What are you revealing online? Much more than you think

gpeynon:

Very interesting this one. Thanks, Ted, for the original.

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

QWA-category-Reveal

What can be guessed about you from your online behavior? Two computer privacy experts — economist Alessandro Acquisti and computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck — on how little we know about how much others know.

The best indicator of high intelligence on Facebook is apparently liking a page for curly fries. At least, that’s according to computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck (TED Talk: The curly fry conundrum), whose job is to figure out what we reveal about ourselves through what we say — and don’t say — online. Of course, the lines between online and “real” are increasingly blurred, but as Golbeck and privacy economist Alessandro Acquisti (TED Talk: Why privacy matters) both agree, that’s no reason to stop paying attention. TED got the two together to discuss what the web knows about you, and what we can do about the things we’d rather it forgot. An edited version of the conversation follows.

I…

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A small but brilliant passage from Kurt Vonnegut

So following my post the other day concerning Kurt Vonnegut, I thought I’d share a quick passage with you from his book, Slaughterhouse 5. The moment I first read this I thought it to be a very clever piece of writing; not so much in its construction, vocabulary, &c., but more for the imagination and uplifting (yet poignant) message it holds.

Enjoy…

Bombers…It was a movie about American bombers in the second world war and the gallant men who flew them. Seen backwards by Billy, the story went like this.

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Agents berated because they don’t like Kurt Vonnegut? Pah!

I don’t know if you’ve heard the story of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions being submitted to 100 agents and ignored by 99 of them; but if you haven’t, it goes something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 10.37.03Frustrated at the lack of attention that his manuscript for Swap got from mainstream literary agents and publishing houses, Sam Moffie disguised one of his favorite novels first chapter – Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut – into a manuscript that Moffie called The Perfect Martini, and sent it to the top 100 literary agents in America. Ninety-nine out of 100 passed on the work – a feat that Moffie has used to highlight how difficult it is to get literary fiction featuring satire, humor and conventional culture getting kicked in the tush published. (wikipedia)

Amazing, eh?

Naturally, my initial reaction was one of shock. I mean if an author like Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse 5, Cat’s Cradle) can’t even get past the query stage, then what hope is there for me and others like me?

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20 words that once meant something very different

gpeynon:

Interesting one this. Thanks, Ted, for the original.

Originally posted on ideas.ted.com:

Words change meaning all the time — and over time. Language historian Anne Curzan takes a closer look at this phenomenon, and shares some words that used to mean something totally different.

Words change meaning over time in ways that might surprise you. We sometimes notice words changing meaning under our noses (e.g., unique coming to mean “very unusual” rather than “one of a kind”) — and it can be disconcerting. How in the world are we all going to communicate effectively if we allow words to shift in meaning like that?

The good news: History tells us that we’ll be fine. Words have been changing meaning — sometimes radically — as long as there have been words and speakers to speak them. Here is just a small sampling of words you may not have realized didn’t always mean what they mean today.

  1. Nice: This word used to mean “silly, foolish…

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What on Earth has happened to Apple?

I had a funny (?!) incidence the other day when my 5-year old daughter went onto iTunes and, thinking she was just listening to a song from Disney’s Frozen soundtrack, she actually went and bought the whole flippin’ album.

Not such a huge issue, I know. But to stick a fly in the ointment, I had literally just walked away from browsing a couple of albums that I really wanted, telling myself that I couldn’t afford them at the moment cos’ the kids need new shoes, swimming lessons, days out, food, &c.

So, on seeing my library filling up with a load of music that I really didn’t want, but would still have to pay for, I stopped the download and asked iTunes for a refund.

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 11.32.48Now, before you go thinking what an awful father I must be and that perhaps I should have just shrugged my shoulders and bought this album for her, let me reiterate two things: (a) she only wanted one track, and (b) I’m skint until payday.

Anyway, I emailed Apple and they very kindly gave me a refund. But the person on the other end of the email was surprising, to say the least. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always seen Apple staff as funky, laid-back types, who could easily be one of your mates. The girl who dealt with my issue, however, was quite the opposite. She seemed very, very nice, but oh my god, she also to seemed have the persona of an overly sycophantic robot. Maybe that’s what she is.

Just look at one of the emails I received…

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Chipping away at MY genre.

So I’ve just had another dent in my bid to become the biggest sci-fi author ever born (or something like that) as I watch what I thought was a new concept and perhaps even a new genre go to the proverbial dogs.

Actually, it’s not that bad, and I’m not so naive to think I’d created a completely new genre. But still…

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 19.23.46Nobody said it’s easy getting a story published, and I’m expecting my fair share of knock-backs when I eventually do set upon the task of trying to get a publisher. But I hadn’t expected to receive any knock-backs quite this soon in the process.

You see, when I initially came up with the particular genre of sci-fi I wanted to write, I thought the idea may be a little novel (pardon the pun). Not unique, perhaps, but at least different.

That – as it happens — is apparently not the case. It has been cruelly demonstrated over the previous few months that others may have already had the same idea as me, dagnabbit.

Still, looking at things optimistically, I’ve done my best to see the positives in all of this.

But I’ll get to that in a second…

After I’ve had a moan…

Ok, so deep down I knew I was never going to find anything entirely original. In all honesty, I just really wanted to write this book. In the back of my mind, though, was always the hope that perhaps there was something new in my novel, and that this would stand me in good stead to get people interested in reading it.

Nevertheless, to find something so close to what I have written is a blow.

But before I continue, it might be prudent to quickly explain what my genre is. Continue reading