from the world's big
Jaron Lanier: Why Facebook Isn't Free
Internet pioneer Jaron Lanier argues that free technologies like Facebook come with a hidden and heavy cost – the livelihoods of their consumers.
What’s the Big Idea?
Facebook shares start trading today, at a price that will value the company at close to $100 billion, or roughly the 2011 GDP of Sudan. The difference between this and other comparably enormous initial public offerings is that Facebook's product, or service, is free. Its business model is based on the value to advertisers of the rich data its users provide by sharing their changing interests and relationship networks in real time.
The "big data" that Facebook and other networks gather is especially valuable because of its level of detail. It goes far deeper than registration demographics: geography, age, gender, education - enabling marketers to target you, the consumer, based on up-to-the moment details like your favorite music, what shoes you bought last week, or your shifting political opinions.
Jaron Lanier, a virtual reality pioneer (widely credited with inventing the term 'virtual reality'), musician, author of You Are Not A Gadget, and vocal opponent of what he sees as the widespread social conformity and economic unsustainability of Web 2.0, sees a hidden cost in the "free" services of the social web.
Video: Jaron Lanier wants to see new technologies creating jobs and wealth, rather than undermining them.
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The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".