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Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2bn

Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2bn

The virtual reality headset has earned a great deal of interest from developers and both Oculus VR and Facebook want to bring it to a much larger audience.


Social networking giant Facebook has bought virtual reality pioneer Oculus VR for for $2bn.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that the company’s general direction with regards to gaming will remain unchanged by the acquisition but that he sees the virtual reality platform as a future method of global communication.

Oculus will operate independently within Facebook to meet its goals with regards to immersive gaming with Facebook only chipping in to throw its weight behind striking deals with more developers and publishers.

‘Oculus’s mission is to enable you to experience the impossible. Their technology opens up the possibility of completely new kinds of experiences,’ said Zuckerberg. ’After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court-side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face, just by putting on goggles in your home.’

Facebook intends to bring the virtual and augmented reality offered by the Oculus Rift into the lives of billions of people.

’Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream, and so were computers and smartphones. The future is comingand we have a chance to build it together,’ added Zuckerberg.

In the last 18 months, the Oculus team has taken more than 75,000 orders for development kits and interest from developers has been high. In a statement from the Oculus VR team, they assure everyone that the Facebook and Oculus teams are very much on the same page with regards to the future and potential for the virtual reality platform.

In reaction to the news that Facebook had acquired Oculus VR, Minecraft developer Markus ‘Notch’ Persson and Oculus VR investor called a halt to plans to bring the open-world cube-rearranging game to the Oculus Rift, citing his uncertainty over Facebook’s motives and their historic instability as a platform as reasons.

’I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition,’[i] said Persson on his blog. [i]’I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook.’

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bit-tech/news/~3/wDaRmpc3Efo/1


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Crave Ep. 152: App lets you make music with a full symphony

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How fast can you solve a Rubik’s cube? Probably not as fast as the CubeStormer 3 Lego robot, which just set a new world record. We jam with Cadenza, an app out of Harvard that lets you play along with a full orchestra, and we get Superman’s POV using a drone, a green screen, and some really creative video. All that and more on this week’s Crave show.

Crave stories:

- Lego robot sets new Rubik’s Cube world record

- Cubli cube robot demonstrates incredible balance

- Tidy Dog: Smart toy bin trains pups to pick up

- Prepare Barbie for battle with 3D-printed armor

- Instrument reads tattoos as sheet music

- Cadenza: You play, and a full orchestra plays with you

- Superman + drone + GoPro = awesome POV footage

Social networking:

- Stephen on Twitter

- Stephen on Google+

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/KqO_PsPphFo/

Christian Bale is top choice to play Steve Jobs, says report

Christian Bale and Steve Jobs

Don’t expect any Batsuits in the new Steve Jobs movie.


(Credit:
Warner Bros and Apple)

Move over, Aston Kutcher, there may soon be a new Steve Jobs in town. An as-yet-untitled movie for Sony Pictures centering around the Apple co-founder has a script by Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network”), but it doesn’t yet have a star attached. Director David Fincher (“Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) is said to be the likeliest person to helm the production. According to a report from TheWrap, Fincher said he would only do the film if Christian Bale signs on as the lead.

The source is a classic unnamed “individual familiar with the project.” Whether that person is a Sony exec or a coffee fetcher, we don’t know. Fincher and Sorkin teamed up previously for “The Social Network,” a geek-flavored film about the rise of Facebook. It would seem natural to turn them loose together on the Steve Jobs story.

Many fans strongly associate Bale with his Batman role, but he does have a notable physical resemblance to Jobs. Back when news first came out about Ashton Kutcher getting his Apple on, CNET was among those rooting for Christian Bale instead, calling him a “strong contender.”

Right now, we’re running on speculation and rumor. Bale would have to ditch his gruff Bat-growl, but he has the acting chops to pull off the complex role. Perhaps he’ll learn from his predecessor’s mistake and avoid the fruitarian diet that landed Kutcher in the hospital.

As long as we’re at it, can we please cast Zach Galifianakis as Steve Wozniak? Share your thoughts in the comments. Would you cast Christian Bale in the role of Steve Jobs?

