This Week In Techdirt History: January 25th – 31st

from the telecentennial dept

Five Years Ago

This week in 2010, Mike was at the Midem conference in France discussing the future of music business models and good “reasons to buy” to be leveraged by creators. Not everyone got the message: EMI was still freaking out over a Harvey Danger lipdub video, and Blur’s manager thought he could stop piracy. One Harvard professor claimed that the success of iTunes made it harder to discover new music, without much to back up this claim.

There was more stupidity beyond the world of music, too: Ubisoft unveiled its new online-only DRM, the Daily Mirror blocked NewsNow’s aggregator, and Google found itself unable to depict the Australian aboriginal flag due to copyright. Bev Stayart sued Yahoo (again), Summit Entertainment shut down a Twilight fanzine, and Vision Media TV tried to skirt Section 230 by burying 800Notes in legal fees. Oh, and in one of my own very first contributions to Techdirt, we looked at the ridiculousness of the Vancouver Olympics’ brand protection guidelines.

We caught up with Newsday’s paywall experiment to find out that, after three months, it only had 35 paying customers. They tried to claim they didn’t want people to pay or something like that (it wasn’t very convincing). Meanwhile, a Guardian editor explained why paywalls harm journalism.

Finally, this week in 2010 saw the announcement of the Apple iPad, setting off a flurry of speculation about how it would change the publishing industry and our relationship with computers.

Ten Years Ago

Looking back to 2005, you can see the ongoing metamorphosis of the “cellphone” into the “smartphone”. Devices were on the rise, with Ford replacing office phones with mobile phones. We also saw an early example of cops targeting people with such recording devices (okay… we were still calling them “cameraphones”). And the return of “texter’s thumb”.

Naturally this meant some were freaking out about the kids, saying they shouldn’t use mobile phones. Some took it a step further, saying that blogs should be banned because they are supposedly a hotbed of pedophiles. Meanwhile, one savvy but dastardly kid was raking in the cash with eBay scams. Another kid found a bunch of errors in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, one more step in making people accept the power and brilliance of Wikipedia.

Oh, and that baby named Yahoo from last week? Turns out that was a fake.

Fifteen Years Ago

Web portals were a big topic in 2000. This week, we discussed the idea of commoditizing portals while experimented with more user customizability. We wondered if these approaches might sacrifice the power of brand, though some were suggesting that Yahoo’s brand is its Achilles’ heel.

Online advertising pioneer DoubleClick started working on more specific tracking, e-retailers came up with the idea of having sales rep chats pop up while browsing their online stores, and instant messaging was nominated as the next “killer app”. Americans officially started liking email more than phone calls, and those who were disappointed about the Y2K bust could get therapy. But if this thirty-year prediction was correct, then we are now only fifteen years away from being able to scan our brains into computers.

Also this week in 2000, hot on the heels of the AOL merger, Time Warner announced its plans to merge music groups with EMI. They would go on to grapple with this plan for several months before giving up in October.

One-Hundred Years Ago

On January 25th, 1915, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson spoke to each other in the first transcontinental telephone call, from New York to San Francisco. It was nearly forty years after the same two men held the first wire conversation ever across a two-mile stretch between Cambridge and Boston.

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