1. The larger debate is about what companies can do to their users without asking them first or telling them about it after. I asked Facebook yesterday what the review process was for conducting the study in January 2012, and its response reads a bit tone deaf. The focus is on whether the data use was appropriate rather than on the ethics of emotionally manipulating users to have a crappy day for science.
  2. 23:05 22nd Jan 2014

    Notes: 10

    Reblogged from journo-geekery

    Tags: data


    Via colleague James:

    From John W. Foreman:

    You see, the problem wasn’t “defeating an electronic keypad” at all. The problem was getting inside the room. Dan Aykroyd understood this.

    Thumbs up for the “Sneakers” metaphor.  Love that movie.

  3. What if the company kept the chocolates hidden in opaque containers but prominently displayed dried figs, pistachios and other healthful snacks in glass jars? The results: In the New York office alone, employees consumed 3.1 million fewer calories from M&Ms over seven weeks. That’s a decrease of nine vending machine-size packages of M&Ms for each of the office’s 2,000 employees
  4. the possibility of being present in the moment, it’s not having to think about, “How should I document this or remember this for later?” You sort of had the same thing as when you first got a mobile phone and started trusting it with the phone numbers of your friends — it’s not that you don’t have the phone numbers accessible anymore, it’s that you don’t have to remember them. It’s the same thing when you start using Memoto — you no longer have to think about taking photos of stuff you want to remember.
  5. Last year, 30 million wearable, wireless monitoring devices—including those used for medical and clinical use—were sold in the U.S., according to ABI Research analyst Jonathan Collins. That figure is up 37% from 2011 and Mr. Collins says he expects sales to rise to 160 million devices a year by 2017.
  6. "People often refer to us as a toothbrush company, but we’re not. We’re actually not interested in toothbrushes at all. We’re interested in health data," said Alex Frommeyer, co-founder of Beam Technologies, based in Louisville, Ky. "In many ways, [data-tracking] is the entire point" of the Beam Brush.

    Beam is conducting a pilot with an insurance firm and negotiating a deal to distribute the Beam Brushes to policyholders, who would agree to exchange usage data for incentives such as lower rates.

  7. Policy holders who download the Aviva RateMyDrive app will have their first 200 miles driving monitored, with the phone recording data on acceleration, braking and cornering. This is turned into a score which is used to determine their insurance premium. Aviva said those deemed to be safe drivers could save up to 20% off their premium…
  8. We are more susceptible than we may think to the “dictatorship of data”—that is, to letting the data govern us in ways that may do as much harm as good. The threat is that we will let ourselves be mindlessly bound by the output of our analyses even when we have reasonable grounds for suspecting that something is amiss. Education seems on the skids? Push standardized tests to measure performance and penalize teachers or schools. Want to prevent terrorism? Create layers of watch lists and no-fly lists in order to police the skies. Want to lose weight? Buy an app to count every calorie but eschew actual exercise
  9. The Flex’s alarm feature can vibrate on your wrist to wake you, but doesn’t offer a power nap feature (“wake me 25 minutes after I drift off”) like the Up’s. The Up band can also wake you at your lightest phase of sleep within 30 minutes of your set alarm time, in an effort to reduce grogginess. The Fitbit doesn’t do that, either. Nor can it replicate the Up’s trick of vibrating, after every long stretch of inactivity, to remind you that you’re turning into a gigantic slug.
    — Wearable Devices Nudge You to Health - NYTimes.com hmmm maybe if ever the fitbit dies I should look at getting an up…
  10. Of the 2,000 people who registered for the course, Cairo and Alves say around 800 remained active through the six-week period. Cairo estimates around 10 to 15 percent of the students completed all the work, with 7 percent receiving a certificate
  11. The digital team, under Rospars leadership, took their data-driven strategy to a new level. Any time you received an email from the Obama campaign, it had been tested on 18 smaller groups and the response rates had been gauged. The campaign thought all the letters had a good chance of succeeding, but the worst-performing letters did only 15 to 20 percent of what the best-performing emails could deliver. So, if a good performer could do $2.5 million, a poor performer might only net $500,000. The genius of the campaign was that it learned to stop sending poor performers….

    the Analytics team built a tool they called The Optimizer, which allowed the campaign to buy eyeballs on television more cheaply. They took set-top box (that is to say, your cable or satellite box or DVR) data from Davidsen’s old startup, Navik Networks, and correlated it with the campaign’s own data. This occurred through a third party called Epsilon: the campaign sent its voter file and the television provider sent their billing file and boom, a list came back of people who had done certain things like, for example, watched the first presidential debate. Having that data allowed the campaign to buy ads that they knew would get in front of the most of their people at the least cost.

  12. I’m late blogging this but I did manage to get my pledge in for one of the first batch of devices… I’m very curious about this but it could be brilliant, especially for travelling

  13. Beam Toothbrush claims to be the “first app-connected toothbrush” that allows users to track their dental hygiene habits
  14. Europe’s digital library Europeana has been described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the sprawling web estate of EU institutions. It aggregates digitised books, paintings, photographs, recordings and films from over 2,200 contributing cultural heritage organisations across Europe - including major national bodies such as the British Library, the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum. Today Europeana is opening up data about all 20 million of the items it holds under the CC0 rights waiver. This means that anyone can reuse the data for any purpose - whether using it to build applications to bring cultural content to new audiences in new ways, or analysing it to improve our understanding of Europe’s cultural and intellectual history.
  15. Existing laws require companies to reply to requests for personal data, but only on paper. Some take 40 days to respond. The government thinks that consumers and the economy would benefit if they did so immediately. Price comparison engines that suck in itemised telephone bills could find people better deals. Personal finance sites empowered to ingest financial statements could help spendthrifts reform. In the long term the government hopes entrepreneurs will dream up more inventive data-driven services. Start-ups able to track a user’s purchases might offer to store receipts and warranties in a central location, for a fee. Digital wardrobes might catalogue a shopper’s new clothes, then recommend accessories.