Spark 145 - April 17 & 20, 2011

On this episode of Spark: Data Trails, Tracking, and Hacktivism. Click below to listen to the whole show, or download the MP3 (runs 54:00).

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Hacktivism and Digital Freedom

Photo by Jonathan Rashad

As we live more of our lives online, we leave more of our tracks behind. That information can be used for good, but it can also be used to stifle free expression. At Spark we've discussed questions of technological openness, restriction, and surveillance a lot. And these questions became even more prescient this year when the Egyptian government shuttered the internet, and with events in North Africa. Nora speaks with Stephan Urbach of net activist group Telecomix, and Brett Solomon of Access Now about providing a network of online assistance for people in those regions. (Runs 15:25)

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Surveillance and Ethics

Photo by kobakou

When we heard the story of a California school that's employed GPS tracking to ensure truant students go to class, we wondered what the ethical line was when it comes to surveillance (especially in this case, surveillance of children). Should we be using technology to solve our social issues? Nora spoke with Emyrs Westacott, a professor of Philosophy who specializes in everyday ethics and has written quite a bit on the subject of the moral issue of surveillance. (Runs 7:34)

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Coupon Tracking and Privacy

Photo by Chiara Marra

A few weeks back we did an entire show on coupons, group buying, and personalized pricing. It got a lot of traffic on the Spark blog, and we're at it again this week with our guest Andrew Bailey of digital advertising agency Proximity Canada. Andrew tells us all about the art of coupon tracking - exactly how much of our personal information is in those bar-codes embedded in the coupons we get in our email, and how retailers are using it. (Runs 16:14)

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The Urban Data Trail

Photo by Aaron Parecki

As we move around our cities, we leave a data trail - through our calls, map searches, geo-tagged photos, and more. Now urban planners are figuring out ways to analyze this data to paint a picture of the mobility of individuals that could inform infrastructure planning. Spark contributor Jonathan Gifford takes us to the Cognitive Cities Conference in Berlin to find out more. (Runs 8:40)

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