SEC says blogs = proper disclosure

Reading through Brian Solis’s excellent guest post over at TechCrunch about the new SEC disclosure rules reminded me that I wanted to write something about them, and would have done so if my Rogers internet connection hadn’t gone down for about five hours today (thanks a lot, Ted). I know the announcement got covered a fair bit, but I think this development is pretty ground-breaking and potentially game-changing (there’s a good overview at IR Web Report). In many ways, the SEC is really just recognizing the digital media explosion that has occurred over the past couple of years. Better late than never, I suppose.

Brian says it could (or should) mean the death of the press release. But will it? I doubt it (and so does John Furrier). That’s because the issuing of press releases happens for a whole host of reasons, apart from just the need to fulfill federal disclosure requirements, otherwise known as SEC regulation FD. Lots of companies will happily push out meaningless press releases, with no “social media” features such as links or audio/video clips, either because they are blissfully unaware of what they are missing, or because they know that lots of papers and websites will run them verbatim anyway (which they will).

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Delicious 2.0: Who bookmarks any more?

When I saw the news about the launch of Delicious 2.0, I can’t say I felt a huge wave of joy, despite the fact that I am what most people would probably consider a hard-core Delicious user, with about 10,000 webpages saved since I started using it. But not only didn’t I feel any joy at the news, I didn’t really feel anything at all. In part, that could be because the new Delicious interface has been rumoured to be coming any day now for about a year (or perhaps even more, I’ve lost track). Now that it has arrived, it’s definitely anti-climactic at best. It also seems a lot slower than the old one, even though it is supposed to be faster. Maybe 10,000 bookmarks is just too many for it to handle.

But that’s not the only reason I’m ambivalent about the launch. Adam Ostrow put his finger on it in a Twitter message, in which he said that he never bookmarks things any more — he either remembers something, or searches for it, or asks someone else if he can’t remember the details. It has occurred to me over the past year or so that while I religiously bookmark things, often dozens of them in a single day, I rarely go back and look them up. If I’m writing about something and I remember some details, I type them into Google and eventually track the page down.

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Hasbro and Wordscraper spells F-A-I-L

You have to hand it to Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, the two East Indian brothers who came up with the Facebook game Scrabulous — the fairly obvious ripoff… er, tribute to the Hasbro-owned board game Scrabble. After reportedly failing to arrive at an agreement that would see Scrabulous transferred to Hasbro’s control, the game company launched its own official Facebook game and then sued the brothers for trademark infringement. So what did the brothers do? Last night, they launched a very similar game called Wordscraper (Mashable was the first to spot the new game, and posted about it on Twitter).

So what does Hasbro do now? It’s not clear that the new game trespasses on anything legally protected. It doesn’t have a similar name, the board looks different and there are some different rules. Obviously, the concept of spelling out words and earning points is the same, but that’s not the kind of thing that trademark or copyright law is designed to protect. As a patent and trademark lawyer explained to Caroline McCarthy of CNET’s The Social, the idea of a game can’t be legally owned — only the real-world expression of that idea.

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Is it Duncan Riley, or is it Techmeme?

This one is a real can of worms in more ways than one, but I can’t help myself. I recently came across (as many other people have, judging by my FriendFeed and Google Reader shared items) a piece by Duncan Riley at his new site, Inquisitr, in which he embarked on a fairly extended rant about Techmeme and how he believes he has been slighted by Gabe Rivera and the secret tweaks he makes to the ranking system on the site. Duncan’s overall message seems to be that he doesn’t mind — and yet, you can tell that it rankles more than a little that he hasn’t had a post appear on Techmeme in over a month.

One of Duncan’s theories (which he tosses out there almost as an aside) is that Mike Arrington’s friendship with Gabe has something to do with it — both because TechCrunch’s posts show up even when Duncan argues they really shouldn’t (because they have no links to them), and because he believes that Mike has something to do with his lack of presence on Techmeme. Why would that be? Didn’t Duncan used to write for Mike? He sure did, and Mike and the rest of the TC team said lots of nice things about him when he left to start Inquisitr — although Mike’s post doesn’t seem to turn up any more at the old link.

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Two words for Omnisio: Nice exit

The micro-cap, sub-angel type of financing practiced by Paul Graham’s Y Combinator isn’t for everyone, and there are some who believe that it’s virtually impossible to do successfully — but Y Comb seems to be pulling it off regardless. I have no idea how much they put into Omnisio, but to sell it to Google for a rumoured $15-million in cash about four months after it launched has to be some kind of record (and becomes the latest in what is a surprisingly large list of Google acquisitions). Congrats to them and the three Aussies who started the video-annotation tool.