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/BL6wbq0QrCE/

Interview: London Evening Standard

Leto has made his entrance tonight in a black hooded coat, wielding a baseball bat; more LA drugs dealer than the politically engaged figure in an oversized bow tie he cut at the Oscars. With suitable drama, he throws off the jacket to expose the full glory of his rock Jesus look — shades, man-leggings, tunic skirt, sleeveless T-shirt — whereupon he unleashes his power-vocals on to his fans for two adrenaline-fuelled hours: jumping, grinding, sprinting and simultaneously flirting with what feels like every single member of the crowd. ‘I don’t dive into the mosh pit any more,’ he whispers to me on a break. ‘It’s the fastest way to lose your penis. And I’m proud to say mine is still intact.’

The show is part full-on rock extravaganza, part interactive Leto comedy routine. ‘Hey you,’ he cries into his mic. ‘Great mullet, man. That’s my next haircut. Business at the front. Party at the back.’ This culminates with a stage invasion and a mass selfie, his second of the week: the 42-year-old in a huddle of ecstatic Scandi teens.

It is curious, to some, that Hollywood’s man of the moment would disappear off in the vital afterglow of his Best Supporting Actor win to revel so intimately with the global masses. But then Leto doesn’t follow protocol. Six years before his return to film as Rayon, an HIV-positive, pre-operative transwoman in Dallas Buyers Club, he walked away from Hollywood to tour with his band despite consistent critical acclaim for his gritty, transformative roles. Leto has eschewed the blockbuster juggernaut to success in favour of the slow train, via occasional, challenging roles in the likes of Requiem for a DreamFight Cluband Panic Room. Plus, he has other commitments. He is not only a method actor and singer-songwriter, but a video and documentary producer-director, photographer, painter, businessman and activist. ‘I just follow my gut — as Andy Warhol said, “Labels are for cans not people,” ’ he tells me after the gig.

All this makes Leto a very busy man. After partying all night at the Oscars (‘It was pretty f***ing fantastic to see all those Hollywood dreamers letting loose with such abandon. I looked over and my mother was dancing with Madonna’), and taking a hangover hike to Malibu, he flew to Paris for meetings, the Miu Miu fashion show and more fun: his close friend the photographer Terry Richardson was in town and shot him for this magazine before Leto attended an obscure music awards in Finland, his every word and move pounced on by the global media.

Finally, at 1am, I am whisked past a line of deflated-looking groupies into his dressing room. They eye me up along the corridor, turning a pale shade of green.

‘I’m starting to come down off the week-long pink-cloud high now,’ he tells me, dishing me up some of his tomato soup and a vegetable curry (he is vegan). I can confirm that there is no beer backstage. And I’m a little disappointed that he’s come down from jacked-up flirting mode. Tonight Leto is more business at the front, party at the back.

We start sensible: he doesn’t seem the type, I say, to care about Hollywood accolades. ‘I don’t.’ He slumps down on a black leather sofa. ‘But I would never say, “I don’t give a shit about the Oscars,” because it’s not the whole truth. It’s not about the shiny, naked golden man, or the pat on the back, it’s about being able to stand on a world stage for two minutes in front of a billion people and say something that is meaningful, important to you.’ Leto name-checked his older brother, best friend and bandmate 44-year-old Shannon, his single mum, AIDS victims, outsiders in general, and those fighting for their dreams in Venezuela and Ukraine. ‘I could have really taken the piss. But I didn’t want to wing it with this one. I prepared. I wanted to keep it classy.’ By contrast, at the Independent Spirit Awards, he poked fun at the rumours that constantly trail him: by reputation he is a legendary lothario, recently linked with Lupita Nyong’o, Miley Cyrus and his ex-girlfriend Scarlett Johansson. He thanked ‘all the women I’ve been with, and all the women who think they’ve been with me’ as well as his ‘future ex-wife Lupita’. He tweeted selfies of the pair together in Paris, presumably to cause a stir. It has since been confirmed that they are not, in fact, dating.

At the Golden Globes he shared with Hollywood’s finest that he had waxed his entire body to play Rayon, but stopped short of a Brazilian and had not used prosthetics. What did he do with his male appendage, I ask now — strap it back? ‘A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. But, let’s just say, there are times when you’re not as prepared as you’d like to be…’ he answers cryptically, raising an eyebrow.

Leto seems to flit between composed, pale blue-eyed earnestness and cheeky provocation. ‘I thought about dragging up for the Oscars, going as Rayon, because I knew that she would have loved to be there,’ he says. ‘It’s so much work for girls to get ready. I was brought up by my mum, so I always had an appreciation of women. But now I have more respect for the process. It’s a lot, what women have to do to themselves. But in the end, when you put that final dash of lipstick on and your look all comes together, it really is a glorious reward.’

