So much to talk about but so pressed for time.

Spring is a time of intensity. Things seem to take on frenetic pace as though we want to cram in as much energy as possible when it is so available.  

Lots of tech marketing activity – as always. Lots of new “social media” activity – as always. Lots of things to distract and entertain – as always. 

I have been quiet here for a few weeks mostly because I have been absorbing it all. I have pondering the complexities of copyright in the digital age. I have turned over in my mind the practical concepts of The Trust Web. I consider how to help fix the systemic security issues in the delivery of online advertising.    

In short, so many things are blossoming at once that I find myself basking the thrill of it all. The work I am doing now in social media is delivering metric based results for brands. Since I treat social media like direct marketing, I can deliver campaigns that a brand understands how to work with. It is refreshing for them.  

There are some exciting projects in the near horizon, like the initiative to create security standards for the online ad world. Or the possibility of a social/ DM platform for campaign creation.  And the growth of our network called MingleMediaTV so that even though it just a few weeks old it has began to rank well in Alexa.  

So many possibilities. So much to learn. So little time it seems.  

But it’s what makes Spring so wonderful and I am enjoying the ride.  

Judy Shapiro

“Privacy schmivacy”.

The history of privacy is full of public disclosure.

My Grandmother’s notion of privacy was quite different than my own. And my teenage daughter’s notion of privacy is, correspondingly, different than my version. So while the concept of privacy changes over time, within the public imagination, we all seem to cling to some gauzy, vague notion of privacy to mean we have control over what information should be kept private and how our information is distributed over the web.

This universally romantic notion gets universal support from government agencies, the media, websites, trade organizations – just about everyone.  Corporations world over struggle mightily with new, complex questions about how to assure privacy. And privacy advocacy groups vigorously defend this principle because they see privacy as the thin line in the sand that protects us against autocratic [fill in “evil” corporate or government name here] control.

So while you see a lot of lip service paid to privacy, there seems to be little concrete progress on how to execute privacy in today’s fluid information flow environment. Worse, I think all the privacy rhetoric has perhaps, imprudently, raised consumers’ privacy expectation to a level that is possibly not even achievable today.

It seems, therefore, that a recalibration of the notion of privacy is in order that strips away dogmatic devotion in favor of a real world, practical approach that can get the job done.

To gain insight about what a practical approach might look like, let’s go back a few thousands years and see how privacy has evolved. The first thing we notice when we look at this subject is that today’s concept of privacy as a universal right was simply not operative for most of civilized history (if you didn’t guess already, my early training was in history). One’s identity was assumed to be “public” and fully transparent because “people” were considered the “public assets” of the prevailing rulers. In virtually every society since ancient times, there was a rigid code for conduct and dress that clearly identified everyone by class and depending on variations of this code, by village or clan or family. Nor was privacy operative in “private spaces” since communal living was the norm.

Our modern idea of privacy really did not fully emerge until the middle of the 20th century. The massive expansion of the middle class post World War II “democratized“ lots of things like dress codes so identity became more cloaked (pun intended). The middle class could “pass off” as anyone and with that, the first modern sensibility of “privacy” was born. This budding notion of privacy was then buoyed by the new affluence of the middle class who started living in bigger homes which increased our appetite for privacy because it became a mark of success. Finally, during the paranoia of the Cold War when the government had aggressive wiretapping programs and the McCarthy black lists, our current notion of privacy hardened into the near sacred status enjoyed in our popular imagination.

This brings us back to today. Our understanding of privacy seems misaligned to the realities of today’s Internetworked world. This is why we have a confusing, ambiguous and inconsistent set of processes across the digital landscape. There are, for instance, verification companies selling web site seals to reassure visitors that the site has a privacy policy. Unfortunately for the site visitor, this privacy “trust” seal makes no judgment about whether the site has a “good” privacy policy since there are no real standards for a “good” policy. Then you have a confusing set of privacy practices and standards driven by trade organizations like the IAB, governments and even digital marketing vendors who all have different “best practices”.

