Friday Link List: Tech & Media Edition

1. The App I Used to Break into My Neighbor’s Home {wired}

When I broke into my neighbor’s home earlier this week, I didn’t use any cat burglar skills. I don’t know how to pick locks. I’m not even sure how to use a crowbar. It turns out all anyone needs to invade a friend’s apartment is an off switch for their conscience and an iPhone.

2. Behind Comcast’s Truthy Ad Campaign for Net Neutrality {washington post}

In an ongoing ad campaign, Comcast touts that it’s the only internet service provider (or ISP) legally bound by “full” net neutrality and that the company wants to expand that commitment to even more people. This sounds great for consumers; it’s the kind of thing that might convince skeptical regulators to give Comcast the benefit of the doubt. But the advertising claims come with some big, unstated caveats that could be confusing to consumers who already find the net neutrality debate a jumble of jargon and rhetoric.

3. Riding the Juggernaut That Left Print Behind {david carr/new york times}

I am a faithful reader of The Journal’s and The Times’s print edition. Both are built on a wonderful technology for discovering and consuming news, and a large part of their profits still reside in that daily artifact. But when big things happen, I stayed glued to the web, at The Times and other great news sites.

Nothing can compete with the shimmering immediacy of now, and not just when seismic events take place, but in our everyday lives. We are sponges and we live in a world where the fire hose is always on.

But once a sponge is at capacity, new information can only replace old information. Last month, researchers at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand published a study that found that comprehension, concentration and retention all went off a cliff when information was taken in online. (Then again, there are those who say that we see everything and remember nothing because we don’t have to, that the web now serves as our memory.)

4. Virginia Woolf’s Idea of Privacy {new yorker}

Talking so freely about your life helps you to know the weight of those feelings which are too vague, or too spiritual, to express—left unspoken and unexplored, they throw your own private existence into relief. “Sharing” is, in fact, the opposite of what we do: like one of Woolf’s hostesses, we rehearse a limited openness so that we can feel the solidity of our own private selves.

The Paywall Revolution

Prolific blogger and gay Catholic conservative (not to blatantly reduce him to a narrow cultural stereotype or anything) Andrew Sullivan made a splash today when he announced that his popular blog will be once again striking out on its own, leaving its current home on Newsweek-owned Daily Beast website.

From the NPR story on the move:

Saying that [Sullivan] and his team want “to help build a new media environment that is not solely about advertising or profit above everything, but that is dedicated first to content and quality…”

He’ll be charging readers $20/year for full access to the site, although the paywall will be on the porous side—a la The New York Times’ recent paywall implementation. As Nieman Lab reported back in March 2011, when the Times’ paywall first launched:

Now, the Times paywall is, to a certain extent, defined by its leakiness. The various holes — external links from social media and search biggest among them — are no accident; they’re the result of some (correct, I say) thinking about hitting the right balance between fly-by and dedicated readers, between those who come in the front door and others who arrive from the side.

I think it’s more than just catering to certain audiences, although that’s certainly a practical concern. I think this is an extremely positive development, part of a larger movement back to the idea that readers should be an important part of journalism’s revenue model. It’s getting people in the mindset that good content is worth something, and is worth coughing up a little dough for every once in awhile.

So far, at least for Sullivan, it seems like it’s working.

And don’t worry, dear reader, this blog is just a hobby and I’ll never shut out my five readers with a paywall.