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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Analyst: Blogs now considered mainstream media

According to a recent Technorati study, blogs have become mainstream:

So says Paul Verna, senior analyst at eMarketer, citing a study by Decipher, done for Technorati:
“Blogs are now mainstream media,” said Richard Jalichandra, CEO of Technorati, in an interview with eMarketer. “We’ve certainly seen that with the number of professional, semiprofessional and passion/enthusiast bloggers who are creating real media experiences. At the same time, you’re also seeing mainstream media come the other direction to add blog content.”

comScore Media Metrix found that blogs had 77 million unique visitors in the US in August 2008, compared with 75.1 million unique visitors to MySpace and 41 million to Facebook. In July 2008, comScore’s ranking of the top 10 entertainment Websites included four blogs. Two of those, OMG and TMZ, were rated Nos. 1 and 2, respectively.
Two thoughts in response: Writers and publishers increasingly must add blogging to their mix.

Second, we must watch closely Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission's recent efforts to start "regulating" content on the Internet. It's a job they'd like, but not one that anyone needs them to do.

Remember, the original reason for regulation was the limited bandwidth. That just does not apply to the Internet.

Expelled DVD released today, to brisk sales, more hit reviews

The Expelled DVD releases today, distributed by Vivendi. When I checked early this morning (around 3:30 am), it was doing well for a documentary about the intelligent design guys that almost every film pundit knew he had a duty to trash. So far, there are 241 reviews, and the vast majority of the ones I scrolled through are attacks, voted up by hundreds of people. But the film was also #30 in DVDs Amazon. (Note: Today, October 22, at 6:30 am EST it is #14, with 256 reviews.)

Note: A friend writes to say, I just checked and it's listed as #14 in movies and TV. HOWEVER, I looked at the listings page and a number of the top 13 are duplicates, that is, two listings for the same movie depending on format (e.g., Blu-ray or standard DVD), so Expelled is actually #8 in terms of titles. (as of 2:36 pm EST)

Clearly, Darwin's fans feel threatened, and Amazon customers are just letting them rant while they themselves buy the film and move on.

Lesley Burbridge-Bates of Motive Entertainment Partnership/L.A.B. Media, the publicity firm, tells us,

It opened in the Top 10, achieving the #5 position on a per-screen average. It has already made its place in history as the #12 Top Grossing Documentary of all time and the #1 Conservative Documentary. The initial buzz about the film was so intense that it became the #1 most popular blog on the Internet (3/24/08), the #6 Top search on Yahoo (4/8/08), and received over 2 million web hits, more than any other movie’s website during this time.
Part of that was Yoko Ono's doing, to be sure. Her lawsuit over the use of a couple of bars from the late John Lennon's song Imagine resulted in millions of people learning about the film who had never been remotely interested in the intelligent design controversy.

The biggest problem for anyone introducing a new idea is to get that kind of name recognition. The legal trouble was very expensive for the producers, but they couldn't have bought that kind of publicity at any price.

Eventually, Ono dropped the case, but meanwhile, the producers had decided not to use Imagine anyway. The producers were defended by the Stanford Fair Use Project.


Method used determines which evolution story is told

Genetic sequence comparisons are used to try to establish relationships in evolution. But as Robert Deyes, writing over at Access Research Network, shows, the molecular "clock" can conflict wildly with the traditional "tree of life":
Writing over a decade ago, UCLA biologists Laura Maley and Charles Marshall noted how genetic sequence comparisons carried out between different animal phyletic groups can lead to significantly different interpretations of evolutionary relationships depending on which species is chosen to represent each group (Ref 1). Such a finding should raise concern amongst protagonists of molecular systematics who today use sequence data to determine evolutionary relationships. Yale University's Gavin Naylor showed just how inaccurate such comparisons could be in the context of the vertebrate evolutionary tree (Ref 2). Mitochondrial DNA sequence analyses of 19 different taxa generated an astounding result- frogs and fish were clustered in the same clade as chickens even though "strong morphological and fossil evidence" did not show these as being in any way related by a common ancestor (Ref 2). The same mitochondrial DNA sequences placed echinoderms- which include starfish and sea urchins- in closer proximity to the vertebrates than amphioxus even though, being a chordate, we would expect amphioxus to be closer (Ref 2). That is, if we give the evolutionary tree any credibility.

Given such anomalies, one should be cautious about stating what we really do know about the evolutionary relationships between different classes of vertebrates. Nevertheless molecular biologist Thomas Sakmar and his colleagues from the Rockefeller University seemingly threw caution to the wind several years later when they redesigned the rhodopsin molecule- a visual, light perceiving pigment that is ubiquitous throughout nature (Ref 3).

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:

Get Ben Stein's Expelled - plus new book and earlier ID films

If you are interested in the intelligent design controversy, here is a deal that's hard to beat, from Access Research Network:

The EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed DVD featuring Ben Stein can now be ordered at ARN. In addition, ARN is offering an EXPELLED Super Bundle which includes the EXPELLED DVD, Slaughter of the Dissidents book by Dr. Jerry Bergman. And for a limited time when you order this bundle we will include free copies of the three of the best selling Intelligent Design documentaries: Unlocking the Mystery of Life, Privileged Planet, and The Case for Creator. Normally this bundle would retail for $125 but for a limited time you can order this EXPELLED Super Bundle for only $50 (including shipping anywhere in the U.S).

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Columnist: Regulate the Internet? Shut down the broadcast regulator instead!

David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen does not think much of the Canadian broadcast regulator's proposal to censor the Internet:
This week, the CRTC announced its intention to break the promise made by its then-chairperson, Françoise Bertrand, in 1999: "Our message is clear. We are not regulating any portion of the Internet." In a "notice of consultation and hearing" on Wednesday, the commission suddenly gave Dec. 5 as its deadline for submissions about expanding the CRTC's jurisdiction into "new media."

That this announcement was made by the CRTC, rather than by Parliament, is an indication of the degree to which the CRTC is a law unto itself.

[ ... ]

The regulator has created a strict broadcasting environment in which Christian and all other views that do not conform to political correctness are effectively kept under siege. The left hungers for the ability to create a similar tightly regulated environment on the Internet, to bring the free reporting and opinions of bloggers and other citizen-journalists under its ideological jackboot.
More boldly, Warren does not believe that CRTC should even exist:
Advances in technology have made it less and less necessary to impose rationing on the airwaves. We have got beyond the “rabbit ears” age. Digital technology for cable and satellite have moved far beyond this, and the Internet itself becomes capable of delivering a range of material unimagined only a generation ago. Nor is telephony what it was in past generations. The CRTC is a fossil relic from an antediluvian era.

By all means keep its archives in a museum, so that our children’s children may some day see how charmingly primitive our technology once was -- in the “CReTaCeous” period of our national life, when such big blundering bureaucratic behemoths as this superannuated regulator roamed the electronic plains. But it is time now for the CRTC to become extinct.
But the passion for government regulation is overwhelming in Canada, and it will be easy for interested parties to manufacture a "crisis" that justifies intervention.

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