USC Center on Public Diplomacy Awarded MacArthur Grant

The New York Times just broke the news that the Center on Public Diplomacy won a generous MacArthur grant to further its research, presence, and to produce future events in the Second Life virtual world. Josh Fouts and Doug Thomas are the co-principal investigators on this $550,000 grant.

Check out the first MacArthur / CPD event at 9 PT this morning. more info here.

(Disclosure: I have been the Center’s Web editor since 2005.)

photo from the public diplomacy flickr stream.

You Can Hide, but You Can’t Run

Today Google responded to scrutiny regarding its privacy policies by decreasing the length of time that a user’s search records will be connected to their IP to 18 months (before it becomes “anonymous”). Privacy International’s study is neither surprising, nor especially revealing. But as difficult as it may be to define “privacy” in the open information age, the term “anonymous” may be even more cloudy, because it seems that on the Internet, everything leaves a fingerprint. 24 months, 18 months… I’m not buying it.

Speaking of fingerprinting, Google’s YouTube is partnering with Time-Warner and Disney to test video recognition software that essentially will automatically remove uploaded content that is detected as copyrighted, according to an “accurate enough and scalable enough” tool, said YouTube Partner Development Director Chris Maxcy.

Using Google to it’s fullest requires a definite privacy trade off, but one that is worth it. I expect to be identifiable. But if “anonymizing” data is to lead to greater privacy, I’d hate for it to come at the expense of personalization and as part of deal-making to satisfy only corporate partners.

Google to Buy Feedburner for $100M

Feedburner, one of the most useful and valuable free Web services in my experience, is now part of the big Goog, where, one can only hope they dedicate at least as much energy to the service side of this product as they naturally would to innovating it.

Feedburner launched in Chicago in 2004 and quickly became the premier RSS feed-burner for blogs and even newspaper Web sites. I’ve published dozens of feeds for a variety of projects using their tool and have also used Feedburner to publish media-rich RSS podcast feeds.

This deal is all-but officially announced, and is rumored to be an all-cash acquisition.

Google may be able to boost Feedburner’s struggling publisher’s ad network, but my main concern again here is Google’s imperfect track record in keeping these ma & pa startups alive (of course, Dodgeball wasn’t nearly as established as Feedburner is when it was purchased).

Community Blog Bloggin’ & Freedom of Geographic Information

Community blog aggregation, commentary, analysis and tying it into a network or publication’s own coverage would seem to be an excellent way to drive more visitor’s to a Web site.

In Seattle, the rags were too slow to get community-driven on their own, so KING5-TV’s Cory Bergman (of Lost Remote fame) took the lead. The Citizen Rain blog aggregates Seattle blogs, essentially creating a forum for citizen-driven content while increasing authority via external link distribution.

In the Bay Area, a rather large victory for Freedom of Information in relation to geospatial data. Dan Gillmor writes:

The California First Amendment Coalition has won a crucial lower-court ruling that Santa Clara County must provide — at cost — its geographic “base map” of real estate boundaries in the county. The county had been saying it would charge tens of thousands of dollars for information collected on behalf of residents, using taxpayer money.

While the free availability of such public data enables dynamic mapping of UGC it is also important to recognize how crucial it is that this data remains publicly accessible. In the UK, for example, there are considerable efforts lobbying for access to such data, including The Open Geodata Manifesto and Free Our Data.

Also, Charlie Szymanski and Maurice Tamman’s (of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune) excellent IbisEye is relaunched for the ’07 Hurricane season and it’s smoother and more user-friendly than before. (h/t Lucas).

photo by Spappy.Jones used under Creative Commons 2.0 license