Flickr now lets you grab some HTML to embed the photos really quickly. This is nice and you can see attribution by hovering above the photo.
Flickr now lets you grab some HTML to embed the photos really quickly. This is nice and you can see attribution by hovering above the photo.
“What’s one piece of your privacy worth? About a dollar a day, suggests telecom giant AT&T,” Dan Gillmor writes for The Guardian. “The company’s latest internet service offering in Austin, Texas comes in two flavors. The company might as well call them the ‘some privacy’ and ‘no privacy’ services. The cheaper version gives customers a discount in return for being targeted more intrusively than ever by user-specific advertising.”
Gillmor writes, “Let me explain: the company’s Austin experiment is a test to see what a specific market will bear in highly specific conditions. AT&T is offering some Austin neighborhoods its ‘U-verse with GigaPower’ product, which comes in $99 per month “standard” and $70 per month ‘premier’ editions, the latter requiring an agreement to let AT&T ‘use your individual web browsing information, like the search terms you enter and the web pages you visit, to tailor ads and offers to your interests.’”
What a horrible idea. And the prices are just way out of line. In Japan it is about $34 for these speeds. People in Hong Kong can already get gigabit internet for less than $26 a month! Yet ATT wants to charge $100 if you want any privacy.
That is for 1000 megabits a second. The average in the US is about 5 megabits a second. It is insane. especially the “elt us see what you are doing so we can make more money off of it” approach. I wonder if ATT would prohibit anyone using aanonymizers such or Tor network?
At least ATT is trying to rip us off with faster internet access. Cable companies are not even doing that much.
[Crossposted at SpreadingScience}
All theoretical and empirical diffusion studies agree that an innovation diffuses along a S-shaped trajectory. Indeed, the S-shaped pattern of diffusion appears to be a basic anthropologic phenomenon.
This observation dates as far back as 1895 when the French sociologist Gabriel Tarde first described the process of social change by an imitative “group-think” mechanism and a S-shaped pattern. In 1983 Everett Rogers, developed a more complete four stage model of the innovation decision process consisting of: (1) knowledge, (2) persuasion, (3) decision and implementation, and (4) confirmation.
Consequently, Rogers divided the population of potential adopters according to their adoption date and categorized them in terms of their standard deviation from the mean adoption date. He presented extensive empirical evidence to suggest a symmetric bell shaped curve for the distribution of adopters over time. This curve matches in shape the first derivative of the logistic growth and substitution curve as shown below.
In the graph above I applied the Rogers adopter characterization to the data we have on the adoption of smartphones in
This is a very useful analysis of the way smartphones are diffusing throughout the US. I’ve written about the diffusion of innovation throughout a community many times and it is nice to see that smartphones are following the same curve.
Now, this post makes the point that the speed of adoption entails a learning stage. There have been 5 stages postulated in the personal adoption of something new: Awareness, Interest, Evaluation, Trial and Adoption.
Where someone falls along the adoption curve depends on how fast one moves through each stage. Innovators move very rapidly. The middle takes more time. In fact, they usually get stuck at the evaluation stage. They wait the thought leaders in the early adopter group to help them change.
Notice that the adoption of an innovation is slow until about 16% have made the shift. Then you see explosive and rapid growth, once the early adopters are on board.
So the faster the early adopters can evaluate and learn about the innovation, the faster it will spread. Perhaps by Apple making it easy to learn, especially for the thought leaders , allowed it to rapidly spread throughout a community.
Other phone makers, whose platform was not as easy to evaluate and learn, suffer from churn as the evaluation process becomes muddy and undirected.
By making the evaluation process easier, Apple makes it more likely that the necessary thought leaders will convince the rest of the community to shift. and see explosive growth.
This explains why the smartphone took off so fast once Apple released the iPhone and why everyone else copied them. The same thing happened with the iPad, while Microsoft had no luck with its tablets for years.
The key step to rapid adoption is not just cool technology. It must be made very easy for the critical early adopters to evaluate. That is Apple’s real innovation.
