Weekly Roundup: Privacy, Security, Amazon Reviews, Infographic Resumes, and the Comma!

July 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm Leave a comment

By Mary Ludloff

Folks, I am neck deep in writing “stuff” this week (from my final McKinsey health care post to working with Terence on another chapter for our upcoming Ebook—yep, shameless plugs strike again!) but so many great posts and articles came through my “inbox” this week that I just have to “talk” about them. If you have some time over this long weekend, every single one of these items is worth a thorough read.

Privacy is Every Where and No Where

One of the most thoughtful posts on privacy in the digital world, courtesy of John Jordan, came out today. John’s use of real world examples to illustrate his own angst on the topic made me stop and think:

“Does it matter that a person’s political alignment, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and zip code (a reasonable proxy for household income) are now a matter of public, searchable record? Is her identity different now that some many facets of it are transparent? Or is it a matter of Mark Zukerberg’s vision—people have one identity, and transparency is good for relationships—being implicitly shared more widely across the planet? Just today, a review of Google Plus argued that people don’t mind having one big list of “friends,” even as Facebook scored poorly on this year’s customer satisfaction index.”

And if you believe in the power of the Fourth Amendment, you might just want to read a eulogy for it, penned by the Chief Justice of the Ninth Circuit Court (California) and one of his law clerks:

“With so little left private, the Fourth Amendment is all but obsolete. Where police officers once needed a warrant to search your bookshelf for “Atlas Shrugged,” they can now simply ask Amazon.com if you bought it. Where police needed probable cause before seizing your day planner, they can now piece together your whereabouts from your purchases, cell phone data and car’s GPS. Someday soon we’ll realize that we’ve lost everything we once cherished as private.”

But all is not lost because as we all know whenever a space is cleared, the Universe rushes to fill it. In other words, our privacy may be eroding but a privacy economy is rising in its place:

“A host of startups from Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C., are rushing to market with an array of online products that let individual users control or manipulate their personal data. Meanwhile, the Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium, a Silicon Valley trade group founded in October, is working to nurture a food chain of Internet businesses that would embrace the premise that individuals should control their own data.”

Finally, let’s give it up for Google and its Transparency Report which documents all the government and police requests for private information on its users along with statistics on how many times Google complied. While I am it, a hat tip to Microsoft for admitting that it will “… hand over data to the U.S. government, if properly requested, even if that data is stored somewhere other than the U.S.” (Due to the Patriot Act, all U.S. based companies are required to do this but Microsoft is the first company to publically admit it.) Why recognize Google and Microsoft for “giving up” private information about their users? Well, I don’t know about you but in my mind when it comes to issues of privacy, transparency is a very good thing. By this I mean, at least tell me what you’re going to do, or are obligated to do, with the personal information I give you!

Security, Amazon Reviews, Resume Infographics, and the Comma

Okay, now that we’ve covered the more serious topics, on to some fun and interesting stuff:

  • The FTC has done us all a favor by putting together a fact sheet on what you should know about all those apps your loading onto your Smartphones. Better yet, they’ve set up a website, OnGuardOnline.gov, to help “you be on guard against Internet fraud, secure your computer, and protect your personal information.”
  • We are all familiar with Amazon’s product reviews as well as reviews on other sites and if you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered “who writes all this stuff?” Well, that’s the very same question that Trevor Pinch and Filip Kesler asked in their research study, “How Aunt Ammy Gets Her Free Lunch: A Study of the Top-Thousand Customer Reviewers at Amazon.com.” Depending on your outlook, you may be surprised (or not) by their answer. Spoiler alert: yes, Virginia, there is swag involved.
  • I love infographics! Even more, I love infographics that are all about me! And here’s a business model that truly understands the world really does revolve around each and every one of us. Visualize.me can instantly turn your resume into an infographic. All kidding aside, I think that this is a great idea and have signed up to be a part of their beta. If I get to participate, I will post my infographic right here on this blog (that is, if Terence will let me).
  • Finally, the comma (as punctuation) is a very good friend of mine in my various and sundry “writing careers” and I, like many of my marketing kin, was appalled to learn that the University of Oxford’s new style guide advises writers to drop the serial comma. (Say it isn’t so!) However, Mary Elizabeth Williams, in a recent article in Salon, defends the use of the serial comma and vows to fight on (and I will be right with her).

Well that’s it for this week’s roundup. Hope you all have a safe and fun holiday, get to see some awesome fireworks, and listen to some John Philip Sousa music. Happy Fourth of July!

Entry filed under: General Analytics. Tags: , , , , , , .

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