Today I’m going to try a slightly different style of blog post. The reason is that today’s post is a “catch up” post, meaning that I’ve allowed a number of days to pass without posting anything here but since those days haven’t been empty, I want to document some of the things I found interesting but didn’t post. Doc Searls and Dave Winer both seem to use a style like this (though they post contemporaneously), in that they post short posts with links to the items and less commentary about those links than I do. So I’ll try that with this one and see how it goes. So here goes.
In a Wired News article titled “Why Data Mining Won’t Stop Terror,” Bruce Schneier says …
We’re not trading privacy for security; we’re giving up privacy and getting no security in return.
Let’s look at some numbers. We’ll be optimistic — we’ll assume the system has a one in 100 false-positive rate (99 percent accurate), and a one in 1,000 false-negative rate (99.9 percent accurate). Assume 1 trillion possible indicators to sift through: that’s about 10 events — e-mails, phone calls, purchases, web destinations, whatever — per person in the United States per day. Also assume that 10 of them are actually terrorists plotting.
This unrealistically accurate system will generate 1 billion false alarms for every real terrorist plot it uncovers. Every day of every year, the police will have to investigate 27 million potential plots in order to find the one real terrorist plot per month. Raise that false-positive accuracy to an absurd 99.9999 percent and you’re still chasing 2,750 false alarms per day — but that will inevitably raise your false negatives, and you’re going to miss some of those 10 real plots.
Daryl Houston, one of the Flock developers, wrote an interesting and, I think, useful post on Monday called “How I am using Flock.” Such posts from the developers help to enrich our understanding of what might be done with the program. For instance, I’ve already incorporated his idea about using the Shelf as a place for notes. Though this tool (the Shelf) isn’t yet as richly useful as it has the potential to be, I find it incredibly useful in blogging.
On a somewhat lighter note, Mike Neel recently blogged about an online version of the Johari Window, a metaphoric way to depict the divergence between our public and private personas. As a result, I was moved to create one for myself. If you are interested in filling out this little exercise about your view of me, visit this link and pick 5 or 6 words from the list to describe me. Once you’ve added your entries, you can see the results by visiting here. If you’d like to create your own Johari Window, go here.
Well, I’m sure there are more things I’ve examined and found interesting in the last few days, but that will give you some idea of what has caught my attention for now.