It is true that the last days of a crowdfunding effort are the most amazing. Today has been awesome for Consider the Facts.
We can still take on funding so if you have not yet done so, please.do. Because this is now a successful project. With the help of many.
I am so excited. Now the real work begins.
The National Security Agency (NSA) is the font of information security wisdom for the US defense and intelligence communities. But apparently, the NSA’s own network security is so weak that a single administrator was able to hijack the credentials of a number of NSA employees with high-level security clearances and use them to download data from the agency’s internal networks. That administrator was Edward Snowden.
Under Department of Defense (DOD) Directive 8500.2, the director of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander, is tasked with approving all the cryptographic hardware and software used by the DOD. The NSA also provides “information assurance” and information system security engineering services to DOD branches and agencies. And along with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the NSA maintains the master guide for DOD information security systems: the Information Assurance Technical Framework (IATF).
But in what appears to be a case of “do as I say, not as I do,” the NSA’s internal IT security schemes allowed Snowden, a contractor sysadmin, to pull off a classic insider attack on the agency. An investigation by NBC found that Snowden had used the digital identities of several upper-level NSA officials to log into NSAnet, the agency’s intranet—giving him access to data far beyond the needs of a lowly system administrator.
My last post discussed how the internet would be broken if the NSA could any decrypt online communications. One of the things I said this would allow is the gathering of passwords and the ability to ‘look’ like someone else in order to access anything on the Web.Without leaving a trace.
Looks like that is exactly what Snowden did. He broke people’s passwords and then just went where he wanted to to get information. Any of it. Anywhere.
This paragraph is one of the most firghtening I have ever read:
In order to pull this off without raising alarms, Snowden would have needed access to the full credentials of the users whose identities he borrowed. He would have needed to somehow either gain access to the public key infrastructure (PKI) keys found in their user authentication or he would have needed to override multi-factor authentication to gain access to the systems. He also would have needed to avoid detection by audit logs in making those changes (or delete the record of changes after the fact). He managed to do all of these things, download the content, and get it past the NSA’s physical security.
He did to the NSA what the NSA might be able to do to any of us. Gain access to important information by pretending to be us, because they cracked security, and then do whatever, all without leaving a trace.
[Crossposted at SpreadingScience]
Despite running a campaign with about twice the money and twice the staff of Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, President Barack Obama’s campaign under-spent Romney’s on IT products and services by $14.5 million, putting the money instead into building an internal tech team. Based on an Ars analysis of Federal Election Commission filings, the Obama campaign, all-inclusive, spent $9.3 million on technology services and consulting and under $2 million on internal technology-related payroll.
The bottom line is that the Obama campaign’s emphasis on people over capital and use of open-source tools to develop and operate its sophisticated cloud-based infrastructure ended up actually saving the campaign money. As Scott VanDenPlas, lead DevOps for Obama for America put it in an e-mail interview with Ars, “A lesson which we took to heart from 2008 [was that] operational efficiency is an enormous strategic advantage.”
The Romney campaign spent $23.6 million on outside technology services—most of it on outside “digital media” consulting and data management. It outsourced most of its basic IT operations, while the Obama campaign did the opposite—buying hardware and software licenses, and hiring its own IT department. Just how much emphasis the Obama campaign put on IT is demonstrated by the fact that the campaign’s most highly paid staff member was its CIO, Michael Slaby, with an annualized salary of about $130,000.
Failures can be as important as successes in an exponential economy. A useful failure can inform more than some successes. The lower barriers that an exponential economy produces means that failure only presents short term costs that can be rapidly dealt with by longer term successes.
That is, a failure does not necessarily doom an effort, if that failure can be rapidly leveraged to get to success. If you wipe out, but learn from it, then when the next wave comes along, you’ll stay on top of it.
In an exponential economy, there is always another wave to successfully surf.
If, that is, the organization can understand how to manage and utilize the advantages that an exponential economy produces. Here are 7 points to consider.
Interestingly, the Obama campaign hired its IT people internally and used external infrastructure. The Romney campaign hired its IT people externally but created internal infrastructure. That seems to have made a big difference.
