Current Berkman People and Projects

Keep track of Berkman-related news and conversations by subscribing to this page using your RSS feed reader. This aggregation of blogs relating to the Berkman Center does not necessarily represent the views of the Berkman Center or Harvard University but is provided as a convenient starting point for those who wish to explore the people and projects in Berkman's orbit. As this is a global exercise, times are in UTC.

The list of blogs being aggregated here can be found at the bottom of this page.

October 31, 2014

Bruce Schneier
The Risk of Unfounded Ebola Fears

Good essay.

Worry about Ebola (or anything) manifests physically as what's known as a fight, flight, or freeze response. Biological systems ramp up or down to focus the body's resources on the threat at hand. Heart rate and blood pressure increase, immune function is suppressed (after an initial burst), brain chemistry changes, and the normal functioning of the digestive system is interrupted, among other effects. Like fear itself, these changes are protective in the short term. But when they persist, the changes prompted by chronic stress -- defined as stress beyond the normal hassles of life, lasting at least one to two weeks -- are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (the leading cause of death in America); increased likelihood and severity of clinical depression (suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America); depressed memory formation and recall; impaired fertility; reduced bone growth; and gastrointestinal disorders.

Perhaps most insidious of all, by suppressing our immune systems, chronic stress makes us more likely to catch infectious diseases, or suffer more­ -- or die­ -- from diseases that a healthy immune system would be better able to control. The fear of Ebola may well have an impact on the breadth and severity of how many people get sick, or die, from influenza this flu season. (The CDC reports that, either directly or indirectly, influenza kills between 3,000 and 49,000 people per year.)

There is no question that America's physical, economic, and social health is far more at risk from the fear of Ebola than from the virus itself.

EDITED TO ADD (10/30): The State of Louisiana is prohibiting researchers who have recently been to Ebola-infected countries from attending a conference on tropical medicine. So now we're at a point where our fear of Ebola is inhibiting scientific research into treating and curing Ebola.

by Bruce Schneier at October 31, 2014 04:30 PM

Hacking Team Documentation

The Intercept has published the complete manuals for Hacking Team's attack software. This follows a detailed report on Hacking Team's products from August. Hacking Team sells computer and cell phone hacking capabilities to the governments of Azerbaijan, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Panama, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, and Uzbekistan... and probably others as well.

This is important. The NSA's capabilities are not unique to the NSA. They're not even unique to countries like the US, UK, China, Russia, France, Germany, and Israel. They're available for purchase by any totalitarian country that wants to spy on foreign governments or its own citizens. By ensuring an insecure Internet for everyone, the NSA enables companies like Hacking Team to thrive.

by Bruce Schneier at October 31, 2014 02:23 PM

David Weinberger
R paragraphs 2 long?

Over the years as I’ve edited my own writing, I’ve come to rely on two heuristics: 1. Most paragraphs are better off without a topic sentence. 2. The ends of paragraphs sometimes make better beginnings.

My obvious hypothesis is that the Web has made us impatient readers who won’t wait to get to the end of the paragraph to decide whether the paragraph is worth reading. That’s true for me, anyway. Thorough reading takes more of an act of will than I remember.

TL;DR: Paragraphs are obsolete. Skip to the TL;DR.

by davidw at October 31, 2014 01:45 PM

Willow Brugh
Teaching People to Fish

When people tell me that Cartesian systems are optimized, I want to laugh. Of course they are, but we’ve optimized for the bits we know about. We’ve focused on optimization of output, not on optimization of adaptability. And the Quest for the Upper Right Quadrant (aka Capitalism, aka the Singularity, aka any overly simplistic idea of infinite growth and eventual overall simplicity) is always about output. In systems in which the power distribution is also hierarchical (aka, the ones we’ve got), people are not empowered to deviate from set tasks to cover those unknown parts. This is why the idea of innovation and entrepreneurship is so fraught. To some, it’s about empowering for adaptability and connection, for gap filling. For others, it’s about hurry up faster to that upper right.

