online trust: that old chestnut?

every new generation needs to reinvent the wheel in some way.
below is an excerpt from an article in the WSJ on the old chestnut (for us cranky old netdynammers) of “How to tell if someone is lying to you in an email”.
you’ll note that the expert quoted on this is working for the military, and thank goodness us language experts can still get a job paid for out of tax dollars spent on defence.
but wait – why is this so old hat and ho-humifying to the likes of us over 50s?
a cursory search of the netdynam archives using, say, the term ‘trust’, will reveal that the topic was indeed thrashed almost to death back in 1996.. if my memory serves me well…

meanwhile, here’s a bit of what the article has to say on the topic:

It is possible to catch people lying because they often are bad at it, says Tyler Cohen Wood, an intelligence officer and cyber branch chief at the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Science and Technology Directorate, and author of a 2014 book titled “Catching the Catfishers: Disarm the Online Pretenders, Predators and Perpetrators Who Are Out to Ruin Your Life.” (Her views on the subject are her own and not those of her employer, she emphasizes.)

“The majority of people prefer to tell the truth,” says Ms. Cohen Wood. “That’s why when they are lying, the truth is going to leak out.”

There will be clues. To identify them, Ms. Cohen Woods suggests using a modified version of a law-enforcement technique known as statement analysis, which is a way to look for deception by analyzing a person’s words.

To begin with, pay attention to a person’s use of emphatic language. It doesn’t necessarily mean he or she is lying, but rather that he or she really wants you to believe what is being said. This is also the case when a person keeps saying the same thing over and over in slightly different ways. “They wouldn’t repeat it if it wasn’t important to them,” Ms. Cohen Wood says.

Look for language that distances the writer from the intended reader. In person, someone may unconsciously distance himself by crossing his arms in front of him. In writing, he can achieve this same effect by omitting personal pronouns and references to himself from a story.

Say he receives a text that says, “Hey I had a great time last night, did you?” He might reply, “Last night was fun.”

Another technique to watch out for is the unanswered question. You ask, and the other person hedges or changes the subject. Most likely, the person doesn’t like saying no, or doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. But he or she also may also be keeping something from you.

Creatures of Information


Penelope Trunk - blog domo at Brazen Careerist

We walk the corridors, searching the shelves and rearranging them, looking for lines of meaning amid leagues of cacophony and incoherence, reading the history of the past and of the future, collecting our thoughts and collecting the thoughts of others, and every so often glimpsing mirrors, in which we may recognize creatures of the information. Jorge Luis Borges The Library of Babel


[ResponseIS Tweeting Better Than Blogging?] I’ve had to think about the social ‘net as a marketing opportunity for my job. I approached this by going out and sifting through the resources about current best practices. Because I’ve long be a skimmer of the marketing world as it is situated by the internet, I have also long known the most basic, challenge is making it possible for your customers to both: find your content, and, spend a quality moment with ‘it.’

That said customer might proceed to a trial–marketing lingo for doing something that you the provider knows he or she is doing–is almost the frosting on the cake of nailing down steps one and two.

Find and capture (attention.)

When I peruse the google analytics for ND2.0 or any of my own productions, I am impressed and dismayed in equal parts by their suggestive qualification of user behavior. They found us, and they spent an average of 2:02 minutes with us. (The realization of a trial here would be a comment.)

Awash in information, yet, somewhere in this ocean is content which may be found if time is invested. Stepping back from this opaque generality, is a slightly more refined generality: an individual invests time in a manner distinctive to him or her, is motivated by an overt or tacit goal, and, his or her’s success requires a successful act of retrieval and selection.

To give this description a finer grain, we would need to know something more detailed about the conjunction of: goals, time, tool, manner/regimen, medium, media, (and more.)

In this there would arise the positive question. For example, what characterizes the user most likely to read content of some specific length? There could be all sorts of ways to break down the previously mentioned descriptive elements.

