Who do you believe

Andrew Keen, author of an excellent book, The Cult Of The Amateur is know for his controversial views on the relentles march of technology and where it might eventually lead is. In this post, the age of disbelief he responds to alleged inventor of the World Wide Web,Tim Berners Lee. TBL is currently whinging about the amount of dross on the web, but typically of a scientist he complains that the rubbish is “forcing the real science to the sidelines.

Isn’t that typical of a scientist? He ignored warnings that his brainchild had no security so shouldn’t the finger of blame be pointing at him? Oh no, he’s an omnipotent scientist, he cannot possibly have made a mistake. But in reality before Berners Lee had won the ear of governments we in the Information Technology industry had a very good internetworking system that was very secure and capable of being properly managed. And it was so simple a filing clerk could use it. It baffled scientists of course, they can’t do simple, it’s not scientific enough for them.

TBL has defended his dysfunctional brainchild against all criticism of course. No he says, it would not have been better if he had listened to professionals who knew what they were doing. Yes he was sure “anyone can do anything” was the right approach. The trouble is humans are not driven by logic and cannot be programmed. If people can do something they will. And if their idea of ruining someone’s life, stealing their csh, trashing their reputation then they are going to do it. After all the internet has no serious security or auditing so people are free to do anything. Yay freedom, yay science.

Now, after a couple of years ago saying kiddieporn, hacking and identity theft were minor inconveniences compared to the benefits of an unregulated internet Tim has had a change of heart and is now calling for regulation because it seems he was pissed off by all the ridicule thrown at the Large Hadron Collider. He is calling for regulation to restrict all us jokers so the World Domination Club of Coneheads can post their evil agenda without ever being challenged, mocked or having people gob on the back of their anoraks.

Berners Lee says his call for regulation is a reaction to the ease with which cults and conspiracy theorists can spread their ideas. Well here’s a conspiracy theory for him to chew on. It’s obvious an elite group of scientists are trying to turn science into a religion to place themselves beyond criticism. They must be stopped. Comrades, the end justifies the means. We mush search out and kidnap young scientists, get them drunk, get them laid, make them live with the pikeys on sink estates, in other words we must help them to get a life. It is our duty.

Victim of a Witch Hunt
Boggart Blog on Scientists Now Not So Sure About Safety Of The Large hardon Provider
The Little Robot That Could Not Contain Its Emotions

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7 thoughts on “Who do you believe

  1. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Without Tim Berners-Lee, you wouldn’t have a soapbox to stand on. The blogosphere wouldn’t exist. As you feel so strongly about him and his invention, are you going to stop using it?

    “And Let them know that I am Machiavell,
    and weigh not me and therefore not men’s words…
    I count religion but a childish toy, whatever label people put on it,
    and hold there is no sin but ignorance.”

    In order that you may be a sinner no longer, here are some corrections to your article:

    * The Internet was hugely less secure in the early 90s (when TBL invented the WWW) than it is now, even though there are now millions more computers connected to it. That lack of security is what made it so easy to use that even filing clerks could do it. Increased security measures make things harder to use. Think airports. Would you use this blog site if you had to log in using an iris scanner to prove who you are? Thought not.

    * TBL invented the concept of the WWW. He is not responsible for the hundreds of insecure implementations which have emerged since. It is possible to secure the WWW service. Do you use Internet banking? Ever heard of SSL (the “s” in “https://” URLs)?

    * The Internet and the WWW service are perfectly capable of being well managed. It’s just that often, people don’t. But the technology’s there.

    * “But typically of a scientist he complains that the rubbish is “forcing the real science to the sidelines.”
    – You omitted the closing quote. And it sounds just like an extract from The Sun.

    * “He ignored warnings that his brainchild had no security shouln’t the finger of blame be pointing at him?”
    – This should be split into two sentences, or the sentence started with a preposition and split by a comma: “As he ignored warnings that his brainchild had no security, shouldn’t the finger of blame be pointing at him?” The contraction “Shouldn’t” should contain the letter “d”.

    There are loads more of the grammatical ones; I could go on and on. I wouldn’t have said anything if you didn’t make such a drama about there being no sin but ignorance.

    The last two paragraphs are very funny. I tend to agree with you on those (apart from the living with pikeys bit, which doesn’t sound like a life at all).

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  2. Sing You Sinner,

    Thanks for that comment. Just when I was thinking the fun had gone out of blogging the God of Blog sends me a fully paid up, card carrying thirty-third degree barm pot like you. You are wrong on everything.

    Blogs existed in the early 1980s. On the pree WWW internet they were called bulletin boards.