The Obama group attracted people interested in a start-up environment that was also a short-term commitment – it would all be over the day after the election. Romney contracted with data consultants and such in organizations that would live on afterwards.
To one, the election was a one-shot attempt at success while for the others it was just one more notch in their consulting gun.
The former really seemed to attract a disrupter mentality much more, one who really liked finding ways around the limitations that were placed in their way, rather than a type that could just find billable hours.
“Campaigns are serious tests of your creativity and foresight,” VanDenPlas explained. “They are unpredictable, agile, and short—an 18 month, $1 billion, essentially disposable organization. Hackers can thrive in an environment like that, to a point where I’m not sure anyone else really can. Everything is over far too quickly to get boring.”
1) Hire the right type of employees. Do not hire doers when disruptors are needed. And vice versa.
Using Amazon Web Services, instead of building their own servers, allowed the Obama for America group to pay for just the amount of server space they needed, when they needed it. They could expand into servers in different regions of the US in order to reduce loads and latency. Romney had everything route to one location, which crashed.
2) Leverage the exponential economy for services and infrastructure. Better to be smart rather than perfect. Better to seek adaptability over control.
Obama for America put their money into people, not into hardware. They spent twice as much money as Romney but also had twice the staff. They actually underspent Romney on IT services and hardware.
This is what the exponential economy does – the cost for things becomes cheaper. A smart organization puts the savings into people, which cannot be easily replaced by digital processes.
By finding the right people and paying them for being the right people, Obama for America produced over 200 apps in an 18 month period, using just about every Open Source approach that is around.
And they used their community for help:
The human factor in monitoring is huge. There are countless incidents where (OFA User Support Director) Brady Kriss notified us of pending problems derived from community help tickets.”
Romney’s group kept ORCA a secret – such a secret that no one wants to claim they even worked on it – and did only small amounts of testing before it was needed. They completely lost the advantage of having crowds to help perfect the apps.
Crowd feedback is important. Lots of testing and resilience is needed to create large numbers of solid apps. The fundraising segment, for example, was “a multi-region, geolocated, three facility processor capable of a per second transaction count sufficiently high enough that we failed to be able to reach it in load testing. It could also operate if every other dependent service had failed, including its own database and every vendor.”
This complexity can only be reached after actual testing by users.
4) Get your products into the actual hands of actual people as soon as possible. They are best able to find problems.
Redundancy and adaptability go hand in hand. For example, the Obama crew created an app whose only job was to take ‘snaphots’ of the Obama for America website. If a server failed, and the site could no longer dynamically create web pages, the static ‘pictures’ could be used in the interim.
Or, more amazingly, they dealt with Hurricane Sandy, which had severe impacts with people using East Coast server farms, by replicating a complete and functional copy of their whole infrastructure on West Coast servers in 24 hours!
5) Use the benefits of the exponential economy to create resilient and redundant systems. If the price has dropped 5-fold, then you can build two systems and still save money.
The Obama campaign spent over $1 million hosting the website that was accessible to the world. It gave a quarter of that to Amazon for hosting its own internally developed IT.
The Innovator’s Dilemma describes how a $50,000 contract to a small group can produce much more focussed work and innovative solutions than even a $500,000 contract to a large group. They care about it more because it matters more to their bottom line.
6) Spread the work around. It is more likely to produce successful solutions than one big contract. It certainly can cost less.
“This is the difference,” VanDenPlas said, “between a well run professional machine and a gaggle of amateurs, posing in true Rumsfeldian fashion, who ‘don’t know what they don’t know.’ I would be shocked if such a chasm exists next cycle between the parties—these aren’t mistakes to be repeated if you want to do things like win elections.”
Because of the lower barriers to entry, and the rapidity by which successful processes can disseminate throughout society, everyone catches up quickly. You cannot expect that coming up with something first will provide much of a long term advantage.
The way to stay ahead is to have the right mixture of people cranking the DIKW cycle as fast as possible. As long as your organization can move that cycle faster and smarter than others, you will stay on top of the wave.
