Did You Know This Barn Burned 20 Years Ago?

December 30, 2019

Now let’s be positive. One can play games any time, any place. One can broadcast one’s thoughts any time, any place. One can find objective information any time, any place. What’s not to like?

Quite a bit, according to a newspaper which has tried for years to embrace zeros and ones. No, not embrace, love those zeros and ones. Navigate to “We’ve Spent the Decade Letting Our Tech Define Us. It’s Out of Control” and relive the old news: Barn burned. Horses killed or rustled. Amazon warehouse built on the site.

Yep, old news.

The write up states:

What this decade’s critiques miss is that over the past 10 years, our tech has grown from some devices and platforms we use to an entire environment in which we function. We don’t “go online” by turning on a computer and dialing up through a modem; we live online 24/7, creating data as we move through our lives, accessible to everyone and everything.

Obviously the newspaper continues to write about what happened quite a while ago. The history of online was set when online databases crushed traditional print indexes. Online outfits like Dialog, SDC, and even Dialcom for goodness sakes changed research and journal publishing. Did anyone notice? Sure, those disintermediated. But the nature of online information was evident by 1980. Let’s see, wasn’t that about 40 years ago.

But now we have a decade to consider.

The newspaper notes, almost with a little surprise:

We’ve spent the last 10 years as participants in a feedback loop between surveillance technology, predictive algorithms, behavioral manipulation and human activity. And it has spun out of anyone’s control.

The datasphere surprises, it seems. The basic law of online is that a monopoly structure is the basic protein structure of the digital world. It’s a surprise that once data flow through a system, those data must be logged. Logged data have to be analyzed. More data begets additional data. And there are other “laws” of online.

The venerable newspaper, with its begging for dollars please rendered in #ffff00 is reporting the news.

One problem: The news is really old. The new year is almost upon us. Maybe old news is just safer, easier, and more clickworthy than what is actually scrolling and swiping to the future.

Keep in mind that that Amazon delivery will arrive today.

Stephen E Arnold, December 30, 2019

Online Consumption of Data: A Mental Architecture Built on Inherent Addictive Patterns??

December 27, 2019

Two items caught my attention. The first explains that more than 80 percent of a sample group use a “second screen” when watching television. Yep, the boob tube and the vast wasteland. Marshall McLuan, a controversial figure, explained that TV is a kick back and vegetate medium. Punching buttons and formulating a thought for a tweet is hot. The article “88% of Americans Use a Second Screen While Watching TV. Why?” references the factoid that humans are not very adept at multi tasking. Interesting because humans can walk and chew gum, breathe, and think about crossing the street at the same time. But whatever. Also, the write up ignores the McLuhanesque approach that each type of media has its own “construct” or “mental evocation.”

The answer to “Why?” may be as simple as, “Addiction. Just a TV and a computing device.” Can one get the monkey off one’s back? Not easily.

Who can assist another? Consider if this item of information is correct: “70% Parents Cannot Control Their Own Online Activity.” This write up reports:

Around 70 per cent of parents admit that they themselves spend too much time online and 72 per cent feel that internet and mobile device usage in general is impeding family life…

Net net: No wonder information has to be crunchy. Easy to use is becoming a strategy for control. Interesting implications for 2020 and beyond if these two reports are mostly accurate.

Stephen E Arnold, December 27, 2019

Amazon Rolls Out an Online Data Market

November 21, 2019

Here is some interesting news from Amazon Web Services. Inside Big Data reports, “Introducing AWS Data Exchange.” Third-party data has become integral to the processes of research, analytics, and machine-learning models for businesses and academic institutions, but the process of tapping into that data has been cumbersome and time-consuming. Organizations have had to establish and manage relationships with disparate data providers, and those providers have had to invest fortunes in marketing and technology to reach and serve customers. The AWS Data Exchange brings all these processes together on Amazon’s cloud platform. This will bring welcome simplicity to data providers and consumers alike while positioning AWS as an indispensable resource.

Oracle has a data marketplace too.

