Tag Archives: internet Blog

The Religion of Tech

This article takes us briefly outside the matrix of modern technology. As cool, helpful, and exciting as today’s tech may be, the ideology behind it is, in this author’s view, founded on a body of beliefs that users readily accept but that serve creators and purveyors far more than consumers who end up paying for products they don’t truly own, and give away personal information over which they no longer have control.

The greatest of the United States’ homegrown religions – greater than Jehovah’s Witnesses, greater than the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, greater even than Scientology – is the religion of technology … By spreading a utopian view of technology, a view that defines progress as essentially technological, they’ve encouraged people to switch off their critical faculties and give Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and financiers free rein in remaking culture to fit their commercial interests.

For many, especially younger consumers, notions of privacy and surveillance are no concern. For others, this is the dawn of the ‘Big Brother’ society, which gives unprecedented power to those who control technology, commerce, and information. If the latter is the case, how can a society founded on principles of individual freedom and liberty be led down such a path so easily?

John Kenneth Galbraith coined the term ‘innocent fraud.’ He used it to describe a lie or a half-truth that, because it suits the needs or views of those in power, is presented as fact. After much repetition the fiction becomes common wisdom. ‘It is innocent because most who employ it are without conscious guilt,’ Galbraith wrote in 1999. ‘It is fraud because it is quietly in the service of special interest.’ The idea of the computer network as an engine of liberation is an innocent fraud.

It might be a good time to take our eyes off our screens to consider how far technology has come and how quickly power is shifting. As we become more dependent on our devices and connections and the entities that provide and manage them become more consolidated and enriched, is unquestioning faith still justified?

Read full article: http://bit.ly/2cdWNN4

How the Internet is Further Concentrating the Wealth of the World

The internet has been the great disrupter for over 20 years now. But the greatest effects of the worldwide network we’ve come to depend on are yet to be seen. This article points to one — and it’s big.

Nintendo and its partners are rumored to be earning more than $1 million per day from Pokémon Go. That money is flowing away from small and medium cities and toward big technology companies concentrated in big cities.
Amazon is doing something similar, diverting business away from local retailers and sucking cash into its corporate headquarters in Seattle. Companies like Google and Facebook are drawing ad dollars that previously went to local newspapers and television stations.

The big tech companies are at the root of a new economy that is funneling real money in ways that we may not have expected or wanted. Check out how the success of Pokemon Go points to an economic reality that needs to be dealt with.

Read full article: http://cnb.cx/29BadMX

The Internet of Things Is Coming

It’s great to be online. Connected, in touch, unlimited information, computers in our pockets. It’s the information age, after all.

Companies are happy that you’re online, too. So much so that efforts are ramping up to put almost every device, motor, gadget, and thing in our lives online. The purpose, of course, is to gather data. It’s not enough that the mother ship (ships) is (are) watching while we use a computer or device. Soon, every time we open a refrigerator, start a car, turn on some music, or presumably sit on the couch, a data stream will be generated.

It’s being called the Internet of Things (IoT). Tiny chips connected to the Internet will soon be embedded in almost everything around us to gather data and send it to whoever the terms of service (that we must agree to before turning on that washing machine or desk lamp) say it can be sent to. If you’re a company, you probably like the idea. You’ll learn much about your customers and the use of your product. If you’re a consumer and you’re concerned at all about privacy, you may begin to feel that this is big data running amuck.

The Internet of Things is made up of IP-enabled, totally embedded applications within devices that connect to the network. This includes sensors, machines, active positioning tags, radio-frequency identification (RFID) readers, and building automation equipment, to name but a few. Here there is the potential for trillions of nodes. Imagine every device in your home and workplace, every crucial component in an industrial machine, connected to the Internet. This layer of the Internet is only just emerging and will completely eclipse the Internet as we know it today in terms of scale.

We already see the IoT in items like household thermostats, electric meters, cable TV boxes, and especially wearables like the new watch computers from Samsung, Apple, and others. Maybe some of the data generated will help us save energy, combat diseases, better feed the world, and otherwise improve our lives. The tech companies love the idea, in no small part, because of the money to be made producing all these chips and devices. I’m not sure if it will work, however, at least if home networks remain under our control. But some of the largest tech companies are vigorously lobbying for free nationwide WiFi, which would certainly help make the data collection ubiquitous. It’s the information age, after all. But remember that the information is flowing both ways.

There’s a lot more worth learning about regarding the Internet of Things. The link below provides a good overview of this timely subject.

