Showing posts with label Information. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Information. Show all posts

July 23, 2019

Cool Atom Puzzle

Thought this was a pretty stunning puzzle of The Atom

With sections for: composition, atomic model, thermonuclear fusion, periodic table, radioactivity, positron emission tomography, fission of uranium, nuclear reactor, and atomic scientists. 

Wow that's a lot of information for a Puzzle and one very nicely designed at that. 

Congrats on putting this 1,000 piece beauty together. 

These things make me realize how very much I still have to learn--and in this case, it starts with all these small things. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 6, 2018

Training Them To Be Like Us

So I saw this in the supermarket. 

This kid was pushing the shopping cart with groceries in it. 

And a little sign at the top that says:
Customer in Training

His mom is nearby with the big shopping cart full of even more groceries. 

It's interesting how we teach our kids to be just like us and at the same time to be not like us. 

They emulate some things and they reject others.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

But no two apples are the same either. 

Teaching is an important component of parenting and schooling. 

We need to impart important lessons from the past, so children don't have to recreate the wheel in the present and future. 

But spitting out little clones is not helpful to innovation and the engine of "what's next." 

Sometimes, I envision that there is a really big war--maybe World War III--nukes are used and all our bits and bytes are wiped out, and we are thrown back to the Stone Age. 

All the teaching is evaporated in the vapor of the blasts.

All that's left in what's in the soul of the remaining. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 27, 2017

A Mountain Of Data

So I heard this interesting perspective on information and data analytics...

Basically, it comes down to this: 
"Most organizations are data rich, but information/insight poor."

Or put another way:
"Data is collected, but not used."

Hence we don't know what we don't know and we end up making bad decisions based on poor information. 

Just imagine if we could actually make sense of all the data points, connect them, visualize them, and get good information from them.

How much better than a pile of rocks is that? 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 23, 2016

All American Chair

Got to love this all American chair. 

Red, white, and blue. 

And stars and stripes everywhere. 

The only thing that I seriously wonder about is whether this chair was manufactured in the U.S. 

With the U.S. losing 35% of it's manufacturing employment between 1998 and 2010 (from 17.6M to 11.5M), due in large part to outsourcing, there is a good chance this chair was made overseas. 

Now manufacturing makes up less than 9% of total U.S. employment

Also noteworthy is the loss of 51,000 manufacturing plants or 12.5% between 1998-2008.  


Manufacturing are agriculture are strategic capabilities for this country and any country. 

It's not just what you know, but what you make!

Sure we can make things faster and easier with automation, but at this point there is a serious skills shortage (with millions of jobs going unfilled), and we need to safeguard the strategic knowledge, skills, capability, and capacity to make things vital to our thriving existence.

We need to be a more self-sufficient nation again and not a one-trick service pony. 

We need to use information to be better innovators, creators, developers, and builders. 

Information is great, but you can't live by information alone. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 23, 2014

Data 4 Ransom

The future of cybercrime will soon become the almost routine taking of your personal and corporate data as hostage. 

Once the hacker has control of it, with or without exfiltration, they will attach malware to it--like a ticking time bomb.


A simple threat will follow:


"I have your data. Either you pay for your data back unharmed OR your data will become vaporware! You have one hour to decide. If you call the authorities, you data is history."


So how valuable is your data to you?  


- Your personal information--financial, medical, legal, sentimental things, etc.


- Your corporate information--proprietary trade secrets, customer lists, employee data, more.


How long would it take you to reconstitute if it's destroyed?  How about if instead it's sold and used for identity theft or to copy your "secret sauce" (i.e. competitive advantage) or maybe even to surpass you in the marketplace? 


Data is not just inert...it is alive!


Data is not just valuable...often it's invaluable!


Exposed in our networks or the cloud, data is at risk of theft, distortion, or even ultimate destruction. 


When the time comes, how much will you pay to save your data?


(Source Comic: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 10, 2014

Needle and Button @ NYC Info Booth

What information do you get at this NYC booth...how to sew on a button? 

Or maybe this is why they call it "Big Data"? ;-)

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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October 6, 2014

Lock Or Peephole

So is that keyhole in privacy for a lock and key or as an exhibitionistic peephole?

The New York Times had an excellent article on this yesteday, called "We Want Privacy, but Can't Stop Sharing."

