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Comment Not a new discussion (Score 4, Insightful) 706

This is not a new discussion... there have been people thinking about this for some time. In March of 2006 I wrote an article on my blog about it (reproduced below) which eventually led to me consulting with Public Radio on a show they were doing at the time about online public information (you can listen to an archived copy of that at October 12, 2007: Your Exposed Life on MPR

My Original Article 3/24/2006:

I've often wondered who will be able to run for political office in forty or fifty years. People, especially youg people, seem to be so naive about posting things online. For years online forums and message boards have been a place where people vented. Now sites like Myspace, Facebook and others are creating such a low barrier to entry that almost every middle and high school child in the United States has some kind of web presence. What many fail to understand is that once something is posted or "said" on the internet it never goes away...ever. The internet is also quite easy to search if you know what you're doing. This dangerous combination means that everything you write to a message board can be found at some point in the future and "can and will be used against you". Any kind of off-color comment or joke you ever made online, even if your intention wasn't to hurt anyone, is public knowledge.

Employers already know about this. BusinessWeek recently ran an article called "You are what you post" that talked about some of the implications for job seeking but I think the arena where this will really get the consultants salivating is politics. There are so few people who are able to hold their tongue and never offend anyone. In the past politicians have relied primarily on obscuring and making it difficult to find embarrassing things about their past. When today's teens start running for political office these things will only be an internet search away. Remember that posting to that email discussion list about STDs you made when you were 15? How about that time someone on a message board got you mad and you called them a racial slur? You may have forgotten these incidents but the internet has not and neither will your enemies.

I wonder if the politicians of the future will need to be groomed from birth to have no defects and think very, very carefully before ever speaking. On the other hand our society may end up becoming more accepting of faults which would not be an all bad outcome. This remains to be seen but in the meantime those of us who have always tried to think about how what we say today could come back (for better or worse) in the future are going to be much better off than the indiscriminate masses.

Comment Re:Good news...? (Score 5, Insightful) 296

Maybe because the web is a medium and not a place?

I'm all for requiring public physical places to be designed with the needs of the disabled in mind. This only makes sense and I think has made a tremendous difference for both the legally disabled and our generally aging population but I don't think the web is the equivalent of a public place. I think it's a medium more akin to a newspaper or book.

Would it make sense to REQUIRE all book publishers to publish extra copies in braille for example? I can certainly see the value of regulations which said that if the publisher (or website author) doesn't do it themselves a third-party service provider must not be prevented from (legally) making the information accessible but to require all websites to do it themselves would put a huge burden on website authors and may just cause a lot of people to stop putting information on the web unless they need to or their is a compelling commercial reason to do so.

Let's look at a project to scan in material from old books and make it available in image/pdf format for research. If the information were required to be accessible it would add a significant amount of work and cost to the (already expensive) digitization process. In my own case where I am putting up some very specific historic and technical material which I am making no money on I might just stop doing it. This would be a net loss for the spread of knowledge.

These types of regulations work best when they encourage people to do the right thing but do NOT just stop anything from happening. eg. If people stopped building public places because of the expense of ADA compliance the ADA would not make sense on a societal level as public places have value. The same goes for websites.

Comment Re:news? (Score 4, Insightful) 150

Why is this sad? What's wrong with implementing RS-232 on a 25 pin D-sub connector? In fact for real RS-232 support you need more than 9 pins and the 25 pin connector is really better suited. The fact that 9 pin connectors became the norm for RS-232 on PCs is the part that's more interesting.

GrandCentral Reborn As Google Voice 206

Some anonymous person wrote in to say that Google has relaunched and rebranded GrandCentral as "Google Voice." The article says it will "revolutionize telephones. It unifies your phone numbers, transcribes your voice mail, blocks telemarketers and elevates text messages to first-class communication citizens." Sadly, the voicemail didn't integrate very nicely w/ my phone back in the day, so I guess I should give it a shot.

Comment Re:1984? (Score 1) 513

Obviously you have not been smacked down by Wikipedia editors for reporting original research in Wikipedia. In other words if you want to prove that someone famous lives in your town going to their house and interviewing them is not sufficient. You must publish that interview somewhere else (and not self-published because they'll smack you for that too) and then someone else must correct the article. All because some newspaper got lazy and reported the incorrect town of residence as a larger town nearby. No, I'm not upset though.
Government

Barack Obama Sworn In As 44th President of the US 1656

Just before noon today, Eastern time, Barack Obama was sworn in before the US Capitol building as the 44th President of the United States (Whitehouse.gov has already been updated to reflect the new President), and offered an inaugural address which outlined some of the challenges that the country currently faces, both within the country's borders and abroad. Obama's election has been called "a civil rights triumph," and his candidacy has inspired perhaps the most visible political involvement of young voters of any candidate since John Kennedy. Here's your chance to discuss the newest occupant of the White House and what you'd like to see happen over the course of his presidency.
Programming

Getting Paid To Abandon an Open Source Project? 654

darkeye writes "I'm facing a difficult dilemma and looking for opinions. I've been contributing heavily to an open source project, making considerable changes to code organization and quality, but the work is unfinished at the moment. Now, a company is approaching me to continue my changes. They want to keep the improvements to themselves, which is possible since the project is published under the BSD license. That's fair, as they have all the rights to the work they pay for in full. However, they also want me to sign a non-competition clause, which would bar me from ever working on and publishing results for the original open source project itself, even if done separately, in my free time. How would you approach such a decision? On one side, they'd provide resources to work on an interesting project. On the other, it would make me an outcast in the project's community. Moreover, they would take ownership of not just what they paid for, but also my changes leading up to this moment, and I wouldn't be able to continue on my original codebase in an open source manner if I sign their contract."

Comment Re:A Question.... (Score 4, Insightful) 509

The problem is that in the United States the local shops have several things going against them. First, the selection is often not all that good which is a problem for informed consumers who usually want one of a couple options none of which may be carried by the small retailer. Second, and perhaps more important to Americans is the price difference. It's usually a lot more than the few cents you cite. Often a product will cost at least tens of dollars more and depending on the price of the product perhaps $50 or $100 more from a local store. These are not insignificant price differences and people, at least Americans, will put up with just about anything to save $5. Unless your local store is within $5 on just about everything you will loose customers to the big store no matter how much better your service is, many are not. This is not to say there are not successful small, local computer (and other) stores but there are a limited number of them, usually in densely populated cities making it much more convenient for most consumer to shop at the (much closer and much less less expensive) big box retailer.

Comment Staged Calls on G4's TSS (Score 5, Informative) 404

Just so it's clear, this is never something I would have countenanced when I was managing editor of The Screen Savers. And I know that my successor, Patrick Norton, would have brained anyone who suggested such a thing.

We did sometimes pre-book calls - and I do it now on the Canadian version of Call for Help - for production reasons. But I always hated even doing that. I never do it on my radio show. But far worse is using "actors" to ask canned questions. That's just plain lying.

Unfortunately, it doesn't surprise me.

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