Tag Archives: Internet

Macklemore: Billboard #1 and what it means for politics

Back in mid-September, I told earsucker readers about Macklemore as an up and comer in the music biz. I shared his great video “Thrift Shop”, and then that dude totally blew up.

Bad economy be… thanked?

Ryan Lewis has a look. It’s the look that comes through the 99 cent apparel, the half-long/half-stubble haircut, and the cheap clothes. Lewis wears the inestimable look of getting the job done, building class out of thin air.

Lewis is happy to boast that look in this well done, and rather polished music video about a rather unpolished subject (being poor, having to shop at crummy thrift stores, something we doubt any presidential candidates are doing). Singer Wanz throws down his own fortunate rhymes about pink granddad suit thrifting finds, and well… some people just understand the formula for awesome.

The popularity of “Thrift Shop” has even spawned a parody video called Pot Shop (which is damned hilarious and has nearly 1.5 million views).

Now, Macklemore is riding a wave of popularity to become the first unsigned artist to top Billboard’s Hot 100 in nearly 20 years. He has a very special message for those that would grant him greatness and deny him his share through recording contract shenanigans:

Macklemore makes his strong feelings about big labels no secret on the album: In a song titled “Jimmy Iovine” — named for the chairman of Interscope-Geffen-A&M who helped make another white rapper, Eminem, famous — Macklemore takes down record contract politics with the unequivocal closing line, “I’d rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting f—-ed.” Geez, Mack, tell us how you really feel.

It’s always been a love/hate relationship between new talent and behemoth companies with a room full of marketing employees. But thanks to the Internet’s leveling of the playing field, the tables can turn very quickly in favor of the upstarts. A similar parallel has occured in politics as grassroots candidates are able to raise significant amounts of money in short periods and run successful online campaigns. The phenomenon of online social engagement that was unheard of decades ago is now practiced by the majority.

What does this mean for politics? It means the new gatekeepers are blogs. Period.

Politicians and business execs take note, the game has officially changed.

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Kim Dotcom: End government surveillance, encrypt everything

File-sharing megahero Kim Dotcom is giving massive amounts of interviews to accompany his recent launch of Mega.co.nz — the file sharing portal that’s had over a million signups in about a week.

During an interview with Russia Today, Dotcom explained his views on how to end the snooping surveillance state the U.S. government has slowly wrapped around every packet traversing the internet. He wants everyone to start encrypting their online communication:

RT :The new program, Mega, is fully encrypted, and you’re touting it as an encrypted program so that people will want to use it. Do you think this is even necessary, right now, that people need encryption on the Internet?

KD: I think it’s important for the Internet that there is more encryption. Because what I have learned since I got dragged into this case is a lot about privacy abuses, about the government spying on people. You know, the US government invests a lot of money in spy clouds: massive data centers with hundreds of thousands of hard drives storing data. And what they are storing is basically any communication that traverses through US networks. And what that means they are not spying on individuals based on a warrant anymore. They just spy on everybody, permanently, all the time. And what that means for you and for anybody is that if you are ever a target of any kind of investigation, or someone has a political agenda against you, or a prosecutor doesn’t like you, or the police wants to interpret something in a way to get you in trouble — they can use all that data, go through it with a comb and find things even though we think we have nothing to hide and have done nothing wrong. They will find something that they can nail you with and that’s why it’s wrong to have these kinds of privacy abuses, and I decided to create a solution that overtime will encrypt more and more of the internet. So we start with files, we will then move to emails, and then move to Voice-Over-IP communication. And our API [Application Programming Interface] is available to any third-party developer to also create their own tools. And my goal is, within the next five years, I want to encrypt half of the Internet. Just reestablish a balance between a person — an individual — and the state. Because right now, we are living very close to this vision of George Orwell and I think it’s not the right way. It’s the wrong path that the government is on, thinking that they can spy on everybody.

Dotcom is so confident in his website that he has already issued a cash prize challenge, saying “Let’s see what you got.” Well Ars Technica went in and told us, “here’s the problem”:

A lot of the issues with Mega’s cryptographic implementation appear to be tied with the desire to make the service as “thin” as possible, requiring only a Javascript-capable browser (preferably Chrome, according to Mega). On one hand, this means there’s no client required, and the Web browser itself functions as the application platform—this simplifies the testing and deployment of new Mega features, since all Kim Dotcom’s guys have to do is update the site’s Javascript files. It also immediately buys total cross-platform compatibility, working on any computer in (just about) any browser.

On the other hand, the documentation and implementation have no small number of weaknesses and potential exploits. The RSA key pair generation process needs to be overhauled post-haste, and there needs to be some method of backing up and modifying a user’s encryption key.

The fact that encrypted data is not a total mystery to Mega is the most troubling issue.

Troubling indeed.