We are compelled to share online to demonstrate that we are:

- Important
- Interesting
- Credible
- Competent
- Thoughtful
- Trustworthy

The problem is when you inappropriately overshare online, you may leave youself little to properly disclose in building real-world intimate relationships in a normal give and take of "opening and closing boundaries."

Moreover, being like a lab rat or in a house of glass walls for all to watch indiscriminantly can leave us with feelings of "low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety."

Being under observation--even when it is voluntary--implies being open to judgement and this can drain us of our ability to be ourselves, creative, and take calculated risks.

We don't want to become too busy brushing our hair back and smiling for the camera and making everything (artificially) look like made for reality TV (e.g. Kardashian) perfection. 

The key to privacy is to disclose what needs to be shared, put a lock on what's personal, and not arbitrarily leave the peephole eyes wide open. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to g4ll4is)
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October 3, 2014

Data Like Clouds

So data is like clouds...

Clouds want to be free roaming the wild blue skies similar to how data wants to be searchable, accessible, useful, and so on. 

But with data, like clouds, when it rains it pours--and when data blows about with the windstorm and is compromised in terms of security or privacy, then we not only come away wet but very uncomfortable and unhappy. 

Then, as we actually end up putting our data in the great computing clouds of the likes of Amazon, iCloud, HP, and more, the data is just within arm's reach of the nearest smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. 

But just as we aspire to reach to the clouds--and get to our data--other less scrupled (cyber criminals, terrorists, and nation states)--seek to grab some of those oh so soft, white cloud data too.

While you may want to lock your data cloud in a highly secure double vault, unfortunately, you won't be able to still get to it quickly and easily...it's a trade-off between security and accessibility. 

And leaving the doors wide open doesn't work either, because then no one even needs an (encryption) key to get in. 

So that's our dilemma--open data, but secured storage--white, soft, beautiful clouds wisping overhead, but not raining data on our organizational and personal parades. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 22, 2014

For Everyone That Loves Reading

I thought this was a great picture for everyone that loves reading.

Whether you read from traditional paper books, newspapers, magazines, and journals, or you prefer reading from a tablet, smartphone, eReader, or browser. 

Reading expands our mind, challenges our thinking, and builds on our knowledge. 

Here's to reading...just about everything you can get your hands on. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 27, 2014

The Calorie Count Cookie

So we were out with family at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. 

And at the end of the meal, of course there were fortune cookies to be had.

As someone opened the cookie, and was about to plop it in her mouth, she said, "Ah, there goes another 100 calories!"

Then I thought for a moment, and said, "wouldn't it be great (for those of us watching our weight), if every food had an edible embedded chip and display that would flash the calorie count as you picked it up and were about to put it in your mouth. 

Rather than those esoteric calorie counts on the side of packages for G-d knows what serving sizes, you get a play-by-play count every time you reach, pick up, and are about to ingest the next big gulp.

I think having calorie counts tied to real portions and having these in your face in real time as you are eating could have a huge impact on portion size and weight control. 

It may not be sexy to see the calories in your face as you eat, but boy could it be healthy. ;-)

Copyright to Andy Blumenthal

(Source Photo: Me)
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July 3, 2013

Google Hypocrisy?

Google, which touts itself as the one that "organize[s] the world's information and make[s] it universally accessible and usable," ended its Reader product on Monday, July 1. 

The RSS reader was a terrific tool for aggregating content feeds on the Internet (and Google is a terrific company that benefits the whole world's thirst for knowledge).

With Google Reader you could subscribe to tens or hundreds of news services, blogs, and other information feeds and read it on your desktop or mobile device. 

Reader represented the Google mission itself by pulling together all this information and making it available in one reading place, simply and easily for anyone. 

While the Goolge line is that they killed Reader, because of a declining user base, I find this less then credible, since anecdotally it seems like a very popular tool that is helpful to people. Moreover, Google could've chosen to competitively enhance this product rather than just shut it down. 

So why did they end a great product that literally fits their mission perfectly?

We can only surmise that the ad clicks weren't there (and thus neither was the profit) or perhaps Google felt this product was cannibalizing attention from their other products like Google News (a limited aggregator) or from some of their paying ad sponsors or partners feeding other products like Google Glass.

We may never know the answer, but what we do know is that, in this case, Google sold out on it's core mission of organizing and providing information and abandoned their adoring userbase for Reader. 

Feedly and other more clunky readers are out there, but Google Reader is a loss for the information needy and desirous and a misstep by Google. 

