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Facebook Offers Ad Revenue for Streamlined News Experience

May 28, 2015

Facebook is offering an interesting carrot to certain publishers, like the New York Times and National Geographic, in the interest of streamlining the Facebook use-experience; CNet reports, “Facebook Aims to Host Full Stories, Will Let Publishers Keep Ad Revenue, Says Report.” Of course, the project has to have a hip yet obvious name: “Instant Articles” is reportedly the feature’s title. Writer Nate Ralph cites an article in the Wall Street Journal as he tells us:

“The move is aimed at improving the user experience on the world’s largest social network. Today, clicking on a news story on Facebook directs you to the news publication’s website, adding additional time as that site loads and — more importantly for Facebook — taking users away from the social network. With Instant Articles, all the content would load more or less immediately, keeping users engaged on Facebook’s site. The upside for publishers would be increased money from ads, the Journal said. With one of the versions of Instant Articles that’s being considered, publishers would keep all the revenue from associated ads that they sold. If Facebook sold the ads, however, the social network would keep 30 percent of the revenue.”

Apparently, some news publishers have been “wary” of becoming tightly integrated into Facebook, perhaps fearing a lack of control over their content and image. The write-up goes on to note that Facebook has been testing a feature that lets users prioritize updates from different sources. How many other ways to capture and hold our attention does the social media giant have up its sleeve?

Cynthia Murrell, May 28, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

 

From PowerPoint to the Open Office: The Washington Post Covers the News That Really Matters.

May 27, 2015

Here’s another gem from Jeff Bezos’ newspaper. I noted this item in my Overflight report this morning: “Google Got It Wrong. The Open-Office Trend Is Destroying the Workplace.” The premise of the write up, it seems to me, is that Google is responsible for offices without walls. Offices without walls are detrimental to work processes which require walls. Therefore, Google is wrong again.

Google, how could a math club inspired company destroy the workplace. I thought you folks just eroded relevance in search results, invented Loon balloons, and squabbled about private jet décor. Toss in the black swan who dallied with drugs and a disaffected wizard with several versions of his name. Here I am. Off base again.

According to the write up:

While employees feel like they’re part of a laid-back, innovative enterprise, the environment ultimately damages workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction.  Furthermore, a sense of privacy boosts job performance, while the opposite can cause feelings of helplessness. In addition to the distractions, my colleagues and I have been more vulnerable to illness. Last flu season took down a succession of my co-workers like dominoes.

Oh, my goodness. My feeling of helplessness is Google’s fault. My co-workers and I will face rampant disease.

But, wait, what’s the fix? Well, do away with the office entirely. Yes, telework. When I was doing some odd jobs in Washington, DC, I noticed that some government workers “teleworked” one day a week. This meant that the consultants who were the primary driver of doing stuff we somewhat hampered. Imagine the productivity if no one converged on a common facility, interacted in direct face to face ways, and obtained a smidgen of identity from entering a giant building with a wonderful on premises cafeteria.

What’s fascinating about this write up? First, it is not news. Second, it blames Google for trend in which Google played much, if any, leadership role. Third, the “fix” is great for the rare individual who thrives in an environment without the old fashioned Tayloresque management methods.

Google, did you grasp the extent of your influence in the no walls office approach to work? Probably not. Was the destruction of my nifty corner office overlooking a duck pond in San Mateo an unintended consequence of linking relevance to paid advertising? I never liked that office. I appropriated an interior office without windows, moving the copy machine and assorted office equipment to the office with a view of the ducks. Go figure.

Oh, Washington Post, why not cover the rising tension in the South China Sea an issue with a touch more substance?

Stephen E Arnold, May 27, 2015

Washington Post Wants PowerPoint Banned

May 26, 2015

Poor Microsoft. Now Jeff Bezos’ newspaper is demanding that PowerPoint be banned. Microsoft did not write PowerPoint. Microsoft bought what is now reviled in 1987. The current PowerPoint emerged from spaghetti code created by Forethought, Inc. I recall hearing at a Microsoft meeting that the code jockey on this puppy was the work of a Berkeley grad. Microsoft took the product and the rest is history.

