Who Do Online Advertisers Think You Are?

Image: Edward del Rosario

Image: Edward del Rosario

“Should we worry about ads aimed specifically at us everywhere we go on the Web and, increasingly, on our mobile devices too? Yes, and not just because the ads can be invasive and annoying. Real-time bidding also makes the online marketplace less of an even playing field, allowing companies to send loyalty points or discounts — or price increases — to individuals based on their perceived spending power. The travel site Orbitz, after learning that Mac users spend 30 percent more on hotel rooms than P.C. users, has started to send Mac users ads for hotels that are 11 percent more expensive than the ones that P.C. users are seeing, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. […]

As our experiences become customized, there is more at stake than just discount coupons and deals. There’s also the future of our common culture. As personalization shapes not only the ads we see and the news we read but also the potential dates we encounter and the Google search results we receive, the possibility of not only shared values but also a shared reality becomes more and more elusive.” (Jeffrey Rosen, NYTimes.com)

When Screens Touch Back

“As students of media, however, we are (rightly) trained to be suspicious of technofetishistic and deterministic narratives. Instead of grounding our analysis in what tactile touch screens promise to do later, we should rather try to understand them for what they are being asked to do, to understand the desires embodied in the various attempts to give touchscreens a dynamic tactility. The following questions then come into view: what economic imperatives are steering and configuring this project of making tactile? What sensations does the screen allow into the tactile field, and which ones does it shield the user from? What sensations are desirable, and which are to be marginalized? What sorts of new intersubjective contacts are opened up? When the screen can touch us, whose touch is it acting as a surrogate for? (Or, “who penetrates whom” through tactile prosthesis?)” (David Parisi, FLOW)

Also check out the Popular Science clip on “Haptics” that Parisi references.

Image: Immersion Corporation: TouchSense® 5000

Image: Immersion Corporation: TouchSense® 5000

DreamWorks Releases Software Used in ‘Guardians’

DreamWorks Releases Software Used in 'Guardians' - Wall Street Journal

Dreamworks Animation/Reuters

“DreamWorks executives didn’t say how much they spent developing the software. They released it in hopes it would be adopted as an industry standard and integrated into commonly used software platforms. This would increase its utility for DreamWorks even if it gave competitors access to an element of the company’s tool kit, according to studio executives.” (Erica Orden, Wall Street Journal)

The Industrial Robot Revolution

Stand-alone and embedded industrial robots are taking their place alongside humans

“One small step for man, a giant leap for robot-kind.  NASA recently launched Curiosity, the newest rover to explore Mars. Curiosity is a supercharged robot that can collect, analyze and transmit data about the experience on the Red Planet using environmental sensors, radiation monitors, chemistry instruments and more.  And although the project’s price tag – $2.5 billion – might seem staggering, it’s a clear statement to the world that the future is in robotics. A message that is not lost here on Earth.” (Sandra Gittlen, Network World)

(Note: The article is about more than just $2.5 billion dollar robots…)

Web Deals Cheer Hollywood, Despite Drop in Moviegoers

Web Deals Cheer Hollywood, Despite Drop in Moviegoers - New York Times

Photo: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

“Instead of Hollywood suffering its own Napster moment — the kind of digital death trap that decimated music labels first through the illegal downloading of files and then by a migration to legal downloads almost solely through iTunes — several deals announced this month have it feeling more in control.

While studios still consider piracy a huge problem and feel stymied by Silicon Valley (and Washington politics), they nevertheless control their content. And now the Web is coming to them.” (Brooks Barnes, NYTimes.com)

F.C.C. Bars the Use of Airwaves for a Broadband Plan

F.C.C. Bars the Use of Airwaves for a Broadband Plan - New York Times“Interference of LightSquared’s signals with GPS systems is a tricky issue for the F.C.C., telecommunications experts say, because the interference appears not to be the fault of LightSquared. The most commonly used GPS receivers tend to pick up signals from outside of the segment of spectrum designated for GPS.  Because the satellite-telephone segment of airwaves, used by LightSquared, is next to the GPS band on the electromagnetic spectrum, GPS devices will frequently hear those extraneous transmissions.

The F.C.C. could have told GPS users and systems manufacturers that they were at fault for letting their devices stray into nearby airwaves, but that would mean overhauling an industry now in widespread use.” (Edward Wyatt, NYTimes.com)

Could the Internet Ever Be Destroyed?

Could the Internet Ever Be Destroyed? - Scientific American

Image: Creative Commons | The Opte Project

“However, while it’s essentially impossible to cripple connectivity internally in a country, Clark said it is conceivable that one country could block another’s access to its share of the Internet cloud; this could be done by severing the actual cables that carry Internet data between the two countries. Thousands of miles of undersea fiber-optic cables that convey data from continent to continent rise out of the ocean in only a few dozen locations, branching out from those hubs to connect to millions of computers. But if someone were to blow up one of these hubs — the station in Miami, for example, which handles some 90 percent of the Internet traffic between North America and Latin America — the Internet connection between the two would be severely hampered until the infrastructure was repaired.” (Natalie Wolchover and LiveScience, Scientific American)