RIP Reader, I think we will yet see you, in some form or fashion, yet again. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Laurie Pink)
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June 29, 2013

Back To The Computer Stone Age

According to Charles Kenny in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (20 June 2013), the Internet is quite a big disappointment--because it "failed to generate much in the way of economic growth."

While on one hand, the author seems to see the impact that the Internet has had--"it sparks uprisings, makes shopping easier, help people find their soul mates, and enables government to collect troves of useful data on potential terrorists;" on the other hand, he pooh-poohs all this and says it hasn't generated prosperity. 


And in a sense, don't the facts seem to support Kenny: GDP is still in the 2-3% range, labor productivity growth is even lower, and unemployment is still elevated at over 7%?


The problem is that the author is making false correlations between our economic conditions and the rise of the Internet, which already Jack Welch pronounced in 2000 as "the single most important event in the U.S. economy since the industrial revolution." 


Kenny seems to think that not only aren't there that many economic benefits to the Internet, but whatever there is we basically squander by becoming Facebook and Youtube junkies.


It's a shame that Bloomberg BusinessWeek decided to publish such a ridiculous article as its "Opening Remarks," blaming the failure of the Internet for economic challenges that have been brewing for decades--with high-levels of debt, low levels of savings, hefty entitlement programs based on empty national trust funds, the global outsourcing of our manufacturing base, elevated political polarization in Washington, and various economic jolts based on runaway technology, real estate, and commodity bubbles.


It's concerning that the author, someone with a masters in International Economics, wouldn't address, let alone mention, any of these other critical factors affecting our national economy--just the Internet! 


Kenny adds insult to injury in his diatribe, when he says that the Internet's "biggest impact" is the delivery of "a form of entertainment more addictive than watching reruns of Friends."


Maybe that's the biggest impact for him, but I think most of us could no longer live seriously without the Internet--whether in how we keep in touch, share, collaborate, inform, innovate, compute, buy and sell, and even entertain (yes, were entitled to some downtime as well). 


Maybe some would like to forget all the benefits of technology and send us back to the Stone Age before computing, but I have a feeling that not only would our economy be a lot worse than it is now, but so would we. :-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)



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May 24, 2013

Willy Wonka Wears Google Glass TOO

I can only say that my fascination with Google continues to grow daily. 

Years ago, I used to joke, "What is this G-O-O-G-L-E?"

But now, I know and marvel at how Google is information!

And every type of information from news and facts to shopping and entertainment: 

Research is Google.
eCommerce is Google. 
Entertainment is Google. 

Google this...Google that. 

Archive, index, search, discover, access...learn, grow.

Google has quite literally ushered in a new age of enlightenment, no really!

The focus is on information...Google's mission statement is:

"Organize the world's information and make it universally acceptable and useful."

If you believe that knowledge and learning is one of the core underpinnings for personal growth and global development then you can appreciate how Google has been instrumental in unleashing the information age we are living in. 

Of course, information can be used for good and for evil--we still have free choice. 

But hopefully, by building not only our knowledge, but also understanding of risks, consequences, each other, and our purpose in life--we can use information to do more good than harm (not that we don't make mistakes, but they should be part of our learning as opposed to coming from malevolent intentions). 

Google is used for almost 2/3 of all searches.

Google has over 5 million eBooks and 18 million tunes.

Google's YouTube has over 4 billion hours of video watched a month.

Google's Blogger is the largest blogging site with over 46 million unique visitors in a month

But what raises Google as the information provider par excellence is not just that they provide easy to use search and access to information, but that they make it available anytime, anywhere.

Google Android powers 2/3 of global smartphones

Google Glass has a likely market potential for wearable IT and augmented reality of $11B by 2018.

Google's Driverless Car will help "every person [traveling] could gain lost hours back for working, reading, talking, or searching the Internet."

Google Fiber is bringing  connection speeds 100x faster than traditional networking to Kansas City, Provo, and Austin. 

Google is looking by 2020 to bring access to the 60% of the world that is not yet online

Dr. Astro Teller who oversees Google[x] lab and "moonshot factory" says, "we are serious as a heart attack about making the world a better place," and he compares themselves to Willy Wonka's magical chocolate factory. (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

I like chocolate and information--and yes, both make the world a better place. ;-)

(Source Photo: here by (a)artwork)


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February 8, 2013

Going To An eLibrary


I've always loved libraries--the stacks of books and periodicals--all that information (almost like being a kid in a candy store)--and the quiet space to enjoy it. 

