October 05, 2012
A Visual Journey of DEMOFall 2012
I missed DEMOFall last year if I recall and hate to miss a DEMO since I'm a huge fan of their events, having gone for years (and years). I'm also a media partner every year. As always, they had a great line-up of companies, many start-ups making the trek over from Asia and Europe to unveil their latest and greatest on the DEMO stage.
Some of the highlights included a kick-off Beer reception in the Oktoberfest theme. The great thing about such a theme is fabulous dark German beer and fashionistas like Jolie O'Dell showing up looking like Heidi. (it doesn't seem to matter what outfit she puts on or color her hair is, she always looks smashing).
The downside? The food of course. It was great to reconnect with old friends, some of whom I only see at Demo every year. Not everyone was as stylish as Jolie of course, but the pressure of women pulling out in the stops in Silicon Valley has Dylan Tweney rethinking what he puts on before he goes out of the house...yup, even the socks! (see my geek fashion hurts my senses piece).
Dean Takahashi decided to support the theme in one way he knew how: put on an Irish hat to support the Germans of course. :-)
In all seriousness, the beauty about Demo is that after hours (and before hours), people still know how to have fun. Below - is it easy to recognize a Brit among us? After all, the Brits know how to let loose despite myths that they don't. (Trust me, I lived there...ask me for stories sometime).
The every so "fun" Redg Snodgrass and Andrew Scott announced Taploid, a gossip tabloid for the digital age, so hey, they were just celebrating their unveiling after all...
Speaking of celebrating and having fun, Dave Mathews and co-founder of InTooch Julian Salanon demonstrated to the audience that they can START to have fun if they only freed their lives from business cards with their new mobile app. Hear hear.
Given that this event was Matt Marshall's last DEMO event, Neal Silverman bid farewell to Matt on stage while the audience cheered him on (and yes, we even stood up and whistled). Erick Schonfeld takes over in 2013 and am looking forward to seeing what direction he takes things.
There were also the traditional DEMO God awards that DEMO is notorious for. This year's winners included: bandu from Neumitra, Birdeez, ElectNext, Flinja, RentLingo, and VPC from Neurotrack (Alzheimers development).
One conference - multiple personalities. Up on day one was Ray Kurzweil, who talked about everything from singularity and speech recongition to nano bots and our brains. Up on day two was Twitter co-founder Ev Williams.
In between each category, a group of "sage" panelists came out and gave their opinion on every app that presented - what they liked and didn't...and why!
Journalist Rob Pegararo made the trek from DC...
There was, as always, loads of schmooze time as well and on the last night, a farewell celebration party thrown by Citrix.
October 04, 2012
Givit Aims to Make Mobile Video Editing & Sharing Commonplace
The creator of video sharing technology and software for Cisco’s defunct Flip Camera – once a really popular recording device – Givit, has channeled its expertise into a new service poised to make mobile video editing and sharing commonplace.
Unrestricted by length, number of clips or automated editing, Givit has cracked the code in the this race with a powerful, simple new iOS app that transforms raw footage into something polished and shareable on Facebook or YouTube in about 30 seconds.
Unlike any other social video app on the market, Givit’s unique features include:
- Live Highlighting – While recording a live event, simply tap to highlight critical moments. Tap to recap back seven seconds, or start/stop record at any point.
- Multiple Clips – There are no limits to the number of video highlights that can be combined to create the final product.
- No Length Restrictions – Share highlighted video reels of any length or size.
- Effects - Add motion effects (slow-motion, speed-up), music and transitions to polish and finish the highlight reel.
- Sharing Options – One-click social sharing to Facebook or YouTube; or, share video privately and securely by email.
- Cloud Storage – Upload highlighted videos to the Givit cloud for permanent storage, or highlight videos from any other source imported from Givit.
- Facebook App – Watch and share highlighted videos directly from the Givit Facebook app.
- Free – Givit is free for anyone to use, offering 5GB of storage at signup and premium packages for avid users.
