Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between a genuine user experience and a paid advertisement when reading product reviews on the Net. Often, there is no clear way to indicate to a reader whether the review is paid-for or is independent. I think blog posts could use a set of standardized symbols to indicate endorsed content. For example, the Creative Commons could develop a list of symbols for open content to indicate symbols for independent opinion, paid-for endorsements, testimonials, advertisements, etc.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued updated guidelines governing the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. The guidelines now clearly state that “the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.” These guidelines are effective as of December 1, 2009 and fines for not declaring conflicts of interest range up to $11,000 for a violation.
Hopefully, the new FTC guidelines will make online blogging a little more transparent. They will certainly spur bloggers to be more conscientious and open about their financial relationships. Disclosure will make it easier for a reader or consumer to avoid false or misleading claims and to find the best reviews for their needs.
Ubunchu - A Ubuntu Manga Comic Book (Credit: Ubunchu)
Earlier this month, Ubunchu, a comic book for Ubuntu, was published in Japanese. Ubunchu is about three students in a sysadmin club who are learning about Ubuntu. Japanese Manga artist (Mangaka) Hiroshi Seo is the creator of this comic series and his first edition has already been translated into English, French, Indonesian, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Vietnamese. Translated versions can be found here.
The comic book format has become an interesting, if novel, way to popularize technology. For example, when Google released Chrome, it introduced its new browser accompanied by a wildly popular comic book. I believe this format could also help kids in middle school and high school learn about the latest technologies like Linux and open source.
Calling on our Indian language localizers… Are you ready to translate Ubunchu? Ubunchu comes with a Creative Commons license and has the SVG source available too. So it should be easy to translate and spread the word.
And here is what Hiroshi says to translators…
If your are planning to translate the manga into another language, my consent is not required, for it is released under Creative Commons BY-NC license. Though I’d really appreciate if you let me know it when it’s done. Then I would add the link of the distribution site to the list above.
Both English version’s are distributed with it’s SVG sources. You will find it very easy to edit with SVG editing software like Inkscape. Thanks to DoctorMO & C-quel’s work! When using these sources, please don’t forget to add the credit for them.
I had the opportunity to be in Mumbai for the launch of Creative Commons in India on January 26th, 2007 – India’s Republic Day. Many free and open source activists from across the country gathered at IIT Bombay along with industry leaders such as Nandu Pradhan of Red Hat and academic leaders such as Dr. Deepak Phatak. The launch generated a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
Joichi Ito (chairman of Creative Commons) and Catharina Maracke (international legal advisor for Creative Commons) led the inauguration. Joi was awesome. He talked about his interaction with media companies and governments who are on the DRM bandwagon and how technologies including open source software were key in a paradigm shift towards more choice for creators and consumers of music, movies, and knowledge. Dr. Phatak expressed his interest in promoting the CC licenses for content. He felt these licenses are a better fit for knowledge than some software oriented licenses.
My thanks to Dr. Shishir Jha of IIT Bombay for organizing the launch festivities in conjuction with IIT’s Tech Fest and making India the 35th country to join Creative Commons.