'Forest Boy' is what German officials are calling a 17 year old who claims to have been living in the wild with his father for the last five years. He has been in Berlin for a year since walking there on a five day trek, but still nobody can figure out who he is or where he's from. I found this out from the Guardian UK.
Well, that's not exactly true. I found this out from my Facebook feed. But when I clicked on this interesting story, Facebook blocked my path to the Guardian and asked me to confirm that I was adding a 'Guardian App'. Why? Because Facebook is ethical and they want you to know that when you click on something they can trace, that they are tracing you. And why do they trace you? Because they want to deliver targeted advertisers to YOU. Hmm. That business model seems vaguely familiar.
There once was a guy named Steve Case. You might have heard of him. People like me couldn't stand him and were amazed that so many millions would live in his walled garden. We wanted freedom, he couldn't deliver. But, he was a zillionaire and he had enormous clout in the world of online. Check out this story from Business Week in 1996:
Dressed in trademark khakis and open-collar shirt, Steven M. Case is the star attraction at the PC Forum. This annual March gathering of the digital elite, held at a resort near Tucson, is a combination of a three-day free-form think tank and schmooze-athon where the latest trends are dissected and, in the corridors or on the golf course, deals are hatched. The first time Case attended, a decade ago, he was an unknown 27-year-old entrepreneur pushing a chat service for owners of Commodore computers. He was, he recalls, lost in a crowd obsessing over which microprocessor would dominate. ``I felt like I was from another planet.''
Now, everybody wants to be on Case's planet. The ballroom is packed when he gives his opening-day speech, and wherever he appears, a knot of reporters, industry heavyweights, and wannabes gather. At this moment in high-tech history, Case is the man whose opinion is sought, the person everyone wants to make a deal with.
For it is Case's America Online Inc. that has shown how to turn a community of cybernauts into a mass market and how to successfully turn a computer network into a new medium for entertainment and news. With more than 5 million customers and 75,000 more joining every week, AOL is the most potent force in cyberspace.
So powerful, in fact, that the two greatest forces in computers and communications--Microsoft Corp. and AT&T--have handed Case lucrative deals aimed at boosting their own cyber plans. In exchange for pushing Microsoft's Internet browser software to AOL's millions, Microsoft has made an unprecedented concession: to bundle AOL software with every copy of Windows 95. Under an agreement with AT&T, the phone giant will provide a link to AOL from its new WorldNet service. That gives AOL an in with 80 million AT&T customers being offered WorldNet on a free trial. (Rivals Prodigy Services Co. and CompuServe Inc. quickly announced they are negotiating similar deals with Microsoft, and CompuServe on Mar. 3 signed a deal with WorldNet.)
``He's done a masterful job. Steve Case walks on water as far as I am concerned,'' says Roger B. McNamee, a general partner with Integral Capital Partners, a venture-capital firm. Indeed, given all the experts and rivals who have predicted AOL's great fall, its continuing rise is sort of a miracle. Ever since 1993, when the company launched the bold drive for market share that has brought it to this point, naysayers have predicted that Case would falter and AOL spin out of control.
So what is that? That's Zuckerberg. And who are the Facebook people? They are the AOL people of today. All of Zuckerberg's technology accomplishes one thing, which is to harness more millions of people in the same way AOL did for the previous generation. I don't know why it took me this long to realize it. But it won't change me, or my use of Facebook. I like what Facebook does for me, which is to keep me in touch with 600 or so folks who occasionally show up there. There is no way in hell, however, that I will click on anything in Facebook, and if I do, I will remember to make it counter-intuitive, ie, when Z's digital minions do their affinity probes, I'll be sure that it's spam. On the other hand, there's almost nothing I buy because of advertising so I'm rather immune anyhow.
I spoke to my prom date the other day. I haven't seen her in many years, probably once since 1997 when I moved back to LA. She's one of the up-out-of-the-way, which is to say that she has the kind of penchant for privacy of black American Old Money, although I'd have to check with Lawrence Otis Graham to see if she's still in the Boule. At any rate, she was prepared to lash my face with an undercooked fettucini when she heard that our prom picture from 1978 was up on Facebook. I had to protest that it was our pal Stewie who put it there, not I. Besides, my fro and glasses are so huge nobody would recognize her or the Minnie Ripperton -style Baby's Breath in her hair. Nevertheless, I was reminded of her and a number of other people I know who would rather rather attend a Klan rally than put their information on Facebook.
Many of them happen to be in the dark business, so that's perfectly understandable. If you have certain security clearances, you cannot be promiscuous with anything you know or do. Facebook just invites fly-by-night attention. But others perceive something sinister about it - even though the way they pass around smiley emails defies even half-baked security policy.
How do you use Facebook and what do you care about what they track?