Of course I am in possession of my own subject, myself. (Netdynamics was partly rooted in reflexive accounts.) I have a good idea about that which comprises the array of my own goals, what kinds of content focus both my time and attention, and, I also have a fairly rich terminology for establishing the baseline description concerned with characterizing what kind/type/disposition I possess.

If I integrate a rough and approximate sense of goal directed search-and-retrieval with this kind of baseline description, and, I then scale this conceptually to include all persons who could be differentiated in this way, I can then blast this downward to questions about Twitter and blogosphere. I reckon the devil would be in the details betwixt, for example, two extremes. One extreme is the person who meets their goals by exclusively spending not more than two minutes with any section of content, and, another person who only uses the internet to retrieve long-form content.

Following through with this sketch it seems we land in the interdisciplinary flux of psychology, anthropology, sociology, and, information science.

From this, there could be a folksy supposition: there are those users who are tend to express attention deficit disorder. This user’s time is easily waylaid. What would a causal hypothesis be once we establish that some users operate like this?


ND2.0’s two-to-four hundred visits per month are somewhere on the continuum of quantifiable responsive agency and activity. Our blog is more active than all the dead and lesser blogs. We haven’t invested the time to elevate its activity, yet the default is not completely shabby at all. Yet, we’re not aiming to address the complex problem of how to make our content retrievable, vital, and, incidentally, formulate its distribution in ways which match the various ways users deploy to meet their goals.


In three different feedreaders I have subscribed to a total of over 2,000 blogs. I keyword search through the blogs using the RSS client. Another way to look at this is that I have created a subset of blogs and severely limited the base data set. This would be contrasted with searching via Google. In the case of using Google, I am looking through a humongous data set, but, I also have to invest the time in wading through the false positives. My experience is that there’s lots of gold deep in the pages of a Google search, yet the time investment is often too much.

I don’t know what the actual figures are, however, for argument’s sake, say I spend 25% of my time ‘after retrieval,’ on average, using up 5 minutes per retrieved item. This is a somewhat complicated vector, right? This includes the twenty to sixty minutes–or so–I might spend reading a journal article or long magazine article. The other side of this measure is that I spend 25% of my time using time at the rate of less than five minutes per retrieved item. Leaving the 50% I require to search and retrieve.

(No matter what the actual distribution of time is, it shifts were I to drop out, so-to-speak, “off screen,” dealing with content I print out, or listen to.)


One last observation; when I look at my Twitter stream ( and or at blogs, I’m impressed by the implicit time investment of other users. And, I can make distinctions, such as the difference between Twitter users who are mostly scattering links, and, Twitter users who mostly are interacting with each other. Likewise, on blogs, I’m fascinated by comment threads. Not for their content, but because of their group relations and social-psychological context.

I’m very impressed by the blog Crooked Timber, where something like three dozen people are expressing (day in and day out,) deeply thought responses to sophisticated thinking.

There are many extremely successful blogs produced by a single person. Take for example Brazen Careeristfrom Penelope Trunk. It gets hundreds of thousands of hits per month.

A blog requires users who possess the right combination of traits, motivation, goals–as long as the blog is oriented to users. Obviously, there is the other side of the equation: those who develop and produce and distribute content for users.

As for Twitter, comments will follow. I will say this: it’s not well matched with my disposition. I prefer to manage serendipity rather than simply be subjected to it!

Who’s to Know?

Following from my previous post about methods for learning more about people encountered on the internet, The New York Times today features an article The Tell-All Generation Learns to Keep Things Off-line (Laura M. Holson; NYT 5-8:2010).

While participation in social networks is still strong, a survey released last month by the University of California, Berkeley, found that more than half the young adults questioned had become more concerned about privacy than they were five years ago — mirroring the number of people their parent’s age or older with that worry.