His sassy, fragile and very human portrayal of Rayon — ‘a hot mess’, as he calls her — and his thoughtful acceptance speech made Leto the true hero of Oscars night. The industry seems to have fallen for a man who, by playing the basic principles of hard-to-get, cannot be fully seduced by it. Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Oprah Winfrey all approached him with open arms on the night, Stevie Nicks gave him the necklace he is now wearing, Al Pacino has since ‘reached out’ — they are due to meet for coffee — and there have been several calls from the White House. ‘There are some exciting proposals. But I don’t know how much more I’m allowed to say. I probably need to clear it with the CIA first.’ Leto is a vociferous Obama supporter and raised funds for the 2008 re-election campaign. He has protested against California’s Proposition 8, which aimed to overturn same-sex marriage, and raised money for Haitian Relief as well as human rights and environmental charities.

I wonder if he is considering another career, in politics. ‘My mum was a teenager when she had us; she used food stamps to feed us, she got helped by social services to go back to school and train as a nurse to try to give her kids some stability. So if I can help or be of service in any way…’ he says. ‘But you know what? I’m too impatient. I’d probably swear in a speech. As George Clooney says, “I’ve f***ed too many chicks and done too many drugs to be in politics.” ’

It’s hard to reconcile Leto the wild front man with the committed method actor who performs extreme feats of self-remoulding in order to morph into his dark, outsider roles. The road to this is more lonely and torturous. During filming for Dallas Buyers Club, Leto only ever appeared on set as Rayon, not ‘meeting’ his co-star Matthew McConaughey or the other actors until after they had wrapped. He even donned lipstick and a pink fluffy jumper and flirted his arse off for his first Skype meeting with director Jean-Marc Vallée. ‘Maybe if I was making romantic comedies, there’d be more immediate silliness, more hanging out in each other’s trailers,’ he tells me. ‘I’ve never really had the kind of joy I experience with the band on set, but then I’m not really looking for that.’

Leto likens his process to ‘being a sculptor’. He lost two stone, lived rough on the streets and abstained from sex with his then girlfriend Cameron Diaz to become the drug-addicted Harry Goldfarb in Requiem for a Dream in 2000. He force-fed himself into obesity, putting on five stone to accurately portray John Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman in Chapter 27 in 2007, for which he eventually suffered gout and was temporarily confined to a wheelchair (take that, Shia LaBeouf). In Mr Nobody, he underwent six hours of make-up to play a decrepit 118-year-old. Like his character Angel Face in Fight Club, who is happily freed from the prison of handsomeness when he is beaten to a pulp and permanently disfigured, Leto appears to make an effort to mask the pretty-boy looks for which, in 1994, he was cast in teen series My So-Called Life. But there is more to this, I say, something self-destructive…

‘All my roles are masochistic or… sadistic.’ His eyes flash with naughtiness. ‘Is that going to be your headline? “Jared Leto: masochist or sadist? You decide.” ’ The sexual edges of this theme can be found in his music. The SM-themed video for ‘Hurricane’, which he directed in 2007, was censored by MTV, and in ‘End of All Days’, on his new album Love Lust Faith + Dreams, he sings: ‘I punish you with pleasure, I pleasure you with pain…’

‘I have very strong self-control. There is something very seductive about it,’ he admits when we discuss his crash, three-stone weight loss for Rayon, during which the slight actor virtually stopped eating. (He used to go to the supermarket just to stare at the food.) ‘I got to understand the mentality of an eating disorder. There are the highs of losing more weight; there’s a rush of endorphins associated with that control. When you have made a severe commitment to losing weight, there is a lot of shame and guilt around eating again. I really suffered that, it’s not a nice feeling…’ But Leto found solace in self-exploration. ‘The process can be very monk-like — there is a history of people who have fasted to achieve enlightenment. There is something in that, getting to know who you are. It changed me.’

I ask him if it was easier to get into the feminine headspace because he was so close to his mum growing up. Was there already a dash of oestrogen in him? ‘Oestrogen?’ He laughs, a little offended. ‘I guess you haven’t heard all the rumours… No, I became a detective, I met with transgendered people, I asked questions: “What was it like to tell your parents?” “What’s it like to be judged?” ’ He experienced this when he first dragged-up and went into Whole Foods. ‘You don’t have to desire the surgery to have your penis cut off, but you do have to understand it. We all have issues with our identity, or know what it’s like not to belong.’