October 03, 2012
With InTooch, Instantly Turn New Connections Into Relationships That Matter
For those of you who go to a lot of conferences and events like I do, collecting business cards, exchanging data and keeping in touch with people after the fact is a daunting task.
Sure, there are apps who have promised to faciliate the exchange of information in the past, but most require both people to have the app installed or the need to work in some unnatural and awkward way.
And, then there's card scanners. I've invested in three over the years and two of the three ended up in a yard sale not so long ago.
The other one I donated to Goodwill.
Bottom line, they're not accurate so you're stuck stuck fixing all the mistakes or retyping the contact info into your database for the second and third time.
I recently started working with a French-founded start-up called InTooch who is now based in Silicon Valley.
Selected to present their technological innovation with over 75 other companies on the DEMO Fall stage this week, their demo will be included in the social media category.
Did you realize that of all the people you meet at a conference or even in a personal situation, you won't stay in touch with 85% of them? InTooch aims to not just decrease that number but improve those relationships using their app.
The great thing about the product is that it's easy, it's fast and it's free. Instantly, the moment you meet, the InTooch social connector exchanges contact information and connects you on your preferred social networks on the fly.
While many apps have tried to solve the contact update and data overload problem, most require both people to have the app installed for it to work, or they involve connecting in an awkward way.
In doing research about how people around the world stay connected, they discovered that the majority call each other to exchange numbers in real time more than they connect on social networks and exchange a business cards. InTooch takes it a step further by allowing people to share more than just numbers in real time, including your social data.
How it Works:
Whenever you meet someone you want to stay in touch with, simply call their cell. The app detects that you have called someone for the first time and prompts you automatically to exchange your business or personal contact information.
Works on Any Receiving Device: you can send and receive new contact information regardless of what phone the other person has. If the other person doesn’t have InTooch, it simply sends a link and the rest is done seamlessly through their social connector technology.
Social Network Integration: In just one call, you can connect through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. There’s no need to search for a contact in each social network nor to send invitations – connections are simply established on the fly.
No Need for Both Parties to Have the App: unlike so many solutions which require both parties to have the app installed to work, InTooch works regardless of whether the person you just met has it on their phone, making it the most natural, straight forward and easy way to share your personal or business details. Obviously if the other person has the app, exchanging data is even faster.
New Connection Highlights and Personal Match Score: For personal encounters, InTooch brings augmented reality to your connections, alerting you to all the things you have in common with another person (friends, places you visited, music, movies you like, social network info, check-ins, interests you share) so you can instantly engage in mutually interesting conversations.
It also provides a matching score based on an algorithm which calculates the probability of how well you should get along with that person.
Geo-Tagging of New Connections: since it’s much easier to remember where and when you met someone than his/her name, InTooch automatically tags the location of the initial connection, so you also can search for people by when and where you met them.
Privacy (Control What Data Your Share): InTooch respects your privacy, allowing you to customize what information you want to share and with whom.
InTooch is available for download at http://www.intooch.com and is free for users. Currently, InTooch works with both the Android and the iPhone (except for iOS6), with support for iOS6, other platforms and mobile devices coming later this year.
October 3, 2012 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Conference Highlights, Events, On Mobile & Wireless, On Technology, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
8 Commerce Apps Strut Their Stuff at DEMO 2012
On the DEMO Fall 2012 stage this afternoon, eight commerce apps showed off their latest and greatest at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, CA.
Invenia announced the launch of ENSAFER, an innovative cloud encryption service. Ensafer offers users of Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive and alike, to encrypt their data integrated in their service of choice, with all complexity hidden. Ensafer is end-to-end encryption technology, solving an unsolved demand -- the encryption of files as you store, share and collaborate with them in the cloud. They peg themselves as "security by design."
Billing itself as the Expedia for telecom deals, WIRESURFER online marketplace provides small and medium businesses with an easy way to research telecom providers and their promotions as well as order services from national carriers for free.
