In through the outfield blog

Neil Infield on business and intellectual property

21 February 2012

The UK Web Archive: an important resource for business

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ukwa_logoOur Web in Feb month has got me thinking about the impermanence of so much internet content.

Companies put a great deal of useful information online, but rarely have a strategy for maintaining or persevering it. This is where the British Library comes in. Preserving the UK web is a natural extension of our traditional role of preserving UK printed material.

So if you are researching business that no longer exist, or blogs which have ceased to be updated, have a look at the UK Web Archive

Collecting since 2004, the UK Web Archive contains websites of cultural and research relevance relating to the UK. Its purpose is to collect, preserve and give permanent access to key UK websites for future generations. It is a selective and unique archive, built on nominations from subject specialists in and outside of the Library, alongside public nominations. With over 10,000 different websites, the archive is one of the library’s largest ‘born-digital’ collections.

The archive team have made searching easier by adding indexing terms (meta-tags) and added research tools such as Ngram visualisations.

You can read more about developments in the archive on their blog

04 November 2009

Free vs Fee – the Future of News – SLA Europe meeting 3 November

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Another successful SLA Europe event this evening, this time at the swanky venue of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, five minutes away from Blackfriars station.

The hot topic was Free vs Fee – the Future of News. And stemmed from the fact that most newspapers have offered their content via the Internet for free with the expectation that display advertising would create enough revenue to cover the cost of creating and distributing their content. However, with the continuing decline in physical newspaper sales and the softening of the display advertising market, news organisations are exploring new ways to charge for their digital content.

On the panel were Jeremy  Lawson  VP Sales, EMEA, Dow Jones & Company, Andrew Hughes – Commercial Director for the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA), Laurence C. Rafsky Ph.D. – CEO of Acquire Media and Laurence Kaye – Principal at Laurence Kay Solicitors. The panel was excellently moderated by Donald Roll – Managing Director, Europe for Alacra.

Here are my notes from the evening:

Don Roll introduced the evening by talking about the steep decline in newspaper circulation, the recent arrival of the first free quality newspaper in the form of the London Evening Standard, and how the NLA wants to ensure newspaper publishers receive payment for web content.

Andrew Hughes – NLA initiatives

NLA are moving towards creating a set of licences for commercial use of newspaper websites.

UK newspapers spend £1b a year in creating this content, which is quite different from paper published information. For example 31% of newspaper websites has never appeared in print.

The plan is that for those who charge for access to newspaper content will be charged by the NLA, who will also charge end user clients for access to content.

Existing licences will be extended and new ones created where necessary

e-Clips Web – Working to improve access to content by using newspaper CMS systems.

Laurence Kay – The legal view – 10 key points

1. Professional journalism, ‘trusted content’ and UGC (user generated content)

2. Change takes time! Business models and culture takes time to change.

3. Global Media / local copyright?

4. If content is going to be free, why does copyright matter? Provides the framework for access and usage rights.

5. B2B versus consumer copyrights

6. ‘Effects-based’ approach to copyright. Helps to work out how to apply rules to the real world. Look at the commercial impact of activities.

7. ‘Legal’ versus ‘Illegal’ content. When to take action or technical measures over infringements.

8. Who are the ‘intermediaries’ in the value chain? E.g. Where does Google fit in? Searched for or ‘scraped’ conent?

9. ‘Fair Use’. Big variations across Europe. United States has a broad definition. If the use is commercial is that no longer fair use?

10. We are still lacking 21st century infrastructure to cope with licensing and payments for use.

Laurence C. Rafsky – What do we mean by free?

Once freedom has been tasted there is no going back.

Value chain –

  1. professionally produced but given away selectively – e.g. advertiser supported
  2. Non-professional content
  3. Gifted professional content. E.g. Stephen King novel
  4. Free to some but not others
  5. Content that should not be free.

Two enemy camps

  1. Information wants to be free – the hippies
  2. Corporate suits who want to charge for everything

The solution will need to be  a compromise.

A question for the NLA to consider:

Do you use copyrighted material for commercial gain without payment to content owners?

Do you use copyrighted material for commercial gain without permission from the content owners as we understand it?

The crux of the debate is between these two viewpoints.

Can we separate business use from personal use? Google don’t distinguish between the two.

Jeremy  Lawson – Supporting publishers and their right to monetise their content.

Questions from the audience:

Did the newspaper industry start digging its own grave by giving away content?

New York Times started with some free and mainly fee access. They ended it because when compared pay per click ads versus pay for access would give ten times the revenue. But as ad revenues fall they may go back to first model.

Should be driven by economics.

Do you think news aggregators are a serious threat to publishers?

Links are fine, but extracts complicate the issue as readers may not link through to content. But as web content grows and newspaper content becomes a smaller fraction, increasing hits to newspaper sites lose their economic value to the publishers.

85% of newspaper traffic comes via Google. So should Google pay the majority share?

Is the Kindle from Amazon a potential future model for subscription access to newspaper content?

Disagreement – ability to break news up into selected streams for readers counts against Kindle model.

When will paper newspapers die?

Laurence C. Rafsky predicted that by 2030 newspapers would cease to exist in paper form as a  mainstream product.

