Category Archives: Internet

Review Skeptic Can Spot Fake Online Reviews (of Hotels)

Review Skeptic claims it can distinguish fake hotel reviews from real ones with 90% accuracy. Must be true, it’s based on research.

Spotted via Lifehacker.

Posted in Internet | Leave a comment

More Empirical Evidence of Habermasian Processes in Real Life

One of the common dismissals of Habermas’s theory of communicative action is that the requirement of an ‘ideal speech position’ is unrealistic. In Habermas@discourse.net: Toward a Critical Theory of Cyberspace I argued first that these critics misunderstood what Habermas required, that the so-called ‘ideal’ was not idealized and thus unattainable, but rather, ‘best achievable in real life’, optimal subject to the constraints of matter and time, and thus — in principle — attainable. Second, I argued that the internet standards process managed by the IETF achieved a Habermasian discourse, at least at times. Recognizing the special conditions, in particular the relative linguistic and professional homogeneity of the participants, I did not argue that the result was necessarily generalizable. Rather, I claimed that an existence proof of even one Habermasian discourse should at least silence critics who claimed the theory was unrealizable.

Comes now Karthikeyan Umapathy, Sandeep Purao and John W. Bagby, who have just published Investigating IT Standardization Process through the lens of Theory of Communicative Action. In it they state that,

Due to the openness, consensus orientation, and volunteer participation, many researchers have argued that standardization processes are quite similar to Habermasian view of rational discourse (i.e., open – ended discussion geared towards reaching consensus) described in the theory of communicative action1. However, none have conducted empirical investigation on an actual standardization process to provide evidence of social actions described by Habermas occurring within the process. Thus, the objective of this paper is to investigate IT standardization process from the theory of communicative action perspective and find evidence of social actions within an actual standardization process.

I told stories about the IETF, but didn’t formalize them. The authors of this paper tell the story of the SOAP standardization process and count incidents of Communicative Action (31%), Strategic Action (22%), Instrumental Action (18%), “Dramaturgical Action” (15%), and Normatively Regulated Action (14%):

Our findings reveal that participants in standardization processes engage in communicative action most frequently with aim of reaching mutual understanding and consensus, engage in strategic action when influencing others towards their intended goals, engage in instrumental action when taking responsibility for solving technical issues, engage in dramaturgical action when expressing their opinions, and engage in normatively regulated action when performing roles they assumed. Our analysis indicates that 60% of activities performed are consensus oriented whereas the rest are success oriented. This paper provides empirical evidence for Habermasian view of social actions occurring in the standardization process setting.

Again, this is not necessarily generalizable:

In this study, we perform analysis only o n one standard (i.e., SOAP) and on one SDO (i.e., W3C). Thus, findings from this study cannot be generalized for all anticipatory standards or SDOs.

Even so, useful data.


  1. Here, in addition to mine, they cite some papers I wasn’t aware of but will need to read, notably Schoechle, T.: Toward a Theory of Standards. In: IEEE Conference on Standardisation and Innovation in Information Technology (SIIT). IEEE, Los Alamitos, CA, USA (1999), and Lyytinen, K., Hirschheim, R.: Information systems as rational discourse: an application of Habermas’s theory of communicative action. 4, 19-30 (1988). They do not cite to Andrew L. Russell, The W3C and its Patent Policy Controversy:A Case Study of Authority and Legitimacy in Internet Governance (2003), which is also relevant. 

Posted in Internet, Readings | Leave a comment

Coral Gables Cops Offer Their Lobby as Transactional “Safe Space”

Coral Gables Central reports that the Coral Gables Police are offering their main lobby as a “safe haven” for people to meet to consummate internet-negotiated transactions. Think Craigslist deals.

The goal is to reduce the likelihood of a criminal act being committed. The Coral Gables Police Department is located at 2801 Salzedo St., Coral Gables, 33134

The department will not be involved in setting the meetings, but the lobby can be used for this transaction any day of the week between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

This is a good thing, and the Police should be congratulated for doing it. But note that the cops say they only welcome legal transactions, so unsurprisingly this may not be the place for drug deals, escorting meets, and, they warn, nothing lasting more than 15 minutes. And I’m betting it’s not just watched by a bored desk Sargent, but all taped on camera.

Posted in Coral Gables, Internet | Leave a comment

I Love Eduroam

One of my few achievements was getting UMiami to join Eduroam, the nifty university consortium that allows visiting academics to log in automatically to the internet supplied by all other member institutions. European universities were early adopters; the US is catching up. Once you get it set up on your devvice, it’s seamless; I’m using it now via the University of Amsterdam.

Posted in Internet, Talks & Conferences, U.Miami | Leave a comment

High Noon at ICANN’s Accountability Gulch

Deja vu all over again?

Basically, ICANN is up to its bad old tricks to escape accountability. It hates that stuff. The problem is getting so bad that heresy is being spoken,

So the choice being faced in Los Angeles is a stark one: do we want to make ICANN accountable or not? And if not, can we actually have an IANA transition? Will there be any support for it? A growing number of people would prefer the status quo (U.S. oversight) to an ICANN without a membership and the CCWG-proposed community empowerment mechanisms.

Let the record show that I said years ago that US government involvment was likely better than cutting ICANN loose without adult supervision. I confess that the CCWG had me thinking they might have done the near-impossible. But now it appears we see regression to the ICANN mean.

Posted in ICANN | 1 Comment

Cynic.al Indeed

The new Ashley Madison Hack lookup tool is at https://ashley.cynic.al/.

As the site notes, just because an email is in there doesn’t prove the person who uses it signed up. But I would find it at least suggestive once we have some evidence that the DB itself is the real thing. (I suppose this doesn’t suffice.)

Thirty-six million — 36 million! — names in the hacked Ashley Madison database? Perhaps North Americans really are not that different from the French when it comes to affairs, just sneakier.

That said, (unlike some and some more) I don’t look forward to an orgy of outing with much pleasure, and think it likely will hurt more people than it helps. I guess I believe that at least in some cases, although certainly not all, the pig really is happier than Socrates.

Posted in Internet, Law: Privacy | Leave a comment

Time for Your Annual Privacy Checkup

Privacy Checkup – My Account – Google

Posted in Internet, Law: Privacy | 2 Comments