The Atlantic attempts to explain how Reddit's Ask Me Anything became a "mainstream delight." [Previously]. [Even more previously]. [Even more previously than that]. [more inside]
"With a flood of dark memes and viral horror stories, the internet is mapping the contours of modern fear" - How creepypasta is reinventing folklore, via io9.
The State of the World 2014 Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky have started this year's WELL-based review.
Jesse Willms, the Dark Lord of the Internet. How one of the most notorious alleged hustlers in the history of e-commerce made a fortune on the Web.
Peter Scott (February 14, 1947 - December 30, 2013) worked in the Systems Department of the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, Canada) Libraries from 1976 to 2005. One of the early library weblog writers, Peter is most well known for HyTelnet, an interface for Telnet services he developed from 1990. In his 1991 video, Peter demonstrates a later version of HyTelnet, while an archive lists the resources available through the service. [more inside]
Ryan Mullen was on the run for over 14 years. Then, a professional skip tracer named Michelle Gomez got on the case.
There is a fundamental disconnect between large-scale, for-profit media and the crushing power of enthusiasm, which is that when they try to control it, it instantly isn't real. It's patently unreal. It's excitement given life by force, Pet Sematary-style. But when they don't control it, it isn't profitable. And that means that when they run into people excited about their stuff, they vacillate between an Ebenezerian lack of generosity and a Professor-Harold-Hillian smarm. To own enthusiasm and to exploit it are competing instincts, much as they often seem to be twins. You can, in fact, sometimes best exploit it — or only exploit it — by leaving it alone. -- In what could be considered a Metafilter Manifesto, Mefi's own Linda Holmes takes on the multivariate economics of fandom and the internet.
"After two decades online, I'm perplexed. It's not that I haven't had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I've met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth [is] no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works." A view of the Internet's future from February 26, 1995 at 7:00 PM
"(TL;DR summary: AT&T is buying entire legislatures to rewrite the laws to allow them to become a fully unregulated company with no wholesale obligations, creating a de-facto monopoly. They can (and likely will) use it to squash or hurt wireless competitors as well, as they're permitted to favor their own subsidiaries with the network built and created over a hundred plus year monopoly, and Comcast is fully on-board because they'd like to split the market created when all their competitors are dead)" Paul Timmins, the telco nerd behind TelcoData.US (Previously), expounds on how the big players in the telecom business (AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast) are ruining the future of connectivity in the US.
"Alt lit [previously] is accused of navel-gazing myopia, but technically any writing occurring outside of traditional institutions qualifies for the label. Everyone I know has written alt lit: every status update, every blog post, everything that has ever been said on Twitter. And Twitter, unbeknown to Jonathan Franzen, is especially literary...Which brings me to Heiko Julien," Author (and composer) of "I Am Ready To Die A Violent Death." [more inside]
The worst thing about cats is that you can't play with them unless you're physically present. Being elsewhere means being unable to play with a cat! It's a horrible situation, but now there's a solution. iPet Companion lets you select a shelter and control a camera and trigger toys in the selected shelter's kitty play room. If there's other people on that shelter's page, you'll have to wait your turn, but turns are two minutes long so there's rarely much of a wait.
Imgur began as a photo sharing site to be used by Redditors. It now outpaces Reddit in total traffic. What's next for the site?
Why Did 9,000 Porny Spambots Descend on This San Diego High Schooler? A voyage into the strange underworld of spambots, shady marketing, and non-human intelligence.
The Langner Group, based in Germany, has published the most detailed report yet on the Stuxnet malware that was used to sabotage Iran's uranium enrichment efforts. [more inside]
An Atlas of Cyberspaces An archive of late 90s cybergeography research: Conceptual (Neuromancer/Snow Crash/The Matrix), Geographic, ARPANET, Usenet, submarine cable systems, early African fibre optics, Cospace screenshots and a ton of 90s web visualisations. via silentservant in /r/techonolgy (reddit).
The best of Jerome Jarre, a hilarious young Frenchman who delights in singing on subways, violating personal boundaries, and grinning like a loon on Vine. Previously on MetaFilter.
