Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Orphan Works, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act

There's quite a bit of consternation right now about changes in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act not long passed in to law. With these sort of changes, where the "copyright" of a work is under threat, as with Instagram, people tend to grab the wrong end of the stick and liberally wave it about before calming down.

I just wanted to take a moment to look at this law, why it exists, and what it really means for all of your pictures of coffee and donuts.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


So, I like conferences. Web conferences that is. Yesterday saw IndustryConf come and go with a more civil and respectful audience than you'd normally find, and more accents that you can shake a stick at. Perhaps the two are linked.

My first web conference was @Media in London, organised by the "Web Directions" team, so it was disappointing that John Allsopp was unable to make it for personal reasons, especially since...as Jeremy Keith said in his last talk of the day...John's "A Dao of webdesign" is perhaps more relevant today than it was when it was written 13 years ago.

At the time of that conference I was very much a "newbie" in the web world, and felt like I knew some stuff but needed to know more. The way I go in to conferences these days is a much more self-affirming affair, and IndustryConf was no different. I say self-affirming since I believe that web developers and designers are generally self-critical people, it's like a form of constructive professional depression.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Protecting the public AND current affairs publishers

The Leveson inquiry ended with some fairly common sense suggestions to solve a problem. The problem? Large organisations that are responsible for delivering news to the country abusing their privilege and position, at the detriment not only of the reputation of individuals, but also of their privacy, and even of truth in general.

People opposed it, but they were fighting dirty. Referring constantly to hacking and libel meant they could frame the discussion as if laws already exist to cover all of the ills that the press and media deal in on a daily basis. They don't, and hacking and libel only just scratches the surface.

Friday, 19 April 2013

New "Small Blog" amendment

So we now have a new amendment to help "protect" small blogs from being expected to submit to regulation that larger organisations will be expected to do.

Amendment text can be found here. The amendments are reproduced below.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

How positive discrimination works...

...and how it doesn't

I've been reading this account by Rae Hoffman about her feelings on "quotas" in tech conferences. I find myself generally agreeing with her, it's absolutely right that no-one should be put into a position purely because of a particular box they tick. It undermines them and the wider community, it undermines trust.

However I don't agree with the polarisation of the debate that this article helps to contribute to. How we select who speaks at conferences, and how we select who joins our teams at our work, isn't about either complete meritocracy or blind equality, with nothing in between. If you're taking either of those approaches you are Doing It Wrong™

The up to date "Why I can't vote Lib Dem" list

This is a list I intend to keep up to date, to remind myself as much as anyone else, why it is that I won't be able to vote Lib Dem any time soon. It should be understood that while I would never vote Labour or Tory (or extreme parties like the BNP or UKIP), what the Lib Dems (I use this as a reference to the ministers and core team) have done this last few years has...for me...been a worse betrayal.

Friday, 12 April 2013

DCMS and "small blogging"

There is some mini-outrage out there about how the "consultation" on "small scale" blogs is being handled for the Leveson-based regulation proposals going through parliament. The story goes like this: The government is trying to curtail the freedom of speech of bloggers at the same time as regulate the press, and now they won't even talk to us about it, they'll only invite a super secret set of bloggers who don't represent me.


The trouble with this whole process is that it entirely misses the point of why the regulation is there in the first place...

Regulation is being given teeth because prominent and affecting reporting of current affairs can sometimes cross the line and it takes too long and too much money for someone to counter it.

Small bloggers, big bloggers, back-yard youtubers or big press barons...how much your speech or writing becomes a problem depends not on where you do it from, how many people you do it with, or how much money you make...it depends on how much you are heard.

Windows 8: Perils of comparing over time

There is news in a number of places of the decline in PC sales, and how supposedly Windows 8 is the disease.

I'm highly dubious of this claim. For a start I don't think your average consumer thinks about operating systems when they buy PCs. If they're a home user they're probably buying something that can "do X", whether that's gaming, word processing, or just internet. Your local nerd will tell you which PC copes with this (usually based on the processor power, graphics capability, etc) and sells it to you with some added extras you probably don't need.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Are the rich paying more under Lib Dems than Labour?

Short answer: Probably not.

Longer answer: No-one knows yet, so it's incredibly deceitful to claim one way or the other with any certainty.

While taxes on high-value properties being sold has gone up, we would need to know if the frequency of sales is higher or lower than it was under Labour. While the tax rate is reduced from 50p to 45p for the super-rich, we have no evidence...and won't do for a couple of years now...that this move will generate more than the £1bn that was generated through Labour's last minute changes to the tax system.

Couple this with tax cuts for those who own businesses, cuts in the amount that those who speculate on the stock market have to pay, cuts in the level of taxes levied on bankers bonuses...and we have a very incomplete picture of just how much the really rich are "worse off" now than they were under the tax system in 2010.