24 Jun

FBI and Universities

Ok so I don’t have much to add this other than stupid government. Basically the FBI has decided that to “fight terrorism and student extremists” they are promoting a set of guidlines(PDF) to pinpoint potential foreign spies or terrorists. Not a bad idea, however bad plan, because they basically say that students can be interested in anything but their own work, can’t travel overseas, can’t work late hours, maintain contacts with foreign nationals, and more. The problem with these guidelines is that every student breaks them, number one, also, when has information ever been contained to just the group of researchers? Research and information is like that it won’t stop simply because someone wishes it to, scientific journals, research papers, internet chat rooms, and more all provide avenues that researchers publish their information to. The information is published so the researchers can gain funding for more projects, if their projects are kept locked down they will not recieve funding to either contuine their current project or fund new projects.

Also how many students are honestly so wrapped up in their own work that when a friend comes and talks about a cool new idea, they will blow them off and say that it is outside their “job description” to discuss this? Personally I am interested in a range of subjects and follow the information in these subjects closely, from physics, chemistry, biology, computers (my actual field), history, mathematics, and many more. Simply being a well rounded person mean that I am spy or that I actually enjoy learning and educating myself? The remainder of these guidelines are equally vague and meaningless in a university and the academic world. Researchers will contact those that have the latest information whether they live in China, the U.K., Germany, South Africa, or Montana. The late hours is crazy, has anybody ever seen someone who wasn’t enthusiastic about their work not work late and odd hours?

This is a bad idea, the potential here for trying to have people untrained in security and intelligence field out spies will only cause problems and false alarms, especially with the ridiculous guidelines provided.


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23 Jun

Advertising and the Blogosphere

TechMeme and the rest of the blogosphere is going crazy over the recent disclosure of an advertising campaign through Federated Media and Microsoft. Personally I couldn’t care, advertising is just that advertising, a way to pay the bills for these blogs. As long as people disclouse the difference between ads and their acutal content there isn’t a problem from my point of view. There is that one fishing device that a fisherman sponors, somehow I doubt that means that he acutally uses that device. It’s an ad, the same as Michael Jordan promoting Hane’s, being in an ad doesn’t mean that you think the product is the greatest thing to hit the market. What the people actually even said about the products isn’t even promoting the product – Microsoft’s slogan “People Ready”. Instead those involved with the adversting campaign were asked the the question “When did you know your business was people ready?”. Those involved with the campaign made a short statement answering the question a couple of sentaces for most, not an endorsment for Microsoft. The statements were then turned into an ad that ran on Federated Media associated sites and the people were then paid on the basis of CPM.

There isn’t anything controversial about this other than Valleywag seeing again how much trouble it can cause in the blogosphere.

Listing of all the people involved in this and associated articles (and there are many more):

http://www.crunchnotes.com/?p=409 – Mike Arrington
http://gigaom.com/2007/06/22/on-the-microsoft-ad-campaign/ – Om Malik
http://www.federatedmedia.net/blog/archives/2007/06/conversational_1.php – Federated Media
http://flickr.com/photos/scriptingnews/593801597/ – The actual campaign ads
http://valleywag.com/tech/federated-media/microsoft-pays-star-writers-to-recite-slogan-271485.php – Valleywag’s intro article (started this whole mess)
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/people_ready.php – Richard MacManus
http://www.wordyard.com/2007/06/23/federated-advertorial/ – Scott Rosenberg
http://www.scripting.com/stories/2007/06/22/didMicrosoftPayStarWriters.html – Dave Winer
http://avc.blogs.com/a_vc/2007/06/why-is-nick-den.html – Fred Wilson
http://www.buzzmachine.com/2007/06/23/buying-their-voices/ – Jeff Jarvis
http://scobleizer.com/2007/06/23/if-you-are-going-to-sell-your-soul/ – Robert Scoble


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20 Jun

MySpace vs. Facebook

Duncan Riley at TechCrunch wrote an interesting article about MySpace and Facebook. I have to frankly agree with him, even though I despise MySpace for a great many reasons, the numbers tell a different story users are still being attracted to MySpace. However the people that I have seen being attracted to MySpace still tends to be those in their teens, as this group moves to college and now high school age, they switch to Facebook. Perhaps the biggest shift in Facebook is coming from those older than 40.

This presents Faceboook with several challenges that they must address for Facebook to stay successful, the first is presenting a friend as only a few limited options. This has caused a ruckus in the blogosphere over the past week or so. People have friends from all walks of like and those from other than places besides randomly, work, school, and social events. You meet people online never actually talking to them in person, but you want them to be a part of your life on these social sites – where is the online friend an option? This is just one example of the friend problem.

The second biggest issue that Facebook is going to run into, is as the service gains more and more users and everybody starts adding more and more information and expand the sphere of people who they include in their friend’s list. How will certain people be able to view only certain parts of your profile, for instance if I added my boss, I don’t want my boss to see what my political views are, yet there they are for all to see. Same thing with my current relationship status, even weather I am heterosexual or homosexual. Yet has anybody ever used the limited profile tool, I have and it is a pain to get it configured right so it works.

Another thing is where is the list for all the different gender descriptions there are in today’s modern world? Granted Facebook desires to just have one thing so when they are listing information it is “she” or “he” preformed foo and bar action. But the applications that are now built on top of Facebook, don’t have this problem they instead use “they” preformed foo and bar action. This is a much better choice both not having to worry what gender someone is and allows for people to input their gender as basically anything and Facebook shrugs and nods and goes about it’s life. The platform should not care what information I add about myself, it should just connect me with people who are my friends close or distant.

I hate MySpace, but I still have one for some reason, I only hold onto it because there are a few friends who really use MySpace and what me to have the page still up, but every time I log in I come so close to just deleting the account. All that aside Facebook still needs work if it wishes to retain users and add users from all age groups not just those in high school, college and just out of college.


P.S. Facebook also needs to work on their privacy settings for when you block a user, there are still ways around it.

P.P.S. I also use LinkedIn for my professional page, it is the best for a social platform for only business related people who aren’t friends or for listing your qualifications for a job rather than your favorite music.

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17 Jun

What Is Meant by Being Too Old?

So everyone on Techmeme is talking about The Age Question, the idea that someone who is over 25 or so is no longer able to come up with a new idea for the internet. Frankly this is a stupid argument, Venture Capitalists by the very idea of what they do shouldn’t care about someone’s age. Now granted of course they will look at someone with less experience running a company as a riskier investment, however this is one of the reasons that VC’s can help the company with finding suitable management. Also look at the dotcom bust, many of those companies were run by smart educated people with MBA’s, did that make their companies somehow a safer investment? I think not.

Age does matter, but not as much as I feel the blogosphere is making it out to be. If a smart young person came to me a great idea that I thought had a chance to succeed and I could and was willing to risk the money would I, yes. Now, if that same person was older than 30 or so, would I feel safer? Not really, the risk is essentially the same. The product isn’t judged on the management or the creator, but rather on the product, especially when it comes to Web 2.0 offerings.

Saying that just because someone is older than 25 they no longer have any new ideas to add to the Internet negates a whole group of people who look at things in a different manner than those under 25. And looking a the same thing in a different way is where invention is most likely to occur.

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