Today in Tech: Privacy, Big Data, Meetings & More

NS Ramnath
Updated: Mar 11, 2013 09:52:03 PM UTC

I have been with Forbes India since August 2008. I like writing about ideas, events and people at the intersection of business, society and technology. Prior, I was with Economic Times. I am based in Bangalore. Email:

Nineteen Eighty-Four: Not yet, but getting there



Steve Jobs gave this speech thirty years ago, as an introduction to the now-famous 1984 commercial. He contrasts Apple with IBM, talks about George Orwell, alludes to his dystopia and talks about freedom. Yet, watching him speak, you wonder if either Jobs or his admiring audience gave any thought to privacy at all. Jobs's pitch was mostly about business and strategy. The audience, even though they cheered when Jobs uttered the word freedom, seemed to be more excited about the new features that Mac would bring than about some of the darker implications of technology.

I don't know if consumers today are any wiser, but they definitely have more reasons to worry. Here are three news reports from over the weekend - all of them providing an update on issues that emerged earlier - that tell us why.

  • Google Inc is nearing a $7 million settlement with some 30 U.S. states over a 2010 incident in which its Street View mapping cars collected passwords and other personal data from home wireless networks, according to a person familiar with the matter. - Reuters
  • Apple Inc. (AAPL) lost its bid to dismiss a privacy lawsuit claiming the company improperly collected and shared customers’ personal information after a judge ruled the iPhone maker violated an order to turn over documents. U.S. District Judge Lucy H. Koh said in a ruling that she was “disturbed” to learn that in its court filings seeking dismissal of the case, Apple relied on documents that it was required, and failed, to disclose to lawyers for the customers. Bloomberg
  • India made an average of 13 requests a day to Google for access to personal web details of web users during 2012. PTI


Big Data - the new natural resource Bloomberg quotes IBM CEO Ginni Rometty:

I want you to think about data as the next natural resource,” she told the audience of business and political leaders. Data-based insight helped reduce crime by 30 percent in Memphis, Tennessee, and correctly predicted the outcome of swing states for President Barack Obama’s campaign, she said.


For IBM, the capabilities are helping it break into new overseas markets and sell services covering a wider range of tasks -- from traffic management to weather monitoring to payroll. About 80 percent of growth is coming from outside the U.S., she said.

And the algorithms will follow irrespective of how many times you change your device. Tapad, a New York based ad firm, for example, tracks over a billion data points across devices. Here's an interesting Bloomberg video with its CEO.


Why it makes sense to step out
Nilofer Merchant, author of 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era,  makes a case for moving out of meeting rooms. Here's one problem with meetings.

Too many people wait until the meeting to share information, resulting in the first 20 or 30 (or 40!) minutes spent on “background.” Which means the most expensive time — eight people in one room, prime-time hours — are used to do data transfer, not idea-building or problem-solving. Sending information in advance has obvious benefits, including more time for: research, formulating ideas, and asking other people about their points of view to inform a better discussion. Perhaps more significantly it allows those who are naturally quiet or introspective to contribute more meaningfully.


Also of interest

  • Rishad Premji, Anant Gupta among 56 in race to join Nasscom council | Mint
  • Payments Startups Take The Data, Design And Development Route To Reengineer The Credit-Card Business | TechCrunch
  • Failing technology draws Kenyan election into question | Verge


Post Your Comment
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated