Monthly Archives: February 2006

Fair Use and Google Book Search

There is a big copyright violation fight going on between Copyright Holders and Google about what is fair use and what is a violation. I came across a great article by Cory Doctorow on this issue. He is firmly on the side of Google on this issue and lists the three main points of contention:

  1. Google should cut copyright holders in for a slice of any revenue that comes from this.
  2. Google should have obtained permission before scanning the GBS books
  3. Although Google only shows excerpts, wily hackers could eventually piece together enough excerpts to reproduce the entire GBS library and then post it on the Internet

He then goes and explains how each of the three points are invalid. As he rightly points out, the biggest threat as an author isn't piracy, it's obscurity.

He has quotes Tim O'reilly, who says Piracy is progressive taxation. This appears in this article which is also a must read. That article was written in 2002 and was about legality of online file sharing.

If I were a copyright holder, (I mean a big copyright holder), my own stand would be to let google scan and index all my work (with possible penaulties if any evidence was found that people can hack google's system to reconstruct the complete work). The publishing industry will definitely move online and I will gain more if people can find links to my work when they are searching for related content.

Book update

Here are the books read in the past few weeks:

Blink : The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingBlink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell is about snap judgements (the author terms this as thinslicing)that we make about things, people. It gives a lot of examples where people make judgements about certain objects (e.g. whether a statue is genuine or fake) or people (whether the teacher is good or not). In many cases the judgements are amazingly correct with no scientific logic behind the judgement, but in other cases they are plain wrong. Malcolm has also written about the topic in this New Yorker article. Though the book has a lot of fascinating examples, I found much of the material common-sense and as you would guess there is no positive or negative about these judgements.

How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleHow to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is about various things that make you popular among people. As we all find out by experience, people that are most popular and/or make a lot of money are not necessarily geniuses, but they all have very good people skills. Some pieces of advice from the book: Never critisize, Praise (not flatter) people to give them importance, Make people want to do the things that you want them to do, Smile. Overall a good book with a nice conversational style (though the examples given are those of people way out in past - hey, the book was written in 1936!)

Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into CustomersPermission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin is about a new way of marketing where the marketer instead of interrupting the consumer, builds a long term relation with him. They offer some goodies in order to get permissions to send messages to the consumers and then they continue offering more and more baits to obtain more permissions. A very good read. Even though Seth works for Yahoo, it seems like their competitor is using his concepts in much more effective ways.

Emacs Rectangle Editing quick help

Enter picture mode (ESC-x picture-mode)

Marking rectangle

  • Go to top left corner, press CTRL-Space.
  • Go to bottom right, press CTRL-x-x (This selects the rectangle)

Working on rectangle

  • Press CTRL-x-r-k to kill the rectangle (and make it available as 'last-killed-rectangle')
  • Press CTRL-x-r-d to delete the rectangle
  • Press CTRL-x-r-y to yank 'last-killed-rectangle' with its top right at the mark.
  • Press ESC-x-clear-rectangle to fill the rectangle with spaces.

Finally quit the picture mode with CTRL-c-c