The company is adding past images of places noted in Street View for the desktop version of Google Maps. The goal is to give users the ability to see how places have changed over time.
“We’ve gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world,” wrote Vinay Shet, Google’s Street View product manager, in a blog post. “Now with Street View, you can see a landmark’s growth from the ground up, like the Freedom Tower in New York City or the 2014 World Cup Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil.”
Google also says the new feature can serve as a digital timeline of recent history, enabling users to follow the reconstruction underway in Japan after the devastating tsunami and earthquake in 2011.
Users also can use the new feature to see what cities would look like in different seasons. Looking to take a bike tour of the French countryside or the green mountains of Vermont? Now users can get a glimpse of them at different times of the year to help them decide when to go.
The feature is gradually being rolled out to users. Users will know if the feature is available if they see a clock icon in the upper left-hand portion of a Street View image. They can click on it and move the slider through time and select a thumbnail to see that same place in previous years or seasons, Shet said.
Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research, said Maps’ new feature is “cute” but doesn’t offer much benefit to most users.
“It’s just a gimmick,” Kerravala said. “They’re only going back six years so that’s not a huge amount of time. Real estate firms, law firms, etc. may have some use, but otherwise I don’t believe it’s all that sticky of an application.”
A U.S. nonprofit firm who’s responsibilities include collecting digital royalties for music artists sued satellite radio service provider Sirius XM Radio Inc for at least $50 million for underpaying on recordings, including ones from before 1972.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by SoundExchange Inc, an entity appointed by the Copyright Royalty Board to collect and distribute performance royalties established under federal law.
The lawsuit said from 2007 through 2012, Sirius XM “systematically” underpaid SoundExchange for the statutory license that allows the service to air recordings to its millions of paying subscribers.
The lawsuit said Sirius in particular reduced by 10 percent to 15 percent the gross revenues it reports to calculate the royalties because that corresponded with performances of pre-1972 recordings.
The royalty rate that would be charged against those gross revenues ranged from 6 percent in 2007 to 8 percent in 2012, according to SoundExchange, which was established by the Recording Industry Association of America.
“We cannot sit by and watch this multi-billion dollar company reap record profits from the creative contributions of artists and labels without paying them everything they deserve,” SoundExchange Chief Executive Michael Huppe said in a statement.
Representatives for Sirius XM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But in the complaint, SoundExchange said Sirius had taken the position that the statutory license established under federal law does not cover pre-1972 recordings.
Sound recordings were not given federal copyright protection until 1972 and instead relied on state law for protection.
The lawsuit also accuses Sirius of, among other things, excluding from its revenue calculations money it earned from customers subscribing to its Sirius XM Premier package and of failing to make timely royalty payments.
The lawsuit seeks $50 million to $100 million or more, along with appropriate late fees and interest.
Pinterest should be looking over its shoulder, keeping an eye on We Heart It, an image-based social networking site that has quietly amassed a user base of 20 million.
We Heart It is a social site focused on photos, much like Pinterest. However, unlike it’s older and bigger rival, We Heart It has that marketer’s dream of a 16- to 24-year-old core base and $8 million in investor funding.
The site says it’s adding a million new users a month.
For a company that was incorporated two years ago and hired its first CEO just two months ago, We Heart It has made a lot of progress.
“We’ve been very quiet. We’ve been focused on the product and our users,” said CEO Ranah Edelin. “Facebook is great. I use it all the time. I have a lot of respect for them but this is about defining who you are and expressing who you are in a visual way. And that can make it easier to understand someone.”
We Heart It is built to enable users to collect and share images, which sounds a lot like Pinterest, a pin-board-style service that also allows users to create and share collections of images.
We Heart It’s younger users are more interested in telling the world about themselves through images of things they’re interested in, says Edelin.
“You can follow people, but it’s not about connecting with your friends,” he said. “Facebook is about connecting with the friends you know. This is more about following people you have shared interests with. If I’m interested in scuba diving or traveling, I’m going to follow people interested in the same thing.”
Brad Shimmin, an analyst at Current Analysis, said younger users especially are increasingly into sharing images, perhaps more than written posts, on social media.