Looking at it from an end user’s perspective, the view gets even more confused, (unless of course you have an advanced degree in electrical engineering plus about 10 years of hard core programming). Cookies are handy for end users but they are quite “invasive”, despite assurances from cookie crumb collectors that they only collect information, not individual user data. Or would end users consider a remarketing campaign as crossing the “privacy” line? And don’t get me started on how email privacy standards are violated shamelessly.

Now to add to the confusion, the rise of social networks raises new issues; should we assume the profiles we post in our social networks are private or public? Who should control where my profile is displayed? It’s not hard to understand why Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy is famous for having said; “You Have Zero Privacy Anyway. Get Over It”.

I do see where he is coming from, but that is rather a draconian approach that undermines the value privacy does have in all societies – digital or otherwise. I would rather advocate we need to update our notion of privacy and build standards and processes with an updated vision of the concept. What I am proposing here are a few starter “how to’s” that can begin to pull us out of the quagmire we seemed to be stuck in.

First, for those of us who operate social networks, communities or websites, let’s start to apply a consistent “default public” set of business rules to reflect the general consensus that social network participation is acceptance of a public digital life. Similar to your phone listing in the phone book – you are “defaulted in” unless you opted out. That begins to shift the basic model that allows people to take full advantage of their digital social lives by helping them manage efficiently their public information. Be sure to recognize that the inevitable demographic differences in privacy requirements between groups means you will need to provide all users granular controls to keep everyone happy.

Second, it would be useful to create an industry-wide, standardized hierarchy of information sets which would have specific privacy practices appropriate to the risk factor. For instance, typical “low risk” information gathered by social networks can be handled one way whereas “high risk” information could be driven by a different set of processes. This data architecture and practices can be standardized across networks.

Third, the industry, I mean here social networks, corporations and media, need to better support the W3C’s noble work in this area. I was at a conference on Semantic technologies recently and I heard a fairly desperate appeal to help support continuing the work in this vital area.

Fourth, we need to create clear remediation processes should someone’s privacy be digitally violated. This is a place for the government to step in with clear remediation mandates similar to guidelines it mandated to companies in the case of data breaches.

Fifth, let’s accelerate development of new, Internet powered ad platforms that are consumer driven. A “pull” ad model solves many of the privacy problems that behavioral marketing programs fall prey to because it resolves the irreconcilable tension between marketers wanting to learn everything about prospects and consumers’ resistance to be so overtly “manipulated”. The Internet is incredibly well suited to this model. (A word to the IAB folks – this is a great initiative for you guys.)

Now a word of encouragement to those of us who have a fond, unabashed attachment to our privacy. First, it may be comforting to know that the fact that we ever had privacy as we know it (dare I say knew it), may have been a brief blip in history that we were lucky enough to experience. Second, I won’t tell you to get over it – but I will tell you to reverse your thinking about privacy. Shift your thinking from privacy concerns and onto how to manage what is public about you anyway.

Everything old is new again.

PS – I think the new Google Dashboard is a very positive step forward. See my YouTube video explaining why. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXEiOlD7Y0I

 

Judy Shapiro

http://twiitter.com/judyshapiro

“It’s good to be open minded, just don’t let your brains fall out.”

I was reminded of this line, credited to my Grandmother Margit, when I spent a very interesting day last week at the Web 3.0 conference. So many smart people talking about how smart the Web will become.  I was overwhelmed at how little I really know about semantic technologies and data architectures.

But despite my infantile level understanding of these emerging technologies, I was struck by the seeming gap in all the talk. Nowhere could I find anyone talking much about how to make the next web more human by being more trusted.  Trust is the glue that holds society together in the real world and it should be the same in the web world too. But in the conference, you would be hard pressed to hear more than a passing homage to the idea of trust vis-à-vis the next gen web.

My Grandmother’s expression popped into my head probably because staying open about technology is easy for me. What’s harder is staying wary enough to maintain perspective to challenge the technology if/ when it veers off course or worse does not serve humanity. In the case of Web 3.0, I am trying hard to maintain perspective and not be seduced by all the glitz of the technology because our human need for things like trust could get sacrificed on the altar of technology if we are not careful.

Whew! Talk about being a drama queen. But it’s true. I see lots of great technology revolving around the evolving web without a lot of humanity factored in yet. There’s a lot at stake for all of us.

