- A Critique of the Balancing Metaphor in Privacy and Security — The arguments presented by this paper are built on two underlying assertions. The first is that the assessment of surveillance measures often entails a judgement of whether any loss in privacy is legitimised by a justifiable increase in security. However, one fundamental difference between privacy and security is that privacy has two attainable end-states (absolute privacy through to the absolute absence of privacy), whereas security has only one attainable end-state (while the absolute absence of security is attainable, absolute security is a desired yet unobtainable goal). The second assertion, which builds upon the first, holds that because absolute security is desirable, new security interventions will continuously be developed, each potentially trading a small measure of privacy for a small rise in security. When assessed individually each intervention may constitute a justifiable trade-off. However, when combined together, these interventions will ultimately reduce privacy to zero. (via Alistair Croll)
- ISP Interconnection and its Impact on Consumer Internet Performance (Measurement Lab) — In researching our report, we found clear evidence that interconnection between major U.S. access ISPs (AT&T, Comcast, CenturyLink, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon) and transit ISPs Cogent, Level 3, and potentially XO was correlated directly with degraded consumer performance throughout 2013 and into 2014 (in some cases, ongoing as of publication). Degraded performance was most pronounced during peak use hours, which points to insufficient capacity and congestion as a causal factor. Further, by noting patterns of performance degradation for access/transit ISP pairs that were synchronized across locations, we were able to conclude that in many cases degradation was not the result of major infrastructure failures at any specific point in a network, but rather connected with the business relationships between ISPs.
- The Emergence of Github as Collaborative Platform for Education (PDF) — We argue that GitHub can support much of what traditional learning systems do, as well as go beyond them by supporting collaborative activities.
- Mobile is Eating the World (A16Z) — mobile becoming truly ubiquitous, bringing opportunities to use the construct “X is eating Y.”
The integration of the Web's diverse communities broadens horizons and technology.
Web projects are integration projects, combining skills from a number of disciplines. Lousy interfaces can obscure brilliant code, and ingeniously engineered back-end systems can still fail when they hit resource limits. “Content” lurks in many guises, requiring support not only from writers and illustrators but from video specialists, game designers, and many more. Marketers have built businesses on the Web, and influence conversations from design to analytics. You don’t have to be a programmer to do great work on the Web. The Web stack is vast.
Web development models include far more than code. Creating great websites and applications demands collaboration among content creators, designers, and programmers. As applications grow larger, supporting them requires adding a cast of people who can help them scale to demand. As projects grow, specialization typically lets people focus on specific aspects of those larger disciplines, supporting networking, databases, template systems, graphics details, and much more.
In some ways, that’s a recipe for fragmentation, and some days the edges are sharp. All of these communities have different priorities, which conflict regularly. Battles over resources sharpen the axes, and memories often linger.
At the same time, though, often even in environments where resources are scarce, different perspectives can reinforce each other or create new possibilities. Sometimes, it’s just because the intersection spaces have been left fallow for a long time, but other times, the combinations themselves create new opportunities. Read more…
Pandemic, a collaborative board game, casts a different light on competition and gaming.
At a recent board games night hosted by Greg Brown (@practicingruby), we played a game called “Pandemic” that made me rethink the meaning of games. I won’t bother you with a detailed description; it’s enough to say that there are four or five players who take turns, and the goal is to defeat outbreaks of disease.
What makes this game unique is that you’re not playing against the other players, you’re playing against the game itself. It’s almost impossible to win, particularly at higher levels of difficulty (which Greg encourages, even for newbies). But you quickly realize that you don’t have a chance of winning if you don’t cooperate with the other players. The game is all about cooperation and collaboration. The players don’t all have equal abilities; one can move other players’ pieces around on the board, another can create research centers, another can cure larger swaths of disease. On your turn, you could just move and do whatever you think is best; but once you get the hang of it, you spend a good bit of time before each move discussing with the other players what the best strategy is, whether there are other effective ways to accomplish the same goal, and so on. You’re always discussing whether it would be better to solve a problem yourself, or move someone else so they can solve the problem more effectively on their turn.
In some ways, it’s not all that different from a role-playing game, but there is never any advantage to stabbing another player in the back or striking out on your own. But at the same time, even though it’s radically collaborative, it’s challenging. As I said, it’s almost impossible to win, and the game is structured to become more difficult the longer it goes on.
It’s a great example of rethinking gaming and rethinking competition, all in a little game that comes in a box and is played with pawns on a board.
Compete on Convenience, Minimal Viable Operating System, Awesome Font, Collaboration Integration
- Add Torrent Links to IMDB (Userscripts) — a glimpse at what the Internet could look like: from the site you research movies on, with one click you could then launch the download. If only the company that ran the movie research site had rights to the OneClick patent and the ability to offer movies for download. Oh wait, those aren’t the barriers. If only the movie companies would cease being nutjobs insisting on flogging their DRM-hobbled nags when the black market has x264 racehorses for less. They’re not competing on price, they’re not competing on convenience, they’re competing on the expected value of litigation. Now *that’s* a business model!
- JeOS — I hadn’t heard this term before: Just Enough Operating System. Take a standard distro, and strip it down to the bare essentials that you actually need.
- Font Awesome — a font with a zillion pictograms and icons. “An iconic font designed for use with Twitter Bootstrap”.
- Collabograte — a collection of integration recipes for collaboration tools so you aren’t broken on the “how do I get this thing set up with LDAP auth?” wheel which others have reinvented with their nose to the mixed metaphor grindstone. (via Kartik Subbarao)
Deployment, Image Distribution, Open Source Sharing, and Soulless Programming
- Thoughts on Web Application Deployment (OmniTI) — if your web site is your business, this stuff is critical and it’s under-taught. Everyone learns it on the job, and there’s not a lot of standardization between gigs.
- Github Enterprise — GitHub Enterprise is delivered in the industry-standard OVF format, which means you’ll be able to run it on virtualization layers like VMware, VirtualBox, and Oracle VM. An increasingly common way to sell web apps, but it’ll trigger GPL-style distribution terms in software licenses.
- SparkleShare — open source sharing tool that markets itself as “like Dropbox”. Uses git as a backend, so you can share via github.
- Whatever Happened to Programming? — When I was fourteen, I wrote space-invader games in BASIC on a VIC-20. If you were interested in computers back in 1982, I bet you did the same. When I was 18, I wrote multi-user dungeons in C on serial terminals attached to a Sun 3. […] Today, I mostly paste libraries together. So do you, most likely, if you work in software. Doesn’t that seem anticlimactic? Any time you are in the “someone else’s code is almost right, make the changes to improve it” situation, you’re doing unsatisfying programming. It’s factory assembly of software, not craftsmanship. Welcome to the future: you have been replaced by a machine, and the machine is you.
This short article outlines some ideas about an open source, online platform for making books, based on WordPress.