Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ethnographic Assessment of Quantified Self Meetup Groups

From the report: This project report documents an ethnographic assessment completed in collaboration with Quantified Self. Quantified Self started in the San Francisco Bay Area, but has become a worldwide community of people that practice “self-tracking” as a way to build new habits or undergo beneficial change through generating self-knowledge. Self-tracking projects are wide ranging, and Quantified Self has become the main venue for self-trackers to share their personal projects in meetings that follow a show & tell format. From the original group started in the Bay Area in 2008, there are now more than 50 Quantified Self (QS) groups worldwide. QS Labs (the central organizing group in the Bay Area) offers support and guidance to people that want to start a new meetup. To enable leadership at QS Labs to provide better support to emerging groups, an ethnographic assessment was designed and conducted. The assessment sampled the experiences from a variety of QS meetup groups, in order to understand the barriers and obstacles for organizers, and to identify the points of innovation occurring in different groups. Findings from the assessment were presented in a report to QS Labs in March 2012. This project report also provides significant background information on Quantified Self, self-tracking, and meetups. The client report combines aspects of basic and applied research, as an applied ethnographic description. Data collection for the client report followed a praxis approach to applied anthropology as an orientation for research, from Warry (1992) and Singer (1994)." Read more

Nudge, Nudge: Can Software Prod Us Into Being More Civil?

Selinger, Evan. "Nudge, Nudge: Can Software Prod Us Into Being More Civil?" The Atlantic, July 30, 2012.

From the blog: "The closer we get to the presidential election, the more concern gets raised about how divided the country is and how acrimonious our discussions are over fundamental issues. Attack ads aren't the only problem. The comments sections on web pages and blogs are overflowing with bitterness. The mood expressed there shows such heightened signs of technological influence, it seems ripped from the pages of the Marshall McLuhan playbook: the medium of communication is influencing the messages people send and receive. The best solution, then, might be for magazines, newspapers, and blogs to address the root problem by hacking the source: re-designing the structure of the forum to encourage civility. Before considering whether we want to go there, let's quickly review why the medium matters." Read more

Sales Taxes and Internet Commerce

Levin, Jonathan, Liran Einay, Dan Knoepfle and Neel Sundaresan. "Sales Taxes and Internet Commerce." Technology Academics Policy, July 26, 2012.

From the article:  "Since the birth of internet commerce, online transactions across state lines have not been subject to the sales taxes payable on traditional retail transactions. Following a 1992 ruling by the US Supreme Court, it is only if an online retailer has a physical presence in a state – a store, an office or a warehouse – that it is obliged to collect sales tax from customers resident in that state.

There are growing demands for this to change. With internet retail in the United States now worth well over $100 billion dollars annually and the majority of transactions occurring across state lines, forgone taxes on those sales could amount to as much as $10 billion a year. Such revenues would be particularly welcome at a time of pressure on state budgets. Taxes on internet commerce would also be popular with store-based retailers struggling to compete with their online rivals." Read more

See also
Einav, Liran, Dan Knoep‡e, Jonathan Levin and Neel Sundaresan. "Sales Taxes and Internet Commerce ."

The Perils of Highly Interconnected Systems

From the article: "The Internet solves problems for individuals as well as at the societal level. As we seek to address society’s most pressing issues—such as climate change, for instance—we are building increasingly complex infrastructures, including next generation transportation systems and the smart grid. These complex systems rely heavily on digital technologies that connect systems and organize the flow of data between and among them.

Most of the time, this high level of interconnection is purposeful, and in fact helpful. Sometimes, however, we can take this interconnection too far, without thinking through its consequences. Security and privacy risks are the most common problems that flow from unchecked levels of interoperability. Worse still, the most highly interconnected systems, such as the international financial system, can give rise to catastrophic domino effects. Whether the instrument is complex derivatives gone bad or computer malware, harm can flow across highly interconnected systems and cause knock-on effects far from where the initial harm occurred." Read more

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Death of Distance Revisited: Cyberplace, Physical and Relational Proximities.

From the abstract: "This paper studies the impact of physical distance and different relational proximity types on the formation of the Internet infrastructure. Although there is some anecdotal evidence on the 'end of geography' effect of the Internet, the relationship between physical space and the Internet has not been yet scrutinized. In addition, owing to the network nature of the Internet, the structure of the Internet infrastructure (the cyber-place) cannot be approached in a unidimensional way. Our paper builds upon recent studies in economic geography and relational proximities, and aims to study whether physical distance survives in virtual geography even after controlling for relational proximities. In order to do so, a unique and extensive database with geo-coded IP links is utilized. Based on this, a spatial interaction model with panel data specifications is constructed to study the impact of different types of proximity on the formation of cyber-place. The above analysis is framed by a complex network analysis exercise, which enhances our understanding of the complexity of the Internet infrastructure from a spatial network perspective. Our results indicate that physical distance, but also different relational proximities, have a significant impact on the intensity of the Internet infrastructure, highlighting the spatiality of the Internet." Read more

