Right. So I was wrong about that one. Totally pie-in-face, arse-backwards wrong.
Kindof. The thing that I thought Wave was going to do is now being done by disQus and the echo-comment lot… although the echo thing is a paid service, so like… whatever. It’s good though – it allows you to comment from any system and have your comment appear on any system – disqus do the same, but (I don’t think) cover as many bases.
Still, the major promise that Wave had was that it’s a distributed system – ie: if one server goes down (or is closed down by the evil-empire), you don’t lose the whole thing. That’s the promise of Diaspora – the ability to get rid of centralised control. Single points of failure.
Basically deep down inside, I’m only interested in things I can eat, fight or shag – so although I am actually a programmer myself (and spend most of my time sitting in the corner, praying no one will try to talk to me), the Software-Issue won’t be this massive saga that these things usually are.
Still – a whole bunch of stuff has happened that is worthy of comment.
A decentralised BitTorrent client from Holland by the looks. I think this is interesting because:
a) It comes from Holland.
b) It has been “awarded millions of euros in funding from the European Union”. Really? Cool… but I didn’t think creating MAFIAA proof file-sharing systems was what the EU was about really.
c) File-Sharing systems always seem to have that rabbit movie as a demo
Even though we all know that the killer-app of these systems is bypassing the hopelessly in need of reform copyright laws. The only people who come close to detailing how these laws need to be reformed is (need we say it) The Pirate Party.
We will give the public the following new rights:
The right to share files provided no money changes hands.
The right to format shift and time shift data.
The right of access to government funded data.
The right to compensation for government data loss.
The right to safely encrypt private data.
The right to apply to a court for compensation where data protection laws have been broken.
The right for constituents to force a by-election.
The right to pay only for the fraction of the claimed broadband speed that an ISP actually delivers.
The right to be a whistleblower.
The right for photographers and filmmakers to go about their business without persecution under anti-terror laws.
The right for disabled people to demand an unrestricted version of DRM protected content where that is necessary to allow them to access it.
We will reform outdated laws:
We will abolish drug patents, replacing them with subsidies.
We will reduce the length of copyright to 10 years.
We will provide exemptions to patent law for non-commercial use, personal study and academic research.
We will introduce system of compulsory patent licensing
We will reform libel law.
We will prohibit the abuse of RIPA powers.
We will remove loopholes in copyright and patent law.
We will protect the public from abuses of new technology:
We will forbid third parties from intercepting or monitoring communication traffic
We will introduce a mandatory warning label on products that include DRM.
We will introduce laws on the acceptable use of CCTV and DNA samples.
We will legislate in favour of net neutrality.
We will introduce stronger data protection laws
We will not allow government censorship of the internet
We will put into action the government’s Open Source Action Plan.
We will require the BBC to release all their content under a Creative Commons licence.
We will prevent the BBC from using DRM technology.
We will ensure better computing education in schools.
These I think provide a bench-mark for what is acceptable in terms of digital rights.
Back to Tribler – this is a step towards the holy grail of completely decentralised, encrypted file-sharing. These things also (alas) require critical-mass… so they only really become useful if a lot of people are using them.
The legal process is still appears to be rumbling on – the operators of The Pirate Bay having been found guilty… but the site is still operating, and (probably as a result of the publicity, and sympathy for the pirate-bay guys generally), the number of users has gone from 1 million to 5 million.
The technology has now moved on, so they no longer need to operate as a tracker, and is instead using different protocols. There is also a project called iPredator which offers an encrypted internet service for a monthly fee – I’m not sure how popular monthly fees will be – but I’d almost be inclined to adopt it just to tell the Evil Empire to fuck off and die.
Anyway – the rapidly changing nature of the web in the face of the hopelessly slow and unfit for purpose law-making process is why that cunt Peter Mandelson attempted (and succeeded?) in granting himself the power to make up laws on the fly. Please, someone rid me of this turbulent priest.
So many people have commented on the humourless, anally retentive and ultimately futile attempt by the “owners” of that Hitler movie to censor youtube parodies of it, that people are so sick of it, they never want to hear about it ever again.
Pretty much the only reason most people had heard of (and subsequently seen) this movie was because of these parodies, and the director himself said he found them funny and that they were a fitting extension to the films purpose… which was a type of dethroning.
Needless to say, a parody about this censorship was instantly uploaded and various sites offered instructions on how to get around the censorship.
Still – there you go. Try to censor the internet and it bites back.
Clay Shirky said that Facebook is attempting to eat the entire internet
Umair Haque said that it’s not trying to be Pagerank, it’s trying to be Digg.
The upshot appears to be a further erosion of Facebook’s already egregious regard for privacy – allowing developers to pull facebook data into their own apps, if they get users to login in using Facebook/Oauth. Facebook has 400,000,000 users. It will be hard to resist.
