The broader Second Life consumer backlash that many
predicted for 2007 (and actually occurred) may pale in
comparison to the regulatory backlash coming in late 2008 or
Marking what could well be the first resounding shot in a
full-fledged war on virtual worlds, and rich online environments in
general, US House Representative Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) extended his
crusade against online predators to the rapidly growing virtual
world of Second
Life , calling for “common sense reforms” that would make it
harder for predators to intermingle with youngsters.
In a May 11 interview with a
local news channel Kirk presented Second Life as “one of the
fastest growing websites on the planet” adding that he’s worried
“that they don’t properly screen for children.” “Parents should be
more aware of this,” he said. (cont.)
If there’s one thing that separates the two presidential candidates distinctly, it’s their use of technology. We’ve all heard about how John McCain doesn’t know how to use a computer, and it’s no secret that Obama does. So it’s not surprising that the Obama camp has come out with a nifty new iPhone application to help their supporters help out even more.
The application, free from the iPhone App store, promises to change the face of activism through making difficult tasks easy.
For starters, the application gives you stats on yours calls to friends in support of Obama (heck, it even tells you what friends are in battleground states). It tells you how many calls you’ve made and how you rank compared to other application users. You can get updates from the campaign, latest news on the candidates, and even local event information such as volunteer opportunities or visits from the Obama campaign.
The Obama campaign has raised the standard in political activism. You can bet that within the next few months (if they’re smart) you can expect to see applications from all types of organizations. The McCain Campaign, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and the ACLU are probably not far behind. Heck, you may even see an app from the Sea Shepherd before next whaling season is on.
With online involvement increasingly becoming more mobile, the era of TV ads and the stereotypical inactive voter could be gone within the next decade or two. In 2020 you could run your entire campaign, everything from fundraising to polling constituents, from your home. Today you need the bankroll of a small country to run a campaign — in 2020 you may only need a programmer
As the spirit of Web 2.0 takes hold, there’s a growing trend of
companies taking their desktop applications to the web. Just this
week, Adobe made the move with the
announcement of Adobe Photoshop Express, a free, online photo
editing service. There have even been
rumors circulating lately that Microsoft may finally offer a
web-based version of its Office suite. It seems like a smart move,
both for the company and the consumer.
Web-based apps are a cost effective alternative to software that
needs to be downloaded, and they’re easily accessible from any
computer. A big advantage for an office or productivity product,
like Google Docs or Zoho, is the ability to collaborate on a
document/project with others in real time, both editing
simultaneously. Free versions aren’t as robust as what you get for
a few bucks a month, but it provides a good test drive before you
commit to a broader range of services, and gives the company
exposure they might not otherwise get.
Google’s Vint Cerf, the man
that many refer to as the father of the internet, says that
widening bandwidth and data transfer speeds will soon allow video
downloading to rival, then replace, video streaming as the primary
mode of online video consumption.
“What I’m foreseeing frankly is that video will be used in
download mode more than it will be used in streaming mode as time
goes on,” predicts Cerf, “A gigabit per second would let you
download an hour’s worth of video in 16 seconds, kind of like what
happens with iPod where you can download music faster than you
could listen to it.”
If you follow the news, you’ve probably heard about this case involving stolen credit and debit card information. Identity theft usually doesn’t call for much attention, but the sheer scope of the theft has left the world reeling. Only eleven men have been indicted in the theft of over 40 million credit card numbers from US stores.
“The indictments, which alleged that at least nine major U.S. retailers were hacked, were unsealed Tuesday in Boston, Massachusetts, and San Diego, California, prosecutors said.”
The information was stolen with “sniffer” programs in the retail software, designed to record credit card numbers, passwords and account information.
The size of this theft is amazing, but it makes one think about technology and where it’s headed. Just how much damage could a hacker accomplish in the near future? With the internet consistently taking the place of personal hard drives (Google Documents, Flickr, Facebook), we’re relying more and more on the Internet for our personal data. In the future we’ll see fingerprints, facial recognition software and retinal scans added into the mix for added security – but how safe will this all be?
The thing about data is that it can always be hacked. Even the most encrypted software on Earth can be disassembled, rewritten and pirated. In order to recognize your voice, your eyes or your fingerprints a computer has to store this information somewhere. So what happens if a hacker gets a hold of this information?
Robert Scoble recently sat down with Chris Capossela, Senior Vice President of Information Worker Group at Microsoft, and asked him about some of the new Office features that they are planning for the future.
To sum it up, Microsoft believe that since so many people are buying their product, they are the real powerhouse when it comes to information exchange. They base this on the fact they make billions of dollars and have millions of customers. Did that sound sarcastic? It was. Microsoft is coming late into the game of online collaboration and feels they can make up for lost time by forcing people to buy their product with every new PC that gets released.
This kind of mentality may have worked a year ago, but with Windows Vista sucking wind world-wide people are looking into better alternatives. Mac sales are up, Firefox continues to grow against Explorer, and more and more people are trying out rival operating systems like Linux or Fedora. With Google already releasing over 300 templates for free through their Google Docs program, as well as the growing sentiment against Microsoft products, Microsoft might just fall flat on their face with this one. In other words, why pay ridiculous amounts of money for something that you can already get for free?
Human computation, the basis of which is discovering what tasks humans can do to make computers smarter, may someday be responsible for making computers not only smarter, but significantly smarter than humans.
Human computation has many applications. For example, computers aren’t very good at identifying what appears in an image, but humans are. To make online image searches more accurate, von Ahn developed the ESP game, which led to the creation of Google’s Image Labeler, and finally the compilation of five different games: Games With A Purpose (GWAP.com).
The model of game play works well. The games are fun, foster bonds and competition, and are free. These are all qualities that have attracted high numbers of players – thus, creating a strong effort to make not only image searches more durable, but also bring computers closer to thinking like humans.
The question is, when will all our game playing lead to a smarter computer that no longer needs our help?
In June 2006, von Ahn was invited to the Google campus to give a TechTalk lecture on human computation and brought up some interesting points about the bond and tension between humans and machines:
At one point von Ahn jokes that the interactions he’s created through GWAP could lead to a world similar to the one depicted in The Matrix; that is, one in which machines rule the universe and generate power from human brains.
Although his speculation appeared light-hearted, when I ask von Ahn what he thinks now, he asserts: “I completely believe computers will become every bit as intelligent as humans, possibly even more intelligent. I don’t see why not: the brain is a machine, we just don’t understand how it works yet.”
If a virtual world works, then you can live for eternity. A new online memorial, EternalSpace, not only lets friends and family celebrate your life after death, but can be used while alive to send messages to people - friends, family and others - well into the future. It's social media feature let's you gather family and friends together virutally to share stories or view a pre-recorded greeting that can be preserved for eternity.
Following is a description of this service...while designed primarily for grieving loved ones, it's possiblities are interesting to imagine:
EternalSpace™ (www.EternalSpace.com) unveiled a completely new type of online memorials, an immersive, multidimensional experience, that allows family, friends, colleagues, and well-wishers to connect emotionally while sharing and preserving the cherished memories of departed family members or friends - forever. Personal memorials at EternalSpace.com are peaceful, serene online environments for sharing thoughts or uploading photos and videos that celebrate a life for the days, months and years to come. EternalSpace memorials can be started or added to any time and passed to future generations who can learn about their heritage and experience first-hand accounts of their ancestors.