Josh McHugh's Wired feature, "Should Web Giants Let Startups Use the Information They Have About You?," is a meaty, thinky piece about the many risks of data-scraping. The piece investigates the risks to users (your data, slithering around the net), the risks to scrapers (your business entirely dependent on someone else's goodwill), and the risks to scrapees (bandwidth clobbering, your users get screwed and so on):
Giants like Yahoo and Google have thus far taken a mostly nonproprietary stance toward their data, typically letting outside developers access it in an attempt to curry favor with them and foster increased inbound Web traffic. Most of the largest Web companies position themselves as benign, bountiful data gardens, supplying the environment and raw materials to build inspired new products. After all, Google itself, that harbinger of the Web2.0 era, thrives on info that could be said to "belong" to others -- the links, keywords, and metadata that reside on other Web sites and that Google harvests and repositions into search results.
But beneath all the kumbayas, there's an awkward dance going on, an unregulated give-and-take of information for which the rules are still being worked out. And in many cases, some of the big guys that have been the source of that data are finding they can't -- or simply don't want to -- allow everyone to access their information, Web2.0 dogma be damned. The result: a generation of businesses that depend upon the continued good graces of a relatively small group of Internet powerhouses that philosophically agree information should be free -- until suddenly it isn't.
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China’s nightmarish “citizen scores” system uses your online activity, purchases, messages, and social graph to rate your creditworthiness and entitlement to services. One way your score can be plunged into negative territory is for a judge to declare you to be a bad person (mostly this happens to people said to have refused to pay […]
The current pre-clearance rules for Canadians being processed through US immigration at Canadian airports limit the powers of US immigration officials, preventing them from strip-searching Canadians (they can ask Canadian border guards to do it, but if the Canadian guards refuse, they’re out of luck) and giving Canadians the ability to turn around and leave […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has done outstanding work packing a fully capable desktop computer into a package the size of a deck cards—especially one that only costs $35. But if you already have a working laptop, why should you care? Oh, how much you have to learn. Besides operating well as a compact digital media hub, […]