Tag - internet

SOPA & PIPA

Most who regularly visit this site know what SOPA & PIPA are. If you don’t, watch this:

It’s not just a US issue … if your blog, for instance, or mine, was accused of housing or linking to infringing content, you (or I) could lose all our US readership. Even though you may not blog, some of your favorite news sources might become suddenly unavailable, either because you can’t access them (if you’re in the US), or because without a US audience, they can’t support themselves anymore.

Uncool.

The potential for abuse is horrendous. Worse, the simple use of PIPA and SOPA as designed would be horrendous.

I don’t believe in piracy. I don’t believe in stealing. I don’t believe in taking what is not mine.

But I’m much more prepared to have a society in which a bit of that occurs, than to live in a police state. Or, since I’m a Canadian, next to a police state.

Of course, in some ways, perhaps I already do.

Cyberpunk NOW: Anonymous & the Playstation Network are showing us the future

I feel like I’m living in a William Gibson novel.

Vast global corporations with deep pockets and global digital systems attacked by amorphous self-organizing digital conglomerations. Virtual worlds virtually attacked, with real-life consequences.

I’m talking, of course, about hacker/cracker group ANONYMOUS and their maybe/maybe not their takedown of Sony’s Playstation Network.

Someone took down the service. Someone (maybe a different set of someones) stole perhaps 100 million credit cards (!!!). Possibly, the data thieves took advantage of a relatively minor distraction caused by Anonymous. Possibly, a group as porous and well, anonymous as Anonymous includes some less-than-savoury characters who use their mad skillz and sometimes doff their white hats for chapeaux noirs.

Who knows? Who can find out? Who would even tell?

We’re stuck in cyberspace – a world William Gibson invented – and it’s cloudy in here, with no chance of meatballs. Traceable footprints and fingerprints are limited and digital and deletable and spoofable in this world. Only experts can trace them, and only if they are granted access to relevant services and servers by multiple major corporations and governments, all with competing agendas. And, just like their meatspace analogues, they disappear over time.

People are employed in digital industries, making virtual goods that have actual value. We’ve known this for years. This is just a corollary … stealing insubstantial data that can be transubstantiated into very real physical and substantial wealth.

Welcome to the future. It’s like the past but different.

GeoIP lookups: starting to cross the creepy line?

GeoIP lookup is the ability to determine the physical location of an internet user from virtual clues: IP addresses, routing information, and so on. It’s great if you want to provide a more customized, localized version of your service.

Years ago, you were lucky to get the same city, or neighbouring city. In fact, if you check your location with the Geo IP Tool right now, you’re likely to see that it’s off by quite a bit. For example, it’s telling me that I’m in a city about 60 kilometres away.

However, I had a creepy experience the other day on where.com. Where.com pinpointed my location to my exact neighborhood:

In fact, the address it provides – without me giving the site ANY information, OR asking me if it could use my location – was just a few houses down the street.

This is crossing the creepy line.

Toes in the stream: dealing with information overload

Everywhere everyone complains about information overload. Forget the 1000-channel universe – we’re dealing with the million-channel universe … times 10.

There’s too much news, too many new technologies, too much information, too many tweets, too many great blog posts, too many ads, too much of everything. As we’ve been saying for years, it’s an attention economy and the scarcity is in our heads.

Here’s how I deal with information overload – mostly influenced by Dave Winer, who invented the “river of news” concept, in addition to a bunch of other interesting and ubiquitous stuff like RSS.

The stream is there. The stream is flowing. I can’t stop right river, and I can’t stop the water. Building a dam is just a temporary solution, as eventually, after backing up, the water will start flowing again, either over my dam or around it.

So …

  • when I want some news, I dip a toe in the stream
  • when I want some social (yeah, I know that is ungrammatical and sounds weird) I hit Twitter or FaceBook
  • when I want to see what people I’ve connected with are saying, I visit Google Reader
  • when I want to see what’s hot, I go to PopURLs

And when I don’t have time, I don’t. When I don’t feel like it, I don’t. When I’m too busy, I don’t. And don’t stress about it either.

There’s a simple realization inherent in this: there’s just too much to keep up. Maybe there always has been, in spite of a perception that “all the news that’s fit to print” was in the dead tree thing that appeared on your doorstep in the afternoon. So there’s no point trying. In fact, if something is important enough … it will find you.

Adopting this attitude is a wonderful stress reliever if you are the type (seemingly more common in older generations) that feels a need to keep up with everything.

It certainly has been for me.

Better than free?

Kevin Kelly, former Wired editor, is writing a book online – the Technium.

One thing he wonders about is in a world with a giant copier machine (the internet) and in which therefore everything is essentially free, how do you generate value? In a recent article, he talks about “generatives” that make something better than free:

  1. Immediacy
  2. Personalization
  3. Interpretation
  4. Authenticity
  5. Accessibility
  6. Embodiment
  7. Patronage
  8. Findability

As I commented on his blog …

Great article.

It’s very interesting to take the 8 “generatives” as a model and put existing business through it … do they fit? do they still work? is there still profit to be made?

One thing:

I think we need to differentiate between truly free and virtually free. The “copy machine” operates because people like me buy internet access, people like you buy server space, companies like NetNation, my host, buy and offer rackspace, and companies like the telcos provision and rent lines.

Incremental cost of using them is nil or almost nil, but you and I support this invisible giant copy machine in a very real way.

Seth Godin has also picked up on this meme …