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Shameful Human(s) of the Week: Kevin Rose and the entire Digg community

August 26, 2010 Shameful Human 1 Comment

Digg is some kind of social media/link sharing mega site founded by TechTV’s Kevin Rose. On August 25, 2010, version four of Digg.com went live. The redesign brought about a wide range of changes both great and small, from a layout cleansing (that looks infinitely better in my opinion), to a refocus on following the activities of your friends and favourite websites rather than the hive mind of the collected Digg community.

The transition has been shaky from a technical standpoint, with Rose and co. re-launching Digg seemingly without adequate preparation. Despite a lengthy testing period, the new Digg has been up, down, and glitchy ever since it went live. The extra click required to hop from your personal stream to the site-wide most popular submissions is also somewhat annoying. Speaking of personal streams, and as a means of being completely self serving, I want to recommend you follow Shufflingdead on Digg.

But this post isn’t just about Kevin. It’s also about the legion of basement dwellers who rely on his site for distraction while their youths slip away. You see, Diggers, like all geeks, are a ravenous bunch of haters. Change of any kind is to be reviled. Digg’s revamp has garnered nothing less than a torrent of whining from its millions of users. A quick scan from this comment page garnered these gems (after the jump):


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Shameful Human of the Week: Chris Anderson

August 19, 2010 Shameful Human 2 Comments

Meet Chris Anderson, he’s the editor-in-chief of Wired. You know, that magazine that’s also a very successful website. Chris recently blasted out a massive article declaring “The Web Is Dead.” It’s a rather dull piece with a stunning headline designed to grab lots of attention here on the highly profitable web. Anderson argues that the “web” part of the internet (that stuff you see in your browser) is quickly vanishing, and being replaced by isolated apps that use the internet but don’t live in the “web” ecosystem.

Chris begins his argument with a graph demonstrating that web traffic has dropped significantly compared to the rest of what the internet is used for. Have a look. Huh. It appears to be a chart of bandwidth usage, demonstrating that the web take has lessened relative to significantly more bandwidth-heavy uses. Hardly shocking. An even funnier thing about that bandwidth usage is that most of what the web has lost appears to have gone directly to video. You know, those moving pictures you watch all of the damn time through your browser on the web. Poor “other” has lost even more ground in recent years according to his chart. I wonder, where do all of those apps and X-Box connections Anderson claims are taking over fit in?

Don’t worry, my fellow interneters. This isn’t the first time a tech journalist has declared a technology, tech company, or tech trend dead a little prematurely. How many times were Nintendo and Apple declared dead during the ’90s?

Chris Anderson is a thoroughly shameful shameless attention grabber. At least the lengthy list of ironies inherent in his argument have given swarms of people something to talk about on this very lively web.


Shameful Human(s) of the Week: Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page

August 12, 2010 Shameful Human 1 Comment

This week’s Shameful Humans are Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, the founders of internet hyper-power Google. American telecom companies would love to decide what is, and is not, transmitted through the internet to their customers. Being allowed to do so would let them do everything from preventing bandwidth heavy P2P services from functioning, to blocking sites which carry anti-corporate sentiments. Until now, Google was the great holdout, trying to convince the FCC to keep the net neutral. Now, they’ve surrendered.

Google shattered their informal corporate slogan “don’t be evil,” announcing they have struck a compromise with Verizon which would see the wired internet kept neutral, while allowing the burgeoning wireless internet to be controlled by ISPs. The companies issued their compromise as a suggestion to government. If you’re wondering why two companies are coming up with legislation, it’s because the government of the United States is solidly owned by corporate interests, and they pretty much do whatever big business wants them to do.

Provided legislation along these lines is passed, as wireless internet becomes more and more dominant, and as smart phones continue the march toward ubiquity, it seems inevitable that the internet of the future will be free for corporations to control at their will. The scenarios are dystopic at best. Imagine ISPs bragging like cable companies which have worked out deals with big content providers: “we’ve got Google and YouTube!,” “yeah, well we’ve got Bing and Facebook!” And in that scenario, no one, no one, caries any great small and/or independant site you’ve ever loved. For Americans, it would be goodbye blogs, goodbye anti-corporate discourse, and goodbye Shufflingdead.com.

Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page have betrayed the people of the internet, and they are thoroughly shameful.

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Shameful Human of the Week: Andrew Keen

This week’s Shameful Human is author and professional internet-hater Andrew Keen.

To Andrew Keen, This whole web 2.0 thing, with its YouTubes and swarms of blogs, isn’t the time-wasting bliss you and I perceive it to be. No, it’s actually dangerous, and even Marxist.

You see, as Keen argued in his 2006 The Weekly Standard essay, the participatory internet “worships the creative amateur: the self-taught filmmaker, the dorm-room musician, the unpublished writer.” Sounds great, right? Sorry, but according to Andrew’s novel The Cult of the Amateur, all of this creative energy is putting hard-working experts out of business. Craigslist robs papers of their personals sections, Wikipedia takes jobs from encyclopedia editors.

Keen has rightly argued that web 2.0 “suggests that everyone — even the most poorly educated and inarticulate amongst us — can and should use digital media to express and realize themselves.” Well, there’s no doubt that a lot of idiots produce a lot of shit on the internet. You’re reading a product of that dangerous phenomenon right now. Having said that, the internet is also a realm (relatively) free of corporate control, a place where true free enterprise can flourish, and a place that gives rise to new small businesses every day. There is nothing less Marxist than that.

Keen himself has participated in many internet start-ups. How he considers himself to be any different than the people making careers out of blogging and vlogging is beyond my comprehension.


Shameful Human of the Week: Richard Blumenthal

The Supreme Court of the United States is set to rule this October on a California law that would “ban the sale of certain video games to children under the age of 18.” This week’s Shameful Human is a particular supporter of that law, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (what is it about Attorneys General and video games?).

Mr. Blumenthal is running for senate, and is behaving like a classic politician taking advantage of the “think of the children” crowd. He’s also displaying some pretty amusing ignorance along the way. To show his support of California’s law, he released a statement to the press in which he hails the law for its ability to prevent children from buying games featuring the “slaughter [of] nude female zombies,” which, as we all know, is a disgusting act, well beyond the relatively tame practice of killing nude male zombies.

Another highlight from Blumenthal: “California’s law doesn’t broadly prohibit minors from buying ‘violent’ games — but a subgenre of games that encourages players to commit graphic acts of homicide, rape, and sadism.” Huh, I’m curious to know what games the Attorney General is referencing. Perhaps its those Japanese rape simulators that are already unavailable in the United States. I’m not entirely certain.

Regardless of what Blumenthal thinks video games encourage, it’s obvious he either doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to know, how the regulation of sales of video games currently works. Just like with movies, an industry which Dick B. points to as a potential example for gaming, the ESRB is voluntary and actively enforced by retailers, to the extent that potential buyers are IDed before they pick up M-rated games.

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