Here’s an idea for Google.

You want to do something interesting? Start a netlabel. Start giving away music. Let those enterprising people who will give away music for free for whatever reason do so. And be picky.

You wake up one day and realize you have a chip in your arm, a chip in your car, a chip in your wallet, and a chip in your computer, none of which is directly controlled by you, and none which you escape.

This is how the future will come to you.

Industry and the government will begin suggesting fingerprint scanners, retina scanners, RFID chips, and closed circuit cameras. After all, industry wants to know what you do with your time in order to sell you stuff, and the government wants to know what you do with your time for national security interests, or to fight crime, or for whatever reason you insert there.

Both industry and government are exercising self-preservation and self-propagation. If you are more enticed to buy because adverts are better targeted to your individual preference, industry preserves and increases itself through your dollars. If you are less inclined to speak out about the government, less inclined to think independently, and less inclined to flex your rights, governments preserves and increases itself through annexing your former freedoms.

Once you’re used to fingerprint scanners on your appliances and gadgets, retinal scanners at your bank and ATM, RFID chips in your credit card and keyfob, and closed circuit cameras in high-crime neighborhoods, you’ll see them popping up everywhere, even in places where there isn’t a clear reason for them. You will be watched constantly, though a disorganized collection of devices, few of which are connected together.

In the meantime, your computer hardware will be standardized along a set of guidelines, ostensibly to provide better security and stability. Operating systems will begin to run only on this secure hardware platform. Everything else will adapt or die. Eventually, new protocols will be adopted, so that any non-compliant device won’t connect to the network. Slowly but surely everything on the internet will gain a real, physical address. Privacy and anonymity will disappear, the chilling effects of which will ensure that free speech will also begin to disappear. This push will again come from vendors (who desire software/hardware locking), the government (who don’t like the idea of anyone being able to do anything), and parents (who want to easily be able to monitor what their children are doing without any actual effort).

One day you’ll wake up and notice that all these databases have been linked together. Suddenly, you are being watched by the industrial/governmental establishment, along with everyone else, and there is nothing you can do. Your RFID chips are being tracked, your eyes are being scanned, your fingerprints are being read, and your face is being analyzed. You wake up one day and realize you have a chip in your arm, a chip in your car, a chip in your wallet, and a chip in your computer, none of which is directly controlled by you, and all of which you cannot escape.

The scary thing is that no one person is responsible for this. You won’t see a total information agency trying to scan everyone and spy on everyone all the time. There will be all these separate data streams, and one day some legislature or agency will come along and merge them into one.

And it will all be done for your security, your safety, and your children.

Thing is, this isn’t a bad idea. Probably the last thing you thought you’d see coming from my blog, right?

If there’s no way to exempt anyone from it, if there are no powerful men that are “excused” from the program, if it’s truly universal and truly egalitarian, it could be a very good thing. It could be a combination of personal history and personal witness.

The only question is this: could any human ever design such a system?

Technology-related bullet points for a Friday morning.

For those of you disinclined to propeller hats, let your eyes glaze over and for the love of Vishnu, don’t read this post.

  • I have so much junk on this computer (at work), it’s not funny. So today before I began working, I started giving it the old clean up, deleting stuff I don’t need. And I found three screensavers, thirteen programs, five drivers, and a bunch of media I didn’t need.
  • At work, we use TrueCrypt a lot. I trust you can find the link for yourself. I love the program, actually; especially the fact that they’ve built plausible deniability right into the program in the form of encrypted-volume-within-encrypted-volume. Which is nice when we have financials we don’t want a whole lot of people to see.
  • Today I deprecated an entire filing cabinet in the face of scanners and hard drives. An entire filing cabinet! That’s good news, especially when you consider how much physical space can be saved by scanning instead of physical filing. For instance, at work when people pick up parcels, they sign a packing slip which we file in a giant chest of drawers and occasionally empty into boxes. How much easier would it be if we could just run the papers through a scanner, rename them, and be done with it? A lot easier.
  • Incredibly, my spambox in my Gmail account has run up above 1k spam now; it’s been hovering at that mark for a few days now, with the occasional dip into the 900s every day. 1k spam. Wow. For spammers interested in making Gmail’s spam filters even better, my email address is [redacted] and I check it approximately 1k times a day. Speaking of Gmail:
    1. Their spam filters have finally decided to catch the Nigerian scam mail I get; absolutely welcome turn of algorithm.
    2. If you want to reach me, email me or IM me. Don’t call me.
    3. Feature request for Gmail: since you people like search so much, at least let me search by emails with attachments. For instance, it was hard to find a JPEG I wanted the other day. This feature makes sense, because with 2GB+ disk space, you know people are going to be sending around files a lot more than they used to. (Also, yes, I know how to MacGyver this, so don’t give me a workaround.)
  • I slept for ten hours last night. I know, not a technologically-related point, but worth mentioning either.
  • Why have the innards of a computer not gotten better in the last 20 years? I mean significantly? Why doesn’t the industry form a standards body and agree to follow its recommendations? Why don’t they understand that creating competing standards is zero-sum, but creating competing products is not?
  • Internet Explorer 7 takes up too much screenspace with chrome. So does Firefox 2. But at least with FF I can get rid of what I like. Also, IE7 has switched around all the old ways of doing things for no apparent reason. Why must you do that? It was good the way it was, and I was used to it. I don’t like interface changes every few years. My car, for instance, has a steering wheel, three pedals, and a stickshift, much like cars of the 1950s. Because it works.
  • Imagine that operating systems were held to the same standards auto makers are. How would the OS arena be different?

