Archive for March, 2010

links for 2010-03-31

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

links for 2010-03-30

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

links for 2010-03-28

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

links for 2010-03-27

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

links for 2010-03-25

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

links for 2010-03-22

Monday, March 22nd, 2010
  • NyTimes article on how the control over what's private and not is slipping out of our hands:

    “Personal privacy is no longer an individual thing,” said Harold Abelson, the computer science professor at M.I.T. “In today’s online world, what your mother told you is true, only more so: people really can judge you by your friends.”
    Collected together, the pool of information about each individual can form a distinctive “social signature,” researchers say.
    The F.T.C. and Congress are weighing steps like tighter industry requirements and the creation of a “do not track” list, similar to the federal “do not call” list, to stop online monitoring.

  • French research that describes how to infer search history from personalised search suggestions. Th issue is still not totally resolved.

    "The Web History is used to provide personalized results and keyword suggestions for searches that a user has already made. We design the Historiographer, a novel attack that reconstructs the web search history of Google users, even though this service is supposedly protected from session hijacking by a stricter access control policy. The Historiographer uses a reconstruction technique to infer search history from the personalized suggestions fed by the Google search engine. "

  • On the telco engineer that provided the evidence for EFF's lawsuit against AT&T for their complicity in illegal government spying:

    "Even though I'd heard Mark Klein's story before, I'd never considered just how frightening and surreal his experience must have been. His new memoir reads like something out of a kafka-esque sci-fi spy thriller — except that it all really happened right here in the USA, just a few years ago."

  • "Cookie Synching refers to the process of mapping user Ids from one system to another. The systems across which the user Ids are mapped could be Ad Networks, DSPs, Ad Exchanges or Data Providers."
    "Here is how it works:
    * System A (say an Ad Network) gets access to a user’s browser (as part of an Ad Serving request). It creates a unique user ID for the user and calls a pixel URL supplied by system B. System A includes the ID of the user as a parameter in the pixel URL call.
    * System B’s pixel URL server reads the ID of the user assigned by System A and creates an ID of it’s own for the user. System B can now store the user mapping for this user in it’s database or in the user’s browser using another cookie.
    * A slight variation of this process involves System A storing the mapping also: B redirects to a pixel URL supplied by system A and includes the system B user ID."
  • O'Reilly radar on the announcement of the Spotrank API:

    "This is a new type of data. Never before has something like SpotRank been released. It will be used mobile apps and mobile ads (as Stump pointed out, it could cost more to show an ad in a busy part of a city). I can also see it being used city planners and corporate real estate agents everywhere. It will also give us great insights into human behavior."

    Fascinating. This will enable anyone to do almost realtime crowd monitoring…

  • Based on the number of location requests Skyhook gets for a specific location, they calculate "spotrank", the density of people around a certain spot.
    Since Skyhook only gets requests in case wifi hotspots are present, the meaning of it is limited to urban areas (where you can and sometimes have to rely on wifi hotspots – with buildings often obscuring the GPS signal).
  • Making your browser the central hub where your contacts are stored, managed, and given in lease to web service would be a giant step forward for data ownership and privacy (and you can always have automatic encrypted backups in case your hardware fails…
    "Contacts prototype consists of these pieces:
    * A browser-based Contacts database that stays in sync with your address books (so far, it supports GMail, Twitter and Mac OS Address book)
    * A generic importer system for Contacts from desktop or web-based address books (so you can implement missing ones)
    * An email autocompletion feature, which demonstrates how the browser can auto-complete email addresses on any website. The autocompletion is performed entirely in the browser, without sharing the your list of contacts with the website.
    * A Javascript API that websites can use to access the Contacts database, with explicit user permission and filtering"
  • Hunch, the recommendation engine for simple life questions by Caterina Fake has built this taster for this service that will try to predict your answers on simple life questions, based on your Twitter profile.
    Quite disappointing however, as it simple seems to determine a rough profile (male/female liberal, well educated – which covers 99% of all Twitter users) and then goes on about it, exploiting the same pattern in all kinds of cliche ways…

links for 2010-03-21

Sunday, March 21st, 2010
  • danah boyd: "forcing people into the public eye doesn’t dismantle the structures of privilege, the structures of power. What pisses me off is that it reinforces them."

    "There are still huge social costs to being public, social costs that geeks in Silicon Valley don’t have to account for. Not everyone gets to show up to work whenever they feel like it wearing whatever they’d like and expect a phatty paycheck. Not everyone has the opportunity to be whoever they want in public and demand that everyone else just cope. I know there are lots of folks out there who think that we should force everyone into the public so that we can create a culture where that IS the norm. Not only do I think that this is unreasonable, but I don’t think that this is truly what we want. The same Silicon Valley tycoons who want to push everyone into the public don’t want their kids to know that their teachers are sexual beings, even when their sexuality is as vanilla as it gets."

  • The researchers behind the de-anonymisation paper deplore the cancellation of the 2d phase of the Netflix prize:
    "One of us has publicly referred to the dampening of research as the “worst possible outcome” of privacy studies."
    They suggest an approach where algorithms are tested on the owner's infrastructure:
    "setting up an online system for data analysis rather than an “anonymize and release” approach"

    Interesting comments from Dan Kamisky:
    "any system patterned enough to predicted, is patterned enough to be correlated with external data sources"

links for 2010-03-19

Friday, March 19th, 2010

links for 2010-03-15

Monday, March 15th, 2010
  • Firefox extension that replaces the ads in Gmail with profile information based on the email address of your respondent.
    "Where does Rapportive get its data from?
    We combine information from several sources; at the moment, these are Rapleaf, Gravatar and Twitter. In the future we will offer integration with many more data sources, both public (e.g. social networking sites) and private (CRM).
    We make a clear distinction between:
    * Public data, which is information that users have chosen to make public on the internet, and which anyone could find on one of the major search engines. We aggregate public data, take into account corrections and feedback, and show this information to everyone who uses Rapportive.
    * Private data, which is privileged information to which only you have access. In order to provide the Rapportive service, we may need to process this data behind the scenes; however, private data will never be shown or disclosed to any other Rapportive user or any third party"
  • Looks like Google has introduced a Stumbleupon clone…
  • People search/profile aggregator by Microsoft.
    "research prototype for exploring object-level search technologies, which automatically summarizes the Web for entities (such as people, locations and organizations) with a modest web presence"
    – "generates summaries of Web entities from billions of public Web pages that contain information about people, locations, and organizations, and allows for exploration of their relationships"
    – "known potential problems:
    * currently only contains information extracted from 3 billion Web pages, therefore it is possible that some information for people with a substantial Web presence is still missing in our index;
    * Some names and relationships could be incorrect, and the information may not be update-to-date;
    * Name disambiguation is still largely unsolved
    * Some of the summarization features are currently only available for people. We are currently working on these for other entities."
  • Service that lets you send any document to a printer driver, extracts the mailing address and has the paper version of the document printed, stamped and sent.
    Price range per item sent around €1 (Via @kpellegr)

links for 2010-03-08

Monday, March 8th, 2010