of Elsevier's?
Israeli hacker posts ‘100,000′ more stolen Facebook logins zdnet.com
13 points by Slimy  1 hour ago   7 comments top 4
stfu 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
Politics aside, how does Pastebin manage to keep up its business?

They seem to have become one of the very few reliable communication hubs for individuals with, let's say very strong personal views (i.e. Anonymous, Hackers, Etc).

afhof 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Are there any ZDnet that aren't link bait? It seems that every article from there is low on content and high on sensationalism.
pawelwentpawel 1 hour ago 2 replies      
"Jewish people named me as the general of Israel's hackers.", "If they appear again, I again come to save Israel." - I would say that this guy is highly delusional or this is some cheap way of trolling people supporting Israel.
mwd_ 33 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wonder how many of these are even real. It would not be hard to generate a big text file of emails and passwords.
Crowd-sourced political lobby wethelobby.com
7 points by frankydp  44 minutes ago   discuss
Polish Internet community goes nuts against ACTA google.com
85 points by pawelwentpawel  6 hours ago   17 comments top 7
Tomek_ 2 hours ago 2 replies      
According to this text: http://prawo.vagla.pl/node/9637 in Polish, from a lawyer who is against ACTA), there was no real attack on any of the mentioned sites, it was just that there was so much interest in the case that some sites went down due to naturally increased traffic. Case in point: his own website went down, even though he is against ACTA.
jakubw 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Some simple instructions + JS web applications allowed thousands of people from Poland to DDoS those websites on their own

Willful participation in a DDoS doesn't sound like a good idea (being a criminal offense in Poland) just as much as the whole concept of getting the government to change their mind by taking down their websites (especially those belonging to parties not involved in the ACTA ratification process). One thing that folks behind this seem to have failed to learn from the SOPA battle is to make it impossible for the government to present the protesters as the bad guys in this situation in the mass media.

jstepien 5 hours ago 0 replies      
It's worth being noted that the latest attacks on government's websites are top headlines on majority of Polish news sites at the moment. Both the attacks and ACTA are being covered on news TV channels and radio. Apparently, taking down government's website is a remarkably good method of raising interest of media.
hastur 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh man, I would have missed it, if not for HN! :)

I'm definitely going to the protest.

pawelwentpawel 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Update - street protests in 13 cities are planned for next week. The biggest one seems to be in Warsaw (over 13,000 people joined the event).
pawelwentpawel 3 hours ago 0 replies      
If there is anybody reading this from Poland - you can sign up a petition against ACTA - http://www.petycje.pl/petycjePodpisyLista.php?petycjeid=8316...
zeratul 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Let me know if I can help anyway: scripts, source code, bandwidth.
Turn your camera phone into a Geiger counter hackaday.com
55 points by bcl  5 hours ago   8 comments top 6
shabble 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how plausible it'd be to make a little spinthariscope[1] attachment to stick over the camera instead. Rather than affecting the CMOS camera element itself, you generate visible light flashes with a fluorescing capture material.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinthariscope

teamonkey 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
Note that the speckled image in the post shows the result when exposed to 10Sv/hr. 1Sv makes you sick, 10Sv is virtually guaranteed to be fatal.
briandoll 4 hours ago 0 replies      
If you dig this, you'll want to check out Safecast.

Safecast (http://blog.safecast.org/) is "a global sensor network for collecting and sharing radiation measurements to empower people with data about their environments." They are working on some really awesome tech and helping people in Japan.

spoiledtechie 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
I am convinced that we actually had the idea first and built the first prototype for this. Sadly, my companies bureaucracy held up the release of the application. I even wrote a blog post about it a while back...


antimatter15 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Could you stick a smoke detector in a smoke-filled bag with the americium pulled out to make a geiger counter?
tocomment 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Can anyone tell me how this is possible? Im vey dubious.
Explaining Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem to a Twelve Year Old reddit.com
97 points by awolf  7 hours ago   19 comments top 9
VMG 5 hours ago 2 replies      
To be clear this is an explanation of the consequences of Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem
Dn_Ab 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great explanation. There are a few things that more emphasis should have been placed on. In going over what an axiom is he should have noted that Godel's work only applies to theories which have a formal axiomatic basis and that the axioms are strong enough to encode the natural numbers enough to do certain arithmetic ops e.g. statements in the theory can be proven using induction. And maybe a bit more emphasis should have been placed on the fact that it is possible for a theory to be proven complete and consistent outside itself.

So for example, in line with the first theorem you can algorithmically verify/decide all statements in a subset of Euclidean Geometry (the subset which does not deal well with circles). And in the second part you can have theories which can verify themselves. Or that it is possible to prove a theory complete and consistent as long as you can find a suitably powerful model outside of it.

RockofStrength 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is my layman's understanding of Godel's incompleteness theorems: Any set of axioms powerful enough to decide all its theorems will always have inconsistencies in its theorems (e.g. "if true then false"). To be consistent, the set of axioms must be incomplete (some of its theorems are undecidable).

The following sentences have some of the 'flavor' of Godel's theorems:

"This sentence is false." 'if true, then false.

"These are not words." 'if true, then irreconcilable with its own truth.

andrewcooke 6 hours ago 3 replies      
i'm not a mathematician, but his final point about the continuum hypothesis seemed odd to me. the CH is "outside" ZF, but that just means (afaik) that it contains some extra "information" that is not in ZF. adding it to ZF doesn't force any kind of contradiction, in the way that adding "this system is consistent" would. so CH is (just) an example of an independent axiom - it doesn't illuminate what is so weird about the completeness theorem.

