4/26/2010 3:20:09 PM
Every time privacy policies are tweaked at Facebook, you should be worried. The company is looking for new ways to make money, and in this day and age that means selling you things. And all of those personal details you've entered into your Facebook account are the keys to the monetization kingdom. Maybe that works just fine for you. That's not the problem. As users, we ought to have a clear choice and we don't. That's the problem. Since the most recent changes this month, we've been bumping into all sorts of sharp commentary on Facebook privacy and helpful guides to getting your privacy back. Here's the best of what we've found:
Want to get right to it and restore your privacy settings right now? Here's Valleywag's How to Restore Your Privacy on Facebook. And here's Mashable's guide to Disabling "Instant Personalization."
Perhaps the best analysis of the recent changes came via the Twitter account of tech-guru Anil Dash: "Will someone ask [CEO Mark Zuckerberg] why he doesn't use Facebook's default privacy at F8 tomorrow? If it's not good enough for him then why's it OK for us?"
Here's a creepy tool: Want to know what data Facebook published about you? It's a sluggish tool, since it seems the entire internet is there typing in usernames, but here it is: http://zesty.ca/facebook/.
In her CNET column, How Facebook Is Putting its Users Last, Molly Wood has this to say:
Let's be clear: I hold few illusions that Facebook's business strategy has ever been about anything other than building up a huge user base and then selling ads to those users. And obviously, the more targeted the ads, the easier it is to get people interested in them. But as the opportunities for data mining and targeting grow, Facebook faces a growing problem: how to get the data, if the users won't share it.
Facebook has created an unprecedented web (if you will) of connected users, with connections to other users who are more than willing to specify, in great detail, their interests, hobbies, and buying habits. The only problem? Those pesky private profiles.
Users tend to want to protect that data, at least a little bit, and at least some of it has to be "public," if it's to be used for the kind of behavioral targeting and, ultimately, ad targeting that really brings in the big bucks. And that is really the only explanation left for why Facebook has now gotten so shrilly insistent on you publicizing virtually every facet of your life. It's not about the user anymore, people (if it ever was).
It's possible that Facebook will do what it has done in the past when privacy concerns take hold of its users: offer up the non-apology apology. Daniel Sinker wrote a concise history of Facebook's non-apologies during the last time Facebook reminded us how much we value our privacy. He ended on a rather sour note, and it's where I'm going to leave you now: "Really, they've got all your content already—where are you going to go?" Ugh.
Image by Gauido, licensed under Creative Commons.
4/21/2010 2:31:32 PM
Friends, we are in trouble. If it hasn't occurred to you to worry about the technical proficiency of our Supreme Court justices, here's your opportunity...
This is from a report on oral arguments in the case of City of Ontario v. Quon, published over at Lawyers USA called Technical Difficulties at the U.S. Supreme Court:
The first sign was about midway through the argument, when Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.—who is known to write out his opinions in long hand with pen and paper instead of a computer—asked what the difference was “between email and a pager?”
Other justices’ questions showed that they probably don’t spend a lot of time texting and tweeting away from their iPhones either.
At one point, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked what would happen if a text message was sent to an officer at the same time he was sending one to someone else.
“Does it say: ‘Your call is important to us, and we will get back to you?’” Kennedy asked.
The implications here are immediate... and terrifying.
(Thanks, Boing Boing.)
Source: Lawyers USA
4/20/2010 12:12:48 PM
The Atlantic Wire has been running a series of posts called “What I Read.” Often, the “media diets” of American writers and pundits are predictable. I suppose the latest offering from Mother JonesWashington bureau chief David Corn is predictable too, but I like the way he framed it. I’ve grabbed the first and last paragraphs for you here. If you want to know more about Corn’s RSS feed, skip straight to the post.
Here’s how the day starts. I wake up. I complain I haven’t slept enough. I reach for the damn iPhone. I check email. I’m looking to see if there's any news I'll have to deal with that morning. And I’ll glance at Twitter to see if anything has happened in the minutes before I brush my teeth.
+ + +
Never before in the history of the known universe has there been so much information available to us humans. And never before has it been so difficult to process all the information we receive. Some consultant recently told me that the average American is bombarded with 4000 messages a day (fact-checkers, back me up on this.) Those of us who are informationalists—people who work with information professionally—must be assaulted more often. The toughest challenge, I find, is wading out of the cresting information river to experience media for frivolity’s sake or simply escaping the churning waters altogether for a few moments. If I manage to do either, it's usually after tending to the dishes in the kitchen late at night. Then I head to bed, look at that stack of books, feel a pang of guilt, and shut out the light. I do miss reading. Nowadays, we absorb.
