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Monday, October 18, 2004

Little Jonas

Little Jonas wasn’t the tallest in his class, or the fastest, or the most polite, but certainly the most curious when he felt he was on to something. It was a Sunday afternoon, and even if Jonas would have woken up from a month-long sleep and not know what day it is, he could taste Sundays. It also happened to be the day when Grandpa used to sit there on his old chair, quietly reading. Jonas took the occasion to jump on Grandpa’s lap.

“What was it like in the year 2000?” he yelled.

Grandpa gave him one of those looks. He was always a friendly and patient man, but he didn’t like yelling too much. He found he had to little time left to haste and hurry through life.

“Now, Jonas, keep calm and I will tell you a story.” (And Grandpa was good at telling stories, especially on Sunday afternoons, as Jonas remembered this moment.)

“In the year 2000, we drove around with cars. I mean, they didn’t drive us, we drove them”

Jonas could hardly resist to yell again, even though he knew this from the photos that were shown to him many times before; photos of people who would hold on to a steering wheel as if their life depended on it. Grandpa noticed the brief smile on Jonas’ face, and he knew today he would tell him a different story – not of cars, but of the internet of those days.

“In that year, we already had email, chat, and all those things which you take for granted.”

“Did you really see and feel the people you were chatting with?”

“Hmmm. I don’t remember really. Maybe you could already see a flat surface image. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t anything like we are used to these days – realistic, three-dimensional images of our friends, images we can not only see but touch.”

“So everything was like today, except worse?”

Grandpa brain was working, and you could hear it. Now a shadow covered his face, but he shook it away with a friendly look.

“Well. We had something we used to call privacy.”

“What’s that?”

“You know when you walk to school and your mother’s always watching you?”

“Of course!”

“You know how your teachers are always connected with you?”


“Well, we’d walk to school, even as kids, without anyone watching us. And we had breaks between lessons, and it was mainly just us kids.”

“But what if some other kid bullied you?”

“Oh, we would either tell everyone later, or keep it a secret. You see, privacy was all about keeping a secret.”

“Why would people want to do that? Were people evil in 2000?”

Grandpa was coughing now. Jonas remembered to lower his voice.

“Jonas, there were evil people, I’m sure. But we didn’t care too much, and tried to fight the evil where we saw it. We didn’t always succeed, of course.”

“So people could get away with lies, and cheating, and stealing?”

“Sometimes, we had surveillance cameras, so no, you wouldn’t always get away with stealing. Lies and cheating... yes, I guess you could say so. That was definitely possible in 2000.”

“But weren’t people afraid all the time? How can they trust each other if they know people are lying?”

“See, Jonas, those were different times. We trusted because we didn’t know the truth. We trusted because we had to. And we trusted because it was a human thing to do.”

Oh well, Jonas was thinking, and started to bite on his fingernails. He recalled how Grandpa mentioned a game called hide and seek, and how he didn’t get it back then, and how the started to get it now. Maybe this game was all about privacy... maybe not knowing everything was the fun of it.

“Didn’t mom tell you to stop this? You know she will be alerted when you do that!”

“I know, I know,” said Jonas, and he put his hand back down. “Now what else? Did people share things they create at home, or school, or work? And... you once told me dreams at night weren’t shared and there for others to search through?”

“One thing a time. Yes, dreams. They were ours. And no, not really, Jonas. Sometimes a company would share the documents internally, but never would important files make it outside.”

“But isn’t sharing important files more important than sharing unimportant files?”

“Of course it is, but you see, everybody tried to make a living back then, and there was a lot of heat and competition. When you don’t have robots to do all your work, and when you haven’t figured out how to use energy in ways that get rid of human work, then you get a lot more aggressive in achieving things. Maybe this hurts society as whole. Who knows. I guess evolution never asked us to give up our privacy... it was just the thing to do, and pretty soon, everybody adapted.”

“Oh, I think it’s better this way,” Jonas snickered at Grandpa, and jumped off his lap, “If mommy and daddy and you and all the world couldn’t see what I and everyone was doing all the time, well then we would have an awful lot of stories to tell, and we would probably get it all wrong half the time.”

Grandpa didn’t want to argue. He knew wisdom took time to grow, and time Jonas had. “Good night now,” he said to little Jonas before he turned off the transmission and saw him disappear in a glow – a glow which, even after all those years, Grandpa had a hard time getting used to.

Google Desktop Alternatives

If you are not happy with the Google Desktop for some reason or other, but you like the basic idea, you might be interested in this list of alternatives covering Blinkx, Copernic Desktop Search, DTSearch Desktop, Enfish, ISYS desktop, and X1.

Seeking Programmer Near Stuttgart

We are looking for a web developer in Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart, Germany, to work with us on an interesting, big-brand web site. If you know XHTML, JavaScript, XML, CSS, ASP, MS-SQL, ASP.NET, and related technologies (the more the merrier) please email your application, current web site, CV and everything else to (subject “Job”). You should be fluid in speaking both German and English. After reviewing incoming mails I will forward all documents and if we are interested you will hear from us.

Steamboy (Video)

If like me you were a big fan of the movie Akira once in your life, you shouldn’t miss the trailer to Katsuhiro Otomo’s new move, Steamboy [ASX].

Near Future of Search

Gary Price asked the founder of Wondir, Matthew Koll, what he expects to see in search technology five years from now. His answer:

“Voice access. Task integration. Unified natural language access to all different kinds of information: web documents, desktop documents, network documents, contact info, definitions, media segments, background info, and live Q&A of course.”

Gmail Not Searching Spam Folder

Now here’s a Gmail feature I’d like to see: the ability to search through spam as well. Sure, for most searches, I want the spam folder to be ignored – even though I wouldn’t mind much if it would be included... aren’t we typically searching for unique words like a family name, a product name, and so on? But sometimes, we’re trying to find the white sheep in a herd of black ones. It’s when we do suspect something to be hidden in the emails that amassed in the spam folder that we actually want to search it.

Update: Thanks to Pasi Savolainen in the forum, I now know searching the spam folder is already possible; all one needs to do is add is:spam to the query.

Update 2: Or, you can just go to the advanced search option tab to perform a spam search. Thanks Kevin Fox in the forum.

Gmail Using DomainKeys

Slashdot reports Google has begun to sign outgoing email from Gmail with Yahoo’s DomainKeys signatures. InsideGoogle writes:

“Gmail can now claim that its outgoing email is the only one guaranteed authentic, thus giving people more reason to send their mail from Gmail than from accounts which can contribute to the problem. A good move. Gmail’s ahead of the curve.”


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