Category Archives: Facebook

Why are we paying for internet access again?

Imagine paying a hefty cover charge just to get into a shopping mall.

Imagine paying a hefty cover charge just to get into a shopping mall. Hey, that’s the internet!

Several years ago, I remember having a conversation with someone very smart who worked at an internet service provider. He told me that his company was walking a very fine line in terms of how the internet is paid for and monetized. The companies that provide access to it were in a state of perpetual balance with the individuals and companies that provide services over it. If the internet wasn’t full of so much awesome stuff, there might not be a point to paying for it, this person said.

The internet has since become thoroughly commercialized, so I can’t help but wonder whether that balance is now completely out of whack. With virtually nothing online coming for free anymore, exactly why are we paying to access it?

Just for kicks, I thought about how I personally use the internet and broke it down into four categories: ongoing pay services, pay-per-use services, seemingly free services and actually free services. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on July 5, 2013 in Facebook, Google, internet, skype, Twitter


Photo sharing services should follow Google’s path

Is there room for Tadaa in the photo-sharing wars?

Is there room for Tadaa in the photo-sharing wars?

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of taking part in CTV’s regular technology panel, wherein we discussed a number of topics. Two of them got me to thinking about the past, present and future of the internet, and how companies are born and developed on it.

The two topics in question were the latest Facebook privacy-advertising follies and Tadaa, a competitor app to Instagram. Respectively, they seem to represent the present and future of the internet.

Let’s start with Facebook. The social network on Tuesday announced it has started testing ads in its news feed, which is an effort to take advertisements out of users’ side bars and right into their main column of updates. Putting those ads front and centre not only makes them more noticeable, it also makes it possible for Facebook to display them in its mobile app, although it doesn’t appear to be doing that just yet. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on March 28, 2013 in Facebook, Google, Instagram


10 of the biggest tech stories in 2012

The best thing about covering technology is that it’s never dull. As an ever-changing field, the danger for journalists lies not in getting bored with the beat, but in falling behind the rapid developments.

I’d argue this is one area where year-end lists are actually vital; with so much happening on a daily basis, it’s important to step back and take stock of it all. It’s a good opportunity to digest everything that has happened, so that we can figure out what it all means.

In that vein, here are the 10 events or ongoing technology stories that I thought were important in 2012:

10. Apocalypse Not Now


This one is more of a science story than a technology trend, but since all tech is rooted in science, it seems very relevant. In 2012, the Mayan-forecasted apocalypse that was supposed to happen on Dec. 21 came and went without so much as a sneeze. That followed two predictions of the Rapture last year by religious nut Harold Camping, who this year apologized for his faulty forecasts. With the discrediting of this sort of nonsense, perhaps further nutjobs will STFU and allow the world to get on with reality. Or at least study the things that may actually wipe us out, as the new Cambridge Project for Existential Risk plans to doRead the rest of this entry »


Instagram breaks the net’s social contract

Instagram and Mark Zuckerberg: do they really understand how the internet works?

Instagram and Mark Zuckerberg: pushing the boundaries of what users are willing to stomach.

“If you’re not paying for a product, chances are good you are the product.” That’s what Maxime Gagne, a games industry lawyer, told an audience at the Montreal International Games Summit last year. Tuesday’s Instagram brouhaha couldn’t have made those words ring any truer.

In case you missed it, the photo-filter-cum-social-network announced changes to its terms of service that would allow advertisers to incorporate user-created photos. Outrage from users was predictable, with many taking to “free” social networks - including Instagram-owner Facebook - to express their frustrations and vows to never again use the service.

Taken aback by the vocal response, Instagram quickly apologized to users and said it would replace the offending language with something clearer and more palatable.

But should there have been outrage at all, given the above truism? Have internet users not yet arrived at the point where they collectively know that free stuff online isn’t really free? Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Facebook, Google


Privacy is the new currency (sorry, poor people)

Billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and his new wife Priscilla: more privacy than the average Joe?

With everybody sharing every tiny little detail of their lives on social media, I’ve been wondering for some time whether people still value privacy. It’s a question I’m hoping to answer in my next book, but also one that I dipped my toes into in a story for the National Post’sDigital Life” series.

I spoke to some of Canada’s leading experts on privacy and the general consensus among them is that, yes, people do indeed still value privacy. In fact, they may value it more than ever. Head on over to the newspaper’s site for the full story.

One aspect that didn’t make it into the article (damn word-length limits!) was how privacy is a relative thing that depends on a person’s station in life. The rich, for instance, tend to have more of it, which suggests that privacy is a sort of currency.

Ian Kerr, the Canada Research Chair in ethics, law and technology at the University of Ottawa, had some intriguing thoughts about how businesses collect information about people for “social sorting.” Air Canada, for example, might gather info about people so that it knows who to offer “elite” status to, while IKEA collects postal codes so that it knows what demographics are shopping at its stores. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Facebook, privacy


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