FACEBOOK: THE MOVIE?

You always know when something has gone thermonuclear in the broader pop cultural landscape when a movie’s being made about it.

But here’s a crazy new story: Sony Pictures is planning to develop a movie about Facebook. As in the controversial and questionable origins of Facebook. The crazier part? Aaron Sorkin – yes, that Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing and Charlie Wilson’s War fame – is involved in the writing and production.

Thing I want to know is: who will play Mark Zuckerberg? And how will this film get made without Sony getting sued for defamation? And finally, why a movie about Facebook’s origins? Is it really that sexy a story to tell? Oh, and can we please, please, please make those guys from ConnectU.com the main villains? I find those Winklevoss boys incredibly unlikable and unsympathetic victims.

SOME PERSONAL NEWS

Alright. It’s been a wild and crazy past week. Here’s the update in a non-sequential order:

* I lost my job with the software company I worked at Monday of last week.
* My grandfather (my mom’s dad) passed away on Thursday of last week.
* We had the visitation on Monday, funeral itself yesterday and a move-out of my grandfather’s apartment today.
* I will be away at a friend’s cottage for the Labour Day weekend.
* I’m thinking of going back for re-training in a new field.

They say it’s always the darkest before the dawn. Well, today’s really the first day where I feel like suddenly, I’m not angry and sad like I was after losing my job or overwhelmed with things like when we all found out about my grandfather’s death last week (he was 90 years old and it was peaceful, which is really all one can ask for in this life).

I’m hoping now, with summer finally ending, this is the start of a new era. It’s easy to say how shitty 2007 and much of 2008 have turned out. Not saying they haven’t been bad years. But I’m not going to let all this bad stuff destroy me. I came incredibly close last year to letting it all consume me, but not this time. Fuck that.

Oh, and the Beijing Olympics are over. I barely saw the Closing Ceremonies in the midst of the chaos last week, but it was quite good I heard and definitely builds up anticipation for London in 2012.

MORE CHALLENGES

I got some unfortunate news yesterday. I won’t go into major details about it, but needless to say it’s going to involve some major personal changes for me. It’s not life-threatening, just something I need to deal with for now.

If you want to know what’s up, email me or IM me. I’d just prefer not to broadcast it over the blog.

OLYMPICS: Hey, so I was wrong. I thought Canada’s performance at the Beijing Games was, um, sub-par at the very least in the first week. Well, here it is, the Games are more than half-over, and now Canada’s got 13 – a very lucky 13 – medals to its name. Good on Canada!

LEGO PHOTOS

- Mike Stimpson, Wired.com

- Mike Stimpson, Wired.com

Here’s an interesting link to a photo set by a Lego fan named Mike Stimpson. He’s done a re-creation of some of the most incredibly photos even taken (at least, from a photojournalism perspective) with Lego characters! Some of the photos are still disturbing as hell and the Lego images only remind you of that fact. Definitely worth checking out.

TUMBLR: Also, I’ve decided to take the plunge – I’m on Tumblr now. It’s a sorta blog without the editorial comment – my Tumblr’s going to be a collection of my favourite things on the Web. Check out my site – it’s very new, so there’s not a tonne of stuff there, I admit. Yet.

OLYMPICS: So after a week of real concern Canada might get hosed at this year’s Olympics in terms of medals, we now have nine medals. Karen Cockburn managed to land the silver today in the women’s trampoline, while the men’s team competition in equestrian also won a silver. All I’m going to say is I’m just glad we’re ahead of North Korea now in the medal standings.

WHY TECHNOLOGY MATTERS IN POLITICS

- Salon.com

- Salon.com

In taking a small break from the Olympics on this blog, here’s a post that’s more important to the state of the American electorate.

Question – how important is it for politicians to be wired?

The answer is: very.

Salon has an article on the, um, technological challenges Republican Presidential candidate John McCain has. It’s not a very flattering portrait of the man’s limitations when it comes to the Web; he alleges he’s never had a particular reason to send an email or even Google.

