Category: Internet

Sir Tim Berners-Lee calls for a new web

bernerslee-404_682192cThe father of the world wide web, Saint Tim Berners-Lee, has called for the development of a new web which cannot be snooped on by the government.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web, believes that the way his creation works in the present day “completely undermines the spirit of helping people create”.

He is currently involved in a project which will set up a new kind of information network that can’t be controlled by governments or powered by megacorporations like Amazon and Google.

Along with luminaries like TCP/IP protcol co-creator Vint Cerf, Mozilla Project leader Mitchell Baker and Electronic Frontier Foundation special advisor Cory Doctorow, they’ve gathered at the Decentralized Web Summit in San Francisco to discuss how this new kind of internet can be created and sustained.

One of the things they will look at is the use of increased encryption and methods to bring more accountability, as well as to reduce content creators’ and publishers’ dependence on ad revenue by developing secure, direct cryptocurrency-based payment methods for subscribers.

The Decentralized Web Summit is on from June 8-9.  It will be interesting to see if they get any backing or how long it takes for the world to stuff it up again.


US Newspaper Association loses the plot again

King CanuteThe newspaper editors in Mahogany Row are showing that they have completely lost their grip on “new technology” by issuing writs trying to shut down advert-blocking software.

Taking a page from the movie industry, they have decided that the only way to defeat new technology is to stand Canute-like against the rising tide. Karmically being done over by the same forces they unleashed on the printers and journalists who in the 1980s they called dinosaurs.

According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Newspaper Association of America filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission last week, asking the agency to ban a variety of functions, including “evading metered subscription systems and paywalls,” and ad substitution.

The NAA also called into question new business models that aim to replace online advertising. Newspapers are concerned about the effects that ad-blockers may have on their revenues and their ability to understand and market to their readership.

However if it gets its way the NAA would kill off important and widely used privacy software, like Tor and EFF’s own Privacy Badger, and chip away at Internet users’ ability to control their own browsing experience.

NAA wants an end to all software that enables users to evade metered subscription systems and paywalls. It also wants all users to reveal to them all their personal details so that they can make a bit of cash from thumping them with lots of adverts.

The NAA says that publishers allow readers to sample high-quality content on a limited basis (e.g., 10 articles per month) and then present the reader with a subscription offer (either for digital-only or print-bundled plans).

“Some ad-blockers evade metered subscription services and paywalls by preventing publishers from identifying repeat visitors and making offers to consumers about their subscription services . . . By preventing publishers from identifying repeat visitors and making these offers to them, content blockers harm consumers.”

But this is where the NAA has lost the plot and clearly do not understand the way the technology is leading. Outlawing privacy-enhancing software simply because it might interfere with the operation of some newspapers’ metered paywalls would be profoundly anti-consumer.


We have reached peak Facebook

FacebookSocial notworking sites have reached their peak and might start to fade from view from now on, according to the latest figures.

London-based data collection company SimilarWeb studied the habits of Android users across the world, to monitor the changing popularity of social media apps and discovered that the social media frenzy is dying down and people are starting to spend less time on social media apps.

In almost all countries, time spent on the four leading social media apps, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter had fallen.

In some cases, the drop in usage was minimal, with Snapchat usage in Brazil dropping from 11.23 minutes to 11.10 minutes.

Other cases saw a more substantial drop, like time spent on Twitter in France. Over Q1 2015, the average in France was 19.80 minutes and in Q1 2016, that number dropped to 13.12, a drop of 34 per cent.

In a few cases, such as Facebook’s usage in Spain, time spent within an app did rise but that was bucking the trend.

SimilarWeb marketing analyst Pavel Tuchinsky said that across the board, people are spending less time on their Social Media apps.

Most countries spent less time on Facebook compared to last year, with the exception of Germany where the time was roughly the same last year compared to this.

Instagram also saw a rise in installs in several countries including France, Germany, and the US. Instagram’s biggest loss, however, came in India where the app dropped from being installed on 32 per cent  of Android devices to 19 per cent.

