Archive for the 'IT/Comm' Category

Understanding success vs failure in new forms of organizing

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Anyone who is familiar with Clay Shirky’s writing won’t be surprised to hear that in his new book Here Comes Everybody, he does a very nice job of discussing how recent technological innovations are allowing for more and more “organizing without organization”. The book is a great mix of engaging descriptions about examples of how people come together in the pursuit of various goals and interests, and a deeper more conceptual examination of how such phenomena are changing in light of recent advances in technology.

I was invited to participate in a discussion of this book over on the TPM Café Book Club and am sorry to come to the conversation so late due to some travel having thus missed out on much interesting back-and-forth. Nonetheless, I wanted to add a bit to the conversation.

The issue I want to raise has to do with questions of inequality like much of the earlier discussion, although I approach this from a somewhat different angle than what’s been presented. While there is no question that new opportunities are allowing more folks to organize and more voices to be heard, they seem to privilege those already in more advantageous positions. I’d like to see more discussion of what circumstances in particular allow those with fewer resources to benefit from these new opportunities.

Let me take a step back as I describe where I am going with this. I will start by approaching it from the point of view of what ends up being a successful organizing (“without organization”, that is:), where success is understood as intended levels of engagement by participants and the extent to which goals are accomplished.

What is it that makes one effort more successful than another? Why does rallying people around one issue result in so much more active participation than getting people excited about another matter? Is it not so much about the topic, rather, about the organizing that yields a different outcome? And if it is the latter then while traditional organization may no longer be necessary, it’s worth thinking about what aspects of new forms of organizing yield more or less successful outcomes.

Success with organizing is related to attention allocation. As Herbert Simon so aptly noted many years ago:

“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.” (1971)

New tools don’t change the fact that there are only so many hours in the day and so much attention that people have to give to any one type of activity. So who with what topic or goal has more of a chance at attracting attention?

This is where inequality comes in: Those more likely to attract attention to their content and activities are those who are already more privileged in one way or another. For example, those with more skills in understanding the new tools have a better chance of reaching out to and mobilizing enough initial interest to achieve beneficial outcomes than those who lack an understanding of these new opportunities. Alternatively, those with people in their networks who have the necessary skills (and time) will have a better chance at this than those who lack knowledgeable friends and family.

This is precisely the issue at hand concerning the story in Clay’s book regarding the lost/stolen cell phone and what followed in tracking it down. At the Supernova 2008 conference where Clay and I both spoke earlier this week, an attendee told a very similar story of his own, although this concerned a stolen laptop. The point is that Clay is right, such situations are increasingly common. However, like the woman in the book, the man at the conference was also one with considerable resources – not just financial, but also in terms of human and social capital – that likely made him a good candidate for benefiting from new tools.

I don’t mean to suggest that Clay ignored these issues of inequality in the book as he explicitly offers relevant caveats throughout the writing. Nonetheless, I still think the issue is worth highlighting as I think it is a crucial part of the story that is not understood very well and deserves more discussion.

While it is certainly the case that new technologies, tools and services are leveling the playing field, existing societal position and resources still matter. The question is: when do they matter more or less? Under what circumstances do people with less resources still manage to benefit from the new tools in ways that would have been difficult earlier? What are the examples of mobilization that do not involve people with PhDs, ones with noteable techie know-how or one’s with considerable financial resources either themselves or among those in their networks? There are such examples, certainly, but it would be interesting to see systematically what it is that unites them. What commonality is there among such cases that suggests a true leveling of the playing field that goes beyond allocating more opportunities to those who are already considerably privileged? (On a sidenote, these issues are similar to the ones I raised while discussing Yochai Benkler’s book The Wealth of Networks.)

Because the book focuses on examples of successful organizing, it is hard to discern why some attempts at it fail. (To be sure, Clay also discusses failed projects, for example, in the open-source software movement, but his main focus is the overall effect of such sofware on the industry as a whole.) Of course, failures are harder to find, especially lacking any organization of such information. Nonetheless, a deeper exploration of this side of things would help in understanding the extent to which the playing field is truly being leveled across all societal segments thanks to emerging new tools.

Mini interview on Canadian radio

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Usually, when I get invitations for talks or interviews with the press, the focus is my research. Last week, however, in an interesting twist, I got an email from the host of a Canadian radio show asking me to chat with her about my experiences with taking pictures of cheese labels.:) I was amused and was happy to talk. The interview is available here.
I’m glad Spark contacted me, because I didn’t know about the show, but am now happy to have it in my RSS feed reader. Spark taught me about speedcabling, something I’ll have to try in my lab one of these days.

