Monday, June 12, 2006

So You Think You're A Good Researcher?

Hmmmm...I came across a very interesting article towards the end of last week courtesy of one of my brand new interns, Sarah Hewitt. Thanks Sarah...hopefully you don't mind being mentioned in cyberspace like this. ;)

So it seems that the NSA is beginning to become interested in keeping track of all the information on social networks that are popping up all over the place. Sites like MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn...they're all beginning to pique the curiosity of the NSA.

What's interesting is that the NSA is trying to create a "universal" format for the web. The name: RDF (Resource Description Framework). Using RDF, the NSA (among other organizations) hopes that current incompatibilities in formats will be ironed out over the next few years. In short, the hope is that "one day every website will use RDF to give each type of data a unique, predefined, unambiguous tag."

Why the effort to establish RDF? According to David de Roure of the University of Southampton (UK), "It means that you will be able to ask a website questions you couldn't ask before, or perform calculations on the data it contains."

The implications of this development will probably leave people a little torn: on the one hand, it'll create unprecedented access to sites for scientists who want to analyze each other's experimental data sets. Search itself will be redefined with this new standard format. But on the flip side, it'll mean prying into more personal data will be a breeze.

I wonder: are recruiters going to jump up and down about this bit of news? After all, mining the Internet for its nearly limit-less data will become even easier. Or will they become concerned about the impact on privacy as a result of this?

P.S. If you're curious about what the heck the picture above is all about, click here.

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