Dirk Knemeyer

Online: Harassment, Voting & the Future, January 5, 2017

Censoring online harassment hard as well, because that goes right in the face of free speech, and free speech is arguably the most important tenant of the US constitution. Of the rules that govern the United States. What constitutes harassment, when is someone being harassed. One of the most important parts of a free speech policy is the you know, someone, I’ll butcher the quote but, “You may hate what someone is saying, but you’ll defend to your death their right to say it.” So, that is inherently defending the ugliest of speech, the most hurtful of speech. Particularly now that we’re in a social environment where there is hyper sensitivity to anything that comes from one person’s mouth or behaviour and how that’s taken by others, and is translated into hurt, it’s really nettlesome.

The trends are certainly tipping towards what you’re suggesting, however I think Donald Trump’s Presidency and the Republican control of the government will probably ensure that nothing is happening soon. Because, most of the people who are like oh you know, sort of, “F PC,” kind of thing, those are all on the right and the right is in control. We’re probably not going to see anything soon from a legislative perspective, but certainly from social perspective there’s been a huge swing left towards, I think even hyper sensitivity and to the point of not having a sensible filter of let’s not be bruised by every little indirect thing that wasn’t intended for us and has little to do with us.

I don’t know what’s going to happen on the legal side. I’ve said a lot of times on this show before that all of us should expect that anything we are creating digitally on a networked device, is out in the wild. Is known by other people. Is stored somewhere where if we become a politician in the future, it is going to resurface and it is going to shiv us in the back. You just need to take that for granted, and if you’re not taking it for granted, if you’re saying you’re going to be fine or it’s not happening, then you’re being really unfortunately naive and you’re going to be hurt by that at some point.

If the current hegemony keeps marching forward then online voting certainly will happen. It probably isn’t soon. Again, with the US political, and most of my comments on this show are directed towards the US, it’s the culture I’m in it’s the culture I know. With the recent US political changes, it certainly isn’t going to happen for the next four to eight years. Even after that you know who knows, it’s not something that would happen very quickly certainly. As time moves forward on the current path, we’re getting more and more integrated into our machines. I was just reading something else, something recently, that sort of full mind-machine interface integration is less than a decade away, I think that was from the head of robotics at MIT. In that world, simply a lot of things that right now we have to move in physical space to achieve we’re not going to have to move in physical space to achieve anymore. Voting is sort of a clear and obvious example of something that will fall into that.

Now, the other way all of this could go of course is, there’s uncertainty in terms of the effects of global warming, who knows what’s going to happen geo-politically at a macro level. It is not a done deal that technology is going to continue to advance and we’re going to continue heading towards the singularity, to use that particular theory of it. There are things that could happen that definitely that stop that march, and that turns things around or make us manifest in more analog and what some people might even say backward ways. I don’t expect that to happen, but there’s a real chance that that could happen.

With some of the things that are happening around the world, and just our ability and our meaning, sort of an individual human in the generic to impact major damage to other people and to countries and potentially to the whole world. We’ll have to see, but voting will really I think fall out of “does technology keep progressing in the way that is, or are there nasty things happening to civilization that slow the whole boat down in which the last thing we’re going to be worried about at that point is voting online?”.

Internet Security & Behavioural Dysfunction, October 27, 2016

When I do have internet outages, I will tell you, it makes me feel like a comedy character in a dystopian sci-fi show. Which is to say, I’m there just like, “Start working, start working, start working.” It’s not like, you know I go home, “Okay, let me go and read some poetry now,” right? I don’t have this normal flexible response. I’m just like this automaton like, “I need you to start working again. I need you to start working again. I need you to start working again.” Which always makes me feel a little bit self aware, but it doesn’t change my behavior. This may be apropos of nothing, but I think the loss of the internet, I’ll just speak for myself personally, is pretty crucial at this point.

It’s always-on, and it’s immediate. Which is to say more than just being on. Whenever we want something it just immediately appears. It’s not like we make a request, the request goes away for a while, and then something comes back to us when it’s ready, right? It’s just always ready.

