Twitter just agreed to buy its long-time partner Gnip, a data company that anaylizes and sells Twitter data to a host of third parties companies. Gnip is the largest provider of social data in the world.
In its announcement, Twitter’s VP of Global Business Development and Platform Jana Messerschmidt writes:
Public Tweets can reveal a wide variety of insights — so much so that academic institutions, journalists, marketers, brands, politicians and developers regularly use aggregated Twitter data to spot trends, analyze sentiment, find breaking news, connect with customers and much more.
It is true that Twitter has become a powerful tool for social science researchers and journalists, but ultimately this move will help Twitter make its fire hose of data more palatable to Fortune 500 companies. The bottom line down the road is that Twitter needs to continue to find ways to monetize, and data about what we like, what shows we watch, where we are, how old we are, if we have dogs, what time we go to bed, etc. etc. is incredibly valuable to brands who want to target ads to us. They will pay handsomely for it. And now, they will pay Twitter directly.
Fire in an aircraft demands one thing: Get the machine on the ground as soon as possible.
This shot was captured earlier today of another big Pacific storm approaching California. The impending rain is good news for the drought-stricken state, but may also cause dangerous flooding.
“Californians haven’t seen rain and wind this powerful in 3 years,” climatologist Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a press release.
All the recent rain pummeling California won’t come close to ending the drought, but every bit is helpful as some cities contemplate running completely out of water within months. More important is the snow that these storms are bringing to the Sierra Nevada, as the state is highly dependent on runoff from melting snowpack in the spring.
Though rain is needed, this storm may also bring problems. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Los Angeles area. Areas that were burned by fires this year or last year are particularly vulnerable to debris flows and flash flooding.
“Right now from northern to southern California we are being battered by very heavy rain, strong winds and our coastal communities are being battered by high surf,” Patzert said. “Through the weekend we are bracing for mud and rock slides in areas that recently burned [from wildfires]. Flooding is looming up and down the state.”
Four tech giants embroiled in the government’s secret PRISM collection program reported today that they had received classified national security demands for the contents of at least 59,000 user accounts during the first half of 2013.
In the wake of a legal battle to provide more transparency about the number of government national security requests they receive for customer information, Yahoo reported that between January and June last year, the government sought content for between 30,000 and 40,000 user accounts, mostly using classified court orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Google reported that it received FISC requests for content on between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts during the same period.
Fracking is one of the most contentious energy issues in America, pitting the promise of cheap fossil fuels and good jobs against environmental concerns in an often acrimonious debate. Six photographers banded together to bring a nuanced look to the issue through the eyes of those directly impacted by it.
The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project began in fall of 2011 and became collaborative effort by photographers Noah Addis, Nina Berman, Brian Cohen, Scott Goldsmith, Lynn Johnson and Martha Rial. The project is named for the Marcellus Formation, which stretches hundreds of miles from West Virginia through Pennsylvania into New York. The formation, deep beneath the Appalachians, holds stratified shale deposits rich in natural gas. But only recently has horizontal drilling and hydraulic-fracturing made extracting it feasible.
A story as large as fracking and its impact on Appalachia demanded a large team of photographers. Each photographer brings their own perspective, and serves as a sounding board for the others.
“Part of the shape of the project was this idea that it was genuinely collaborative,” says Cohen. “It wasn’t just a bunch of photographers who happened to be covering the same thing. It wasn’t that we carved up the visual landscape in a specific way, but in meeting together we each knew what the other one was doing, how they were approaching a particular subject, where we overlapped and where we diverged.”
Google now owns a little piece of Apple.
Today, the web giant announced that it’s spending $3.2 billion to acquire Nest, a successful home hardware tech startup founded by Tony Fadell, one of the fathers of the Apple iPod.
Today, Nest makes internet-connected thermostats and fire detectors, but the plan is to extend its reach even further into the home. In a Google blog post, Fadell said that, with Google’s support, “Nest will be even better placed to build simple, thoughtful devices that make life easier at home, and that have a positive impact on the world.”
The announcement sparked much discussion across the web, as many joked about Google+ integration with Nest’s products and Google Ads showing up when you turn off your smoke alarm. But according to a statement Fadell delivered to TechCrunch, Nest will only use customer information for “providing and improving Nest’s products and services,” indicating it will not be used for Google’s larger advertising schemes.
That said, Google could certainly use Nest data to hone its online ads and other web services, changing its behavior according to when you’re at home and even where you happen to be in your home. The company’s Google Now service is already privy to such information.
Internet activist Aaron Swartz took his own life one year ago today. He was 26 years old and facing federal hacking and fraud charges for downloading millions of academic articles using MIT’s network. Before his passing, he was on outspoken advocate for freedom of information and a founder of Demand Progress, the nonprofit that invigorated a successful grassroots effort to fight the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2012.
Swartz was, as WIRED’s Kevin Poulsen wrote a “coder with a conscience,” and in a clip premiering today on WIRED from director Brian Knappenberger’s forthcoming documentary The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz, more than a few web visionaries remember him for the important work he did and the legacy he created.
“I think Aaron was trying to make the world work – he was trying to fix it,” says World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee. “So he was a bit ahead of his time.” He’s later followed by Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig, who notes “he was just doing what he thought was right to produce a world that was better.”
Swartz’s fight for rights online has only been brought more intensely into focus in the year since his death, largely due to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. To see him talk about government spying in this documentary at a time before the Snowden leaks is especially chilling now. But thanks to Knappenberger’s documentary – and other actions being taken to remember the internet activist – the conversation he started can continue.
“Now we are all submerged in a massively networked world where every important part of our lives has an online component to it,” said Knappenberger, who managed to Kickstart and finish his documentary in just a year. “Geeks and hackers already knew this but, thanks to Edward Snowden, now everyone realizes it.”
TAMBOPATA, Peru — After six months of speculation, we finally know what’s building these bizarre silk structures in the Amazon: a spider! But its precise identity is still a mystery that scientists are scrambling to solve as I write this.
Last week we followed these spider-hunting scientists, led by entomologist Phil Torres, deep into the Amazon rainforest as they attempted to find the tiny silk towers and figure out where they came from. It has not been an easy case to crack.
“With a lot of other weird mysteries, once you make an observation of some sort, spend enough time out there, the pieces kind of fit together,” said Torres, a graduate student at Rice University. “I’m surprised by how difficult this one is to solve.”
The bizarre structures first surfaced on the internet late this summer, when graduate student Troy Alexander posted photos to Reddit and Facebook, hoping that somebody could tell him what the structures were. He had discovered them on a small island near the Tambopata Research Center, deep in the Peruvian Amazon.
Made out of silk, the intricate constructions have two parts: a tall, central tower, and a circular fence that’s about 6 millimeters across. Back then, we asked as many entomologists as we could find, but no one had any idea what the structures were, or what made them. Until now.