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Dispatches from the Wired frontier
THE POOR RICH
here's a thought
Hey, Rush! Ever Heard of the Creative Commons?
I I There are some things [from my show) that we can't Ipodcast] yet, like music because of copyright problems.... But I ¡ust want to tell you we're continually working on it.... I know the Millennium Copyright Act is what this is all about, and until that's changed, none of this is going to change. 99
Front The Rush Limbaugh Show June 14,2005 Rush Limbaugh, talk radio host
Bin Laden i n 'Hell*
When it happens, the expulsion is so genteel at first that you might not notice. There is no warning, no email notification, nothing. You think you're logging in to aSmallWorld, the ultraexclusive social networking Web site favored by supermodels, celebutantes, and Eurotrash. But instead of a blue homepage and postings about polo horses for sale or New Delhi nightclub recommendations, you see a green page and the lamentations of those outcast. You have b e e n banished to aBigWorld - the dreadfully nonexclusive sister site of ASW. "I log on every day to see if it's still green, or if they've let me back into the blue," confesses 22-year-old Talal bin Laden of Geneva. Bin Laden, a recent college grad, admits after some stammering that he's "distantly, distantly related to that guy no one likes." He says that ASW could definitely get ostentatious. "There were posts like, 'I'm going from Monaco to Lausanne tomorrow and need a private jet for one person.'" Still, he used to love hitting the site every day. "It's a great place to network or learn about different cities." But bin Laden ran afoul of ASW policies when he participated in a thread that devolved into a flame war. "One guy posted some anti-Arab racist slurs, and I responded with a polite deconstruction of why I felt that was inappropriate," says bin
Juicy Emails Will Always Get Leaked
I I Deploy DRM and you can keep employees from forwarding embarrassing email to the media. That sounds like the answer to network-illiterate managers' prayers, but if it's juicy enough to leak, it's juicy enough to write down and retype.... Bill Gates pitchled] DRM using the example of an HIV test result, which is literally one bit of information. If you hired someone untrustworthy enough to leak that but unable to remember it, you don't need DRM, you need to fix your hiring process. J "
Posted on linuxiournal.com Don Marti, editor in chief, Unux Journal
Laden. "For that, I was evicted to hell." "ABigWorld wasn't conceived of as a penitentiary, but it does serve as one," says Erik Wachtmeister, the founder and self-described "benevolent dictator" of the ASW and ABW social networks. Banishment to ABW occurs when members don't follow ASW etiquette, the same unwritten rules that govern the highest spheres of polite society. No public communication about its goings-on. No using offensive language or pestering those above one's station. "WHY AM I IN ABIGWORLD?????" posts Camillo Caltagirone, a student at the International School of Monaco. He says that his crime was inviting Paris Hilton, who was just one degree of separation away, to join his friend list. "Blondy decided to decline me. I tried writing a letter to the aSmallWorld founder but they didn't reply!!!!!" A former investment banker and the son of a Swedish ambassador to the US, Wachtmeister got the ASW idea during a boar hunt at a friend's estate in Germany. "I was crouched in the leaves, meditating alone, and thought: Relationships are like assets. Why not create a secure network where people can share and develop them? People in the upper echelon have a tremendous need for trusted info. Not from a guidebook, but from their peer group." Dubbed Snobster by the masses, ASW claims more than 68,000 globe-trotting members. Since 2004, it's b e e n an online hangout where princesses and barons mingle with socialites like Frederic Fekkai and Conrad de Kwiatkowski, where names
such as Carrier and Versace waft around like expensive scents, where business luminaries like Charles Muirhead and Lili Zanuck prowl about. No fake profiles allowed - "I've deleted a few Bill Clintons," Wachtmeister says."But a few dogs slip through." Wachtmeister's greatest worry is that the ASW site will expand too quickly. Last fall, it was adding 1,200 people a day until he closed the door to new members.Things have relaxed since then. Social butterflies who receive networking requests from at least 50 other ASW users are now permitted to invite people to the club. And Talal bin Laden has been contacted by ASW, asking the details of his "transgression ... in the interests of eventual redemption." Any such limitations on membership would be unthinkable for a social network like Friendster or Orkut, where the goal seems to be to grow as big as possible, as fast as possible. But in Wachtmeister's view, those sites have become bloated free-foralls - so open and inclusive they're useless. Or, as Cheray Unman, an ASW member and former VC living in Mill Valley, California, puts it, "If I'm trying to find someone to look after my purebred Samoyeds while I'm in St.Tropez, I'm not going to ask some naked Burning Man hula-hooper on Tribe.net." - X en i Jardín
