I love the smell of Web mobs in the morning

It’s been an interesting week and a half in American politics, but today, the Web is going to take a special role, the blogosphere in particular, and in an a real ugly way.

There are pictures floating around of some MySpace pages, with titles and comments that are easily misunderstood not given appropriate context.

And based upon our biases we will automatically believe what we want to believe about them.

While we all take special delight in exposing hypocrisy, as we should as it reveals much about character, sometimes things go way, way too far. And I have a feeling this is about to.

We’re all flawed human beings and the sooner we each recognize that, and be understanding towards that, the better this world will be. From all sides of the political isle.

I think Obama’s speech last week was a bit of an inspiration. And this is an expression of that.

Electronic Voting Machine Revelations

Washington Post: Ohio Voting Machines Contained Programming Error That Dropped Votes

Brad Blog: Diebold Admits Their Tabulator Software Doesn’t Count Votes Correctly

Bruce Schneier: Diebold Finally Admits its Voting Machines Drop Votes

Garret Vreeland: “The Internet is personal, pervasive, and permanent.”

Emily Gould, formerly of Gawker wrote of her experience sharing her life online in the NYTimes. It’s a weekend must read.

The piece has drawn interesting reaction from here and there, but the response that stood out the most to me was Garret’s:

NY Times, you got snookered. You need editors who’ve had a history on the internet, with experience of the weblogging phenomena going back to the beginning of the revolution.

Why is there such a strong reaction among webloggers to this piece? To us, the lessons gleaned from this article were new eight or nine years ago. Now they’re reflexive, done without thought: Revealing personal information online, is like lending your favorite books. Only lend what you don’t mind losing. Never lend what is valuable to others, without permission. Don’t expect to be forgiven if you do, because you cannot ‘take it back.’

Repeat after me: The Internet is personal, pervasive, and permanent.

Again, louder.

The Internet is personal, pervasive, and permanent.

The sooner you memorize and understand that, the better.

Here’s a thing that’s been disturbing me about Facebook and Social Networking services…

Tim Berners-Lee, as quoted by Jon Udell in a piece that greatly influenced me back in the day, called the web “a shared information space through which people and machines could communicate.” . The original piece in which Tim Berners-Lee said that is still up for all to read, titled “The World Wide Web: Past, Present and Future”. I found the piece by typing the quote in Google. Give it a try.

As we share our knowledge, collectively with one another, across blogs, message forums, email lists, and any other services that permit indexing, and reinforce that knowledge via hyperlinking, we are, collectively, building a space that benefits humanity.

It is this collective space that helped me learn what I needed to learn to build a career.

And all this happens, not because of altruistic reasons, but because the architecture of the Web empowers, via the hyperlink, a certain form of communication and collaboration.

The conversations that occur on Facebook, and on most social networking services, happen in the public-private.

In places not indexed by Google, not indexed by Yahoo!, yet are public to selected communities that have access and privilege to them. Gated communities. Islands.

Certainly, there has always been places out of reach of search engines (and there will always be a need for some), but until the last few years, the call from the digerati was to surface these databases of knowledge to the public, behind whatever proprietary walls that may have kept them out of reach. Whether they be newspaper archives, or email lists.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot celebrate when it comes to social networking services. I’m a participant in more than a few, to be sure.

But if they come to define the Web, as they are to some in the media, then I fear we are taking a great step backward.

“A Growing Web of Watchers Builds a Surveillance Society”

NYTimes: A Growing Web of Watchers Builds a Surveillance Society:

It is strangely fitting that President Bush’s no-warrant wiretapping came to light during the season of holiday gift buying, much of which took place online.

As Washington huffed and puffed over a new erosion of privacy, untold millions of us clicked just as fast as our little clickers could click through Google ads and Amazon checkout pages, unwittingly updating our “cookie” ID badges at every new screen. We bought our loved ones cellphones with built-in Global Positioning System and flocked to family gatherings in cars loaded with OnStar and EZ Pass. We paid for mostly everything with credit and debit cards. Out of convenience, we embraced technologies meant to track our every move.

There are important distinctions, of course, between government prying and the emerging web of consumer surveillance. But they share a digital universe that facilitates and rewards watching. Spam, spyware and identity theft are only a taste of how exposed we have all willingly become as we enjoy the benefits of the networked world.

If the American public seems a bit confused about the raging debate of security versus civil liberties – Bush/Cheney versus the A.C.L.U. – it may be because the debate itself has been outpaced by technology. In our post-9/11, protowireless world, democracies and free markets are increasingly saturated with prying eyes from governments, corporations and neighbors. For better and worse, free societies are fast entering the world of total surveillance.