Real Progress

While a lot of people, my wife included, are discussing the current state of affairs in the world, I am a little more concerned with the future. While I might not be as extreme as Peter Thiel saying “I Don’t Consider [The iPhone] To Be A Technological Breakthrough” he does make a good point.

I have been reading a lot about Steve Jobs lately. I actually have to claim a free copy of the book from audible (if I did not miss the chance already.) On the excerpts that I have read though, he was not as much of an inventor but more of a tinkerer.

The part that troubles me is censorship. Sure, we might all have computers in our pockets, but are we going to get more information from them or less. Seriously, just follow the current SOPA noise and you will see that eventually we might be getting a lot less.

“The techno-ignorance of Congress was on full display. Member after member admitted that they really didn’t have any idea what impact SOPA’s regulatory provisions would have on the DNS, online security, or much of anything else,” said Adam Thierer, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center.[79] ” “One by one, each witness—including a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America—said they weren’t qualified to discuss…DNSSEC”, CNET reported.

Edited information is not new… I mean all of our news sources are edited for content most of the time. True unfiltered information is hard to come by… but what if that extended to also the books you read. That is the conversation that DeGuia and I were just having.

The other part that makes me uncomfortable is that while innovation in today’s sense of the word might be creating convenience and comfort, it is really not creating new jobs. Not here in the US anyway.

Not sure how close we are to all being replace by robots or not, but I seriously think that we are being distracted by a lot of “issues” and not really looking into the future. Like Theil brings up we need to make progress when it comes to transportation, health and energy.

Is Commitment a thing of the past?

I enjoy reading a blog called Satisfying Retirement, it is written quite well and it has a lot of great information, not just about retirement but also offering a great point of view of the world from a retiree’s perspective. The blog is both honest and candid about a lot of topics.

One of the articles that I enjoyed reading quite a bit was about commitment. With the economy the way it is looking, not just in the US but globally, it really makes you want to look for causes. I don’t want to look for someone or something to blame, but more of what behaviors can really affect the overall way we live.

I found that one of the biggest culprits is the lack of commitment in everything from relationships to people doing what they say they are going to do.

It was eye opening the first time I found out that there are people that will tell you that they will do something just so that they can get you off their back. Even though the have no intention of doing what it is that you are asking or suggesting, they just agree. The funny thing is that this culture is a lot more strict about communication in this sense. For example, in India, a yes means, I will try and you hardly ever hear a no to reply to a request. In this society, when you say yes it means I will do it. At least I thought it was supposed to.

Is this a value that has been eroded? Is bending the rules also part of the general consensus?

Follow my train of thought for a minute or two. The moment that the individual thinks of a commitment as something that can be broken, it is the moment that a system fails. Systems function based on rules. When you say something you are supposed to mean it, if not, then there is no accountability.

The post in Satisfying Retirement was more about how inconvenient it can be when business and people don’t respect a schedule, but this same thing permeates everything that we do. I have watched some documentaries about the economy recently and they all seem to have the common theme of not rule breaking, but lets see how much we can bend the rules. Eventually the rules just don’t apply and it turns into, lets see how much we can get away with.

I have also had interactions with people that love to see how far they can push others. They find it interesting to find others breaking points. To me this behaviors shows a lack of respect and it affects everything else in life. How about you, do you trust people’s word anymore? is that someone you value?

The Revenge of the Nerdz, I got your face!

Recently I have noticed something very strange. I am not as paranoid as I thought I was. Maybe it is because everyone around me is becoming more and more paranoid about the internet and facebook in particular, but I seem almost ok with what they have been doing. If you have no clue of what I am talking about, in a nutshell facebook has software that will allow it to be able to tell who is on every picture you post by recognizing the faces. Don’t panic, you can turn it off.

I am a geek, I read a lot of tech streams and find out about a lot of things before other people do. The biggest one lately though was the whole facebook timeline that was only available to users that were developers. It made me realize that this new world is probably scary to people without the computer competency required to understand privacy. What is worse is that some people don’t even know they should be scared.

I recently played a bit with the google image search. If you search for an image and you find one that looks like what you are looking for, drag and drop that image into the search bar and instead of searching for a word it will search for a similar image. Ebay is releasing something similar, so you can take a picture of what you want and find it on Ebay. Right from your phone.

You say, OMG that is so cool!

Wait a minute though. That is the same technology that is going to make it so scary to live in this new digital world. Face recognition software has been out for a while now, but most people don’t understand how powerful and intrusive it really is. You think your car telling a company where you are at all times and how speed you are going is intrusive? think about software that can recognize your faces so any time you are near a camera it can do the same thing. No GPS, no need to carry a phone, nope just showing your face will get you identified!

I learned something new not too long ago. There are a lot of people that don’t use the banking system and rely on cash. That was a surprise to me. Most of the people I know have a bank account, even more so do online banking. It was bizarre to have to think that there are people that still stuff their mattress.

Its not scary to me, it does not make me paranoid. I just don’t think that most people are aware of that. The government has had the technology to do this for a while, but now corporations have it too.