Which brings us to this article I referenced a bit ago as abhorrent.


The following comments are worth looking at, as well.

Please Do Not Teach This Woman to Fish

After all, which economy is more productive — one in which every single person is an entrepreneur, or one in which a minority of entrepreneurs employ the majority of people?

To understand why, consider a common-sense question: How big can a business be in a rural village? There aren’t many customers there, and incomes aren’t very high either. A business would have to serve several villages to start creating jobs in any significant numbers. Now, consider rural women with families. They may be reliable repayers of loans, but they’re much less mobile than single men. Single men can move to cities, or at least cover a lot of ground in the countryside, in an effort to win new customers.

Of course, these jobs won’t always go to the rural women helped by microfinance programs. Microfinance programs may be one of the best ways to help them, short of having their children take jobs in cities. Nor are these jobs necessarily the ones that fulfill the social goals in the mission statements of Western nonprofit organizations. But they are the kinds of jobs that brought hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty and could someday do the same for Indians, Haitians, and Congolese. In these countries, the quickest way to escape poverty is likely to be via bus to the nearest city for a manufacturing job. Hundreds of millions of economic migrants know this, but so-called antipoverty experts are just beginning to understand it.

Two things in this that bring out my “are you fucking kidding me” reaction.

  1. I find it distracting and ridiculous when untenable living situations are equated to financial poverty, and focus only on the funds, not on the conditions which the funds MIGHT alleviate. It’s possible to work and still be miserable. Wage labor rant. Being slowly crushed by capitalism (or communism!) rant. Capitalism is but one way to attempt to interact, not the only way. Sure, it’s good at propagating ideas quickly, at fast iteration, etc, but too often it leads to:
  2. The idea that we have a hierarchy as a necessity in any business. That there are employers, and there are those who do the shit jobs to keep things running. We are all humans, we are all equal, and it is just as possible to find joy and honor (or misery and bitterness) in driving a taxi or gutting fish as it is to find the same in leading a multinational business or making the internet work. To insist otherwise is to discredit the experience of millions (billions?) of people. To want to reinforce the idea that those jobs are actual shit is to actively demean everyone doing them.

No business, organization, relationship is dependent upon power structures being in place, where some work is “more important” than other work. A business, organization, and relationship where all parties are encouraged and expected to examine, innovate, and contribute is one which is adaptable and successful. It is one which is scalable in a complex and networked world. So yes, teach that woman to fish. Better yet, ask her to teach you. She’ll catch more than you ever will, with all your business and economics training.

by bl00 at October 31, 2014 11:03 AM

Bruce Schneier
FDA Guidance on Medical Device Cybersecurity

The Food and Drug Administration has released guidelines regarding the security of medical devices.

I admit that I have not read it.

by Bruce Schneier at October 31, 2014 10:30 AM

Apple Copies Your Files Without Your Knowledge or Consent

The latest version of Apple's OS automatically syncs your files to iCloud Drive, even files you choose to store locally. Apple encrypts your data, both in transit and in iCloud, with a key it knows. Apple, of course, complies with all government requests: FBI warrants, subpoenas, and National Security Letters -- as well as NSA PRISM and whatever-else-they-have demands.

EDITED TO ADD (10/28): See comments. This seems to be way overstated. I will look at this again when I have time, probably tomorrow.

EDITED TO ADD (10/28): This is a more nuanced discussion of this issue. At this point, it seems clear that there is a lot less here than described in the blog post below.

EDITED TO ADD (10/29): There is something here. It only affects unsaved documents, and not all applications. But the OS's main text editor is one of them. Yes, this feature has been in the OS for a while, but that's not a defense. It's both dangerous and poorly documented.

by Bruce Schneier at October 31, 2014 09:34 AM

Friday Squid Blogging: Humboldt Squids Attack Submarine

A pair of Humboldt squids attacked a Greenpeace submarine. There's video.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

by Bruce Schneier at October 31, 2014 07:11 AM

Spritz: A New RC4-Like Stream Cipher

Last week, Ron Rivest gave a talk at MIT about Spritz, a new stream cipher by him and Jacob Schuldt. It's basically a redesign of RC4, given current cryptographic tools and knowledge.