They provide a map so you can click on any part of the country to find the best deals nationwide and the layout is slick and clean, so you can compare deals side-by-side. Using wiresurfer, SMBs can compare the offerings from national carriers including AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast Business Services, EarthLink, InterCall, tw telecom, Windstream and XO Communications.
eBREVIA unveiled something they're calling the eDiligence Accelerator. The company's initial software employs natural language processing technology developed at Columbia University to assist attorneys and business professionals in analyzing, extracting information from, and summarizing legal documents.
Then we moved to fashion. Well, sort of. THREADMATCHER is a social commerce website that allows users to curate the clothes that they both own and wish into virtual closets, and get relevant recommendations by following the curation of others who share as similar style.
The team says, "ThreadMatcher provides the ultimate personalized shopping experience. To users, it's a style expansion. By following the curation of others who share a similar style, users can find out what's new at their favorite brands as well as discover other products and brands that they wouldn't have otherwise known -- all this directly from people whose style they trust."
Like I said, it doesn't mean the site is design and fashion conscious, but it does curate people with like-fashion interests. It seems like a perfect app for Silicon Valley geeks who don't have a clue how to dress.
Other apps shown in the Commerce section included Plus2 Technologies, Plutus Software, Trinity Group and Gaxsys.
October 02, 2012
Intel Capital Global Summit Invests in 10 Innovative Tech Companies
Intel Capital, Intel Corporation's global investment and M&A organization, kicked off its annual Intel Capital Global Summit by announcing investments in 10 innovative technology companies.
Intended to help these companies grow to the next level, the investments reinforce the Global Summit's 2-day agenda focused on company building.
Totaling approximately $40 million, they cover a range of technologies from collaborating in the cloud and delivering enhanced digital entertainment to simplifying mobile payments and enabling new forms of device interaction.
The investments include secure content sharing platform Box; Bollywood and South-Asian content distributor Hungama.com; integrated circuit design house FocalTech; social radio platform Jelli; social game developer LIFO Interactive; mobile proximity platform NewAer; e-payment platform, PagPop; cloud services provider Tier 3; 3-D game developer Transmension; and mobile advertising provider UUCun.A bit about some of the investments:
Box is one of the fastest-growing private enterprise software companies in the world, delivering an intuitive, powerful and secure content sharing platform that users and IT department's love.
From India, Hungama.com is a digital entertainment company with the country's first and largest on-demand digital entertainment storefront. The storefront has over 2.5 million pieces of content across genres and languages in the form of music tracks, movies, music videos and mobile content.
Jelli is a social radio platform that combines the reach of radio with the engagement of the Web. Jelli's consumer experience allows listeners to control radio playlists through real-time voting and game elements via free iPhone and Android apps and Web experience. Jelli's advertising platform enables real-time ad serving and listener engagement across social, mobile and broadcast platforms, creating unique insights for advertisers.
Korea-based LIFO Interactive is a social game developer. Its best-known game on Facebook, Train City*, attracted more than 8 million users worldwide last year. The company is currently developing a mobile version of the hit game, scheduled for release later this year, and has several mobile games in development for iOS, Android, and Windows 8 app stores.
NewAer has created a proximity platform enabling any phone, tablet or computer to automate actions based on who or what is detected nearby. Developers add NewAer's mobile scanning engine software development kit to their apps and then tie into NewAer's back-end interface to enable service "triggers." For example, ToothTag*, NewAer's showcase app for Android devices, allows users to "tag" people, places or things based on their wireless presence and set rules like automating call forwarding when leaving the home or office. NewAer's platform breaks the limitations of GPS point references, making possible the next generation of smart location-based services based on elastic geofence events.
Brazil-based PagPop operates a mobile payment online platform that allows professionals and small business owners to accept credit cards for payment. PagPop's technology transforms any feature phone, computer, landline or smartphone with a swipe device, into a credit card payment machine. As a result, payments can be made anytime, everywhere in an easy, affordable and secure manner.
Tier 3 is a leading provider of enterprise-class cloud services, combining both infrastructure (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) in a comprehensive cloud management platform. The Tier 3 Cloud increases IT operational efficiency and flexibility through advanced cloud orchestration and management capabilities that support the entire business application portfolio, from development to production environments and business-critical applications.