But in the digital age, where people are reading books and magazines on e-readers, news on smartphones, downloading videos with Netflix and watching shorts on YouTube--what is the new place for libraries?

Libraries will always provide a peaceful place for reading, thinking, and writing whether with hardcopy or digital media, but libraries need to meet peoples information needs, incorporate the latest technologies, and fit with the times. 

The Wall Street Journal  (7 February 2013) describes a new library in Texas that "holds no books"--it is all-digital--you "check out books by downloading them" to your own device or a borrowed one. 

While many people still like holding a physical books or paper to read--I know I do, especially when it involves anything more than browsing online--Generation Y is comfortable for the most part getting it all digitally--and then you can electronically highlight, annotate, and share as well. 

Some libraries are offering a mixture of paper and digital--actually "more than three-quarters of U.S. public libraries feature some digital books, and 39% offer e-readers for patrons to borrow."
One of the things holding back the all digital conversion are publishers who don't want to lose print sales, and so they won't offer all new titles electronically or they charge more for it than for paper copies. 

I envision that once we have 100% broadband penetration--where everyone in the country has Internet access--then we all can purchase or borrow the books, periodicals, music, and videos online from anywhere--in other words; libraries will become vastly virtual, instead of predominantly physical structures. 

With more information online than at any library in the world, information growing exponentially, and with online resources available 24x7 (versus set hours for a brick and mortar library), it would be hard for any physical library to keep pace in the digital age. 

Aside from physical libraries for traditional use, we need easy to use elibraries, where all information resources are available all the time, where students or those that can't pay can get it for free or at an appropriate discount--and where help is just a click away. 

Of course, many of us also don't mind a hybrid solution, like being able to go online and borrow or purchase a physical edition--maybe they can just drop ship it overnight or same day is even better. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Ellen Forsyth)

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December 3, 2012

The Information High


Kids_and_technology

A new article by Andy Blumenthal called "The Information High" at Public CIO Magazine (29 November 2012).

"In addition to being slaves to our things--including technology gadgets--we are also addicted to the data and information they serve up."

Hope you enjoy! ;-)

Andy

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 13, 2012

Let People Feel

Dr. Ben Bissell has a terrific presentation on Managing Change and
Transitions.

Basically Bissell explains that when we face Significant Emotional Events (SEEs)--major life changes (personally in our lives or professionally)--we go through 5 stages:

- Shock (i.e. Denial)--I Can't Believe it!

- Emotions (e.g. Anger)--How could this happen to me?

- Bargaining--Do we have to do it today?

- Depression (i.e. grief)---I can't take it anymore!

- Acceptance--1) Intellectual--If that's what they want! 2) Emotional--Ride the train or be run over by it.

When we have major life change, we can experience loss in terms of control, influence, respect, freedom, security, identity, competence, direction, relationship and resources--in essence, we are forced out of our comfort zone and must transition.

Since according to Biseell "all change produces loss (and fear), and all loss must be grieved, it is understandable why these stages of transition track to the Kubler-Ross model of the 5 stages of grief.

Bissell explains that getting through these stages is not quick and takes a minimum of one and a half years to make it all the way through the 5 stages--during which time, it's normal to feel abnormal. 

The problem is when you get stuck in one of these five stages, then you either:

- Get burned out and quit

- Act out and get difficult

- Become sick, physically or emotionally (e.g. migraines, chronic depression, etc.)

Some ways we can help people get through changes is to:

- Recognize and accept that these stages are normal and necessary.

- Give people a safe place to vent their feelings (i.e. low morale = unresolved anger).

- Increase information flow--when people are undergoing severe life change, you need to counter the tendency for distorted perceptions and help them see where they are going and how they will get there.

- Maintain other elements of stability and familiarity in the person's life--this gives comfort.

- Protect your health--your body, your breathing, your pace of eating and living, and your sleep.

- Give yourself time and space to play, be silly, be foolish, unwind (or else you will pop).

Bissell recognizes that the pace of change is continually increasing and "technology is seeing to that."

Therefore, there is an increased urgency to help people deal with change in healthy ways--working through the stages of transition.

However, from my perspective, when people suffer huge losses in their lives, they never really get over it. The loss is always there, even if it's just behind the scenes rather than out front like the first year or so.

