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November 11 2013

Four short links: 12 Nov 2013

  1. Quantitative Reliability of Programs That Execute on Unreliable Hardware (MIT) — As MIT’s press release put it: Rely simply steps through the intermediate representation, folding the probability that each instruction will yield the right answer into an estimation of the overall variability of the program’s output. (via Pete Warden)
  2. AirBNB’s Javascript Style Guide (Github) — A mostly reasonable approach to JavaScript.
  3. Category Theory for Scientists (MIT Courseware) — Scooby snacks for rationalists.
  4. Textblob — Python open source text processing library with sentiment analysis, PoS tagging, term extraction, and more.

February 11 2013

Four short links: 11 February 2013

  1. How Virtual Fences Will Transform Rural America (The Atlantic) — When it comes to managing animals, every conventional fence that I have ever built has been in the wrong place the next year.
  2. Stately — a font of states which mesh together, so you can style individual states in CSS. Clever! (via Andy Baio)
  3. Code Triage — mails you a todo from your favourite Github projects. Interesting to see (a) what happens once there’s an easy way to access things like issues across multiple projects; and (b) what a lightweight hack it is for increasing participation. What small things could you send out each day, something different to each person, that’d help you make progress? Hm.
  4. MIT’s Health and Wellness Hack Day — 80 participants, two weeks. Good writeup in Fast Company. The focus here is on producing commercially viable products.

November 20 2012

Will online learning destroy America’s colleges?

The American college system is staggeringly large: 2,421 four-year institutions enroll about 18.5 million college students. The proportion of Americans with a bachelor’s degree is at an all-time high — a social victory if they’re able to enjoy a positive return on their degrees, which the Pew Research Center estimates at about $550,000 on average.

And the very existence of that system is threatened, as we are to believe it, by the massive open online course, or MOOC, offered by new ventures from the likes of Stanford, Harvard and MIT. In an essay last week, Clay Shirky compared universities and MOOCs to record companies and Napster: in both cases, the incumbents operated by providing something inconveniently and locally that could be provided conveniently and universally on the web. I don’t agree with the entire essay, but Shirky is absolutely right to point out that the college industry is made up of several markets, and they’ll be disrupted in different ways.

American higher education is deeply divided: it’s outstanding for a relative small handful of students and pretty bad for everyone else. The disruption of MOOCs will likely start at the bottom and move up from there. The question on which we should meditate is: how far up will it move?

Admission rate is a crude way of judging college quality, but it’s available consistently and implies something about the way the market sees a school. There are 2,421 bachelor degree-granting institutions in the U.S. and, according to the College Board (PDF), only 60 of them (2%) accept fewer than a quarter of their applicants (this includes most of the country’s famous schools — Harvard through Notre Dame). But 47% of those 2,421 schools admit more than three quarters of their applicants or have no admission standards at all; 82% of full-time undergraduates attend a school that admits more than half its applicants.

And the educational experience at the least-competitive schools is dismal: 87% of students at the most competitive schools finish their degree in six years or less; 29% of students at open-admission schools finish their degrees in the same period. Even at the 50-75% admission rate schools (a third of all colleges, enrolling 42% of undergrads), 39% of students either drop out or take longer than six years to finish.

That experience at the bottom is ready for destruction. Think of the student deciding between Pace University and a MOOC — maybe a low-cost, non-degree certificate from MIT is worth only 10% of what a degree from MIT is worth in terms of pure return, but maybe a degree from Pace is worth only 20% of what a degree from MIT is worth. Given the difference in cost (tuition, room, board, and fees at Pace amount to $51,364 per year), that certificate from MIT could look compelling, depending on what you’re looking for in the way of a college experience. And if attitudes toward MOOC certificates change, maybe a certificate from MIT starts moving up toward 50% of the value of an MIT degree, and threatens, say, Tulane.

I think Harvard and its peers are safe for the time being, but the vast majority of U.S. colleges aren’t, and even the middle and lower schools in the top tier could be threatened pretty quickly. (That said, there’s a bit of a disconnect at the moment between what Stanford and MIT offer online and what students at expensive, low-tier universities study. Students who enroll in the University of Phoenix’s software engineering program follow a much more applied curriculum than MIT’s computer science students, and even MIT’s high-achieving students find their program challenging.)

