When you have an idea you won’t work on, share it

Someone else will pick it up and do better work than you ever planned to.

The story goes like this: I was always fascinated by surveys like the ones Netcraft did. Over the years, more organizations added their own surveys, redoing what Netcraft did, or complementing what already existed with new research and data. I was always interested in redoing some of this stuff at the national scale, namely observing how the global surveys compare with similar ones about “greek” IP addresses or .GR domains.

Alas, two were the problems. .GR data is not easy to get access to and of course time there is not.

However a few months ago I bumped into this DNS census list which contains .GR data one can work on. And stuff that I wanted to do came back to haunt me. Knowing that I would not be able to find the time to do so, I hinted to my friends at Project Zero what would be something nice to work on. A few weeks later they came back with their preliminary results.

I am eagerly waiting for the next parts of their analysis.

This is not free Internet access

I just had the chance to browse through the proposal PDF about implementing free WiFi access throughout Greece, a promise made by the Prime Minister of Greece on 2013/11/5. It basically boils down to this:

Free WiFi Internet access is 30 minutes to surf the web. Then you disconnect and reconnect.

This is not free WiFi. This is not free Internet access and this is definitely not a growth enabler. Simply put:

This is how the environment embarrasses the Prime Minister (and the country if implemented verbatim).

Where is POP3? IMAP? SMTP? Hell! Where is ssh? This is the Free Big Firewall of Greece.

You people are supposed to know that the Internet is the network and the World Wide Web is a network application. You still have time to change the slides.

My browser’s “home” page

I try not to keep fifty tabs open and stress test my browser. But nowadays, opening my browser stress tests me. Whenever I fire it up, it opens:

  • Gmail
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Yammer
  • Parley

and I used to open ServerFault too. And I’ve not even mentioned Thunderbird. That is a one way trip to feeling tired 5 minutes after the day begins.

Optimisations are coming.

“How social networks work”

This popped up in my twitter stream:

How social networks work: Marketing bozos decide to game the system until it collapses. Then they look for a new place to piss. The End

Now what did that remind me of? A comment about marketing droids that I had left somewhere years ago. It took me a while to locate it, but here it is. The blog’s author in his conclusion was wondering:

It’s amazing to me that some people are so blind to that outcome. A savvy marketer ought to already know that it’s not all that smart to burn up the medium in a way that arrests your future ability to make money from it?

To which I responded:

They are not blind. They simply work within their time-frame of maintaining their job in email marketing. How much is this going to be? Three, Five years? Then they will switch subject and will not care for the ruins left behind. People in marketing and management are always that “blind” because they care more about their bonuses than the lifetime of the company they work for. As for the demise of their previous company, it is never their fault, right?

* Sometimes you have to copy comments that you leave elsewhere back somewhere where you exercise more control.


Let’s take the following diagram for granted:

NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say
NSA infiltrates links to Yahoo, Google data centers worldwide, Snowden documents say

Now why would that happen? Why would they choose to have unencrypted traffic through their network? And then something I read struck me:

“For an organization with a large-scale website doing business via advertising or e-commerce, or whose primary source of revenue is via interaction with a website, one of the most notable concerns is web page load times. A well-known metric that supports this comes from Greg Linden of Amazon.com, who posited that an increase in 100 ms of load time caused a 1 percent drop in sales on Amazon.com1.”

At such scales all milliseconds translate to money I guess.

[1] – “Make Data Useful” [PPT slides]

Startups as Deviance

Yesterday evening I was attending these gentlemen (four young unemployed guys trying to find their way by their description) at a Ruby meeting held at CoLab. Their presentation was split in two parts. The first part was about going from zero to a demo application in Rails in just over four months (and some of the development decisions they made).

The second part was about their idea. This part attracted most of the questions, so we got to learn about the original idea and a bit about how it evolved along with the hazards they had to deal with on Azzure and Amazon virtual machines working with literally a zero budget. But although untold, the story of the way that the team formed and operates was also presented. And while thinking about it, it struck me that it followed the Best and Luckenbill model from “Organising Deviance”:

Form of Organization Mutual Association Mutual Participation Division of Labor Extended Organization
Loners no no no no
Colleagues yes no no no
Peers yes yes no no
Mobs yes yes yes no
Formal Organizations yes yes yes yes

I would call these 4 young men Peers by the model above, because although some division of labor exists, it is not to the point of separation of duties yet. But while I am writing this, I am thinking that the parallels with the Best and Luckenbill model are to be expected. For what are startups if not deviant organisations aiming to disrupt the status quo in their own way?

deviance, n.:
a state or condition markedly different from the norm

I wonder how fast these guys are going to transform to a Formal Organization once they receive funding.

Where Wizards Stay Up Late

A lot of us think that they know fragments of the birth of the Internet. Most of these fragments we cannot put in the proper chronological order, nor are they always accurate (with the most notable example that the Internet was invented as part of the US nuclear defense).

If you make even a penny from the Net you must read the book. You will learn a lot about the “founding fathers” (even if many of them disagree on who is the elder one) their dreams and the bottom up emergence of TCP/IP and the Net (in contrast with the top down push for the OSI protocols). Learn the history (and pre-history) of the medium until the early 90s. You have to.

The tension that is not going away …

Stewart Brand of the famous “Information wants to be free” statement has actually commented in more detail:

Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine—too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away.

I revisited the above because of the recent Stratfor 2012 email leak. It represents the tension clearly: Stratfor sells expensive intelligence services (information), while in fact information once generated and stored (electronically) is bound to break free.

Information wants to be free in 1791.