IBM announced today it has entered into an agreement to acquire Watchfire Corporation, a privately held security and compliance testing software company based in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Online security and privacy incidents continue to pose a risk to Internet communications and commerce. According to a 2005 CSI/FBI Survey, internal security attacks cost U.S. businesses alone $400 billion per year.
Watchfire's technology is expected to help reduce security risks and the threat it poses to customers and the bottom line alike by extending IBM's governance risk management strategy, implementing broad security and compliance capabilities and integrating them into the software development lifecycle.
This will allow customers to define, test, and track the compliance of their applications with security, legal and corporate requirements.
Watchfire's operations will become part of IBM's Rational software brand.[Read More]
So it may seem from this blog that I all I've thought about or contemplated lately is golf.
That's not entirely true. Golf has just been my escape from work, and the U.S. Open was sort of the icing on the cake for recent weeks, particularly after how it ended up.
I will say I was extremely proud of the USGA and IBM teams who worked on the Web site. I don't know any of them, but I thought they did a remarkable job, particularly for our first year out as partners.
I, for one, being the golf junkie I am, leaned on the US Open site extensively to keep track of all the action and to see the media highlights.
So, whoever at IBM was on that team, I hope you're getting some sleep now, but know I thought you all rocked.
As for the world of business and technology, the news bits have been streaming out so quickly it's been very difficult for me to digest it all, a problem I'm sure many of you have.
What's going on out there, you might ask?
LinkedIn took a $53M round from Bain Capital, and The New York Times reports that round puts their valuation at $1B. The company will apparently use that investment to make acquisitions and expand its overseas operations.
The average age of a LinkedIn user is 41, the report goes on to say. I'm 41, and I'm a LinkedIn user, so there you go.
But they go on to report that I'm less likely to build my digital identity around dates, parties, and photos of revelry. If that's another way of saying I don't post pictures of myself trying to one-up a fraternity brother on the beer bong, that's true.
But it also doesn't mean I'm a stick in the mud, either.
There was actually a great story about the continuing merge between the personal and the professional in the University of Texas local newspaper yesterday, here in Austin.
Entitled "Beware the Facebook Gap," it seemed to suggest blowback by college students reacting to increased scrutiny of their social networking presence by companies' HR departments.
Author Dustin Stonecipher, a history major at UT, writes that "...When a business users CIA-like techniques to obtain often out of context and private information, it becomes unethical and borderline illegal."
Stonecipher points out that "Facebook is "our space. It is not a resume, a grade report or a page in an online applicant pool," and yet "energetic" employers have found ways around these safeguards.
And yet he also cites a U.S. News and World study that indicated 40 percent of employers said they would take into account an application's Facebook page during their hiring process.
Stonecipher also points out that increasingly the growing openness of the Internet is leading to violations of the Equal Opportunity Act, where snap judgments can be made because of the vast, various and sundry personal information being placed online.
I have advice for both sides of this social networking coin.
Students, for better or worse, remember that your private behavior is now increasingly publicly available. The old adage used to go that you ought not say it if you don't want it to end up on the front page of The New York Times.
Insert "Facebook" for "The New York Times" and you'll have caught up with the virtual Joneses.
While I agree that such behavior ought not be used for the purpose of any type of hiring discrimination, particularly before the candidate has a chance to tell their side of the story, it's probably better not to arm the hiring committee with evidence that can only do you harm.
Read: Use the Facebook privacy features to hide those pics of you after several hours at the toga party, or better yet, leave them off the Intertubes altogether.
Employers, many of you were in college once. Remember that period of your life? When you had little responsibility, all the time in the world, and no microvideo cameras following your every move?
And, many of you lived in a time when the economics of distribution were limited to flyers that could be placed around campus.
Imagine your forays into the finer nuances of tequila shots being examined by your own organization's HR staff via a Facebook newsfeed and you'll get a sense of what these students are up against.
Give graduating students a break, and I'm not talking about the spring kind.
One incident on Facebook does not a college career make.
If every single student were penalized for the single "D" or "F" they made during their college tenure, many productive citizens would never have gotten through the first round of interviews.
For those getting similar treatment because they joined the "Students for Ron Paul" group (or "insert your candidate here")...
....well, let's just say I'm just glad my report card never had a Facebook NewsFeed...or my Animal House-ish "Delta" fraternity its own Facebook group.
Unfortunately, in the so-called "real" world, there's no such thing as DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION.
If there were, I'd surely still be on it.
Technorati Tags: career advice, facebook, privacy, linkedin, social networks
Which means it's time for some serious baseball.
