Daily, I continue to refer to physical textbooks (and books) printed anywhere from 2 to 100 years ago. I barely can access digital content I wrote less than 10 years ago due to format rot, vintage software and hardware dependencies, licensing problems, and more. (In other words, nothing the cloud can help with today.)
I kept hoping that enough SF novels, films or stories depicting a bleak future controlled by the wealthy, the shrewd or the lucky would make it into the mainstream to prevent it from happening, but it’s already here. Unless you’re made of disposable income, you’re not going to be able to read that digital textbook you’re leasing (not buying!) next year, let alone in 5 when the reading device no longer functions. And don’t kid yourself; with Pearson supporting SOPA, the intent is clear – information is borrowed, the copy never belonging to you.
When the next Library of Alexandria is burned to the ground, will the used book stores be stripped to the bare walls within days? Or will they even exist?
Update: This recent article, and its comment thread, is also relevant.
so I read about this new personalization of Google Search yesterday, and the further social-media-darling gushing about it today, flew past the supposed “motivational” features, down to the security and privacy section. they list 3 things that are supposed to reflect they are taking privacy & security seriously:
- SSL encryption. OK, so random sniffers/proxies will have a harder time seeing what you’re searching for, presuming you requested your search through a secure page in the first place. At least this is the default if you’re signed in. This is fodder against “the big bad hacker” always looking over your shoulder. Are we all that paranoid?
- Visual indication of results visibility scope. In general, the human mind can easily intuit this (“oh look, a link to my private journal.”) without the visual hint.
- Toggle for unpersonalized results. I guess this is if someone is looking over your shoulder (in real life), or if you don’t trust your employer to be sniffing inside your SSL connections. (They are.) But it’d be arguably more useful to log out first, wouldn’t it?
And that’s it. It’s semi-security, not privacy, as always – and hardly “unprecedented” protection. It always boils down to a very basic fact: if you’re logged in, everything you do at that site is known to the service provider, and mapped to you, and possible elsewhere (cookies, JS, other tracking mechanisms). Even when you’re not logged in, guesswork to figure out who you are and what you’re doing is fairly straightforward.
Flirting with the “angry-old-woman” stereotype briefly: does this upset no one else?
There is absolutely nothing private about web-service-provided personalized search.
I can’t believe it’s been a year since I posted anything. 2011 was a depressing year, to be sure, but some good things did happen:
- Got my music into a hit video game, Starwish
- Resigned my job to get the Ph.D. completed. Estimate: 18-24 months to go from today.
- Completed a 1000km rally on the rebuilt ’78 CB750, but just barely – she needs to go back into the shop this winter
- Regained confidence in programming through some short-term hackfests
- Started prep for the related Introduction to CouchDB Development course, kicking off next week
- Vacations in both Buenos Aires and Singapore, including time with good friends in each
- Helping lead and teach in some online gaming communities
I’m entering a very changeable 2012, personally, and I’m not sure exactly how it’ll turn out. At least I have a big list of things to get done!