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July 10 2011

14:30

Groupon updates its privacy rules, mobile tracking and sharing now included

AllThingsD :: Groupon sent out emails to its users this weekend, about changes it has made to its privacy statement and terms of use. Among the most notable changes is more information about the Chicago-based social buying start-up’s collection and use of mobile location information.

What will change? - If you use a Groupon mobile app and you allow sharing through your device, Groupon may collect geo-location information from the device and use it for marketing deals to you and for other purposes listed in the “How Groupon Uses Personal Information” section of the Updated Privacy Statement. In short: you will be tracked.

Continue to read allthingsd.com

February 28 2011

13:30

How to Remove Location Information from Mobile Photos

Prabhas Pokharel contributed research and writing to this post.

In a previous Idea Lab post, we described how to add location information to mobile content, including images and stories. For some reports, location information adds value, context, and interest to venue-specific reports. But today, we talk about how to remove that same location information. This is also detailed, step by step, in the screencast below.

There are many reasons why one would not want to include location information on content or images, but at the top of the list is the need for security and privacy. For journalists, citizen reporters, and activists to be secure in insecure regions -- especially when reporting in repressive media environments -- careful planning and strategic considerations are required.

How does location information get added to smartphone photos? All cell phones have a small amount of storage space on the SIM card. This is where contact information, call history, SMS messages, and, of course, mobile photos are saved. Most smartphones also store the time photos are taken and may include location information, such as the photos' latitude and longitude coordinates.

Step One: Check to see if location information is being captured.

The first step is to see if location information is, indeed, being captured and stored with your images. Most pictures from smartphones today have location information stored in the metadata.

To see whether there is location data stored in your photo, you will need to use a tool that reads location-based EXIF data. On most smartphones, you can check this via the photo gallery. From the gallery, press Menu to get details. If you can't tell from your camera or smartphone alone, you can also check on your computer.

On a Mac, open the image in Preview, click Tools, select the Inspector tab, and go to the GPS section where the latitude and longitude of the image are (potentially) shown.

In Windows, right click on the image, click Properties, select the Details tab, and scroll down to the GPS section, where location may be shown.

If neither of these options work, you can also use an EXIF viewer. Just upload the image in question, and the viewer can determine what, if any, location information is available. Again, if specific latitude and longitude information is available, it will be shown here.

Step Two: Remove the location data.

Once you know whether your image has location information attached to it, you can now go about removing it. The safest way to remove EXIF data is to upload your photo to the computer and remove the data using software.

This can be done with free or trial tools. For example, you can download a tool called PhotoLinker, which is designed to let you edit and remove location information.

To remove EXIF data in PhotoLinker, use the program to open the image and view its location information. You will also see a detailed map and a list of all other tagged data, including a timestamp. Using this software, you can remove or change the information under Photos/Remove GPS information, and re-save the image before sharing or publishing it. (Watch this in action in the screencast above.)

In addition to the location it comes from, EXIF data may also reveal other information about your phone such as its make and model. There may be instances where you want to retain certain information, while removing other data. For example, you may want to leave in the make and model of the phone as well as the date and time of the photo, but remove the location information.

Such selective editing of this EXIF data can be done. There are some apps available on iPhone and Android that offer EXIF manipulation on a device, such as EXIF Wizard and others.

Step Three: Check your defaults.

Another way to remove location data is to have your photo sharing site scrub the location information for you. The two most popular sites in the U.S., Facebook and Flickr, both do this. As of last year, it was the default policy on each service.

The Flickr policy can be accessed here. Under "Defaults for New Uploads," make sure that "Import EXIF location data" says "No." This will ensure that the default for new photos is to not import any location information that may be on the metadata for the image.

However, do note that for sensitive photographs, importing to Flickr still contains risks. The location data removal is done at Flickr's servers and anyone able to access your photograph while it is being uploaded to Flickr will be able to access its embedded location information.

The same is true of Facebook, which -- for now, at least -- strips location data off all images.

Do you have any additional experience using EXIF data? Do you have any stories about when removing location data came in handy -- or would have? Please leave your insights in the comments below.

February 18 2011

17:50

MIT's Civic Media Session Explores Data in Cities

With a redoubled focus on the community in the civic media community, the Center for Future Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launched a new series last week. These relaxed, informal conversations about civic media featured ground-level practitioners, activists, hackers, and local leaders.

The first session, "Bustling with Information: Cities, Code, and Civics," brought good friends Nick Grossman, Nigel Jacob, and Max Ogden to our Cambridge campus. As you can see from the video clips below, these sessions are unique opportunities to talk about the amazing work that goes on in this sphere, intriguingly out of earshot of the debates on the future of journalism.

