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Our conversation had barely started when privacy activist Betty Ostergren interrupted me to say that she had found my full name, address, Social Security number and a digital image of my signature on the Web.

I had set out to discover just how much information I could find about myself online, and Ostergren, who runs the Virginia Watchdog Web site, was my very first call. If this was what could be uncovered in just a few minutes, what else would I find? Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Haven't read the whole thing yet.
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I mean, I hope that this is actually a parody site rather than an honest-to-[INSERT DEITY HERE] real phenomenon, because if it's real...well, it's depressing, that's what it is.
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An interesting exploration of one piece of the infrastructure underlying certain terrorist organizations.

Any bets on whether the, um, activist first mentioned in the article has already been tracked down and (at least) interviewed by humorless men in suits?
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Yes, I make my living off the dangers of the Internet.

But seriously, guys, why don't we have a "Streets are Dangerous" month while we're at it? Kids get _killed_ every year from playing in the street, or walking down the wrong street.

Oh, and "Water is Dangerous" too.

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If you honestly think that the Internet is an "echo chamber" and that there's no point to online discourse (or, for that matter, voting), in part because there's too much crap on the Internet, please do us all a favor and shut the hell up. Don't write online columns or blogs that explore your views at legnth. It's the least that you can do.

(Side note: please also avoid using metaphors to describe the Internet. (This goes double for anything including the word "superhighway".) They make you sound ignorant (which may be a plus, as it makes establishing this important fact easier), but it makes my teeth ache.)

This has been a public service announcement. Thank you for listening.

(Yes, I know that no one to whom these comments apply will read this. Leave me alone, I'm self-indulgently venting.)
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Interesting and possibly even of practical use. Here's a link to some more detail, which in turn links to a technical discussion of how such a map can be created:

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via BoingBoing: talk on Identity 2.0

A talk given at the O'Reilly Open Source conference. It's an impressive (and very slick) presentation. So slick, in fact, that it's hard for me to tell whether the author has (whether intentionally or not) swept something the size of New Jersey under the rug. But it's worth watching, especially for people who are looking for ways to intelligently jazz up their talks. (The style is apparently copied from that of Lawrence Lessig: credit where due.)

One minor note on the presentation: he explicitly conflates identity with reputation. I think that this makes identity more complicated than necessary. (I also think that reputation systems should allow rep to be established in more distributed fashion, as it generally is in human interaction...but that's a different discussion.)

Those who want to look more into this (which might include me, later) may want to check out the Identity 2.0 blog.


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May 2011

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