Leto grew up an outsider. His father left after he was born, and Leto never saw him again. (He committed suicide when Leto was eight.) Leto’s teenage mother and the boys eventually fled Louisiana, where they lived with her Cajun parents in a one-bedroom house, to join the hippie movement. They lived in communes, mixed with artists and musicians, and moved around a lot — from Wyoming to Virginia, Colorado, Alaska, Brazil and Haiti — constantly having to make new friends and reinvent themselves. It’s hard to pin Leto down on all of this. He prefers to keep an air of apocryphal mystique. At one point, when we talk about his forefathers, he says that most of his family ‘were probably all in prison’.

Leto grew up wanting to be either a drugs dealer or an artist. At 16, he dropped out of school, before returning to another in Washington. The Leto boys were wild and unruly; they dabbled with drugs, broke into offices and warehouses to steal booze and motorbikes: ‘Other kids went to summer camp; we stole your car.’ Leto steered himself out of the nosedive when he got into college in Philadelphia to study art, and later on to a film course at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The creative focus was his salvation. Meanwhile, Shannon descended further into drug addiction, car-jacking and trouble with the police — the kind of downward spiral that Leto brutally documents in Requiem for a Dream.

But when he moved to LA to pursue a career in music (he says acting was merely a day job to pay the rent), Shannon joined him and they formed the band in 1998. ‘Music saved his life. It was either that or prison. It saved both of us really. Shannon started drumming on pots and pans from an early age; I played a broken, second-hand piano.’

Life on the road with his brother is, after all, what Leto grew up with; it satisfies his constant need for adventure, newness, change. (Thirty Seconds to Mars recently set a Guinness World Record for the most tour dates, 309, on one album cycle.)

Now in his forties, Leto still looks and acts at least a decade younger. There are no plans to stop touring now that, after years of graft, the band has achieved global recognition: Love Lust Faith + Dreams has sold ten million copies and their shows are mainly sold out. ‘We don’t give a shit about our ages. We’re not worrying about that. There are no rules,’ he tells me. And what if he met some girl he wanted to settle down with? ‘Then she’d better have a passport… look at the Rolling Stones, they just keep on going. Maybe me and my brother will be shaking it up there in our sixties. Who knows? Or maybe I’ll just walk away.’

He is even more freewheeling about his future film plans. He’d like to direct a long-form narrative, he says. He has already won multiple MTV awards for Thirty Seconds to Mars’ videos, and a People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival for his 2012 documentary Artifact. This charted the creation of the band’s album This is War and their battle in 2008 with their record label EMI, which sued them for $30 million following a dispute over royalties when, after a tour and successful album, the band found themselves millions of dollars in debt. (The case was eventually dropped.)

For now, however, Leto’s eye is set firmly on his tour schedule. His devotion to his band is almost religious. Next up is Russia, followed by Ukraine. ‘I read that they censored my speech in Russia. They cut what I said about Ukraine. But I’m fully intending to sing ‘This is War’ there.’ Leto usually accompanies the song’s lyrics ‘To fight, to fight, to fight!’ with rampant flag-waving and air fist-pumping. ‘Shit could go down. We’ve already heard some things on the ground that are concerning. Through the band, we are really engaged with young voices all over the world through our social network feeds. I’ve learned so much travelling the world these past six years, it’s changed me. It’s made me a better actor…’

More than anything, Leto is fighting exhaustion now. His eyes are glassy, like marbles, and slowly starting to shut. He only has a few hours to pack and get on a flight to Belarus. He reverts to his humble Academy Awards speech mode, and thanks me for the interview. ‘I’m sorry but I really need to crash,’ he croaks gently.

It looks like Jared Leto’s Oscars week has officially come to an end.

Article source: http://jaredleto.com/thisiswhoireallyam/2014/03/20/interview-london-evening-standard/

Use Cloak to avoid social-network frenemies in real life


(Credit:
Cloak)

A new iPhone app called Cloak promises to help you keep your distance from contacts in your digital circle who you’d rather avoid in real life.

The application, which bills itself as an “antisocial network,” is as simple as they come in that it has a single purpose: to alert you to the nearby whereabouts of flagged Instagram and Foursquare “friends.”

