aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, January 23, 2006
Egregious is as egregious does: Google as cause cÃƒÂ©lÃƒÂ¨bre
I’m so irked by the Google thing. I’m reading all kinds of overblown rhetoric from people I admire who in true knee-jerk fashion call this an egregious invasion of privacy. I just don’t get it.
An anonymous list of search terms and the results they return is no cause cÃƒÂ©lÃƒÂ¨bre to me!
So to pick but one random example, Columbia Law professor Tim Wu in Slate today:
[T]he big news for most Americans shouldn’t be that the administration wants yet more confidential records. It should be the revelation that every single search you’ve ever conducted-ever-is stored on a database, somewhere. Forget e-mail and wiretaps-for many of us, there’s probably nothing more embarrassing than the searches we’ve made over the last decade.
Should they be confidential? Need they be confidential? Let’s discuss. But I’ll tell you this, the supposition that “there’s probably nothing more embarrassing” than my searches is flat-out wrong. I promise you, I have a lot of things to be embarrassed about - and plenty of secrets to keep - the terms I search for are least among them.
Bill Gates & the end of spam
Bill Gates predicted a spam-free world by 2006:
“Two years from now, spam will be solved,” he told a select group of World Economic Forum participants at this Alpine ski resort… Gates said Microsoft, where he has the title of chief software designer, is working on a solution based on the concept of “proof,” or identifying the sender of the e-mail.
One method involves a human challenge, or requiring the sender of an electronic pitch to solve a puzzle that only a flesh-and-blood person can handle. Another is a so-called “computational puzzle” that a computer sending only a few messages could easily handle, but that would be prohibitively expensive for a mass-mailer.
But the most promising, Gates said, was a method that would hit the sender of an e-mail in the pocketbook.
People would set a level of monetary risk - low or high, depending on their choice - for receiving e-mail from strangers. If the e-mail turns out to be from a long-lost relative, for example, the recipient would charge nothing. But if it is unwanted spam, the sender would have to fork over the cash.
So it’s 2006; what of it? A qualified success:
Microsoft says it sees things differently. To “solve” the problem for consumers in the short run doesn’t require eliminating spam entirely, said Ryan Hamlin, the general manager who oversees the company’s anti-spam programs. Rather, he said, the idea is to contain it to the point that its impact on in-boxes is minor.
In that way, Hamlin said, Gates’ prediction has come true for people using the right tactics and advanced filtering technology. Microsoft’s MSN Hotmail says it stops more than 95 percent of the spam that enters its system from reaching in-boxes. Yahoo says it’s just as effective.
“If you are a consumer that’s taking advantage of the technologies that exist ... then the spam problem for you is solved,” Hamlin said. “Bill didn’t say that there would be no spam. But he said the problem would be solved, and I think that is what we actually have accomplished.”
But it’s important to look more broadly, said Scott Chasin, chief technology officer at e-mail services company MX Logic. Although filters and other advances have had some impact on in-boxes, he pointed to the huge volume of spam that continues to be transmitted over the Internet. Despite declines, spam still represents more than half of all e-mail, based on MX Logic data.
“I think the only way to characterize that prediction, as we stand today, is inaccurate,” Chasin said of Gates’ declaration from two years ago. “Spam is still congesting the Internet, and it’s obviously a very visible problem in most consumer mailboxes.”
RELATED: CAN-SPAM is working?
The AJC reported over the weekend that Ralphie paid for the good crowd he got at the annual gathering of the Christian Coalition of Georgia:
His Republican campaign for lieutenant governor sent an e-mail to supporters this week offering to pay the $20 entrance fee and - for out-of-towners - an overnight stay in a hotel.
Reed campaign manager Jared Thomas characterized the offer as routine. “Certainly, we want our grass-roots people to be well-represented,” he said.
Given the evidence and publicity surrounding his dealings with Abramoff, I’m struck by the resiliency of his ongoing support. There’s apparently more Abramoff associated troubles to come from a Texas investigation.
Meanwhile, the Christian Coalition he once headed is in debt and being sued by creditors including a mover and its direct-mail firm.
W + (D-d) x TQ / M x NA
Welcome to the gloomiest day of 2006. That’s right, 23 days into the year and this is going to be the low point. It has nothing to do with the reorganization announcement due today from Ford Motor Co., although that’s not going to help.
No, according to a Cox News Service report, there are “personal and seasonal factors” combining to bring today down, based on a formula devised by a health psychologist at the University of Cardiff in Wales.
The formula “variables are (W)eather, (D)ebt, (d) or monthly salary, (T)ime since Christmas, time since failure to (Q)uit a bad habit, low (M)otivational levels and (NA), the need to take action.”
This PR poppycock was cooked up by Dr. Cliff Arnall of the University of Cardiff in Wales - Arnall named June 24 the happiest day of the year 2005. I prefer my friend Howard’s formulation.
A beach lover, Howard calls the winter solstice, December 21 or 22, the happiest day because each day after gets longer and closer to summer; and the summer solstice, June 21 or 22, the saddest because each day after gets shorter and further from summer.
I’m with Howard, but generally much happier with winter here in the South, where the days are longer and the chills much shorter.
Yahoo! (YHOO) is on a quiet acquisitions tear. First, it snapped up photo-sharing site Flickr in March. In December, it acquired del.icio.us, a service that bookmarks and shares users’ favorite Web sites. And on Jan. 6, Yahoo purchased WebJay, a site for creating and sharing music playlists. Over 10 months, Yahoo has acquired at least five fledgling Internet companies, all pursuing a similar goal: to build communities of Internet users that interact with one another over the Web.
What’s afoot? These deals are key building blocks in one of Yahoo’s biggest bets. By cultivating online communities—and encouraging people to tap into the collective knowledge of these groups—Yahoo is hoping to change the way people find information online. Known in industry parlance as “social search,” it presents a significant departure from Google’s (GOOG) main approach, which relies on complicated mathematical models to help users find sites. [...]
It could represent a monumental shift in search technology. All major engines analyze the link structure of the Web as a key ingredient in determining what pages are most relevant—a breakthrough that Google championed when it launched in 1998. A Web page that has a lot of other sites linking to it will rank higher, figuring more prominently in a given search, than one with only a few incoming links. Social search aims to shift power from Web publishers, who create these links, to everyday Internet users by examining their bookmarks or giving them tools to express their opinions.
Via Thomas Hawk.