The Quick and the Strong? Where is your Privacy


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For many years and possibly still today, the world wide web (www) was the Wild Wild West. The internet had no boundaries when the territory was discovered (developed). The internet, like the Wild, Wild West, was attitude too, a sense of adventure and purpose in adversity. “Censorship was impossible” and “anonymity was easy.” Like the Wild, Wild West, it loosed the entry requirements. Cowboys, Indians, Chinese, farmers, Mexicans, Europeans, Africans all came, and although prejudice was still in order, the possibility was still there. Far from equal, WWW freedom was still opportunity – good and bad. White hats and black hats were reborn.

And the Pacific Ocean is as yet unknown.

This would be a great hook into literal reference to the Bible and the modern western movie the Quick and the Dead, but it doesn’t fit. Bruce Schneier’s TedX talk entitled “The future of Internet, Privacy & Security”   Mr Schneier posits the Quick and the Strong for privacy and security issues in regard to distributed and organized power struggle in the age of the Internet.


The Early Adopters had the skill sets to realize the capability of www. As Mr Schneier points out, their vision created a brave new world of crowd sourcing, social networking, mass media and ecommerce … a pure international agora. Unfortunately, the community is not Utopian. Not without nefarious characters with the same vision, the marketplace also includes ill intention – hacking, identity theft, and graft.

The Quick are nimble and adept in utilizing technology, which is more than poignant in consideration of the technology hyper-cycle of innovation and reproduction. The Quick morph and maneuver ahead of the wave. The Quick though are distributed and such independence has limitations. The Strong eventually catch up.. or do they?  Do we want that?  At what privacy cost?


The traditional power mavens – governments, corporations, institutions – eventually caught on. As services and apps increased in number and capability, we as consumers voraciously came to the table again and again. Our data is owned by them through this appetite. These vendors learned more and more of our habits and needs, and government listened in.

Thus the Strong are slower to catch on (Mr Schneier’s Agatha Christie novel comment is classic!) The Strong wield a heavy weapon, hard to pick up but much more fruitful and forceful when swung accurately.


Mr Schneier proposes most of us are in the middle. We accept the restrictions and forge into the capabilities because to do less than that is not only futile but ultimately self-defeating. It’s unconventional war, although fortunately, not in the sense of mass destruction. The balance lies in what Mr Schneir says is the natural crime rate versus what society will tolerate.


So how does the Middle survive? Thrive?

Mr Schneier suggests empowering distributed powers (the Quick) with three methods:

Schneier Defense

What are you? The Quick, the Strong, or the Middle? Mr Schneier explains why we all need to know.


Ready or not … your privacy is already gone


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Ready or not … your privacy is already gone.  How much did you really have in the first place?  Here’s looking at you, kid.

There’s a lot of discussion about privacy in the Information Age.  Like rules for the Internet, it’s a wild horse not easily wrangled. As a society, we benefit from a certain layer of loose personal information, but how much are you willing to reveal?

Memory Lane

Edging back 40 years is the iconic Privacy Act of 1974 which created legal responsibilities for the collection, dissemination, and maintenance of information on an individual collected by the government. Simply, the government can’t give away the personal information it gathers on you as a citizen – a very simple quid pro quo contract. Today, we freely assume such protection as we readily provide personal data. However, this is a contract between the US government and its citizens.

Twenty years later, President Clinton adds the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Title I broaches issues regarding insurance coverage, but Title II tackled Health Privacy Information (HPI). These provisions define how HPI is handled in many forms, including electronically, and penalties are defined for improper handling of HPI to include the first and last link in that chain – the doctor-nurse conversations about Mr X in Room 100 with the Y problem within earshot of whatever audience filled the elevator, hallway, or public space.

This contract isn’t the government governing itself; it is enforcing privacy restrictions upon citizen-to-citizen transactions.   To complicate the issues, there are caveats. Your HPI can be distributed without your consent under certain provisions, such as if your care would be degraded without it, as in emergency surgery or communication between generalists and specialists. Another exemption is suspected criminal activity that affects others, such as child abuse. Thus privacy is now between private persons and entities, and it has limitations in regard to the greater good of society.

Then there’s the USA Patriot Act, a definitive enactment of government duty to protect its citizens at a price of their privacy. Controversial at best, our Founding Fathers would have appreciated the debates on this legislation.

But what is privacy … now?

To put HIPPA in perspective, President Clinton was the first President to have email.

“I sent a grand total of two emails as president,” he said, according to Fast Company. “One to our troops in the Adriatic, and one to John Glenn when he was 77 years old in outer space. I figured it was OK if Congress subpoenaed those,” Clinton said.

That’s a revelatory data point in regard to how much personal data (Big Data) we amass now, and how President Clinton verbalizes the immediate significance for public and private realms.

What is Privacy to YOU?

Set aside all the personal information already covered by US statute, think about all the email you’ve sent today, this week, this year. (Gmail scans your email content to find keywords for advertising.) Add all the Internet trail you’ve laid. Then there’s the transactional data exhaust. And there’s even public information about you provided by the government.

privacy you are the product

Consider your address; there’s no restrictions for publishing that (remember the phone book?). Although you can hope to erase your trail if you proactively pursue those that track it, that is just a drop in an ocean of personal data.

Your phone alone tells the world about you – providing you traffic information, helping you select restaurants, finding gas stations or open banks, sending you targeted advertisements.

What is in a name

Think of a physical privacy setting. Perhaps the cubicle farm at work where anyone can hear any conversation. Perhaps the dense population of a large family or dormitory or crowded restaurant.  What can you hear or see about your fellow citizens? What do you learn from that? And privacy is as personal as the individual as well. Whatever personal information your coworker may regale regularly may make you uncomfortable and certainly would never escape your self-control settings.

Privacy in its essence is detaching YOU from what YOU DO.

Adventures in Privacy

Julia Angwin at the 2015 Strata+Hadoop World conference explains her journey to obtain privacy in a digitally connected world. The concerted effort requires thourough research, IT savvy, deliberate actions contrary to the normal open settings, and a bank roll to support the isolation structure.

It’s not just romantically “stepping off the grid.” It takes a bit of coin and a lot of determination to gain – not pure anonymity – but perhaps 50% more privacy.

Privacy now is not so much about your identity; it is about your behavior.

Ms Angwin has so many fabulous points.  Final takeaway for what you can’t buy.

privacy - things i couldn't buy

Pen to paper – Quantified Self Visualized –


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With several posts threading self-observation, it’s time for an example. With over 30 products and services and twice that in websites, walking through one good, forward looking, cool-looking example demonstrates what is possible at this point. is a quantified-self product that elegantly and effectively presents the capability of what is capable presently in just a few steps.

AGGREGATION starts with aggregating a variety of data streams. The list is a bit short but the product is only emerging from beta. feeds


Your account absorbs the input from these sources to create your data lake.

VISUALIZATION presents your data lake in three perspectives:

SPORT => Fitness and health measurements

EXPLORER => When & where data; geotracking

DIGITAL => Virtual travel. What your web data exhaust looks like dashboard

REPORT provides a weekly report on Sunday. Three theme options are available for starters. “Connecting more accounts will unlock more advanced themes.”

weekly report

Note**  “Some days have low steps” versus 71 hours on the computer.


Getting into begins with connecting with them on FB; then it’s 5 steps to get moving. Of course, this allows to access your internet presence, as well as personal data. It’s a bit unnerving. I signed up but since I’m on the wait list, I’m holding out my TMI. I also need to add a sports tracking device.  After the Apple watch reviews hardly shine, I’m back-researching which health/fitness tracking products to use.

Start up Steps

For a more in-depth review of, check out Mark Krynsky’s lifestream blog.

BIG PICTURE has created an elegant product to capture a variety of quantified-self streams and provide an exciting, interactive display of that information. This and several other services like it are only just beginning to capture the Big Data picture.  Like the amazing visualizations developed by, these are still in the “wow, cool!” stage.

Each is a single data point that will meta-aggregate to create Big Data quantified self in new definition – as community, country, region, and global lens.

More noise to pull the signal.



The Data Lake: Half Empty or Half Full?


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This is a great article by   vice president of marketing at SnapLogic.

Data Lakes are the answer to everyone’s prayers; or is it?  Classic old versus new battles out with traditional data warehousing challenged by all-things-to-all-people Hadoop data lake storage.

Information Technology is no different than any strategic business operation; it needs a solid deployment backed by leadership.

Who wins?  Read and see.

