Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.


Messages - Sidoh

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 820
16
Gaming / Re: Minecraft
« on: January 08, 2014, 08:53:14 pm »
It's a lot of fun. The server I'm running has a ton of mods. Vanilla minecraft is kind of about digging and building stuff. Modded minecraft is about automating everything with awesome machines.

17
General Discussion / Re: Online advertising
« on: January 08, 2014, 01:51:17 am »
The problem I have is that the cost isn't well known. Nobody thinks about how the advertising agencies work, or how Google and Facebook make their money. And they certainly don't directly disclose their business practices to the users. Instead, users see free software and services thinking that they're free (and they're not). That's pretty deceptive.

Sure, and it probably will never be known.

That said, I think building a product for sale makes it much more difficult to be innovative. That's exactly why I'm saying I actually like Google's business model. They make cool stuff. I don't mean to say it's "free" in the sense that they're not making money, but it is free in the sense that I'm not paying money. Companies like Google also al Maybe some day down the line there will be a day when it's obvious that the hidden costs were too high, but I'm not nearly as afraid of that as you are apparently.

I don't think their business practices are quite as opaque as you're suggesting. Some of the details are hidden, and some of those details are probably relevant to consumers, but again, I don't seem to be as concerned about those details as you are. I don't think I know less or that I've not thought about it as thoroughly. I think maybe I'm just less risk averse.

Why not directly disclose the cost to the user if it's so great? Why is it secretive? Maybe advertising agencies really suspect that users wouldn't appreciate the cost at all or maybe they think users wouldn't care.  Either way, a price tag is nice.

Because disclosing everything is probably bad for business in multiple ways, and I don't think it's at all fair to attribute all of that to justified scorn from their users. 

And by the way, Google is among many that buries its policies in lengthy legal jargon too. At least it makes users aware of policy changes.

Sometimes, I think legal jargon is probably more necessary than it seems. I think that stuff like privacy polices tend to sound pretty windy and convoluted, but a lot of that language is necessary to cover one's ass.

I can only speculate what kinds of information advertising agencies collect and how they use the data. Whether it can identify me as nslay, my Google ID, a cookie number, an IP address, or a behavior pattern is irrelevant. I don't like the idea that Google, for example, can build (and probably does) an almost complete profile of my web surfing history (since many sites host Google Ads). I personally don't want to be tracked and I am opted-in by default. I have to 1) know that I am being tracked (which is generally kept hidden), 2) Find a way to opt-out (if any).

Of course it's relevant how targeted advertising works. Consumer data used in online targeted advertising isn't stored server-side.

People tend to think it works like this:

As you browse the web, advertising companies build a profile of you. You as a person are tied to this profile. When you request an ad, the ad servers know who you are, take a peek at your profile, and decide what ads to show you based on that profile.

That's not how it works. It works like this:

The data itself gets placed in a cookie. You as a person are not identified when you're requesting an ad. Data relevant to you as a person is sent along in the request for an ad, but it's usually very boring data. More importantly, you have complete control over it. It's transient -- all you have to do is delete your cookies.

When it comes down to it, this "profile" model is generally a really bad idea from a business standpoint for multiple reasons:

1) It's far more difficult to maintain.
2) It's not nearly as flexible.
3) I think marketers would much rather use their own CRM data than some profile someone else has built. If some retailer wants to run an ad campaign targeted at some of their biggest spenders, they have that data. Why would they want to use some bullshit profile built by someone else?
4) As you mention, there are some serious privacy concerns, and despite your pessimism, it's a really important issue. It's not something advertising companies raise their nose at.

I don't mean to say that there aren't creepy ad-related things on the Internet that work by building a profile of you. I'm just saying it generally doesn't work as well as this much less scary data-in-cookies model.

If you don't want that data to be sent to advertising companies, there are quite a few things you can do to prevent it:

1) Set the DNT header.
2) Disable third-party cookies.
3) Opt out everywhere you can (it's more than you think). Services like SelectOut help by opting out of a bunch of things at once. (Amusingly, I worked with the guy who owns SelectOut. Perhaps even more amusingly, it seems to be having technical issues at the moment). Companies respect optouts. It's a PR disaster if they don't, and it's easy to test if they are.

