Gister

Not to name names here, but Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple and others have been unceremoniously modifying user terms of service so you tacitly agree to them using your data (search habits, email content scanning, FB postings, etc.) in any manner they desire. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few weeks, it has become mainstream knowledge that the government is accessing this same data for horizon scanning of potential terrorist threats/plots. The National Security Agency (NSA) is at the heart of this debate in light of Edward Snowden’s leak of classified information, a federal crime. Some people are re-thinking the concept of privacy. We believe there is value in providing choices and privacy has been an area of interest at Visual Purple for some time and has influenced GisterPRO’s feature set.

In wake of the recent Google snooping scandal a few weeks back other search engines that are not tracking user information have seen a big bump in folks visiting their site to conduct searches in a non-tracked environment. As an example this past Monday, June 17th, Duck Duck Go saw a record 3 million searches in just one day as people conducting searches on the internet looked for an alternative search engine free of user tracking. In fact Duck Duck Go traffic has increased over 33% in the past two weeks in wake of the Google scandal.

Europe has already seen a lot of debate over data privacy and has therefore begun enacting new data protection laws to protect its citizens. It may not be long before the U.S. starts to think (and act) more about this hot topic as well… how much is enough when letting the big guns track you?

When you stop to think about it we are constantly under surveillance – everything from simply browsing the internet to smart phones and even driving around in our fancy, black box equipped cars. The concept of privacy is being recast before us… apathy might prevail, or some of us may decide to use a different search engine or private email service. Options are a good thing!

Search privacy

We are awash in facts. Have a question? Google has an ‘answer.’ If you wanted to know the gross domestic product of New Zealand, you can find that online in a few seconds. Or in the world of training, you can endure traditional CBTs (that’s short for Computer-Based Tranings) rich in facts, and as exciting as a root canal. What matters more now than ever is the ability to put facts into context and deliver them in bite-sized pieces with emotional impact; we all know this as story. This is the magic of bringing context and building connections – if you want to convey important lessons and subject matter in ways that stick, you must first recognize the power of narrative and effectively lead your organization by creating and delivering engaging story with a beginning, middle, and an end. It’s in our DNA.

We carried this successful theme beyond Intelligent Simulations with GisterPRO. Both 1.0 and 2.0 (currently in BETA) build a story by extracting terms and concepts then displaying them in what we term a ‘Gister Graph’. This visualization bakes in an interesting story of meaning by displaying relative relationships and strengths of terms and concepts. So, with just a glance, a dense dataset of facts yields its ‘story.’

GP OldGP New

Our mission with GisterPRO, is to give people something they didn’t know they were missing: their data has a story to tell; an important story.

I wanted to take a few minutes and share some quick comments I have on a presentation that Kate Crawford, a researcher at Microsoft Research, presented at the Data Edge (http://dataedge.ischool.berkeley.edu/2013/) Conference last week: “Six myths of Big Data.” While I tend to agree with most of Ms. Crawford’s points, I believe two of the myths are open to debate at some level…

Myth 1- Big Data is New
Agree. As Ms. Crawford states the scale and prevalence of Big Data is reaching us in new ways. Big Data is only at the beginning climb of the hype cycle. With the way that the internet and social media are today as well as large organizations amassing data in great amounts, Big Data is here to stay. So, yes, Big Data has been around for some time and is only going to grow exponentially.

Perhaps one of the most important take-aways is that there are “…two prominent issues today in Big Data, display and insight […have] been around for awhile.” GisterPRO is a tool that helps solve these perennial challenges.

Myth 2- Big Data is Objective

Disagree…Big Data is objective. I think she really wants to say that the complexion or sources for a given dataset may or may not accurately describe a population as in the cited Hurricane Sandy biasing example. Thus, the person analyzing the data needs to be experienced and savvy enough to pose basic statistical questions around data capture/composition & thus validity.

Myth 3- Big Data Doesn’t Discriminate
Disagree. The people using Big Data may not be, however, be discriminating. Reporting truth is not discriminating. Correlations will be made, whether we like them or not.

Myth 4- Big Data Makes Cities Smart
Agree. I would go further to suggest that Big Data making cities smart will lead to an individual being more vulnerable to Orwellian-type abuse.

Myth 5- Big Data is Anonymous
Agree. Unforeseen correlations have repeatedly proven to lift the veil of privacy in a myriad of ways. Look out!

Myth 6- You Can Opt Out

Agree….kinda of. Think of it this way. If something is free (Google search or Yahoo mail to name just two of many examples), you are the product; you pay by giving up your privacy so they can sell stuff to you. There are options for opting out. Fodder for future posts…

Greetings all VP loyal blog followers! Our apologies for not being consistent in our blog posts as of late…new offices, new technology, an expanding team have kept our ops tempo up! Most exciting is our game-changing technology released in September… years in development, GisterPRO is a cloud-powered Exploratory Search technology. Huh? What did you say? Below is a quick overview of GisterPRO. It is a revolutionary new approach to search inspired by many factors not the least of which is our core competency in understanding analysts needs and processes from years of producing intelligent training sims in this domain. We get it that analysts need better tools especially when it comers to being more effective in OSINT (Open Source Intelligence).

A GisterPRO SaaS Exploratory Web Search starts in the Amazon cloud. An army of Drones (Intelligent Web Crawlers) read all results- tens of thousands of documents- from fifteen search engines carefully selected to cast a wide net. Only the best results (Gisted Results) are presented for rapid review and sorting.

Gisted Results include thumbnail snapshots and metrics generated by precisely reading unstructured data from web pages and documents in an automatic, unbiased manner. This assures the user that their search terms will be in the returned pages and documents while rejecting search engine optimization strategies and profit biasing of results by search engines.

Rapid filtering of Gisted Results is achieved by sorting a unique and powerful reporting metric: Closeness Factor. This is an amalgamation of factors that report on how significantly the search terms are related to each other in a specific document.

Discovered Entities, automatically extracted terms of interest, are displayed with concepts and linkages on an interactive Globe, encouraging easy search exploration and refinement by clicking Globe terms. Simply put, GisterPRO both helps to construct the question, and rapidly reveal the best answers.

Discovered Entities are both listed and intelligently grouped (Automatic Disambiguation) on the Globe presenting the best data picture available from the entire text corpus acquired by the search. This projection- the story of the data- often reveals important or actionable intelligence and empowers the user to drill down.

September 2011 marked the official release of the production version of GisterPRO as both Software as a Service (SaaS) and customized for clients with special considerations and requirements, in both the OSINT World and the Enterprise. You can learn more information about GisterPRO by downloading the Product Overview below or visiting the GisterPRO website at www.GisterPRO.com to sign-up for a 14-day trial.

And don’t worry… We haven’t lost our simulation roots. We continue to do three worlds of custom-built simulation training for select clients and licensing of our authoring technology.