Plazes backfires at Founder Felix Petersen

I guess a good business model must also make scumbags of all sorts potential users if not paying clients. In that way I thought that Plazes was a problematic product from the very beginning. If you have things to hide, Plazes is not for you.

For the compamy’s founder, Felix Petersen, the incentives of letting the whole planet permanently know where he was, must have seemed to outweigh the loss of privacy more than for ordinary users of his application (mostly nerds like myself, who play with any digital toy). It looks like he was mistaken. Almost as strange as the fact that he thought he would get away with being in Copenhagen at Reboot while telling Next Web he was in Berlin with his sick daughter is the fact that they apparently never thought about implementing features that would give users more control over who can see their whereabouts.

This is the second time within a few weeks that a Berlin startups make fools of themselves. It seems like the bubble 2.0 guys are desperately competing with the bubble 1.0 guys about being the biggest clowns. Getting to play with VC does not seem to do good to everybody.

Future Spaces Discussion Panel

The panel I had been invited for at the _Enter conference was quite a strange combination of people: Mike Taylor of Sky Movies and James Cridland of Virgin Radio and myself. Mike and James thought, it was funny enough that Sky and Virgin were on the same panel and I really have no clue how I fitted in – probably the connection was that they both represent companies who make smart use of user generated content commercially while I reflect on Second Life, which is often displayed as a space where people can run their own business and make money (which is of course partly a misconception). However, the panel went quite well, largely because the chair, John Naughton, did an excellent job at connecting it all. Meeting John Naughton was one of the Highlights of the conference. Unfortunately we had less than one hour and Mike and I joked last night while having a drink that we did not even get to fight. The email correspondence we had prior to the panel had been a bit controversial. Our common ground: How much we like hanging out in Nice.

Email kaputt

In the last weeks email has become extremely unreliable for me. Only my free mail accounts (Gmail, Yahoo and GMX) seem to work fine. The virus filters of mail servers that come with my web hosting packages seem to collapse under the weight of spam and infected mail. One of my web hosting service providers told me that he is considering turning all virus filters off and charging extra for powerful mail servers that can cope with the amount of infected mail.

I think it is time that email grows up: Mail clients (and/or servers) should offer the option to only accept mails that are signed with a valid certificate. When the filter is turned on, mails which are not signed, should get bounced with a message stating that the recipient only accepts properly signed messages along with a link to instructions on how to obtain a certificate. For all mails that are properly signed but the sender can’t be found in the address book, the recipient should be prompted if he/she wishes to add the sender to address book.

I bet that very quickly people would start signing (and eventually encrypting) their mails. Ironically the amount of spam and viruses could be a catalyst to finally establish signing and encrypting as a standard.

Does this feature exist already? Has nobody ever thought of it? Is there a catch? Newsletters! They would not work anymore, would they?

Generally I think that news feeds should replace newsletters in most cases. In all other cases newsletter subscription forms would have to offer a public key upload.

What about emails to a bunch of people (e.g. everybody in a project team, birthday invitation etc.)?

Mail clients would need to automatically generate individually signed mails to all recipients. For convenience reasons it should be enough to type the pass phrase once in such a case.

Implement this in Outlook and have it activated by default and viruses should have a much harder time reproducing. In step two I would go as far as not offering the option to turn of this filter.