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The Almighty Buck The Internet Social Networks The Media IT

Infamous French Hacker Calls Internet a "Digital Shantytown" (medium.com) 82

An anonymous reader writes: French hacker and security expert Anthony Zboralski calls social media networks a "digital shantytown" in his most recent blogpost. While fellow members of hacker collective w00w00 have formed successful billion dollar startups, he claims that the rewards for creating content and use are unfair and suggests a better solution would be like the successful creation of land title for slum dwellerspartial ownership for users on social media.
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Infamous French Hacker Calls Internet a "Digital Shantytown"

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Phew, at least it's upgraded from Internet = AOL
  • by dwheeler ( 321049 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @05:54PM (#51739285) Homepage Journal
    I think he has a point. Most people (especially non-technical people) primarily only post and interact with others using sites owned by strangers (typically big companies). Just look at the URLs - is the domain is owned by someone other than the poster? If it is, then that other organization decides what you can do or not do. I've long owned my own domain, and I can post what I please on my webiste. If I want to move sites, I can just move hosting organization - the URLs come with me, because I own the domain. I don't think the problem is the existence of big companies at all - the problem is the difficulty of exiting. I don't mind others hosting my material as long as I can leave. If you can't practically leave, then you're no longer in control. Currently it's impractical always own the domain, but even in those cases, it's worth considering the exit cost. For example, git makes it *easier* to move to other hosting organizations (though by no means trivial).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Just look at the URLs - is the domain is owned by someone other than the poster? If it is, then that other organization decides what you can do or not do. I've long owned my own domain, and I can post what I please on my webiste. If I want to move sites, I can just move hosting organization - the URLs come with me, because I own the domain. I don't think the problem is the existence of big companies at all - the problem is the difficulty of exiting. I don't mind others hosting my material as long as I can leave.

      It's more subtle than that - it's about who did what to generate profits, and who gets what in return. Suppose I upload some pictures / video / interesting reading material to say, FB. And that helps to attract other users, and 'eyeballs' for advertising / marketing purposes, and that -in turn- generates profit.

      Then effectively my effort translates into FB's profits. I would have 0 say in how it's all done, and see 0 of those profits.

      I think mr. Zboralski is arguing that isn't fair. Or at least that th

      • It's more subtle than that - it's about who did what to generate profits, and who gets what in return. Suppose I upload some pictures / video / interesting reading material to say, FB. And that helps to attract other users, and 'eyeballs' for advertising / marketing purposes, and that -in turn- generates profit.

        Then effectively my effort translates into FB's profits. I would have 0 say in how it's all done, and see 0 of those profits.

        I think mr. Zboralski is arguing that isn't fair. Or at least that the effort vs. rewards equation is tilted too much towards the corps that run the show. And indeed... I think he's got a point there.

        No.

        All business depends on customers. If there are no customers, a business cannot exist. According to Mr. Zboralski's logic, I am entitled to some of the profits from every company I have ever been a customer of. And that's just ridiculous.

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Change over time is key. So the current market is defined by the current technology. As bandwidth increases and processing power increases and storage capability increases. So the internet will localise. So rather than a file server et al, you end up with much smarter, globally interlinked, router/firewall/server/modems. So a user get's one, dresses up their bits of the internet. Their voice/text/mail server, their web server, their internet server, not alone of course but with the assistance of their ISP o

        • People like you and I aren't the "customers" of social networks, the ad companies are the customers, we're simply the product. Tell me, is MySpace making big bank on ad dollars these days? What he's arguing is that, if you and I and John and Jane weren't posting all those pictures of our cats and what we ate for lunch, it'd be pretty boring to go there and just look at ad content, the value of the site comes from the user posted content and if that dried up the site wouldn't be able to sell ad space to a
        • People like you and I aren't the "customers" of social networks, the ad companies are the customers, we're simply the product. Tell me, is MySpace making big bank on ad dollars these days? What he's arguing is that, if you and I and John and Jane weren't posting all those pictures of our cats and what we ate for lunch, it'd be pretty boring to go there and just look at ad content, the value of the site comes from the user posted content and if that dried up the site wouldn't be able to sell ad space to a
  • In Pale Moon, belua.com comes up with a totally blank page for me, even in a clean profile with no extensions active and with a working Flash plugin installed. However, it does load in Vivaldi. That would suggest an incompatibility with at least some versions of Firefox.

    Moving towards Internet *ownership* for all citizens, (as opposed to mere *access*), is an intriguing concept to be sure. However, perhaps publicity for the idea ought to have been delayed until the basic infrastructure for promoting it was

  • This guy is soooo right on!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have now been permanently banned from the following sites for mentioning well-sourced facts (unlike, say, a Noam Chomsky douchetard): rawstory.com --- disinfo.com --- commondreams.org --- boingboing.net --- seatteweekly.com --- thestranger.com --- every Canadian site out there, etc., etc. etc.
    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      How the hell does that even happen? I have been online in some form or another since the mid 1980s. I've never not said what I wanted to say and I've never once been kicked from anything - except for intentionally getting kicked out of chat rooms.

