Fwd: Communications-related Headlines for 7/2/98

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Thu, 2 Jul 1998 08:46:18 -0700

>Title: Direct Hit Uses Popularity to Narrow Internet Searches
>Source: Wall Street Journal (B4)
>Author: Ross Kerber
>Issue: Internet
>Description: Direct Hit Technologies Inc. methods of searching the Internet
>has recently been drawing attention. Direct Hit's searching software
>organizes Internet search results by using the more "traditional" means. And
>then, in an effort to provide better results, it looks at how often
>identified Web sites have been previously visited by other search engines.
>"Enough people are searching on the Internet every day so that anytime you
>do a search, there's a likelihood that somebody else has already found what
>you're looking for," says Gary Culliss, founder and chairman of Direct Hit
>Technologies. By keeping track of the outcome of previous searches, "we're
>basically creating a market for the information." Culliss says that he has
>signed agreements with two major search engine-companies that will being
>using his software to organize search results over the next month.
>Title: Taking on New Forms, Electronic Books Turn a Page
>Source: New York Times (D1)
>Author: Peter Lewis
>Issue: InfoTech
>Description: Electronic books will be hitting stores soon. The Softbook, for
>example, will cost $299+$9.95 monthly fee to connect via modem and download
>public domain and special publications. Copyrighted material can also be
>downloaded for another fee. The idea that electronic books may replace paper
>books is in fashion again. "Like a comet on some weird, loopy orbit, this
>idea comes around every 10 years or so," said Paul Saffo, a director of the
>Institute for the Future, a research group based in Menlo Park, Calif. Texas
>is considering replacing textbooks with computers. Speaker Gingrich has said
>that replacing books with computers should be a goal of the Federal
>** Mergers **
>Title: In AT&T-TCI Deal, Cost and Logistical Problems
>Source: New York Times (C1)
>Author: John Markoff
>Issue: Mergers
>Description: The promise of the AT&T-TCI merger is high-speed Internet
>access, video, and low-cost phone calls over the same wire. But that vision
>will take some time to become reality. TCI must invest $1.8 billion to
>upgrade its ageing infrastructure and then another $10 billion or more must
>be invested in the network. Early estimates of the costs are $750 per
>customer. There will also be logistical problem such as the one wire will
>arrive on a set-top box that usually resides in the living room -- what
>about the other rooms? "Our guys have crawled all over the cable networks,
>and the problems are very solvable," an AT&T exec said. In the near-term,
>there will be cable TV. "One of the secrets of this whole deal," said an
>industry analyst, "is that AT&T is going to make a bunch of money offering
>traditional cable television."
>** Arts **
>Title: Artists See No Decency In Ruling On Grants
>Source: New York Times (B1)
>Author: Mel Gussow
>Issue: Arts
>Description: Reaction from the art community on the Supreme Court's ruling
>that the National Endowment for the Arts may consider decency as criteria
>for funding art. Performance artists vigorously condemned it while the
>reaction from playwrights ranged from the embattled to the accepting. Some
>were confused by the vagueness of the ruling. Here are some quotes: "I hope
>those who'll be making the 'decency' decisions aren't anything like my
>grandpa, or else it'll be Lawrence Welk for the rest of my life." "If Jesse
>Helms can decide whether or not Karen Finley can bathe herself in chocolate
>on our dime, perhaps your local town council can decide that your band is
>just a little too radical to play the Fourth of July gig in the town
>square." "To my knowledge, there is nothing about public standards of
>decency in the Constitution. But there is a great deal about civil
>liberties. This incredible decision is a victory for those who want to
>control freedom of expression for their own ends, and that's an obscenity."
>Title: Seeking Digital Art in Siberia and Beyond
>Source: New York Times (CyberTimes)
>Author: Matthew Mirapaul
>Issue: Art
>Description: Barbara London, associate curator of film and video at the
>Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), is documenting her month-long voyage across the
>former Soviet Union on InterNyet, an area of the museum's Web site. During
>her trip, London in looking for up-and-coming artists in her realm of
>expertise, including digital art. London intends to use InterNyet to expose
>people to the first stage of the curatorial process before it moves into
>"cluttered museum offices and sterile meeting rooms." In an interview before
>her departure London acknowledged that "an artist getting into a show or the
>(museum's permanent) collection takes time. It is a slow process, but the
>Web adds a sense of immediacy. People can be there with me." In addition to
>this unique and valuable use of cyberspace to look behind the curatorial
>curtain, London also hinted that MOMA is considering the aquisition of
>Web-based art, perhaps as early as this fall. The artwork would presumably
>be accessible via the museums Web site. You can access the MOMA's InterNyet
>site at: <http://www.moma.org/internyet>

** Technology **

Title: New Media Helps Visually Impaired
Source: New York Times (CyberTimes)
Author: Jeri Clausing
Issue: Disabilities
Description: David Erdody is using RealAudio technology on his Assistive
Media Web site to make magazine articles available in audio form so that
people with visual impairments can have access to a wider range of media.
Though his operation is still relatively small and operates almost entirely
off of volunteer assistance, it is getting "rave reviews" from around the
world. "A valuable and exciting tool to read articles which I would not
normally come across," Richard Zapata, a blind massage therapist from
Phoenix, wrote in an email to Erdody. "I very much thank you for the effort
expelled in putting this site together." "I really hope that this is only
the first of many sites of its kind on the Net," Zapata said in an email
interview. "I await the day when most, if not all, magazines and newspapers
are placed on the Internet." David Erdody's father has diabetes and faces
the possibility of someday losing his sight. So when Erdody was in college
studying education technology he started paying attention to what was and
wasn't available on cassette. "Let's just say we sighted people have a much
larger choice," he said. "I was told by one library administrator that only
3 percent of the published works in the U.S. are made into an alternative
format for the handicapped. So began a venture into what would become
Assistive Media." Assertive Media also is a text-based site which is
friendly to the technology used by people with visual impairments to read
Web pages. You can access the Assistive Media site at:

** Television **

Title: TV Sins: Sex, Violence and Now, Unbelted Driving
Source: Wall Street Journal (B6)
Author: WSJ Staff Reporter
Issue: Television
Description: A Michigan State Univ. survey has brought to light yet another
negative being portrayed on television programs. The survey reports that
only one in four drivers on prime-time TV wears a seat belt. "I don't think
it's reasonable to expect bank robbers to jump in their getaway car and
buckle up," says Phil Haseltine, president of the American Coalition for
Traffic Safety, which financed the study. But it is reasonable to expect
more of lawmen, Haseltine says. Indeed, crime and cop shows did use their
seat-belts 31 percent of the time, topping all other types of programs.
Following police shows were situation comedies at 26 percent, family dramas
at 21 percent and action-adventure
show at 16 percent. The survey spanned a two-week period, looking at
programming from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC networks and on
cable TV's Family Channel, Lifetime, TNT and USA.
Title: In on-line access, a great divide
Source: Chicago Tribune (Sec 3, p.1)
Author: Andrew Zajac
Issue: Universal Service
Description: President Clinton is equating the development of the Internet
with the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Industrial Revolution
as defining American moments. The Internet, declared the president, has
"absolutely staggering possibilities" and already is "the fastest-growing
social and economic community in history." Online commerce was zero in 1992
and is expected to zoom to $300 billion by 2002. But fewer than half of
American homes have a computer and only half of those -- or 23% of all US
homes -- have Internet access. [How do they get by without Headlines?] If
the Internet is important enough so everyone should have access and many
people don't, does the government have a role in extending access? In
President's Clinton speech, he called for more access, but didn't offer much
detail on how. In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress approved
discounted access for schools and libraries. The Federal Communications
Commission, however, had to cut back on that program under pressure from
Congress earlier this month. That's because long distance giants AT&T and
MCI threatened to raise rates to pay for the program -- making it feel too
much like a tax for the Republican Congress. Rand researcher Tara Bikson
says of the Internet, "It's a societal infrastructure that brings commerce
and social and educational opportunity to people." Rand is conducting a
cost-benefit analysis of electronic commerce to see "whether there's a good
business case for making e-mail available, even to those who can't afford
it, because there will be a payoff in the end."

** Media & Politics **

Title: Consultants Blame Media For Problems of Politicians
Source: New York Times (A13)
Author: Richard Berke
Issue: Media & Politics
Description: Political consultants, the people who make ads and buy
advertising time to air them, have identified the true bad guy to fault
public despair about the system -- the news media. The Pew Research Center
for the People and the Press and the Center for Congressional and
Presidential Studies at American University have released the results of a
survey of over 200 political consultants. "They know something's wrong,"
said James A. Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and
Presidential Studies. "And they have to point their finger at some
institution. So instead of pointing at themselves, they point at the media,
the candidates and the electorate....They're in the business of electing
people -- and not in the business of trying to improve governance." Among
other interesting findings the study reports that the four major factors in
winning a political contest are (in this order): 1) quality of the message,
2) amount of money available, 3) the partisan makeup of the state or House
district, and then 4) the candidate's campaign ability. See Don't Blame Us:
The Views Of Political Consultants <http://www.people-press.org/con98rpt.htm>.

Title: Straight From the Gift-Horse's Mouth
Source: Broadcasting&Cable (p.20)
Author: Paige Albiniak
Issue: Campaigns/Free Airtime
Description: Paul Taylor, an advocate for free airtime for political
candidates, wants to find out if candidates would take five minutes per week
of free airtime from broadcasters if it was offered. This fall, from Labor
Day to election day, Taylor's organization, Alliance for Better Campaigns,
is running a pilot program in 10 states that will feature five-minute
mini-debates on Sunday nights. "The Alliance is promoting a series of
practical innovations designed to help rescue political campaigns from the
downward spiral of more ads, less coverage and fewer voters," says Taylor.
"We're also asking everyone else who's frustrated by political campaigns to
help figure out how to make them better." The participating states include:
Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota,
Oregon and Texas.

** Satellites **

Title: House Committee Votes to Delay Satellite Fees
Source: Broadcasting&Cable (p.19)
Author: Paige Albiniak
Issue: Satellites
Description: A bill that was unanimously passed last week by the House
Telecommunications Subcommittee, and is awaiting review by the FCC, would
delay an increase in copyright fees paid by satellite TV companies. Last
summer, the U.S. Copyright Office increased copyright fees that satellite TV
carriers pay for imported network signals and superstations to 27 cents per
subscriber per month. These carriers previously paid 6 cents for imported
signals and 14 to 17.5 cents for superstations. The bill now goes to the
full Commerce Committee for a vote.

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000

"You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is aimless,
it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld