A Week’s A Long Time Vol. 4

I need to start this week’s digital digest with a caveat. If, between yesterday and today, something massive happened in the world of tech, and I haven’t covered it here, it’s because I’m actually writing this yesterday and auto-scheduling it to publish today, as I got on a plane last night and am currently cruising at about 30,000 feet.

Confused? Me too. Anyway, on with the show.

Cookie Monsters

User privacy, tracking and the use of cookies for everything from analytics to behaviourally targeting advertising continue to get a lot of press.

A couple of weeks ago the 12 month ‘honeymoon period’ that the UK’s ICO had given to companies to comply with the British version of the EU’s Privacy Directive came to an end. Cue lots of sites adding little pop-ups or header bars telling visitors that the site uses cookies and, in many cases, will take their continued use of the site as acceptance of this.

The whole situation is clear as mud, only made clearer by the fact that each EU country can put its own spin on the overall Directive, and the fact that, in the UK, the ICO essentially changed its guidance the day before the honeymoon ended. Just to make things even more confusing, Microsoft announced that the new version of Internet Explorer would have a default setting of Do Not Track (a US inspired initiative’), probably in a mis-judged attempt to make Google look less serious on privacy than they are. It was certainly an arrogant and self-defeating move.  And there’s also a major flaw in the thinking behind it: the group drafting Do Not Track suggested that Microsoft’s implementation would break their guidelines.

It really is very hard to try to see any sense amid all the FUD, although, once again, I think it’s possible to believe that there is an urgent need to educate the public on how web data is used (let’s not call it personal data – the main proponents of selling truly personal data are governments and criminals) and how the content we take for granted is paid for whilst at the same time thinking that the EU & the FTC might be better off concentrating on the imminent collapse of the world economic system. Or maybe that’s just me.

An Apple A Day

Next week sees Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, and, true to form, teh interwebz have been all a frenzy trying to predict what Tim Cook will be announcing. Some of the suggestions include refreshing the entire Mac range, beefing up the iPhone’s voice operated ‘concierge’ Siri, Apple’s own maps product replacing Google Maps on iPhones & iPads and, again, the mythical Apple TV (or at least a boost to the existing Apple TV).

And, perhaps inevitably, it’s also been suggested that a new iPhone might be revealed to the adoring masses. But, whether or not a new iPhone is released, there’s no arguing with the fact that the mobile wars are hotting up. Whilst fan-boys queue up on either side of the Apple vs. Android war to proclaim their preferred operating system the winner (why people feel the need to pick a favourite, I’m really not sure), veteran internet analyst Mary Meeker’s latest (monster) slide deck suggests that there’s probably enough to go round for both (and maybe even Microsoft as well).

KPCB Internet Trends 2012

What really stands out for me is that the mobile web is growing massively, but is also largely untapped.

And whilst Apple essentially created a new sector by truly making computing mobile, Android has grown even faster (though it hasn’t yet been able to make anywhere near as much money as Apple).

But no matter what Apple do or don’t announce, I’m guessing that they won’t be highlighting a fascinating article from the latest copy of Wired by Andrew Blum, the author of a book on the physical objects that enable the internet, on why talk of  cloud computing blinds us to the companies, including Apple, that are increasingly controlling our access to it. Nor, I’m guessing, will they be talking about employee relations.

If you have any thoughts on these issues, or anything you’d like covered in a future digest, please do leave a comment, drop me a line on ciarannorris at gmail dot com, or tweet me.

(Obligatory) Cookie Monster picture by Bill McChesney on flickr

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