Monthly Archives: February 2006

The Coming Internet War

In the next 100 years, there will be a shooting war over the internet.

Why? Because the free flow of information across the net is just too powerful a force for existing institutions to deal with. Already we are seeing the recording industry twisting the legal system in an attempt to keep copied songs off the net. Germany this week announced that “nobody rides for free”, an attempt to raise support for making Google pay for user’s bandwidth. This is a bizarre idea, but it makes total sense when you realize that the real threat in both of these cases is the free movement of information.

I doubt the war will be between nation-states, so it will truly be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Various groups will organize and plan over the net (which is rather ironic) and attacks will be launched at nexus points — fiber optic hubs and server farms are the new oil refineries and shipyards. The goal will be to make it more expensive to move certain kinds of information — probably financial in nature but it well may be entertainment only. Or perhaps these terms really won’t make much sense by the time it starts.

If you take a look around the world you’ll see the early signs: radical Islamic clerics decrying the western influence on their youth, countries jockeying for control over the DNS system (what better way to silence your political enemies than taking away their IP address?), and computer enthusiasts joining together to crack various codes whether legal or illegal.

As time moves on, the value to society and to the individual of these activities will increase. The idea itself may have a small impact, but the distribution of the idea along with a social impetus from like-minded net citizens is another thing entirely. Soon rational people will completely separate the quality of the work from the ability to get to it and evaluate it at leisure. That means that quality creative material and junk creative material all have the same value — zero. The value is in moving information around the world. And there is where the war will begin.

It’s possible to postulate a typical sphere-of-influence scenario or a total Information War. Imagine the Chinese government in forty years time: trying to expand control over the pacific while it’s people grow ever more weary of corruption and lack of real change. China may have the U.S. to play against or it may not. It really doesn’t matter. Once the Chinese completely grasp what the free flow of information is doing (and they’re already learning very quickly) they will get more and more desperate to control what their people hear and see. The tighter the fist, the more that squeezes through the fingers.

The same analogy will hold in a corporate/special interest setting. It’s not only the recording industry: massive numbers of industries are simply not going to exist 100 years from now. Real estate agents, insurance, banking, investing — these concepts will have an entirely new meaning. A meaning that revolves closely around the movement of information.

Along those same lines, the internet will become sentient sometime during this same time period. It’s easy enough to guess how we humans might act. It’s going to be very interesting to watch it actually unfold.

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Show me some skin

One of the neat things about writing software programs anymore is making the ability for users to “skin” the program. For instance, if you click on the bar underneath each article on this page (after waiting a minute for the bar to appear) you’ll see the default skin, which looks like this:

It’s a fairly classic setup — brushed chrome background with red stars for your rating selection. But there’s more to it than that: as it turns out, each item on the tool is fully “skinnable”, which means it can have multiple appearances. Here, for instance, is a version with more of a blue appearance:

Finally, here’s one with my favorite Friday night TV show:

There’s a lot more I can do here — change the stars to other items like ray-guns or spaceships, add a beveled edge, use icons instead of text, change the textual description as you select each vote. That’s the fun part about skinning: you’re only limited by your imagination.

If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.


I’ve been playing around with a new gizmo for the past few weeks and I thought it was time to share it with you.

I’ve always been frustrated at the lack of being able to quickly tell somebody what I think of their blog article. You have to go to a separate page, read all the other comments, and then spend many minutes trying to put your feelings into the right words.

On the blogger side, I wish I had more feedback. Many times I see that I get a lot of page views but very few comments. What can I do to learn more about what my readers like and don’t like?

You can create all kinds of technical solutions, but that seems like too much of a pain for the average blogger. What if they could just add one line to their blog template and get a bunch of new functionality for them and the user without doing anything else?

So here it is — batBack. You add one line of code to your blog and all of your users, no matter which browser or operating system, can vote on each of the articles. There is no installation. It only takes seconds for the readers to give you feedback. There’s a bunch of other features and neat stuff, but I’ll let you find that out for yourself.

Some of this material is covered under a patent-pending status. And I forgot the best part! it’s all free.


If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.

Somebody is trolling for domain names

Last week I read a blog entry by some guy who was starting a new project. He had an odd name for his project, and he searched a few times to make sure the domain name was available. The next day, when he went to buy it, it was taken! He was convinced that somebody was intercepting domain searches and then “poaching” the domain names in order to re-sell them at a higher rate.

I thought this guy was a little off his rocker. I mean, what are the odds that this would be a good business model? And to top it off, the company that was doing it was a very well-known company.

And then it happened to me.

I also am working on a new project. It has an odd name, so I searched last week to make sure nobody had it. Nope. The coast was clear.

Today, however, I started worrying about the availability of the name. What if someobdy took it? So I went to lock in while the getting was good. And guess what. Somebody had my domain as well.

Now I’m not talking about or something like that. This guy and I both had names that aren’t likely to be used by somebody else.

Perhaps I am on the paranoid side, but count me a believer. Somebody is intercepting domain searches and then squatting on the names. I believe it is somebody at Network Solutions, but I can’t be sure. I certainly hope it is not a company-sponsored activity.

If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.