Still, in previous posts (2 of them) I went on about a “holy crap moment, courtesy of Google”… one was about Wave, the other… can’t remember – but they didn’t amount to much, and everybody thought they’d change the world…
… and facebook is the AOL of social apps… it is (at its core) evil. So who knows.
It’s also fundamentally dangerous and unstable having that amount of “information” going through a single company – it’s funny… the web who’s strength is (by design) based on decentralised configurations, has led to some of the biggest examples of centralisation in human history.
5) erm… that’s it. There was another thing, but danged if I can remember it now.
Still, never mind. Here’s a delta robot picking-and-placing things onto a randomly moving target
I really think that this is the future of reprappery – rather than cartesian table-based things.
You could so make a gazillion dollars out of this by selling it to would-be amateur pornographers… not that I’ve tried it myself mind because their site is down, and anyway, I’m more interested in the theory of how to do something than actually doing it. I don’t really have time for reality any more.
My reptile brain holds the following pieces of information about google
Good search innit? You can find anything
Didn’t they buy a wifi station or something?
Their server farms use 5% of the earth’s electricity
I know they’re useful, big… and over there somewhere —->
Actually they’re everywhere. They’re the face of the internet . That old maxim “anything too big to fail is too big to exist” certainly holds true with Google. This is what the end of the world looks like:
Google have integrated themselves far more tightly with the fabric/structure of the internet than Microsoft have done with desktop PCs – it’s become a part of our brain-architecture. The same way that cellphones mean we don’t need to remember phone numbers any more, we’ve gotten kindof used to the idea that we can find a pretty good shot at the answer to any question, pretty much all the time.
But anyway, the reptile part of my brain still thinks of Google as a text box in the middle of a page… so every once in a while I come across something that makes me go “Holy crap, they can do that?” – and there have been a couple recently
Can this do facial recognition (which has serious social/privacy ramifications)? Maybe not, but it’s step on the way. Maybe. I’m not sure how they’re doing this… it isn’t purely image-similarity… if you look at rep-rap similar images you tend to get a lot of pictures of Charles Darwin (the name of the orginal Reprap being Darwin) so there’s something other than pattern recognition going on there. Still… it’s fairly impressive
I mean this one isn’t just returning images of Conifer Jennily – it’s getting those, but also focusing on the mood of the picture (only movies) – so there’s also Blade-Runner, Train-Spotting, Star-Wars, Phenomena (which has Jennifer Connolly, but she’s not in the photo) and Alien vs Predator (the page title being Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem: ‘Predator Arrival’)… and the first JC photo is from Reqium for a Dream (hence the Trainspotting link: Heroin)… so in addition to image-recognition smarts, there’s also word-linking smarts. And they’re smart smarts.
A 3D rendering plugin for browsers… which would be even more impressive if I could get the fucking thing to work, but my graphics card (on a 1 year old Toshiba Laptop) isn’t supported, so that’s that. What this is, is a memosphere. And Every Single Web 2.0 App That Ever Succeeded Was A Memosphere.
So anyway – looking at these caused me to look into what else google are doing in the app-space – there’s a hell of a lot… they seem to be able to do all this stuff by stealth. I mean the video above is on Youtube that they own – which in its 4 years of existence has become the second biggest search engine on the web… and I think it is (semi) single-handedly changing the way people watch television. That’s ~ 200,000,000,000 (us: pop~ 300,000,000) brain-hours a year, that’s now doing something slightly/profoundly different.
Google. Privately owned. Can you imagine it working if it was publicly owned? Nope. Can you imagine it working if it’s decisions came under the democratic control of its stake-holders? Nope. Is it a law unto itself, and can do whatever it wants without fear of some sort of embarrassing backlash? Nope. Not yet anyway.
Still, I can remember when Yahoo was “the only” search engine, and now they seem to be constantly under threat of being bought by Microsoft.
Maybe I’m feeling old… maybe I come from a Web rather than an App background – but both of these raise the bar in non-flash web-appness way beyond what the likes of us Web 1.0 / Web 2.0 code-veterans ever imagined we’d have to achieve. Simply getting the css in toolbars at the top to x-browser render would take… I don’t know? Days? Weeks? Maybe these are built up from building blocks that would make this sort of thing easier… and I guess at some point they will be. A Visual Basic for JS.
Still… the fact remains, I don’t think you can do this without a team of developers, including people doing nothing but usability/interface-design and some fairly good funding. I think the boot-strap days are long gone. They’ve been given a new lease of life with twitter and facebook apps… little stories of little fortunes made overnight, but they’re all… I don’t know, parasite apps? They exist at the indulgence of the app that creates the environment.