Bangkok for the 54th Miss Universe competition. The telecast, coproduced by NBC and Donald Trump, will later b e viewed by hundreds of millions of people around the world. Backstage, the contestants - or delegates, as they are officially known - chatter in dozens of languages. Worku, 24, is talking about her job installing computer networks. She's a willowy 5'9" with long black hair, a blinding smile, and excellent posture. She's dressed in what seems to be the unofficial casual uniform for contestants - blue jeans, midriff-baring T-shirt, and white pin-striped blazer. In 2001, she earned a diploma in computer science in Addis Ababa. "After college, I was accepted into a program organized by the United Nations Commission for Africa," she says in lilting English. "Part of that training was Cisco networking." A nation of 73 million, Ethiopia has only 435,000 phone lines (plus 97,800 mobile phones). IT workers are few; budding supermodel IT workers fewer. That was one of the challenges Worku faced in the two years she spent as a manager for NexWave Ethiopia, a startup in Addis Ababa launched by some friends. "When I'd go in for a job - like working on systems for pharmacies or for schools - they would ask me, 'Are you sure you can really do that?'" she says. "But then I could, and they were surprised. You just have to keep on breaking the boundaries." Worku also helped with an effort to bring Internet access to 1 million Ethiopian women. That program turned out to b e less than successful. The state-owned telephone company is the country's only Internet provider, and it has a reputation for inefficiency. This summer the US is planning to assist in the partial liberalization of the country's telecom market. Will that make a difference?
DUCK AND C0UER
Four Minutes of Fame
"Match will begin in three, two, one ..." I race through the corridors of an aging intergalactic freighter, grabbing a rocket launcher and health packs as I go. For 45 seconds I feel confídent - then Fatality locks onto me. Suddenly, the upper half of my body vanishes, incinerated by the discharge from a weapon I never see. "First blood. One kill to nothing," says the no-nonsense female announcer. In a massive pavilion at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo, Fatality (aka Johnathan Wendel) holds court before 100 people. Only 24 years old, he is the Tiger Woods of first-person-shooter videogames, having won 13 international tournaments and banking more than 5300,000 in prize money. Onstage beneath giant flatscreen monitors that display each player's position, Fatall ty is taking on all comers in the PC game Unreal Tournament 2004, offering $2,500 to anyone who can best him. I am his 11 th challenger. My predecessors didn't fare well: 22 kills to nothing, 17 to nothing, 23 to -1 (suicide bombing costs you points). But I was playing videogames before this towheaded kid with the wide grin and big ears was even born. When the announcer introduced me, I firmly shook Fatall ty's hand and stated, "I'll b e giving the prize money to charity." I shrug off the untimely bisection and respawn, gathering weapons and listening for footsteps. This fool is about to get 0wn3d. Blam! My giblets spray across the wall. "Two kills to nothing." A lesser man would've quailed from these early setbacks. Hell, a lesser man would've withdrawn after watching the first
Miss Ethiopia, Supergeek
There was a time when Atetegeb Tetfaye Worku was content to b e perhaps the bestlooking network engineer on the Horn of Africa. But this May afternoon Miss Ethiopia is one of 81 beauty queens rehearsing in
Worku refuses to be drawn into debate. She says only that Internet access is increasing. Like many Miss Universe delegates, she wants to improve the lives of others. (This year's winner, Miss Canada, is devoting herself to combatting HIV and AIDS.) "If we can produce more computer specialists in Ethiopia, then we can do what Singapore • and India are doing," Worku says, moments • before she is called away to rejoin the other contestants for a rehearsal of the swimsuit procession. "The more connectivity you have in a country, the more development you have." - Justin R. Silverman
10 matches. Fatall ty's avatar - a faceless character in sci-fi body armor - laid waste to opponents with grenades, biorifles, and lightning guns. Each virtual slaughter was executed dispassionately, as if he were dragging and dropping files to the trash. But all that killing has given him a false sense of security, making my job easier. This guy thinks he's a rock star, and the purpose of this open challenge is to help him hawk his branded merchandise: Fatall ty motherboards, Fatall ty graphics cards, even mousepads and hoodies bearing his logo ($r). I look up, and he flashes me a toothy grin. I realize that it's my destiny to take him down - 1 must stop him before he's shilling burgers á la Tony Hawk or releasing awful rap albums like Shaq-Fu: Da Return. I snag a chaingun and stagger into a room where Fatality is bouncing around like a gazelle. He's in front of me. No, wait, he's behind me. I open up full bore, coating the room in hot metal "Three kills to nothing." With only two minutes to go, I set a more realistic goal for myself: waste him at least once. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Johnathan Wendel... Aaaaaagh! "Four kills to nothing." Peeking around a corner, I spot the punk near a steaming power generator and let fly with my ¡ink gun, blasting him with a steady stream of lethal, urn, green light. But wait, is he out of range? He is. Little do ¡know that my head - set in the crosshairs of Fatality's long distance rifle - nils an entire spectator monitor. He fíres, and my noggin bursts ¡ike a melon tossed from a fourth-floor balcony. The audience roars with laughter. "Five kills to nothing." / shift to a new stratagem; run and hide. He gets in a couple of extremely dishonorable kills by shooting me in the back as 1 flee. The match closes with a score of 8 kills to nothing. Fatall ty would go on to rack up 1,349 kills versus 74 challengers. But through speed, cunning, and cowardice, I held him to his lowest body count of the day. Later, he would b e defeated by three up-and-coming pros - 22-yearold "Esca," 19-year-old "CombatCarl," and 20-year-old "Lauke." I'm sure they would have had a tougher time if a seasoned vet hadn't softened him up first. - Chris B4ker
The Shiny, Happy People
• Ä faux Louis Vuitton belt cinches his plaid Bermuda shorts, and two gold chains (one : with a cobra medallion) dangle over a ratty T-shirt. We're standing outside New York's Roxy nightclub while sweat soaks the headband woven carefully through his Garfunkel-like 'fro. Meet Mark Hunter, a k a the Cobrasnake, the 20-year-old who • claims he can get me into a music awards show thrown by haute denim retailer Diesel. I'm skeptical that anyone wearing tube socks pulled up to his calves can gain entree to this exclusive event, but before I • know it I have a VIP bracelet and the kid is dispensing high fives, hugs, and air kisses to everyone inside the club.
of pictures dumped onto pages without annotation. "I don't like futzing. If the photo doesn't look good, I don't mess with it in Photoshop," Hunter tells me. The amateurish look is all part of his brand. It's won him a book deal, and he's taking meetings with the producers of 77ie Real World and The Simple Life, who are planning a reality show about him. But he still hasn't hit the big time - he can't afford a car, and he had to go on Extreme Makeover to get the Lasik eye surgery he wanted. When I meet him that night, his laptop is broken and he can't update his site. (He asks me if 1 can get him some sort of Wired discount on computers. As if!) As we walk toward the cavernous dance floor, Diesel's marketing xep talks logistics with Hunter. The mission: to photograph good-looking scenesters having fun. Hunter pulls out his camera - he's upgraded to a S600 Canon PowerShot Pro 1 - and morphs into the Cobrasnake. He runs around like a coked-up paparazzo, shoving his camera in people's faces and punctuating the dim interior with photo flashes. His patter and calculated dorkiness put everyone at ease. He catches great candid moments, as well as humorous subtleties, like the Levi's worn by the dance-punk bandmates from Out Hud as they accept their award from Diesel. At 10 pm, Hunter's still nursing his first beer of the evening. "I don't want anyone to think I'm here fucking around," he tells me. "I have a job to do." He confides that he's also hoping to avoid a repeat of last year's event - he got ejected for Heinekenrelated offenses. Perched on a speaker and snapping away at the stage, Hunter shouts, "Hey, do I look like a real photographer up here?" Two hours later, as 300 partygoers dance beneath giant disco balls in the VIP lounge, a fight breaks out. Suddenly, eight guys are swinging their fists and tumbling over fashionably bulbous lounge chairs. I beat a hasty retreat, only to see my escort running toward the fracas, his camera flashing. As bouncers carry the hooligans outside, the Cobrasnake dashes to another photo op. Later, when I log on to TheCobrasnake .com, Hunter's shots of the awards show make it look a lot more fun than the event I attended. And yes, my mug is there: number 83 out of 240 JPEGs. I should b e excited, but all I can think is "Why doesn't he use Photoshop?!" - Sonia Zjawinski
WIRED >08|2005 -073
Los Angeles-based Hunter may b e the first person to make a living off a photoblog. He started a year and a half ago by sneaking into clubs with his point-andshoot digicam to document the night's drunken festivities. Then he uploaded his photos to TheCobrasnake.com, for everyone to snicker at the next morning. It was easy to garner buzz when shooting the likes of Paris and Nicky Hilton, Beck, Johnny Knoxville, Andre 3000, Jack Black, and Jarvis Cocker. Soon his pics were showing up in the LA. Weekly, and companies showered him with schwag and party invites ("I'm a marketing genius," he says). He has plied his trade at the South by Southwest music fest, the launch party for Sony's PlayStation Portable, and even the NME music awards in London (with hefty stipends to cover travel, of course). TheCobrasnake.com is as self-consciously crude as its proprietor's fashion sense, with childish illustrations and hundreds
