Research Publications Newsletters Above the Fold Above the Fold - 27 January 2016


How Barbie Brought Attention to Securing the Internet of Things • Jason Thomas • 31 December 2015

Barbie raises a real public policy issue. This article describes the release of the Hello Barbie doll and the aftermath that churned with concerns about hacking, privacy and Big Brother spying on children. This is the version of the doll capable of engaging in two-way conversation over a WiFi network (and companion app), with up to 8,000 lines of dialog to choose from. Children can ask Barbie questions, participate in co-created stories, and engage in conversations on a wide variety of topics. And since it can connect to the Internet, it has become a target for hackers.

We've written about the Internet of Things (IoTH) here in the past. What's interesting about this article is that the legitmate security concerns raised by all those cheap interconnected chips have until just recently been debated only among information technology professionals. But bring in Barbie and somebody's children and you've now gotten a motivated slice of the citizenry (parents) involved and aware. At the most recent membership meeting of the Coalition for Networked Information Julie Brill, a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, gave the closing keynote. In the Q&A the longest exchange was devoted to privacy and security concerns associated with the IoTH. The FTC report Internet of Things: Privacy and Security in a Connected World (press release) is worth a look. The executive summary may be enough (pdf). (Michalko)

P.S. David Rosenthal was Ms. Brill's principal interlocutor about the IoTH and security. His blog is full of commentary about this topic. When he talks he has my attention.

P.P.S. Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She has her own WorldCat identity.



The Future of Work: Empowering the Data-driven Worker

Pacific Standard • Gina Neff • 10 November 2015

What happens to innovation when the evidence stays in the trailer? Dr. Neff's commentary explains with some good examples "that, too often, those in the technology sector who push companies to adopt data-driven decision-making equate data with solutions, ignoring the gap between the data and implementation, which depends on "real world" practices of workers. Identifying problems and generating solutions is less of a problem for most companies than figuring out how to put those solutions into action."

She's got this right. Her work on the data and implementation gap is part of a very interesting series of investigations that were pursued as part of a project titled "The Future of Work and Workers." The project was a collaboration between The Rockefeller Foundation, The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASB) at Stanford University and Pacific Standard. You can see all of the project work strands here. I was particularly taken with the commentary assembled in the pages titled The Future of Work: This Is Your Job in 20 Years—Pacific Standard. (Michalko)

P.S. The CASB has a fabulous campus high on a hill overlooking the Stanford golf course and campus. It was designed by William Wurster (buildings) who is largely responsible for the look modern northern California.



How Paperbacks Transformed the Way Americans Read (hat tip • Andrew Shaffer • November 2015

Shaffer provides an entertainingly crisp short history of the paperback in the US.

I knew the Penguin story in the UK and about the emergence of the 'trade paperback' via Jason Epstein and Anchor Books in the US but was unclear about what happened in between. Here it is. I was amused to hear how the Brits thought we required the lurid early paperback cover art – "The general intention of our covers is to attract Americans, who, more elementary than the Britishers, are schooled from infancy to disdain even the best product unless it is smoothly packaged and merchandised," Victor Weybright of Penguin USA wrote to his boss. (Michalko)



This Italian Company Pioneered Innovative Startup Culture—in the 1930s • Annalisa Merelli • 28 July 2015

Good design was good business way before Apple. Merelli says that Silicon Valley may be the seat of innovative business culture today, "but the model for this arguably dates back to Italy in 1932, the year Adriano Olivetti took over his father's typewriter business."

I knew some of this story but it's great to see the photos accompanying this essay and remember how beautiful and innovative their products were. She makes a compelling case that when they abandoned the holistic culture that Olivetti had fostered they began their decline to irrelevance. I had the pleasure of visiting the original Olivetti campus in Ivrea some years ago when it was briefly the home of Interaction Design Institute Ivrea. It's also the home of The Battle of the Oranges festival. (Michalko)



Neuromyth, Lithium, NEAT

The Concept of Different "Learning Styles" Is One of the Greatest Neuroscience Myths
Quartz • 3 January 2016

The Creation of the Modern Laptop
Ars Technica • 16 June 2015

Art and Tech Have a Really Cool Baby at a San Francisco Museum
Re/code • 11 November 2015

TThe first because I was always baffled by the question "Are you a visual learner?" Sometimes.

The second because its ubiquity blinds us to the stunning complexity of the most advanced machine ever made.

The third because you can use it to create beauty without knowing how it works. (Be sure to click through to see the work of Alan Rath. The feathers are marvelous.) (Michalko)



Above the Fold Quiz

According to an item in this week's News and Views section, what are the practical approaches and tradeoffs to data curation given the needs of reusers and repositories?

Get the answer.