RC4 is an example of what I think of as a too-good-to-be-true cipher. It looks so simple. It is so simple. In classic cryptographic terms, it's a single rotor machine. It's a single self-modifying rotor, but it modifies itself very slowly. Even so, it's very hard to cryptanalyze. Even though the single rotor leaks information about its internal state with every output byte, its self-modifying structure always seems to stay ahead of analysis. But RC4 been around for over 25 years, and the best attacks are at the edge of practicality. When I talk about what sorts of secret cryptographic advances the NSA might have, a practical RC4 attack is one of the possibilities.

Spritz is Rivest and Schuldt's redesign of RC4. It retains all of the problems that RC4 had. It's built on a 256-element array of bytes, making it less than ideal for modern 32-bit and 64-bit CPUs. It's not very fast. (It's 50% slower than RC4, which was already much slower than algorithms like AES and Threefish.) It has a long key setup. But it's a very clever design.

Here are the cores of RC4 and Spritz:

RC4:

1: i = i + 1
2: j = j + S[i]
3: SWAP(S[i];S[j])
4: z = S[S[i] + S[j]]
5: Return z

Spritz:

1: i = i + w
2: j = k + S[j + S[i]]
2a: k = i + k + S[j]
3: SWAP(S[i];S[j])
4: z = S[j + S[i + S[z + k]]]
5: Return z

S is an 8-bit permutation. In theory, it can be any size, which is nice for analysis, but in practice, it's a 256-element array. RC4 has two pointers into the array: i and j. Spritz adds a third: k. The parameter w is basically a constant. It's always 1 in RC4, but can be any odd number in Spritz (odd because that means it's always relatively prime to 256). In both ciphers, i slowly walks around the array, and j -- or j and k -- bounce around wildly. Both have a single swap of two elements of the array. And both produce an output byte, z, a function of all the other parameters. In Spritz, the previous z is part of the calculation of the current z.

That's the core. There are also functions for turning the key into the initial array permutation, using this as a stream cipher, using it as a hash function, and so on. It's basically a sponge function, so it has a lot of applications.

What's really interesting here is the way Rivest and Schuldt chose their various functions. They basically tried them all (given some constraints), and chose the ones with the best security properties. This is the sort of thing that can only be done with massive computing power.

I have always really liked RC4, and am happy to see a 21st-century redesign. I don't know what kind of use it'll get with its 8-bit word size, but surely there's a niche for it somewhere.

by Bruce Schneier at October 31, 2014 02:03 AM

October 30, 2014

Bruce Schneier
Survey on What Americans Fear

Interesting data:

Turning to the crime section of the Chapman Survey on American Fears, the team discovered findings that not only surprised them, but also those who work in fields pertaining to crime.

"What we found when we asked a series of questions pertaining to fears of various crimes is that a majority of Americans not only fear crimes such as, child abduction, gang violence, sexual assaults and others; but they also believe these crimes (and others) have increased over the past 20 years," said Dr. Edward Day who led this portion of the research and analysis. "When we looked at statistical data from police and FBI records, it showed crime has actually decreased in America in the past 20 years. Criminologists often get angry responses when we try to tell people the crime rate has gone down."

Despite evidence to the contrary, Americans do not feel like the United States is becoming a safer place. The Chapman Survey on American Fears asked how they think prevalence of several crimes today compare with 20 years ago. In all cases, the clear majority of respondents were pessimistic; and in all cases Americans believe crime has at least remained steady. Crimes specifically asked about were: child abduction, gang violence, human trafficking, mass riots, pedophilia, school shootings, serial killing and sexual assault.

by Bruce Schneier at October 30, 2014 11:17 PM

Amanda Palmer
cross-post from facebook re: the Jian Ghomeshi situation.

