The Web We Lost

When you see interesting data mash-ups today, they are often still using Flickr photos because Instagram’s meager metadata sucks, and the app is only reluctantly on the web at all. We get excuses about why we can’t search for old tweets or our own relevant Facebook content, though we got more comprehensive results from a Technorati search that was cobbled together on the feeble software platforms of its era. We get bullshit turf battles like Tumblr not being able to find your Twitter friends or Facebook not letting Instagram photos show up on Twitter because of giant companies pursuing their agendas instead of collaborating in a way that would serve users. And we get a generation of entrepreneurs encouraged to make more narrow-minded, web-hostile products like these because it continues to make a small number of wealthy people even more wealthy, instead of letting lots of people build innovative new opportunities for themselves on top of the web itself.

Open for all, closed for a few. Beneficiaries I mean.

Jailbreaking now legal under DMCA for smartphones, but not tablets

No more unlocking

In 2006 and 2010, the Librarian of Congress had permitted users to unlock their phones to take them to a new carrier. Now that’s coming to an end. While the new rules do contain a provision allowing phone unlocking, it comes with a crippling caveat: the phone must have been “originally acquired from the operator of a wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety days after the effective date of this exemption.”

In other words, phones you already have, as well as those purchased between now and next January, can be unlocked. But phones purchased after January 2013 can only be unlocked with the carrier’s permission.

The reasons for the distinction include that none can be made about what is a tablet.

Doc Searls – Will the carriers body-snatch the Net with HTML5?

Background: telcos and cablecos – what we call “carriers,” and the industry calls “operators” – are hounded by what they call “over the top,” or OTT (of their old closed phone and cable TV systems). Everything that makes you, app developers and content producers independent of telcos and cablecos is OTT. ┬áNaaS, as Crossey explains it, is a way for the telcos and cablecos to put the genie of OTT independence back inside the bottle of carrier control.

The blathering about OTT, and its eager adoption as the term of craft to signify understanding, has irked since day one. Because since Day One, every service on the Internet has been (or can be) provided by other than the carrier.

Indeed this structural separation is the foundation of the freedom and flexibility that has caused the innovation for which the Internet is justly famed.

The idea that access to carrier customer information, in the two-sided model advocated for so long by Telco 2.0 (home to “Internet warming” scare monger Martin Geddes), will exclude some by becoming mandatory is a bit of a long bow. Indeed services may differentiate and appeal by not being geo-aware, or interested in all your demographic and social graph information.

That interest is conventionally held to be required for the nirvana of ad-supported services, but Doc Searls has for sometime predicted the demise of the model (or at least its marginalisation).

Too many too large and too clever organisations efficiently deliver their services using the Internet to be tempted by entering a global negotiation with local and national carriers to establish APIs, thus granting them the power Twitter is so casually abusing.

Co-operation at the level required for this strategy is mercifully beyond the narrow short-term self-interest of telcos to co-ordinate. All happy to ITU when the going was good, but competition has changed that happy band of brothers.

Telco 2.0, or at least Dean Bubley, illustrates this over-engineered habit time and time again: http://disruptivewireless.blogspot.co.nz/

In the long term, we’re not going back to X.400, the abstracted Internet market is so many orders of magnitude larger than any “carrier” that working with them (a pig of a job at the best of times) is very unlikely to be worth the grief.

Libraries borked by ebook forks

Less than a week ago, Apple delivered a groundbreaking announcement with the release of iBooks Author. A drag-and-drop authoring environment, Author makes it easy to build media-rich, interactive books in a simple-to-use tool. Positioned by its i-name as a sibling to the iWork app family, versus separate high-end design products like GarageBand, Author democratizes the production of complex structured books, notably including textbooks.

But for libraries, at a time when they are increasingly struggling to provide access to ebooks as publishers pull back from lending support, Apple has provided a rib-crunching blow by delivering proprietary output tied to the iPad. And, in Apple???s license terms, any iBook created by Author can be distributed freely, but commercial sales must run through the iBookstore. This has generated a great deal of disappointment from those who wished to see Apple release a general purpose ebook creation tool.

All commercial sales of the output must pay tithe to the Apple channel.