If you think about in the physical world, how do you protect against viruses? How do you protect against diseases? You need a safe room. You need to go in a place that’s totally cut off from the bad environment and the good environment, and you need to detox. Then you need to take that detox into the good environment, right? Internet is always on. It’s always in and out, and in and out, and in and out. There isn’t that notion, really, of the safe room. The safe room is required, I believe, to make things truly safe. To make things really … To have a chance even to make things bulletproof from hackers. That would by definition require not immediacy in response. It would require things being held up. Being taken into an environment where they could be scrubbed and cleaned and washed. In a world of AI, that starts to become more possible from a speed perspective. Maybe to solve it, there’s a lag in our relationship between sending requests out and getting the information. Getting the transaction back. That would be weird to deal with, right?

My perception is that a service like Netflix could be relatively immune from that. The virtue of that is it is streaming a chunk of information at you, right? If you assume that all Netflix engineers are not corrupt. If you assume there isn’t hacking going on inside the Netflix organization, they should be able to create a climate that is protected, basically. To take simple data requests from us that aren’t more sophisticated packets, then stream back this giant pipe of, “Here’s The Hunt for Red October.”


The future of Twitter, December 30, 2011

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

My [prediction for 2012] is that Twitter will be the big internet story of the year. What I mean by that is, of course Twitter has already broken through. They’re one of the more interesting and exciting, and to some people, pedantic and pointless internet companies for a number of years now, but I think Twitter is going to break into the top few. Whereas, right now if you ask somebody their list of the top internet companies, you’re going to hear Google, you’re going to hear Amazon, you might hear Apple—even though technically they probably shouldn’t be on the list. But Twitter’s not at that level.

2012 I think is the year Twitter is going to break through. There’s a few reasons I think that. The first one is—and probably the most important—they’ve really started to figure our advertising. So they’ve dabbled in it for a little while. A lot of it as a consumer I have found very unsatisfactory. But they’re figuring it out. And once the advertising’s figured out, that’s when the revenues are going to get lined up. And once the revenues are coming in—because up to now it’s been a whole helluva lot of burn and not a whole lot going it—that’s going to really change the game for them. The other part of it is—and this is a hugely biased observation of course—they’ve put together a design dream team at Twitter over a period of years now. And Andrei Herasimchuk, old co-founder of Involution Studios, was the first designer hired at Adobe, he’s hired in there and he’s one of the senior designers. They’ve brought in other people, another Involution Dave Bedingfield, who’s incredible, and a whole host of just all-star designers. They’re really investing in the product, in taking it to the next level of thinking, taking it to the next level of scope and really going out and challenging Facebook and Google for global supremacy of the internet. I think 2012 is the year, not necessarily Twitter gets ahead of those companies, but it’s the year where Twitter’s long-term strategy becomes apparent and it suddenly becomes visible to every one that Twitter is something that could help to define, to some large degree, the next decade of the internet.

Facebook’s inauthenticity, September 2, 2011

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

The “It’s (so-and-so’s) birthday” feature on Facebook is simultaneously one of the best and worst examples of how social networks can impact our digital lives. Best, in that it lets us know when something important and personal is happening to people we are connected to, and makes it easy for us to connect with them in that context. Worst, in that it elicits inauthentic responses and reduces the process of responding to such an event to a relatively hollow “Happy birthday!!!!!!” on their wall that shows up among a sea of similar announcements.

Facebook’s value proposition becomes more tenuous every day. I know for myself and many others, the only benefit Facebook has to offer is it connects us to everybody from our past, who otherwise would likely be lost to us.

Groupon’s future, June 27, 2011

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

Local deal site Groupon is raising eyebrows as they prepare to file for an IPO. The only thing increasing at a greater rate than their revenues are their losses, as the web wunderkind is betting big on their success and trying to take the market by storm. It’s not a bad strategy but it is a decidedly boom or bust strategy. Last year when commenting on Groupon we were impressed by their lack of competition, but unsure about their business model. Today the competition has certainly heated up, including some of the web leaders such as Facebook and Google getting involved. Well, Groupon is going for it, and good for them. But I’m far less certain, even as we near the eve of their big Wall Street coming out, that this is an investment to consider.

