Dear Andrew Turner,
I am writing to you today to express concern about the way in which the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill  is being rushed through Parliament without appropriate time allowed for scrutiny of the Bill or members to elicit expert and informed opinion about what the consequences of the Bill might be.
I do not know if you have read the Bill , the supporting documentation (explanatory notes and impact assessment) , or the ECJ ruling  that prompted the emergency legislation, or how you intend to vote in the matter of the Bill. If you have not read the supporting documents, but you do intend to vote in support of the Bill, I would like to ask by what rationale you came to that decision? Because it would not be in my name as a constituent and you would not have my support in the matter.
If you do not have time to read through the official documents, may I ask what other sources of information you turned to in forming your opinion. For your information,  considers some of the issues raised in the impact assessment document.
Informed opinion appears to differ in several important respects in the extent to which it believes the Bill may introduce new or extended powers or extend the scope of regulation, rather than just securing previous legislation, from the public statement that introduced the bill, and the Home Secretary’s comments in the HoC Home Affairs Committee today. This suggests that more time for considering this Bill is required – if the House is not clear about what the legislation says, it should not pass it. If it is clear, how does it counter the claims raised by the informed dissenters?
As I have written to you previously, I would also like to express concern once again about the cavalier and ill-informed way in which the Government introduce and attempt to pass legislation particularly in respect of “digital” matters.
and ended up on a search results page with the URL http://dwp.gov.uk.master.com/texis/master/search/?q=sharing+data+local+authority&s=SS:
(The results appear to be broken – on the first link at least, the redirect from the results page goes to a largely irrelevant link on the new gov.uk site.)
Ooh – slick… ‘ere, gov, wanna buy a new
In case you’re around the OU campus in Milton Keynes on Monday 18th July, we’re recording the final episode in our season of special episodes on openness with Gareth Mitchell and the BBC Click Radio team.
If you’d like to attend, the recording will take place in the Berrill Lecture Theatre from 1pm to 1.30. Please be seated by 12.45 for the sound check;-)
A week or so ago, I posted a quick hack using the Google Social graph API showing how to generate a list Common Friends or Followers on Twitter, so that you could look up which folk would see, in their Twitter timeline, a conversation between two other people on Twitter. (A hosted version of the service is now available here.)
At the time I also generalised the code so that you could look up the extent to which any party could see the conversations between two other parties on twitter, in stream. This is another single page web app and it can be found hre: Twitter in-stream eavesdrop.
It looks like this:
Very simple, very quick… there is nothing more to it than what you find if you View Source… (In fact, there’s more than you need if you View Source – there is also a Google Analytics tracking code in there…)
Th third episode of the OU/BBC co-produced Virtual Revolution (which may well be available on iPlayer from time to time) has just aired, and included a quick overview of how Google works – from finding relevant search results, to pricing the adverts that make Google its money.
So here’s a quick recap, and a little more detail…
Firstly, the famous PageRank mechanism that drives Google’s search results ranking. Here’s how Terry Winograd, one of the interviewees on the Virtual Revolution programme, describes it:
(Michael Nielsen has written an even more comprehensive tutorial on how this works at Lectures on the Google Technology Stack 1: Introduction to PageRank. If you want to read the original PageRank paper, you can find it here: The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine.)
Next up, Google’s chief economist, Hal Varian, explains how the advert auction that powers Google’s AdSense service works:
(If you buy Google AdSense adverts, you might also be interested in how to price your bids effectively…)
For a full length lecture by Hal Varian on “The Economics of Internet Search”, check out the following hour long video:
[To learn more about effective searching on the web, see the OU course Beyond Google: working with information online, or check out this free tutorial from the Open University Library: Safari: Skills in Accessing, Finding and Reviewing Information.]
When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.