19 Jan

TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)

What does a bill like PIPA/SOPA mean to our shareable world? At the TED offices, Clay Shirky delivers a proper manifesto — a call to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume.

via TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea). Clay Shirky delivers a clear and cogent history and explanation of PIPA/SOPA, walking through both the intent and what the ramifications of the bill and how it changes the entire legal system under which websites operate. Shirky also makes the very real point that even if PIPA and SOPA are killed (as appears increasingly likely) a bill similar to them will be back.

19 Jan

Electronic Frontier Foundation – The Internet at its Best

Today, we watch in awe as the Internet rallies to fight dangerous blacklist legislation, the PROTECT-IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House. The originality, creativity, and magnitude of action we’re seeing represents exactly what these bills would harm most: the value of a vibrant and open Internet that fosters these activities.

As the day goes on, we will continue to update you on Twitter (@EFF) and in this space. In the meantime, here are some of today’s #SOPAblackout highlights. Thank these organizations for their participation and go here to make your voice heard!

via Electronic Frontier Foundation – The Internet at its Best. EFF highlights some of the largest sites that participated in the SOPA/PIPA blackout.

06 Jan

Mike’s Lookout – SPDY of the Future Might Blow Your Mind Today

Despite its coolness, there is an aspect of SPDY that doesn’t get much press yet (because nobody is doing it). Kudos for Amazon’s Kindle Fire for inspiring me to write about it. I spent a fair amount of time running network traces of the Kindle Fire, and I honestly don’t know quite what they’re doing yet. I hope to learn more about it soon. But based on what I’ve seen so far, it’s clear to me that they’re taking SPDY far beyond where Chrome or Firefox can.

The big drawback of the previous picture of SPDY is that it requires sites to individually switch to SPDY. This is advantageous from a migration point of view, but it means it will take a long time to roll out everywhere. But, if you’re willing to use a SPDY gateway for all of your traffic, a new door opens. Could mobile operators and carriers do this today? You bet!

Check out the next picture of a SPDY browser with a SPDY gateway. Because SPDY can multiplex many connections, the browser can now put literally EVERY request onto a single SPDY connection. Now, any time the browser needs to fetch a request, it can send the request right away, without needing to do a DNS lookup, or a TCP handshake, or even an SSL handshake. On top of that, every request is secure, not just those that go to SSL sites.

via Mike’s Lookout – SPDY of the Future Might Blow Your Mind Today. The pictures give a really good sense of what is going on.

27 Nov

life and times of sha.ddih – Why wireless mesh networks won’t save us from censorship

It’s exciting to see so much interest of late in the Darknet Plan hatched by redditors to build a second, people-owned, censorship-free Internet using a large-scale wireless mesh network. Freedom of speech on the Internet is an important issue and it’s important for all of us to take it seriously. Additionally, as someone who thinks wireless networks are the bee’s knees (and who does research on wireless networks in his day job), it’s exciting to see so much interest in using wireless to circumvent censorship.

That’s why it’s painful for me to say, “hey guys, this isn’t going to work”.

I got into this space about five years ago to build a community-owned Internet using solar power and wireless mesh networks — censorship circumvention wasn’t an explicit goal, but it was part of the broader vision. I actually wound up building a couple sizable networks using equipment like this (Orangemesh grew out of this work). After a couple years I developed a pretty good understanding that wireless mesh networks aren’t actually a good way to build a real network. These are a few of those reasons.

via life and times of sha.ddih – Why wireless mesh networks won’t save us from censorship. This is a really compelling argument as to why unplanned wireless mesh networks won’t work at scale.

26 Nov

FarukAt.eş – Micro-payments And The Web

In 2003, Apple’s iTunes Store proved an important point about online/digital economies: people are perfectly willing to pay for content they consume, as long as you maximize return value and minimize all required effort and friction in paying. Online publishing has, thus far, done a poor job at mimicking this concept.

The two types of content aren’t parallels, however; news content on the web is typically consumed for free (thanks to everyone offering content for free on the web for the first ten years), whereas iTunes content is typically paid for up front, and consumed only thereafter. The failure of paywalls shows that when it comes to news on the web, people are ill-inclined to pay up front before they can read an article. That same truth makes it hard to convince people to sign up for subscriptions unless you offer additional value, but with news it’s hard to come up with valuable offerings that don’t involve withholding some news from non-subscribers.

I’ve only very superficially described this problem so far, but already you can see the complexities and challenges publishers face. So what’s the solution?

via FarukAt.eş – Micro-payments And The Web. One of the great big problems on the web today is how to make money from publishing content (if your end goal is making money from content). I think the solution isn’t as simple as merely paying for every dip into the stream you get from a publisher as Faruk proposes but half the solution is making the payment process minimal.

