Atticus Rex writes "The fact that our social networking services are so centralized is a big part of why they fall so easily to government surveillance. It only takes a handful of amoral Zuckerbergs to hand over hundreds of millions of people's data to PRISM. That's why this Slate article makes the case for a mass migration to decentralized, free software social networks, which are much more robust to spying and interference. On top of that, these systems respect your freedom as a software user (or developer), and they're less likely to pepper you with obnoxious advertisements." On a related note, identi.ca is ditching their Twitter clone platform for pump.io which promises an experience closer to the Facebook news feed. Unfortunately, adoption seems slow since Facebook, Google, et al have an interest in preventing interoperability and it can be lonely on the distributed social network.
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An Ominous Cow Erred writes "In an odd approach to reaching out to otherwise shut-in sufferers of mental distress, an organization called Anxiety Gaming is betting that online intervention is the best way to reach people with emotional difficulties. Their argument is that the social nature of modern gaming makes it a valid means of reaching people who might not otherwise seek help through more traditional channels. According to their Facebook page, their future intentions seem to include distributing consoles to homes for foster youth, to encourage them to look to games for positival interpersonal communication."
Bennett Haselton writes "After initial abuse reports failed to shut down some anti-women and pro-rape pages on Facebook, a wider lobbying campaign succeeded in prompting a Facebook policy change. This has been alternately hailed as a vindication of the campaigner's cause, or derided as proof that Facebook can be cowed by humorless feminists. In reality, the success of the campaign was most likely the outcome of a mostly arbitrary and random process that required a lot of luck, just as the initial abuse reports didn't succeed because they didn't have the necessary luck on their side. Neither result should be taken to reflect on the merits of the campaigner's actual points." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Nerval's Lobster writes "One year and seven months after beginning construction, Facebook has brought its first datacenter on foreign soil online. That soil is in Lulea, town of 75,000 people on northern Sweden's east coast, just miles south of the boundary separating the Arctic Circle from the somewhat-less-frigid land below it. Lulea (also nicknamed The Node Pole for the number of datacenters in the area) is in the coldest area of Sweden and shares the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska, according to a local booster site. The constant, biting wind may have stunted the growth of Lulea's tourism industry, but it has proven a big factor in luring big IT facilities into the area. Datacenters in Lulea are just as difficult to power and cool as any other concentrated mass of IT equipment, but their owners can slash the cost of cooling all those servers and storage units simply by opening a window: the temperature in Lulea hasn't stayed at or above 86 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours since 1961, and the average temperature is a bracing 29.6 Fahrenheit. Air cooling might prove a partial substitute for powered environmental control, but Facebook's datacenter still needed 120megawatts of steady power to keep the social servers humming. Sweden has among the lowest electricity costs in Europe, and the Lulea area reportedly has among the lowest power costs in Sweden. Low electricity prices are at least partly due to the area's proximity to the powerful Lulea River and the line of hydroelectric dams that draw power from it."
vinces99 writes "A new analysis shows that world population could reach nearly 11 billion by the end of this century, according to a United Nations report issued June 13. That's about 800 million, or about 8 percent, more than the previous projection issued in 2011. The change is largely because birth rates in Africa have not declined as quickly as had been expected, according to Adrian Raftery of the University of Washington's Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences. The U.N. estimates use statistical methods developed at the center. The current African population is about 1.1 billion and it is now expected to reach 4.2 billion, nearly a fourfold increase, by 2100, Raftery said."
judgecorp writes "The Demo VC funding event has hit Europe (Moscow, specifically), and it is very clear that start-ups in Europe have to compete hard for any venture capital. In its 20 year history in Silicon Valley, Demo is famous for highlighting subsequent success stories such as Netscape, Skype and Salesforce.com. Demo Europe began with a venture capitalist waxing lyrical on how the shortage of funds means he gets plenty of choice where to put his money. Promising tech start-ups have a series of hoops to jump through including brief pitches. The most promising candidates so far include a Russian social VoIP network and a shared whiteboard."
