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Hip SXSW Media Conference to Probe the Dark Social

February 4, 2016

This year’s SXSW Conferences & Festivals will be exploring the world of Dark Social, a term introduced by The Atlantic senior editor Alexis C. Madrigal in “Dark Social: We Have the Whole History of the Web Wrong.”

In a SWSX interview, Marc Jensen, Chief Technology Officer of space150 and his associate Greg Swan, Vice President of Public Relations talked about Dark Social and the perception of privacy. They also shared their thoughts on the shift from traditional social sites such as Facebook and Twitter  to more alluring Dark Social. In my view their main point was:

This [no referrer data] means that this vast trove of social traffic is essentially invisible to most analytics programs. I call it Dark Social. It shows up variously in programs as “direct” or “typed/bookmarked” traffic, which implies to many site owners that you actually have a bookmark or typed in into your browser. But that’s not actually what’s happening a lot of the time. Most of the time, someone Gchatted someone a link, or it came in on a big email distribution list, or your dad sent it to you. Nonetheless, the idea that “social networks” and “social media” sites created a social web is pervasive. Everyone behaves as if the traffic your stories receive from the social networks (Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, StumbleUpon) is the same as all of your social traffic.

Bob Lefsetz speaks about the differences in social behaviors in The Lefsetz Letter states:

Oldsters are rarely early adopters. They know the value of money, they’re set in their ways. For all the old bloviators bemoaning the loss of privacy online, it’s the kids who got the memo, that if they post pictures of illicit activity they might not get a job in the future. Kids believe in evanescence, oldsters believe in the permanent record.

These differences in social behavior are not only generational, they are transformational. Children and young adults want the freedom to say and do as they please, particularly when it comes to social sites. The more ephemeral the site, the less inhibited they feel. There is a sense of false safety on Snapchat, WeChat and WhatsApp then there is on Facebook or Twitter.Are young people soon to be pawns in a dangerous game of criminal “pickle?”

Dark Social network more likely than not will become breeding grounds for predators. Dark Social could prove to be one of the most powerful tools in criminal’s toolkit. This begs the question: Do the benefits of privacy outweigh the dangers of corruption?

Martin A. Matisoff, MSc, February 4, 2016

Google Plus or Is It +: Try and Trying Again

November 18, 2015

I read a pride of write ups about Google Plus or is it Google +. Searching for odd ball characters like “+” or “^” adds some spice to the researcher’s life.

A representative article is “Google Isn’t Giving Up on Its Social Networking Ghost Town Google +.” That’s an important idea. Google has been struggling with the Facebook type service since the days of Orkut.

Google, unlike Facebook, comes at social from the search and retrieval angle spiced with a healthy dependency on online advertising juice. Facebook originated with an idea appealing to lonely folks in a dorm.

According to the write up:

the web giant has just given the service a complete overhaul on iOS, Android and the web. The new design focuses on “collections” and “communities”, positioning Google+ as a network dedicated to interests, rather than a personal service. Its layout has also been simplified and better optimized for mobile.

Some of the comments on Hacker News were quite interesting. Here are three:

Dredmorbius: Google have been tremendously coy about what their success metrics for G+ are, though they’ve played highly disingenuous all-but-utterly-fake numbers games in playing up “engagement” since the very beginning. I’d argue that the issue isn’t numbers, but relevance. G+ is lousy in many ways but has a few small areas of success, notably its Notifications mechanic, a community which, for me, works fairly well, and a search which while pathetically under-featured is comprehensive and fast. inning the numbers game for social vs. Facebook in its current incarnation is a fool’s errand. Numerous people have pointed this out, including ex-Googlers pointing at the “Interest Graph” (though suggestions for following / pursuing this date to the first few months of G+). If Google does grab the Cosmo crowd, that’s fine, so long as it doesn’t also chase off the Nature/PLOS crowd in the process. Unfortunately, Google’s proven more than happy to sling absolute snot (as in the G+ “What Snot” feature … oh, no, that’s “What’s Hot”). Power users learn how to disable that instantly.

