The Internet, from The Economist

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Babbage: Home-brewed heroin

20 May 2015 - 7:29am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Fly Title:&nbsp; Babbage Rubric:&nbsp; How lab experiments got a step closer to yeast that can make morphine, and how app experiments by developers such as Facebook happen in New Zealand Byline:&nbsp; The Economist Main image:&nbsp; 20150523_mma906_107_square.jpg Published:&nbsp; 20150520 Source:&nbsp; Online extra Enabled <div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

News companies and Facebook: Friends with benefits?

14 May 2015 - 11:17am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Issue:&nbsp; The great distortion Fly Title:&nbsp; News companies and Facebook Rubric:&nbsp; Facebook and several news firms have entered an uneasy partnership Location:&nbsp; SAN FRANCISCO Main image:&nbsp; 20150516_wbp501.jpg “INSTANT ARTICLES” is a new service announced by Facebook on May 12th, in partnership with nine news firms, including the New York Times, the Guardian and National Geographic. Facebook users will be able to read stories from these publishers without leaving the social network, since it will host the articles rather than just providing weblinks that send readers off to the news firms’ websites. In return, newspapers will be able to sell advertising that appears next to their stories and keep all the revenue, or let Facebook sell the ad space, and give it a 30% cut. The nascent partnership highlights Facebook’s growing clout in the news business. Newspapers have become dependent on it to send ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Freedom of speech in Bangladesh: The third casualty

14 May 2015 - 4:37am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Fly Title:&nbsp; Freedom of speech in Bangladesh Rubric:&nbsp; Bloggers are being hacked to death, one at a time, while politicians look the other way Location:&nbsp; DHAKA Main image:&nbsp; 20150516_asp502.jpg ANANTA BIJOY DAS has just become the third of three online writers to be set upon and slashed to death in Bangladesh this year. He was 32 years old and, like the two who were murdered before him, he was a “secular” blogger—in the sense that his writing made it plain that he was not in favour of politicised religion. Many other Bangladeshis have been killed on the streets in the past few months, some of them victims of political violence. But the deaths of this trio of bloggers mark a worrying new trend, one that seems to reflect a greater darkness on the political horizon. All three were science enthusiasts. They were bookish, educated men, poking their heads above the parapet to challenge various religious conventions. Avijit Roy, the first to be killed, was hacked to death ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

UK election and social media: Labour trending

7 May 2015 - 9:27am
How the election looks from TwitterIT DOES NOT take long for a political strategy to be reduced to a meme. Ed Miliband, Labour’s leader, had barely finished unveiling a six-foot rock engraved with Labour’s promises, before Twitter was awash with #EdStone messages and photo-shopped pictures of Moses. In three days the hashtag has been used over 42,000 times.Despite this setback, Labour has actually performed well on Twitter. Tweets from the official party account and Mr Miliband’s account are retweeted more than rivals’ messages (see chart 1), despite Mr Miliband having half the number of followers as David Cameron, the prime minister. Labour are also adding followers at a quicker rate than other parties. Mr Miliband has added almost 2,000 new fans per day in the last two weeks. Part of this success is down to the demographics of social media. The average Twitter user is younger than the average Brit, and the young are more likely to vote Labour.But it is also reflects social-media tactics. A trade-off exists, at least in politics, between the number of tweets published and the amount people who will share those messages. The Liberal Democrats pushed out of tweet almost every 15 minutes last week but each one was only retweeted 10 times on average. Out of the party leaders Nigel Farage, the head of UKIP, has struck the best balance. He has been retweeted 170,000 times ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Economist Radio: Britain’s election: The bigger picture

28 April 2015 - 12:08pm
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Fly Title:&nbsp; Economist Radio: Britain’s election Rubric:&nbsp; We consider the election’s impact on Britain’s global standing, the foreplay of coalition negotiations, how markets might respond and the role of foreign campaign gurus Byline:&nbsp; Main image:&nbsp; 20150502_mma902_107.jpg You can subscribe to Economist podcasts via iTunes&nbsp;or listen to them on Soundcloud. Published:&nbsp; 20150428 Source:&nbsp; Online extra Enabled <div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Cable consolidation in America: Unwound