What I think we forget–or worse, never even realized—is the extreme privilege often inherent in “digital literacy.” Yes, much of the Internet is free. But it takes time and energy to develop the skills and habits necessary to successfully derive value from today’s media. Knowing how to tell a troll from a serious thinker, spotting linkbait, understanding a meme, cross checking articles against each other, even posting a comment to disagree with something–these are skills. They might not feel like it, but they are. And they’re easier to acquire the higher your tax bracket. - The New Digital Divide: Privilege, Misinformation and Outright B.S. in Modern Media
"It was as if, while Mark Zuckerberg was still in high school, Bowie was bracing for the 21st Century, the demand for everyone to “share” accessible versions of themselves. The self as a business card, to be distributed to anyone who asked for it. He also saw opportunity: on 1 September 1998, he launched BowieNet." Pushing Ahead Of The Dame (previously, previously) takes a look at David Bowie's late-90s, technophile projects and the future they foreshadowed - Omikron: The Nomad Soul (& BowieBanc & BowieNet)
Rewarding friendly hackers who contribute to a more secure internet. "We've selected some of the most important software that supports the internet stack, and we want you to hack it. If the public is demonstrably safer as a result of your contribution to internet security, we'd like to be the first to recognize your work and say "thanks" by sending some cash to you or your favorite non-profit." This is a full disclosure bug bounty program, and all vulnerability reports will eventually be made public. Also featuring an Allie Brosh logo for The Internet.
An examination of how near-ubiquitous internet connectivity has reshaped our public spaces and social mores--and what to do about it: "It would be unfair to say [a person consulting her smartphone] isn’t engaged in the city; on the contrary, she may be more finely attuned to neighborhood history and happenings than her companions. But her awareness is secondhand: She misses the quirks and cues of the sidewalk ballet, fails to make eye contact, and limits her perception to a claustrophobic one-fifth of normal. Engrossed in the virtual, she really isn’t here with the rest of us."
These days, selfies are how we make ourselves real, to ourselves and to the outside world. So, it’s no wonder that some of us turn to our iPhones in these moments of loss. It’s a way of saying, “I still exist.”
The Melancholy of Subculture Society, an essay on the rise of multiple subcultures, the idea of “opting out” of the mainstream culture and the social and psychological benefits of the existence of alternative status hierarchies. [more inside]
"There are times when we should feel shame, like when we’re tempted to hunt for Communists. But nowadays one suspects that Joe McCarthy would have just accused his critics of “red-shaming.” On shaming.
The awkwardly titled  book, "FutureConsumer.com: The webolution of shopping to 2010," touches on everything from music downloads to grocery delivery, with a big emphasis on lists. And it's Feather's list for the 50 largest online retailers of 2010 which now stands as a fascinating time capsule of the first dot-com bubble. Naturally, Webvan makes the Top 5.
It's an open secret that many bands and solo artists allow fans to audio record their live performances for non-commercial trading. The Internet Archive's Live Music Section is maintained by volunteers from etree.org, and currently offers over 120,000 live performances from nearly 6000 bands, for in-browser streaming as well as download in a variety of formats. [more inside]
"Twenty years after people began using the web en masse, it’s time, Williams said, to accept that the internet isn’t a magical universe with boundless potential. It’s just another engine for improving quality of life." Twitter, Blogger and Medium founder Evan Williams on the triumphs and dangers of convenience.
How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio actually makes a case against austerity and for redistribution, but also for money printing (and, arguably, for bailouts), while stressing the need to keep making productivity-improving public and private investments. However, it could be equally entitled: How The Industrial Age Political-Economy Doesn't Work Anymore, viz. Surviving Progress (2011)... [more inside]
“It’s a lot less embarrassing,” he says. “You don’t have to put yourself out there.” And unlike panhandling in Pensacola, using an app like Bitcoin Tapper won’t put him on the wrong side of the law. This past May, Pensacola — where Angle has lived since April — passed an ordinance that bans not only panhandling but camping on city property. -- Homeless, unemployed and surviving on bitcoins (and food stamps).
Why Popular Science is shutting off comments.
A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.
"These discussions are thoughtful and measured, but the premise that frames them all is shaky; Lessig doesn't offer much proof that a Soviet-style loss of privacy and freedom is on its way. … Unlike actual law, Internet software has no capacity to punish. It doesn't affect people who aren't online (and only a tiny minority of the world population is). And if you don't like the Internet's system, you can always flip off the modem." — David Pogue is the creator of the ''Missing Manual'' series, which will include guides to Mac OS 9, Outlook Express and Windows 2000.
NSA mathematician Roger Barkan's take on NSA survellance of Americans. "As someone deep in the trenches of NSA, where I work on a daily basis with data acquired from these programs, I, too, feel compelled to raise my voice. Do I, as an American, have any concerns about whether the NSA is illegally or surreptitiously targeting or tracking the communications of other Americans? The answer is emphatically, "No."