RiskyBY BRUCE STERLING
Dear M e m b e r of the Radio-Frequency ID Industry, Congratulations on your hard-charging technological revolution! Back in 1999, the notion of radio transmitters small and cheap enough to sprinkle throughout the universe of consumer products was only a dream. Today, it's an economic savior. The twin Godzillas of the US economy the Defense Department and Wal-Mart plan to use your little wonders to track their enormous inventories. As makers and users of RFID gear, you're putting unprecedented horsepower behind the wheels of commerce. With the capacity to label 2 individual objects, you're well on your way to giving everything that matters its own unique ID and IP address. It won't b e long before the Internet is joined by what MIT has christened an Internet of Things - a network of self-identifying artifacts that brings radical improvements in industrial efficiency and productivity. Rapid, accurate deliveries! Less rot, counterfeiting, shoplifting, and misplaced inventory! Businesses will face fewer risks, and consumers will get cheaper, more up-to-date, better-targeted products. A logistical paradise on Earth! But as the RFID volcano covers the planet with a fine ash, there's bound to be
other, less salutary fallout. People get a heavy dose of future shock when they discover that nerdy sorcerers beyond their ken can treat them like cattle or Wal-Mart inventory. Remember Philips' doomed effort to install RFIDs in US passports? Newspapers pointed out that such a document would effectively cry out to terrorists, "Potential kidnap victim at 12 o'clock!"The Feds backed off overnight. The lesson: You've got to get ahead of the perception curve. If you don't deal with the public-relations aspects of the technology increasingly known as "arfid," you risk ending up as demonized as your colleagues in nuclear power and GMOs. That's not to say you'll go away - those two industries didn't - but who needs decades of relentless grief? Let me suggest a few standards of techno-hygiene that will help you smell like roses when the ordure hits the fan. F r a m e the d e b a t e . If you operate in an advanced liberal democracy where you might get sued, boycotted, or throttled in the stock market, you'd better start spinning. Don't meekly refer to your products as radio-frequency ID transponders, or even tags. Your opponents sling much catchier terms, like spy chips and terrorist beacons. You'd better think up a user-friendly name before some real comedian calls your tags "Mai-Warts."
e B a a e B i B R S B a
group of stakeholders among many and you'll make lots of friends. Leave k i d s alone. US schoolchildren are not your inventory. Hang tags around the necks of young children, and they will chew the chips out of their plastic cards while their parents accuse you of installing the mark of the beast on their progeny. Don't believe me? Take a look at the circus that erupted at Brittan Elementary School in Sutter, California (see "Tagging Kids Like Cattle," Posts, issue 13.06). Invent the household arfid. There's no such thing as a nuclear populist because there's no such thing as a home nuclear plant. Likewise, GMOs can't beat a bad rap because genetic recombination is too intricate for hobbyists. Both industries are seen as fearsome, remote, and alien. By contrast, PCs succeeded and the Internet boomed because they let techies, users groups, and, eventually, everybody take part in the game. That's where the Arfid Shopping Wand comes in. The idea is a handheld device that would let consumers interface with the world of arfids. A sweep of the wand would help people search, shop, comment, and blog by matching off-the-shelf products with metadata immediately and intuitively. Give people tools like this and you'll get the popular support you need. Bottom line: You RFID paladins are forging a real revolution, and you'd better
i n e n
B S B B B B B B a B B B
Radio beacons in underwear? Retailers using RFID tags could face a crippling backlash.
Don't b e evil. There are reasons why omniscient Google is beloved while omnipotent Microsoft is hated and feared. It's all about being part of a network of mutually respected players, rather than a giant Maypole where a geek clique keeps everyone else tethered to the ribbons. Build an arfid panopticon for the convenience of cops and spooks, and you can expect a swift and violent Orange Revolution. Approach the market as one b e ready for the consequences. This isn't going to b e a clever industrial advance made by a silent cabal of experts, as barcodes were 30 years ago. Whatever Scrooge-like acts you commit through the new supply chain will drag you down, like the chains of Joseph Marley. When everybody's linked in a rattling, clanking Internet of Things, it's going to take extra effort to avoid whiplash. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
RS VS. PENTAGO
.A. VS. HOLLYWOOD
August 9,1995 Netscape Goes Public
Testing a Urine Recycling Machine Backstage with Bono:
3 l "7$tf0"0¡i*59" 1 i
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