(mathematicians: is that right?)

dfragnito 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I emailed this explanation to my son, and asked him if he understood it, He will be twelve on 2/2/12. His response was

"ya. it means that there is an unlimited space in between every number."

bjornsing 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember a joke from college that went something like this: There was this mathematics professor that used to tell his students that if they failed at proving a conjecture they should try to prove the opposite, and if they couldn't do that either they should quit mathematics. He had to stop saying that after Gödel published his paper. :)

I haven't studied Gödel's proof and have to admit I would probably have to brush up quite a bit on my maths to be able to, but to me this simple joke offers a more pedagogical and perhaps more meaningful understanding of Gödel's (first) incompleteness theorem.

pitchups 7 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the best - easiest to understand - explanations I have seen anywhere for Gödel's theorem.
scoofy 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Am i wrong or does 'Well here's what Godel proved: There's no way to really know whether or not any theory is consistent.' completely ignore Gödel's completeness theorem for first order logic.
yfyf 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Now someone please explain Skolem's paradox to a 12 year old.
Copyright fight contributes to media industry decline google.com
20 points by tazzy531  3 hours ago   2 comments top 2
krallja 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's almost like your customers are pointing out business opportunities to you for free. And you thank them with lawsuits.
Bry789123 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
One thing the author doesn't seem to mention is how that video could actually raise revenue. I, as well as many others, had no interest in Australian Tennis, but upon seeing this video have suddenly become both aware and at least a bit interested in it.

How many people would be more likely to watch if they expect something similarly funny to happen?

I can't think of a single reason why someone who had the intention of watching the match would no longer be interested in it because of a two minute clip (loosely related to the match and not containing any "spoilers"). On the other hand I can think of a reason why someone who didn't know about or was debating watching, will now watch.

The clip added value, not simply didn't reduce it.

Zynga 'losing $150 on every new paying customer' develop-online.net
56 points by evo_9  7 hours ago   32 comments top 9
TobiHeidi 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Obvious mistake made in the calculation. From "We also know that they had 3.4 million unique payers in the September quarter, which is up from 3 million at the end of December 2010." lead them to "In other words, they added 400,000 additional payers and they spent $120 million to acquire them.”

This is an obvius mistake, as not all of the 3 Million from Dec 2010 continued to be a customer in Sept 2011. I roughly assume they lost 800.000 customers in that span (i think its more), then the newly aquired customers triple to 1.2 Million. Thus Zynga makes 50$ profit per customer.

nostromo 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone know where Zynga spends its marketing dollars? Is it mostly Facebook? $13mm a month stikes me as huge considering I don't think I've ever seen one of their ads.
pg_bot 7 hours ago 4 replies      
The biggest problem I have with Zynga is that they do not have any creativity. The games they churn out are just another [insert random noun]'ville or a ripoff of a popular existing game (scrabble, hang man, poker, etc). A video game's shelf life doesn't usually last for more than 12 months, and if they can't come up with any unique new product that can capture the attention of a mass number of users they may be up a certain creek without a paddle.
extension 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Our concern is [whether or not it's worth] spending $300 to get these customers when people are spending $150

Good god. My concern would be whether they will still be able to milk people for $150 after there are 12 step programs and "just say no to Zynga" PSAs.

X-Istence 5 hours ago 3 replies      
How about the free users that are simply playing the games but aren't making them any money. I personally play Words with Friends, it's kind of fun and addicting, but I use the free version of their app, I don't ever click their ads nor do I care to (and when I am on my home network those ad servers are blocked =)). I use resources in that they have to spend server time to keep track of my moves to send them to my opponents. Where is the win in that?
yahelc 5 hours ago 0 replies      
That headline may be the only thing that could actually persuade me to become a paying customer of Zynga's.
acgourley 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Do they really make $150 per acquired user, or just acquired user that opens their wallet at all? I'm curious if those numbers on acquisition cover free users at all.
bmaeser 5 hours ago 0 replies      
[quote]“That's our math; that's not what the company says,” [/quote]

sounds like crystal gazing to me.

jamesredman 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The only thing that can save Zynga and demand its current valuation is online poker.
C++11 will be introduced by B.Stroustrup at Microsoft Event msdn.com
47 points by alpb  7 hours ago   13 comments top 3
chadaustin 4 hours ago 4 replies      
I appreciate Microsoft's renewed commitment to native code but I'm rather disappointed at the limited C++11 support in the upcoming Visual Studio 2012 http://blogs.msdn.com/b/vcblog/archive/2011/09/12/10209291.a... especially when compared with gcc and clang.

gcc: http://gcc.gnu.org/projects/cxx0x.html

clang: http://clang.llvm.org/cxx_status.html

To pick a few examples, range-based for, variadic templates, and non-static data member initializers are huge improvements to the language.

huhtenberg 5 hours ago 0 replies      
> "C++11 feels like a new language" says C++ creator Bjarne Stroustrup

Great. Finally a reason enough to go back to C :-)

bediger 5 hours ago 4 replies      
Isn't this a little weird, given that MSFT wants people to use "managed code", the CLI, and all the attendant software?

Or is it telling us that people who get to choose (free software) aren't going to be using C++11?

I can't tell.

Australia: US Copyright Colony or Just a Good Friend? torrentfreak.com
48 points by llambda  7 hours ago   17 comments top 8
jacques_chester 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Australia may loom large in the consciousness of the world, but economically, politically and militarily we are a minnow.

The point is that defence is the one area where you are meant to take the very long view. Australia has fastidiously and consistently kept up its end of the ANZUS alliance. We had experience in exercising secondary sovereignty due to our long allegiance to Britain. When the mother country proved to be incapable of defending us in World War II, we started sending our soldiers to fight in American wars instead of British ones.

You think we'd have learned the lesson that empires can be selectively blind when time comes to deliver the serious help.

The one interesting little twist in the Australian defence architecture is that we have a nuclear science organisation that has been maintained since the 1950s. The official reason is for the science, but it just so happens that we have a cadre of several hundred scientists of the kind you'd need to build a bomb in a few years if that seemed necessary. Plus quite a few British scientists who worked on the British weapons program retired here in the 60s and 70s. Perhaps as a thankyou for letting the Brits blow up Maralinga they passed on a few hints.

But really, it all comes back to the central problem that none of our politicians can tell their elbow from their arsehole, or TCP from tea. The guy who was chosen to negotiate the AUSFTA was a farmer who didn't understand the fuss about the IP provisions. We've had a series of Communications ministers who are an exciting mix of different species of arrogant ignorami.

