A Danish-owned coal-laden cargo ship has sailed through the Northwest Passage for the first time and into the history books as the second bulk carrier to navigate the Arctic route.

Ship crosses Northwest Passage - Yahoo News

It’s kind of silly that maximalists and luddites keep jumping back to this trope. The idea that if you can get something for free, no one will ever pay for it. That’s never been true and will never be true. All of the works that people pay and download to their Kindles are already available for free on unauthorized sites. But tons of people pay. All of the music that people pay and download to their iPods is already available for free on unauthorized sites. But tons of people pay. People will pay all the time for things they can get for free. Just check out the bottled water industry.

Techdirt: Authors Guild’s Scott Turow: The Supreme Court, Google, Ebooks, Libraries & Amazon Are All Destroying Authors

Excellent commentary on a recent NYT Op-Ed by Scott Turow (head of the Authors Guild). I definitely recommend reading both.

(via calimae)

(via calimae)

Digital currency bitcoin continues its remarkable and somewhat inexplicable run. It’s up 152% this month, and today the total value of all outstanding bitcoins—its market capitalization, if you will—topped $1 billion for the first time before settling back down.

Bitcoin, up 152% this month, tops $1 billion in total value – Quartz

Senate embraces Internet taxes

The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly today to endorse levying Internet sales taxes on American shoppers, despite warnings from a handful of senators that the proposal is antibusiness, harmful to taxpayers, and will be a “bureaucratic nightmare.”

By a vote of 75 to 24, senators adopted an amendment to a Democratic budget resolution that, by allowing states to “collect taxes on remote sales,” is intended to eventually usher in the first national Internet sales tax.

The vote follows a week of fierce lobbying from the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represent companies including Walmart, Target, AutoZone, Best Buy, Home Depot, OfficeMax, Macy’s, and the Container Store. They argue that online retailers, which in some cases do not collect sales taxes at checkout, enjoy an unfair competitive advantage over big box stores that do.

» via CNET

Antigua takes step to ignore U.S. copyrights in fight over online gaming

Antigua on Monday threatened to ignore U.S. copyrights in retaliation for an online gaming ban that the tiny Caribbean nation says has “devastated” its economy.

The country on Monday sought and received the World Trade Organization’s authorization to set up a website to sell materials that infringe on U.S. copyrights without paying the American copyright holders. The decision could rekindle congressional concerns about subjugating U.S. policy to international law and complicate President Obama’s second-term trade agenda.

» via The Hill’s Hillicon Valley

Gas tanker Ob River attempts first winter Arctic crossing

A large tanker carrying liquified natural gas (LNG) is set to become the first ship of its type to sail across the Arctic.
The carrier, Ob River, left Norway in November and has sailed north of Russia on its way to Japan.
The specially equipped tanker is due to arrive in early December and will shave 20 days off the regular journey.
The owners say that changing climate conditions and a volatile gas market make the Arctic transit profitable.

» via BBC High-res

Gas tanker Ob River attempts first winter Arctic crossing

A large tanker carrying liquified natural gas (LNG) is set to become the first ship of its type to sail across the Arctic.

The carrier, Ob River, left Norway in November and has sailed north of Russia on its way to Japan.

The specially equipped tanker is due to arrive in early December and will shave 20 days off the regular journey.

The owners say that changing climate conditions and a volatile gas market make the Arctic transit profitable.

» via BBC

There are two competing predictions about commerce in the digital age. One is that companies will get smaller and more disruptive as nimble entrepreneurs can take on giant corporations with little more than 3-D printers and Web sites. The other envisions a few massive companies — like Procter & Gamble, Apple and Nike — that design everything themselves, have it manufactured cheaply in Asia and use their e-commerce sites to gather information about their customers. Nearly the exact same conflict occurred more than a century ago in the decade that straddled 1900, which was also a period of rapid technological change. In just a few years, 1,800 small companies were swallowed up as the electrical-power, telephone, auto, steel and chemical industries grew from patchworks of tiny companies into conglomerates. In “The Great Merger Movement in American Business 1895-1904,” the Yale economist and historian Naomi Lamoreaux wrote that back then everyone worried about the same thing that authors, editors and book buyers worry about now: Are large companies good for the economy? Do they grow through efficiency and innovation or by abusing their leverage?

What the Penguin-Random Merger Says About the Future of the Book Business - NYTimes.com

Electronic Scores Rank Consumers by Potential Value

AMERICANS are obsessed with their scores. Credit scores, G.P.A.’s, SAT’s, blood pressure and cholesterol levels — you name it.

So here’s a new score to obsess about: the e-score, an online calculation that is assuming an increasingly important, and controversial, role in e-commerce.

These digital scores, known broadly as consumer valuation or buying-power scores, measure our potential value as customers. What’s your e-score? You’ll probably never know. That’s because they are largely invisible to the public. But they are highly valuable to companies that want — or in some cases, don’t want — to have you as their customer.

» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)

Just as early modern roads were first maintained and run privately, so today are our early digital roads privately owned, and we are negotiating whether that is best for society. (At the start of the 19th century, Allen says, commerce and civic services “demanded that the roads ‘accomodate the traffic, rather than the traffic accomodate the roads.’” That is our battle today, eh?)

The (continuing) institutional revolution | BuzzMachine (via interestingsnippets)

(via interestingsnippets)

Researchers Find Flaw in an Online Encryption Method

A team of European and American mathematicians and cryptographers have discovered an unexpected weakness in the encryption system widely used worldwide for online shopping, banking, e-mail and other Internet services intended to remain private and secure.

The flaw — which involves a small but measurable number of cases — has to do with the way the system generates random numbers, which are used to make it practically impossible for an attacker to unscramble digital messages. While it can affect the transactions of individual Internet users, there is nothing an individual can do about it. The operators of large Web sites will need to make changes to ensure the security of their systems, the researchers said.

The potential danger of the flaw is that despite the fact that the number of users affected by the flaw may be small, confidence in the security algorithm is reduced, the authors said.

» via The New York Times (Subscription may be required for some content)