24 April 2015 - 5:27am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Fly Title:&nbsp; Cable consolidation in America Rubric:&nbsp; Comcast has dropped its $45 billion bid for Time Warner Cable. Good news for consumers Location:&nbsp; SAN FRANCISCO Main image:&nbsp; 20150425_blp513.jpg ON THE eve of Valentine’s Day last year Comcast announced its intention to enter a surprise union with Time Warner Cable (TWC). Together the two firms were to form the largest cable company in America. But not everyone loves a power couple. This newspaper was early to point out that the $45 billion deal would give Comcast too much market dominance, particularly when it comes to internet delivery. According to Moffett Nathanson, a research firm, the combined firm would have controlled around 30% of the national pay-television market and 40% of high-speed broadband—even after it had voluntarily shed around a quarter of TWC’s subscribers. &nbsp; Now Comcast is ending its relationship with TWC, once and for all. In recent days the deal had started to look wobbly; the Federal ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Net neutrality in India: Not quite what we said

23 April 2015 - 10:52am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Issue:&nbsp; Europe’s boat people Fly Title:&nbsp; Net neutrality in India Rubric:&nbsp; India’s telecoms regulator is accused of doing the industry’s bidding Location:&nbsp; MUMBAI IN 1961 A.J.P. Taylor suffered a caustic book review at the hands of Hugh Trevor-Roper, another British historian. The book put Taylor’s standing as a serious academic in peril, said his reviewer. Taylor responded with an article: “How to quote: exercises for beginners”. In it he juxtaposed quotations from his book alongside passages from the review. They were somewhat at odds. Trevor-Roper’s methods of quotation might harm his reputation for seriousness, concluded Taylor, “if he had one”. Half a century later, the seriousness of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been questioned in a Taylor-style takedown by The group, which lobbies for net neutrality (the equal treatment of all internet traffic), has analysed a text box in a recent TRAI discussion paper, which the agency ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

YouTube&#039;s birthday: Make a wish

23 April 2015 - 3:04am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Fly Title:&nbsp; YouTube&#039;s birthday Rubric:&nbsp; The most popular site for online video marks ten extraordinary years Location:&nbsp; SAN FRANCISCO Main image:&nbsp; 20150415_blp509.jpg &nbsp; ON APRIL 23rd&nbsp;2005 the founders of YouTube uploaded an amateurish video of themselves at the zoo, standing in front of elephants. Few viewing it at the time would have guessed the grainy, 18-second video foreshadowed YouTube’s rise to become a jumbo-sized&nbsp;force in its own right. Today a billion people, or around a third of all internet-users, visit YouTube every day. Each minute, they upload more than 300 hours of video to the site. After Google and Facebook, YouTube is the third most popular web domain globally. Its size is not the only sign that YouTube has grown up. In its early years, YouTube played host mainly to homemade videos and pirated television shows that consumers uploaded themselves. Had Google not bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.7 billion, YouTube might not have ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Babbage: Doing less with Moore

22 April 2015 - 5:37pm
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Fly Title:&nbsp; Babbage Rubric:&nbsp; Google makes an alteration in search engine algorithms and the anniversary of Gordon Moore&#039;s technological prediction Byline:&nbsp; Main image:&nbsp; 20150425_mma902_107.jpg Published:&nbsp; 20150422 Source:&nbsp; Online extra Enabled <div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Google: Mobilegeddon

20 April 2015 - 8:33am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Fly Title:&nbsp; Google Rubric:&nbsp; The world&#039;s biggest search engine shakes up its algorithms Byline:&nbsp; LS Main image:&nbsp; 20150425_fnp501.jpg THE timing is awkward, to say the least. On April 21st Google, the world’s biggest online-search engine, will start implementing another major overhaul of its mobile-search algorithm. This is likely to penalise many websites, which is why some have called the change “mobilegeddon”. It comes less than a week after the European Union accused the firm's search engine of systematically giving favourable treatment to Google Shopping,&nbsp;its price-comparison service. The latest change is not meant to discriminate against rivals, but to demote sites in Google’s mobile-search results that are not deemed “mobile-friendly”. That means, for instance, those that have text too small to read on a smartphone screen, or fiddly links too difficult to open with the tap of a finger, will be discriminated against. “As more people use mobile ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

