Saturday, May 23, 2009

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Another violent agreement

Kim replied to my earlier post with a thoughtful piece. First, let me say, the allusion I made to the RIAA was that they wish to ban tools - it's so much easier than collecting evidence of illegal behavior.

And I took Kim at his word when he talked "about the need to prevent correlation handles and assembly of information across contexts..." That does sound like "banning the tools."

So I'm pleased to say I agree with his clarification of today:

"I agree that we must influence behaviors as well as develop tools... [but] thereís a huge gap between the kind of data correlation done at a personís request as part of a relationship (VRM), and the data correlation I described in my post that is done without a personís consent or knowledge." (emphasis added)
We need sophisticated data correlation tools, tools which can discern our real desires from our passing whims and organize our quest for knowledge, experience and - yes - material things in ways which we can only dream about now. By all means let's punish and abjure bad or anti-social behavior. But let's not stigmatize the tools that the miscreants pervert to their own unethical purposes.

And I think we can say that those who purchase barbells, and only barbells, at Canadian Tire are thoughtful, erudite gentlemen of the old school... :)

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

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More on reputation

Chris Ceppi has an interesting post today looking at the implicit web and the Attention Trust (which I commented on almost exactly 2 years ago as the " Dewy-eyed Org of the month"). Ceppi rightly states that "An attention data parsing algorithm that can produce a precise identity profile could have a profound impact." But whether that's a positive impact is something neither of us is sure of. As Ceppi says:

"If you asked me today, I'd say I browse, write, and read on the Internet to address some basic human concerns around career, education, networking, community, entertainment, etc. Admirable stuff. Trouble is, the computer that analyzes my attention data may come up with a different interpretation. Am I really interested in having my self-image subject to an objective analysis? Maybe I am, but it may take me a while to get to know and like the person who is revealed by my online behavior."

Almost all proposals to use the so-called "attention" data are premised on the idea that we only look at those things that we are actively seeking. Remember that the next time you're in traffic that's come to a halt because of: a) two cars on the side of the road after a fender-bender; b) a herd of goats eating grass or c) a flashing sign with no actual information on it. Often we give a bit of attention to something because we're distracted or bored. By mindlessly collecting (but not weighting) all of these "attention bits," an aggregator can get quite a misguided image of us, or reputation for us. And, as any politician can tell you, it isn't the things you do intentionally that get remembered...


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