Silicon Valley's Contract Worker Problem Earlier this year, I hired a house cleaner. I wouldn't have done so normally, but my place was a mess, I was busy at work, and I saw an offer on Facebook that looked too good to be true — a San Francisco start-up called Homejoy was offering home cleanings in the Bay Area for $19. (Not $19 per room or $19 per hour. Just $19.) So I booked an appointment through Homejoy's website, and a day later, a young man showed up at my door. [more inside]
The Solace of Oblivion by Jeffrey Toobin [The New Yorker] "In Europe, the right to be forgotten trumps the Internet."
Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza has just been named as the voice of Grumpy Cat in the upcoming movie Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever. This is not the first time Plaza's acted in an Internet meme turned movie: she was in Safety Not Guaranteed (based on a personal ad hiring a time-travelling assistant) (prev) as well as CollegeHumour's fake Daria trailer (prev). Will it do better than The Slender Man or Snakes on a Plane?
This week, of course, provided a glorious example of how technology companies have normalized being indifferent to consent: Apple ‘gifting’ each user with a U2 album downloaded into iTunes. At least one of my friends reported that he had wireless synching of his phone disabled; Apple overrode his express preferences in order to add the album to his music collection. The expected 'surprise and delight' was really more like 'surprise and delete'. I suspect that the strong negative response (in some quarters, at least) had less to do with a dislike of U2 and everything to do with the album as a metonym for this widespread culture of nonconsensual behaviour in technology.Deb Chachra talks about the age of non-consensual technology. [more inside]
Cmd.fm is no frills, command line music streaming. For the geek music lover in all of us. [more inside]
"It irritates me because it seems such a self-conscious way to live. But, to be fair, it’s almost always completely unselfconsciously done. It’s people like me, carping at the camcordsters, who are overthinking how life should be experienced. We’re the ones who are trying to impose our opinion of how things should be enjoyed. 'Why can’t you just look at a view!?' we fume, but we never ask ourselves: 'Why can’t you just let people enjoy the view in the way they want!?' Exasperated by people staring at their phones instead of the world around them, we end up staring at people staring at their phones, miss the sunset, fireworks display or penguin feeding time, and don’t even walk away with a video to watch later." (SLGuardian)
A father finds pornographic websites in his 9-year-old son's browser history in a surprisingly charming and amusing first-person essay: “I know you were looking at porn.” A silence hung in the air between us as I tried to figure out where to go from there. He looked at me, eyebrows up and eyes wide open, on alert for whatever would come next. The past winter had torn up the road, and his still baby-fatted cheeks bounced along with the car as we headed back towards our house. The anticipation of my response was clearly getting to him. “Are you gonna say anything else?” “To be honest, I hadn’t really thought this far ahead,” I told him. “I only planned as far as this, telling you I knew.” [more inside]
A scan for systems allowing remote desktop connections without passwords performed during a Defcon talk about the Masscan tool found a wide variety of system open for anyone with knowledge of the correct IP address, such as access to a hockey rink, a manufacturing plant for a Swedish condiment, hydroelectric plants and a lot more. [more inside]
Producer Michael Shamberg Wants to 'Invent the Future' With BuzzFeed Motion Pictures - "I don't think there's ever been a Hollywood R&D model like we have here." (previously 1,2,3) [more inside]
Stephanie Woodward is a 26 year-old Floridian woman who blogs about dating. Ms Woodward is an attorney who happens to have spina bifida. [more inside]
On April 8, 2013, I received an envelope in the mail from a nonexistent return address in Toledo, Ohio. Inside was a blank thank-you note and an Ohio state driver’s license. The ID belonged to a 28-year-old man called Aaron Brown—6 feet tall and 160 pounds with a round face, scruffy brown hair, a thin beard, and green eyes. His most defining feature, however, was that he didn’t exist. I know that because I created him.