The idea is to let you construct the opposite of a contact list, so that you know when your overly loquacious acquaintance Joe is inching dangerously close to your current location.

Cloak connects to your Instagram and Foursquare accounts and uses the location data associated with your friends’ updates to find out where they are. The app plots people on a map and lets you flag friends to track. When a flagged contact is within a specified range of one block, half a mile, a mile, or two miles, you’ll get a push notification so that you can avoid the approaching person if you’d prefer.

Though it could come in handy when trying to avoid awkward social situations, the iPhone application seems more social shtick than actually antisocial, considering the complex ways people use social networks.

Cloak has at least one major flaw in logic and, thus, practice. Presumably, the people you really want to avoid — exes and enemies — are the ones you long ago deleted from your digital social circle. And for the token few frenemies you’ve kept social ties with, getting an alert to their whereabouts could prove more unsettling than insightful. But such seems to be social life in the digital age: Too complicated for any one app to grasp.

(Via The Washington Post)

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/0vVTa6B9_rU/

Google teases Android Wear for smartwatches

Google teases Android Wear for smartwatches

The Moto 360 is to be joined by the LG G Watch as launch devices for Google’s freshly-unveiled Android Wear smartwatch platform.


Google has officially thrown its hat into the smartwatch ring, announcing the impending launch of a new Android fork dubbed Android Wear and launch devices from partners Motorola and LG.

The concept of having a watch that does more than tell the time isn’t a new one. From the calculator watch craze of the 90s through to unsuccessful attempts by companies like Timex, Fossil, Palm and Microsoft to replace the personal digital assistant – now supplanted by the smartphone – with a wrist-borne equivalent, history is littered with failures. Recently, however, technology has progressed to the point where it’s just about possible to have a truly smart device on your wrist – as proven by the success of the Pebble Kickstarter project and renewed interest from companies like Sony and Samsung.

Now, Google has confirmed rumours that it too is looking to the smartwatch market with avarice, announcing a fork of its Linux-based Android operating system that will form the heart of a new generation of wearables. Dubbed Android Wear – for obvious reasons – the operating system is specifically tailored to bring a subset of Android functionality to the small screens required of a wristwatch. As well as the ability to tell the time, Android Wear devices will function as sports watches with full GPS-based tracking, timing and mapping, and can connect to Android smartphones and tablets to forward notifications from applications like email clients, social networking packages and the dialler.

Its biggest feature, however, comes from its integration with Google Now. Like the implementation in the latest Android 4.4 KitKat build, Google Now on Android Wear is voice-activated: simply say ‘OK, Google’ and the system will perform actions – like sending a text message, launching an app or setting a calendar entry – or web searches based on your vocal instructions, with the results relayed on the smartwatch’s display.

Google has promised devices from numerous partner companies including Fossil, which is clearly not put off by its previous failures to enter the smartwatch market in partnership with Palm and Microsoft, and launch devices from Motorola and LG dubbed the Moto 360 and G Watch respectively. Both devices are expected to launch in the second quarter of this year, but pricing and formal availability are not yet provided. Intel has also indicated that it is working with Google on Android Wear, suggesting that at least one of the impending devices is powered by the company’s latest Quark processor.

If you’re curious as to the platform’s capabilities in the meantime Google has released a teaser video based on the Moto G, reproduced below.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/bit-tech/news/~3/6aXrfN5cS3Q/1


Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/GamingRipplesWeb/~3/yldTio3vKOA/

Crave Ep. 151: Neil Young’s Pono dreams soon to come true

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Neil Young’s PonoMusic service blew past its Kickstarter fundraising goal in one day. Are FLAC files the next wave in music? We also hear some jams from a cyborg drummer on Earth, and wake up to the sweet smells and sounds of the Bacon Alarm.

Crave stories:

- Robotic arm gives amputee drummer better beats

- Bacon alarm clock wafts meat odors from your iPhone

- Forget planking, #whaling is the hot new Vine trend

- Neil Young’s PonoMusic hits Kickstarter

- Watch robotic pole dancers shake their actuators

- Crave giveaway: $500 shopping spree from Rakuten.com Shopping

Social networking:

- Stephen on Twitter

- Stephen on Google+

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/B3HwERwwlfE/

The Web at 25: How it won the White House — and won me back

On assignment.


