20 May

links for 2008-05-20

19 May

links for 2008-05-19

18 May

Living and Creating Online: Part 2

Part 1: I talked about just how much of my life is now online, searchable and archived, along with some of the basic reasons as to why I do this. I know want to make people feel better and let them know what I don’t post online.

I never post anything about someone else unless I either sanitize it or have recieved explicit permission. For example at most when I talk about someone online I never use anything more than first names and even then is only in rare cases. More often than not it is merely, “a friend” and that is it.

I never reveal anything online that I would be uncomfortable having exposed publicly at work. Some people also use the rule of not talking about anything they wouldn’t mind their mother or grandmother seeing, that is a little bit of strech for myself, but I see the logic.

Financial data, I will never hand over control of my entire finances to one company. For instance using an online Quicken replecament such as Mint. That just scares me too much.

Those three simple rules pretty much rule my online life. Everything else who cares, in 15 or so years having what information I do expose online will be normal. The convience factor to me is just too high.

The ability to go online and gain acess to all of my information from anywhere at any time, that would normally be locked up either on paper and pen or on my computer’s hard drive beats for me any concerns I had over privacy. That and the more data I have up in the cloud, the less that it matters if my computer were to die today or tomorrow. Everything important is already available to me the minute I get a new computer and have Firefox running. It’s almost interesting to me to watch as the number of software programs I had installed peaked in 2003/2004 and since then has steadily dropped, till I now have around 25 programs installed on my computer and I could probably get rid of more without ever missing them.

18 May

Living and Creating Online: Part 1

An interesting phenomenon has been happening with my life recently. I’m moving a ridiculous amount of data online. Just look at the sidebar of this blog to see all the data I have online that is publicly available to anyone. You have what products I am interested in buying, what I am reading online, photos I’m taking, when I’m busy and not busy and even what I am doing right now at this very instance.

It’s insane to me for several reasons.

  1. I have exposed certainly enough for someone to figure out a great deal about myself without ever meeting me.
  2. I let the world know where I am or what I am working on pretty close to 24/7, good thing I don’t have any stalkers they wouldn’t have to work at stalking me.
  3. I still consider myself an extremely private person.

That last one especially puzzled me until a few weeks or so ago. It’s all a matter of convenience and a recognition that information is never going to get harder to find out only easier.

Slashdot today posted an article about shopping centers in UK that are tracking cell phones to see what stores are most frequently visited and in what order. This sort of capability has been available for a long period of time and I literally have my cell phone with me all the time. There is another website, UK only, where you can type in a cell phone number and see where the phone is. Of course the first time you do so the service sends a text message to allow the site to display your location, but after that no warning. So gain control of my phone for about 30 seconds, confirm and delete the text message and you can track me to your heart’s content.

Unfortunately as Bruce Schneier is fond of saying “bits are never going to get harder to copy, only easier.” In the same sense information about me is never going to get harder to find, only easier. Granted I am speeding up that process with my prolific usage of the above mentioned web sites. However better for me to have control of the data and information, than for it to be collected without my knowledge and what data I do volunteer is more likely to pop up first in a search about me.

The other part of this is the convenience of having the information online. I literally need to sign onto a couple of websites and I have access to just about anything I could ever need. As of right now those sites are Google and Remember The Milk, though all that Google needs to do is create a good to-do list and I will have just about all my data on Google’s servers. E-mail and contacts (Gmail), calendar (Google Calendar), random documents (Google Docs) including shopping lists, gift ideas for friends, school work, some random stuff for work, my budget. I joke with some of my friends that Google is my god, in a lot of ways Google may not be my god, but they know almost as much as a god could about me. I’m waiting for Google to know what I want to search for before I do so.

Part 2: I will talk about what are some of the limits that I do place with what I expose online.

18 May

The Chasm Will Never Be Crossed

A recent blog post on technology adoption made it’s way to me. The premise of the post is the idea that technology is starting to become so ubiquitous that youth are accepting technology without any hesitation or any great caution.

Ummm, no. This is the same sort of theory that has been passed around from generation to generation. Post the sexual revolution in the United States, it was thought that youth would all of sudden have sex like crazed animals without any thought to the consequences of their action or what it would mean to them and their partners. Didn’t happen, still doesn’t happen. Youth are just as skeptical of new technology as anyone else. While they do definitely more easily see benefits in using and embracing technology they also have a clearer outlook on the negative side of technology. Both with regards to privacy, efficiency, or just any other consequences you can think of.

I know very few youth who are extremely accepting of technology on any level. When the technology becomes ubiquitous such as cell phones or the internet is one thing, they accept it because they accepted it a long time ago. However something new they are just as skeptical as anyone else. The even more amazing thing is that I am seeing people who are starting to rethink their use of even accepted technologies such as the internet as their primary form of communication. I know a girl who just penned a brief note on this very matter yesterday night, wondering about the fact that she no longer communicates with very many people outside of the internet where we lose so many of those ticks, facial expressions and vocalics  that make each of us unique.

Youth will accept technology easier than previous generations, but that doesn’t mean that they will accept it without any sort of anyalsis of what the technology offers in both benefits and consequences.

18 May

links for 2008-05-18

17 May

links for 2008-05-17

15 May

links for 2008-05-15

14 May

links for 2008-05-14

13 May

The Rise of the Generalist

Recently Steve Rubel posted about What’s the Future Like for a “Renaissance Man” in a Connected World?. In this post he discuses how even though we would think that with the internet an individual could have broad knowledge about the world, instead people specialize in their particular area of expertise. He then says that he himself has instead shifted to being specialist rather than a broad spectrum of knowledge.

I find this puzzling, for several reasons. First off I have seen the internet both increase my knowledge in specific areas that I deeply value as well as increase my knowledge in areas that I may not be overly interested in. The internet brings to me a great variety of information that is mine to read and analyze and digest. Of course it probably helps that with the exception of few subjects (sports and farming) I am genuinely interested in just about everything. From all areas of scientific research, computing and technology of course, psychology, social sciences, medicine, politics, you name I have on some level a genuine interest in it.

I think one can genuinely specialize in a particular field, in my case programming with regards to Java, PHP and AJAX. But at the same time I can and do read up on a variety of information on a host of other fields and subject areas. Part of the reason I write this blog is to educate myself on a variety of subjects. Granted a lot of posts center around technology as to be excepted, yet I hope to talk about other things. Or take a look at the different links that I read around the web with my daily links posts. I’m reading from 200+ RSS feeds, with anywhere from 500 – 1,000 articles a day being read. You know what else, I love it. I love educating myself on something new, I love the idea that I can talk on a decently high enough level on just about any subject. True I may not be able to preform a DNA replication, but I know how it works and why it is important.

Specialization is not a bad thing, but what happens when all we have are specialist. Will people be able to be independent thinkers or hiring a specialist to do their thinking for them? What about managers as well, a boss has to be a generalist. A boss has to at least have some knowledge of everything that his/her employees do even if they don’t specialize in it to be able to make a decent decision.

The idea that people will always defer to the expert in a field is ridiculous, humans aren’t that intelligent and we have too much ego in ourselves. Far too many people do think that they now better than experts right now, look at Hillary Clinton, a very intelligent by all respects woman, who thinks economists shouldn’t tell her that suspending the 18 cent federal gas tax will do nothing to help the average consumer.

We need to be generalists to make decisions, specialization is good, but going too far is just as bad as knowing nothing.

Update: I forgot about Seth Godin’s blog post this morning about the same topic in which he argues we should be specialist rather than generalist.