Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, February 13, 2021

way it was
When Google started using its Gmail interface to push its Google Talk IM client, I figured it was just the tip of the coming iceberg.

And so it was: The melding of Gmail and Talk is rolling out, with my mail account getting the treatment today.

Despite Google’s hip invocation of “Lazy Sunday/Chronic(what?)les of Narnia” jargon to put a friendly face on the rationalization of this move, some discern the real motivation:

Functionality will be expanded by this Google chat update but the primary purpose behind the changes cuts to the foundation of their success; Google will be able to obtain more information about its users. They know what you search, the content of your email, and they will now know the subject and content of your chat sessions. With all of this information they can serve up more AdWords and increase their bottom line. Damn it Jon; just say it! We are not idiots!

With which I concurred, and expanded upon slightly:

Obviously, Google’s aim is to hook more users into using traceable applications, and — if nothing else — use that as a content mill for more AdSense sales. On top of that, it further builds Google’s registered user base, which became a priority as soon as the company went public (no more rock-solid way to demonstrate revenue potential).

As with the Web Clips/RSS teaser, I really have no use for the Talk integration, as I don’t use IM in any form. Yeah, I can avoid using anything but the email component; still doesn’t mean I have to like the attempts to shove these add-ons, especially for their base purposes.

Despite all that, I will admit that the notion of a need for archived IM chats is somewhat rooted in reality. I know that many people, especially power users, are resorting to chat instead of email for mission-critical (i.e., business-related) communication. When the subject goes beyond idle chit-chat, it’s important to keep a record of correspondence.

But is that the mindset of most IMers? After a decade, I think everyone is aware of the permanence of emails. Instant messaging, though, is a different animal. I think more users of that believe (mistakenly, I know, even without the Gmail/Gtalk setup) that it’s more “off the record” than other electronic communications, a sort of safe zone. Will the widespread knowledge that such exchanges might be saved for future reference curtail use?

Note: For anyone coming here from the Official Google Blog, take heed of my previous lockdown of commenting when things got stupid. Feedback is most welcome, but not when it’s simplistic Google rah-rahing. Keep that in mind, please.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/13/2006 11:42 PM
Category: Internet
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Where’s a budding superpower supposed to spread its economic and political wings when it has contentious relationships in its own neighborhood? To sub-Saharan Africa, where China is filling the void left by Western powers.

Aside from the economic inroads being made by Chinese goods and investments, Beijing’s willingness to use its diplomatic muscle (especially as a member of the U.N. Security Council) on behalf of African regimes is most interesting:

China has also shown a propensity for stepping in to deal with governments spurned by the West over human rights issues. Chinese companies moved in to run Sudan’s oil industry when Western companies would not deal with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s government over accusations of widespread rights abuses.

China is also the strongest foreign ally of Zimbabwe, now treated as a pariah state under Robert Mugabe, also accused of rights abuses.

To me, this suggests nothing more than addressing a geopolitical vacuum. China’s relations with East and Southeast Asian countries are historically frosty, as they are with India. Its mutually beneficial pact with Russia is helpful, but doesn’t provide it with an avenue for influence. Latin America is receptive to Chinese overtures, but realistically won’t slip from the U.S.’s orbit anytime soon. The process of elimination leaves Africa as the most promising zone for expanding foreign policy.

What is Africa worth right now as an aligned sphere? Not much. It’s strictly a proving ground. Whether or not it pans out — will infrastructure needs on the continent ever align? — is irrelevent in the short term. If nothing else, Chinese willingness to befriend pariah governments should be a welcoming sign to oil-rich Middle Eastern regimes, should they need leverage in disputes with Europe or America.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/13/2006 10:47 PM
Category: Political
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Sports Illustrated is getting ready to roll out this year’s swimsuit edition, and it’s making sure you can ogle the hotties just about any way except in the flesh. Along with the traditional print issue, SI is releasing model videos and other digital content via iTunes and cellphone networks.

All part of the periodical publishing terrain these days:

The big question these days, said Samir Husni, a magazine consultant and journalism department chairman at the University of Mississippi, is, “Can you really exist in one medium anymore?”

Magazines today must straddle media to stay ahead of the pack, said Mr. Husni. “We are surrounded by media. The intelligent magazines are the ones that are directing the traffic, sending the public from one medium to another. Otherwise it’s a one-way street.”

Jeff Price, the president of Sports Illustrated digital, said that one example of directing traffic was that each issue of the magazine would have a unique printed number on it that the purchaser could use at iTunes.com to download one free video. He also expects 50 million page views on the Web site in the first week that the issue is out.

It’s these types of cross-channel possibilities that makes the media biz so exciting right now. (And the bikinis don’t hurt, either.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/13/2006 08:45 PM
Category: Internet, Publishing, Tech
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endtroducingIf ESPN the Magazine is trying to establish some street cred, I think it might have worked. I, for one, never would have dreamed I’d see DJ Shadow in a Web ad for the magazine. This one appeared in a subscription email from the New York Times that I received today.

No, it doesn’t make me want to subscribe to ESPN’s magazine, even though I do enjoy the odd issue I pick up. But if it counts for anything, it did prompt me to fire up Shadow’s “Mutual Slump”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/13/2006 07:23 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet, Publishing
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Little did I know that clicking on some column at Wired about digital electrobeat sampling with a Nintendo DS would lead me to a painting of Michael Landon lugging some unprocessed calimari.

Looking at “The Anguish”, by Brandon Bird, somehow brings to mind the notion of Landon as the Holy Trinity. At least, one aspect of it. Look at him, emerging from the sea, gently cradling the squid in his arms. Quite god-like; I tremble in awe.

That said, does anyone else think Landon’s face looks a little bit John Kerry-ish?

(Via collision detection)

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/13/2006 03:08 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture
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object of affection
Apple certainly has an infectious little device on its hands. Not only do iPods inspire weight loss and deepen spirituality, they also cause you to risk your life by jumping onto subway tracks to rescue them.

Think a butt-ugly Zen or Sansa would merit such devotion? I think not. Small wonder so many add-ons are devoted to it.

Yeah, yeah, I know — podcasts are player-agnostic (at least when formatted as mp3s, like they should be). And when you wait months for anything to be repaired, you’ll develop an attachment to it. Still, there’s a reason why the mainstream shorthand for digital media players is “iPod”, and these are two telling examples.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/13/2006 12:52 PM
Category: iPod
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