Link dump: Fun with SCM, CI, and devops
Link dump: Fun with SCM, CI, and devops
Adtech, big data and privacy links
Paul Ohm: Don't
Build a Database of Ruin (via Richard
Stallman's Political Notes).
In the absence of
intervention, soon companies will know things about
us that we do not even know about ourselves. This
is the exciting possibility of Big Data, but for
privacy, it is a recipe for disaster. (IMHO,
PII is like hazardous materials: keep only as much
as you absolutely need, because when it spills,
it'll cost more than it was worth.)
Andrew Nibley: The Future of Ad Tech? Look at What's Happened to Financial Markets. That's a comforting thought.
Ted Rooke asks, Do consumers really mistrust big data? That's a good question. A related question is: Are a user's beliefs about the extent of ad targeting correlated with the likelihood that the user will run an ad blocker? (My humble opinion is that the more a user learns about adtech, the creepier he or she will find it, and the more likely he or she will be to employ countermeasures. But maybe I'm just looking at greybeards, and the rest of you don't get the same creepy feeling.)
Richard Stacy: The
great thing about advertising is that no-one takes
The very greatest advertising,
like any performance or show, creates a sense of
audience participation: the viewers experience a sense
of collective engagement with the ad and (usually
but not always) the brand that lies behind it.
Critically, they also receive assurance that the brand
is popular and successful and that, as a consumer,
they are not alone.
Seth Godin: Advertising's
bumpy transition (and why it matters to
The short version is that
magazine ads were expensive because they were
scarce, they worked (maybe) and they were sold,
hard. (But print also has extra inherent value: it's
less trackable, so sends a stronger signal.
Important work, started by Dan Witte at mozilla.org,
on managing the third-party cookie problem: Key
cookies on setting domain *
toplevel load domain and Thirdparty.
Improve user awareness of what they're consenting
to, be it informed, implicit or unintended.
Let's get the negatives out of the way first. Valdis Krebs suggests that Facebook is Toast essentially because it's a silo with a site-specific social graph, a new AOL.
Josh Constine for TechCrunch: Facebook’s
New Retargeted Ads Performing “Very Well”,
Adds Partners To Run Them. This sounds
like good news, business-wise, but it's just
creepy adtech as usual, which is a problem.
(For background on this type of business, see A
simple guide to how ad exchanges work
by Josh Dreller.) Dalton Caldwell
explains the Facebook ad situation in Hot
Dogs and Caviar.
Also, the restaurant is
under intense financial pressure to get the machine
working, and is valued by investors and employees
in a way that assumes the hot dog-to-caviar machine
already works. They have roughly 12 months to get
the machine working or Bad Things will happen.
But Bad Things? Really? Now for
the good news, from Henry Blodget: It's
Becoming Clear That No One Actually Read Facebook's
IPO Prospectus Or Mark Zuckerberg's Letter To
Mark Zuckerberg set up the
entire structure of the company so he wouldn't be
forced to make dumb short-term decisions by whining
Mark Zuckerberg: Hey, can you give me some money, no strings attached, to sponsor my web site?
Investor: What's that you say? You're building a magickal hot dog machine that craps out exponentially increasing amounts of ad revenue? Sure, here's some money!
Facebook said they were building a hacker playground, so yay for them. Let's see what they come up with. At least they're helping to reform Frank Gehry.
Sunday morning MLP: religion and politics
Politics department, part 1:
Cusack and Jonathan Turley on Obama’s Constitution.
He was never motivated that much by principle. What he’s motivated by are programs.
Part 2: a moral hazard roundup from Washington's Blog. Top Economists: Iceland Did It Right … And Everyone Else Is Doing It Wrong
Jason Santa Maria: Stealing
What made me a Goudy superfan is that
he did all this and more after he was 40 years
old. Before that he busied himself keeping books for
a realtor in Chicago.
Prof. Mahmoud El-Gamal: Can Political Islam Reform "Islamic Finance"? Essay on the prohibition of usury, the rise of Islamic political movements, and bizarre mashups of permitted transactions to create supposedly interest-free financial products.
Productivity department, part 1. Hillary Rettig: No Such Thing as “Good Procrastination”.
Part 2, another productivity idea, from Ethan Zuckerman: “Long Flights” – a somewhat serious business idea
Francis Spufford on Christianity: The trouble with atheists: a defence of faith.
Philosopher's Beard: Economics
Ethicists think economists are
clumsy buffoons with an impoverished view of human
nature and morality, obsessed with incentives and
markets as the answer to everything. Economists think
ethicists are obsessed with discovering mystical
intrinsic values, at the expense of systematically
thinking through their real world relevance. These
are caricatures with some truth to them. But to the
extent that they prevent ethicists and economists
from taking each other seriously, they block the real
scope for mutual learning.
Online ad story from Robert X. Cringely: Click
fraud the old fashion way.
There is apparently
no standardized ad auditing capability on the
Internet so scams of this sort are actually easy
to do. And advertisers often lean into it by often
preferring not to know precisely how effective are
their ads. Links back to a previous article: Apple
and the Future of Publishing – Part One:
Ad agencies 15 years ago didn’t want to know
whether or not their ads had actually been read, they
told us. This was simply because if an advertiser
discovered that few, if any, people were actually
reading their ad on page 113, the company might just
pull that ad and save their money, taking revenue
away from the ad agency in the process.
