A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

The Internet’s Original Sin - It’s not too late to ditch the ad-based business model and build a better web.  - Ron Carlson’s short story “What We Wanted To Do” takes the form of an apology from a villager who failed to protect his comrades from marauding Visigoths. It begins: What we wanted to do was spill boiling oil onto the heads of our enemies as they attempted to bang down the gates of our village. But as everyone now knows, we had some problems, primarily technical problems, that prevented us from doing what we wanted to do the way we had hoped to do it. What we’re asking for today is another chance. There’s little suspense in the story—the disastrous outcome is obvious from the first paragraph—but it works because of the poignancy of the apology. All of us have screwed up situations in our lives so badly that we’ve been forced to explain our actions by reminding everyone of our good intentions. It’s obvious now that what we did was a fiasco, so let me remind you that what we wanted to do was something brave and noble. The fiasco I want to talk about is the World Wide Web, specifically, the advertising-supported, “free as in beer” constellation of social networks, services, and content that represents so much of the present day web industry. I’ve been thinking of this world, one I’ve worked in for over 20 years, as a fiasco since reading a lecture by Maciej Cegłowski, delivered at the Beyond Tellerrand web design conference. Cegłowski is an important and influential programmer and an enviably talented writer. His talk is a patient explanation of how we’ve ended up with surveillance as the default, if not sole, internet business model. The talk is hilarious and insightful, and poignant precisely for the reasons Carlson’s story is. The internet spies at us at every twist and turn not because Zuckerberg, Brin, and Page are scheming, sinister masterminds, but due to good intentions gone awry. With apologies to Carlson: What we wanted to do was to build a tool that made it easy for everyone, everywhere to share knowledge, opinions, ideas and photos of cute cats. As everyone knows, we had some problems, primarily business model problems, that prevented us from doing what we wanted to do the way we hoped to do it. What we’re asking for today is a conversation about how we could do this better, since we screwed up pretty badly the first time around. (via The Internet’s Original Sin - The Atlantic)

The Internet’s Original Sin
-
It’s not too late to ditch the ad-based business model and build a better web.
-
Ron Carlson’s short story “What We Wanted To Do” takes the form of an apology from a villager who failed to protect his comrades from marauding Visigoths. It begins: What we wanted to do was spill boiling oil onto the heads of our enemies as they attempted to bang down the gates of our village. But as everyone now knows, we had some problems, primarily technical problems, that prevented us from doing what we wanted to do the way we had hoped to do it. What we’re asking for today is another chance. There’s little suspense in the story—the disastrous outcome is obvious from the first paragraph—but it works because of the poignancy of the apology. All of us have screwed up situations in our lives so badly that we’ve been forced to explain our actions by reminding everyone of our good intentions. It’s obvious now that what we did was a fiasco, so let me remind you that what we wanted to do was something brave and noble. The fiasco I want to talk about is the World Wide Web, specifically, the advertising-supported, “free as in beer” constellation of social networks, services, and content that represents so much of the present day web industry. I’ve been thinking of this world, one I’ve worked in for over 20 years, as a fiasco since reading a lecture by Maciej Cegłowski, delivered at the Beyond Tellerrand web design conference. Cegłowski is an important and influential programmer and an enviably talented writer. His talk is a patient explanation of how we’ve ended up with surveillance as the default, if not sole, internet business model. The talk is hilarious and insightful, and poignant precisely for the reasons Carlson’s story is. The internet spies at us at every twist and turn not because Zuckerberg, Brin, and Page are scheming, sinister masterminds, but due to good intentions gone awry. With apologies to Carlson: What we wanted to do was to build a tool that made it easy for everyone, everywhere to share knowledge, opinions, ideas and photos of cute cats. As everyone knows, we had some problems, primarily business model problems, that prevented us from doing what we wanted to do the way we hoped to do it. What we’re asking for today is a conversation about how we could do this better, since we screwed up pretty badly the first time around. (via The Internet’s Original Sin - The Atlantic)

How the Web Became Our ‘External Brain,’ and What It Means for Our Kids
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Recently, my two-year-old nephew Benjamin came across a copy of Vanity Fair abandoned on the floor. His eyes scanned the glossy cover, which shone less fiercely than the iPad he is used to but had a faint luster of its own. I watched his pudgy thumb and index finger pinch together and spread apart on Bradley Cooper’s smiling mug. At last, Benjamin looked over at me, flummoxed and frustrated, as though to say, “This thing’s broken.” Search YouTube for “baby” and “iPad” and you’ll find clips featuring one-year-olds attempting to manipulate magazine pages and television screens as though they were touch-sensitive displays. These children are one step away from assuming that such technology is a natural, spontaneous part of the material world. They’ll grow up thinking about the internet with the same nonchalance that I hold toward my toaster and teakettle. I can resist all I like, but for Benjamin’s generation resistance is moot. The revolution is already complete. (via How the Web Became Our ‘External Brain,’ and What It Means for Our Kids | Opinion | WIRED)

