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Year: 2017

The End of Net Neutrality, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Blockchain

The End of Net Neutrality, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Blockchain

Last week, the FCC reversed the 2015 Net Neutrality Act and contrary to popular misconception, the internet did not disappeared. In fact, there has been a lot of disinformation or phacts as we now like to call them (in print, at least), as they bear little or no resemblance to the real thing, surrounding NN.

As for that so-called last mile, as Wired pointed out in 2014, prior to the first NN vote, in What Everyone Gets Wrong in the Debate Over Net Neutrality, “The net neutrality debate is based on a mental model of the internet that hasn’t been accurate for more than a decade. We tend to think of the internet as a massive public network that everyone connects to in exactly the same way. We envision data traveling from Google and Yahoo and Uber and every other online company into a massive internet backbone, before moving to a vast array of ISPs that then shuttle it into our homes. That could be a neutral network, but it’s not today’s internet… Ten years ago, internet traffic was “broadly distributed across thousands of companies,” said Craig Labovitz (CEO of DeepField Networks, an outfit whose sole mission is to track how companies build internet infrastructure) “..But by 2009, half of all internet traffic originated in less than 150 large content and content-distribution companies, and today, half of the internet’s traffic comes from just 30 outfits, including Google, Facebook, and Netflix… Because these companies are moving so much traffic on their own, they’ve been forced to make special arrangements with the country’s internet service providers that can facilitate the delivery of their sites and applications. Basically, they’re bypassing the internet backbone, plugging straight into the ISPs (and) essentially rewired the internet.” Read More...

How to Navigate Holiday Parties in the #MeToo Era

How to Navigate Holiday Parties in the #MeToo Era

It’s the holiday season, which means not necessarily the usual networking events: people are in a festive mood and companies, investors, meetups, et al are hosting holiday parties, yea, even in this post-Weinstein Age of Inappropriate Behavior. There are a few basic rules to keep in mind if you want to enjoy the season without fear of embarrassment, breach of etiquette or the need to retain counsel.

  1. Don’t overdo it on the open bar. You don’t want to do or say something stupid, and alcohol does have a tendency to lower one’s inhibitions. Tech is a small town. Chances are that these are people you will see again – or work with. Pace yourself or brace yourself.
  2. Don’t talk about work ad nauseam. It’s the holidays. Lighten up. If there’s someone there you’d been wanting to meet, introduce yourself – but don’t go into your elevator pitch. If you do manage to get as far as the exchange of contact information, drop him/her a note and offer to follow up after the holidays. Do not suggest coffee. In any correspondence. Ever.
  3. What happens in Vegas, doesn’t stay in Vegas anymore. It lives on social media forever.
  4. Be careful what you share on social media. No embarrassing shots. No dumb or inappropriate hashtags.
  5. Tip your bartenders. Always.
  6. Dress appropriately. You might want to dress up or dress down a bit, but don’t wear anything that will elicit unwanted or the wrong kind of attention. Ok, so there’s music and dancing, but you’re not in a club: it’s a work or networking environment in a more festive setting: the last thing you want to do is to have to face the music the next day.
  7. The Ugly Sweater Exception: ugly sweaters, for some reason, are celebrated this time of year. Note to self and as a general rule: there are certain sweaters that should be burned rather than burned into someone’s memory.
  8. Don’t skip the party. Holiday parties are different from the usual networking parties. You can network, but remember that this time of year, the emphasis is on social. Be social. But not too social.
  9. Don’t fall prey to FOMO. There are multiple parties on any given night – in New York, anyway – and they all start at roughly the same time. If you’re at a party that you’re enjoying, don’t worry about the next party and what you might be missing. You’ll meet whomever you’re meant to meet, wherever you happen to be. And there’s always next year. Or next week. Or tomorrow.
  10. To kiss or not to kiss. You do have to be careful these days, so – air kisses. Ok, so it may seem a bit disingenuous, but does remove the threat of potential lawsuits.
  11. Never do anything after the sun goes down that won’t stand up to the light of day.
  12. Thank the host. It takes time and effort to put an event together. Take a minute to say thank you. Especially if you’re someone’s plus one. Thank the host for including you.