We think this is a great niche for us: Highlighting the do-it-yourself ethic that's always existed in civic media (not to mention at MIT), separate from concerns about paper vs. iPad, sustainable business models, etc. Sessions planned for this spring include discussions of intellectual property collaboration, the implications of check-in/location-sharing technology, how local stories spread worldwide, civic media for vulnerable populations, and civic disobedience.

So stay tuned to Idea Lab and civic.mit.edu for updates and scheduling information.

Meanwhile, check out these clips from last week's civic media session, moderated by Center director Chris Csikszentmihályi, for a taste. And, in the comment section below, let us know what other civic media topics warrant more exploration.

MIT Tech TV

Nick Grossman of OpenPlans, Nigel Jacob of the City of Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics, and Max Ogden of Code for America respond to questions about how civic tools do (or need to) vary from city to city.

MIT Tech TV

Max Ogden of Code for America discusses taking "treasure troves" of government data sets to bring citizens and friends together, describing it as "enhanced serendipity."

October 26 2010

17:50

Will Geo-Location Services Play a Role in Elections?

The experiments that took place with Facebook and Twitter during the 2008 presidential campaign are now viewed as standard operating procedure just two years later. Will the same be said about location-based services come 2012?

Foursquare and Gowalla are the current crowned kings of geo-location and have been getting regular mentions in the tech blogosphere and beyond.



mediashift_politics 2010 small.jpg

Geo-social is very much in its early stages, with smaller adoption rates compared with Twitter and Facebook. But it's still playing a role in this year's elections. Several campaigns have been updating their status with their location in the hope of being seen as on the cutting edge with social media, and as a new way to interact with voters.

The Foursquarian Candidate

Following the news that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley would not seek re-election after more than 20 years in office, digital marketing company Proximity Chicago recently announced a contest to annoint a new mayor using Foursquare.

The Proximity office in downtown Chicago has been dubbed the City of Chicago Mayoral Headquarters. Now people can check in on Foursquare when they are in the vicinity. The more often they check in, the higher they rank. The person with the most check-ins by October 31 becomes the Foursquarian Mayor and receives marketing materials such as logos, slogans, bumper stickers and signage, among other support from Proximity, to actually stage a real run for the job as mayor of Chicago.

The current Foursquarian mayor is Rob Mowry, who over a recent three-day period checked into Proximity's City of Chicago Mayoral Headquarters more than 50 times. Below is a look at some of the tweets and check-ins associated with the contest:

It's a fierce competition and the fact that there are subtle ways of cheating your location means the contest is not without a hat tip to political traditions in Chicago.

"It's still a new enough social media platform that it can be manipulated a little bit," said Kevin Lynch, creative lead at Proximity Chicago, who is heading up the Foursquarian project. "It's not truly a Chicago election without a little bit of controversy. This is in keeping with the established history of the city."

Lynch said in a phone interview that ideally the contest will garner attention for an unknown candidate, or enable a well-known candidate to show constituents they understand how communications work circa 2010. So far Rahm Emanuel and other top tier candidates have not checked in.

The Geo-Social Campaign Toolkit

I Voted Badge.gif

In terms of the larger political season, Foursquare has not released an official badge or program. This is despite an online lobbying effort for the company to develop an "I voted" badge. Gowalla, however, is off to the races with the 2010 campaign toolkit it released in August.

Gowalla's platform was initially adopted by candidates including Charlie Crist, Rick Perry and Jim Ward, with additional candidates jumping on board since.

"It's fun, but also a lot of work," Alejandro Garcia, Gov. Rick Perry's campaign spokesperson, said in a phone interview. "Anything that we feel might be a good tool we try out. It's sometimes hard to pinpoint what works."

The candidates, along with their supporters, can create Gowalla events to check into, including rallies, town halls and other political happenings. Additionally, campaigns can create candidate pages with an open "follow" button on their Gowalla Passports. People that attend fundraisers, meetings and other events receive the candidate's custom passport stamp for their Gowalla passport and an "I Voted" pin on election day.

Despite the buzz around geo-social, there isn't a lot of check-in activity on Crist, Perry and Ward's pages. (Rick Perry currently has 68 Gowalla followers, Charlie Crist has 55 and Jim Ward has 38.) Andy Ellwood, director of business development at Gowalla, said in a phone interview that activity in 2010 might be low, but the potential value for candidates could be significant.

"It's not just an 'I'm at Starbucks in Louisville,' " Ellwood said. "Candidates are pushing these types of initiatives [because] they don't just want their supporters to say they are following them, but to say, 'I've actually decided to use my time and my foot traffic to come out to an event that is specific to the way that I am going to vote in the elections.' "

Some critics argue that it's just too early for geo-social to make a big impact in the 2010 elections, and that the small number of early Foursquare and Gowalla adopters won't likely reach enough voters to justify a campaign's time and money.