How the Web Became Our ‘External Brain,’ and What It Means for Our Kids
-
Recently, my two-year-old nephew Benjamin came across a copy of Vanity Fair abandoned on the floor. His eyes scanned the glossy cover, which shone less fiercely than the iPad he is used to but had a faint luster of its own. I watched his pudgy thumb and index finger pinch together and spread apart on Bradley Cooper’s smiling mug. At last, Benjamin looked over at me, flummoxed and frustrated, as though to say, “This thing’s broken.” Search YouTube for “baby” and “iPad” and you’ll find clips featuring one-year-olds attempting to manipulate magazine pages and television screens as though they were touch-sensitive displays. These children are one step away from assuming that such technology is a natural, spontaneous part of the material world. They’ll grow up thinking about the internet with the same nonchalance that I hold toward my toaster and teakettle. I can resist all I like, but for Benjamin’s generation resistance is moot. The revolution is already complete. (via How the Web Became Our ‘External Brain,’ and What It Means for Our Kids | Opinion | WIRED)

You’ve Been Obsessing Over Your Likes and Retweets Way Too Much - The digital age version of the proverbial tree falling in the woods question is: Does something exist if it hasn’t been liked, favorited, linked to, or re-tweeted? According to many tech critics, the tragic answer is no. Like Lady Gaga, we live for the applause. But if constantly chasing other people’s approval is a shallow way to live that leads to time and energy being wasted over pleasing others and recurring feelings of insecurity and emptiness, how can we course correct? The first step is to acknowledge a problem exists. Too many people are desperate for attention and build their self-esteem with bricks made of external recognition. Take Rameet Chawla, founder of the mobile app company Fueled. Feeling spurned by friends who didn’t appreciate that he simply was too busy to like their pics on Instagram, Chawla became desperate and resorted to a depressing measure: outsourcing faux sentiment to technology. He actually designed a program that automatically liked the photos other people posted, and then, voilà, his “popularity soared.”
 (via You’ve Been Obsessing Over Your Likes and Retweets Way Too Much | Opinion | WIRED)

You’ve Been Obsessing Over Your Likes and Retweets Way Too Much
-
The digital age version of the proverbial tree falling in the woods question is: Does something exist if it hasn’t been liked, favorited, linked to, or re-tweeted? According to many tech critics, the tragic answer is no. Like Lady Gaga, we live for the applause. But if constantly chasing other people’s approval is a shallow way to live that leads to time and energy being wasted over pleasing others and recurring feelings of insecurity and emptiness, how can we course correct? The first step is to acknowledge a problem exists. Too many people are desperate for attention and build their self-esteem with bricks made of external recognition. Take Rameet Chawla, founder of the mobile app company Fueled. Feeling spurned by friends who didn’t appreciate that he simply was too busy to like their pics on Instagram, Chawla became desperate and resorted to a depressing measure: outsourcing faux sentiment to technology. He actually designed a program that automatically liked the photos other people posted, and then, voilà, his “popularity soared.”
 (via You’ve Been Obsessing Over Your Likes and Retweets Way Too Much | Opinion | WIRED)

Developmental psychologists often talk about the importance of leaving a legacy—something tied to who we are that will outlive us. But this is usually something obvious, like having children or writing a novel. An avatar with an approximation of your voice and bone structure, who can tell your great-grandchildren how many Twitter followers you had, doesn’t feel like the same thing. And what of the period of grief in the days, weeks, and months following a friend or relative’s death? “A post-death avatar goes against all we know about bereavement,” Joan Berzoff, the director of an end-of-life certificate program at the Smith College School for Social Work, in Northampton, Massachusetts, told me. For the time being, it seems that Eterni.me’s appeal is more philosophical than practical. “A hundred years down the track you might not only be able to talk to your mom who died a year ago, but to your grandmother who died when you were sixteen, and your great-grandmother who died before you was born,” Susan Bluck, a psychology professor at the University of Florida, said. “So it means that we could, in some way, forge relations with ancestors who lived and died well before our own lifetime.”

How to Become Virtually Immortal : The New Yorker