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Social Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

By Jeremy Wagstaff (this is a column I wrote back in November. I’m repeating it here because of connections to astroturing in the HBGary/Anonymous case.) Just how social is social media? By which I mean: Can we trust it as a measure of what people think, what they may buy, how they may vote? Or is it as easy a place to manipulate as the real world. The answers to these questions aren’t of academic interest only. They go right to the heart of what may be our future. More and more of our world is online. And more and more of our online worldContinue readingSocial Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

Social Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

(This is a longer version of my syndicated newspaper column) By Jeremy Wagstaff Just how social is social media? By which I mean: Can we trust it as a measure of what people think, what they may buy, how they may vote? Or is it as easy a place to manipulate as the real world? The answers to these questions aren’t of academic interest only. They go right to the heart of what may be our future. More and more of our world is online. And more and more of our online world is social media: A quarter of web pages viewed in the U.S.Continue readingSocial Media and Politics: Truthiness and Astroturfing

The Predictable Human (and a Privacy Issue)

A study of mobile phone data shows that we are extraordinarily consistent about our movements. Mobile phone data, unsurprisingly, provides rich pickings for researchers since we carry one around with us all the time, and, unlike dollar bills, it’s more likely to stick with one person. But some have questioned the ethics of such a study. The BBC reports that the study, by Albert-László Barabási and two others, shows we are much more predictable in our movements than we might think: The whereabouts of more than 100,000 mobile phone users have been tracked in an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of human movements. TheContinue readingThe Predictable Human (and a Privacy Issue)

Satellites to the Rescue

Here’s a piece I wrote for the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation on how satellites and space technology are helping, and might help, in the case of big medical emergencies, from earthquakes to Ebola. It’s a slightly different tack for me and perhaps not the usual fare for loose wire blog, but I thought I’d throw it in here anyway. When former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was seen leaving a conference in Geneva in November 2005 clutching maps of the south Asia earthquake disaster, it was evidence that satellites – as a key weapon in humanitarian emergencies – had arrived. In the hours andContinue readingSatellites to the Rescue

Soccer 2.0

  Photo: The Offside In Soccer 1.0 the manager is king. But an Israeli football team is experimenting with a sort of crowd-sourcing, wisdom-of-the-Kop type approach, where fans monitor the game online and suggest starting line-up, tactics and substitutions. Reuters reports from Tel Aviv that “diehard football fan Moshe Hogeg was so upset when star striker Lionel Messi was left off Argentina’s side for a World Cup match against Germany last year that he teamed up with an online gaming company to buy a club where fans decide over the Internet who will play and in what position.” Hogeg’s company, an Israeli social network forContinue readingSoccer 2.0

Google Isn’t Evil, It’s Just Misunderstanding Me

Is Google evil? This video makes a convincing case. But I say: Not as much as it used to be, if my extensive research is anything to go by. In 2004 a friend of mine stopped using Google Mail (Gmail) when she emailed a friend about getting over her ex and how her kid still talked about him, and the accompanying ads went like this: Get Your Ex Back Get a powerful plan for restoring your relationship with your ex. $24 www.exback.com I Used to Miss Him But My Aim is Improving: Not Your Ordinary Breakup Survival Guide www.improveyouraim.com How Can I Help My ChildContinue readingGoogle Isn’t Evil, It’s Just Misunderstanding Me

Guerrilla Marketing Via Lederhosen

I’m getting a bit cheesed off with all the advertising/sponsorship shenanigans at the World Cup, and I’m not even there. The idea that you can only buy tickets using the sponsor’s credit card, that food like McDonalds and drink like Coke can somehow be an official partner of a sport, all seem to indicate a world gone mad, but all that is eclipsed by the fact that you can’t enter a stadium wearing a rival sponsor’s attire: Hundreds of — one report suggested more than 1,000 — Dutch fans had to watch the Ivory Coast game in their underwear after stewards ordered them to removeContinue readingGuerrilla Marketing Via Lederhosen

Another Ratchet Up in the Phishing War

I must confess I’m not sure how it works, but it seems like an interesting, but potentially flawed, approach in the battle against phishing. German bank PostBank, IDG reports, has launched a new system to combat phishing, extending the existing German practice of using transaction numbers, or TANs: Until now, Postbank customers transferring money from their account to another electronically have had to type in their PIN followed by a TAN from a list provided by the bank for each transaction. In Germany, most banks providing online services offer a similar PIN-TAN service. Under Postbank’s new iTAN service, online customers are told by the computerContinue readingAnother Ratchet Up in the Phishing War

Wikipedians, And Why They Do It

For Wikipedians, and folk wanting to understand why they do what they do, here’s a survey that aims to explore  the motivation of contributors to Wikipedia: Joachim Schroer writes “We are a research team at the University of Wuerzburg (Germany) interested in the reasons and motives why participants are involved in Wikipedia as authors, administrators, or software developers. We hope this study will provide statistical data and insight about Wikipedia which go beyond previous reports in the media, encourage a helpful discussion between participants and reveal best practices for Wikipedia as well as related Open Content projects. We would like to invite everyone who contributesContinue readingWikipedians, And Why They Do It

Skype Cuts Some Rates

Skype has lowered rates of its SkypeOut service to some destinations as part of its first anniversary celebrations. Here are the details: Six major new countries have been added to the SkypeOut Global Rate, a fixed, low-cost rate of 1.7 Euro cents per minute to popular calling destinations. China, Greece, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Poland and Switzerland have joined more than 20 additional destinations in the Global Rate. Skype has also significantly lowered SkypeOut rates for calling numbers in Armenia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, the Cook Islands, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Korea, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia,Continue readingSkype Cuts Some Rates

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