Web 2.0 created Surveillance 1.984

Web 2.0 has had a massive impact for good on the lives of modern humans. Web 2.0 has also been complicit in ushering in the most advanced, pervasive and Orwellian surveillance state ever witnessed by humanity. You could say that Web 2.0 created Surveillance 1.984.

How might we retain the benefits of a hyper-connected and computer-augmented society without being constantly watched by people whose interests may not always directly align with ours? How can we use technology to fashion a future that we actually want to inhabit?

The full details of the monitoring apparatus that the NSA, CIA and other “security” agencies have constructed are still trickling out from the cache of documents released into the wild by Edward Snowden. What has become clear is that every action performed in the digital arena, whether it be sending an email, making a phone call, browsing a website, tweeting an opinion, buying an item, taking a photo or just moving around with a phone in your pocket, can, and usually is, being intercepted, stored and mined for information. The technologies and services that allow us to be constantly connected to information, colleagues, friends and loved ones at the same time allow the government to snoop on private citizens in an unprecedented, unrequested and effectively unregulated manner.

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Evolving for multiple screens (Video)

Here’s a video of a recent talk I gave with my colleague Stew Gleadow in Sydney and Melbourne in Australia at our ThoughtWorks Live event in May.

It looks at strategies for successfully evolving mobile services and applications over time across a range of screens and platforms. We delve into some case studies on an Australian broadcaster’s second-screen application and a cross-platform approach for a major airline.


Bring your own device … as long as it’s HTML5

As we talk with clients and prospects in the market we’re seeing a steady growth in interest around BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). This trend to allow employees to bring their own hardware (predominantly mobile phones) is putting new stresses and strains on existing IT infrastructure, operations and development practices. There are many pitfalls to watch out for, but if executed successfully, embracing the consumerization of enterprise IT can pay dividends by re-engaging a jaded work-force, simplifying cumbersome workflows and offering a launchpad to a next generation of more supple, usable and maintainable software.


The wave is inevitable

The days when organizations could mandate a limited set of issued (or supported) devices and provide access to services that were designed more around the constraints of existing IT than the users’ needs are ending abruptly. Organizations that are hesitating to overhaul their approaches are finding that employees are quickly finding ways to circumvent existing procedures and systems. It used to be the case that the software and hardware that enterprises offer their employees tended to be superior to what they encountered at home. With the advent of services like GMail, Dropbox and Skype and of hardware like the iPhone and iPad those days are well and truly behind us. Organizations that don’t respond swiftly to embrace this trend are finding themselves saddled with a disgruntled and unproductive workforce and a growing security attack surface as their employees find work-arounds to shoe-horn their favorite tools into their work lives.

BYOD introduces many challenges – security of services and data is high on the list as is distribution and provisioning along with exposing key systems, like email and calendar, to a range of native applications. However this article is focused on the challenges involved in building or migrating applications to work on a variety of devices and a range of contexts.

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