Archive for the 'Wired Magazine' Category

Net neutrality and a hint of outrage

December 10, 2007

In response to the article on “Net Neutrality” posted on Wired’s website:
In Test, Canadian ISP Splices itself into Google homepage

For those Rogers Internet Customers that happen to read this which are “Ok” with being notified that your ISP will be charging you more because you have reached your download cap, two things:

1.) God bless me if I ever have to keep track of the amount of content that is downloaded. I am cool with ‘minutes’ on my cell phone and tracking my energy consumption at home. I am sure that the day will come (read ‘Being Digital‘) when I am charged for the amount of Internet – I hope it is not in the near future, and I hope that I am really rich when it happens because I use the Internet a lot.

2.) The issue at hand here is not that the ISP is trying to contact you, it is the mechanism in which they are doing it. If we allow information from websites to be modified (for any reason) we will enter what many deem to be a slippery slope. Where does it end?

If you are all OK, with Rogers modifying the content from a web page, then you will more than likely be OK if Rogers created a nice little desktop application that you could install. The application could sit in your systray and notify you when you are getting close to your cap. Presumably this application could be built into a Toolbar option (for the more sophisticated users) similar to the new toolbars present in the Flock Web browser.

This approach achieves the same goal but in a less intrusive way.

Leaving the HTML alone is something that should be regulated and there should be stiff penalties against modifying original sources.

What about Syndication?
Now, with that said – the sticky side to Net neutrality. What about RSS and other languages used to syndicate content. What to do with these.

My view – the published web page retrieved from the registered URL should remain untouched. That is, if Google publishes content at http://www.google.com that content should be deemed “untouchable”. It, like other publicly available sources, remains part of the Google domain of ownership much like say a book.

Syndicated content should fall under this same ruling. Where it gets difficult is when you talk about aggregations. I believe users should be able to slice up content as they see fit (i.e. if a feed has 10 links I should be able to show only 5 of these, as long as I do not modify the individual content – link, title, date, description). If I want to reorder these or combine them with other links I should be able to do so.

I think complexities like this will prevent a binding Net neutrality law but we should set social guidelines and live by them even if there is no legislation.

Blogged with Flock

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This is illogical (Mr.) Spock

August 15, 2007

Spock LogoI recently had a discussion with a friend of mine about this web site called “Spock”. It is designed to provide easy searching for people. Essentially the site will query Facebook and LinkedIn and other Social Networking sites for information about a person. For instance, my page on Spock displays information from my LinkedIn site and some information from things that I have done (which they pass on to Google).

My main argument (originally) against the site this was not the information that it grabbed from my public facing profiles or information that i have written about, but rather the other tools provided by the site. If you look in the right column, you can do things like “Claim your profile”, “Upload a Picture” and “Add a Website” (among others).

This took me back to the old Yahoo days when you had to register your site for the search engine. Placing it in categories that you felt applied. Originally, you could plaster your site in many categories, eventually they only allowed you to post to a few categories at a time (catching on to the cross-posting for exposure). My feeling was that this site would not promote true organic growth. By adding to this site, the information was much like Facebook or MySpace in that “I” produced the content. Not very organic.

What would I wasn’t aware of was a little “trick” Spock played on unsuspecting Facebook people (found here):

These kids have a few things in common: They, along with 12,000 other people, recently downloaded a “Mad Libs”-like Facebook application and wrote stories about themselves and their friends, filling the blanks with scandalous terms.

But they didn’t realize the application was created by Spock, which debuted last week. And they were horrified to discover that Spock used the terms they supplied to build public profiles on them and other Facebook members. (After being contacted by Wired News, Spock erased the tags from many of these profiles, but some were still visible at press time.)

So when these people started filling out this application to be funny (and many high school kids did), the Spock website listed that information as “fact”. Very embarrassing! And not a great way to make a first impression.

I can now say that not only is this site not Organic, it is not professional. I do not see Spock catching on.

Let the “targeted advertisement” race begin

August 13, 2007

I have been anxiously awaiting this day. My Space has begun a “targeted ad” campaign which if successful, I think will revolutionize the advertising world. The benefits of targeted advertisements is simple:

Deliver more meaningful advertisements

It is a fact of life that quality content must either be paid for (Cable channels) or supplemented through advertisements (Network). We have been living with advertisements on television since it’s inception. Although TV/Cable content providers have become more intelligent about their ad placements (My wife does not understand half of the humor displayed in the advertisements during a Football game on Sunday), there was no real way to determine who was watching television.

Enter “Cookies” – no not your mom’s chocolate chip cookie. Imagine the Nielsen Ratings group – only in EVERY household. Essentially every visitor to a web site can be tracked. And with sites like Facebook and MySpace your content retrieval habits can also be tracked. Imagine watching television and getting an advertisement that said: “Goes great with the new pair of brown pants you just bought last week from the store”. Freaky yes, but I would rather have this ad then a bunch of ads completely unrelated to what I am looking for.