When it comes to loss, people can experience enormous pain, which gets engraved in their consciousness and memories, and we should not expect them to just get over it.

In other words, it's okay to incorporate feelings of loss and grief into who we are--it is part of us and that is nothing to run from or fear. 

Just like good events can having lasting positive impacts in our lives, so do severe disruptions and grief.

People will progress and continue to heal, but they will always feel what they feel--good and bad--and we should never take that away from them.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to LiquidNight)

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August 18, 2012

How Good Is Our DNA

Where do we store the vast and expanding information in our universe? 

These days it's typically in 0 and 1s--binary code--on computer chips. 

But according to the Wall Street Journal (18 August 2012), in the future, it could be encoded in the genetic molecules of DNA.

DNA has "vastly more capacity for their size then today's computer chips and drives"--where a thumb size amount could store the entire Internet--or "1.5 milligrams, about half the weight of a house ant could hold 1 petabyte of data, which equals to 1,000 1-terabyte hard drives."

As opposed to binary code, DNA will store information as strands made up of four base chemicals: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T). 

Just like letters in the alphabet make up words, sequencing of these 4 base chemicals can store biological instructions (e.g. 3 billion for a person) or any other information. 

Using DNA for storage involves 4 key steps: 

1) Encoding information into binary code
2) Synthesizing the chemical molecules
3) Sequencing them in a string to hold the information
4) Decoding the molecules back into information

Overall, DNA is seen as a "stable, long-term archive for ordinary information"--such as books, files, records, photos, and more.

Researchers have actually been able to store an entire book of genetic engineering--with 53,426 words--into actual DNA, and "if you wanted to have your library encoded in DNA, you could probably do that now."

With the cost declining for synthesizing and sequencing DNA, this type of data storage may become commercially practical in the future.

And with the amount of information roughly doubling every 2 years, large amounts of reliable and cost-effective memory remains an important foundation for the future of computing. 

Frankly, when we talk about storing so much information in these minute areas, it is completely mind-boggling--really no different than the corollary of imaging all the stars in vastness of sky.

It is almost incredible to me that we have people that can not only understand these things, but make them work for us. 

With NASA's Curiosity Rover exploring Mars over 34 million miles away, and geneticists storing libraries of information in test tubes of DNA coding, we are truly expanding our knowledge at the edges of the great and small in our Universe. 

How far can we continue to go before we discover the limitations to our quest or the underlying mysteries of life itself?

What is also curious to me is how on one hand, we are advancing our scientific and technological knowledge as a society, yet on the other, as individuals, we seem to be losing our knowledge for even basic human survival. 

How many people these days, are proficient on the computer in an office setting, but couldn't survive in the wilderness for even a few days. 

Our skills sets are changing drastically--this is the age of the microwave, but knowing how to cook is a lost art to many. 

So are we really getting smarter or just engaging our minds in a new direction--I hope we have the DNA to do more than just one! ;-)

(Source Photo: adapted from here with attribution to Allen Gathmen)

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August 10, 2012

Friends or Foes

People are amazing creatures--they can be sincere and trustworthy or phoney and users.  How do you tell them apart?

I learned in enterprise architecture and information architecture that information is power and currency--i.e. that those who have it rule and those who know how to get it--are the kingpins.

They may get information legitimately through research, study, reading, review, and working with others or they may cozy up to others illegitimately, to more to the point--find out "what's going on?" what have they heard. or "what's the real scoop?" 

In some cases, it is merely benign networking and that is a healthy thing--or as they say, "it's not what you know, but who you know." 

But in other cases, some people may take it too far, and literally prey on others when they are vulnerable, trusting, or simply let their guard down. 

We spend a lot of our waking hours in the office , and therefore people's social needs manifest in work friendships, confiding in others, going out for a coffee, lunch, drinks, etc. 

However, at work, people are also competitive and can be ruthless in getting what they want, making themselves look good, badmouthing others, going for that "gotcha", and even stealing other people's ideas and hard work--now where did they leave that notebook?

So when you tell an associate something--are they trustworthy with your feelings, experiences, information tidbits or will they take what you share and use it for their own ends?

There are a lot of good, decent people out there, but unfortunately, not all of people are.

Is their face for real or a poker face?  Are they playing on your side or playing you?  Will they come to your aid at the moment of truth or use the opportunity to thrust the blade through your back.  

