Recognize the Non-Obvious

Passed an hour at the public library tonight after an ordered exodus for
house-showing.  There, I picked up Wired Magazine, flipped through a
few pages and learned about this:

Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness Software

Among other things, NORA "extends identity recognition with relationship
awareness by detecting both obvious and non-obvious relationships." 
It’s the non-obvious part that intrigues me.  To the extent that it’s
obscure information, how is it discoverable?  It is pitched like the
Sherlock Holmes of software apps bent on digging up the dirt on criminal
associations and long-forgotten debauchery. From SRD’s

NORA delivers unique Relationship Awareness capabilities.
The unique capabilities of NORA to discern obvious and non-obvious
relationships in real time against streaming data provides a view through up
to 30 degrees of separation that enables an organization to recognize the full
value or threat of an identity.

NORA sends messages to subscribers when it finds something of particular
interest. The gaming industry, for example, uses NORA as a real-time
"trip-wire" to flag high-risk or previously charged cheaters and
alert managers that an individual may pose a potential problem and should be
watched more closely. The levels of protection gaming enterprises gain from
this "trip-wire sensor" reduces the risk, in their case, of fraud.

Thirty degrees, eh?  Damn.  I’m sure I’m connected to some ex-cons
by fewer than thirty separations.  NORA basically infiltrates the
connections with a kind of surveillance, then reports non-obvious associations
for use–I guess–in characterizing prospective employees, scammers, felons,
crooks and plagiarists. But wait, there’s more:

Internally, NORA can reveal employees who:

  • Share the same address with people you’ve arrested.
  • Are related to slip-and-fall victims.
  • You’ve already fired or arrested. […]

With CRM, NORA uncovers:

  • Relationships between highly profitable and less profitable customers.
  • Nature of customer relationships, e.g., family or colleague.
  • The network value of your customers.

Amazing.  And it manages to do all of this (according to SRD’s home
page) "while protecting personal privacy."  How is that,
exactly?   I noticed that "relationship awareness" is
trademarked, and so I don’t want to get into any trouble for bringing this to EWM. 
It’s just that I’m confusing myself by trying to resolve the gap between
"awareness" and "non-obvious."  Maybe that’s where the
"value" element comes in.  The processing of
"non-obvious" into "awareness" is worth something. So
we ought to pilot a program in "non-obvious" studies–unaccredited for
obscurity’s sake, of course.


  1. I’d like to know more.
    What’s the publication date of Wired Magazine?

  2. Unfortunately, Russell, I didn’t actually buy the magazine, but I’d guess it was an issue close to the time of the post, something close to July, perhaps. Just now I turned the terms “NORA: Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness Software and Wired” over to Google and one of the hits (five deep, no less) was this. From the looks of it, the report isn’t developed much; you’d likely find more info at the NORA web site.

  3. See ABC TV’s Prime Time Live 1/20/05, entitled “No Place to Hide” Lots of background on NORA

  4. I missed it, Paul. That explains the spike in searches related to NORA summoning this entry in the weblog. Thanks for the reference.

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