Through the AWS Marketplace, customers will be able to subscribe to popular data providers including Reuters (news data), Change Healthcare (healthcare transactions and claims), Dun & Bradstreet (global business records), Foursquare (location data), TruFactor (anonymized consumer data), and Pitney Bowes (demographics). Clearly, these data vendors represent a diverse assortment of data types to meet a wide range of needs. The API also integrates into certain third-party analytics platforms, like Databricks and Deloitte’s ConvergeHEALTH Miner. See the write-up for more on each of these resources. We also learn:

“Prior to subscribing to a data product, customers can review the price and terms of use that providers make publicly available. Once subscribed, customers can use the AWS Data Exchange API or console to ingest data they subscribe to directly into Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to use across the broadest and deepest portfolio of cloud services in AWS. Each time a provider publishes a new revision of their data, AWS Data Exchange notifies all subscribers via an Amazon CloudWatch Event, allowing them to automatically consume new revisions in their data lakes, applications, analytics, and machine-learning models running on AWS. Data subscription costs are consolidated in customers’ existing AWS invoice. Additionally, customers can ask their data providers to deliver their existing subscriptions to them using AWS Data Exchange at no cost. This enables customers to use AWS Data Exchange to consume all their third-party data in the AWS cloud using a single API. AWS Data Exchange also makes it easy for qualified data providers to securely package, license, and deliver data products to millions of AWS customers worldwide. AWS knows that customers care deeply about privacy and data security. AWS Data Exchange prohibits sharing sensitive personal data (e.g. personal health information) as well as any personal data that is not already lawfully and publicly available.”

The exchange also lets data providers publish their data on their terms, including private offers and custom terms for certain customers. They have the ability to review use cases and manage compliance needs, and will receive daily, weekly, and monthly reports on subscription activity. Perhaps most welcome to some, AWS will manage billing, collection, and secure data delivery. This development will make a big difference for many organizations; Amazon must be pretty pleased with itself.

Cynthia Murrell, November 21, 2019

DarkCyber for November 19, 2019, Now Available

November 19, 2019

The November 19, 2019, DarkCyber discussed Amazon’s patent US 10,296,764 B1 “Verifiable Cryptographically Secured Ledgers for Human Resource Systems.” Stephen tries his best to make this patent discussion thrilling. Well, perhaps “thrilling” may be stretching the discussion of the system and method disclosed in this 24 page disclosure. But there are some graphics and a number of statements which are probably too simple to satisfy a patent attorney. Nevertheless, if you are curious about Amazon and its invention for human resources, navigate to www.vimeo.com/373810982 and check out the program. This week’s program marks the start of “season two” of DarkCyber. More patents, an interview, and news stories will feature in the coming weeks. After celebrating three quarters of a century of semi-coherent thinking, DarkCyber will appear every two weeks. The interfaces implemented in the software Stephen uses slows him down. The team just tells him, “Okay, Boomer, work harder.” His response cannot be printed in this prestigious blog.

PS. In August, Stephen was quoted by the New York Times, in October by MIT’s Technology Review (yep, the Epstein friendly organization), and this month by Le Monde (that’s in Paris and in French no less). The subjects? Intelligence, Amazon, and the lack of awareness among certain residents of Harrod’s Creek to Stephen’s research. Hey, he lives in Kentucky which holds a proud place in the lower quartile of literacy in the US.

Kenny Toth, November 19, 2019

Apple News: A Lesson to Be Repeated?

November 15, 2019

Many years ago, there was an online service called Predicasts. The company had offices in Cleveland, Ohio, a city notable for its burning river and an interesting American football team.

But in the world of online, Predicasts was famous. File 16 on Dialog would provide a summary of numerical data located in magazine and trade journal articles.

The company discussed creating its own service in order to disintermediate itself from the commercial online vendors. I assume that most of the gentle readers of this blog do not recall Dialog Information Services, SDC, ESA Quest, and other online intermediaries. Don’t worry. I can’t remember these gatekeeper companies. Think of these outfits as the equivalent of today’s cable companies. Instead of providing access to the vast wasteland of television, users paid to look at commercial databases like Predicasts.

The anecdotal evidence which filtered to me was that Predicasts wanted to set up its own online service. But the hurdles were technology, marketing, and the lack of information about the power of the brand. Predicasts online service went no place or, at least, no place that moved the needle in the online world.

Lesson: Online was hard in the 1980s. Online is hard today. Especially when one wants to make oodles of money.

There’s a lesson here, and it is one that Apple is now trying to understand. “Apple News+ Has Struggled to Add Subscribers Since First Week of Launch in March, Sources Say” makes clear that after the “must have” subscribers signed up, others (the “we don’t care” crowd) have stayed away.

The write up states:

Apple signed on 200,000 subscribers to Apple News+ in its first 48 hours in March, but has been stuck in neutral since that time, according to people familiar with the matter.

What does this tell us?