A second comment I noted:

Nilkn: This [Google’s design approach] is actually part of why my recent switch from Android to iOS was so refreshing. While material design looks great on some level, it seems to be so remarkably wasteful of space. Google+ actually feels claustrophobic to me in a way: there’s so much content, and yet you can see so little of it at a time. It creates a feeling of being constantly lost.

And a final one:

Pbreit:  Seems like it’s still drastically missing the mark on having a reason for being. Why would I use this? What would I put on there? Why there and not elsewhere?

The Alphabet Google thing wants to be social. It wants to generate ad revenue. It wants to be more than search. Noble goals.

Stephen E Arnold, November 18, 2015

Searching Tweets: Just $24,000 per Year

October 21, 2015

Short honk: Love Twitter. Want to search tweets and sort of make sense of the short messages? A new service from Union Metrics is now available, according to “Union Metrics d\Debuts Search Engine That Gives You Access to Twitter’s Entire Archive.” This is a link from News360 which is available, but slowly, to me in South Africa. For you? Who knows?

Here’s the pricing, which I assume is spot on:

Although available to all Social Suite subscribers today, the service costs extra. For $500 per month, companies can access up to 30 days of data from Twitter’s archive. For $1,000 per month, Union Metrics’ Echo 365 plan grants unlimited access to up to a year’s worth of data. Finally, for $2,000 per month, the company’s Echo Full Archive plan grants full access to everything.

Twitter is looking for revenue and customer love. Will this type of tie up help?

Stephen E Arnold, October 21, 2015

Predictive Search Tries to Work with Videos

October 14, 2015

Predictive search is a common feature in search engines such as Google.  It is more well-known as auto-complete, where based on spelling and keyword content the search engine predicts what a user is searching for.  Predictive search speeds up the act of searching, but ever since YouTube became the second biggest search engine after Google one has to wonder if “Does Video Enhance Predictive Search?” asks Search Engine Watch.

Search engine and publisher of travel deals Travelzoo created a video series called “#zootips” that was designed to answer travel questions people might search for on Google.  The idea behind the video series was that the videos would act as a type of predictive feature anticipating a traveler’s needs.

“‘There’s always push and pull with information,’ says Justin Soffer, vice president of marketing at Travelzoo. ‘A lot of what search is, is people pulling – meaning they’re looking for something specific. What videos are doing is more of a push, telling people what to look for and showing them things.’ ”

Along with Travelzoo, representatives from SEO-PR and Imagination Publishing also agree that video will enhance video search.  Travelzoo says that video makes Web content more personal, because an actual person is delivering it.  SEO-PR recommends researching keywords with Google Trends and creating videos centered on those words.  Imagination Publishing believes that video content will increase a Web site’s Google ranking as it ranks media rich pages higher and there is an increase in voice search and demand for how-to videos.

It is predicted that YouTube’s demand as a search engine will increase more content will be created for video.  If you understand how video and predictive analytics work, you will have an edge in future Google rankings.

Whitney Grace, October 14, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

LinkedIn: Searching for Something

October 5, 2015

LinkedIn is aimed at several different audiences. Each is interdependent just like the tree of life in my 9th grade biology text book. I want to use the word symbiotic, but I keep thinking of parasitic.

LinkedIn appeals to organizations who want to hire people to help generate revenues. The people looking for work use LinkedIn to find full time, part time, or any time labor. The companies selling products and services are looking at the companies as customers. The people looking for work are eager to demonstrate their money making potential.

The result is a maelstrom of people, posts, chat groups, and marketing.

LinkedIn, according to the write up “LinkedIn Agrees to Settle Unwanted Email Lawsuit,” reports:

LinkedIn was announcing that it had agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over sending unwanted emails. The lawsuit revolves around LinkedIn’s Add Connections feature, which would send out connection requests to people in a user’s contact list who did not already have a LinkedIn account. Users had to agree to send out that first connection request, but LinkedIn would then follow up with up to two more “reminder emails” if there was no response. The lawsuit alleges that users did not consent to LinkedIn sending those additional emails, nor give LinkedIn permission to use their names and images in them.

