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Comment: Re:Facebook is pretty much an abusive platform (Score 1) 130

by weston (#35394632) Attached to: Facebook Bans AdSense In Apps

they would hit an early-adopter demographic just at the time they were forming many new social connections (freshers) that they wouldn't want to lose by moving to a different network later, and the network effect would make it grow. That ain't no accident!

Theory #1 is compatible with the idea that while what you're saying is true, neither Zuck nor anybody else involved had an explicit understanding of this while they were building it.

Newsflash -- they're all abusive platforms. That's what tech giants do.... And it's not conspiracy -- it's explicit. The VCs that fund them in the start always ask the question "How are you going to protect your market?" -- or in other words "How can we achieve lock-in?"

The problem with this response is that most of the deficiencies I'm describing don't help them do any of this. Apple's abuses related to iOS and its developers are ridiculous on any number of levels but all more or less make some kind sense from a standpoint of QC, promoting future purchases, and lock-in. And, OK, banning AdSense fits in with the goals your describing.

But seriously, what good does it do Facebook if their APIs and SDKs suck? If their documentation is terrible? If they deprecate useful interaction hooks in favor of less useful ones which end up banished entirely? There's really only one advantage -- they push the development costs of polishing these things off their own plate and onto the backs of their third party devs. And they can get away with it because of their position in the market... but that's the kind of advantage that really should only appeal to a shoestring operation with limited resources, not a rapidly growing company with ambitions of having deep ties to many of the future services deployed on the web. It isn't going to help them capture anything.

Comment: Facebook is pretty much an abusive platform (Score 5, Informative) 130

by weston (#35393320) Attached to: Facebook Bans AdSense In Apps

A couple of months back I spent a few weeks looking at developing a Facebook App. By the time I was done coding a simple one, I'd basically come to the conclusion that there were a lot better things to do with my time. Here's why:

* The APIs and SDKs. There's a lot of them. And not in the lots-to-love sense. In the dissociative identity disorder sense. Some of them work as specified. Some of them don't.

* The documentation. It sucks. It sucks extra because of the changes to the APIs -- a lot of times, you don't know if any given howto, forum post, internet article, and (in some cases) actual official documentation refers to the version of the API or SDK you're using. It sucks *particularly* hard because some complete moron at Facebook made the decision to blow away a community-built wiki site and replace it with a Bing search of the half-hearted official docs. And a lot of the links still out there still point to it.

* The policy/UI changes. Profile boxes (rather successful interaction hooks) were phased out in favor of tabs, which were going to be The New And Better Way. Now tabs are going away -- why? Oh, because it turned out that people didn't actually use them and Facebook now has another idea of what to do.

And this is from a company that's certainly sitting on the actual resources to do a hell of a lot better than this.

Watching all this, I developed two theories about Facebook:

1) It's possible that its success is more or less an accident of history -- they put something good enough together at the right time to become the premiere social network, and because of the network effect, it's sticky enough people don't simply defect despite its problems. But as an organization, they're not genuinely smart enough to do much further effectively... including providing a good platform for third-party devs.

2) Facebook doesn't really actually care about providing an effective and reliable platform for developers. They don't have to. There's enough incentive for would-be devs to try something and see if it works out that they can let the mass of attempts hit the wall and fail, and still reap benefits from those who break through and make things work. In the meanwhile, they can pretty much shift agendas as they see fit, and if that breaks a number of developer eggs, oh well. More will come.

I'm not sure which one is more true. My money is on #2, really, but there's possibly some measure of #1 as well. Either way, though, the upshot is that it's more or less an abusive platform, and the announcement that they're forbidding AdSense doesn't surprise me in the least -- it's totally consistent with both theories.

If you've got an idea that needs to feed from the fabric of the social web in order to succeed, then it's still the place to go. But if you've got another idea that doesn't, it might be better to go with that than to work with these guys.

Comment: DRM is a lock on a door (Score 1) 399

by weston (#35261078) Attached to: Will Google Oppose DRM On HTML5 Video?

Door locks don't keep burglars or determined attackers out, either. So, what purpose do they serve?

They make it hard to *casually* invade a room or building. They make it so there's at least a small hassle involved.

