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Showing posts from May, 2010

Thoughts on "Making Sense of Privacy and Publicity"

This year's SXSW keynote by danah boyd is probably one of the most insightful contributions to the debate on privacy and social networking. For those who have not yet seen it, the rough transcript can be found here . It puts a finger on so many important points, that it should be required reading for anybody who wants to work on consumer web services. To summarize a key point: in real life things are usually not as simple as they seem. And that's bad news for the technocrats who typically build and run the virtual environments where social interactions are taking place online. Engineers and scientists like to simplify and standardize problems, apply Occam's razor, optimize systems along the dimensions of an assumed known quantitative model etc. The operators of today's large web properties study and analyze their users behavior and think to understand them better than the users understand themselves, but behind the user behavior observable from web logs are layers of s

From UGC to UCC

I have noticed, that a good part of the articles I read online have been suggested by members of my various social networks. Maybe it is a part of the true utility of social networks to be a platform for "User Curated Content". While the web in its first phase tried to mirror the offline world, by moving every brick and mortar institution and service online, the so called web 2.0 promised a new world of participatory media, where everybody can create content. While digital media have drastically lowered the production costs, the web has driven distribution costs to near zero. Looking around on blogging sites, flickr, YouTube or other cornerstones of the "User Generated Content" revolution there are some seriously talented people out there! Some people have managed to make a mark, some even managed to make a living or become minor Internet celebrities in some field. Some other stuff is whimsical, funny or personal. There are unexpected viral hits or observers who ha

A day in the life of the Internet

Todays top suggestions on search for "How do I" are: how do i delete my facebook account how do i find my ip address how do i get a passport how do i know if im pregnant how do i love thee how do i look Out of which only #5 has a relatively straightforward answer: ... Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of Being and ideal Grace. I love thee to the level of everyday's Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for Right; I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise. I love thee with a passion put to use In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. Sonnet 43, Elisabeth Barret Browning

IT != IT - the Case for a Differentiated Immigration Policy

The Swiss government recently reduced the quota for work-permits for applicants from so called 3rd-states - which typically means countries outside the EU and not covered by the free-trade treaties between the EU and Switzerland. After a highly publicized protest led by high-tech companies like Google, Microsoft and IBM, the Swiss government has rather quickly reverted its decision. In the midst of a recession with higher than usual unemployment and increased levels of immigration from the EU following the free-trade agreements, the general mood in the population is not very supportive of any increase in immigration quotas. This is seen as yet another attempt by greedy corporation to undercut the Swiss standard of living by importing cheap labor from overseas - typically from south-east Asia in what is generally by called the IT or information technology sector. How can there be a shortage of IT labor, if almost everybody knows someone who is unemployed and supposedly somehow "in

A Game Changer for Public Transportation Users

My favorite and most used app on Android isn't even an app, but rather a service. It is the Google Transit public transportation directions feature in Google maps, which can also be accessed more easily through the Maps application on Android - or on any other mobile platform which supports Google Maps for mobile . In combination with the extremely dense and frequent network of public transportation in Switzerland, the transit directions on the phone offer a level of spontaneous mobility, which is generally associated with driving. When it came to using public transportation networks, people tended to know the routes by heart which they frequently travel (e.g. daily commute), while anything else required thorough planing by poring over books of printed time-table - an activity enjoyed only by the most hard-core train buffs. The Swiss public transportation systems has always been particularly well integrated, across all providers and including everything from urban transit, buses,