All that suggests geo-social could still be a big thing come 2012.

Steven Davy is the web content editor at The World, a BBC,WGBH,PRI co-production. He is also the developer of Exploring Conversations, a multimedia website examining the language of music. He is the politics correspondent for MediaShift.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

August 21 2010

00:24

4 Minute Roundup: Facebook Places Wants to Be Turned Off

news21 small.jpg

4MR is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

In this week's 4MR podcast I look at the recently launched Facebook Places location feature. While the social network touts it as a great way to tell your friends where you are in the physical world, others worry about the privacy implications. In fact, the most popular stories on the subject are telling people how to turn it off. I talked with Gawker staff writer Adrian Chen about his take on how Facebook could have made it easier to turn Places off.

Check it out:

4mrbareaudio82010.mp3

>>> Subscribe to 4MR <<<

>>> Subscribe to 4MR via iTunes <<<

Listen to my entire interview with Adrian Chen:

chen final.mp3

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

Facebook Places

Who, What, When, and Now...Where at the Facebook blog

The First Thing You Should Do With Facebook Places - Don't Let Other People Tag You at Gawker

Facebook Places Privacy Controls Get EFF Approval at eWeek

Why I'm Not Using Facebook Places at Jolie O'Dell's blog

How to Disable Facebook Places at Huffington Post

How To Disable Facebook Places at ReadWriteWeb

Facebook Adds Location Check-Ins Through Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp at LifeHacker

How to Disable Facebook Places at LifeHacker

Facebook gets its hands on check-in startup Hot Potato at SocialBeat

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about what you think about Facebook Places:




What do you think about Facebook Places?survey software

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

news21 small.jpg

4MR is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

March 19 2010

14:44

Geo-Location, Sentiment Analysis, AT&T Blankets SXSWi

As SXSW Interactive comes to a close and SXSW Music kicks off, it's worth taking a look at the ideas, trends, discussions, and issues that dominated the four-day technology summit. Here are the five areas that stood out the most to me.

1. Conference Buzz

Every year there is a product or two that monopolizes most of the buzz -- for example, you couldn't go ten feet in 2008 without hearing a discussion about Twitter. For 2010, the buzzed-about phrase was without a doubt location-based services. Although the start of this discussion was in 2009, these mash-ups of geography and social technology really hit their stride this year.

foursquare1.jpg

Foursquare and Gowalla are the clear leaders in this space, as evidenced by the major presence enjoyed by both at the conference. Foursquare had a record 347,000 check-ins in one day this week, and the use of the service will certainly continue as the music crowd floods Austin.

The discussion I had with most people centered around the question, "What next?" As in: Now that these services are gaining momentum and adoption, where is the business model? Other than high-level brand partnerships and individual locations offering incentives for customers to check-in, few other monetization and call-to-action results have been seen. I see plenty of value in getting 10 percent off my order if I am the Foursquare mayor of a restaurant, or in allocating a big ad spend for a custom promotion, but where is the middle ground for everyone else?

But apart from that, you know you're hitting some level of critical mass when CNN chimes in on how to use Foursquare to be cool (or at least not uncool).

2. Data Tracking and Analysis Tools

In my 2009 wrap-up piece, I stated that 2010 would be the year of analytics. The data has been available for ages, but the tools to turn raw data into information -- and better yet, knowledge -- have finally found a strong value proposition. More and more products are emerging to monitor and analyze Twitter activity, social media trends, community management results, and overall impact and impressions.

Google Analytics is still a strong contender in the space, with almost everyone mentioning this as a core piece of the puzzle. Platform-specific tools such as Twitter Counter and bigger-picture services such as Radian6 were discussed at great length and examples were provided of their functionality.

The current Holy Grail of analytics (and I bet a buzz-topic at SXSW in 2011) is sentiment analysis -- not only knowing who is saying what how often, but getting a feel for the tone and meaning of what they are saying. Be on the lookout for more discussion and tools as time goes on. (MediaShift's Nick Mendoza looked at sentiment analysis related to the Oscars recently.)

3. Disappointing Panels & Keynotes

There is no lack of articles on the multiple disappointments around this year's panels and keynotes (start here and here). Spotify's Daniel Ek and Twitter's Evan Williams both brought in packed houses, but by the end of their talks the attendance was sparse and the content was thin.

As someone who speaks at and attends many tech and music conferences, I've seen my fair share of highly informative panels, and have had plenty of my time wasted. I wish I could report that SXSWi had a non-stop stream of amazing takeaways, but unfortunately it didn't go that way.