And again, as I pointed out: Anonymous data isn't necessarily anonymous. Once you cross reference data, you could, for example, build a statistical model and accurately predict the identities* of users. It's been done before and I imagine advertisers do this too (predicting someone's identity* by their web surfing behavior would be an interesting learning task).

* : By identity, I mean some abstract server-side representation of a user (which is not limited to something like a unique number for example).

I think I responded to this already. Given what I know about the advertising industry, I think your fear about this is unjustified. Of course it's easy to do this, but I can tell you that my company and companies we work with won't touch data that's even close to uniquely identifying. Fields we deal with are very broad -- think stuff like "male", and "age 21-28". I'm sure that sometimes this data becomes uniquely identifying, but again -- it's stored in the browser. The information available to a website using HTTP headers sent along by the browser and some fancier stuff from Javascript already makes a browser uniquely idenitfying (link).

I think the more serious problem is when this data is tied to an identifier (like your name, email address, etc.). This is the cardinal taboo in online advertising. It's something that's (successfully, in my experience) avoided at all costs.

You want my support for Google: Be upfront and direct about the costs and practices. Otherwise, I think you're a bunch of hypocrites to your own motto "don't be evil." Surely Larry Page and Schmidt have nothing to hide from us, the unsuspecting user ... right?

If I were Google, I'd much rather lose the business of a few people than disclose everything about how I run my business.

I'd agree that those things would be nice, but I certainly don't expect them.

18
Gaming / Minecraft
« on: January 07, 2014, 02:30:30 am »
Who wants to play minecraft? I have a heavily modded server up and running. It'd be fun to play with some people.

Anyone interested?

19
General Discussion / Re: Online advertising
« on: January 07, 2014, 02:24:41 am »
I guess you're right. It wouldn't be snooping in the case of AT&T Fiber since it is disclosing its monitoring practices directly to the customer.

I guess I'm more referring to advertising companies, because I think their reputation tends to be a lot worse than it should be. I think a lot of what goes on in the advertising community is fairly benign. Of course there are exceptions, and those are to be abhorred, but I'm not going to allow those exceptions dominate my perception of the industry that allows the development of awesome things that are available to me for free.

The same cannot be said of some advertising firms that bait computer illiterate users into using free software and/or services and either bury their policies in long ToS agreements or just not at all (e.g. Google Ads will track me when I visit sites that host Google Ads without my knowledge or consent and independent of whether I use Google services or not ... I would call this snooping).

Yep, those companies are shitty and I wish they didn't exist.

I guess you and I have different definitions of snooping. I think it's probably inaccurate to say that Google is building a profile of you and running complicated algorithms on that profile to decide which ads to show you. If you see an ad for a website you recently visited, it's almost certainly the result of a retargeting/remarketing campaign. The website you visited specifically asked Google to place a cookie on your browser. They then bid a premium to display ads to browsers with that cookie. It's still quite anonymous -- there's nowhere that says "nslay visited website X." It's just a cookie in your browser that tells Google when you request an ad "this browser visited website X", and Google does with that information whatever is most profitable.

My impression is that these practices are either obfuscated or hidden from users for fear that users may not actually agree with those practices. That's just a guess though.

Buried in legal jargon is possible, but I don't even think it's that common in the case of most reputable advertising companies. I think a blast of bad PR is enough to kill a smaller company, so they're generally very concerned with being honest about what they do.

And how do you actually know that these types of companies take privacy seriously?

I work for a company that's pretty heavily involved with the adtech community. We don't like to brand ourselves as an adtech company, but we work closely with dozens of advertising companies, and we have very strict privacy requirements of our partners. I feel like I'm probably close enough to issue to have a reasonably accurate measurement of the culture.

Facebook is a reputable company that has repeatedly violated its own privacy policy in the past (that we know of). And Google's executive staff are outright hostile toward privacy. So yes, I generally take a pessimistic point-of-view. On top of that, there are numerous obscure advertising agencies that appear all over the web that most people have probably never even heard of. What could you say of these? Who would even notice privacy violations from obscure advertising agencies no one has ever heard of?