Top-tier schools that survive the spread of MOOCs could find themselves subject to new costs and transformations by the creation of a star system for faculty, in which popular teachers will have an international audience. Coursera’s terms of service explicitly prohibit the use of its courses for credit at any university, but it’s easy to imagine that changing at some point — that a University of Florida student could get credit at her school for taking a Stanford computer science class via Coursera. If that happens, Stanford and its vaunted faculty stand to gain; why take a University of Florida CS survey when its famous counterpart at Stanford is available instead? Either way, you’re attending non-interactive lectures (or, increasingly, watching recordings online after sleeping through class) and having your work graded by teaching assistants.

None of this is to suggest that our whole higher-education system will collapse as high school students make careful ROI calculations and elect an online education over four years of seminars in the wood-panelled offices of famous dons. My own liberal-arts education at the University of Chicago was illuminating, and I’d do it over again in a heartbeat — math and economics, with some Greek, history, comparative literature and physics on the side. I’m profoundly fortunate to have had that education available to me.

I think there will be a market for that sort of education for a long time — and, indeed, the giant endowments of the country’s top universities make this kind of education available to an increasingly wide audience. But that’s not really representative of the whole landscape of higher education today; the widest possible grouping of liberal arts majors encompasses only about 40% of college students, and that figure includes tens of thousands of students in majors like biomedical sciences and “science technologies” that are likely applied in their approach.

Students who want a career-focused degree, on the other hand, are already making an ROI calculation of sorts, although it’s not necessarily free of influence from friends and cultural expectations. They make up the vast majority of college students, and they’re ready to be converted.

(Full disclosure: my father is a dean at the University of Virginia, which went through an upset last summer centered in part on the future of the university in the context of online learning. The views in this post are entirely my own.)

Related:

May 31 2012

Strata Week: MIT and Massachusetts bet on big data

Here are a few of the big data stories that caught my attention this week.

MIT makes a big data push

MIT unveiled its big data research plans this week with a new initiative: bigdata@csail. CSAIL is the university's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. According to the initiative's website, the project will "identify and develop the technologies needed to solve the next generation data challenges which require the ability to scale well beyond what today's computing platforms, algorithms, and methods can provide."

The research will be funded in part by Intel, which will contribute $2.5 million per year for up to five years. As part of the announcement, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick added that his state was forming a Massachusetts Big Data initiative that would provide matching grants for big data research, something he hopes will make the state "well-known for big data research."

Cisco's predictions for the Internet

Cisco released its annual forecast for Internet networking. Not surprisingly, Cisco projects massive growth in networking, with annual global IP traffic reaching 1.3 zettabytes by 2016. "The projected increase of global IP traffic between 2015 and 2016 alone is more than 330 exabytes," according to the company's press release, "which is almost equal to the total amount of global IP traffic generated in 2011 (369 exabytes)."

Cisco points to a number of factors contributing to the explosion, including more Internet-connected devices, more users, faster Internet speeds, and more video.

Open data startup Junar raises funding

The Chilean data startup Junar announced this week that it had raised a seed round of funding. The startup is an open data platform with the goal of making it easy for anyone to collect, analyze, and publish. GigaOm's Barb Darrow writes:

"Junar's Open Data Platform promises to make it easier for users to find the right data (regardless of its underlying format); enhance it with analytics; publish it; enable interaction with comments and annotation; and generate reports. Throughout the process it also lets user manage the workflow and track who has accessed and downloaded what, determine which data sets are getting the most traction etc."

Junar joins a number of open data startups and marketplaces that offer similar or related services, including Socrata and DataMarket.

Have data news to share?

Feel free to email me.

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May 27 2012

Deutschland braucht digitale Lehrmittelfreiheit

In der deutschsprachigen Wikipedia heißt es zur Begrifflichkeit: “Lernmittelfreiheit oder auch Lehrmittelfreiheit heißt, dass Gegenstände in Bildungseinrichtungen, vor allem Schulbücher, aber auch andere Dinge wie Übungshefte kostenlos bereitgestellt werden.” Diese allgemeine Beschreibung fußt nach der Enzyklopädie auf Forderungen aus der Revolution von 1848. Damals wurde das erste Mal der Ruf nach einkommensunabhängiger Verfügbarkeit von Lehr- und Lernunterlagen laut. In der Folge wurde der Zugang zu Lehrmitteln in Bildungseinrichtungen in Deutschland auf verschiedene Art und Weise geregelt. Heute hat sich eine starke Marktkonzentration weniger Anbieter herausgebildet. So werden in Deutschland beispielsweise 90 Prozent aller Schulbücher von den drei großen Verlagen Klett, Westermann und Cornelsen bereitgestellt.