A bunch of customers are not interested in certain types of information when it costs more and requires extra steps. These steps can be tiny, but the anti step barrier is formidable. The costs more problem is different. Price cuts will not significantly increase sign ups.

The Predicasts’ thought process may be a precursor to what Apple assumed; that is, “We are so big, lots of people will sign up.”

Nope. They won’t.

That’s the problem online presents. A monopoly has to extract revenue in a number of ways, preferably selling something like a mobile phone and a big, juicy bundle of extras as part of the deal. Another approach to wait until there are no other choices, and then introduce a text centric online service that forces those who don’t want to pay to cross over into the “okay, we will pay” zone. There are other angles as well.

But the point is: Text requires mental effort to consume. Who wants to pay for extra work. Must have information is different. No one has a choice. A lawyer has to pay to see some data. A doctor has to pay to keep up with some medical information.

News? Maybe a broker, but there is Bloomberg, Factset, and other specialists.

General news?

Apple’s lesson is that more work is needed. The MBA assumptions, the nifty Keynote decks, and the confidence of a big sleek company—obviously wrong. Back to school and repeating a grade to catch up on what was missed the first time through the course.

Stephen E Arnold, November 15, 2019

Unusual Source, Useful Information

October 8, 2019

I want to give a thumbs up to Cool Smart Phone and its write up “Lies Everywhere. The Truth Is Dead.” The article does a very good job of explaining the basic mechanism for planting misinformation in online channels. Plus the article contains a number of examples.

DarkCyber noted this statement in the write up:

So as a test, I replied to every single one of these replies. I even replied to the original tweet itself, stating that the official advice was indeed to do just this. I thought I’d get some sort of response from the several dozen tweets but no, not one. Not one reply, no one angry response. No blocks. Then, if you look into a lot of these accounts, it’s apparent they’re bots. However, to the casual Twitter, they just see a tweet has 1.4 thousand “Likes”, nearly a thousand retweets and lots of people agreeing with the core message. The bots start things off – next it’s time for the media to chip in. Who knows, the media themselves may have even “planted” some of these stories on social media – just to have a juicy news item to cover.

The one issue I had with the write up was its defeatist approach; specifically:

We’re all being lied to. Social engineering is rife and none of us have the time or the inclination to check and investigate whether that short video on Facebook is real or if the tweet we read this morning is untrue. Like our “sheep” instincts at airports, we just go where we’re told and believe what we’re shown.

DarkCyber’s perception is that increasingly restrictive laws, demands for encryption backdoors, and tighter Internet controls are a response and a potential solution. Note that the fix may be brutal. When societal and personal constraints are removed in our digital era. the governments have limited tools to get civilized behavior back on track. The good old days are going to be imposed via a version of Chinafication.

That shift is underway in many countries, and it will become more visible and forceful. Will news cease being fake? Probably not.

Stephen E Arnold, October 8, 2019

Today in Subjective Search: What Are You Not Allowed to Know

October 2, 2019

When you review information, is that information comprehensive, complete, and objectively displayed?




Let’s look at three examples.

First, Boris Johnson allegedly uses certain words to skew search results. This is the allegation of Remoaning Myrtle. You can find the assertion at this link. Does this mean that wordsmithing now fiddles search results on Bing, Google, and Yandex? Interesting question about an interesting person’s ability to use language as a weapon.

Second, Twitter has introduced new filters. “Twitter Rolls Out Filter for Potentially Offensive DMs” reports:

Twitter is quickly acting on plans to filter potentially offensive direct messages. It’s rolling out the filter to all users on Android, iOS and the web. As during the test, there isn’t much mystery to how this works. If a message contains questionable language or is likely spam, it’ll be tucked away in an “additional messages” folder.

Third, “YouTube Moderation Bots Punish Videos Tagged as ‘Gay’ or ‘Lesbian,’ Study Finds” bluntly asserts:

A new investigation from a coalition of YouTube creators and researchers is accusing YouTube of relying on a system of “bigoted bots” to determine whether certain content should be demonetized, specifically LGBTQ videos.

DarkCyber finds it interesting that shaping or alleged shaping of search results is now garnering attention. Researchers looking for historical information may discover that “old” information is either unindexed or not online. Investigators and analysts looking for facts like Cisco’s acquisition of certain firms requires manual review of SEC documents. Individuals looking for information about CMS contractors conducting medical fraud information may find that these data are very, very difficult to locate.


Reasons vary.

It is important for those who assert that “my team consists of expert online researchers” may be fooling themselves.

