On Seeing Honestly

But Google Glass is disruptive and antisocial.

Really? Hold on, let me take this call. OK, one second, just gotta finish sending this text. Now, what were you saying? Oh, right, it’s antisocial. These glasses disrupt the tender interpersonal dynamics we’ve built up over millennia of human cultural evolution. We are all such interested, attentive people, and Google Glass would never fit in with—and perhaps even threatens—our delicate social fabric.

OK, whatever you’ve got to tell yourself to sleep better.

Absolutely love Farhad Manjoo’s piece at Pando Daily (Don’t laugh at Google Glass: They’re Goofy, but They Will Save Us From Ourselves) on the pro-social aspects of mobile tech practices and Google Glass. Ok, maybe “pro-social” is going too far. Perhaps “less antisocial” is a better characterization of what he says. Anyway…what I appreciate is Manjoo’s honesty about how antisocial our tech habits often are. While our intentions are often good, the acts in themselves frequently impede the good that we intend or introduce bad consequences that we had not intended or even envisioned. Such honesty is rare in the tech journalism world.

I’m all for tech, but we need to be honest about what our real actions actually do rather than imagined consequences of the actions we think we are engaged in. Otherwise, we end up justifying as good those things that we simply prefer.

Next Steps In Net Neutrality

The issue of net neutrality—the idea that internet service providers should not be able to prioritize particular particular sources or types of data—has been pretty contentious for quite some time. ISPs like Verizon say it is necessary to prioritize data in order to be sure systems function properly: you don’t want streaming movies to crowd out first responder or military data. Others suggests that if allowed, companies like Comcast that both provide service and content offer faster service when using their own content, but limit bandwidth when people try to, say, stream content from other creators. The FCC put in some rules, but the telecoms sued, and they will probably be overturned.

Hillicon Valley has reported that the FCC has now created the Open Internet Advisory Committee to try to come up with some middle-ground interpretation policies for the current FCC net neutrality rules.


Park Like A Jerk?: Social Media for the Insensitive City

Ok. So the name is pretty rude. But the concept is pretty interesting.

Introducing Parking Douche, an app for the Android (GOOG) and iPhone (AAPL) which allows users to take photos of offending parkers’ license plates and detail the make and model of the vehicle. From there, the information is sent to a database where a digital mockup of the vehicle is made and featured in banner advertising on the web — but only those in the vicinity of the bad parking job will see the ad, offering a more localized attack.

There are some crazy and problematic bits to the ad model involved, and, for now, it is only available in Russia. But the idea of using the crowd to exert pressure on people to think about the effect of their actions on others is intriguing. (The article by Mike Schuster, Park Like A Jerk? This App Will Shame You Into Submission, is worth a look.)


Criminals Are Always One Step Ahead of Security: Tax-spoofing

Most thinking about security of online financial transactions focuses on security of the connection to the financial institution and the institution’s ability to police its systems from unauthorized access. But spoofing—gaining access to a site by masquerading as an authorized user—financial institutions doesn’t necessarily entail getting into your preexisting data.

Lizette Alvarez at the NYTimes had an usettiling piece this weekend (With Personal Data in Hand, Thieves File Early and Often) about a new and frighteningly creative strategy being used by identity thieves.


Automation Errors

I’m guessing that the Harvard Alumni Association assumed that its databases would never let something like this through:

Occupation: “prisoner.” Awards: “eight life sentences.” The Harvard Alumni Association was apologizing on Wednesday evening for publishing those and other details in an update from Ted Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber, in a directory for alumni attending their 50th class reunion this week.

via The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Policy Can Be Changed: PIPA and Protest

A couple of months ago, the web went dark in protest of the SOPA/PIPA legislation.  I wrote a post at the time over at CatholicMoralTheology.com blog.  In broad strokes, the legislation was aimed at trying to develop mechanisms for dealing with clear infringement of copyright that occurs online.  But in figuring out mechanisms to do so, legislators promoted policies that infringed upon legitimate use and set up pretty draconian enforcement schemes that some said would fundamentally damage the systems that the net is built on.  The RIAA and MPAA disagreed, but legislators quickly reversed course, perhaps realizing they were out of there depth.


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