I subscribe to a number of paper.li dailies. I use them to aggregate news stories for me that I probably wouldn’t find on the BBC – Anonymous, civil liberties, censorship etcetera.
So I was a little perturbed when I couldn’t access them yesterday. I got the emails with the links alright, but the links didn’t work. Rather than my selected Daily, I got this:
My first thought, naturally, was that some sinister, subtle censorship was underway – perhaps one of the dailies included a proxy for The Pirate Bay and BT felt it necessary to ‘block’ it. Far-fetched, maybe – but the society we now have makes such thoughts inevitable. It turned out not to be censorship, but (or so I understand) ‘DNS issues’ at paper.li.
But I’m still concerned. Look at the page that BT/Yahoo sent me to. Did I mean ‘gap.co.uk’? Now by what stretch of the imagination does mis-typing ‘paper.li’ end up with ‘gap.co.uk’?
Gap Inc, says Gap, “is a leading global specialty retailer offering clothing, accessories, and personal care products for men, women, children, and babies under the Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piperlime, and Athleta brands.” Yeah, well, I guess that can easily be confused with an off-the-wall news aggregator.
Then there’s the ‘related searches’. Now, how can there be a related search when I haven’t made a search?
The simple fact is that these are all paid-for adverts. I don’t actually mind that. But what I seriously object to is BT/Yahoo trying to pretend that they’re providing me with a service when they’re simply accepting money from advertisers. It’s this low-level petty deceit that I find both disturbing and frankly pathetic.
Before I say anything else, let me just say that I really, really like Sophos; and I really, really like NakedSecurity; and I really, really like Graham Cluley. This is really, really just a comment on how the internet has upset the status quo rather than a criticism of any of the above.
Purely coincidentally I was talking to a fellow freelancer who, like me, is old enough to remember the golden, halcyon days of freelancing back in the mists of the last century. The internet has destroyed all that, along with the majority of magazines
I used to write for for whom I used to write.
“Today,” I said, “company blogs have replaced independent magazines. Just take NakedSecurity, which competes head on with the security magazines in terms of content.”
I stand by that. It’s a great blog and a great read written by experts in their subject. But the one thing it isn’t is ‘independent’.
Consider one of today’s news items: Microsoft and Symantec jointly took down the Bamital botnet (my news story is on Infosecurity Mag here). The problem is that Symantec, a direct competitor of Sophos, gets hardly a look-in on the Sophos blog – which is headlined: Bamital botnet dismantled, as Microsoft seizes control of malware servers.
In fact, you wouldn’t think that Symantec was involved in the actual takedown at all judging from the Sophos account – despite the fact that it published an excellent and detailed analysis of Bamital today.
Coincidence? Possibly; but I doubt it. The problem is that NakedSecurity is so good and so popular that it is often taken as news. It isn’t. It’s a marketing machine for Sophos – and readers should always bear in mind (not just for NakedSecurity, but for all of the company blogs that are replacing the magazines) that the one thing you cannot get from a company blog is independent news.