Larry Downes: Customer Intelligence, Privacy, and the "Creepy Factor" Interesting point that people get de-sensitized to creepy ad practices. But the remaining question is how the creepiness level as seen by the user affects the effectiveness of the ad, or likelihood that the user will run an ad blocker. Any answers?
Jacques Mattheij explains the You
are not the customer, you are the product meme.
Instead of the simplistic ‘you are the product’
view it is much more complicated. (Just because
you see an ad for example.com doesn't mean example.com
necessarily knows anything about your web activity.
Tracking feeds into a whole hairball of Big Data
that's different from site to site.)
Finally, some good points on the great app.net experiment:
Dalton Caldwell: Fred Wilson is wrong about “Free”
J.D. Bentley: The Network Underneath
Matthew Gertner: The Case Against Advertising
(By the way: you can follow me as dmarti on alpha.app.net.)
Brains, shopping, fiction, torture: Sunday morning links
Swartz: Believe you can change. Do you believe
your abilities are fixed and that the world
is just a series of tests that show you how good you
that everything comes through effort
and that the world is full of interesting challenges
that could help you learn and grow?
Kevin Drum at Mother Jones: Why
You Should Be Wary of Price Discrimination in the
My problem in general is that
price discrimination in the retail world generally
benefits the middle class, the non-elderly, and
the highly educated. In fact, loyalty card data is
often used specifically to attract that class of
customers. The lower prices for these groups are
subsidized by higher prices charged to the poor,
senior citizens, and the not-so-bright.
Rudy Rucker: My Complete Stories Online. (I've read some of these, but this is great.)
Long, but a good use of Sunday reading time: John
Cusack & Jonathan Turley on Obama’s
We have a treaty, actually a
number of treaties, that obligate us to investigate
and prosecute torture. We pushed through those
treaties because we wanted to make clear that no
matter what the expediency of the moment, no matter
whether it was convenient or inconvenient, all nations
had to agree to investigate and prosecute torture
and other war crimes.
Jeff Jarvis asks, Reporters: Why are you in Tampa? (Good question.)
Firefox's secret shame
Mike Ratcliffe asks, "How well does your browser protect your privacy?" and suggests some Firefox extensions. (One more: RequestPolicy).
But Firefox has a deeper problem. It's what the EFF calls the browser fingerprint.
For historical reasons, Firefox has a User-Agent string—the text that a browser uses to identify itself to the server—that's just packed with information. Seriously. Look at all this detail.
Why is all that crap in there? Some of it is needed to tell some sites that the browser can do certain things. Many web sites do "browser sniff" in order to decide whether or not to offer advanced features. Although there are better ways to deal with this now, the Firefox developers are reluctant to make any changes that would break legacy sites.
Daniel Cawrey writes, in Firefox
Competitive Strategy Must Focus On Privacy,
Since Firefox is the only truly open browser and
its features do not depend primarily on investor
concerns, Mozilla has a unique opportunity to go to
great lengths protecting the privacy of its users
while they are on the Internet.
That's a great idea. How about a compromise? Instead of dropping User-Agent entirely, minimize it to a single common string, one that contains the commonly sniffed information. Start with a privacy option to enable this minimal User-Agent, and give sites a chance to fix their sniffing when the early adopter privacy-hawk users turn it on. When it works for the privacy freaks, make it the default.
(Photo: Dave Young)
Sunday morning links: a little less mindless
(Got the mindless link propagation generator to start putting in "via" links a lot of the time, so join the content curation conversation and stuff.)
Valerie Aurora: Yes, brogrammer culture is pervasive (there's certainly a weird dynamic in the industry where a lot of the jobs that require you to be nice to other people are held by women: event staff, PR, and so on, and a lot of the "elite" <blink>ninja rock star</blink> jobs are held by men.)
They don't make patriotic art like this any more. But if I got this painted on the side of a van, would people even get it? America Guided by Wisdom: A Neoclassical Allegory of American Exceptionalism
Nicholas Carr makes a good point about copying, and what to call it: Beyond theft and sharing. Read the whole thing.
David Maynor on the 0-day market: Who will fight for me? (In the long run, the existence of this market is great news for software QA staff. Companies will have to keep QA people happy, or disgruntled ones will sell their findings elsewhere. I always picture these transations as happening in the back of a William Gibson dive bar for some reason.)
Speaking of transactions... Bitcoin, the Darknet Economy, and the Low Over-Head Revolution (via SiliconANGLE and Center for a Stateless Society)
Making the rounds, so you've probably seen it. Khan Academy is Redefining the Introduction to Computer Science.
Local and worth checking out, even though I have Thinkpad power supplies like most people have cockroaches: Removing Barriers for Linux Hardware
Economics of crowdfunding: Producers Weigh In On Kickstarter Recording Budgets
Red and Yellow cards, and trolls
The Red/Yellow Card project (a way to respond to creepy people at conferences) is a great idea, except for the small problem that trolls might run a scavenger hunt with the object of deliberately getting cards. To reduce the lulz to be had from this, I suggest leaving one of each type of card in the men's room, so that simply holding a card doesn't mean anything.
If you see me at a conference please give me a few cards and I'll help with this. A few men's room users willing to do this would encourage the seeking of lulz elsewhere.
New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.
Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.
If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!