The end.

27 04 2012

Well, my faithful readers (all six of you!) the InfoMan2020 blog is coming to an end. Since I am no longer the instructor for Marketing Information Management (MCS*2020), I figure it is time to put this blog to bed. I’ll leave it up for the time being, but I will not be updating it any more.

Don’t worry, I’ll still be following technology and information trends, but I’ll be doing it with some colleagues over at our new project: PIM Labs. Come check us out at  We’ve got a podcast, a blog, and some other fun stuff. Join the conversation.

You can also find out more about some of the innovation and entrepreneurship work that I’m doing on my personal site:

It’s been fun…good luck to all my former students.

M.J. D’Elia

Convenience vs Privacy

5 03 2012

Google recently announced some significant changes to its privacy policy (changes which took effect a couple of days ago). If you’re a regular user of one of Google’s products (search, Gmail, YouTube, etc.), then you probably saw the news prominently displayed on these sites for the past few weeks. Basically, the company took is 60+ different privacy policies from various products and sites and combined them into one single “easy to use” policy. From Google’s organizational efficiency standpoint, this is probably a welcome change. But this single privacy policy also has a significant business advantage too: now Google can share your data between its services more easily. It’s not that Google is collecting more data, they are just consolidating it; for example, your viewing habits on YouTube can help the company advertise to you better on Gmail.

Not surprisingly, some government regulators and privacy watchdogs have suggested that these changes may be more “user friendly” but they strip away some of the privacy of individual users. There are concerns in the EU that the current policy does not adhere to their “Directive on Data Protection” and here in Canada concerns are being raised by the Privacy Commissioner. Issues include: there doesn’t seem to be a clear way of opting-out of the new policy; the policy does not explain if users can easily set up different accounts with each Google service (to avoid data consolidation); its unclear how long your data will remain in the Google ecosystem even after you’ve asked for it to be deleted. The privacy debate continues…

The CBC has more on the story here.

Twitter goes back in time

29 02 2012

Twitter has partnered with a UK company called Datasift to provide access to Twitter data dating back two years (previously companies could only search the past 30 days and regular Joes could only search the past 7 days). Datasift analyzes the data (content and tone of tweets, location, social influence of the user, etc.) and then sells access to their database to companies looking for another angle on market research.

Privacy advocates are concerned that this is yet another example of a company taking advantage of troves personal data – but, to be fair, Twitter has always been a public social network. If you had expectations of privacy when you joined Twitter, then you didn’t do your homework.

Read the synopsis from the BBC.

Open and Connected

5 02 2012

Great news everyone: Facebook was not created to be a company… it was created to “make the world more open and connected,” as Zuckerberg recently penned in his Founder’s Letter which accompanied the company’s IPO filing. Fortunately, this great social mission of transparency is also an attractive investment set to net Zuck and his early investors untold millions. Forgive my sarcasm: of course, I don’t have an issue with Facebook going public – it is their right and it is what their early investors expect, but I do find it somewhat ironic that a company dedicated to “openness” is conveniently forgetting the actual history of the company and spinning their image to appeal to the corporate set.

For a great “close reading” of Zuckerberg’s letter check out Rory Cellan-Jones from the BBC.

SOPA explained in plain langugae

19 01 2012

A number of important sites voluntarily went dark yesterday (BoingBoing, Wired, Wikipedia, etc.) to protest SOPA/PIPA legislation in the United States. There are many places to read about this legislation, but if you want a plain language summary of the implications of the legislation, check out Khan Academy’s explanation:

Say “Creep!”

13 01 2012

One of my students sent me a link to a story about a webcam hacker published in GQ magazine. Luis Mijangos, a self-taught coder/hacker, used a variety of malicious hacks to break into people’s computers and look through their harddrives. On the surface that sounds like basic “run-of-the-mill” hacking… but the really creepy part was when he would hack the computer’s webcam to turn it on and off at will. Since a lot of people keep their laptops/desktop machines in their bedrooms, you can imagine the kind of webcam recordings he was able to download (and eventually use to blackmail his victims). The author of the article, David Kushner, does a great job at trying to understand the psychology of the hacker.

Here’s the link to GQ. It’s worth a read – especially if you need a little Friday the 13th paranoia.

Thanks to Dylan T. for the link.

Move over Dot Com

11 01 2012

So the ICANN organization, which overseas the regulation of domain names on the Internet, is planning to open domain names up so that (almost) any name can be used as a top-level domain. Translation: instead of having to find and purchase a “.com” domain name, companies and organizations can apply to ICANN to get a tailored top-level domain. In the future we might see corporations trying to set up top-level domains using their company name (think: .pepsi, .nike, .apple). We could also see cities or organizations moving to this type of URL (think: .nyc, .un, .imf).

It’s kind of like having your own vanity licence plate – albeit a very expensive licence plate: just to apply for one of these custom top-level domains it will cost about $185,000. Critics suggest that the price is out of range for many not-for-profit organizations. They also claim that such a system will be hard to regulate and will be confusing for internet users, but supporters suggest that sticking with the relatively few top-level domains that we currently use doesn’t make sense when there are millions of websites. Something has to be done – so an appeal to vanity might just do the trick.

BBC has the story here.