Despite a hue and cry from disappointed users, Google has not made any moves to reverse its decision to close down Google Reader on the first of July, just a few weeks away. Despite the name — and the functions it started out with in 2001 — Reader has become more than a simple interface to RSS feeds; Wikipedia gives a concise explanation of how it evolved from just a few features to a full-blown platform of its own, incorporating social-sharing features of the kind that have become expected in many online apps. Those features have morphed over the years along with Google's larger social strategies, along the way upsetting some readers who'd grown used to certain features. If you're a Google Reader user, will you be replacing it with another aggregator?
cervesaebraciator writes "In the wake of recent revelations from Edward Snowden, apologists for the state security apparatus are predictably hitting the airwaves. Some are even 'glad' the NSA has been doing this. A major point they emphasize is that the content of calls have remained private and it is only the metadata that they're interested in. But given how much one can tell from interpersonal connections, does the surveillance only represent a 'modest encroachments on privacy?' It is easy enough to imagine how metadata on phone calls made to and from a medical specialist could be more revealing than we'd like. But social network analysis can reveal far more. Duke sociologist Kieran Healy, in a light-hearted but telling article, shows how one father of the American Revolution could have been identified using the simplest tools of social network analysis and only a limited dataset."
An anonymous reader writes "The Register carries the funniest, most topical IT story of the year: 'Facebook's first data center ran into problems of a distinctly ironic nature when a literal cloud formed in the IT room and started to rain on servers. Though Facebook has previously hinted at this via references to a 'humidity event' within its first data center in Prineville, Oregon, the social network's infrastructure king Jay Parikh told The Reg on Thursday that, for a few minutes in Summer, 2011, Facebook's data center contained two clouds: one powered the social network, the other poured water on it.'"
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Prachatai.com: "Thailand's Rangers Task Force 45, in response to Army policy, has put its troops to the task of promoting and protecting the monarchy in cyber space, claiming to have posted 1.69 million comments on webboards and social media during a 4-month period of last year ... According to the video clip, the Army Chief has approved the establishment of an army internet network to promote and protect the monarchy by monitoring websites and webboards which have content alluding to the monarchy and countering them by posting comments which worship the institution. ...The unit's military operations personnel provide the troops with information, or what to post, and set them targets for the number of posts they must complete."
theodp writes "It was the best of movies; it was the worst of movies. GeekWire reports that The Internship — the new comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two 40-something guys who get internships at Google — is getting high praise from Googlers but low marks from movie critics. Google CEO Larry Page called the movie 'a lot of fun' in his Google+ post, while fellow Google exec Vic Gundotra gushed, 'I laughed a lot while watching this movie!' After screening a sneak preview with Google companions, Wired's Steven Levy wrote, 'From Google's point of view, the movie could not possibly be better.' USA Today's take, on the other hand, is that 'Google has never looked lamer thanks to The Internship.' And the NY Daily News calls the movie 'an unfunny valentine to Google.' But perhaps the unkindest cut of all comes from the NY Post, who suggests that 'maybe The Internship was secretly funded by Bing.' Ouch." Update: 06/07 20:02 GMT by T : Peter Wayner saw the movie (a "harmless bit of summer fluff"), and his full-length take below takes on some of the tech-company misconceptions that the film-makers gleefully adopted as script material.
benrothke writes "Phil Lapsley calls his book 'the untold story of the teenagers and outlaws who hacked Ma Bell.' The story is an old one, going back to the early 1960's. Lapsley was able to track down many of the original phone phreaks and get their story. Many of them, even though the years have passed, asked Lapsley not to use their real names." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
savuporo writes "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation are considering technological solutions for people to stop using their cellphones while driving. Proximity detectors or requiring physical link with the car are the solutions under the scope. From the article: 'NHTSA wants automakers to make it impossible to enter text for messaging and internet browsing while the car is in motion, disable any kind of video functionality and prevent text-based information such as social media content or text messages from being displayed.' Obviously these regulations would need to go beyond cellphones, as laptop, tablet or any other gadget with a 3G data connection or even on a wi-fi hotspot made by your phone would be equally distracting."
