July 2, 2014
The ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Is Already Messing Up Journalism

From the article:

A BBC editor says his 2007 blog on the financial meltdown has been effectively deleted from the Internet thanks to a European court ruling meant to protect privacy.

Google tells Robert Peston that his was one of 50,000 removal requests received in the days since the search giant began complying with a European high court order to provide a way for people to bury their embarrassing pasts. The idea is that someone should not have to be haunted by every mistake he or she has ever made simply because Google wants to digitize and make accessible all the world’s information.

For journalists, the already difficult job of balancing privacy concerns with the need to inform the public has been complicated by Google’s profit motives and the sense, particularly in Europe, that the right to privacy has been offended.

Peston’s blog, which covered the ouster of a high flying finance executive in the lead up to Merrill Lynch’s collapse, ought to be purged (more or less) from the Web because someone named in it (or perhaps the comments, he wonders) is embarrassed.

Surely the financial collapse of that period is something people will want to study for some time, and hindering the most effective research tool on the planet, Google, will make that study substantially more difficult for future generations.

The problem may be exacerbated by Google’s over-eagerness to comply with the law. Just as YouTube would rather take down any video containing copyrighted material rather than launch a fair use investigation every single time, it stands to reason that Google has a pretty low bar for these takedown requests. Perhaps this is an opportunity for Bing, at last.

April 25, 2014
"The FCC is going to propose that cable and phone companies such as Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable are allowed to discriminate against them, giving some websites better service and others worse service…If we had had such discrimination a decade ago, we would still be using MySpace, not Facebook, because Facebook would have been unable to compete."

Marvin Ammori - The FCC’s New Net Neutrality Proposal Is Even Worse Than You Think

September 16, 2011
Libertarians and Conservatives must choose: Competitive Enterprise or Idolatry of Property

When Adam Smith gets over-simplified into a religious caricature, what you get is “faith in blind markets” - or FIBM - a dogma that proclaims the state should have no role in guiding economic affairs, in picking winners of losers, or interfering in the maneuvers or behavior of capitalists. Like many caricatures, it is based on some core wisdom. As Robb points out, the failure of Leninism shows how state meddling can become addictive, excessive, meddlesome and unwise. There is no way that 100,000 civil servants, no matter how well-educated, trained, experienced, honest and well-intentioned, can have enough information, insight or modeling clarity to replace the market’s hundreds of millions of knowing players. Guided Allocation of Resources (GAR) has at least four millennia of failures to answer for.

But in rejecting one set of knowledge-limited meddlers — 100,000 civil servants — libertarians and conservatives seem bent on ignoring market manipulation by 5,000 or so aristocratic golf buddies, who appoint each other to company boards in order to vote each other titanic “compensation packages” while trading insider information and conspiring together to eliminate competition. Lords who are not subject to inherent limits, like each bureaucrat must face, or rules of disclosure or accountability. Lords who (whether it is legal or not) collude and share the same delusions.

Um… in what way is this kind of market “blind”? True, you have gelded the civil servants who Smith praised as a counter-balancing force against oligarchy. But the 5,000 golf buddies — despite their free market rhetoric — aren’t doing FIBM at all! They reverting to GAR. To guided allocation, only in much smaller numbers, operating according to oligarchic principles of ferocious self-interest that go back at least to Nineveh.

The Libertarian response to this article would be that Corporate aggregation of power on the scale which Liberals/Progressives abhor cannot happen but for the interference and aid of the State.  State-granted monopolies, licensing programs, and heavily regulated industries create barriers to entry that mean only well established, large, capitalized firms can afford to operate profitably, since they are the only ones who can afford the cost, in time and money, of compliance.

This objection has merit.  One way to demonstrate this is to observe the Telcom industry.  It is not uncommon for municipalities to attempt to create a publicly-funded ISP utility which competes with private Telcoms.  (Imagine if all of NYC had publicly-funded wi-fi).  This is the sort of solution that is often desperately sought by municipalities in which laying “last mile” infrastructure is too expensive to be profitable for the Telcoms, leaving rural residents with limited options for internet access, which is increasingly necessary in today’s commercial climate.

Yet when municipalities attempt to do this, what happens?  The Telcoms sue.  Or they lobby the state to pass a bill outlawing it.  And while Libertarians would certainly be against publicly-run utilities, certainly they can appreciate the irony of a town or city, through democratic means, trying to establish a competing ISP service, only to have it banned by State power, or worse, halted by an injunction from a Telcom with pre-existing contracts giving it a monopoly on the area’s Telcom service.