Technology is not taken seriously in this country. That's the bottom line.

If the USA interfered with our footy finals it would be war.

pg 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Copyright colony. What a fabulous phrase.
cubicle67 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Living in Australia I happen to know a few other people who also live here. Occasionally I'll speak to them. I've you to speak to anyone here who's appreciative of the way our government relates to the US

One of our prime ministers once referred to Australia as "the arse end of the world". Seems more like the US is the arsehole of the world and they've got us (and others like the UK) puckering up

I really detest the way our politicians, from both sides, grovel to and fawn over the US. The reaction of Gillard (our current PM) to Obama's recent visit was just downright embarrassing. But what can we do? I wish we were more like the NZ of old who told the US Navy where to go http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANZUS#New_Zealand_bans_nuclear_... (very much watered down account. it was a huge political rebuff to the US at the time)

jmitcheson 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Not just Australia, but NZ too. The US has been angling at free trade agreements with NZ and Australia for a while now. They all contain 'interesting' copyright provisions. The sad thing is that too few people here care or know enough about global politics to even notice what's going on, let alone try to stop it.

Luckily NZ is too small for anyone to care. Hopefully we get to keep our ban on software patents a little longer. Although the recently introduced "3 strikes" law (ISPs are forced to monitor your interent use, and warn you if you get caught on an MPAA honeypot torrent. 3 warnings and your internet connection is cut) is dubious.

3 strikes law: http://www.itnews.com.au/News/254485,new-zealand-passes-thre...

NZ/US FTA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand%E2%80%93United_Stat...

Interesting side note, the founder of Megaupload was hunted down in New Zealand.


theoj 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The US copyright lobby tried the same type of maneuvering in Spain. They took it a step further and threatened to put Spain on a list of countries that don't respect intellectual property laws, that is unless Spain passed the desired draconian legislation. This was all done through backroom deals and was all meant to be secret. It was a secret until WikiLeaks leaked the memos.


zizee 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know what makes me more angry, outsiders meddling in my governments affairs, or the fact my government allows it to happen behind closed doors!
bejar37 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I missing something here? As far as I know the MPAA is not a U.S. Government institution. It's a trade organization. Although what the MPAA is doing internationally and domestically is disgusting, I don't think that this is a case of the American government meddling in Aussie affairs. It's more like the netizens of America, Australia, and many other countries are being attacked by the MPAA.
keen 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"America has no better [copyright colony] than Australia."
How Reddit went from a second-tier aggregator to the Web's unstoppable force slate.com
144 points by robg  14 hours ago   63 comments top 13
ChuckMcM 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"In many ways, Reddit is a more accessible, less vulgar version of 4Chan, the meme-spewing online redoubt of the Web's most vicious trolls."

This sort of sums up Reddit for me. 4chan is an example of what some Usenet groups were years ago, a community of like minded individuals debating their world views which are fundamentally similar and who share a common background/mindset. I suspect there is a relationship between the commonality of the participants and the vibrancy of the community.

It has been my experience that when you take a set of self selected folks and give them a wide ranging area to discuss, their discussions about most topics are energetic and self-reenforcing. This makes for a very strong community experience.

I first noticed it hanging out with 'air force' kids (which is to say early in my life everyone I hung out with, their parents, like mine, were serving in the air force). That shared experience, moving from base to base, base housing which was always nearly the same, stores with the same goods, etc, we (the kids) seemed to have remarkably similar views about things. I noticed it again when I went to college, the bulk of the folks who entered engineering were all there for similar reasons and that created a community with a common set of interests and values. For many folks college was the first place they had experienced the 'community effect' that arises when there is a 'kind of people' selection criteria affecting the overall group.

I am glad for the successes of Reddit. Staying vibrant and alive will be a challenge, it is for any community, but they have a good start.

johno215 1 hour ago 2 replies      
The killer feature that reddit has is subreddits.

I disagree with the article; there is no one reddit culture. One can go to r/politics, r/gardening, r/fitness, or r/askscience for example, and they all feature their own cultures and own biases. For example r/fitness has a culture focusing on weight lifting for fitness. But for people who are into fitness through running, there is r/running. The same thing goes for politics: r/politics tends to be left leaning, but you can find right leaning people in order subreddits.

There are thousands of vibrant community subreddits were people with similar interests (and sometimes opinions) participate. All with their own cultures and moderation rules for what are acceptable posts.

Subreddits combined with voting and good moderation make reddit way better than usenet, Digg in its heyday, or 4chan.

kamaal 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is probably an Indication of one thing. Some people go in the search of elusive perfection. Which never seems to be achievable. No pure perfection exists.

So please don't deny the good for the perfect.

Reddit, has been ridiculed enough for being bad for X reasons. But hey, that's the only thing existing out there. And it works well for vast majority of the people. People who are out there just for chat or a serious discussion on a sub reddit.

I have seen that this thing works in many cases. If you have some good idea that can solve problems. Work on it and get an implementation out. Even if for the moment the working quality of that thing or the implementation quality of that thing isn't upto the mark.

This can be seen manifest in things like programming languages too! People criticize Php/Perl for all sort of reasons. But hey, remember they are so much useful and practical in the real world the elusive perfect that is supposed to replace never comes into existence. Because the elusive perfect is always in never ending path of ideation and implementation, in form of some abstract concept.

People call bash scripts and solutions hacked together using sed/bash/Unix text processing utilities crud, non readable, not elegant or whatever. But remember they often serve as the fastest way to solve some very difficult problems in seconds/minutes. While an equivalent verbose elegant language would take hours of effort writing and testing the program.

Sometimes an existing ugly solution survives in the real world, it wins and persists and nothing really replaces it. For many reasons, it was first to arrive. It convinces people that it can be useful to them. It is practical, it can survive and maintain the niche for a long time.

Meanwhile the elusive perfection, never arrives.

Reddit works and wins on the same principles.

brador 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Aside: There is a lot of very cool stuff on Reddit at this point and it would be a shame to lose it through some random act of nature/massive admin error/other non predictable event...

