Google News Almost Bankrupts Multinational

Martin Dittus · 2008-09-11 · a new world · write a comment

This is mind-boggling. Think of the possibilities. Bringing down companies with a bit of crowdsourcing? Check. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google News crawled an obscure reprint of an article from 2002 when United Airlines was on the brink of bankruptcy. United Airlines has since recovered but due to a missing dateline, Google News ran the story as today's news. The story was then picked up by other news aggregators and eventually headlined as a news flash on Bloomberg. This triggered automated trading programs to dump UAL, cratering the stock from $12 to $3 and evaporating 1.14 billion dollars …

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Hadoop Summit 2008

Martin Dittus · 2008-03-30 · a new world, conferences, data mining, software · 4 comments

Johan and I were overjoyed: last week sent us to the Hadoop Summit 2008 in Santa Clara, California. Under Johan's wings became one of the earliest adopters of Doug Cutting's Hadoop, and I'm a frequent user myself. And we had an excellent time. The conference was great as expected, we had lots of interesting conversations with people from all kinds of backgrounds. Additionally we spent the rest of our trip meeting people from other companies (Facebook, Powerset, and others), discussing technology (we're currently really interested in HBase), the various issues that arise from having to cope with …

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Brave. New. Etc

Martin Dittus · 2008-01-01 · a new world, conferences, data mining, drop culture, intellectual property, privacy · write a comment

Photo by mlcastle, taken at 24c3. …

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Prepaid MasterCards: the Missing Link in Financial Privacy

Martin Dittus · 2007-08-25 · a new world, konsum, privacy · 2 comments

Yesterday on the tube to Brixton I saw an ad for a really exciting product: a prepaid MasterCard. The promise was the possibility to take part in financial transactions that require cards (phone/Internet shops) without having a bank account. Which is a huge fucking deal. For me personally there are already two use cases that make it worth the fees: Having lots of cash but no bank account. Happens to drug traders and women traffickers, but also to people who move to a foreign country for a job. Especially when that country happens to have strict banking laws that …

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The End of Narrative

Martin Dittus · 2007-05-03 · a new world · 1 comment

Finally had a brief glance over Lev Manovich's "Database as symbolic form" (can't remember why I bookmarked it), was underwhelmed. Nobody who is familiar with the structures of either modern culture or technology will find much new ideas in there. (Granted, it's from 1998.) But there was one paragraph that made me think: As a cultural form, database represents the world as a list of items and it refuses to order this list. In contrast, a narrative creates a cause-and-effect trajectory of seemingly unordered items (events). Therefore, database and narrative are natural enemies. Competing for the same territory of human …

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OpenID: Making Throw-Away Accounts Reusable Since 2005

Martin Dittus · 2007-02-20 · a new world, privacy, web services · write a comment

Since there are so many announcements about OpenID these days I decided it's time to actually have a look at the OpenID 1.1 spec. Turns out it's a light and fairly quick read, and its authors paid delightful attention to some crucial details. I especially liked this: The main advantage of [OpenID's delegation mechanism] is that an End User can keep their Identifier over many years, even as services come and go; they'll just keep changing who they delegate to. And was impressed to see stuff like this in the spec: It is RECOMMENDED that the form field [for the …

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Privacy Preserving Data Mining

Martin Dittus · 2007-02-19 · a new world, data mining, konsum, privacy · write a comment

Just saw this at a bookstore. Flicked through it, looks great, doesn't seem like a fluff piece. Lots of mathematical symbols everywhere, transformation methods etc. Will buy lots of stuff like this when I'm rich. Update Look what I found: Privacy Preserving Data Mining Bibliography, a categorized collection of papers. The table of contents provides you with a brief overview of the research field. Judging from the title, the paper you (and I) will want to check out is State-of-the-art in Privacy Preserving Data Mining by V. S. Verykios, E. Bertino, I. N. Fovino, L. P. Provenza, Y. Saygin, …

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Fuck Convenience

Martin Dittus · 2007-02-06 · a new world, drop culture, privacy · 1 comment

So regarding that upcoming + forced Flickr-Yahoo-ID merger... got the email a couple of days ago, read the Slashdot thread, and kinda felt unaffected by it all. I faintly remembered discussing this in some old Flickr group, but had forgotten the details; the whole thing seemed to have little real impact on my digital life. Will have to remember another login. But seeing Anil point to Bruce Sterling's commentary on the Flickr Yahoo login merger reminded me of my original reason not to like being forced to switch, just when I was about to cave in: A Yahoo login is …

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Jimmy Wales Believes in Participatory Democracy, Too