Targeted advertisements hold the key to increased click-through rates and even higher completion rates (someone actually purchases). I know this topic represents a mixed bag – but I think that this is the best thing to happen to the Internet. Among its benefits:

  • Potential for less advertisements – key concept here is that the websites sprinkle a ton of advertisements in hopes that one of them is clicked
  • Advertisements are more successful – no more campaigns with unknown return value
  • Freak the hell out of your Mom – ha- no seriously, though, remember the Minority Report? Imagine an ad directed towards your mom? I know mine would freak out. “How’d they know that I just remodeled my kitchen”?

There are certainly some challenges and I think that the general privacy community will certainly have problems with statements like this:

If someone’s been identified as someone who’s interested in fashion, we target ads to them that have nothing to do with fashion, and then ads that would direct them to say, the MySpace fashion channel.”

How do they determine someone is “interested in fashion”. Do they look at my MySpace messages? At my “Blog” posts? Surely someone will want a public deceleration of the data collection policies used to determine the targeted advertisements.

At any rate – we are on our way, so we shall see!

TV to the Web – Web to the TV???

June 25, 2007

When the Internet first came around TV producers were reluctant to deliver their content in the new medium. TV was TV and the Web was the Web. At first, many producers looked at the Internet as just that – a new medium for delivery. What they didn’t know was that this was not just a new medium for delivery of existing content, it was THE medium for delivery of NEW concepts.

Homestar RunnerI first heard about Homestar Runner when I started working with 2 web developers from the University of Alaska. Camie and Melanie turned me on to these guys back in 2002 when we were working on some support issues. At first I was like “Ok, these guys are weird” but after a while I started to really enjoy it. Short clips that lasted under 2 minutes were the staple. Something that the TV medium just won’t support. This was right after Atom Films and a few other early video sites started (No YouTube was _not_ the first video aggregation site).

At the time most TV cartoons were only running on TV. Even the radical Cartoon Network remained popular only from their TV audience. But then the Video revolution hit and TV producers were not scared to publish their content on the Internet. In fact, most of them jumped ship completely because the Ad revenues far exceeded that which they recieved from the Television Studios. Plus, with the popularity of the Flash player, they could push ideas out faster.

So, I naturally thought that the progression would move from the Web back to the Television. I envisioned that artists would use the Internet as a low end pilot system where they could test out their ideas. When one got popular, they would shop it around at the TV stations for that illustrious weekly spot on Cartoon Network or the like. However, it appears that it may not happen this way:

It seems like a foregone conclusion that the hit online animation Homestar Runner and his cartoon friends will end up alongside Meatwad, Space Ghost, Brock Sampson and the other pop culture icons on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim — a block of cartoons for grownups.

Unfortunately for this would-be marriage, the only people who think Homestar isn’t quite right for Adult Swim are the character’s creators, Matt and Mike Chapman.

I would now agree with Mike and Matt. Keep the show where it made it’s history, where it has it’s sharpest fans. It proves to me that maybe the Television is the 2nd medium. That the Internet will dominate and as TV advertisers flock to the Internet, you will see a ration of content larger than ever seen before.

Nice Work Guys! Long live Strong Bad.

The “new AT&T” creates new ad … that won’t close!

June 12, 2007

We all know that AT&T is working on a new marketing campaign but this is a bit ridiculous. Today on the front page of Wired Magazine, there is an AT&T ad which is missing a critical piece – the close button. Funny thing is, this only happens on Firefox. So if you really want to read the main stories today, you need to head on over to IE. Are we ever going to solve this stupid cross browser issue? How long do you think it will take for A.) Wired to realize there is a problem and B.) That the problem is in some browser detection code which is only displaying the ad on Firefox?

Awesome!