Has Reddit considered providing a public backup functionality ala Wikipedia? Anyone have thoughts on this?

watmough 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Reddit did two brilliant things:

  1. They didn't screw up their site. 
2. They scaled. Not without struggles tho.

Pretty good demo of letting competitors destroy themselves.

nextparadigms 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I like that Reddit's voting system is a lot more democratic than Digg's system where there were "power users". I think this also helped create the strong and, at the same time, large community.
Jun8 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Started reading the article and got stuck reading the http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/omdyt/what_is_the... thread for 30 minutes or so.

That's how.

SnydenBitchy 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Apropos reddit, here's how Alexis Ohanian deflects the blame from redditors onto the victims of their creepy facebook-stalking and harassment: “Your kids need to know that any time they take an image and put it in a digital format… they should assume that it is now public content… That's the useful thing I think CNN could have reported on, instead of making up a bunch of jibber-jabber about reddit.”


ddelony 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Reddit is a spiritual successor to Usenet, with all the good and bad that entails.
philhippus 12 hours ago 3 replies      
'How' - Digg bloated and went belly up, Reddit welcomed the fallout.
vicapow 12 hours ago 0 replies      
it's about the community and how the site is structured to support that community (and cats.
peterjmag 7 hours ago 1 reply      
OT: I wish journalists would stop capitalizing "web". The internet is an established medium, not a singular entity. I can't think of any good reasons to capitalize it"any suggestions?
AznHisoka 11 hours ago 2 replies      
As an aside, anyone else sick of hearing success stories of sites/businesses we all have the potential to make? Reddit and DropBox.
MPAA Publicly Threatens to Stop Writing Checks techdirt.com
462 points by nextparadigms  16 hours ago   83 comments top 27
redthrowaway 14 hours ago 3 replies      
The minute they stop writing checks is the minute they stop having power. They may back republicans, but I doubt it.

So Hollywood's finally figuring out their representatives can't be trusted to act in their interests? Shame, that. Must be tough. They have my sympathy. No, really, I mean it. Can't imagine what they're going through.

ivankirigin 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Lobbying is legal. Donating to campaigns of politicians you like is legal. I'm not sure why people are surprised.

The answer isn't to kick these specific bums out. It is to change campaign finance laws to make contributions illegal. I'm not sure what people here would agree to that doesn't amount to censorship though. Should the MPAA be disallowed to make a political commercial and pay for its broadcast?

Bud 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Extraordinarily blatant. I'm amazed that 30 years (thirty years!) in the Senate didn't teach Dodd to be more subtle in the uses of power than this. I mean, this guy ran for President. This is the best you can do, Dodd?

My cat would be a better lobbyist.

mmaunder 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Perhaps those of use who truly care about intellectual freedom should be writing checks too. I have no problem buying politicians for the right reasons. It appears to be the way business is done in the United States. Anyone interested in starting a lobbying organization that supports real patent reform and a free Internet?
cjoh 13 hours ago 3 replies      
The minute Barack Obama does something I really don't like, the minute I stop donating to his campaign.

There, I said it!

That statement is neither proof that I am a corrupt insider, nor is it sufficient evidence that I have control over Barack Obama.

Eeko 14 hours ago 2 replies      

"Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift given that alters the behavior of the recipient. Bribery constitutes a crime and is defined by Black's Law Dictionary as the offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty."


abraxasz 11 hours ago 1 reply      
First, I'd like to say that what follows is in no way an attempt to justify what Dodd said, or find excuses for him. I believe what he said was chocking.

However, it does raise questions about lobbies in general. I'm not american, so when I arrived here, I was surprised by how widespread the phenomenon was, and I've been trying to understand the reasons behind it. From what I read, lobbies basically give money to politicians for their campaigns is that right?

My first question is: why do they need that money? I mean, where I'm from (France), politicians don't spend a tenth of what their american counterparts spend for there campaign. So how did the US arrive to a point where so much money is needed to win an election?

My only guess is that they noticed that the probability of being elected was proportional to their media visibility. Meaning that some people vote for the guy they see the most on tv. And when I say "some people", I mean a lot of people. So my second question is: "Is our voting behavior not responsible for the phenomenon of lobbying"?

Again, this is an external point of view. Please do tell me if I'm missing something.

Edit: grammar

Nrsolis 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Honestly, I would LOVE to see the MPAA and RIAA stop writing checks to politicians.

Many folks think that there is already way too much money in politics, particularly to those politicians who are incumbent. Consequently, if the MPAA/RIAA stop buying our politicians out from under us, maybe we'll get them to pay attention to us again.

That's really where the MPAA should be spending its money anyhow: convincing individual voters that piracy is hurting their business and what the effects will be. Honestly, I do think we need some modifications to the copyright regime in this country (US). I just want the MPAA/RIAA to stop bypassing the voters and appealing to the folks we elected to represent our interests.

If the MPAA/RIAA stop funding elections, that means victory for the rest of us.

SeanDav 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, the only time this guy takes his foot out of his mouth, is to shoot himself in said foot.

Actually let us hope he makes a few more comments like this one so that even more people can see what the MPAA are really about.

Aloisius 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Money in politics is a huge problem. I'm not one to actively campaign, but I do recommend people check out Larry Lessig's Rootstrikers - http://rootstrikers.org/.

There are some local rootstriker groups starting up in SF and what not trying to come up with a sane solution.

rbanffy 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I am absolutely shocked by the thick layer of spin that goes around a couple seconds of actual edited footage:


Shenglong 13 hours ago 1 reply      
It's actually really sad, that it took a a joint effort on some of the web's largest companies to shove it in the faces of ordinary people, what could happen if such destructive legislation would pass.

It goes to show how apathetic the general population is, how representative democracy really hinges on funding from corrupt corporations, and how the entire government structure of the United States needs reworking. It might be the people who vote, but right now, every politician knows that money buys more votes (campaigning, etc) than doing the right thing.

beedogs 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I am ashamed Chris Dodd was once my senator. :(
MrJagil 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have a link to the actual video?
CharlieA 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I don't understand how he (or anyone) can get away with saying things like this--it's practically a straight up admission that they're buying votes.

