the singular implication of uploading one hour every second to @youtube …

This is an astonishing statistic: Youtube users now upload one hour of video every second:

The video (and accompanying website) is actually rather ineffective at really conveying why this number is so astounding. Here’s my take on it:

* assume that the rate of video uploads is constant from here on out. (obviously over-conservative)

* the ratio of “Youtube time” to real time is 1/3600 (there are 3600 seconds in an hour)

* so how long would it take to upload 2,012 years worth of video to Youtube?

Answer: 2012 / 3600 = 0.56 years = 6.7 months = 204 days

Let’s play with this further. Let’s assume civilization is 10,000 years old. it would take 10,000 / 3600 = 33 months to document all of recorded human history on YouTube.

Let’s go further with this: Let’s assume that everyone has an average lifespan of 70 years (note: not life expectancy! human lifespan has been constant for millenia). Let’s also assume that people sleep for roughly one-third of their lives, and that of the remaining two-thirds, only half is “worth documenting”. That’s (70 / 6) / 3600 years = 28.4 hours of data per human being uploaded to YouTube to fully document an average life in extreme detail.

Obviously that number will shrink, as the rate of upload increases. Right now it takes YouTube 28 hours to upload teh equivalent of a single human lifespan; eventually it will be down to 1 hour. And from there, it wil shrink to minutes and even seconds.

If YouTube ever hits, say, the 1 sec = 1 year mark, then that means that the lifespan of all of the 7 billion people alive as of Jan 1st 2012 would require only 37 years of data upload. No, I am not using the word “only” in a sarcastic sense… I assume YT will get to the 1sec/1yr mark in less than ten years, especially if data storage continues to follow it’s own cost curve (we are at 10c per gigabyte for data stored on Amazon’s cloud now).

Another way to think of this is, in 50 years, YouTube will have collected as many hours of video as have passed in human history since the Industrial Revolution. (I’m not going to run the numbers, but that’s my gut feel of the data). These are 1:1 hours, after all – just because one hour of video is uploaded every second, doesn’t mean that the video only took one second to produce – someone, somewhere had to actually record that hour of video in real time).

Think about how much data is in video. Imagine if you could search a video for images, for faces, for sounds, for music, for locations, for weather, the way we search books for text today. And then consider how much of that data is just sitting there in YT’s and Google’s cloud.

it’s SOPA day on the Internet

Google's doodle for SOPA Day
anyone else see any irony in this? Google.com, Wikipedia.org, WordPress.org, and hundreds of other websites large and small are going all-out against SOPA. Google has the logo censored by a black bar, and Wikipedia is actually offline. Lots of other sites and blogs are following their example. The idea is to symbolically register dissent against censorship by using self-censorship.

When you click the link from Google’s homepage, you are taken to a cool infographic which states:

Fighting online piracy is important. The most effective way to shut down pirate websites is through targeted legislation that cuts off their funding. There’s no need to make American social networks, blogs and search engines censor the Internet or undermine the existing laws that have enabled the Web to thrive, creating millions of U.S. jobs.

I think I disagree with all three statements – first, fighting online piracy is NOT important. Piracy will always exist and will always stay a step ahead of measures to prevent it. In fact those measures ultimately end up facilitating casual piracy – look at Napster, deCSS, and now Bitorrent. All were solutions designed to evade piracy and which in the end ultimately made even more piracy possible.

Second, the LAST thing we need is “targeted legislation” that “shuts down funding” for websites of any type. Besides OBVIOUSLY being a First Amendment issue, such legislation would represent a precedent far more damaging and capable of leading to true censorship than SOPA (which is targeted at foreign websites and DNS).

Finally, while I agree we don’t want to force American blogs or websites to censor themselves, the implication is that SOPA would do this, which it does not do. SOPA is explicitly targeted at foreign websites. US-based websites (and this includes all .org and .net domains as well) are not affected by SOPA at all.