As a mini-update for those not following me on Twitter (most of you, I presume), right now I’m on my way to the University of Minnesota to speak in the seminar series of their Institute for Advanced Study about my research. It’s a campus-wide talk with people expected in the audience from all sorts of departments, which should be fun. It’ll also be nice to catch up with some prominent sociology bloggers.

This is a very cute GMail how-to video

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

More here on what went into creating it. I love the care with details like the cursor and the stars.

FriendFeed anyone?

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

FriendFeed helps keep track of friends’ contributions to a myriad of sites (e.g., additions to their blogs, Flickr and accounts, Twitter, etc.). I’m wondering about additional friends who may use it since currently I only have two on the service.

Several things are far from intuitive, but for now I’ve figured out everything I was looking for even if not as easily as one would hope. (Look for the feed of the feed aggregation under “Settings” and then the “secret key” tab. If you want to turn off notification about the feeds of your friends’ friends then click on “Hide entries like this”, which will give you an option to specify removing material from those people.)

How to print a large map from Google Maps

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Neat idea, very helpful video.

Google Maps Hack: How To Save Large MapsClick here for this week’s top video clips

Thanks to Blog on the Side for the pointer.

Simple mobile version of blogs

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

To satisfy the many many of you:) out there who would like to read this blog on your mobile gadgets, I have added a link on top of the main blog page that makes this possible. Thanks go to Digital Inspiration for suggesting how this can be done easily by tweaking Google Reader URLs.

Last day to give a laptop & get a laptop (U.S. & Canada)

Monday, December 31st, 2007

OLPC A few hours left for those in North America to participate in the One Laptop Per Child program. $399 plus shipping pays for two of these special laptops: one for a child in a lesser developed nation and one for you.

While most of my research is about pointing out that simply offering access to devices will not get people connected effectively and efficiently, gaining access to digital media is an important first step in the process.

Here’s a review by a 12 year old (not part of the target audience though) and a video review by David Pogue. I would’ve offered my own review, but I didn’t order it in time to get my hands on it by today’s deadline.

Photo credit: mike3k on Flickr

What’s in a knol?

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Henry points us to a new Google initiative and was wondering what I might think about it. I started writing a comment, but thinking that a comment shouldn’t be three times as long as the original post (and because I can), I decided to post my response as a separate entry.

First, I think Kieran is right, knol is way too close to troll, I would’ve picked a different name. (That said, most people out there probably have no idea what a troll is so in that sense it’s just as well although I still don’t like the name.)

I address three issues concerning this new service of trying to create something Wikipedialike within Google’s domain: First, will it gain popularity? Second, what might we expect in terms of quality? Third, what’s in it for Google beyond the potential to showcase more ads?

First, those wondering whether this will gain traction should realize the power of being ranked first on a SERP (“search engine results page”). I know from my own research how often users tend to click on the top result (often!). (Many don’t even know that the topmost link is often a sponsored link even though it says so above to the right of the link.) Of course, one could argue that people click on the top result, because it is the most relevant, which is possible. But check out the results of an experiment with a tweaked condition. Users trust Google (and probably other search engines, pointers to research on others are welcomed!) and it sounds like Google plans to post links to these knols on SERPs likely on top of the list so I anticipate considerable reader exposure.

I don’t have stats on this, but would be curious to know what percentage of Wikipedia’s traffic comes from search engines (and, in particular, Google referrals) vs searches on the site itself. I suspect a lot is from the former. Sure, Wikipedia is known and used by a lot of people, but I would guess most still just turn to a search engine with many queries instead of going to Wikipedia directly so if the Wikipedia links started to show up lower on the SERPs replaced by a similarly relevant (or even just seemingly similarly relevant) page then Wikipedia would start losing audience share.

This brings us to the second point: What about quality? This one is trickier, and certainly not to be confused with relevance or popularity per se, since we know full well from lots of other examples that most relevant or highest quality doesn’t necessarily beat out sites popular for other reasons.

The announcement states the following: “Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject.”

So then what? How does Google decide which entry about some topic should be ranked higher on a SERP? Is it based on comments? The quality or the quantity of comments? The rating the entry received? Whose rating? The following important point is not clear from the announcement (either for knol authors or commenters): do people have to be registered with some verified name to rate and comment? Who verifies and how?

