2014: Let's all try to do better this year

2014: Let's all try to do better this year

Summary: You can describe 2013 in four words: NSA, shutdown, twerking, and selfie. Sigh. We need to do better this year. Humanity had better step up its game.


I always consider my first waking workday thought of a new year to be interesting and worthy of note.

I pay attention to that first waking workday thought, because it's often more broadly focused than love for my wife (first thought of every new year) or the typical morning-after-celebration pain.

This year's first waking workday thought was this: let's all try to do better this year.

We -- as a technology community (and, frankly, as a species) -- didn't distinguish ourselves last year. In fact, last year was pretty much a bummer when it comes to living up to our better angels.

Whether it was the NSA debacle, the ongoing security breaches, the constant onslaughts of cyberattacks and cybercrimes, Microsoft's multiple personality disorders, Facebook's wacky privacy policy changes, the death of the mainstream PC, Apple's release of products before their time, Google's ongoing attempts to out-NSA the NSA, Amazon's silly (but cool) drones PR stunt, the IT cautionary case study that is Obamacare, the behavior of our world leaders, the shutdown of the entire US government, or the fact that Miley Cyrus was the "most searched" person in 2013 and Nelson Mandela didn't even make it into the top 10... none of it is stuff we can be proud of.

You can describe 2013 in four words: NSA, shutdown, twerking, and selfie.

Sigh. We need to do better this year. Humanity had better step up its game.

That, then, was my first waking workday thought of 2014. Think about it. I sure will.

P.S. For those of you wondering about bodily functions and coffee, those are pre-waking thoughts and don't count.

Topics: Security, Amazon, Google, Government, Government US, Microsoft, Privacy


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Hope your thoughts of the Humanity come true!

    Happy New Year David!
    • Back at ya!

      Happy New Year to you, too... and to all of you out there!
      David Gewirtz
  • sadly social media brings out the worst

    Not that they are worse than the worst of yore but that they are elevated in visibility and ultimately drag everything down to the lowest common denominator. Its a conundrum for which there doesn't appear to be a foreseeable solution.
    • If you are worried about NSA then....

      ... it's time to move to Linux and open source software. I have done that move over 6 years ago. No malware, no spyware, no crapware, no Windows on my PC. No Facebook. Never.
      Napoleon XIV
      • of course... try my solution its better

        We heard that before... Java was the answer. That was one of the biggest lies ever.

        No thanks, I don't believe the self serving dogma.

        The OS has nothing to do with network snooping, if anything most network equipment nowadays is Linux Kernel based. The problem is the network. To be certain there are vulnerabilities in all layers but the network is fundamentally the link that enables and transports the problem.
        • Funny you mention java

          2013 turned out to be a nightmare for maintaining java. Remember the old DLL hell that Java was supposed to fix. Well now we have java runtime hell.

          It was funny watching IT scramble to update all of our internal programs while warning users NOT to apply the security updates because it broke 1/2 of our programs and we had to wait for the developers to fix their code.

          That and the outdated, ugly grey GUI's ...reminds me of an old Slowaris workstation!

          Now that win7 is widely deployed, java has got to be the new IT nightmare.
      • Oh, how naive...

        Because Linux and open source prevent the government from intercepting your email and web browsing. Because Linux and open source prevent social engineering attacks. Because Linux and open source prevent corporate servers from hacks. Using Linux or any other open source software while still connected to the Internet protects you from nothing.

        It's pretty much impossible to function in modern society without some form of surveillance, and if you think the government is bad, start taking notice of all of the privately owned cameras watching you, and the number of privately owned computer systems you interact with.
  • Rescue the American Democracy and/or Republic

    Maybe this year technology and more importantly those human beings who are the masters of technology can do good and use their gifts and skills for good.

    We see what greed has brought us. We have seen what the competition between monied corporate dictatorships has done to our so-called now pho-democracy.

    It can be said at so many levels now... "your device is the virus."

    Privacy will be a central issue this coming year. Also, damage control from the massive destruction of "trust" will be a major theme. I'm not completely sure, but I think that the conduct of American corporations combined with the wholesale unconstitutional spying on the part of the government may severely damage our tech industry and most definitely "the American brand."

    Innovation vs. sociopathic greed???
    • Do you have a plan?

      If the Republic needs restoring, I'm guessing that some activism will be involved. I just hope that you don't think it requires killing people suspected of voting the wrong way.
      John L. Ries
  • You heard him

    GOP, let's do better and not do a Republican shutdown again this year
    D.J. 43
    • It was a Democrat shut down.

      The Democrat Senate and Democrat president refused to sign the budget. But, way to be successfully indoctrinated by the press into thinking the guys who presented the budget were the guys who shut down the government.
      • Wrong

        The Senate refused to pass the CR passed by the House with the defunding of the ACA in place; they stripped it out and the House insisted on putting it back.

        Earlier, both houses passed a budget, but no conference was ever convened (for whatever reason).
        John L. Ries
        • Precisely. Democrats in the senate

          rejected the budget, thus shutting down the government.
          • To follow up, the budget without ACA funding could

            have been passed and then ACA funding addressed separately in order to avoid a shutdown. Democrats preferred a shutdown instead.
          • Could have been...

            ...perhaps should have been, but wasn't (I did say there was plenty of blame to go around). But the risk of force plays is that they sometimes backfire. Of course, the House could have (months before), drafted and passed all of the appropriations bills on the basis of its own budget and forwarded them all to the Senate for approval. It didn't. Instead, the House passed a CR at the last minute its leaders had very good reason to believe the Senate would not accept unamended.

            In any case, it's ridiculous to claim that one side (presumably the Good Guy Party) should hardline and the other should either capitulate or offer a compromise. If you insist on hardlining, you should instead expect the other side to do the same.
            John L. Ries
          • The normal procedure, when the houses disagree...

            ...is to appoint a conference committee to work out the differences. That didn't happen on this year's budget. The Senate is *never* obligated to simply rubber stamp a bill passed by the House; never has been (if it were, then why bother with a bicameral Congress?).

            On the CR, the House could have requested a conference after the Senate amended the CR the first time, but it didn't not even make the offer until over a week into the shutdown (and IMHO, the Senate should have accepted, but the Democratic leadership there wanted to show how tough they were). The House could also have passed the CR weeks before it did, giving some time for negotiation, but didn't.

            And, of course, Representatives were never even given the opportunity to vote on a clean bill. Apparently, the Republican leadership considered the provision defunding implementation of the ACA to be non-negotiable.

            There's plenty of blame to go around. It's what happens when politicians put loyalty to their parties ahead of the public interest.
            John L. Ries
      • really

        And you believe everything Rush tells you?
        D.J. 43
        • If that was an attempt at either guilt by association

          or shoot the messenger, it failed.
          • I do sometimes think...

            ...that Conservative Talkbackers take what they hear on talk radio as absolute, self-evident Truth, but if that's not you, then the remark was uncalled for.
            John L. Ries
          • Call it what you want

            Just a fact that Ted Cruz and his goosestepping cronies shut down the government. You can spin it all you want about the Senate, etc. not going along with unreasonable demands.
            D.J. 43