Monday, December 3, 2012

Who's listening?

Now, I'm not much into urban legends and conspiracy theories. As a kid, I used to read lots of sci-fi books, but today, as a scientist, I am always surprised how primitive those ideas were to the real adventures in science.
There is one observation that has been nagging at me for a while, though. It probably has no statistical significance, but coincidentally it happened again this week, just couple of days after I spoke about it with my colleague at work. Here it is: has it ever happened to you that you had a conversation with somebody about something, and then your smart phone would display ads or news articles related to the topic you had talked about? And I mean just talked about, never went online to explore it or sent emails about it etc. I swear it happens to me. My explanation is simple: Apple, Google, the Russian mafia or whoever, sometimes turns your phone microphone on and eavesdrops on your conversations. Sounds crazy? I guess.... Here is what actually happened this week: yesterday, I had a lunch break conversation in the kitchen of our company about the abundance of long and steep flights of stairs around Seattle. A group at work goes running sometimes and we would ascent stairs on East Howe St. as a warm up on our way to the water tower in Volunteer Park (more stairs inside). Just a block away, I found even longer flight of stairs, at East Blaine St. So we just chatted how it came that steep hills of Seattle are so rich in these moss covered slippery stairs, which are great for running up until your calves burn with lactic acid.

This morning I made a coffee and ate breakfast while surfing Google news on my iPhone. And there it was: among local Seattle news (if it wasn't enough the darn thing knows where I am!) was a note on a new book release: Seattle Stairway Walks: An Up-and-Down Guide to City Neighborhoods by Jake & Cathy Jaramillo. These guys have also a nice website and a blog at What a great idea! So for my today's lunch break run, I went both up and down on long flights of stairs and also snapped a few pictures.

So if Google (Apple?) happens to be also reading this blog, please, keep eavesdropping via my iPhone and bring me news about more trails and fun places to run or bike. For encryption purposes, I could always switch to Czech, at least until my son who studies computer linguistics in Brno, gets a job with one you non-evil corporations.

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