7) Continuing rapid cycle development is crucial. Any advantage to accrues to disruptive innovators rapidly disappears, as others follow the path to success.
It is impossible to successfully ride every wave of change. But, creating and managing for the exponential economy can produce an organization scores well when the monster waves arrive.
by Alan Cleaver
There is something extraordinary taking place. Google’s war on spam sites is tipping the online world upside down and now threatens that most fundamental element of the world wide web: the hyperlink. There is a massive erasure underway of millions of links and it will only accelerate.
The communications lines are the spider’s silk but it’s the links that make the structure of the web. But because of Google’s battle with spammers, the hyperlink could disappear in its current form, and become a commercial product that’s bought and sold, instead of earned fair and square.
Let me explain:
Google has been trying to deal with spam sites that game their system using an algorithm called Panda. But their attempts may actually work the other way, allowing companies to hurt their competitors rather than help themselves.
So now it becomes dangerous for a company site to use ANY hyperlinks.
There’s now very little incentive for anyone to link to other sites, and all types of risks if you do. Consider this: If Google determines that the site you’ve linked to is spam-like in any way, you might be tainted as selling paid-for links — which is forbidden by Google.
Or, if you enjoy a high rank from Google because other sites have linked to you for pure reasons, but now those sites are measured by Panda to be low quality, you could be in trouble.
If Google ranks your site a low quality site, you could possibly extort cash from other sites by threatening to lnk to them. Being liked to by a low quality iste can lower your site’s ranking, possible destroying th business.
“Say, you’ve got a nice web site here. Be a shame if some poor quality site linked to it. I can make sure that does not happen if you pay for it.”
This can be horrendous for small businesses that are more susceptible to the tactics of its competitors. Plus, Google gives preferential treatment to large, name brand companies, putting them up at the top of searches.
Google seems to be placing large brands on a greater footing than smaller companies and actually making it harder for small companies to break into the top. Increasing the barriers to entry is not something we would expect from Google but it seems like it might be a possibility.
Hard to watch someone deal with the grief of a loved one. A year later it lead to this video. Within a month it was a Kickstarter project for a documentary.
When the funding drive ended, more money had been raised for the film than for any other movie project on Kickstarter.
Maybe tit will lead to fewer people like Tom’s parents.
LONDON (Reuters) – The genteel but lucrative world of academic publishing is being stirred up by a dispute over who pays for and who profits from scientific research funded largely by taxpayers.
The name of the journal is PeerJ and the people behind it are pretty good.
The only ones who pay are the authors and the amount varies from a lifetime membership of $99 for one paper a year (for grad students) to $259 for unlimited publications (for lab heads). Every author has to be a member and you can wait until acceptance before buying the membership (although at a slightly higher price).
It allows the lab head to create group plans so they can make sure all their personnel are covered.
But once they have had one paper accepted and published, they never have to pay again. Ever. All they have to do is help the community of researchers by doing one review a year – the review could be peer review or simply commenting on another paper. In this way, they are providing incentives for everyone to maintain connections with the whole group they are creating.
And once you have paid a lifetime membership, you have an incentive to publish more here rather than pay to publish elsewhere.
In one swoop they are providing open access, cheaper publication costs and capture of a huge community. Once someone publishes here, it will be cheaper to continue publishing. And one joins a community of other authors who have reasons for continuing contact.
The incentives are all there if they can create the most important thing – a high impact journal.
I’ve signed up as a reader which is free and plan on supporting this effort as much as possible. Researchers want people to see their work. They also want to have it published in a journal which will help their career. If PeerJ can do both, it will conquer all.
In 2008, I wrote a paper for the Cato Institute questioning the need for network neutrality regulations; I argued that the Internet’s decentralized architecture made it inherently resistant to mischief by broadband incumbents. While I’m still skeptical about the wisdom of network neutrality regulations, I’ve become more concerned about the state of the broadband market in the four years since writing that paper. In a March article for National Affairs, I made a case for regulatory action to prevent further consolidation of the largest broadband firms.
