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Peter Touschner
Attended Oberlin College
Lives in San Francisco, CA
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Peter Touschner

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Peter Touschner

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Interesting work coming out of Yahoo Labs. These types of tools may one day truly #uplevel the global conversation (one of the goals of Google+ according to +Bradley Horowitz).
In my novel EARTH (1989) I spoke about the problem of user bubbles… where internet inhabitants inevitably create filters that allow in materials that agree with their preconceptions and prejudices and exclude inconveniences, even clear refutations.  In the novel, this is portrayed as extremely dangerous to a democratic society, creating little Nuremberg Rallies that reinforce strong dogmas and undermine our native abilities to see the other side, to negotiate and learn from each other. In EARTH, a community of hackers has responded with wall-penetrating programs that slip in the inconvenient fact, from time to time…

…exactly the thing that cable news owners strenuously avoid, by preventing their captive "dittohead" audiences from hearing or seeing dissenting opinions. Especially not refutations of all-out lies!

Alas that forecasts in science fiction novels get little credit. Today, this "newly discovered" phenomenon is called "the filter bubble—being surrounded only by people you like and content that you agree with."  Still, have a look at this clever suggested partial solution.

"They also say that challenging people with new ideas makes them generally more receptive to change. That has important implications for social media sites. There is good evidence that users can sometimes become so resistant to change than any form of redesign dramatically reduces the popularity of the service. Giving them a greater range of content could change that."
Computer scientists have discovered a way to number-crunch an individual’s own preferences to recommend content from others with opposing views. The goal? To burst the “filter bubble” that surrounds us with people we like and content that we agree with.
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“Only describe, don't explain.”

- Ludwig Wittgenstein
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+Alex Blaszczuk  inspired us from day one with her #ifihadglass application:

I am a New Yorker, a law student, a quadriplegic. #ifihadglass I could finally capture my life on my own. I would show the world how to thrive with physical limitations in the most interesting city on the planet. With Glass, paralysis doesn't have to be paralyzing.

Join her on a camping trip as she tells her story #throughglass. To learn more about Alex and her adventures with Glass, visit:

This entire film was shot through Glass.
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The end of trust: Email "Made In Germany" launched to counter NSA
 The largest German mail providers launched a program to send all emails SSL encrypted AND make sure they would stay within Germany and on German servers. Making sure that that the fierce Germany privacy would govern them.

Commercially smart and they intent to go even further by showing you  some sort of warning if you sent email to a 'Not Made In Germany' recipient. It will no doubt stimulate people to use GMX.DE, T-Online or WEB.DE and the future partners who already have 65% of the national market.

The fallout is also clear: everything outside of Germany is mistrusted and having warnings popup when you communicate with f.i. Google will severely hurt other providers.

Google was one of the first to offer SSL protected transport of email, but as their server is US jurisdiction they will have to hand over your unencrypted email to the NSA.  Google could counter this by offering real end-end encryption, meaning that they never store it in plain text, but they are unwilling to do so as the money is in targeted ads so they have to scan them. They defend their position by claiming they can't protect you from spam if they would allow full encryption.

Anyway, this German program does exactly the same as Google, but the key difference is that the servers from the three partners are on German soil and fall under German jurisdiction. 

It's good marketing, but this reversal to a sort of national email network is hampering international contacts, just like the US rules that all communication with foreigners can be legally intercepted. 

Back to national borders for trusted emails: good or saddening

More info on and
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"Advertisers will see the opportunity to directly subsidize content and learn more about consumers through direct relationships, no longer mediated by both channels and cable companies."

"direct relationships" mediated through ... Google

#lanier   #future  

Update: "Because of this setup, Chandra says that Google is not tracking which videos you're watching, despite the fact that much of the Google Cast operation happens on Google's own servers. "All we will know is that we received something to send to somebody else. We have no information about the actual message itself." While you can choose to opt into anonymous, aggregated user tracking, Chandra tells us that Google has no intention of turning Google Cast into an ad platform."
Google just demoted your television set into a second screen, a slave to your phone or tablet or laptop. With the $35 Chromecast you can with one click move anything you find on your internet-connected device — YouTube video, Netflix, a web page as well as music and pictures and soon, I’d imagine, games — onto your big TV screen, bypassing your cable box and all its ridiculous and expensive limitations.

Unlike Apple TV and Airplay, this does not stream from your laptop to the TV; this streams directly to your TV — it’s plugged into an HDMI port — over wi-fi via the cloud … er, via Google, that is. Oh, and it works with Apple iOS devices, too.

I’m just beginning to get a grasp on all the implications. Here are some I see.

* Simply put, I’ll end up watching more internet content because it’s so easy now. According to today’s demonstration, as soon as I tell Chrome to move something to my TV, the Chromecast device will sense the command and take over the TV. Nevermind smart TVs and cable boxes; the net is now in charge. There’s no more awkward searching using the world’s slowest typing via my cable box or a web-connected TV. There’s no more switching manually from one box to another. If it’s as advertised, I’ll just click on my browser and up it comes on my TV. Voila.

