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3. Dezember 2016

I Want an Internet of Humans

I'm going through some difficult times right now, for various reasons I'm not going into here. It's harder than usual to hold onto my hopes and dreams and the optimism for what's to come that fuels my life and powers me with energy. Unfortunately, there's also not a lot of support for those things in the world around me right now. Be it projects that I shared a vision with being shut down, be it hateful statements coming from and being thrown at a president elect in the US, politicians in many other countries, including e.g. the presidential candidates right here in Austria, or even organizations and members of communities I'm part of. It looks like the world is going through difficult times, and having an issue with holding on to hopes, dreams, and optimism. And it feels like even those that usually are beacons of light and preach hope are falling into the trap of preaching the fear of darkness - and as soon as fear enters our minds, it's starting a vicious cycle.

Some awesome person or group of people wrote a great dialog into Star Wars Episode I, peaking in Yoda's "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." - And so true this is. Think about it.

People fear about securing their well-being, about being able to live the life they find worth living (including their jobs(, and about knowing what to expect of today and tomorrow. When this fear is nurtured, it grows, leads to anger about anything that seems to threaten it. They react hatefully to anyone just seeming to support those perceived threats. And those targeted by that hate hurt and suffer, start to fear the "haters", and go through the cycle from the other side. And and in that climate, the basic human uneasy feeling of "life for me is mostly OK, so any change and anything different is something to fear" falls onto fertile ground and grows into massive metathesiophobia (fear of change) and things like racism, homophobia, xenophobia, hate of other religions, and all kinds of other demons rise up.

Those are all deeply rooted in sincere, common human emotions (maybe even instincts) that we can live with, overcome and even turn around into e.g. embracing infinite diversity in infinite combinations like e.g. Star Trek, or we can go and shove them away into a corner of our existence, not decomposing them at their basic stage, and letting them grow until they are large enough that they drive our thinking, our personality - and make us easy to influence by people talking to them. And that works well both for the fears that e.g. some politicians spread and play with and the same for the fears of their opponents. Even the fear of hate and fear taking over is not excluded from this - on the contrary, it can fire up otherwise loving humans into going fully against what the actually want to be.

That said, when a human stands across another human and looks in his or her face, looks into their eyes, as long as we still realize there is a feeling, caring other person on the receiving end of whatever we communicate, it's often harder to start into this circle - if we are already deep into the fear and hate, and in some other circumstances this may not be always true, but in a lot of cases it is.

On the Internet, not so much. We interact with and through a machine, see an "account" on the other end, remove all the context of what was said before and after, of the tone of voice and body language, of what surroundings others are in, we reduce to a few words that are convenient to type or what the communication system limits us to - and we go for whatever gives us the most attention. Because we don't actually feel like we interact with other real humans, it's mostly about what we get out of it. A lot of likes, reshares, replies, interactions. It helps that the services we use maximize whatever their KPI are and not optimize for what people actually want - after all, they want to earn money and that means having a lot of activity, and making people happy is not an actual goal, at best a wishful side effect.

We need to change that. We need to make social media actually social again (this talk by Chris Heilmann is really worth watching). We need to spread love ("make Trek, not Wars" in a tounge-in-cheek kind of way, no meaning negativity towards any franchise, but thinking about meanings and how we can make things better for our neighbors, our community, our world), not even hate the fear or fear the hate (which leads back into the circle), but analyze it, take it seriously and break it down. If we understand it, know how to deal with it, but not let it overcome us, fear can even be healthy - as another great screenwriter put it "Fear only exists for one purpose: To be conquered". That is where we need to get ourselves, and need to help those other humans end up that spread hate and unreflected fear - or act out of that. Not by hating them back, but by trying to understand and help them.

We need to see the people, the humans, behind what we read on the Internet (I deeply recommend for you to watch this very recent talk by Erika Baker as well). I don't see it as a "Crusade against Internet hate" as mentioned in the end of that talk, but more as a "Rally for Internet love" (unfortunately, some people would ridicule that wording but I see it as the love of humanity, the love for the human being inside each and everyone of us). I'm always finding it mind-blowing that every single person I see around me, that reads this, that uses some software I helped with, and every single other person on this planet (or in its orbit, there are none out further at this time as far as I know), is a fully, thinking, feeling, caring human being. Every one of those is different, every one of those has their own thoughts and fears that need to be addressed and that we need to address. And every one of those wants to be loved. And they should be. No matter who they voted for. No matter if they are a president elect or a losing candidate. We don't need to agree with everything they are saying. But their fears should be addressed and conquered. And yes, they should be loved. Their differences should be celebrated and their commonalities embraced at the same time. Yes, that's possible, think about it. Again, see the philosophy of infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