(Credit:
Johanna DeBiase)

This week I’ve been celebrating 25 years of the Web by retracing my own life, lived largely online, from the Web’s early years to the dot-com boom and bust to the slow emergence of Web 2.0, which I largely missed while in self-imposed digital exile in Alaska. In the final installment today I look at how I came back to the Web just in time for things to get really good.

Look through my author’s profile here at CNET and you might notice that I’m a bit obsessed with following the latest developments in the mobile world, from even the most hopeful iPhone rumors to torture-testing ruggedized Android phones. But back in January of 2007 when the first iPhone was introduced, arguably kicking off the global smartphone craze and eventually helping to push the mobile Web into the mainstream, I missed it completely.

I was focused on being a new father at the time, and although I was back living in the contiguous United States after a stint in a fly-in village in the Alaskan bush where even landline calls came with a 3-second satellite delay, I still had not yet fully re-immersed myself in digital life.

The events of the prior seven years — from being part of the dot-com bust to witnessing firsthand the impacts of climate change in Alaska and touring the mind-boggling nation that is modern China — had all led me to believe that my skills as a journalist might be better used covering issues like energy, the environment, and the politics that drive these for a national radio audience rather than tracking every movement of the hottest startups.

My time in the wilderness had turned me from the hardest-core digital devotee into someone more like my grandmother, a remarkably well-informed octogenarian who has still never touched a keyboard to this day, at least to my knowledge.

But here’s one of the secrets to life that I finally learned the day my now-6-year-old daughter was born: time is our only truly finite resource (although Google and people like Ray Kurzweil seem to be working to change that). Yes, I know it sounds like a ridiculous headline from Thought Catalog, but when faced with the desire to use my time more efficiently so I could spend more of it with my new family, the prospect of reporting on our highly repetitive and inefficient political processes began to feel increasingly corrosive for my soul.

Don’t get me wrong, we could probably use more people scouring the political beat, but it was during the presidential campaign in 2008 that I began to realize I was just over it. Ironically, after covering politics helped draw me away from a career on the Web, it was the unprecedented use of the Web — particularly the social Web — during that campaign that drew me back online.

Tumblr-dry my soul
It wasn’t until August 2008 that Facebook reached 100 million global users (yes, just one-twelfth of its current user count), and the Obama campaign in particular bombarded many of those users with advertising on the social network that encouraged more than 3 million to sign up as supporters of the candidate on Facebook. On election day, 5.4 million people clicked the “I Voted” button on Facebook’s Election ’08 page.

Using this social presence, combined with the campaign’s own social network and an aggressive email and texting campaign, Obama raised half a billion dollars for the campaign on the Web alone. By comparison, the amount of contributions to all candidates from all sources in the 2004 campaign was just $880 million, according to figures from the Federal Election Commission. Arguably, the Web had won the White House for the first time ever.

In 25 years the Web has gone from being ignored to practically winning the White House.


(Credit:

PresidentObama
)

Blogs also played an unprecedented role in that campaign, both the influential partisan sites like DailyKos and HotAir, and official blogs of the candidates that encouraged participation and posting by supporters. I had kept an eye on the blogosphere over the years, even from rural Alaska, and became completely enamored with Tumblr in early 2008, finding it to be a perfect tool to let off steam with a bit of outright mockery of the political system I was becoming increasingly frustrated with covering.

After a six-year absence, I had created yet another in a long line of half-assed Web sites to my name to share my disorganized thoughts with the world. I was back, baby!

My Tumblr was tiny but grew surprisingly quickly by satirizing the hot political stories of the day, and helped bring me fully back to working on the Web with a gig as an editor at AOL in 2009. Something about working for the company that first introduced me to the Web in the mid-’90s and even helped me score my first kiss had the poetic feel of an Elton John song. But as it turns out, the AOL of this century is much different than the one that nurtured me in my youth and I only lasted there for about nine months. But no biggie, as the folks I met through AOL were and continue to be awesome, and it eventually led me here to Crave, where once again, after a nearly decade-long hiatus, I finally felt at home on the Web again.

So that’s my story of love, loss, exile, and homecoming on the Web, spanning almost its entire 25-year history — from an awkward adolescence through the bubble that burst in our faces to the epic quest for meaning amid the chaos of worlds both physical and digital that leads us to today, and a mature Web that isn’t quite perfect, but is pretty damn cool.