Related: whom is the service most likely to attract as potential contributors? Can we expect the most knowledgable experts to contribute? Why might they? The example piece they showcase seems pretty extensive. Is that the best use of my time for some topic in which I am an expert? It might be once there is a critical mass of people using the service, but will there be if the people contributing aren’t necessarily experts? (Sure, I know you don’t need experts for popularity, but I still wanted to raise the issue.)

While the option of commenting is there, whatever is in the core article will get the most attention. I suspect few will care to read the comments, especially if they are just looking for some basic information about something. What this implies is that despite rating and comments, misinformatin could still remain relevant. (I understand that presumably Google will try to figure the ratings and comments into its search algorithm, but how?)

There is so much information out there already (ironically, part of the motivation for all this, isn’t it?). Much of it is very good while, of course, much of it is not. Won’t we see a lot of replication this way? Many people go to WebMD for medical issues, and likely get reliable information. Now such material will be replicated (not word-for-word per se, but in many cases I’m assuming close) on a domain. Sure, Google gets more traffic, but I don’t quite see why the information will necessarily be better than what’s already out there in many forms (dependent on the topic, of course) for the reader.

Which brings us to my third point: because this information will be on a domain, if you are logged into your Google Account (e.g., using GMail) then Google will have more information on what topics you’re exploring, what articles you’re reading thereby adding to the extensive profile they already have about you. Under current circumstances, they know what you search for, but unless the page you follow uses Google Analytics, they don’t know where you go from there. Now they will.

Finally, the whole thing reminds me of Google Base a little, one of Google’s initiatives that didn’t seem to take off too widely. Obviously, knols have all sorts of other features, but the basic idea of putting our content on a domain is there. That one didn’t overwhelm search results so likely for that reason it didn’t seem to go very far. But if Google searches start featuring knols in prominent positions and given the new service’s community aspects that many people seem to appreciate, with the right level of exposure these knols may have the potential to gain considerable popularity.

Bubble 2.0 music video

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

I realize that some of the references in this video require a fairly intimate knowledge of the Silicon Valley scene, but not all so perhaps this will add a bit of amusement to your day regardless of your geek quotient.

Using Facebook vs MySpace

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

My most recent research article looks at predictors of social network site (SNS) usage among a group of first-year college students. First, I look at whether respondents use any social network sites and then examine predictors by specific site usage (focusing on Facebook, MySpace, Xanga and Friendster based on popularity). Before asking about usage, I asked about having heard of these sites and all but one person reported knowledge of at least one SNS so lack of familiarity of these services does not explain non-adoption. The analyses are based on a representative sample of 1,060 first-year students at the University of Illinois, Chicago surveyed earlier this year. This is an especially diverse campus concerning ethnic diversity. (See the paper for more details about the data and methods.)

Methodologically speaking, I find that it is worth disaggregating the general concept of social network site usage, because analyses looking at usage on the aggregate mask predictors of specific site use.

Of particular interest seem to be Facebook and MySpace since they are the most popular with this group. About three quarters of students use the former and over half use the latter in the sample.

I find statistically significant differences by race, ethnicity, parental education (a proxy for socioeconomic status) and living situation (whether a student lives with his or her parents or not) concerning the adoption of Facebook and MySpace. No point in reprinting the entire findings section here, so just quickly a few results: (1) Hispanic students are considerably more likely to be MySpace users and less likely to be Facebook users than others; (2) Asian and Asian American students are more likely to be Xanga and Friendster users and less likely to spend time on MySpace than others; (3) students whose parents have less than a high school education are more likely to be MySpace users, students whose parents have a graduate degree are considerably less likely to be MySpace users and students whose parents have a college education are more likely to be Facebook users than others; (4) students who live with their parents are considerably less likely to be Facebook users (no such difference for the other sites) than those in other living situations; (5) students who have Internet access at a friend of family member’s house – a measure of autonomy of use – are more likely to be users of both Facebook and MySpace than those who don’t. These findings hold when controlling for other factors such as age, gender and amount of time spent online (see Table 6). The results reinforce observations made by danah boyd over the summer based on her qualitative studies of high school students’ SNS uses.

Some people’s first reaction to all this is to figure out what it is about the aesthetic differences between these sites that might attract different types of people to them. Such an approach to the issue seems to me to be misplaced. While Facebook, MySpace and other SNSs may be different in looks, they are structurally different and I suspect that has a lot to do with who chooses to use which one.

