CBS News Examines the Internet and Our Right to Privacy

What if you are asked to resign your position because of a complaint about photos you posted to Facebook that you thought were private and for friends only — but weren’t? What if in the pictures you are perfectly sober, but simply posing with two glasses of alcohol, and reference a site that has a profanity in the name? What if the complaint about you to your employer was sent anonymously?

Erin Moriarity of CBS News examines these questions and more in the video below, “The Internet and Our Right to Privacy” from 48 Hours on February 6th, 2011. The producers write:

24-year-old Ashley Payne was forced to resign from her position as a public high school teacher when a student allegedly complained over a Facebook photo of Payne holding alcoholic beverages claiming it promoted drinking. 48 Hours’ Erin Moriarty investigates our ever changing rights to privacy.

There is an article that accompanies the video, ”Did the Internet Kill Privacy?“.

What do you think? If you put something online, is it automatically public, even if you mark it private? Do we have any right to privacy online? Is it morally OK, even if it is legal, for companies to compile profiles about us — without our knowledge and consent — based on our digital footprint?

2010 — the Year Mobile Connected the World

I’ve only had a smart phone for 10 months, and yet I cannot imagine how I lived without it. Therefore, for your viewing pleasure, I have posted this animation from themobilefuture on the mobile phone in the year 2010. The animation is by

The authors cite the following statistics (sources not listed):

Massive increase in apps downloaded:
– FIVE BILLION apps downloaded – up from 300 million in 2009

Whopping expansion of location-based services
– FIVE MILLION Foursquare users — up from 200,000 users in 2009

Surge in mobile social media platforms
– 347 PERCENT growth in Twitter mobile usage
– 200 MILLION mobile Facebook Users
– 100 MILLION YouTube videos played on mobile devices everyday

Can you imagine life without your mobile phone?

The Data Behind Online Retailing

How do you brand yourself online? If you run a business, do you provide your customers with an online mechanism by which they can provide comments about your products and services publicly? If so, do you believe online feedback has a positive or negative effect on your company? How much shopping vs. online research do you do, especially during November and December?

GOOD Magazine examines the online marketplace in the video below, which is from January 2010. They write:

More and more of our shopping is happening online. And in the digital marketplace, shoppers write and read millions of reviews each year, transforming the way we make buying decisions—and how companies make their products. Welcome to the information-saturated world of internet retail.

Here’s what GOOD has to say about the positive side of social networking, including how smart companies use customer feedback to create a better product, and thus increase sales.

The negative side of the online marketplace is when you regularly provide your customers with a bad experience, and yet maintain good search rankings because of the number of reviews written (albeit, bad ones)…until Google finds out and writes an algorithm just for you! [Via Fortune.]

In the past week, an article posted by the New York Times brought to light a strategy by the owner of an eCommerce store who used a ‘specific’ tactic to get better rankings in the search engine for his website. What did this person do to boost his rankings in Google? He used a tactic of providing the POOREST customer service possible to get customers to write negative reviews and complaints in various websites helping him actually acquire links!

What do you see as the positives of social networking and customer feedback? The negatives? What do you think of the feedback loop from customer to producer to customer — can you think of instances when it hasn’t worked as well as GOOD claims? For example, what did you think of social media’s power to kill The Gap’s new branding?

Note — added later (20 December 2010) :: IEEE had the following news byte via

Social media is generating considerable interest for business success. In an article in Harvard Business Review [“What’s Your Personal Social Media Strategy?” 88(11):127-130, November 2010], Soumitra Dutta discusses his belief that today’s leaders must embrace social media. He also discusses strategies for successful implementation. Should you decide to implement social media in your business strategy, an article by Donna Hoffman and Marek Fodor discusses a new way of measuring the benefits of an organization’s social media marketing investment, and provides strategies on how to implement this new kind of measurement [“Can You Measure the ROI of your Social Media Marketing?” MIT Sloan Management Review, 52(1):41-49, Fall 2010.]

The Web is Dead, Long Live the Internet…and the Web?

Is the Web dead? What about net neutrality?

Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff’s August 2010 piece in Wired Magazine called, “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet” caused a bit of controversy. The authors argued that the Web is losing supremacy, and stated that our online world will be cordoned off into closed worlds via Apps (for example) over the Internet. In other words, traditional, pre-Internet business models will reign supreme again.

Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting. Chris Anderson explains how this new paradigm reflects the inevitable course of capitalism. And Michael Wolff explains why the new breed of media titan is forsaking the Web for more promising (and profitable) pastures.

They even created this nifty image below, showing the rise and fall of the Web.