The Washington Post presents its viewpoint in “PowerPoint Should Be Banned. This PowerPoint Presentation Explains Why.” I don’t think Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Fallon will be adding the author of the article to their writing teams. I was hoping for a bit of Swiftian humor. What I got was a write up that would have benefited from a PowerPoint with zip.

I noted a couple of interesting points:

  • I loved this quote: “PowerPoint makes us stupid.” The statement is attributed to General James Mattis. What makes this interesting is that it is tough to command attention in some military circles without a nifty presentation with Hollywood graphics. Palantir exists for a reason, folks.
  • Amazon does not permit PowerPoint presentations. I wonder if Amazon’s hostility to PowerPoint influenced the Washington Post article. Perhaps the Amazon phone would have been a success if some PowerPoint effort had been made before paying an offshore outfit to make the gizmos.
  • I found the Afghan strategy slide quite easy to understand. Here it is to spark your thinking. I concluded I don’t want to head in that direction again.

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  • I enjoyed the assertion that DoD briefings would be improved. “officers would no longer be able to duck behind mu mo jumbo slides to bury facts or their lack of understanding of the issues. Ah, the naïveté of youth. The briefings would feature foam core or poster board with artist drawings of the very same information. Instead of bits, the message would be delivered with a pointer tapping the cardboard.

The rather parental statement “Go without any presentation” is going to make it pretty dull for the law enforcement and intelligence professionals in my Dark Web briefing. I have to show screen shots of the bad actors’ Dark Web sites. I cannot describe CP, hit men, weapons for sale, stolen credit cards, false passports, and the other charming points of interest to my audience. Going online is a good idea, but in central Europe underground the Internet connections are often problematic.

In short, Washington Post:

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Stephen E Arnold, May 27, 2015

Google and Content: Who Beat Boudicca?

May 25, 2015

I love it when “real journalists” adopt a tone somewhere between “I can’t believe I am going to be in the Financial Times” and “Folks, I have no clue what I am talking about.” Navigate to “They Give Us Free Computing Power and We Reveal Ever More about Ourselves.” You will have to register or pay to read this article in the Financial Times. Yep, that’s the colorful orange newspaper sometimes given away for free when there is a big conference in New York or London.

The article saddles up a tired old nag:

…let us imagine you read this piece, or other FT content, for free on Facebook or Google. It is a far sweeter deal, right? You get something for nothing and Big Data can bask in its own beneficence. Apply that to any amount of diverse content. Rarely in the history of human knowledge have so few offered so much to so many for nothing.

The article explains what most Internet users already know: Google sells ads. The free service is a means to display those ads in front of eye balls. Got it.

The article then strolls down the well-trodden monopoly path. Okay, got it. Google has a market share estimated from 65 percent to 90 percent of the online search traffic. Well, maybe. But the monopoly thing is what results when there is control of tea, cotton, and other products which people perceive to have value.

The write up reminds us that Google has finally figured out how the US system works. Paying money to lobbyists is more effective than Mr. Brin’s wearing sneakers and a T shirt to visit elected representatives of the citizens of the US.

I like the reference to Rome. It evokes images of Boudicca harnessing a somewhat more fit horse named Hope to her cart. How did that turn out?

As I recall she lost at the Battle of Watling Street by a non-feminist, meat eating fellow named Gaius Suetonius Paulinus. Like many large publishing companies, Boudicca miscalculated.  There was no European Commission or NATO force to help her out. After getting trapped, Boudicca allegedly killed herself. Poison or maybe from a wound inflicted by the frisky Romans. I think my professor Dr. Phil Crane offered two possibilities.

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Real journalists may want to figure out how to flee Google’s clutches, thus avoiding the need to commit suicide or death at the pleasure of a fickle Rome-like ruler.

Like Boudicca, time may have run out. Google’s been chugging along on essentially the same trajectory for more than 15 years. It is easy to complain. It is more difficult to take meaningful action. The options may not be appealing, however.

Stephen E Arnold, May 25, 2015

Hacking a Newspaper: Distancing and Finger Pointing

May 15, 2015

I read “This Is How the Syrian Electronic Army Hacked the Washington Post.” Hacking into a company’s computer system is not something I condone. The target of the hacking is not too keen on the practice either I assume.