How is this not corruption?

RealGeek 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone from MPAA ever read what Internet industry, bloggers or customers have to say? Do they read any articles like these or it is just falling on deaf ears?
funkah 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I tend to think they will get what they want, eventually. Congress is bought and paid for, and if they keep trying to pass bills like SOPA, issue fatigue will set in at some point among common folks. Blacking out Wikipedia can only work so many times.
fleitz 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This sounds like influence peddling I think a prosecutor needs to look into this.
mathattack 12 hours ago 0 replies      
And this is the same Dodd who supposedly reformed WallSteet
kidmenot 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Someone finally took the time to say publicly how things work... what's all the fuss about?
middayc 11 hours ago 0 replies      
When writing checks with ROI expectations to politicians happens in (for example) eastern europe it's called corruption and hopefully penalized (and I agree with it). when it happens in "developed" democracies it's called "that's how the gov. works"?
twelvechairs 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it wrong that he is saying this on the record? I dont agree with the lobbying system either, but dont shoot someone just for being transparent about the way the system works.
yuhong 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope Google finally starts writing bigger checks in response.
shampoo 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Rather then purchase content from Hollywood, where else could one place their entertainment dollars to help squeeze Hollywood ? Games ?
daniel-cussen 11 hours ago 0 replies      
SV will have to multitask. Kick ass and lobby at the same time.
shareme 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Yeah, and there is no drugs in any Hollywood studios, right?
gavanwoolery 12 hours ago 1 reply      
"Corrupt Politician" is an oxymoron.
I don't owe you scala-tools.org goodstuff.im
89 points by automagical  10 hours ago   60 comments top 14
earl 9 hours ago 2 replies      

David Pollack created lift. He also created and ran scala-tools.org, a maven repo and documentation host for scala stuff. He's recently decided to transition off much of his scala involvement, in part because his new startup visi.pro uses neither scala nor the jvm.

Several months ago he asked for help taking over scala-tools. There was not much response, and amongst the handful of people who stepped up, there was some sort of personality conflict.

In response, he temporarily shut it down and is transitioning the site to new hosts and maintainers. The internet is pitching a tantrum. Pollack is put out, since all the whiners where invisible when he was asking for new maintainers several months ago. Also, whiners who neither helped then and aren't stepping up to help now reek of entitlement: what right do they enjoy to Pollack's continued donation of time and money, just because he historically provided something the community liked?

kstenerud 8 hours ago 2 replies      
It's about managing user expectations, which David has done rather poorly.

People have short memories. When you're going to shut something down, you really should put up a HUGE javascript timer at the top of the page saying:

83 days, 14 hours, 23 minutes, 11 seconds until this site shuts down. Contact me if you can take over maintenance.

Unless it's constantly in their face, they won't feel the urgency, and so they won't act.

However, now that Dave's said "time's up", the urgency is felt, but there's nothing people can do, thus their frustration.

You can say "The users should have known" till you're blue in the face, but so long as you fight against human nature rather than guiding them in ways reinforced by their nature, you have only yourself to blame for the fallout. Such is the responsibility that comes with leadership.

nknight 7 hours ago 2 replies      
The response to these incidents is depressingly predictable. "Yes he has the right to shut it down, but..." -- no, there is no "but".

Consider this: An employee quits his job. Do you say "Yes, he has the right to quit, but..."? No. There is no "but". He has the right to quit, period.

Involuntary servitude isn't allowed even when someone is getting paid for it, what the hell makes you think it's acceptable when they aren't, and are even investing their own resources?

He's not being a jerk, he's not being harsh. His right in this matter is absolute, and he's already given the community more of an opportunity than was necessary -- legally, ethically, or socially -- to step up. He has no obligation of any kind to keep putting his time and money into it. If you want slavery, build yourself a time machine, don't demand that he do it for you.

raganwald 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The form letter template for open source abandonware:


shinratdr 8 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a great example of why large parts of the open source community are complete clusterfucks. There have been some amazing programs and services that emerge from this model, but by and large all projects have the same caveats: Nobody takes overall responsibility, everybody contributor is an unquestionable Jesus character, every contribution is a donation with strings attached, expecting the status quo to be maintained on a popular project is unabashed entitlement.

It's not like his standpoint is wrong, or incorrect, even selfish or unreasonable. Yet it does still damage the community and nobody will take responsibility for said damage. This is why people get paid for things. No matter how altruistic your intentions and actions, if people come to rely on your service then they will be upset and frustrated when it disappears.

TL;DR - He's right, he doesn't owe anyone anything. That doesn't make his actions any less damaging though, and simply glossing over this as "user entitlement" is ignoring a systemic problem with unfunded open source projects.

mark_l_watson 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I find David's position to be reasonable. Also, if he feels that Haskell (with a little Objective-C glue code) meets his current business and technical needs better than Scala, that is his decision to make, and based on his technical abilities I would bet that he made a good decision.
teaspoon 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of Neil Gaiman's "George R.R. Martin is not your bitch" essay, about reader entitlement:


icebraining 9 hours ago 2 replies      
TL;DR - The internet is full of ungrateful dicks.

It often bothers me the vitriol that open source projects get for not fixing some bug or even add some feature that certain user considers important. But I don't see a best course of action than simply ignoring them. There's no upside to wasting your time and mental energy replying.

(By the way, I agree with the author. I just think this post is preaching to the choir. The targeted people will just disregard it).

ww520 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The ungrateful comments here just strengthen David's point.
alan_cx 7 hours ago 0 replies      
On the face of it, this guy seems reasonable, just a little harsh. Sounds like he has good reason to be a bit harsh.

