Facebook is just a promenade

Wired to the Internet
Wired to the Internet, live on the Web. Choose to plug into Facebook, or not. It's your choice. (Image from 321clipart.com)

I’ve been reading and hearing a lot of philosophical analyses and streetwise observations about Facebook—many of them excellent insights but a few mediocre ones too. Twenty years ago the talk was about the Internet itself. Then 10  years ago it was about the explosive growth of the Web. Now everyone’s trying to define social media, especially Facebook.

I think the simplest way to describe Facebook is in terms of road systems. Think of the Internet as a network of roads, originally designed for quick military deployment but soon expanded to accommodate all kinds of civilian use. Now think of the World Wide Web as an immense assortment of useful (and some not so useful) structures—sidewalks, benches, stalls, stores, markets, supermalls, skyscrapers, parks, parking lots, billboards, office and apartment buildings—that proliferated along the more accessible parts of this road system. It’s still based on the underlying road system, but it’s now a fast-growing city.

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Guy Fawkes masks and hacktivists

November 5 is a special day in Britain, but the masks used for the occasion have gotten so popular this year they have become top-selling store items in Western countries. What’s up, que pasa, anyare?

My first reaction was that the mask is a very creepy mask: a man’s pale face with glowing pink cheeks, mustache and goatee, and an unnerving smile that’s almost like a leer. You wonder, “Where have I seen this mask before?” Then you suddenly realize. It’s those Guy Fawkes masks worn by growing ranks of demonstrators in American and European cities and that have come to symbolize Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests.

November 5 is Guy Fawkes Day. But how did his masks find their way into the Occupy Wall Street movement? Welcome to the strange new world of 4chan, hacktivists and anarchist revolutionaries. Photo by Stephanie Keith/Demotix/Corbis

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For me, Apple means Wozniak, Alexan, and Obet

Doing piegraph on Apple ][ clone
An Apple II clone used two external floppy disk drives – one for the system or program disk, the other for the data files. The monitor could be a plain TV set or a green monochromatic CRT display.

Let me get this straight. Like the rest of the world touched by Apple computers and devices, I mourn the loss of Steve Jobs, as a very intelligent person, and as a visionary designer and marketing guru. But much of the tributes I read coming out after his death are too effusive and at the same time generic, mostly saying nothing new and simply repeating what has already been said in recent years.

To be honest, within a few hours after his death was announced, I had started to suffer a surfeit of tributes to Jobs. At the same time, these tributes lead me to think about how my own computer philosophy was shaped by Apple, however indirectly and incompletely.

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