It’s easy to mock judges for being out of touch with society, and it is true that they live in a cocooned world and don’t tend to mix with much of society. But when a judge tells us that “modern technology is totally out of control” it’s clear that there’s more going on than the bench needing to be advised that the Rolling Stones are, m’lud, a modern beat combo. The assault on Twitter and its users by the appropriately named Lord Judge – Britain’s lord chief justice – is about the contract that we make as citizens with the law.
The technology industry has grown up in an age of cheap and abundant energy, and that has shaped, deeply and fundamentally, the way it sees the world, what it chooses to make, and how it designs what it does. You have to think only of the short lifespan of the devices, the fact that they are discarded, not upgraded, when technology moves on; or the emerging service designs based on the world of the cloud; and always on, on demand access. But the age of cheap and abundant energy is coming to a close. It is about to become scarcer and more expensive. How does the technology energy need to respond?
It’s notable that in the past week or so the murmurs about Facebook’s slack approach to privacy have gone from a whisper to a scream. And at least some of the noise has been coming from very select members of the digerati; Wired, Gizmodo, danah boyd, Jeff Jarvis, and David Weinberger have all joined in. They seem to be playing to an enthusiastic crowd. But why now, when Facebook’s slackness on privacy has been known for years (it’s one of the reasons I’m not a member)? I think it comes down to two things: firstly, speed of change, and secondly, scale.
According to new figures from Ofcom, 4 out of 10 of British internet users now use social networking sites – and those that do spend more than 5 hours a month on social networking sites, and return 23 times a month. Usage is heavier than elsewhere in Europe, and above the USA, but behind Canada. The social networking data for the 2007 International Communications Report is from the summer, but more recent figures from Hitwise suggested that in November UK use of social networking sites overtook that of web-based email for the first time.
Steve Job’s open letter on Apple’s environmental policy is an important moment, for several reasons.
First, six months ago, it looked as if Apple thought the issues was insignificant – even ‘trivial’, as an engineer would say.
Second, it’s another example which shows that organisations have to be transparent about what they’re doing. People are no longer prepared to believe that you’re doing good just because of brand and reputation.
Third, it suggests that a fairly cool NGO with a decent case will win against a cool brand if it’s organised.
Fourth, it was a case study, as colleagues observed (thanks, Rachel), in how to use the new public content tools as campaigning tools.
Snout is a “participatory sensing project being developed by the London arts consultancy Proboscis and partners (Birkbeck College and inIVA). It builds on earlier work which they’ve done on local and community mapping but has the potential to be far more radical. Snout has built prototypes of two carnival costumes (one of which is a nine foot high Mr Punch) which incorporate the mobile technologies needed to sense multiple forms of environmental pollution, record the data, and map it to a location. (more…)