Seems to me that what we have here is a techie programmer type who does not entirely get customer relations, and hasn't managed to shape the message that well. Which is pretty much as it should be, the two skill sets don't usually collide. And I suppose why companies that can afford it get customer relation advice or employees. Perhaps some of these groups or what ever, should look for volunteers who do understand PR. Maybe they would be looking to bring this open source spirit out side of tech related areas.

ludwigvan 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Why is he leaving Lift and Scala? What does it say about a web framework whose founder is leaving -- does this mean the death of Lift?
pwpwp 9 hours ago 0 replies      
[OT] Scala is definitely the current hot spot for PL drama
NegativeOne 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Seems a bit pretentious saying the domain 'can't be priced' while shutting everything down at the same time. He's gonna take his ball and put it in some closet for eternity, and it sounds like he doesn't really care if anybody else wants to play with it. Yes, this is his 'right', it's also pretty lame.
dkhenry 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The less he is involved in the scalar community the better. Yes he is right no one has any inherent right to his work or his infrastructure. however he treats the site like his gift to us simple mortals. Here is why people are upset ,because that was a maven host for a bunch of scalar software and instead of transitioning it to a new owner he said no its mine now I paid for it find your own domain, ohh and by the way rewrite all your code and documentation and tutorials to point to another site because I want to be paid for the community others created around my hardware and domain name.

Again he has every right to do what he is doing its his stuff , but its still a very disrespectful way he went about doing it.

Cartels Are an Emergent Phenomenon, Say Complexity Theorists technologyreview.com
82 points by pg  10 hours ago   50 comments top 11
wisty 2 hours ago 0 replies      
A similar thing has already been shown by Steve Keen. First, he shows that if firms optimize by attempting to set the total derivative of profits to zero, they behave like monopolies. Second, he uses a simple model in which firms randomly raise or lower prices, then revert if they lost money, and shows they converge to behaving like monopolies.

He also points out that many fundamental economic principles are flawed, and have been proven to be flawed for years, but economists lack rigor, and would rather live in their "supply meets demand, actors are rational, and the market is in equilibrium" fantasy-land.

Oh, and in about 2006, he warned that there'd be a recession caused by a debt-deflation, just like in 1929. He warned that the government would continually underestimate its impact. He also thinks that the best way to "reset" the system is with a "modern jubilee" - the government engage in massive quantitative easing (which they won't, because they don't realise what's causing the crisis, and how bad it is), and should hand out the free money to tax-payers rather than giving it to banks, as the banks have lost their appetite for risk and won't create new money even if you feed them.

But mainstream economists only study basic calculus, linear algebra, and statistics, not ODEs, and don't believe anything they don't understand. A 50 year old professor (or central banker) isn't going to go back to school and sit in a class with sophomore engineers, just to be able to understand what "complexity theorists" and "econophysists" are talking about, so they just pretend that it doesn't exist. There's no conspiracy, they just don't read or teach anything more mathematically advanced than IS-LM (which is stone age). Their journals don't accept non-mainstream papers for "methodological reasons" (they don't understand basic differential equations), or because it "doesn't sit well with the current theory" (it proves them wrong) and since there's tens of thousands of them they tend to dominate the field.

pash 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Though a fun paper, Technology Review's write-up of it is worthless. At most, all you should take from reading this paper is that "cartels" potentially can emerge without coordination, not that they do or that they are likely to. Or that this phenomenon has anything at all to do with the dynamics of prices at your neighborhood gas-station.

As anyone who has studied complex systems understands, the evolution of interactions among even very simple agents is enormously sensitive to initial conditions. (That's often taken as the very definition of chaos in deterministic systems.) So it is almost always wrong to draw strong conclusions about a complex part of the real world based on your computational model of it: vary one parameter a little bit and you end up with something that looks completely different.

This is why agent-based models, like the one employed in this study, are widely despised in economics and the other social sciences despite offering a way to do experiments that would otherwise be impossible in these fields. We simply don't know enough about people and how they interact to build meaningful models, and we probably never will.

For example, an economist might point out that the model presented in this paper doesn't account for the spacial distribution of gas stations and consumers, for buyers' and sellers' expectations of future prices, or for any number of conceivable and inconceivable factors"almost all of which would affect aggregate outcomes in the model, I would bet, just as the authors found that the speed of reacting to price-changes did. (That was the only parameter the authors varied, by the way.) And of course we could model the problem in many fundamentally different ways to start with.

In other words, this is much different (and harder) than building an N-body model of the dynamics of Alpha Centauri, where's there's basically one force (gravity) that operates in the same way on a bunch of things that can all be described adequately by a single parameter (mass).

ScottBurson 8 hours ago 3 replies      
If cartel-like behaviour is an emergent property of an ordinary market, how should it be controlled, regulated and punished?

Why punish it? By this reasoning, all you need to do is to give buyers better information so they can react faster.

The problem with gas prices, I suppose, is that you have to drive around to collect them, and once you come to a station, if you decide its price is unacceptable there's a cost to checking out the next one (the time it takes you to drive there).

Seems like there could be a mobile app that tells drivers the gas prices at stations in their vicinity, which, according to the article, should change the system's behavior mode to push prices down instead of up.

rcthompson 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the important point of the article is that when buyers are unable to react as fast as sellers to changes in the market, the market is ripe for what I'm going to dub "auto-cartelization".

Taking this a bit further, the best way to fight this phenomenon may be to improve buyers' ability to react quickly to the market. I'm sure there's some startup ideas here for specific instances of "market".

bravura 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The results make interesting reading. It turns out that a crucial factor is the speed at which buyers and sellers react to the market. When buyers react quickest, sellers are forced to match the best possible value for money and prices tend to drop.

By contrast, when sellers react quickest, they are quick to copy others offering poor value for money. This reduces the number of sellers offering good value for money in a vicious cycle that drives prices as high as possible.

Does this model match practice?

i.e. If we consider all industries in which there are price cartels, particularly those that were formed without price collusion, could the existence of those cartels be attributed to sellers reacting faster than buyers?

Also, are we confident of the converse? That there an no examples of non-collusive cartels in markets where buyers react faster than sellers? This seems plausible to.

brador 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Any evolutionary system without appropriate mutation leads to a "monopoly" for the dominant. Capitalism is no different.

