summing up 60

i am trying to build a jigsaw puzzle which has no lid and is missing half of the pieces. i am unable to show you what it will be, but i can show you some of the pieces and why they matter to me. if you are building a different puzzle, it is possible that these pieces won't mean much to you, maybe they won't fit or they won't fit yet. then again, these might just be the pieces you're looking for. this is summing up, please find previous editions here.

  • the internet and hieronymus bosch: fear, protection, and liberty in cyberspace, the internet was conceived in the defense world, designed by academic and industrial research engineers, and transported into the commercial world only after its core design had been widely deployed. engineers are naturally libertarian. whether they are designing cars or computer networks, their ideals are utility, speed, and flexibility. software engineers are spared the ethical issues that confront the designers of munitions; engineering in the world of zeroes and ones inherits the nonnormative, amoral quality of mathematics. even cost, safety, and secrecy are imposed by market forces and governments, which had little force in the internet's gestation period. so there was a garden of eden quality to the internet in its preconsumer days: a combination of fecundity and innocence. the network fostered experimentation and innovation, and little worry about the potential for mischief or evil. highly recommended (pdf)
  • the internet's original sin, i have come to believe that advertising is the original sin of the web. the fallen state of our internet is a direct, if unintentional, consequence of choosing advertising as the default model to support online content and services. through successive rounds of innovation and investor storytime, we've trained internet users to expect that everything they say and do online will be aggregated into profiles (which they cannot review, challenge, or change) that shape both what ads and what content they see. outrage over experimental manipulation of these profiles by social networks and dating companies has led to heated debates amongst the technologically savvy, but hasn't shrunk the user bases of these services, as users now accept that this sort of manipulation is an integral part of the online experience. users have been so well trained to expect surveillance that even when widespread, clandestine government surveillance was revealed by a whistleblower, there has been little organized, public demand for reform and change. only half of americans believe that snowden's leaks served the public interest and the majority of americans favor criminal prosecution for the whistleblower. it's unlikely that our willingness to accept online surveillance reflects our trust in the american government, which is at historic lows. more likely, we've been taught that this is simply how the internet works: if we open ourselves to ever-increasing surveillance-whether from corporations or governments-the tools and content we want will remain free of cost
  • technical debt 101, the main problem is that software just doesn't suddenly fall. there is no gravity in software. the grains of sand, though not properly glued each other to create solid material, keep floating in the air. and this is a problem, because this makes the consequences of bad practices less visible. you can always add some more sand to your software building. some sand will fall, some will move to unexpected places and knowing where to put the new sand will become really hard, but still, the building stands
  • you are not late, in terms of the internet, nothing has happened yet. the internet is still at the beginning of its beginning. if we could climb into a time machine and journey 30 years into the future, and from that vantage look back to today, we'd realize that most of the greatest products running the lives of citizens in 2044 were not invented until after 2014

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