WhatsApp: The inside story


In early December, Wired’s editor David Rowan spent three days with the WhatsApp founders and was given unprecedented access to them and their business. His full feature appears in the next edition of Wired’s UK edition, published on 6 March (and with subscribers a few days earlier). Here are extracts from the feature.

When he was living on welfare, Jan Koum’s family collected food stamps a couple of blocks from the unmarked Mountain View office that now houses his messaging company, WhatsApp.

An émigré at 16 from Communist Ukraine — where phones were routinely tapped, and classmates questioned for mocking politicians — Koum and his mother could rarely afford to call family back home.

So when, at 31, he left a job at Yahoo! with enough cash to launch his own business, it made absolute sense that he would work on democratising phone-based communications. He had just three rules as he experimented with the early iterations: his service would defiantly not carry advertising, an experience satisfyingly absent from his Soviet upbringing; it would not store messages and thus imperil individual citizens’ privacy; and it would maintain a relentless focus on delivering a gimmickless, reliable, friction-free user experience.

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Big data in the age of the telegraph

March 2013 | byCaitlin Rosenthal

Daniel McCallum’s 1854 organizational design for the New York and Erie Railroad resembles a tree rather than a pyramid. It empowered frontline managers by clarifying data flows.

In 1854, Daniel McCallum took charge of the operations of the New York and Erie Railroad. With nearly 500 miles of track, it was one of the world’s longest systems, but not one of the most efficient. In fact, McCallum found that far from rendering operations more efficient, the scale of the railroad exponentially increased its complexity.

The problem was not a lack of information: the growing use of the telegraph gave the company an unprecedented supply of nearly real-time data, including reports of accidents and train delays.2 Rather, the difficulty was putting that data to use, and it led McCallum to develop one of the era’s great low-tech management innovations: the organization chart. This article presents that long-lost chart (see sidebar, “Tracking a missing org chart”) and shows how aligning data with operations and strategy—the quintessential modern management challenge—is a problem that spans the ages.

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Big Data in Education: Big Potential or Big Mistake?

Posted on January 29, 2014 by Saga Briggs

When learners interact with content in your course, they leave behind ‘digital breadcrumbs,’ so to speak, which offer clues about the learning process. We’re now able to collect and track this data through learning management systems (LMSs), social networks, and other media that measure how students interpret, consider, and arrive at conclusions about course material.

The good news is that this information–called Big Data–can do wonders for personalized instruction, especially within the e-learning industry. The not-so-good news is that the rise of Big Data brings with it many risks and ethical dilemmas, all of which need to be addressed before we move forward with this new approach.

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The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course

December 31, 2013 4:46 PM

One year ago, many were pointing to the growth of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, as the most important trend in higher education. Many saw the rapid expansion of MOOCs as a higher education revolution that would help address two long-vexing problems: access for underserved students and cost.

In theory, students saddled by rising debt and unable to tap into the best schools would be able to take free classes from rock star professors at elite schools via Udacity, edX, Coursera and other MOOC platforms.

But if 2012 was the “Year of the MOOC,” as The New York Times famously called it, 2013 might be dubbed the year that online education fell back to earth. Faculty at several institutions rebelled against the rapid expansion of online learning — and the nation’s largest MOOC providers are responding.

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Dear Anti-Virus provider: Do you enable NSA spying?

Open letter from 25 groups asks AV firms if they cooperate with spy agencies.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, security expert Bruce Schneier, and 23 others have called on antivirus providers around the world to protect their users against malware spawned by the National Security Agency and other groups that carry out government surveillance.

The move comes amid revelations that the NSA has a wide-ranging menu of software exploits at its disposal that have been used to identify users of the Tor anonymity service, track iPhone users, and monitor the communications of surveillance targets. Schneier has said that the NSA only relies on these methods when analysts have a high degree of confidence that the malware won’t be noticed. That means detection by AV programs could make the difference between such attacks succeeding, failing, or being used at all.

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Gebruik stagneert bij social media, neemt af voor online

ING presenteert voor tweede jaar onderzoek naar de impact van social media


Vorig jaar publiceerde ING voor het eerst een onderzoek naar het gebruik en de impact van social media. Dit jaar werd het onderzoek, uitgevoerd door Social Embassy en Insites Consulting, herhaald. En er blijken in een jaar tijd wel wat interessante ontwikkelingen te zien in het gebruik van social media in vergelijking met online en traditionele media. Zo daalde het vertrouwen in alle typen media, stagneerde het gebruik van social media en trad er bij online media zelfs een daling op. We lopen de belangrijkste bevinden van het Social Media Impact-onderzoek van ING (#sming13) langs.

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Google Is Losing The War Over Cookies…What’s Next?

Google Is Losing the War on Cookies And May Ditch Them In Favor Of A New User-Tracking Device

by JIM EDWARDS SEP. 18, 2013,

Google is working on an alternative ad tracking system that could replace cookies, according to USA Today. The new system is called “AdID,” and it would offer certain privacy and security enhancements over the cookie.
Cookies are little bits of code that advertisers and web sites drop into your browser as you surf the web. They track your web history, which advertisers use as a guide to your potential shopping interests.

Google has been slowly losing a war over the use of third-party cookies to track users on behalf of advertisers. You can see how gritty that was has become in this interview with executives from Mozilla, which makes Firefox.

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Waarom we nog steeds irrelevante online advertenties zien


Online adverteren onderscheidt zich van veel andere vormen van adverteren door de hoeveelheid data die gebruikt kan worden om gericht te adverteren. Iedereen is het erover eens dat gerichte, relevante advertenties veel effectiever zijn dan algemene generiekere advertenties gericht op een grote groep gebruikers. Toch lijkt de gemiddelde internetgebruiker niet tevreden met de mate waarin advertenties relevant zijn voor de gebruiker. Hoe kan dat eigenlijk als we zoveel data tot onze beschikking hebben om wel relevant te worden? Hier zijn meerdere redenen voor aan te wijzen.

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