Buzzfeed rejects a million dollars of Trump adverts

trumpuckerBuzzfeed has turned down mroe than a million of dollars of Republican Party cash because it means supporting a candidate who has a policy of hating minorities.

Republican National Committee paid $1.3 million for adverts for its comedy candidate the bouffant buffoon and Boris Johnson clone, Donald Trump.

BuzzFeed said that it was worried about the site’s employees because it could not countenance “having employees make ads, or working at the company and having our site promoting things that limit our freedom and make it harder for them to live their lives… In general, we have taken the position that we won’t take ads for his presidential campaign.”

BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti wrote to his staff saying that in April, the RNC and BuzzFeed signed an agreement to “spend a significant amount on political advertisements slated to run during the Fall election cycle.”

Since Trump became the nominee his campaign has proven themselves to be “directly opposed to the freedoms of our employees in the United States,” because of proposed bans on Muslim immigration and comments about descendants of immigrants, among other policies.

“We don’t need to and do not expect to agree with the positions or values of all our advertisers. And as you know, there is a wall between our business and editorial operations. This decision to cancel this ad buy will have no influence on our continuing coverage of the campaign,” Peretti said in the memo.

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said the decision was from the business side and would not affect coverage of the Trump campaign.

Meanwhile the Republicans are having a bit of a sulk. RNC chief strategist and spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement to CNN that the RNC “never intended” to use the ad space reserved with BuzzFeed anyway.

They also showed that they are the party of tackling real issues by saying it was terrible that BuzzFeed was taking money from a woman who was being investigated by the FBI for having emails sent to her home but would not take the money of a man blessed by the KKK, who wants to abandon the Geneva convention and would Nuke allies like the UK if he wins.

BuzzFeed has a tricky relationship with the Trump campaign, with its reporters being denied credentials or general entry to Trump rallies.

Government expert says apps are pointless

22260927371_52cd33ca75Ben Terrett, the former head of design at the UK Government Digital Service has sparked a row by pointing out that mobile apps are pointless.

Terrett had been chatting GovInsider which had told him about the Indonesian city with a target of 300 mobile apps built by government per year. As citizens increasingly use smartphones, officials believe this is the best way to reach them. However, Terrett banned apps at GDS.

For those who came in late the UK GDS was the first government digital service in the world, and is held up as a global pioneer for its award-winning approach. Terrett is responsible for creating services that have been copied all over the world.

He said that apps were difficult because they were too expensive to make and very expensive to maintain. However, they were also not needed because you could still reach a mobile population by building responsive websites.

Sites can adapt to any screen size, work on all devices, and are open to everyone to use regardless of their device. When an upgrade is required, only one-platform needs recoding.

It is strange that no one noticed this before. Apps were part of Apple marketing and took over the world’s thinking. Why should you create a programme to do something when HTML does the job just as well and citizens will be looking for the service first on Google?


Social notworking giants sign hate speech pact

Chamberlain_MunichFacebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and Microsoft have signed a pact agreeing with an EU code of conduct to tackle online hate speech within 24 hours in Europe.

You will still be allowed hate speech in the US so the central platform of the Trump campaign is still safe but those who try to copy his strategy in the EU might become a little unstuck.

EU governments have been trying in recent months to get social platforms to crack down on rising online racism following the refugee crisis and terror attacks, with some even threatening action against the companies.

As part of the pledge agreed with the European Commission, the web giants will review the majority of valid requests for removal of illegal hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to the content if necessary.

They will also strengthen their cooperation with civil society organizations who help flag hateful content when it goes online and promote “counter-narratives” to hate speech.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova said: “The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech. Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalise young people.”

Germany got Google, Facebook and Twitter to agree to delete hate speech from their websites within 24 hours last year and even launched an investigation into the European head of Facebook over its alleged failure to remove racist hate speech.

The code of conduct is largely a continuation of efforts that the companies already take to counter hate speech on their websites, such as developing tools for people to report hateful content and training staff to handle such requests.
Twitter has suspended over 125,000 accounts since the middle of 2015 for threatening or promoting terror acts, primarily related to Islamic State.
EU ministers had called for cooperation with tech companies to be stepped up after the Brussels attacks in March.

