People who are not idiots have complained that I’ve been lazy cranky lately. Guilty. When I rebooted, I promised myself this: “useful or personal, or nothing at all.” How’s that working out for me? Not so good. Let’s fix it.

I recorded a bunch of screencasts for Firefox newbies.

Then I had a head-on collision.

[bruises and abrasions on my arm]

No, you’re not going deaf; there’s no sound in those screencasts. Well, maybe you are going deaf, but that’s not important right now. The screencasts are self-contained SWF (ancient Flash 6, I believe). I posted the original AVI files if someone wants to edit them and/or add a soundtrack and/or transcode them to a modern format. MIT-licensed, so whatever. Don’t complain that the AVIs are crappy Microsoft Video 1; that’s the only codec I have on Windows that you can drag-and-drop into iMovie on a Mac without installing anything weird on either side. Or maybe someone who knows about AviSynth and isn’t on narcotics can figure out how to edit them on Windows. DirectShowSource() triggers this bug where “the encoded video plays too fast and the remaining time is filled with a repeat of the video,” and AviSource() triggers this one where “remnant frames create a ghost image following any movement and the rest of the picture is black.” But maybe that’s just my toolchain. Video is so fucked, don’t get me started. Or someone could “just” use Linux. Specifically, someone else. Many things go well with narcotics, but ffmpeg is not one of them.

So yeah, a head-on collision. In a car. The other guy’s OK. I’m OK too, for some definition of “OK” that involves lots of abrasions and bruises and not being able to lift my head for 4 days. (And still not knowing almost a week later whether I have a hairline fracture in my shoulder.) Nobody else was in the car. This is where you say “it could have been worse” and I nod and we both thank God or thank goodness or whatever, and then you recount your own personal horror stories of car accidents from days gone by. Let’s not and say we did. I can’t really nod, and I’m not really in the mood anyway. My mood runs the gamut from fuzzy depressed to fuzzy angry. Still, it could have been worse. I could have been uninsured.

Apparently while I was busy being fuzzy and insured, my site went down. Trust me when I tell you I didn’t notice. Did you? Who visits web sites anymore anyway?

Other things I missed: something about Thunderbird. 1, 2, 3, 4, let’s show Thunderbird the door. 5, 6, 7, 8, who do we appreciate? Not you, not you, no-o-o-ot you!

Meanwhile, Firefox 2.0.0.6. You are reading Planet Web Security, aren’t you? Be the first on your block of cubicles to learn about future Firefox security updates by reading the hackers that are finding the bugs in the first place.

Also, Eben Moglen punctured the Web 2.0 hype bubble and said what I’ve been trying to say for years now. Praising companies for providing APIs to get your own data out is like praising auto companies for not filling your airbags with gravel. I’m not saying data export isn’t important, it’s just aiming kinda low. You mean when I give you data, you’ll… give it back to me? People who think this is the pinnacle of freedom aren’t really worth listening to. Please, we need a Free Data movement. (Yeah I know, Tim predicted it already. I was the one who told him, at FOO Camp the month before.)

Anyway, the Next Big Battleground™ isn’t on the web, it’s in your pocket — cell phones, routers, set-top boxes, spimes. Spimes already trigger the GPLv2 “distribution” clause, and soon they’ll trigger the GPLv3 Tivoization clause too. Eben’s got that whole “internet of things” thing covered, and everyone will get to reap the benefits. Even Tim.

Note to self: painkillers are only fun when you don’t need them.

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Eighteen comments here (latest comments)

  1. First, does anyone know if was Moglen’s talk recorded. I desperately want to see it. I’m not getting my hopes up. For a conference about ‘openness’ I have a feeling they are pretty restrictive.

    Second, fuck do I ever hate the fiction that is ‘Web 2.0′ and wiseacre pundits like O’Reilly.