The Data Lake: Half Empty or Half Full?.

Quantified Self – How, When, Where, How Much … But Why?


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Maybe you’ve heard of Quantified Self or maybe you’ve heard one of its several names for several variations.  Basically it is one concept – to track life.

A Rose

 What Is in the Name

In simplest context, Quantified Self is recording – one’s own – not anyone else’s or any group’s – life. Observations can include any variety of measurements and assessments. Wearables track body functions of activity, rest, working out or physical records of pulse, temperature, respiration. Recording eating and drinking consumption is another. Evaluating mental states such as moods or emotions or happiness is yet another aspect. What books you read, movies you watch, etc.  The list could be exhausting.  The list of resources for the quantified self and its variations is growing as well.

Almost everything we do generates data.- Gary Wolf

Quantified Self evolving:   term, methods, and even a movement


Self tracking of itself has been around since the first woman wanted to predict her upcoming cycle and the life decisions thereof.  Balancing your check book is a form of quantifying your actions as well.  The term “quantified self” though goes back to the 1970s, basically when applying sensors and computing entered the equation.

This is awkward for all of us.

This is awkward for all of us.

The nascent body sensing apparati though took some time to develop.

In 2007 Wired Magazine editors Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly proposed the “quantified self” as “a collaboration of users and tool makers who share an interest in self knowledge through self-tracking.”

In 2010, Wolf spoke about the movement as a TED talk.


Going back to monthly cycles and balancing checkbooks examples, self-tracking isn’t a new process. The Quantified Self method though incorporates technology as appropriate for the Information Age.  That’s the new part.

Basically => Quantified Self = sensor + recording technology

Since Gary Wolf’s 2010 Ted Talk the variety and capability of sensors has increased greatly. The Internet of Things (IoT) platform bleeds into QS as well. The results are increasing volumes, variety and velocity of data – now we’re talking Big Data!

An easy example is monitoring blood pressure.

You might know what stressors increase blood pressure, but how often does that happen? How much of an increase is significant? What times or conditions reduce your blood pressure?

Now an easy–to-wear sensor can monitor blood pressure continuously and transmit that data to storage. Instead of discrete, hit-or-miss blood pressure measurements, Big Data captures a continuous stream of readings from which doctors or data scientists can observe patterns or predictability.

Rinse and repeat for any habit or activity or condition you want to observe. Sensors, apps, websites, products, services abound in which to quantify your life. See the list below for a list of what available now.  Or check out the QS site for tools.


Quantified Self has become a community as well. Gary Wolf and Kevin Kelly went on to found Quantified Self Labs in California to aggregate the Quantified Self forum.

Most major cities in the US and around the world host regular QS meetings, perhaps not monthly but often enough to share experiences.

Our aim is to help people get meaning out of their personal data. – QS website

Quantified Self the group began hosting annual QS conferences in 2011 in San Francisco and other countries the year following the Ted talk. The next upcoming conference is June 18-20, 2015. The IoT is in the same location the following week at the O’Reilly SOLID conference.

Quantified Self <=> Big Data

Today’s Quantified Self methodology is a Big Data capability.  It is volume, variety and velocity of information that only recently could be captured AND comprehended.

As for WHY Quantified Self?  Because we can?  Better sleep, better health, or a better life?  Big Data doesn’t have the answers, just awareness in the data.  You still decide what a better life is.

Further information on Quantified Self

About Quantified Self … itself.  OR …

From Mark Moschel’s The Beginner’s Guide to Quantified Self (Plus, a List of the Best Personal Data Tools Out There)

Top tools for data collection and visualization

The lists below include some, but not all devices. Be sure to do your research when picking the best device for you.

Track anything

To start: Use pen and paper or a digital spreadsheet (Google Drive or Excel).

My recommendation: AskMeEvery – Simple tracking of meaningful data via email or text

Alternatives: IFTTT – Connect your online services (ie. Save foursquare checkins to Google Drive). Daytum – Collect, categorize, and communicate everyday data.


To start: Moves – free mobile app

My recommendation: Fitbit. They are one of the few activity tracking companies that promote an open API.

