Tag Archives: rant

Facebook TOS Revision Ploy

I find facebook really, really creepy, and refuse to open an account, despite a fair amount of prompting from friends. The idea of sharing information with peers like that is great. That is what blogs, email, IM, message boards, coffee houses and bars (all places where you mostly control your information. Except for the last one anyway.)are for. The idea of sharing information with Facebook, Inc. and their “trusted third parties” is not so great.
Their latest ploy to look open and concerned for the rights of their users is genuinely spectacular; I didn’t manage to figure out how it was going to work until I read around and saw it explained. This consumerist article is a pretty good overview. The current of posturing started over some unsolicited revisions to the TOS that were so objectionable that the normally uninterested complained. They quickly reverted the changes lest the “cool people” leave, and they end up like friendster. They then claimed they would “Open up the process” and produced a new draft terms of service (and a useless, totally nonbinding “Statement of Principles“). The draft TOS is actually, on a cursitory reading, substantally less objectionable than the old one, and they even made some cosmetic changes based on user input. However, there are two little problems.
1. The new “easy to read” terms don’t appear to be written in a legally rigorous way. If challanged, it should be easy to find/make loopholes for whatever happens.
and, far more interesting,
2. For the vote to count they are requiring 30% of users active in the last month to vote, and the estimates floating around the ‘net last night were more like 10%. The theory is that the whole arrangement is a ploy to be able to say “See? No one cares.” and go on with business as usual. This is actually a rather clever tactic if indeed that is the objective.
Accusations of not adequately publicizing the vote in order to make their point have already begun. It should be fun to watch, indignant hipsters vs. corporate entity desperately trying to look cool is usually a good show.

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Lexington’s Unsightly Hole

The hackers have been meeting up at third street stuff (my second favorite coffee house after Common Grounds)on weeknights for a while, which means I walk by Limestone and Vine most afternoons right past this:
the unsightly hole in the middle of Lexington’s downtown. Every other time I walk by it seems like someone comments on it, usually asking where The Dame has moved.
Everyone remotely alert living in Lexington is reasonably familiar with the hole, it used to be a block that contained interesting things; Mia’s, Busters’, The Dame, The Mad Hatter, etc. It is now the future site of the Webb companies CenterePointe project (yes, with TWO unnecessary ‘e’s), a 550ft mixed-use monstrosity which has been the source of endless controversy. This UrbanOhio thread (I don’t know anything about the site) has aggregated most of the news on it. Take a look at the renderings for the current design:
My two thoughts are that the design would be hilariously phallic if it weren’t about to become the tallest building in Kentucky, squarely in the middle of Lexington’s downtown, and that it, quite appropriately, looks like it’s giving the city the finger. It’s actually a little toned down from the earlier renderings in that regard.

The fact that the previous big, ugly, overpriced mixed-use structure put up in Lexington (Center Court) was such a resounding success that even Starbucks moved out should give a good idea of what the demand for that kind of space is in the area. One small high point, I am pleased to see that the current revision is going to have drastically more meeting space in the Marriott-managed hotel that is planned as one of the primary tenants, that space could be used to host conferences and keep the hotel alive after the Equestrian Games are over in 2010 (assuming the damn thing is even done by then), and Lexington goes back to having little demand for a giant hotel in the middle of the city.

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