Older blog entries for dmarti (starting at number 517)

Annoyances

A little while ago, I said something about how the adtech scene is out of touch with regular people. Just found a good example.

John Battelle writes that the solution to getting people to accept creepy web ads is...long weaselly Terms of Service documents!

Quite a concept. You can get people to like one unnatural behavior that only makes sense inside the corporate filter bubble by using another unnatural behavior that only makes sense within the corporate filter bubble.

We're doing stuff that makes you really uncomfortable, privacy-wise, but that's perfectly fine, because it's all in that long Terms of Service document that you automatically agree to by visiting our site.

Unfortunately, this might not be going far enough. In order to really get people to accept creepy targeted ads, the advertisers will need to add in:

  • clamshell packaging

  • complicated voicemail systems

  • Styrofoam packing peanuts

not just a bunch of legal jibber-jabber. How about it?

Syndicated 2013-08-23 14:08:37 from Don Marti

Virtual cartoon police for the web

Remember this story from Global Voices a while ago?

...the police in China's capital, Beijing, will start patrolling websites registered on Beijing servers using animated police officers that pop up in a user's browser....According to the Associated Press, the cartoon cops can walk, bike or drive across the screen every 30 minutes, warning Internet users to stay away from illegal Internet content and bad websites.

How about we make something similar for sites in the USA?

Some cute NSA characters, and a little tasteful JavaScript and CSS to show one in action on your site every so often, along with a true fact about Internet surveillance here.

Your hosting provider probably just wants to put some lipstick on the pig, wait for the surveillance story to drop out of the headlines, and go back to business as usual. But once you put a JavaScript thingy in a site template, it tends to stay there.

I'll be adding an animation with a placeholder image to this site...any cartoonists out there want to do some sketches?

Syndicated 2013-08-20 14:31:32 from Don Marti

Adversariality and web ads

I have an RSS feed aggregator that subscribes to feeds from people in the online ad business, and also from people looking at the online ad business from the outside. Why does it sound like one group is talking about targeted ads as ponies everyone wants, and the other is talking about them as rats to be exterminated?

From within the online ad business, increasingly detailed tracking, profiling, and targeting of users is a great idea. A recent example, from Jeremy Ozen, is The Ad Industry Must Stand Up for the Collection of Mobile Data.

Meanwhile, everyone else who writes about online ads just wants to avoid being tracked, profiled, and targeted. Here's a recent example of that. Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing covers a browser plugin intended to make it harder to profile your traffic based on surveillance.

So why the big difference? Why does adtech seek relevance, but regular people avoid it? Let's see if I can put it in 140 characters.

I'm interested in what your company says to existing customers, the public, and your mom, not what you'll say on my doorstep to make a sale.

How's that? More in Targeted Advertising Considered Harmful

Bonus links

Seth Godin: No one ever bought anything on an elevator

The Ad Contrarian: Playing The Other Guy's Game and 4 Reasons For Advertising's Radical Remake

Jonathan Mayer To 'Do Not Track' Working Group: I Quit (via Doc Searls Weblog)

How low-paid workers at 'click farms' create appearance of online popularity (via The New Inquiry)

Print Is Dead? 'Vogue' Has Its Second Biggest Issue Ever

Benefits of advertising include the placebo effect? Drug ads may enhance drug performance

The Public-Private Surveillance Partnership - Bloomberg (via John Battelle's Search Blog and Comment is free: Glenn Greenwald on security and liberty)

Bob Garfield: The Natives Are Feckless: Part One Of Three (via Doc Searls Weblog)

Data Brokers Don't Know You From A Naked Man Stumbling On The Beach

34 Insights From Nassim Taleb (via The Big Picture)

Syndicated 2013-08-19 13:30:14 from Don Marti

Hijacking the Internet

Who's really hijacking the Internet?

Back in the day, the "agency discount" for advertising was 15 percent. That means that every time your company bought a magazine ad, the publishing company got 85% and the ad agency got 15%.

For a typical business or tech magazine, the subscription price paid for the printing and postage, and the advertising paid for the reporters, editors, photographers, and designers. And things pretty much worked. Business or tech media wasn't the most lucrative job in the world, but people could make a living at it.

Now let's look at the publisher's share for web ads. It's about 25% to 45%. Instead of an ad agency spending 15% of your ad budget on salaries, rubber cement, and three-martini lunches, you now have a bewildering array of adtech middleweasels spending 55-75% of your ad budget on Macbooks Pro (is that even the right plural—hell with it, copy editing was the first thing to go) artisan coffee, Big Data, and gourmet food trucks.