Durch die Digitalisierung wird aber auch diese Branche nun reagieren müssen. Und nicht nur die, der Ruf nach einer grundsätzlichen Neustrukturierung der Angebotspalette bei Übungs- und Lehrmaterialien wird wieder lauter. Wir stehen am Beginn einer Lehrmittel-Revolution. Diese Revolution beinhaltet drei Freiheiten: Die Freiheit kostenlos auf Lehrmaterialien zugreifen zu können, der flächendeckende Einsatz von freien Lizenzen und der zwingende Einsatz von freien Formaten. Allen die Angst vor allzuviel Freiheit haben, alle die den Text ab jetzt in das Reich der Phantasterei abschieben wollen sei dringend empfohlen weiter zu lesen. Der technische Fortschritt und die Möglichkeiten der Digitalisierung werden die Kultusministerin und die gesamte Gesellschaft zum Umdenken zwingen. Der Widerstand gegen diese Veränderungen bestehender Verlage und Interessensgruppen wird den technischen Fortschritt nicht aufhalten. Deswegen gilt es, diesen zu gestalten. Deutschland verliert hierbei gerade schon wieder den Anschluß. Und dies als selbsternannte Bildungs- und Wissenschaftsnation.

Der Wissenschaftler Dr. Leonhard Dobusch hat nun für das “Zentrum für digitalen Fortschritt – D64″ das White Paper “Digitale Lehrmittelfreiheit – mehr als digitale Schulbücher” (PDF) geschrieben. Tablet PC`s und E-Book-Reader werden die Art und Weise wie in Zukunft gelernt wird grundsätzlich verändern, so Dobusch. Die bisherigen Konzepte zum Einsatz dieser technischer Hilfsmittel beruhten bislang aber alleine auf den alten Konzepten der analogen Welt und schreibe die bestehenden Verhältnisse linear fort. Ein Paradigmenwechsel finde nicht statt. Dobusch entwirft eine Landkarte der bestehenden Konzepte und benennt die aktuellen Einsatzformen. Ein Beispiel ist dabei die Geburt neuer Player wie Apple die in den USA mit proprietären Formaten auf den Schulbuchmarkt drängen.

Dobusch konstatiert:

Lehrmittelfreiheit war immer schon mehr als der kostenlose Zugang zu Lehr- und Lernunterlagen. Es war auch das klare Bekenntnis, dass die möglichst umfassende Bereitstellung von Lehr- und Lernunterlagen eine öffentliche Aufgabe zur Verbesserung der Bildungs- und damit Chancengleichheit in einer Gesellschaft darstellt. Diese Ziele von Lehrmittelfreiheit gilt es in der digitalen Gesellschaft weiterhin anzustreben. Die Bandbreite an Mitteln und Wegen, mit denen sich eine Gesellschaft diesen Zielen annähern kann, ist dank neuer digitaler Technologien allerdings in den letzten Jahren deutlich größer geworden.

Er wirft auch einen Blick auf die internationalen Entwicklungen. Diese können für Deutschland Vorbildcharakter haben. Hinter den Grenzen von Deutschland firmiert die digitale Lehrmittelfreiheit unter dem Begriff “Open Educational Ressources”. Wegweisende Programme hat beispielsweise das Massachusstes Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston (USA) mit dem Open-Courseware-Program aufgelegt.

Die Relevanz des Thema wird gerade erst bekannt. Dobusch identifiziert die USA, China und Südafrika als Vorreiter der Entwicklungen. Private Stiftungen in den USA wie die Hewlett Foundation oder die Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation haben bereits Millionenbeträge zur Entwicklung von freien Lehrinhalten bereitgestellt. Auch die US-Regierung hat die Relevanz erkannt und Anfang 2011 zwei Milliarden US-Dollar zur Entwicklung von freien Lehrmaterialien zur Verfügung gestellt. Deutschland und der deutschrachige Raum sind bei diesen Veränderungen Entwicklungsland und es droht, dass der Anschluß verloren wird.

