Thursday, May 03, 2007

Of Rebellions, Green Apples 'n Anonymous Tor

The Interweb is a wonderful place, don't you think? Social Networking. Twittering. Blogging. Flickring. Vineoing. Then there is the wealth of content out there that is staggering and priceless!

Absolutely anything under the sun can be found on the InterWeb like all about The iPhone's Funny Price, The Past, Present and Future of the Justice League, and for those of you who haven't gotten it, Macbreak Weekly 39: Mayday, which featured the soviet anthem, teleporting, schoolhouse, the newton and a barrel of laughs.

In a post by Kara Swisher, she wrote that there may be hope for Old Media in the quest to Save the Cheerleader, Save the (old) World!

No matter what part of the world you live, soon you'll get to taste A Greener Apple:
"Today is the first time we have openly discussed our plans to become a greener Apple. It will not be the last. We will be providing updates of our efforts and accomplishments at least annually, most likely around this time of the year. And we plan to bring other environmental issues to the table as well, such as the energy efficiency of the products in our industry. We are also beginning to explore the overall carbon “footprint” of our products, and may have some interesting data and issues to share later this year.

I hope you are as delighted as I was when I first learned how far along Apple actually is in removing toxic chemicals from its products and recycling its older products. We apologize for leaving you in the dark for this long. Apple is already a leader in innovation and engineering, and we are applying these same talents to become an environmental leader. Based on our tangible actions and results over time, hopefully our customers, employees, shareholders and professional colleagues will all feel proud of our ongoing efforts to become a greener Apple."
Perhaps, what was more interesting in this latest blog by Steve Jobs was this reveal:
"We plan to introduce our first Macs with LED backlight technology in 2007."
(updated to add this) In case you didn't get all that PR-speak. Waffle has the translation! (yay!) Go see 'em here. Being a great site this is, we're going to give you a preview or (if you prefer) an "executive summary" of Waffle's excellent post:

Dear Greenpeace,

Fuck you.


Moving on: the Digg Rebellion of 2007 on the other hand has been caught on not just by the Inquirer and netizens but also by the BBC in DVD DRM row sparks user rebellion. On the same issue, the New York Times wrote about How a Number Became the Latest Web Celebrity, songs sung on youtube even. Some people believe this is mob mentality, some democracy on the Interweb.

Speaking of revolutions, One Voice--- a Philippine organization advocating "speak up for real change" has this YouTube video (original link: here):

The insights we can gain in all this is simply these stories brings back emphasis on the fact that it is Content quality above all else that drives this wonderful engine of the InterWeb--- for anybody: news, blog, video, music. And Content that the masses think is good is rewarded. For all freedom loving nations around the world: how is that not democracy in action?

As much as all this is a good thing, we also live in a world where surveillance on the 'Net is the norm. This surveillance lets advertisers track user behavior and interest, for example. You can also inadvertently reveal your identity--- job, origin when going online simply by checking or sending mail all because of traffic analysis (which by the way also helps the good guys protect networks).

Why is going anonymous is good? For one thing it helps the good guys: police for instance can monitor websites they suspect have illicit activity. intelligence operatives can send information back anonymously. Women who are victims of violent crimes can protect their identity and seek anonymous help online, as do people with illnesses who would be uncomfortable discussing their condition. according to the tor website, journalists also go anonymous to communicate with "whistleblowers and dissidents".

Going Anonymous also helps those dissidents one of the myriad tools to fight off governments clinging to old school dinosaur notions of closed, controlled environments that stifle civil liberties, strangle innovation and creativity.

There has been a technology for sometime now called "onion routers". Onion routing as wikipedia calls it: "a technique for anonymous communication over a computer network." Its goal is to protect the privacy of the sender and recipient of the message during its journey from point a (you) to a target (recipient like a website).

image was taken from Tor: Overview

today this is accomplished through a solution called Tor. Simply put, Tor is distributed (like peer-to-peer file sharing) and anonymous network. the tor overview describes it as "a twisty, hard-to-follow route in order to throw off somebody who is tailing you". Tor allows you to hide stuff that you do like: web publishing, or your instant messaging server. At the same time, allows other users to connect to the same services anonymously.

Tor is multi-platform. there are tor solutions for Windows, Linux and OS X. Tor is perfectly legal. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a Legal FAQ: here on Tor, if you're interested.

For Mac OS X users, Tor is simple to employ. It has a graphical user interface. The dmg is a bundle of tor, vidalia (the tor gui) and privoxy (a filtering web proxy) and is already pre-configured to work right as one would expect for a Mac App. Simply, download, mount and install this: dmg (for OSX 10.4.x, tiger) or this: dmg (for 10.3.x, panther).

The Tor page has a step-by-step instruction on how to configure Tor. It is located: here.

There is of course a firefox extension that you'll need: here.

Of course, Tor isn't a one stop solution as the download page warns, but it is one that adds a layer of protection. And a word of advice, Tor also comes with a price, turning it on makes browsing slow. you might want to use it only for specific instances.

In an Age of the Everyman, the InterWeb is a community, a living breathing sprawling place where content is the coin and being anonymous helps control that coin and saves you grief and like a lot of things on the InterWeb, it's greatest gift is giving users what they want, protecting yourself is fair game. The InterWeb is an unheralded power that at its heart is democracy in all its beauty and evil and we're still learning about everyday.