The NYTimes Dives Into Social Networking

TimesPeople FAQ – The New York Times

What is TimesPeople?

TimesPeople is a social network for Times readers. But it’s not a social network like Facebook or MySpace — you won’t have Times friends, and it won’t get you Times dates. Instead, you’ll assemble a network of Times readers. Then you’ll be able to share interesting things on with others in the network. For example, when you recommend an article, comment on a blog post, or rate a movie or restaurant, these activities will become visible to other TimesPeople users in a special toolbar at the top of every page. You’ll also have a personal page that keeps track of your TimesPeople activities and lets you browse your network of readers.

TimesPeople is a great way to discover things on that you might not otherwise have found and to share your discoveries with other readers.

How does TimesPeople work?

Once you have signed up, TimesPeople begins to collect the public actions you take on Other readers can choose to see your activity, and you can choose to see theirs. You’ll have several ways to begin building your network: use the built-in search box, select from a list of suggested users you might know, or import your e-mail contacts. And you’ll continue to expand your network simply by using TimesPeople and encountering other readers.

The Story of Unigo

The College Issue – The Tell-All Campus Tour

On Unigo, the information is all free — “free,” of course, understood as a synonym for “accompanied by advertisements” — and with the exception of brief editorial overviews of each of the 267 colleges featured at start-up, all of it is voluntarily provided by current students at those colleges. “For so long, the colleges have been able to have this stranglehold on the P.R. image of their school,” Goldman said recently in his office, decorated boy-workaholic-style with nothing but an open box of Frosted Flakes and a toy robotic dinosaur. “It’s just harder to look at them as the main source of information. If you’re a college student, you are as much of an expert on being a student at that college as anyone.”

The beauty part is that Unigo has not only declined to enlist the colleges’ help with this “national grass-roots movement,” as Goldman likes to refer to it, but the company has also kept it a secret from them. […]

Uses of New Technologies

Picture Taken by Cellphone Leads to Sex-Crime Arrest

She sensed the presence of someone too close to her on the stairs. She turned and saw a man peering into his cellphone. A passer-by confirmed her suspicion: The man had taken photographs under her skirt.

“I said I had to do something,” the woman said on Thursday. “Since he is taking pictures of me, I am going to take pictures of him.”

She said she followed the man onto the southbound No. 1 train, walked through several cars and found him on a seat. She prepared her cellphone camera. He looked at her and mumbled something. “And I told him ‘smile’ because I am going to the police,” she said.

She took a picture, e-mailed it to the police and filed a report. On Tuesday, an officer at the 110th Street subway station at Central Park West approached a man matching the photograph, the police said. […]

On Sept. 9, the police started tapping into the ubiquitous technology by inviting people who witness crimes to take pictures with their cellphone cameras, if safety permits, and to send them along when they make 911 calls.

Sneaking Around

“If I told you how big the problem was, I’d have to kill you.” Excellent — another excuse to duck oversight. I look forward to finding out what the next one will be: Cyber Attack Data-Sharing Is Lacking, Congress Told (pdf)

U.S. intelligence agencies are unable to share information about foreign cyber attacks against companies for fear of jeopardizing intelligence-gathering sources and methods, cyber security expert Paul B. Kurtz told lawmakers yesterday.

Kurtz, who served on the National Security Council in the Clinton and Bush administrations, spoke at the first open hearing on cyber security held by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. […]

Some testimony has been posted:

  • Paul Kurtz
    Former Senior Director, Critical Infrastructure Protection
    White House Homeland Security Council

  • Amit Yoran
    Former Director, National Cyber Security Division
    Department of Homeland Security

  • John Nagengast
    Former Assistant Deputy Director
    National Security Agency


Glenn Greenwald has a field day: What does Sarah Palin have to hide in her Yahoo emails?

Some adolescent criminal (in mentality if not age) yesterday hacked into a Yahoo account used by Sarah Palin for both personal and business email, and various sites — including Gawker — posted some of the emails online. […]

[I]t’s really a wondrous, and repugnant, sight to behold the Bush-following lynch mobs on the Right melodramatically defend the Virtues of Privacy and the Rule of Law. These, of course, are the same authoritarians who have cheered on every last expansion of the Lawless Surveillance State of the last eight years — put their fists in the air with glee as the Federal Government seized the power to listen to innocent Americans’ telephone calls; read our emails; obtain our banking, credit card, and library records; and create vast data bases of every call we make and receive and every prescription we fill and every instance of travel and other vast categories of information that remain largely unknown — all without warrants or oversight of any kind and often in clear violation of the law.

The same political faction which today is prancing around in full-throated fits of melodramatic hysteria and Victim mode (their absolute favorite state of being) over the sanctity of Sarah Palin’s privacy are the same ones who scoffed with indifference as it was revealed during the Bush era that the FBI systematically abused its Patriot Act powers to gather and store private information on thousands of innocent Americans; that Homeland Security officials illegally infiltrated and monitored peaceful, law-abiding left-wing groups devoted to peace activism, civil liberties and other political agendas disliked by the state; and that the telephone calls of journalists and lawyers have been illegally and repeatedly monitored.