TheNew York Yankees play the Cleveland Indians tonight in the first game ofthe American League Major League Baseball playoffs, at 6:30 EST, inCleveland.
All I have to say about that is, "Go Yankees!"
Sorry, Indians fans.
Thing is, my Houston Astros couldn't even win a single game the one time theymade it to the World Series, and my Texas Rangers will be lucky if theyever win a playoff game, much less make it to a division series.
So, with NYC being my second home, it's all about the Yanks.
And while I cheer on Chien-Ming Wang as he leads off pitching for the Bronx Bombers, UC Berkeley has taken its lectures to the Tube
...the YouTube, that is.
Ina press release dated yesterday, Berkeley indicated that it would be"expanding public access to its intellectual riches" by making entirecourse lectures and special events available free of charge on YouTube.
Where was this stuff when I went to college???
Oh,that's right, I was too busy using CompuServe's CB Simulator chat feature
($5.00 an hour anyone?) and learning the fine art of gophering.
Ifafter all those late nights of staring at those small YouTubinglecturers you find yourself needing to go the campus infirmary, Dr.Steve and Dr. Bill will be standing by to help take your medical recordover the Internets.
Microsoft announced its "HealthVault"
initiative today, which will provide free personal health records on the Web.
The New York Times has the full medical profile
on the announcement.
ThoughMicrosoft puts it's "Health Privacy Commitment" front and center on theHealthVault home page, Mary Jo Foley also has Peter Neupert, VP ofMicrosoft's Health Solutions Group, quoted as saying "I believe searchis a big market and we can monetize this around health searches withonline ads."
That makes me a little queasy in terms of protecting the privacy of my health records.
Thenagain, if Microsoft's health records are as well protected as thepermissions that are apparently required for loading new software viathe Vista operating system, we can all probably breathe a little easier.
But you may want to go ahead and call the privacy ambulance, just in case.
What'snext, a very public and comprehensive Facebook medical recordsapplication and Newsfeed that will allow my closest friends andrelatives to follow and compare our latest blood tests?
"Dude, you are so not
O Negative! No way!"
And what's that little genetic discrepancy I see on your quiz results?
No problem, Aetna, subscribe away.
It never fails.
Every time I catch a flight from Austin to NYC, or NYC back to Austin, some dramatic news is announced...or almost announced.
And I'm not talking about the kerfuffle
around Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University (Remind me never to get introduced anywhere
by Columbia University President Lee Bollinger. Ouch!)
No, I'm referring to the story
from The Wall Street Journal, and subsequent punditry in other parts of the blogomediasphere, that Microsoft was considering taking a significant stake in Facebook (up to 5%, according to the story).
Doggonit, and I was just getting to liking Facebook, too.
According to the Journal article, there's nothing less than the critical leverage point for the future of advertising online at stake:
"Whoever controls the technology platform for buying and selling online ads could hold tremendous power over the Internet industry for years to come -- much as Microsoft was able to use its Windows operating system to shape the personal computer."
Wow. And I just thought it was a really cool place to conduct surveillance on my online friends and tell everyone "Todd is not an ambassador attending the UN General Assembly while he's in NY this week, but he did stay at a Holiday Inn last night."
Didn't I mention a couple of weeks ago that Facebook would, in so many words, be providing the Internet Attorney's Full Employment Act of 2007 due to all the legal issues surrounding its business?
For example, yesterday's announcement
by the New York Attorney General's office that it was subpoenaing Facebook about how it protects its users, particularly those under-age, after a recent undercover investigation suggested Facebook's advertising and statements to users about the safety of its site are "materially misleading."
And heck, all that before I even knew
the Microsoft /Facebook M&A and anti-trust attorneys wing might have to be bolted on.
Hmm, maybe I should
go to law school, after all.
I'm going to be making my away over to Beijing and other parts of Asia towards the end of next week, so I have to step out shortly to get some new inoculations.
I'm really looking forward to the journey...not so much to the shots.
In this particular case, I suspect the visit to the travel health clinic here in South Austin will involve needles which will provide me the appropriate dose of various serum.
But it just as easily could have been a situation where I'm giving blood for testing, storage, etc.
Which reminded me of an issue that I had been meaning to post about: The Genetic Nondiscrimination Act which was recently passed by the U.S. Senate.
As our Chief Privacy Officer, Harriet Pearson, recently posted on her internal blog at IBM, proposed legislation in the U.S. takes an average of 6 years to become law in the U.S. (if ever).
