Worry about these instead

“Right to be forgotten” is “dangerous”, observes Tim Berners-Lee. There are much more serious concerns – threats to net neutrality,  the power of corporations, and emergence of separate operating systems like iOS and Android.

Web founder: Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten’ rule is dangerous, by Stephen Shankland, CNet (Dec 10)

In a wide-ranging discussion at the conference, Berners-Lee said it’s appropriate that false information should be deleted. Information that’s true, though, is important for reasons of free speech and history, he said. A better approach to the challenge would be rules that protect people from inappropriate use of older information.


Berners-Lee, though, said losing Net neutrality could mean one company could encourage you to watch particular movies or discourage you from visiting a particular political party’s website. “For a company to be able to control your Web experience is hugely powerful. For a government to do that is hugely powerful. So we have to fight very strongly.”

The Growing Importance of Mobile

Google gives sites that are mobile friendly a ranking boost in search results.

Google Is Experimenting With Special Ranking For Mobile-Friendly Sites, Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (Nov 18)

Google already penalizes sites that provide a bad experience to mobile searchers. Now the company has confirmed that it’s testing with what seems like a boost for those providing a great experience.

This is good, but it is also part of the trend that makes mobile access to the web more important than desktop. Wall Street Journal has noted that The Web Is Dying; Apps Are Killing It by Phil Foster (Nov 17)

Mountains of data tell us that, in aggregate, we are spending time in apps that we once spent surfing the Web. We’re in love with apps, and they’ve taken over. On phones, 86% of our time is spent in apps, and just 14% is spent on the Web, according to mobile-analytics company Flurry.

Net Neutrality

Net neutrality – “the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites” (Google define).

Net neutrality is not assured. Internet providers may want to favour some content distributors over others, and especially to promote their own. A large cable company like Comcast in the US or Rogers in Canada may not want to allow high volume streamed content over their network without additional compensation. Or the ISP may have some political preferences and wish to control distribution. Or the provider may want to package information for a fee. Making any exception to the principle of net neutrality can be a slippery slope.

MakeUseOf has an article on this outlining the arguments: What Is Net Neutrality & Why Should I Care?, Matthew Hughes, (Apr 17)

This fact sheet Keep the Internet Free and Open! from Common Cause list further reasons for concern.

The Web at 25

The Web will be 25 years old on March 12, and I’ve been teaching web searching for 20 years.  Pew Internet recognizes the anniversary with The Web at 25 in the U.S. by Susannah Fox and Lee Rainie (Feb 27)

How did we manage without it?  Over those 25 years browsers  added function and conveniencer, content has expanded, access became easier and faster, and eventually we became quite dependent.

The overall verdict: The internet has been a plus for society and an especially good thing for individual users

Non-Internet Users

Pew Internet asked non-Internet users why not?  15% of the Americans over 18 don’t use the Internet. Their reasons: It’s not relevant, it’s not easy, it costs money, or they just can’t.

But 3% of the respondents gave worry about privacy, spam, hackers – and security in general as the reason.  I know a couple of those people.

But the non-users might ask a user to look up something or send something for them.

Who’s not online and why? (Sep 25)


Saying yes to location-based services

On the other hand, Pew Internet also  found that people with smartphones use the location-based services – and let their locations be known at least long enough to find places and business nearby.  However, more people may be turning off location tracking than before.

Location Based Services, by Kathyrn ZIxkuhr, Pew Internet (Sep 12)

 Yet even as most smartphone owners use their phones’ abilities to get location-specific information, data from earlier surveys also shows that mobile users of all ages say they have turned off location-tracking features at some point due to privacy concerns:


We all want anonymity online

Pew Internet finds that most internet users accept that complete anonymity online is impossible but many are doing their best to control how much about themselves is public.

Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online, Lee Raine and others, Pew Internet (Sep 5, 2013)

Key findings: (from the Summary)

  • 86% of internet users have taken steps online to remove or mask their digital footprints—ranging from clearing cookies to encrypting their email.
  • 55% of internet users have taken steps to avoid observation by specific people, organizations, or the government.

Only 792 Internet users were surveyed, and yet 21% have had an account compromised (and come to think of it, that happened to me with Twitter); 11% have had personal information stolen – and some other frightening figures.

“Growing numbers of internet users (50%) say they are worried about the amount of personal information about them that is online”  – users – all of us – are going to demand more protection.

Facts and Figures about Internet Use 2013

It’s good to step back from our daily lives on the Internet to see a bigger picture. This article by Marisa Wong directs us to three presentations containing facts and figures that document the dramatic change to commerce and our lives due to the Internet.

Mary Meeker’s State of the Internet: Good, Bad or Somewhere In-Between? (Slideshare, May 29)

Mary Meeker’s slide show on Internet Trends (May 29) has a lot to do with devices, Internet traffic, and commercial use. There is continuing rapid growth in users outside of the United States, and tsunami level increases in content – photos, video, sharing. Google reigns as most used property, and Facebook as most used social media. Mobile is 15% of Internet traffic and projected to be 30% in 2014. Several are using Internet delivery to re-imagine their services.

Mitch Joel delivers some shocking facts, among them –.

  • Fact: “Google’s advertising revenue is bigger than that of the entire US print industry.”
  • Fact: “74% of businesses don’t have a plan to stay competitive in the new mobile world.”

Is your business or association re-imagining business in a mobile world?