Conventional stupidity or “the wisdom of the crowd” as it is know in less intelligent parts of the internet, holds that people will not pay for quality content on the web when they can have moronic dross for free. Media pundits, notable the increasingly demented… READ MORE about howDirty Digger Changed The Game
Sad to see Andrew Keen who once wrote a book about the sheer awfulness of the internet (The Cult Of The Amateur) now praising the “technological revolution” and talking about how those who have no access to the web will be left behind in the rat race (Is Innovation Fair).
Maybe somebosy paid off Keen. Msybe Little Nicky Machiavelli should write a book about how the internet makes us unable to distinguish between worthwhile content and dross so the dross merchants will pay me to get off their case.
The internet, like a child with ADHD thrives on novelty and noise. Therefore I wonder if it is the 25% in Britain (75% worldwide) who are not wired that will be left behind or wil they continue to develop, profiting from life experience and book learning, while the online community stagnate into a subspecies of twitterers and delusion dwellers?
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.
Follow Little Nicky around the web at our blogindex where you will find links to everything he has commented on,
Tuesday’s blog roundup – June 3
What role did race play for the democrats As Obama tteters on the brink of nomination, hoping to gather enough delegace to grab the nimonation before the scandal that could ruin his career breaks, Salon.com asks what effect the niminee’s race will have on core voters?
Huffington Post has set itself the task ofmaking sure McCain does not avoid media scrutiny But are they not seeking to do the impossible. After all in order to attracts scrutiny McCain would need to have a personality.
Webhead Jeff Jarvis is not impressed by Time Warners move to bill users for access to its content Time Warner breaks internet convention by charging customers for content But only fools and dreamers ever believed that “eerything will be for free schtick the early web entrepreneurs peddled. Free was only ever going to last until users were addicted.
Not so long ago I posted a ling to an article on Facebook and the links of its founders and owners to certain extremist neo-con organisations in the USA.
Now best selling Author and internet pundit Andrew Keen has taken up the standard and joined the attack on the covert fascism of social networking sites
Ask anybody about a year ago “Which website is the evil empire,” and they would have said Google. But things are changing.
Some time ago, after being invited to join Facebook by one of my contacts from here, I posted a blog on the subject of how pointles the site is. There were already rumours about the more sinister aspects of Facebook, their intrusive gathering and publishing of personal data, their plans to sell members proflies and information on online activity to advertisers and a general disregard for the ethics of business.
Since that post was made, more information has been leaking out about Facebooks dubious business methods and the connection their founder and financial backer has with certain neocon and it would not be exaggerating to say neofascist right wing organisations in the USA.
It is all pretty unpleasant. But you dont have to take my word for it, read With Friends Like These, a damning analysis of the Facebook culture. Its a long artcle and scarey stuff, but its worth the effort.
One problem with geeks is their tendency to leap in the air and clap their hands when any new technology is announced. Another problem is that given the slightest scent of power they go off on a world domination trip. The guys at Apple have tried it as have the Microsoft people, Adobe, Oracle and Cisco all tried it in their own modest way and many others have tried too. “Hey, the world will be a much better place if everybody abandons independent though and buys one of my widgets,” goes the pitch. But a computer, a web browser, an i-Pod and a web-cam are no substitute for a life.
This does not discourage the nerds of course and now we have the inventors of Google trying to jackboot their technology into every aspect of our lives. OK the metaphor might be distasteful but don’t forget, Hitler was a nerd.
With “Don’t Be Evil” as their slogan from day one Google managed to ooze into the public consciousness as nice chaps who only wanted to help us get better results from our web searches. It was so easy to miss the fact that they were totally focused on the aim of making technology in general and their technology in particular our master and so they are not capable of being anything but evil. And addiction to the web is causing us to help them every step of the way. You should pay more attention when you watch Austin Powers movies.
The first question we should all ask ourselves is “how good is this technology really?”
Back in 2001, just as Google was attracting effusive praise from industry pundits for the way it was elbowing aside other search engines that used different criteria for rating pages by relevance rather than the number of other pages linking in to them, I recall one maverick, an Information Technology veteran of twenty – five years experience saying in his weekly radio slot “Google is the worst search engine possible – except for all the others. The obvious problem was that people were being impressed by sheer numbers of search results and forgetting quality. To reaffirm this for the current article I ran a search on P.C. Plus, a well known UK mag. Google gave me 900,000 search results; one of its rivals that uses similar technology gave 950,000 (figures rounded). Because on the Google search the PC Plus homepage came at the top of the list Google might use that as proof of their efficiency. But on Google the top link was trying to sell me PC Plus, the next twenty were advertisers in PC Plus trying to sell me other stuff. One way or another the owners of these pages had paid money for their high position in the listing. On the rival search engine I found information telling me what kind of readers might choose PC Plus and what other mags covered the same ground. I do not consider an advert can ever be as relevant as an impartial review. Google is therefore not about “not being evil” but making money. And the company is making money – sort of. Ad-words mini adverts that appear alongside search results and ad-wise targeted ads that appear on web pages are pulling in a very respectable revenue stream.
