Not all negative on privacy front

Good to read positive feedback from Electronic Frontier Foundation re browsersolution which will be incorporated in the new Amazon Fire device:


It is good that Amazon does not receive your encrypted traffic, and does not record any identifying information about your device. And there are other benefits to user privacy that can result from cloud acceleration mode. For one, the persistent SPDY connection between the user’s tablet and Amazon’s servers is always encrypted. Accordingly, if you are using your tablet on an open Wifi network, other users on that network will not be able to spy on your browsing behavior.


Tackling human intelligence

I was drawn to the semantic web and semantic technologies because of the potential benefit to each of us.  There is no debate about the growing volumes of data – be that in our personal digitally recorded lives, our business lives or more generally. on the World Wide Web.  So tools/ solutions which assist in processing/analysing or making sense of some of this data seem attractive to me. Part of the challenge is trying to have software do some of the heavy lifting.  Much of the data which is potentially subject to heavy lifting has originally been published for human consumption and is not ideally formatted for consumption by software.

So semantics has its place.  Can we deal with the ambiguity in the data?  In Australia a reference to football may mean ‘Australian Rules’ football, in England may mean ‘soccer’,  in Ireland my mean ‘Gaelic football’.  So if I have a piece of software doing some heavy lifting across the web to analyse performances of ‘football full backs’ during on the weekend of the third month in December 2009 my software may be confused – may mix up different codes, etc.  I may be able to define my search/query in great detail but perhaps the data as originally published does not provide the required clarity – risking ‘a question of semantics’.

I was quite taken by the piece ‘Paul Allen: the singularity is not near’ published this week in MIT’s Technology Review.  Ray Kurzweil’s thoughts on computer systems bypassing human intelligence in the near future are well known and documented.   Paul Allen and Mark Greaves argue strongly that Kurzweil is being over optimistic (depending on your viewpoint).  They include a number of examples from neuroscience and artificial intelligence arguing that we will be a long way sort of Kurzweil’s vision in 2045 – Kurzweil’s date.

Much of this took me back to the simplicity of what we are trying to achieve in semantics/ semantic web – the heavy lifting.  And it’s not proving very simple.  Yes, the search engines and various semantic tools are presenting improved, cross referenced, even multi-correlated data – but we have an awfully long way to go.




What’s happening with google+?

I tried out Google plus at launch time (more accurately when I got an account).  However I have continued to treat is as an experiment pending proper integration with google apps.  Where is that?

Google owns most recent results make for impressive reading.  But what of google+?  Seems to me that Facebook has been doing a good job of making their platform more useful – in terms of using it to communicate with different groups/lists of users.

This report suggests that google plus may be struggling to maintain initial momentum.  Obviously there have been some unfortunate PR incidents  – suggesting that not all senior Google execs are equally committed.

It;s a difficult space – when you want to break into a market dominated by Facebook.  For now I think Google plus has sharpened up people at Facebook.  But that cannot be the end game for Google.

The China challenge

Just watched Yang Lan’s excellent talk on re ‘The generation that’s making China’.  Echoes much of what Martin Jacques writes about in ‘When China Rules the World‘.

Interesting to think about the challenge of having 200m migrant workers in your country – people who have moved from rural areas to work in cities – where they have less rights, less social welfare support and high accommodation costs.  Within the general population of younger people we also have a disproportionate number of males – because of previous government policy of one child per couple and abortions being used to ensure families had a boy in many instances.

When we read that the US is continuing to push for appreciation of the renminbi (which is ongoing) interesting to think what the impact will be on the 200m migrant workers as the factories for which the work become less competitive.

In the talk Yang Lan gives some feel for the challenges facing this Chinese youth.  The numbers are staggering – even in terms of the examples given re use of social networking or micro-blogging, number of followers for individual movie stars, etc.


Who is afraid of who?

I hear plenty of discussion about people’s concerns over security of data in the cloud. We actually have lots of legislation about where personal data can be held.  And we, in Ireland, tend to think in terms of it’s being OK so long as within Ireland, then Europe and then US.

Interesting piece in today’s FT referencing concerns in US about potential purchase of Yahoo by a Chinese company. Seems they have also had concerns about Deutsche Telekom acquiring a carrier in the US.  And the final reference in the article to concerns re the volume of data now held by Google.

This is moving quickly.  Privacy is on the line.  Many of us are using all sorts of cloud based services to support us in our work and our personal lives.  To be honest most users have no idea(and less interest) in where the data is held.  At least until Facebook is so on our faces in changing the rules as they see fit.

I suspect Chinese and US authorities (and many others) already have very detailed profiles on many people based on online activity.


Interconnected becomes hyperconnected

Excellent piece in today’s New York Times from Thomas Friedman (previous reference).  Greatly enjoyed his previous book ‘The world is flat‘.

Friedman touches on a three ideas:

  • Advances in technology (since The World is Flat in 2004) e.g. twitter, facebook, are threatening white collar rather than blue collar jobs
  • Stop talking about outsourcing – really just a question of sourcing
  • There is now only good, better and best – and our schools need to catch up

Friedman has it right.  Social networking, mobile technology, free videoconferencing, tools to support collaboration, sites to rate resources – it’s all making for a world where you can assemble the best resources you require to do any task.  Increasingly there will be less room for inferior service.

Why will facebook not just leave us alone?

I am a regular and active facebook participant.  I enjoy the platform and some of the interaction afforded me.  But I am becoming weary.  I am beginning to think that I need an independent advisor to monitor changes implemented by Facebook and determine how I should adapt to each new change.

The news appearing over the last few days suggesting that after you log off from facebook they continue to monitor your actvities is disturbing.  Hard to believe that any company would believe that people would want this to happen.

Not surprising to read of pending actions.

Also think the partnership with music companies whereby your friends on facebook would know what you are listening to (by default) is a little creepy.  Facebook seem to claim that since we all like things social this is the way we want to go.  I don’t think so.

Will be interesting to see whether the Irish Data Protection Commissioner reaches any interesting conclusions.

Is it time for more of us to abandon Facebook?