Thankfully we don’t need Dotcom’s Mega to do all the work of file encryption thinking for us. There are many options available out there, such as TrueCrypt. For browser encryption (without reminding yourself to change http to https or relying on site to do it automatically), Firefox and Chrome users can head on over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s HTTPS Everywhere project and begin encrypting all their traffic between browser and servers with a simple (and mostly transparent) plugin/add-on. PGP email encryption is nothing new to savvy geeks, even if they still have to send plain-text e-mail to their non-techie families.

Sadly, easy universal encryption has been slow in trickling down to the masses. And even worse: Even when it finally arrives, there remains the problem of a tyrannical government potentially forcing website owners to hand over unencrypted end-point data on users (for all we know, Dotcom’s servers could be raided again, providing a treasure trove of information to the snoops).

But don’t write off cyber privacy as an unwinnable battle just yet, Kim Dotcom may just be on to something, albeit on shaky grounds.

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Ron Paul has left the House

His farewell speech is likely to be heralded as the most antipathy-filled since Eisenhower. Here’s the epic forty-eight minute video heard ’round ‘murica (but you won’t see this on TV):

The transcript can be found here.

TL;DW – Trust yourself, not the government.

Oh, and “the internet will provide the alternative to the government/media complex that controls the news and most political propaganda.” Yep.

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Romney’s facebook likes dropping in real-time

Mitt Romney has officially bid his presidential campaign adieu, and now comes the long unwind:

Some top donors privately unloaded on Romney’s senior staff, describing it as a junior varsity operation that failed to adequately insulate and defend Romney through a summer of relentless attacks from the Obama campaign over his business career and personal wealth.

“Everybody feels like they were a bunch of well-meaning folks who were, to use a phrase that Governor Romney coined to describe his opponent, way in over their heads,” said one member of the campaign’s national finance committee, who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

“Romney World,” the fundraiser added, “will fade into the obscurity of a lot of losing campaigns.”

Thanks to the Internet, we’re actually able to watch this unfold in real-time as supporters “unlike” Romney’s facebook page — on disappearingromney.com.

This is one unpopular program that Romney can truthfully say he cut after this election: his online campaign.

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Internet continues to explode for political news viewership

Pew research two weeks out from the election:

The biggest gains have come on the internet-both to the websites of traditional news sources and those native to the web.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are growing especially rapidly as a source of political news. The number of Americans who say they regularly go to these destinations to learn about the campaign has doubled since January. Even with that jump, however, these leading social media platforms are still turned to by a relatively limited number of Americans, about 17% in all, when those who mentioned at least one of those platforms are combined.

[…] The numbers portray a diverse landscape in which no platform dominates as the place for politics, and the vast majority of Americans say they regularly rely on multiple platforms to get political information. Just 6% said they turn regularly to just one platform.

Cable news channels continue to have the furthest reach, but a number of other destinations are close. Currently, 41% of Americans say they regularly learn about the candidates or the campaign from cable news networks, up five percentage points from 36% during the primaries.

But local TV news is almost as popular as a means for learning about the campaign; 38% of Americans regularly use it to learn about the candidates and the election, up six points since the primaries.

That is now nearly matched by the internet, which has seen an increase of 11 points in the number of Americans who say they regularly turn to it for campaign news since the year began. Fully 36% of Americans say they regularly get election news there, up from 25% in January.

For comparison purposes, a 2008 Pew survey showed the Internet was gaining fastest among younger demographics — a trend which continued even more rapidly through 2012.

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Over 8 million were without power at peak of Sandy outage

According to the Department of Energy website, which has been acting as a clearinghouse of information regarding the electric grid in the Northeast, at the peak of Hurricane Sandy there were over 8 million “customers” (these can include entire buildings) at the peak of the outage.

Adding all the people who have been restored, the number is a mind-bending 8,460,344 8,317,507 total “customers” who lost power due to Sandy across twenty one states. CORRECTION: Those who had been restored were already counted in “peak outages,” we regret the error.

Since then, the government has done all it can to stay out of the way of electric repair crews, going so far as to suspend many regulations in order to allow companies to expedite repairs and give fuel to those so desperate for energy. The result has been telling, with 4,657,013 remaining “customers” left without power as of 9AM EDT on November 1st.

One of the more interesting stories is that quite a few NYC data centers have had to shut down due to the loss of power and their inability to get fuel for backup generators. Another is how many people are willing to stand around outside of Starbucks just to get their internet fix (from websites that are still up). Some people are even getting so desperate that they going back to using payphones (gasp, those still exist?).

Con Edison has stated that they expect repairs to last until at least through November 10th or 11th –however this may be an overly pessimistic view so folks will see them in a better light when the lights finally do come back on.

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GOP adds ‘Protecting Internet Freedom’ to platform

Last week at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Florida, the GOP proudly unveiled a new addition to their platform:

Protecting Internet Freedom

The Internet has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance in human history. Its independence is its power. The Internet offers a communications system uniquely free from government intervention. We will remove regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition, while preventing legacy regulation from interfering with new and disruptive technologies such as mobile delivery of voice video data as they become crucial components of the Internet ecosystem. We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations. We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach and that individuals retain the right to control the use of their data by third parties; the only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector.

