Briefly Noted for December 23, 2009

There’s an app for that: It’s called "The Web" — In a run-down of coverage of Mozilla’s new Fennec mobile browser, Bryan Alexander at Liberal Education Tomorrow quotes Mozilla’s vice president of mobile, Jay Sullivan, arguing that while the iPhone apps model of mobile content delivery will remain dominant in the near-term, nevertheless “over time, the web will win because it always does.” Google seems to agree. Developers at the Google Mobile Blog recently voiced a strong preference for building mobile web applications rather than native, iPhone-style applications. They write, “Looking ahead, it’s also worth noting that as a worldwide mobile team, we’ll continue to build native apps where it makes sense. But we’re incredibly optimistic about the future of the mobile web—both for developers and for the users we serve.”

One Tablet Per Child — The One Laptop Per Child project hasn’t made much news in recent months. But it’s making headlines now, showing off a striking new touchscreen tablet PC concept they’re calling the XO-3. If any readers are feeling generous this holiday season, I’d gladly accept a gift of one of these, but sadly, the XO-3 won’t be available until 2012.

Why I Quit Facebook

As a pretty heavy Twitter user, it may seem strange that I quit Facebook on account of privacy concerns. But two posts—one from ReadWriteWeb and another from the Electronic Frontier Foundation—together do a pretty good job of summing up my concerns. The first describes a Facebook quiz developed by the American Civil Liberties Union designed to show Facebook users exactly what kinds of information about themselves and their friends they’re sharing when they add applications to their profiles. The answer: basically everything. The second describes the latest set of changes Facebook has made it its labyrinthine privacy policies. Facebook implements these changes every couple of months by means of simple click-through agreements, and, as in this case, they’re almost always designed to convince users to allow increased public and commercial access to their personal data and that of their friends.

Everything on Twitter is right out there in the open. But that’s what I signed up for. Facebook, on the other hand, promises its users privacy, but (best case) does very little to protect it and (worst case) even seems ready to subvert it.