I think it's more or less true that carrots probably work better than sticks -- it's probably better to combat piracy with affordable prices, convenient availability, and a feelgood sense of legitimacy. But I can kindof understand why some content purveyors would also want to do something to stop casual piracy. And as long as DRM is optional -- as long as every codec that allows DRM also allows un-DRM'd content -- I don't see a problem with letting people see how offering restricted content works out for them.

Comment: Because it's the belief system that made the web (Score 1) 535

by weston (#35087490) Attached to: Microsoft Makes Chrome Play H.264 Video

Ogg Theora is technically highly inferior to H.264. All it has going for it is religion and ideology... Why should Microsoft support your particular belief system over the beliefs of anyone else?

Because it's not just an arbitrary or personal belief system. It's one of the important qualities that made the Web a wildly successful medium. When you've got protocols and formats that anyone can freely implement -- when authoring and rendering tools are unencumbered by rentiers who would extract tools -- then anybody who wants to has nearly no barriers to creating value-adding services around the "edges" of this agreement.

Imagine for a minute how well things would have gone for the WWW if tolls were required for anybody who implemented a browser, a server, an authoring tool. It might have been somewhat successful anyway, but it likely would have been a lot more like AOL or eWorld instead of what it is today.

Comment: Why Neo could sense/confound squidbots (Score 1) 640

by weston (#34991198) Attached to: The Matrix Re-Reloaded

After all, THAT would at least have explained better why Neo was able to sense the damn squidbots and blow them up.

Seems pretty clear to me why Neo could sense & blow up the squidbots: they're part of the machine network, connected to some master system ("the source") that activated when he visited the architect.

Comment: Has Problems != Broken (Score 1) 757

by weston (#34983966) Attached to: America Losing Its Edge In Innovation

The entire public education structure is broken

Not really. And I say this as a former would-be teacher who bailed because of weaknesses in the system, and of course, as a grown-up student who can now see many flaws in my the education I received.

On the other hand, of course, I actually got a pretty great public education, at the end of which I knew basic Calculus, electronic circuits, Pascal & C, how to use UNIX, basic writing and argument skills, an appreciation for poetry and literature, a little bit about the Spanish language, and college credit for a lot of this (never had to take freshman comp, general biology, american history, and I also had two semesters of Computer Science down). I can come up with examples of holes in my education too, but honestly, with a bit of better counseling from somebody or a better internal compass, I could have *easily* gotten a lot more out of the whole thing -- there was simply a lot stuff on the table that I just left there. All from a state (Utah) that tends to lag in per pupil spending.

The school I did my student teaching had at least that much to offer. Problems, yes, not necessarily the apogee, but pretty good.

Yes, of course there are districts and schools and individuals out there in deeper trouble than I'm describing... enough that reform is a worthy problem. But this idea that it's all broken top to bottom seems fishy to me, and I think it's driven more by a subtle antipathy than actual analysis.

A HS teacher should have at least an MS in the field they teach and not in education.

Credentialism isn't going to save us from any of our current problems. In fact, we probably need less of it: slightly lower barriers to getting into the profession, better evaluation of those already involved.

But even if we were talking about more subtle solutions, a subject-and-practice focused undegrad (augmented with some light pedagogical theory) is going to be as helpful as tacking on an extra two years of study, particularly for the better candidates.

On the teaching side HS should be more like college and less like grade school

Oh, certainly. Probably most importantly in having more time for teachers to refine and practice their subject matter and less time on per-se prep and teaching. Of course, that's going to cost us, particularly if we're also increasing the professionalization of teachers (and compensating accordingly).

Comment: Not open if you can't freely re-implement (Score 1) 663

by weston (#34874314) Attached to: Ars Thinks Google Takes a Step Backwards For Openness

it IS AN OPEN STANDARD. It's just not free as in beer.

It's not free as in libre either if you can't freely re-implement.

  Imagine a world where HTML itself was controlled by a patent association that charged fees to anyone who implemented authoring or rendering software.

You're essentially arguing for that.

Comment: Maybe a Standard, but not a web standard (Score 1) 663

by weston (#34874268) Attached to: Ars Thinks Google Takes a Step Backwards For Openness

Wrong. H.264 was created to create a STANDARD.

Great. If they want a standard, they're welcome to it. And if the members of the patent pool want the pool to protect their intellectual property and mine the value, then that's their privilege.