The Genetic Information Discrimination Act took 15 years to get passed, and it was done so not without a small measure of assistance from Harriet and her public policy team at IBM.
Better late than never, I say.
As you may or may not be aware, after the mapping of the human genome was completed, genetics-based personalized medicine accelerated, including the opportunity for genetic tests that can now account for the probability of an individual having a predisposition to certain kinds of diseases.
So in 2005, our Chairman wrote to all of us inside IBM and indicated that it had become policy within our company not to discriminate against an employee on the basis of genetics, and to treat such information with the highest of privacy and security standards.
It doesn't take a genetic scientist to understand how such information could potentially be misused: Denial of health care coverage, discrimination in hiring based on genetic predisposition...you get the picture.
To help the Congress and the public better understand IBM's rationale and details behind this position, Harriet shared the company's stand on the issue in her testimony before the U.S. Congress on January 30 of last year.
You can read that testimony here.
At the end of the same document, you can also read the email that Sam Palmisano sent out to his troops explaining IBM's policy against genetic discrimination.
It was encouraging when it appeared in my in-box in 2005, and it was encouraging to see the U.S. Congress establish legislation similar to IBM's policy to protect all Americans against genetic discrimination in the workplace earlier this month.
As for me, I'm off to get my booster shots -- which will explain why you'll see me standing for the next several days.UPDATE:
Okay, the shots ended up going into my arms instead. Two on the left, two on the right. It's been barely two hours and they are already really, really
sore. Just for the record.
Technorati Tags: genetic discrimination, harriet pearson, privacy, public policy, ibm, us congress
I just got back from Silicon Valley...in fact, just yesterday afternoon I was standing in the glorious northern California sunshine outside the San Jose Convention Center yesterday as the Search Engine Strategies conference was about to get underway...but alas, I had to catch the Nerd Bird back to Austin and didn't get to stick around for the festivities.
Too bad, so sad, as I suspect the festivities got off to a rocking start with AOL's search privacy snafu, for which Jason Calacanis now apologizes profusely and indicates that he wishes AOL would "NOT KEEP LOGS of our search data."
You'd have thought AOL would have learned from the Google/U.S. Justice Department search fishing expedition last year, but alas not. It's yet another indicator of the increasing friction between Big Business' opportunity to leverage search marketing information for marketing advantage and the consumer/citizens' right to privacy.
Former Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy told us several years ago to get over it, that "you have zero privacy." I'm starting to think he was right, even though I certainly didn't agree with him at the time.
You can catch the latest and greatest here on CNET, and to AOL's credit they have issued a whopper of an apology. Meanwhile, I think it's high time, if they already have not, that more of these companies appoint a Chief Privacy Officer or even a Chief Customer Data Protection Officer...it's long overdue, and until this issue is put higher up the marketing agenda, these kinds of ridiculous breaches are going to continue to occur.[Read More]
IBM Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) Harriet Pearson recently sat down with ComputerWorld
for an interview to discuss what CIOs and CEOs need to understand about data privacy and protection, the role of the CPO, and other relevant risk management topics.
Harriet has been a key thought leader in the data protection and privacy space for some years now, and I had the opportunity many Internet dog years ago to work with her on a number of Internet-related privacy issues on behalf of IBM. It's clear from this interview that the privacy space has matured since that time.
In the interview, Harriet also discusses ever more practical considerations, such as the optimum reporting structure for privacy officers and the characteristics that make up a good CPO.
You can also hear from Harriet directly in a podcast conducted recently entitled "The Future of Privacy."[Read More]
Hey, I feel for those of you in NYC today and tomorrow, what with the taxi drivers on strike and all.
What's most fascinating to me, though, is the rationale for the strike.
NYC wants its cab drivers to install GPS systems in their taxis, along with video screens and touch screen credit card processors.
The problem? These systems cost between $3000 and $5000, and an estimated of $100+ monthly fee, costs which taxi drivers fear they're going to shoulder most of the burden for.
Also of concern? The ability for taxi owners and dispatchers to follow the every move of their drivers via the GPS system.
"Hey Guido, what the ---- are you doing on the Gee Dubya when you oughta be out ta Newark by now?!!?"
My advice to visitors to NYC this week?
Get yourself a subway map, a bottle of water, and a Metro card, and don't be afraid to ask a New Yorker for directions.
Meanwhile, if you're concerned about being tracked via the Intertubes, normally privacy-friendly Facebook is making a really dumb move, one likely with the unadvertised intention of driving more subscriptions to its already fast-growing social network.
They announced on their blog overnight that they are making "limited public search listings" available to non-Facebook users.
