Doc Searls

On Linux Journal

Doc Searls

I’ve been involved with Linux Journal since before it started publishing in 1994, and have been on its masthead since 1996.

Without aligning incentives, we can’t kill fake news or save journalism

Doc Searls

It’s time to move past the toxic and destructive business called adtech : surveillance-based advertising. Adtech is the Agent Smith of digital advertising: a rogue programmatic approach to digital advertising that rationalizes tracking people like marked animals.

Here’s a cool project: completely revolutionize shopping online

Doc Searls

This was to be my September column for the subscriber edition of Linux Journal, which was terminated last week after 25 years in business. The theme for that month’s issue was to be Cool Projects. The website is still up, however, so now the coolest project for its owner is to save it, so none of that long and valuable history gets 404’d.

Cluetrain at 20

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The Cluetrain Manifesto went online for the world o n March 26, 1999. “People of Earth,” it began. Nothing modest about it. . Chris Locke and David Weinberger both had newsletters with real subscriber bases ( Entropy Gradient Reversals and JOHO , respectively).

GDPR will pop the adtech bubble

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In The Big Short , investor Michael Burry says “One hallmark of mania is the rapid rise in the incidence and complexity of fraud.” ” (Burry shorted the mania- and fraud-filled subprime mortgage market and made a mint in the process.).

Ad blocking passes 2 billion worldwide

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GlobalWebIndex ‘s Global Ad-Blocking Behavior report says 47% of us are blocking ads now. It also says, “As a younger and more engaged audience, ad-blockers also are much more likely to be paying subscribers and consumers. Ad-free premium services are especially attractive.”

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Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica problems are nothing compared to what’s coming for all of online publishing

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Let’s start with Facebook’s Surveillance Machine , by Zeynep Tufekci in last Monday’s New York Times.

The Spinner’s hack on journalism

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The Spinner* (with the asterisk) is “a service that enables you to subconsciously influence a specific person, by controlling the content on the websites he or she usually visits.” ” Meaning you can hire The Spinner* to hack another person.

Toward no longer running naked through the digital world

Doc Searls

We live in two worlds now: the natural one where we have bodies that obey the laws of gravity and space/time, and the virtual one where there is no gravity or distance (though there is time).

What’s wrong with bots is they’re not ours

Doc Searls

In Chatbots were the next big thing: what happened? Justin Lee ( @justinleejw ) nicely unpacks how chatbots were overhyped to begin with and continue to fail their Turing tests , especially since humans in nearly all cases would rather talk to humans than to mechanical substitutes.

Wanted: Online Pubs Doing Real (and therefore GDPR-compliant) Advertising

Doc Searls

This is what greets me when I go to the Washington Post site from here in Germany: So you can see it too, wherever you are, here’s the URL I’m redirected to on Chrome , on Firefox , on Safari and on Brave. All look the same except for Brave, which shows a blank page.

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Dear @WashingtonPost

Doc Searls

This is wrong: Because I’m not blocking ads. I’m blocking tracking. In fact I welcome ads—especially ones that sponsor The Washington Post and other fine publishers. I’ll also be glad to subscribe to the Post once it stops trying to track me off their site. Same goes for The New York Times , The Wall Street Journal and other papers I value and to which I no longer subscribe.

Where public radio rocks

Doc Searls

Where does public radio rock—or even rule? And why? To start answering those questions, I looked through Nielsen ‘s radio station ratings , which are on the Radio Online site.

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The real problem is Decoy News (and decoy content of all kinds)—and the platforms can’t fix it

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The term “ fake news ” was a casual phrase until it became clear to news media that a flood of it had been deployed during last year’s presidential election in the U.S.

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Data is the New Love

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Personal data, that is. Because it’s good to give away—but only if you mean it. And it’s bad to take it, even it seems to be there for the taking. I bring this up because a quarter million pages (so far) on the Web say it “data is the new oil.”

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Making sense of what happened to Montecito

Doc Searls

Note the date on this map : That was more than a month before huge rains revised to red the colors in the mountains above Montecito. The LA Times also ran a story a week before last, warning about debris flows , which are like mud slides, but with lots of rocks.

Getting past broken cookie notices

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Go to the Alan Turing Institute. If it’s a first time for you, a popover will appear: Among the many important things the Turing Institute is doing for us right now is highlighting with that notice exactly what’s wrong with the cookie system for remembering choices, and lack of them, for each of us using the Web.

New York lights

Doc Searls

I had a bunch of errands to run today, but also a lot of calls. And, when I finally got up from my desk around 4pm with plans to head out in the car, I found five inches of snow already on the apartment deck. Another five would come after that. So driving was clearly a bad idea.

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Please let’s finally kill logins and passwords

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How would you feel if you had been told in the early days of the Web that in the year 2018 you would still need logins and passwords for damned near everything. Your faith in the tech world would be deeply shaken, no?

Geology answers for Montecito and Santa Barbara

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A miracle of flight

Doc Searls

That was the view to the south over center of Greenland a few hours ago: a late afternoon aurora over a blue dusk. I departed London about four hours before taking this shot, and am writing this in Santa Barbara.

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Fake ad sources on Facebook

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Nearly all the ads I see on Facebook are ones like these two, next to Mark Zuckerberg’s latest post : Besides being false and misleading clickbait, they are not from espn.com. They’re from [link] , and bait for a topic switch:to pitching a diet supplement called Alpha Fuel.

