Doc Searls

How early is digital life?

Doc Searls

Bits don’t leave a fossil record. Well, not quite. They do persist on magnetic, optical and other media, all easily degraded or erased. But how long will those last? Since I’ve already asked that question , I’ll set it aside and ask the one in the headline.

Remembering Gail Sheehy

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It bums me out that Gail Sheehy passed without much notice—meaning I only heard about it in passing.

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On fire

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That above is the Bobcat Fire , in the San Gabriel Mountains , against which Los Angeles’ suburban sprawl (that’s it, on the right) reaches the limits of advance. It makes no sense to build very far up or into the mountains, for two good reasons.

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Coming From Every Here

Doc Searls

To answer the question Where are SiriusXM radio stations broadcasted from? , I replied, If you’re wondering where they transmit from, it’s a mix. SiriusXM transmits primarily from a number of satellites placed in geostationary orbit , 35,786 kilometres or 22,236 miles above the equator.

The smell of boiling frog

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I just got this email today: Which tells me, from a sample of one (after another, after another) that Zoom is to video conferencing in 2020 what Microsoft Windows was to personal computing in 1999.

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Bad $20

Doc Searls

I once tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Actually, twice. The first was when I paid for a lunch at Barney Greengrass in New York, about two years ago. After exposing the $20 to a gizmo at the cash register, the cashier handed it back to me, saying it was counterfeit.

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Bet on obsolescence

Doc Searls

Saving Mount Wilson

Doc Searls

This was last night: And this was just before sunset tonight: From the Mt. Wilson Observatory website: Mount Wilson Observatory Status. Angeles National Forest is CLOSED due to the extreme fire hazard conditions.

Time for advertising to call off the dogs

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Is this the way you want your brand to look? Digital advertising needs to sniff its own stench, instead of everybody’s digital butts. A sample of that stench is wafting through the interwebs from the Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media , an ad industry bullphemism for yet another way to excuse the urge to keep tracking people against their wishes (and simple good manners) all over the digital world.

The Future of Now

Doc Searls

There is latency to everything. Stub your toe and a second or two passes before the pain kicks in. The crack of a bat on a playing field takes half a second before it reaches the ears of the watching crowd. The sunlight we see on Earth is eight minutes old.

Saving the Internet—and all the commons it makes possible

Doc Searls

This is the Ostrom Memorial Lecture I gave on 9 October of last year for the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University. Here is the video. The intro starts at 8 minutes in, and my part starts just after 11 minutes in.)

A side view of the Ranch 2 Fire

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What you see there is a cumulonimbus cloud rising to the north above Ranch 2 , a wildfire about fifteen miles east of here in the San Gabriel Mountains , just north of Asuza (one of too many towns to remember, in greater Los Angeles).

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We haven’t seen this movie before

Doc Searls

Three weekends ago, we drove from New York to Baltimore to visit with family. We had planned this for awhile, but there was added urgency: knowing the world was about to change in a big way. Or in many big ways.

Do you really need all this personal information, @RollingStone?

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Here’s the popover that greets visitors on arrival at Rolling Stone ‘s website: Our Privacy Policy has been revised as of January 1, 2020. This policy outlines how we use your information. By using our site and products, you are agreeing to the policy.

On humanity, surveillance and coronavirus

Doc Searls

Just learned of The Coronavirus (Safeguards) Bill 2020: Proposed protections for digital interventions and in relation to immunity certificates. This is in addition to the UK’s Coronavirus Bill 2020 , which is (as I understand it) running the show there right now.

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So far, privacy isn’t a debate

Doc Searls

Remember the dot com boom? Doesn’t matter if you don’t. What does matter is that it ended. All business manias do. That’s why we can expect the “platform economy” and “surveillance capitalism” to end. Sure, it’s hard to imagine that when we’re in the midst of the mania, but the end will come. When it does, maybe then we can have a “privacy debate.” ” Meanwhile, there isn’t one.

Will our digital lives leave a fossil record?

Doc Searls

In the library of Earth’s history, there are missing books, and within books there are missing chapters, written in rock that is now gone. The greatest example of “gone” rock is what John Wesley Powell discovered in 1869, on his expedition by boat through the Grand Canyon. Floating down the Colorado river, he saw the canyon’s mile-thick layers of reddish sedimentary rock resting on a basement of gray non-sedimentary rock.

