Doc Searls's blog

What could be better than advertising?

The Economist asks, Will Facebook, MySpace and other social-networking sites transform advertising? Good question, but it's the wrong one.

The right question is, Can we equip customers to become independent of sellers and their controlling intentions — Including the unwanted crap that constitutes far too much of the world's advertising? For the good of both sellers and buyers? more>>

What does the Microsoft "partnership" with Facebook mean for users?

Here's the key fact: Facebook's users are not its customers. They're the targets to which Facebook's customers aim advertising. In old media this was no big deal. But Facebook isn't just a "medium". It's a vast walled garden where the social activity of members and visitors constantly improves the ability of advertisers to "target" both.

This is a Good Thing only if it works for everybody — including both those targeted as well as those doing the targeting. And if users are actually involved, they have some important questions: more>>

What happens to my identity-related information? How is it used, and by whom? How much control do I have over my data (or data about myself) — including what Facebook "partners" do with that data?

Maybe UCANN school ICANN on whois

Raise your hand if you use whois every day. Even if your hand isn't up, and you just regard whois as an essential sysadmin tool, this post is for you.

Because if you're interested in keeping whois working for the those it was made for in the first place, you need to visit the battlefield where whois' future is being determined right now. That is, you must be Beowulf to the Grendel that is the Intellectual Property Community. Worse, you must confront him in the vast cave that is ICANN. more>>

How about an Index of Openness?

Wendy Seltzer asks, Which is more open: the Nokia N95 or the iPhone? Regardless of the answer, I'm wondering if there's an objective way to score openness... perhaps a kind of in-the-wild folksonomic list of deal-makers and deal-killers.

Rather than bias the list, I thought I'd just put the idea out there to start with, and see what variables ya'll would like to see on the list. more>>

Looking for the next Net business

The Internet most of us experience is not the World of Ends suggested by the end-to-end system design concepts around which the Net was originally architected and built.

Instead we have something that is faster-than-dialup, and faster-than-it-used-to-be; but is not The Net. Instead it is the part of the Net that's left in a pipe that's optimized for television, for one-way few-to-many "content delivery" and for locking users into client roles, while servers labor somewhere else.

I just had FTTH (fiber to the home) installed. And, while it's way cool in some ways, it's also uncool in the way it prevents far more business than it generates for itself. It would be great if the carriers made it easy for businesses to grow on the Net, and then suppoted those businesses with services that helped those businesses thrive and grow. But the carriers would rather serve "content" to mass quantities of "consumers" while chaging prohibitive prices for "business-class" services. Hey, it's a mass media mentality, and they have every right to it.

But... more>>

Wanted: OPML editor on Linux

In How to sponsor an open source project?, Dave Winer says, I want the OPML Editor to run on Linux... and floats the idea of a bounty for the job.

He's taking comments here. Guidance: I'm looking for ideas, established practices, do's and don'ts for sponsoring an open source project, Dave says. more>>

Thanking our own heaven on OneWebDay

This coming Saturday (22 September) is OneWebDay, a project I'm proud to have been a part of since Susan Crawford thought it up many months before the first one last year. OneWebDay is meant as a day on which we celebrate the Web and what it does for each of us.* So I want to celebrate what the Web does, and continues to do, for me as a journalist.

The arc of my writing career is something of a parabola: a broad U-shaped valley between the time when I worked as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor and the time when I started writing on — and about — the Web, and everything that makes it good, including (and especially) Linux. more>>

Is free and open code a form of infrastructure? How about the humans who write it?

I was looking at what my friend Stephen Lewis wrote in HakPakSak a few days ago — specifically "...newspapers’ roles as public trusts and cornerstones of our informational infrastructure — i.e. sources of solid information and independent commentary essential to informed citizenry, democratic government, effective public policy, and well-functioning economies".. What this brought up for me is the notion that human beings are themselves infrastructural; especially when they are constuctive contributors to the structure we call civilization. more>>

On valuing freedom more than cushy jail cells

The problem isn't just silos and walled gardens — our names for choiceless dependency on one company's goods and services. The problem is the defaulted belief system that gives us silos and walled gardens in the first place.

In that system suppliers believe that the best customers and users are captive ones. Customers and users believe that a free market naturally restricts choices to silos. It's a value sytem in which VCs like to ask "What's your lock-in?". Even in 2007, long after the Net has become established as an everyday necessity, we still take for granted the assumption that living in a "free market" is to choose among jail cells. May the best prison win. more>>

What could you do with fat fiber?

Two years ago, Bob Frankston wrote Why Settle for Just 1%? while in the midst of his ramp-up as a Verizon FiOS customer. The question is still on the table. I'd like us to help answer it by re-phrasing the question: What could we, as Linux developers and users, do with fiber to our homes and businesses? more>>

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