Consider the history of Facebook and the restrictions it put on who could join during the first couple of years of the service. Initially, it was only open to Harvard undergraduates. Then it expanded to college students at a few select schools eventually including numerous higher educational institutions. Next came high schoolers and then some corporate networks. Finally, at the end of 2006 anyone could join. In contrast, MySpace was much more open to people from different backgrounds and thus social networks.

Obviously, the participants in my study are all at a university so would’ve been eligible to join Facebok even if the restrictions on college student status had been kept. However, some of the friends in their networks may not have had this option a year earlier. Research has shown that people use Facebook especially to keep in touch with their existing networks rather than to meet new people. This makes sense since the site – another structural feature – organizes people and one’s connections according to one’s existing offline networks. Again, especially in the beginning, what mattered most was a user’s school affiliation. If your friends who graduated from high school a year or two ago didn’t go to college then they probably didn’t join Facebook so if you want to keep in touch with them, that’s not the network where you’ll be able to do it best.

Of course, this doesn’t explain all issues. For example, why the differences in MySpace use? Perhaps it has to do with the number of social network sites any one person cares to use actively. I am working on another paper where I look at intensity of SNS use and I classify people as various types depending on sites used and frequency of use. I’m not far enough along in that project to comment yet, however.

My main point in this post is that the issues are likely more related to the composition of people’s offline networks and the structure of these sites rather than people’s aesthetic preferences. If anyone knows of research on the latter especially concerning Web site use or SNS use in particular, I’d be curious to hear details.

Why does any of this matter? It relates to discussions about the Internet’s potential to create opportunities for people. If people’s online networks mirror their offline networks and constraints placed on people in their everyday lives are reflected in their online interactions then that means that there is a limit – for some more than others – to what different people can get out of their online activities and interactions.

My paper appears in a special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication edited by danah boyd and Nicole Ellison on SNS. It includes several other related pieces including a helpful introduction on Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship by the editors.

Google’s new venture is like “trying to start a new waste management firm on Tony Soprano’s street”

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Slate has a helpful article by legal scholar Tim Wu (among other things, an expert on Internet-related policy issues) about what’s at stake concerning Google’s recent announcement about the development of Android, a “truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices”.

Talk at Berkman

Monday, October 29th, 2007

I’m speaking in the Berkman Center Luncheon Series this Tuesday. (The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is based at Harvard Law School and is home to several exciting projects on IT and policy.) I will present recent findings from survey data on young adults’ digital media uses. The event will be webcast, which may be of interest to those who’d like to hear the talk, but are not in the Boston area.

A good recipe for cookies?

Monday, October 29th, 2007

A few weeks ago the Berkman Center for Internet and Society posted an interesting contest: create a short informative video about Web cookies and have the chance to win up to $5,000 and a trip to DC where the video would then be shown at the FTC’s Town Hall workshop on “Ehavioral Advertising“.

I’m afraid we’re past the deadline for submissions and I apologize for posting about this so late (life intervened and I got behind on a bunch of things). I wanted to post about it nonetheless, because I think it’s an interesting initiative and the resulting videos are available for viewing.

I was very intrigued by this contest given my interest in improving people’s Internet user skills. What would be a good way to communicate the concept of a Web cookie to folks who have little technical background? I haven’t looked at all of the submissions, but the ones I’ve seen I find are still too technical and are likely only comprehensible to those who already know at least a few things about Internet cookies. Alternatively, the clips are too vague and so likely have limited utility for that reason. I was a bit surprised and disappointed that people didn’t do more with the cookie analogy. Some of the videos have related cute/amusing components, but not incorporated in a particularly effective way. However, note that I have not watched all of the submitted videos so I may have missed some gems. Feel free to post links to ones you think are especially informative. I think the timeline for submissions was a bit short (I know there were particular logistical reasons for this), which may have prevented more people from getting involved and may have limited the amount of effort that could go into creation of the entries.

An interesting aside about how YouTube posts videos (assuming I understand this correctly, but I haven’t explored this aspect in depth so feel free to correct me): it seems that the creator of the video has little say over what becomes the thumbnail image for the clip. As far as I can tell, the frame is taken from the middle of the video, which is not always ideal as it’s not necessarily the most informative segment.

Hiring, again

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Work around here is expanding and so I’m hiring again, this time with my colleague Peter Miller. See ad below. Please forward to people who may be interested. Thanks!