Our best bet solution is currently regulation. Not great, but it works.

rcthompson 7 hours ago 2 replies      
An interesting related question might be: what happens when a subset of buyers can react quickly, but the rest react slowly? And ditto for a subset of sellers.
chrismealy 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool result. Another reminder that just because something is self-organizing that doesn't make it benevolent.
nsedlet 3 hours ago 0 replies      
To bring up a potential real-world example:

A friend of mine has done a lot of research on the major credit card companies for his hedge fund. He noticed that these companies tend to raise their fees basically in lock-step (when one does it, the others follow quickly).

This behavior seemed counter-intuitive to me -- I would have guessed that the companies would compete to keep fees low. But this actually makes some sense in a world where the seller (the credit card company) reacts much more quickly than the buyer (the fee-paying banks and merchants). Banks and merchants can only switch credit card issuers if they can get their customers to (i.e. the card-holders). Therefore, it's possible for a card company to raise fees without losing market share right away. Other card companies take note and their dominant strategy is to raise fees as well.

funthree 8 hours ago 2 replies      
This means that capitalism, at its core, is somewhat flawed.

Surprisingly and scarily in tune with Zeitgeist Moving Forward [1]

1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYLLFpNn4lM

Sniffnoy 7 hours ago 1 reply      
"Complexity theorists"?
Investment Firm Y Combinator Goes on Offensive Against Hollywood nytimes.com
334 points by invisiblefunnel  23 hours ago   81 comments top 18
ajb 20 hours ago 2 replies      
I think what we need to work on is improving the political clout of engineers, not destroying hollywood. We've won this one (I hope) but it took rather extreme measures. Blacking out wikipedia isn't something which can be done every time congress threatens to do something stupid. It's a bit like going on strike - a negative act which can turn people against us if overused. We need mechanisms which can influence politics on a day-to-day level, so we don't need to do these last-ditch operations.

Nevertheless, defeating SOPA is hugely significant, because it shows that we CAN be politically effective. Politics can operate as a kind of nonviolent intimidation: if our opponents have the reputation of being politically effective, and our group has the reputation of being politically ineffective, individuals think it's not worth their time trying to influence politics.

Take software patents. Whenever this comes up, there are always gloomy posts saying that we will never defeat the patent lobby. This perception deters everyone from trying to.

EFF does a good job. But I think more of us need to be active as individuals, on a day to day basis rather than just when the trumpet sounds like this. Suppose there was a website where you could sign a pledge which said: "I will spend 1/2 hour a week working against internet censorship". and then provided stack-overflow-like facilities whereby activists could suggest useful actions and vote on which are the best; and collect data on which arguments seemed most effective. Not only would this make us more effective, it would declare that we were a force to be reckoned with.

Anyone up for making such a website?

jcampbell1 20 hours ago 4 replies      
In the risk of being down voted to hell, this whole thing seems completely misguided to me. I love the product that hollywood produces. I love great movies and great TV. I frankly think "The Wire" is the best example of story telling I know of. I can think of nothing that silicon valley has produced that even comes close. If Zynga disappeared tomorrow, I could care less, and Hollywood and Zynga are both selling entertainment. Zynga's entertainment value is less than worthless to me. I hope hollywood continues to be a massively successful industry in the hope that the next David Simon is created.
mekoka 19 hours ago 1 reply      
The project has an objective find an alternative to Hollywood. But like everything else, baby steps are in order. I don't know why it is assumed that a beta solution should ship with the ability to produce "Avatar" caliber productions.

When it comes to technology, I'm optimistic that it has almost limitless potential to revolutionize. My instinct tells me though that a startup aimed at competing against Hollywood doesn't have to be about inventing alternate forms of entertainment, but rather to work at optimizing on alternate means of production and distribution of the already successful form of entertainment. Recent efforts with other media have shown that most optimizations are about cutting out as much unnecessary intermediary layers as possible.

I'm convinced that a number of people currently working within the Hollywoodian system are unhappy with the present arrangements and I would not be surprised if a few were to come out the woodwork because of this YC invitation. Their expertise will be essential, because if my guess is correct, I think that a large majority of people on HN are complete ignorami when it comes to making a movie or a tv show. We're more consumers and critics than we are creators or producers of such material.

Another thing would be to look at what currently exist that tries to spearhead such alternate efforts. Is it successful? What are the problems? What has been tried? Where's the data?

First, let's ask the people who currently work on the fringe of Hollywood how they're doing it.

ajhit406 22 hours ago  replies      
What hollywood has going for it, is a track-record of executing on the operations behind producing movies that make money.

People who invest in movies invest for the same reasons all of us invest in anything-- to make money.

Hollywood is a business, albeit one rooted in entertainment, but let's face it-- many artists are also just in it for the money.

I don't think our world view of "entertainment" is going to shift the way that YC suggested in it's call for action. I think most of us (unfortunately) are still going to want to watch movies like Transformers 3 at a $200 million budget than a $1million dollar indie flick.

So, once we've recognized that uprooting involves figuring out how to finance movie production instead of shifting the realm of entertainment (at least, for our generation, perhaps future generations will just want to watch WOW and starcraft online), then we're getting somewhere.

Unfortunately, figuring out a way to finance a film that costs tens or hundreds of millions to produce is a pretty tricky endeavor.

Still, it will be pretty awesome when Brad Pitt signs onto his first crowd-sourced flick =)

ck2 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It's ironic Hollywood itself WAS a group of rogue startups, just over 100 years ago.

But here's the thing - you can probably make a dent but "killing it" ?

Wouldn't that be like making professional sports obsolete?

