YouTube and Terrorism

An Egyptian student studying Engineering at the University of South Florida was sentenced today for a video he put on YouTube.  It showed how to make a bomb detonator from a remote control car that he bought at WalMart.  He narrated the how-to video in Arabic and called the US a “vile nation.”  It had been viewed “hundreds” of times.

This case shows that YouTube and other innovations like Twitter, Facebook and other web 2.0 applications are susceptible to use by people who do not have the best intentions.  Just in the last week, I’ve seen articles about many popular sites and their ability to be used by terrorists.
From Wired, an article about Al Qaeda trying to “infiltrate” Facebook.
From ABC News, an article about terrorists and Twitter.
From Computer World, an article about Google’s refusal to take down, at Sen. Joe Lieberman’s request, videos of American soldiers being attacked by terrorists.
From Znet, an article about how the NSA is monitoring MySpace for terrorists.
All of these stories show the challenge of the Internet and web 2.0.  They allow the good, along with the bad, to communicate faster and share more information with a wider audience.  It is a challenge that we will continue to face as technology continues to evolve.

My Top 5 Ted Talks

TED, or Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a group started in 1984 to bring together the smartest and most interesting people from the year to talk about what they’ve been doing in an 18 minute speech.  In 2003, TED put all of the talks online, free for anyone to watch.

It’s one of my favorite sites and I try to watch a few per week.  Here are my top 5:

Why Watch Blowouts?

If you are like me and DVR sports from time to time, you know how tempting it can be to fast forward to the good parts.

Evan Schumacher’s is a website that will help people decide if they want to watch their DVR’ed games, without knowing the final score or who won.  It only lets you see if one team got blown out, the other team got blown out or if the game overall was a blowout.
I would love to see a site like this for English Premier League and other soccer games that includes other readily accessible data like total goals, shots, yellow cards, red cards and fouls.  This would tell me if a game was worth watching.  I could create an “excitement formula” to give a score to tell me whether a game was worth watching.
I am sure this would be easy to do and people could change the weight of the data to fit their preferences for exciting matches.  This way, I could decide if I wanted to spend 90 valuable minutes of my free time watching a boring 0-0 draw without knowing the outcome beforehand.

Apple, iPhone and WalMart

The Freakonomics blog wonders about Apple’s decision to sell its iPhone at WalMart for only $99.

Will the iPhone loose its “cool” factor by being sold at WalMart?  Will other iPhone users be mad that they paid $300+ earlier and now can get them at WalMart for $99?
It’s a big gamble, but I think it will pay off.  Apple is clearly trying to make the iPhone as ubiqitious as the iPod.  It will be interesting to see if it works out.