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 world
We could learn some lessons about blogging, honesty, accountability and the distinction between public and private views from an unlikely source: the U.N.’s special envoy to Sudan. Jan Pronk, expelled last month for comments on a blog he was writing about the conflict, has replied to an email I sent to him shortly after he was expelled in which he answers some questions about his blog. The full transcript is below. (My original piece about his blog and expulsion is here.) His experience and attitude, I think, offers some pointers for diplomats, politicians, CEOs and anyone holding an official position. The lessons are actually the
I’m much amused that news that Juwono Sudarsono, a lovely man and Indonesia’s defense minister, has started blogging has hit the blogosphere. This from Shel Israel, co-author of naked conversations: Yesterday, I wrote a piece about politician blogging. Today, I realized how very myopic that post was because I wrote only about American politicos and cited Independence Day. This came to my attention today through the Jakarta Post, where reporter Ong Hock Chuan mentions Naked Conversations in an article about Indonesia’s Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono has started a blog. Sudarsono’s most recent post deals with striking candor of the challenges of getting bureaucrats who clicked
In last week’s WSJ column (subscription only, I’m afraid) I wrote about how Bayesian Filters — derived from the theories of an 18th century vicar called Thomas Bayes and used to filter out spam — could also be used to sift through other kinds of data. Here’s a preliminary list of some of the uses I came across: Deconstructing Sundance: how a bunch of guys at UnSpam Technologies successfully predicted the winners (or at least who would be among the winners) at this year’s festival using POPFile, the Bayesian filter of choice; ShopZilla a “leading shopping search engine” uses POPFile “in collaboration with Kana to
If you need convincing that blogging is not some nerdy fringe activity, here’s some: Iranian vice-president Mohammad Ali Abtahi is a blogger. It’s in Persian, iranFilter (a collective news blog) says, and is the first blog by a major Iranian politician. It’s personal rather than political, but has some nice surprises, such as secret photos of Eduard Shevardnadze, and accounts of personal and unofficial conversations with government ministers.