hey guys, i just had a long conversation on twitter re: the jian ghomeshi situation and i’ll summarize it here. heavy time amidst all this book-celebration (and the bed show, which is sold out and opening in less than a week! i’m flat-out in tech and performances every day from now until the book drops, aie aie aie).

here’s the deal: a few months ago i asked jian to be my chat-guest in toronto for this book tour along with a bunch of other people in other cities (zoë keating, bob lefsetz, amy cuddy, peter sagal, armistead maupin, etc, etc). if you’ve been following the news, he’s become a lightning rod in the past couple days.

i see all your thoughts and it is my personal style to never shut down a conversation or run away from the fire: a philosophy that often (as you’ve seen before) lands me in hot water. sorry for the mixed fire/water metaphor…haven’t had my coffee yet.

i’m still figuring out what to do about this.

just a request: while i try to figure out what to do about this situation, let me remind you that HATE HAS NO PLACE HERE IN THIS COMMUNITY. it’s just not what we do. i have so much pride in this place we’ve built, and have always been overwhelmed with gratitude for this community’s ability to converse without yelling or harsh judgement, for our ability to stay open and thoughtful and kind. please, let’s keep it that way.

ironically (poetically?) enough, i am spending my days, as we speak, at bard college making a musical with a bunch of students that deals directly with the painful aftershocks of sexual abuse, rape culture, and lack of communication. and i’m about to publish a book about how communication and openness trumps anger, hate, and fear. these things can’t be coincidental.

i believe deeply that you don’t respond to hate with more hate. it doesn’t make the world a more compassionate place: it drags us all down into the mud. so please, keep the conversation here going, but keep it kind, open, loving, and respectful.

thanks.
i love you guys. stand by.
AFP

p.s. please comment here or on facebook. i am reading everywhere.

by admin at October 30, 2014 05:38 PM

Bruce Schneier
US Intelligence "Second Leaker" Identified

There's a report that the FBI has identified a second leaker:

The case in question involves an Aug. 5 story published by The Intercept, an investigative website co-founded by Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who first published sensitive NSA documents obtained from Snowden.

Headlined "Barack Obama's Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers," the story cited a classified government document showing that nearly half the people on the U.S. government's master terrorist screening database had "no recognized terrorist affiliation."

The story, co-authored by Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux, was accompanied by a document "obtained from a source in the intelligence community" providing details about the watch-listing system that were dated as late as August 2013, months after Snowden fled to Hong Kong and revealed himself as the leaker of thousands of top secret documents from the NSA.

I think this is "Leaker #3" on my list, even though it's probably the "second leaker" discussed in the documentary Citizen Four.

by Bruce Schneier at October 30, 2014 04:49 PM

October 29, 2014

David Weinberger
Louis Menand, say what???

Can someone help me understand how Louis Menand sets up his Oct. 20 piece on copyright in the New Yorker? Menand’s a great writer, and the piece has gone through the NYer’s famous editorial process, so I am confident that it’s my fault that I am stuck staring at a couple of paragraphs not understanding what he’s talking about. I expect to be slapping my forehead momentarily.

Let me tell you why this matters to me, beyond my high expectations for New Yorker writing. When the New Yorker takes the Internet as its subject, it tends to be in the Traditional Resistant camp — although I acknowledge that this may well be just my observer’s bias. Their writers acknowledge the importance of the Net and nod at the good it does, but then with some frequency focus on the negative side, or the over-inflated side. Of course that’s fine. They’ve got some great writers. And Menand is not taking that side in this article. But if Menand’s description of how the Web works is as wildly wrong as it seems to me to be, then it raises some special concerns. If the New Yorker can’t get these basics right, then we have further to go than I’d thought. (Keep in mind that I am not all confident in how I’m reading this passage in the Menand article.)

So, Menand begins by imagining that an anthology called “Most Thoughtful Essays” includes his essay without his permission. Then he asks us to…

…suppose that a Web site, awesomestuff.com, ran an item that said something like “This piece on copyright is a great read!” with a hyperlink on the word “piece” to my article’s page on The New Yorker’s Web site. You wouldn’t think this was banditry at all. You would find it unexceptionable.

