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Cory Doctorow is an alarmist self-promoting whore
Authored by: Mikey-San on Jan 11, '06 08:28:17AM

Title says the jist of it.

Hide the mini store. End of problem.

Most people are going to hide the mini store, as well, so I really see this as a non-issue. Go look at Cory's posts to BoingBoing--they're 95% DRM and privacy rants, as though he were Bruce Freaking Schneier. He's not. He uses these sorts of alarmist posts to pimp himself and his books (look at how much self-promotion he does on BoingBoing if you don't believe me).

I'm tired of it, and wish people would stop linking to his banal tripe.

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Cory Doctorow is an alarmist self-promoting whore
Authored by: robg on Jan 11, '06 09:21:32AM

OK, so leave boingboing out of it. Instead, let's try reporting this instead:

"Today, in a minor update to Office, it was discovered that the company is now collecting the names of every document you open to edit in Word or Excel. This data is used to present you with 'new templates to purchase' that will make future related projects much easier to complete. The data, however, is collected without the user's approval or knowledge, and the Office Read Me made no mention of this new feature."

Imagine the reaction of the collective Mac user base now. So why is it different just because it's Apple?


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Cory Doctorow is an alarmist self-promoting whore
Authored by: Mikey-San on Jan 11, '06 10:18:26AM

If the mini store pane is open, and I click on a song to play it, the items in the pane change. Either I'm completely retarded, or I understand that there isn't some sort of black magic going on here.

When I realize I don't want people suggesting music to me and cluttering up the window, I turn off/hide the mini store pane and data ceases to be transmitted. There is no longer any information going anywhere, and no one suggests other music for me.

In your example, you give no control over the transmission or collection of data. This is the core issue here. Go to and browse books and music for a moment--don't BUY anything, just browse. It remembers what you've seen, but if I want to stop this from happening, I disable cookies. In your example, if there's an easily located, obviously placed option in Excel to disable the data mining behaviour, then there isn't a problem; if not, people should ring the alarm.

This is about whether or not you can control the data that exists, not whether or not it does exist.

Cory and BoingBoing should be brought into this, because he is going to use BoingBoing to fan the flames of a non-issue. He needs a muzzle.

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Privacy, Apple, and the MS Analogy
Authored by: CarlosD on Jan 11, '06 12:30:21PM

There is clearly a need to separate issues to sort out whether Apple has "crossed the line":

  • Different people consider "the line" to be drawn in different places.
  • Individual levels of trust will vary for different companies. Trust is established on a one to one basis. Some will give MS less or more leeway than Apple based on their own perspective and history with the company. Will you ever put a Sony Music CD in your PC without some concern?
  • I believe the MS analogy is too broad a reach for this issue as there is a much greater threat from the type of information that may be gleaned from Office document titles than there is from mere music preferences.
  • Oddly enough, I think the bigger threat in terms of personal privacy is having access (potentially) to your subscribed podcasts.

The important questions to ask (with my thoughts/suggested answers):

  1. Were you informed that data was being sent? Well, not directly, no. Given the layout of iTunes, a greater than common level of computer knowledge would be needed to tell that data was being sent.
  2. Could you opt-in or easily opt-out of data transmission? I think this and the previous question highlight Apple's biggest error here. It is easy, but not clear and easy enough.
  3. Is the data being collected? While we know there is a send and reply, we do not know about whether is persists at Apple. Clearly, for you, this is disconcerting.
  4. Is the data personal? I think concern should increase if we saw ? in the query string or cookie. I happen to know that Apple is very touchy about collecting info or appearing to be doing so. So the fact that some are up in arms means they have erred somewhat.
  5. Is the data being (or to be) used beyond the single mini store request/response? This is the heart of the privacy concern: What comes next?
Contextual and personalized online shopping is fairly standard today. To that end, I think Apple's keeping and using some data – to do things like "Just For You" – are justified, BUT only when you are
  • a store user AND
  • clearly within the store context...


  • you have opted-in to the appearance of the mini store

The simple solution for Apple is to provide a first run dialog for the new mini store enabled version, much like is done where a first run of iTunes asks if you want to search for MP3s on your drive. The could do an opt-in, where they ask, "iTunes can now show store selections based on your existing library. Would you like to see this in your main window?" Or, a little more sneaky opt-out, "iTunes now brings the power of the iTunes music store to your current library. You can select Edit -> Hide Mini Store to disable." Internet connection warning labels and links to, yes, a privacy policy should be provided on that dialog.


Carlos D
my music

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Poor analogy
Authored by: Barney-15 on Jan 12, '06 05:41:16AM

That's just a wrong-headed analogy. I don't use Office as a method to purchase anything. It wasn't designed or marketed as a means to purchase content. If you can find another piece of software that is an interface for buying content, I might find the analogy at least worthy of argument.

Log me as one who doesn't care. If Apple points me to new music that I like, tremendous, because 98.9% of everything I've heard in the last 10 years, I don't like.


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Poor analogy
Authored by: onan on Jan 14, '06 10:56:12PM
That's just a wrong-headed analogy. I don't use Office as a method to purchase anything. It wasn't designed or marketed as a means to purchase content.
You seem to have managed to forget that most users of itunes do not use it as a method to purchase anything, they simply use it to play their existing music and transfer it to their ipods. Many people in fact chose to use itunes, or invest in ipods, well before it was "designed or marketed as a means to purchase content," and yet they've had this spyware version thrust upon them via deceptive patch notes.

Which I would say makes the analogy pretty apt.

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Cory Doctorow is an alarmist self-promoting whore
Authored by: archinla on Jan 11, '06 10:21:41AM

LOL. I was just thinking this myself. BoingBoing seems to have become even more juvenile lately. It's becoming the cult of goatse, amongst other things.
Sorry for the OT post but they really deserve the criticism to counter all the fawning praise they get.

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Cory Doctorow is an alarmist self-promoting whore
Authored by: Mikey-San on Jan 11, '06 10:31:41AM

It's really just Cory that's cluttering it up with DRM this and that every other day. I can't stomach reading the site on a day where Cory's gone on another DRM posting spree.

Were I Mark or Xeni, I'd kick him back to Slashdot where he belongs. BoingBoing is supposed to be wonderful things, and Cory just plugs his books and DRM rants. This is not "wonderful things".

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