by Mike Shea on 24 September 2003
"chat isn't safe"
- Geoff Sutton of Microsoft after MSN disables unmoderated chat rooms due to "pornography and sexual predators".
Microsoft's position sounds so Orwell-like that it isn't even funny. The above statement could be said by any beaurocracy about speech, writing, communication of any sort, even the English language. In Orwell's 1984, the Inner Party has a new form of English called Newspeak designed to inhibit independent thought. How far away are ideas like this? If we are already treating open forms of communication as dangerous, how far is it until we decide that the use of certain words are inherently dangerous?
It doesn't matter that Microsoft is a corporation. When you have as big a market as companies have like Walmart or Microsoft, you have created a commercial government. Censorship is censorship regardless of whether it is a government law or a giant megacorp removing a product from a shelf.
Communication should be free.
"There is no question but that chat rooms generally tend to be very dangerous places for children," - Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, USA Today.
Are chat rooms more dangerous than the hotel rooms where they meet up? How about busy streets? Crack dens? Parties? Clubs? Drunk behind the wheel? Catholic church? Chat rooms are not dangerous. Communication is not dangerous. Acting upon it can be and has been long before computers ever existed. We should remove the tongues and ears of our children to make sure they don't hear anything or say anything that we might find objectionable.
This Sony Wireless Laptop isn't much of a leap in technology, but it got me thinking that perhaps the wireless laptop is the best way to achieve portable Everquest. The video and processor is a bit less than a desktop you could get for half the price, but the size and portability is quite good. As laptops get more powerful and wireless 802.11b access proliferates, this might be the best way to connect to your virtual world in the real world. This Toshiba widescreen laptop or this Alienware powerhouse laptop might work better for EQ. The Apple Powerbook would be nice if EQ wasn't the main focus.
The Trio 600 is probably one of the coolest "smartphones" I've seen. It can apparently surf full sized web pages, something that handhelds really need. I love my Nokia 6800 but its web surfing is limited to the simplest of pages. If all web sites followed web standards, XHTML, and CSS, perhaps that would solve this problem.
Sony's bluetooth enabled PSP portable system may be the future of portable online gaming. We can only hope.
Send comments to email@example.com or follow @mshea on Twitter. If you enjoyed this article, please use this link to Amazon.com for your next online purchase.