Yesterday I wrote about what we’ve learned from the recent AOL data leak. By now you’re probably aware that the risks to your personal data online can be rather significant. If you value your privacy you’ll want to take precautions to protect yourself online. Here are a few things you can do to minimize the damage the next time a major data spill occurs:
It’s been just over a week since we learned that AOL inadvertently released three months worth of search history for 670,000 users. While the furor has died down slightly, it seems likely that we’ll be hearing about this issue for quite some time. So much data was revealed that it could take a while before we fully understand the implications, and just how much damage may be inflicted on individual users. As scandals go, this one shows no sign of going away any time soon.
Early reaction to the news has been surprisingly varied. Data researchers were initially gleeful at the opportunity to work with extremely large data sets generated in a real-world environment. Privacy advocates were outraged and pointed out that while the data was anonymized, the search queries themselves can be used to identify users. Meanwhile, a large portion of the blogosphere has become fascinated with user 17556639 and his apparent plans to kill his wife. It’s entirely possible that law enforcement may be searching the logs for possible signs of criminal activity.
I am going to say something I never thought I’d say: AOL (formerly known as American Online) is starting to look very interesting to me. For a lot of reasons, I’ve never had a need to visit the AOL website, except to do something or other with Instant Messenger. I’ve always found their system to be a bit clunky, and it was easier to find what I wanted somewhere else.
But I’m fascinated by their commitment to creating original programming — series — for online viewers. They’ve recently inked a deal with Ashton Kutcher/Jason Goldman’s Katalyst Films to develop five comedy series of at least 20 episodes each. Now back in the day when Medialoper was a just a twinkle in our eye, one of the things that made us laugh (really hard) was an assertion from an unnamed network executive that the traditional studio structure was a requirement for producing ongoing, multi-episode series.
AOL launched their In2TV service today, featuring an eclectic mix of 30 Warner Bros. TV shows from the past half-century. Some good, some bad, some on DVD, some not — and all available for high-quality streaming in their entirety with “minimal commercial interruption.” 1 to 2 minutes, for now. Though if it’s successful, that will no doubt sneak up a bit: the whole point, of course, is another revenue stream.
We haven’t yet had a chance for a test-drive of the service through the Medialoper Review Labs — the pilot ep of Welcome Back Kotter, prior to Travolta becoming a superstar, will be just the ticket — but here are a couple of random initial impressions:
- The home page is clean and well-organized: less clutter than iTunes, and easier to find stuff than Google video or YouTube.
- Don’t come here looking for full seasons. Looks like they’ve launched with about 10 eps of each show.
- They’ve also launched with features and interactive games.
- There is more than one way to find an individual show: they’ve categorized them, have a search feature, broken out clips; and have a “show all feature” that actually lists more than a few at a time.
- One of the best ideas: “Pilot Theatre,” which is exactly what you would think.
All in all, a nice auspicious start for IN2TV: one can only hope that they add more shows, and more episodes for each show.