On Dion Neutra, 1926-2019

Doc Searls

The Los Angeles in your head is a Neutra house. You’ve seen many of them in movies , and some of them in many movies. Some of those are now gone , alas, as is the architect and preservationist who also designed, or helped design, many of the buildings that bear his surname.

About a pretty pole

Doc Searls

The tallest structure in Santa Barbara’s skyline is a 200-foot pole painted red and white. It stands in a city equipment yard, not far from the ocean and the city’s famous Wharf. You can see it in the photo above, with the Wharf behind it. As landmarks go it’s not much, but I like its looks and its legacy. On the looks side, I dig the simplicity of its structure and the red and white colors.

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A rare sky treat

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Across almost 73 laps around the Sun, I’ve seen six notable comets. The fifth was Hale-Bopp, which I blogged about here , along with details on the previous four, in 1997. The sixth is NEOWISE, and that’s it, above, shot with my iPhone 11. There are a couple other shots in that same album, taken with my Canon 5D Mark III. Those are sharper, but this one shows off better.

More on Zoom and privacy

Doc Searls

Zoom needs to clean up its privacy act , which I posted yesterday, hit a nerve. While this blog normally gets about 50 reads a day, by the end of yesterday it got 15000. So far this morning (11:15am Pacific), it has close to 8000 new reads. Most of those owe to this posting on Hacker News, which topped the charts all day and has 483 comments so far. If you care about this topic, I suggest reading them.

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Reality 2020.05.08

Doc Searls

In The Web and the New Reality , which I posted on December 1, 1995 (and again a few days ago ), I called that date “Reality 1.995.12,” and made twelve predictions. In this post I’ll visit how those have played out over the quarter century since then. As more customers come into direct contact with suppliers, markets for suppliers will change from target populations to conversations. Well, both.

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How to get fans inside the NBA’s playoff bubble

Doc Searls

Sell tickets to attend online through Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Webex, GoToMeeting, Jitsi or whatever conferencing system can supply working tech to the NBA. Then mic everyone in the paying crowd, project them all on the walls (or sheets hanging from the ceiling), combine their audio, and run it through speakers so players can see and hear the cheering crowds. The playoffs start on July 31.

How To 125

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).

Digging in Radio.Garden

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Radio.garden is an amazing and fun discovery, perfect for infinite distraction during life in quarantine. James Vincent in The Verge calls it “Google Earth for Radio.”)

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To hurt or help?

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The choice above is one I pose at the end of a 20-minute audioblog I recorded for today, here: [link]. The graphic represents the metaphor I use to frame that choice. Future

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An audio blog post

Doc Searls

I’m trying something new here, speaking instead of writing. Here it is: [link]. I recorded it last night while walking twelve thousand steps, briskly, on the deck of my house. Think of it as a kind of voice mail to readers. The topic I cover is one I’ve written about here; but I’m not going to provide any links—at least not yet. That’s because I want to see if what I’m trying to say comes across better in speaking than in writing.

The universe is a start-up

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Earth is 4.54 billion years old. It was born 9.247 years after the Big Bang , which happened 13.787 billion years ago. Meaning that our planet is a third the age of the Universe. Hydrogen, helium and other light elements formed with the Big Bang, but the heavy elements were cooked up at various times in an 8 billion year span before our solar system was formed, and some, perhaps, are still cooking. Earth’s own time as a life-supporting planet is maybe 3 billion years.

Going #Faceless

Doc Searls

Facial recognition by machines is out of control. Meaning our control. As individuals, and as a society. Thanks to ubiquitous surveillance systems, including the ones in our own phones , we can no longer assume we are anonymous in public places or private in private ones.

The GDPR’s biggest fail

Doc Searls

If the GDPR did what it promised to do, we’d be celebrating Privmas today. Two years after the GDPR became enforceable, privacy would be the norm rather than the exception in the online world. That hasn’t happened, but it’s not because the GDPR is poorly enforced. It’s because it’s too easy to claim compliance to the letter of GDPR while violating its spirit. Want to see how easy? Try searching for GDPR+compliance+consent : [link].