The music industry: Super fantasy

16 April 2015 - 5:39am
THREE years ago, Pat Cassidy took a call from James Sider, the founder of BandPage, a San Francisco-based app that makes musicians’ content and merchandise available across platforms like Spotify and Google. Mr Cassidy, a band manager based in Austin, Texas, was used to hearing marketing pitches from various music start-ups, and was not thrilled by the thought of another.But Mr Sider caught his attention with some simple observations. Average fans spend money on a band maybe two or three times a year, Mr Sider explained. They buy an album, a concert ticket, maybe a shirt. But what does that amount to? Maybe $60. For most bands that's not sustainable. "What about relying on super fans to fund you more regularly?" Mr Sider suggested. Comment Expiry Date:&nbsp; Fri, 2015-05-01 <div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Streaming video: A business home run

9 April 2015 - 5:50pm
THIS week's issue of The Economist includes an article on the streaming-video technology company owned by Major League Baseball. Read it here. Comment Expiry Date:&nbsp; Fri, 2015-04-24 <div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Streaming video: A business home run

9 April 2015 - 10:44am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Issue:&nbsp; What does Hillary stand for? Fly Title:&nbsp; Streaming video Rubric:&nbsp; Baseball’s flourishing media division may have outgrown its parent Location:&nbsp; NEW YORK Main image:&nbsp; Streamed live to your smartphone Streamed live to your smartphone AROUND this time last year, Home Box Office (HBO) turned a success into an embarrassment. Within a five-week period, two of the broadcaster’s shows drew such large audiences that its online streaming service for subscribers collapsed. The firm could not afford further hiccups during its launch this week of HBO Now, an over-the-top (OTT) service that delivers shows via the internet to viewers without a cable-television package. To ensure reliable delivery, HBO turned to an unusual source: Major League Baseball (MLB), or more specifically its media-technology arm, MLBAM, which has become a leader in the video-streaming business. It would be hard to design a better ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

The internet of things: Of sensors and sensibility

2 April 2015 - 12:50am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Fly Title:&nbsp; The internet of things Rubric:&nbsp; Connected devices in the home are becoming more widespread Main image:&nbsp; 20150404_blp907.jpg &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; THE expression “at the touch of a button” connotes speed and immediacy. Amazon is taking the phrase literally. This week the e-commerce firm announced a programme that offers members of its Prime scheme branded, wireless-connected buttons, which they can place around their home and press when they are running low on certain household items. Doing so initiates an order to replenish whatever is needed, from detergent to bottled water, and the order is shipped to the customer’s home. Is the habit of sitting down at a computer to shop online becoming passé?&nbsp;Whether or not Amazon’s “Dash” buttons appeal to mainstream consumers remains to be seen, but the initiative points to two important retail and technology trends. How Amazon took over the world First, more companies are pushing into e-commerce and trying to expand what people buy online. Google offers an ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Telecoms regulation: Crossed wires

26 March 2015 - 11:47am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; UK article only Issue:&nbsp; The world is going to university Fly Title:&nbsp; Telecoms regulation Rubric:&nbsp; Regulators grapple with a rapidly changing telecoms industry HOW do you both encourage investment, which requires lucrative returns, and facilitate competition, which keeps prices low? Answering that question keeps regulators in a job. The latest instalment in the long-running struggle between profits and prices came on March 19th, when Ofcom, the communications regulator, confirmed that it would subject BT, Britain’s telecoms incumbent, to fresh scrutiny of its wholesale charges. More drastic regulatory changes could yet come to this rapidly evolving industry. In 2005 Ofcom, aiming to encourage competition, forced BT to “functionally separate” its infrastructure division—which manages the cables and ducts that criss-cross the country—from its retail arm. That led to the creation of Openreach, a subsidiary of BT that provides access to its network on identical terms to all retailers (including BT itself). At first that merely meant new firms could hook ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

