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February 01, 2005

US Search

I just wasted a perfectly good 2 hours at US Search looking up random people in my contacts list. I found every one of them. It's rather astounding that so much information is available, and yet when you really think about it, it's not so much at all. It's only because I know the people that I know that any of the information is correct. If I didn't know the people at all, I'd take more of the information presented as credible. They say that the test of intelligence is knowing what to discard. True.

I'm buying Schneier's book on IT security, 'Secrets and Lies' to get myself up to date on some basic concepts of security. As well I'm thinking about Ricky Jay and different kinds of confidence games. There's so little we actually know about people, and so many people out there. I am finding at this point in my life that I'm feeling a bit like a teen - that everybody else is having fun with everybody else except me. Only this time I know that people are very disconnected.

Every time I think about the old demographic chestnut that about half of the people in the US are born, live and die within a 50 mile radius it makes me think about Foucault's ideas about sex and proximity. We only think that we are falling in love with the right person, but our experience is far too limited. We love the one we're with, and we try to change them, and we resign ourselves. I'm comfortable with all that, except now I know where several of my ex-girlfriends live. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

But we are getting better about understanding the connections between people. For example, I had no idea that there was a difference between the sexual activity of teens and adults.

Still I didn't pay the 40 bucks it costs to deliver the details for any of my foundlings, which illustrates a principle about privacy. It costs time, effort and money to invade someone's privacy. No security analysis is useful without a cost/benefit analysis. What your information is worth to somebody else is usually a whole lot less than what it's worth to you, so little in fact that it may not be worth going after, even when it's in plain sight.

Lastly, I want to give a plug for HUMINT. I really have a ball watching '24' and shows like that. Go Jack.

Posted by mbowen at February 1, 2005 10:23 AM

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