Here’s hoping our Age of Ageism is a brief one

Doc Searls

A few days ago a Twitter exchange contained an “OK Boomer” response to one of my tweets. At the time I laughed it off, tweeting back a pointer to Report: Burying, Cremating Baby Boomers To Generate $200 Trillion In GDP , which ran five years ago in The Onion. But it got me thinking that “OK Boomer” might be more—and worse—than a mere meme. Still, I wasn’t moved to say anything, because I had better stuff to do.

Vermont Public Radio rating wins, and the future of streaming & podcasting

Doc Searls

Radio is moving from these to servers of streams and podcasts. Public Radio: What is the best NPR station in the country ? That’s a question on Quora I thought needed answering. So I did, with this: Here’s a quantitative answer to your qualitative question: WVPS of Vermont Public Radio. Because, in Nielsen’s Audio Ratings , it scores a 12.6 in its home market of Burlington , and a 16.2 in its neighbor market of Montpelier-Waterbury.

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The Web and the New Reality

Doc Searls

I posted this essay in my own pre-blog, Reality 2.0 , on December 1, 1995. I think maybe now, in this long moment after we’ve hit a pause button on our future, we can start working on making good the unfulfilled promises that first gleamed in our future a quarter century ago. Contents. Reality 2.0. Polyopoly. An economy of abundance. The Age of Enlightenment. Time to subtract the garbage. So what’s left. Web of the free, home of the Huns. A market is a conversation.

Zoom’s new privacy policy

Doc Searls

Yesterday (March 29), Zoom put up a major rewrite to its privacy policy. The new language is far more clear than what it replaced, and which had caused the concerns I detailed in my previous three posts: Zoom needs to clean up its privacy act , More on Zoom and privacy , and. Helping Zoom. Those concerns were shared by Consumer Reports , Forbes and others as well.

GDPR will pop the adtech bubble

Doc Searls

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.). One would be equally smart to bet against the mania for the tracking-based form of advertising called adtech.

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Thoughts at #ID2020

Doc Searls

I’m at the ID2020 ( @ID2020 ) Summit in New York. The theme is “Rising to the Good ID Challenge.” ” My notes here are accumulating at the bottom, not the top. Okay, here goes… At that last link it says, “The ID2020 Alliance is setting the course of digital ID through a multi-stakeholder partnership, ensuring digital ID is responsibly implemented and widely accessible.” ” I find myself wondering if individuals are among the stakeholders.

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Remembering Freddy Herrick

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The picture of Freddy Herrick I carry everywhere is in my wallet, on the back of my membership card for a retail store. It got there after I loaned my extra card to Freddy so he could use it every once in awhile. As Freddy explained it, one day, while checking out at the store, he was notified at the cash register that the card had expired. So he went to the service counter and presented the card for renewal.

Issues 131

How long will radio last?

Doc Searls

These are among the since-demolished towers of the once-mighty WMEX/1510 radio in Boston. That wasn’t exactly the question asked on Quora, but what follows is my answer. If you mean licenses, all of them last as long as they have value to the owners—or that regulators allow them to persist. Note that nearly every broadcast license more than a few decades old has by now had many owners over a long period of time, and more than one call sign as well.

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Home is where one’s butt is

Doc Searls

I don’t want to explain why we’re bivouac’d at a friend’s house in San Marino. What matters, for the purpose of this post, is that we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the Covid-19 pandemic. My only complaint is that there’s nothing resembling an office desk or chair here. I’ve coped by collecting my ass and my electronics within an arrangement of mostly antique furniture. That’s what you see in the screenshot above.

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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. Among other things (all correct), Zeynep explains that “Facebook makes money, in other words, by profiling us and then selling our attention to advertisers, political actors and others. These are Facebook’s true customers, whom it works hard to please.”

Please let’s finally kill logins and passwords

Doc Searls

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?

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

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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. There’s also a bigger and more fundamental reason why bots still aren’t a big thing: we don’t have them.

The best way to forget is to never know

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@EvanSelinger tweeted , While some companies think it’s enough to tweet support for social justice while marketing a tool for oppression, IBM gets out of the facial recognition business & states opposition to mass surveillance & racial profiling. In that tweet he pointed to IBM will no longer offer, develop, or research facial recognition technology (Subhead: IBM’s CEO says we should reevaluate selling the technology to law enforcement) , by @jaypeters in The Verge.