Category Archives: internet

My profile on Mathblogging

In case you haven’t heard enough from me lately, the Mathblogging.org blog is running my profile where I answer questions on blogging and the internet. This is part of their “Mathematical Instruments” series, profiling a different math blogger each time.


What wouldn’t have happened to you without the internet? What does the internet need more of?

The internet is great for communicating, networking, disseminating information. I’ve made contacts through the internet that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise. There is a tendency, though, to speak of “the internet” and “real life” as if they were separate from each other. They’re not. I write on the internet, but the subject of my writing is usually drawn from my life experience. The internet offers instant access to vast stores of information that might not be available to me otherwise, but the value of that information lies in its relation to the actual, non-virtual world. I often seek out older material that pre-dates the internet. When I interact with people online, it is different from meeting them in person, but that does not make it less “real.”

This is a roundabout way of saying that I can’t tell what wouldn’t have happened to me without the internet. The internet is a means, not an end, and I would have likely sought the same ends by whatever means might have been available instead.

Click through for more.

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Random internet things

I changed the title of the last post because I was getting way too many hits from searches for “hipster kitty” and I hadn’t meant for my blog to be a hipster kitty resource. We’ll see how it goes….

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You Can Be A Private Investigator!

And it’s just gotten easier, too. Gone are the days when you actually had to google a person and flip through webpages by hand. Now there seems to be a proliferation of websites that do that automatically and generate aggregated profiles. Here’s my Eventseer.net profile, in its entirety:

Izabella Laba is connected with József Solymosi and A. Iosevich. Izabella’s main research interests are point set and planar point sets.

It’s so, like, totally awesome that these guys are chummy enough with me to call me by my first name. My research interests are point sets? Whatever makes you happy, buddy.

But the best part were the Google ads on the sidebar.

Izabella
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And they’re all into point sets and planar point sets?

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Oh. Maybe not.

I’ve also found other profiles of myself, for example on Pipl.com and zoominfo.com. Here’s how it seems to work:

What is this Profile?
A Pipl Profile is an automatically generated profile that contains a summary of information found on the web.

How did Pipl get this information?
Our deep search robots continually crawls the web and extracts facts and other relevant information from general web documents, personal profiles, blogs, news articles and other publications using natural language processing and statistical analysis; this data is then automatically converted into quick, simple and interlinked people profiles.

The Pipl web page has a link where you can request to have your profile removed. (I haven’t tried.) My Pipl profile consists of links to several web pages that also come up in a Google search. That’s not unreasonable, but it raises the obvious question: why use Pipl when we already have Google?

It would be scary if landlords, personnel managers, and others in a position of authority started to rely on that sort of software for background checks. I hope that they’re smarter than that, though. Hand-googling a person is not always reliable, either, but at least you get to see actual web pages that might contain meaningful information, not just predigested hairball-quality blurbs with all sources removed.

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