5. In the Belly of the Zuckerbeast

Aug-31-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Why Facebook? Because if it were a country it would be the third largest in the world. Because it’s breaking new ground, and that makes it interesting. Because forewarned is forearmed, and even four arms may not be enough to defend yourself.

* Facebook: The Real Presidential Swing State – Technology Review

Facebook and Internet campaign strategies grew up at the same time. In 2003 and early 2004, when Facebook was a new dorm-room plaything, Howard Dean’s presidential campaign pioneered Internet fund-­raising. By 2008, Facebook had crossed the 100-million-user mark and was coming to dominate online social networking; that year, Barack Obama’s campaign wielded a custom social-networking site that helped win the White House  A Facebook cofounder, Chris Hughes, helped build that site.

Now, in 2012, Facebook is central to the upcoming presidential election.

* Facebook Processes More Than 500 Tb Of Data Daily CNET News

Here’s a breakdown of how much data flows through the Facebook machine each day:

  • 2.7 billion likes made daily on and off of the Facebook site
  • 300 million photos uploaded
  • 70,000 queries executed by people and automated systems
  • 500+ terabytes of new data “ingested”

Since Facebook uses this data to build its user experience, it wants teams from across the company — whether they sell ads or build functions — to be able to access any of the data as needed. Parikh said this keeps the creation and improvement of Facebook features as fast as possible.

* 5 Design Tricks Facebook Uses To Affect Your Privacy Decisions  TechCrunch

Cory (boingboing) says, “On TechCrunch, Avi Charkham provides an excellent side-by-side comparison of an older Facebook design and the latest one, showing how the service has moved to minimize the extent to which its users are notified of the privacy “choices” they make when they interact with the service. The Facebook rubric is that people don’t value their privacy (“privacy is dead, get over it,”) and we can tell that because they demonstrate it by using Facebook. But really, Facebook is designed to minimize your understanding of the privacy trades you’re making and your ability to make those trades intelligently.”

* 10 Incredibly Simple Things You Should Be Doing To Protect Your Privacy – Forbes

This post is for you, guy with no iPad password, and for you, girl who stays signed into Gmail on her boyfriend’s computer, and for you, person walking down the street having a loud conversation on your mobile phone about your recent doctor’s diagnosis of that rash thing you have. These are the really, really simple things you should be doing to keep casual intruders from invading your privacy.



6. Money

Jul-20-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Monty Python once sang “There is nothing quite as wonderful as money. /There is nothing quite as beautiful as cash./Some people say it’s folly/ But I’d rather have the lolly…”  But do you know what money really is? If so, you’re in a rare minority. A fascinating Reddit piece explains the concept, while Technology Review explores the SF world of what’s worth money online.

* Reddit explains currency

All actual “money” is debt. All of it, including monetary gold, etc…. Imagine a pretend world with no money, some kind of primitive village or something.

  • Let’s say you’re an apple-farmer and I’m a hunter. You want some meat but haven’t harvested your crops yet. You say to me, “hey, go hunt me some meat and I’ll give you 1/10th of my apple harvest in the fall”. Fair enough, I give you meat, you owe me apples. There’s probably a lot of this kind of stuff going on, in addition to normal barter. In time, standard “prices” start to emerge: a deer haunch is worth a bushel of apples, or whatever.
  • Now, let’s say a week later, I realize that my kid needs a new pair of shoes more than I need a bushel of apples. I come back to you and say, “Hey remember that bushel of apples you owe me? Could you write a marker, redeemable for one bushel of apples, that I can give to the shoemaker in trade for a pair of shoes?” You say okay, and we have invented a transferable note, something a lot like money.
  • In time, our little village starts to figure out that a note redeemable for a bushel of apples can be swapped for all kinds of things. The fisherman who doesn’t even like apples will accept apple-certificates in trade for fish, because he knows he can trade them to boat-builder who loves apples. In time, you can even start to hire farm-workers without giving them anything except a note promising a cut of the future harvest.

Now, you are issuing debt: a promise to provide apples….

* Six Strange Things Worth Money Online Technology Review

#3. Virtual goods: In the U.S., $2.2 billion was spent last year on items that don’t actually exist except as strings of code inside online games like FarmVille, Restaurant City, and World of Warcraft. Spending on items such as purple toadstools or elementium deathblades is projected to grow by 30 percent in 2012, according to a research report from Inside Virtual Goods. Major financial companies, including Visa and Amex, have responded by diving into virtual commerce, buying firms that issue virtual coins, gold, and tokens.

Most virtual items cost only a few dollars, but not all. In 2010 an entrepreneur in the online fantasy world Entropia Universe sold Club Neverdie (pictured), a virtual asteroid and nightclub, for a total of $635,000—the world’s biggest sale of a virtual item at the time. 