It's an example of the Internet making an industry less efficient. Which should be in an Economics paper somewhere, but really, we need to find honest work for software developers now stuck in adtech. And for real advertisers to quit the adtech-captured IAB, but you knew that.

Syndicated 2013-08-17 19:07:58 from Don Marti

More on Persona

The big Mozilla Persona News is that Persona now has a gateway for Gmail users. If you have GMail and use Persona to sign in to a site, then Google can see that you're using the gateway, but not which site you're connecting to.

Privacy win. With BrowserID, by design, your identity providers are not involved in the login transaction. This means they need not be aware of your entire Web activity, a significant privacy advantage. With OpenID, your identity provider is, unfortunately, a necessary participant in the login flow.

If your email address is on a domain that doesn't have a gateway or full Persona support, you can still use Persona, just with an extra step of filling out a form and getting an email confirmation. Try it.

Now for the fun part. If you're interested in adding first-class Persona Identity Provider support to your own site, so that people who have an email adddres on your domain can use it to log in at other places, read one webmaster's experience. After a few days of hacking, "rfk.id.au" now acts as an Identity Provider for the BrowserID protocol, a.k.a Mozilla Persona. This means I can now log in as ryan@rfk.id.au on any persona-enabled website while retaining complete control over my identity. I do not have to delegate my details or my credentials to a third party, even one that I would trust as much as Mozilla.

Bonus links follow.

How BrowserID works

Persona is a complete implementation of a new, distributed login system from Mozilla. BrowserID is the open protocol that governs how Persona works.

Persona is distributed. Today.

Persona on Firefox OS phones

Adding Persona authentication to richard

New Persona Beta: Millions of Users Ready to Log In using Any Browser

Persona and Surveillance

Fixing Sign-in

Mozilla Continues to Build the Web as a Platform for Security

Users don't like social login.

getting web sites to adopt a new identity system

Syndicated 2013-08-09 13:26:15 from Don Marti

Automatically run make when a file changes

Hey, kids! makewatch script!

Really simple: do a makewatch [target] to re-run make with the supplied [target] when any files relevant to that target change.

This is something originally discussed in a thread on the linux-elitists mailing list.

Andrew Cowie has written something similar. The main thing that this one does differently is to ask make which files matter to it, instead of doing an inotifywatch on the whole directory. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Syndicated 2013-08-08 13:49:12 from Don Marti

Listening to Podcasts on Android

Here's how behind on native apps I was: I was still running Google Listen even after it died last year. (The thing kept working since it was synchronized to Google Reader somehow, but then Google Reader went away, too.)

Anyway, I have finally moved to the current decade (If the Internet works on dog years, a decade is 17 months) and installed AntennaPod. Works for me. Nice clean look with easy-to-hit controls, and starts up quickly.

Two music podcast recommendations: The Casbah and Rathole Radio.

Syndicated 2013-08-07 13:09:38 from Don Marti

QoTD: Bruce Sterling

Even US Senators are decorative objects for the NSA. An American Senator knows as much about PRISM and XKeyScore as a troll-doll on the dashboard knows about internal combustion.

Bruce Sterling

Syndicated 2013-08-04 11:41:30 from Don Marti

Point of order: web site login

This started out as a comment over at the Doc Searls Weblog but IMHO it's worth repeating and expanding. Because someone actually made a working solution to a large-scale problem.

Mozilla Persona is full of win.

Especially compared to “social login.”

Mozilla Persona is not just "log in with [big web company]" with a better logo. It's different, and way, way, better. If you're still complaining about the web login problem, you probably just don't understand Mozilla Persona well enough.

Why? RTFAQ.

The BrowserID protocol never leaks tracking information back to the Identity Provider.

So you can use your @example.com email addres to log in to whatever sites you like, and example.com never knows which ones.

If your site login method is based on “let’s make users remember complex strings of text, which we know people are really bad at” or “let’s depend on having our users tracked by big companies, which we know people hate” you need to take a short hacking break. Make a simple web application that uses Mozilla Persona, learn how excellent it is, and then never go back.

Bonus link: OAuth of Fealty by Ian Bogost. The short truth is this: Facebook doesn't care if developers can use the platform easily or at all.

And Mozilla would never do anything like that, right? (Seriously. Please don't. Mozilla Persona fanboy here—if you mess it up I'll look like the web authentication version of Zune Tattoo Guy.)