What changed my thinking was less the theoretical arguments set out in that piece than it was a sequence of developments in the telecom marketplace. It forced me to reexamine my own assumptions about the state of the broadband market. Here are the four most important.
The Berkman broadband report
Telecom policy wonks have held a long-running debate about how the United States stacks up against other nations when it comes to Internet access. In 2009, a team led by Yochai Benkler at Harvard’s Berkman Center produced a voluminous report on the subject which found that broadband service in the United States was distinctly mediocre.
Nice to see him change his mind when he moves out of the white tower of the Cato Institute and white papers into what is actually happening. Funny how the real market so seldom operates in the hypothetical manner espoused by most libertarians.
Many libertarians retreat further into the Cargo Cult world they have created rather than admit a mistake and recognize the real world operates quite differently that their imagined one.
The US is falling further and further behind other countries in its networks. Because there are really very little market forces to make this happen here. Pursuing this course has not helped us compared to the rest of the world.
Cable and telecomes are perfectly willing to cede large swaths of America to the other. That way they can save money by not having to build out their network and actually compete. They can keep the prices high in the areas they serve, control data in ways to get around net neutrality and make a bundle. Why expand into competitive markets?
And there does not seem to be a competing technology on the way that can compete with both cable or the telecoms. Until there is, each will be happy with its fiefdom of customers to gut.
At a previous job, the shared men’s bathroom for the floor was laid out like this:
(Please excuse my drawing skills.)
When we were done doing our business, this is the path we’d take:
Many people don’t like touching bathroom doorknobs after washing their hands. (Understandable.) But some of them dislike it so much that they’ll take their paper towel over to the door, turn the knob with it, and throw it on the floor while exiting.
By the end of the day, there would be paper towels all over the floor by the door.
Telling people the right thing to do is to use the trash can does not solve the problem. Putting up notes telling them to do the right thing does not solve the problem.
The users believe they have their own ‘right’ reasons for doing what they do. This sets up the classic zero-sum game – for one side to be right and to win, the other side has to be shown to be wrong and to lose.
While, if they just moved the waste bin over by the door, everyone wins – a non-zero, positive sum solution.
One thing people need to do is to look at whether the situation is best resolved by making one group a winner and one group a loser, or whether both groups winning is better.
Perhaps the media companies might realize that calling their biggest fans pirates and loser may not be a winning strategy. Perhaps a more pragmatic solution would work better.
Unfortunately, these corporations act as pragmatically as Theodoric of York. Bleeding, leaches, boiled sheep’s urine and wormings. That sounds about their level of understanding.
Mother Jones‘s Mac McClelland goes underground at an unnamed ecommerce packing facility in a rural American town and reports on the terrible, back-breaking working conditions that are compounded by continuous verbal abuse, unsafe working conditions, mandatory overtime, and humiliating disciplinary procedures.
At lunch, the most common question, aside from “Which offensive dick-shaped product did you handle the most of today?” is “Why are you here?” like in prison. A guy in his mid-20s says he’s from Chicago, came to this state for a full-time job in the city an hour away from here because “Chicago’s going down.” His other job doesn’t pay especially well, so he’s here—pulling 10.5-hour shifts and commuting two hours a day—anytime he’s not there. One guy says he’s a writer; he applies for grants in his time off from the warehouse. A middle-aged lady near me used to be a bookkeeper. She’s a peak-season hire, worked here last year during Christmas, too. “What do you do the rest of the year?” I ask. “Collect unemployment!” she says, and laughs the sad laugh you laugh when you’re saying something really unfunny. All around us in the break room, mothers frantically call home. “Hi, baby!” you can hear them say; coos to children echo around the walls the moment lunch begins. It’s brave of these women to keep their phones in the break room, where theft is so high—they can’t keep them in their cars if they want to use them during the day, because we aren’t supposed to leave the premises without permission, and they can’t take them onto the warehouse floor, because “nothing but the clothes on your backs” is allowed on the warehouse floor (anything on your person that Amalgamated sells can be confiscated—”And what does Amalgamated sell?” they asked us in training. “Everything!”). I suppose that if I were responsible for a child, I would have no choice but to risk leaving my phone in here, too. But the mothers make it quick. “How are you doing?” “Is everything okay?” “Did you eat something?” “I love you!” and then they’re off the phone and eating as fast as the rest of us. Lunch is 29 minutes and 59 seconds—we’ve been reminded of this: “Lunch is not 30 minutes and 1 second”—that’s a penalty-point-earning offense—and that includes the time to get through the metal detectors and use the disgustingly overcrowded bathroom—the suggestion board hosts several pleas that someone do something about that smell—and time to stand in line to clock out and back in. So we chew quickly, and are often still chewing as we run back to our stations.
