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The beginning of the end of the pioneer period

In my post the other day I was postulating  a new normal where every internet user was at least known to the service provider that they used so that they could be held accountable for the things that they said and did online. Reading the opinion piece in today’s age makes me think that my predictions/expectations may be closer to fruition than I thought:

A LITTLE over a decade ago, just before the masses discovered the digital universe, the internet was a borderless new frontier: a terra nullius to be populated by individuals, groups and programmers as they saw fit. There were few rules and no boundaries. Freedom and open standards, sharing information for the greater good was the ethos.

Today, the open internet we once knew is fracturing into a series of gated communities or fiefdoms controlled by giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and to a lesser extent Microsoft. A billion-dollar battle conducted in walled cities where companies try to lock our consumption into their vision of the internet. It has left some lamenting the ”web we lost”.

The same firm in some cases now provides not just the content we consume but the devices we consume it on and a plethora of other services to help manage our digital lives, be it email, online storage or e-commerce.

Increasingly, the web kings are expanding into each other’s turf and butting heads with smaller pretenders to the throne, such as Twitter, locking competitors out of their ecosystems but, more importantly, locking us, the consumers, in.

”There’s no question that we are witnessing a clash of the titans over ‘our’ data”, says Jennifer Zanich, serial Australian entrepreneur and now co-founder of start-up Paloma Mobile.

Data is the oil of the digital age, handed over willingly by consumers seduced by the latest flashy new web service. Big data is where the big money is made on the web today, and famous US venture capitalist Mary Meeker describes it as the ”Wild West” of the internet.

So much of the belief in the ungovernable nature of cyberspace is predicated upon the “wild west” view of the internet  but as it becomes a more organised and more commercial rather than Geek space the frontier town mentality will, like the old west fade away to be replaced by a more urbane and dare I say it “civil” environment quite simply because it is bad for business for it to be anything else. So if Asher Moses is correct the commercial imperative will drive a decline in the anonymity of users on the various conduits like twitter and blogs  to the owners of those platforms. Readers can obviously see that that this will be a boon for accountability as governments will pressured into ensuring that their online citizens are protected from both both commercial exploitation and online  abuse.
The online space is changing fast and not all of that change will be entirely beneficial or benign. Personally I find the idea of storing my data in “the cloud” rather unsettling and somewhat insecure (does anyone remember the collapse of “Haloscan” and the subsequent evaporation of millions of blog comments?). I find it hard to believe that everything online will be in anyway “eternal” or permanent as users create more and more content it seems inconceivable to me that we won’t  eventually find the older stuff disappearing  just as the graves in an ancient necropolis melt into the landscape with disuse.  It costs money to maintain an exponentially expanding online archive and the ones paying the bills for that storage won’t shell out forever to maintain those graves when the servers can return a profit by being re-purposed.
Of course like the decline of the old west there are people who just loved the anarchy and lawlessness who will truly morn the coming of civilisation to our online world but they will be very much in the minority as the Mums, Dads and their children outnumber the Geeks and scum-bags who first settled this new electric country and the Mums, Dads and their children  will neither celebrate nor mourn the passing of a period of utter lawlessness that the online  pioneers have had to endure.
Cheers Comrades
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Dreaming of a new online normal

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In the seven years that I have been playing the blogging game I have seen some big changes, well the fact that broadband has become the ubiquitous norm rather than the exception has been a biggie. Now we bloggers can put up a far more attractive page with graphics and many photos without concern that it will be too slow to load or despised by readers because it uses too much of their download allowance. I have seen the rise of twitter and the migration to that platform of many of the snark artists that used to haunt the bloggosphere. This has also seen the decline in a vast number of blogs which existed only to accommodate the eternally mean and vicious, well good riddance to bad rubbish, such loses are not mourned in this part of cyber space. Now we are finally beginning to see an end to the online free for all that is just so beloved of the trolls and scum bags. The law is beginning to hold online miscreants responsible for what they say and do which is a trend that I am pretty certain will continue and which will help to create a new normal where one will have to be as decent online as we are expected to be in the real world.

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It may well take a while for the lawmakers to fully address these sorts of issues, heck it may even take the suicide of a few more victims of cyber-bullies (although I hope not) but there is no doubt in my mind that the tide has turned against a totally unregulated online environment and we can only hope that the right balance can be struck between adequate disincentives for despicable behaviour and the maintenance of our rights to free expression online.
Cheers Comrades

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From mindfulness and care comes civility , and civility is the foundation of a well functioning society

Mouse Jim

Of course the other side  to the online anonymity issue relates to the use of social media in and about the workplace, and its the possible employment  repercussions from online interactions that advocates for anonymity usually cite as a reason for their position on the matter. However I think that they are quite mistaken on a couple of levels.

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Firstly  when you are on the boss’s dollar you really have no right to carry out personal business or commentary on  life instead of devoting yourself to the tasks for which you are being paid. It has never ceased to amaze me just how many people who comment on blogs (including my own ) or tweet madly away during work hours and this trend has become even more common with the advent of internet capable smart phones which circumvent any restrictions on the use of workplace  computers.

Secondly there is the matter of how what you may post on social media will reflect upon your employer and the incidents described in the image on the right  (from the AGE) are good examples of the possible negative consequences for being an online  fool or smartarse.

Rather than whining about employers taking note of stupid or malicious online behaviour perhaps those who advocate for the impunity of anonymity on the net should instead realise that the other side of the equation is that if people were as well mannered and respectful online as they are obliged to be in “real” life then the chances of them having any negative consequences for an internet presence will be very small indeed.