The Race Swap Experiment What happens when a black woman uses a white male avatar on Twitter? Something a lot more positive than what usually happens for her when she uses a picture of herself. [more inside]
Colin Nederkoorn used the Netflix test video to show Verizon's horrendous throttling versus running his connection through a VPN.
"Is it OK to take a selfie at Auschwitz?", asks archaeologist Paul Mullins. Selfies are people in places, not objects in spaces, says Katie Warfield.
The Republican Party began selling new web domains ending in .gop today at www.join.gop. Public interest has definitely been sparked, but perhaps not for the reasons Republicans have hoped. [more inside]
For many years Bruce Sterling has been writing about the battle for freedom on the internet, a subject he first wrote about in the highly acclaimed book The Hacker Crackdown in 1992. In this book, Sterling predicts that the term “privacy” may already be obsolete, along with those who once thrived on violating the integrity of others. Like spies, the paparazzi, rumour mongers—who actually has the most to lose in this transparent world?
The Energy Sciences Network is a private Department of Energy network operated by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, that links research institutions in the United States and the world. In 2011 researchers acheived 91+ Gbps disk-to-disk on their 100 gbps network. The Shadow Internet.
I was sitting NIFOC and TLOL when I ran across this list of Internet slang [PDF] developed for FBI agents trying to navigate Twitter's ARE. [more inside]
“But what shall we dream of when everything becomes visible?” Virilio replies: “We’ll dream of being blind."
On a bright April morning in Menlo Park, California, I became an Internet spy. This was easier than it sounds because I had a willing target. I had partnered with National Public Radio (NPR) tech correspondent Steve Henn for an experiment in Internet surveillance. For one week, while Henn researched a story, he allowed himself to be watched—acting as a stand-in, in effect, for everyone who uses Internet-connected devices. How much of our lives do we really reveal simply by going online? Ars tests Internet surveillance—by spying on an NPR reporter.
Petittube is a Youtube video aggregator that shows you videos with 50 views or less. [possibly NSFW results]
"Advertising is not well. Though companies supported by advertising still dominate the landscape and capture the popular imagination, cracks are beginning to show in the very financial foundations of the web. Despite the best efforts of an industry, advertising is becoming less and less effective online. The once reliable fuel that powered a generation of innovations on the web is slowly, but perceptibly beginning to falter. Consider the long-term trend: when the first banner advertisement emerged online in 1994, it reported a (now) staggering clickthrough rate of 78%. By 2011, the average Facebook advertisement clickthrough rate sat dramatically lower at 0.05%. Even if only a rough proxy, something underlies such a dramatic change in the ability for an advertisement to pique the interest of users online. What underlies this decline, and what does it mean for the Internet at large? This short [PDF] paper puts forth the argument for peak advertising—the argument that an overall slowing in online advertising will eventually force a significant (and potentially painful) shift in the structure of business online. Like the theory of Peak Oil that it references, the goal is not to look to the immediate upcoming quarter, but to think on the decade-long scale about the business models that sustain the Internet." [more inside]
In 2003, Andy "waxpancake" Baio created Upcoming, "a collaborative event calendar focused on interesting arts and tech events around the world, curated by its community. It surfaced weird and wonderful events that usually fell under the radar of traditional event listings from newspapers and local weeklies." In 2005, it was acquired by Yahoo!, who killed the site last April with little warning, and no way to back up events. Fortunately, the complete site was saved by the Internet Archive. But Upcoming isn't dead yet! Two months ago, Yahoo! offered to sell the domain back to Baio. And now, with a fully-funded kickstarter, he's planning on "rebuilding it for the modern era using tools and platforms that weren't available when it was first designed." Welcome to the brilliant life, stupid death, and improbable return of Upcoming.org. [more inside]
How Russia’s Troll Army Hit America. The documents show instructions provided to the commenters that detail the workload expected of them. On an average working day, the Russians are to post on news articles 50 times. Each blogger is to maintain six Facebook accounts publishing at least three posts a day and discussing the news in groups at least twice a day. By the end of the first month, they are expected to have won 500 subscribers and get at least five posts on each item a day. On Twitter, the bloggers are expected to manage 10 accounts with up to 2,000 followers and tweet 50 times a day.
