Little Green Men

Here’s what’s next in the Universe… Peace with the little green men. Now that Barack is secured another term in office, we can also talk about the planet that’s probably home to the little green men. The star it orbits is still called HD 40307, not a sexy name like our Sun, but we can christen it later. Let’s focus on making contact for now. Discounting the possibility of Omega radiation, within just 42 years travelling at electromagnetic speeds we might be shaking hands with Greendude in persona. By then hopefully we’d have also have figured out how to communicate with hopefully “advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space” with a little bit more sophistication than we could come up with in the Voyager Golden Records of 1977.

Go to Wired to read more information about the planet, and less of my sarcasm, or carry on.

To set the record straight I am not one who believes God created Earth in 4004 BC, on October 23 at 9AM. I strongly believe that there can be other forms of intelligence in the Universe. But I just find it preposterous of humankind in general to be defining “life” and “intelligence” on a universal scale. How can the people who say they believe life on Earth is just an example of the sophistication of creation also be the ones looking for life in the Universe? Are they assuming that it’s got to fit our Earthly-thought definition of it? Just let the little green men live, and let’s focus on making the Earth a better place!

Little Green Men

Madonna’s first on twitter

Madonna entered the show. She’s finally on Twitter. And what a show it has been since her live debut  on twitter  as #MadonnaMDNAday!! The account’s got over 88,000 followers and she held a live discussion with fans with over 240 tweets in the little time she spent online on 5th April. That’s to celebrate a week from her release of the new MDNA album.

Madonna  "From tonight's Twitter live chat." 05 April 2012
Madonna tweeting on 05 April 2012. Source: Madonna's Facebook Page: "From tonight's Twitter live chat."

Click here to like the above image on Madonna’s Facebook Page.

I’d have said Lady Gaga followed the queen of pop in almost everything… but this time round, Madonna is the later comer to the scene. I’ve written about Gaga on YouTube and Twitter in the past, and also compared her to Obama’s performance online. Madonna’s personalised tweet to Barack Obama is “#Obama2012: Are you coming to my show in Washington, D.C.? Make a girl from Detroit happy.” Twitter dev has put together a list of her other more famous tweets. In case you almost forgot about the exchange of pleasantries during that MTV Awards night in 2003, Madonna also asked Britney to go on stage and do it again… “please come on stage and kiss me again. I miss you!!”

Madonna could probably bash every twitter record! But this may also be the end of her appearance there. After all, the tweet that announced the live session said “Madonna joins Twitter for one day only to answer fan questions and celebrate the release of her MDNA album. Got a question? #AskMadonna”. The account used for the lives session (#MadonnaMDNAday) has not sent any tweets since.

What’s next?

The two deaths that got everyone talking in 2011… and what can kill the Internet as we know it

According to Storify, their users selected two major events to build stories from tweets this year. Both are deaths – that of Osama Bin Laden and that of Steve Jobs. If one had to draw a similarity between the two persons, apart from both having worn a beard, it is surely that they have both been disruptive (challenging) of the status quo. By its very nature, disruption causes people to talk, and they did.

On 1st May 2011, somebody else was disrupted – this time, from his attempt to take a break. Sohaib Athar had left the city of Lahore to live in quieter Abottabad and had no idea he shared ground with Osama Bin Laden who lived just a few kilometres away.

The Storify team looked deep at the data of the 3 million times that Storify users searched for a tweet, found it and pulled it into a story – this year.

The 2nd ranked is the tweet of Sohaib Athar (@ReallyVirtual). His tweets of 1st May are indeed a live coverage of the event. His story is all over the internet and you can read that part of history somewhere else. So what’s the news?

@ReallyVirtual: Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).

Recently, Sohaib Athar tweeted to @Storify saying that their site had been blocked by his ISP. This apparently followed Storify’s mention of the tweet that made history. Both events happened on the 15 December 2011.

Outrageous… you’d say. These things would not happen in America!

BUT that is not necessarily going to remain true for ever. Sohaib Athar, as the copyright holder of that tweet, may soon stop anybody from reproducing it on another webpage! Legislators in America are discussing the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, explained that Reddit would not exist says if SOPA was around in 2005.

If someone submits links to a piece of copyrighted material on Reddit or Facebook, our whole site could be shut down.
(Alexis Ohanian)

The Attorney General can issue restraining orders against infringing websites. If Sohaib Athar made claims against the reproduction of his tweet (above), search engines like Google would stop showing links to the whole of WordPress.com even if only one post, from the millions it hosts, allegedly breaks copyright! And Paypal would stop processing their payments!

If you’re wondering how many times WordPress.com bloggers embed tweets, YouTube videos, google maps and Flickr images, this too collectively runs into millions (official stats here). It’s interesting that each one is potentially a copyright breach. And people do it because it’s the nature of the Internet to link and embed. And because social media is all about that.

Comic on SOPA Bill

More Information

1. Petition for the President Obama administration to veto the SOPA Bill. (“This will kill the free flow of information and conversation on the internet.”)

2. Storify is blogging for everyone. Anybody with a Facebook or Twitter account can write a story and link it to all the gossip from the social sites… also YouTube, Flickr, Google+ etc.. The Storify beta website went live eight months ago in April 2011. Analysis of which tweets were used to build stories revealed that the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th talk about the death of Steve Jobs. The 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, and 9th talked about the death of Osama Bin Laden.