One of our Twitter accounts was compromised. We contacted Twitter. Even though we knew the CTO, it took a couple of days to sort out the problem. Apparently Miley Cyrus became a fan of Beyond Search and wanted to share her photo graphs via the blog’s newsfeed. One reader, an Exalead professional, was quite incensed that I was pumping out Miley snaps. I assume he found a better source of search and content processing news or left the field entirely due to the shock I imparted to him. I did not objectify the hacking incident. I don’t think I mentioned it until this moment. A script from somewhere in the datasphere got lucky.

In the aforementioned write up, I noted this passage:

Th3 Pr0, one of the members of the group, confirmed to Motherboard that they were indeed the group behind the attack, which appeared to last for around 30 minutes. Th3 Pr0 said that they were able to insert the alerts by hacking into Instart Logic, a content delivery network (CDN) used by the Washington Post. “We hacked InStart CDN service, and we were working on hacking the main site of Washington Post, but they took down the control panel,” Th3 Pr0 told Motherboard in an email. “We just wanted to deliver a message on several media sites like Washington Post, US News and others, but we didn’t have time :P.” The group often defaces media sites by hacking into other third parties, such as ad networks, that serve content on the sites.

The Washington Post, it seems, was not the problem. A content delivery network was the problem.

The article then reminded me:

This is the second time the hackers get to the Washington Post. The group briefly disrupted the site in 2013 with a phishing attack.

But the kicker for me is this statement:

This hack shows, once again, that a site is only as secure as its third-party resources,including ads, are.

Well, these problems are short lived. The problems are not the problems of the Washington Post. Bueno indeed. Perhaps Amazon’s Jeff Bezos will provide some security inputs to the Washington Post folks. Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, well, blame the third party.

Works in Washington I assume.

Stephen E Arnold, May 15, 2015

Reading in the Attention Deficit World

May 12, 2015

The article on Popist titled Telling the Truth with Charts outlines the most effective and simple method of presenting the information on the waning of book-reading among Americans. While the article focuses on the effectiveness of the chart, the information in the chart is disturbing as well, stating that the amount of Americans who read zero books in 2014 is up to 23% from 8% in 1987. The article links to another article on The Atlantic titled The Decline of the American Book Lover. That article presents an argument for some hope,

“The percentage of young folks reading for pleasure stopped declining. Last year, the NEA found that 52 percent of 18-24 year-olds had read a book outside of work or school, the same as in the pre-Facebook days of 2002. If book culture were in terminal decline, this is the demographic where you’d expect it to be fading fastest. Perhaps the worst of the fall is over. “

The article demonstrates the connection between education level and reading for pleasure, which may be validation for many teachers and professors. However, there also seems to be a growing tendency among students to read, even homework, without absorbing anything, or in other words, to skim texts instead of paying close attention. This may be the effect of too much TV or

Facebook, or even the No Child Left Behind generation entering college. Students are far more interested in their grades than in their education, and just tallying up the numbers of books they or anyone else read is not going to paint an accurate portrait. Similarly, what books are the readers reading? If they are all Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, do we still celebrate the accomplishment?

Chelsea Kerwin, May 12, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Juvenile Journal Behavior

May 5, 2015

Ah, more publisher  excitement. Neuroskeptic, a blogger at Discover, weighs in on a spat between scientific journals in, “Academic Journals in Glass Houses….” The write-up begins by printing a charge lobbed at Frontiers in Psychology by the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (JNMD), in which the latter accuses the former of essentially bribing peer reviewers. It goes on to explain the back story, and why the blogger feels the claim against Frontiers is baseless. See the article for those details, if you’re curious.

Here’s the part that struck me: Neuroskeptic  supplies the example hinted at in his or her headline:

“For the JNMD to question the standards of Frontiers peer review process is a bit of a ‘in glass houses / throwing stones’ moment. Neuroskeptic readers may remember that it was JNMD who one year ago published a paper about a mysterious device called the ‘quantum resonance spectrometer’ (QRS). This paper claimed that QRS can detect a ‘special biological wave… released by the brain’ and thus accurately diagnose schizophrenia and other mental disorders – via a sensor held in the patient’s hand. The article provided virtually no details of what the ‘QRS’ device is, or how it works, or what the ‘special wave’ it is supposed to measure is. Since then, I’ve done some more research and as far as I can establish, ‘QRS’ is an entirely bogus technology. If JNMD are going to level accusations at another journal, they ought to make sure that their own house is in order first.”