China-based Transmension is a television-focused gaming service provider, which specializes in providing and enabling the delivery of high-quality games to TV screens via IPTV, smart TVs and cable TV carriers. Transmension has collaborated with leading game studios to distribute their games to millions of families.
Also from China, UUCun, is a mobile Internet ad platform connecting phone makers, app developers and advertisers. The company's solution has been deployed in approximately 20 million newly shipped smartphones this year. The company is expanding its platform and technology to enable not only mobile advertisements but also more value-added services.
September 20, 2012
Former Facebook's Kevin Colleran: Insider View Mixed with Humor
In Kentucky, that's not the case, nor is it the case in other parts of the world.
I was surprised I had not run into Boston-based Kevin Calleran, Facebook's 7th employee in my circles before now....now being this past week in of all places, Kentucky. That said, I met the CTO of the White House for the first time in Louisville at Idea's Festival annual event - same time, same place a year ago.
Kevin did a l'il history of Facebook to a less social media savvy crowd than he may be accustomed to in Silicon Valley or Boston. Most people in the room were Facebook users however, which was a mix of high school and college students, academics, innovators, technologists, researchers, artists and local business owners.
Kevin's a natural sales guy and no surprise that its his background and raison d'etre. He's a great storyteller and adds a lot of humor throughout his talk, all done in a very informal style. In the early days, he ran the East Coast office out of his New York City apartment for months before meeting Zuckerberg for the first time. He laughed as he shared stories of the first two years, most of which captured humorous early stage moments.
He moved onto memories....you know, the Facebook kind. Showing a video of a Facebook employee who captured every moment of his life in his timeline (from birth and graduation to marriage, his child being born and beyond, Kevin notes that his only recollection of his grandparents is the four black and white photos in his house.
While he's no longer officially at Facebook, he's certain still a positive spokesperson for the company. He says of Mark's vision: "Mark never wants 'that to ever happen again. Mark feels that every piece of our life should be chronicled."
He then went deeper into the company's history, what Facebook was and where it is today. A few of the latest stats according to Kevin's data:
- There are now 955 million active users
- Instagram just passed 100 million users
- 552 million daily active users on average
- 543 million monthly active users who used Facebook mobile products in June 2012
- Facebook is now translated into over 85 languages and has nearly 4,000 employees.
He also heavily encouraged hackathons and believes every company should do them. He says that some of the best products they have ever shipped have come from an all nighter coding event. In other words, "academics meet coder types all night long and great ideas have come out of it."
In addition to a trend of people moving to more of an 'asset-free life,' he shared some of the Emerging Themes are in technology:
- Rent or lease only: rather than own something, almost everthing is available to lease or rent, so there's a trend away from owning material things.
- The world is moving mobile. 31.5% of U.S. households are mobile only and users log on an average of 77 minutes per day using apps on their smartphone.
- 40% of Facebook's traffic is mobile-specific.
- Uber (see my review on Uber when it launched in Paris)
- Parking Panda (shows nearby parking garages and space availability)
- Lyft (ride-share program)
- Zip car (rent by the hour for when you need it)
- Airbnb (is doing a million room nights, people are renting out their homes while they're on the road)
- Spotify (there's no reason to own music anymore when you can pay $10 a month to have access to any music you want)
Distributed Workforce: (technology enabled entrepreneurship/self employment & task entrepreneurs)
- Task Rabbit (you can outsource work to people who can do a task for you within your zip code)
- Cherry (a new request a car wash app. The idea is that you park your car at work or home and you put up the address where your car is parked and someone will come and wash your car for you)
- Instacart (you can get people to your shopping for you)
Now in its Third Year, Tech4Africa Hits Johannesburg Next Month
Now in its third year, Tech4Africa is a premier mobile, web and emerging technology event held in Johannesburg on October 31-November 1 at The Indaba Hotel, Gauteng.
The theme is “Unlocking the next billion consumers” and sessions will be focused around mobile and content, the enterprise opportunity, entrepreneurship and financing, social business and innovation.