Some courts have questioned the use of links that import content from another Web site without changing the URL, a practice known as “framing.” But it’s hard to see much difference. Either way, when you’re reading a linked page, you may still be “at” awesomestuff.com, as clicking the back button on your browser can instantly confirm. Effectively, awesomestuff.com has stolen content from newyorker.com, just as the compiler of “Most Thoughtful Essays” stole content from me. The folks at awesomestuff.com and their V. C. backers are attracting traffic to their Web site, with its many banner ads for awesome stuff, using material created by other people.

When he says “it’s hard to see much difference,” the two cases seem to be awesomestuff.com including a hyperlink “to my article’s page on the NYer’s Web site” and awesomestuff.com embedding the entire article at their site in an iframe. But in the first case (clicking on the normal link) you are taken to NewYorker.com and are not on awesomestuff.com.

Even more confusing, when you’re now at NewYorker.com, clicking the back button will confirm that you were in fact not at awesometuff.com, for the page will change from NewYorker.com to awesomestuff.com. And, if awesomestuff.com has embedded Menand’s article via an iframe, clicking on the back button will take you to whatever page you were at before awesomestuff, thus proving nothing.

Finally, since the point of all this is to show us how linking is equivalent to printing Menand’s article in a paper anthology without his permission, it’s weird that Menand leaves out what is by far the most common case that might be equivalent: when a page neither links to another page nor uses an iframe to embed its content, but simply copies and pastes from another site.

So, as far as I can tell, the most coherent way of taking the words that Menand has written — and he’s a precise writer — contradicts the most basic experience of the Web: clicking on a link and going to a new page.

So where am I going wrong in reading him???

By the way, the rest of the article provides a good general overview of the copyright question, and is sympathetic to the reformist sensibility, although it is surprisingly primer-like for a NYer article. IMO, natch.

by davidw at October 29, 2014 08:59 PM

Bruce Schneier
Analysis of Printer Watermarking Techniques

Interesting paper: Maya Embar, Louis M. McHough IV, and William R. Wesselman, "Printer watermark obfuscation," Proceeding
RIIT '14: Proceedings of the 3rd annual conference on Research in information technology
:

Abstract: Most color laser printers manufactured and sold today add "invisible" information to make it easier to determine when a particular document was printed and exactly which printer was used. Some manufacturers have acknowledged the existence of the tracking information in their documentation while others have not. None of them have explained exactly how it works or the scope of the information that is conveyed. There are no laws or regulations that require printer companies to track printer users this way, and none that prevent them from ceasing this practice or providing customers a means to opt out of being tracked. The tracking information is coded by patterns of yellow dots that the printers add to every page they print. The details of the patterns vary by manufacturer and printer model.

by Bruce Schneier at October 29, 2014 08:05 PM

Berkman Center front page
Berkman Community Newcomers: Lauren McCarthy

This post marks the third in a series featuring interviews with some of the fascinating individuals who joined our community for the 2014-2015 year. Conducted by our 2014 summer interns (affectionately known as "Berkterns"), these snapshots aim to showcase the diverse backgrounds, interests, and accomplishments of our dynamic 2014-2015 community.

Interested in joining the Berkman Center community? We're currently accepting fellowship applications for the 2015-2016 academic year. Read more on our fellowships page.

Q&A with Lauren McCarthy

Berkman affliate and faculty at NYU ITP
@laurmccarthy
interviewed in summer 2014 by Berktern Laura Mitchell

What drew you to Berkman, and what specifically do you hope to work on or participate in as a Berkman affiliate?

I had been following the work at Berkman for a while. I was particularly drawn to the interdisciplinary nature of the community and research. As a Berkman affiliate I hope to continue to explore questions of surveillance, identity, and networked relationships. Specifically, I would like to focus on developments in the computational tracking, analysis, and interpretation of human activity, emotion, and communication - and the questions these raise around privacy, data ethics, and how we see ourselves in the world in relation to others.