The difference in service is stunning: municipal networks, since they aren’t run for profit, have no incentive to throttle bandwidth, meaning that customers of municipal Broadband can 100 MPS speeds for 20% less cost than private counterparts.  And of course, the Telcoms don’t want this to happen, so they’re running to State legislatures to make laws banning local towns and cities from making municipal networks.  Certainly that is Corporatism at its finest, assuming Libertarian critics can find it in their hearts to admit that outlawing local communities from providing publicly-run alternatives to private ISP’s is a means of banning legitimate competition in favor of large corporations.

Yet what I think Libertarians are missing is the proverbial forest through the trees: take, for example, the AT&T/T-mobile merger.  It was government action alone that halted this merger.  In a purely free market, there would be no mechanism by which to prevent such mergers from occurring.  What would prevent, in a healthy market, a series of buyouts and mergers from taking place in a given industry, such that you end up with one extremely large company?  Competitors would no doubt see the writing on the wall, and respond in kind, resulting once more in the very thing which Libertarians claim isn’t possible in a truly free market: an oligarchical market in which a small handful of very large companies dominate substantial shares of the market.  Private non-compete agreements would undoubtedly be signed (sometimes unspoken), and you end up with the same situation that the Telcom industry is in now: Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner have essentially divided up the country into spheres of market share, making any company the virtually exclusive option for Broadband Access in their given part of America. 

When you consider the Libertarian obsession with property rights in particular, it seems to me that there would be absolutely nothing preventing this phenomenon from happening in a true free market.  The incentives all line up: Aggregation ensures marketshare.  Greater marketshare ensures profitability.  Profitability ensures the availability of capital, which can then be used to bully start-ups who will be unable to compete with large, well established companies (what I would term the “Walmart” effect).  Yes, this means lower prices in the short-term.  But price isn’t the only consideration. If you are unsatisfied with the service, you have no feasible alternatives.  And taking the example of the Telcoms, a strict property rights regime would prevent start-ups from even laying the infrastructure necessary to form a competing network (smart Telcoms would buy up every underground mile they could to prevent competitors from laying wire on it).

So in short, I agree with the thrust of this article: the natural Libertarian objection on Corporatist grounds has merit, but the answer is not to completely excise the State from the market.  The answer is smart policy, which means electing officials who have the balls to stand up to Corporate interests.  This is obviously easier said than done, and there is plenty of historic examples to suggest that in practice, it doesn’t happen (Dodd-Frank being a good example of good legislation gone bad).  On the other hand, the prodigious body of regulatory law in this country suggests that there is no shortage of political will to get the State involved in the activities of Big Business.  And at any rate, Libertarians can surely agree: just because the right solution is unpopular or unlikely doesn’t discredit the solution itself.

(Source: azspot)

August 9, 2011
"[I]n real life, we expect very few statements to be public, persistent, and attached to your real identity. Basically, only people talking on television or to the media can expect such treatment. And even then, the vast majority of their statements don’t become part of the searchable Internet. Online, Google and Facebook require an inversion of this assumed norm. … On the boulevards and town squares of Facebook, you can’t just say, “Down with the government,” with the knowledge that only a small percentage of the people who hear you could connect your statement to you. But the information is still being recorded, presumably in perpetuity. That means that if a government or human resources researcher or plain old enemy wants to get a hold of it, it is possible."

Alexis Madrigal

h/t Sullivan

6:05pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZMMjnx86vW2S
  
Filed under: web 2.0 internet facebook 
March 9, 2011
mohandasgandhi:

The United States’ space program NASA develops many new technologies almost daily, but how does that benefit you or I?

