Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The loss of Personal Identity due to the Internet

The recent Webmail privacy scare has made me think a little deeply about my "electronic profile."
[OK, the thinking fried my brain cells, but thanks to evolution, I have new ones.]

1. Many of us are taking broadband internet connections which come with static IPs

2. All of us swear by Google Search and many of us have become greedy in accepting GMail as our primary mail source.

3. All our records are now online, thanks to government computerization (that looks like an oxymoron to me).

4. We create our profile on discussion forums, IMs and other websites. Most of them are registered using the primary email addresses.

5. We never even think of communicating by post. Email is our life.

6. Blogging and Wikiing are our major activities every day.

So many more ways exist where we bring our life online. Even basic investigation would reveal gigabytes of information about you. As Brad Templeton puts it brilliantly, "we are building a surveillance society" [see].

For example, Google keeps all data about the searches we conduct[]. Coupled with static IPs, GMail and personalization, Google can build a complete profile of what we do using all its tools by using our IP as the key. On the same lines, webmail providers scan our emails looking for keywords to put in ads. Coupled with the fact that we rarely delete emails [thanks to "2 GB and counting"], we are laying our entire life open for anybody out to see!

To be fair, it is not only email that causes so much information about us to be available to people who want [ The Fuss About Gmail and Privacy: Nine Reasons Why It's Bogus -]. Although it is titled GMail, it is true for most webmail providers.

Let me clarify, I am not out to crucify Google or any other provider [I am using blogspot to write this, remember], but only give an example of the kind of information that can be gathered about us. Already, employers trawl the Internet for details on their potential employees []. What I wrote in an unhappy mood 10 years back can be used against me!

In short, someone can build a comprehensive profile about you in a matter of days, notions you have outgrown may be used against you.

I am thinking of using email encryption [but how do I get my readers to use the software necessary to decrypt my emails?], proxy anonymizers, cookie-less browsers and other privacy software, but is it enough? I don't think so.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Beginning Photography

I have discovered a new passion - photography, in particular, nature photography. How did I, a confirmed couch potato take up this? Especially when it means lugging heavy equipment across not-so-flat trials? And an expensive one to boot?

Thanks to and its author, Vijay Cavale. I stumbled across his site one day and fell in love with his photos. That was the beginning of an amazing journey, a journey that so far has opened a new world for me - a world where dawn finds me in the middle of a beautiful jungle, with birds and animals welcoming the dawn in their own ways. A world where everything is so tranquil and soothing, away from the hustle and bustle.

Then I got myself invited to, a place where some of India's best photographers publish their photos for the world to see as well as answer queries on the forums.

These are some of the best sites by Indian wildlife enthusiasts on birds and other fauna.

Vijay and a couple of people from IIFM, Bhopal have created a software application that is indeed a boon to budding naturalists - an application that has many details, including calls (sounds) of birds in Central India. You could download this application free of cost at

Now, a return to my attempts. I bought myself a Panasonic FZ7 Digital Camera, after agonizing long over it. It is a serious camera for a nature photographer, although not "professional" equipment, but I guess I could take some good pictures along the way if I added some accessories to it. Most of my "nature" photos will go to the INW site I mentioned earlier, but I might be tempted to post some here if I see some comments asking for it ;)

I hope I am able to continue on this wonderful path that some of my fellow human beings have chosen to walk.
[These links have been provided in good faith and to bring to light some great work being done, so kindly refrain from any actions that could destroy such works.]

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