Tech and Startup News for August 7th, 2013:
1. Zynga shutting down OMGPOP
It’s been barely two years since Zynga purchased OMGPOP for $200 million, but now, Zynga has confirmed plans to shut down the game developer. Although some OMGPOP team members had attempted to buy back the OMGPOP.com site, games, and intellectual property, Zynga refused to sell anything from the company. OMGPOP games like Cupcake Corner, Snoops, and Gem Rush will all shut down on August 29th. The website for the company will also go dark at the end of September.
2. Hacktivist Richard Stallman advocates for ’truly free software’
During a recent lecture, held at NYU, the controversial hacker Richard Stallman warned that proprietary and open-sourced software is not as free as it claims to be. In order for software to really be free, Stallman claimed, it must include:
-The freedom to run the program in question, for any purpose
-The freedom to study how that program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish – in other words, the freedom to access its source code
-The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor
-And, lastly, the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others for the same reason
3. The Department of Commerce might be reviving a part of SOPA
The Stop Online Piracy Act died last year in Congress. However, a piece of its legislation might be returning from the dead. The Department of Commerce’s Internet Task Force recently endorsed SOPA’s proposal to make the streaming of copyrighted works a felony. Although the streaming of copyrighted works is currently against the law, the offense is only a misdemeanor. If the proposal becomes a law, someone illegally streaming copyrighted works will be punished as severely as someone who illegally reproduced and distributed copyrighted works to the public.
4. Amazon launches artwork marketplace
You could soon purchase a work by Claude Monet without ever having to change from your pajamas. Amazon has recently announced that, with Amazon Art, the web-retailer has created an online gallery, which would allow people to buy artworks from prestigious collections around the country, while still at home. Among other galleries, the site currently promises access to collections from the Paddle8, Holden Luntz, and the McLoughlin galleries.
5. Google will update its searches for more in-depth in articles
Google revealed that the company is adding a new feature for its search function, which highlights “in-depth” articles associated with your search requests. Google has yet to provide many details about the company’s definition of “in-depth.” However, Google officials have claimed that search results are “ranked algorithmically based on many signals that look for high-quality, in-depth content.” Currently, Google users will only be able to use this feature if they use google.com in English.
6. Mozilla releases a new version of FireFox
FireFox 23 is here. This newest update to the browser features a number of changes, including but not limited to a mixed content blocker and a network monitor on the desktop side. If you squint at the new FireFox logo for long enough, you may notice that it looks a little different too. But the biggest change is the addition of a share button, which would allow users to share content with friends with just one click. With this new feature, users will be able to share content directly from Firefox wherever they are online. Firefox 23 has officially been released for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.
7. Discussions of Anonymity
With the current NSA scandal and the advent of Google Glass, there is a lot of discussion nowadays about the importance of maintaining anonymity in a democratic society. The unnamed author of the book Tremble the Devil once wrote a blog post titled, “The Importance of Being Anonymous.” Though the piece may have some problems, it does bring up an interesting point: the ability to express your opinion anonymously is often the ability to express yourself safely. To that extent, the threat of exposure could limit your freedom of speech. In our democratic system, the ballot is secret so that you can have a say in what the government does without fear of coercion or retribution from others.
Without that anonymity, people may be pressured out of saying what they think and may, instead, conform to the most widely accepted opinions out of fear. The Internet is a place where a wide variety of viewpoints can be shared—where everyone gets a voice. However, the Internet is also a place of exposure and social pressure. At the moment, we’re at a delicate balance. We have to decide what the Internet is going to be. Is it going to be a place where people become more homogenous in their beliefs?
Or could it possibly be something different?