Bonus! Study Fast Company’s video suggestions on What Not To Do At Your Company’s Holiday Party Read More...

Net Neutrality and Other Tech Oxymorons

Net Neutrality and Other Tech Oxymorons

The Net Neutrality (NN) issue has surfaced again under new FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who’s threatening to reverse it. The tech cartel, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, have come down strongly against the move, framing it, once again, as control over that so-called last mile being the proverbial ‘us’ versus ‘them’ scenario. Why not? Worked the first time under the less than transparent 332-page regulation that passed in 2015. All things considered, we can’t help but wonder if the real problem is Ajit Pai or agitprop.

Net Neutrality basically mandates that all data on the internet must be treated equally, but that’s misleading. We’ve previously covered how the tech cartel has wrested enormous financial benefits and control over content under the 2015 rules, and given the amount of censorship that they’ve managed to exert since the rules went into effect, it seems that the telcos weren’t necessarily the problem and that NN was not necessarily the solution. Read More...

Why You Need to Pay Attention to the Blockchain: A Crash Course in Internet History

Why You Need to Pay Attention to the Blockchain: A Crash Course in Internet History

There was a time when the idea of giving your credit card information online was unthinkable, despite the fact that you’d readily hand it over to a total stranger (aka, waiter) in a restaurant, who would vanish for a few minutes before returning it. Now people don’t think twice about it, despite what we know hacks of Equifax, Yahoo (Every single Yahoo account was hacked – 3 billion in all) and most recently, the massive US military social media spying archive left wide open in AWS S3 buckets. Actually, All the Major Companies Have Been Hacked.

While there have been cryptocurrency hacks, still believe that it’s the blockchain that’s unsafe?

The blockchain is still a relative unknown and, truth be told, terra incognita for most. Think of it as the early days of the Internet, in the days when the web was accessed via the c prompt (C>). It was geek and early adopter territory back then, until Netscape came along, providing a graphical user interface that changed everything. Read More...

Amazon and Facebook: Two Very Different Paths Forward

Amazon and Facebook: Two Very Different Paths Forward

On the surface, not much difference in the Amazon Approach and the Facebook Approach: swallow up everything in your path. If we can’t buy you (Facebook/Snapchat), we will appropriate every new feature you develop and destroy you. Of course, when there’s a product or product line from an outside vendor that’s doing well on Amazon, the company will simply copy it and cut out the middleman.

Variations on a theme.

Not so, it seems, going forward, and it will be interesting to see who’s making the smarter bets. Facebook just introduced Facebook Local, which Wired is calling a Yelp and Foursquare killer and “the only Facebook app you need,” the point being to keep you even more engaged with the site, about which founding Facebook president Sean Parker had some choice words to share this past week, none of them flattering (Sean Parker unloads on Facebook “exploiting” human psychology), giving Axios “a candid insider’s look at how social networks purposely hook and potentially hurt our brains.” Bottom line here: Facebook is betting on a mobile future. Read More...

Mr. Zuckerberg Did NOT Go to Washington

Mr. Zuckerberg Did NOT Go to Washington

While Mark Zuckerberg may or may not be angling to move into the White House at some time in the none-too-distant future, Capitol Hill clearly holds no fascination for him.

Apologies if we sound a bit redundant, but given the testimony of Facebook, Twitter and Google before a Senate subcommittee this past week, hard to ignore the Russian ad issue/conundrum and its larger implications.

Net States Rule the World; We Need to Recognize Their Power, posits Alexis Wichowski in Wired. “Net-states are digital non-state actors, without the violence. Like nation-states, they’re a wildly diverse bunch. Some are the equivalent to global superpowers: the Googles, the Facebooks, the Twitters….There are also hacktivist collectives like Anonymous and Wikileaks….Regardless of their differences in size and raison d’etre, net-states of all stripes share three key qualities: They exist largely online, enjoy international devotees, and advance belief-driven agendas that they pursue separate from, and at times, above, the law.” Read More...

