Save the FreeWorld Wide Web!

7:32:00 PM

Today, I opened a free application that I've used to follow both my friend's and stranger's Twitter feeds: TweetDeck. For the life of me I can't find the catch.

I only have to open the program once or twice a week to feel like I'm up to date with the village gossip. Elegantly, it aggregates all the chatter into streamlined columns that a flick of the index finger scrolls effortlessly. It also automates archaic Twitter lexicon like "hash tags," the "re-tweet," and shortened URL's. You don't have to know what it means. It does it for you. It does it by default and the buttons are friendly saying "reply " and "Direct Message " versus "coding" the symbols '@' and 'D.'

If you weren't sold on the app already, get this: it aggregates Facebook statuses as well, so if you're content to just see the latest chatter on your circle of friends, and don't want to dote over their promotions in "YoVille" or "What Kind of Fuzzy Dice Are You?" then it's a great app for just getting to the meat of socializing, interacting and responding to an electronic, ongoing party. B.Y.O.B.

For the life of me, I can't find an ad on this app or anything but good clean feed without nagging on and on on what I should buy. At worst TweetDeck installs by default in the furthest-most column a section titled "TweetDeck Recommends
," as if this is, presumably, where the software publisher injects its stream of advertisements and forward thinking marketing campaigns to make its buck.

No problem. Quite a bang I get for their buck. Even trade, I say, and, really, I think I'm getting the lion's share of the bargin in utility and average disdain for e-advertising to begin with.

Kudos to you TweetDeck for preserving and protecting the FreeWorld Wide Web.

* * *

Hulu.com, like in probably many other homes, has become a mainstay for viewing the latest titles and shows these days. It has not been clear to me from probing comments whether or not other folks in my domain are doing what I've been doing in my home: discarding the T.V. set altogether and using a relic, out-of-date PC with a live internet connection to have what seems to be like unlimited access to mainstream media and movies. We've hooked up an off-the-shelf consumer grade set of surround-sound speakers up to it, and blammo! A Full stereo entertainment system. At best we could upgrade to th
e largest flat-pannel monitor, but for now a 15-inch hand-me-down Viewsonic from early Y2K has done just fine. No T.V. No Receiver, nor tuner, nor DVD or Blue Ray player. Just a old tower and some speakers, and the only thing we miss is a remote controll vs. the mouse and keyboard input.

Now, between Hulu and Netflix.com's "Watch Now" feature (a paid subscription that comes with, in my case, three DVDs at a time), there is no lack for things to zone out or eat dinner to. To boot, at least with Hulu's case, I get an e-mail reminder when one of the shows I follow like Kings or Eureka or Warehouse 13 has a new episode up to watch. Netflix has a less-than-up-to-date selection, but my hubby finds the ready supply of 12 full seasons of on-demand Murder, She Wrote a nice, decompressing addition to her stress-filled life.

In short, the digital age ripe with media and hours of numbing entertainment has been good to us. It has filled our lives with the loving work of actors and producers, and it has not been a challenge to have our home at state-of-the-art levels at a working class lifestyle.

At worst, like with TweetDeck, Hulu's fee for its outstanding service is the perfunctory ads throughout each show. No blame, it's just like watching your T.V. ... except! There's only one ad per break. That is, for now, there's never back to back ads, and after thirty seconds your browser goes back to the show. Also, for the extra nit-picky, the show displays a progress bar with dots indicating when the ad will interrupt. If you're into efficiency in these time-poor days, Hulu makes it easy to maximize efficiency for knowing exactly when to get the popcorn out of the microwave or for discussing critical parts of the story with loved ones.

At any rate, all anal affects aside, it's rather easy to sit through the commercials there. It's short, and at the end of the day, the ratio is welcome for breaking up and indicating a meter to the shows. 30 seconds here
and there for such killer entertainment ... I think I'm getting the lion's share of the bargain in utility and average disdain for e-advertising to begin with

Kudos to you Hulu.com for preserving and protecting the FreeWorld Wide Web.

* * *

Facebook has become a family mainstay on this end of the computer screen, not just for me, but for my lady. To that end, the rapport and discourse surrounding the curious habbits of our Facebook friends has become a regular topic over dinner.

Today, my lady forwarded me a wry CNN article "The 12 most annoying types of Facebookers." A terrific piece of florid and biting in its categorizations of Facebook archetypes, it, in short, described what we should all be considering: what's appropriate to add to our Web lives vs. what should remain on the LAN lines of communication. E-etiquette.

What was surprising in this was that what we have come to know as a simple act - to share what we know - by way of e-mailing me a link has brought up a rather by-the-way kind of recognition.

It so happened that I managed to squeeze the time in to check out what my lady was so excited about while on a public bus cruising through Brooklyn. At the moment, the only access to the Web was throu
gh my cell phone and an out-of-date one to boot.

Regardless, even while I was able to access the information and would later discuss intelligently with my hubby about the article, one thing stuck out in my mind over the experience of reading it on my mobile device. Namely, as the Web page loaded in a version of Blazer, I noticed that the top of the screen had as-if-it-couldn't-load that hallmark of clickables that now litters any surfing experience through reputable newspapers and periodicals: "skip to main content."

