Four short links: 24 January 2011

National Facebook Relations, Personality Design, Lessons Learned, and Khan Academy

  1. The Inside Story of How Facebook Responded to Tunisian Hacks (The Atlantic) — After more than ten days of intensive investigation and study, Facebook’s security team realized something very, very bad was going on. The country’s Internet service providers were running a malicious piece of code that was recording users’ login information when they went to sites like Facebook. By January 5, it was clear that an entire country’s worth of passwords were in the process of being stolen right in the midst of the greatest political upheaval in two decades. Sullivan and his team decided they needed a country-level solution — and fast. [...] Sullivan’s team decided to take an apolitical approach to the problem. This was simply a hack that required a technical response. “At its core, from our standpoint, it’s a security issue around passwords and making sure that we protect the integrity of passwords and accounts,” he said. “It was very much a black and white security issue and less of a political issue.” cf Google and China. National politics of snoopiness vs corporate ethic of not being evil aren’t directly compatible, and the solution here only works because (let’s face it) Tunisia is not a rising economic force. If you’re selling ads in China, you don’t get to pretend that the Great Firewall of China is a security issue.
  2. Emoticomp — what happens if you subtly imbue objects with personalities? Obviously it could be incredibly annoying (cue Douglas Adams’s Sirius Cybernetics Corporation) but there’s potential here to add depth to devices. We are, after all, customized over hundreds of thousands of years to read and interact with the emotional objects known as people. (via Matt Jones)
  3. My Mistakes (Slideshare) — Perry Evans (Mapquest, Jabber, Local Matters, Closely) gave a presentation on what he’s learned from his failures. I bought into the strategy of growth via acquisition. In most cases, this is an excuse for not fixing your current business.
  4. The Autodidact and the Khan Academy (Chris Lehmann) — [...] it seems to me to be one more moment when people who should know better are, essentially, saying, “See! We don’t need teachers anymore!” As if every student could learn from a pre-packaged delivery model of content. It doesn’t work that way. I like the Khan Academy but, as Chris says, it’s not a replacement for education for most kids.
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  • Joe Shelby

    I was just thinking about “emotional” appliances, recalling the scene in Red Dwarf where the toaster continually tries to get Lister to want some toast.