Fun with Data
Ever gone looking for a certain pair of shoes — just once even — and had some banner ad follow you to every site you visit for a month trying to sell you those loafers? Or maybe you’ve accidentally stumbled into someone’s Pinterest board for five seconds and been pushed for a week to shop for chapel-length wedding veils and event florists? That’s because advertisers are using everything they can learn about you to sell to who they think you are based on your browsing habits.
A new browser extension called Floodwatch scrubs up all of those ads that you’re shown throughout the day and builds a profile of how you’re being advertised to. The project is a collaboration between a data firm called The Office for Creative Research (OCR) and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ashkan Soltani.
Mad Data Science
Previously, Disney resort guests were given credit card-sized access cards that allowed them entry to both their rooms and the parks and even enabled them to charge anything to their Disney accounts.
The rubbery MagicBands that replaced the access cards do all of the above and much more. They actually give Disney the ability to collect big data regarding their guests and their experiences, according to BMW’s Reform.
After all of the furor over Facebook’s invasive experiments on users’ news feeds, other startups running the same plays had to be thinking: “What do we do now?” In the case of OkCupid, their version of ass-covering is to come out loud and proud about the games they’ve been playing with their users’ hearts.
OkCupid posted a snarky, image-loaded essay on their blog today called “We Experiment On Human Beings!” where they make a list of hijinxes they’ve pulled on their users without them knowing, all in the name of science. In the post, OkCupid cofounder Christian Rudder points to how offended people were that Facebook published a research report based on manipulating users’ news feeds.
The Singularity is Nigh
Google obviously has some big goals. They want to make cars that drive themselves, index all of the world’s information, map the entire planet, put computers on our face and bring free Wifi to people across the globe. Considering those ambitions, it was really just a matter of time before they decided to Read More
Big Brother Is Watching
Most early attempts at Internet of Things (IoT) devices, like smart cutting boards and rudimentary wearables, haven’t proven their worth enough to become as important to us as our phones and laptops. But as of this morning, IoT startup Spark has raised $4.9 million to bring us smart objects that might actually be useful.
Until now, Spark has focused on selling home kits that let you take everyday objects like lightbulbs and cutting boards and hook them up with sensors and wifi. The new cash will help Spark move on from selling one-off DIY kits to providing thousands of cores for companies that want to use Spark to power IoT products.
Goooood Morning Silicon Alley!
Facebook gave the world a new reason to think they’re a bunch of scary, omnipotent puppeteers last week when it was revealed that Facebook data scientists tinkered with users’ news feeds to study the emotional impact it would have.
It all started when the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the study by a team of data scientists working with Facebook, which went mostly unnoticed at first. Once it made its media debut — likely in this small article from NewScientist — it caught fire, and the headlines are calling the study creepy, manipulative and unethical.
This is a guest post from Gary Sharma (aka “The Guy with the Red Tie”), founder and CEO of GarysGuide and proud owner of a whole bunch of black suits, white shirts and, at last count, over 40 red ties. You can reach him at gary [at] garysguide.com.
Don’t miss! ==> July 02 4th of July Takeover Party (DL Rooftop), I’ll be co-hosting w/ AlleyNYC & special celeb guests, 10 FREE VIP Passes ($75 each)!
Also 2 amazing FREE events @ ORRICK … July 15 Founder’s Guide w/ Joy Marcus (Bloglovin), Amanda Hesser (Food52) and July 17 Internet of Things w/ Matt Turck (FirstMark Capital), Patrick Ugeux (Clear Channel).
July 14 Fred Wilson talk on Bitcoin for charity fundraising. All proceeds go to CSNYC Foundation for Computer Science (led by my friend Evan Korth), providing access to Comp Sci education to kids in public schools.
Old Dogs Learn New Tricks
In a dark conference hall lined with carafes dripping coffee unworthy of the name, a group of engineers, academics, brokers and analysts gathered around a dismal pile of spreadsheets. You wouldn’t think you were at Google’s New York headquarters, except that Google representatives were on standby to make sure no one ventured from the hall into the rest of the building.
Hefty stacks of NYC’s utility infrastructure data awaited them. This hackathon’s mission: to solve the problem of energy inefficiency in New York City. The event was a “Data Jam” — a fun and bouncy term for a big data hackathon — organized by energy data startup EnerKnol as a part of New York Energy Week.
Popular opinion holds that wearable tech’s biggest drawback is the potential for Big Data to catalog our personal health data and use it to sell us more crap we don’t need.
Few realize, though, that wearing a machine around your wrist that counts your every step can also cause another problem: a total obsession with walking. At least, that’s the case in “Stepping Out,” a personal essay in the New Yorker by your cool European-seeming uncle David Sedaris.
Big data: it’s a term that tends to make people nervous, conjuring images of NSA surveillance and massive privacy hacks.
But those who work in big data will argue otherwise. Earlier this month, we spoke with David A. Steinberg, CEO of Zeta Interactive, a big data marketing platform he founded in 2007 with former Apple CEO John Sculley. Zeta Interactive helps its clients — like T Mobile, US Airways and Time Inc. — harness the copious data they regularly collect from their customers, and send out more effective, targeted advertisements.