Tag Archives: data

Built to win: Deep inside Obama’s campaign tech | Ars Technica

The reelection of Barack Obama was won by people, not by software. But in a contest as close as last week’s election, software may have given the Obama for America organization’s people a tiny edge—making them by some measures more efficient, better connected, and more engaged than the competition.

That edge was provided by the work of a group of people unique in the history of presidential politics: Team Tech, a dedicated internal team of technology professionals who operated like an Internet startup, leveraging a combination of open source software, Web services, and cloud computing power.

A truly impressive story of systems engineering, from the macro to the micro level. I really commend the Obama tech team on their impressive re-imagining of how big data and scalability could change the way political parties interact with voters. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that their system gets re-packaged and licensed out to future political orgs. Heck, I can think of a few corporations that could use this kind of model, too. Like mine.

FBI’s New Facial Recognition Program Leaves No Place to Hide

The FBI has announced a plan to spend $1 billion to build a new type of facial recognition database that will allow the agency to identify suspects and people of interest using security footage from public cameras.

Technically, the Next-Generation Identification program (NGI) is an update to the FBI’s national fingerprint database. Government agencies will now start using a person’s face, along with other biometric data like DNA analysis, iris scans, and voice identification, to determine a person’s identity. In other words, if you have a criminal record, the police will no longer simply take your fingerprints and snap a mugshot; they’ll keep a record accurate enough to let them pick you out of crowd anywhere you go.

via mashable.com

How Google+ Has Morphed Over The Past Year & What We Can Expect in 2013 via @RWW

The fact that Google+ has 75 million daily users is testament to it being such a key part of Google’s more established and bigger properties – such as search and YouTube. As a standalone social network, Google+ still struggles to achieve the user engagement that Facebook and Twitter have. Facebook is where you go to see what your friends are up to, Twitter is the daily virtual water cooler. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a ghost town, but as a social network Google+ isn’t where the action is. The action is on Facebook, Twitter, … and YouTube, Google search, Blogger and other Google products.

One year ago, I think we all expected Google+ to turn into a better standalone product than what we’ve got now. But despite that, Google+ has turned out to be incredibly useful to Google. If I was to project what Google+ will be like in July 2013, I’d guess it will be even less about being a standalone social network and even more about supporting YouTube, Google search et al. One hopes it will also have a better API, so that more third party services can utilize that Google+ glue.

via readwriteweb.com

I know I haven’t logged into G+ in over a month, so I guess I’m no longer an ‘active monthly user’ unless you count seeing G+ integration into my search results. I wonder how many of their reported 150M AMUs are auto-signed in by Google services, as opposed to explicitly slogging over to the actual Google+ site?

Acxiom, the Quiet Giant of Consumer Database Marketing via @NYTimes

Right now in Conway, Ark., north of Little Rock, more than 23,000 computer servers are collecting, collating and analyzing consumer data for a company that, unlike Silicon Valley’s marquee names, rarely makes headlines. It’s called the Acxiom Corporation, and it’s the quiet giant of a multibillion-dollar industry known as database marketing.

Few consumers have ever heard of Acxiom. But analysts say it has amassed the world’s largest commercial database on consumers — and that it wants to know much, much more. Its servers process more than 50 trillion data “transactions” a year. Company executives have said its database contains information about 500 million active consumers worldwide, with about 1,500 data points per person. That includes a majority of adults in the United States.

Such browsing seems innocuous — hardly data mining. But it cues an Acxiom system designed to recognize consumers, remember their actions, classify their behaviors and influence them with tailored marketing.

But the multichannel system of Acxiom and its online partners is just revving up…

via nytimes.com

Check out the uber-creepy promotional materials they offer.

Do you give your phone number or zip code out at the checkout register?