Martin Dittus · 2006-07-07 · a new world, commentary · write a comment

Via the De:Bug Blog I just came upon the "Mission Statement" of Jimmy Wales' new site, Campaigns Wikia: Blog and wiki authors are now inventing a new era of media, and it is my belief that this new media is going to invent a new era of politics. If broadcast media brought us broadcast politics, then participatory media will bring us participatory politics. [...] This website, Campaigns Wikia, has the goal of bringing together people from diverse political perspectives who may not share much else, but who share the idea that they would rather see democratic politics be about engaging …

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East Timor

Martin Dittus · 2006-06-29 · a new world, commentary · write a comment

I first heard of East Timor by watching "Manufacturing Consent", a documentary on Noam Chomsky. In this film Chomsky calls East Timor the great untold war story of the 20th century. He states that the atrocities committed by foreign nations in East Timor are comparable to Pol Pot in Cambodia. And he notes that, in contrast to Pol Pot, nobody seemed to notice. (The film, btw, I now consider mandatory viewing for every member of a society that has TV, newspapers, and/or corporations. Much time is spent on Chomsky's view of how public opinion is shaped by political and commercial …

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"Tony Blair's Government has quietly and systematically taken power from Parliament and the British people"

Martin Dittus · 2006-06-29 · a new world, commentary · write a comment

Today in the online edition of The Indepentent: "Blair laid bare: the article that may get you arrested", by Henry Porter. David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, is astonished by Blair's Labour Party: "If I had gone on the radio 15 years ago and said that a Labour government would limit your right to trial by jury, would limit - in some cases eradicate - habeas corpus, constrain your right of freedom of speech, they would have locked me up." Indeed they would. But there's more, so much in fact that it is difficult to grasp the scope of the …

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Data Mining for World Peace

Martin Dittus · 2006-06-15 · a new world, data mining, privacy · 1 comment

Just listened to a recent edition of Radio Open Source on the NSA wiretapping case, and was struck by how well the topic maps to social networks as we know and use them. Data mining, degrees of separation, pattern analysis, and more. With comments by William Gibson! Apparently it's not about surveillance, it's about mapping social networks. For these large-scale operations the content of each individual phone-call becomes irrelevant; what's more interesting is to find the degrees of separation between everybody, and then to be able to map out interesting subgroups. (See also my Datenspuren 2006 report.) Patrick Radden Keefe …

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Back from Datenspuren 2006

Martin Dittus · 2006-05-15 · a new world, conferences, data mining, privacy · write a comment

Yesterday night I returned from Datenspuren 2006 in Dresden, a conference on privacy and technology organized by the local CCC. This was both the first time I was in Dresden, and also the first time I attended the Datenspuren conference, so I was curious to see both. Short version: I'll probably come back next time. What follows are random excerpts from my conference notes. update 2006-05-17 -- From the Chaosradio "Chaos TV" feed: "Bericht von den Datenspuren 2006", with an MP3 download of a radio special produced during the conference. 15 minutes of interviews with organizers, participants and guests (including …

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Mirror: "Network Forensics Evasion: How to Exit the Matrix"

Martin Dittus · 2006-05-10 · a new world, data mining, osx, stuff, tools · write a comment

I decided on a whim to mirror "Network Forensics Evasion: How to Exit the Matrix" on my server, at least temporarily. This fairly elaborate text describes a number of technical (and some non-technical) means of hiding and obfuscating your "data trails". While this traditionally has mainly been a concern of crackers and dissidents, it's of increasing interest to the average consumer. I just started reading, so I can't say much about the quality of the document. The text comes with a disclaimer: I try to be as operating system agnostic as possible, providing information for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. …

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Tesla Salon: "verwertungsgesellschaften im digitalen zeitalter"

Martin Dittus · 2006-05-03 · a new world, conferences, intellectual property, konsum, pop culture · write a comment

I just came home from an interesting discussion: the "tesla salon" had a session at club Podewil with the topic "verwertungsgesellschaften im digitalen zeitalter" (roughly: "collecting societies in the digital age"). The event was organized by Radio 1:1. They had a well-chosen group of participants: Tim Pritlove in his role as podcaster and "discordian evangelist", Julian Finn as a representative of FairSharing (i.e., the culture flat rate), and two netradio guys whose names I haven't written down and who sadly aren't mentioned in the program. Update 2006-05-04 -- Igor writes to ask if the session will be published as podcast …

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Evil Grannies with Rucksack Bombs on My Internet!