While abridged series are nothing new – take a TV series, usually anime, and edit it down to an eighth of its length, usually with ample snark added – Team Four Star's Dragonball Z Abridged is a notably excellent one. Watch a group of idiotic superheroes combat endless waves of aliens, androids, and genocide! Season 1 started off somewhat roughly, but their Season 2 is great throughout – you probably want to start here – and Season 3 (not-completed) has been their funniest work yet. Don't worry if you've never had the stomach for DBZ—the plot is covered comprehensively enough that you can follow along as if you had watched all of the 130 episodes that DBZA currently covers! [Warning: The series' humor is off-color and far from PC.]
You've probably seen videos by Jonti Picking, AKA Weebl. He's the guy behind such Internet legends as Badger Badger Badger, Look At My Horse, Narwhals, and Kenya, and his knack for combining catchy music with absurd words and animations has resulted in an extensive library of earworm songs. There's Magical Trevor, who's shown up time and again (and again). He has songs about other animals, like crabs and giraffes and breadfish and baby baboons. (My favorite video of his is Owls by a wide margin.) He also writes about real people, like Stephen Fry and Patrick Moore!
Launching my first product :
Brand, Make, Sell Sell, Make, Brand
wwwtxt.org: "In 1995, commercialization, a swelling population, and the multimedia revolution began to shape Web 1.0 and the modern Internet. 1988–94 represent the final years of a much smaller, non-commercial, and text-dominated Internet. / The users of this era were not only programmers, physicists, and university residents—they were also tinkerers, early-adopters, whiz kids, and nerds. Their conversations and documents—valiantly preserved by digital archivists—are fractured across numerous services, increasingly offline-only, and incredibly voluminous (100GB+). / wwwtxt digs deep and resurrects the voices of these digital pioneers as unedited, compelling, and insightful 140-character excerpts." [more inside]
The Internet's Love Affair With Introverts Online might just be the introvert's natural environment, where conversations can be staged, staggered and stopped at their discretion – all from a distance. Thoughts can be edited to perfection, solitary hobbies and pursuits can be meticulously researched before being shared online, friendships maintained without the obligation to meet face-to-face … plus it's never been easier to uncover other introverts and forge friendships without the inconvenience of meeting.
Telecom Timeline downpour This video seems to have been put together by GOOD magazine who dumbly called it "the most insane polyphonic collage you will ever see" whatever that's supposed to mean. The video compiles hundreds of audio and video clips into a timeline of (long distance?) telecommunication. It's an awesome & well edited clip that brings to mind Kraftwerk and OMD's dazzle ships among other things...
Managing Editor Jimmy Soni appeared on CNN Friday to explain The Huffington Post's latest effort to fight trolls: as of next month, commenters won't be allowed to post anonymously on the site. "We're looking to promote civil discourse on our site," Soni said. "We want to do what we've always done: promote a positive, healthy community at our global news website." "We feel like it reflects the maturing internet and our maturing website," he added. Video here.
Monstergeddon is an annual, one-night tournament of monsters competing in various categories -- Best Kill, Most Unnecessary Collateral Damage, Sexiest Victim -- with the top prize being the coveted Killer Cup. The objective of the tournament is killing humans.
Build a new internet from scratch. Hyperboria is a global decentralized network running cjdns software. The goal of Hyperboria is to provide an alternative to the internet with the principles of security, scalability and decentralization at the core. Anyone can participate. Project Meshnet uses Hyperboria, here is a list of local meshnets, or start your own with a MeshBox or linux router.
"The information and technology ecosystem now represents around 10 per cent of the world's electricity generation, and it's hungry for filthy coal. In a report likely to inspire depression among environmentalists, and fluffy statements from tech companies, analyst firm Digital Power Group has synthesized numerous reports and crunched data on the real electricity consumption of our digital world." - IT now 10 percent of world's electricity consumption, report finds
ISPs often don't say why a website is blocked and court orders are rarely voluntarily published. So when sites are blocked, it's really hard to find out why. 451 Unavailable is here to help ISPs make it clear why websites are blocked and to encourage courts to publish blocking orders. [more inside]
Too much information: Our instincts for privacy evolved in tribal societies where walls didn't exist. No wonder we are hopeless oversharers. [Via]
In a crackdown that FBI claims to be about hunting down pedophiles, half of the onion sites in the TOR network has been compromised, including the e-mail counterpart of TOR deep web, TORmail. FreedomWeb, an Irish company known for providing hosting for Tor "hidden services" -- services reached over the Tor anonymized/encrypted network -- has shut down after its owner, Eric Eoin Marques, was arrested over allegations that he had facilitated the spread of child pornography. [more inside]