Firefox

IE 7

Wired Ad won’t close.. unless your on IE

The new world of Games

April 5, 2006

If you have any opinion (good or bad) about the role Games (specifically video games) play in today's society than you need to read the articles written in the April issue of Wired magazine. I have always been a proponent of video games. We didn't have a game console in my house until I was in high school but I had plenty of opportunity to play them at my friends house growing up. I started playing video games in the 4th and 5th grade in a computer club after school but since those were Apple IIe computers I was easily bored with the 2d green screen displays. I wasn't until my friend across the street got his NES that I really started to enjoy the challenges provided by video games.
The early games were cool and offered general pattern and skill challenges. I can remember playing hours of excitebike and moving from level to level by learning how to jump and land properly to keep speed. Games like double dribble and blades of steel offered a great opportunity to challenge the mind and coordination of an opponent other than a computer. It was fun to defeat all of my friends at every video game possible. I can remember my cousin (who is 6 years my junior) getting a Comodore 64 when he was like 8. I loved playing simple games like (the paint bucket game) and even learned how to do some basic programming. When I finally got a console for my own I spent countless hours mastering Super Marios 1 2 and 3. I was a wiz at Contra and Metroid. Then came Zelda! Oh my! At the time my best friend and I were into D and D so the complex worlds of Zelda and the "adventure style" play was incredible. I wasn't a "junky" per se I just enjoyed the mental challenges of conquering worlds and boses. The trial and error style play was intriguing because while I was not playing I could think about the problem and then when I got back to the game I was excited to try my solutions out. I think it was at this time in my life that I truly understood the meaning of insanity and that if you tried something a hundred times in a row and did it exactly the same way each time to no avail that I could truly go insane.
Up to this point in my gaming career everything was 2D. And I loved it. When I was at arcades or the bowling alley my two favorite games were R-Type and Galaga. Again 2D games. I remember the first time I saw a "3D" game – Dragon Slayer. It wasn't 3D in the sense that we know of today but it had depth. The backgrounds were not as linear but you could not move in 3 Dimensions. I actually thought it was kind of stupid (and so did many other people because the game was not at the arcade for very long). The first true 3D game that I can remember playing was "Foxfire" on the Super NES/ That game rocked! I would play that game for hours. I can not remember if I ever completed the game but I know that I got real far. Some of my favorite early 3D games were Pitfall Harry (not the original one although I found a secret place in that game where you were transported to the old game in what I remember as the first "Game in Game" experience – truly amazing experience), Super Mario Bros 4 for the Super NES ( the one were Yoshi was introduced – boy was it fun hopping around on that guy – even named a cat after him), 720 (one of the best skateboard games ever) and Skate or Die.
My gaming experience began to taper off after I started college and except for a few stints on Quake and the recent PS2 I received 2 years ago for Christmas I don't have much time for playing games. Currently I own only a handful of games – NBA 2K5, NHL 06, GTA Vice, Grand Tourismo 3 and Ghost Recon. I know that I will get back into gaming (in a big way) when my two boys get good enough but for now I play maybe once or twice a month. So why am I posting this? Well the articles have sparked some interest in a few ways. One is that they are a great set of articles on the current state of gaming, everything from the past to the future, the gamers, the game inventors, the pioneers, the social acceptability (and unacceptability). A few of my favorite articles from the Magazine were
"Dream Machines…"
I like this article because it spoke to the "society" aspect of gaming. Gaming gets such a bad press from everyone except the gamers. We only hear about the bad things that games do – the GTA style killings, the immersion into "virtual worlds" and lack of reality. We never hear about the benefits of gaming – the fact that the nature of games today provide immense improvements in childs imaginations which is probably one of the single most important parts of your ability to learn and think. I am sending this article (and a few others) over to my sister in law who has two boys who are by far the most amazing game players I have ever met. A little over a year and a half a go, I had the opportunity to watch them play a computer game centered around the movie "Toy Story". The game had like 8 levels. It started off in Andy's play room (I know the boys name because I have seen Toy Story at least 30 times). Buzz lightyear is tasked with getting around the room by jumping from one area to another. You start in the crib and have to trigger the switch on the crib which drops one side of the crib wall down which enables buzz to get out. You then needed to jump over to the dresser, and then on a few more items and on to the door where you had to open it with some crazy jump move. Seems like an easy game but one thing that made it amazing was that my nephews were 4 and 5 years old and they beat all 8 levels without any instructions or help from the parents. In addition, they played together. The game is a single person game so one of them would take the arrow keys and move Buzz and the other would take the Space and action button to make Buzz interact with the game. I know that a lot of brothers their age can play constructively together but I also know that no two people play a video game the same way. For those two to work together as well as they did was amazing. My sister and law is concerned about their game playing time so I hope that the article helps here understand that there are some benefits to the gaming industry.
"Geekonomics"
An excerpt from the article:

"To spice up life in Habitat, developers added money and pawn machines. For a while, you could buy crystal balls at one machine and sell them for nearly twice as much at another. Of course, someone coded his computer to run a character between sellers, quintupling the money supply overnight."

For real? That is awesome. I can picture the geeky guy/girl behind the keyboard coding that with a wicked huge smile on their faces. The article also talks about how Sony ordered EBay to stop auctions of Everquest currency because it was screwing the games economic system. Like any good corporate move online, it only prompted other auction sites to sell the currency for more as it now became a scarcity ("choice under scarcity")
"My Second Life as a Muckraker"
The last article that I found interesting was one on the Social Aspect of MMORPG's and how some of the cyber society rubs off on our real society. Do a google on "Linden's crackdown on Ballermomo's crew". Seems like the game creators are only happy when the game is played the way it was intended. Sounds more like 16th century religious oppression to me.
My recommendation: By the magazine it is worth the 5 bucks. As a note the above article "My Second Life…" does not appear to be online nor is the cool "pull out" in the middle of the articles which has a history of games.