He compares their future to candles today – they will become a decorative only production.

As he pointed out, if you had a choice, why would you use paper for something that only has a value for a few hours, and then you need to scan it to create a digital version which can be archived.

B2B vs B2C

Issues about consumers within a business environment – now that the genie is out of the bottle, how do you get individuals in a corporate environment to accept paying for information.

The event was kindly sponsored by Dow Jones.

15 January 2009

Happy slapping for the Google generation

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According to Google there are two definitions of Google Slapping.

The first is what can happen to your site after Google have revised their PageRank link analysis algorithm. Some websites have seen their search results ranking drop through the floor after having been slapped with PageRank penalties, Google slapping PageRank Penalties, and a Wired article.

The second comes from a recent net@night podcast with Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte. They interviewed Mr. Calzone of who has developed what he calls ‘the simple Google slapper’.

“Ever felt like slapping someone with a Google search, while in an IM conversation, chat-rooms, or on Twitter? simply write and put the keywords in the url, like this: This will redirect them to the Google search for clerks.

So the next time someone asks you how to remove spyware on their windows box, tell them to,windows,spyware. Or simply You can even write”

This is a more friendly variation of what has become a popular response to simple questions between Internet sophisticates. They  create a link to Let me Google that for you, with the topic in question. The site generates an animation of typing the search into Google followed by the patronising message “Was that so hard?”, before producing the search results.

Here is an example for the word library. Incidentally, it is gratifying to see that the British Library comes up at number five in the results. So it looks as though we haven’t been Google slapped (definition one) recently.

“Let me Google that for you
This is for all those people that find it more convenient to bother you with their question rather than google it for themselves. Created by @coderifous, contributions by @rmm5t. Inspired during a lunch conversation with @coderifous, @tmassing, @rmm5t, @EricStratton, and @methodvon. Not associated with Google™ in any way.”

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29 July 2008

In search of the perfect mouse

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I’m sure you are all familiar with the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” There is even a book by Graham Barker & Peter Bissell called A Better Mousetrap: the business of invention.

Apple_macintosh_plus_mouse However, as a computer addict for over 30 years (anyone remember the Commodore Pet) I have suffered from repetitive strain injury (RSI) for many years. The introduction of the mouse in the 1980s only made matters worse for me. Consequently I have spent much time investigating new and improved hardware and software.

For over 10 years I have been using my left hand for mousing at work and my right at home to spread the strain. When the pain was at its worst I experimented with auto-mouse-click software. (When the mouse pointer stops moving, the system counts down a fixed interval and triggers a mouse click.) However this was very tricky to use, especially for moving items around the screen.

A more successful approach has been to upgrade my mouse, first from the type relying on a physical ball for positioning, to infra-red, and more recently to laser powered. Also the introduction of a scroll wheel significantly improved the ergonomic experience, especially for those long hours surfing the web for information.

I briefly experimented with a track-ball mouse but couldn’t get on with it.

However a couple of years ago I saw the the answer to my prayers (and started saving the £70 required to acquire it). This particular example is from Logitech (although I’m sure there are similar ones available now). The key factors are its ergonomic shape, which comfortably fits into my hand, a high precision laser beam leading to less hesitation on the screen, and a wireless USB connection preventing snagged cables. It also has a scroll wheel with a needle roller bearing (something of an engineering anachronism in these days of high-tech). When the wheel is set to ‘free scroll’ (my default setting), I can whiz up and down fifty screens worth of information with one gentle flick of my finger.

I understand that thought controlled computer interfaces are being developed, but until that day I think I will be happy with my digital mouse.

Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

07 February 2008

An Easter egg in Firefox

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Thanks to my Gadgets and Gizmos Pageflakes page by Jenny Zuko I have discovered that Firefox has a virtual Easter egg (Wikipedia definition for those who are curious). It was discovered by one of the geeks at

Just go into the address bar and type ‘about:mozilla’.

easter eggHere is an indication of what you will see, but unless your eyesight is a lot better than mine you will need to view the page.


08 October 2007

Social marketing ratings from Hey! Neilsen

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Hey! Nielsen is a new free service from the well known market and audience measurement provider Neilson Company.

They are asking registered users to give their opinions on TV, movies, music, personalities and the Internet.

Assuming the site is successful and once it has been running for a while it could be a good source of what’s hot and what’s not in terms of entertainment. It is a classic case of a win win, with Neilsen acquiring useful market research for free, but also making the results available for free.

For instance you can already chart the rapid demise of Britney Spears standing amongst her fanbase by looking at chart of her rating over time.

Britney going down down down Britney - who’s popularity is now in free-fall.

It is interesting they haven’t included blogs which are already well covered by Technorati.

24 August 2007

PureText does it for me

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For me, one of the greatest benefits of computers is their ability to copy and paste content from a wide range of sources (particularly web pages) into one document.

However advantage this is almost entirely negated by the amount of faffing around required to get the text all in the same format.

Luckily, I discovered the wonders of Steve Miller’s PureText. This simple and free application must have saved me tens of thousands of key-strokes over the years, as well as significantly reducing the frustration of trying to achieve something which should have been straightforward in the first place.

Puretext screenshot