The ‘Overton Window’ Is Broken

Zeynep Tufekci, writing in The New York Times: “For decades, journalists at major media organizations acted as gatekeepers who passed judgment on what ideas could be publicly discussed, and what was considered too radical. This is sometimes called the ‘Overton window,’ after Joseph P. Overton of the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who discussed the relatively narrow range of policies that are viewed as politically acceptable.”

“What such gatekeepers thought was acceptable often overlapped with what those in power believed, too. Conversations outside the frame of this window were not tolerated. For worse, and sometimes for better, the Overton window is broken. We are in an era of rapidly weakening gatekeepers.”

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Netflix Throttles Customers For Their Own Good

The Wall Street Journal: “Netflix, a leading proponent of open-Internet rules, has been lowering the quality of its video for customers watching its service on AT&T or Verizon Communications wireless networks” Netflix says the throttling is in the best interests of its customers because it protects them “from exceeding mobile data caps … Watching two hours of HD video on Netflix would consume up to 6 gigabytes of data, Netflix says. That is an entire month’s allowance under an $80 a month Verizon plan.”

“Netflix said it doesn’t limit its video quality at two carriers: T-Mobile and Sprint Corp., because ‘historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies.’ When customers exceed their data plans on Sprint or T-Mobile, the carriers usually slow their network connections, rather than charge overage fees.” Jim Cicconi of AT&T says the carrier is ‘outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent.’ Jan Ozer, a consultant … said Netflix’s strategy is a smart one,” but suggests they should be more “upfront” about it.

“The issue came to light after T-Mobile US Inc.’s chief executive last week said Verizon and AT&T customers were receiving lower-quality Netflix streams. The carriers denied throttling Netflix videos. The fact that Netflix, not the carriers, is responsible for the lower quality illustrates the dilemma mobile-app makers face with data caps.”

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Is Binge Watching Breaking Bad for You?

“Binge-watching TV shows is trouncing our mental health,” reports Vice. “That’s according to a new University of Toledo study, anyway, which found that, of 408 participants, 35 percent qualified as binge-watchers, and those binge-watchers reported higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression than their non-binge-watching counterparts. The study found 77 percent of participants watched TV for two hours or more without a break on an average day, with anyone doing more than that … classified as binge-watching.”

“‘Binge-watching is a growing public health concern that needs to be addressed,’ said the scientists who headed up the study. But so can just watching TV in general. A long-term American Journal of Epidemiology study in 2011 found that watching TV for more than three hours a day put women at 13 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with depression. So can winter weather, or summer weather, or smoking, or sleeping too much, or not sleeping enough. So can, according to about a billion studies from 2010 onwards, too much Facebook.”

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BMW Modulates Its Amplitude Attitude

BMW Blog: “BMW was the first automobile company to ditch AM radio functionality, with its recent i3 electric vehicle, and it caused quite a stir among i3 owners. The reason for the drop of one of America’s oldest broadcasting mediums is that the electromagnetic interference from the electric drivetrain of the car blocks out the AM signal, making it fuzzy and choppy.”

“Most Americans, and nearly everyone else around the world, feel as if AM is a dead technology and won’t be around much longer, so there’s no fuss there. However, as it turns out, nearly 3 million Americans listen to AM radio everyday, tuning in to local broadcasting stations, many talk radio stations and most broadcasted sports radio.”

“So due to AM radio’s loyal following, many automakers, BMW included, are looking for a way to reduce and eliminate the interference that comes from electric vehicles … If someone pays that much money for a car, regardless of what kind of car it is … they want to be able to listen to whatever kinds of radio they want.”

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“Brave” Browser Offers Users Ad Revenues

Christian Science Monitor: “Brendan Eich, former CEO of Mozilla Corporation and creator of JavaScript, is launching a new startup – Brave, a browser with a less-than-intuitive solution: block ads by default. The browser will automatically block disruptive ads on the Web and replace them with safer, less intrusive ones. The browser will also reward users with a cut of the advertising profits and a choice to support their favorite websites … the main goal of the browser is to give users control over their advertising experience and more control over how they support their favorite websites.”

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Quote of the Day

“I think the potential of what the Internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying … It’s an alien life form! Is there life on Mars? Yes, it’s just landed here. The actual context and state of content is going to be so different from anything we can envisage at the moment. Where the interplay between the user and the provider will be so in simpatico, it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.”

“…The breakthroughs of the early part of the century with people like Duchamp who were so prescient in what they were doing. The idea is that the piece of work is not finished until the audience comes to it, and what the piece of art is about is the gray space in the middle. That gray space in the middle is what the 21st century is going to be about.” — David Bowie, on the BBC in 2000, via Fact Magazine.

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