"These big collections of personal data are like radioactive waste. It's easy to generate, easy to store in the short term, incredibly toxic, and almost impossible to dispose of. Just when you think you've buried it forever, it comes leaching out somewhere unexpected." A talk by Maciej Ceglowski, founder of Pinboard, about why we have Big Data and why it's frightening. [more inside]
How Naspers CEO Koos Bekker beat the New York Times at its own game by Michael Moritz [more inside]
If you remember Oolong, this is the internet test for you! [via b3ta.com] (Also, worth clicking on background!)
Obby Breeden, husband of The Devil's Panties and Geebas on Parade's Jennie Breeden, on what happens when the web advertising industry decides that an occasionally foulmouthed webcomic is equally "Adult" as a porn streaming site, as well as how to find your own site's score.
Memories of a Bette Midler Message Board Childhood: Reminiscences from the early days of talking to strangers online.
"And finally, I'm actually here today to win the 'Most Creative Use of Tor' award," she said, followed by roars of laughter in the audience. "I really couldn't have done it without Tor, because Tor was really the only way to manage totally untraceable browsing. I know it's gotten a bad reputation for Bitcoin trading and buying drugs online, but I used it for BabyCenter.com."-- How Janet Vertesi tried and hid her pregnancy from the internet and big data. (Direct link to her presentation.)
Right now someone who works for Facebook is getting tens of thousands of error messages and frantically trying to find the problem before the whole charade collapses. There's a team at a Google office that hasn't slept in three days. Somewhere there's a database programmer surrounded by empty Mountain Dew bottles whose husband thinks she's dead. And if these people stop, the world burns. Most people don't even know what sysadmins do, but trust me, if they all took a lunch break at the same time they wouldn't make it to the deli before you ran out of bullets protecting your canned goods from roving bands of mutants.
The Federal Communications Commission has announced that they would propose new rules allowing content providers to pay ISPs for priority "fast lanes," reversing their earlier position and effectively rejecting the principle of net neutrality held since the earliest days of the internet. The full set of proposed rules will be announced on May 15. [more inside]
#PostModem [SLVimeo,nsfw:nudity] is "a comedic satirical sci-fi pop-musical based on the theories of Ray Kurzweil and other futurists. It’s the story of two Miami girls and how they deal with the technological singularity, as told through as series of cinematic tweets." [more inside]
How I got here in the end. Picture this: you're a former drug dealer who has turned to hacking for a living. You're crashing in an apartment a bit older than Texas, surrounded by about seventeen computers, sleeping on a futon with a girlfriend with metre-long purple dreadlocks, and planning your defection from one net-based futuristic corporation to another over Korean take-away food. [more inside]
Jeremy Rifkin posted an article today on HuffPo titled The Internet of Things: Monopoly Capitalism vs. Collaborative Commons discussing his new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society:The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism. Wikipedia's page on IoT is here. There was some debate on a recent NPR Science Friday about whether it should be called the Internet of Bits. See also, The Zero Marginal Society website.
Back in 2011, ICANN started taking applications to expand the list of generic top level domains (GTDLs) from 22 to ... a lot more, possibly 1,400 new names. This tidal wave of new GTLDs started with شبكة (shabaka, Arabic for "web"), then expanded from there. Enter the promotions of domain names no one will remember: .guitars, .sexy, .tattoo, and more. [more inside]
Eight years after the Million Dollar Homepage (previously) sold out its pixels and funded Alex Tew's college education, 22% of the page has fallen victim to link rot. Article inspired by musings from our own Fearless Leader.
Chief Scientist Demetrios Matsakis gives us a tour of the U.S. Naval Observatory's Time Services and explains where time comes from.
Each week, the Internet Archive's tumblr account is completely transformed by a digital resident along a theme of their choosing. [more inside]