Oct. 29th, 2010

terriko: (Default)
Originally posted on Web Insecurity, but it's short so this is a full cross-post.

Apparently Facebook hates privacy so much that they pay lobbyists to stop privacy laws

This maybe shouldn't surprise anyone, but Mashable is reporting that Facebook Lobbied to Kill Social Networking Privacy Act in the USA.

It's one thing to believe that privacy isn't important, or to make mistakes that expose users, but paying people to lobby against privacy legislation that might protect your users seems like a big step further. It makes me concerned as a user of the service.

Incidentally, Facebook has already broken Canadian privacy law (they're not the only ones), and likely the laws of several other countries, so I guess it makes sense that they wouldn't want to run afoul of further laws... but I really wish they'd do this by handling privacy issues better rather than paying people to make sure the laws don't come into effect. Maybe the law was simply ill-conceived (I haven't read it) but this really doesn't sound like the actions of a socially-responsible company. Very disappointing.
terriko: (Default)
I went to see William Gibson talk at the writer's festival this week, and I mostly just wanted to brag, so I guess I have to write about him. ;)

As the Internet no doubt can tell you, he's an interesting speaker, and I was surprised to find him less polished than other authors I've gone to see. And I don't mean that as a bad thing at all: in a lot of ways it made him feel more human. I've noticed that there's a whole subset of authors who feel that they are God's Gift to the Genre ([personal profile] miko usually uses Robert J. Sawyer as her prime example of this) and I'm always a little leery at the beginning of a talk as to whether this is going to be one of those but Gibson put me immediately at ease. Very candid, very honest, and pleasantly funny when talking about how he writes.

I particularly loved when he was talking about crowdsourcing details. He'd been looking for some information about where to find security cameras in some area (an airport maybe? I forget.) and got a pile of different responses to his twitter query. Of course, he says none of them agreed with each other, but then he points out that as a fiction writer, he doesn't have to worry about the accuracy of responses: he can choose the one that works best with his narrative and modify as necessary. I love this, because it's almost exactly my approach to using biology within artificial life algorithms: I don't really care if a model is rudimentary or even proven to be inaccurate in living organisms. If it's interesting and fits my code narrative, I can use it as a base for neat ideas anyhow. I guess artificial life is pretty much the speculative fiction of the code world. I mean, I basically spent a year wondering if email could be treated like proteins and whether we could develop immunity to bad emails. That's my master's thesis, but doesn't it sound a little like spec fic?

I've been out to a few other writer's festival events, including a very inspiring talk by the exceptional Jane Goodall, but William Gibson is the first author whose talk made me think, "wow, I should really get back to writing." I do a lot of writing, but very little creative writing nowadays, and he's the first to make me really yearn for it.


terriko: (Default)

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