Stephen E Arnold, October 2, 2019

Google: A Big Play

October 1, 2019

Google’s walled garden is getting a glass roof. AMP was a good first step, but there is a world of other Internet-enabled services which are not likely to be AMP-lified. What’s the fix? DarkCyber believes that Google wants to become the Internet. Stopping Amazon is not working with the GOOG’s standard line up of services. “Why Big ISPs Aren’t Happy about Google’s Plans for Encrypted DNS.”

The write up states:

Google and Mozilla are trying to address these concerns by adding support in their browsers for sending DNS queries over the encrypted HTTPS protocol. But major Internet service providers have cried foul. In a September 19 letter to Congress, Big Cable and other telecom industry groups warned that Google’s support for DNS over HTTPS (DOH) “could interfere on a mass scale with critical Internet functions, as well as raise data-competition issues.”

Consider Google’s point of view. Google has user security in mind. Sure, there are others who see benefits in putting Google in a superordinate position with regards to DNS. What happens if Google filters certain addresses? An apology for sure.

The stakes are high. How will Amazon (an ISP of sorts) respond?

This will be interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, October 1. 2019

Information and the More Exposure Effect

October 1, 2019

The article “Why Do Older People Hate New Music?” caught my attention. Music is not a core interest at DarkCyber. We do mention in our Dark Web 2 lecture that beat sharing and selling sites which permit message exchange are an important source of social content.

This “oldsters hate new” angle is important. The write up contains this assertion:

One of the most researched laws of social psychology is something called the “mere exposure effect.” In a nutshell, it means that the more we’re exposed to something, the more we tend to like it. This happens with people we know, the advertisements we see and, yes, the songs we listen to.

Like many socio-psycho-econo assertions, this idea sounds plausible. Let’s assume that it is correct and apply the insight to online information.

Online news services purport to provide news for me, world news, and other categories. When I review outputs from several services like SmartNews, News360, and Google News, for example, it is clear that the information presented looks and conveys the same information.

If the exposure point is accurate, these services are conditioning me to accept and feel comfortable with specific information. SmartNews shows me soccer news, reports about cruise ship deaths, and write ups which underscore the antics of certain elected officials.

These services do not coordinate, but they do rely on widely used numerical recipes and feedback about what I click on or ignore. What’s interesting is that each of these services delivers a package of content which reflects each service’s view of what interests me.

The problem is that I look at less and less content on these services. Familiarity means that I don’t need to know more about certain topics.

Consequently, as the services become smarter, I move way from these services.

The psychological write up reports:

Psychology research has shown that the emotions that we experience as teens seem more intense than those that comes later. We also know that intense emotions are associated with stronger memories and preferences. All of this might explain why the songs we listen to during this period become so memorable and beloved.

Is familiarity making me more content with online news? Sorry, no.

The familiarity makes it easier to recognize that significant content is not being presented. That’s an interesting issue if my reaction is not peculiar to me.

How does one find additional information about the unfamiliar? Search does not deliver effectively in my opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, October 2, 2019

Why Society Emulates Sheep: Quick Look That Up on Your Mobile Device

September 24, 2019

On a recent visit to Eastern Europe, I learned that in several countries, there was a hierarchy among shepherds. The job of watching sheep fell to those lower in the shepherd hierarchy. The person who could train horses and dogs, knew the ins and outs of the less-than-brilliant sheep, and showed some moxie — that individual was at the top of the sheep heap.

I read “The Distribution of Users’ Computer Skills: Worse Than You Think” and thought about shepherds and sheep. The Nielsen Norman Group reported:

Across 33 rich countries, only 5% of the population has high computer-related abilities, and only a third of people can complete medium-complexity tasks.

The idea is that those without expertise are likely to be sheep-like. Now sheepness is not a bad thing. Sheep are docile and seem content to go along with whatever the shepherd hierarchy decides. Even when getting shorn, the sheep can be controlled, and they don’t seem to form a group and wait for the person with the shears to turn his back so a stampede can nuke the individual with the shears.

But in today’s world with its technical hierarchy, the Nielsen Norman Group data suggest that a hierarchy exists for technology.

This is useful information for those at the top of the technology skill heap.

Think about the shepherd hierarchy. Which is better? The person with expertise or the freshly-shorn sheep? What is the likelihood that those with limited technical expertise can accurately perceive what today’s digital shepherds are doing.

Herding, shearing, or anticipating grilled lamb shank?

Stephen E Arnold, September 24, 2019

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