“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Is “the server” beyond the app?

This will be a short post. …

Recently there has been a lot of hoopla about privacy especially around the recent “breech of trust” by one of my favorite apps, Path. I’m one of the people and looking at my Path stream I’m not alone, who seemed to just not care. But my juxtaposition of apathy to so many who feel completely violated is worthy of looking at and discussing.

Here’s one example of an opinion by someone who had a strong negative reaction:

What’s interesting is that at no time when it was discovered that a host of other tools–Instagram, Hipster, and even Angry Birds– even more popular than @Path did the same thing there was no outcry of “death sentence” from anyone and suddenly the tone changed to “Oh! they should just ask us for our permission,” voices of moderation.

But I’m less interested in people’s reactions per se than a shift going on in the landscape of application design, data management and ubiquitous computing.

The first question in my mind is “Where does the application begin and end?” Is it only the part that I install that matters? Or is it more about the entire eco-system that makes the application works that matters. In my mind, Path is not just installed on my phone. It is a pervasive client server system, so for it to work, if it used my data in one setting of course it will be using it in another.

But then I realized, I’ve drank the ubiquitous computing kool ade. What it means to drink said kool ade is that you udnerstand that for the system to work, you have to let loose your data. Otherwise, the whole notion of ubiquity falls away. Further, if I have to constantly “give permission” for everything I fall into the same trap that I’ve done w/ Facebook where by I just accept all permission requests without thinking about it because the presentation of such requests are so overly complicated as to be meaningless and/or the requests are so plentiful that I can’t be bothered any more.

I wonder if we need to change our perspectives on what Chris later refers to @Path’s “mistake” as a “crime”:

I don’t think this change will be easy, especially for tech savvy USers amongst us, but I believe that the crime should be in the abuse of access, and not of the access itself. If we want services (an abundance of services) to make our data appear to be pervasive in space, time and context in the end, we will have to cede control over our data to networked services. We will then have to realize that tools are not criminals, but rather people who either hack their way into systems to commit crimes or services who abuse the relationships that we have.


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