Social Madness

Over the past few weeks it has become apparent that something has to change. It is getting increasingly hard to focus on things, to find joy in the moments. I’m pulled in different ways by different things. It’s time for a break. So I am; effective immediately I am off social media. A digital vacation, if you will.

I love Instagram, but the algorithm drives me crazy!

I enjoy Twitter, but my feed is a mess.

I hate Facebook and haven’t used it in months.

I don’t understand Snapchat and it’s just an excuse to say I have it.

There are a few other sites and apps I use, all boil down to the same thing; it’s not important.

I get news from multiple sources. I listen to music and podcasts. I have friends that message me and call me. Social media isn’t making me happy. In fact, it’s doing the opposite. So, I’m taking a break.

I have a book I am still writing. I have a family I want to see and spend time with. I have books to read and albums to discover. I’m a busy guy.

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Do you know where your data is?

Who owns the data you generate?  That is a basic question that anyone that uses the internet, or an electronic device in gneral for that matter, should be asking themselves.

When I snap a photo on my iPhone, use Instagram to edit the photo, then upload it to Twitter, who owns the photo?  Who can reprint it?  Who can look at it?

Here’s another example; if I take a picture, upload it to Facebook, and then someone extracts the metadata from that photo to find out where I like to hang out, is that illegal?

Data is what everyone wants: companies want data to better sell us more products, law enforcement wants data to know where individuals of interest are and what they are doing, theives want data to know who might not be home or what valuables you may have.  Data is everything.

In my work I see people everyday that are worried about the wrong things.  Worried that people are watching them from their cellphone cameras.  Worried that the NFC chip in their phones are leaking financial data.  Worried that the their fingerprint will fall into someone else’s hands.  Meanwhile, no concern is given to the fact that their password is easily guessable, that they use unsecured wifi, that they have no passcode on their phone.  The important inconveniences are ignored, while the vauge theoretical possibilities are focused upon.

Having control of our data should be at the forefront of any discussion on rights in the 21st century.  A free society also means a private society.  Saying you have nothing to hide is a fallacy; being private means not having to disclose which park your children play at, what you bought from Amazon, which cat videos you choose to watch, or what conversations you had with your significant other.

It isn’t about stopping terrorism.  It isn’t about catching kidnappers.  And it isn’t about bringing you services.

It is about your data.

We have given up so much already, why do we shrug our collective shoulders and walk away when it comes to the data that forms our very lives.


So, what happened this week?

  • On the above topic, for the United States, if I may encourage you to write your representitives!  Just check here.  Also, register to vote!  It is primary season, and it is an election year.
  • I finished my 4-Part story this week.  Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
  • Continuing my coffee recommendations from last week, if you are ever in San Luis Obispo, CA, please check out Bello Mundo.  A surprising amount of this blog has been written there.

Good luck this week everyone.

 

 

Apple News, umm…news.

Hello Everyone!

iOS 9 came out on September 16, and introduced many new and exciting features.

I’m not here to talk about any of them.  Except one.

Apple News!  The app, not the clickbait-y article from Buzzed or MacRumors or wherever.  News allows you to control the content you receive, and create an aggregate from multiple news services to deliver high quality and relevant stories and content to you in one place.  It’s awesome and I encourage all of you to go check it out.  After you finish reading this, of course.

The reason I am telling you about this, is that Sword & Quill is available through News!  Simply go to Search inside of the News App and type “Sword & Quill” in the search bar.  Under Channels, Sword & Quill will appear.  By clicking the + on the right hand side, new posts will automatically be added to your feed!

I hope this makes it easier for some of you to find and read posts.  If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know through the links in the About Me section.

The Open Internet

Hello Everyone.  Tonight, a little something that is not a short story.  Tonight, I wanted to post something that is a little more important.  Our government has a Commission whose sole function is to regulate the communications industry.  That department of the Executive Branch is called the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, and is headed by a man named Tom Wheeler.  Mr. Wheeler, before his current role, was a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, with prior positions including President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).  So, the very person responsible for regulating our much loved cable companies (see Time Warner Cable Comcast, Charter, and Cox at #2, #3, #7, and #11) as well as wireless phone providers (T-Mobile at #14) and ISP’s (the above as well as AT&T (#11), and CenturyLink, at #7) is also the one that fought for them in previous administrations.

Credentials aside, so far, it doesn’t really seem like he is fighting for the little guy.  Recently, he has been making a push to allow ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) the ability to charge companies more for a “fast lane,” on their networks.  For example, Netflix wants to ensure that you get a good picture at your home, they better pony up the cash.  And you might not have been paying attention in Econ. 101 if you think Netflix won’t send the cost right on down to you.

The internet is a free and open forum.  It is a place where ideas and information can be shared.  Where we can learn, and educate, and share experiences to a global audience.  It is the information superhighway and a web of worldwide influence.  But it is so much more.  Knowledge is power, and power is held by the People.

There is something we can do to take this power back.  The FCC has taken the highly unusual steps of opening up the discussion early on this subject.  You have a range of options, from mailing in a letter via snail-mail, to filling out their form, to sending them an email at openinternet@fcc.gov.

I would recommend looking at a couple of websites prior to sending the email, which explains what the debate is about (including Wheeler’s remark that he would rather “give in to Verizon’s definition of Open Internet than fight”) much better than I could, as well as the process of the public discussion.  They are:

The Consumerist – FCC Chairman: I’d rather give in to Verizon’s definition of net neutrality than fight

Everything you need to know before e-mailing the FCC about net neutrality

So, in the spirit of the fight, I thought I would share the letter I sent to the FCC with all of you.  I hope that I have helped some of you to understand this fight a little better, and perhaps to act on that knowledge.  I love the internet; it allows me to do the things I love.  It gives me a stage to write from, a place to watch great content…and some really amazing cat videos.  It is Tweets and Likes and FaceTime and Wikipedia and Wookiepedia and podcasts and everything else.  Please, let’s protect it.


To: FCC

Re: Open Internet

To Whom it may concern;

 
I am 30 years old.  I have seen the internet come into being in my lifetime, and I cannot even begin to imagine where it will go in my son’s.  I have seen how the internet has caused an information explosion.  How content is able to be created, shared, viewed, and shared again.  I have seen how anyone with ambition, drive, and an idea, can create anything in their imagination.  All of this possible through the internet.
 
We have seen governments toppled, injustices exposed, and families brought together.  The unencumbered access to information, and the free exchange of ideas, is of paramount importance to our world.  The internet is knowledge, and knowledge is power; in a country where power rests in the People, by the People, and for the People, why should the People be charged more for access to it.
 
The FCC should be doing more to have a free and open internet.  To ensure that we have a free and open society, we should be making sure that more people have access to the knowledge and information of the internet.  We should be investigating why the United States is ranked 31st in internet speeds, behind such powerhouses as Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Uruguay.  We should be investigating why telecoms have been allowed to act in non-competitive ways.
 
At a time when our world is getting closer.  At a time when we need the free exchange of ideas to allow the world to come together.  At a time when we should be a beacon of freedom and equality to the entire globe.  In these times, why are you looking to make the internet a place controlled by the people which already control access?
 
If you truly do not believe the internet is not an infrastructure in our world now, just try living without it.  Or, wait, and you might not have to try.
 
Thank you for your time,
 
Jeffery Crow

PS – In my research for this article, I found a website I think you should all see as well, Why is American Internet So Slow?  Let me know what you think in the comments below!