That means soon you will be able to use Google and other search engines to find someone's Facebook profile.
To be fair, Facebook will allow one to control whether or not one's profile can be found via a public search
(Go here and uncheck the two boxes under the "Who Can Find Me in Search and See My Public Search Listing" section if you wish to be removed from public searches. I already have.).
But as Om Malik observes, this move turns Facebook into the "quasi-White Pages of the Web."
In so doing, they are diluting the power of an already very viral and useful social network in hopes of easily gathering compounded membership via the public search engines, and boosting their page views as they cast their eye towards the public markets.
Both of which I guess are hardly private affairs.
All I have to say to Facebook is that that is so 1999.
Or was that 1984?
Technorati Tags: facebook, nyc taxi strike, privacy, google, social networking
"Calls recorded for quality."
That's the first thing you hear when you call into Google's voice search portal number, 1-800-GOOG-411.
But after hearing Google senior VP Marissa Mayer discussing its voice portal in more detail at last week's Searchnomics event in Santa Clara, and now after reading coverage of Google's acquisition of Grand Central
overnight, a more comprehensive and strategic picture is beginning to emerge.
Google needs a few million of us to make contributions to its phoneme bank.
"Calls recorded for quality."
Uh-huh....and, phoneme analysis.
You know, those bits of language that constitute the theoretical representation of a sound which are critical building blocks for any good speech recognition capability.And
, more oxygen needed for the sprint to the mobile voice search recognition and results finish line against Microsoft.
Take a brief moment and flash back to Microsoft's acquisition of TellMe earlier this year, TellMe being a pioneer in 1-800 voice driven assistance and speech-to-Web capability.
As mentioned in a Reuters article
at the time, "TellMe brings to Microsoft the world's largest database of voice-recognition data."
Realizing the import of that move (Microsoft using TellMe to drive its own voice and Web search integration), Google needed to exercise its own vocal chords and fast. Mayer admitted as much last week in Santa Clara.
What better way to collect even more phonemes to improve the algorithm than to buy a company (Grand Central) that has the ability record your phone calls and link you to a specific phone number!
-- which is already being pointed to by the Grand Central site -- explicitly states that: "If you do not have caller id blocked, we collect and store the number of your phone, along with the time of your call, each time you use the Google Voice Local Search service. We may use this phone number to distinguish you from other users, and ultimately, to personalize the service to you."
But there's more:We also collect and store a copy of the voice commands you make to the service, so we can audit, evaluate, and improve the voice recognition capabilities of the service.
Calls recorded for quality and
improved phoneme acquisition and analysis. The more phonemes, the better the GOOG 411 algorithm. Because the better the system gets at analysis, the higher the voice recognition rate.
Also, Google will now have the capability to analyze your voice print and potentially segment yours' from others.
Everybody wins. Users...advertisers and marketers (particularly those with a local bent).
Because before too long, it will be Google which has the world's largest voice print database.
And then, the last mile of the Google personalized marketing juggernaut loop is closed.
Google will then have your single phone number (caller id recognizable), cookie, and voice print, along with a history of all your search queries and clickstream.
Throw in a few bat's heads and some mistletoe, and pretty soon you've got an extremely potent witches brew of information that makes marketers and advertisers salivate, and privacy advocates running for the Orwellian exits.
"Calls recorded for quality."[Read More
Googleified tells us about the new Digg-style experimentation going on over at Google Experimental.
It involves allowing "some selected users" to "influence the search experience by adding, moving, and removing search results."
On any given SERP, a user will be able to move a search result to the top of the page from the bottom using an up-arrow.
Likewise, they can also send said listing down the page, if they don't find it as useful.
Me, I'll about social crowdsourcing myself, and am finding our own tagging implementations inside our Big Blue Firewall to be a nice antidote to not being able to find needed information otherwise.
I suspect social search could lead us in a similar direction.
But Google clearly has to give some serious consideration to a full-on rollout of using this tool on their core search results.
It would be too terribly enticing a system to try and game, especially now that you have a cottage industry of both black and white hat SEOs, and also with so many smaller businesses critically dependent on their long tail Google search results.
My advice: Keep it an experiment for a long, long time.
Meanwhile, Facebook's new advertising "Beacon" grows dimmer by the day.
I TOLD you in this blog many times before that privacy would be Facebook's gremlin, and that they should hire all the lawyers they could find.
Well, BusinessWeek's Catherine Holahan reported earlier that Facebook execs are "discussing changes" to their privacy-infringing Beacon ad system in the wake of "mounting criticism."