That’s real money. Divorce lawyers are now starting to wonder how to split up the “virtual assets of the marriage” when relationships go sour. 

* The Average Canadian is Now Richer than the Average American Time

Watch out, Americans: Your thrifty, socialist neighbors to the north have stealthily become richer than you.

Over the past five years, the average net worth of Canadian households has exceeded that of American households.  So for the the first time in history, Canadians are wealthier than Americans — by more than $40,000, on average. In 2011, the average net worth of a Canadian household was $363,202, compared to $319,970 in the U.S., according to Environics Analytics WealthScapes data…. (‘Average net worth’ measures the total combined value of a household’s liquid and real estate assets, minus debt.)



3. The Power of Facebook

Jul-06-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Google’s motto is “Do no evil”; Facebook’s is “Move fast and break things.” The excellent opening piece looks at the unprecedented amount of information Facebook has, and explores the kinds of power that gives them. I don’t think Facebook/ Zuckerberg is evil; I do think unconstrained power is problematic, at best. And we have two useful followups, particularly if you use Facebook. As Cory Doctorow often quotes, If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.

* What Facebook Knows  Technology Review

If Facebook were a country, a conceit that founder Mark Zuckerberg has entertained in public, its 900 million members would make it the third largest in the world.

It would far outstrip any regime past or present in how intimately it records the lives of its citizens. Private conversations, family photos, and records of road trips, births, marriages, and deaths all stream into the company’s servers and lodge there. Facebook has collected the most extensive data set ever assembled on human social behavior. Some of your personal information is probably part of it.

…Marlow says his team wants to divine the rules of online social life to understand what’s going on inside Facebook, not to develop ways to manipulate it. But… unlike academic social scientists, Facebook’s employees have a short path from an idea to an experiment on hundreds of millions of people.

In April, influenced in part by conversations over dinner with his med-student girlfriend (now his wife), Zuckerberg decided that he should use social influence within Facebook to increase organ donor registrations. Users were given an opportunity to click a box on their Timeline pages to signal that they were registered donors, which triggered a notification to their friends. The new feature started a cascade of social pressure, and organ donor enrollment increased by a factor of 23 across 44 states.

* Facebook Just Changed Your Email Without Asking; Here’s How to Fix It Gizmodo

Hey, here’s something really stupid and annoying: Facebook abruptly switched everyone’s default email address to the @facebook.com account you’ve never used. Here’s how to switch back Facebook’s obnoxious overreach right now. So people can actually, you know, contact you.

Remember long, long ago, when Facebook launched a Facebook email system and then nobody used it? That’s fine—it was always just an option you were more than welcome to completely ignore. And we did, because we already had Gmail and work inboxes, and didn’t need yet another. If our friends wanted to email us, they could just head to our profiles and have options.

Not today! If you go to your profile (or anyone else’s), you’ll see the @facebook.com email account listed—which just forwards to your Facebook messages inbox—and none of your others. They’ve all been hidden in a ham-handed attempt to make the Facebook inbox relevant.

* Five Hints on Our Facebook Future  Technology Review

As Facebook heads for an expected $100 billion debut on the stock market two weeks from today, many users of the site may be wondering what this means for their experience of the social network. The 30-minute “retail road show” video made public by Facebook yesterday to tempt investors gives some clues. Here are five of them.

1. Your like button clicks make ads more valuable. If you “like” a business on Facebook, the company will sell ads to them that show up on your friends’ pages to say that you did so. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, says people are 50 percent more likely to recall an ad with that “social context.”

2. Facebook may start selling more than just purple cows. The social network has its own currency called Facebook credits, mostly used by companies like Zynga to sell virtual goods in games, that pulled in $500 million in revenue for Facebook last year. “In the future, we may seek to extend our payments into areas outside of games,” says CFO David Ebersman, “but with Facebook likely keeping a lower revenue share than 30 percent in areas where developers costs are higher.” Digital content such as movies and music would be a good fit with Facebook’s ability to let you see what friends are doing.



4. Getting to Know Anonymous

Jul-06-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: In the beginning there was 4Chan, a social media board on which all posts were from “Anonymous”. Then 4Chan fought Scientology, and Anonymous became something more. What exactly it is isn’t clear. But the three articles below offer some facts, some perspectives, and some lulz.