dcollins writes "Facebook has a 'Download Info' capability that I've used regularly since 2010 to archive, backup, and search all the information that I've written and shared there (called 'wall posts'). But I've discovered that sometime in the last few months, Facebook silently removed this largest component from the Downloaded Info, locking up all of your posted information internally where it can no longer be exported or digitally searched. Will they reverse course if this is publicized and they're pressured on the matter?" It does appear that the archive of your wall posts is now only available through the not-very-useful Activity Log.
Lucas123 writes "At the Consumerization of IT conference in San Francisco this week, several speakers agreed the next big shift in the corporate establishment will not be technological but social, away from top-down responsibility for innovation and change. Businesses are on the cusp of a leadership revolution because millennials moving into the workforce are 'the most authority-phobic' generation in history, according to Gary Hamel, a management educator at the London School of Business. Not only should low-level workers be incentivized for being creative, they should be given the power to spend corporate money on research and development, Hamel said. By doing that, companies will diversity their experimental capital. 'If you don't do that, you'll never change that innovation curve,' he said. Hamel was not alone. Kevin Jones, a consulting social & organizational strategist for NASA's Marshall and Goddard Space Flight Centers, agreed that traditional corporate culture needs a radical shakeup. 'The values of management today are different from the values of the social enterprise and different from the values of the consumerization of IT — and they're not mixing very well,' Jones said. 'That's where we're having the battle.'"
rye writes "What is your computer actually DOING when you click on a link in a phishing email? Sherri Davidoff of LMG Security released these charts of an infected computer's behavior after clicking on a link in a Blackhole Exploit Kit phishing email. You can see the malware 'phone home' to the attacker every 20 minutes on the dot, and download updates to evade antivirus. She then went on to capture screenshots and videos of the hacker executing a man-in-the-browser attack against Bank of America's web site. Quoting: 'My favorite part is when the attacker tried to steal my debit card number, expiration date, security code, Social Security Number, date of birth, driver's license number, and mother's maiden name– all at the same time. Nice try, dude!!'"
Dawn Kawamoto writes "Twitter's free social media video app Vine is now on Android. But while the app rocked on the iOS platform, especially among teens, its move to Android has...dare I say...been a bit of a tangled mess. It launched on Google play without the capability for the two apps to sync, nor does it have such features as front-facing camera, search, mentions and hashtags. Another biggie is it doesn't yet allow users to post their six-second videos to Facebook. Vine says it's working on these features and all should be good soon. For now, however, a swing on the vine may not be a robust experience."
ananyo writes "Researchers have shown for the first time that the act of mating induces permanent chemical modifications in the chromosomes (epigenetic changes), affecting the expression of genes that regulate sexual and monogamous behavior in prairie voles. Prairie voles have long been of interest to neuroscientists and endocrinologists who study the social behavior of animals, in part because this species forms monogamous pair bonds — essentially mating for life. The voles' pair bonding, sharing of parental roles and egalitarian nest building in couples makes them a good model for understanding the biology of monogamy and mating in humans (abstract)."
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Turkey's prime minister on Sunday rejected claims that he is a 'dictator,' dismissing protesters as an extremist fringe even as thousands returned to the landmark Istanbul square that has become the site of the fiercest anti-government outburst in years. With Turkish media otherwise giving scant reports about the protests, many turned to social media outlets for information on the unrest. 'There is now a menace which is called Twitter,' Erdogan said. 'The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.' 'The people are finally standing up, speaking up and fighting for their rights,' said Hakan Tas, a deputy for the Left Party in Berlin's local assembly, who took part in the protest."