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A plant writes a blog

Unfortunately, it's a Japanese plant so I can't understand what it says, but it certainly challenges the boundaries of blogging! :-D

Check it out here.

This is for real, by the way - I read about it in BBC:
A potted plant at a cafe near Tokyo, Japan is entertaining customers by writing a regular blog about its feelings.

It is the work of a university engineer who has been studying how to communicate with plants.

He devised a sensor which he attached to the plant named "Midori-san" that measures bio-electric signals. These are converted into data by a computer next the plant and then translated into Japanese in the form of a blog.

The plant's latest entry reads: "It was cloudy today. It was a cold day." (BBC)

Blogging and defamation laws

There's a Forum organised by the KL Bar this Thursday on Blogging and Defamation laws . I'll be checking it out, and it's probably a good idea for any blogger who has a reasonable audience and likes to talk about other people.

The thing that has always struck me about blogging and defamation is the idea that just because you do something in 'cyberspace' it will be subject to different laws (or not subject to the usual laws). My basic opinion is that if you say something about someone, wherever you say it, you should be accountable for it.

I do think there are limits on the freedom of expression - basically inciting violence is my limit: so I can say that all people from Boogerland are congenital idiots, but I can't say that they should be burnt out of their houses because of it. On other issues relating to comment in the public sphere one should be able to pass comment on others, but be prepared to defend what one says if called upon. If I was to say that Joe Bloggs is cheating his customers, and then because of that his business is affected, then he should be able to sue me - it doesn't matter if I said it online or not, what matters is that his reputation and/or business is negatively affected. Of course, if he really does cheat his customers and I can prove it, then he loses the case and pays the costs.

So the bottom line for me is that on- or offline, there is no fundamental difference. But it's surprising how many people think there is - it's because of the whole 'cyberspace', 'virtual reality', thing - that what happens online is not 'In Real Life'. This was the point made in relation to some high school students in Singapore who had blogged about their teacher(s) in 2005.

The first time I remember a legal issue with blogs coming to the fore was around October 2004, when a commenter in Jeff Ooi's blog made some remarks deemed offensive to Islam (the post is no longer online, but the episode is recounted by Oon Yeoh). The issue that arose here was the responsibility of the blogger for the comments - Jeff Ooi supplied the IP address to the police (a move criticised by some) and later stated that "If someone posts something offensive, it is up to the owner of the blog to delete it.- (September 2005).

Around the same time Mack Zulkifli, author of the blog 'Brand New Malaysian' (no longer online since July 2006), was also forced to deal with the racially provocative comments left by a person calling him/herself 'goodman'. He was also accused of promoting censorship because he reported the comments to the police. One point he made was that leaving comments was different to someone just letting off steam in a public place - "[The comment] stays there, available as a form of public record and in the case of the internet, tracked, indexed and stored in public domain by search engines, such as Google, Yahoo etc.- (Zulkifli). Since that 'goodman' incident there was been an increase in the number of bloggers who required that you register with them first, or that they vet all comments.

This is one key difference between the old and new media; new media usually involve an element of interaction, so individual responsibility may be blurred. As a parallel - would I be responsible for someone who spray painted a racist comment on the outside wall of my garden?

This does relate to an important difference between on- and offline social interaction. Usually, online interchanges remain visible a lot longer than offline ones: so if I get in a drunken argument with Jane one evening in the bar, and accuse her of having loose morals with a football team, then probably it will just be a blurry memory for everyone the next day, and she will never speak to me again. But if I do it online, and put it in her comments or somewhere, it may be online for a long time, and then one day her fiancé sees it and freaks out and dumps her...

As a society we are going to have to learn to deal with these issues. For example: will everything being cached by Google now still be online in twenty years? Who will own that information? Will we have the right to delete old stuff we don't want anymore (e.g. comments we have left on another person's profile in Facebook)?

It strikes me that that two of the posts I mention above are no longer online, probably because the bloggers owned their own site and therefore had complete control over the contents. Most people, however, use free services that often claim some form of ownership or exploitation rights to whatever is produced via their services. So, one solution is for everyone to own their own sites.

**Update same day**
I just noticed this person saying Yahoo! has deleted all profiles with no warning. I don't know the details but I'll bet it's annoying. The problem is, because it's free you have no control - really, we have to look forward to the day when your 'base of online action' (your profile, blog, avatar, email, etc.) is your own, and operates on open standards.

**Update 2 Nov. 2008**
Here are links to all the posts I could find announcing the Forum - most are simple announcements with little discussion:
• Screenshots...: 'Blogging & Defamation Laws'... Oct 23, Bar Council
• The Middle Ground: Freedom of speech, blogging and defamation
• Forum on Blogging & Defamation Laws
• DragonKenLai: Forum on Blogging and Defamation
• all the world's a stage: Forum on Blogging & Defamation
• u-jean: Website, events, events, events
• The Independent Spirit: Forum on Blogging & Defamation Laws
• dyvallion: Forum on Blogging & Defamation Law
• Malacca Bar: Forum on Blogging & Defamation Laws
• thestar Citizen's Blog: Forum on Blogging and Defamation Laws
• Malaysian Bar Forum: Forum on Blogging & Defamation Laws

I’m Going Silent this Halloween with Nokia XpressMusic

Well, this is probably too late – but an opportunity to party with Nuffnang is not to be ignored! 8-)

I’ve been scratching my head to come up with something creative to tell you "why Nokia XpressMusic makes Halloween better", but have failed abysmally… so here is my best (lame) offering.

