Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Linked-In Social Hacking for Fun or Profit?

Two days ago an Impostor invited me on Linked-In. I didn't recognize the name or face, so I looked at her profile. She had about 30 contacts - none in common with me. She didn't attend the same schools. In fact, I had absolutely nothing in common with her. This morning she has 143 contacts and growing. At least 9 of my contacts have accepted her invitation. WTF?

I receive requests for new contacts about once a week. Linked-In is my primary work database and where I regularly seek connections, contacts and work. Aside from the mobile interface, I love it.

Lately, about 1 in 5 contact requests are from Impostors or Posers. Impostors are clearly not who they say they are. While Posers appear to be legitimate humans attempting to exploit a vague connection to me. I have no idea why they do this.

I assume the former are malicious hackers intent on lowering the bar for me to give up personal details, steal identity, passwords, credit cards and accounts.  The later seem to be self-agrandizing attempts to develop a persona in search of some future reward. Perhaps they are bored, counting contacts or looking for a job.

My anecdotal evidence is these Impostor and Poser accounts live on and show some success. Individuals accept invitations and their contact numbers grow. Apparently, three clicks to validate your contact is too high a barrier for most.

This morning, I googled the Impostor's  image. The photo is an actress from "Dead like Me." I didn't even watch the show. I flagged the account. You can thank me latter.

I'm losing trust in my fellow cybercitizens because of their careless behavior. The only protection you have is the lock on your own doors. I have 100s of them online and people are making it easier for them to get closer to me. This could keep me awake at night.

Undoubtedly, Linked-In, Facebook, Google, etc. have large data mining capabilities to flag these accounts, but I don't see it. When will the analytics be available to me to look for patterns of fraud and misrepresentation? Is this the Premium Feature I am going to pay for next?

Why does someone pretend to be someone they are not on Linked-In? 

Case Study

"Levins Michelle, Recruiter at Colliers-International" -- perhaps not even a she, but a script experiment from a hacker.

The photo is of Britt McKillup (thank you google image). Colliers may have recruiters recently out of college. There must be people with the first name "Levin" or last name "Michelle", but I don't know any of them. In fact, I can't think of a single one of my 100s of contacts who is associated with Colliers or 20-year olds from San Jose State.

If I can figure this out in less than 5 minutes, why can't Linked-In?

Yes, I flagged the account... You should also... 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Beowulf, 1k Years of...

I've been busy orchestrating test plans, feedback and all the other important little details of early customer testing for Tonian. There has been little room for mental exercise, but I did get out a little.

I squeezed in the wonderfully irreverent Beowulf at ART: "A Thousand Years of Baggage"  In word, song and pantomime the Banana Bag & Bodice company walked the audience through the epic poem that we know and (probably do not) love. Beowulf's baggage is historical, critical and contemporary. The studying of Beowulf is unavoidable in American High Schools and a rite of passage for the English Major.  

There are no surprises in the fight scenes. The audience is even pre-conditioned by English teachers to see patriarchal and matriarchal motifs. Yes, Grendel is killed. The male bloodline continues into old age - until a dragon (hubris) does him in. What can you do when everyone in the audience knows the story?

First, be creative. We didn't come for the story. We came for the experience. Banana Bag & Bodice's performance started in the audience with music.

Second, get your audience involved. In 1k Years, the lecturers on stage who introduce the poem were clearly caricatures of our English professors - including one who quoted comments on a blog as if it were a fine critical source.

Third, focus on what you want me to hear. Where Beowulf the poem is repetitive, Beowulf the musical moves through quickly. 1k Years spent more time riffing on "Themes" than is did on old English.  

Finally, keep up the pace. I know what is coming next, don't waste time setting it up for me.

These same lessons are true if you selling technology. Our audiences are know so much that we need to approach the subject fully aware of their knowledge and why our approach is creative, empowering, focused and engaging.