Information Age

Big Brother Everywhere

A friend, who was installing Skype on a new computer, was baffled when Skype suggested contacts that weren’t on his Skype contact list but in his address book. Turns out, apps are gateways that pilfer voluminous personal information, not only address book data but also … sexual preferences. Nothing is safe. And not just of the user but also of his or her friends. And now the government is trying to catch up in the race to get our information.

Huawei (or China) Slams into US National Security Concerns

Huawei is a prime example of Chinese companies scaling the value chain through innovation and technology transfer—top priorities in China’s five-year plan. But its efforts to become a major player in the US give the US government, and anyone concerned about national security, the willies. And now, these concerns dissolved another deal, yet the root problem remains.

Can’t Even Urinate in his own Yard Anymore

While some people were fretting over Google’s new “privacy” policy that took effect March 1—“Calling this a ‘privacy policy’ is Orwellian doublespeak,” said John Simpson of Consumer Watchdog—others were counting Google AdSense dollars from their blogs. Ka-ching. Just then, an insidious and at once funny information-age issue erupted in France, or more precisely in a tiny village in Maine-et-Loire.

Broke California: Give Us The Facebook Manna Now

California is broke again. The “balanced” budget last summer turned into a pile of overoptimistic assumptions. Out-of-money date is March 8. $3.3 billion must be dug up, pronto. Last fall, California had to borrow $21 billion to make it to April. Now all eyes are on Facebook. Its IPO will singlehandedly solve all budget problems forever—just like Google’s IPO had done.

Facebook: The Value of Information in the Information Age

With IPO hype blowing like a maxed-out hairdryer into my face, I Googled … Friendster—the shining star of social networking that everyone had drooled over. Turns out, in 2009, Friendster was bought for a pittance by MOL Global, a Malaysian company. In 2011, it discontinued social networking activities and rebranded itself as a gaming site. But there is one valuable asset it still has: user information.

Prying Into the Brain

A dream—or nightmare—yields to scientific progress: quantitative models recreate thoughts, and brain signals control mechanical devices. Yet, the brain is an unreliable organ that makes up for shortcomings in data with profuse creativity. It’s going to be a wild ride. And Google and Facebook will have a field day.