Tech and the God View

Tech and the God View

It seems that both users at large and governments are now turning against the tech megaliths, which includes Facebook, Google and Amazon. Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend We are beginning to understand that tech companies don’t have our best interests at heart. Did they ever?, wrote Noam Cohen in the New York Times. We don’t need to catalog what globalization, the exploitation of labor and the seemingly unbridled power of platforms such as Facebook and Google has done and is doing to world economies and people, individually. Wages have diminished or stagnated, verticals are being consumed and choked. They control the conversation, with hitherto unheard of collection of personal data on vast segments of the population globally – Facebook claims two billion users and how many people, besides Yours Truly, strenuously avoid Google search and all things Google, where and when possible? Voice activation may indeed make our lives easier, but again, at what price? Are we so accustomed to surrendering our privacy for the sake of convenience that we shrug it off? Head’s up, in case you missed it: Warning over iPhone apps that can silently turn on cameras at any time. And, as the article points out, “Google has recently deleted several apps that surreptitiously recorded users and masqueraded as legitimate apps.”

Wonder how many they missed…

Remembering the God View

A while back, when Travis Kalanack was CEO, Uber got into trouble with its customer-tracking God View app, which allowed the company to track riders’ locations and other data. In one case, Uber executive Emil Michael proposed digging up dirt on journalists who were critical of his company and spreading details of their personal lives. The issue was settled. Fines were levied and Uber promised to limit God View data. That was 2014. Read More...

Online Etiquette: A Refresher Course/Sharable Moment

Online Etiquette: A Refresher Course/Sharable Moment

Email has been around for quite a while now, and it’s no doubt will the #1 form of online communication. LinkedIn and Facebook are also very good ways of reaching out to people whom you know – or whom you might want to know/get better acquainted with/need something from. Hey, they’re tools and if you have the tools at hand, why not use them, what, eh?

Caveat: always be careful with your tools. Show them respect so that they’ll always be in good working order. And don’t take them – or the people whom you might want to know/get better acquainted with/need something from – for granted.

Here are some simple rules to follow and points to remember, which no doubt many of you already know and in which you do not engage, but feel free to share them with offenders, and you know who we mean, and we know that we’re not alone in encountering them: Read More...

The Ostrich Effect

The Ostrich Effect

According to Sheryl Sandberg in her exclusive interview with Axios, Facebook is not a media company. Argues Business Insider, “How would you classify a company that:

Most would call that a media company. And most would expect that company to adhere to the standards, safeguards, and rules that all media companies do… A company such as Facebook, which distributes media and makes money off it by selling ads is, by definition, in the media business.”

Didn’t they get the memo? Or see Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network? According to Sandberg, Facebook is a technology company, and can you name a major company out there today that isn’t driven by technology in some form? By Sandberg’s definition, Netflix, Hulu and Comcast would not be defined as media companies, either, and as Business Insider points out, “There are numerous reasons why Facebook would be reticent to admit it’s a media company. It could harm its sky-high valuation, which is currently at about $500 billion… It would also open Facebook up to regulatory rules in the US and other countries that it would rather avoid.” Read More...

Tech and the Myth of Net Neutrality

Tech and the Myth of Net Neutrality

Mention ‘Net Neutrality’ and the tech uberlords are quick to whip the masses into a frenzy.

Merriam Webster defines Net Neutrality as “the idea, principle, or requirement that Internet service providers should or must treat all Internet data as the same regardless of its kind, source, or destination … a philosophical contest that’s being fought under the banner of “net neutrality,” a slogan that inspires rhetorical devotion but eludes precise definition. Broadly, it means everything on the Internet should be equally accessible—that the Internet should be a place where great ideas compete on equal terms with big money.—Sarah Rabil

For the tech uberlords, the demise of Net Neutrality means that their content will be sidelined or more costly to access, with preference going to the content provided by the big pipe owners: namely, the Comcasts and Spectrums (formerly Time Warner) of the world. Read More...

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