Too much information

Article in the New York Times covering the protest that began when Facebook introduced a new feature with unexpected consequences. This quote from the article nicely sums up the issue:

Those who study social networking sites say that users’ comfort with revealing intimate details about themselves comes in part from a perception that in the din of life online, there is a kind of privacy through anonymity.

Danah Boyd has written a brilliant essay covering the story, and makes too many great comments to list them all here. I would encourage anybody who is interested in social computing, particularly the side that doesn’t get covered by the so-called ‘A’ listers, to go read it for insights in how a technology can so easily get ‘it’ wrong. It’s also a useful read for any organisations considering adopting RSS news feeds internally, and the potential productivity drain they will create if not deployed with care.

Filed under: Group Behavoiur and News Feeds

Living a virtual life

Article in News Week. Yet another one describing how people are living a different life in a virtual world. Interesting comments include:

“Ninety percent of what I do is never finished—parenting, teaching, doing the laundry. In WOW, I can cross things off a list—I’ve finished a quest, I’ve reached a new level.” says Elizabeth Lawley (Level 60, Troll Priest), a Rochester, N.Y., college professor.”

” “Warcraft is the new golf, I actually closed a deal with a company I met through WOW.” Ross Mayfield, CEO SocialText

…Players of the game enjoy a form of community rarely seen in the real world; higher-level players go out of their way to tutor newbies and accompany them on quests.

There are parental controls available, but most parents haven’t a clue. (Only when embarking on this story did yours truly learn that his son [Level 60, Troll Shaman] had hit the level cap in WOW.)

Filed under: Virtual Reality

Cell phones won’t keep your secrets

Article on CNN describing the data gathered by a company purchasing second hand mobile phones on eBay. Some examples:

One company’s plans to win a multimillion-dollar federal transportation contract.

E-mails about another firm’s $50,000 payment for a software license.

Filed under: Security

The end of the Microsoft monolith

Article in The Guardian/The Observer describing how the delays experienced during the writing of Windows Vista likely signal the end of such projects as a way to produce complex software. Interesting comments include:

It raises, for example, the question of whether this way of producing software products of this complexity has reached its natural limit… It could be that purely networked enterprises like the Linux project are actually a better way of producing very complex products…

Filed under: Software Design

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