Some of the more obvious technologies that impact our lives are  satellite TV, cellphones, GPS systems, and weather forecasting. These  all require satellites orbiting the Earth to work and are all affected  by solar flares. Also affected by strong solar flares are things like  the Internet and the power grid, which can become overloaded by extra  current being driven through the lines due to the flares interacting  with Earth’s magnetic field.
Let’s take a look at what may be in your own home with some ties to NASA technology.
Portable headsets, inspired by those developed for the Apollo  program, are quite common nowadays. Also quite common are scratch  resistant and UV-proof sunglasses, which is based on the same technology  as the glass used to protect welders eyes. This glass was first  developed by NASA.
Slowly entering households are carbon monoxide detectors and  air-conditioning units that can remove carbon monoxide from the air in  your house. NASA developed this removal technology during research  involving carbon dioxide lasers.
Also around the house may be ingestible toothpaste, which was first  marketed as “NASAdent” toothpaste. It was designed to work as good as  normal toothpaste, but not foam and be safe to swallow as well.
More advanced technology is moving into households, such as memory  metal alloys. These are special metals that change shape as the  temperature changes. They are being used in sinks and showers and will  stop water flow if the water is too hot.
An environmentally friendly insulating paint, identical to the paint  used on the Space Shuttle’s fuel tank, is also being marketed for use  in homes.
These various technologies are only the tip of the iceberg. NASA  derived technology is everywhere around your home, but does it save and  improve lives?
Medical devices such as artificial limbs, a special pump to assist  patients waiting for heart transplants, dialysis pumps and filters,  automatic insulin pumps, infrared ear thermometers, and MRI software,  all of have some link to NASA.
Infrared ear thermometers, which measure body temperature instantly,  were developed from the same technology used to examine distant planets  and stars. Also using telescope technology, is the software used by  doctors to help identify brain tumours in MRI scans. This software is  based on the Hubble Space Telescope’s software used for sorting  galaxies.
There are so many different ways space research and spinoffs from  that research impact our lives that it would be impossible to go through  them all.
Many more technologies are being developed. Who knows what else may be created that will enrich our lives?


This seems fairly dispositive for individuals who claim that using tax dollars to hire government researchers, instead of letting innovation happen naturally through the private sector, is inefficient at best, and has a regressive impact on innovation at worst.  
This is especially ironic when you consider that the Internet got its start as a government defense program, and is now the most powerful tool for private economic development in history.

mohandasgandhi:

The United States’ space program NASA develops many new technologies almost daily, but how does that benefit you or I?

Some of the more obvious technologies that impact our lives are satellite TV, cellphones, GPS systems, and weather forecasting. These all require satellites orbiting the Earth to work and are all affected by solar flares. Also affected by strong solar flares are things like the Internet and the power grid, which can become overloaded by extra current being driven through the lines due to the flares interacting with Earth’s magnetic field.

Let’s take a look at what may be in your own home with some ties to NASA technology.

Portable headsets, inspired by those developed for the Apollo program, are quite common nowadays. Also quite common are scratch resistant and UV-proof sunglasses, which is based on the same technology as the glass used to protect welders eyes. This glass was first developed by NASA.

Slowly entering households are carbon monoxide detectors and air-conditioning units that can remove carbon monoxide from the air in your house. NASA developed this removal technology during research involving carbon dioxide lasers.

Also around the house may be ingestible toothpaste, which was first marketed as “NASAdent” toothpaste. It was designed to work as good as normal toothpaste, but not foam and be safe to swallow as well.

More advanced technology is moving into households, such as memory metal alloys. These are special metals that change shape as the temperature changes. They are being used in sinks and showers and will stop water flow if the water is too hot.

An environmentally friendly insulating paint, identical to the paint used on the Space Shuttle’s fuel tank, is also being marketed for use in homes.

These various technologies are only the tip of the iceberg. NASA derived technology is everywhere around your home, but does it save and improve lives?

Medical devices such as artificial limbs, a special pump to assist patients waiting for heart transplants, dialysis pumps and filters, automatic insulin pumps, infrared ear thermometers, and MRI software, all of have some link to NASA.

Infrared ear thermometers, which measure body temperature instantly, were developed from the same technology used to examine distant planets and stars. Also using telescope technology, is the software used by doctors to help identify brain tumours in MRI scans. This software is based on the Hubble Space Telescope’s software used for sorting galaxies.

There are so many different ways space research and spinoffs from that research impact our lives that it would be impossible to go through them all.

Many more technologies are being developed. Who knows what else may be created that will enrich our lives?

This seems fairly dispositive for individuals who claim that using tax dollars to hire government researchers, instead of letting innovation happen naturally through the private sector, is inefficient at best, and has a regressive impact on innovation at worst.  

This is especially ironic when you consider that the Internet got its start as a government defense program, and is now the most powerful tool for private economic development in history.

5:07pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZMMjnx3VWzma
  
Filed under: politics internet NASA 
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