We’ll see. I have received some interesting LinkedIn emails since one of the goslings set up an account, posted the titles of some of my articles, and began to fill in some of the information LinkedIn requires its “members” to provide. I think the picture of me dates from the 1990s. I am not sure because I rely on a couple of people to read messages and do the housekeeping required of a “person” who uses the service for free.

The LinkedIn mail goes directly into a junk folder. If something surfaces, one of the goslings alerts me. If I have the zip, I suggest a way to respond. I think I offered a Latin quip in response to one company’s blabbing about its superior ranking awarded by a mid tier consulting company. Okay, just not the big leagues, was it. The quip, which I dictated from memory, suggests that tooting one’s horn can be annoying.

That Latin quote from Martial who died in 101 CE, elicited emails, gossip at conferences, and a personal email enjoining me to be a much kinder and gentler goose. I told the goslings to use their judgment.

I also received an email from a person whom I did not know wanting to buy me dinner at the best restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky. Is that an oxymoron. Lyon maybe. But Louisville, not unless I know the person. I am not exactly angling for trouble. When my suggestion of a phone call did not work out, the stranger offered to hook me up with a colleague when I was in Montréal. Well, that’s pretty stupid. If I won’t meet a stranger where I live, what are the chances I will meet a stranger in a foreign country? One of the goslings pointed out to the LinkedIn member who was the motor in this meet up drifting that his résumé on LinkedIn left out some of his employment history. Technologist? Nope, sales person. The response the person sent to my “persona” was, “Never write me again.” Er, who started the email chain. Was this person stalking me? Was this person looking for a job? Is this person aberrant? I took no chances with a free meal at the Dizzy Whiz.

Then there was a person who wanted to code up her own enterprise search system. I wrote back and suggested the person use either an open source or commercial system. The likelihood of losing her job would be reduced. The offended LinkedIn member located my “real” email address and wrote me a nastygram about my failure to recognize the capabilities of females in the technical world. Well, okay.

Weekly I receive offers to get a month free of the “real” LinkedIn. I get notices of thought leaders’ musings posted to LinkedIn. I receive emails which I have never opened. Junk remember. Some of these emails are from people who want to be my friend.

I don’t know about you, but it shows pretty poor judgment to chase a person who is 71 years old, appearing on LinkedIn as part of project that ended three or four years ago, and whose participation is handled by intermediaries.

My take on the LinkedIn service is that it is probably useful for people who want to network, job hunt, locate customers, and preen their features.

Pumping out unwanted emails is obviously not something that one court thought was okay. There are some other issues with the company as well. One of the goslings told me that listing articles I have written on my bio page is really obtuse.

There you go. My hunch is that LinkedIn finds customers for the data it has harvested from the young seeds planting content in the system. Perhaps LinkedIn will buy Peeple.

And have you ever tried to search LinkedIn? One of the goslings found the information access system wanting. Why? Well, email takes priority.

Stephen E Arnold, October 5, 2015

Google Faces Sanctions over Refusal to Embrace Right to Be Forgotten Ruling

October 2, 2015

The article on Reuters titled France Rejects Google Appeal on Cleaning Up Search Results Globally explores the ramifications of Europe’s recently passed Right to be Forgotten law. The law stipulates that search engines be compelled by requests to remove information. Google has made some attempts to yield to the law, granting 40% of the 320,000 requests to remove incorrect, irrelevant, or controversial information, but only on the European version of its sites. The article delves into the current state of affairs,

“The French authority, the CNIL, in June ordered Google to de-list on request search results appearing under a person’s name from all its websites, including The company refused in July and requested that the CNIL abandon its efforts, which the regulator officially refused to do on Monday…France is the first European country to open a legal process to punish Google for not applying the right to be forgotten globally.”

