Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Frictionless Sharing: Invasive? Or Super Invasive?

If I had to draft a list of things that were objectively worse than Hitler, the Washington Post Social Reader as seen on Facebook would be right up near the top.

Have you seen it? They craft headlines that are incredibly misleading to entice you to click through to the story, but then you can't actually read it until you agree to let the social reader tell all your friends what you're looking at. If they're also interested in the headline, they can't see the accompanying story without telling THEIR friends, and so on.

In fact, I think the concept of "frictionless sharing," the idea that all of your reading, listening, and watching activities online should be broadcast to everyone you know without any effort (or approval!) on your part may be the only thing worse than the social reader.

Is it even legal? Professor Neil M. Richards of Washington University in St. Louis has been in the news lately sharing his concerns about it, so I know I'm not some lone crank. Meanwhile, The Next Web busted SocialCam when it used dodgy techniques to give itself a leg up in online popularity without letting people know just how "frictionless" their experience had become.

The whole concept of frictionless sharing isn't about being frictionless for you and me, the end users, it's about removing the obstacles (read: friction) preventing companies from exploiting you as just another sales tool. I don't care what other people are reading, I don't want other people to know what I'm reading, and I actively resent companies trying to use me as free advertising for their crap.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

The "Moving Target Defense" (MTD) system, as envisioned by Kansas State University's Scott DeLoach and Xinming Ou, has a computer network automatically change its configurations and settings to deter hackers. It sounds like a great idea, and good for security, until you think about the types of computer networks that will end up using it:

Our robot overlords.

 Seriously, haven't we done enough already to make things easy for the machines that will one day rise up to enslave us? This is like those movies where the hero is all, "WHY DIDN'T YOU BUILD AN OFF SWITCH FOR YOUR DOOMSDAY DEVICE?!"

It's all fun and games, and safely in the realm of the theoretical, until someone actually designs a working model. The problem is that KSU got a million-dollar grant to spend the next five years figuring out how to make it work. I'm sure this will end well.

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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