My father used to joke about some people being two-faced, and then why would they choose that (ugly) one that they have on. :-)

I always learned talk is cheap and actions speak volumes. So when someone asks about your latest project, your kids, or ailing parents--is it from someone who genuinely gives a hoot or from someone who'd like to get you off guard, even for that split second.

In the military, this would be related to psychological operations (PsyOps)--getting into the other's person's head, figuring out what makes them tick, and then using that to extract intelligence or inflict mental and emotional "blows."

In law enforcement, perhaps the equivalent would be the old "good cop, bad cop" routine--where one person offers you some cold water or a cigarette and tells you everything will be alright, while the other person slams the table, yells, threatens, and says "your going to be going away for a long time."

There are lots of ways to get into a person's head, under their skin, and get to that valuable information--without going to the levels of physical, "torture" techniques, some of which have since been generally outlawed such as waterboarding.

So which people that you deal with are good, genuine, helpful, and have integrity, and which are selfish, nasty, and cruel?

It is definitely a challenge day-in and day-out to tell who is who--and you shouldn't let the bad apples out there, ruin your trust in all people--you just have to make sure to look beyond the veneer--to see if the other person is more friend or foe.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to BlueRidgeKitties)

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August 3, 2012

FOIA Making Us Stronger

To commemorate 46 years since the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was passed on July 4, 1966, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) came out with a infographic showing the significant progress that has been made in government transparency and areas they still see for possible improvement. 

Similarly, Government Executive Magazine ran an feature article in June 2012 called "The Truth Behind Transparency," calling progress with open government as "tough to gauge."

The basic idea of FOIA as the website for Sunshine Week put it is: "the public's right to know about its government."

Obviously, as GovExec points out, one of the main questions over the years with FOIA is "how quickly and fully do agencies respond to FOIA requests?"

To much and too soon, and do you perhaps put at risk various sensitive information, jeopardizing elements of the functioning of government itself?

Too little and too late, and then is the opportunity for mismanagement, waste, fraud, and abuse simply an after fact?

As Beth Novek, former deputy chief technology officer for open government, described it, open government is a "shorthand for open innovation or the idea that working in a transparent, participatory, and collaborative fashion helps improve performance, inform decision-making, encourage entrepreneurship and solve problems more effectively."

Transparency can aid in accountability by shedding a light on leadership and its performance management. It can also be a great opportunity to bring new ideas and opinions to the fold, perhaps leading to better decisions and results, at the end of the day, for all. 

The challenge for government is to guard against any information risks to the safety and security of our nation.  

An informed nation, is a stronger nation--to me, it is a foundation of a government "of the people, by the people, for the people."

Government and the people working together, duly informed, to confront our toughest challenges and solve our greatest problems.


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July 6, 2012

The Information Is On You

There was a fascinating article in the New York Times (17 June 2012) called: "A data giant is Mapping and Sharing the Consumer Genome."

It is about a company called Acxion--with revenues of $1.13 billion--that develops marketing solutions for other companies based on their enormous data collection of everything about you!
 
Acxion has more than 23,000 servers "collecting, collating, and analyzing consumer data...[and] they have amassed the world's largest commercial database on consumers."

Their "surveillance engine" and database on you is so large that they:

- "Process more than 50 trillion data 'transactions' a year."
- "Database contains information about 500 million active consumers."
- "About 1,500 data points per person."
- Have been collecting data for 40 years!

Acxion is the slayer of the consumer big data dragon--doing large-scale data mining and analytics using publicly available information and consumer surveys.

They collect data on demographics, socio-economics, lifestyle, and buying habits and they integrate all this data.

Acxion generates direct marketing solutions and predictive consumer behavior information.

They work with 47 of the Fortune 100 as well as the government after 9/11.

There are many concerns raised by both the size and scope of this activity.
 
Firstly, as to the information itself relative to its:

- Privacy
- Security

Secondly, regarding the consumer in terms of potential: 

- Profiling
- Espionage
- Stalking
- Manipulation 

Therefore, the challenge of big data is a double-edged sword: 

- On one hand we have the desire for data intelligence to make sense of all the data out there and use it to maximum affect.
- On the other hand, we have serious concerns about privacy, security, and the potential abuse of power that the information enables. 

How we harness the power of information to help society, but not hurt people is one of the biggest challenges of our time. 

This will be an ongoing tug of war between the opposing camps until hopefully, the pendulum settles in the healthy middle, that is our collective information sweet spot. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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