#HappyBirthdayAndManyMore


(Credit:
Johanna DeBiase)

But in wrapping this up it also seems only natural to ask what’s next for the Web. I don’t actually think my opinion on that is particularly valuable, but fortunately we did ask the guy who dreamed the whole thing up 25 years ago.

What does strike me, though, is that my first exposure to a computer came at age 8, to online services about four years later, and finally to the Web at age 15. Almost two decades after that, it is the central interface for my life, following important daily face-to-face time with the two redheads I share an abode with, of course.

The smallest of those redheads, my daughter, could perform basic operations on a
tablet at age 2, followed a few years later by surfing certain Web sites on a Netbook. Today she already does homework and pretty major science and craft projects on the Web. By the time she’s my age, with the growth of the Internet of Things and of her digital skills, I have to wonder if she might really be living life on the Web, in a more literal way.

I just hope she takes time out to see the Arctic along the way — the Northern Lights are way more spectacular in person than on YouTube.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/cnet/pRza/~3/lCo3EGtTa78/

The Web at 25: Out of the ashes and onto the Friendster

Resting on the Yukon River in 2003. I went a little further than most when I fled the fallout of the dot-com bust.


(Credit:
Johanna DeBiase)

In part 1 of “The Web at 25,” I recalled the early days of the Web and how it exposed young, emerging nerds like myself to whole new worlds online. In part 2, the story continued as I came of age alongside the Web during the era of the dot-com boom and bust. Today, on the actual 25th birthday of Tim Berners-Lee submitting the concept that became the World Wide Web, I’ll revisit the long, painful hangover (it was a literal hangover, in my case) that followed until the eventual emergence of Web 2.0 that laid the foundation for today’s social and mobile Renaissance.

In 2002 in San Francisco, the South of Market district that once bustled with startups paying high rents had become a wasteland of empty offices. There was a mass exodus of tens of thousands from the Bay Area, including me. After years of being a teenage Web monkey and writer in high demand for just my most basic skills, I took the only job offered me, sight unseen, in Galena, Alaska, at an AM radio station where I was one of two full-time employees.

After a decade of living the digital revolution, I had gone all analog. And unlike in Silicon Valley, where loyalty was only as strong as the next best offer and hopping from startup to startup was common, I had signed a two-year contract. The penalty for breaking that contract was to pay back the thousands of dollars in moving expenses it took to relocate someone from the lower 48 to a tiny fly-in village that’s closer to Siberia than to the state capitol in Juneau. I was already in plenty of debt thanks to some paychecks that never arrived from now-bankrupt startups, so I wasn’t about to leave. I was locked in until at least 2004.

My Web design skills were still sub-par in 2002. (Click to enlarge.)


(Credit:
Eric Mack/CNET)

For a while, I tried to juggle the responsibilities of running the only radio station within 250 miles in all directions — news, weather, and country music in the morning, more news and classic rock in the afternoons — with trying not to freeze to death and still keeping a toe in the digital waters from a distance.

I gathered up other dot-com refugees from my Ironminds days and edited an online concern called Nine Planets that probably looked way too much like McSweeney’s in retrospect. That only lasted for a few months, before eventually being demoted to dwell in the forgotten spaces, much like the no-longer ninth planet the name references. In mid 2002, I posted this excuse for the demise of the site, which would also come to serve as my final goodbye to the Web 1.0 world:

The straight and strange truth is that Nine Planets currently lives in a remote rural village on the Yukon River in Western Alaska to which no roads lead. This makes it particularly difficult for Nine Planets to get a decent computer system and/or Internet connection. 24 hours of sunlight during the summer made it particularly difficult to continue spending extra hours at work where the only digital devices reside. When Nine Planets did find a decent computer on eBay, it took a month to be shipped from Maine and appears to have gotten royally f****d up in the process. But more darkness and equipment are on their way, and hence more depression and content will surely follow.

More content did not follow. At least not from me.

A cyborg no more
After that, I spent the next few years living life as a “normal” person. I was no longer an early adopter; I did not own a cell phone or have access to broadband; I did not use the word “content” in an online context. After spending most of my life plugged in, I was now less wired than my mother, who was just beginning to use email at the time.