This is more support for the conclusion that many of today’s “academic” journals cannot be trusted. Perhaps the profit-driven situation will be overhauled someday, but in the meantime, let the reader beware.

Cynthia Murrell, May 5, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Guardian: Is Tech Envy Blooming?

May 4, 2015

The Guardian newspaper is one of the more tech forward newspapers which print dead tree editions. The publication has embraced open source. It features articles about technology and some of them are fact centric. One of the more interesting write ups or information constructs I have seen is “Take the Test: Could You Get a Job at Google?” I am one of the people who know the answer to this question.

I assumed the article would rehash one of the now hard to find Google Lab Aptitude Tests.

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Here’s a sample page from an early version:

glat-page3

Here’s one of the questions:

Consider a function which, for a given whole number n, returns the number of ones required when writing out all numbers between 0 and n. For example, f(13)=6. Notice that f(1)=1. What is the next largest n such that f(n)=n? Don’t go running to WolframAlpha. Just write down the answer and no wonky faux flow charts.

Or you can work through the Guardian’s version of the test. Here’s a representative Guardian question:

Do you prefer dogs to cats?

Here’s a GLAT question.

What’s broken with Unix? How would you fix it?

I don’t have that experience with Googlers and Xooglers. Well, maybe a teeny, tiny bit. But I surmise the Guardian is poking fun at the GOOG. My hunch is that the write up is designed to amuse those at the Guardian. real Googlers and Xooglers are not likely to care. The write up reveals more about what the Guardian perceives about Google and the Guardian’s sense of humor.

Does anyone remember the commercial in which the key beat was, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature?” I wonder if it is okay to spook Mother Google. Of course it is. Would Google react to a person or organization with a Web site? Nah.

Stephen E Arnold, May 4, 2015

Juvenile Journal Behavior

April 28, 2015

Ah, more publisher  excitement. Neuroskeptic, a blogger at Discover, weighs in on a spat between scientific journals in, “Academic Journals in Glass Houses….” The write-up begins by printing a charge lobbed at Frontiers in Psychology by the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (JNMD), in which the latter accuses the former of essentially bribing peer reviewers. It goes on to explain the back story, and why the blogger feels the claim against Frontiers is baseless. See the article for those details, if you’re curious.

Here’s the part that struck me: Neuroskeptic  supplies the example hinted at in his or her headline:

“For the JNMD to question the standards of Frontiers peer review process is a bit of a ‘in glass houses / throwing stones’ moment. Neuroskeptic readers may remember that it was JNMD who one year ago published a paper about a mysterious device called the ‘quantum resonance spectrometer’ (QRS). This paper claimed that QRS can detect a ‘special biological wave… released by the brain’ and thus accurately diagnose schizophrenia and other mental disorders – via a sensor held in the patient’s hand. The article provided virtually no details of what the ‘QRS’ device is, or how it works, or what the ‘special wave’ it is supposed to measure is. Since then, I’ve done some more research and as far as I can establish, ‘QRS’ is an entirely bogus technology. If JNMD are going to level accusations at another journal, they ought to make sure that their own house is in order first.”

This is more support for the conclusion that many of today’s “academic” journals cannot be trusted. Perhaps the profit-driven situation will be overhauled someday, but in the meantime, let the reader beware.

Cynthia Murrell, April 28, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Real Journalism: Be Proud of Professionalism

April 22, 2015

I read “Murdoch’s Circle: The News International Scandal.” graphic is interesting, but it is not the easiest way to get the information. Nevertheless, if you are a fan of “real” journalism, you may find the write up interesting. The yellow icon with the exclamation point means that the real journalism operators in the Murdoch circle have been charged with a legal hoop de do. The red icon with the big “G” in the center means the real journalist or employee of the Murdoch outfit has been found guilty. If you just want to see who has been arrested, the graphic is interactive. Inspiring, is it not? I am just a lowly blogger living in Harrod’s Creek. One reader of my content suggested I took a condescending tone to some younger professionals. No kidding? I thought I included some mocking honks too. No real journalist am I. Sniffle.

Stephen E Arnold, April 22, 2015

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