      During the mad-cow epidemic, I would go into "horse lover" type chats, those often full of young ladies, and talk about how I loved horse. They'd all agree and I'd slowly lead 'em along until they finally realized that I was talking about eating horse because there

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )

        They'd all agree and I'd slowly lead 'em along until they finally realized that I was talking about eating horse because there was no cow available to eat.

        You are an evil man.

        I like that.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          Sometimes, just need to be shattered in order to pick up the pieces and build something better than what they were. It would be me or someone else but it's destined to happen - if they're to reach fruition. It is not my doing, it's the hand of fate acting through me.

          After all, what would the world be without some chaos?

          As an aside, I know no CSS. I'm in the process of making a Stylish theme for Slashdot. Holy shit is this thing horrendous. I am so not a designer. It looks like a combination of an emo kid, a

        • Eh, I was expecting the punchline to be more like "eating horse because there was no pussy available to eat".

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @06:33PM (#51739483)
    Whether this guy is a crackpot or not, imagine someone did set up a site like facebook that only took enough to run, allocating healthy fair market salaries to all the staff and instead it allocated all the extra billions to the users. Facebook wouldn't last very long.
    • by radish ( 98371 )

      The problem with your idea is that these companies don't come from nowhere, there's an incubation period while they build the platform and a longer growth period while they (hopefully) gain a userbase. All this time they're burning someone's money...and that someone is typically interested in the end payback. If you're going to take away that payback, there's no incentive to start in the first place. Facebook only exists today because of early investments from people who now own significant chunks of the co

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why haven't I heard of you?

  • Doesn't scale. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by westlake ( 615356 ) on Sunday March 20, 2016 @07:51PM (#51739899)

    Facebook has about one billion monthly active users, pretty much guaranteeing that your "share" or "stock" in Facebook will be all but meaningless.

    Facebook is peripheral to the lives of its users, not central. You will never see the level of involvement that ownership demands. That is where the "shantytown" analogy breaks down completely.

    The geek applauds the changes in Slashdot. That doesn't necessarily translate into enough money to keep the site from going on the auction block again. Someone has to pay the light bill --- and that someone, whether subscriber, advertiser, or charitable foundation will have the final say on how the site is managed.

  • by Lejade ( 31993 ) <olivier&mekensleep,com> on Sunday March 20, 2016 @08:09PM (#51739991) Homepage Journal

    Attention is a currency. Right now Facebook, Google and co are making fortunes by converting our attention to cash through advertising. All we get in exchange is being tolerated on their properties as long as we are willing to be fed crappy adverts. We're not even consumers, we're like serfs of the medieval ages.
    As it stands, both merchants (ad-buyers) and peasants (consumers) are being screwed, and the nobility (Google, FB & co) takes it all.
    The merchants buy ads with cash hoping it will translate to sales so they get their money back from peasants, but it's a perverse system where the merchant that spends the most in ads gets to push and sell its product - however crappy it is. If you can't pay enough cash to nobility, they make your life as a merchant very difficult. Peasants have it even worse as they end up giving both attention to ads for (mostly crappy) stuff *and* money to the merchants (of which a good chunks end up with the nobility). It's a vicious circle where both merchants and peasants are indentured to the nobility which has no incentive in figuring out a better way for everyone.

    But what if we got payed for our attention? What if there was a marketplace where we could signal what we think has value for other people and get payed if we where right? Suddenly we would have a system where true value would be recognized and where people who helped point out that value (by giving it attention first) would be rewarded. This seems like a much better system for both merchants and peasants but, of course, not for the current nobility.

    Maybe it's time for the revolt of the serfs...

    • That's a plausible scenario. Here's another.

      Converting karma points to cash incentivizes behavior that maximizes cash return. This sets off a stampede to harvest attention in the most cost-efficient way - not a recipe for quality. Content becomes commodity and smells like spam. Cooperative communities are transformed into competitive groups that are motivated to raise barriers to entry to maintain maximum market share.

      People willingly share experiences in online communities. They share, update and support e

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      But what if we got payed for our attention?

      We are being paid. In cute cat videos. Don't like those rates? Sorry, because the world is full of people willing to 'work' for cute cat videos.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Oh, my god, kid. Please take a basic economics class.
    • Attention is a currency. Right now Facebook, Google and co are making fortunes by converting our attention to cash through advertising. All we get in exchange is being tolerated on their properties as long as we are willing to be fed crappy adverts. We're not even consumers, we're like serfs of the medieval ages.

      Except that Serfs had no choice which is a monumental difference. I don't use Facebook, nor anything Google other than Search and Maps. You always have the choice of not using them too.

  • "...partial ownership for users on social media."

    So let me get this straight. The generation who gave up their privacy in order to demand that every online service be magically free is now somehow deserving of the title of business partner?

    You've got to be fucking kidding me. You really can't get any more entitled than that.

    Last time I checked, those on YouTube generating millions of hits are not paid in gold stars and emojis. No, those turning six figures making an ass out of themselves online for the sake of calling it entertainment are paid in cold

  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Monday March 21, 2016 @05:57AM (#51741895) Homepage

    Infamous French Hacker Calls Internet a "Digital Shantytown"

    French hacker and security expert Anthony Zboralski calls social media networks a "digital shantytown"

    These two things are not the same thing.

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