There is just too much money and organization and you are never going to get all the fans to try something else instead and stay with it.

thret 4 hours ago 0 replies      
“Such ridiculous, destructive bills should never even pass committee review,” Mr. Arment wrote. The real problem, he added, is “the MPAA's buying power in Congress,”

The real problem is that money has buying power in Congress. Money shouldn't buy votes. I don't know what the solution is but I'm fairly sure that's the problem.

eck 21 hours ago 3 replies      
I am sort of surprised that pg chose movies rather than music. Movies are hard. You need a lot of things to make a movie. I liked Avatar. You can't do that kind of thing on the cheap. Actors, sites, makeup, lighting, special effects, etc. For music, you need the band, which are essentially founders from an equity standpoint, and own their own instruments already since they know how to play them. You need like $1000 of recording gear and some dude to hit the "record" button.

Eventually movies will be democratized, but killing the RIAA/iTunes cabal seems like the obvious first step.

jezclaremurugan 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Or how about a way to fix the congress and the election process? A startup to provide information on the promises kept/broken, campaign financing, how much someone is influenced by lobbyists etc, so that only people who can be trusted get to vote on these issues. I think having politicians who can be trusted, who are informed, is more important. The recent blackouts swayed so many of them, but we can't do this every time. Some dashboard kind of thing, to let them know what their constituents want would be very useful for them, since I'm afraid they dont read opinion polls...
powertower 14 hours ago 1 reply      
If you want to get rid of Hollywood, there is only one way to do it...

Start funding shows, movies, and productions.

Or figure out how to get 100MM people (or more) subscribed at $10/month (or more) to check-mark which shows and movies they want created. Then use the revenue from that to make the production.

Maybe even make the process completely democratic, where actors (known, and unknown) can send in their auditions and you get to vote on it. Then use YouTube or NetFlix for distribution, and provide downloads.

There is more to it than the above, but that pretty much cuts the studios off, and Hollywood in general, at the knees, and gives control to the consumers.

waterlesscloud 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Relevant- Hollywood tries new online network for connecting established filmmakers with investors.


frankydp 22 hours ago 1 reply      
It is so very true that financing is the real issue here.
bane 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Engineers love to solve problems. Hollywood has become a problem.
phzbOx 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Woa, that went huge fast. I mean, every startups is an offensive against something already existing, no? Yes, you can have an original idea but more often than not, it's based on something existing and enhancing it in some ways.
pentae 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who believes that this notion of 'piracy stealing jobs' is simply a catalyst for Rupert Murdoch and his billionaire friends who collectively own this industry to personally control the Internet? This is absolutely a power struggle. They want to control our information, like they always have--look at Fox news.

As more and more people switch to online sources of entertainment, their industry is simply being diluted by Youtube's, Hulu's, Reddit, HackerNews and the Apple App Store.

So in their dying breaths, they are spending $100 million a year trying to take control of the very industry that is diluting their power over our information and their control of our minds. It sounds very George Orwellian, but I mean really.. have you seen Fox news? It's a parody of itself.

Rupert Murdoch tried his best to have a go at the online industry with Myspace and we all know how well that turned out for him, so I guess the self-professed billionaire tyrant figures if he can't beat them, why not just try and own them?

vellum 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Does getting rid of our Old Entertainment Overlords really matter, if our New Entertainment Overlords are going to be doing the same thing? As long as one group of people is getting rich in an industry, the temptation is always there to start rigging the rules in your favor by working the refs. Look at the current mess we have with patents. Disrupting Hollywood is great, but we should also innovate by coming up with new ways to discourage and punish companies from attempting things like SOPA.
jasonabelli 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't believe we can blame the politicians for campaign finance corruption. It is our own complacency that has allowed this system to take a firm root in our government. How can you blame or get mad at one of our representatives for playing the game we make/allow them to play. I guess what I am saying is if you can't get elected unless you use the corrupt campaign financing system that we allow to be in place how can we be upset when our elected officials are a pawn to the system?
chaostheory 19 hours ago 1 reply      
How much money do indy film makers need for a minimum viable product? How can we help them bring it to an audience and make money?
omarchowdhury 11 hours ago 0 replies      
When all is said and done, more is said than done.
Chuck Moore on the Lost Art of Keeping It Simple simple-talk.com
67 points by gruseom  11 hours ago   3 comments top 2
untangle 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Chuck Moore is one of my heros, and has been since those '70s that he talks about.

Try as I might, I have had a hellofatime using Forth (and now Factor) to get nontrivial things done. But I keep trying, because I find the philosophy so compelling. And I figure I'll learn something.

He has always considered Forth to be a 'personal leverage' tool rather than a programming system suited to a team. Similar in this regard to Lisp and J I suppose. The fact that he has never hired a programmer (!) reinforces this notion.

I wish him luck with his chips....


penguat 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I find this interesting:

"Second, it's irresistible to anticipate the future and expect the problem to grow in a certain direction. Thus code is added to facilitate future changes, which rarely occur. This is a good strategy, but can be put off until the future arrives."

Should we even know what the future is likely to hold? I'm in a big corporate - perhaps that skews things where I am, but we have a relatively clear roadmap for the next couple of months at least, and I am loath to ignore that, although I am mindful of the problem mentioned as well: I don't try to solve future problems before we get there.

Should I cease specifically allowing for them?

NB the organisation I am working in allows approximately 2% of developers' time for refactoring.

Programmer Sentenced To Death In Iran For Upload Software techweekeurope.co.uk
77 points by jrabone  11 hours ago   9 comments top 4
jcromartie 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The more that I read about this, the more I get the feeling that there were specific political reasons to target this individual. I don't know how a country like Iran would even know he developed some software. He probably was outspoken against the regime.
zalew 8 hours ago 0 replies      
361 points 2 days ago 109 comments
HyprMusic 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone have any information on the software he wrote specifically did or was called?
dchuk 5 hours ago 0 replies      
most likely a spy/connected to a spy system/something similar. The story is just a front.
Turn your idea into an experience - Part 1 joshrweinstein.com
33 points by joshwprinceton  8 hours ago   6 comments top
iusable 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Well put. I would say that things have changed since even an year ago. Nowadays, if you are building a MVP and plan on a closed beta launch - expect moaning & groaning about your unpolished UI. People just expect well-designed experiences from day 1.
       cached 22 January 2012 05:02:01 GMT