Martin Dittus · 2006-03-12 · a new world, drop culture, pop culture · write a comment

A couple of days ago while looking for some cheap entertainment I found a two-part Channel 4 series called "The Root of All Evil?", a documentary on religious extremism around the world. Usually those kind of documentaries are a pretty safe bet: you know the positions beforehand, sometimes you even learn a bit, and they don't annoy you like bad movies do. Perfect bedtime entertainment. Boy was I in for a surprise. Because they fed me what I least expected: Atheist propaganda. Yeah I too thought that this was a contradiction in terms. Now I know better. "Why should scientists …

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Finally: IBM Proposes Peer Review to Manage US Patent Applications

Martin Dittus · 2006-02-07 · a new world, commentary, intellectual property · 3 comments

For the last couple of years I've been toying with ideas on how to cut back on my expenses, and one of the top items is the plan to cancel magazine subscriptions. They don't actually cost that much, but I've been getting better information elsewhere, and usually quicker; to me the print media is on the verge of becoming irrelevant. But every couple of months I stumble upon an article in the printed press that I didn't catch via other channels, and that manages to refresh my interest in the old media. Today was one of those days: while …

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Schedule for 22C3 is Now Online; Some Recommendations

Martin Dittus · 2005-11-25 · a new world, conferences, links, privacy · 2 comments

The Fahrplan (schedule) for 22C3 (the Chaos Computer Club's Chaos Communication Congress) is now online, along with the blog, Flickr pool, wiki, and podcast. So I started to browse and collect lectures I'd like to see, and then realized that like last year I have a scheduling problem... I'm still trying to find out how I can use the iCal calendar file for things beyond looking at dates in iCal. Apparently the data is imported read-only, which means I can't annotate; and it would be great to find ways where iCal can help you schedule your congress experience. There of …

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First Prototype of Negroponte's $100 Laptop Revealed

Martin Dittus · 2005-11-18 · a new world, links · write a comment

There are more and more details emerging about MIT's/Nicholas Negroponte's $100 Laptop, and the more is revealed the more exciting it sounds. Kofi Annan has just unveiled the first prototype at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, and there are a lot of other important people involved (apparently Rupert Murdoch is among the sponsors). This project is a rare (yet well-publicized) example of individuals at the right places joining force to not only develop a technology that might change the world, but also doing so openly and without financial merit for themselves. Negroponte puts it best: I'd …

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This Week in Tech with Larry Lessig

Martin Dittus · 2005-10-25 · a new world, intellectual property, links · write a comment

The new episode of This Week in Tech features copyright lawyer and Creative Commons-guru Lawrence Lessig, and it's a great show with lots of great clarifications and anectodes about America's current state of copyright law. Probably the best way to learn about the subject and still be entertained. The cast of this show is a pretty diverse list of characters coming from different backgrounds (most are journalists of some kind, some are also publishers, hobby musicians, or software developers, and Lessig obviously is a lawyer), and it's great to see how they interact. It seems to me that this is …

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PopKomm 2005 - Business as Usual

Martin Dittus · 2005-09-22 · a new world, commentary, conferences, intellectual property, pop culture · write a comment

Last week a friend invited me to visit the Popkomm, using the press pass of a colleague. Who am I to refuse a free invitation? Having never been at the Popkomm, I was curious to see what it actually was like. Another friend had already warned me that the general attraction was to meet business partners and potential clients, and that it wasn't really a place to experience new forms of culture, or a place where a lot of new bands got signed -- so my expectations were rather low. And still I was surprised by what you find there …

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RFC: Patent Approval Process via Communities

Martin Dittus · 2005-09-09 · a new world, commentary, intellectual property, stuff · write a comment

Yet another patent that describes a technical "invention" both blatantly obvious, and with apparently well-know prior art: "System and method for obtaining information relating to an item of commerce using a portable imaging device". A method, system, and apparatus are provided for allowing users to readily obtain information associated with a selected item from a remote location. More specifically, a user at the location of the first entity operates a portable imaging device to capture an image of identifying data, such as a barcode, that identifies a selected item. The captured image is then communicated to a server operated by …

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Critique and Countercritique

Martin Dittus · 2005-08-13 · a new world, recommendation engines, stuff · write a comment

Normally I don't even glance at site ads, but while browsing Roger Ebert's site I saw a Google ad that made me stop and read. And reload. As if our democratized content mediation process wasn't confusing enough we now have Google ads that spread awareness of fraudulent business practices behind services advertised on other Google ads, and Google ads that look like they spread awareness of fraudulent business practices behind services advertised on other Google ads but in reality lead to fraudulent products. How bizarre: advertisers devalue the messenger (the Google ads medium) in an attempt to relativize a (probably …

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Tuesday Night Out (almost)

Martin Dittus · 2005-08-10 · a new world, intellectual property, pop culture · write a comment

Went to the cinema at Potsdamer Platz; due to some unfortunate timing the evening ended different than planned, but I had fun nevertheless. Some of these photos are illegal under German copyright law (UrhG), paragraphs 12-21, 23, 32, 52, 62 and 63, unless they are regarded as a quotation according to paragraph 51, or unless Flickr is to be regarded as "public space" according to paragraphs 58+59; and they violate articles 1, 3, and 4 of the European Directive 2001/29/EC ("on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society"), and article 5 of …

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