I’ve decided to try changing up the format to the newsletter on a more regular basis. I want to try new things with the layout and the conversational tone of the newsletter. If you love or hate my new format experiments, let me know!
It’s really hard to care about privacy. Do you even take the effort?
Do you care about your privacy? It’s pretty easy to say that you have nothing to hide so you don’t care, but let’s be honest here: there’s really nothing that you care about keeping to yourself? Maybe you think that your data is already being gathered and used. If you’re like most college students, as long as it’s being used to help you, that’s considered ok.
The issue is in part that you don’t always know who has access to your private data, or who they can share it with or how they can use it. Again, maybe you don’t care about the anonymity of Bitcoin being a myth.
There are some things that you just shouldn’t have to spend time worrying about, but isn’t it nice to know if stores and ads are tracking you through your phone and ultrasonic sounds, or how to block them? Or that advertisers have access to information like your race, which they can use to exclude ads from being shown to you, which would be pretty illegal if they had any federal oversight.
When knowledge is power, who should own that information?
I spend a lot of my time in the WordPress world and like any close community, the turmoil and commotion can offer an interesting distraction from the work. Last weekend we dealt with a discussion around the leaders of two huge companies, Automattic and Wix, trading blog posts about the latter’s use of the former’s GPL code in a closed source app. Both had some valid points, and it was pretty easy for fans or foes of either company to take sides. The crux of their arguments wasn’t about money (despite the potential for large exchanges of money here), but the value and nature of open source code and the free exchange of knowledge.
This extends beyond the usage rights of code, but the way that code can be used as a tool to hamper free trade and sharing of knowledge. Cory Doctorow has a great piece in Locus Mag this week about DRM, intellectual property rights, and the EFF’s fight for sane standards and laws around both. The EFF also fights for the knowledge to maintain system security, even when that fight is with the government over code exploits used to hack and track users of Playpen, a child pornography website that was busted, but kept running and even given performance improvements (besides the upgrade of infecting visitors with malware to trace them) which led to an increase in usage of the site before it was finally shut down.
As an example of how detailing exploits can be useful, Google tells Microsoft about a security flaw in the Windows kernel. Microsoft does not patch or inform users of this flaw. Google publicly reveals the existence of the vulnerability – which is actively being used – to help expedite the patching process.
New and shiny things to keep an eye on.
You may have heard of Magic Leap by now, and the five-year-old company is slowly leaking more information about its secretive mixed-reality glasses project, which could potentially be released within 18 months. Will it really change everything about computing displays? It’s nice to think that we’re moving into a ‘Ready Player One‘ world (minus the dystopic future wealth disparity part). Still, it’s pretty easy to see how the anticipation for seamless augmented and enhanced reality glasses can get smashed upon arrival in the real world.
Have you noticed Youtube comments getting nicer? It’s an old joke by now to call the space below a Youtube video the worst wasteland on the internet, which is why I make it a point (and highly encourage all of you!) to leave a positive comment on videos that I enjoy. Now it’s a bit nicer there, with new tools to patrol comments rolled out to the Google-owned video platform. Wired, which has been on a righteous crusade to clean up the vitriol of the internet, is celebrating this fact while calling out Twitter yet again, as the platform is becoming the lone holdout in a battle to make social media just a bit nicer.
Do you love Furby? Of course you don’t, but your young child does. There’s a new one out, and the Furby Connect is just as annoying as the old ones were.