I want an Internet that connects those humans, brings them closer together, makes them understand each other more, makes them love each other's humanity. I don't care how many "things" we connect to the Internet, I care that the needs and feelings of humans and their individual and shared lives improve. I care that their devices and gadgets are their own, help their individuality, and help them embrace other humans (not treat them as accounts and heaps to data to be analyzed and sold stuff to). I want everyone to see that everyone else is (just) human, and spread love to or at least embrace them as humans. Then the world, the humans in it, and myself, can make it out of the difficult times and live long and prosper in the future.

I want an Internet of humans.
We all, me, you can start creating that in how we interact with each other on social networks and other places on the web and even in the real world, and we can build it into whatever work we are doing.

I want an Internet of humans.
Can, will, you help?

Von KaiRo, um 04:13 | Tags: fear, hate, humanity, IDIC, Internet, love, Mozilla | 1 Kommentar | TrackBack: 0

27. April 2015

"Nothing to Hide"?

I've been bothered for quite a while with people telling me they "have nothing to hide anyhow" when the topic of Internet privacy comes up.

I guess that mostly comes from the impression that the whole story is our government watching (over) us and the worst thing that can happen is incrimination. While that might threaten some things, most people do nothing that is really interesting enough for a government to go into attack mode over it (or so they believe, and very firmly so). And I even agree that most governments (including the US and EU countries) actually actively seek out what they call "terrorist activities" (even though they often stretch that term in crazy ways) and/or child abuse and similar topics that the vast majority of citizens agree are a bad thing and are not part of - and the vast majority of politicians and government workers believe they act in the best interest of their citizens when "obviously fighting that" via their different programs of privacy-undermining surveillance. That said, most people seem to be OK with their government collecting data about them as long as it's not used to incriminate them (and when that happens, it's too late to protest the practice anyhow).

A lot has been said about that since the "Snowden leaks", but I think the more obvious short-term and direct threat is in corporate surveillance, which has been swept under the rug in most discussions recently - to the joy of Facebook, Google and other major players in that area. I have also seen that when depicting some obvious scenarios resulting of that, people start to think about it much more promptly and realize the effect on their daily lives (even if those are minor issues compared to government starting a manhunt against you with terror allegations or similar).

So what I start asking is:
  • Are you OK with banks determining your credit conditions based on all his comments on Facebook and his Google searches? ("Your friends say you owe them money, and that you live beyond your means, this is gonna be difficult...")
  • Are you OK with insurances changing your rates based on all that data? ("Oh, so you 'like' all those videos about dangerous sports and that deafening music, and you have some quite aggressive or even violent friends - so you see why we need to go a bit higher there, right?")
  • Are you OK with prices for flights or products in online stores (Amazon etc.) being different depending on what other things you have done on the web? ("So, you already planned that vacation at that location, good, so we can give you a higher air rate as you' can't back out now anyhow.")
  • And, of course, envision ads in public or half-public locations being customized for whoever is in the area. ("You recently searched for engagement rings, so we'll show ads for them wherever you go." or "Hey, this is the third time today we sat down and a screen nearby shows Viagra ads." or "My dear daughter, why do we see ads for diapers everywhere we go?")
There are probably more examples, those are the ones that came to my mind so far. Even if those are smaller things, people can relate to them as they affect things in their own life and not scenarios that feel very theoretical to them.

And, of course, they are true to a degree even now. Banks are already buying data from Facebook, probably including "private" messages, for determining credit scores, insurances base rates on anything they can find out about you, flight rates as well as prices for some Amazon and other web shop products vary based on what you searched before - and ads both on your screen and even on postal mail get tailored to a profile built on all kinds of your online behavior. My questions above just take all of those another step forward - but a pretty realistic one in my opinion.

I hope thinking about questions like that makes people realize they might actually want to evade some of that and in the end they actually have something to hide.

And then, of course, that a non-profit like Mozilla, which doesn't seek to maximize money, can believably be on their side and help them regain some privacy where they - now - want to.

Von KaiRo, um 00:38 | Tags: Internet, Mozilla, privacy | 8 Kommentare | TrackBack: 0

15. August 2010

The Cloud And The Pocket

In recent months and years, I have heard an increasing number of people putting forward opinions that "in the future, nobody will have local data, everyone will have all his/her data in the cloud".
Now, I don't think this extreme will really be reached, I'd even go as far as to believe we'll have most or all of our data and probably a good part of our computing power in our pocket instead.