Rise Of The Machines: IP Traffic Set To Quadruple By 2016, Thanks To An Influx Of Devices | TechCrunch

Every year, Cisco issues its Visual Networking Index (VNI) to forecast the amount of data traffic that will be used worldwide. The latest VNI forecast shows a massive uptick in data usage, from the 369 Exabytes of IP traffic used worldwide in 2011 to approximately 1.3 zettabytes in 2016. According to Cisco, that rapid growth in data traffic will be driven by a proliferation of connected devices, ever-increasing broadband connectivity, and greater adoption of IP video worldwide.

via techcrunch.com

Google Docs is Being Swallowed by Google Drive

Google always pitched Google Drive, which launched in April after a considerable period of hype, as a replacement for Google Docs. What many users didn’t realize, it seems, is that Google will indeed completely replace Google Docs with Drive later this year. While Drive is still opt-in at this time, it looks like the forced transition is coming soon, as Google has started to alert users that their Google Docs account will soon be “upgraded to Google Drive.”

What’s coming next, according to Google’s official transition documents, is an opt-out phase similar to what the company has done when it transitioned to the new Gmail interface recently. Judging from the messages that many users are now seeing in Google Docs, this phase is going to start soon.

Finally, Google says, “users will be fully transitioned to Google Drive, with no ability to opt out.” Overall, Google expects the transition from what it calls the “Google Documents List” to Google Drive by late summer 2012.

via techcrunch.com

World’s total CPU Power: Roughly One Human Brain via @arstechnica

Lest we get too enamored with our technological prowess, however, the authors make some comparisons with biology. “To put our findings in perspective, the 6.4*1018 instructions per second that human kind can carry out on its general-purpose computers in 2007 are in the same ballpark area as the maximum number of nerve impulses executed by one human brain per second,” they write.

Our total storage capacity is the same as an adult human’s DNA. And there are several billion humans on the planet.

Just stumbled on a fantastic year-old article comparing the computational and storage power of society’s various forms of digital and analog computer systems over time.

It’s a bit dense, but some interesting highlights are the fact that gaming systems have always out-processed supercomputers, fixed internet connections have essentially replaced all other forms of connectivity, and ‘a 6cm^2 newspaper image is worth 1,000 words.’ Cute.

I’d love to see a cleverly designed infographic of this dataset!

“Girls Around Me” Developer Defends iTunes App

Girls Around Me does not allow anonymous usage of the app. It is impossible to search for a particular person in this app, or track his|her location. The app just allows the user to browse the venues nearby, as if you passed by and looked in the window. The Girls Around Me user has to be registered in Foursquare and must be logged in this service to be able to see anything in Girls Around Me. The app Girls Around Me does not have access to user login and password, authentication is carried out on the social network side. Girls Around Me shows to the user only the data that is available to him or her through his or her accounts in Foursquare, and gives the user nothing more than Foursquare app can provide itself (when you browse venues around you in Foursquare, you can see how many people checked in there and you can see their profiles and photos, even contacts and social networks profile). The aim of the app is to make the usage of this data more convenient and more focused on finding popular and crowded venues.

Girls Around Me, the most recent in a slate of disturbingly creepy apps which aggregate public data from social media networks together to give you a picture of the activities of people you don’t know, has released a statement about the negative press they’ve been receiving. On one hand, it suggests the company didn’t do anything unethical — while at the same time, pointing out just how oblivious many users are to how much data they’re sharing.

Isn’t capitalizing on users’ ignorance still kinda… creepy? Especially when you give it such a stalker-inducing name?

FTC Final Privacy Report Draws a Map to Meaningful Privacy Protection in the Online World | Electronic Frontier Foundation

 

FTC Final Privacy Report Draws a Map to Meaningful Privacy Protection in the Online World

 

Earlier today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released its final report on digital consumer privacy issues after more than 450 companies, advocacy groups and individuals commented on the December 2010 draft report. The final report creates strong guidelines for protecting consumer privacy choices in the online world. The guidelines include supporting the Do Not Track browser header, advocating federal privacy legislation, and tackling the issue of online data brokers.

 

 

The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center via @wiredmag

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.