OK, you didn’t find that scary? Well, it’s a 'concept story board' see? Just like in advertising hehe… OK it’s kind of lame, in fact so lame that I now have to explain everything.

The idea is, since the Nokia XpressMusic is ”Big on sound, small in the pocket”, that you can record scary sounds on it and freak people out at the silent party. Here’s the explanation…

OK. But hopefully Nuffnang will send me an invite… or else… I’ll set Freddy Krueger on them!!!

(just joking ;-))

Inlinks to a new blog

Just a rapid one as I’m pretty stressed out and well behind on my work, argh! :-O

My new gardening blog has been online for about ten days now, and the first task is to make it visible to other blogs and bloggers. A blog with no readers is really no different from a diary stuck under the bed.

So, results so far: I submitted the site to Google, and the sitemap as well, so if I search for the url, it comes up

That took about four days to happen.

I have submitted the blog to various directories, including: Blotanical (which is a nice social network for gardeners, some very impressive gardeners in there!); Blog Explosion (they have a useful ping function – they took about 5-6 days to approve the blog); and Garden Blog Directory (which is a pretty basic directory).

So, today I tried to see if there are any incoming links to my blog. First I tried the classic ‘link:’

That got nothing. So I checked out the more advanced Google Webmaster tools

which gave the same result… It says i'm in the index, but not the sitemap. I'll give it a bit more time - for example, I know that there's at least one link in from this blog. I suppose Google still needs to do more indexing of other webistes, and all that

I’ll be giving updates on how it proceeds.

Body modification and blog personalisation

Ever since WW got a tattoo, I’ve been wondering whether I should finally get one – having being putting it off for about 20+ years now… One thing I hear about is how – once they start – some people find it hard to stop. I guess that’s a minority, as is usually the case with this kind of thing, but here’s an example of what happens when you take ‘bodymods’ all the way:

Scary eh? More weird and wonderful ones on deputydog’s ”top 10 physically modified people” - take a look, it’s worth it!

On another note: I came across this picture when I saw it in a Malaysian blog. Something about it looked as if it had been copied, and so I did a rapid google and found the original. At least I think it’s the original, because there seem to be lots of very similar, or exactly the same, posts online – if google a phrase like “Whether he’s mad or not, 67yr old tom leppard seems extremely happy living in a hand-built home on the isle” (the first one), there are 12+ results with exactly the same sentence… Continue reading "Body modification and blog personalisation"

"Google AdSense code can not be used with Google Sites"??

I just started a new blog called Tropical Gardening as an experiment in different, more focused/hobby type blog – aka a ‘niche’ blog. Just to see what it’s like and to try out ways of attracting traffic to it. It should be quite fun – I’ll be concentrating on just using photos from my garden and brief commentaries, and it will also be a way of keeping track of changes in the garden. It’s always nice to see how things have grown over time :-) It means there'll be less gardening posts on this blog though - I want to concentrate more on my research here.

For this blog I use Serendipity - it’s an open source platform that I’d recommend to anyone out there, but actually most blogs I see are using Blogger – although Wordpress seems to be more popular with the dedicated ‘problogger’ types. For the new blog I’m using the typical Blogger platform, with a blogspot address; this has proven to be a good idea so far as I get to experience what most bloggers do. I hadn’t used it for a few years, and it’s got a lot more user friendly, with easy ways to change the layout, add blogrolls, etc.

Anyway, I put Adsense on it, but since it’s the same account as this blog I can’t tell if anyone is clicking on the other one. So, decided to separate them in ‘channels’, but when I indicated the url for the new blog I got an error message telling me “URL cannot contain a Google host”. I googled that and got confused with this
Google Sites Help
answer that said
“At the present time Google AdSense code can not be used with Google Sites. Any code that has been added through a gadget or iframe will be rejected by the AdSense team.”

WTF? Weird! Why does Blogger have an AdSense widget and all that if you’re not meant to use it?? Is it possible, as Debt Prison suggests, that they are going to pull all AdSense from all Blogger sites?? That would be a major move – there must be a massive amount of people who use the Blogger/blogspot platform for some AdSense revenue. If AdSense was not allowed on Blogger, they would surely all migrate elsewhere.

Then I found a forum where ‘farmboy’ says
“Just login to your adsense account as usual and create the code complete with channels, colors and whatever else you want. Copy the code.

Then go to your blogger account, click to add a HTML/Javascript feature and paste in the code.”

It worked for me! And now I have the two channels

So, in any case that's a good solution to that problem but I still wonder about this 'no AdSense on Google site thing'... Anybody got any idea?

**Update 14/10/08** See the comment below for an explanation. Also, I covered up more information on the screenshot because, according to ABC Blog Tips
"Do not disclose confidential information about your account like the CTR, CPM and income derived via individual ad units or any other confidential information they may reveal to you. However, you may reveal the total money you make as per recent updates to the TOS."

So in fact I was covering up the right thing, and showing the wrong thing! Argh! :-O There's a list of 18 of these 'Don'ts' on his blog if you're interested.