Wearable Tech

Fitbit Is Now Officially Profiting From Users’ Health Data

Does my boss get to set that up for me, too? (image via Fitbit)

We saw this day coming, and we tried to warn you.

Fitbit has started to sell its trackers by the thousands to employers along with “sophisticated tracking software,” says a new report from Forbes. With employees’ permission, employers can then track their workers’ health, see how active individual employees are and foster a little healthy competition.

Wiring up companies so that employers can monitor workers’ health is becoming “one of the fastest growing parts of Fitbit’s business,” Fitbit CEO James Park told Forbes. Read More

Twitter Politics

Bitly CEO Not Surprised Twitter Finally Bought Its Own Tweet-Marketing Group

(via Twitter)

Twitter announced yesterday that it’s acquiring Gnip, a company that analyzes tweets, Facebook likes and Tumblr reblogs for marketers.

It seems like an obvious move. Why should Twitter sit by and let third-party companies profit from its massive content output without getting in on the fun? Still, marketing groups like Gnip have been profiting from social media companies for some time. Twitter is only the most recent in a line of tech startups trying to get in on the action.

Bitly, too, sat on its own database of social behavior data for years before recently making moves to license it. So Bitly CEO Mark Josephson isn’t surprised by the Twitter acquisition. Read More

Big Data/Small Minds

A Broken Valentine to the Hiring Process: Data Scientist Flips Over HowAboutWe.com Interview

How about we...don't? (HowAboutWe.com)

Imagine that you are having a Big Thought. You know, the kind of Thought that could Start a Conversation on the Internet, which is clearly the point of having Big Thoughts in the first place (as well as small thoughts/all thoughts, but let’s leave that aside for now). Let’s say your Big Thought was “I don’t like how tech companies determine new hires based on antiquated models of evaluation.” (In this hypothetical, you also didn’t read this month’s Atlantic cover story.)

How to express your Big Thought best? If you’re mad data scientist “Will,” you’d apply to HowAboutWe.com, get rejected, and then send a massive missive to the company akin to a sophomore year, 2 am drunk-email you’d send to the person who broke up with you on Valentine’s Day. AND THEN YOU WOULD CC A BUNCH OF MEDIA REPORTERS. Read More


Booting Up: Return of the Winklevii

Bitcoin bros. (Photo: Celebrity Net Worth)

Mayor Bloomberg has his own geek squad of statisticians who are using sexy, sexy big data to make the city better. [New York Times]

Zuck’s political ambitions continue to grow with the news that he will join a superpac with techies and Republican strategists that will focus on issues like immigration and education reform. Psst Zuck, if you’re gonna target Congress, you might have to start wearing an actual suit. :( [AllThingsD]

Lawmakers are already trying to ban Google Glass while driving. One step at a time, everyone. [CNET]

Hey all you people who care about privacy: look what you did to Google Reader! [AllThingsD]

The Winklevii are back, and they have a nicer Silicon Alley office than you. [New York Times]


Booting Up: Let’s All Make ‘No More Privacy Scares’ A New Year’s Resolution


At the eleventh hour, a security bug was discovered in Facebook’s “Midnight Delivery” feature, which made it possible to see and even delete users’ New Year’s messages to friends. Whoops! It’s been fixed. [TNW]

As part of a plan to cut costs, Zynga has shut down a raft of games over the course of December. The latest: PetVille and Mafia Wars 2. [TechCrunch]

Guess Nate Silver’s election-day triumph didn’t singlehandedly slay the gut feeling in favor of big data, after all: “What is intuition at its best but large amounts of data of all kinds filtered through a human brain rather than a math model?” [New York Times]

Techies we lost in 2012. [Wired]

“But there is a darker possibility, too, which is that some people will own workbots before other people do, and that the people who lack workbots won’t be able to keep up with those to do.” Happy New Year, ya’ll! [New Yorker]

Teen Beat

Parents Are Completely Freaked About Advertisers Tracking Their Kids

Teens! On the Internet! At the library! (Photo: flickr.com/vancouverpubliclibrary

Pity the parentals: They don’t just have to make it through the terrible teenage years, but now the Internet exists to make everything worse. According to a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, the most common worry isn’t stranger danger or cyberbullying or even embarrassing Facebook photos. Parents are worried about advertisers. Read More

Data Mining

Nate Silver’s Sweep Is a Huge Win for ‘Big Data’

Nate Silver Map

Like “pivot” and “cloud computing,” “big data” is one of those startup buzzwords that gets thrown around indiscriminately–partly because it means different things depending on the intel you’re trying to unearth and partly because it sounds like the kind of futuristic jargon that opens doors. Using machine learning to analyze big data? We can practically see the pitch deck already!

As The Economist noted back in 2010, the deluge of large data sets unleashed by the digital age, “makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done: spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on. Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.” Read More

Teach Me How to Startup

A Few More Details Emerge About CornellNYC’s Inaugural Instructors [UPDATED]

Artist's rendering. (Image: Cornell University)

CornellNYC is starting to come together. Applications are now being accepted; the infant school has a home with Google until the Roosevelt Island campus is complete. Now the Cornell Daily Sun reports that the debut roster is growing, announcing one name who’ll be doing splitting his time between Ithaca and New York and a semester-long visitor from San Diego.

That faculty lounge is starting to fill up! Provided the faculty lounge is actually David Karp’s sidecar.

Joining UCLA poachee Deborah Estrin (for the first semester, anyway) will be a Cornell professor of electrical and computer engineering, Rajit Manohar, and a University of California at San Diego professor of computer science engineering, Serge Belongie. Read More

Time Machines

Way Back in 2004, TheFacebook.com Offered to Out You to Advertisers

Mr. Saverin (therichest.org)

Nowadays Facebook is very cautious around the third rail that is sexual orientation. Sure, there’s a timeline icon just for gay marriage, but the company won’t serve up ladies seeking ladies to advertisers. But that wasn’t always the case.

Digiday has gotten its hands on an interesting piece of Internet history: the social network’s very first pitch to advertisers, from way back in spring 2004. The site was still thefacebook.com, it was only available on select college campuses, Peter Thiel hadn’t invested yet and that random dude was still chilling in the upper lefthand corner.

However, Eduardo Saverin was already talking up the site’s biggest advantage: data, and the targeting that allows advertisers to do. Read More