What, you mean all those thousands of bloggers and 40,000 Move On petitioners who are up in arms about having their every move tracked so Mark Zuckerberg can get closer to his $15B valuation mark?
The solution is so simple: Opt out instead of opt in.
I don't mind you tracking my every move so long as you give me the choice not to have you track my every move.
When in the world will Web companies get a privacy clue?
I'm a big Facebook fan and use it regularly. I'm rooting for them and sure hope they make the right decision here.
Give choice back to the people that helped make them who they are today.
If not, I fear they'll soon be making some new friends themselves in the social networking dustbin of history.
Technorati Tags: facebook, privacy, online advertising, social networking
IBM announced the acquisition of Internet Security Systems, Inc. (ISS) earlier this morning.
ISS provides security solutions to thousands of companies and governments around the globe, helping to proactively protect against Internet threats across networks, desktops and servers.
With increased concerns regarding data and identity theft, regulatory compliance, and cyber security challenges, addressing IT security has become one of the most complex challenges companies face, regardless of size, location or industry.
The acquisition of ISS will augment IBM's position in the rapidly growing area of Managed Security Services, combining ISS' complementary automated security platform, services, software and expert consultants with IBM's broad security portfolio, innovative research and global reach.
"Companies recognize that rapidly evolving security threats and complex regulatory requirements have turned security into a mission-critical priority," said Val Rahmani, General Manager, Infrastructure Management Services, IBM Global Services, said of the announcement. "ISS is a strategic and valuable addition to IBM's portfolio of technology and services. This acquisition will help IBM to provide companies with access to trained experts and leading-edge processes and technology to evaluate and protect against threats and enforce security policies."
ISS has more than 11,000 customers worldwide including 17 of the world's largest banks, 15 of the largest governments, 11 of the top public insurance companies and 13 of the world's top IT organizations. ISS also brings to IBM a network of business partners skilled in selling the ISS product line and an expanded product set to the IBM Business Partner channel.
You can read more about the deal here.
Meanwhile, if you feel like reminiscing about the early salad days of the Web, long before pervasive cyber attacks, SPAM, and worms, check out our developerWorks' podcast featuring World Wide Web consortium director Tim Berners-Lee.
In a wide-ranging interview, Berners-Lee talks about his early history with the Web, opportunities and challenges at present, and his current project: the semantic Web.
I know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who says that Facebook is about to roll out some new privacy controls soon.
Like in the next day.
Caroline McCarthy's "The Social" blog indicates that the new feature will include the ability to control access to one's profile based on "social proximity" (Think six degrees of separation, a la LinkedIn).
So if I don't know ya directly, I don't have to reveal all my profile information to ya.
There's also talk about an IM client being revealed soon on Facebook.
But wait a minute, didn't AOL just spend $850M on Bebo so that they could link up the power of AOL IM with the reach of the Bebo network???
Well, yeah...but that is so earlier this week!
If you really want to know what's going on with your amigos, you can always revert over to FriendFeed, a "lifestream aggregator-turned-social network" says ReadWriteWeb.
Many have suggested FriendFeed is starting to tip, but as RWW points out, it's some serious information overload.
On the other hand, if you thought following your friends' on Twitter was fun, FriendFeed is all about following just about everything your friends are doing online.
Does that include following them as they exclude me from their Facebook privacy controls???
Technorati Tags: aol, bebo, facebook, privacy, search
More bad news for Vonage, and for me.
GigaOm relates the most recent tidings,
whereby Vonage was found to have infringed upon six Sprint patents, and fined some U.S. $69.5 million in damages. (We may have to shift a few of those Facebook attorneys to the Vonage account.)
No "woo woo, woo woo woo" pour moi this go around.
Time Warner Digital phone service is sounding more alluring all the time, in which case Columbus Circle will then have a virtual monopoly on my digital tether.
Mr. Roadrunner, can I at least get a bundled discount??
So, with all this VOIP stress, I could really use an escape about now.
Hey, how 'bout that "Halo 3" release from Redmond yesterday? That could provided some needed distraction from my Internet telephony woes?
Alas, I'm still a generation behind -- "Halo 3" requires the X-Box 360. (You get much better deals on games if you stay a generation behind, but you're also about 3-4 years behind on the games).
Unfortunately, according to an AP wire report, style is winning out over substance as the limited-edition packaging for the new game is apparently scratching the Halo 3 discs.
Which is worse, having the packaging scratch your brand spankin' new Halo 3 discs, or having Microsoft automagically update
your computer via its Windows Update, without
your express permission?
