Games san frontieres

[As ever, this is also on the BBC News website]

Back in February early adopters of the Spotify music-streaming service found that they could no longer listen to every song in the catalogue. The popular startup had been forced to limit access some songs and artists by country because the licensing deals struck with the record companies and bands specified which territories each song could be played in.

As the company noted on its website at the time, ‘these restrictions are a legacy from when most music was sold on tapes and CDs and they have continued over into streaming music, our hope is that one day restrictions like this will disappear for good’.

Despite protests over the changes the record companies have not yet eased the restrictions, and Spotify joins the long list of digital services that have embraced the global internet but restrict access to their content on the basis of where in the world someone happens to find themselves.

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A soggy future for paper?

[As ever you can read this on the BBC Website too. And thanks to NationalExpressEastCoast for their crowded train and late running service, which provided the inspiration…]

The UK launch of the Sony Reader has sparked another round of frenzied speculation over the future of the printed book in a world of screens, networks and digital data.

Like the iLiad or the US-only Kindle, the Reader is a paperback-sized electronic book with a high-resolution display that uses ‘electronic ink’ and looks and acts more like paper than a screen.

They have been available for a while in other markets, and I almost succumbed to the temptation to buy one on my last visit to the US.

The  quality and ease of use of the new generation of readers means that they appeal to the general population rather than those who like to live at the leading edge of technological innovation, but although sales have been good they are far from spectacular.

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Three essays by Samuel Johnson

My friend Giles at Proboscis kindly invited me to suggest the material for one of their really cool eBooks, and being that kind of hack I chose three essays by Johnson, the man to whom all journalists are beholden.

The eBooks are part of their Diffusion project to create a platform for public authoring and cultures of listening by creating and sharing knowledge, stories, ideas and information. As they put it:

The Diffusion Shareables (eBooks & StoryCubes) are playful hybrid digital/material publications combining the tactile pleasures of tangible objects with the ease of sharing via digital media.

And they are also fun.  You can get mine from their website – it’s a PDF which you print, fold and cut into a very nice little book/booklet.