The Developer Day and Hackathon on the kick off day includes three tracks: a day on Agile
software development, a Hackathon with sessions on Ruby on Rails, Python,
Raspberry Pi, PhP etc., as well as workshops for social media marketers on apps
ecosystem and monetization.
Keynote speakers include IBM's Tom Rosemalia and Ralph Simon of Mobilium, with other speakers being Amolo Ng'weno, MD of Digital Divide Data in Kenya; Neal Ford, Director, Software Architect and Meme Wrangler at ThoughtWorks; Vérone Mankou, CEO of Way-C in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Emma Kaye, CEO of Bozza, Josh Adler, social entrepreneur and others.
A Google G+ Hangout will be held live at the conference so that tech hubs from around Africa can be part of the conference and so that delegates can interact with a panel, asking questions and finding out more about what is happening on the ground in Senegal, Liberia, Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, Kenya, Congo and other parts of Africa.
Disclosure: we are a media partner of the event.
August 12, 2012
Reid Hoffman on Lessons Learned Over 20 Years
Reid Hoffman is one of my favorite entrepreneurs in the technology industry.
I was introduced to him and 'his world' when I first moved to California six or so years ago. There was even a time I was talking to LinkedIn about working with them though it now seems like it was another lifetime. Things move so quickly in Silicon Valley.
Some people decide to move west for access to technology and money, and so they can work with the smartest and brightest people in the industry'. For me, since I'm more of an artist tha a geek, a big part of it was the opportunity to work with "the smart and bright" but it was also a lifestyle and attitude decision.
Silicon Valley represented a fresher, more aggressive, dive in or die approach to business and entrepreneurship that was intoxicating after working in Boston where most company execs took a conservative and apprehensive approach more often than not, operating from a place of fear rather than opportunity.
And, given that I was in the technology industry, doing my thing here only seemed natural. People who personified the best in entrepreneurial attitude in the early days for me were people like Jeff Hawkins, Dick Costolo (he was building Feedburner at the time), and Reid Hoffman.
It was 'this mindset' that was prevalent when I moved west that Reid emphasized this past week in a fireside chat in San Francisco with Panda Daily's Sarah Lacy.
One of the things that I really like about Sarah Lacy's interview style is that she likes to be and "is" provocative and isn't afraid of 'owning it.' Men never seem to get slaughtered for this approach, but women often do, and playing in a world where Hollywood and creativity meets tech and business, I think Sarah pulls this off consistently well.
She asked him about the very analytic and organized way he approached his career. Reid took a more methodical and structured path than so many others I was inspired by at the time, something he admitted to when Lacy took us through his career and myriad of start-ups. He said he made a list of all the skills he'd need to run a company and went through acquiring them one-by-one: from Apple's eWorld project, Fujitsu and SocialNet to PayPal and LinkedIn and everything in between.
"Entrepreneurship is about jumping off a cliff," Reid says. "You have to figure out what kind of founder you are: Design, Product or Engineering? Once you know, then acquire the other skills you need to get to the next level." For him, it was product management early on in his career.
When you start out as an entrepreneur reminds Reid, "you're never going to know the right thing to do all the time." Of his PayPal days, he laughed as he referenced a Peter Thiel quote who had said "I've never learned so much in my life except between 2 and 3 years old." Adds Reid, "If you're not red lining and failing enough, you're not learning enough. Don't beat yourself up and have to succeed all the time."
Advice he shared from his start-ups and things all entrepreneurs should think about:
1. Think about how your product will evolve and plan for it.
2. Think about how and where you'll raise your next round as soon as you've finished raising your first round. If you're not, you'll die.
3. Hire people with deep expertise in areas you don't have but really need.
4. Hire really fast learners - this is more important with early stage start-ups than someone who has 20 years of experience but may not be a fast learner and can pivot with you when things go south.
5. Hire people who are smart collaborative team players. Ask yourself: can they navigate, learn and adapt quickly and shift gears when you change a strategy overnight. He referred to the fact that PayPal had so many near death experiences.
6. Find something unique and new or be first or second. A Groupon variation could work, but not a third or fourth one.
7. Three things you must have is virality, SEO and differentiators so you can build a set of products that can be built into an ecosystem.
