Let’s start with Facebook’s Surveillance Machine, by Zeynep Tufekci in last Monday’s New York Times. Among other things (all correct), Zeynep explains that “Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.”
Giant Irony Alert: the same is true for the Times, along with every other publication that lives off adtech: surveillance-based advertising. These pubs don’t just open the kimonos of their readers. They treat them as naked beings whose necks are bared to vampires ravenous for the blood of personal data, all ostensibly so those persons can be served with “interest-based” advertising.
With no control by readers (beyond tracking protection which relatively few know how to use), and damn little care or control by the publishers who bare those readers’ necks to the vampires,
Continue reading "Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing"
I just unsubscribed from Quora notifications.
- With my new full-time gig as editor-in-chief of Linux Journal, I have close to no time for anything else, even though many other obligations do take time. Some of those also pay, and so require that I cut out as many distractions as I can.
- The filter bubble thing works a bit too well. Two topics I’ve answered a lot—about IQ and radio—seem to bring an avalanche of others that beg to be answered, which I do too quickly, again and again. As a result I’ve said the same damn thing, or the same kinds of damn things, too many times.
- I’m not sure writing there does much good. But then, the world is now so thick with “content” that I’m not sure writing anywhere does as much good as it used to.
- It’s time now to look for effects. Except Continue reading "Enough Alreadies"
This post continues the inquiry I started with Making sense of what happened to Montecito. That post got a record number of reads for this blog, and 57 comments as well.
I expect to learn more at the community meeting this evening with UCSB geologist Ed Keller in the Faulkner Room in the main library in Santa Barbara. Here’s the Library schedule. Note that the meeting will be streamed live on Facebook.
Meanwhile, to help us focus on the geology questions, here is the final post-mudslide damage inspection map of Montecito:
I left out Carpinteria, because of the four structures flagged there, three were blue (affected) and one was yellow (minor), and none were orange (major) or red (destroyed). I’m also guessing they were damaged by flooding rather than debris flow. I also want to make the map as legible as possible, so we can focus on where the debris Continue reading "Geology questions for Montecito and Santa Barbara"
Note the date on this map:
That was more than a month before huge rains revised to red the colors in the mountains above Montecito. The LA Times also ran a story a week before last, warning about debris flows, which are like mud slides, but with lots of rocks.
When rains locals called “biblical” hit in the darkest hours last Tuesday morning, debris flows gooped down the mountainside canyons that feed creeks that weave downhill across Montecito, depositing lots of geology on top of what was already there. At last count twenty people were dead and another three missing.
Our home, one zip code west of Montecito, was fine. But we can’t count how many people we know who are affected directly. Some victims were friends of friends. It’s pretty damn awful.
We all process tragedies like this in the ways we know best, and mine is
Continue reading "Making sense of what happened to Montecito"
Here’s what I wrote about pirate radio in New York, back in 2013 . I hoped to bait major media attention with that. Got zip.
Then I wrote this in 2015 (when I also took the screen shot, above, of a local pirate’s ID on my kitchen radio). I got a couple people interested, including one college student, but we couldn’t coordinate our schedules and the moments were lost.
Now comes news of pirate radio crackdowns by the FCC*, yet little of that news concerns the demand these stations supply. The default story is about FCC vs. Pirates, not how pirates address the inadequacies of FCC-licensed broadcast radio. (One good exception: this story in the Miami Herald about an FCC-fined pirate that programs for a population licensed radio doesn’t serve.)
To sample the situation, drive your car up Broadway north of 181st Street in Manhattan (above which Continue reading "Still no serious coverage of pirate radio"
Nothing challenges our understanding of infrastructure better than a crisis, and we have a big one now in Houston. We do with every giant storm, of course. New York is still recovering from Sandy and New Orleans from Katrina. Reforms and adaptations always follow, as civilization learns from experience.
Look at aviation, for example. Houston is the 4th largest city in the U.S. and George Bush International Airport (aka IAH) is a major hub for United Airlines. For the last few days traffic there has been sphinctered down to emergency flights alone. You can see how this looks on FlightAware’s Miserymap:
Go there and click on the blue play button to see how flight cancellations have played over time, and how the flood in Houston has affected Dallas as well. Click on the airport’s donut to see what routes are most affected. Frequent fliers like myself rely on tools like this
Continue reading "Some new ways to look at infrastructure"
Who Owns the Internet? — What Big Tech’s Monopoly Powers Mean for our Culture is Elizabeth Kolbert‘s review in The New Yorker of several books, one of which I’ve read: Jonathan Taplin’s Move Fast and Break Things—How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy.
The main takeaway for me, to both Elizabeth’s piece and Jon’s book, is making clear that Google and Facebook are at the heart of today’s personal data extraction industry, and that this industry defines (as well as supports) much of our lives online.