Anyone who's out to read the morning news on a laptop or desktop knows that oftentimes, their news will require a few extra "smart" clicks to get away from the nag screens or ads. For what it's worth, embeded in the Facebook article, one could click the video supplement "Watch as Facebookers reveal bugbears," and it leads directly to a 10-second video ad before a "Blogger Bunch" clip. Nag screens.

I was somewhat grateful that a "nag screen" wouldn't and couldn't pop up in my cheesy smartphone browser. Instead, there were no ads to navigate through, and on a certain level, I thought, "It's a holy thing, this cell-phone. Neither telemarketers, nor spammers, nor pop-up ads ever penetrate into it."

I don't suspect that this is a function of my out-of-date model (by the way, it's not so old. It's still being sold on the shelves if that says anything for vintage gadgets). I suspect that either there's rules and laws regarding targeting cell phone users, or there's the impedance of companies who provide cell phone coverage - their safeguarded antennas and bandwidth, or just maybe cell phone browser technology has not yet caught up to the avenues that marketers and advertisers have been able to capitalize on.

At any rate, in a time when we're all becoming familiar to computing via our mobile phones, kudos to cell phones preserving and protecting the FreeWorld Wide Web.

* * *

The unfortunate summary of all these kudos for those supporting what I think is, in Neil Armstrong's words a "giant leap for mankind," is that, not to point a bony finger but merely to describe, is the endemic problem of our times. All of these great leaps straddle the schitzophrenic mash of unlimited resources of knowledge with the age-old problem of making a living - or a profit.

From its inception, the computer networks such as the World Wide Web, at its very core, are about copying and duplicating information and data. That's its purpose. Type into Wikipedia "World Wide Web History" and here's an excerpt of what comes up:

On August 6, 1991, Berners-Lee posted a short summary of the World Wide Web project on the alt.hypertext newsgroup. This date also marked the debut of the Web as a publicly available service on the Internet.

The WorldWideWeb (WWW) project aims to allow all links to be made to any information anywhere. [...] The WWW project was started to allow high energy physicists to share data, news, and documentation. We are very interested in spreading the web to other areas, and having gateway servers for other data. Collaborators welcome!" —from Tim Berners-Lee's first message



Granted, there was a lot of preamble to Berners-Lee ranging back into the the 50's, but what followed from his hyper-text language was, at its inception, a way to share accross computing platforms, and what followed after that was the evolution of what we have come to know and love as the Web.

It's a Web that needs to make money - like we all do. It's a bonanza of information sharing, but at the end of the day we all gotta pay the bills. It's the fact that this "great leap in humankind" straddles a world that was defined by territory - even in the sense of information as territory.

Now it's an overwhelming signal-to-noise ratio as everyone not only gets to share data, but also the minutia of their day. All this noise, especially in cases such as this:

  • Login to today's TweetDeck, and you're gonna find a novel idea: a marketer that has flagged certain key words and is scouring tweets for a match to their product. Tweet about it, and you're going to get in pre-loaded column titled "Mention" that someone out there has "replied" to it with a helpful comment such as, "Did you know that you can buy plantain chips at $1.99 at http://bit.ly ..." ---->I had the words "plantain chips" in a tweet this afternoon.
  • Only time will tell if Hulu will keep up the good work and limit a commercial break to only ONE 30-second commercial per break. T.V. and even local radio has gone chronic to making it an atmosphere where the ads get center stage.
  • If anyone can crawl out of that deep, dark, disinterested cave in their brain when it comes to clicking a Web ad on a screen, then perhaps they would become less in-your-face while you're doing your usual Web surf-through-the-news. (For the record, a Dominos Pizza flyer on our household doorstep prompted us to order it last week. Ads work, just how much of it to how much you get in content is a delicate balance before the scales topple).

At the end of the day, we are all straddled with the responsibly of taking this established environment of an information super-highway, and incorporating it into the human discourse effectively and with prudence towards what has been.

From its inception, the World Wide Web has asked to be free - or at least a free exchange of ideas It still is within its domain to remain free. Yet, it is part of all of our lives at a time when taxes are being hiked, inflation is immanent; in short, it has become a mainstay precisely when our attention towards what the ideas we cling to as prosperity are at their peek.

There is no blame. This is the discourse that shapes the vision tomorrow -one that absorbs what was important today and casts it in the needs of what's to come.

At worst, what's to fear in all of this is a dystopian vision from Ray Bradbury's novel, Fahrenheit 451. That is, Bradbury's book, published in the 50's describe a future - our future - where his existential protagonist, Clarisse McClellan, says:

“ ... I’ve lots of time for crazy thoughts, I guess. Have you seen the two hundred-foot-long billboards in the country beyond town? Did you know that once billboard were only twenty feet long? But cars started rushing by so quickly they had to stretch the advertising out so it would last.” (click here for full excerpt)

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