Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #187
November 4th, 2007

The Semantic Web Goes Mainstream

During the course of a day, the average person who works at a desk deals with torrents of information coming from many sources: e-mails, Web searches, calendars, notes, spreadsheets, documents, and presentations. Sorting through the information is tough, and for the most part, it’s done in an ad hoc manner. But in the next couple of months, there may be a better way. Radar Networks, based in San Francisco, is releasing a free Web-based tool, called Twine, that it hopes will change the way people organize their information.
Source: Kate Greene, Technology Review, October 29, 2007

Doctors more accepting of e-patients’ going online

A study released this month by the Pew Internet & American Life Project confirmed what most doctors already know: The number of e-patients is growing. About 51 percent of those living with a disability or chronic disease go online, compared with 74 percent of the rest of the population, according to the study. But once those with illnesses get online, they become some of the most avid Internet users. Three-fourths of e-patients say information they found on the Web affected decisions about their treatment, according to the study. Nearly 69 percent said something they found on the Internet led them to ask their doctors new questions or get a second opinion.
Source: Kelly Heyboer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 26, 2007

Germany seeks expansion of computer spying

A proposal to secretly scan suspects’ hard drives causes unease in a nation with a history of official surveillance. […] Now, along with several other European countries, Germany is seeking authority to plant secret Trojan viruses into the computers of suspects that could scan files, photos, diagrams and voice recordings, record every keystroke typed and possibly even turn on webcams and microphones in an attempt to gain knowledge of attacks before they happen.
Source: Kim Murphy, The Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2007 (Free registration)

AT&T Invents Programming Language for Mass Surveillance

From the company that brought you the C programming language comes Hancock, a C variant developed by AT&T researchers to mine gigabytes of the company’s telephone and internet records for surveillance purposes.
Source: Ryan Singel, Threat Level blog, Wired News, October 29, 2007

U.N. launches poverty monitoring site

The United Nations launched a new Web site powered by Google and network equipment maker Cisco on Thursday that will show how and where the world is succeeding or failing in meeting the Millennium Development Goals on ending poverty. [Here is a link to the MDG Monitor site.]
Source: Reuters, November 1, 2007

Wikipedia cleared in French defamation case

A French judge has dismissed a defamation and privacy case against Wikipedia after ruling the free online encyclopedia was not responsible for information introduced onto its Web site. The U.S.-based Wikipedia Foundation, which is behind the popular compendium, was sued by three French nationals over a Wikipedia article that said they were gay activists.
Source: Reuters, November 2, 2007

Shell gas stations’ high-tech initiative lets some Chicago customers pay by fingertip scan

Chicago drivers have a new way to pay for gasoline: with their fingertips. Ten Shell gas stations in the Windy City are testing biometric systems that let consumers walk up to the pump, scan their fingertips on a device and fill up their vehicles. The systems, also installed at Shell convenience stores, are directly linked to customers’ checking or credit-card accounts for payment.
Source: Lauren Tara LaCapra, The Associated Press, November 1, 2007

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