Our data, and data about us, is the crude that Facebook and Google extract, refine and sell to advertisers. This by itself would not be a Bad Thing if it were done with our clearly expressed (rather than merely implied) permission, and if we had our own valves to control personal data flows with scale across all the companies we deal with, rather Continue reading "How the personal data extraction industry ends"
In The Adpocalypse: What it Means, the great Vlogbrother Hank Green issues a humorous lament on the impending demise of online advertising. So invest the next 3:54 of your life in watching that video, so you catch all his points and I don’t need to repeat them here.
Got them? Good.
Every one of Hank’s points are well-argued and make complete sense. They are also valid mostly inside the bowels of the Google beast where his video work has thrived for the duration, as well as inside the broadcast model that Google sort-of emulates. (That’s the one where “content creators” and “brands” live in some kind of partly-real and partly-imagined symbiosis.)
While I like and respect what the brothers are trying to do commercially inside the belly of the Google Beast; but I also expect them, and countless other “content creators” to get expelled after Google finishes digesting that market, and Continue reading "Google enters its chrysalis"
I’ve decided I need to keep a public list on stuff that interests me, and to do it in a way that’s good to read now and easy to find later. The headline above is my first whack at a title.
Required viewing::: A Good American
. It’s a documentary
on Bill Binney
and the NSA by @FriedrichMoser
. IMHO, this is the real Snowden movie. And I say that with full respect for Snowden. Please watch it. (Disclosure: I have spent quality time with both Bill and Fritz, and believe them both.) Bonus dude: @KirkWiebe
, also ex-NSA and a colleague of Bill’s. (In case you think this is all lefty propaganda, read Kirk’s tweets.)
Ice agents are out of control. And they are only getting worse
in The Guardian
is brilliant. Check out its suggested jobs for titles it has no stats for.
Yo to WaPo
and the Continue reading "The Daily Tab for 2017_06_06"
in The Guardian
: Forget far-right populism – crypto-anarchists are the new masters
. Well, yes, no and maybe. Hard to tell. At least it’s a good look around many curves.
Says here Robert E. Lee was a bad guy
. Specifically, a white supremacist and slave abuser.
You’re hundreds (or thousands) of miles but only one click away from The Wall Drug Store
. Bonus link
. Both courtesy of Country Living
, which is new to me. As a magazine, that is.
Everybody, it seems, (or, well, 93% of them
) likes the new Wonder Woman movie
. Not Jill Lepore
South China Morning Post
: The rise of the QR code and how it has forever changed China’s social habits
. The subhead explains,
“It’s being used to encourage tipping at restaurants, receive cash gifts at weddings…even beggars are using it to collect handouts. The little barcode is driving China’s rapid Continue reading "Loose Links"
Two days ago, the New York Times said the U.S. that AT&T and Johnson & Johnson are pulling their ads from YouTube. They’re concerned that “Google is not doing enough to prevent brands from appearing next to offensive material, like hate speech.” Yesterday, Business Insider said “more than 250” advertisers were bailing as well. These came after one Guardian report said Audi, HSBC, Lloyds, McDonald’s, L’Oréal, Sainsbury’s, Argos, the BBC and Sky were doing the same in the U.K., and another Guardian report said O2, Royal Mail and Vodaphone were also joining the boycott.
Agencies placing those ads on YouTube are shocked, shocked! that ads for these fine brands are showing up next to “extremist material,” and therefore sponsoring it. They blame Google, and so does most of the coverage as well.
Here’s what almost nobody reporting on this debacle is saying: Brands think they’re placing ads in Continue reading "Brands need to fire adtech"
I’ve long thought that the most consequential thing I’ve ever done was write a newspaper editorial that helped stop development atop the highest wooded hilltop overlooking the New York metro. The hill is called High Mountain, and it is now home to the High Mountain Park Preserve
in Wayne, New Jersey. That’s it above, highlighted by a rectangle on a shot I took from a passenger plane on approach to LaGuardia in 2008.
The year was 1970, and I was a 23-year-old reporter for a suburban daily called Wayne Today
(which may still exist
). One day, while at the police station picking up copies of the previous day’s reports, I found a detailed plan to develop the top of High Mountain, and decided to pay the place a visit. So I took a fun hike through thick woods and a din of screaming cicadas (Brood X
Continue reading "Saving High Mountain"
Imagine you’re on a busy city street where everybody who disagrees with you disappears.
We have that city now. It’s called media—especially the social kind.
You can see how this works on Wall Street Journal
‘s Blue Feed, Red Feed
page. Here’s a screen shot of the feed for “Hillary Clinton”
(one among eight polarized topics):
Both invisible to the other.
We didn’t have that in the old print and broadcast worlds, and still don’t, where they persist. (For example, on news stands, or when you hit SCAN on a car radio.)