I guess that really depends on how badly you want to play the Microsoft game.
I don't need any help with watching more television. I watch way too much of it as it is.
But being a big proponent of time-shifting and creating a more intelligent interlock and filtering mechanism between digital cable and the Web, I couldn't help but mention "MeeVee" which I recently stumbled across.MeeVee positions itself
as a TV search company (think Google for cable), and just announced today a second round infusion of VC cash to keep its TV listings up to date.
Their 30 second elevator pitch goes something like this: They're the Amazon.Com TV Guide on the Internet. They intend to provide several mechanisms on their site by which to recommend and provide a "personalized TV guide." Marcus Welby Meet Grey's Anatomy
With respect to MeeVee and TV, I'm all about personalized recommendations for anything...when
Although Amazon's collaborative filtering mechanism works fairly well for my tastes, I take my TV watching a whole lot more seriously than I do ordering stuff off of the Internet. When I'm ordering something via the Web, I generally already knew what it was that I wanted to buy.
That's a very different animal from relying on the collective intelligence of the Internet audience, from whom I'm looking to tell me what TV shows I might like to watch that I'm not already watching.
I'll spend some time on MeeVee, and even if they don't make their Kitty Hawk escape from their earthbound Web 2.0 orbit, it's good to know there are people out there worrying about how to improve my TV watching habits.
Especially amidst the backdrop of 57 channels and nothin' on.[Read More
Just last week, I made a panel submission for next spring's SXSW Interactive conference here in Austin.
With die-hard interactive spirit, the SXSW conference team has opened up the development of the conference agenda this year to the Internet masses. Simply go to the SXSW Interactive Panel picker to help mold the agenda by picking your favorite session topics. Giving the people what they want, and a voice in the shaping of the conference. Gotta love it.
While I won't go into great detail as to my own panel submission, it generally revolved around Web 2.0 technologies moving into the enterprise. So I laughed out loud this morning when I found this story on social networking technologies in the enterprise (subscription required) in the Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition.
The article does a nice job outlining how such technologies are being used in BBs (Big Businesses), also highlighting IBM's own "Dogear" social bookmarking tool, for which inside our own Big Blue Firewall we've already garnered some 100K bookmarks, according to the account.
There are also some nice mentions of Socialtext software being used inside SAP, as well as blogging at Honeywell. Worth a read if you're trying to stay on top of how all this blossoming innovation is filtering into big companies.
Meanwhile, while we're in the orbit of the Wall Street Journal, in yesterday's announcement of the Wall Street Journal Innovation Awards, IBM's "Clipped Tag" RFID technology was feted for its privacy protections, a technology which allows consumers to "opt-out" of RFID tracking by tearing or scratching off the RFID antennas.
This eliminates the tag's ability to communicate with other devices or systems -- just in case you were worried about anyone tracking your package of Charmin out of the Big Box store, into your SUV, and back to the homestead!
Go here if you'd like to learn more about IBM's sensor and actuator technologies in general, and click here if you'd like to read the specifics of our Clipped Tag technology.
That was some game in the NCAA men's Final Two last night between Kansas and Memphis.
Mario Chalmers three pointer to tie the game and take it into OT was just breathtaking.
Kudos to both teams for some very exciting and, at times, breathtaking basketball.
I, of course, had no dog in this fight (my Texas Longhorns split the scene a couple three rounds earlier), but it was sure fun to watch the drama unfold on the courts of the Alamodome.
Just as it's going to be lots of fun to watch Google take on Amazon's cloud computing play with its new "Google App Engine," announced last night at its Campfire One event.
The Google Developer Blog explains that the Google App Engine is a developer tool that "enables you to run your Web applications on Google's infrastructure," with the goal being to make it easy to get started with a new web app, and then to "make it easy to scale when that app reaches the point where it's receiving significant traffic and has millions of users."
Like an OT slam on ESPN.com during the Final Four???
One outfit not likely to be using the new Google platform cloud is the European Union, whose Article 29 Working Party issued a report questioning the need for Google and other search engines to store Europeans' data for 12 months and beyond.
Fleischer goes on to explain that "It is the result of engineers painstakingly analysing the patterns in our server logs to improve the relevance of our searches. At the same time, we have developed privacy policies designed to give users choices over the information they share with us."
So, to net it out and to be fair, Google gives you a choice -- you can park your cookies with them for 18 months or you can go use another search engine.
To do otherwise would be not to take advantage of all those "patterns."
To see your patterns on Google, check out your Google Web History sometime (you must be signed in to your Google account).
