Facebook location vs the ACLU

August 19, 2010 | Leave a comment

A lot has been said about Facebook’s new location feature, which is available via its iPhone client or HTML5 mobile web app. It’s a shrewd move, to be sure, and by now it’s clear that the company has ambitions to be the next decade’s tech behemoth. While Microsoft has a grip over stand-alone computing, Apple over mobile devices, and Google over search, Facebook has managed to become the de facto gateway for social information.

One indication of how powerful it is comes from the following article:

Places allows your friends to tag you when they check in somewhere, and Facebook makes it very easy to say “yes” to allowing your friends to check in for you. But when it comes to opting out of that feature, you  are only given a “not now” option (aka ask me again later). “No” isn’t one of the easy options.

This warning doesn’t come from a computer security forum, the EFF, or a group of interested hackers. It comes from the ACLU, the groundbreaking organization that aims to protect Americans’ civil rights. In other words, Facebook privacy is now being watched by the same group pushing for the closure of Guantanamo Bay. A powerful place to be – but perhaps an indication that Zuckerberg needs to re-assess his take on privacy?

In some ways, it doesn’t matter. Software projects like Status.net and Cliqset (Youtube link) are establishing a resilient, decentralized network where privacy is in users’ hands by default. These new applications are easy to use, accessible and ready for both private individuals and enterprises to pick up – and as such, represent the real future of social data on the web.

For your consideration at SXSW Interactive

August 11, 2010 | 1 comment

I’ve submitted a talk for South By Southwest 2011:

Building the User-centered Web

By establishing a general standard for social application interactions, the services and technologies used to make connections become less relevant; the Internet is people, one big social network, and users no longer have to worry about how they connect. We can all get on with communicating and collaborating in contextually appropriate ways. In this talk, I’ll discuss how to build a decentralized, user-centered web using existing and emerging technologies. I hope you’ll join me.

If you’d like to see this at the next SXSW, please visit this page to vote.

Paul Adrian also has submitted a talk, this time about the future of journalism, and how technology can help:

Technology Can Create a Press for the People

I believe it is time for a “news” revolution. A new press should produce comprehensive streams of rigorously non-partisan original reporting on the issues that are most important to our lives. Once informed, we the people should have a space where we can discuss the important issues of our times without having to submit to intolerance, deceptive campaigning and fear-mongering. Through the use of technology and new business models, news innovators can provide more credible information and space for civil discussions. The goal is to empower citizens by providing access to superior reporting and the platform for community organization necessary for the People once again to become powerful participants in democracy.

As well as being an award-winning journalist and technology entrepreneur, Paul is an inspiring speaker who is worth listening to. You can vote for his talk over here.