Archive for October, 2006

Privacy Lost

Tuesday October 17th, 2006 in ,

MSNBC is running an interesting story called Privacy under attack, but does anybody care?, a part of their weekly special report on privacy - Privacy Lost. They did a survey with around 6500 MSNBC users which produced the following results and conclusions:

  • 60 percent of the respondents feel their privacy is slipping away
  • Only 7 percent change their behavior in an effort to preserve their privacy
  • 92 percent of users said they do not want the government tracking their Web surfing habits or reading their e-mail, electronically tracking their automobiles or eavesdropping on telephone calls
  • Most users and consumers will trade some privacy for convenience
  • Privacy is very difficult to define - some consensus around “privacy is to be left alone”
  • It’s difficult to predict the consequences of giving out personal information
  • Their is no consensus on what should be done to preserve privacy

As attention services begin to emerge, it will be interesting to see how convenience is balanced with privacy and where the line ends up being is drawn.

Designed Life

Sunday October 8th, 2006 in ,

As we continue to surround ourselves with technology, we live an increasingly designed life - you could even call it life as a user experience. Come to think of it, through the products I’ve used in my lifetime, I’ve tapped into the creativity and knowledge of thousands of people I may never meet. For example, there’s 1000s of parts in my car, each one carefully designed by another human being. Imagine for a moment, if you can, the faces of the people who created the products you have used in your lifetime. Your computer, cell phone, TV, stereo, car, all the things in your house or apartment, even your home itself. It would be an army of people the size of which you wouldn’t believe.

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The everyday hero of attention data

This story is about something that most of us use on a daily basis and have come to take for granted: Autocomplete. Autocomplete is the younger and cuter version of command line completion, which started life as a tool for speeding up the shell in the Berkeley Timesharing system. Command line completion, now in a improved and less aggressive version, then found its way into Tenex operating system, and was later adopted for use in the Unix systems that are widespread today.

Autocomplete as we know it today eventually found its way to almost anyone who uses a computer by appearing in web browsers, email clients and the shell of Microsoft Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

What’s interesting about autocomplete is that by trying to solve the problem of effectively getting valid input from the user, it became one of the first examples of using attention data to help the user. Read the rest of this entry »