Sunday, January 15, 2012

"What Fueled Twitter’s Success?"

How did Twitter become so popular? The simple answer is that nothing succeeds like success - the same reason we still have the QWERTY keyboard.

A more sophisticated answer can be found in this article by Paul Hyman (ACM News, January 12, 2012), which is a report on a technical article (Modeling the adoption of innovations in the presence of geographic and media influences by Jameson L. Toole, Meeyoung Cha, and Marta C. González), but from me you're going to get a very minimal, two-part explanation.
  1. Lots of people who lived near each other adopted Twitter early on. The service became available in late March of 2006, and by early August of 2009 "nearly 3.5 million people signed up for Twitter, mainly in cities with high concentrations of young, tech-savvy early adopters like San Francisco and Boston."
  2. Celebrity praise of Twitter - Ashton Kutcher and Oprah Winfrey are mentioned - also boosted the number of users dramatically.
Together, these two forces pushed Twitter users to "a tipping point of 13.5% of the population." And the rest is history.

So if you want your product to "go viral," release it first in locations with lots of likely early adopters and induce celebrities to plug it. It would probably help to use Twitter or Facebook.

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Call for papers: Personal and Ubiquitous Computing

Personal and Ubiquitous Computing
Special Issue on Security and trust in Context-Aware systems

Important dates
  • Manuscript submission:   28.02.2012
  • First round of reviews:    31.03.2012
  • Submission of revisions:  21.04.2012
  • Acceptance notification:  21.05.2012
  • Final manuscript due:      18.06.2012
  • Publication date:             Summer 2012
Over the last several years, studies considering impacts of security and trust in personal and ubiquitous computing have become an independent research field within the Pervasive Computing area. One strand has concentrated on using context data to establish security or authentication, while a second strand considers trust in context and services provided by remote devices. A third strand, motivated by corporate applications, focuses on resilience of an instrumentation of distributed sources.

Research also considers the question how much information can be obfuscated to protect the privacy of a user without preventing the correct operation of a given application. Methodologically, new models for the specific attack scenarios, security threats and counter-effects in wireless sensor networks and context-aware mobile systems need to be developed. 

Clearly, these strands intersect varied disciplines, including acquisition and classification of context, cryptography and fuzzy authentication, sensor networks, information theory and interface design.

The objective of this special issue is to provide a platform to bring together the above strands and other emerging paradigms of research in this area and thereby provide further impetus to research on this class of problems.

We solicit original papers and tutorial surveys on the following list of indicative topics.
  • Context-based mobile wireless authentication
  • Context-based device pairing
  • Securing context-aware applications
  • Sensor-, context-, and location-based authentication
  • Spontaneous secure context-based device interactions
  • Autonomic and dependable computing
  • Methods and techniques for self-configuration, self-healing, self-protecting systems
  • Flexible and secure orchestration of ICT services
  • Establishing and managing trust in cyber-physical systems
  • Anonymous/pseudonymous context aware mobile computation
  • Legal and social issues of security and privacy for mobile devices
  • Perception of security and privacy in mobile computing
  • Resilient cryptography
  • Entropy of context based keys
  • Fuzzy cryptography
  • Security with noisy data
  • Usability aspects of secure and privacy-preserving context-aware systems
  • Mechanisms that improve a user's awareness of, and control over,  privacy and security
  • Agent-based methods and architectures for trust and security in  Ubiquitous Computing
  • Contextual reasoning methods for privacy and security in Ubiquitous Computing
  • Ontology-based and knowledge-based methods and architectures
As usual, the above is not an exhaustive list but an indicative one.

Submission Process
Prospective authors should submit a pdf of their manuscript via EasyChair at Formatting should follow the PUC-guidelines (see for more details). Submissions should not exceed 8000 words. 

Prior to submitting their papers for review, authors should make sure that they understand and agree to adhere to the over-length page charge policy presented in the PUC guidelines.

Guest editors
René Mayrhofer, Hedda R. Schmidtke, Stephan Sigg


(With thanks to Colin Allen for sharing this with me.)
Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Robotics: Morals and machines"

This book review by Braden Allenby (Nature 481:26-27, January 5 2012) covers Robot Ethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics, ed. Patrick Lin, Keith Abney, and George A. Bekey (MIT Press: 2011). Allenby characterizes the book as "a timely round-up of sensible ethical and policy responses to advances in robot technology" and notes (among other good qualities) that the book "succeeds as a stand-alone text, with its varied contributors striving for objectivity and avoiding hyperbole."

I'll be ordering my copy soon.

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director

"The Future of Moral Machines"

This article by Indiana University professor Colin Allen (New York Times, December 25, 2011) is a clearly-written and engaging short introduction to the controversies surrounding "moral" machines.

I made the mistake of reading a few of the comments written by Times readers, the majority of whom seem to have either misunderstood the article or not bothered to read beyond the title. One wonders why people so disdainful of the New York Times and/or philosophy would torment themselves by reading the Times' "forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless" known as "The Stone."

At any rate, I do recommend that you read and enjoy the article itself.

Ken Pimple, PAIT Project Director