8. You should always have a mindset of being terrified. Be paranoid, especially as a developer. (Note: he subscribes to belief that only the paranoid survive).
9. On choosing your team, go for people who share your vision and can go with you through the bad and the good times.
10. Build a team with people you simply can't 'hire.' (I LOVED THIS ONE and it is so so true).
One of the funniest and truest analogies he brought up was how much creating a team and bringing on an investor for a start-up was like a "shotgun marriage." He says with a grin, "Let's have dinner a couple of times, sign a paper and get married. Then you start running very fast, together and you all have to get along. If the alignment isn't there and you can't get along, it's not going to last."
We moved into company experience and opinions, which included both successes and failures.
In the early days of PayPal, the founders (Max Levchin, Peter Thiel, Elon Musk & Luke Nosek) had different ideas of what PayPal 'should be'. He said, "company direction changed often...we pivoted so many times, that it took us awhile to figure out what PayPal needed to be to sustain itself. Staying independent was highly risky given where we were at."
He says of Friendster, "they failed to get their team to operate well. They also had two minute load times which is essentially like saying F-U, go away."
On Tribe, he says "they got taken over by a community that was mostly Burning Man."
Of gigs he was most surprised that failed? After pondering for a bit, he said, "probably Digg because they had so many users and they had momentum."
Of products that haven't really progressed since they started? Yahoo Mail was his first answer, but then quickly added, "but maybe Marissa will fix this."
Of things which have accelerated faster than he thought they would? Twitter, which he passed up as an investor and is sorry that he had. "I couldn't understand their motivation early on," he said, but then suddently I got it, 'oh, it's a public sphere of attention gestures."
I had to laugh because it was a much geekier way of saying what I was thinking in those days "geeks with egos and ideas who needed to talk using as few words as possible with symbols that didn't make sense." Obviously Twitter has evolved into something so much broader today and rather than a platform designed by geeks for geeks, among other things, it has become a megaphones for brands.
On Zynga, he says noting that he just came from a board meeting and there were obviously things he couldn't talk about, "they have a lot of money in the bank, social gaming is an important category and matters and they have tons of users." On what he advises the team: "Don't worry about the market and what they're doing, just focus on building out your vision. The game is in front of you."
Lacy asked him if he felt that Zynga went public too early. "No, I don't think so," he says, "because it will take so long to build products and the rest of their vision out. They're going through a bit of a storm, but they have the fortitude and the team to pull through it." One of his funnier moments was when Mark Pincus asked him when games would show up on LinkedIn. "His answer? "Never," he said with a laugh. "It's not our business."
Then, there's the Facebook IPO. Reid says, "they decided they could increase their offering and when you do an IPO, you need to create a positive outlook for the future."
On LinkedIn and their IPO, he says, "we decided to go with the New York Stock Exchange, because we felt that it aligned better with our own brand."
Lacy asked him if he felt that Groupon went public too early?
"It's easy to get sidetracked and distracted with an IPO," he says. "They need to focus on building out new products....and when you have to deal with so much marketing and press, it is easy to get defocused, rather than concentrating on the things that you need to do to make your product better. They mishandled some of the things around the IPO and got distracted, but I think the relationships they have with merchants is better than people think." Like his remarks about Zynga, he adds, "the game is still in front of them."
On whether they should have taken the Google deal. "I'm always bullish...I think it's better to go long."
What about now and in the future? He says he wants to work on things that make a difference in the world. As for what that means to him? While Reid isn't Pierre Omidyar or Tony Tsieh in that he hasn't spend a chunk of his life in a business that honors and invests in businesses for social good, making a difference is what inspires him more than making money. Hear hear.
He serves on the boards of Do Something (an organization for young people taking action), The Weekend to be Named Later, Kiva.org, Mozilla and Endeavor Global an international non-profit development organization that finds and supports high-impact entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
Reid - thanks for sharing your inspiring words of wisdom and lessons learned.