My work is done here. Also please notice I fixed the commenting problems; if you have any more issues, do drop me an email, or IM me. Which reminds me, I need to email Vamp and see how he’s doing.

Some thoughts on Google buying YouTube.

Just a few things.

  • Google is full of very smart people. Very, very smart people. They don’t make blindingly stupid moves that anyone can poke holes in with the most rudimentary questions; if you think you’ve done that, re-examine your question.
  • Google essentially got YouTube for free in light of the fact they (internally) believe Google’s stock is overvalued. See, they traded stocks is what they did – this isn’t a cash transaction – and I’m betting a lot of people inside Google think the stock is more than 100% overvalued. 1.6b$ may sound like a lot right now, but Google itself is probably looking at the purchase in terms of percent of market cap (the purchase ringing in at a not-so-stunning 1% or so).
  • Google still has deep pockets. They could be litigated by practically everyone and still have deep pockets. But understand this: Google providing a massive new target for those litigants is not a bad thing. It’s a very, very good thing for several reasons:
    1. Google can defend itself. YouTube could not. If YouTube had been sued, it would probably have gone under. Google? Not a chance.
    2. Litigation is in a sense simply moderated debate; precident is setting the timbre of the debate, and Google has a chance to control that dialogue now. What is the future of copyright law in regards to online, user-created content? YouTube didn’t have a snowball’s chance of helping define that debate. Google does. As it has already in so many other areas.
    3. YouTube was always a question mark in my mind. It was vaguely protected by the DCMA, since the site took down offending material when it was asked. But it was a small company hosting an incredible amount of data, just waiting to be either toppled or bought out. And as I hoped, it was bought out.
  • Everyone keeps saying that there’s no “business model” for YouTube. But don’t you see? This is exactly the problem this aquisition solves. Google is an advertiser in search of places to put adverts; YouTube is a site with an incredible number of pages and users in search of a business model. This isn’t very hard to understand (Steve Balmer, I’m looking at you), and anyone who purports to be intelligent and still tried to play the “business model” card is either lying about his intelligence or being disingenuous.
  • Google already has experience in the internet video arena. They’ve got Google Video which has everything you might want from a video site except for, you know, viewers. YouTube has viewers. There is a synergy to be had here – and I don’t mean that as a buzzword – but not simply between the two video sites, but also with Google’s other offerings. Video, obvious. Search, obvious. But what about GDS? What about Calendar? What about Gmail? What about Reader? The possibilities are almost endless.
  • Google owns internet video now, do you understand that? Not only does this enhance their search engine – as they own the data, making crawling it all that easier – but Google can assure their advertising partners that when someone hits up Google Video Search they are going to the best resource on the web, bar none, a quality that ensures more pagehits, and more adclicks.

And those are just a few thoughts. I may add more.

Spam (and Gmail)

You probably won’t have noticed because you don’t read my email, but spammers have started taking shots at my contact box above. Which is just idiotic, really. I’m running a blog with Spam Karma, Akismet, a spam-blocking shoutbox, and trackback validation: you think I’m vulnerable to spam? Talk about a waste of time!

But then again, I get something like 100 spams a day in my Gmail account (after I posted it all over the web to see what would happen), so I guess my point is if they have a worldwide net of zombie boxes, they’re going to spam anything and everything in sight.

In other news, Gmail is still letting through a great deal of the Nigerian scam type emails that come my way. Seriously. I get three or four every day landing in my inbox. Gmail team: shape it up.

Gmail spam filter and Nigerian 419 emails.

This is oddest thing. Gmail has consistantly caught all spam sent to me, except spam of one type: Nigerian 419 schemes. I don’t know why, but no matter how often I report them, I still get them. It’s annoying. I’m not going to fall for a scam from PRINCESS ASETU MUSA; neither should Gmail’s spam filters, despite the TWELVE MILLION THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND US DOLLARS they speak of over and over again. Gah!

Oh my, aren’t we trendy.

Google Trends began a few weeks back, and I feel it’s time to do some analysis of my own, after it was done so well by Steve Rubel. Also, what a good-looking man. Ahem.

First off, as it turns out, my first name is beating the rest of them by quite the margin. Which makes sense, because my first name is so nice. The others, not so much.

Oh, and guess what? The Beatles are less popular than Jesus, something I’ve known for quite some time, you pretentious British posers.

Who knew that cricket and baseball would be in such a dead heat?

Anyone suprised that heresy is beating out orthodoxy? Me neither.

Apparently The dead community is after all smaller than the gay community. Wow. Way less vocal, those dead people.

One can, after all, compare apples to oranges.

And finally, one could, if one wished, compare lots of things. Not that what you compare has to actually make sense.

dan (also… feel free to post your own in the comments)