“And what”, you must be wondering at this point, “has this got to do with your Grandmother?” Simple. When I start to contemplate heady stuff like that, my Grandmother’s image usually makes her way into my mind because she was always able to inspire greatness in others. Therefore, permit me a brief digression so that  I can tell you a bit about her which will help you appreciate the power of her words.

My Grandmother was not typical in any way fathomable. She was a Chassidic Rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife), but if any of you think you have an idea of what an ultra-orthodox, rabbi’s wife might be like – I suggest you suspend those conceptions right now. She would blow them away.

For a starter, she was, without a doubt one of the most open minded people I ever knew. She was also, without a doubt, the spiritual leader of the community.  Her husband (the Rabbi) was the final authority in Jewish legal matters, but in every other way, my paternal Grandmother, Margit, was the pillar upon which the community rested. And we all knew it.

Second, one would think she be fairly limited in scope as to who she would interact with. On the contrary. She was the confidante of business leaders, heads of hospitals, politicians, entertainment personalities, religious leaders of all faiths.  She stayed open to all lifestyle and ideas.

Third, she was truly blind to a person’s background in every sense of the word. Everyone was equal in her eyes and the one who needed her help the most was the one that got her attention … every time.

Fourth, through sheer force of personality was able to save all eight of her children and herself while in the Bergen Belsen death camp. Her youngest child, my uncle, was only 3 years in the death camp and is only one of ten babies known to survive the camps.

It is hard to put a finger on her power, but it rested in the simplicity of her world view which rested on trust. She trusted in people. She trusted her God. She trusted her instincts. She understood that people come before religious dogma. She saw the best in you even when you had just done your worst. But mostly she understood that the weakness of the human heart can be strengthened through trust.

The power of this woman shaped many generations after her, myself included. From her I learned to give everyone the benefit of doubt. From her I learned how to refine my ability to grasp the essence of someone quickly and correctly. From her, I began to understand how precious life really is when she told a sad, bitter man who barely survived the war why she did not hate the world, it was because; “Mer hut niche kan berara” – Yiddish for “there is no choice”. She could not fathom a life filled with hate – it was simply not an option for her so she chose to have no choice in this matter. That is an act of will few are capable of. These were the lessons I learned from Margit.

So I am inspired by her to dedicate this effort to rename the next gen web, a.k.a. Web 3.0 etc to the Trust Web in dedication to hearts world over that understand the power to transform rests with the power to trust. The next gen Web can transform us in ways are truly paradigm-shifting and we must stay open to those possibilities.

Judy Shapiro

 

The Connected Singularity Is Near

                                      

I have read with relish the book by Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near and I respectfully borrow the phrase. The fundamental premise of his book is that we have approached “the knee of the curve” in our technological evolution, the moment where the pace of change will fundamentally change our biological evolution. Essentially, he argues with good cause, that change is happening faster and more fundamentally than most fully appreciate. 

And I think he’s right based on my personal experience. Much like a woman born at the turn of the last century, who saw in her lifetime the evolution from horseback to space travel, I too have seen a similar step change evolution in the connectiveness of the planet in a mere 15 years. In that time, I saw the transition from limited, one to one communications that was very expensive (I remember the days when a long distance call was a big thing) to a model where we can be connected with virtually no limits in terms of distance or scope.   

It is breathtaking … but I think Kurzweil limits his scope. Kurzweil places technology at the center of the change engine but I think if we focus on technology as the key driver, we limit its potential. We must remind ourselves to put the human factor at the heart of the technology evolution – not the other way around.  

And this focus on the human element must also apply to how the next generation Internet, sometimes called Web 3.0, will evolve. We must give full expression within this evolution to our human instinct to establish trusted connectedness in the web world in the same way we enjoy trusted connectedness in the real world.  

Yet in the conversations today about next generation web there is decided lack of focus on the human factor, (heck even the name Web 3.0 betrays the techno focus). For Google, the next generation web is about technology that delivers a personal web experience via intelligent search agent. For other companies, semantic technology that lets computers understand meaning better, is how the new, next web will evolve. All these technologies are all important, but they are a only a means to an end.  

