Thursday, February 16, 2012

“Mathematicians are suddenly sexy.”

I take issue with the adverb, and my degree has NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

That aside, the article where the assertion appears is quite interesting. You know how you're worried about being tracked online? It's not just online.

Yes, you knew that. But maybe you didn't know the extent of it. And anyway, it's a fascinating and creepy read: "How Companies Learn Your Secrets."


graz said...

What do you think accounts for the misplaced ads that show up supposedly based on your profile? I know you've highlighted examples of this previously. Where's the glitch. Is it a math problem?

Brendan Keefe said...

I doubt it. I mean, there could be the occasional computational blunder, but mostly, I'd say it's a case of GIGO.

I suppose it's also a case of blurring that happens as a consequence of (a) my occasionally deleting my tracking cookies, (b) that some websites still honor the concept of privacy, and (c) resorting to a best fit to one of a small set of typical profiles, based on the imperfect information that is collected about me.

There's probably also an interpretation problem in understanding some of my surfing habits. For example, I'll often click on ads designed to appeal to wingnuts that for some reason appear on sites I like ("There! Just contributed $0.00017 to the upkeep of alicublog!") or just for the lulz. It's fun going to NewsMax and messing with their surveys, for example. So, because I click on so many of those sorts of come-ons, it's probably causing me (the database picture of me) to be lumped in with other elderly white men who spend most of their waking hours worrying about how Obama is going to get them.

(Which he is, of course.)

Ocean said...

I read that article and sent the link to a few other coworkers. I thought it was very interesting and covered a couple of subtopics well. Thank you for posting it.

Brendan Keefe said...

Delighted! Thanks for letting me know you liked it.

P.S. If you're wondering why your comment didn't appear right away, it's because Blogger in its infinite wisdom (?) decided it was a spam comment, and it took until I checked to see it and declare it Not Spam.

Brendan Keefe said...

Actually, it would have been even better had you sent your coworkers a link to this post!