They are more diligent than older adults, however, in trying to protect themselves. In a new study to be released this month, the Pew Internet Project has found that people in their 20s exert more control over their digital reputations than older adults, more vigorously deleting unwanted posts and limiting information about themselves. “Social networking requires vigilance, not only in what you post, but what your friends post about you,” said Mary Madden, a senior research specialist who oversaw the study by Pew, which examines online behavior. “Now you are responsible for everything.”

One interesting question raised by the article–but not addressed–concerns how investigations into online ‘reputation,’ are framed by investigators.

In this article from Septmeber 2009, How HR Professionals Analyze Your Facebook Profile, author Damian Davila Rojas mentions a key finding from a Harris Interactive poll of HR professionals,

The findings were more likely to get candidates rejected than hired: 35% of HR professionals said social networking content had caused them to eliminate a candidate, while only 18% reported deciding to employ someone based on a profile.

There’s a graphic presented to represent the negative reasons for rejecting a job candidate based in their online data.

Of more interest to me is the positive graphic because it begs the question of how positive data is framed.

Here are the top three categories:

50% Got a good feel for the candidate’s personality, could see a good fit within the company culture
39% Job candidate’s background information supported their professional qualifications for the job
39% Job candidate’s site conveyed a professional image

Item #2 is the only element subject to neutral verification. Whereas item #1 begs the question about framing and instrumental approach, and, item #3 does the same while pointing in the direction of normative practices. Also, item #3, with respect to Facebook, can only mean a professional image within the limitations set by Facebook. This includes all the data from friends which flows into the person’s Facebook home page.

Hiring practices vary greatly. They can be very subjective and are subject to hidden cognitive biases. For example, the hunch is more a problem to be eliminated than a valuable instinct in this area.

Social media presents data about a person’s social network. This is not off limits to the hiring professional. Yet, this realm of data raises interesting questions.

Getting To Know You

When I meet a new participant, I immediately become interested in who they are; what they do; what are their interests; what are their publications; where are their internet tracks; what are their affiliations.

Often the forensics involved in uncovering this data is easy to accomplish. Given an email or wide use of a particular handle, a real name falls into place, and the traces and locations are quickly unfolded.

On the other hand, when neither email or handle lead to a real name, then the forensics often become formidable. There are give-aways, because the next step is use distinctive phrases and the brute text search capability of google.

This always works when the internet tracks are text-based and prolix. This doesn’t work when people don’t leave “text” tracks.


I prefer people do not compartmentalize their various aspects, when they’re willing to speak of the data but not say where it resides. Especially this is so when I find it “hidden” in plain sight.

This subject has come up at various times on the ND email list, in the back-channel, and even about this blog. This concern for how their own data is to be distributed, for me, is always in the context of my experience with rare people who are masters of concealment and most people who don’t understand what this mastery actually entails.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

I turned off Google Buzz for several reasons. The most important reason is that social apps such as Buzz and Facebook aren’t compelling in any awesome way for me. It could be said that I indulge Facebook. I spend less than an hour ‘there’ in a given week. It is not the best way, using the internet, to communicate with me. Basically, I can take it or leave it. Although reconnecting with old friends has been rewarding, real connection makes demands Facebook doesn’t support.

On the other hand, I like Facebook’s gallery feature, and, I like the feature that allows for publicizing blog posts, (where the feed automatically posts slugs from blog postings across my two personal blogs, and netdynam. Facebook would add more value if I leveraged it more in that direction. But, I do not.

So, Google Buzz, doesn’t trip my undeveloped social app triggers at all. It’s more intrusive in being tied into gmail, and, as it happened, I was forced to deprecate gmail its HTML interface because–in the aftermath of Buzz’s rollout, I discovered add-on java broke Gmail’s java as far as its advanced interface goes on OSX Tiger. between Tiger’s awful java implementation and Google’s hellish support, I was stuck.

I’m on Myspace-Musicians too. (Kamelmauz) Ugh.

A netydnam colleague emailed an interesting article from The New York Review of Books,

In the World of Facebook, by Charles Petersen; reviewing two books, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal (by Ben Mezrich) Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America (by Julia Angwin).