Google countered that while the company was happy to meet the French and European standards in Europe, they did not see how the European law could be globally enforced. This refusal will almost certainly be met with fines and sanctions, but that may be the least of Alphabet Google’s troubles considering its ongoing disapproval by Europe.
Chelsea Kerwin, October 02, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Reddit’s Extended Family

October 1, 2015

I have a problem.  I have a Reddit addiction.  My addiction is so bad that I once meant to spend five minutes on the news site, when I ended up spending five hours.  To control my compulsions, I only allow myself to read the first hundred posts and if I have finished my work, the first two hundred.   I am currently in the process to kick the Reddit habit, so I will be a more productive person.  But then I came across this article on Chi-Nese: “20 Great Reddit Alternatives You Should Know.”

Just as I thought I did not have enough Web sites on my RSS feed, now I have these lovely alternatives. Here is the scoop:

“Reddit is the most popular social bookmarking site celebrating 10-year anniversary of existence nowadays. Reddit has accumulated over 16 billion up-votes, over 1 billion comments and over 190 million posts, which are – compared to other Reddit alternatives – enormous numbers.  Despite the fact that Reddit is a website with a massive number of users and posts, below is a list of international Reddit alternatives that have great potential, and are definitely worth a try!”

Most of these Reddit alternatives are in a foreign language (not English), but some of ones to make the list are Hubski, PushedUp, Qetzl,, and 3tags.

I am surprised that Fark did not make the list.  Fark is the “original” Reddit, but it focuses on aggregating outlandish news content.  There goes my productivity!


Whitney Grace, October 1, 2015
Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


TweetedTimes: Gone Goose?

September 29, 2015

Short honk. The TweetedTimes allowed “members” to create aggregations of content. I used to look at the semantic and Big Data pages. A few days ago, I noticed that the TweetedTimes, which I think was a Yandex property, went dark on September 23, 2015. I checked to see what was in the Twitter fire hose. Zilch. That says a lot.

Stephen E Arnold, September 29, 2015

A Modest Proposal: Universal Internet Access and a Chief Digital Officer in Every Organization

September 28, 2015

Facebook supports universal Internet access. Support is not enough from one or two outfits. Facebook wants the United Nations to make universal Internet access a priority.

Navigate to “Mark Zuckerberg Addresses the UN, Declaring Universal Internet Access a Global Priority.” I wonder if peace keeping, food, education, and other priorities of the United Nation will be down prioritized or de-prioritized. If I were hoping for UN food assistance, I would definitely want to be able to check my Facebook. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is obviously wrong. At the top, Facebook.

I also noted this article, “IT Still Doesn’t Understand Its Role in Society.” The author is a self described “IT leader.” The point is, I think:

It struck me, when I opened this September’s edition, just how much things have moved on. This month gives much more space to the changing role of IT and its part in business leadership. That of course lies at the heart of the debate about CIOs and CDOs – the former seeming inextricably constrained by operational IT matters, whether insourced or outsourced, and the latter filling the vacuum created by misalignment between IT activity and business priority. Everyone seems agreed that the role of a CDO is not about the technology. It is about people and process. But it cannot operate without a fundamental understanding about the opportunity that technology offers, and therefore CDOs must work closely with IT professionals.

The word choice is well matched with the imperative to make technology become the source for wild and crazy assertions. I like the use of the acronyms CIO and CDO. I am not sure what a CDO is, but that is not important. The precision of insourced and outsourced, where the outsourcing thing fills “the vacuum created by misalignment between IT activity and business priority.”

Okay, the folks running the business are not exactly sure what’s up with IT. If a senior manager tuned in to Facebook’s remarks about universal Internet access, there might be some furrowed brows.

What’s the fix?

The answer is a new job position at companies. The CDO. (My hunch is that this acronym means “chief digital officer.”) When revenues are stressed, most senior managers will gladly add to the organization’s headcount to get a CDO on the team.