Let’s get some things straight about publishing and advertising

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[Because it’s too @#$% hard to edit a long piece in WordPress (especially when one’s vision has not fully recovered from recent surgery), the latest edits of this are over here in Medium. Thanks.].

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A dark review for United’s Boeing 787

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I’ve been wanting to fly on the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” ever since I missed a chance to go on an inaugural junket aboard one before Boeing began delivery to the airlines. But three days ago I finally got my chance, aboard United Flight 935 from London to Los Angeles.

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All hail the Houston Rockets—especially next year

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I thought the Rockets were great in last night’s game—and say that as a Warriors fan. (I I even had season tickets back in the Run TMC era, when tickets were still affordable).

How True Advertising Can Save Journalism From Drowning in a Sea of Content

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Journalism is in a world of hurt because it has been marginalized by a new business model that requires maximizing “content” instead. That model is calle d adtech. We can see adtech’s effects in The New York Times ’ In New Jersey, Only a Few Media Watchdogs Are Left , by David Chen.

The problem for people isn’t advertising, and the problem for advertising isn’t blocking. The problem for both is tracking.

Doc Searls

In Google Has Quietly Dropped Ban on Personally Identifiable Web Tracking , @JuliaAngwin and @ProPublica unpack what the subhead says well enough: “Google is the latest tech company to drop the longstanding wall between anonymous online ad tracking and user’s names.”

On Amazon, New York, New Jersey and urban planning

Doc Searls

In a press release , Amazon explained why it backed out of its plan to open a new headquarters in New York City: For Amazon, the commitment to build a new headquarters requires positive, collaborative relationships with state and local elected officials who will be supportive over the long-term.

On cryptocurrencies, blockchain and all that

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Take a look at this chart : CryptoCurrency Market Capitalizations. As Neo said , Whoa. To help me get my head fully around all that’s going on behind that surge, or mania, or whatever it is, I’ve composed a lexicon-in-process that I’m publishing here so I can find it again.

Still no serious coverage of pirate radio

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Here’s what I wrote about pirate radio in New York , back in 2013. I hoped to bait major media attention with that. Got zip. Then I wrote this in 2015 (when I also took the screen shot, above, of a local pirate’s ID on my kitchen radio).

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Here’s how Google can save podcasting from getting silo’d

Doc Searls

Give podcasting full respect by making it a search heading. Bing should do it too. Also DuckDuckGo. In fact all search engines should make podcasts a search heading. Simple as that. If they make podcasts a search heading, they’ll make podcasting too big a category to fracture into a forest of silos. This doesn’t mean Apple, Spotify and others can’t continue to offer subscriptions and other forms of aggregation. Or that ListenNotes will go out of business.

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How the personal data extraction industry ends

Doc Searls

Who Owns the Internet? What Big Tech’s Monopoly Powers Mean for our Culture is Elizabeth Kolbert ‘s review in The New Yorker of several books, one of which I’ve read: Jonathan Taplin ’s Move Fast and Break Things—How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy.

Separating advertising’s wheat and chaff

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Advertising used to be simple. You knew what it was, and where it came from. Whether it was an ad you heard on the radio, saw in a magazine or spotted on a billboard, you knew it came straight from the advertiser through that medium.

For privacy we need tech more than policy

Doc Searls

Nature and the Internet both came without privacy. The difference is that we’ve invented privacy tech in the natural world, starting with clothing and shelter, and we haven’t yet done the same in the digital world.

Some new ways to look at infrastructure

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Nothing challenges our understanding of infrastructure better than a crisis, and we have a big one now in Houston. We do with every giant storm, of course. New York is still recovering from Sandy and New Orleans from Katrina.

Google vs. Bing

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In search , Google has a 90%+ share worldwide. But I’m not sure that makes it a monopoly, as long as it has real competition. With Bing is does. For example, recently I wanted to find a post Andrew Orlowski wrote for The Register in the early 00s. I remembered that it was about The Cluetrain Manifesto (which he called “Candide without the irony”—a great one-liner I can’t forget), and also mentioned John C. Dvorak , another Cluetrain non-fan.

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#RectangleBingo

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This is a game for our time. I play it on New York and Boston subways, but you can play it anywhere everybody in a crowd is staring at their personal rectangle. I call it Rectangle Bingo. Here’s how you play.

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Idea: Woodstock vs. TED.

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So I just read about “a 50th anniversary Woodstock celebration that would include TED-style talks.” ” Details here and here in the Gothamist. This celebration doesn’t have the Woodstock name, but it does have the place, now called the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

The new together

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I want to point to three great posts. First is Larry Lessig ‘s Podcasting and the Slow Democracy Movement. A pull quote: The architecture of the podcast is the precise antidote for the flaws of the present. It is deep where now is shallow.

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Venus, Moon, Jupiter and Mercury in the dawn’s early light

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Walked out on the front deck this morning and grabbed a photo set of the Moon between conjunctions with Venus (that was yesterday), Jupiter (tonight and tomorrow) and then Mercury (Saturday), before passing next to the Sun as a new moon on Sunday. More about the show at EarthSky.

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Requiem for a great magazine

Doc Searls

Linux Journal is folding. Carlie Fairchild , who has run the magazine almost since it started in 1994, posted Linux Journal Ceases Publication today on the website. So far all of the comments have been positive, which they should be.

Is this a turning point for publishing?

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Publishing and advertising both need to bend back toward where they came from, and what works. I see hope for that in the news today.

Saving High Mountain

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I’ve long thought that the most consequential thing I’ve ever done was write a newspaper editorial that helped stop development atop the highest wooded hilltop overlooking the New York metro.