The Web is Dead, Long Live the Internet

Image source:

Then there are the continuing arguments over net neutrality. In short, “net neutrality” refers to whether or not the FCC has the right to regulate traffic over the Internet, and whether or not companies can charge more for or block some types of traffic. For example, Comcast wants to charge more for Netflix’s movie streaming service, which sucks up bandwidth on Internet providers’ networks.
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Preservation Policies, Forbes, and an Email Time Capsule

email preservationI’m often asked why the preservation of digital materials is so complicated. After all, isn’t it simply about the storage and migration, or emulation, of digital objects and metadata? Why do you need all of these policies and procedures around a data or digital archive? Why can’t you just store the digital files and leave them?

Recently, opened an email time capsule the company set aside a mere five years ago. The blog post illustrates some of the difficulties of preserving digital materials over time — in this case, only half a decade.

First, I’ll describe the purpose of the experiment.

The experiment, which we called an “E-Mail Time Capsule,” was part of a special report on Communicating. We invited our readers to communicate with their future selves by writing a letter, which we would store for them, and send at a later date.

Over 140,000 people participated, choosing whether they wanted their capsule “opened” in one, three, five, ten or twenty years.

In 2006 and 2008, we successfully sent over 40,000 messages. And now we’ve hit the five year mark, and are in the process of sending 17,000 emails to our users –half a decade after they wrote them.

Simple, right? You set up three geographically disparate servers, and set one to send if the first one doesn’t, and the third to send the emails if the first two servers fail. However, it wasn’t quite that simple, as the author notes.

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Twitter Mood Predicts the Stock Market

The zeitgeist on Twitter predicts stock market behavior by several days, according to research by Johan Bollen, Huina Mao, and Xiao-Jun Zeng. They examined whether or not “measurements of collective mood states derived from large-scale Twitter feeds are correlated to the value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIJA) over time”.

The short answer is, “yes” (with some limitations, as stated in their paper about this research).

CNBC interviewed Dr. Bollen about the team’s research results in this interview below.

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The Internet of Things and a System of Systems

We are drowning in a sea of data. There are more things on the Internet than there are people; currently about 1 billion people use the Internet.

We are learning to take data, create information, gain knowledge, and achieve wisdom. We are able to do this by using The Internet of Things to create a System of Systems. Or, so sayeth IBM’s marketing department.

This System of Systems, however, is not the Science Fiction idea that the computers are running the world — it is a system in which humans are an elemental part of it all. The system itself is unpredictable, as one change in one part of it will affect changes downstream.
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Google Not Being Evil

Why does Google want to know so much about you?

The company provides us with services ranging from maps to email, phones to video, books to social media — all free. Why do they do this, and how can the company afford to do this?

The more products and services the company provides for free, the more of us will use them, and the more data about ourselves is available for the company to mine. The company’s revenues come from advertising, and the more the company knows about you, the better they can target ads to you

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Eric Schmidt, Google CEO.

Continue reading “Google Not Being Evil”

Journalism in the Age of Data

How can journalists adapt to the data deluge? One way is to use tools and tricks “from computer science, researchers, and artists” (and, I hope, Information Science).

Geoff McGhee posted this video from Stanford. He writes:

Journalists are coping with the rising information flood by borrowing data visualization techniques from computer scientists, researchers and artists. Some newsrooms are already beginning to retool their staffs and systems to prepare for a future in which data becomes a medium. But how do we communicate with data, how can traditional narratives be fused with sophisticated, interactive information displays?

Infosthetics notes:

The covered topics are wide, but include contemporary issues like Visualization in Journalism, Telling “Data Stories”, Exploring Data or Technology and Tools. It was produced during the U.S. Knight Journalism Fellowship by Geoff McGhee, titled “Documenting emerging uses of data visualization”.

One thing I could not stop noticing while watching: the twinkle in people’s eyes while they talk about their work…

I also enjoyed watching these folks talk about their craft and how they do what they do. There are many points of discussion, but I’m curious — what is your takeaway from watching this documentary?

[Via Infosthetics.]

How to Tame Your Data When Mom is on Facebook

What do you do when your mom gets on Facebook? Do you not “friend” her, do you become more careful about what you post, or do you put her into a special group with limited access to your page? If you do the latter, what do you do when she asks why she can’t see all of your data and information?

You are a grown up and you live far, far away, and yet, it is like your parents can monitor your activities at any time. That can be creepy and just plain annoying.

The writers and comedians at Saturday Night Live have come up with a brilliant idea — a “damn it, my mom is on a facebook filter”.

I have to admit, although my friends are organized into various groups based on how I know them (high school, college, etc.), I have been careful about what I post since I first got on Facebook five years ago. Having said that, it was still weird when my mother joined and friended me. It was as though my activities were being watched again, just like when I was a child.

Did you change any behavior when your parents and relatives joined Facebook? Why or why not?