Piggies for tomorrow

piggy bank

Piggies are for saving!

My piggy is Instapaper, Pinboard and Evernote, where I bookmark all the things that my ADD head says, “Oh I’ll want to read this later.” But when does later come? I think it’s tomorrow, and when I realize that, I figure heck! What was I worried about? I can look at that tomorrow? So when does tomorrow actually arrive? And then I realize that it never comes. (!!!!!) And so I go look at the content I want in my piggy, and it bleeds into my browser...slowly, oh so slowly, and I curse Comcast and I open a new tab and go to Feedly while I’m waiting to see what new might be there, and oh there is! So I start reading there and bookmark the interesting bits to Instapaper, Pinboard and Evernote....

And then I open a tab to Facebook...which does not allow piggies, where content floats by like cottonwood puffs on the wind and I watch it flit this way and that, and I say, “Oh, that’s pretty!” and then it’s gone, and piggies aren't allowed, no, I’m not supposed to remember, I’m not supposed to save these puffs, because there are more puffs, new puffs and old puffs that whirled around and came back again all on their own, and I must now see those now because I must not, may not, cannot save any for tomorrow. For there is no tomorrow on Facebook. There are no piggies allowed.

Could I have my stuff back, please?

In the beginning, the world was offline. The past was just what we could remember. Conversations faded. Introductions to others slipped into the realm of unnamed faces and disconnected anecdotes. Jokes were heard and forgotten. Photos bleached out and negative film turned to dust. News clippings crumbled. Documents misplaced were unfindable. Address books lost were irreplaceable. What happened in Las Vegas really did stay in Las Vegas.

Then there was the Internet and all that began to change. The World-Wide Web came to be, and we all became potential publishers. With few exceptions in the larger-business realm, the first websites were no more than billboards. Then they were brochures. Then in the late '90s blogging began. In the '00s, walled-off chatrooms siloed off within services like AOL and Compuserve were replaced by more open communities ... and then social networks. (Walled-off social networks like Facebook opened up into full-blown social networks.) Before we knew it, we were emailing, chatting, shopping, researching, bookmarking, socializing, podcasting, showing videos, sharing, advising, asking, boasting, laughing, crying, raging, raving online.

And as far as we knew, what happened online stayed online ... where we could find it. (And if not, there was always the Wayback Machine.)

In recent weeks, that widespread confidence — complacency? — has been shaken. Maybe it started when it was announced that Facebook was buying Friendfeed.

Robert Scoble himself made noises about quitting Friendfeed. But what to do with all the content he had shared, all the connections he had made there?

I responded thusly:

on Facebook acquisition of Friendfeed

If you don't control it, is it really yours?

When we talk about where the "web" is going, we're asking the wrong question. It's not just about the web, it's about our connections with the people and information in our lives. The rapidly evolving web is but one part of that. We also have to consider things like the ongoing exponential increase in computer power, evolving applications and new apps that leverage that power and the power of the web in new ways, changing social mores, increasing expectations about access, privacy and control of information — not to mention the shifting economic tides and business agendas pursuing what investors are finding the most appealing financially.

The last part is where we find ourselves being led through affordance into new behaviors. Our connections are what marketers are after, because presumably our attention in that context is more valuable to advertisers. And of course there's always the data mining.

We do it gladly because we enjoy the benefits. And because we love experiencing new things that don't seem to be immediately threatening. The payoffs can be enriching, transformative. Thus: Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Gmail, LinkedIn, Google docs, and so on.

So the Facebook/Friendfeed deal got people's attention. Did they really want to leave their conversations, their connections, in the hands of the fickle, unpredictable hands of Facebook?

Then tr.im, the url shortening service, announced that they were shutting down. What would happen to all those link references people had created in tr.im to tweet, plurk, etc.?

If the real world were like Facebook

This is too too funny. (About 2 minutes.)

[via Michelle Oshen]

How free is "free"?

Is the future really free?

It seems we've entered an age where there's a land-grab happening for personal data and attention time. Look at all the web start-ups backed by venture capital. They aren't investing out of philanthropy. There's value there. YouTube is "free" but Google paid over a billion dollars for it. Why?

Here's a hint: It's not about the Tube.

Chris Anderson's Wired article was quite bold in its proclamations:

You know this freaky land of free as the Web. A decade and a half into the great online experiment, the last debates over free versus pay online are ending. In 2007 The New York Times went free; this year, so will much of The Wall Street Journal. (The remaining fee-based parts, new owner Rupert Murdoch announced, will be "really special ... and, sorry to tell you, probably more expensive." This calls to mind one version of Stewart Brand's original aphorism from 1984: "Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive ... That tension will not go away.")

Once a marketing gimmick, free has emerged as a full-fledged economy. Offering free music proved successful for Radiohead, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and a swarm of other bands on MySpace that grasped the audience-building merits of zero. The fastest-growing parts of the gaming industry are ad-supported casual games online and free-to-try massively multiplayer online games. Virtually everything Google does is free to consumers, from Gmail to Picasa to GOOG-411.

The rise of "freeconomics" is being driven by the underlying technologies that power the Web. Just as Moore's law dictates that a unit of processing power halves in price every 18 months, the price of bandwidth and storage is dropping even faster. Which is to say, the trend lines that determine the cost of doing business online all point the same way: to zero.

One of the old jokes from the late-'90s bubble was that there are only two numbers on the Internet: infinity and zero. The first, at least as it applied to stock market valuations, proved false. But the second is alive and well. The Web has become the land of the free.

Has it?


There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

The idea behind this is that there's always some sort of exchange happening, even if it's not in cash. If I buy you lunch, I'm getting something out of it -- the pleasure of your company, a chance to boast or commiserate, an opportunity to share a new restaurant discovery, freedom from an otherwise mundane meal, relief from a spiritual debt acquired when you bought me lunch last week, whatever.

And yet when I buy you lunch, it does not imply that you now are entitled to inspect my purse, or peruse the messages in my iPhone, or rummage through my dresser. Those things are considered private to most of us, right?

Chris Anderson's entire perception of the "free" present and future seems to depend upon the assumption that not only our time and attention have no value, but that our privacy has no value ... that is, no value to us.

Those things certainly have value to the companies offering the "free" services.

Last year, Yahoo announced that Yahoo Mail, its free webmail service, would provide unlimited storage. Just in case that wasn't totally clear, that's "unlimited" as in "infinite." So the market price of online storage, at least for email, has now fallen to zero....


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