I have been blogging for exactly seven years this very day* and during that time I have seen a great deal of change in the online environment   the electric country has become populated with far more ordinary folk rather than being mostly populated by the early adopters of the personal computer and as the demographic has changed so to has the expectations of society about this online  part of life. No longer do is  anarchy and a mostly pseudonymous interaction the norm. Most of us have face-book, twitter or some other sort of social media presence and its up to us all to use our online presence with mindfulness and care for the consequences of publication. This is a good thing as I see it because from mindfulness and care comes civility , and civility is the foundation of a well functioning society, which is after all what we want isn’t it?

Cheers Comrades

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*Happy Blog day to Moi 🙂  🙂

Lord Justice Leveson’s address in Australia

I hope that readers can forgive me returning to a pet topic of mine but I found this piece about Lord Justice Leveson’s address rather interesting and I am pleased to note that he is saying things about the “new media” that Both Ray and I have been arguing for quite sometime, namely that its users have to be held responsible for the things that they write or  say.

In the super-injunction example, the writ of the law was, perhaps, believed not to run against bloggers and tweeters. This is perhaps an example of the wider phenomenon I mentioned earlier: the belief that the law does not, and cannot apply to the internet. In many ways this is a pernicious and false belief: false because the law can be enforced against those who blog and tweet; pernicious because the idea that the law does not apply to some while it applies to others undermines the rule of law as it is inconsistent with the idea of equality before the law. Procedural justice requires the law to be equally applicable to all.

While Lord Justice Leveson speaks  to the nature of the problem with the “New Media” he does not offer any idea about how individuals may be held responsible for the things that they may publish in a tweet or blog and while he does not go further than mentioning online anonymity in passing  I am saddened that he has not made the logical connection between easy anonymity and the behaviour that it enables and encourages.  personally I think that easy anonymity goes hand in glove with bad behaviour and that Ray’s suggestion that no social media presence without verifiable bona fides should be possible has merit for improving accountability and  civil behaviour. The suing of Twits and Bloggers who have thought that they could ignore the law with impunity is something that we will see far more often in the coming years and we Bloggers will have to be eternally aware of just where the boundaries of the law are if we are to avoid litigation. Personally I have always strived to remain within the bounds of the law because I do understand that doing so is essential for the civility of  social engagement, hopefully those who have thought other wise will be brought to heal by the evolution of the law in the way that it pertains to our ever  increasing online presence.

Cheers Comrades

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The squawking of twitter

Ah the joys of social media!

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To be entirely frank I am delighted by this development because it means that those people who have believed that twitter is a place where the malicious things that they have blasted out into the ether would never  have repercussions for them  are  now reaping what they have sown.  and the man who has been so cruelly defamed with the most vile accusations that can be imagined is showing the arrogant  that there is no such thing as a free pass on the electronic super highway.

More power to Lord McAlpine’s arm Comrades

Cabbages, Kings, IPhones, and the way that the toys affect the interactions we have on the net

I’ve been thinking about blogging and its so called decline of late and it has just occurred to me that what it boils down to is that blogging is really a child of the PC, be it the desk top beastie  like the one that I use or the Lap top which the more wealthy have to play on,  and in they heyday of this social medium the Personal computer was the epitome of the human interface with the internet, Now far more people are interacting with the internet through their hand held devices like Phones or other display focused tablets. I have watched my brother using his smart phone to send text messages to his staff and it certainly is possible to send long messages but its also clear that it is poorly suited to writing long responses to something like a political piece in  a blog. A proper keyboard and a large display of the text that you are creating makes a huge difference if you want to make a substantive political argument.  Further the turn around time between posting something as a comment and getting a response to that comment either from the blog author or other commentators makes a difference as well. In the “old days”* the most lively blog threads happened when you had a few people all posting their comments at the same time of the day. Which for someone like me who is on the computer mainly during the day was a problem when the majority of readers/contributors to the conversation were there in the evenings. One other factor that is in play here is the fact that employers are becoming far less tolerant of their employees wasting work time on computer use that is not “work related”. It all adds up to less people reading blogs or writing them for that matter and to be honest if you take the time to brose through a lot of blogs as I have done over the years you will realise that there is a fair bit of chaff among the wheat and a fair few blogs that have just one (sometimes rather good) post and then nothing more. This humble blog and its precursors just sort of happened because I needed something to keep my brain working and it continues for exactly the same reason.

Today I hope to have an internet connection to my PS3 hooked up courtesy of my computer tech brother which will not only allow me to play games online (looking forward to that 😉  ) but also it will make it possible for me to respond to comments made in the evenings  when their authors are still online, heck we might even be able to get some banter going!

Cheers Comrades

The worry is that the as yet secret IPhone six is being developed with canine users in mind with nose print recognition smell based dialing and the ability to block all incidences of Cat blogging…

* How old does saying that make me feel!

Mainly Morris in a minor key

a car for my daughter

Readers may just notice a new addition to my blog roll because I have decided to link to a blog that I have been running for a while on a  low profile because it is entirely non political and I did not wish it to have the unwelcome attentions of the now defunct stalker blog that had been vexing Ray and I for the last few years. Anyway Its all about the Morris Minor build that I have mentioned on this blog before. I will be documenting the project there and even though my progress is very much dependant upon the state of my back I do hope that by doing a little every day I will manage to finish it by the time  she is old enough to drive it.

I am in the process of updating my blog rolls and readers will notice a few changes in the near future so that the sites I link to reflect what I have been currently reading and what I am happy to recommend to others. I am of course open to suggestions (in the comments) for new places to visit and enjoy and promote.

Cheers Comrades

versatile Morris Minor

Where is Craig Thomson when you need him?

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Now if only Craig Thomson and his credit card had visited Brisbane more often this business may just have survived ….

Cheers Comrades

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