Celebrity apps, May 24, 2011

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

Twitter is in the news again this week as their acquisition of TweetDeck became finalized. At the same time Ubermedia, the company that was competing with Twitter to buy TweetDeck, rolled out a new Twitter app called A+. While on the surface it is a vanity app for Ashton Kutcher to better pimp his Twitter platform, in reality it is the first in a potential tsunami of branded, custom apps for celebrities that allow them to better highlight their Twitter activity, and potentially monetize it. In the months ahead we should expect to see more of this kind of celebrity driven, branded, highly customized app around self-important individuals trying to rise above the noise of our larger feeds. This will be an interesting space and trend to watch.

Hacking and online security, May 10, 2011

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

The news keeps getting worse for Sony as last week they revealed still another data breach, this time with their Sony Online Entertainment division. This has gone from a story about cloud computing and online security to, in my mind, a story about the relationship between the establishment and the fringe. It is widely accepted that these attacks are retribution for Sony’s court attacks of hacker George Hotz, who illegally release the kernel for Sony’s Playstation 3 last year. Sony’s demolishing Hotz in court last year did nothing to endear them to the hacker community, and indeed they are now paying a most brutal price for their action. I struggle to identify the right analogy. Is it like chivalry in the Middle Ages where there are clear codes of conduct in the tussle between knights and highwaymen? Is it like pirating or even privateering in the 16th and 17th centuries, where there is a fine line between the will of the state and the power and potential of the individual? Whatever the proper analogy, we’re not dealing with simply a massive cyber attack, we’re dealing with a space between establishment and the subversive. Maybe the best way to look at is like the wild West of the 19th century. When the outlaws thing the law has overstepped its bounds, the time has come to kill the sheriff and burn down the town. Right now, Sony is burning.

The growth of eCommerce,

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

Yesterday flash sales group Gilt Group closed a 138 million dollar funding round led by Japanese-based SoftBank Group. This brings Gilt’s total investment raised in the last three-and-a-half years up to 240 million dollars. Once upon a time online commerce was eBay, Amazon and thousands of failed, broken dot bomb startups as far as the eye could see. Now there are numerous relevant and stable eCommerce products worthy of attention, the newly plumped Gilt Group among them. The amount of money moving on the interwebs is yet another reason why whispers of an internet bubble are both ignorant and misguided.

The rise of Salesforce, April 5, 2011

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

Last week Salesforce purchased social media monitoring company Radian 6 for 326 million dollars. The growth and evolution of Salesforce reminds me of a much younger Oracle, a company that clearly has momentum and breadth, but has garbage products that people inexplicably use and champion as if they are actually good, all while acquiring other companies at a steady rate. Why is Salesforce doing well? It is terrible, terrible software. I’ve considered it for my own companies at least twice, most recently just last month. It is, at best, comparable to open-source option SugarCRM, which is itself not good software. And speaking of good software, Salesforce smugly talks about, quote, “no more software”, unquote. But guess what idiots? You are software! Just because you are served up in a browser, a store the data in a cloud, that doesn’t mean you aren’t software anymore. Anyway, I’ve apparently used the Radian 6 purchase simply to be an excuse for a mini rant, but it is a mini rant that is well-deserved. Salesforce is such an emperor with no clothes, I’m genuinely confused as to why they continue to thrive.

The decline of Groupon and LivingSocial, March 15, 2011

A short comment contextualizing the prediction could go right here

Reports are intensifying that Facebook is working with local businesses on a direct competitor to local deal sites such as LivingSocial and Groupon. We’ve seen this coming for some time. But the degree of focus and investment Facebook appears to be making sounds like it’s the beginning of the end for the impressive startups beginning to dominate this space. Stay tuned.