August 03, 2012
Cory Doctorow on the Century of War Against Your Computer
Cory Doctorow spoke this week at the LONG NOW Foundation. The topic? A provocative one entitled: The coming century of war against your computer.
The war against computer freedom will just keep escalating, Doctorow contends. The copyright wars, net neutrality, and SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) were early samples of what is to come. Victories in those battles were temporary.
Conflict in the decades ahead will feature ever higher stakes, more convoluted issues, and far more powerful technology. The debate is about how civilization decides to conduct itself and in whose interests.
Stewart Brand's fabulous summary of the event below where Doctorow kicked things off by framing the issue this way: “Computers are everywhere. They are now something we put our whole bodies into---airplanes, cars---and something we put into our bodies---pacemakers, cochlear implants. They HAVE to be trustworthy.“
Sometimes humans are not so trustworthy, and programs may override you: “I can’t let you do that, Dave.” (Reference to the self-protective insane computer Hal in Kubrick’s film “2001.” That time the human was more trustworthy than the computer.) Who decides who can override whom?
The core issues for Doctorow come down to Human Rights versus Property Rights, Lockdown versus Certainty, and Owners versus mere Users.
Apple computers such as the iPhone are locked down---it lets you run only what Apple trusts. Android phones let you run only what you trust. Doctorow has changed his mind in favor of a foundational computer device call the “Trusted Platform Module” (TPM) which provides secure crypto, remote attestation, and sealed storage. He sees it as a crucial “nub of secure certainty” in your machine.
If it’s your machine, you rule it. It‘s a Human Right: your computer should not be overridable. And a Property Right: “you own what you buy, even if it what you do with it pisses off the vendor.” That’s clear when the Owner and the User are the same person. What about when they’re not?
There are systems where we really want the authorities to rule---airplanes, nuclear reactors, probably self-driving cars (“as a species we are terrible drivers.”) The firmware in those machines should be inviolable by users and outside attackers. But the power of Owners over Users can be deeply troubling, such as in matters of surveillance.
There are powers that want full data on what Users are up to---governments, companies, schools, parents. Behind your company computer is the IT department and the people they report to. They want to know all about your email and your web activities, and there is reason for that. But we need to contemplate the “total and terrifying power of Owners over Users.”
Recognizing that we are necessarily transitory Users of many systems, such as everything involving Cloud computing or storage, Doctorow favors keeping your own box with its own processors and storage. He strongly favors the democratization and wide distribution of expertise. As a Fellow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (who co-sponsored the talk) he supports public defense of freedom in every sort of digital rights issue.
“The potential for abuse in the computer world is large,” Doctorow concluded. “It will keep getting larger.”
For more information on future LONG NOW Seminars in San Francisco, visit their site. They bring one amazing speaker after another to speak, so it's worth attending one if you haven't and live in California or don't live closeby but can plan a trip around one of their upcoming events.
Photo credit: Oreillynet.com.
July 26, 2012
MobileDay for Connecting to Your Biz World From Some Exotic Spot
You Want to Talk When? It’s happened to the best of us: we plan for months to get away from it all, leaving the laptop and the smartphone back home, while taking in the cliffs of the Grand Canyon, or the coves of Kauai.
But, as you’re setting up your vacation auto-response with one foot out the door, an R&D team manager says they’ll be ready to present early next week, or your coworker explains that he just doesn’t feel comfortable dealing with a client on his own, or your CEO schedules a review at the exact moment of your tee time.
For business professionals, taking off on a jaunt to some remote location is a fleeting reality when people in your business and personal life expect you to be connected all the time.
MobileDay is a new app which launched earlier this month, which provides one-touch access to any conference call in North America, without the need to remember call-in numbers and access codes.
It's great for connecting when you otherwise wouldn't or find difficult to. Need to discuss last month’s business plan with your boss from the top of Deer Valley? Want to review projections with your team from the scuba rental shop in West Palm Beach? Or, outline next steps with product development from the Victorian Grand’s porch at Mackinac Island?
With MobileDay, you can handle this with ease on your smartphone, which surely you'll need for all the cool Geocaching you plan to do with your family on vacation anyway.