    You ask me:
    As you feel so strongly about him and his invention, are you going to stop using it?
    Actually I would prefer not to use the WWW but sometimes it is unavoidable thanks to The Cult Of The Amateur which Andrew Keen deals with in his book.

    You say that the inteernet is more secure now. But in the eighties all we had to be wary of was in-house breaches of security and viruses passed round on floppies. To use internetworking technologies people had to have an account and password so those of us responsible for network security always knew who was behind any malicious hacking attempt. It was usually a scientist with a grudge.

    You try to contradict me:
    “TBL invented the concept of the WWW. He is not responsible for the hundreds of insecure implementations which have emerged since. It is possible to secure the WWW service.”
    But had warnings about security been heeded and had TBL not said no security was necessary as the system would only be used by “trusted academics” the first implementation of the WWW would have been secure thus the platform on which insecure applications are built would not have existed.

    Next you really show how stupid you are by saying:
    Do you use Internet banking? Ever heard of SSL (the “s” in “https://”
    If you think Secure Sockets are really secure you haven’t been reading the papers recently have you? Personal and account details of 6 million credit card users stolen by one group of hackers alone. Very secure.
    The flaw that allows that hack was obvious in the first implementation but the warnings were ignored again. Now it is so deply embedded in web technology it cannot be fixed.

    And then perhaps because you have an uneasuy feeling that you have not actually said anything sensible or even funny you take refuge in correcting my grammar:

    “He ignored warnings that his brainchild had no security shouln’t the finger of blame be pointing at him?”
    – This should be split into two sentences, or the sentence started with a preposition and split by a comma: “As he ignored warnings that his brainchild had no security, shouldn’t the finger of blame be pointing at him?”

    No it should not be two sentences. Only webheads who use the Microsoft grammar checker think its a crime to write sentences with more than one clause. I missed a comma. Big deal. I also missed a letter from “shouldn’t”; it’s hardly a capital offence. But your correction has the stilted and impersonal style of a science academic. That being the case, people will understand exactly why you think it is OK to tolerate the promotion of kiddieporn, suicide cults, hackers, phishers, malware merchants, stalkers and the rest but action must be taken to stop people taking the piss out of scientists.

    Don’t bother to reply, you’re barred. My blog, my rules.

    BTW I do make a lot of typing errors, its because being hemiplaegic I only have one hand that works well enough to type with.

    So now you’ve made a real cunt of yourself :))

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    1. See now, that’s the reason I don’t criticise people’s spelling, quite apart from having an ex who did English Language for a degree which involves a lot of english from centuries past which is bound to mess up your spelling I’ve also known a good number of dyslexics. It’s impossible to tell over the internet if there’s a reason behind someone’s bad spelling or if they’re just lazy.

      As for the http standard (which is all Berner-Lee invented), well, it’s as secure as anything else involved in these things; straight tcp/ip is about as secure as a house with empty door-frames and a lot of communications standards such as PPP have been hacks to try to make up for this shortcoming. What’s depressingly true though is that as inevitable as the web was, with or without Berners-Lee, so was the insecurity of the implementation. If someone wants to implement something and they think they can get away with leaving such a tricky to implement thing out, they will as it’s standard human nature to unthinkingly take the path of least resistance.

      I’m not sure we can completely blame him for the lack of security as I’m not convinced any other implementation would have been any better. The only thing that would have avoided such a state would have been if those who warned him about the lack of security would have made their own server/client document format with all the security they wanted built in.

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      1. Seeing as it’s you Paul, I’ll adnit I’m lazy as well.

        The reason for my post which I banged out very quickly yestere’en as I was preparing to shut down and watch the soaps was that I just caught an item by TBL talking about the need to regulate the internet because people aren’t taking science seriously. It seemed so hypocritical as in the past he has always defended the unregulated internet.

        But we can blame him. In the late seventies I worked on JANet (Joint academic network) which used IP style protocols DECnet and X-net (Xerox) It was totally secure because people had to have an account when logging on. They could use their organisation account or an individual one but everything was attributable and eerybody could be traced.

        There are many myths about computer network history that have become part of the received wisdom.

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  3. Glad you posted this Ian, I’ve got an unfinished draught on the issue.

    From what I saw of the pre-LHC buildup, I’m pretty sure it was the guys at CERN themselves that mustered up the black-hole possibility to generare LHA-mania. That is preyed on the fears of some and was spun is the think you’d expect a scientist to have predicted.

    Like most fascists, TBL want’s censorship. Sorry Tim, I give you no permission to have your fascist desires impose themselves on me.

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