Posts tagged ‘data mining’

Coyote Blog First Ever Roundup Post

I don't really do news roundup posts, because losts of other folks do them better.  But there were a few things I wanted to blog on today and just don't have time, and rather than lose them, here they are briefly:

  1. Twitter seems to be the data mining tool of the future.  I have seen a number of dynamic maps and graphs of late using Twitter data.  The NY Times has as good of an example as any with this dynamic map showing twitter content by city and time during the SuperbowlFlowing Data has a bunch more.   Just remember the rules before you data mine:   Cool, trendy application run by hip Internet guys  -- data mining OK.  Bad evil credit card company trying to make billion dollar credit decisions -- data mining not OK.
  2. This is one of the first times I have seen an Internet contest like this go on for so long without a  winner.  Twelve structures, you just need to say which is a church and which is not.
  3. There has always been a certain cognitive dissonance between a) media portrayals of employment at Wal-Mart as equivilent to a new ring in Dant's inferno and b) the reality of lines hundreds of persons long for just a few job openings at Wal-Mart.  Charles Platt was curious about this too, and so set out to work at Wal-Mart to see what it was like.

HT:  Maggie's Farm for the second two.

I'll Take That Tinfoil Hat Now

I think it was George Carlin (?) who used to ask "Do you know what the worst thing is that can happen when you smoke marijuana?" His answer was "Get sent to prison".  The implication, which I have always agreed with for most drug use, was that it is insane as a society to try to save someone from doing something bad to himself by ... doing something worse to him.

I think of this whenever I get in a discussion about security responses to 9/11.  The worst thing that can happen to this country as a whole  (as differentiated of course from the individual victims of 9/11) is to turn the country into a police state to combat potential future terrorist actions.  I personally would greatly prefer to live with a 1 in 100,000 chance of being the victim of terrorism than find myself living in an America that has abandoned its constitution.  I wrote more on this topic here.

To this end, though I tend to be slow to believe these type of stories, this one (via Reason) about domestic NSA wiretapping is pretty frightening:

AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full
access to its customers' phone calls, and shunted its customers'
internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in
its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T
worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuit
against the company....

The source is just one low-level guy, so this story is still pretty soft.  I hope the investigation is allowed to play out.