At the least, I think more transparency is needed.

I understand your point of view. I don't care much for these things either, but in my mind, the benefits outweigh the costs. Yeah, I don't generally agree with Google's attitude on privacy, but I tend to think almost all of what they do is pretty uncreepy. I think stuff like retargeting feel really creepy because it seems like some entity is following you around and watching what you're doing, but that's not how it actually works.

20
General Discussion / Re: Online advertising
« on: January 04, 2014, 11:21:40 am »
Anonymous data isn't as anonymous as you think. The most obvious example is the insurance information debacle in Massachusetts ... (an MIT student cross referenced anonymous medical information with voter information and was able to infer the governor's prescriptions and doctor visits).

The creepy aspect of the data mining is that it's often without anyone's knowledge or consent and no one knows how that data is used.

Sorry to go off topic.

I think it's silly to assume the shittiest things that happen in advertising/marketing are the norm (mostly since they're not).

Most advertising companies are pretty serious about privacy, and this includes ensuring that promises about data being anonymous are kept. It's not as simple as removing fields that are clearly identifiers. No one wants to touch a field that's even close to uniquely identifying.

I'm pretty aware of the shitty things that have happened, and that there are costs and risks involved with all of this. Despite all of that, I embrace advertising (and many of the "creepy" things that enable effective advertising) because it allows for awesome things to exist for free.

Like I said before, I'm aware that advertising isn't the only way for awesome things to exist for free.

Snooping is big business. A lot more than either you (@iago) and @Sidoh give it credit.

"Snooping" is inaccurate in the majority of cases, I think.

"Big business" as in there's lots of money to be made? Of course.

"Big business" as in it's a super big deal and it's going to make the world a shittier place? I'd disagree.

21
General Discussion / Re: Online advertising
« on: January 03, 2014, 03:28:52 am »
Living in the Bay, working at the Google.

Wow, I'm surprised!  I didn't think you would leave Canada, or work at a huge monopoly corporation. It's probably a nice place to work though.

Yeah, I didn't think I'd leave Canada either, but here I am!

I wouldn't call it a 'monopoly'. On one hand, I feel bad that 99.9% of my salary comes from ad revenue; on the other hand, they're constantly changing the world for the better, and they have really good policies regading privacy (privacy is SUPER important to them, because people will jump on anything) and lock-in (it's important that every app lets you view, manage, and export all your data). So that's a plus, at least. :)

I dunno -- I actually like their business model significantly more than just about any other tech company. It's much more conducive to innovation. Ads enable free stuff on the Internet. Of course there are alternatives, but I think ads are really the only thing lucrative enough to enable the kinds of crazy awesome things Google does without a ton of capital.

Ads were never a bad thing. Nobody is complaining about advertising itself but the data harvesting aspect that has become almost synonymous with advertising. Google's (among others) vision of the future is aligned with its business model: full and total annihilation of privacy (Larry Page has said this repeatedly over the past decade). It's that kind of point of view that people don't like ... not advertising.

EDIT:
Happy new year.

I didn't mean to suggest that anyone here is complaining, but it's something I constantly hear about from people in tech, and it seemed like a reasonably interesting topic. I do disagree with this, though:

Quote
It's that kind of point of view that people don't like ... not advertising.

I'm sure that's how you and plenty of other intelligent people feel, but I've met many people I have a lot of respect for that say pretty thoughtless things about advertising.

I don't want to discredit concerns about privacy, but I don't think I share the zeal for them that my peers seem to.

It's also important to recognize that the types of "data mining" that occur in much of advertising today isn't nearly as creepy as it seems. When you see ads all over the web for that gizmo you were looking at on Amazon, it's not because everyone knows you as a person are interested in that gizmo. It's just a cookie that's sent to ad networks that says "show me more ads for gizmos plz." Of course there are some slightly creepier targeting techniques, but even the ones that involve consumer data are anonymized pretty thoroughly. I'm probably not saying anything people here don't already know, but it's worth mentioning.