The end game for the next generation web is the creation of this trusted model of community, commerce and communications for everyone just like we have in our everyday, real worlds. This model puts the human need to trust as central to the conversation — not be peripheral to the thinking. This, for me, suggests we are creating a connected singularity in a Connected Web enabled by a concept of Social Authentication put forward by Comodo. For this new “Connected Web” to work, it must be grounded on trust and trusted networks.  

This is why Paltalk will be hosting the third TechNow event; Transforming the Web into YOUR Web airing March 19 at 3:00 (EST) with Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO and Chief Security Architect of Comodo. During this live, interactive event, Melih will challenge conventional thinking about how we create the emerging next generation Web, sharing his vision about how a Connected Web needs to be based on trust. Melih will be joined by noted industry analyst, Henry Blodget of Alley Insider, in a discussion about:  

·         Current technical versions and major scenarios associated with next generation Web (semantic, 3D, pervasive, media-centric, etc.)

·         The potential and benefit of web 3.0 for every day people?

·         The functional model of how next generation Internet technologies will combine to deliver this new, next Connected Web  

·         How do we leverage the intelligence of people within a social authentication™ framework as is being defined today by Comodo?

·         How will a trust and authentication layer be introduced into connected community, ecommerce and communications networks?

 

Live, interactive video chat: 

Date: Thursday, March 19th

Time: 3:00pm EST

Room Name: TechNow Network

 

Visit http://technow.paltalk.com/crashdummies for more information, to watch past shows and to sign up for a reminder email. 

 

Join the conversation. Join the movement towards a trusted Connected Web.

 

Judy Shapiro

What’s up?

            

It’s a common greeting among kids.  “Hey, what’s up?” they ask wanting to get the latest updates on what’s happening in their friends lives.

 

Now technology provides a way to let our connections perpetually know “What’s Up” with us – all the time, if we want. The new social networking platform has made the act of keeping up easy and far more powerful than ever before. But the new digital transparency raises some tough questions.

 

How do we keep our sensitive information out of the hands of fraudsters as we tweet publically about what we buy and where we are?

 

How do we know if a “friend request” is real or really some Trojan virus planted on a site?

 

How does security, identity management and social networking intersect to ensure a way to stay safe online?

 

Should there be standards for the social networking industry today? If so, who should drive it – the government, the industry or some other new standard body?

 

These are new and difficult questions that affect all of us. This is why I am pleased that Paltalk will be bringing a new series called TechNow where industry experts and you will discuss important technology issues of the day.

 

On Tuesday, March 3rd at 3pm EST we have two industry experts, Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO of Comodo and Henry Blodget, CEO of Silicon Alley Insider, in a live interactive event entitled; Your Digital Identity – Manage It Or Lose It. They will delve into this compelling topic and I invite you to come along for the debate and share your thoughts, live.

 

To join the room when the event is on, March 3, 3:00 pm EST, please visit http://TechNow.Paltalk.com. To learn more about the event or submit a question, please go to http://TechNow.Paltalk.com/crashdummies

 

Now when you ask “What’s Up”, the answer can be just a click away. But are we too easy a mark? I want some answers. Join me as I get them.   

 

Judy Shapiro

 

Yes Virginia, there is such a thing as a free lunch.

Skepticism abounds in the online world and rightfully so. Even the web savvy visitor can be duped by offers that really sound too good. And the old adage – “if it sounds too good to be true – it probably isn’t legit “– applies doubly on the Internet.  So with all the caveats above – if I said, “here is a free firewall that really works well…” I am sure you are skeptical.  “Oh – it must be crippleware” would be a natural cautionary response. Or “There is catch – like a renewal or subscription fee”.

Wrong and no.

Comodo Firewall Pro boasts unrivalled protection against viruses, worms, Trojans and malware with “out of the box” settings (OK – I won’t bore you with the product spiel because dear Trenchwar Warriors I know you will research it anyway ).

So now let’s even pretend that you accept this is a great high tech, leading edge solution. Now you must be thinking – “What’s the catch? If this product beats comparable solutions from the “large” software companies – why offer it for free?”

