American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road.

Rocco recommended this book.

Sometimes the truth is more unbelievable than fiction.

Ross Ulbricht (born March 27, 1984) is an American convict best known for creating and operating the darknet market website Silk Road from 2011 until his arrest in 2013. …

Ulbricht’s online pseudonym was “Dread Pirate Roberts” …

In May 2015, he was sentenced to a double life sentence plus forty years without the possibility of parole.

Silk Road used Tor and bitcoin.

In March 2013, the site had 10,000 products for sale by vendors, 70% of which were drugs.

Ulbricht was charged with money laundering, conspiracy to commit computer hacking, and conspiracy to traffic narcotics.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Ulbricht had paid $730,000 in murder-for-hire deals targeting at least five people, allegedly because they threatened to reveal Ulbricht’s Silk Road enterprise.

It’s possible that none were actually killed. Ulbricht might have been scammed for that money.

People died using Silk Road drugs.

Ulbricht justified his crimes with a B.S. personal philosophy that he was doing more good for the world than bad.  He wasn’t.

There are still more questions than answers about Silk Road.

Deep Web is a 2015 documentary film chronicling the events.

Click PLAY or watch a trailer on YouTube.

Censorship by flood of misinformation

Back in the 1990s I was completely convinced that Google and the internet would make the world a much better place.

If people had more information, they’d be able to make better decisions.

It turned out to be mixed. Smart people make better decisions.

But many are overwhelmed, disinterested and easily confused.

Radicalized by Cory Doctorow

Radicalized is a collection of 4 novellas released on March 19, 2019 as a reaction to Trump government chaos.

The issues discussed are very current.

It’s one of the books contending in the Canada Reads 2020 contest.  I’m slightly surprised at that as one of the four is a rant against the American non-health care system.

I recommend it IF you are interested in these themes:

… explores such issues as digital rights management, police brutality, radicalization in internet communities, and doomsday preppers. …

… American medical care, immigration, white male rage and technological monopolies …

Those who did not like the book consider it too preachy.

I quite liked the first story, Unauthorized BreadA refugee, Salima, confronts the software controlling installed in her kitchen appliances after the companies who created those appliances suddenly cease operations.

Cory Doctorow is one of the Tech gurus I’ve been following as long as I’ve been following Boing Boing, which won the Bloggies for Weblog of the Year, in 2004 and 2005.  The web version launched January 2000, a “directory of wonderful things“.

In February 2020, Cory Doctorow left Boing Boing to start Pluralistic.net, a blog that brands itself as having “No trackers, no ads.”  Of course I’m now following it too.

Cory is an activist in favour of liberalising copyright laws and a proponent of the Creative Commons organization, using some of their licences for his books. Some common themes of his work include digital rights management, file sharing, and post-scarcity economics.

 

‘Disinformation’ v ‘Misinformation’

Misinformation is me telling you to go down the WRONG alley by mistake.

Disinformation is me telling you to go down the WRONG alley on purpose.

… So the difference between the two comes down to intent.

To further confuse the issue, is the fact that a piece of disinformation can ultimately become misinformation. It all depends on who’s sharing it and why.

David Price

FAVE Podcasts – Pivot & Prof G Show

One MUST LISTEN for me twice a week is Pivot.

That’s Tech guru Kara Swisher and my business guru Scott Galloway.

Galloway is hilariously cynical and critical. 😀 And smart.

Preview or subscribe on iTunes.

… a sharp, unfiltered look at the technology industry, with provocations, predictions and insights from two leading voices in the worlds of journalism and marketing.

Scott Galloway just launched his own podcast called the Prof G Show.

Unfortunately the first episode coincided with the pending economic collapse of the world. Galloway opted to bring in as his first guest one of the most respected Finance experts in the world Aswath Damodaran.

I came away feeling much more optimistic about the other side of this crisis.

IF corporations (and we individuals) have enough liquidity to last out the shut down, the economy could boom again.

Social Media – Good or Bad?

When the internet — and then social media — got popular I was convinced it would make the world better.

Better informed.

The poor and powerless would have a voice. A blog. A podcast.

Seems I was wrong. 

Social media was supposed to be the ultimate free speech platform, a place where the world would come together to swap information and share opinions. It would be the battleground of ideas. …

Twitter has become a playground for bots and trolls. Facebook is filled with misinformation, a place where foreign governments can set up groups to spread fake news. …

At the same time, users have retreated into their own bubbles. …

Social Media has had its Day

 

I switched from Chrome to Brave

Brave is open-source. Based on the same platform as Google Chrome. HTTPS Everywhere. A much better experience than Chrome.

In fact, many are switching away from Chrome as Google bungled 5-years ago in a decision to make Chrome work on the Android platform. Far ahead at the time, Chrome has fallen behind other browsers.

I was surprised how easy it was to switch.

I recommend you turn off the default Brave Rewards program and notifications. Those are annoying.

My search engine is DuckDuckGo as it was on Chrome.

Brave … is safe, fast, secure and crypto friendly – which Chrome isn’t so much.

According to developers, Brave is trying to fix the internet.They introduceed a system that block ads and ad trackers by default, eliminating the need of ad block extensions. …

The Brave browser is fast. The browser’s impressive speeds are due to lack of default lack of third party ads. …

Brave vs Chrome – Which one’s better and faster?

 

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The Four by Scott Galloway

Four American companies have totally changed our lives.

Apple
Amazon
Google
Facebook

I use all four non-stop. Fantastic innovation.

Needless to say, there are downsides. Google no longer uses the mantra “don’t be evil”. They dropped it in 2018.

Scott Galloway has replaced Leo Laporte as my main tech guru. I just finished his book …

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google (2017)

It’s great, but you can get a good summary by reading Galloway’s article in Esquire:

Silicon Valley’s Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine (2018)