(Read the actual SOPA bill here – PDF)

I’m a big supporter of network neutrality (unless the network operators are willing to forgo their government subsidies), but what we have here is basically SOPA Theater (analogous to the Security Theater we have for airline travel).

Looks like the DNS provisions in SOPA are getting pulled, and the House is delaying action on the bill until February, so it’s gratifying to see that the activism had an effect. However, that activism would have been put to better use to educate people about why DRM is harmful, why piracy should be fought not with law but with smarter pro-consumer marketing by content owners (lowered prices, more options for digital distribution, removal of DRM, fair use, and ubiquitous time-shifting). Look at the ridiculous limitations on Hulu Plus – even if you’re a paid subscriber, some shows won’t air episodes until the week after, old episodes are not always available, some episodes can only be watched on the computer and are restricted from mobile devices. These are utterly arbitrary limitations on watching content that just drive people into the pirates’ arms.

All that priceless real estate on Google and Wikipedia could have been used to educate millions of people about these issues, and instead it is mostly wasted on a pointless battle that’s already won. The real battle is being lost.

Addendum: Color me skeptical of Google’s commitment to free speech, by the way. Here’s a question for them: If SOPA were to pass, would they comply with takedown requests that don’t meet the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA? (The argument is that SOPA would lower the bar for claiming infringement, but that’s vague in the bill). Would Google fight SOPA and be willing to go to court if their users were unfairly targeted, say for example by using a snippet of copyrighted music in a personal Youtube video? (the stark scenario that Tom’s Hardware painted last week)

UPDATE: vigorous discussion at Shamus’ place, but as one commentor puts it, full of “fashionable anti-Americanism” and chest-thumping about “freedom”.

Why SOPA might kill commenting, and is that such a bad thing?

UPDATE: I think the anti-SOPA blackouts at Google, Wikipedia etc are a gigantic wasted opportunity to educate people about DRM. And I’m skeptical of Google putting money where their mouth is.

I get it, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is bad because it doesn’t actually do anything to stop piracy. There are various screeds online, from left and right alike. It’s basically an article of faith that SOPA will “kill the internet”, but I’m not entirely convinced. The best article by far against SOPA and the most convincing argument is not by political sites but rather the techsphere, specifically Tom’s Hardware:

As an example, imagine a user posts a video clip to the Tom’s Community of a step-by-step guide on how to set up water cooling on an overclocked i7 CPU. Playing in the background behind the voiceover is “Derezzed” by Daft Punk. The studio representing Daft Punk could issue a complaint, without being required to notify us or request a take-down. Tom’s Hardware would be liable and prosecuted solely on a good faith assertion of the copyright owner, without notification, with the site operators subject to possible jail time for not preventing the video from being posted. In short order, the http://www.tomshardware.com/ domain in the United States would no longer resolve to our servers and visitors attempting to come to Tom’s Hardware would be redirected to a “This site under review for piracy/copyright violations” page.

To conform to these new restrictions would mean that Tom’s Hardware would have to switch to a review/approval process for any and all new posts to our forums and articles. Our community team would have to approve every single news comment, every new thread, and every new response before it went live and filter them for potentially infringing material. Even so, we would still possibly be under threat from violations not caught – a user posting a paragraph from “Unix for Dummies” as an example or a snippet of software news from another website in excess of a certain summary threshold. That’s just here on Tom’s. The effect on sites like YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and the rest of the internet would be devastating, and progress and innovation would grind to a halt under the cumbersome new restrictions.

I’m not sure if the scenario above would be as cut and dried as Tom’s states. In that example, the offending post would likely be flagged by the IP owner and that information would be given to Tom’s. If Tom’s wants to shut down their whole site, that’s their choice, but a simple targeted hiding of the offending post would probably suffice instead. We are living quite comfortably in an era where content violations are removed surgically from Youtube all the time and yet the Internet hasn’t collapsed.

