Marc Maron scored a real coup for his show WTF, with the President of the United States sitting down with him in his garage in Pasadena to have a very human and personal conversation with him. It’s an excellent listen.
Yesterday was the day that John Gruber, one of my favorite tech writers, calls “Internet Jackass Day”. But among all the stupidity and annoyance are some gems. My favorite? This one, by the scientists at CERN:
You really have to read it. Love the coffee photo!
I’ve been on the internet more than half my life. I consider myself a digital native.
Today many people are protesting the SOPA and Protect IP Act legislation that threatens the internet. This threat is real, as this legislation breaks some fundamental things about how the internet works. If you are interested in the technical details and arguments against this legislation, many have written about them. Here’s an interview with my friend Elliot Noss on CBC Radio talking about why his business has “gone dark” today.
This is a big issue, so I’m going to share some of my thoughts on why the internet is so important.
The Internet Is Made of People
From my early days on “Usenet”, what drew me was real people and their ideas. Usenet was a big distributed forum for people to talk about subjects ranging from computers (comp.sys.sgi) to rock climbing (rec.climbing) the game of go (rec.games.go). People on computers all over the world, connected on the internet and with dial-up UUCP connections, would talk about these topics, and it fascinated me. There were THOUSANDS of people out there!
Fast-forward to the early-90’s and this new thing called “The World-Wide Web” came along. I was at SGI when I first saw it, on an Irix machine running a browser built by some guys at a university. The Web quickly grew so big that whole businesses were created just to index it all.
The internet grew all sorts of businesses, many of them crazy. But for me, it was still about people. When I came to Silicon Valley many years ago, I knew I was going to be surrounded by brilliant people. Now, with the internet I can find them wherever they are… no matter where I am — The people AND their ideas.
The Internet is Made of Ideas
My internet wanderings have always followed my interests. I found people out there talking about topics that interested me. It was wonderful! But no group of people ever stays “on topic”, so over time you get to know people and understand their ideas about the world. Exposure to new and different ideas makes your world bigger and richer.
My wife an I are aficionados of “Podcasts”. They are really just radio or TV shows, but packaged for the internet. But you don’t just watch what’s on, like we did back when there were just three channels on the TV. You get to pick! We love to listen to smart people talk about interesting ideas, so we listen to TEDTalks. I like computers and tech, so I listen to shows from the TWiT network and 5by5, and we both love good story telling, so we listen to The Moth and This American Life.
All over the world there are people with something to say. More than any other invention, the internet allows people with ideas to be heard; to spread their ideas. I believe this will make the world a better place.
The Internet is What We Make it
What we do, say, and look at on the internet makes it become what it will be.
Let’s use Google Search as an example. Google’s original search algorithms considered page linking structure as an indicator of value and intent. It was a way of measuring what people thought and what they valued. Google’s PageRank algorithm also considered that a link from a page with a high PageRank conveyed more PageRank forward to the linked page.
a page can have a high PageRank if there are many pages that point to it, or if there are some pages that point to it and have a high PageRank
http://infolab.stanford.edu/~backrub/google.html – Brin & Page,
In the intervening years, the Google algorithms have been improved and changed. Many of the changes are intended to reduce the influence of certain cynical forms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that seek to raise search listings artificially. Notably, the Google Panda update use machine learning algorithms to detect non-useful sites and reduce their search ranking.
At its best, SEO is about optimizing websites so that they are easy for search engines like Google to catalog and rank, and so that they earn the strong ranking and visibility they deserve. But there is a lot of SEO that is really just tricks to try to get attention. When the search engines fight back, the internet gets better. They all try. And when people choose quality content over link farms, they can succeed.
The Internet is Important, But…
What is really important is US. You and Me. The ideas we share, the things that make us laugh, cry, and think. For this, the internet is just a medium. But it’s a medium that connects us throughout the world in a new way, spreading ideas and culture and making the world a better place. (Yes, that’s a long video, but Joi’s talk is worth every minute.)
The internet is under attack by corporations that are trying to protect their failing business models. They want you to believe that the internet is a problem to be fixed. Don’t believe them.
The internet is for making people heard, for allowing us to connect to one another. Don’t let the non-people take that away from us.
My computers are all set up with Adobe Flash installed. I also run a Flash Blocker on every browser. Since first installing a Flash blocker, my computer is more reliable and websites load faster. Adobe’s CTO is happy to blame Apple, of course:
“That’s what upsets me the most,” he says. “That people put energy into making this stuff, and now some percentage of viewers can’t see it anymore because one company chooses so. That’s just totally counter to our values.”
Apple’s fight with Adobe over Flash is a symptom of a problem. It’s not the problem. I don’t see any Flash ads. Ever. The only time I click to box to allow Flash is when it is actually delivering the user experience I want. I think that’s going to be less and less.
Another Must-read from Om Malik:
For the media industry (which is video, music and print), there has been one more, and perhaps the farthest-reaching, failure: the inability of the folks to grok that today’s audience is not tomorrow’s audience. It goes without saying there’s a whole generation of folk that has either grown up, or are growing up, on the Internet. Their consumption and online behavior is going to be predicated on a distribution medium whose basic premise is abundance. They will find, curate and consume on their own terms, on their own choice of screens and on their own time.
Generation D, where D is for disruption, is adapted to route around the old models: old models controlled by old men. My friend Pip Coburn believes that “routing around these old models” offers new opportunities. There’s a reason why IAC is, and will always remain, a reflection in a dirty pond –- a collection of properties that is unable to understand the new Internet people. If they don’t, someone else will, and they will become the next Ev Williams or Mark Zuckerberg.
We can think of this as “skate to where the audience will be.”
- @bigs – I can see you just fine… 😉 (darius from across the room at #IIW in the Computer History Museum) in reply to bigs #
- Joe Andrieu is leading a great discussion of Facebook and Personal Data Stores at #IIW #
- @danmartell The best companies would be playing Go. 😉 in reply to danmartell #
- @frandallfarmer I've got it working… don't see you yet… Got Doc's flickr account, though… 😉 in reply to frandallfarmer #
- @frandallfarmer Probably only watches browser traffic… in reply to frandallfarmer #
- @PullNews Hey there – That was me… sitting right next to Doc at #IIW playing with Firesheep and talking about security and privacy. in reply to PullNews #
- And now @dariusdunlap has been #firesheeped #iiw #
- Ha! That's funny! I've been hit by #firesheep at #IIW too. Apropos to our Identity, privacy and security discussions here. #
- @IDcoach dunno if Joe's session notes are up yet. #IIW is going through session summaries now. in reply to IDcoach #
- @bigs Seesmic Desktop 2 is working for me… dunno if that helps you. 😉 #iiw #Twitter #
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CBS News commissioned the same group to analyze the crowd size at the Stewart-Colbert rally it used to estimate the crowd at Glenn Beck’s August rally.
The CBS numbers: Beck drew 87,000 people to his rally, Stewart and Colbert drew 215,000.
Excerpt from: Just How Big Was The Stewart-Colbert Rally? | TPMDC
Plus the signs were better. 😉