The End of Privacy Is Coming

ReadWriteWeb has a post that relays news from the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe: Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt explained that the end of anonymity on the web is coming because governments will demand it in order to avoid its misuse for criminal or anti-social behaviors:

The only way to manage this is true transparency and no anonymity. In a world of asynchronous threats, it is too dangerous for there not to be some way to identify you. We need a [verified] name service for people. Governments will demand it.

Schmidt also had good news: users are creating a lot of data. Oh, the bad news: all that data makes it possible not only to track you but to predict where you are going:

If I look at enough of your messaging and your location, and use Artificial Intelligence, we can predict where you are going to go.

As for the Techonomy conference itself, I can’t quite tell what to make of it. It’s either a nicely idealistic counter-balance to the Wall Street set who seem like modern day Vikings raping and pillaging every landscape they encounter when you read their philosophy:

Techonomy draws its inspiration from the ‘creative capitalism’ of Bill Gates, the ‘eco-pragmatism’ of Stewart Brand, the ‘big history’ of David Christian, and Bill Joy’s recent work on the economics of large-scale innovation. Each thinker in his own way points to a new humanism founded on the old notion that invention is what we do as a species. It is human nature to combine technology and economy to solve problems – to do so is both an opportunity and a responsibility. It’s who we are, and the only way we’re going to get to any solutions.

But sometimes the site feels a bit like certain strains of Puritanism, wherein you knew who the saints were because they were rich. You know, God wants you to be rich and the fact that you’re rich reveals that have been chosen by God. There’s a little bit of “we are the chosen” here.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the neo-logism Techonomy is just so awful. It practically screams “well-intentioned silliness.” I remember someone wanting to use informances at some point.

Google’s Gift of Fonts

Google has just made the web a bit more interesting, at least from the point of view of making design more interesting by offering a suite of fonts that any website can use. As most everyone who has ever tried to design a website is aware, almost all browsers are dependent upon a user’s local portfolio of type faces, or fonts, for constructing the text of a web page, unless that font is provided by the website, which gets into hairy software distribution and use issues, or everything is rendered as a graphic, which puts a strain on even generous download speeds — never mind your own server resources.

What that has meant is that you had to design a website targeting the most common type faces installed on almost every computer or else risking the user’s browser showing something else into its place with perhaps unappealing results. (Meaning an ugly or incomprehensible layout.) And thus the rise of Times and Verdana as well as the conquest of Helvetica by Arial.

Microsoft has been something of philanthropist here, by widely distributing a number of faces such that almost every computer has Georgia and Tahoma. Unless, of course, you are using Linux, in which case you are just out of luck.

But Google has changed all that by setting up a central font server and making it incredibly easy to use 18 different type faces — the link will take you to a page that shows them off quite nicely. All anyone designing a website needs to do is to plug the following code into your header:

<link href='http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Molengo' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'>

And then place the following in your style sheet:

h1 { font-family: 'Molengo', arial, serif; }

Note: for purposes of illustration I am using the Molengo face in this example, but it’s also the new case for the body of posts here at The Human Experience.

Try Molengo for yourself.