Your projects engage with many of the big issues surrounding "internet and society" from a highly personal angle. How does this vantage point shape your approach to art, teaching, and research?

Each project I do really begins with something personal I am trying to understand. I take the aspect of my life that is most confusing to me at the moment and try to experiment with it using technology. I'm not trying to make any broad statements about the decisions others should make, but rather, hoping that some might see my experiments and be moved to question and reflect more deeply on the way we're living and the world we're building.

What’s one tech trend that particularly excites (or scares) you?

The tools we use to automate our lives and relationships simultaneously excite and terrify me. Every tool, every API, every technology is embedded with assumptions and biases, yet we don't often question them. And where is the line between what is acceptable to automate or not? If you use a script to oversee and regulate your relationships, and it makes you and the people around you happier, is that okay? The most novel thing about Google Glass for me is not the wearable camera aspect, but the fact that you don't know when the person you're interacting with is looking at a screen and what information they may be getting. They quite literally have another context (or many) superimposed on the one you are currently sharing with them. This opens up a space for all kinds of automation and networked living. I am curious to see which direction we head with it, and whether we can find a way to make this a positive experience.

Facebook drew criticism for allowing a study that was secretly filtering the content users saw and measuring how it affected their moods. Your latest project, the Facebook Mood Manipulator, is an extension that allows users to set their own parameters for filtering content. What implications do these experiments have on how we use our technologies?

I am fascinated by this programmatic interpretation and control of human emotion. Most interesting to me are the studies finding instances where computers can understand humans better than we can ourselves. The question of what should be done with these findings is up for debate, but my goal as an artist is to provide a perspective perhaps not represented in the corporations and institutions building new technologies. There was a lot of backlash to the Facebook study, and we have seen similar outright rejection of other innovations - Google Glass, for example. But these things aren't black and white; they are gray areas, and the ambiguity is the interesting and important part. For real progress to be made, it's necessary to consider both the positive and negative effects of new ideas, be able to tease them apart, and synthesize next iterations that move toward the future we actually want.

Much has been said about social media's virtues – and shortcomings – in terms of being able to curate what we want and don't want to see. How is what you're getting at with the Facebook Mood Manipulator different from this curatorial aspect?

My framing of the extension as a way to ‘take back control’ was sort of tongue in cheek. Are you reclaiming control by willingly giving it over to an algorithm, even one you set the targets for? Facebook is unlikely to give us this kind of explicit control, but it allows us to think more broadly about the systems we are building—what if we could have an interface for our emotions? What if it went beyond just Facebook, but filtered all the content of our lives? Would we want it? How would we use it? Is it wrong to turn down the volume on your friends’ depressing feelings on the days when you just really need a good mood? Is it wrong to want to be happy and to use technology to augment your ability to do this? And maybe our emotions aren’t as simple as unhappy <–-> happy. How do you begin thinking about what you really want to feel?

Are there other artists, academics, or thinkers working in this same intersection between art practice and technology who particularly inspire you?

My frequent collaborator, Kyle McDonald, is a large inspiration to me, his People Staring at Computers piece really made me rethink what an artist could be. The work of art collective F.A.T. Lab has an energy and humor that has opened me to new tactics of engaging with social/tech issues. Jill Magid's Evidence Locker was an early inspiration that has stuck with me; I admire the way she engages with and subverts existing systems in a way that is critical, thoughtful, and personal. There are many more, but I will leave it there.

Along those same lines, do you ever find the "art and technology" binary frustrating, or do you feel that it's a useful distinction that informs your work?