Most interestingly, the Libertarian Party has handily beat Republicans to the punch by more than two decades, having tackled the internet freedom message way back in 1991:

Stop Internet Censorship

Politicians are trying to take away your right to read what you want, and to say what you want.

The Internet is making it possible for new voices to be heard — the voices of people who simply could not afford to publish their ideas or display their artistic talents to a wide audience using older technologies. Established interests of both the left and the right fear new voices, and are trying to control what appears on the Internet through new laws and regulations.

America’s Founders couldn’t foresee the Internet, but they knew that government control of information was not only a violation of personal liberty — it was a threat to their hopes for a nation based on the principles of self-government. So they gave us the First Amendment.

The Libertarian Party carries on today in the tradition of the Founders:

  • The Libertarian Party didn’t wait for the Internet to become popular to stand up for principle: The LP has always supported freedom of speech and the press, and has had language specifically supporting freedom of online communication in its Platform since 1991.
  • The Libertarian Party joined with thousands of concerned Internet users in “turning its web pages black” in protest of President Clinton’s signing the unconstitutional “Communications Decency Act” in 1995.
  • The Libertarian Party continues to speak out today against the attempts by Democrats and Republicans to find loop-holes in the First Amendment, so they can turn the Internet into a government-controlled medium.

Think about it: while the GOP has just given birth to a messy and still-diapered internet freedom policy, the LP’s plank is all grown up, growing a beard, and is old enough to drink.

Even for a totally empty rhetorical gesture, I suppose it’s better late than never.

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Pro-Internet billboards pop up near SOPA author’s TX offices

Anti-censorship organization Fight For The Future announced today that two billboards went up in San Antonio and Austin, Texas that patriotically shout a simple warning: “Don’t mess with the Internet.”

The announcement from FFTF:

SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith came close to destroying the Internet we love (it took the largest online protest in history to stop him). So we thought it would be awesome if the internet sent Lamar a message, in the form of a billboard right outside his Texas office.

Your donations funded *two* billboards in less than two days, which ruled.

The signs are going up in congressman Lamar Smith’s Republican district (we’ve reported at Hammer of Truth as the much-despised author of the SOPA legislation). The SOPA legislative effort may have failed spectacularly, but these visual shots of discontent are still being fired in Smith’s direction with two signs near two different district campaign offices.

Smith and others who wish to follow in the internet censoring footsteps are clearly going to have their hands full trying to get re-elected if these public shaming issue campaigns can so easily flex their muscles. They’re certainly more more agile than a traditional candidate campaign.

On the downside here, they really ought to have put Lamar Smith’s name on the billboard since they aren’t exactly across the street from his offices. They did offer this semi-disclaimer on the placement:

(The first is as close to his San Antonio office as we could get: Loop 410, 500 ft. east of Nacogdoches. And the second is on Lamar Blvd. in Austin between 12th St and 15th St –his Austin office doesn’t have any billboards nearby.)

The billboard jingo is certain to leave an impression on Internet-loving Texans nonetheless.

In the future we’re fighting for, I hope to see them take this to a nationwide campaign. Instead of a Texan these though, I suggest turning the Gadsden flag snake into an ethernet cable bundle snake and the words “Don’t tread on the Internet.” That’s a billboard banner the Internet’s TCP/IP Party could get behind in internet censorship friendly congressional districts across the land.

UPDATE: I should have known some artist already thought of this. Go figure.

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Tea Party Republicans betrayed liberty to pass ‘net security bill

The much despised CISPA — which has been exposed as a sham cybersecurity bill following on the heels of the failed SOPA/PIPA effort (causing mass confusion) — was finally passed by a Republican majority in the House of Representatives last week. Of note is where 47 of the 66 members of the House Tea Party Caucus voted in favor of the bill. Presumably because it has the word “protection” in the title. Who would be against protecting those cyber tubes? Unamerican marxist taliban zombies from China, that’s who. see more…

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“Coders are the new rock stars”

I find these kind of startup behind-the-scenes articles fascinating (event though the company is a few years old now). Burt Helm at Inc. Magazine followed the turntable.fm founders (well, founder and chair of the board) around SXSW parties and panels, filling us in on the backstory along the way. They are trying to turn a user base that has essentially flatlined back into eager acolytes.

The money-man Seth Goldstein is a digital talent-broker and investor:

Goldstein’s latest read is simple: Coders are the new rock stars. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg built sites that attract crowds of millions, but they don’t completely understand how they did it—and neither does the money backing them. It’s not as if they do market research. So venture funds now bet on hackers the way record labels bet on rising pop stars, hoping that someday soon, they will make something wild, new, and insanely lucrative. see more…

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Encyclopaedia Britannica halts print edition after 244 years

Wikipedia (and by extension, the internet) has proven once again how deeply the digital age is disrupting traditional business models. For nearly two and a half centuries of printing “the authoritative work” that was once boasted as the most expensive book publication ever — Encyclopaedia Britannica was the set of books that once educated the world, for a hefty price.

Well the times, they are a changing: see more…

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