I think this information should be available to all, and users when signing up for a service should get a tour of the privacy settings. Also you should be prompted by the software when something is released that has a privacy setting attached to it.

I assume that most people know a lot of this information, but every time I have a conversation lately people don’t know that facebook knows who they are even when someone else uploads a picture. I get incredulous, no “f*ing” way. Oh YES way.

Letting Others Think For You

The other day I was reading a blog and I came into a piece of writing that shocked me. I am totally going to paraphrase in the off chance that someone can actually trace it back to the post (and therefore the person)

“I continued to watch the show because it is one of the shows that smart people watch, even though I did not get the humor; I would try to laugh and I was going to force myself to enjoy it.”

Now, discarding the fact that it could be a complete BS blog written just to mess with people’s head (it kind of messed with mine if you could not already tell.) Would someone actually make themselves “like” something because others do?

I know I have done plenty of things that I did not want to do, and I do admit that sometimes I am wrong on judging stuff that I am going to enjoy. Forcing myself to like something though to be part of a perceived group of people though? That sounds more than a little bizarre for me. Isn’t kind of figuring out what you like and don’t part of developing a personality.

I guess every time that I go to a romantic comedy with Bea it is a similar exercise. I think the success rate of them is about 50% in not making me want the 2 hours of my life back. Overall I hate romantic comedies because they do to promote false sense of what relationships should be. I have an awesome relationship with my wife; but I am not that perfect dude from the movies. I don’t think that perfect dude really exists. That is what they sell… and people actually fall for it. I think some people that have a lot of issues dating are because they have built unrealistic expectation of that the ideal person should be; and yes I do sometimes blame romantic comedies for that.

The more I thought about it, the more we do try to like things that those around us enjoy. We read movie reviews, we listen to the critics, now social media makes it so our friends can also start sharing more and more of their opinions and probably having more influence in our likes and dislikes.

I guess the process can be mostly unconscious, my friends like something so I should find what it is that they like and try to enjoy it. I guess the part that freaks me out is thinking that if a certain group or type of people like something, then if I want to be like them I have to make myself enjoy what they do. Like if somehow I watch the discovery channel I will now become a scientist. Its just delusional. Is that what the newer generations are like? Do people really want to be told what to like? Do people really believe that personality traits via osmosis works in higher beings?

Deleting your Facebook account

All the years of having a blog and I never thought that the web would make me feel over exposed. I am paranoid when it comes to computers because I know that everything that we put out there not only CAN be tracked, but it is already being tracked.

That does not bother me all that much. That is until you think of the audience.

Facebook has already called personal problems for me. When you have everyone you know being capable of knowing where you are at, what you are doing, what you are listening to, what you are eating… it gets a little intrusive. I love sharing things, places I love to go, burgers that are too big to be healthy, Gyros to make friends that cannot get them hungry, etc. It is the active thing that I like, the choice I make… but when we are moving to a “frictionless” way of sharing, it changes a lot.

Once I got my iPhone, I started to realize how a lot of applications are now connected directly to facebook. From your little phone minigames, to your music streaming apps. They are all connected to facebook. If you have not researched how to get rid of your facebook, you don’t know that it takes 14 days of not loggin into it for your account to be deleted. If any of your little apps logs in, bam, your account is back!

I am not deleting my facebook account just yet. I want to see how the new “timeline” feature really works before I cry foul.

Online interaction is a lot different than having a dinner party at your house. Unless you have your life completely compartmentalized, anything you share will be seen by everyone. I was used to thinking that way for a long time because of the blog… but now facebook might make it that way because of my life.

I just heard on the news this weekend that OnStar even if you are not paying for the service anymore continues to gather data on your car. Your car basically will track your speed, location, how long you leave your (check engine light) on, etc. This is all consumer data that can and will be sold. Scary right?

Well facebook does the same thing to your online experience. Even if you are not logged in, they are still able to track everything you do online. And now that they are adding “frictionless” posting, this might extend to everything you do.

All this information was available before if someone had enough computer tracking skills. A couple of programs in your computer and I could track your every move… but imagine everyone you know being able to do that to your life. Everyone could know that I spent most of 2010 eating Chinese food every day, not just my friends that I would joke with when I would order it because the lady already knew my voice and was ready to just send the food.

I simply don’t like it. I think it is too much information out there. There are years of my life that I seriously don’t want to remember.

The ultimate purpose of this post is simple. Think about your online behavior and see if that is something you want everyone in your facebook to know. And I am not just talking about your pr0n escapades either, but lets say that you and your spouse are looking at adoption sites… is that something that you want everyone to know?

Just think about it, and start keeping track of what sites (or little apps) you use your facebook sign on to access. If you ever wanted to delete your facebook, you would have to go to each one of them. It might not be a bad idea to have a list.

*Update*

Check out the comments for some really great links! Also make sure you check all those apps you have (like spotify, and make sure they are not “integrating” with facebook.)

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