* How Anonymous Picks Targets, Launches Attacks, and Takes Organizations Down  Wired

The possibility that Anonymous might be telling the truth—that it couldn’t be shut down by jailing or flipping or bribing key participants—was why it became such a terrifying force to powerful institutions worldwide, from governments to corporations to nonprofits. Its wild string of brilliant hacks and protests seemed impossible in the absence of some kind of defined organization. To hear the group and its defenders talk, the leaderless nature of Anonymous makes it a mystical, almost supernatural force, impossible not just to stop but to even comprehend. Anons were, they liked to claim, united as one and divided by zero—undefined and indefinable.

In fact, the success of Anonymous without leaders is pretty easy to understand—if you forget everything you think you know about how organizations work. Anonymous is a classic “do-ocracy,” to use a phrase that’s popular in the open source movement. As the term implies, that means rule by sheer doing: Individuals propose actions, others join in (or not), and then the Anonymous flag is flown over the result. There’s no one to grant permission, no promise of praise or credit, so every action must be its own reward.

What’s harder to comprehend—but just as important, if you want to grasp the future of Anonymous after the arrests—is the radical political consciousness that seized this innumerable throng of Internet misfits. Anonymous became dangerous to governments and corporations not just because of its skills (lots of hackers have those) or its scale but because of the fury of its convictions. In the beginning, Anonymous was just about self-amusement, the “lulz,” but somehow, over the course of the past few years, it grew up to become a sort of self-appointed immune system for the Internet, striking back at anyone the hive mind perceived as an enemy of freedom, online or offline. It started as a gang of nihilists but somehow evolved into a fervent group of believers. To understand that unlikely transformation, and Anonymous’ peculiar method of (non)organization, it is necessary to start at the very beginning.

* “Right now we have access to every classified database in the U.S. government.”  Anonymous

Q: What do you say to people who believe Anons are just cyber-terrorists?

A: Basically I decline the semantic argument. If you want to call me a terrorist, I have no problem with that. But I would ask you, “Who is it that’s terrified?” If it’s the bad guys who are terrified, I’m really super OK with that. If it’s the average person, the people out in the world we are trying to help who are scared of us, I’d ask them to educate themselves, to do some research on what it is we do and lose that fear. We’re fighting for the people, we are fighting, as Occupy likes to say, for the 99%. It’s the 1% people who are wrecking our planet who should be quite terrified. If to them we are terrorists, then they probably got that right.

“Information terrorist” – what a funny concept. That you could terrorize someone with information. But who’s terrorized? Is it the common people reading the newspaper and learning what their government is doing in their name? They’re not terrorized – they’re perfectly satisfied with that situation. It’s the people trying to hide these secrets, who are trying to hide these crimes. The funny thing is every email database that I’ve ever been a part of stealing, from Pres. Assad to Stratfor security, every email database, every single one has had crimes in it. Not one time that I’ve broken into a corporation or a government, and found their emails and thought, “Oh my God, these people are perfectly innocent people, I made a mistake.” 

* Five Things Every Organization Can Learn From Anonymous   Forbes

#2 Be fluid, not formal.

Anonymous is a great example of the growth of the leaderless, decentralized organizations set out in Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom’s 2006 book, “The Spider and the Starfish: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations”. Brafman told me in an interview last year that Anonymous fell squarely into the category of starfish: impossible to kill with one blow, and destined to grow a leg back if one was cut off. Centralized organizations, on the other hand, are like spiders: knock one on the head and it’s dead.

The growth of digital openness has heralded an era of more starfish-like organizations, and Anonymous takes that label to the extreme. The harder anyone like law enforcement tries to stop starfish-style movements like Anonymous, Brafman said, the more fuel is added to their fire. Similar examples of starfish groups are Alcoholics Anonymous, which had to be decentralized in order to maintain people’s privacy and Al Quaeda, which doesn’t require the stamp of approval of a senior leader to carry out attacks. The takeaway for other organizations isn’t that they should completely ditch their leadership structure, but consider that decentralizing power can make them more effective and resilient.



« Newer PostsOlder Posts »




Categories


Blog Roll

Al Jazeera
altmuslim
Bernard Avishai
boingboing
Broadsides: Antonia Zerbisias
China Matters
Haaretz
Informed Comment
Lawrence of Cyberia
Mondoweiss
Rabble.ca: Canadian leftish voices
Reddit
Stephen Walt Foreign Policiy
The Big Picture
The Guardian
Tikkun Daily Blog
Tikun Olam