    Third, I agree that it is a bad idea to relinquish control of your data to a third party (yes, even to Google), even if they have APIs. On a related note, I think we need to start collaborating making our own APIs, through ‘screen scraping’. Why? So we can make use of data, combine it, filter it, process it, … etc. Most services don’t provide APIs and we can’t rely on them to do so. Take IMDB for example, Amazon has been promising an API for years. IMDBpy is a python library that actually gives you that API. You can do great stuff with movie info. Web forums and blog comments (those without RSS) are another example where this would be useful. If I want to participate in 100 forums I shouldn’t go to 100 sites everyday, just scrape them and aggregate them. Filter for topics I’m interested in.

    Finally, if you have really been paying attention to Eben Moglen, the Next Big Battleground™ doesn’t have anything to do with devices, the GPL, or software at all. It is open spectrum. Being able to freely communicate with one another. You cannot have freedom if you are dependent on the telecom companies to create modern social communities. Open spectrum is the answer, the only answer, to network neutrality problem. Moglen, Lessig and Benkler and others have been saying this for years. Those are visionaries. O’Reilly is a sciolist.

    —-

    P.S. Can you consider changing the way your preview works? I use the “It’s All Text” extension so I can use Emacs to type in text boxes (still no readline keybindings in Firefox for other fields unfortunately). AFAICT your preview only updates when a key is pressed in the text box. “It’s All Text” doesn’t trigger it when it updates the text inside.

    — Patrick #

  2. > collaborating making our own APIs, through ‘screen scraping’. Why? So we can make use of data, combine it, filter it, process it, …

    What’s the point? Even if you can get it, you can’t (legally) do any of those things. This is actually what I told Tim 2 years ago: “Web 2.0 is licensing. These APIs can’t be the foundation of anything unless the underlying data is freely licensed.” The particular example I used was Gracenote/CDDB — data that was generated for years by users too naive about licensing to realize that it could all be taken away from them. As opposed to, say, Wikipedia, which I realize isn’t exactly the same thing because it’s not structured data (well, some of it is semi-structured). But the content of Wikipedia can’t suddenly become less free. Whatever you think of the Wikimedia Foundation, they can’t “pull a Gracenote.” (If they try, we can fork.) This isn’t a GPL/BSD thing; a BSD-licensed encyclopedia would offer the same freedom to fork.

    Tim tried to rebut that “innovation just moves to the next level,” or some such. But it doesn’t, it can’t, if the people who own the underlying data or platform that “the next level” is built on can change the terms of use at any time. That’s the whole point of Freedom 0: nobody can pull the rug out from under you, not even the people who wrote the code in the first place. The same holds true for data; that’s why we need a Free Data movement. And no, Creative Commons ain’t it.

    — Mark #

  3. re Free Data: There is the Free Cultural Works Definition: http://freedomdefined.org/Definition and the Open Knowledge Definition: http://opendefinition.org/1.0 . Both are being used, though neither as broadly as I’d like.

    — Luis #

  4. You can quit blogging now. Rogers Cadenhead has switched back to RSS 2.0.

    — Sam Ruby #

  5. No! I can has cheezburger!

    — John #

  6. > What’s the point? Even if you can get it, you can’t (legally) do any of those things.

    If you republished the data you would be in trouble. However if you used it personally (e.g. plugin for MythTV) the copyright case would be the most tenuous I have ever seen, never mind the fact that it would be nigh impossible to enforce against end users. Second, most sites don’t have the resources to be legally bullies — most web forums for example. If nothing else it would demonstrate why web forums are an abomination. Other sites wouldn’t even mind, they just aren’t aware of the problem, they don’t know what an API is and aren’t interested in knowing.

    I wholeheartedly agree about ‘free data’. Clearly this is one of the new methods of user subjugation, especially disheartening when achieved by ‘sharecropping’. Unfortunately the vast majority of people just don’t get it. Or rather they just don’t think that they care. You need to show them what is possible, put it right in their hands. The average person won’t fight for technology that they ‘could have’ — words don’t seem to be able to convey theoretical technological utility to the layman — but woe to he who tries to take away what they have already got.

    — Patrick #

  7. Great screencasts to forward to my parents!

    Could you make a couple of more on (1) adding single bookmarks and (2) organizing bookmarks? For now, I’m sending them ‘Introduction to tabbed browsing’ and ‘introduction to search engines’.