If that's not simultaneously the scariest and yet most fascinating thing you've ever seen, my nickname's not Turbo.
By way of example, just this past week I was doing some research on the use of social media via Google.
Following are a couple of queries that appeared in my search history:
3:32pm -- Searched for "Jihad"
3:32pm -- Searched for "Al Qaeda"
The history also included several links I clicked on as a result of these queries.
I probably could have thrown in a couple more for good measure, but the point would remain: Why in the world was I looking for information on "jihad" and "Al Qaeda"?
In all actuality, I was searching for an image to include in a presentation, one that would help me best represent "Al Qaeda" as an example of how various organizations, political parties, etc. are using the social media to connect, collaborate, and conspire.
I was not looking to jihad or to join, assist, or support Al Qaeda in any way, shape or form myself.
I was looking for a picture.
But interpreted in the wrong context, that information, associated with my Google cookie and, ergo, my account, could be most devastating.
"IBM marketing guy targeted as Al Qaeda virtual collaborator!" go the headlines.
My recommendation: Use your Web history and cookies associated with your searches on search engines judiciously.
Sure, you probably have nothing to fear.
Until you do.
Technorati Tags: al qaeda, cloud computing, google, ncaa, privacy, basketball
There's no better way to start the new year than a good blogosphere brouhaha, and Robert Scoble's Facebook data export escapades certainly served as a good launching point for such an incident.
Perhaps they might have picked somebody else with a little lower profile to go and shut down?
Turns out for the good, methinks, as it led to an interesting dialogue about who owns all that data floating around out there: the Internet entities or the yous and mes of the world.
I suppose it was inevitable such a discussion must emerge, and preferably sooner rather than later.
These NetCos are making millions of ad dollars off of yours and my information, leveraging our personal information to serve more targeted ads and hopefully, in the process, helping create a more efficient market between consumer and commercial enterprise.
I'm all for it. The more I watch Facebook blossom, and the more people I find on it, the more useful I think it is...and the more concerned I get about our individual and collective privacy.
Whose data is it, anyway, you ask?
I would argue at the end of the day that it's my data, and that I'm putting it on loan to these sites because it's a fair exchange for mutually beneficial value.
But as Nick Carr observes, none of us is in this alone: "...if you happen to be one of those 'friends,' would you think of your name, email address, and birthday as being 'Scoble's data' or as being 'my data.'"
Whose data, indeed? Calgon, take me away...and take my PII with you and put it someplace safe.
So I input my data into your engine -- and share my friends' data as well so that I can stay in better touch with my far-flung friends and colleagues -- and in return I allow the Facebooks of the world to make a little money by having access to that information to provide more targeted marketing.
But by putting a governor on the data export valve, Facebook (and others) seem to be saying they don't trust folks enough to intelligently handle their own information, even as I and others have spent hours inputting said information for the express purpose of facilitating that mutually benefical value exchange (and making them loads o' money in the process).
While I agree with Carr that Facebook has the responsibility to protect our information, Facebook (and others) should focus more on allowing portability of the most basic information (names, email addresses) so that I don't have to enter this information over and over and over and over again.
If they don't, I figure somebody else will.
Feel out of the next generation Internet loop? Dazed and confused by all those new new thangs sprouting up across the Web Two Point Oh landscape?
I sympathize...I follow this stuff as closely as I can and as my schedule allows (refer to previous post about multitasking), and my head is still spinning like a Turbo Bobblehead. A person could spend all day just trying to keep up!
CNN's Money.Com/Business 2.0 team has done some VA (value-adding) in this area. While it's hype-ladenly billed -- (Sound the Trumpets)...."The Next Net 25"
...(Could someone find me Don Pardo?) -- it does a nice job of calling out some of the key emerging players in the "next net" landscape, crisply dividing the companies into the following categories: "Social Media," "Mashup and Filters," "The New Phone," "The Webtop," "Under the Hood."
Turbo says check it out, especially if you're just looking for the 50K flyover.Phone Me the Money
Meanwhile, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch asks us if we can keep a secret...SHHHHHH!....by sending us to the beta of Ether,
a super top-secret site going live tonight at midnight (No, I don't know which time zone...but I'm sure it's midnight somewhere!).
The pitch? Oh, you're gonna love this...Got some advice you want to give (call yourself a "service provider.")? Set up a toll-free number with Ether,
provide your personal info and a phone number to refer your toll calls to, set a rate and schedule when you're available, and go to town. Buyers go through the Ether space to find Sellers, and once they've agreed to the terms, the deal is done, they make the call, and the cash register starts to ring...or not.