Tags

  • 2010
  • 4chan
  • 9/11
  • 99%
  • acrobats. world cup
  • ADD
  • ADHD
  • Advertisements
  • advertising
  • advice
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • ageing
  • Al Jazeera
  • Amy Chua
  • anarchism
  • animals
  • animation
  • Anonymous
  • antibiotics
  • apocalypse
  • apple
  • April Fool
  • archeology
  • Archie
  • architecture
  • Assange
  • assassins creed
  • astro-turfing
  • Aswan
  • Atwood
  • Australia
  • Australia Flood
  • Balance
  • balloons
  • Banksy
  • Bar Mitzvah
  • BDS
  • Beatles
  • birds
  • black bloc
  • Bodies
  • books
  • BP
  • BP Oil
  • brains
  • Brazil
  • Breivik
  • British election
  • Burning Man
  • busyness
  • Calgary
  • Canada
  • Canadian Election
  • cancer
  • Cancun
  • capitalism
  • Carnival
  • censorship
  • Census
  • Chernobyl
  • children
  • china
  • Chinese Parents
  • Christmas
  • circus
  • climate change
  • coal
  • coffee
  • color
  • colour
  • community
  • conspiracies
  • copyright
  • Cory Doctorow
  • Crazy
  • Creativity
  • crime
  • Crows
  • Dalai Lama
  • danger
  • Data
  • Decisions
  • Denial
  • Depression
  • Dogs
  • Doonesbury
  • drones
  • Drugs
  • earthquake
  • economics
  • Education
  • Egypt
  • energy
  • english defence league
  • EU
  • Expo 2010
  • facebook
  • family
  • fashion
  • Feminism
  • festivals
  • film
  • First Nations
  • fish
  • Flotilla
  • Flowers
  • fonts
  • fracking
  • France
  • frugality
  • ftw
  • fukushima
  • G20
  • G8
  • Gaudi
  • Gay
  • gay marriage
  • Gay Pride Day
  • Gaza
  • Gaza flotilla
  • Gene Sharp
  • gene-splicing
  • gifs
  • Goldstone
  • Good News
  • Google
  • Google Art
  • graffiti
  • grafitti
  • ground zero mosque
  • Halloween
  • Harper
  • Healing
  • Hell
  • homeopathy
  • Horses
  • Huck Finn
  • Humpback Whales
  • ice cream
  • iceland satellite
  • Immigrants
  • immigration
  • incest
  • Indonesia
  • inside job
  • instant karma
  • Iran
  • Iroquois
  • Isaiah Mustafa
  • Islamophobia
  • Israel
  • J-Street
  • Jack Layton
  • Japan
  • Jon Stewart
  • Jstreet
  • Kashmir
  • Keynes
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • language
  • Lerner
  • Lesbian
  • Libya
  • Lions
  • logic
  • London Riots
  • Loughner
  • Lunar Eclipse
  • M.C. Escher
  • madness
  • maps
  • Marxism
  • Mary Oliver
  • McChrystal
  • medicine
  • migration
  • money
  • Monsanto
  • Mormons
  • mountain top removal
  • Music
  • Muslim Brotherhood
  • mutants
  • NDP
  • niqab
  • NiqaBitch
  • Noam Chomsky
  • Norway
  • Obama
  • ocean
  • Oil
  • oil sands
  • Oil spill
  • Old Spice
  • Olympics
  • one state
  • optical illusions
  • ows
  • pain
  • Pakistan
  • Pakistani Floods
  • Palestine
  • parallel state
  • Pelicans
  • penguins
  • Philanthropy
  • photography
  • photos
  • pirates
  • placebo
  • Poetry
  • police
  • pornography
  • prisons
  • Prom
  • Proposition 8
  • protest
  • Psychiatry
  • psychosis
  • Pussy Riot
  • quantum physics
  • Quebec students
  • Quiz
  • Quizzes
  • racism
  • rainbows
  • rap
  • Reddit
  • Roma
  • Romney
  • Rowling
  • Rush
  • Russia
  • Russian Fires
  • Sarah Palin
  • satire
  • Scanners
  • schools
  • SCOTUS
  • sculpture
  • Security
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Snow
  • Socialism
  • sound
  • south park
  • sport hockey Python
  • Sports
  • Statistics
  • stats
  • Steve Jobs
  • strikes
  • stupid
  • subway
  • summer
  • surfing
  • surveillance
  • Syria
  • tar sands
  • tattoos
  • Tea Party
  • Teachers
  • tectonic plates
  • TED talks
  • terrorism
  • Thailand
  • The Kinks
  • Tiger Mom
  • Tokyo
  • Toronto
  • Torture
  • trains
  • travel
  • Trees
  • TSA scanners
  • Tsunami
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • TV
  • ubb
  • UK
  • UK riots
  • unicorns
  • Unions
  • United Nations
  • vaccine
  • Valentine's Day
  • video games
  • volcano
  • Wall Street Protest
  • water
  • weapons
  • weather
  • wikileaks
  • wikipedia
  • winter
  • Winter Solstice
  • Winter Sports
  • Wisconsin
  • words
  • World Cup
  • yoga
  • youth