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Ed Webb

Google and Apple Digital Mapping | Data Collection - 0 views

  • There is a sense, in fact, in which mapping is the essence of what Google does. The company likes to talk about services such as Maps and Earth as if they were providing them for fun - a neat, free extra as a reward for using their primary offering, the search box. But a search engine, in some sense, is an attempt to map the world of information - and when you can combine that conceptual world with the geographical one, the commercial opportunities suddenly explode.
  • In a world of GPS-enabled smartphones, you're not just consulting Google's or Apple's data stores when you consult a map: you're adding to them.
  • There's no technical reason why, perhaps in return for a cheaper phone bill, you mightn't consent to be shown not the quickest route between two points, but the quickest route that passes at least one Starbucks. If you're looking at the world through Google glasses, who determines which aspects of "augmented reality" data you see - and did they pay for the privilege?
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  • "The map is mapping us," says Martin Dodge, a senior lecturer in human geography at Manchester University. "I'm not paranoid, but I am quite suspicious and cynical about products that appear to be innocent and neutral, but that are actually vacuuming up all kinds of behavioural and attitudinal data."
  • it's hard to interpret the occasional aerial snapshot of your garden as a big issue when the phone in your pocket is assembling a real-time picture of your movements, preferences and behaviour
  • "There's kind of a fine line that you run," said Ed Parsons, Google's chief geospatial technologist, in a session at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, "between this being really useful, and it being creepy."
  • "Google and Apple are saying that they want control over people's real and imagined space."
  • It can be easy to assume that maps are objective: that the world is out there, and that a good map is one that represents it accurately. But that's not true. Any square kilometre of the planet can be described in an infinite number of ways: in terms of its natural features, its weather, its socio-economic profile, or what you can buy in the shops there.

    Traditionally, the interests reflected in maps have been those of states and their armies, because they were the ones who did the map-making, and the primary use of many such maps was military. (If you had the better maps, you stood a good chance of winning the battle. The logo of Britain's Ordnance Survey still includes a visual reference to the 18th-century War Department.) Now, the power is shifting.

    "Every map," the cartography curator Lucy Fellowes once said, "is someone's way of getting you to look at the world his or her way."

  • The question cartographers are always being asked at cocktail parties, says Heyman, is whether there's really any map-making still left to do: we've mapped the whole planet already, haven't we? The question could hardly be more misconceived. We are just beginning to grasp what it means to live in a world in which maps are everywhere - and in which, by using maps, we are mapped ourselves.
Ed Webb

Google admits cars collected email, passwords - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corpo... - 0 views

  • Google said collecting the additional data was a mistake resulting from a piece of computer code from an experimental project that was accidentally included.
    • Ed Webb
      One has to wonder what that project was...
  • Google has acknowledged a fleet of cars, equipped with wireless equipment, inadvertently collected emails and passwords of computer users in various countries, and said it was changing its privacy practices.

    The company said it wants to delete the data as soon as possible.

    Google announced the data collection in May, but said at the time the information it collected was typically limited to "fragments" of data because the cars were always moving.

    Since then, regulators in several of the more than 30 countries where the cars operated have inspected the data.

    "It's clear from those inspections that while most of the data is fragmentary, in some instances entire emails and URLs were captured, as well as passwords," said Google's vice-president of engineering and research, Alan Eustace, in a post on Google's blog.

Ed Webb

SEX, BOMBS & BURGERS: Gmail Voice about future search, not free calls - 0 views

  • Here's why Google will beat Skype and every other phone company: to those other companies, it's still about phone calls and figuring out how to make money from them. But, because the actual cost of making a call over the internet is almost zero, Google can afford to swallow this rather incidental cost as a future investment toward its real business: search.
Ed Webb

How the Google/Verizon proposal could kill the internet in 5 years - 0 views

  • Okay, hackers, it's time to use your powers for good.
    • Ed Webb
      Here's the cyberpunk response
  • The "public internet" is for the poor
    Pledging to keep the "public internet" neutral is great, but what happens when companies stop wanting to offer their services on it? Googlezon has the answer: In their proposal, they say that it's perfectly OK for companies and consumers to buy non-neutral, non-public "special services" online. If you're a media company that streams videogames, for example, your customers want a guarantee that the game won't stall out because of a crappy "public internet" connection. So you make your game available only to people with the special service "gamer package." Your customers pay you; you pay Googlezon; now there's a superfast connection for the privileged few with money to burn.

    And what happens when news websites start delivering their pretty pictures and infographics in 3D? Verizon has already suggested 3D is a perfect "special service" to deliver in a non-neutral way. In five years, the public internet is going to look boring and obsolete. Where's the 3D? Where are all the cool games and streaming viddies? The public internet? Yeah, that's just for poor people.

    But guess what's going to remain on the public net, the place where you go when you don't have money? Certainly there will be educational resources like Wikipedia. But mostly it's going to be advertisement-saturated free content from major entertainment companies. And of course there will be many opportunities to give your personal information to Facebook, or gamble away your non-existent savings on Zynga games. (Sorry - did I say gamble? I meant "pay for premium poker game content.") Put in brick-and-mortar terms: There won't be any produce markets on the public internet, but there will be plenty of liquor stores.

  • the special "conservative service" package
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  • Googlezon will be a gatekeeper not just for new web services but also for content. The companies can choose to support services from any small business they like, and block others. Same goes for sites providing news or entertainment. Googlezon might make an agreement with the New York Times to load its pages faster than the Washington Post. And Googlezon might not load io9 at all, unless of course you're reading this blog via the Google Reader (as part of the "special service" package called "blogs and podcasts")
  • if you access the internet via your Android phone (or other mobile device), there will be no public internet at all. Your access to the web will be determined by your carrier
  • A burning vision of the internet in 2016
    The public internet is basically overrun with 4Chan-like social networks that run very slowly and are drenched in advertising and spyware. You can watch some TV on the public internet, if you're willing to wait through long "buffering" times and bad commercials. You can play casual games, especially if you want to fork over a few bucks. There's webmail, though sometimes all your saved messages disappear - for "guaranteed backups" you need to subscribe to the special mail service via Googlezon. Plus, the only way to get to the public internet is with an unwieldy laptop, which sucks.

    Most people go online with their mobiles. Anybody who wants to get access to games, movies, news, or other services online has to buy separate "special service" packages to make sure they run fast. Premium services guarantee you can watch movies on your Droid, or do your mail and calendaring on your Nexus SE234. An informal market in special service minutes springs up anywhere that people are too poor to get a mobile that does more than make phone calls.

    Ironically, the public internet is the least public place online: It's an antisocial space, a crumbling, unsupported legacy network, full of ads and graffiti. Googlezon has succeeded in creating a caste system in the online world, and the public is the lowest caste of all.

Ed Webb

BBC News - Google answers privacy questions posed by commissioners - 0 views

  • "Respecting privacy is a part of every Googler's job,"
  • In Germany there has been criticism of the Street View service because it has recorded the details of private wi-fi networks. Germany's Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar has complained to Google.

    A legal claim in February 2009 by a Pittsburgh couple who said that Street View violated their privacy was thrown out by a federal judge.

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