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Posts tagged with: Internet

Facebook: The New School Cafeteria

I was reading this article in the nytimes when I came across the following excerpt. I’ve never thought about Facebook this way, but maybe this is why, or at least one of several reasons why, I don’t really use Facebook anymore.

“Facebook is now the online cafeteria,” Ms. Robbins says. “It’s this public space, largely unsupervised, and it mirrors the cafeteria dynamic where you walk in and have to find a place to belong. At school, you have to pick a table. Well, on Facebook you not only have to pick a table, you have to pick who’s at your table and who’s not. And then kids feel they have to be publicists for themselves, maintaining their photos and status. It’s exhausting.

An Amusing Discovery

Back when I was an undergrad, I started getting into kpop and joined a certain online forum discussing said art form. One of the members of that forum was an MIT alumn who had recently started a website which, besides showcasing his own excellent manga-style artwork, also hosted an oekaki board (like a forum, except users draw pictures rather than write posts). On this oekaki board I drew a certain painting of a famous jpop singer which I then used as my profile picture on a popular online music social networking site. Tonight, I discovered that a certain contributor to NPR’s “All Things Considered” had grabbed that profile picture and posted it on her blog as something that had recently become one of her daughter’s favorite “photos.” And that NPR contributer comes from, of all places, the same state I’m from. I don’t know why, but I get such a kick out of tiny things like this. :)

The Math behind Google’s Pagerank

Pekkle sent me a link a while ago to an article at AMS about how Google determines the importance of a page, also known as its pagerank. It’s actually a very interesting paper and a pleasure to read, especially the first few pages where the author takes you through some elementary logic to arrive at an elegantly simple representation of the entire world wide web’s pageranks as the eigenvector of a square matrix described simply by the number of links on each page. If you’re like me and derive gratification from seeing real world problems reduced to abstract mathematical constructs, you’ll have a blast with this one. I also found this short review of eigenvalues and eigenvectors helpful, as it’s been a while since I’ve touched any linear algebra.

Cisco, Lynn, and IOS Vulnerability

Cisco is appearing to be more and more like that monolithic software giant many love to hate. Actually, this story sounds a lot like Adobe’s fiasco with Sklyarov. The gist of the story is this: Michael Lynn from ISS discovers a vulnerability in Cisco IOS, presents it at a Blackhat conference, and Cisco PR uses bullying techniques to shut him up, get him fired from his job, remove his presentation from all conference materials, and make it illegal for others to distribute his presentation. For more details, check out Schneier’s site.