Think phone consultation eBay and you're on your way into the Ether.[Read More
What a way to end the week. Google is buying DoubleClick, says the New York Times, for $3.1B.
The press release from Google is here. (It includes a call taking place now that will be available for replay).
That's a pretty penny to pay for a company taken private in 2005 for $1.1B...then again, Google keeps DoubleClick out of Microsoft's hands. As an analyst in the Times' piece observes, "Keeping Microsoft away from DoubleClick is worth billions to Google."
Gonna be lots of blogosphere spin on this one over the weekend....
After sleeping on it overnight, and now having listened to the full conference call with the chief executives and leadership teams from both Google and DoubleClick, let me throw in my two clicks...er, cents.
Though some are saying that Google bought itself a Web 1.0 company (with cash, mind you..."Hey Sergey, it's Eric! Could you run into the Google vault and grab a few pallets of gold so we can pay for these DoubleClick guys, please?! Thank you!!"), what they fail to follow up with is that we're now living in a Web 2.0 world in which massive amounts of advertising dollars are fleeing the old world and sailing off in search of the new.
The new world promises even more gold on that great shiny adserving city on the hill, including mounds filled with data and the ability to integrate, which in turn provides more accountability to advertisers and publishers.
To do all that, search and display advertising must become more synergistic, and what better way than for the world's largest search advertiser to hitch its boat to the world's largest online display advertiser?
According to the press release announcing the intended acquisition, the primary beneficiaries were three-fold:
- For users, the combined company will deliver an improved experience on the web, by increasing the relevancy and the quality of the ads they see.
- For online publishers, the combination provides access to new advertisers, which creates a powerful opportunity to monetize their inventory more efficiently.
- For agencies and advertisers, Google and DoubleClick will provide an easy and efficient way to manage both search and display ads in one place. They will be able to optimize their ad spending across different online media using a common set of metrics.
All that is basically difficult to argue with. The idea of having more accountability and more synergy is a positive. It brings efficiencies to advertisers and publishers alike, and can help provide consumers with a better advertising experience.
As to the observations about this deal being a "brazen attempt to take away Microsoft's future air supply" for its software-as-service model, there are other plenty other adserving vendors on the seas separating the old world and new, just none the size of DoubleClick.
No, I believe the big elephant swimming just offshore in this deal is consumer privacy.
As much as Sergey Brin attempted to play offense on the privacy question during the teleconference, we are about to find ourselves with two companies bringing lots of personal data (via cookies, existing ad profiles, search data, etc.) together in a thick soup of admittedly very powerful new world marketing mix.
Back in 1999, DoubleClick was taken to task (and ironically probably made this deal much cheaper than it would have been due to the pounding its stock took in the process) in the privacy spotlight for something it never even actually did (merging its Abacus offline sales data with online profiles of its adserving adherents).
This time around, the potential for misuse and abuse is much greater -- merging very personal search profiles which are probably already too invasive with those of the users' extensive clickstream across the Web -- than it was back in 1999 -- there is much decreased transactional friction with most of the data now being online, requiring much less calories for a massive merge and purge.
And yet hardly anyone has mentioned the word.
True, it is a vastly different world we live in than 1999, and folks are much more freewheeling with their personal information, particularly the younger set.
And yet we're also finding that there are prices to be paid for such frivolity with one's digital image, reputation, and personal information -- employers conducting online digital dossiers of new hires, scanning everything from Facebook profiles to newsgroup postings before making hiring decisions.
As a recent New York magazine article about young people and privacy observed:
"Every street in New York has a surveillance camera. Each time you swipe your debit card at Duane Reade or use your MetroCard, that transaction is tracked. Your employer owns your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls. Your life is being lived in public whether you choose to acknowledge it or not."
So sure, why not throw in their merged Google and DoubleClick clickstreams while they're at it? Who needs thoughtcrime when you've got a perpetual clickstream?
Then again, Julia and Winston got over it all...after a little convincing...eventually, I suspect, so will we.[Read More]
Monty the cat would prefer to remain anonymous.
Or, at least, her owner, Mary Kalin-Casey, would.
Because with Google's new "Street View"
feature, the Google cameras were able to get a street-level view of her building in San Francisco, and when Mary zoomed in on the picture, she was able to see her cat, Monty, sitting on a perch in her living room window.
I sense a Hitchcock move in the making: "Rear Window," Google style.
Google keeps saying it takes privacy seriously, yet it seems to keep making moves that evidently ignore people's privacy concerns.
in the New York Times story.[Read More