The article’s second paragraph:

What is “social networking”? For all the vagueness of the term, which now seems to encompass everything we do with other people online, it is usually associated with three basic activities: the creation of a personal Web page, or “profile,” that will serve as a surrogate home for the self; a trip to a kind of virtual agora, where, along with amusedly studying passersby, you can take a stroll through the ghost town of acquaintanceships past, looking up every person who’s crossed your path and whose name you can remember; and finally, a chance to remove the digital barrier and reveal yourself to the unsuspecting subjects of your gaze by, as we have learned to put it with the Internet’s peculiar eagerness for deforming our language, “friending” them, i.e., requesting that you be connected online in some way.

If I wanted to look up the author, Charles Peterson, on Facebook, I would be unable to do so. His name is too common. It’s interesting: if you have a unique name you’re much more accessible on Facebook.

The article is fascinating and worth reading in its entirety. Still, here’s a Netdynamics-worthy clip:

But Facebook doesn’t want to simply branch out onto a few more Web pages; the site hopes, in a somewhat sinister but potentially very useful (and profitable) way, to begin following us around the entire Web. This is the ambition of “Facebook Connect,” a special service that members may activate, and that has enabled many popular Web sites, such as Netflix, YouTube, and the Huffington Post, to tie activity elsewhere on the Internet back to Facebook profiles. If you leave a response on a Huffington Post story, for instance, it can, via Facebook Connect, automatically be shared with your friends on Facebook; subsequent responses by Facebook friends could eventually appear both on your Facebook page and on the original Huffington Post story.

If Facebook Connect is widely adopted—and the service has been quite successful so far, with Yahoo and even MySpace signing up—we may begin to see changes to many of our basic assumptions about the Internet. Once a commenter knows that a vitriolic statement will be shared with a large and personal social circle—appearing more like a letter to a small-town newspaper than an anonymous outburst—the typically venomous atmosphere of online comments, for example, may well diminish.

Aggression‘ mitigation? Sure. It would be hard to conceptualize a Facebook driven by users identified by handles or nicks. Meanwhile, Buzz uses your address book–at the least. I haven’t investigated Buzz of course, yet I recognize it’s a slightly different experiment.

A Long Way Out of the Well & the End of Elitism

Jeff Han – touchscreen demo – 2006!

Jaron Lanier faces the tail. (His home page on The Well.) Wikipediabrochure

The Geek Freaks – Why Jaron Lanier rants against what the Web has become.
By Michael Agger SLATE Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010

In Lanier’s eyes, there is no longer a middle realm in which musicians can make music according to their own standards, sell it directly to fans, and not starve. Musicians are either kids in vans making just enough money for the next gig or dilettantes with a vanity career. The Facebook generation gets its music for free and doesn’t expect to pay for it, and this has helped bring about a musical Dark Age. That’s not a crazy idea, but it’s just Lanier’s hunch. When you start to poke around for data, you get a sense of the landscape. According to this U.K. study, artists now make the majority of their money doing live performances, and the total revenue accrued by artists has increased. Today’s theoretical middle-class musician would probably have to travel more, but he or she could still make a living.

There’s also the problem of the counterexample: What great artist has been left unrecognized by the Internet? Who hasn’t found a niche? Lanier, to his credit, is not a simple pessimist. He does propose a solution to the difficulty of how to compensate artists, artisans, and programmers in a digital era: a content database that would be run by some kind of government organization: “We should effectively keep only one copy of each cultural expression—as with a book or song—and pay the author of that expression a small, affordable amount whenever it’s accessed.” Again, not a bad concept, but a platonic idea that sounds great in theory. I don’t see the government opening an iTunes store anytime soon.

Lanier is a survivor and has good instincts: We need to be wary of joining in the wisdom of the crowds, of trusting that open collaboration always produces the best results, of embracing the growing orthodoxy that making cultural products free will benefit the actual producers of those cultural products. But his critique is ultimately just a particular brand of snobbery. Lanier is a Romantic snob. He believes in individual genius and creativity, whether it’s Steve Jobs driving a company to create the iPhone or a girl in a basement composing a song on an unusual musical instrument.