Read full article: http://linkd.in/X6YDlJ

US Gov’t Presents a Grand Scheme for the Internet

“The Federal Communications Commission is proposing an ambitious 10-year plan that will reimagine the nation’s media and technology priorities by establishing high-speed Internet as the country’s dominant communication network.”

So states the lead-in of a March 12, NY Times article that describes the government’s plans to advance the Internet and digital communication in our country. It appears that government officials are becoming interested in addressing some of the disparities that have arisen regarding how citizens access, use and experience the Internet.

For several years the US has trailed numerous countries in the quality and availability of Internet service. The question of how this might affect our country, both competitively and economically, is becoming a concern, especially as more of life, including access to medical records, coordinating emergency services, education, and everyday business activity, becomes increasingly reliant on the ‘Net. And then there is mega-business — the telecoms, ISPs, entertainment and publishing industries and electronics manufacturers, to name a few — that all have a huge interest in the growth and direction of Internet access.

“The blueprint reflects the government’s view that broadband Internet is becoming the common medium of the United States, gradually displacing the telephone and broadcast television industries.”

Perhaps even more important is the so-called Digital Divide. “About a third of Americans have no access to high-speed Internet service, cannot afford it or choose not to have it,” states the article. On the one hand we have people who can’t afford access and/or devices, along with people who lack the skills or education to participate. On the other are people who “choose not to” participate. Will life in the US, especially economic life, require a connection? Will savvy users be favored? The possibility of people being left out is a genuine concern.

Among several provisions, the plan calls for, “a subsidy for Internet providers to wire rural parts of the country, an auction of some broadcast spectrum to free up space for wireless devices, and a new universal set-top box that connects to the Internet and cable service.”

This all sounds good, but if our society is going to be completely “wired,” and therefore dependent upon the free flow of information over a government-sponsored Internet, a host of concerns comes with it, including reliability, security and privacy. Sure, it will be great to get our favorite TV shows and movies instantly, but can people afford the devices (and the steady stream of new devices) required to “keep up?” Will everyone possess the technical skills required to maintain their devices and connections, which will be increasingly necessary as more of our vital information exists online? What happens when critical systems go down? And perhaps most important, how does a government-wired world affect our freedom? Maybe China’s current Internet policies give us some clues? Hopefully, not.

Read full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/business/media/13fcc.html?hp

Cablevision-ABC Standoff Result of Shifting Audiences

The recent blackout of ABC’s programming in the New York area can be chalked up to a shifting of audiences from broadcast to Internet, a trend that’s been underway for several years. “As the broadcast networks are less able to get advertising revenue, they’re turning to the cable guys to make up for that shortfall,” states Todd Mitchell, an analyst with Kaufman Brothers Lp, as quoted in a recent Newsday article. Ad dollars are in short supply because TV audiences have found other options for their time, especially growing Internet use.

It’s the same trend that has hurt the print industry, record sales, DVD sales and other businesses that offer physical products that can also be delivered digitally. Consumers have shown they prefer their entertainment, information and connections to be digital. Even telecoms will have to face the fact that Internet telephony is a preferred option for many consumers. TV programmers must eventually follow suit as well.

But in the meantime, according to the Newsday article, we can expect more of these inconveniences as yet another business, built on an outdated model, tries to defy reality and force its market to stand still. Do these companies really believe they can continue holding customers hostage? Consumers, who vote with their dollars, will have the final say — something that the  iTunes store has already proven when it comes to digital goods.

Read full article: http://bit.ly/dgb94E [subscription required]

25 Decade-Shaping Technologies

This presentation from eWeek documents 25 key technologies that quickly became mainstream during the last ten years, reshaping our lives in the process. As you view the list you’ll likely recall how you first heard about, and then started using many of them. What’s interesting is that each of these technologies either gave us new and more powerful ways to use the Internet, or brought the ‘Net closer to us in our daily lives. The result is that we’ve quickly become dependent upon many of these technologies as our lives have become more and more interactive.

The internet itself helped speed these technologies along. Technology tends to beget technology, and a technology that people find useful takes on a life of its own. We may look at something today and call it a novelty, but before we know it we’re placing the order or creating the account, and catching up to the early adopters. This list provides a pleasant bit of nostalgia, but it also teaches us to be nimble. The next 25 game-changing technologies likely will take far less than ten years to proliferate.

View presentation: http://bit.ly/bOxg0x