We Heart It is all about what things, interests, causes or hobbies people want to be identified with. It’s kind of like a visual ID, Shimmin added.
“Here you get rid of these contractual social obligations,” said Shimmin. “This is more emotional, I think. It’s more about following images than people.”
We Heart It youthful base, and the fact it’s adding a million new users a month, gives Pinterest something to worry about, said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
Two years in the making, the DLPA will make available to the public 2.4 million records at its launch, including electronic images, video and audio from America’s libraries, archives and museums. It also makes many scientific records available.
“You will find gems that include daguerreotypes of … former [President] Abraham Lincoln, images of women marching for the vote in Kentucky, news film clips of the Freedom Riders during the Civil Rights movement, The Book of Hours, an illuminated manuscript from 1514, Notes on the State of Virginia, written by Thomas Jefferson, and paintings by Winslow Homer,” Emily Gore, DPLA Director for Content said in a statement.
The portal contains materials found in American archives, libraries, museums and cultural heritage institutions. The portal provides various ways to search and scan through its collection of distributed resources. Special features include a dynamic map, a timeline that allow users to visually browse by year or decade, and an app library that provides access to applications and tools created by external developers using DPLA’s open data.
“The wonder and joy of entering an expansive library for the first time is truly a special feeling. We are delighted to be able to share this unified, open collection with Americans and the world, and can’t wait to see what people discover, and what new applications and knowledge will be created,” Dan Cohen, executive director of the DPLA, said in a statement.
The effort to build the digital library was led by the Library of Congress, the Hathi Trust Digital Library and the The Internet Archive, which provided books, images, historic records, and audiovisual materials.
While many universities, public libraries, and other public and private organizations have digitized materials, they are often digital collections that exist in silos.
In December 2010, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, along with the the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, hosted a conference of leading experts in libraries, technology, law and education to begin work on the digital library project.
In October 2011, the Berkman Center hosted hundreds of public and research librarians, technical innovators, digital humanists, and other volunteers who formed six work teams to map out the scope, design, and construct the DPLA.
The DPLA portal is powered by a rich repository of information, known as the DPLA platform, and uses an open API that can be used by software developers, researchers and others to create novel environments for learning, tools for discovery and engaging apps.
Twitter signed an agreement in April 2010 to provide the library with an archive of every public tweet since the company went live in 2006, and the Library recently provided an update on its progress. The initial stage of the project, which includes a complete copy of all tweets covering that four-year span, will be finished by the end of the month.
The project is now shifting its focus to making the collection accessible to lawmakers and researchers. The library has permission from Twitter to share the tweets with vetted researchers at least six months after they were published, provided they are not used for profit or redistributed.
“It is clear that technology to allow for scholarship access to large data sets is lagging behind technology for creating and distributing such data,” the library noted in a public document about its progress.
The library said the initial four-year archive contained about 21 billion tweets that take up 20 terabytes when uncompressed, including data fields. It continues to receive and process messages from Twitter, which are now organized into files representing hour-long segments by Gnip, a service provider with which Twitter also partnered in 2010 to provide commercial access to the full range of tweets.
The full archive now requires 133.2 terabytes for two compressed copies, which are stored on tape in separate locations for safe keeping.
In addition to music, the device may also stream other media, the Journal reported on Thursday, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the company’s plans.
The Google home entertainment system, which could make its debut later this year, would let users download digital content and stream it to other home devices like speakers also made by Google or by other vendors. The product is the brainchild of Google’s Android team, the Journal reported.
Google has a cloud-based online music service called Google Music, which includes song and album sales and is integrated with the company’s Google+ social network. Google Music also lets users store and play back music.
Google Music’s collection of songs and albums is available in the Android Market, which is accessible via Android devices and Web browsers. Google Music is compatible with Android and Apple iOS devices, and can also be accessed from PC browsers.
Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from IDG News Service. The company declined to comment when reached by the Journal.
Several analysts, however, were skeptical that the rumored device would mark a serious foray by Google into the hardware business. They suggested it is more likely that Google is planning a device to prime the market for other products to support enhanced multimedia offerings.