After Hours

Is self-inflicted spyware the next killer app?

Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing fired off his top picks from the O'Reilly emerging technology conference, and here's one of the new techno-jargon VC buzzwords you can expect to make the rounds over the next few months: MyWare.

MyWare is spyware you deploy against yourself, to record all your own

online activities and—presumably—use to teach your computer how to

serve you better.

I'm not sure I like it, but Doctorow seems pretty sold:

"I love this idea: people are good at making decisions and computers are

good at counting them (and computers are bad at making decisions and

people are bad at counting them). My computer should note, count and

process every decision I make — it should notice that I never answer

emials from certain people, it should notice that I never click through

certain stories in my reader, that I load certain pages every day, that

I often search my mailbox for certain kinds of messages and so on.

That's stuff I'm totally unqualified to keep track of, and that

computers are really good at."

Setting aside the notion that any data you invoke can be stolen or

hacked, I'm simply not sold on programmers' or computers' ability to

act effectively on this kind of data. It reeks of Clippy the MS Office

component that put the @$$ in online assistance. I'm a believer in

simple, intuitive interfaces that let the user expressly choose

specific actions, rather than automated systems that guess what I want

and presume to act on it without my desire or permission. But then, I'm

a control freak, and my idea of good design is almost never what big

developers agree with, so here's betting myware becomes one of the top

five VC pitch-words of 2006.

About Jay Garmon

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger — amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

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