Come again? What year is this? This is a man whom has been part of the U.S. Congress since the 1980’s – how could he possibly be this incompetent with one of the key apparatuses – the Internet – of the American experience?

I’m still baffled how the moribund Republican Party managed to select, quite possibly, the least qualified candidate to be the prospective leader of the Free World. I suspect many folks, under no illusions from the get-go of this marathon to the White House, know that McCain’s got about as many liabilities as a Presidential candidate can have.

Never mind the fact he’s the oldest candidate ever to run – McCain’s got very little talent in using the now-classic Karl Rove-esque formula of divide-and-conquer-America-to-win-a-Presidency. His efforts to woo the Religious Right are, shall we say, a mixed result at best. He’s positively radioactive in almost every major demographic in America with the exception of white, older males (gee, that’s a stretch for McCain). Worse, his personal history and renowned temper does call into question whether he’s in a position to call out Barack Obama over questions of “values” and “morality.” Finally, why does no one seem interested in posting stories over the shady, questionable aspects of McCain’s political career pre-George W. Bush? Why is the American media still trying to paint this man as a “maverick” who suffered at the hands of his Vietnamese torturers for four years, thus automatically turning him into an American hero (if McCain qualifies as a “hero” in this day and age, man is America starved for people to admire). No one doubts he went through those terrible events, but how does any of that qualify him to be President? I was beaten up in school many times throughout my primary grades – does that make me a certified expert on conflict management among children? Hardly.

But I digress. The point of the Salon article is pretty clear: comparing McCain, a technological troglodyte, to Barack Obama is like comparing a Wright Brothers’ plane to a space shuttle. There is no comparison. Obama is profoundly connected with technology; his web site is absolutely incredible (one of the guys from Facebook, Chris Hughes, is in charge of My.BarackObama.com and it is a terrific site) and Obama himself has referenced the importance of digital technology in his platform. His policies on the Web are amazingly progressive and pro-network neutrality. This, in stark contrast to McCain, a man whom has helped out the big telecommunications companies in their efforts to further deregulate (read: raise costs) the industry and thus worsen the web experience for people paying exorbitant rates for capped, slower access no other nation would tolerate (well, except for Canada).

Here in Canada, it’s not an election year (yet) and where the candidates stand on issues of technology haven’t really been made a matter of policy. But the Conservatives do let action, or lack of it, speak louder than their words. The government’s speak-no-evil, hear-no-evil strategy to the abuses companies like Rogers, Bell and Telus heap onto Canadians when it comes to cell phone rates and traffic shaping online are well known. The Conservatives (and the Liberals) have also put forth some exceedingly ill-informed proposed bills on copyright legislation that could have been written back in 1998, considering how out-of-touch the bills are with the average citizen. Or is it just bending over backwards for big multinational conglomerates?

In any case, getting people interested in technological issues as a matter of policy is hard. Most people generally don’t care about government activities unless the affairs of government directly affects them, positively or negatively, or if there’s scandal involved. And considering the vast, vast, vast majority of people interested in issues of technology aren’t exactly known for their overwhelming participation in the democratic process (i.e. youth), it makes sense the Conservatives and Liberals don’t care much about technology or passing informed, well-considered legislation.

THE DARKER SIDE OF MAD MEN?

- AMC Stills

- AMC Stills

With the second season of Mad Men now in full swing, this year’s season is already demonstrating a fascinating and considerably darker shift in the show’s tone. It’s undeniable that so far this season, the characters in Mad Men have gone a shade into the shadows – most notably, Don Draper himself.

Never mind that Don looked at his most corporate, cruel and menacing when firing Lois, his sweet but admittedly dim secretary. Last night’s most shocking and surprising moment happens just moments after above’s photo is taken: Draper aggressively and violently pulls Bobbi Barrett’s hair and then shoves his hand up into her crotch, whispering in a quiet, raging manner, “I will ruin him.”

