please to be giving us your name, part 2


Griped about the above annoying pop-up screen that appeared in my pseudonymous YouTube account back in February. Tried to delete that YouTube account then, but the button wasn't letting me and I put it off.

Reading Julian Assange's blistering New York Times review [Sat, June 1] of the book The New Digital Age, co-written by Google's Eric Schmidt, motivated me to try again. This time it worked -- that account with the "hard to read" name is gone.

A couple of excerpts from the Assange's non-word-mincing review:

The authors offer an expertly banalized version of tomorrow’s world: the gadgetry of decades hence is predicted to be much like what we have right now — only cooler. “Progress” is driven by the inexorable spread of American consumer technology over the surface of the earth. Already, every day, another million or so Google-run mobile devices are activated. Google will interpose itself, and hence the United States government, between the communications of every human being not in China (naughty China). Commodities just become more marvelous; young, urban professionals sleep, work and shop with greater ease and comfort; democracy is insidiously subverted by technologies of surveillance, and control is enthusiastically rebranded as “participation”; and our present world order of systematized domination, intimidation and oppression continues, unmentioned, unafflicted or only faintly perturbed.

and (on cyberterror scare stories promoted by the defense industry and Schmidt):

I have a very different perspective. The advance of information technology epitomized by Google heralds the death of privacy for most people and shifts the world toward authoritarianism. This is the principal thesis in my book, “Cypherpunks.” But while Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Cohen tell us that the death of privacy will aid governments in “repressive autocracies” in “targeting their citizens,” they also say governments in “open” democracies will see it as “a gift” enabling them to “better respond to citizen and customer concerns.” In reality, the erosion of individual privacy in the West and the attendant centralization of power make abuses inevitable, moving the “good” societies closer to the “bad” ones.

The section on “repressive autocracies” describes, disapprovingly, various repressive surveillance measures: legislation to insert back doors into software to enable spying on citizens, monitoring of social networks and the collection of intelligence on entire populations. All of these are already in widespread use in the United States. In fact, some of those measures — like the push to require every social-network profile to be linked to a real name — were spearheaded by Google itself. [emphasis added]

hat tips mashedpo and andrej
(I suppose the reason the Times gave this space to the media's Dr. Evil is they still hate Google for wrecking their business model 10 years ago. --TM)

"Facebook is for old people" annotated

Bob Lefsetz frequently guest-posts on financial blogger Barry Ritholtz's "Big Picture" blog.
Recurring themes are: (i) an old rock-and-roller advises other old rock-and-rollers on how to promote their bands in the social media era, and (ii) the assumption that everyone is a tablet user now.
His recent post Facebook is for Old People contains many generalities about the current technological moment. The annotations below in boldface indicate agreement, disagreement, or puzzlement:

Documenting your entire life history, building a timeline, a shrine to yourself, so that the people you grew up with will be impressed? That’s for baby boomers.

What about professional or creative activities? Aren't Tumblrs used as "mini-creative life histories" by all ages?

Want to communicate with your millennial in college? Then you’d better learn how to text, the younger generation barely e-mails. Talking on the phone? Who’d want to waste so much time!

OK but many oldsters were abandoning telephone prattle about the same time. Email is a compromise, halfway between text and phone.

For all the old bloviators bemoaning the loss of privacy online, it’s the kids who got the memo, that if they post pictures of illicit activity they might not get a job in the future. Kids believe in evanescence, oldsters believe in the permanent record. Ergo, the growth of Snapchat.

Is there any truth to this? You could be leaving a permanent record without "believing in it."

[...] There seems to be this belief that there’s stasis in the digital realm. As if Microsoft still ruled and tablets were not about to eclipse desktops.

Again, you can have the stasis resulting from a million businesses not switching away from the Microsoft/networked desktop model without asserting it's because of some geriatric "belief" in stasis.

Sure, the digital highway is littered with the carcasses of failed enterprises, whether it be MySpace or, but to think that iTunes is forever is to have missed the memo. The main asset of iTunes? The credit card numbers. Other than that?

Uh, everyone is still using it?

As for Google… It’s been proven no one can eclipse the company in search, but is search, as we know it today, important tomorrow? Are we really gonna just type keywords into a blank field?

Signs point to yes.

[...] What is the new product of Facebook? Facebook didn’t come up with Tumblr or Pinterest, and certainly missed out on Twitter.


And isn’t it fascinating that the young ‘uns were the last to come to Twitter. The old techies and early adopters were there first.

That would be me - March '08.

But their parents still don’t understand the need for Twitter, never mind how to use it.

Not sure if I'll ever use it for lunch-planning or as a newsreader. The noise to signal ratio of everyone's timelines is pretty high and the filtering capabilities blow. It's fine for goofy creative interaction. See also

We live in a fluid society. If your result comes up on the second page of Google, it might as well not exist…hell, if it’s not one of the first two or three hits, if not the very first. Bury that information on Facebook, soon no one will see it. But those who care are exchanging real time info constantly in the new world. That’s where it’s at. And searching for profits, locked into an old paradigm, establishing contact between the distant, the lost, Facebook is missing the future. Look at it this way… Kids already knew their friends, were already in constant contact with them. It’s baby boomers who needed to catch up on the lost souls. I’m not saying Facebook is toast. I’m not saying no oldsters use Twitter.

This is an argument for valuing recency over long-tail content. Google's algorithms have been changed in the last few years to reflect this bias. There are reasons you might want a record -- there are also reasons you might want real time chat. The assumption of the above is that they need to be in the same product.

...if you want to know what a kid’s up to, going to their Facebook page will tell you very little. Hell, they’re leaving few digital crumbs for their parents… They’re devouring the cookies and leaving no trace!

Except for that job or job-hopeful resume and all those webcam photos.