A few weeks back we were having a discussion about Blizzard's short-lived plan to require real names on its forums. Although that effort failed, Google CEO Eric Schmidt would argue it's just a temporary victory for fans of anonymity. According to Schmidt, the current situation is simply too dangerous, and eventually governments will require some type of verification. He also points out that current AI technology is good enough to identify you anyway, simply using online posts, Facebook photos, and so on. Anyone paying attention to the news has noticed these trends already, particularly in China and countries with fundamentalist regimes. I'd also point out the flap over Wikileaks; I could easy see the politicians using that hubbub as an excuse to impose tighter restrictions on the internet. How will the quality and quantity of information on the internet change without anonymity?
It was with some surprise today that I learned of the demise of CompuServe Classic, aka CompuServe, which really began as a true online service in 1979, but started well before that. Why the surprise? Because like everyone else, I assumed it was already dead at the hands of the World Wide Web, or what is simply referred to today - though not entirely correctly - as the Internet. I have semi-fond memories of as late as roughly 1994 dabbling in text-only CompuServe on my Commodore Amiga 500 in my college dorm room, though I of course spent far more time on local free BBS systems, which is where I got my first exposure to Internet newsgroups (1994). It wouldn't be the only expensive pay-by-the-hour proprietary online service I would dabble in--later I would get into the impressive ImagiNation Network (INN)/The Sierra Network (TSN) and eventually AOL, before being one of the first 20,000 to give the @Home high speed cable Internet through Comcast a whirl. With a few minor deviations here and there, I haven't looked back since.
It's a bit sobering to think that without the WWW/Internet and the need for essentially all-you-can-surf-high-speed-access-for-one-low-price, if we'd still be mired in pay-by-the-hour-proprietary-hell and what that would have done to the computer industry (not to mention every business, and hell, everything else that relies on instant communication). It NEEDED the Internet to keep thriving, and now we have every day devices whose often primary purpose is simply getting us on the Web. Yes, sometimes things do happen for a reason, and natural evolution does play out its course of action properly. Goodbye, CompuServe, we won't miss you, but we certainly won't forget you and all the other services like you over the years...
I am browsing the Internet right now from an Internet Cafe in Japan and I have to say that the way they do Net Cafes over here is excellent.
I have sampled about 5 different Net Cafes, but the one I am in now is far and away the best: Manboo.
Despite its unfortunate name, for 200 Yen an hour you get a private cubicle, a nice leather chair, headphones, a high speed internet connection, and a big screen TV. You can check out mangas and DVDs to browse in your cubicle just like in a library.