24 June 2010

Facebook to strengthen geographic borders

I've been interested to read about Facebook's plans to offer "location based services". Like so many other online experiences today (especially embedded advertising), this is part of the meta-trend to customise one's experience of the Internet based upon end-user geo-location.

Wow that's a lot of jargon. Let me try again.

This is another side of how the Internet now "works": what you see on "the" web depends on a combination of what you put into your browser plus where you are physically when you do it. Your physical location has become a significant factor in determining what you see.

So while I am certain that Facebook's roll-out of location based services is being done for the best of business reasons, they are creating one more piece of the infrastructure that will enable better enforcement of sovereign borders upon the Internet.

Think of it like this: now that Facebook will "map" the geo-location of its end-users, how long before the sovereign government of Ruritania issues an order to Facebook to "block" the content of certain FB pages to all persons who are geo-located in Ruritania?

Now that we know the Internet has borders, the race is on to develop technologies that will assist in enforcing them.

22 June 2010

BBC makes money using Internet borders

I have written about this topic before, but it never ceases to amuse me that the BBC News web site includes paid-for advertising. At least it does whenever I'm geo-located outside of the UK.

I was returning from my home town of Dayton, Ohio last week, and was doing some rush client work from my laptop in airports.

Geo-location 1: Dayton airport. Browser pointed at: BBC News web. Appearance: paid-for advertising embedded in my page aimed at US consumers.

Geo-location 2: Toronto airport. Browser pointed at: BBC News web; Appearance: paid-for advertising embedded in my page aimed at Canadian (specifically aimed at Toronto area) consumers.

Geo-location 3: my apartment in central London. Browser pointed at: BBC News web; Appearance: NO paid-for advertising, and this is the right result. After all, if the BBC "broadcast" paid-for advertising to me while I am inside the UK then the BBC is arguably acting in violation of its charter.

I wonder how much money the BBC makes because they were willing to ignore the "standard" advice that the Internet has no borders?

Lesson for businesses: if your tech support team tells you that you can't make money because "the Internet has no borders", then it's time to get a more creative tech support team.