Well we are offering it free because as a Certification Authority our revenue comes from the online business community. These businesses can only grow if consumers feel safe surfing and shopping online. Unfortunately, in today Internet environment, trust has eroded and so has online sales growth. We want to reverse that trend.  The more people trust the security of the Internet the more they will shop online. The more consumers shop online – the more online businesses that will be created. And the more products and services we can sell to these growing businesses.That’s why we developed this for free distribution.  So you will never, ever have to pay for renewals, auto updates or subscription fees (and we mean ever)!

So try it out. If you like it spread the word. Better yet, we’d like to start a conversation with you. As a Certification Authority, Comodo has a special responsibility to keep the Internet secure and safe.  Your input will help us come up with more and more ideas to make every PC safer. Like you, we’re crazy about the net but not the fraudsters on it. And, so we’re developing top line products every day to counteract every trick (of theirs) in the book. We have launched a few new solutions (some free – some not). And more on the way – like a new service that actually does the heavy lifting of restoring your good name in case you do get victimized. It’s a revolutionary approach that can save you hundreds of hours of hassle.  

But we can do better with your insight and intelligence! We want to hear your feedback on what you feel is extremely important for making the internet a safe place to communicate and interact. So join the good fight and help us make the Internet truly safe for all users. To help guide us in our development efforts, we want to hear your creative ideas, concerns and observations. We know they’re valuable. 

Now whenever someone says, “…there’s no such thing as a free lunch”. You can just smile at them because you know that it not always true. Bon Apetit!

Judy Shapiro

“…but Mom, 500 Million people go to that site everyday…”

I heard my 12 year old boy exclaim to me in an exasperated voice when he asked to go a music site to listen to some music. I peppered him with questions as though I was interviewing someone for a job. What is the site? Do you see any security seals on it? How do we know if the site safe? By the time I was done grilling my son about the credibility of the site (“blah blah blah” to my son at this point) he exclaimed in frustration, “…but Mom…”

In that moment I understood the schizophrenic nature of the Internet itself. On the one hand, we appreciate the way the Internet can expand us in virtually every aspect of our lives – directly and intimately. And yet we seem to sense that the more dependent we become on our online network, the less secure we think our online interactions are becoming.

How we learn who to trust in the online world is at the heart of how we continue to use the Internet.   

But trust is a BIG word – not easily won but very easily lost. And in the online world today, we know enough to know that there are many more threats are out there eroding our trust faster than our ability to even understand the nature of these new threats. We question whether sites are secure or whether hackers can steal sensitive information. We wonder whether we will be a victim of a drive by download attack. We rightly fuss that our computers will get destroyed by some virus. So we must proceed with caution especially when it seems like the bad guys are gaining the upper hand. 

Can we learn to trust on the Internet?

I optimistically think we can. It’s not just wishful thinking on my part but reflects the reality of how the Internet is evolving to be more secure and to be more trusted.  More secure because we are incorporating better security practices with better solutions that mitigate some threats. And it is more becoming more trusted because there is a new maturity surrounding group of specialized security companies called Certification Authorities. They are, in effect, the unsung Trust Police of the Internet.

What exactly then is a Certification Authority?

To get a definition, I start where every good tech wannabe geek starts, at Wikipedia;  “In cryptography, a certificate authority or certification authority (CA) is an entity which issues digital certificates … for use by other parties. It is an example of a trusted third party.”

Huh?

I continue my hunt, Webopedia gives this explanation. “…a trusted third-party organization or company that issues digital certificates used to create digital signatures and public-private key pairs. The role of the CA in this process is to guarantee that the individual granted the unique certificate is, in fact, who he or she claims to be. Usually, this means that the CA has an arrangement with a financial institution, such as a credit card company, which provides it with information to confirm an individual’s claimed identity. CAs are a critical component in data security and electronic commerce because they guarantee that the two parties exchanging information are really who they claim to be.”

Now that’s more like it. Note that the main idea is that CAs are organized and built to create online trust. They issue digital certificates that attest to different elements of trust – site identity, site security and even whether content or information can be authenticated. In essence, CA’s are guys that do the heavy lifting in online authentication working to ensure that identities are verified.  

