links for 2009-09-24

  • clay Shirky on the temporary alignment of advertising-based business models and difficult journalism:

    "…it was an accident. There was a set of forces that made that possible. And they weren’t deep truths — the commercial success of newspapers and their linking of that to accountability journalism wasn’t a deep truth about reality. Best Buy was not willing to support the Baghdad bureau because Best Buy cared about news from Baghdad. They just didn’t have any other good choices."

  • "The FBI declined to comment on the program.

    "Among the data in its archive, the NSAC houses more than 55,000 entries on customers of the Cendant Hotel chain, now known as Wyndham Worldwide (includes Ramada Inn, Days Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson, Hawthorn Suites). Entries are for hotel customers whose names matched those on a long list the FBI provided to the company.

    "Another 730 records come from the rental car company Avis, which used to be owned by Cendant. Those records were derived from a one-time search of Avis’s database against the State Dept’s old terrorist watch list. An additional 165 entries are credit card transaction histories from the Sears department store chain. Like much of the data used by NSAC, the records were likely retained at the conclusion of an investigation, and added to NSAC for future data mining.

    "It’s unclear how the FBI got the records. In the past, cos have been known to voluntarily hand over customer data to government data-mining experiments."

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