Monday, August 06, 2012

No one thought this was intrusive/creepy/dangerous? OR no one thought at all.
"ProPublica's Lois Beckett reports that the Obama for America campaign's new mobile app is raising privacy concerns with its Google map that recognizes one's current location, marks nearby Democratic households with small blue flags, and displays the first name, age and gender of the voter or voters who live there (e.g.,'Lori C., 58 F, Democrat'). Asked about the privacy aspects of the new app, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign wrote that 'anyone familiar with the political process in America knows this information about registered voters is available and easily accessible to the public.' Harvard law prof Jonathan Zittrain said the Obama app does represent a significant shift. While voter data has been 'technically public,' it is usually accessed only by political campaigns and companies that sell consumer data. 'Much of our feelings around privacy are driven by what you might call status-quo-ism,' Zittrain added, 'so many people may feel that the app is creepy simply because it represents something new.'" [Some worry that it identifies “targets” Bob]

This could be interesting if it came to the US...
"The Australian reports that brands in Australia could be forced to abandon their social media campaigns, after the Advertising Standards Bureau ruled that they were responsible for comments posted on their pages. According to the article, the ASB is poised to release a report attacking Carlton & United Breweries for derogatory comments posted on one of their official Facebook pages, despite CUB monitoring and removing those comments twice daily. Legal expert John Swinson commented on the decision, saying 'You simply can no longer have two-way conversations with your customers.'"
[From the article:
In a copy of the report obtained by Media, the ASB said comments left by people on the social network site constituted advertising, even though the company had not posted them.

Along with “too big to fail” comes “too big to manage?” I doubt it. More like too easy to pass the buck.
August 05, 2012
Levy Economics Institute - The Fix Is In—the Bank of England Did It!
The Fix Is In—the Bank of England Did It!, Jan Kregal, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College
  • "As the results of the various official investigations spread, it becomes more and more apparent that a large majority of financial institutions engaged in fraudulent manipulation of the benchmark London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) to their own advantage, and that bank management and regulators were unable to effectively monitor the activity of institutions because they were too big to manage and too big to regulate. However, instead of drawing the obvious conclusion—that structural changes are needed to reduce banks to a size that can be effectively regulated, as proposed on numerous occasions by the Levy Economics Institute—discussion in the media and political circles has turned to whether the problem was the result of the failure of central bank officials and government regulators to respond to repeated suggestions of manipulation, and to stop the fraudulent behavior. Just as the “hedging” losses at JPMorgan Chase have been characterized as the result of misbehavior on the part of some misguided individual traders, leaving top bank management without culpability, politicians and the media are now questioning whether government officials condoned, or even encouraged, manipulation of the LIBOR rate, virtually ignoring the banks’ blatant abuse of principles of good banking practice. Just as in the case of JPMorgan, the only response has been to remove the responsible individuals, rather than questioning the structure and size of the financial institutions that made managing and policing this activity so difficult. Again, the rotten apples have been removed without anyone noticing that it is the barrel that is the cause of the problem. But in the current scandal, the ad hominem culpability has been extended to central bank officials in the UK and the United States."

A tool for talking to my students.
The website not only allows users to translate acronyms but also gives them the option to translate common used Internet emoticons such as “XD”.

A tool for my students...
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Plag Tracker is a service that students can use to check their essays for possible plagiarism. To use the service students simply copy and paste text into Plag Tracker. Plag Tracker then scans it to find sentences and phrases that appear in other works on the web. If Plag Tracker detects a possible incidence of plagiarism, the link or links to the source is listed for students.
Plag Tracker does offer a "premium" service in addition to the free plan. The premium plan allows users to upload documents instead of copying and pasting text. The premium plan also promises faster scan times, but I didn't shell out the $15 to test that claim.
Applications for Education
The free version of Plag Tracker could be a good tool for students to use before they turn in a research report. Have students run their essays through it to make sure they haven't accidentally plagiarized or improperly paraphrased information they used in writing a report.
Click here for eight other resources for preventing and detecting plagiarism.

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