Why we need social media: Press freedom is still declining rapidly

The latest global index from Reporters Without Borders shows that freedom of the press is in decline in a majority of the countries surveyed — including the United States — which makes alternative forms of media such as Twitter more important than ever

The Indie Web: Who owns your identity?

Our online presence defines much of our identity both personally and professionally, especially for web workers. But how much of your online identity is controlled by someone else? The Indie Web movement is primarily about ownership and control over your identity.

Clinton: We Love Net Freedom, Unless It Involves WikiLeaks

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a rousing speech today about the need for an open Internet and freedom of speech, but she made one notable exception: Wikileaks. It’s apparently fine to persecute that organization for leaking diplomatic cables, even though it has done nothing illegal.

Find Freedom From Distractions

freedomWhen I first read about Freedom, “an application that disables networking on an Apple (s aapl) computer for up to eight hours at a time,” on Salon.com, I had to ask myself if I was looking at yet another early April Fool’s Day prank.
But the more I thought about it, the more Freedom made sense to me. The concept is simple: There are so many online distractions from doing real work these days — email, instant messaging, social networking, information and news, casual gaming, and on and on — that it’s a pretty snappy idea to have an app that locks out the alluring siren song for a set period of time so that you can get some work done. As the web site for Freedom explains, “Freedom will free you from the distractions of the Internet, allowing you time to code, write, or create. At the end of your selected offline period, Freedom re-enables your network, restoring everything as normal.”
Ah, Freedom. At present Freedom is only available for Mac (through OS X version 10.5.6) but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it released for PC soon. As Rebecca Traister on Salon.com notes, “I have downloaded the program so that I may be liberated from all the other programs I have downloaded.”
Freedom is free, but the developer is asking for a donation of $10 to “fund future development efforts.”
Of course, we don’t actually “need” Freedom; we already have it. We’re all perfectly able to simply shut down our web browsers, desktop apps and other communications systems on our computers so that we can get work done. The problem is that we don’t want to. We believe that we can keep the proverbial floodgates open, while getting work done and being maximally productive at the same time. So perhaps Freedom will give us that extra little push so that we can help ourselves.
Do you think that Freedom would help you to concentrate?

Predictify Pays Users To Guess The Future

[qi:004] Predictify, a social prediction startup, launched out of private beta today. It’s based on a belief in the wisdom of the crowd, especially when it comes to predicting the future. After all, if nine out of 10 people think the same thing is going to happen, odds are that outcome will occur, right? Well, so the site’s premise goes. Users are lured in with the opportunity to earn a few bucks here and there by offering up their guesses as to the outcome of future events, from which presidential candidate will win the Democratic ticket to the color of Angelina Jolie’s gown at the Oscars.

The site has an ever-changing list of “free” and “premium” questions. The premium questions, sponsored by companies looking to poll the Predictify audience or advertise a product, pay accurate guessers a percentage of the total money offered by the sponsor for their participation.

Guessers offer up answers to non-paid questions as well, and in turn help to “build a reputation” based on the accuracy of their predictions. The more accurate the user is over time, the higher their payouts are on the premium questions.

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