I highlighted this passage:

So we need clever technical specialists, but we also need IT professionals who can bridge the gap between technology opportunity and the benefits that technology can bring society. That is why the goal of BCS – the Chartered Institute for IT – is “to make IT good for society”. That should be the role of IT professionals. This means that IT professionals need to understand the impact of technology, positive and negative, in the way systems and IT tools are designed. It means IT has a significant part to play in the debate about privacy and trust emerging from IT changes. It means we have a part to play in the way systems are designed to benefit society, not just to make profit. And it means IT is a creative, human discipline, not just a scientific and engineering profession.

Okay. But what about the Facebook suggestion to make Internet access universal. Will checking the Facebook obviate hunger and disease? Will information technology move beyond profit to benefiting society.

What’s at stake here? My hunch the focus for Facebook thing and the self appointed expert’s CDO recommendation has more to do with money and boosting the notion of the importance of technology in the modern world.

Was Maslow incorrect? Is Facebook connectivity more important than food? Are companies in need of more headcount in order to make headway in the datasphere?

Nope. Why not sit back and let the Alphabet Google thing do the job? Some big thinkers want governments to be more like Google. No Facebook. No information technology intermediaries. Why search for information when a commercial enterprise and self appointed experts know best what folks like me want?

Stephen E Arnold, September 28, 2015

Weekly Watson Watch: Robots Become Socially Adept

September 25, 2015

The Watson promotional campaign is clogging my Overflight alert system. I will try to pick one Watson item from my favorite main frame company each week.

This week’s selection is from MIT Technology Review, whose editors find IBM Watson fascinating. The write up is “IBM Watson to Teach Robots Some Social Skills.” The MIT angle is magnetized by the money spinning Watson’s ability to “better understand and mimic human communication.” The write up focuses on an IBM wizard with the delightful name of Bob High.

The news hook is that an IBM partner used Watson to allow the partner’s robot Nao to speak “with realistic intonation.” The robot was also able to make “appropriate hand gestures during a conversation.”

The article tucks in an interesting comment, which struck me as a bit like Volkswagen’s approach to diesel emissions. Are you ready? Here is the passage I highlighted in a color I call truthful blue:

Speaking with MIT Technology Review after the demo, High admitted that this interaction was prerecorded, because the system doesn’t always work well in noisy environments. But he said the capabilities demonstrated reflected real research.

Ah, a demo. Where’s the beef? The PR hot dog seems to me to have some artificiality within.

I quite like the “real research” phrase. Who wants faux research like the work that creates television shows, flows of PR, and mid tier consultants praising cognitive computing.

I favor the type of research which allows me to buy 100 shares of IBM stock and then watch the value rise. I am not too keen on technology that does not work in a noisy environment. Been in an airport lately? How about under mortar fire? Well, canned responses will work in some cases I assume.

Watson is, as you know, gentle reader, open source, acquired, and home brew technology. Watson is, in my opinion, a good example of how basic search technology is wrapped with numerous other functions in a remarkable series of marketing efforts to generate revenue. We know the IBM Watson marketing people can elicit excitement from big time, “real” journalistic endeavors.

I feel lighthearted this morning. Here are my notes made as I sat on my deck watching the mine drainage stir the yellow green water in the still pond. It is time for a Frostian “you come too”:

  1. Will a drone equipped with two laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles experience emotion upon release of the ordinance?
  2. Will “love” robots incorporate the technology? Will the stop word list contain, “Take out the garbage” with appropriate intonation and gestures?
  3. Will the technology work in a real world environment like an office? The technology may be useful for some IBM HR applications; for example, a 54 year old employee is RA’d and discusses with a socially adept IBM robot the employee’s impending severance because the employees’ job will be off-shored in four weeks.

Enough old-person humor for this Weekly Watson. For more IBM information, check out Allliance@IBM.

Stephen E Arnold, September 25, 2015

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