As The Naughty Oughts end – where goest Media and the Internet?

I believe I was the first, back in 1999, to forecast that the first decade of the 21st Century – the “Naughty Oughts” – would feature plummeting confidence and a Y2K curse far worse than some niggling little computer glitch. Would this be what author Robert Heinlein called “The Crazy Years?” More important… will the next decade see more sanity, maturity, ambition and -above all – courage?

Many people have written asking me what “Mr. Transparency” thinks of the whole WikiLeaks affair. I’ve created a long, detailed analysis (querying magazines to publish it.)

Meanwhile, let’s fill in the holiday doldrums with some interestingthoughts and snippets abou the future of media and the Internet.

Gen-Xers, TRON, and “teen paradise.”

The new TRON movie reminds me of something – that GenXers had the best teen years.  Sure, us boomers had better music. And no on

e ever matched our self-righteous sanctimony! (e.g. today’s ruinous “culture war” in which boasting rights go to the Left for being “less insane.” What an honor.)

But 80s kids had teen-hangout paradise! The video arcade. Every neighborhood’s Las Vegas Casino. Noise, flash, excitement; all the teens were there. No generation had anything like it before or since. Pity.
(Or might the arcade revive? I know how to do it!)

= Whither Goest Media and The Internet? =

Netflix is gobbling internet bandwidth. During peak usage (8-10 pm), Netflix movie downloads took up 20% of America’s broadband traffic. That’s an amazing statistic, especially since it is due to usage by only 2% of Netflix subscribers. And demand is only going to grow, as more companies strive to compete. Netflix downloads already outpace Youtube and BitTorrent peer to peer sharing (which consumes 8% of bandwidth).

America’s internet connection speed lags behind that of other countries. The U.S. ranks behind Romania; our rate is less than a third that of South Korea. Consumers must demand better — or we’ll be on the slow road to the future…

From the Wall Street Journal: “In the Grip of the New Monopolists” Tim Wu writes: “The Internet has long been held up as a model for what the free market is supposed to look like–competition in its purest form. So why does it look increasingly like a Monopoly board? Most of the major sectors today are controlled by one dominant company or an oligopoly. Google owns search; Facebook, social networking; eBay rules auctions; Apple dominates online content delivery; Amazon, retail; and so on.”   One must wonder… why did Rupert let the WSJ publish this article.

Internet hijackings are a continuing threat, either intentional or accidental. In April 15% of internet traffic was diverted through China — when a Chinese internet provider updated its routing information. A similar incident occurred with Pakistan.

How is the government monitoring and using social media: View the PDF paper: U.S. Department of Homeland Security “Publicly Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness Initiative”

Wall Street Journal’series “What They Know” documents interrnet tracking technology by marketers on commonly visited sites.

Obama will appoint watchdog for online privacy.

An interesting history of the linguistic background of  “Word Wide Web” and all its descendants.

Infomous, a visual way to navigate online. Hover over a word to visit original sources. Press X to remove content.

I just realized, Marshal McLuhan died in 1980.  Jeepers! Just before the spread of Usenet and the recognizable early glimmers of Internet-based two-way media.  Was that irony, or what?

= More on (moron?) Media =

Has our global village exposed us to risk of systemic failure? In our ever-more complex, networked and interconnected world, the actions or failure of a few can have widespread consequences, potentially spiraling out of control. This mode is called systemic risk — the downfall of an entire system, rather than a few individuals. Global integration has resulted in markets, trade, transportation and communication systems which are intricately interlinked — this can, in theory, lead either to robustness or fragility. Some say that the financial crisis was the first sign of such widespread failure. The rapid transmission of a pandemic, or biological warfare loom as people live in densely populated areas and travel globally. “If past decades are any guide, new problems will be thrown at old and outdated institutions,” writes Ian Golden.

The English language has doubled in size in the last century, adding 8,500 new words a year.

Google estimates that they have scanned 10% of the books ever published. Now you too can mine this extensive database: Google has introduced the Books Ngram Viewer – which allows you to track the frequency of words & phrases in scanned literature through time. Try it out: The word apocalypse peaks about 1996; star wars peaks about 1990, then trails off. A research team at Harvard is calling this field “culturomics,” suggesting that this tool enables culture to be quantitatively decoded like a genome.

The Suicide of Print Journalism, by David Doody Has the internet killed print journalism? It’s accepted wisdom that the consumer has simply chosen free news over paid subscriptions. An alternate viewpoint is that print newspapers had become relatively staid and unchanging. An appropriate parallel might be with American automobile companies — who rolled out cosmetic design changes to great fanfare each year, with little true innovation — until Japanese companies jumped into the competition, offering a fresh alternative. The internet has succeeded in offering a broad range of up-to-the-minute news tailored to individual interests. The question remains — what are people willing to pay?

The Internet of  hype: Economist Magazine on the “Internet of Things” or the internet of everything.

Jason Silva in Big Think: Connecting all the dots. “Within our current social media architecture, we are all ‘agents of pattern-recognition’: by “posting”, “tweeting” or “liking” things, we end up working for one another, organizing the sea of data info meaningful streams and enriching our minds like never before.”


The patent system is currently unable to keep up with the constant innovation of technology: “Though patents were created to encourage innovation…the patent system actually stifles it. In the fast-moving software market, where online applications are constantly changing, investors say software patents are often targets for lawsuits rather than protection from them.”

Space-time cloak could conceal events: new meta-materials with the ability to bend light around them could be used to hide things in space and time.

The new field of location analytics: businesses are buying GPS data from mobile phones in order to track consumers’ location and movements. How much time did a customer spend in a store; where did they go when they left; what path did they take to their next location? Companies previously relied upon surveys; now they will be better able to profile their customers to precisely market their product. This is the future.

Ray Kurzweil on technology: “Our intuition about the future is linear. But the reality of information technology is exponential.” He continues, “My cell phone’s probably updating itself as we speak, but I’m walking around with 1,000-year-old software that was for a different era.”
Video clips of six Innovative Robot Hands — ready to lend us a hand.
Concerns about cell phones and radiation.

See a glimpse of the future (?) in the augmented reality “iLens” (I doubt this is a real Apple Inc promo.) In fact, old hat to Vernor Vinge and me.

… best of the season to all of you… and here’s to a return to ambitious, mature, calm-but-assertive confidence, in a bold civilization that is worthy of the name…


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