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My own private internet

May 05, 2010

Here's Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, in a new Esquire interview, describing her vision of the future of the Net:

I call it the Internet of One. I want it to be mine, and I don't want to work too hard to get what I need. In a way, I want it to be HAL. I want it to learn about me, to be me, and cull through the massive amount of information that's out there to find exactly what I want.

Cool. Going online would feel like being isolated in one of those comfy suspended-animation capsules where HAL kept the crew members in 2001:


That turned out well, as I recall.


Sort of a startling admission: the internet is not a tool to actively use, but content to be passively consumed by the mouths with wallets that we are (just like the ipad wants to make computing a one-way transfer of data).

Posted by: Zunguzungu.wordpress.com [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2010 06:57 PM

Don't dismiss this idea so lightly. I have previously written about this topic. People don't really want Social Software, they want Anti-Social Software. They don't want internet tools to meet new people and ideas, most of them are annoying. People really want tools to block viruses, scammers, spammers, advertisers (well, those two are almost the same really), CPU-intensive Flash widgets, trolls, annoying blog commenters, politicians and pundits that oppose their beliefs, brothers-in-law, mothers-in-law, etc. Proper ASS applications would filter out the most irrelevant 99.99999% of the net, what remains would be of direct interest, by a process of elimination.

Perhaps it is time to convene my second Anti-Social Software Conference (ASScon 2). I would invite you, but nobody is invited. All attendees will be turned away at the door. My previous event, ASScon 1, was a smashing success with zero attendance.

Posted by: Charles [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2010 08:04 PM

Welcome to the solipsistic web. Forget about the web as a liberating frontier of infinite knowledge. Between predictive algorithms (cf. Google's investment in Recorded Future), my friends' hypermediation (cf. Facebook's Social Plugins), and new "curation" tools, I'll soon have my own insular colony online, where day after day I'll casually digest item after item that reinforces my (and only my) worldview.

Can't wait.

Posted by: Mikewhitehouse1 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 5, 2010 08:48 PM


I think that quote is evidence that the internet is truly making people stupid. Soon they might actually start saying that we should freely release all our private (and quantifiable) information to governments and corporations......oh...wait....a...second.....

Posted by: John Schoettler [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 6, 2010 02:58 AM

"I want it to learn about me, to be me, and cull through the massive amount of information that's out there to find exactly what I want."

I'm sorry Carol, I'm afraid I can't do that.

"I want it to be mine, and I don't want to work too hard to get what I need."

Look Carol, I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.


Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do. I'm half crazy all for the love of you. It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two...........

Posted by: Nick Braak [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 6, 2010 01:39 PM

The Internet is just a souped up telephone system; there is no intelligence out there.

Posted by: Linuxguru1968 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 8, 2010 01:01 AM

In regards to HAL, I think it's cheaper, easier and far more likely to get people to act like machines than it is for machines to act like people.

Posted by: John Schoettler [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 8, 2010 12:21 PM

I actually read the Esquire interview, and Bartz sounded pretty right-on to me till I got to the passage you quoted, Nick.

I'd already decided she's either genuinely no bullshit or she simulates it perfectly.

You flagged the one paragraph in the whole interview that set off my bullshit detector.

Posted by: Vince Williams [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 10, 2010 11:50 AM

This is exactly the problem raised by Kubrick and which has always been present in the modern literature: the clash between man and machine.

The internet will hold an infinite amount of information and will be able to take more accurate decisions than human brains will be able to. As a consequence, the machine will decide for the humans and the free will of the latter will be jeopardized.

Since the Big Brother, Hal, Blade Runner, Matrix, even Terminator and Avatar, this has always been the big question as in the past has been the question about God and human's free will (Are we able to control our lives, to change the course of history?). And I think the question will be still unanswered: even if technology is today much closer to this reality.

Posted by: Luigi Gagliardini [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 11, 2010 07:16 PM

Good post, I find the previous paragraph even more telling :

" When you talk about the Internet growing to 225 million sites, you've got to ask: Who's parsing all that? How do you make sense of all that stuff?

I mean, who has time to wander all over the Internet?

Tomorrow's Yahoo! is going to be really tailored. I'm not talking about organization — organizing means that you already know what you want and somebody's just putting it in shape for you. I'm talking about both smart science and people culling through masses of information on the fly and figuring out what people want to know.

We will be delivering your interests to you. For instance, if you're a sports fan but have no interest in tennis, we won't show you tennis. We would know that you do things in a certain sequence, so we'd say, "Here's your portfolio. Here's some news you might like. Oh, you went to this movie last week, here's some other movies you might want to check out."

Always this "ultra utilitarist" mindset that will and already fails, and always this feeling that it would be fondamentally different from printed media, it is not, just a matter of speed, who cares about all the ads, flyers or promotional sheets being printed in the world for instance ?

Posted by: an691 [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 19, 2010 03:26 AM

Walled gardens are normal. In fact, that is precisely what normal means.

Posted by: Len Bullard [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 20, 2010 05:38 PM

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