Happy new year!

22
General Discussion / Re: Online advertising
« on: January 02, 2014, 03:14:04 pm »
Living in the Bay, working at the Google.

Wow, I'm surprised!  I didn't think you would leave Canada, or work at a huge monopoly corporation. It's probably a nice place to work though.

Yeah, I didn't think I'd leave Canada either, but here I am!

I wouldn't call it a 'monopoly'. On one hand, I feel bad that 99.9% of my salary comes from ad revenue; on the other hand, they're constantly changing the world for the better, and they have really good policies regading privacy (privacy is SUPER important to them, because people will jump on anything) and lock-in (it's important that every app lets you view, manage, and export all your data). So that's a plus, at least. :)

I dunno -- I actually like their business model significantly more than just about any other tech company. It's much more conducive to innovation. Ads enable free stuff on the Internet. Of course there are alternatives, but I think ads are really the only thing lucrative enough to enable the kinds of crazy awesome things Google does without a ton of capital.

23
General Discussion / Re: What are you doing now?
« on: December 03, 2013, 01:45:20 pm »
Galacticraft? I never managed to get that running, but I was playing 1.6.4. Apparently 1.6.2 was more compatible.

I don't think so. They're just MFR mining lasers/prechargers. The fusion reactor is from gregtech.

I should post some screenshots. :)

Oh, did you know that HdxBmx27 (or whatever his nick was) wrote Forge? Small world.

Woaaah! That's really awesome. Small world indeed.

Work. Recovering from a breakup. Minecraft!

This! (Replace Minecraft with random video games and you have my life.)

How's life at Yahooooooooooooooo?

24
General Discussion / Re: What are you doing now?
« on: December 02, 2013, 06:30:43 pm »
Yeah. It's not been super pleasant. It needed to happen, though.

I'm playing on a heavily modded server a coworker's running. I just finished a fusion reactor and an orbital mining platform :)

25
General Discussion / Re: What are you doing now?
« on: December 02, 2013, 01:38:15 pm »
Work. Recovering from a breakup. Minecraft!

26
General Discussion / Re: Colorado's Supermax Prison
« on: November 05, 2013, 01:46:38 pm »
It seems like you're assuming use will increase if drugs are legalized. I'm not so sure it's safe to take that for granted.

27
General Discussion / Re: Colorado's Supermax Prison
« on: October 29, 2013, 09:54:57 pm »
Even then, there's still some argument to be made that drug cartel leaders are a product of their biological predispositions and of their circumstances. I agree that something has to be done with criminals in order for society to function, but I think people tend to be more sanctimonious on this subject than I'm comfortable with. In short, I think criminals either helpless in any effort to resist doing bad, or they aren't, and we should teach them how.

If they're mentally incapable of resisting their affinity for crime, then we should pity them and treat them with some dignity. I do think that they have to be kept separate from society for the most part, but the answer is not to let them rot in prison.

If they are capable of resisting an urge to commit crime, and are also open to being trained to do so, then we should treat them. If they're not willing, throwing them into prison and treating them like dirt isn't going to make it more likely.

28
General Discussion / Re: Colorado's Supermax Prison
« on: October 24, 2013, 04:29:59 pm »
Then they should at least be made comfortable. It's not like they made a bad decision that turned them into a sociopath. They're that way because they're biologically predisposed to be that way. They deserve pity more than scorn.

I generally agree that prisons should be more about rehabilitation than punishment.

29
General Discussion / Re: women and govt shutdown
« on: October 18, 2013, 08:07:30 pm »
I'm not sure what your point is. It seems completely irrelevant.

Yes, you can elect better people, but someone from one of the two parties is almost certainly going to win, so not voting for one of them is equivalent to not voting.

"elect better people". might as well say "make government better". i can make hard problems seem easy too, see?

30
General Discussion / Re: women and govt shutdown
« on: October 18, 2013, 02:42:42 pm »
No, I don't buy that at all. Citizens choose from a small set of shitty people who will run things. This is not equivalent to running things.

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 ... 820