If they want a *web* standard, though, that's different.

You do not have a open web -- in the free/libre sense -- when its clients can't be freely implemented and re-implemented. Imagine a world where HTML itself was controlled by a patent association that charged fees to anyone who implemented authoring or rendering software and you start to get the idea. Yet some people are apparently OK with playing exactly that game with a key piece of the HTML5 spec.

WebM is a step away from that.

I wish people would just stop drinking the Google Cool-Aid and think about WHY they are making this move. It's not about the money. it's not about openess. It's about trying to make the standard that they bought the standard for video on the web. Next thing, they will limit the licensing to their competitors so that they can't do everything they are doing with video on the web.

Google has granted a perpetual, royalty-free patent license to VP8/WebM.

Who's drinking kool-aid again?

Comment: Re:YRO? (Score 1) 738

by weston (#34858668) Attached to: Jerry Brown Confiscates 48,000 Cell Phones

Your "taxophobic minority" is another person's "reasonable concern."

You may not be aware of this, but there are substantial members of the caucus that likes to present themselves as "reasonably concerned" about taxes that are actually signing pledges from people like Grover Norquist and similar ilk stating that they will flat-out oppose any new tax or tax increase. No consideration of policy, no assessment of fiscal impact. No tweaking the code by increases here, decreases there. Pure monotonic ratchet down.

Sound "reasonably concerned"? Or does "taxophobic" maybe start to sound more accurate?

designed to divide and conquer. For example, "shall we raise taxes on beer?" The majority of people, not being beer drinkers, thinks this is just swell. "Shall we increase the cigarette tax?" Different majority, same result.

Alcohol and tobacco as examples of singling out powerless minorities? Dude, you can't be serious. Taxes on those things pre-date income tax by decades, probably are among the earliest taxes in the USA, and the rationale behind them has far more to do with "sin tax" anti-incentives and public costs associated with their trade, use, and abuse than it does with rarity of use amongst population -- particularly alcohol, since depending on who you ask, 40-50% of the population drinks beer, and 60+% drinks something (yes, I suppose that technically makes beer drinkers a slight minority, but a minority that's as big as a plurality in many presidential elections is not the kind that isn't going to have any clout when the issue comes up for review).

I'm even a full supporter of the idea that anyone who votes in favor of a tax has to be subject to that tax even if they don't participate in the actions being taxed.

Sure! And while we're at it, let's extend the operative principle here to *all* areas of the law! Proposing or voting for a new statutory punishment? Well, get ready to pay the fine and do the time yourself, buddy!

Comment: TFD is the least of your worries (Score 1) 705

by weston (#34649184) Attached to: Is Net Neutrality Really Needed?

The Fairness Doctrine is being leveraged to ensure that there are only two viable political parties.

If you're worried about an entrenched party duoarchy, any content-focused "Fairness Doctrine" should be the least of your concerns. Even if it were still operating (it's not, and it's pretty easy to verify both by pointing at examples of broadcast outlets that violate its principles as well as checking history), any effects it has are an order of magnitude lower than the plurality voting system.

Comment: Depends on the regulation (Score 1) 853

by weston (#34631764) Attached to: Obama FCC Caves On Net Neutrality

Then when new regulations are passed that give more power to the corporations, you blame the people who told you that was going to happen if you kept pushing for more regulations.

Naw, I blame the people who talk about about "regulation" vaguely and as if it's some monolithic thing, of course. Always easier rhetorically, particularly when you're preaching to a choir of fellow conservatives who've repeated the "regulation bad" mantra for so long it's become their own personal lobotomy and they are no longer even *capable* of actually thinking about policy specifics.

So here's the question: can you describe the mechanics of how a regulation that, say, prohibited tolls or discrimination based on packet source/destination would create barriers that favor existing big companies?

Comment: Either that (Score 1) 604

by weston (#34620892) Attached to: Al Franken Makes a Case For Net Neutrality

The ONLY way to stop corporate control of something by a small group of companies with lobbying power is not to regulate it. End of story.

Either that, or write regulations that are a matter of condition rather than favor.

It's really not that hard to stipulate something to the effect that carriers aren't allowed to bill by source or destination of a packet.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing for money.

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