Source: Atlantic Wire
4/15/2010 11:11:57 AM
Our library contains 1,300 publications—a feast of magazines, journals, alt-weeklies, newsletters, and zines—and every year, we honor the stars in our Utne Independent Press Awards. We’ll announce this year’s winners on Sunday, April 25 at the MPA’s Independent Magazine Group conference in Washington, D.C. and post them online the following Monday. We’re crazy about these publications, and we’d love it for all of our readers to get to know them better, too. So, every weekday until the conference, we’ll be posting mini-introductions to our complete list of 2010 nominees.
The following eight magazines are our 2010 nominees in the category of science/technology coverage.
, published at UC Berkeley, is as eclectic as its community. The quarterly opens with sneak peeks at research in motion, such as cyborg spy beetles and the science of humor. The features that follow challenge conventional wisdom and tap iconoclastic characters to bring high-minded theories down to earth.
Engineers are responsible for some of the most exciting innovations in modern science. IEEE Spectrum, the official magazine of the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers, translates the advances in computers, robotics, and other fields of science into a language that geeks can love and anyone can understand.
We wish more reporters would go to Johns Hopkins Public Health for story ideas and analysis instead of relying on oversimplified press releases. The biannual publication brings a global perspective to everything from malaria and AIDS research to sleep disorders and innovations in eyewear.
Only one magazine would teach readers how to make a steampunk electrostatic generator and a letterpress printing machine in the same issue. Make magazine takes science away from the scientists and puts technology in the hands of garage innovators and do-it-yourself enthusiasts.
In a world besieged by a seemingly endless list of baffling challenges, Miller-McCune is a smart, clear-eyed tonic. The monthly’s editors seek out cutting-edge research to demystify the day’s most pressing issues and highlight institutions and innovators that provide reason for hope.
Science News is inexhaustible. Every two weeks it surveys groundbreaking research in a variety of disciplines to deliver in-depth, inviting stories. Want to know a lot more about archaeology? A little something about superstring theory? This is your go-to guide.
Stanford reports on the awe-inspiring work done by its host university’s faculty, students, and alumni, and then produces an impeccably rendered general-interest magazine. And although its stories cut across disciplines, we’re drawn to its richly researched stories on global health, conservation, and psychology.
Technology Review does much more than review the day’s coolest gadgets and mind-blowing scientific innovations. MIT’s magazine gets into the cultural and political implications of those innovations to help experts and casual readers better understand how new technology will change the wider world.
Want more? Meet our
health and wellness
4/14/2010 4:20:34 PM
Urbanite’s editor-in-chief, David Dudley, interviewed Charles Limb, an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins who has a research fellowship to study the brain through functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Limb’s research focuses on studying the connection between music and creativity, and he used jazz musicians to discover what happens in the brain when creativity occurs. He found that when the musicians in the scanner were asked to stop playing memorized music and improvise, “The [activity in the] medial prefrontal area went up—that’s this autobiographical, self-referential, self-expressive area. And the lateral prefrontal regions went down—those are self-inhibitory, self-censoring, self-monitoring regions of the brain….The way we interpreted it—and this is with a lot of caveats—is that this might be one of the neural signatures of spontaneous creativity.”
Limb plans to continue experimenting with other musicians, by having two play back and forth and getting rappers to recite set verses and then freestyle rap, and he feels the experiment could also be applied to visual artists. Most importantly, Limb’s findings suggest that educators and neuroscientists might be able to share the information to improve education methods:
If we step back and take it as an axiom that creativity matters, all of a sudden this research goes from a neat study of jazz to something more fundamental. The explicit, tangible target, I think, has to do with education. There is something at the Johns Hopkins University called the Neuro-Education Initiative [a collaboration between JHU’s School of Education and Brain Science Institute]. Essentially what we are trying to realize, educators and scientists together, is that we share a common goal, and that’s the brain. Educators are trying to mold the brain; neuroscientists are trying to study the brain. So maybe we can pool our resources and our skills to ask: How can we understand how the brain learns best and revise our methods of education so that they are more effective? Maybe we can come up with a training paradigm that has the added insight of knowing how the brain is responding to it. You can see that there is a lot of overlapping. There is a lot of good theory behind mixing those two fields of neuroscience and education. That’s what we are trying to do. It’s in its infancy now. But in fifty years or a hundred years, this might just be how it’s done.
Congratulations to Urbanite, which is nominated for a 2010 Utne Independent Press Award for social/cultural coverage.
Check out our archives for more on creativity and the science of music.
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