But the broader issue as I see it is simply, are websites liable for their users? Which might be more broadly restated as, is there a right to comment? I think the answer to the former question is a yes and to the latter is a no.

Parislemon already closed his comment systems, Dave Winer uses Disqus, and Ars Technica’s top user forums are only available to paid users. These are all different mechanisms for signal-noise filtering. Killing off usercontent is only necessary when the userbase is essentially random, uncontrolled, hostile (the default state of most user spaces towards their hosts). But SOPA would kill the anonymous, seething mass of commentary and force everyone into more regulated userbase management. Why is that bad?

Arguably, increased liabilty from users might even lead to a rebirth of blogging – after all, if you have something to say,better to say it in a space you control rather than someone else’s. The first company to offer blog hosting services and security on par with wordpress.com but also allowing the user to retain complete control over the blog on par with a wordpress.org install is going to cause a new revolution. Blork, maybe?

Related: Dave Winer says SOPA will lead to a Disneyified web. We just got back from Disney World, and it’s called the Happiest Place on Earth for a reason – it’s tightly scripted, carefully managed, and meticulously designed to be that way (not unlike using Apple ecosystem products, but I digress…). It’s only we power users who are ever really unhappy – the vast bulk of the userbase will sit in line for 100 minutes to ride Peter Pan or accept limitations on bandwidth and copyright takedowns, as long as Hulu gets them their weekly fix of Gossip Girl.

In fact, in the longer term, having our capitalist overlords clamp down on the web might actually force some innovation beyond this aging platform. Leave the disneyweb to the world and lets have new parallel networks tailored for specific niches, built on new technologies and standards. Why do we force video to travel over http, for example? Or file sharing? Shadow internets already exist, such as the mobile web, Facebook, or the torrent community. Having one network to rule them all is a gigantic kludge.

Google+ is closed, Facebook and Twitter are open

There’s a simple reason that Google+ can not be a facebook killer – it adds to social noise and creates a walled garden where data can not be exported from nor imported to. There are no RSS feeds generated by Google+ that you can pipe into Twitter using Twitterfeed, nor can you import tweets to Google+ the way you can with Facebook. There is no Google+ API like the Facebook API that allows data import to the service from other services.

This is a huge, critical flaw in Google+ that guarantees it won’t be a Facebook killer.

A better use of Google+ would be to unify Gmail and Circles such that you can create whitelists for email with a single click. There’s no email service at present that permits a user to create a whitelist easily – you have to tediously set up manual filters instead, and even then there’s simply no way to say “send all emails (except some) to Trash”. A simple whitelist functionality is the real way to declare email independence. I fully support what MG Siegler is trying to achieve here but until we can say “receive mail ONLY from X, Y, Z” we will never be free of the tyranny of the inbox.

Maybe Google+ is the first step. But we need to stop treating it like Facebook and start thinking about how it can be used to improve the original social network – email. If Circles can be used to define whitelists, that’s real value.

Related: a little slideshare I put together a few years back about managing social noise. Still relevant, if a little outdated.

Apple Cloud of FUD: it just works

What the hell is Techcrunch smoking?

ooooooh! The Cloud! The Truth is in the Cloud!

With iCloud, Apple is transforming the cloud from an almost tangible place that you visit to find your stuff, to a place that only exists in the background. It’s never seen. You never interact with it, your apps do — and you never realize it. It’s magic.

Compare this to Google, the company perhaps most associated with the cloud. Google’s approach has been to make the cloud more accessible to existing PC users. They’re doing this by extending familiar concepts. Google Docs is Microsoft Office, but in the cloud. Your main point of interaction is a file system, but in the cloud. Gmail is Outlook, but in the cloud. Etc.

Meanwhile, another company now largely associated with the cloud, Amazon, has essentially turned it into one giant server/hard drive that anyone can use for a fee. But it takes developers to build something on top of it to give users a product to use. Some are great. But many again just extend the idea of the cloud as a remote hard drive.