The Economist explains: Why Saudis are ardent social media fans

23 March 2015 - 7:50pm
ON MARCH 18th, at an Arab media get-together, Twitter announced that it will open an office in Dubai. Not before time. Smartphone growth has rocketed in the Gulf—by most counts the region has the highest penetration. WhatsApp and Facebook have become standard modes of communication. Nowhere is that more so than in Saudi Arabia. Several surveys in 2013 showed that the kingdom has the world’s highest percentage of people on Twitter relative to its number of internet users; and on YouTube too. Saudis also spend more hours online than their peers elsewhere. That might seem surprising for such a conservative country where the constitution is said to be taken directly from the Koran and where women are not permitted to drive. Why are Saudis such big fans of social media? Outsiders often regard the 30m Saudis as far behind the rest of the world. The modern Saudi state was founded only in 1932, and then on the basis of an existing pact between the Al Saud family and the Wahhabist clerics, who peddle a particularly red-hot version of Islam. It is certainly a traditional place, especially around the capital Riyadh. But the country has also rapidly modernised since discovering its vast oil wealth. It has a GDP per capita of almost $26,000. Today thousands of its young people study abroad, speak English and are as globalised as their peers in other countries. Fully 75% of the ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Babbage: Speedy 3D

18 March 2015 - 6:12pm
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Issue:&nbsp; The caliphate cracks Fly Title:&nbsp; Babbage Rubric:&nbsp; This week our correspondents discuss a live video-streaming app called Meerkat and a new 3D-printing technology Byline:&nbsp; Main image:&nbsp; 20150321_mma903_107.jpg Published:&nbsp; 20150321 Source:&nbsp; The Economist Newspaper Enabled <div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Mobile video streaming: Incomparable Meerkat

18 March 2015 - 11:50am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Fly Title:&nbsp; Mobile video streaming Rubric:&nbsp; A new social network probes the limits of cooperation in the business Location:&nbsp; San Francisco Main image:&nbsp; 20150321_wbp505.jpg MEERKATS are small, burrowing animals that spend much of their time socialising while sheltering from the heat of the sun. They are not unlike those uber-geeks who migrate each year to Austin, Texas, for the South by South-West Interactive Festival (SXSW), where they partake in similar rituals. Apart from partying after the sun goes down, the main purpose of those attending is to promote their latest start-ups, while seeking to catch the eye of investors. Occasionally, it works. Twitter, the social-networking service that lets users dispense wisdom in 140 characters, made its debut at SXSW in 2007. Foursquare, a mobile app for local search and discovery, was the festival buzz of 2012. This year, the social-media fad is a mobile app for streaming live video. Appropriately, the new iPhone-only app ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Africa and the internet: What’s in a domain?

12 March 2015 - 11:48am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Issue:&nbsp; Made in China? Fly Title:&nbsp; Africa and the internet Rubric:&nbsp; Tapping an unlikely resource in Mali Location:&nbsp; BAMAKO MALI has long had links with the wider world. Tripoli and Gao were once connected by chariot. Trade routes shuttled scholars and goods from Timbuktu to the Mediterranean and beyond. The same routes ferry guns, drugs, people and pasta today. Now Mali’s government is finding new links on the web. Disappointed that its national top-level domain address, “.ml”, the national equivalent of “.com” or “”, had just a few hundred users in 2012, Mali’s webmasters asked for help from Freenom, a Dutch internet firm. It beefed up the country’s web infrastructure and then offered free registration of domain names. Foreigners registered by the thousands. Surprisingly Malaysians represented a small but significant portion, perhaps because of similarities with their national domain “.my”. Today there are 340,000 active .ml domains, and 100 new ones register ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>

Internet security: How to back up a country

5 March 2015 - 11:49am
UK Only Article:&nbsp; standard article Issue:&nbsp; Green food from Silicon Valley Fly Title:&nbsp; Internet security Rubric:&nbsp; To protect itself from attack, Estonia is finding ways to back up its data Main image:&nbsp; 20150307_TQD001_0.jpg WIPING a country off the map is one thing. Wiping its data is another. Estonians know what the former is like. They are determined to avoid the latter. Just as computer users back up their laptops in case they break or are lost, Estonia is working out how to back up the country, in case it is attacked by Russia. Estonia has already shown notable prowess in putting government services online. It has pioneered the use of strong digital identities for every resident, enabling them to sign and encrypt documents, access government services, and conduct e-commerce. But the latest project, termed “digital continuity”, is the most ambitious yet. It aims to ensure that even if Estonia’s government is sabotaged it will continue to function over the internet, providing services and ...<div class="og_rss_groups"></div>