UMBC ebiquity
2010 November

Archive for November, 2010

Tim Berners-Lee on protecting the Web in the December Scientific American

November 19th, 2010, by Tim Finin, posted in GENERAL, Privacy, Semantic Web, Web

Sir Tim Berners-Lee discusses the principles underlying the Web and the need to protect them in an article from the December issue of Scientific American, Long Live the Web.

“The Web evolved into a powerful, ubiquitous tool because it was built on egalitarian principles and because thousands of individuals, universities and companies have worked, both independently and together as part of the World Wide Web Consortium, to expand its capabilities based on those principles.

The Web as we know it, however, is being threatened in different ways. Some of its most successful inhabitants have begun to chip away at its principles. Large social-networking sites are walling off information posted by their users from the rest of the Web. Wireless Internet providers are being tempted to slow traffic to sites with which they have not made deals. Governments—totalitarian and democratic alike—are monitoring people’s online habits, endangering important human rights.

If we, the Web’s users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the Web could be broken into fragmented islands. We could lose the freedom to connect with whichever Web sites we want. The ill effects could extend to smartphones and pads, which are also portals to the extensive information that the Web provides.

Why should you care? Because the Web is yours. It is a public resource on which you, your business, your community and your government depend. The Web is also vital to democracy, a communications channel that makes possible a continuous worldwide conversation. The Web is now more critical to free speech than any other medium. It brings principles established in the U.S. Constitution, the British Magna Carta and other important documents into the network age: freedom from being snooped on, filtered, censored and disconnected.”

Near the end of the long feature article, he mentions the Semantic Web’s linked data as one of the major new technologies the Web will give birth to, provided the principles are upheld.

“A great example of future promise, which leverages the strengths of all the principles, is linked data. Today’s Web is quite effective at helping people publish and discover documents, but our computer programs cannot read or manipulate the actual data within those documents. As this problem is solved, the Web will become much more useful, because data about nearly every aspect of our lives are being created at an astonishing rate. Locked within all these data is knowledge about how to cure diseases, foster business value and govern our world more effectively.”

One of the benefits of linked data is that it makes data integration and fusion much easier. The benefit comes with a potential risk, which Berners-Lee acknowledges.

“Linked data raise certain issues that we will have to confront. For example, new data-integration capabilities could pose privacy challenges that are hardly addressed by today’s privacy laws. We should examine legal, cultural and technical options that will preserve privacy without stifling beneficial data-sharing capabilities.”

The risk is not unique to linked data, and new research is underway, in our lab and elsewhere, on how to also use Semantic Web technology to protect privacy.

Security of Industrial Control Systems: How is it Different from IT Cyber Security

November 19th, 2010, by Tim Finin, posted in cybersecurity

The Maryland Clean Energy Technology Incubator is holding a special conference on Security of Industrial Control Systems: How is it Different from IT Cyber Security? on Tuesday 14 December 2010. The conference will be held in the main conference room at the bwtech@UMBC research and technology park’s south campus facility.

The one-day conference will discuss issues and solutions to deal with cyber threats to our industrial control systems used in operating our critical infrastructure: electric grid, water distribution, transportation system, and chemical process industry. Speakers will include leaders in the fields of industrial control systems and IT cybersecurity from Applied Control Solutions, UMBC, NIST, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, MITRE, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Fortinet.

The meeting will end with a discussion of the formation of new group from academia, industry, and government with the objective of creating the skills, products and services needed to effectively deal with cyber threats to our the industrial control systems.

Android to support near field communication

November 15th, 2010, by Tim Finin, posted in Google, Mobile Computing, Pervasive Computing, RFID

As TechCrunch and others report, Google’s Eric Schmidt announced that the next version of Android (Gingerbread 2.3) will support near field communication. What?

Wikipedia explains that NFC refers to RFID and RFID-like technology commonly used for contactless smart cards, mobile ticketing, and mobile payment systems.

Near Field Communication or NFC, is a short-range high frequency wireless communication technology which enables the exchange of data between devices over about a 10 centimeter (around 4 inches) distance.”

The next iphone is rumored to have something similar.

Support for NFC in popular smart phones could unleash lots of interesting applications, many of which have already been explored in research prototypes in labs around the world. One interesting possibility is that this could be used to allow android devices to share RDF queries and data with other devices.

First Baltimore Hackathon, 19-21 Nov 2010

November 3rd, 2010, by Tim Finin, posted in Conferences, GENERAL, Technology

The First Baltimore Hackathon will take place on Friday and Saturday, November 19-20, 2010 at Beehive Baltimore, 2400 Boston St, on the 3rd floor of the Emerging Technology Center.

Come to build a hardware or software project — from idea to prototype — in a weekend either individually or as part of a team! While you are hacking, you’ll enjoy free food and coffee and be eligible to win prizes and awards! If you are interested, sign up and use the Baltimore Hackathon wiki to share ideas and build a team or to list yourself as available to join an existing team.

Check out the TechinBaltimore Google group for more information and discussion about the hackathon and related technology events in and around Baltimore.

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