Observer columnist in online porn mixup
ICANN? I can't
You might think being a Sunday newspaper columnist is a pretty easy gig.
Think again. They have to conjure provocative opinions on everything, on demand, often with only the weakest grasp of the facts.
To highlight their plight, here we present Barbara Ellen's attempt in yesterday's Observer to wrestle copy from ICANN's decision to approve a .xxx web domain.
Here's the first paragraph:
Ellen goes on to explain at length why putting "xxx" at the end of web addresses rather than "www" is a brilliant idea. ("Ultimately, asking that someone type xxx instead of www has got naff all to do with censorship. If anything, it's helpful.")
She unfortunately overlooks the fact that nobody puts "www" at the end of web addresses.
Guardian commentards were quick to point out the gaffe, prompting the paper's expensively assembled online production operation to offer an altered intro:
The new form of gibberish is explained at the end of the piece, which is still online at time of writing: "This article referred to www. and the notional xxx. as suffixes. It should have been prefix. This has been corrected."
Well, up to a point, Lord Copper. We look forward to the launch of xxx.guardian.co.uk. ®
This >55 spent a chunk of his weekend rebuilding the MBR of a 16-year-old's netbook. Don't think the younger generation know much about technology. They know how to use the stuff, but ask them how to defrag a hard disk, or tell the difference between a VGA and a DVI connector, and their little jaws drop with incomprehension.
The over 55s will be dead in due course Sonny Jim, but don't take it out on us because you married into a family of techno-retards.
you may laugh ...
but this probably represents the upper-quartile's understanding of the internet, its naming and how it works. The other three-quarters think the internet is Google.
Since the whole censorship and copyright and freedoms debates will/are being informed by the same people (ooops, I nearly called them "journalists") who write this stuff, the best we can hope for are some over-zealous laws, quickly slapped together to solve the problems caused by tabloid headlines. These same laws will probably catch more unintended victims that actual harm-doers and will then be vilified by the same trashy newspaper articles that forced their creation in the first place.
In britain it's pretty much impossible to write a well-considered, emotionally uncharged and balanced piece of mass journalism about certain topics: drugs, children, terrorism and sex are the most frequently misrepresented (followed by europe, foreigners, green, non-green and small furry animals - esp. giant pandas, OK - and large furry animals). Until newspapers can get over their own taboos we stand no chance of making any sort of social progress and even less chance of some half-sensible legislation what does what it says on the tin.
Re: Over 55's
You do know that much all of the stuff that makes your shiny Google & Skype stuff work was done by people over 55...
Now go and play on Twitter (or Facebook or whatever you think is computing) with all of the other spoilt children - While we worry about Unix; and relational databases; and TCP/IP; and the World Wide Web; and C, C++ and Java - The trivial stuff that actual makes everything work.
Sorry, my mistake, Tim Berners-Lee and James Gosling are only just 55.
Sorry again - You may have touched a nerve - I probably spend too much time with people under the age of 35 who think that the internet is the big blue "e"; and wonder why they need a different account name and password to log onto their PC and Facebook; and think that Microsoft invented everything to do with computers.
Uphill, In the snow, both ways.