Over 100 million people watched the Super Bowl last night between the Packers and Steelers. While enjoying the game, most admit they also watch it for the the creative ads. Thirty seconds of air time cost approximately $3 million dollars. That’s ridiculously expensive, but what an amazing opportunity to reach a huge swath of Americans from all walks of life. That’s exactly why the American Library Association needs to sponsor a commercial during the 2012 Super Bowl. Libraries have seen usage surge, especially in public libraries. Citizens have turned to their local libraries to search for jobs and receive resume and application assistance, access the freely available content available at libraries, receive computer training to improve their marketability, and the list goes on. Conversely, library budgets are taking huge cuts due to the down economy. Branches are closing and staff are being laid off. An expertly produced commercial (I can’t overemphasize this part) could have tremendous impact and generate an endless supply of goodwill and interest among current library users as well as non-patrons. Those voices in turn could lobby for restored funding, work to increase giving to friends’ groups, etc. As far as production, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of the elite marketing firms across the country would potentially give a discount for the the design work. No doubt there are dozens of celebrities (let’s avoid those recently associated with rehab) who would act as spokesperson pro bono. Imagine a commercial that quickly highlights some of the amazing services available at libraries with Morgan Freeman’s voice narrating the events. Sounds like a winner to me.
I’ll leave you with my favorite ad from this year’s game, it’s brilliant! – Volkswagen: The Force
It’s been quite a for e-books. On Monday Google launched their new eBookstore which boasts over 3 million titles (watch the overview video). Google’s approach is somewhat unique in that they are emphasizing the “openness” of their titles which can be read in a browser, Android device, iOS device, Sony Reader and Barnes and Noble Nook. Noticeably absent is Amazon’s Kindle. Google also offers to sync the pages you’ve read across you’re multiple devices, much as the Kindle does between the actual Kindle and Kindle apps which are available for PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7.
Not to be outdone, Amazon updated it’s Kindle for the Web reader on Tuesday allowing users to read full titles online instead of samples, which the reader was previously limited to. Supposedly this feature was already in line to be announced, but I’m sure Google’s event on Monday increased Amazon’s urgency.
Last on the list is an announcement from the Internet Archive and the Open Library project. They’ve beefed up their online BookReader to include features like text-to-speech, better sharing options, iOS touch and iPad support, and better searching. There are over 2 million titles now in the Open Library catalog, however not all of them are available as e-books.
In my opinion Amazon and Google are now the most important e-book vendors to watch with Apple coming up a close third with iBooks. Do you have a favorite platform or device? If so, share it in the comments!
Net neutrality. It’s a topic I care about. It’s the concept that the internet should be left alone. That bits are bits and should be treated neutrally, no matter if they consist of email, text, video, audio, Voip, bit torrent, etc. The country’s commercial ISPs see it differently. They use the excuse of providing “managed services” as a way to prioritize the bits. They want restrictive bandwidth caps and to be able to charge overage fees. They want to take the open internet and dissect it into multiple channels and extract additional revenue from each “lane.” There have been examples of ISPs actively downgrading the quality of Voip bits (Skype, Vonage) because Voip competes with their own phone products. In 2008 the FCC forced Comcast to end their practice of throttling bit torrent traffic. Granted, the bulk of bit torrent data consists of pirated movies, tv and music. However there are many, many companies and open source projects that distribute their products using bit torrent because it’s a low cost, low bandwidth way to handle data. The current FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski came into to his position promising that the internet would remain free, open, and that questionable telco practices would not be allowed. Apparently this has changed. Whether its pressure from Congress and lobbyists over the past year, Genachowski has stepped away from his stance on a free and open web. The newest proposal from the FCC for ‘net neutrality’ gives the telcos exactly what they want. It’s called a compromise. They promise to be open and transparent in exchange for allowing them to “manage their networks to better serve their customers.” Over the past two days each telco issued a press release praising the FCC’s new proposal (if that doesn’t sound your alarm bells, I don’t know what will). I’m very concerned that we’re going to lose the internet as it exists and that the web of the future is will be very different. The FCC will vote on Dec. 21st on this plan. What can you do? Contact the FCC and voice your concerns. Sign the petition below at Save the Internet.com. And by all means contact your senator and congressional representative.