“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]
“It isn’t just the crazy cat ladies, although they’re there in droves. It’s the six year-olds chanting the name of their favourite cats. It’s the hipsters there smoking cigarettes, hip-hop dudes, country dudes… It is the kind of thing where you have to learn to make everybody happy,”
Meet the people who hold the master keys to the internet. Hear all about their quirky sci-fi get together.
A Defense of Internet Linguistics --because "sometimes “AODEHwhddhwdwebw” is far more eloquent than saying “I’m so overtaken with emotion, I can barely type so I smashed the keyboard with my forehead.” [more inside]
On Valentine's Day, Netflix released the second season of House of Cards. 16 percent of Netflix users on one particular Internet service watched at least one episode of the show over the weekend, and shares of Netflix hit an all-time high of $439.49 on Thursday. But when, exactly, Does Watching a Lot of Netflix Become a 'Binge'?
The Day We Fight Back is a protest against mass surveillance. "The SOPA and PIPA protests were successful because we all took part, as a community. As Aaron Swartz put it, everybody "made themselves the hero of their own story." We can set a date, but we need all of you, the users of the Internet, to make it a movement. [more inside]
Visiting the Big Apple? "Don't ask a pedestrian where a certain street is. He is usually too busy to stop, and if polite enough to stop, won't know. No New Yorker knows anything about New York." And another kind reminder: "Don't gape at women smoking cigarettes in restaurants. They are harmless and respectable, notwithstanding and nevertheless. They are also smart." Advice from Valentine’s City of New York: A Guide Book, published in 1920. [more inside]
Keith Hampton, an associate professor in Rutgers' School of Communication and Information, filmed people in Bryant Park (among other locations) in an ongoing effort to recreate and update sociologist William H. Whyte's Street Life Project. [more inside]
Rodrigo Davis of the MIT Center for Civic Media is currently researching crowdfunding for civic and community purposes. Some of the issues he covers includes the ethics of crowdfunding (including Kickstarter's seduction guide debacle and Gawker's attempt to crowdfund a video showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack), a case study of Kansas City's crowdfunding campaign for their bikeshare program, a timeline of online crowdfunding since 2000, and how the Statue of Liberty was made possible via crowdfunding.
In 1994, Douglas Davis [personal blog] created The World's First Collaborative Sentence. Last summer, The Whitney Museum faced a new challenge: what happens to digital art when the technology becomes obsolete? [more inside]
Model View Culture is a new online publication that concerns itself with technology, culture and diversity. [more inside]
"It’s 1999. Popular search engines include Yahoo! Lycos, and AOL. Cable and DSL are peeking their heads out into a world of dial-up. Netscape Navigator is on the decline, and Internet Explorer 5 is the new hotness. People are using terms like “World Wide Web” and “Information Superhighway.” And meanwhile, in the background, Swatch is undergoing a wildly hubristic attempt to reinvent the very nature of time..." [more inside]
The Columbia Journalism Review interviews Evgeny Morozov: Evgeny vs. the internet
The entire Morozov aesthetic is in this sentence: the venom, the derision, the reverse jujitsu of his opponents’ sanctimony, the bald accusation that all the talk about a new age of human flourishing is nothing but an attempt to vamp the speaker’s consulting business. Tech enthusiasts channel hope. Tech skeptics channel worry. Morozov channels anger, and this can be a very satisfying emotion to anyone unconvinced that everything is getting better. Leon Wieseltier, who has published some of Morozov’s most acid criticism at The New Republic, compares him to the ferocious jazz musician Charles Mingus, who once responded to an interviewer who accused him of “hollerin’ ” by saying, “I feel like hollerin’.” I asked Morozov if he considers his Twitter feed, which spews a constant stream of invective and absurdist satire, to be performative. This was a bit like asking Mingus if he considers jazz performative. “Absolutely,” he said. “I consider it art.”[more inside]
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