Job Opportunity
Research Associate, Youth Digital Media Use Survey Project
Northwestern University

The Youth Digital Media Use Survey Project at Northwestern University is looking for a Research Associate for a project funded by the MacArthur Foundation. The Research Associate will work closely with Professors Eszter Hargittai and Peter Miller to collect and archive information on surveys of youth digital media use. In addition, the Associate will organize and document several in-person and on-line meetings of youth digital media researchers. The end product of the project, which the Research Associate will help to draft, is a report making recommendations to the MacArthur Foundation on survey design options for the study of youth digital media use.

*Responsibilities: Collect and archive published and “grey” literature on youth digital media use; collect and archive information on survey projects that have been or could be employed for the study of youth digital media use; work with the principal investigators, organize and document several meetings of researchers in this field; help to synthesize the information from these various sources for a project report. Depending on skills and interests, serve as a co-author on scholarly articles resulting from the project.

*Qualifications: Master’s degree in social science (e.g., communication, sociology, political science, economics, psychology, human development, learning sciences, library and information science); 1-3 years of work experience; strong organizational skills; strong written and verbal communication skills; excellent interpersonal skills; strong problem solving and analytical skills; ability to work in a professional manner as both a self-starter and a team member; intermediate-advanced skills in Microsoft Office (particularly Word and Excel); and intermediate-advanced skills in using Web interfaces.

*Desired Qualifications: Terminal degree (Ph.D., Ed.D., J.D.) in quantitative social science with experience in survey research; project management experience; archival experience; advanced skills in Microsoft Office (particularly Word and Excel); experience with analysis of quantitative data, especially in the use of Stata.

*Salary: $3,125 per month for 30 hours/week.

*The position starts immediately and will last eight months.

*Northwestern University is an EEO/AA employer.

*Please send cover letter, resume and reference contact information to

Jason Gallo, Project Coordinator (Web Use Project) at

Does this work?

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

Here’s another find from my time in Switzerland, this time the Zürich Airport.


Approximate translation: “Pirating and counterfeiting is a bad sport: no rules, many fouls, only losers.”

This may actually sound better in English. Does “loser” have that extra connotation in German as it does in English? I didn’t think it did.

In any case, is an airport such a helpful place to put this, especially right near the business lounge in a relatively secluded area? Is any place a helpful place to put this? (I know there is a huge literature on the effectiveness of ad campaigns in various areas. I don’t know if there is any in this particular one.)

I saw this ad somewhere else, too, but I forget where. Have you seen ads of this sort elsewhere?

Finally, the option to buy more space on GMail!

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

For months now I’ve been erasing all sorts of files from GMail as I neared my storage limit (right now above 88% despite all those deletions) so I was very happy to see that the company has finally rolled out a paid version. The jump between 6GB for $20 and 25GB for $75 (annual fees) seems a bit abrupt, but 6GB should last a while. (Yeah, I know, famous last words.)

Funny with a serious twist

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Chris Uggen posted this video a few days ago:

I added a link to it on my daily links list where Liz Losh saw it and then included it in a blog post “Just Say Know” discussing all sorts of parody videos and sites related to drug use including the artist-created fictional drug Web site Havidol, and this video:

These are some great parodies. Work in the field of health communication looks at the effects of health campaigns, but tends to focus on serious ones. I wonder what type of work may be going on in the domain of parody viral videos online for similar purposes.

Speaking at Wiki Wednesday this evening

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

For those in the Bay Area, I thought I’d mention that I’ll be giving a talk at Wiki Wednesday this evening at 6pm. The topic is digital media use by youth. Feel free to come by. Also, feel free to join the group at other times in the future, these meetings are held every month.

Something’s phishy? There may be more than money at stake…

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

The term “phishing” refers to the malicious practice of trying to extract sensitive information (such as passwords) from users. Compared to numerous other Internet-related terms, “phishing” is one of the least understood ones among users. I have found this in my work as have others in theirs. Of course, it may be that people understand the concept of phishing without knowing it is called as such. It is difficult to do large-scale data collection using more elaborate methods, but I implemented some related questions on a survey recently taken by over one hundred students who were randomly sampled from a diverse group. (See the end of this post for details about the data set.)

In the context of a larger study, I showed participants three hypothetical emails and offered several options for how they might proceed (respondents could check off several actions such as “delete it”, “ignore it”, “forward to tech support with a question”, etc.). When shown an email that looked very much like the one that comes from the IT department of the university (one that would not be hard to replicate by someone with malicious intent) over half of respondents said they would “follow the instructions outlined in the email”, which included going to a Web site and entering their username and password. Even more students said that they would “click on the links in the message and follow the instructions on those pages”. Less than 15 percent checked off the option of contacting tech support with a question or reporting the email as abuse. And in the open-ended field where respondents could explain what else they might do, only one student described actions that suggested the potential problem with the email. This among the generation that is supposedly savvy about digital media. See my forthcoming paper on The Role of Expertise in Navigating Links of Influence for more on this (especially pp. 12-19.).