Als größte Probleme in Deutschland identifiziert Dobusch:

1. Geringe Bekanntheit unter Lernenden, Lehrenden und Bildungseinrichtungen sowohl von freien Lizenzen im Allgemeinen als auch von OER-Ansätzen im Speziellen.
2. Bislang keine nennenswerten Investitionen der öffentlichen Hand in den Aufbau eines Pools an frei lizenzierten Lehr- und Lernunterlagen, sowie keine Reform von Beschaffungsprozessen in Ländern mit Lehrmittelfreiheit
3. Kaum private Fördergelder für OER im Vergleich mit den USA sowie mit ärmeren Ländern, in denen Einrichtungen wie die Open Society Foundation in diesem Bereich aktiv sind.
4. Hinzu kommt der deutsche Bildungsföderalismus, der es erschwert, Größenvorteile zu nutzen sowie zentrale Initiativen im Bereich OER voranzutreiben.

Der Staat und die Gesellschaft stehen also vor drängenden Herausforderungen. Dobusch definiert drei aufeinander aufbauende konkrete Maßnahmen. Zunächst müsse in allen Bundesländern eine Machbarkeitsstudie angefertigt werden. Im Fokus stehen dabei folgende Fragen:

1. Welche Schritte in Richtung Open Educational Resources (OER) sind unter den gegebenen gesetzlichen Rahmenbedingungen möglich?
2. Welche gesetzlichen Hürden bestehen für OER und wie können sie abgebaut werden?

Als zweiten Schritt schlägt Dobusch eine Reihe von Pilotprojekten an Universitäten und anderen Bildungseinrichtungen vor. Auf die Pilotprojekte sollen sich die Einrichtungen im Sinne eines Wettbewerbs bewerben können. Die Pilotprojekte sollen auf den Erkenntnissen der Machbarkeitsstudien aufbauen. Zudem soll begleitend ein Kompetenzzentrum für offene Bildungsressourcen unter Federführung des Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung eingerichtet werden. Dieses solle insbesondere die zentrale Vergabe von Fördermitteln betreuen.

Das White Paper von Dobusch stellt einen Aufschlag für ein Umdenken in Deutschland dar. Gesellschaftliche, wirtschaftliche, bildungspolitische und soziale Gründe sprechen dafür, dass sich die Politik intensiv mit diesem Komplex beschäftigen sollte. Insbesondere muss dabei auch die Frage beantwortet werden, ob man aus Kostenersparnisgründen privaten Unternehmen, inklusive Einsatz von Geräten mit proprietären Systemen, den Erstzugriff auf die Ressource Bildungssystem und Wissenschaftslandschaft geben will oder ob der Staat diesen hochsensiblen Bereich nicht unter seine Obhut nehmen will.

Hier noch einmal der Link zu Dobusch` White Paper (PDF).

November 18 2011

Developer Week in Review: Adobe sends Flex to Apache

Although Turkey Day is less than week away, things have been distinctly Labor Day-ish around here, at least as far as the weather goes. Following the Halloween snowstorm, it's been mild and sunny, T-shirt weather.

Today is when my day job company does their annual Thanksgiving lunch, with all the fixings. So, before I become comatose from starch overdose, here's a look at the week that was.

Apache and Eclipse: The Salvation Army of software

FlexIt seems as if a week doesn't go by without a major donation of remaindered code to an open-source foundation. But even recent large donations, such as Oracle's donation of Hudson to Eclipse, are dwarfed by the announcement this week that Adobe is donating the entire Flex SDK to Apache.

Considering Adobe's announcement last week that it plans to drop mobile support for Flash in favor of HTML5, this isn't completely surprising. However, the speed with which Adobe is moving to divest itself of its Flash assets is somewhat breathtaking. By shedding Flex in this way, Adobe can concentrate on building its HTML5 portfolio without leaving existing Flex developers out in the cold.

Donating obsolete products to open source is a commendable effort, and one I wish more companies would undertake. Beyond allowing developers to tinker with the code and improve the product, it also can be a valuable teaching tool (either in a best-practices or bad-example function). Unfortunately, patent encumberment and corporate paranoia make it difficult to do.


This year, Thanksgiving dinner includes Raspberry Pi

Raspberry PiOne of the reasons that the Arduino has become such a popular Maker platform is that it's so cheap; if you hose one, you're only out $20 or $30. Unfortunately, they're also pretty primitive, both in terms of memory and how you have to code them. You can buy a Beagle board or similar kin, which can run Linux, but those are fairly expensive.