Internet and web get capital punishment

Simpsons_Internet_Computers_Black_ShirtThe words Internet and Web are spending their last days as proper noun and will no longer be capitalised.

The changes go into effect on Wednesday with the new edition of the AP Stylebook, a manual followed by many journalists, offering a comprehensive guide to the usage of words, style, spelling and punctuation.

AP Standards Editor Tom Kent said that the argument for lowercasing Internet is that it has become wholly generic – like electricity and the telephone.

“It never was trademarked and is not based on any proper noun. “The best reason for capitalising it in the past may have been that the term was new. At one point the world ‘Phonograph’ was capitalised.”

Internet and Web will be joining the likes of website (formerly Web site) and email (formerly e-mail). Wi-Fi is expected to join them in the coming years.

Republican steals Google’s typeface

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 11.28.22 AMThe US senatorial race might end up seeing some Google on Googe court case action.

Sue Googe (centre) is a 2016 Republican candidate who hopes to represent the 4th Congressional District of North Carolina in United States Congress. Also, her surname looks like the Google logo — especially as it’s written on her campaign signs, which use a font that’s identical to Google’s bespoke sans-serif typeface.

This was Google’s logo as of its September 2015 redesign. It looks like Googe is the Google logo with the “l” removed.

It appears that she might have lifted the Google logo to give her political campaign a certain familiarity.  But what is interesting is if her campaign will have to see off a writ or two from the search engine’s mighty briefs. It could mean her having to redo all her printing and leaflets.

The world is waiting for a quote from Google.


Spotify grows after rival Apple Music starts-up

97334cab7b3dc626b77b25cb6f686dacThe creation of Apple’s Music streaming business has accidently given a leg up to its rivals.

Spotify has noted that it has seen a faster pace of growth since the launch in June last year of rival Apple Music. Spotify, which was created in Stockholm 10 years ago, now boasts of having close to 100 million users in more than 59 markets, despite increasing competition and, so far, a lack of profits.

Jonathan Forster, a vice president said the arrival of Apple in the market has been good for business by helping to raise the profile of the industry.

“Since Apple Music started we’ve been growing quicker and adding more users than before. It would be terrible if we were just taking each other’s users or to learn there was just a ceiling of 100 million users – I don’t think that is the case,” Forster said.

Spotify now has 30 million paying users, making it the market leader in music streaming, while Apple Music has reported having 13 million paying subscribers since its launch last year in over 100 countries.

But Forster said that there will be some downsizing in the market soon.  There is competition from Pandora, SoundCloud, Tidal, YouTube and Google Play Music.

Forster said having multiple streaming services was not sustainable in the long run.

“My Internet history would tell me that there’s probably not going to be that many significant players, and then maybe smaller niche cases … maybe there could be a classical music streaming service. It’s a hard business.”

Volvo engineer rubbishes Telsa’s unsafe automatic driving

vintage-car-crash-2An engineer for the outfit which gave the world the seat-belt is claiming that Tesla’s self driving car mechanism is unsafe.

Volvo engineer Trent Victor, senior technical leader of crash avoidance for Volvo, claims Tesla’s Autopilot system was being pushed as being far more capable than it actually is.

Victor said that the Autopilot “gives you the impression that it’s doing more than it is.” and said Tesla’s system was  an “unsupervised wannabe”.

Volvo is working on a Level 4 autonomous car, whereas Tesla’s Autopilot is considered a Level 3. The distinction is that a Level 3 autonomous system still relinquishes the controls back to the driver in the event of extreme conditions the computer can no longer manage, which Victor (and Volvo) finds extremely dangerous. A Level 4 car doesn’t require the “driver” to be in control at any time.
For now Tesla’s Autopilot system is widely considered to be the most advanced technology on the market, though Volvo’s argument that its inability to handle complicated driving conditions and rely on a driver that may be distracted due to a false impression of supervision deserves credence.