The Future of Big Data

From the report: "For a millennium, universities have been considered the main societal hub for knowledge and learning. And for a millennium, the basic structures of how universities produce and disseminate knowledge and evaluate students have survived intact through the sweeping societal changes created by technology—the moveable-type printing press, the Industrial Revolution, the telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and computers. Today, though, the business of higher education seems to some as susceptible to tech disruption as other information-centric industries such as the news media, magazines and journals, encyclopedias, music, motion pictures, and television. The transmission of knowledge need no longer be tethered to a college campus. The technical affordances of cloud-based computing, digital textbooks, mobile connectivity, high-quality streaming video, and “just-in-time” information gathering have pushed vast amounts of knowledge to the “placeless” Web. This has sparked a robust re-examination of the modern university’s mission and its role within networked society." Read more

NSA Boss Wants More Control Over the 'Net

Simonite, Tom. "NSA Boss Wants More Control Over the 'Net." Technology Review, July 27, 2012.

From the blog: "The U.S. Internet's infrastructure needs to be redesigned to allow the NSA to know instantly when overseas hackers might be attacking public or private infrastructure and computer networks, the agency's leader, General Keith Alexander, said today.

Alexander spoke at the annual Def Con computer hacking conference in Las Vegas. It was a symbolic appearance that he said was motivated by a need to interest the hacker community in helping to make the Internet more secure.

Alexander, who is also commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, described the Internet as "at great risk from exploitation, disruption, and destruction." Read more

See also
Cowley, Stacy. "NSA wants to Hire Hackers." CNN, July 29, 2012.

Social Networks and Web 3.0: Their Impact on the Management and Marketing Of Organizations

From the abstract: "Innovations, coupled with the advancement of new information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the evolution of the Internet, have had a profound impact on the structure of firms and have altered the decision-making process. In the new economic and social environment, the understanding of the developments and transformations undergone by ICTs with the advancement of social networks and Web 3.0 technology is vital because of the influence of recent innovations in the competitiveness of organizations. The aim of this paper is to achieve an in-depth understanding of the new environment that has emerged with these developments." Read more

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Great American Smartphone Migration: Nearly Half of Feature Phone Subscribers Who Acquired a New Device in April Switched to a Smartphone

From the release: "The study found that nearly half of feature phone subscribers who acquired a device during April 2012 switched to a smartphone, an increase of 9.5 percentage points from the previous year, as smartphone adoption continues its upward climb in the U.S. Among this audience, 61.5 percent of consumers acquired devices running the Google Android platform, with 25.2 percent choosing Apple devices and 7.1 percent opting for Microsoft smartphones." Read more

Community Health Map: A Geospatial And Multivariate Data Visualization Tool For Public Health Datasets

Sopan, Awalin, et al. "Community Health Map: A Geospatial And Multivariate Data Visualization Tool ForPublic Health Datasets." Government Information Quarterly (2012).

From the abstract: "Trillions of dollars are spent each year on health care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services keeps track of a variety of health care indicators across the country, resulting in a large geospatially multivariate data set. Current visualization tools for such data sets make it difficult to make multivariate comparisons and show the geographic distribution of the selected variables at the same time.

Community Health Map is a web application that enables users to visualize health care data in multivariate space as well as geospatially. It is designed to aid exploration of this huge data repository and deliver deep insights for policy makers, journalists, consumer groups, and academic researchers. Users can visualize the geospatial distribution of a given variable on an interactive map, and compare two or more variables using charts and tables. By employing dynamic query filters, visualizations can be narrowed down to specific ranges and regions. Our presentation to policy makers and pilot usability evaluation suggest that the Community Health Map provides a comprehensible and powerful interface for policy makers to visualize health care quality, public health outcomes, and access to care in an effort to help them to make informed decisions about improving health care." Read more

The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies

Chui, Michael, et al. "The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity Through Social Technologies." McKinsey Global Institute, July 22, 2012.

From the report: "In a few short years, social technologies have given social interactions the speed and scale of the Internet. ... Companies use them to reach consumers in new ways too; by tapping into these conversations, organizations can generate richer insights and create precisely targeted messages and offers. While 72 percent of companies use social technologies in some way, very few are anywhere near to achieving the full potential benefit. 

In fact, the most powerful applications of social technologies in the global economy are largely untapped. Companies will go on developing ways to reach consumers through social technologies and gathering insights for product development, marketing, and customer service. Yet the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) finds that twice as much potential value lies in using social tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises. MGI’s estimates suggest that by fully implementing social technologies, companies have an opportunity to raise the productivity of interaction workers—high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals—by 20 to 25 percent." Read more