A Million Terms, A Million Contracts

The Facebook TOS debacle last week shined a rare light on the subject of rights we give away when we sign up to use site or service.

Though Facebook’s new TOS, which removed the clause that lets users end their license granted to Facebook by deleting their work, was both of poor judgment and very worrisome, it was likely much ado about. Not only was the TOS rescinded shortly after the controversy began, but even with the new TOS, Facebook’s rights were still limited by the user’s privacy settings.

What has gotten significantly less attention is the sheer number of TOS’ that most Web users sign just as part of being on the Web. In an age where almost every site is also a “service”, it seems we’re creating more accounts than ever and, with every sign up, signing away more and more of our rights.

Most of us have lost track of all the sites we have registered for, the agreements we have signed and few of us actually take the time to even skim the terms that we do accept. Our rights to our online lives are in millions of pieces, scattered across countless companies and sites.

Piecing them back together, if it became necessary, could be nearly impossible. Worse still, as many of these companies continue to expand and grow the rights they give themselves via their TOS,

It has come time to question our love affair for new services and the terms they force us to agree to and seek ways to streamline and simplify this very messy process. [Read more…]

Hello Appfrica: An Interview with Jon Gosier


appfrica.gifAppfrica is an international technology conference and think-thank, taking place in Africa of course. The idea is to bring together researchers, educators, businesses, industry leaders, and organizations, to talk about uses of web technology. The goal being to find new ways to further develop the educational process in the developing world, as well as talking about online innovation from an African point of view overall. The first panel is on July 31st at the Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

Jon Gosier is involved in the Appfrica project, so I shot him some questions to get to know what it really is all about.
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The Web Browser Wars

There’s a war going on, a web browser war, where you are the grand prize. The participating players all want to be your number one choice when surfing the web, and the #1 reason for this is search engine ad dollars. That’s right, every web browser has a search field connected to a premiere search engine, and although you can swap it, you can be sure that the company behind the browser will earn money whenever you search with this field, and then click a link. Apple does it with the Safari search field, Mozilla does it in Firefox, Flock does it, and so on. Even Microsoft does it, with the extra spinoff to try and add more users to its Live Search site, another war going on with Google there.

So Flock took money, $15 million, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit. As Mark Evans notes, there’s a lot of potential money in social networks in the future, but the immediate money is in search engine traffic. To be hones, I don’t think Flock will be the leading web browser for social network users in the future. It’s more likely that the big players, being Firefox and Internet Explorer, adds this functionality through brilliant extensions, or that the social networks repack and rebrand browsers to release themselves.

There’s a war going on.

Blogging is Not About You

Wendy Piersall - SOBCon Conference PhotographOne of the loudest messages shouted from the rooftops in Chicago at Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference (SOBCon) was: It’s not about you.

This came through on many levels. Let’s examine a few.

Your blog is not about you.

Your blog is not about you. Sure, it starts out about being about what you want. About what messages you want to send. About how you want to frame and publish content. About who you want to reach and what you want to get out of your blog.

But once you hit the publish button, it no longer is about you and what you want. It’s about the readers. It’s about what they want. It’s about what they need. It’s about giving them what they want and need in order to keep them, and attract new readers.
[Read more…]