Nor can any software company claim to be a CA as becoming a CA requires significant infrastructure to authenticate digital interactions. Plus becoming a CA means that you adhere to best practices and security standards reflective of the highest standards around and are subject to regular audits.  

So it is this rarified breed of software companies that are doing important work by creating the basis for online authentication. They are creating the “Authentication layer” of the Internet to deal with the exponential need to authenticate all this online “stuff”. We want to authenticate our online surroundings and that’s where CAs come in. Today, CAs are already at the center of authenticating online interactions. When you see a gold padlock on a secure page, a CA has verified that the transaction is encrypted. When you see the address bar go green in IE7 that means a CA has authenticated the identity of the site owner.

These indicators are important in that they authenticate critical aspects of our online transactions. Other new ways to authenticate “stuff” are also being introduced. For instance, Comodo CA has a trust mark called HackerProof that authenticates that the site is safe from hackers. There is even a way to authenticate that web content to ensure that what you see is authentic.

More and more digital authentication is being introduced into how we browse and shop. CAs are leading the way in building this authentication layer enabling all of us to truly live in a trusted internet.

Judy Shapiro

And now a word from our sponsor …

Before you fire up your new PC or laptop – turn up the heat on PC protection – for free with Comodo Firewall Pro

The marketers’ engines are gathering a full head of steam to propel us consumers (some willing, some not) into the Holiday season with promises of great stuff. One sure fire item that is always high on everyone’s list is the PC.  And usually, these bright shiny PCs and laptops comes crammed with lots of security solutions — some free, some free for a while.  

But before you fire up your PC and activate the preinstalled security software, take heed – many of today’s leading anti-virus (AV) solutions are simply not up to the job of providing up-to-the-minute anti virus protection to keep your new PC healthy. Really. Here’s one sobering stat from Virus Total. Within any 24 hour period less than 1% of viruses are detected by any anti virus solution. “Yikes” you say and rightfully so. The dismal performance of most anti virus solutions is because they work on the old model of using a “signature based methodology” to  identify the bad guys. Simply, these solutions let every application into the PC and then try and figure out what’s bad based on how the file looks.

Well, it’s easy to see why that’s not too efficient. What about “new” signatures the AV solution has never seen? How can it possibly detect those? Sure, the security vendors provide regular updates – but that’s a little like having a burglar system that only protects against known burglars even if you get regular mug shot updates from the police.  Not the best idea really.

So is there a way to really protect your brand spanking new PC without it costing you another bunch of cash? There is and it’s free to boot. It is called Comodo Firewall Pro (Version 3.0) with A-VSMART P technology. Millions of users are protecting their PCs with the previous version of Comodo Firewall Pro which PC Magazine recognized as one of the leading firewall on the market (paid or free) and this new version (Version 3.0) is a super charged version.  

A-VSMART P technology is short for “Anti Virus, Spyware, Malware Rootkits and Trojan Prevention” technology and it does the job better than any conventional AV or security system your PC might come with because it operates from a wholly different perspective. Instead of letting all applications in and then trying to weed out the malware, A-VSMART P technology prevents unrecognized applications from ever getting access to your PC in the first place. Plus, if you have a new PC, this new solution really rocks because it has a patent-pending feature called Clean PC Mode. This feature takes a profile of your new PC and all the applications in it and registers them as safe. After that, the only applications that get installed on your PC are applications that are either recognized by Comodo’s extensive white list of trusted applications (which include nearly one million applications in the database and growing) or applications you expressly allow to be downloaded. This is the most effective way to keep a new PC healthy and no other anti-virus solution has anything like it.

So go ahead, download this powerful firewall for free. And in case you are wondering why Comodo gives it away free, it’s simple really. The Comodo group of companies represents a leading security company and the world’s second largest Certification Authority. If more people are confident shopping safely online, then there will be more eMerchants who will need Comodo security products and services.

So fire up your new PC – but first turn your PC onto Comodo Firewall Pro. It’s the safe bet for a safe computer.

For a free download, go to: http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com

Judy Shapiro 

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