The Raspberry Pi is an attempt to create an affordable single-board that can run Linux and interface to consumer-level components. The organization building it just celebrated a milestone, finishing the final cut of the first-gen printed circuit board (PCB) design. This raises hopes that the single-board computer (SBC), with a price projected in the same range as Arduinos, may be available in the near future.

The Pi runs standard Linux ARM distributions, has a USB connector and HDMI out, and if it works as planned, should become the go-to board for homebrew hardware projects. The Arduino is a nice board, and it will continue to have an advantage for those who want pin-level I/O access. It shouldn't be hard to jigger up a cheap USB-based general purpose input/output (GPIO) breakout board, however, so this advantage is likely to be fleeting.

Skynet v0.1 is now operational

People hoping for the eventual enslavement of humanity by sentient machines got good news this week. Researchers at MIT reported the development of a chip that contained 400 neuron-analog circuits. Unlike digital switches, these new circuits mimic the ion channel mechanism that is found in the brain.

The MIT team claims that the work will lead to better understanding of brain processes and the development of prosthetics, but we here at DWIR know the real truth. We have photos of Siri entering the building through a back door, and a witness claims to have seen a large man with an Austrian accent in the vicinity, looking for a student named Sarah Connor. Claims that the Tech Square parking garage control system refused to open the gate for anyone named Dave are still being investigated.


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January 20 2011

Four short links: 20 January 2011

  1. Ajax Code Editor -- MPL/GPL/LGPL-licensed Javascript code editor that can be embedded into web sites. This used to be Mozilla Skywriter which used to be Mozilla Bespin. (via Mozilla Labs blog)
  2. Sun A Year After: The Open Source Projects -- roundup of what happened to Sun's open source projects after the Oracle acquisition. It's like the plague struck: some are dead, some are dying, some are fearful, others plough on resolutely.
  3. libcpu -- open source library for emulating CPUs, built on llvm. (via a Stackoverflow answer on emulators)
  4. MIT Open Courseware Supports Independent Learners -- they've taken some popular classes and made sure the material stands alone, by writing new material to replace references to closed/offline/etc. textbooks. OCW Scholar is not a distance-learning program, but rather educational materials provided for free without the support of an instructor or teaching assistant. The trade-off for this content-based approach without interaction is that OCW Scholar can be used by a very large audience for only the cost of digital distribution. How long until cheap teaching universities spring up, offering the MIT courseware with on-site TAs?

August 17 2010

Tracking the tech that will make government better

Gov 2.0 Summit, 2010Will crowdsourcing and next-generation data mining tools enable the federal government to find innovative solutions to grand challenges and reduce fraud?

Last week, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security held a hearing on "Transforming Government Through Innovative Tools and Technology" that looked at the potential for technology to improve government transparency and accountability. The first part of the hearing featured testimony from Daniel Werfel, controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management within the Office of Management and Budget, and Earl Devaney, chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RATB). You can view their written testimony and archived webcast at Senate.gov.

Riley Crane, a post-doc at the Media Laboratory Human Dynamics Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shared one of the most successful examples of crowdsourcing in history: the strategy that led to the MIT balloon team's victory in the DARPA Network Challenge.

"For the first time, we can bridge the gap between online and the real world," testified Crane. A challenge "thought impossible by the intelligence community using traditional techniques" was solved in 8 hours and 52 minutes, said Crane. "We leveraged the problem-solving capabilities of the participants," said Crane, and "built the infrastructure that allowed others to solve the problem for us." As Brian Ahier pointed out on his blog on healthcare IT, Crane praised Tim O'Reilly's "government as a platform" concept and Gov 2.0 principles in his Senate testimony:

More on the potential of crowdsourcing and how open data analysis is improving fraud detection after the jump.

Tools for government transparency

Devaney asserted that stimulus tracking technology is the model for government transparency. As Gautham Nagesh reported for The Hill, Devaney said that "the amount of fraud he has seen in the Recovery Act is significantly below what he would expect on a program of its size. He argued that the transparency inherent in the program has acted as a deterrent to scam artists, keeping fraud down to a minimum. He said the RATB uses software to identify risk factors associated with particular awards, contractors or grant recipients, then refers the information to specific inspector generals for further investigation."

And as Aliya Sternstein reported for Nextgov, "compu-forensics saved stimulus funds and Devaney from some pointed questions by John McCain on how the RAT Board's data analytics has saved money or resulted in convictions. Devaney said that there are more than 350 ongoing criminal investigations into fraud and abuse of Recovery Act funds, and, while none have resulted in any convictions yet, he expects to see resolution on some of them within six months.

Devaney also noted that the Recovery Board put up two separate websites in under six months, Recovery.gov and PaymentAccuracy.gov. "Government usually takes years to do that," he said. "We didn't do it the way the government usually does it but that's probably what made it work."

Challenges in data accuracy or clarity in project updates continue, however, despite Devaney's assertions. That said, there's more to the story than data or website infrastructure. As Jason Miller reported for Federal News Radio, the Recovery Board's success inspires others within government. It's not the success of the "RAT Board" in moving Recovery.gov to the cloud or redesigning the site: it's the use of a data visualization software for fraud detection.

This tool is a key a component of the enforcement of the Obama administration's "do not call" list, which was announced in June of this year.

Crowdsourcing and the power of open data

For those who weren't familiar with the tool that Werfel or Devaney described, the second panel that testified before the Senate provided the answer: Palantir Technologies. Until TechCrunch's recent coverage, in which Evylyn Russell called Palantir the next billion dollar company, the data analysis software developer was operating under the radar, at least outside of the beltway.

Analysts within the intelligence agencies are using Palantir to fight cybercrime. Transparency wonks are exploring Data.gov with AnalyzeThe.Us. And the Department of Health and Human Services is using Palantir internally to detect fraud with the Medicare system. That innovation, incidentally, is precisely why Palantir is in the technology spotlight at the Gov 2.0 Summit next month.

"We're specialized in the least glamorized part of finding fraud," testified Alexander Karp, founder and CEO of Palantir. "Palantir is based on a methodology that reduced fraud at PayPal from something that takes thousand of hours to something that could be done in real-time."

When applied within government agencies and enterprises, Palantir helps non-technical analysts see latent patterns in open data. Effectively, it is a platform that allows subject-matter experts to perform highly sophisticated analyses. "The inspector general community has never had these tools before," said Devaney in his testimony.

Karp's written testimony is embedded below:

Following Karp, Rob McEwen, founder and former chairman and CEO of Goldcorp, told a story about the power of crowdsourcing that will be familiar to readers of "WIkinomics." As described in this excerpt, Goldcorp published online every element of geographic data the company held, investing nearly $1 million in prize money and website development.

Virtual prospectors spread to the site and, in time, identified more than 100 sites on a 55,000-acre property that yielded 8 million ounces of gold. "Incentives can be much more than cash," said McEwen. "Nobody is as smart as everybody. The biggest goldmine in the world exists between everyone's ears."

After McEwen, Crane offered insights into MIT's win in the DARPA Network Challenge, as described above. I talked to Crane later about crowdsourcing and government. Here's our short interview:

Crane's written testimony is embedded below:


Related:





The link between technical innovation and government improvement will be explored at the Gov 2.0 Summit, being held Sept. 7-8 in Washington, D.C. Request an invitation.

November 07 2009

Three Paradoxes of the Internet Age - Part Three

The myth of personal empowerment takes root amidst a massive loss of personal control.

Social technologies are cloaked in a rhetoric of liberation (customers are in control, the internet fosters democracy, social technologies propagate truth etc.) that tend to obscure the fact that never before have we handed so much personal information over in exchange for so little in return.




As we move from the “web of information” to the “web of people” (aka the Social Web) the output of all of this social participation is massive dossiers on individual behavior (your social network profiles, photos, location, status updates, searches etc.) and social activity.
This loss of control over personal information is on a collision course with the law of unintended consequences: MIT’s Project Gaydar can spot your sexual preference by your social ties, Facebook checks are occurring customs and every quiz you take on Facebook delivers a shocking amount of personally identifiable information to third parties.



Amidst this barrage of good news for how much power we wield in the transaction of commerce one has to wonder if we are giving away something quite precious in the bargain.

Here are links to the previous posts in this series:
One: More access to information doesn’t bring people together, often it isolates us.
Two: Individual perception of increased choice can occur while the overall choice pool is getting smaller



What are other paradoxes of the Internet Age? What did I get wrong above?

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