10 Nov

American Civil Liberties Union – It Was Close, But We Won: Viva Net Neutrality!

Today in the Senate there was a major win for freedom of speech and the Internet. In a largely partisan vote Senate Democrats defeated a resolution introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) which would have overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) open Internet rules that are set to go into effect this month.

Though the FCC’s rules are not great, they do offer some protections for net neutrality on the wired Internet and overturning them would have been a huge setback for free speech on the web. During debate on the Senate floor yesterday supporters of the resolution railed against government regulation while opponents defended the rules saying they were necessary to maintain the openness and innovation that has allowed the Internet to thrive.

via American Civil Liberties Union – It Was Close, But We Won: Viva Net Neutrality!. Yeah for Net Neutrality, boo for my State Senator being the one who introduced this resolution.

04 Oct

Eric’s Archived Thoughts – Searching For Mark Pilgrim

Just yesterday, I took a screenshot of the title page of Dive Into HTML5 to include in a presentation as a highly recommended resource. Now it’s gone. That site, along with all the other “Dive Into…” sites (Accessibility, Python, Greasemonkey, etc.) and addictionis.org, is returning an HTTP “410 Gone” message. Mark’s Github, Google+, Reddit, and Twitter accounts have all been deleted. And attempts to email him have been bounced back.

via Eric’s Archived Thoughts – Searching For Mark Pilgrim. It would be quite depressing not to have those resources available, Dive Into HTML5 was "the" online resource for HTML5. I can’t speak for knowing Mark Pilgrim personally but his work has been awesome.

Update: 11:30pm: “The communication was specifically verified, it was him, and that’s that. That was the single hardest decision I’ve had to make this year.” https://twitter.com/#!/textfiles/status/121436401131716608 Nice to hear.

02 Oct

Ars Technica – Verizon sues to halt FCC’s net neutrality rules

On Friday afternoon, Verizon filed its expected challenge to the FCC’s network neutrality rules, suing in federal court to stop them. Verizon claims that the agency has no authority to issue rules affecting the Internet.

“Verizon is fully committed to an open Internet," said Verizon senior vice president Michael Glover in a statement. "We are deeply concerned by the FCC’s assertion of broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself. We believe this assertion of authority is inconsistent with the statute and will create uncertainty for the communications industry, innovators, investors and consumers.”

Verizon’s lawsuit claims the rules, which largely exempt wireless networks, are "arbitrary" and "capricious"—the same charges recently brought by net neutrality supporters arguing that the FCC improperly let the wireless industry off the hook.

via Ars Technica – Verizon sues to halt FCC’s net neutrality rules. How about the uncertainty for businesses to know if next month they’ll have to pay fees to not have their sites arbitrarily slowed down? Net Neutrality is a framework of rules to prevent businesses and services from being treated differently from everything else served via the Internet.

29 Sep

Computerworld – Chrome poised to take No. 2 browser spot from Firefox

Google’s Chrome is on the brink of replacing Firefox as the second-most-popular browser, according to one Web statistics firm.

Data provided by StatCounter, an Irish company that tracks browser usage using the free analytics tools it offers websites, shows that Chrome will pass Firefox to take the No. 2 spot behind Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) no later than December.

As of Wednesday, Chrome’s global average user share for September was 23.6%, while Firefox’s stood at 26.8%. IE, meanwhile, was at 41.7%.

The climb of Chrome during 2011 has been astonishing: It has gained eight percentage point since January 2011, representing a 50% increase.

via Computerworld – Chrome poised to take No. 2 browser spot from Firefox. Can’t say I’m that shocked Google has been doing really awesome work with Chrome.

24 Sep

Scripting News – Facebook is scaring me

What clued me in was an article on ReadWriteWeb that says that just reading an article on their site may create an announcement on Facebook. Something like: "Bull Mancuso just read a tutorial explaining how to kill a member of another crime family." Bull didn’t comment. He didn’t press a Like button. He just visited a web page. And an announcement was made on his behalf to everyone who follows him on Facebook. Not just his friends, because now they have subscribers, who can be total strangers.

Now, I’m not technically naive. I understood before that the Like buttons were extensions of Facebook. They were surely keeping track of all the places I went. And if I went to places that were illegal, they would be reported to government agencies. Bull Mancuso in the example above has more serious things to worry about than his mother finding out that he’s a hitman for the mob. (Both are fictitious characters, and in my little story his mom already knows he’s a hitman.)

There could easily be lawsuits, divorces, maybe even arrests based on what’s made public by Facebook.

via Scripting News – Facebook is scaring me. Count me in the group of people now staying logged out of Facebook by default.