The problem is that the Web is much bigger now, and both Jobs and the bedroom oud player must, in their own ways, strive for attention from the hive mind. And the results can arrive like lightning: Just a few weeks ago, a man in Uruguay was given a $30 million dollar movie deal after posting a sci-fi short on YouTube. No one likes to become obsolete or cranky, but my sense is that Lanier doesn’t want to play on this new field. The talents and insights of Lanier and his peers were aimed at a tech-savvy elite whose impact will never be the same again. The innovative momentum is now about democratizing the Web and its uses—Flickr, Twitter, and, yes, Facebook. It was a lot of fun at the beginning, but virtual reality has moved on. It’s time to take off the goggles and gloves, and join us here on Earth.

Lanier appeared on PBS’s News Hour this week. My immediate impression was that he doesn’t have very developed television chops. In fact, I could personally relate to his rambling style and to his brave attempt to dare being expansive in the old medium. Lanier strikes a paradoxical position. On one hand he achieved one of the most public profiles of all those who could be said to represent the first wave of post-Mosaic web celebrity. (Howard Rheingold, Larry Lessig, Tim Berners-Lee, Meg Whitman, Sherry Turkle, and many many others achieved his kind of celebrity.) On the other hand, his pushing back against the ‘wild west’ of the internet is reactionary, is maybe even naive.

Mass behavior may be the most difficult-to-grasp impetus for internet trends. Being a social psychological phenomena, such behavior may especially befuddle the code warriors and technologists. That the behavioral and monetary costs have tended to depart from each other, with the former typified by how much time a user invests, while the latter in many examples approaches zero, do not constitute anything able to be put back in the box.

Take the example of music. The biggest challenge for the “sociopathic” consumer is managing their time, whereas the cost of content–in the world’s biggest record store–is already realized to be zero, free. Yet, at the same time, advertising space is utilized by, for example, global Fortune 100 companies in the form of pop-up and widgetized ads splashed at the very sites where the sociopathic takings are occurring.

Seek and Ye Shall Find

MU Researchers Find Internet Search Process Affects Cognition, Emotion
Readers’ physiological responses to online content provides new insight for advertisers

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Nearly 73 percent of all American adults use the Internet on a daily basis, according to a 2009 Pew Internet and American Life Project survey. Half of these adults use the Web to find information via search engines, while 38 percent use it to pass the time. In a recent study, University of Missouri researchers found that readers were better able to understand, remember and emotionally respond to material found through “searching” compared to content found while “surfing.”

“If, as these data suggest, the cognitive and emotional impact of online content is greatest when acquired by searching, then Web site sponsors might consider increasing their advertising on pages that tend to be accessed via search engines,” said Kevin Wise, assistant professor of strategic communication and co-director of the Psychological Research on Information and Media Effects (PRIME) Lab at the University of Missouri.

In the study, the researchers examined how methods for acquiring news — searching for specific content versus surfing a news Web site — affected readers’ emotional responses while reading news stories. They monitored participants’ heart rate, skin conductance and facial musculature to gauge their emotional responses to unpleasant news. The researchers found that unpleasant content triggered greater emotional responses when readers sought the information by searching rather than surfing. In future studies, Wise will study the effects of acquiring pleasant content on readers’ emotional responses.

“How readers acquire messages online has ramifications for their cognitive and emotional response to those messages,” Wise said. “Messages that meet readers’ existing informational needs elicit stronger emotional reactions.”

The researchers also found that information was better understood and remembered when individuals conducted specific searches for information. In a previous study, Wise tested the effects of searching and surfing on readers’ responses to images and found similar results.

Univ.Mo.Bulletin November 4, 2009 Emily Smith

Pew Internet and American Life Project

Daily Internet Activity Survey – source

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