A Strategic Plan for United States Federal Cybersecurity R&D

It was back in April when I first read Obama’s plans for a National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, and as this had happened in the wake of Sony’s cybersecurity problems, I’d also blogged about it.

A couple of days ago the Whitehouse announced it’s new strategic plan for Federal Security R&D. It’s a roadmap and it takes the approach of prioritising research on all areas including policy and technology: understanding the deficiencies, developing solid scientific foundations, maximising the impact and accelerating adoption.

A post by the CTO and Cybersecurity Coordinator on the Whitehouse OSTP blog states:

“Given the magnitude and pervasiveness of cyberspace threats to our economy and national security, it is imperative that we fundamentally alter the dynamics in cybersecurity through the development of novel solutions and technologies.”

And that’s exactly the point. Cybersecurity is no longer just a concern for techies and hackers – it’s of economic and national security relevance for every country in the world. And the open invitation to researchers and innovators in the industry to come forward and participate in the acceleration of the transition to a more secure cyberspace is surely received very well.

Sony Network Breach and Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

The first law suit that hit Sony after the network breach comes hours after it revealed users yesterday that the Playstation Network and Qriocity experienced unauthorised access between the 17 and 19 April. The suit was filed on the grounds that Sony did not take reasonable care of its users data and that it took the company too long to inform its clients of the breach.

The law suit happens at the same time that Barack Obama is pushing a National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace. The White House is worried that economic growth is being slowed by the trust that people have of Internet services. Breaches like that of Sony surely do not help to secure trust and in fact harm the whole climate… but could it have been avoided? Is it true, as is claimed by the law suit filed by Kristopher Johns, that Sony did not take “reasonable care to protect, encrypt, and secure the private and sensitive data of its users”? Whatever the case, I agree with Barack Obama’s statement that enhancing trustworthiness and privacy will boost businesses’ and customers’ confidence and lead to growth and innovation, online and across the economy in general.

googlegoesgaga… Lady Gaga does it again!

In my post of Feb 9th, I compared Obama to Lady Gaga. She had 8 million followers then, a number which increased at the rate of over 20,000 every day to count 8,831,651 as I write. Lady Gaga hasn’t been sleeping on her online success and followed on the steps of Obama / Biden’s “Transition Project” (December 2008) which allowed any registered user to make or vote on questions that the Whitehouse then answered.

Since then YouTube put together the Worldview Channel and Barack Obama was back to answer questions in January 2011, followed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, US Parliament Speaker Joe Boehner and now… Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Lady Gaga’s official YouTube channel now allows people to ask questions and vote for the most popular ones which she will answer. This Gaga project is open till the 18th March and, with this degree of openness, the star has joined a league of world leaders conquering web 2.0 tools to engage with her fans! The woman does not stop there with social media! She accepts questions also over Twitter with any tweet tagged #GoogleGoesGaga being syndicated directly to the channel and qualifying for voting. And in her own words…

Millions must be searching for “Lady Gaga” on Google as that term scores 69/100 in Query Popularity on Alexa. This especially when compared to “Barack Obama” (52/100); “Obama” (57/100); and “Whitehouse” (40/100).

The question submission and voting uses Google Moderator. It was launched in September 2008 and first used with a bang the following December in the Obama / Biden Transition Project – “Open for Questions”. Since then Change.gov, the project’s website, has now closed. Google Moderator continues to make crowd-sourcing a reality and is now a freely available API.

Twitter puffs as Barack Obama quits!

Barack has put up the barricade and quit smoking! Back in June 2009, Obama had admitted to the occasional puff. But now, according to wife Michelle, he’s been clean for about year. Congratulations Mr. President! But what does this have to do with a blog that talks about what’s happening in the digital world?

Michelle Obama broke the news of the anniversary of the last puff to reporters at the Whitehouse yesterday. The BBC and the Guardian reported it in the UK along with many other papers. Google grabbed it and put it on Google News. But I got to know through Twitter… as literally thousands of people found this event to be of great value to their own cause of quitting smoking. I just searched ‘Obama smoking’ in Twitter and a few minutes ago somebody said “Yayyy Obama quit smoking. If the president can do it, anyone can. :)” And I guess that Melissa’s 860+ followers  will be pleased to share that point of view. So, thank you Michelle for bringing such good example from your household to the world at large. Twitter did the job of bringing it to the masses – even those who don’t care about this type of news. Power of the internet.

Twitter now has over 190 million users (source: Quantcast as quoted in Wikipedia). It’s users are said to generate about 65 million tweets – short, 140 character messages which can be broadcast or directed specifically to other users. I looked up the more successful tweeters of all times and Lady Gaga has over 8 million followers with just over 600 tweets in the last three years. Lady Gaga’s followers increased by over 10 thousand a day ever since the 21st January! So how does this compare to Barack Obama? He follows less people (145,000 when compared to Gaga’s 700,000) and gets less followers (6.6 million). He also tweets more. Yet that’s comparing an American President to one of the top performing pop performers who has sold over 55 million records!