Friday, April 29, 2005

This truth should be self-evident

but in case it's not, this Northwestern research may help:
The researchers studied data on Broadway musicals since 1877 as well as thousands of journal publications in four fields of science and found that successful teams had a diverse membership -- not of race and gender but of old blood and new. New team members clearly added creative spark and critical links to the experience of the entire industry. Unsuccessful teams were isolated from each other whereas the members of successful teams were interconnected, much like the Kevin Bacon game, across a giant cluster of artists or scientists.
Diversity is so much more than ethnicity, sex, or orientation. Add personality type, background, expertise, and the spark provided by new combinations to the mix, and you greatly increase you chances for better results. (via BoingBoing)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

a simple tool to prevent phishing

"SpoofStick contains no adware, spyware, nagware or other unhealthy additives."

Don't leave your homepage without it.

Regulation of Trade

I was pleasantly surprised to discover this fine study, an analysis of the whole spyware phenom, had been issued by a previously unlikely source - the FTC.

Their document is written in plain English, not often the case in this line of work. I am heartened to learn that the folks most empowered to take legislative actions in response to the threats of spyware are, frankly, this far down that road.

Let me commend the entire paper to you, but draw in particular your attention to Chapter IV, Section A.5, the discussion of possible future changes to browsers and/or operating systems. In most cases, I'm afraid an overhaul from the ground up will be required.

"Cancel" means "yes." Indeed, it may.

Trespass & Deception (for starters)

Sick Spitzer on 'em! Why didn't we think of that earlier? A NY State official whose powers are now effectively nationwide in reach. The man is strongly reminiscent of my favorite ex-pres, Theodore Roosevelt. Bully.

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued a major Internet marketer today, blaming it for secretly installing software that can slow and crash personal computers.

Spitzer accuses Intermix of redirecting millions of computer users to Web sites where ads get displayed, adding unnecessary toolbars to Web browsers and delivering unwanted ads that pop up on computer screens.

''Spyware and adware are more than an annoyance,'' Spitzer said. ''These fraudulent programs foul machines, undermine productivity and in many cases frustrate consumers' efforts to remove them from their computers.''

Spitzer's civil suit accuses Intermix of violating state General Business Law provisions against false advertising and deceptive business practices, and accuses them of trespass under New York common law. Additional suits may follow.

Spitzer, after taking on Wall Street and the insurance industry, is taking a harder look at Internet companies he believes are stunting the growth of e-commerce.

''Said Kenneth Dreifach, chief of Spitzer's Internet Bureau, ''Increasingly, people don't feel in control.''

Thursday, April 21, 2005

'parasite' to advise feds on privacy matters?

I've read it - but can it really be true?

Reed Freeman has been appointed to the DHS inner sanctum. That small business he was hired away from being Claria (a.k.a. gator or GAIN). Their emerging technology focus, you ask? Why, the buggering of your PC for the unsolicited collection and re-sale of personal information garnered from all subsequent users thereupon, of course. Nifty, huh?

Oh, to be a fly on the wall for some of those meeting minutes ...

Amen, brother!

That's our response to this bit of Chad Dickerson wisdom:
You can aggressively block services like these at your firewall, but you have to offer functional alternatives to remain relevant to the users you serve. If you don’t, your users will go around you. After all, they have real work to do, and if you can’t help them leverage technology to do it, they’ll figure ways out on their own.
Guy and I regularly discuss business people "routing around" IT. Of course, we are talking to IT folks when we say it, so our geek-speak is in order.

Chad also gets bonus points for drastically limiting workstation admin rights.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

LibraryLookup revisited

Shortly after I mused about customizing Jon's new Greasemonkey version of LibraryLookup for select libraries in the JCLC, my coworker Brad provided me with one. Apparently, the LazyWeb sometimes works even when you don't explicitly invoke it. Boo-ya!

Some background is in order. All of the municipal libraries in Jefferson County participate in the Jefferson County Library Cooperative, or JCLC for short. The cooperative appears to its patrons as one big library with 41 branches. I never go to many of these libraries, so I really don't care if they have a book that I'm looking at on Amazon. I need to filter on the most convenient libraries for me.

I spent some time looking through the code and reading parts of JavaScript: The Complete Reference, Second Edition on Books24x7. I found both the book and the service to be quite useful. I then made some modifications of my own to the code, changing and reordering the branches.

Ari took a different approach, leveraging a search and replace and a quick study of the JCLC site to make his own straight-forward customization.

I'll be glad to share with any JCLC patrons or other interested parties. Leave me a message in the comments.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Social networks form around objects

I have to agree with Russ: Object-centered sociality is much better than the social networking approach of talking about relationships in a void, as Jyri Engeström's post makes clear. It's nice to have theoretical backing for the problems with social networking that I voiced at CSCW, which were brusquely dismissed by a leading academic. You don't have to read every paper ever written on the subject to realize that boiling your relationships across various objects to a single, cross-domain strength indicator is bogus. Social network software could definitely use a theory injection, but it needs to be the right theory.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Sodas are cheap

The vendor who manages our drink machines recently raised the price of a sodas again, so Jack's pointer to this piece caught my interest.

My wife's company provides free sodas. Contrary to Rothman's assertion, it's just not that expensive.

Regardless, it's important for companies to promote this sort of informal mingling. This idea is discussed extensively in The Social Life of Information.

Web intermediation

Another informative screencast from Jon. I really like his Greasemonkey script that takes Library Lookup to the next level. I wonder if I can get my hands on that and modify it for my own needs? I'd need to filter results for select libraries in the JCLC.