Snow, the Internet and All That
Posted at 15:54h, 26 Jan 2016 in List Archive by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

There was just a near-record blizzard here in New York City – for the record, we happen to love snow (maybe not quite as much as this guy) – so we decided to have a bit of fun with snow – and snow jobs.

Net Neutrality. We won! Or so they say. We’ve said it before and for those who didn’t hear the first few times – careful before you do a victory lap and in case you missed it, FCC accused of power grab on broadband According to the article, ‘The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote next week on an annual report about the state of high-speed Internet deployment around the country. A proposed draft of the congressionally mandated report finds that advanced telecommunications capability isn’t being deployed in a “reasonable and timely fashion” to all Americans. According to a fact sheet released by the agency, 34 million Americans do not have access to wired internet service that meets the FCC’s definition of broadband — download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps…Critics say the report isn’t just a compendium of statistics, but a way for the FCC to expand its authority and place arbitrary standards on Internet service providers.” In fact, the standards are so arbitrary that the FCC hasn’t even defined what constitutes ‘broadband.’ (The agency has now included wireless in their broadband definition, without defining speeds.) We’ve already witnessed how government has gutted out privacy. Heaven (and the FCC) knows what’s next.

Social Media and the Democratization of the Internet. Meanwhile, back in the private sector, there has been quite a bit of focus on how social media companies are attempting to curb cyberbullying – and never mind that the space has also become something of a bully pulpit (re: Gamergate and not to single that out, as there are so many examples: that one simply springs to mind) – or worse.  Is Facebook the enemy of truth and civic unity? “The defining political achievements of the past decade have favored tolerance and empathy – and online discussion has fuelled them all,” argues Steven Johnson in the Washington Post. And isn’t it pretty to think so: Israel to Zuckerberg: Stop Killing Jews. Johnson might have missed the fact that jihadis had a Facebook page to spread the message: “go out and kill a Jew today.  With detailed instructions on how to do it.” We know that Facebook has a history of censoring/distorting posts and Twitter, with their recent change of rules regarding postings, is quickly joining the censorship club (How Twitter quietly banned hate speech last year: Company now emphasizes safety and free expression rather than lack of censorship). Social media is still in its relative infancy and truth be told, people haven’t changed. It’s just all out there on a much more public and easily accessible stage. And for the record, the video on how to kill a jew is still accessible on Facebook.

“It would be helpful, certainly, if the default platform of the social media age were not owned by a private company, where we could experiment more freely with different rules for sharing information and opinions, and where our online identities belonged to us and not to giant multinationals,” says Johnson in the WaPost piece. True that and as he goes on to conclude, “There are more dividers with a soapbox thanks to social networks, but so far it is the uniters that are actually getting things done. The price of politics in the social media age is that the crazies get a place on the playing field. The test is whether they win.” Same could be said of the online media and as for the blatant bias out there, if you read the entire article, we would ask him to define ‘crazies’ and may well rest our case.

Oscar, Roger, Casper. No, this is not a shout-out to various SOS members. Those are three NY based startups, all well- or recently funded. Do male names make companies stronger? Or leave investors predisposed to funding them?  So, no one would buy insurance online from Wella or Trudy? Yes, we do know the x.ai‘s virtual assistant is named Amy Ingram. A-hem. Last week, the world’s leaders descended on Davos, Switzerland, ‘to “make the world a better place.” Among the issues on the to do list: How to close the gender gap. According to Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, it’s not a moment too soon. “Men still run the world—and it’s not going that well.”’ Roger that!

Tread careuflly out there and beware the falling ice as we trudge onward and forward.