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Category: network

Doris Lessing and the 7 Deadly Sins of the Network

Bosch’s vision of gluttony

The digerati scoff at Doris Lessing’s Nobel speech for the sections that refer to the Internet and ‘computers.’ The Internet and computers haven’t made them dumb, therefore they haven’t made anyone dumb. While it’s certainly possible to do interesting work with the tools that computers and the network provide, Sturgeon’s law always applies. Why would it surprise anyone that a medium with so many inputs would contain a lot of crap. If the network didn’t contain a lot of crap, why would we need so many tools to filter it?

People Magazine is only published once a week, but on the Internet it’s possible to immerse oneself in celebrity gossip 24 hours per day. It’s possible to focus on one’s obsessions to the exclusion of the rest of the world. We sometimes call it the echo chamber. The network doesn’t require that we challenge ourselves, it’s happy to endlessly feed our gluttony. Do we even view it as gluttony? Do we think of it as one of the seven deadly sins? It’s a vision out of Dante, a machine that feeds itself, a hunger never sated. Is the Internet post-moral?

We laugh off an old lady’s comments about the Internet without really thinking through the deep rivers that run underneath. It’s as though we really believed that time started on January 1, 1970 at 12:00 GMT. (and that the Apocalypse is scheduled for January 19, 2038)

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Hypertargeting and the Panopticon of Social Networks


The rebellion against hyper-targeting continues. Doc Searls weighs in, as does Jason Calacanis. Targeted marketing always worked with fairly crude tools, and because of this it was tolerable. Marketers looked at demographics and psychographics, made educated guesses about the audiences of particular radio or television programs, and did the best they could. It was more art than science. The direct marketers were the most statistically driven. Marketers dreamed of knowing enough to target perfectly. Now with Facebook and other social networks, they’re starting to get their wish. The user inhabits a panopticon, and the data generated belongs to the system to be rented to the highest bidder.

Will the inmates rebel and demand the authority to selectively release data to the system? Will they be able release none of their data and still participate in the system? Can they withdraw their data, move it and use it to their advantage in another system? When a customer uses her data to her advantage in a system, the system benefits as well.The coarse targeting of marketing has required high frequency bombardment. We’re entering the age of smart bombs, but the frequency seems to be just as high. Shouldn’t smart marketing just be the thing I want, when I’ve indicated I actually want it? Advertising frequency goes down, but the number of transactions probably increases.

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Kindle: Network Connectivity included in purchase price

Connectivity to the network included in the purchase price of the Kindle. This is the most revolutionary part of the Kindle. It’s a product, a hunk of plastic and electronics that comes in a box with a recharger. The price is a little high for an e-reader, the special sauce is the built in complimentary network connectivity. There’s no meter running and network connectivity is essential nowadays in everything in life,  with a lot of tech advances in robotics, A “networked robot” is a robotic device connected to a communications network such as the Internet or LAN, EMS Solutions works with the latest cable and wiring connections.

It’s EVDO, Amazon calls it WhisperNet– but it doesn’t really matter what the technology is or what it’s called. The consumer doesn’t need to think about it. It’s what enables shopping for books and periodicals, and what allows delivery. It will only be noticeable when it’s slow or not working.

I’m not sure how the economics of this work, but if the cost of the network is built in to the cost of the reader and the purchased content, the issue of the price of the network disappears. And with that, a big usability problem and a big uptake issue goes away. The network is assumed. With some mass production, economies of scale and a little time we may get the price down to what a DVD player costs.

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