- Created on Monday, 19 March 2012 09:31
I'm worried about the new trend in social aggregation software. I recently had an issue with the Google Mail plugin written by Rapportive.com somehow finding a connection to my Twitter account and serving it up in my colleague's email at work. Now, I use social media in a number of different ways. Twitter, which is not linked to my name or work, is used as an anonymous forum to be completely honest about how I see the world around me; as such it can be quite controversial at times. Facebook is the place where close friends and family congregate and I share photos of the kids and find out what people did on the weekend. My website is where I work on targeted information, like my writing or my hobbies. LinkedIn is where I keep my professional credentials up to date.
These channels have different uses and should stay seperate unless I choose to link them together.
Enter rapportive.com's 'rich contact profiles'. These guys clearly feel that your data is a free-for-all. In a way they're right, they're collecting public data aggregating it, and making it available in one place. What they're not doing is taking into account whether people want all their private channels mushed together and served up on a plate.
We've known for a long time that written content, things like email and instant messages, are not the best form of communication and can often lead to misunderstanding. I'd hate it if people I don't know suddenly started making spot judgements about me based on my last three tweets. If you still think I'm over-reacting then consider the next time you're looking for a job and are communicating with a recruiter. Let's hope every byte of your digital presence is absolutely squeaky clean.
- Created on Saturday, 10 March 2012 17:21
The door is open and you may enter freely. I apologise if you have to brush cobwebs from your lapel or are dripped on by rainwater falling from holes in the vaulted stone roof overhead. My abode is, alas, not finished. I have been working the gnomes for a week solid without rest but they haven't even begun the finishing touches; just this roof and four walls. You just can't abuse good help enough these days.
For now I'd like to share with but the subtlest taste of the finished product existing somewhere between where technological practicality runs out and imagination only gets going. Libraries with wall to ceiling books and a crackling hearth fire. Tall wing-back chairs and a tumbler of fine Shiraz the colour of blood. And stories, my stories, oh I can't wait to share my stories with you. Perhaps when you're next in the neighbourhood we could have a glass or two, some polite conversation, and then I could pull aside the thin skein that covers reality and show you the world through my eyes.
- Created on Wednesday, 29 February 2012 09:15
The human race: born with the singular potential to reach the stars and an primitive willingness to remain stuck in the mud.
I read on the Internet today that NASA was cutting funding to space exploration, again. There has been a slow disinvestment in space exploration for years, an insidious and gradual closing down every source of funding that does not have anything to do with war or the repercussions of the global financial situation, finally culminating in the closure of the shuttle program. Obama said this would free up NASA to focus on the bigger picture the exploration of Mars and beyond, it'd be a good thing, and most of us believed a politician.
As a child I absorbed any books I could find on 'the future'. I spent hours pouring over the hand drawn pictures found in the Osbourne Book of the Future and a vision beyond 2000. Mankind would be free of disease and poverty and, as a species, ascend to the very top of Maslow's pyramid by exploring the limits of our world, the ocean and the vast tracks of interstellar space. And who could forget the visions of Stewart Crowley? I spend four months scraping together enough pocket money to buy Spacebase 2000 and, later, Spacewreck. Those haunting pictures of derelict wrecks floating in the cold vacuum of space; the long forgotten detritus of some vast interstellar battle would chill me as I played out the battles is my imagination. Even now, sitting with my eleven year old thumbing through a very used Spacebase 2000 I still feel that sense of awe and wonder. There was also an optimism prevalent in the literature or the 50's, 60's and 70's, in the fundamental unstoppable spirit of mankind and the unavoidable migration of humanity beyond the narrow confines of our solar system. These days we have vampires or stories about human savagery in a post-apocylptic hell. We've lost something, we've fallen foul of a series economically and socially defined limitations, we've imposed mental barriers: that this stuff is hard, that there isn't enough money to reach for the stars, that there are more important issues we should be focussing on. Thing is, that could have been said at any point in human history. I'm sure there were really serious social issues that could have been resolved rather than wasting time inventing the telephone, or the steam engine, or vaccines. Neal Stephenson is right: we're no longer thinking about the big ideas. A person transported from 1900 to 1960 would not have recognised the landscape they'd arrived in, the wouldn't have the language or the mental ability to understand the changes in technology or society. The same couldn't be said about someone from the 1960's transported into today's world. There are newer versions of old things. There are still aeroplanes. There are still televisions. There is no space program to speak of, a person from the 1960's would rightly feel proud that men from their era could send people to the moon.
We are a species rapidly outgrowing the limited resources of our home. Over-population and climate change paint a very bleak picture for our children and future generations. There has been no time in our history when the vision of big thinkers is needed more.