Dickens’s 200th birthday celebrated around the world and on the web

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

A 24-hour global “readathon”, celebrations in two British cities and a special Google Doodle were among the highlights of the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’s birth on Tuesday.

For the readathon, organised by the British Council, 24 countries hosted consecutive readings of Dickens novels. Starting in Australia with an extract from Dombey and Son, it was due to hit the UK at 9pm, where the author David Nicholls was planning to read from Great Expectations at the British Film Institute.

In Portsmouth, where Dickens was born, a day that actor Simon Callow warned would be “a dangerously moving occasion” started with the laying of a wreath outside the author’s birthplace by Ian Dickens, his great great grandson, then continued with a service at St Mary’s church which included readings by Callow and Sheila Hancock from David Copperfield and Oliver Twist.

In London, festivities began at his old house in Doughty Street, now the Dickens Museum, where Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were treated to a private reading of his work by Gillian Anderson, who played Miss Havisham in a BBC adaptation of Great Expectations.

The house, where Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby were written, recently raised eyebrows by announcing that it would close for a £3.1m refurbishment from April, despite the potential boost in visitors that Dickens’s bicentenary and the Olympics would be expected to bring. Continue Reading…

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Liking Facebook’s IPO Could Be Problematic For Retail Investors

Liking Facebook’s IPO Could Be Problematic For Retail Investors: The buzz over Facebook’s forthcoming IPO has been propelled at least in part by retail investors hoping for a piece of the social media giant’s predicted $75 billion to $100 billion valuation.

But when the company’s stock eventually hits trading floors, Facebook fans who want to get in on the company’s initial public offering are likely to feel as left out as the Winklevoss twins.

Google’s 2004 IPO was conducted via a complicated auction process intended to level the playing field between big trading firms and the little guys. Absent such an arrangement, the advantage tends to go to the players with the most trading volume and money.

By the time your average online brokerage customer can get his or her hands on a stock like Facebook, it’s probably going to already be on an upward trajectory. And those investors hoping to buy on a dip should think twice.

Last year’s spate of tech IPOs saw the stock of companies such as LinkedIn and Zynga put on an initial bounce before stabilizing. However, the hype surrounding Facebook’s IPO has been building for so long that the stock price could stay elevated for longer than other recently debuted tech stocks, analysts say. Continue Reading…

Websites Go Dark To Protest SOPA PIPA Bills

Websites Go Dark To Protest SOPA PIPA Bills: In the first strike of its kind, thousands of popular sites such as Wikipedia, Reddit and Boing Boing shut down for up to 24 hours Wednesday to protest a pair of federal antipiracy bills that they said amounted to censorship of the Internet.

The online grass-roots campaign is directed at the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, which aim to crack down on foreign websites that traffic in pirated movies, music and counterfeit goods.

To protest the bills before they go to a vote, pages on Wikipedia’s English language encyclopedia site have gone dark and now feature a short note that tells visitors to “Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge.” The note went on to say: “Right now, the U.S. Congress is considering legislation that could fatally damage the free and open Internet. For 24 hours, to raise awareness, we are blacking out Wikipedia.”

Visitors are given a link where they can learn more and then are urged to contact local legislators by plugging in a ZIP code. Continue Reading…

SOPA, PIPA What You Need To Know

SOPA, PIPA What You Need To Know: Having trouble using Wikipedia today? That’s because the popular crowd-sourced online encyclopedia is participating in an “Internet blackout” in protest of two controversial anti-piracy bills: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate companion, the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

The bills are intended to strengthen protections against copyright infringement and intellectual property theft, but Internet advocates say they would stifle expression the World Wide Web. In essence, the legislation has pitted content providers — like the music and film industries — against Silicon Valley.

“It’s not a battle of left versus right,” said progressive activist Adam Green, whose organization Progressive Change Campaign Committee on Tuesday hosted a press conference with opponents of the bills. “Frankly, it’s a battle of old versus new.”

Here’s a basic look at the actions taking place today and the legislation causing all the fuss.

What’s going on today?

The popular link-sharing site Reddit got the ball rolling for today’s 24-hour Internet blackout. In addition to Reddit and Wikipedia, other sites participating include BoingBoing, Mozilla, WordPress, TwitPic, MoveOn.org and the ICanHasCheezBurger network. Search giant Google is showing its solidarity with a protest doodle and message: “Tell Congress: Please don’t censor the web,” but the site planned no complete blackout.

Other sites — like Facebook and Twitter — oppose the legislation in question but aren’t participating in today’s blackout.

In addition to the Internet-based protests, some opponents are physically protesting on Wednesday outside of their congressional representatives’ offices. Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian said in Tuesday’s press conference it will “probably be the geekiest, most rational protest ever.” Continue Reading…

Wikipedia Blackout: Websites Wikipedia, Reddit, Others Go Dark Wednesday to Protest SOPA, PIPA

Wikipedia Blackout: Websites Wikipedia, Reddit, Others Go Dark Wednesday to Protest SOPA, PIPA: Do not try to look up “Internet Censorship” or “SOPA” or “PIPA” on Wikipedia, the giant online encyclopedia, on Wednesday.

SOPA and PIPA are two bills in Congress meant to stop the illegal copying and sharing of movies and music on the Internet, but major Internet companies say the bills would put them in the impossible position of policing the online world.

Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales, now says his site will go dark for the day on Wednesday, joining a budding movement to protest the two bills.

“This is going to be wow,” Wales said on Twitter. “I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!”

Other sites, such as Reddit and Boing Boing, have already said they would go dark on Wednesday. And some of the biggest names online, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, have vocally opposed the proposed legislation.

PIPA, the Protect IP Act in the Senate, and SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, have been presented as a way to protect movie studios, record labels and others. Supporters range from the Country Music Association to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Continue Reading…