Archive for 30th May 2007

Digg Learned Its Lesson: Puts Censored Story Back

Some of you may recall the huge scandal over at Digg a few weeks ago. Well, history nearly repeated itself today when a story on the same topic broke today: hackers cracked a new AACS processing key (used to encrypt DRM). One can only assume the people behind AACS became angry and sent cease and desist orders to Digg.

Nevertheless, the story hit the front page of Digg and people were anxiously watching what would happen. Last time, Kevin Rose (founder of Digg) publicly declared Digg would no longer bow to external forces on censoring that topic. Well, the story disappeared from the front page without explanation despite having a large number of Diggs.

People noticed.

Users began talking about spamming the site about the news again, and duplicate stories were submitted for a short period of time. Searching for the processing key yielded no results, and people were getting a little upset. But in a surprising turn of events (and possibly the first time in Digg’s history), the story re-appeared on the front page within minutes.

Perhaps Digg management are evaluating the C&D letter and realizing that they have no merit (i.e., you can’t claim copyright on a number?). If I had to guess, an admin censored the post upon seeing a C&D letter, only to be corrected by someone higher up in management that realized that wasn’t a good idea. Either way, it seems Digg learned its lesson.

Microsoft Surface – Microsoft Steals Apple’s Business Model

Microsoft announced a new product today: Surface. The concept is simple: a giant touch screen that can accept input from multiple fingers as well as regular objects. This product has real potential for Microsoft’s future.

What’s interesting is that this is essentially a new operating system. Gone is the Start Bar, Outlook, MSN messenger, IE, and other familiar Windows components. It doesn’t even matter if it is running Windows or Linux because software for Surface is clearly unique to it alone. Granted, Surface may use Windows, but their approach makes them resemble Apple. Microsoft just developed a stealth OS built specifically on hardware they designed — by going the integrated route, Microsoft just pulled an Apple.

It starts off tame: managing photos and videos through a drag and drop interface. Rotating, scaling, and emailing the photos with one finger. Then they show you how browsing music and building a play list is easier than ever. Yawn. But keep reading.

organizing photos

It gets real interesting when they place a Zune on it and start dragging music into it. They put a camera on it and all of the pictures “fall out” for managing. Brushes are used to draw. Files are dragged and copied from one camera to another.

It takes a bolder step when they show it recognizes phones placed on it, allowing for instant price comparisons. Any product with an RFID tag could probably use this interface. Displaying additional information such as videos and reviews would be a natural next step. 

comparing phones at a retailer

Suddenly this product has a real benefit to retailers nationwide – the ability to use dynamic media to convert curiosity into a sale.

They continue with demos showing a man use Live Maps to chart out a day plan and then drag it into a cell phone. They show how restaurants might use it to let people digitally order. They even thought of splitting a bill using multiple credit cards by simply dragging items to your card.

paying for dinner

It has uses in education, entertainment, retail, dining, and the home. In short, its a new personal computer with an interface that makes sense to people of all ages. Anywhere a computer is used now, this has the potential to replace it.

Most of the time, when Microsoft releases new products, I think to myself that they are just marketing something old in a new way. But Surface is different. Granted, the technology behind it is not new, but the “stuff on the table” idea (probably patented like crazy) makes this technology good to great.

The product is due out in Winter 2007. If they do this right, it could be their next “big thing.”