    Also, that nice picture of the bloody arm makes it a little more difficult to present the complete list of screencast to interested computer illiterates…

    Thanks

    — Michaël #

  8. “That’s the whole point of Freedom 0: nobody can pull the rug out from under you, not even the people who wrote the code in the first place. The same holds true for data; that’s why we need a Free Data movement.”

    Of course we do:

    http://www.dehora.net/journal/2005/04/codedata.html

    But “data” is simplistic. You think your fuzzy now, good luck trying to figure out who owns generated metadata, or anything that was mined. GPLv2 “linking” is straightforward by comparison.

    — Bill de hOra #

  9. > that nice picture of the bloody arm makes it a little more difficult to present the complete list of screencast to interested computer illiterates

    Well, presumably the Mozilla support folks are putting them all together in some sort of coherent presentation. I’m not deeply involved so I don’t know exactly what the plan is. One would hope there is a plan, at least.

    — Mark #

  10. Praising companies for providing APIs to get your own data out is like praising auto companies for not filling your airbags with gravel.

    Amen to that.

    I can’t believe that being the 10th commenter I have to be the one to ask this: What happened (in the head-on collision)?

    — Ryan #

  11. good luck trying to figure out who owns generated metadata
    This is pretty straightforward. If it is actually ‘generated’, rather than recorded, then ownership doesn’t matter because the code which was used to generate it and the data from which it was generated should both be available. If it is recorded, then whoever’s actions were recorded owns it.

    anything that was mined
    Harder. Same principles as in previous comment, but with the added twist that you might not have the clear rights to have mined it in the first place (e.g., google’s db) so redistributing it is complicated. Not sure how to resolve that.

    In my book, the hard exercise is drawing the line between personal data and public data- the first obviously needs to be available only to the contributor and without restrictions, but the second needs to be available to all users of the service, possibly under some restrictions (like a share-alike clause.) The question, of course, is how to draw the line between the two.

    — Luis #

  12. Glad your okay … and I for one just thought you were enjoying some summer time off with the kids over by Lake Jordan.

    That said, lemme know if you ever do want to make a crystal clear recording &/or remix. I’ve got a rather nice akg 3000 microphone and mackie 8x mixer that can get it all done in a snap.

    — Dean Peters #

  13. Wow. Thats an ugly picture. Remindes me of the snowboard accident I had. You don’t want to see thoes pics. Once something like that happens to you priorities change fast! Suddenly no Web 2.0 or Internet is important any more …

    — Schreibtisch #

  14. ok, so i can see where you’re at now.
    been off web for two weeks and what do you go
    out and do? that’s it for your icense for this month, mister.
    thank god you’re not hurt, or the other person.
    i’ll have to check back for my additional
    but for now that’s one of the funniest lines
    (at least from reading an uber-god of the
    present internet) about thanking god
    you’re insured.
    man, “what’s going on?”
    (Marvin Gaye)

    — Dan Smith #

  15. ‘The Register’ is claiming that the O’Reilly Media is holding back the audio recording citing a “slippery slope” — whatever that means — and despite having released video recordings of many other presentations on, for example, blip.tv. O’Reilly trying to save some face? There is probably some kind of commentary to be made about the irony of a company that purports to support openness to try and bury scathing criticism.

    — Patrick #

  16. These are interesting, even without an audio track. It would be nice if one could take a movie, edit it and add a panel to the side with text explanations. Sort of a movie next to a presentation.

    Would you mind if I experiment with editing a movie or here from here in this manner? I can do my own movies if you do. No big deal. Just checking.

    — Ray Kiddy #

  17. > Would you mind if I experiment with editing a movie or here from here in this manner?

    Feel free. If you like the result, publish it and link to it from http://support-stage.mozilla.org/tiki-index.php?page=Alpha%20Article%20Tracking

    — Mark #

  18. 1. Glad you’re okay! Glad that’s everyone’s okay. How frightening. I’m so sorry.

    2. Web 2.0: Verily, I say, and so does my employer: http://wiki.site5.com/Image:Wallpaper_Webtwooh.jpg ;)

    Hang in there. Be safe.

    — Carla Hufstedler #

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