Tuesday, March 27, 2007


What should tech bloggers do? I was looking forward to Kathy Sierra's ETech presentation, and I wasn't even going to ETech. I just figured I'd download the podcast. There's a Wild Wild West element to the Internet, but that's no excuse. Is this just an inevitable side effect of being a blogebrity? Is it just a more sinister version of the comment I received the other day about my haircut?

Hollywood celebrities are pretty silly. Are bloggers doing the same thing? Are we headed the same way? Is it all just an inevitable side effect of holding the attention of a large group of people, that some members of that group will be people whose attention it's better not to have?

What can we do about it? How do we know a horror movie isn't happening right now?

One solution, ironically, might be more exposure. Imagine if Kathy filled her home with webcams and her friends and fans were watching those webcams. They'd see if anything bad happened. Crazy stalker comes in through the window, 911 gets flooded with calls. Is the solution to a few creepy people watching you a large number of friendly people watching you? This is the idea of The Transparent Society. It's a fascinating book, but it's kind of scary having such a compelling reason to think about the issues it raises.

I think it'd be very useful to have semi-public webcams. This is sci-fi, but imagine a social networking site where you had webcam feeds from all over your house, shared only with people you trust. Virtual shared space. Not just for women terrorized by evil stalkers; it'd also be useful for parents who want to keep an eye on their children, or senior citizens who wanted to live independently but not without backup. Useful for anyone, really, with fundamental human tribal instincts.

I doubt that'll make Kathy feel better, but there has to be some kind of solution.


  1. There are no technical solutions to social problems. (No, that's not mine.) Even with a webcam and someone actually watching, 911 would show up way too late.

    The lack of trust implied in any technical solution creates the lack of love that makes bad things possible. It is sad that we have to lock our homes. It is sad that that we don't give those in need so they need to rob our houses. It is sad that we devote an entire industry to creating artificial desires and values that, among other tragic consequences, lead to more criminal activity to fulfil these desires. And it is especially sad that despite the official equality of men and women, this is not the true culture.

    Not that I'm innocent on any of these account.

  2. Actually, what about social engineering? When you consider how big social software is, it's big social engineering isn't big also. It has kind of a skeezy side, but social engineering to reduce stalkers has got to be a worthy cause.

  3. sorry, meant "it's weird that social engineering isn't big also."

  4. social engineering to reduce stalkers

    I think it is simply a matter of energy, and also a lack of communication paths (you can't really communicate with him). The poor souls that really get so worked up about successful women that they rather try to adapt reality than adapt to it, have to go all the way. Trying to get identity information, on the other side, is hard enough for legal forces, and the results of 'illegal' investigations can just deny or even ignore such accusations.

    And the good guys don't want to lower themselves to that level, with good reason. I need to clear out my rather weird views on this, but i think that in the long run there is no worthy cause for anything that isn't in itself good.


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