Recently I bailed out of another equity-only deal because, once again a well-funded competitor turned up with about 15 staff, 5 of which were paid developers working full time on what I was required to do on my own, in my spare time.
This is the 3rd time this has happened.
A while back I was working on a web-monitoring app… then www.pingdom.com turned up, funded by the guy who owned and then sold the biggest ISP in Sweden. A couple of years later this turned up, when I’d just written a little accountancy app. Xero is funded by one of the Trademe.co.nz people – which sold for $750,000,000.
There’s this talk by Steven Levitt about Why Crack Dealers Still Live At Home.
Which describes the hierarchy of crack distribution… in which the people at the top are the same people that have been there for the last couple of generations – although there’s this mythology that “Anyone Can Make It”. Actually, there’s a hell of a lot of people working for free or next to nothing in the hope of “Making It”.
This is the way that the entertainment biz has always been and it’s the way that web entrepreneurialism works as well I think – though at least you wind up with fairly bankable skills, so it isn’t exactly the same.
I think every 5 or so years, a new “Blair-Witch-Project” of software (the latest being Twitter) will turn up and keep alive the myth that anyone can bootstrap a success story (the founders will then go on the lecture circuit telling people “it could be you!”)… but these are absolutely the exception. There are simply too many well-organised, well-funded, well-connected, well-followed people with software shops already having your bright idea… and if they’re not having it, once they see you doing it, they can just step in and build a proper version.
Recently someone on the PHP-NZ mailing list came out and said “most of the people here have worked on projects they know are going to fail”, and he was roundly attacked and vilified, but I don’t think he was wrong.
I think maybe (just maybe) this might be why DIY hardware/wetware is attracting more attention. There’s more of a chance to get on (or off) at the bottom.
We saw this thing about this kid who made a nuke fusion reactor in his basement… from about a year ago etc:
And I was lapsing in and out of consciousness and so on, and apparently there’s a whole community of people making home made fusion reactors (that people with huge budgets have been trying to make for about 1/2 a century etc) and maybe the can and maybe the can’t or maybe they’re doing something else entirely… but me, having been immersed in a culture (of intense debate) entirely detached from any kind of objective reality for all these years… (you know, Free-Market Fundamentalists, Climate-Change-Deniers etc, conservatives. Always conservatives) and having had the whole golden mirage turn to free-falling-cardboard in front of our eyes… while the “debate” still rages… puppets still dancing after the music has stopped and the audience have gone…
… I just got this vision of these people talking and arguing and dreaming and reasoning… like perpetual-motion-machine makers thinking they can positive-think their way past the laws of thermodynamics. Tinkering and bickering… inspired by things that almost work and not deterred by things that don’t.
And then I got this vision of lots and lots of subcultures of gold-spinners – networks, who are never going to spin any gold, but it is nevertheless the driving force for what amounts to some sort of social cohesion.
And it just seemed… meaningful… to me.
Boo.com. Remember that? The last bubble? Solutions to problems that people don’t actually have. Enthusiasm. Possibility. Positive thinking. All you need is a good idea and a lot of energy!!!
To me it looked like it was taking the piss… like she was thinking “Oh great. A web dweeb. Can I go now?”.
But it’s not. It’s serious – it’s got talking bananas and a logo in beta and twitter mashups and TED name-dropping and an “our team” of friendly quirky people…. Choose life, choose a job, choose a career, choose a family, choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers… etc etc…
It’s a Web 2.0 site. It’s got every single thing that might be associated with web 2.0 but with substance so thin, you can almost see through it to the brick wall at the back of the theatre. Someone’s seen that irritating movie with that kid who sees ghosts and got so carried away with enthusiasm! and energy! and positive thinking! that they’ve made a whole “startup” out of it!!!
Well… ok, it’s just a game. It’s just a bit of fun. Happy Shiney People trying to change the world for the better.
I think it’s over. And you know what? I’m kindof relieved.
It’s a DIY 3D Animated movie maker… where you can choose from a smallish number of characters etc, and get them to act our your own scripts.
Only obviously because human learning is almost entirely based upon copying, and The MPAA can go fuck themselves, my first movie is in fact copied from Australian movie The Castle, which is utter genius and I know the whole thing off by heart.
The clip above is taken from here – about 5m, 32 seconds in… which you’ll need to do manually because Youtube’s hot-linking no longer works.
If the xtranormal people want to improve… xtranormal, then there needs to be some sort of control over the close-up, wide-angle shots… and there needs to be an actual controllable timer on the pause. The essence of comedy and all that.
They also phish for your google password so you can publish to youtube, which is a bit on the fucking unbelievable side if you ask me – given how much a google “identity” actually holds these days.