Archive for the 'Technology' Category

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Decide the tagline… but fast

The tagline for my book on the saga has to be with the publishers on Thursday i.e. in two days.

We – meaning me and the publisher – are still undecided so here is your chance to have some fun and help me out. There are a list below of the sort of variations we came up with a few months ago – they are also on the poll on the right. So, please, vote but also please offer your suggestions and variations. And do so quick. A signed book and a beer to whoever nails it…

Suggestions so far:

  • One domain, Two Men, Twelve Years and the $65 million battle for the Dubious Jewel in the Internet’s Crown.
  • Two men, one prize, 12 years and counting…
  • The first great battle of the digital age
  • The feud for the internet’s most desired domain
  • The brutal battle for the Internet’s hottest property
  • The incredible story of the digital era’s most bitter feud
  • The $65 million battle for the most valuable word of the Internet age

Where am I?

I’m trying out some new Web2.0 stuff called Plazes, which tracks me as I move around.

I’ll tie it into this blog in a minute, but in the meantime, here is the URL to follow if you want to know where I am at any give time:

I have some code. Let’s see if this works…

Download Flash plugin

Zittrain and the future of the Internet

It’s not often you start the day by kicking a dog full in the face. Actually I didn’t do it, but I did get closer than I ever thought possible to mangling a mutt’s features. I was on my morning jog and this little but sturdy beast broke away from its owners and started chasing around my feet. This happens all the time, except this time it bit me, hard, on the ankle. I kept jogging, and then it bit me hard again on the same ankle. Aside from this being quite a feat of co-ordination as I was running at a good pace, it bloody hurt. So I stopped, and turned on it with every intention of dishing some punishment back.

Alot of people are scared of dogs, but I learnt as a kid to stand up to them. It was the only way to deal with the ENORMOUS dog at a friend’s house who saw me as an invader. When it physically attacked me – which it did continuously every time I was there – my friend’s parents would make a variety of idiotic comments like “he’s just having fun”; “he doesn’t mean any harm”; “that’s how he shows he likes you”, despite the fact I was usually sprawled out on the floor and clearly quite scared. When it became clear that I had no choice but to sort this out myself, the dog and I had a little tete-a-tete in the garden one day that had the fortuitous result that it subsequently became passive around me.

So when this little git of a dog tore through my trousers, and my sock, and drew blood, my immediate feeling was that it might benefit from a hefty kick in the chops. But I didn’t do it. Why? Because of societal values. The idiot owners shouted a half-hearted apology and then tried to beckon the dog with cooing, play noises – which the dog completely ignored. If they had barked “Roger!”, it would have stopped, and most likely never bitten me in the first place. But because there were owners there, because they had at least half-apologised and because they appeared to be doing something about the situation, no matter how half-arsed, I decided not to act but to simply stare at the dog until it listened to its owners and ran off again. I acted against my own desires because of a sense of wider societal good (not upsetting neighbours), despite my aching foot.

And it is for this reason that I’m not sure about one of the threads of logic outlined by top Net academic Jonathan Zittrain in a lecture he gave yesterday in Oxford on “The Future of the Internet”.

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Aaaaargh! I *hate* Microsoft and everything it touches

I am being putting through one of those bi-annual days when you have to actually restrain yourself from smashing in your computer. And it is all thanks to Microsoft.

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How the Net makes people stupid, and Microsoft rich

Today was the launch of the latest version of Microsoft Windows, Vista. I was news editing and eventually stuck up three stories (albeit with widely different angles) because, after all, Windows informs how millions of people interact with computers, whether they are aware of it or not.

The thing I most love and hate about Windows launches (I’ve been through a few of them now) is the crazed hype. As an IT journalist you tend to follow the gradual development of significant software releases – and they don’t get any bigger than a new Windows launch – so you already know a fair bit about it before the induced madness comes along. This basis enables you to step away from the overflowing over-excitement and report clearly and, you hope, objectively on what is in front of you.

The problem is that companies that have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a product, and whose future is dependent on it being a success hate this sort of objectivity. Instead, they know from past experience that if you spend enough money it is possible to cause people to believe something entirely untrue for a short while. Keep that up for long enough and not only will they buy it, but they will also defend what they believe they know long afterwards. Get enough of these people and even the truth can’t dent the fantasy.

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So, I took this job at ICANN…

Starting 5 February, I will be the “general manager, public participation” for ICANN – an organisation I have closely followed and frequently criticised almost since its inception in 1999. I’m excited about it, and the possibilities the position holds.

Here then is a blog post about why I took the job and what I hope to achieve.

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Speak dragged into worrying legal action

I’m no great fan of the animal rights campaigning group Speak but according to this week’s Oxford Times, they have been dragged into a worrying legal battle over an Internet mailing list.

According to the paper, Speak’s main two, Robert Cogswell and Mel Broughton, face contempt charges on Mon 29 Jan at the High Court because they have refused to hand over the 700 email addresses of people that signed up to Speak’s mailing list.

This is potentially very worrying. It is one thing to prosecute Speak, which has been carrying out an aggressive and intolerant campaign against the building of an animal research lab in Oxford, but quite another to insist on people’s email addresses being handed over. There are massive questions of privacy and freedom of speech here.

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Embarassing Dad – the Independent tries blogging

I’m a bit late to this one, with Charles Arthur, Andrew Grant-Adamson, Martin Stabe; and Roy Greenslade all drawing collective gasps and stiffling laughter, but just in case there is anyone interested in the UK media that reads this blog but none of those above…

My god The Independent doesn’t get the Internet.

It has started – yes *started* – some blogs. Well, one collective blog. And it is, frankly, like an embarassing Dad getting up at a wedding and trying to show the kids that he’s still got life in the old legs yet.

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Putting my feet up

As you can see, I am exhausting myself in Mexico.

Actually this was ten minutes of blissful relaxation forced on me as I had to wait for my room in Cascadas de Merida to be cleaned. I wish I could have stayed in the hammock all day but my brain is buzzing with ideas for my book so I have to get on…

That’s it really. Apart from the fact that the more I think about the iPhone, the more I think that this is one of Jobs’ cock-ups. He is insisting – as he always does – that Apple (read: Steve Jobs) has complete control over what happens with the phone. No third-party stuff, no APIs.

I’m also sick of soppy, fawning American journalism. And I’m bored of pointlessly bitchy and unpleasant bloggers. I get the distinct feeling the Mexican philosophy of life is seeping into my skull.

What else? There is a car wash next to where I’m staying. But it is so Mexican that I have walked past it a dozen times and not even noticed. It is also a car wash on a street that only about 20 cars go down per day. I think the owner did this on purpose. You see, it’s only a car wash when he’s in the mood for washing cars. Otherwise it’s just a half-painted wooden gate.

CES and the watershed moment

I am sat in Merida, Mexico at the moment when perhaps I should be in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show, but even so I have been keeping an eye on matters each morning thanks to my Internet connection.

I watched the iPhone announcement online (encapsulated review: about time someone rethought how we interact phones, but just because the iPod is great, that doesn’t mean the iPhone will be – a phone requires a hell of a lot more, and more varied, computing).

I scoured a few blogs to find out what was new. But this morning, following a link from the BBC’s blog to a walk-through of the conference centre posted by Robert Scoble on his blog, I had another of those glorious moments you get with tech journalism – I suddenly saw the enormous possibilities stretch out before me into the horizon.

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