Wednesday, March 27, 2019

DIKW AI OMG @gideonro

Well, this article from 2014 by Gideon Rosenblatt is up my alley.

It combines the idea of the data/information/knowledge/wisdom hierarchy (I wrote about this before) with the idea of artificial intelligence.

When it comes to developing knowledge, the first step is determining which signals have value and which are just noise. If we can offload that pattern-recognizing work to machines, we take a big step towards automating knowledge creation.

More of us are talking about "deep learning" than were talking about it in 2014, but Rosenblatt touches upon the topic.

Because it was 2014, however, he didn't address the 2019 topic of bias. (What if the data that you mine solely consists of Mein Kampf?)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Sometimes it isn't all about the money, but about the data

So now Google is in a fight with someone's aunt.

But it's not about flower arrangement.

Kieran Clifton, who is the Director of BBC Distribution & Business Development, explains why the BBC's podcasts are no longer on "certain Google products - including the Google Podcast app and Google [A]ssistant":

Last year, Google launched its own podcast app for Android users - they’ve also said they will launch a browser version for computers soon. Google has since begun to direct people who search for a BBC podcast into its own podcast service, rather than BBC Sounds or other third party services....

We...want to make our programmes and services as good as they can possibly be - this means us getting hold of meaningful audience data. This helps us do a number of things; make more types of programmes we know people like, make our services even more personalised and relevant to people using them, and equally importantly, identify gaps in our commissioning to ensure we’re making something for all audiences.

Unfortunately, given the way the Google podcast service operates, we can’t do any of the above.

Chris Welch of The Verge further clarifies:

Metrics have been a point of contention between podcast producers and the platforms that bring them exposure.

So, in an effort to see the other side of things, I poked around to see what types of audience data Google provides to podcasters. My survey may not be exhaustive, but I found this:

Types of reports

Listener activity report: plays & downloads

With the listener activity report, you can see playback and download statistics for your podcast or an individual episode.

The play and download statistics can be broken down per day for the podcast series or filtered to see the statistics for individual episodes.

Plays: The number of times a listener started listening to a podcast episode.
Downloads: The number of times a listener downloaded an episode to their device.

Subscriber report

With the subscriber report, you can see the total number of people subscribing to your podcast.

To be considered a subscriber, a listener must have added the podcast to the My Podcasts section of Google Play Music in the app or on the web. Subscribers can also choose to auto-download or get notifications for new episodes.

OK, perhaps there's something I missed, but if this truly IS the be-all and end-all of Google podcast reporting, the audience data that the BBC receives consists of number of plays, number of downloads, and number of subscribers.

That's it.

And we know that Google captures significant additional information about every entity that uses its service. I don't podcast, but I can easily derive all sorts of information about the people who access this blog, including information on the platform they are using to read a post, the geographic location from which they are reading the post, etc. If I were a major British broadcasting corporation, I would certainly want to know how many of my podcast subscribers are located in Manchester, and whether they are accessing the podcast on an old Android phone, a new Android phone, or something else.

And the BBC can presumably get these types of statistics from Apple. As of November 2018, Apple provided a slew of stats to podcasters, ranging from average consumption by episode (how soon do listeners literally tune out of a podcast?) to devices subscribed (people who decided that a particular podcast episode was so good that they chose to subscribe to the podcast). Geographic data is also provided, at least on a national level - I couldn't tell if it could be broken down to more local levels.

Now, The Verge's Chris Welch also raises the possibility that "This could also be seen as another example of podcast makers pulling back their content for the benefit of their own apps and services" - although in this case the BBC, as a public service broadcaster, has to abide by a Distribution Policy (PDF) that ensures that BBC programming is beneficial to the public interest, and not just to the BBC itself.

Of course, the content publishers have bigger issues with social media services - namely, issues about monetization and a "fair" (whatever that is) division of revenue that both acknowledges the social media services' role in publicizing the content, and the content providers' role in creating the content.

But this whole data thing could get important also.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Jive Talking - or Jive Meeting

The enterprise online meeting market is crowded. While personal users employ Skype, Facebook Messenger, and numerous other options for personal videoconferencing, there are a number of conferencing options for the enterprise market, including Jive, GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, Open Voice, and

...and those are just the options owned (acquired) by a single company, LogMeIn.

The only problem is that none of these tools work together.

That's about to change.

LogMeIn plans to integrate Jive's cloud telephony with GoToMeeting's cloud video conferencing and collaboration. The move to unify the LogMeIn products comes as the vendor chases rivals Zoom and Cisco Webex, which already offer integrated portfolios.

How much are the rival offerings hurting LogMeIn?

GoToMeeting's market share has been hit particularly hard by the rise of Zoom, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that many customers have opted to switch to Zoom as their GoToMeeting licenses have expired, Kerravala said.

And Wall Street has issues.

The company's share value dropped 16.4% after announcing a global leadership restructuring earlier this month and plunged 23% on the day they released third-quarter financial forecasts that fell short of analyst predictions, according to Seeking Alpha.

As an aside, one thing that makes enterprise software tougher is that it has to deal And enterprises have all sorts of firewall and other security issues to prevent people from using something like meeting software to hijack your system. (The threat is real - one common feature in meeting software is the ability for a user to grant various kinds of control to another user.) As an example, I've been invited to sessions twice, but was unable to join via computer on my corporate network - I had to install on my phone to access the session.

Ah, forget about it - let's just get rid of meeting software altogether, and have everyone move to Silicon Valley and live in million dollar studio apartments.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Gerald Cotten and the ultimate in security

This is an old story, but worth repeating.

It's the story of digital asset (i.e. cryptocurrency) exchange Quadriga CX and its CEO, Gerald Cotten.

Cotten was always conscious about security -- the laptop, email addresses and messaging system he used to run the 5-year-old business were encrypted....He took sole responsibility for the handling of funds and coins and the banking and accounting side of the business and, to avoid being hacked, moved the "majority" of digital coins into cold storage.

In some ways, this is the perfect security setup. Noted security expert Benjamin Franklin has been known to observe that three can keep a secret if two are dead. After all, when two people know a secret, social engineering techniques can be used to pry the secret from one of them.

Assume, for example, that the nuclear launch codes are only known by Donald Trump and Mike Pence. Even though Jared Kushner does not know the codes, he could social engineer Pence by angrily calling him and saying, "The President needs the nuclear codes NOW!" If Pence agrees to provide them, security is broken.

So Cotten's approach to security is understandable, and in fact it could even be classified as perfect.

Too perfect.

Because, you see, Cotten died late last year.

The problem is, [Cotten's widow Jennifer] Robertson said she can’t find his passwords or any business records for the company. Experts brought in to try to hack into Cotten’s other computers and mobile phone met with only "limited success" and attempts to circumvent an encrypted USB key have been foiled....

"After Gerry’s death, Quadriga’s inventory of cryptocurrency has become unavailable and some of it may be lost," Robertson said, adding that the company’s access to currency has been "severely compromised" and the firm has been unable to negotiate bank drafts provided by different payment processors.

This inability to access "about C$190 million ($145 million) in Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ether and other digital tokens" not only impacts the company, but also its customers.

But hey, the system's secure!