* Because Google issued an API, every company with web video — my beloved TWiT, for example — is motivated to add a Chromecast button to its content.

* Thus Google knows more about what you’re watching, which will allow it to make recommendations to you. Google becomes a more effective search engine for entertainment: TV Guide reborn at last.

* Google gets more opportunities to sell higher-priced video advertising on its content, which is will surely promote.

* Google gets more opportunities to sell you shows and movies from its Play Store, competing with both Apple and Amazon.

* YouTube gets a big boost in creating channels and building a new revenue stream: subscriptions. This is a paywall that will work simply because entertainment is a unique product, unlike news, which is — sorry to break the news to you — a commodity. I also wonder whether Google is getting a reward for all the Netflix subscriptions it will sell.

* TV is no longer device-dependant but viewer-dependant. I can start watching a show in one room then watch it another and then take it with me and watch on my tablet from where I left off.

* I can throw out the device with the worst user interface on earth: the cable remote. Now I can control video via my phone and probably do much more with it (again, I’m imagining new game interfaces).

* I can take a Chromecast with me on the road and use it in hotel rooms or in conference rooms to give presentations.

Those are implications for me as a user or viewer or whatever the hell I am now. That’s why I quickly bought three Chromecasts: one for the family room, one for my office, one for the briefcase and the road. What the hell, they’re cheap.

Harder to fully catalog are the implications for the industry — make that industries — affected. Too often, TV and the oligopolies that control it have been declared dead yet they keep going. One of these days, one of the bullets shot at them will hit the heart. Is this it?

* Cable is hearing a loud, growing snipping sound on the horizon. This makes it yet easier for us all to cut the cord. This unravels their bundling of channels. I’ll never count these sharks out. But it looks like it could be Sharknado for them. I also anticipate them trying to screw up our internet bandwidth every way they can: limiting speeds and downloading or charging us through the nose for decent service if we use Chromecast — from their greedy perspective — “too much.”

* Networks should also start feeling sweaty, for there is even less need for their bundling when we can find the shows and stars we want without them. The broadcast networks will descend even deeper into the slough of crappy reality TV. Cable networks will find their subsidies via cable operators’ bundles threatened. TV — like music and news — may finally come unbundled. But then again, TV networks are the first to run for the lifeboats and steal the oars. I remember well the day when ABC decided to stream Desperate Housewives on the net the morning after it aired on broadcast, screwing its broadcast affiliates. They’d love to do the same to cable MSOs. Will this give them their excuse?

* Content creators have yet another huge opportunity to cut out two layers of middlemen and have direct relationships with fans, selling them their content or serving them more targeted and valuable ads. Creators can be discovered directly. But we know how difficult it is to be discovered. Who can help? Oh, yeah, Google.

* Apple? As someone said on Twitter: Apple should have made this. 

Yes, Apple could throw out its Apple TV and shift to this model. But it’s disadvantaged against Google because it doesn’t offer the same gateway to the entire wonderful world of web video; it offers things it makes deals for, things it wants to sell us.

* Amazon? Hmmm. On the one hand, if I can more easily shift things I buy at Amazon onto my TV screen — just as I read Kindle books on my Google Nexus 7 table, not on an Amazon Kindle. But Amazon is as much a control freak as Apple and I can’t imagine Jeff Bezos is laughing that laugh of his right now.

* Advertisers will see the opportunity to directly subsidize content and learn more about consumers through direct relationships, no longer mediated by both channels and cable companies. (That presumes that advertisers and their agencies are smart enough to build audiences rather than just buying mass; so far, too many of them haven’t been.) Though there will be more entertainment behind pay walls, I think, there’ll still be plenty of free entertainment to piggyback on.

* Kids in garages with cameras will find path to the big screen is now direct if anybody wants to watch their stuff.

What other implications do you see?
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“You now see so many strong tech platforms coming, and you are seeing a reordering and a future reordering of dominance or leaders or whatever term you want to use because of the rise of the apps on the smartphone,” Schmidt said Thursday. “All bets are off at this point as to what the smartphone app infrastructure is going to look like” as a “whole new set” of players emerges to power smartphones, which are nothing but super-computers, the Google chairman argued. “I view that as a completely open market at this point.”
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Google's Project Loon is one way to help get the "other five billion" connected.  Last week Facebook announced it was forming a coalition of companies to do it through lowering costs and offering low-data services.   There were lots of questions and I got to sat down with Mark Zuckerberg to ask some of them.  
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There hasn't been this much hype for a new technological advancement since the Segway was unveiled in 2001. Musk says his vehicle could make a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes.
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Trashcans that snag your phone's MAC address and then throw an ad at you as you walk by.
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