All sorts of folderol about Foxconn and China but none of them seemed to be a poorly treated as these American workers.
A previous article talked about the inhumane conditions at another warehouse. THey work them as temps and the can them shortly before they can become full time. The workers have to pay for their own (required) badges. They had to work in enclosed spaces without air conditioning in over 90 degree weather. And no talking.
This latest report details even more the things done. Mandatory overtime with two 15 minute breaks. Given goal impossible to meet and then harassed for not meeting them. Desperate 60 year olds trying to hold on their job along with twenty-somethings. Making about $300 a week after taxes.
I bet if this warehouse was in China, there would be all sorts of group working to make things better. We’d be seeing petition drives and TV programs during sweeps. But here, these modern day sweat shops are simply ignored.
Perhaps if we started to take notice, things might change. Unless we care more about CHinese workers than our own.
We have seen this all before – graphically, if somewhat metaphorically, displayed in Fritz lang’s Classic, Metropolis.
Eighty years later and we are still learning the same lessons. Or, rather, not learning them. We still feed our young to Moloch, even while we complain about how awful China is.
I started this blog 10 years ago. Time sure passes.
by kevin dooley
Google has joined other online advertisers in intentionally circumventing the privacy settings of desktop and iOS Safari users in an effort to better track their web browsing activity.
Intentionally circumventing the user’s privacy settings is not the work of a company that holds its customers in high regard. This is not something that was a mistake or oversight.
They did this on purpose without wanting anyone to know. Read this article which details how Target knew a teenage girl was pregnant – before her father knew – and you will learn just how important access to this sort of information is.
Target knows they can make lifetime changes in people’s buying habits if they get to new parents. So knowing when new parents are happening is important. But knowing before al the other companies is even more important.
How much would target pay Google to get analytic data regarding maternity clothes page view? Or basinet? Or Lamaze classes?
You know they are doing it. Because Google’s true customer are the advertisers, not us. So if we get screwed but they get paid, well, that is just the cost of doing business.
WHen Google tells us they have stopped, why are we supposed to believe them? They have incentives – billions in cash – to mislead us.
I try to corrupt their databases – probably won’t work – but doing random types of searches, etc. That is just noise and they have algorithms for that.
But I know that the fact I just bought new gym cloths and a swim suit that Google now knows I am working out more. If I get some ads about gym memberships, I’ll know it was Google.
Kickstarter is trailblazing the future of crowdsourcing.
The site makes it possible for investors of all shapes and financial backgrounds to connect with creative types and innovators by allowing users to help fund projects that sound promising, interesting, or worthwhile.
And this has been a really good month for the Kickstarter team, as not one but two projects hit the $1 million mark last week.
In fact, last week the crowdfunding site had a bunch of good news.
$1 million in sales before a project is even completed. This turns on its head the standard method of making anything.
Instead of lining u all the design ideas, materials, and finance before a single product is made, Kickstarter allows all of that to be by passed in very direct ways. You only build the projects that are funded by your users. No need to worry about venture capital money at all.
After the first hit, the project leaders can think of selling their product to a larger company or keep doing it themselves. Allowing them to work on another project.
Bootstrapping allows people to create a sustainable income. Not everyone needs $1 million in revenue. Maybe only $100,000 would do.
we shall see how this type of app economy creates entire new economies, ones where some of the standard incentives found in capitalism are dispensed with.