When I talk to my students (at a different school than where the above study was conducted) about online privacy and security issues, and ask them about the potential implications, the usual response is about financial concerns: credit card numbers stolen, money lost. However, as I try to remind them several times throughout the course, financial issues are not the only ones at stake when managing one’s identity and actions online. For example, in the realm of health and politics one can easily come up with examples of cases where third parties should not have access to our information.

And then there is reputation. I have noticed some troubling incidents on Flickr recently and wanted to write a post about these experiences to remind people about the importance of being vigilant. Don’t stop reading just because you are not a Flickr user, by the way. These same issues could occur on lots of other sites as well.

Flickr is a photo-sharing community site where people post photos and often comment on others’ images. These comments sometimes include cute little awards that let you add your photo to an invitation-only group or whatnot. Recently, I received such a comment on one of my photos and clicked on the link included within it. This led me to a login screen seemingly still within Flickr. The people behind that site did a very good job replicating Flickr. You had to be very conscious of your actions not to proceed and follow what you were being instructed to do, namely, enter your Yahoo!/Flickr username and password.

Lucky for me, I did realize that there was something phishy going on here. I was already logged into Flickr so this login request did not make sense to me. I checked the location bar of the browser, and as expected, it did not say Then I did a search for phishing on Flickr groups and confirmed that this was not something I wanted to pursue. Others had encountered similar issues and had already reported them so hopefully the admins were aware.

So what could one do with the username and password of Flickr users who were not as cautious or who simply did not realize what might be going on? First, one’s Flickr username and password is the same as one’s Yahoo! ID and password so it allows access to one’s email account and all other associated services, none of which is desirable. Within Flickr itself, it allows the malicious user to post comments on others’ photos using the account.

And that is precisely what I experienced this morning. Click here for a screen shot of a picture I posted and the comment that followed immediately after. Note that this comment came from someone who is not on my contacts list and whose account I had never seen as far as I recall. The comment on my photo of a Dublin door reads:


Someone at RAMCON said you sell nude images of children on flickr(loldee etc..) and i was just wondering(if this is true) then how much do you charge and what payment methods you accept?


There is very minimal chance that someone from a paid account would leave such a message publicly on a photo.

Searching on Flickr, I see that others are experiencing the same issue with the exact same message, but using different people’s accounts. This can be really damaging to the person whose account is used for such messages especially if this person does not realize or does not understand what is going on. Already several people have reported the person participating in that discussion thread accusing him of having left at least three such messages.

So I thought a reminder was in order: before entering your username and password anywhere, be sure to check that you are on the Web site you think you are on, look at the address of the Web site in the browser and if it is not the one you expected then beware.

[*] Details about the data set: In February-March, we administered a paper-pencil survey to students in the one class at the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) that is required of all students thus posing no selection bias as to who was in the sampling frame from the university. UIC is one of the most ethnically diverse research university campuses in the US. We have a 98% response rate of the 85 course sections, and an 82% response rate of all students enrolled in the class. The survey data about understanding the term “phishing” represents the responses of 1,236 participants. We used stratified sampling (on gender and user skill) for the follow-up observational study (March-May, 2007) that also included a short additional survey. We achieved a 58% response rate on that portion of the study with 103 students participating.

Thanks to the MacArthur Foundation for supporting this work.

Invitations to GrandCentral

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

[UPDATE: I’ve given out the invites I could so this offer no longer stands.]

If you’d like an invitation to GrandCentral, let me know. It assumes you’re okay with giving Google your phone number, which is a big if. But if you are then let me know. I have a few to give out, not a lot though so first come first served.

Oh, what is GrandCentral? It’s a service that let’s you give out a phone number that you can then control much better than your direct numbers by filtering and selectively forwarding based on the caller. It’s similar to creating filters for various emails depending on sender.

I’ve used a similar service before for a research project and it worked well. GrandCentral was recently acquired by Google and they’re presumably revamping it a bit. There are, however, other such services out there if you prefer a site that is, for now, independent.

UPDATE: I will only send invites to people who send me an email from an address that has both last name and first name and preferably some Web site. You know my name, you know info about me and what I’m offering here would link us in the eyes of Google. I won’t do that if I have nothing to go on.