March 6, 2012

A few interesting stories

Whilst roaming the world wide web, these articles struck me the most these past few days. They make for interesting dinner party debates, especially the one on McDonald's - everyone loves a good discussion on animal rights when there's a vegetarian at the table.

(Click on the title for the full article

Deep in the forests of south-eastern Cameroon a chimpanzee fell to the hunter's gun and became one more hunk of African bushmeat. It happened to be carrying a virus that would enter the hunter's bloodstream and mutate into HIV. This is how HIV is thought to have entered the human bloodline circa 1900. Over a century later Craig Timberg and Daniel Halperin, authors of Tinderbox: How the West Sparked the Aids Epidemic and How the World Can Finally Overcome It, argue that the bustling trading towns and routes of Africa, hectic places jammed with people and energy, were the ideal breeding ground (no pun intended) for one of the world's deadliest viruses.

A great article looking at the history and meaning of this fashion staple, worn by everyone from presidents to cowboys. What is it about jeans that everyone loves? Perhaps it's that they reflect us and they reflect the lives that we've had in them, their versatility or their cultural significance.

Well, sort of. McDonald's made a turn in the right direction by announcing a laudable course of action regarding the sows (female pigs) in their supply chain: that its' suppliers of pork in the US  provide plans for phasing out gestation crates by May 2012. A gestation crate is a small metal crate used for intense pig farming throughout the world. It is intended to house sows during pregnancy but many spend the majority of their lives in these crates as they are repeatedly artificially impregnated. This ban applies to the US specifically (In the EU, the crates are being phased out by 2013 after four weeks of pregnancy. They're already banned in Sweden and in the UK, and will be banned in Denmark from 2014.) The fact that one of the biggest supply chains in the world is finally acknowledging pressure from animal welfare groups highlights the need for more people to choose responsibly sourced food and animal products. I didn't want to put a shocking photo of this on my blog but you can read more about gestation crates here and here

Ever heard of behavioral targeting? Companies track your online behavior in order to understand you as a 'customer' - where you live, what you like to buy online, your colour preferences, etc...Like hiring an online private investigator. 'Collison' Creator Gary Kovacs (and CEO of Mozilla) used a personal example : he said that by the time his daughter had visited four sites over breakfast, she was being tracked by 25 different places. And in the course of a day, he says, he found himself being tracked by 150. It's quite scary to think of how much information can be collected without you even realizing it. This issue was brought to the media's attention when Target figured out a customer was pregnant before her family didCollusion looks to offer more transparency to users by creating a visualization of how your data is being spread to different companies as you navigate the web. Each time it detects data being sent to a behavioral tracker, it creates a red (advertisers), grey (websites) or blue dot on the visualization and shows the links between the sites you visit and the trackers they work with.

recent study found that Pinterest drove more referral traffic to sites in January than Google+, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn and MySpace all combined. It’s also threatening to unseat Twitter, Google news, Google images, Gmail and Stumble Upon in the coming months to slide into the number two spot behind Facebook.  I take comfort in knowing that there a gazilion other people out there who love to procrastinate by pinning pretty things.


1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. I'm really interested in the behavioral tracking one, since a couple of weeks ago, there was a news study on how Target does so much research that it knows which customers are pregnant!