Further reading:

Chris Sacca, former Google head of Special Initiatives turned angel investor, has some thoughts about his investment in Omnisio (hat tip to MG Siegler at VentureBeat for that link), and Rashmi Sinha of Slideshare has some thoughts about the deal as well.

A free CD — and a Bill C-61 protest

From the excellent Torontoist blog comes news that a Canadian band — The Craft Economy — has one-upped their previous CD experiment, in which they stapled free CDs to telephone poles, and has included with their new batch of discs a statement criticizing the proposed federal copyright bill, C-61. The packages started showing up this week on poles in Toronto and Guelph, with copies of a CD containing demo versions of two Craft Economy songs (Menergy and The Crash, the Wagons and the Dying Horses) as well as a typed statement about the evils of the proposed copyright legislation. The statement says in part:

This is far and beyond and more bizarre than the heavily criticized DMCA in the USA. Copyright should protect the rights of artists and producers of creative content, but it should not suppress creative and artistic expression.

The Craft Economy has licensed our music, including this CD, using the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 license. This license gives you the freedom to share our music with your friends and enemies, and remix and use it in new and creative ways, provided you attribute the work back to us, and you don’t make money off our work.

It’s fair for you and us. This is the way art should work.

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Microsoft creates a real-life Palantir

This is pretty darn cool, I have to say. If you’ve seen the Lord of the Rings movies, you probably remember a scene or two involving a magical orb or sphere (known as a “palantir“) with which magicians like Saruman can see across vast distances. Well, Microsoft seems to have something pretty much like that, at least in prototype form. Todd Bishop of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer got a close look at one, and watched as a researcher moved photos around, created a virtual 3D globe and even moved through a 360-degree webcam projection of a city street. Of course, palantirs could be used by Sauron to see whoever was looking into them too — hopefully Microsoft isn’t working on that angle.


Was Hasbro right to kill Scrabulous?

So the hammer has finally come down on Scrabulous, the Facebook game developed by two Indian brothers that become a viral hit only to be sued by Hasbro, which owns the licensing rights to the Scrabble board game. Trying to play the game now brings up an error message saying it is unavailable to U.S. or Canadian residents. Electronic Arts, meanwhile — which licenses the rights from Hasbro — has launched its own official version of the game on Facebook, although whether people will make the switch to the new version or not remains to be seen.

I’ve been kind of fascinated by this case ever since it first appeared. Not just because Scrabulous became so popular so quickly, but also because it seemed to boost interest in the actual board game itself, with stories of people addicted to the Facebook game going out and buying real-world copies for the first time. My first reaction was to cheer for Scrabulous, and wonder why Hasbro or EA didn’t just buy the app from the Agarwalla brothers and take advantage of all the free marketing their game was getting through Facebook. Mashable makes the same point here.

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Ledger Live and the exploding newsroom

From Jeff Jarvis comes word of the launch of Ledger Live, a daily video news show from the newsroom of the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper. Designed and produced with the help of video journalism pioneer Michael Rosenblum, who has helped newsrooms in the U.S., Britain and elsewhere turn journalists into VJs. The Legder Live broadcast, as Jeff notes, isn’t the typical broadcast TV-style show with a studio and hosts with makeup and hairdos and teleprompters. It’s reporter Brian Donohue sitting at his desk talking about the day’s big stories and throwing to some of the video reports the paper is working on. I think it’s really well done — a great concept, well executed.

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I hope Cuil isn’t an “epic fail”

If you’re a Web geek, the biggest news today is the launch of, a new search engine with a strange Irish name (which is pronounced “cool”) and what it claims is a really big, er… index. The topic has been dominating Techmeme for the better part of the day, with the official Cuil launch post only recently taking over the top spot from Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch post about it. Everyone has an opinion about the company, from the size of their index to their (allegedly) dumb name, or the earth-shattering revelation that they are going to have a tough time competing with a little outfit called Google (gee — ya think?)

On Twitter, the Web 2.0 water-cooler, most of the discussion has revolved around the ways in which the new search service sucks — or rather, is an “epic fail,” as the kids like to say. Searching for the company’s own name doesn’t turn up the search engine’s website (Doh!), and searching for other common terms or names either doesn’t turn up anything, or a small number of inadequate and/or stupid results. The site is down. The whole Irish legend about Finn and the salmon of knowledge is weird. There’s no way it can compete against Google — and so on.

At the risk of being seen as not critical enough, I’m going to throw a vote out there for Cuil. I think the service sounds like an interesting alternative to Google, or Yahoo or MSN for that matter — not that I ever use those services, of course. I don’t particularly care about the size of Cuil’s index (insert double entendre here). But I am interested in having alternatives for search. For me, it’s about finding what I want quickly, and the reality is that Google continues to be littered with poor quality results. If Cuil can solve that problem, then I hope they stick around.