Ramblings & ephemera

Kids & adults use social networking sites differently

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): For American teenagers, social network sites became a social hangout space, not unlike the malls in which I grew up or the dance halls of yesteryears. This was a place to gather […]

The importance of network effects to social software

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): Many who build technology think that a technology’s feature set is the key to its adoption and popularity. With social media, this is often not the case. There are triggers that drive […]

35% of adults have a social networking profile

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): At this stage, over 35% of American adults have a profile on a social network site.

MySpace/Facebook history & sociology

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): Facebook had launched as a Harvard-only site before expanding to other elite institutions before expanding to other 4-year-colleges before expanding to 2-year colleges. It captured the mindshare of college students everywhere. It […]

Defining social media, social software, & Web 2.0

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): Social media is the latest buzzword in a long line of buzzwords. It is often used to describe the collection of software that enables individuals and communities to gather, communicate, share, and […]

DRM fails utterly

From John Siracusa’s “The once and future e-book: on reading in the digital age” (Ars Technica: 1 February 2009): Nuances aside, the big picture remains the same: DRM for digital media distribution to consumers is a mathematically, technologically, and intellectually bankrupt exercise. It fails utterly to deliver its intended benefit: the prevention of piracy. Its […]

Why everyone wants a computer: socializing

From Paul Graham’s “Why TV Lost” (Paul Graham: March 2009): The somewhat more surprising force was one specific type of innovation: social applications. The average teenage kid has a pretty much infinite capacity for talking to their friends. But they can’t physically be with them all the time. When I was in high school the […]

The future of TV is the Internet

From Paul Graham’s “Why TV Lost” (Paul Graham: March 2009): About twenty years ago people noticed computers and TV were on a collision course and started to speculate about what they’d produce when they converged. We now know the answer: computers. It’s clear now that even by using the word “convergence” we were giving TV […]

Facebook & the Dunbar number

From The Economist‘s “Primates on Facebook” (26 February 2009): Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist who now works at Oxford University, concluded that the cognitive power of the brain limits the size of the social network that an individual of any given species can develop. Extrapolating from the brain sizes and social networks of apes, Dr Dunbar […]

New Zealand’s new copyright law

From Mark Gibbs’ “New Zealand gets insane copyright law” (Network World: 20 February 2009): A law was recently passed in New Zealand that has created what many consider to be the world’s harshest copyright enforcement law. This insanity, found in Sections 92A and C of New Zealand’s Copyright Amendment Act 2008 establishes – and I […]

Should states track cars with GPS?

From Glen Johnson’s “Massachusetts may consider a mileage charge” (AP: 17 February 2009): A tentative plan to overhaul Massachusetts’ transportation system by using GPS chips to charge motorists a quarter-cent for every mile behind the wheel has angered some drivers. … But a “Vehicle Miles Traveled” program like the one the governor may unveil this […]

Chemically remove bad memories

From Nicholas Carr’s “Remembering to forget” (Rough Type: 22 October 2008): Slowly but surely, scientists are getting closer to developing a drug that will allow people to eliminate unpleasant memories. The new issue of Neuron features a report from a group of Chinese scientists who were able to use a chemical – the protein alpha-CaM […]

Conficker creating a new gargantuan botneth

From Asavin Wattanajantra’s “Windows worm could create the ‘world’s biggest botnet’” (IT PRO: 19 January 2009): The Downadup or “Conficker” worm has increased to over nine million infections over the weekend – increasing from 2.4 million in a four-day period, according to F-Secure. … The worm has password cracking capabilities, which is often successful because […]

How easy it is to clone “unbreakable” RFID passports

From Steve Boggan’s “‘Fakeproof’ e-passport is cloned in minutes” (The Times: 6 August 2008): New microchipped passports designed to be foolproof against identity theft can be cloned and manipulated in minutes and accepted as genuine by the computer software recommended for use at international airports. Tests for The Times exposed security flaws in the microchips […]

What happens to IP when it’s easy to copy anything?

From Bruce Sterling’s “2009 Will Be a Year of Panic” (Seed: 29 January 2009): Let’s consider seven other massive reservoirs of potential popular dread. Any one of these could erupt, shattering the fragile social compact we maintain with one another in order to believe things contrary to fact. … 2. Intellectual property. More specifically, the […]

CCTV in your plane’s cabin?

From Michael Reilly’s “In-flight surveillance could foil terrorists in the sky” (New Scientist: 29 May 2008): CCTV cameras are bringing more and more public places under surveillance – and passenger aircraft could be next. A prototype European system uses multiple cameras and “Big Brother” software to try and automatically detect terrorists or other dangers caused […]

Give CLEAR your info, watch CLEAR lose your info

From “Missing SFO Laptop With Sensitive Data Found” (CBS5: 5 August 2008): The company that runs a fast-pass security prescreening program at San Francisco International Airport said Tuesday that it found a laptop containing the personal information of 33,000 people more than a week after it apparently went missing. The Transportation Security Administration announced late […]

Socioeconomic analysis of MySpace & Facebook

From danah boyd’s “Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace” (danah boyd: 24 June 2007): When MySpace launched in 2003, it was primarily used by 20/30-somethings (just like Friendster before it). The bands began populating the site by early 2004 and throughout 2004, the average age slowly declined. It wasn’t until late 2004 that […]

US government makes unsafe RFID-laden passports even less safe through business practices

From Bill Gertz’s “Outsourced passports netting govt. profits, risking national security” (The Washington Times: 26 March 2008): The United States has outsourced the manufacturing of its electronic passports to overseas companies — including one in Thailand that was victimized by Chinese espionage — raising concerns that cost savings are being put ahead of national security, […]

Wikipedia, freedom, & changes in production

From Clay Shirky’s “Old Revolutions, Good; New Revolutions, Bad” (Britannica Blog: 14 June 2007): Gorman’s theory about print – its capabilities ushered in an age very different from manuscript culture — is correct, and the same kind of shift is at work today. As with the transition from manuscripts to print, the new technologies offer […]