Social White Noise

Image via Wikipedia

The Business of Buses

Israel’s public transportation system is in the process of transitioning to a modern-age smartcard. Instead of buying a 10-fare ticket for a discount, Israelis may now use a money-card that loads for a discount. Next month there will be no more 10-fare discount tickets.

So long anonymity!

From now on, Dan corporation will know of every bus ride yours truly has made (every discounted one, at least). With this info they could plan bus frequency and routes better, but also misuse my information for evil marketing purposes. They even try to solicit passengers into allowing transfer of their data to third-side parties. When this database reaches criminal hands (and it will if there’s profit in it), every crook in Tel Aviv will know exactly when I’m not home. (Edit: Omer Gertel informs me that you may ask for an anonymous card. In such case, however, you are not entitled for a discounted fare.)

So long, precious collection of stuffed moose dolls!

I Feel Naked in the Database

The Naked Cowboy (front view)
Image by madaboutasia via Flickr

The truth is, we are now more visible than ever. Our movements online leave behind a cookie-crumb trail for others to follow. There might be some juicy photos of us laying around Google’s servers (although some times it’s for the better). Companies like Rapleaf are harvesting your social network (ever receive a friend request from a foxy Czech? Don’t accept it). Even if you untag yourself from those embarrassing photos a friend posted of you being drunk, might uncover them.

Even if you take numerous precautions, such as disabling cookies, there are still numerous ways to track you down on the web. (Thanks goes to Shay Bushinsky)

The web spreads over the world and over our day-to-day life, steadily increasing the data available about us. The amazing part is that many people are simply giving it all away. Who in his own good mind would sign up for broadcasting all of his credit card purchases? The answer: Many.


“Leave No Trace” is the leading motto when visiting American national parks. The truth is, once you’ve stepped into the woods, you’ve changed the woods. The best way to leave no trace is to never have been there in the first place. I’m not claiming you should leave Facebook. Just be more cautious. And if you do leave Facebook, this is the coolest way to do it.

While writing this post I encountered a post by Curt Monash in which he calls for government action. This is a good idea, but it will take time and would be hard to enforce. Besides, with all these sneaky ways of collecting data, it would be hard for any one government to keep track of the whole web, or even it’s own territorial information network.

My own proposed solution is White Noise. That’s a term for the static hissing you hear on your radio if it’s not tuned to a station. Wait, do you guys even have a radio nowadays? Anyway, I see a future for companies that would create artificial data about you that would serve to create ambiguity among malicious data miners. This could actually evolve into an arms race, similar to that of virus and anti-virus makers, in which miners and anti-miners attempt to uncover or cover your private data, respectively.

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Posted Thursday, February 4th, 2010 under Life 2.0.

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