It’s a decidedly dark moment in the show – perhaps the darkest so far. It’s alarming to see Don – a moody, quietly desperate man – doing something so decidedly violent. While Don is capable of anger, rage and violence – remember last year with him shaking Betty’s arms after Roger came over for dinner? – as all people are, last night represented a turning point for me when it comes to the show. The show’s tone is getting darker, which is only making a brilliant show even better.

One thing Season Two has been notable for thus far is how Matt Weiner is really getting in deep on the character’s interior and family lives. While Don and Betty – talk about keeping up appearances – continue to struggle, we’re also seeing Peter and Trudy battle over a baby, a frustrated Harry and his wife (watch for Harry’s role to likely get larger and larger over the next few seasons, now that he’s in charge of television at Sterling Cooper), and Joan. Oh Joan. Not sure what to think about you these days.

OLYMPICS: So, China’s already got 14 medals, leads the medal standings and is winning events with almost-robotic like efficiency. We’re not even half-way through the first week and the Beijing Games already look like a whitewash between China and the U.S. battling it out for the top spot in medals.

Call me crazy, but even in a field as deep as the Beijing Games, shouldn’t Canada already have some piece of the medal action? How does North Korea have four medals already?

I-PATRIOT ACT

In today’s climate of fear and defensive posturing that governments around the world seem locked into, there’s nothing more potentially unnerving than an unpredictable, far-reaching conduit in which ordinary citizens are tapped into. That, my friends, is of course the Internet.

In case anyone remembers the aftermath of 9/11 and all the legal, political and military pivots that effectively turned America into The United States of Paranoia (albeit before Iraq, Katrina, the Recession-Depression that’s starting, extraordinary rendition, CIA-approved torture tactics… does it ever end?), there were two little bills that changed America forever: The now-infamous Patriot Act and Patriot Act II.

Well, consider the nature of government when it comes to encroachment of powers. Governments will sometimes use events (read: 9/11) as catalysts to enact legislation that would be inconceivable under normal conditions. Of course, no one would ever assume a government would conduct a false flag operation to justify certain actions in government, right?

Of course, smart men like Lawrence Lessig know better. Lessig – a man far more capable of formulating reasoned, sensible government policy than government mandarins – spoke at this year’s Brainstorm Tech conference about “an i-9/11 event” that could enable the U.S. government to completely change how the Internet works in America (and really, how the world accesses the Internet too).

We’re talking the whole hog of totalitarianism here, folks: Internet ID cards to govern where, when and who goes online; massive, overarching social tracking technology; blocking and filtering of web sites in public forums like libraries (!) that mysteriously don’t fall in with mainstream-approved readings; vast spy databases – the list goes on and on and on.

Don’t think for a moment this isn’t possible. Nobody saw 9/11 coming and look what happened there. What if a huge cyberterrorist attack – we’re talking a monumental, Denial-of-Service-Attacking, data eliminating, shit hits the fan bad – happens in a major American city or the entire East Coast? It doesn’t even have to be al-Qaeda-led, either. Hell, when you consider all the unsettling, questionable aspects of 9/11, you don’t have to look too far to wonder exactly who benefits from this kind of cyber law.

So let’s say it happens and this “Cyber Act” is brought into law: if you buy into this system of having ISPs reporting back data on your online habits to the government, you get access to the upcoming Internet2 – a sweet, super-fast replacement to the current architecture of the Web currently in development. Sort of like you’re the horse, Internet2 is the carrot.

You refuse to buy in, you’re a target for government surveillance (at least, now it’s U.S. government spying on Americans that’s suddenly legal and lawful, as opposed to the “extra-legal” spying happening now).

Even if you think this is all fear-mongering, just read the note, it’s informative at least.

OLYMPICS: There’s just two days left before the Games of the Chinese Olympiad (hey, not as if the IOC has any control over these Games anymore) commence. The New York Times has a really cool interactive Flash-based graphic that measures medal counts by country since the first Summer Olympics in 1896.