Last year, the Italian authorities monitored more than 112,000 phones and 13,000 locations, according to the Justice Ministry, figures widely seen as among the highest in Europe.
“Wiretaps are now the most important tool against all crimes: corruption, Mafia, terrorism, white-collar crime,” said Armando Spataro, a veteran counterterrorism prosecutor in Milan.
While Italy’s quick and easy culture of wiretapping would never fly in the United States, where in most cases prosecutors must show “probable cause” to believe a crime has been committed before tapping a phone, the current Italian system seems to have some well-placed American fans.
Dennis Crowley was jogging across a New York bridge when he spotted something exciting: a cartoon mushroom, spray-painted on the sidewalk.
It looked like something out of Nintendo’s “Super Mario Bros.,” which Crowley grew up playing. He stomped on the mushroom as he ran by and had a sort of nerdy realization.
“I was like, s—!” he recalled. ” ‘I should get a power-up for that!’ ”
Since that moment several years ago, Crowley — a 33-year-old who’s always in a sweatshirt and wears an eyebrow-length mop of Justin Bieber-like hair — has sought to turn adult life into a whimsical game. In his world, people should earn points and prizes for making random discoveries like that one.
Video may have killed the radio star. But in the cellphone wars, it’s the computing industry that is destroying the former leaders of the handset sector, namely Nokia and Motorola, whose roots lie in the wireless radio business.
The reason is simple. Handsets are quickly becoming all about instant messaging, Web access and applications that let you do nifty things like find a free parking space. Voice is becoming an afterthought, a trend that favors the Silicon Valley crowd.
The old guard still has a chance to halt the phone industry’s shift to Silicon Valley. But it’s getting late in the game.
Airlines have made great technological leaps in recent years, allowing passengers to check in from home or download boarding passes on their smartphones. But if you’ve ever been stranded at an airport during a raging thunderstorm, chances are you will end up standing in a long line watching a gate agent typing furiously on an outdated computer.
The airlines are still catching up with the technology many of their customers already carry in their pockets.
That’s a problem for an industry whose core purpose is customer service. Still, there is some hope for change.
An organic burger restaurant in midtown Manhattan is using social networking for menu development, marketing, entertainment and even social change. Its delicious plans suggest ways that businesses of all kinds can transform themselves by “crowdsourcing” not only marketing, but product development as well.
When the 4food eatery opens its doors at the corner of 40th and Madison on July 6, it just might usher in a new era in the integration of social networking with the real world.
A 240-square-foot monitor in the restaurant will constantly stream Foursquare check-ins, tweets from Twitter, and restaurant information. In other words, the restaurant itself will be a social networking application. Customers will be able to see tweets and status updates, and they’ll be able to reply to them or add their own with their cell phones or whatever mobile devices they have, using the restaurant’s free Wi-Fi connection.