But we have it in digital media.
Here’s another difference: a lot of the stuff that gets shared is outright fake. There’s a lot of concern
about that right now:
Why? Well, there’s a business in it. More eyeballs, more advertising, more money, for more eyeballs for more advertising. And so on.
Those ads are aimed
Continue reading "Exploring the business behind digital media’s invisibility cloaks"
Who Owns the Mobile Experience?
is a report by Unlockd
on mobile advertising in the U.K. To clarify the way toward an answer, the report adds, “mobile operators or advertisers?”
The correct answer is neither. Nobody’s experience is “owned” by another party.
True, another party may cause
a person’s experience to happen. But that doesn’t mean that party owns
that personal experience.
We own our selves. That includes our experiences.
This is an essential distinction. For lack of it, both mobile operators and advertisers are delusional about their customers and consumers. (That’s an other important distinction. Operators have customers. Advertisers have consumers. Customers pay, consumers may or may not. That the former also qualifies as the latter does not mean the distinction should not be made. Sellers are far more accountable to customers than advertisers are to consumers.)
It’s interesting that Unlockd’s survey shows almost identically high Continue reading "Nobody else owns our experiences"
That headline just came to me and I don’t want to lose it. So I’ll post it now and fill in the large blank below later.
I’ll be on a webinar this morning talking with folks about The Intention Economy and the Rise in Customer Power
. That link goes to my recent post about it on the blog of Modria
, the VRM
company hosting the event.
It’s at 9:30am Pacific time. Read more about it and register to attend here
. There it also says “As a bonus, all registered attendees will receive a free copy of Doc’s latest book, The Intention Economy: How Customers Are Taking Charge
in either printed or Kindle format.”
See/hear you there/then.
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.
— Mahatma Gandhi
I’m not sure if Gandhi actually said that. Somebody did. My best human chance of finding who said it — or at least of gaining a learned enlargement on the lesson — would have been David Sallis. “Big Davy” didn’t know everything, but he came closer than anybody else I know, and he was a living exemplar of Gandhi’s advice.
Davy’s answer would have been knowing, clever and enlarged by a joke, a wild story or both. Alas, I can’t ask him, because he died last Friday of a stroke he suffered a few days earlier. He was just 56, and is survived by his wife Margaret and daughter Rosie —
— both of whom he adored absolutely — and by countless friends and colleagues who remain shocked and saddened by
Continue reading "Remembering Big Davy"
Let’s reset our thinking to what a user’s expectations are, when operating a browser and interacting with pages and sites.
In my browser, when I visit a page, I am requesting that page. I am not requesting stuff other than that page itself. This was, and remains, what the hypertext protocol
(http) provides. (Protocols are ritualized manners, like handshakes, bows and smiles. They also scaffold the social contract.)
Likewise, when I visit a site (same thing, but with purposes inclusive of publishing a document), I am not requesting stuff other than what that site presents to me.
So, for example, when I go to blogname.example.com
, I expect the browser to display that page and its links, and nothing more. And when I go to seller.com
, I expect the browser to display the index page of the site — and, if I have some kind Continue reading "How adtech, not ad blocking, breaks the social contract"
Here is the current perimeter of the Valley Fire
, according to the USGS’ GEOMAC viewer
As you see, no places are identified there. One in particular, however, is of extremely special interest to me: Harbin Hot Springs. It is where I met my wife and more friends than I can count. It is also one of the most lovely places on Earth, inhabited and lovingly maintained by wonderful people.
I just matched up a section of the map above with Google Maps’ Earth view, and see that Harbin and its neighborhood are in the perimeter:
Still we’re talking about a perimeter here. Not everything within one burns. Harbin is mostly in a valley. Could be the fire jumped from ridge to ridge and missed it. But I suspect that instead we are looking at very sad news here, especially after seeing this picture here
, which looks northwest
Continue reading "Valley Fire losses"
What I’ve always loved most about the Web† is how it allows each of us to publish on our own, as individuals, for the whole world. I started doing that as soon as I could get a dial-up account with a nearby ISP (the late Batnet
of Palo Alto).
Here is one of my first pieces, which I published in December 1995 at my self-hosted publication, Reality 2.0
. I’m running it here because it does a good job of explaining how easy it is to automate journalism by framing a story in terms of war or sports. (It also tees up my next post.) So here ya go, copied from HTML 1 and morphed on pasting by WordPress into HTML 4:
MICROSOFT + NETSCAPE
WHY THE PRESS NEEDS TO SNAP OUT OF ITS WAR-COVERAGE TRANCE
By Doc Searls
December 11, 1995
- Web Wars?
- What are
Continue reading "An old lesson in how to automate journalism with war and sports metaphors"