Strangely, I didn’t miss it much. Perhaps because there was plenty to distract me. Besides the fascinating landscape, people, culture, weather, and Northern Lights, the local bar charged just three bucks for any drink you wanted. ANY drink. During evenings and weekends, I was generally a bit tipsy. But during working hours I was getting more intimate with tech that I used to take for granted. I could service and maintain a 12,000-watt AM transmitter on my own, and helped the village set up an ad hoc cell phone network run off of our station’s tower. It was more empowering than being able to design Web sites poorly, and by the time my two years was up, I was also starting to sober up (thanks in no small part to my future wife). More on what all that was like here.

Even largely removed from the Web, I watched Web 2.0 slowly emerge. If something caught on in my tiny village so far removed from civilization, it was going to take off. Strangely, I found that this made Galena a better barometer for the direction the Web would take than the words of supposed gurus in the Silicon Valley hype zone.

Village teenagers and other young adults went absolutely nuts for Friendster early on in the life of the pioneering social network, and of course MySpace followed, and even Facebook was talked about in 2004, before it was available to those beyond Ivy League schools. This kind of chatter was rarely heard at my own high school just seven years prior. The Web had completed the transition from the fringes of youth culture to becoming the bedrock of its mainstream foundation.

Slightly older transplants like myself were also hip to nascent social networks, and started to flock to early blogging platforms like Blogger and LiveJournal to chronicle our great Alaskan adventures. The emergence of Google as a superpower and its many successes in organizing the Web were also evident and undeniable as far away as the Yukon as it filed for its IPO in 2004.

Out of the wild
When I finally left Alaska in 2005, having successfully survived the ordeal and scored a brilliant wife in the process, there were more than 8 billion Web pages online, more than one for each person on the planet. Broadband had become much more commonplace, opening the door for the success of YouTube, Skype,
iTunes, and even wackier digital environments like Second Life.

This period may be the second dot-com boom that nobody noticed. Or they did, but didn’t want to say anything and jinx it all, given what happened last time. By 2006, Google had indexed more than 25 billion Web pages, or almost four for every person on Earth, along with 1.3 billion images, and the search engine was processing 400 million queries per day.

During the Web’s years in the virtual wilderness of sorts, and while I was living in the literal wild, the next-generation www was quietly being built and seemed to emerge all at once around that time. Digg and others helped introduce us to the power of sharing and viral content; Flickr and YouTube enabled a more visual Web worth sharing; and a crowdsourced free encyclopedia popularized the term “wiki” as it became the biggest reference source online, with more than 750,000 articles by 2005.

With this arrival of Web 2.0 came the maturing of Web culture, and the creation of a new generation of celebrities created, nurtured, and exploded by social media. (Where have you gone, Amanda Congdon?)

Before returning to the lower 48 to reconnect with the digital world and sun in the winter, I spent half a year in Asia and witnessed the other dimension of the reinvigorated Web that was soon to crash on these shores. In China, due to the high cost of cellular voice calls, everyone was texting, all the time. Like, even more than we do now. It was already all mobile, all the time over there, and it was easy to see why. Young middle-class Chinese breezed through their days, dashing off brief communiques 10 at a time to lay out and adjust the day’s agenda on the go.

Seeing this helped me to understand the success of Twitter that would soon follow in the United States, even as microblogging bewildered many people who simply could not understand the point of communicating in short bursts. Even then, before Facebook finally overtook MySpace, before the iPhone, it was clear that the world was becoming more social and more mobile.


Texting has been big in China for some time. Like, really big.


(Credit:

China-mike.com
)

By 2006 I was married with a child and a mortgage on the way and settled back in the lower 48, although still far from the once-again-bustling San Francisco Bay Area. New Mexico still seems like a happy compromise between the total isolation of the Alaskan bush and the more crowded coastal tech hubs. Also, remember that pitch we heard back at the beginning of the Web about a future filled with telecommuting masses? Well, it turns out to be kind of awesome, especially for a new dad.

The Web and I came of age at the same time and had to be separated for a bit to get through our growing pains independently, but by 2007 we were both fully embracing our adulthood. The cool thing about coming into your own is that it allows you to focus on just creating and building amazing things. In the next and final installment of this series I’ll wrap it up with a look at today’s golden age of the fully grown Web.

CNET comments are currently down for maintenance, and should be back soon. In the meantime, please share your memories, and parts of early Web history I’ve missed, on Twitter at @crave and @ericcmack.

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