Thursday, October 29, 2009

Privacy in an online world

So much of our lives are online (whether by intent or not). For those of us active with social networks, that likelihood increases ten-fold. Well, like a good little social-network user, I just took a look through the proposed new facebook privacy policy and besides using the information there to help me lock-down my content being shared within Facebook and the applications that use the platform (think Scrabulous {now Lexulous}, Mafia Wars, and all manner of others) I also came across a means to (hopefully) opt-out of "behavioural" advertising from a number of advertisers including google, yahoo and microsoft. Just a note, the tool seems imperfect, but it will likely work better for you if you read this help page first.

Will it make a difference? Hard to say. Will I feel better for actively trying to control what of my information is shared with the world? Definitely.

Oh, and if you're not already a conspiracy theory seeing google as the next "Big Brother", check out Google's latest "Lab" ("opt-in"able beta test) tool: Social Search. Creeped out yet? Check out this perspective. What about now?

Viral before the internetz

An interesting article on social networking and the transmission of information without the use of phones, the internet or even major newspapers within the context of the fall of communism in Europe 20 years ago.

The key:
"A network of human relationships that conveyed information informally on a regular basis, and a population who were highly focused on only a few channels of information, both official and clandestine."

Have we lost or gained since that time? I think a reasonable argument could be made for both.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The World, she is a changin'

No, this is not a treatise on the lamentable way that we treat the planet (though there will be more on that later, I'm sure).

Instead, this "media counter" identifies the breadth of technological activities that are going on merely in the time that you watch it count. Considering that most who bother to read this blog have been around long enough to remember a time without a consumer-accessible internet and without portable phones, let-alone mobile phones, how things have advanced, and continue to do so right before your eyes, is pretty remarkable.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Box

There's a new movie coming out shortly. The premise is:

Norma and Arthur Lewis, a suburban couple with a young child, receive a simple wooden box as a gift, which bears fatal and irrevocable consequences. A mysterious stranger, delivers the message that the box promises to bestow upon its owner $1 million with the press of a button. But, pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world; someone they don't know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves in the cross-hairs of a startling moral dilemma and must face the true nature of their humanity.


So, what would you do? Would you press the button? If so, how many times? Once? Twice? Two-hundred times?

I don't know that the movie will necessarily be all that good, but it does seem to circle an interesting premise.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Augmented Reality

This term is likely to become much more common in the near future. A topic of discussion this weekend and the subject of this article, augmented reality represents the additions that today's mobile technology can make to our experience of the real world.

One thing that's not mentioned in the article is the risk for a Big Brother-style (a la 1984, not a la current reality tv) misuse of the information that is created and made available when everyone carries a phone, or similar item, that can track exactly where the holder is. Instead, it appears that the greatest risk to the user is that our knowledge of "facts" will decrease as our need to know the information drops. I'm not sure that I agree with that. Of course you don't need to get an iPhone and load all the new augmented reality apps to risk that becoming a reality. The future is here today with the government's requirement for improved 911 service for mobile users. By early next year, you will be able to be tracked-down to at least a 300m radius by emergency services providers. :)

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Yesterday seemed remarkably out of place. I find that interesting since I hadn't felt like we were deep into autumn or that it had been unseasonably cool or rainy. It's just that yesterday seemed so particularly warm and sunny that I couldn't help but feel blessed. My apologies to those who didn't have the same weather-luck but I was very happy to take advantage of the weather with some quality outside time. It felt like a better choice than driving to Toronto in hopes that the weather would be good for Nuit Blanche. In the end, I think the weather was good for Nuit Blanche but I would've been too tired to enjoy it anyway. I guess I'll need to stick to enjoying other people's pictures and stories.