While the fundamentals are the same, Apple’s approach to the concept of the cloud is the opposite of their competitors. Apple’s belief is clearly that users will not and should not care how the cloud actually works. When Jobs gave a brief glimpse of their new North Carolina datacenter that is the centerpiece of iCloud, he only noted that it was full of “stuff” — “expensive stuff,” he quipped.

How on earth can Apple’s approach to the cloud be the same and also the opposite? There’s a cloud alright, and it’s being smoked big time.

Someone explain to me how Amazon or Google force the user to care how the cloud actually works? When I read books on the Kindle app, “it just works” on iPad, Blackberry, or iPod – i put one device down, pick up the other, and start reading right where i left off. When I open a document in google docs in one web browser at work, I save my document and go home and open the same document from my PC at home, and “it just works”.

OK, I think Gruber had a better insight in pointing out that for Google, the Cloud is accessed through a browser window, whereas for Apple, it’s accessed through your entire screen. But then again, have we forgotten about AWS? Or App Engine?

whatever. get ready for endless droning on by the MG Sieglers of the world about how the Truth is In the Cloud. ooooooh!

20 GB cloud storage for 99 cents (and Lady Gaga)

Lady Gaga, presumably not born this way
I can’t claim to be a big fan of Lady Gaga, especially since her new hit single Born This Way is a straight rip-off of the far more talented Madonna’s Express Yourself.

In fact, you’d probably have to bribe me to listen to Lady Gaga. With, say, 20 GB of disk space on Amazon’s new Cloud Drive serviceWhich, as a matter of fact, is precisely the deal today – for $0.99, you can get the upgrade to 20 GB from Amazon, as long as you download Gaga’s album. This is a good deal despite the forcible auditory abuse, and it ends today, so hurry up!

For 99 cents this is a great deal. 20GB on Amazon Cloud Drive is 4x the size of Microsoft’s SkyDrive and 10x more than Dropbox. The service also integrates with Amazon’s new music service so you can access any music you buy from Amazon on any device, immediately without re-uploading.

Kindle for the Web

J complains that the Mac version of Kindle is not exactly stable:

The Kindle for Mac application is crap. Not in the sense of “limited functionality and poor UI” (although those are true, too), but in a more serious “corrupts user identity every time it does its (weekly?) auto-update”. I had originally thought the problem was with the version available in the Mac App Store (which, thanks to Apple, is much, much older), but no, the direct download from Amazon does it as well.

I’m guessing that Amazon is starting to wean itself from Apple given that there’s the issue of in-app purchasing hanging over their heads. I’m not really sure if there wll even BE a Kindle version in the App Store in two months, esp if Apple sticks to the June 30th deadline for in-app compliance.

Even if Amazon and Apple divorce, iOS/OSX users will eventually be able to use the web-based version of Kindle though. I haven’t used it yet, it’s still in beta, but it should be available soon. At such point I would expect Amazon to dump a lot of dev resources into the web version as well to keep people from jumping ship to ibooks.

metaBLOG has relocated… here

A while back, I started Yet Another Blog called metaBLOG. To be honest, it was a mistake. As a result, I’ve imported all the posts from there to here, and given them their own category, also named metaBLOG (because, you see, I am a very original thinker).

Probably the only post of consequence there was this one, which is now here, and if I do everything correctly will eventually do a proper 301 redirect. In fact, I welcome suggestions on how to do that exactly, not just for that post but for all the posts as well. I’ve got both sites verified under Google’s webmaster tools, as a start, but could use some guidance.

Glenn Beck’s crusade against Network Neutrality

Glenn Beck has decided Net Neutrality is the tool of the devil.

Thank god that we have a functioning techsphere, which serves as a factual counterpoint to nonsense and propaganda. The lack of any such objective source in the political blogsphere is basically the reason that I started geekblogging. Still, sometimes, the political stoopid finds you, no matter how far you run.

In a nutshell, this is why network neutrality matters.