And the same Surveillance State Worshipper leading today’s screeching — Michelle Makin — spent the last several years attacking those who objected to the President’s illegal spying program as “privacy crusaders” and “constitutional absolutists” and “civil liberties absolutists”.

Shouldn’t these same people be standing today up and insisting that if Sarah Palin has done nothing wrong, then she should have nothing to hide? […]

[…] Last night, O’Reilly angrily lamented that “we have no privacy left in this country anymore.” That’s the very same Bill O’Reilly who went on television last October to gravely warn that John Edwards was a “Far Leftist” and detailed all the dark things that would happen if Edwards were elected President:

Would you support President John Edwards? Remember, no coerced interrogation, civilian lawyers in courts for captured overseas terrorists, no branding the Iranian guards terrorists, and no phone surveillance without a specific warrant.

Nice to see him having so much fun with this — I just don’t know if irony is really a workable political advocacy strategy. But it would be nice to see some of the proponents for the surveillance state squirm, even a little bit.

More info: Palin’s Yahoo e-mail account hacked

See also Hacking Sarah Palin from Slate and Hackers leak e-mails from Palin account (pdf), both of which go into more detail into the interesting issue surrounding the decision by Alaskan officials to use private email accounts to conduct state business, rather than using the accounts supplied by the state for business use. Also Hackers Access Palin’s Personal E-Mail, Post Some Online (pdf)

A Privacy Decision Facing An Uphill Fight

Judge Limits Searches Using Cellphone Data (pdf)

The government must obtain a warrant based on probable cause of criminal activity before directing a wireless provider to turn over records that show where customers used their cellphones, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, in the first opinion by a federal district court on the issue.

Judge Terrence F. McVerry of the Western District of Pennsylvania rejected the government’s argument that historical cellphone tower location data did not require probable cause.

The ruling could begin to establish the standard for such requests, which industry lawyers say are routine as more people carry cellphones that reveal their locations. Around the country, magistrate judges, who handle matters such as search warrants, have expressed concern about the lack of guidance.

The Washington Post has a two article series based on Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency, focusing on his role in leading the surveillance program

  • Conflict Over Spying Led White House to Brink (pdf)

  • Cheney Shielded Bush From Crisis (pdf)

Exporting Rights

A story that’s been written up many places, but a succinct presentation of another kind of “chilling effect:” ‘Libel Tourism’ – When Freedom of Speech Takes a Holiday

The lawsuit is a case of what legal experts are calling “libel tourism.” Ms. Ehrenfeld is an American, and “Funding Evil” was never published in Britain. But at least 23 copies of the book were sold online, opening the door for the lawsuit. When Ms. Ehrenfeld decided not to defend the suit in Britain, Mr. bin Mahfouz won a default judgment and is now free to sue to collect in the United States.

The upshot is a First Amendment loophole. In the Internet age, almost every American book can be bought in Britain. That means American authors are subject to being sued under British libel law, which in some cases puts the initial burden on the defendant to prove the truth of what she has written. British libel law is so tilted against writers that the United Nations Human Rights Committee criticized it last month for discouraging discussion of important matters of public interest.

Why it’s not just called “jurisdiction shopping” is beyond me.

Facebook? MySpace? Why Not Go All Out!

Spit Parties for Folks Who Want to Break Their Own DNA Code

COMPREHENSIVE DNA tests may one day be a normal part of medical care, but right now 23andMe’s efforts to make genetic testing an impulse buy disturbs many researchers.

“People think if you have money to spend on this, why not buy a test instead of a model train for Christmas,” said Dr. Alan Guttmacher, acting director of the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health. “It can be neat and fun, but it can also have deep psychological implications, both for how you view yourself and how others view you, depending on who else has access to the information.”

Ms. Wojcicki and Linda Avey, the company’s other founder, say their chief goal is to advance science by compiling a database of genetic information that medical researchers can tap (while protecting customers’ anonymity). Customers cannot opt out of having their information anonymously shared, but they can refuse to participate in surveys focusing on specific traits.

OT: Technologies and Evidence

A bizarre one: India’s Novel Use of Brain Scans in Courts Is Debated

Now, well before any consensus on the technology’s readiness, India has become the first country to convict someone of a crime relying on evidence from this controversial machine: a brain scanner that produces images of the human mind in action and is said to reveal signs that a suspect remembers details of the crime in question.

For years, scientists have peered into the brain and sought to identify deception. They have shot infrared beams through liars’ heads, placed them in giant magnetic resonance imaging machines and used scanners to track their eyeballs. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States has plowed money into brain-based lie detection in the hope of producing more fruitful counterterrorism investigations.

The technologies, generally regarded as promising but unproved, have yet to be widely accepted as evidence — except in India, where in recent years judges have begun to admit brain scans. […]