Most business ventures that depended on the web for revenue generation have so far been abject failures (Amazon being the most outstanding exception) and yet the slightest hint of possible future success is enough to ignite the same kind of hysteria as fuelled the dotcom bubble.
Google went to the stock market and was rejected because their figures did not add up. They tehen decided to directly market their own shares and despite warnings from banks and experienced dealers, since their launch stock in the big G has gone through the roof. The financial warnings were based on the fact that Google’s initial share offer was overpriced. Even the most optimistic projections showed the shares would take around two hundred years to repay the capital investment. At the present trading price that is closer to a thousand years. The “don’t be evil” boys didn’t pay a penny for their shares of course and are currently worth around $10 billion each. “Don’t be evil” unless there is serious money in it perhaps?
Another problem is emerging for Google through its method of gathering revenue. This is “click fraud.” At its most basic click fraud involves people visiting their own sites and clicking on the Google ads, so that they and Google earn a few cents for the referral. The flaw in the Ad-wise business strategy then is that it provides an easy way for the greedy to render it totally ineffective as an advertising medium as there is no chance of a sale resulting from the vast majority of referrals. When the simplicity of automating these fraudulent clicks is considered it quickly becomes clear that advertisers are not getting much for their money.
Like the lead character in a Shakespearean tragedy, the seeds of Google’s downfall are sown in the flaws in its own character. The people behind the company have built much on the fact that Google is cool. Now the idea that technology can be cool may have some currency among the nerdier students in the world of further education but “cool” is a quality always in thrall to fads. And a new generation of nerds may easily latch on to a new fad.
At the heart of the Google technology is the Page Rank algorithm which as already mentioned is determined by links. When, sometime in the next month, Google gets round to indexing this article it will pick up on the phrase “Shakespearean Tragedy” because a lot of pages already contain that phrase, even though my article is of no interest to fans of Shakespearean Tragedy. Thus Shakespeare readers, irritated by the bizarre results their Google searches throw up (!!!) will start looking around for a way to search the web that is relevant to their interests. Such search technology is already well along the development path.
The continuing success of Google really depends on our willingness to delegate all our personal decision making to a piece of computer software. If we can be persuaded to do that however, current development projects which would put Google in a position to destroy the publishing, newspaper, T.V., movie and music industries and replacing their products with an infinite stream of dross. Anyone in doubt about this only needs to take a look at Google Video. Can one company be allowed to weild so much power?
Finally there are the privacy issues some of Google’s business methods raise. Side-stepping those extremist lobby groups who praise the heroism of resisting the U.S. Government’s reasonable requests for access to databases we ought to be questioning why Google think they have a right to gather and store information on all of us who use the search engine. While the United States Government (and European Governments on this side of the Atlantic pond) only desire to identify web users whose use is connected with pornography that involves criminal atcs (child abuse, violent sex, torture, rape etc.); fraud and terrorism and not the pattern of web use by individuals (Governments can already track us as individuals without our knowledge) Google is busy building a profile on each one of us in order that they may better target us with advertising material. That in itself poses a far greater threat to the privacy of anybody who is not a sex criminal, fraudster or terrorist.
The whole business model is built on unproven and very inefficient forms of advertising and the only way to make those ads more cost effective is to identify the users who are likely to respond. So if you use G-mail, your messages are scanned, keywords extracted from what you say to your friends and the information added to both your Google profiles. Thus you can be targeted for a constant stream of unsolicited ads.
For similar reasons your searches are stored and may be kept indefinitely. It is known also that systems are being created to search your desktop and suck up information to the great database.
And people think this organisation is cool.
Web addicts of course are always ready to believe the latest Geek Mythology. The business community is more hard headed however and last week’s near 10% drop in Google share prices should have sent warnings around the world. The Google people may still say “don’t be evil” but in the cloud – cuckoo land they inhabit how can evil be defined in a way relevant to any kind of reality.