Syndicated 2013-08-03 12:52:27 from Don Marti

Learning from Second Amendment defenders

The IT industry in the USA depends on the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment just as much as the firearms and ammunition industry here depends on the Second. Today, though, Second Amendment rights in the USA are in much better shape than First or Fourth Amendment rights, and the collapse of the First and Fourth is now a high-profile problem for the nation's IT business. We're failing dangerously where so-called Gun Nuts have been succeeding for decades. What are Second Amendment-based companies getting right that First and Fourth Amendment-based companies are getting so terribly wrong?

When a First/Fourth-hostile regime comes into effect, companies have to comply, just as firearms manufacturers have to comply with Second-violating laws when those pass. But every industry in the USA basically writes the laws that apply to it. Petroleum products cannot be hazardous waste, by definition. The Pillsbury Doughboy collects a government paycheck. You don't need me to go on here. Lobbyists tell Congress, "If you could pass this set of laws to cover our industry, that would be super helpful, mmmkay?" and Congress says, Yes sir.

So why have we as an industry failed on First and Fourth Amendment protections? Because we're not doing some basic political tasks that the Second Amendment crew is doing right.

Model 1911
semiautomatic pistol, partly disassembled.

Fan-friendly vintage products Firearms sellers understand and use the endowment effect. For example, users are happily keeping and using M1911 pistols, based on a century-old design by John Browning. And even buying newly manufactured ones. When Grandpa goes to the store for a vintage product like he's used to, he can get one, not a forced upgrade to flat design.

Should IT companies devote valuable staff to maintaining vintage versions? Not necessarily. The largest producer of M1911 pistols is a company called Kimber, founded more than 50 years after Browning's death. It's hard to imagine a IT company throwing an old product over the wall instead of killing it. The conventional wisdom is to do everything possible to prevent competition with old versions. But now that the market is mature, we can reconsider that. Keep the fangirls and fanboys happy, and they'll be writing letters to Congress instead of THIS NEW VERSION SUX0RZ!!1! rants.

Stick together on the basics Ever see a revolver manufacturer come out for a ban on semiautomatics? Or a manufacturer of long-barrelled firearms come out for a ban on short-barrelled ones? Manufacturers treat policy debates as off limits when seeking competitive advantages. One exception, the case of a CEO who wrote one letter to Congress supporting a magazine capacity limit in 1989, was controversial at the time and provokes boycott discussions even today. The Second Amendment scene understands divide et impera pretty well by now. Meanwhile, IT vendors will throw each other, or users, under the bus for a short-term advantage over some other vendor. And incumbent vendors cheerfully support laws that lock out new startups.

The results of that quarter-to-quarter thinking are coming home to roost. Pursuit of lock-in can be great for sales, short-term, but locked-in users can't switch vendors as fast, which makes every vendor's OODA loop unnecessarily slow. Thanks to the decision to pursue lock-in, we've gone from innovation to stagnation and squabbling, and just making everyone rebuild their stuff over and over for different platforms. Meanwhile, the firearms business is letting users swap in independently developed parts while keeping their platform investments. It's news when an IT person makes noise about We do not break userspace! but mature markets take that for granted. <pullquote>The IT industry isn't a baby any more. So it's time to stop raising it on the steroids of forced upgrades and the crack of lock-in, and move it up to the whole-wheat goodness of sustained customer value.</pullquote> Worst pull quote ever. You're basically saying that you'd give steroids and crack to a baby. Also, gluten moms. —Ed.

Product-membership bundling The Second Amendment industries have the NRA, and we've got the EFF. Even accounting for the fact that the NRA is a century older, the EFF is relatively small compared to the user population it serves.

A key part of the NRA's success is vendor cooperation on membership drives. Just one example: REDRING Offers 5-Year NRA Membership & Redring Shotgun Sight Package at 2013 NRA Show.
I have also seen an NRA membership deal at a company that offers ammunition reloading supplies. Powder, add to cart, primers, add to cart, a year of NRA membership, add to cart. Simple.

IT vendors could easily add EFF membership to product and service bundles. Yes, the EFF does call out some vendors on problematic programs, but see stick together on the basics above. As the industry grows up, we'll be putting less and less importance on infighting, and more on staying in business for the long term.

Conclusion With the Second Amendment safe for the foreseeable future, and firearms vendors sitting on more orders than they can fill, (thanks largely to NRA publicity—that product-membership bundling was worth it, wasn't it?) a lot of Marketing and Public Policy people there are probably getting a little bored. Time for the IT business to hire some.

(photo: Jan Hrdonka for Wikimedia Commons.)

Syndicated 2013-07-20 15:06:23 from Don Marti

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