Alternatives: Nike Fuelband, Amiigo, Bodymedia, Omron, Misfit Shine, Jawbone Up, RunKeeper, Strava


To start: SleepCycle – mobile app

My recommendation: Zeo

Alternatives: Wakemate, Lark


My recommendation: Happiness

Alternatives: MoodPanda, Moodscope, Moodjam, MercuryApp


To start: Cardiio – uses the iPhone camera to measure heart rate

My recommendation: Emwave2 – heart rate variability tracking and stress reduction

Alternatives: Polar, Mio, Basis, Myithlete, Adidas miCoach – training shirt with heart rate sensors, Tinke – heart rate variability

Blood Pressure / Weight

My recommendation: Withings

Alternatives: Blipcare, iHealth

Blood Testing

My recommendation: WellnessFX

Alternatives: InsideTracker, Talking20


Visualization tools: Excel, Tictrac, Nineteen. Indiemapper

Inspiration: FlowingData, Feltron Reports,


What the heck is the Internet thinking?


Anna Vital of Funders and Founders created a most beautiful info graphic to visualize what the most read stories of the Internet.  This is a static picture of her amazing interactive document – blinking eye and all.

For each top English-language media website in the world, we found the most shared articles using Ahrefs Content Explorer (You can explore these yourself by clicking on the names of publications under the bubbles. The index is alive and changes every day).


Here’s the criteria:

  1. Have a large number of both likes and tweets
  2. Be an idea, not an event or person (can explain it in 1 tweet)
  3. Have a lot of comments (on the publisher’s site). Sticky ideas produce a lot of strong reactions, as judged by lengthy comments and the number of comments.
  4. Not be a video or a picture gallery (without text). If we factored in photos sets, cat memes, etc., they would win any day, but they don’t articulate and an idea.

Wearables Data Analytics: How Now Brown Cow


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Wearables aren’t just about physical fitness, or even humans.  Just about any National Geographic special or elementary school science flick might have included some sort of tracking device that used the data to better understand animal behavior.

Tracking Sea Turtles


The fitbit and Apple Watch are upgrading the capabilities of human wearable technology, and so animal tracking has evolved as well.

It Starts with a Question:  “How now brown cow?”

More academically, “when do cows go into heat (estrus)?”  The window for when cows are ready to breed is actually quite small.  This is an excellent simple example of what data analytics can do for industries as old school as dairy farming.

The information provided by cow steps not only improved the artificial insemination opportunity, it gave insight to choosing sex outcome.  The data also created patterns for detecting 8-10 diseases.  One question opened insight into other aspects.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 8.33.24 AM

Wearables: Wet T-shirt Contest


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Continuing the wearables theme, these are garments for measuring (again) heart rate, respiration, and  … perspiration. There’s even EEG sensors in a beanie hat that can monitor brain activity.

 Still a Secret

I found this Victoria’s Secret bra ($75) in another blog post; however, the link led to a page no longer available link on the VS site.  I’m not sure what “connect up to regular heart rate monitors” capability is.

It does make it easy to see how utilitarian and ubiquitous a heart rate monitor might become.

VS Heart Monitor

For BPM tracking straight from your bra is this Victoria’s Secret Incredible range. Electrodes on the inside of the bra connect up to regular heart rate monitors to provide the tracking and the Body-Wick fabric keeps you cool and dry during running, boxing and high-impact workouts.

Shirt, No Shoes

OM has a shirt and monitor combination. The shirt ($110-130) senses, which comes in long or short sleeve or no sleeve. The data module ($100) collects and sends the information wirelessly. It also comes with a biometric fitness test to analyze your current ability.


Gym Clothes

Athos has developed workout clothes – a compression fit long sleeve top and shorts – to monitor muscle activity. This is a step up from the standard suite of heart rate and respiration. The outfit starts at $198 plus the reusable core at $199 – not a cheap outfit. For an old school, hard core PT person like myself who prides themselves on wearing whatever’s left over in the closet (barefoot runner) that’s a bit hard to justify. But since now I’m nursing a medical condition, I’m interested in the capability.

This is the marketing video.

This is the Wall Street Journal reporting that actually shows better what the capability is.

Monitoring, Detection & Prevention

Another OM video –  a bit dramatic but it does envision the capability of wearables beyond the workout.  The data stream isn’t just about being a better PT animal; it can provide a variety of diagnostic and preventive capability.

Stress feedback monitor are actually used by troops in Afghanistan to handle stress.


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