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shadowspar: The flag of Canada (Canada flag!)
Friday, May 16th, 2014 07:26

CW: Brief mention of stalking behaviours.

It seems to be that time of year again where every retail purchase you make comes with a side of "We're doing a survey!!!1 Can we please have your postal code? :D"

Of course, the store is compiling data on where their customers live, and what people who live in each place buy, so they can try to market to you more effectively (iow, more creepily).

I'm not sure everyone's aware of this, but your full postal code gives your home address to a high degree of precision. One postal code represents

  • all houses on one side of one residential street for a block or so, or
  • one high-volume recipient of mail, like an apartment or office building, or
  • in rural areas, a single small village or hamlet.

To put this another way, if you take a look at a postal code directory, the entries in it look something like this:

   D2D 1S1:   Even numbers   38-52 Strange St    Anytown ON
   D2D 1S2:   Odd numbers    53-79 Strange St    Anytown ON
   D2D 1S3:   Even numbers   56-128 Strange St   Anytown ON

   D2D 1X5:                  1000 Charm Ct       Anytown ON

By disclosing your postal code, you're essentially disclosing your home address. Especially from a personal safety perspective, if somebody knows your postal code and what you look like, they can almost certainly find you and your residence.

Now, given how personal this snippet of information is, you might not feel comfortable giving it away. If so, you can spread some holiday cheer and test their computing systems at the same time! Just tell them your postal code is:

H0H 0H0

...which is the code for Santa Claus' workshop at the North Pole.

Just think! As the poor statistics sorters sift through mounds of boring data, their faces will no doubt brighten as they see that Jolly Old St Nick's helpers were indeed busily working their way through the stores, stocking up on goodies for the holiday season. Just Imagine the glow on executives' faces when they see in the reports before them incontrovertible evidence that Santa's elves have been hard at work all year picking up toys, toasters, and tequila for good little children to find under the tree on Christmas Day. ^_^

shadowspar: An angry anime swordswoman, looking as though about to smash something (Default)
Tuesday, August 30th, 2011 01:46

The Nymwars rage on. Much has already been said, and I'm not sure how much this will add to it. However, there are a few things I really want to get off my chest about G+.


The importance of the ability to choose your own name, psuedonym, or other identifier has been extensively covered by the tireless work of [personal profile] skud, the contributors over at My Name Is Me, the crowd at Geek Feminism, Botgirl Questi, Identity Woman, and many other folks.

But -- I just want to state how insulting, how infuriating, how incredibly patronizing and condescending it is for someone to tell you that they know better than you do what your name should be.

And how belittling, how othering is it to have someone tell you that there is something wrong with your name; that your name is not right; that your name and the identity tied up in it are invalid, or not adequately "real"; in need of alteration or repair?

IMNSHO, this kind of behaviour -- coming from an impersonal service like Google, no less -- is the height of disrespect and impudence, and it most certainly merits a rousing "fuck you".

How dare someone tell you that they know what your name is better than you do.


Second, in this video, Brad Horowitz mentions that minors (under 18 years) aren't allowed to use G+ yet, and says (jokingly or not) that there are no minors on the service at all. In the offline world, we all know how effective age controls have been at preventing determined underagers from getting hold of things like alcohol, tobacco, and porn. I'm sure keeping them out of G+ will be a veritable cake walk. Good luck with that.


Third, one of the arguments most frequently trotted out is that G+ is a private service. If you don't like it, don't join; they don't have any obligation to serve you. While this may be true after a fashion, think about how many private services you have to use in your day-to-day life to really function as a full member of society. Banks, telecom companies, couriers; hell, even retail stores. How would your life look without a bank account; without a phone, or internet access in your house; without the ability to easily buy products or services you need or want. While any private business can refuse to serve you for no reason whatsoever, in most jurisdictions anti-discrimination laws or human rights codes get created so that folks with unpopular attributes (you know, like being black, or queer, or an immigrant) can, at least in principle, access the private services they need to get by in day-to-day life.

We're not there yet on the frontiers of the Internet. We don't yet know what combination of private services will become well-nigh mandatory to fully participate in our digital society. Google Plus could very well end up being one of these, especially since it's now being touted as an identity service, and could eventually end up being a key part of things like job hunting or online payment.


Finally, the language that Schmidt and others use seems to suggest that they think of anyone who doesn't have some kind of strong identifier bound tightly to them as being "fake"; translucent; somehow less than a real person. This not-so-subtle implication is a crock of shit. Humanity's got on for thousands of years without wallet names; even more telling are the fleeting encounters you have with strangers every day. You may chance to exchange a smile, a scowl, a knowing glance, or a passing kindness with dozens of folks who are anonymous, or nearly so; and they are just as real, if not moreso, than some faceless executive who sits in an office and dictates policy about identity.

shadowspar: Picture of Kurama lashing out with a rose whip (kurama - rose whip)
Thursday, August 11th, 2011 21:41

(Cross-posted from my "professional" DW.)

As you may or may not have already heard, LinkedIn recently added a new "feature" that allows them to use your name and image in their advertising. It is turned on by default, with no direct notification to the user that it has been added and activated.

This is an abuse of your trust. It is wrong.

You have authorized LinkedIn to do a certain set of things with your data, but they have gone and done something else with it; something to which you haven't consented. It is as though someone had asked to borrow your car to go grocery shopping but then took it bar-hopping instead.

It would be bad enough for any website to do this, but LinkedIn isn't just any social networking site -- it's a professional networking forum. Your presence on it is a living résumé. LinkedIn is the custodian of your professional reputation. Shouldn't they be handling it a little more respectfully than this?

What they should have done is to ask first, with the default being 'no'. Presumably, they knew that most people would either answer no if presented with this choice, or not answer at all -- thus removing the majority of their user base from this program and largely eliminating the additional ad revenue it would bring. This is a move that smacks of desperation; of a company that is ruthlessly trying to wring every possible cent of ad revenue out of its subscriber base.

I'm participating in one event that's using LinkedIn to organize, but after it's done, so is my LinkedIn account.

Thanks for coming out, LinkedIn.

shadowspar: An angry anime swordswoman, looking as though about to smash something (Default)
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 16:04

Just moved my "professional" blog here from Posterous.

I know I'm not Posterous' target audience, but it drove me nuts how their formatter mangled my text, littering <br>s all over the place, then mashing up all the line breaks. More than once, I've found out that their post editor is flat busted for me -- usually when the formatter has made a mess of something I've already posted, conveniently making it impossible for me to clean it up.

Even better: back in December, they decided to bring Viglink on board, a service which adds a Posterous affiliate code to links in your blog that don't have an affiliate code already. Of course, they didn't see fit to inform their users of this change; one of the Posterous founders replied on HackerNews, but they haven't mentioned it on their official blog or twitter stream.

I know the folks here at DW will never pull that kind of stupid shit. To boot, Dreamwidth has always been rock-solid for me in terms of reliability, which is funny when you think about how often the lights seem to go out on the services with dozens of full-time staff and sacks full of money. In short: thanks, [staff profile] denise and [staff profile] mark. =)