It's not for lack of relevant, forward-thinking topics. And it's certainly not for lack of amazing speakers who are getting big things done. In my experience, it comes down to two things: Having to cater to a very wide audience with varying skill levels, and only having a short time to address a long list of topics. The solution? Keep the panels focused on the core topic -- I'm talking to you, moderators -- and keep in mind that the audience can read theory on any blog; what they need are actionable takeaways.

The reason I left most panels disappointed was that I felt it was a missed opportunity. With such brilliant and accomplished panelists, I should have walked out of the room with a few action items I could implement immediately. This was very rare.

4. Skyrocketing Attendance

hero.jpgThe attendance at this year's conference says something positive about the state of the tech industry. Last year's attendance was approximately 10,000; this year, there were over 15,000 badge holders. The feeling is very reminiscent of the mid-'90s in Seattle, when a new wave of technology and investment quickly expanded the marketplace.

What seems great for the industry -- a glut of big thinkers and tech geniuses -- is not as ideal for the conference itself. Getting into panels meant waiting in long lines and, often, only getting in when someone else left. The same thing happened at most industry parties, where the RSVPs far exceeded room capacity. It was a constant feeling up "hurry up and wait."

Fortunately, AT&T thought ahead and brought in an extra cell tower, providing massive bandwidth for what seemed to be the biggest concentration of iPhones on the planet. I can honestly say it was the best 3G coverage I've ever had.

5. Parallel Conferences

Something I noticed this year that I hadn't seen near as much in prior years was a number of parallel conferences, both perceived and actual. Depending on your interests and network, the conference experience tends to vary widely. In a single night you can find yourself in the middle of a raging party with young (and wealthy) tech entrepreneurs, a serious business dinner with corporate executives, and in a development workshop with programmers (that's their own unique type of party).

3369165500_4e38106073_m.jpg

In addition, there were a number of side conferences, including fully off-site panels that almost felt like secret societies. Celebrity bloggers hosted workshops, independent organizations hosted roundtable discussions, and trade organizations fostered discussions focused on their interests. There was certainly something for everyone.

SXSW Music has now begun, and the tone of the conference has dramatically changed. Stay tuned for a report back on that experience...

Photo of Foursquare app by dpstyles via Flickr. Photo of attendee with Mr. Spam by Randy Stewart via Flickr. Photo of SXSW closing party logo by Fellowship of the Rich via Flickr

Jason Feinberg is Vice President, Direct To Consumer Marketing for Concord Music Group. He is responsible for digital and physical direct-to-fan solutions for CMG's frontline and massive catalog including the Fantasy and Stax labels.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

March 12 2010

21:53

4-Minute Roundup: The Rising Buzz of Location Services at SXSW

This episode of 4MR is brought to you by the Knight Digital Media Center, providing a spectrum of training for the 21st century journalist. Find out more at KDMC's website. It's also underwritten by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

Here's the latest 4MR audio report from MediaShift. In this week's edition, I look at the growing interest in geo-location services such as Foursquare and Gowalla, especially as the South by Southwest conference begins in Austin, Texas. Now, Twitter and Facebook are both preparing to add geo-location to their services as well, and Google already has Latitude and Buzz that can show your location. But will this become a mainstream phenomenon or just a pastime for the tech-savvy in-crowd? I talk to analyst Greg Sterling to find out more.

Check it out:

4mrbareaudio31210.mp3

>>> Subscribe to 4MR <<<

>>> Subscribe to 4MR via iTunes <<<

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

Facebook's Coming Location Service - Feature for Users, Platform for Apps at Inside Facebook

Just In Time For The Location Wars, Twitter Turns On Geolocation On Its Website at TechCrunch

Facebook Will Allow Users to Share Location at NY Times Bits blog

Vicarious.ly - SimpleGeo's One Location-Based Stream To Visualize Them All at TechCrunch

Facebook, Twitter Ready Location-Based Features at PC World

Facebook Isn't For Real Life Friends Anymore, Says Foursquare's Dennis Crowley at Business Insider

Foursquare, Gowalla and the future of geo-location at the Telegraph

In geolocation wars, SXSWi is mere skirmish at CNET

6 Thoughts About Location Madness at ReadWriteWeb

What Are the Legal Implications of PleaseRobMe? at MediaShift

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about what you think geo-location services:




What do you think of geo-location services like Foursquare?surveys

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

This episode of 4MR is brought to you by the Knight Digital Media Center, providing a spectrum of training for the 21st century journalist. Find out more at KDMC's website. It's also underwritten by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

This is a summary. Visit our site for the full post ».

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