Wednesday, May 18, 2011


 The Supreme Court is considering how police can use GPS devices on vehicles to track the whereabouts of individuals under investigation.  The devices are for sale on the internet:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Library of Congress Jukebox

The National Jukebox is here.   This is wonderful.

The Story So Far

The report is here.  A blog about the report is here.  Bill Grueskin, Ava Seave, and Lucas Graves wrote the report for Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism. The report highlights how great the legacy burden is and how slow organizations are to adapt to change. I'm still reading the report, but the authors participated in a panel discussion at the Columbia Journalism School last night that I attended.

I just want to remind everyone that we're not adapting to new, changed economic models fast enough.

I want to remind everyone that disintermediation is the strength of the web.  I like the word "disintermediation."  That's true even though it means a lot of hardship. "Disintermediation" means cutting out the middle man.  That's been the effect of the web.  That is what has happened in the music business.  That is what has happened in the movie business with Netflix.  That is what has happened in the news business with newspapers.  That is what has happened with encyclopedias with Wikipedia.  That is what has happened with libraries with Google Books.  That is what has happened in politics with Obama raising lots of money on the web in 2008.  That is what Amazon has done to bookstores.  That is what is happening with Hulu.  That is how the TV networks have shrunk and cable channels have grown.  Now YouTube is about to shrink the cable channels by programming on YouTube. 

Bob Dylan poetically expressed it as "He who gets hurt will be he who has stalled."

Congress is not facilitating the change.  Congress is not on the side of the future.  If we want wealth to grow in the US, we will facilitate the future.  Otherwise, the wealth will grow somewhere else.  If these people were really concerned about the deficit, they would facilitate the growth of the economy, not impede it.

The web was designed to route around disruptions.  That's the foundation of the DARPANet which grew into the web. 

Pulitzer Prizes

The list of 2011 Pulitzer prizes is here.  I looked for the names of the book-prize winners in Twitter,but they don't seem to be there.  I guess the authors don't tweet.                   

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Modernity means digitization

In the news now.  In the context of bin Laden's death, it is said that the house had a satellite dish but didn't have a landline telephone, and that someone thought that was suspicious.  He apparently used a "sneakernet" and not the internet.  These are all the the kinds of facts that confirm that "modern" means "using digital means."

State Farm insurance announced an "app" for smartphones here that reminds us that nothing is private.  The app will grade your driving performance.  At this point apparently State Farm is not harvesting the information, but you can imagine that someone will use an app like this to price auto insurance.

It has long been my view that the state-issued license plates will include a chip --- something like EZ Pass --- that will record where you have been, how fast you were going, how close you came to other cars, and the like.  Then the state will charge you for your use of the highway.  State Farm has just started the ball rolling with collecting data.  There is really nothing private about this data.  There is no particular basis on which to argue that this is unreasonable search.  Driving on a public highway in full view of all the other drivers is not a private act.  Driving on a public highway incurs costs that the public must pay.  This is a developing area.

I talked about the State Farm app in the web-based program I led this week about confidentiality agreements.  If a company promotes an app like this, what are the trade secrets that go with it?  The names of the individuals who download the program?  The information collected?  Who has a right to look at the information collected?  Does the user have a right to underlying data or only to the score?  Does the state insurance commissioner have a right to look at the data?  How do we create a contract-based web of privacy surrounding this information?  How do we describe all this data?  

What can the police search when they arrest you?

Your phone knows where you are:

Police intercepts:

Michigan Police

Tom Tom speed trap article:

It's a bad idea to set this all up as based on law enforcement.  These arrangements should come as a result of our collective living together, not as a result that some among us turn out to be criminals.  We in the US these days tend to emphasize the individual over the collective.  Conservatives base their arguments on the general outlook that "it's every man for himself."  If we are really going to succeed, we need leaders to emphasize that "a rising tide lifts all boats."  If conservatives are going to argue for the primacy of the individual, we need tham to apply that rule over a much broader swath of public policy issues than they do.  Not all of the value of being an American derives from the Pentagon, the Second Amendment and law enforcement.  If modernity comes out of digitization, then we need to apply modernity to a lot of areas besides law enforcement.