Right now, the primary argument for putting things into the cloud is that people want to use their data from different desktops, maybe their smartphone, possibly some tablet, and all those have web access, so the cloud can be accessed from all those machines, and the same way. Of course, that only works really well when you're on broadband. Still, this is nice to have, and who cares about the cloud provider reading your data for better ad placements and selling data to third parties anyhow. You are on Facebook as well, right? OK, so why should you care about your data being sold or analyzed for better ads in one more place? After all, it wins you a lot of comfort, and that's what counts.

Let's assume for a moment that those problems are all moot. And the problem that there are places where your phone or tablet doesn't get any or only a bad connection, intentionally or unintentionally, be in in some deep basement bar (like the one I'm going to frequently) or far out in the US country, in deep valleys or up on mountains, where it's too expensive to put transmitting stations for phone providers because of too few people or too many reflections and too little direct reach. Let's ignore all that for the moment. Let's also ignore that your cloud provider could just go bankrupt or stop its services for other reasons.

I still think a different model of data storage will feel better for most people once all parts of the concept are there - which will not be the case in 2010, probably more in 2015 or 2020.

Imagine your smartphone, lets say some neat package similar to the current iPhone or N900, basically a small screen which not much else, possibly a mini-keyboard if you like, will have as much computing power and more storage space than a current desktop (which, given what we've seen in the last 10 years, is not unrealistic). Imagine you could have tablet-like screen rolled up in your backpack and put up to a normal tablet screen within a few seconds, and you smartphone would just connect to that and act as the processing and data unit for it. Also, imagine that instead of a desktop, you would have just a large screen on your desktop, along with whatever input devices will be your choice (currently probably keyboard and mouse for most people, but who knows what we'll have then) - and your smartphone will seamlessly connect to that and act as data unit and possibly processor, perhaps in cooperation with some stronger processor unit integrated with the big screen or some other extension device on your desk. Even more, imagine that in cafes or on airports, there will be such computing stations you can seamlessly connect your smartphone, er mobile computer, to.

Now, having your data and processing power in your pocket, using the same software across all those machines, be it an OS, web browser, web app, local app, hybrid, or whatever, why again would you want to store all your data in the cloud?

Sure, there are still reasons, like sharing with others, where the cloud can be helpful, and you sure will want your mobile data to be synchronized with those parts of cloud data. The cloud surely has its good use cases, even in that possible future, but I don't think most people will want to have all their data and their private stuff all up there, esp. when they can and will have it in their pockets and just as ubiquitous instead.

And I doubt the connection to the cloud will ever in near decades satisfy the speed we'd want to edit our videos in the quality we really want to achieve. ;-)

Still, the pocket devices I imagine and all that infrastructure around it will need some time to come into existence (nothing of that sounds really impossible even today, though), so there will be some time where the cloud can continue to shoot ahead in the uses cases of oneself having access to the data everywhere - but I'm looking forward to the pocket taking its bold steps into a quite interesting future!

Von KaiRo, um 23:26 | Tags: Cloud, future, Internet, mobile, storage | 2 Kommentare | TrackBack: 0

26. Februar 2009

Different Internet Browsers

What if finding out if the tree is green would not need you to go to a website in your conventional browser but actually have it sitting on your table, What f you'd have it around when you are not looking at your screen or a web browser? What if you could just take it with you and have it there in a meeting or a break, so you'd know that your checkin didn't break the tree or it's finally green so you can check in now?

Well, it could work, like this:

Or, actually, better like that:
;-)

David Rose gave a talk today here on Lift09 on multiple devices that represent information, e.g. from the Internet, outside the traditional computer screen, and actually in places where you might be interested in them more than when sitting at your computer.

Imagine an umbrella that starts to light up when rain is forecast so you don't forget to bring it with you when leaving the house. Or a scale sitting on your table that has its index pointed more to the left if the weather is bad for sailing and more to the right if it's good. Or a small screen on the wall that changes color from blue shades to red ones according to the temperature it's showing in large letters, and when you come nearer to it, the fonts will get smaller and show you more info, including the forecast for the next 48 hours?

Some of those things do already exist, built by Ambient Devices, some of those are more lab experiments or prototypes, but a lot of that is actually doable today, in the real world!

Watch David's talk on those (available at the lift video collection but unfortunately can't be directly linked due to being inside a Flash), it's really worth it!

Von KaiRo, um 15:50 | Tags: browser, Internet, lift09 | 2 Kommentare | TrackBack: 0

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