People bring their own interpretations to every designation or title, and my goal as an artist has always been to challenge the boundaries of these boxes, and to realize that everything is much more malleable than it may initially appear.

by ctian at October 29, 2014 05:46 PM

Upcoming Events: The Coming Swarm (10/29); Authorship in the Digital World (10/30); MS GC Brad Smith (11/4)
Berkman Events Newsletter Template
Open Call for Fellowship Applications, Academic Year 2015-2016
Interested in joining the Berkman community? Find out more about our fellowship program and the application process on our website.
book launch

The Coming Swarm

Wednesday, October 29, 6:00pm ET, Harvard Law School, Wasserstein Hall, Room 2012. Free and Open to the Public.

berkman

In her new book, The Coming Swarm: DDoS, Hacktivism, and Civil Disobedience on the Internet, Molly Sauter examines the history, development, theory, and practice of distributed denial of service actions as a tactic of political activism. Together in conversation with journalist and activist Laurie Penny, Molly will discuss the use of disruptive tactics like DDoS, online civil disobedience, and the role of the internet as a zone of political activism and speech. There will be a book signing following the discussion.

Molly Sauter is a research affiliate at the Berkman Center, and a doctoral student at McGill University in Montreal. She holds a masters degree in Comparative Media Studies from MIT, where she is an affiliate researcher at the Center for Civic Media at the Media Lab. Laurie Penny was born in London in 1986 and is not dead yet. She is, in no particular order, a writer, a journalist, a public speaker, an activist, a feminist, a reprobate and a geek. RSVP Required. more information on our website>

co-sponsored event

Authorship in the Digital World: How to Make It Thrive

Thursday, October 30, 3:30pm ET, Harvard University, Lamont Library, Forum Room. Co-sponsored by The Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, The Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and the Authors Alliance

berkman

The internet has had disruptive effects on many aspects of the ecosystem in which authors reach readers. The roles of publishers, retailers, libraries, and universities, and other participants in this ecosystem are evolving rapidly. Amazon.com, in particular, has been the source of considerable controversy in its dealings with authors and publishers.

In order for authors to navigate these turbulent waters, they need to be strategic in their partnerships and careful in contracting. Copyright is supposed to help even authors with no legal expertise, but how good a job does it do? Could some changes in that law help authors reach readers more effectively? Looking beyond the law, what steps can authors take now to realize the full impact of their writings?

With these questions in mind, the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society are co-sponsoring the Authors Alliance in bringing a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing authors in the digital age to the Harvard campus.

The discussion will be preceded by remarks from Katie Hafner, a journalist, the author of six books, and a member of the Authors Alliance and advisory board.

Jonathan Zittrain will moderate a panel that will include: Rachel Cohen, a Cambridge-based author and creative writing professor at Sarah Lawrence College; Robert Darnton, university librarian at Harvard and member of the Authors Alliance advisory board; Ellen Faran, director of MIT Press; Mark Fischer, a copyright lawyer at Duane Morris LLP; Katie Hafner, a journalist, memoirist, and nonfiction writer; Alison Mudditt, director of UC Press; Sophia Roosth, a Harvard historian of science; and Pamela Samuelson, Authors Alliance co-founder and law professor at U.C. Berkeley. Registration Required. more information on our website>

luncheon series

General Counsel of Microsoft, Brad Smith, in conversation with Professor Jonathan Zittrain

Tuesday, November 4, 12:00pm ET, Harvard Law School. Co-sponsored by the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology. This event will be webcast live.

berkman

One of the enduring issues in cyberspace is which laws apply to online activities. We see this most clearly today in the reaction to revelations about government surveillance: on one hand, individuals are increasingly seeking assurances that their content is protected from government overreach, while governments want to ensure they have access to information to enforce their laws, even if that content is stored outside their borders. We see this same tension in debates over privacy protection for data placed on line by consumers. This discussion will explore the role of law in protecting our rights in the physical world online, the complementary roles of law and technology in achieving this protection, and the need for governments to come together so that companies (and customers) don’t face conflicting legal obligations.

Brad Smith is Microsoft's general counsel and senior vice president, Legal and Corporate Affairs. He leads the company's Department of Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA), which has just over 1,000 employees and is responsible for the company's legal work, its intellectual property portfolio, and its government affairs and philanthropic work. He also serves as Microsoft's corporate secretary and its chief compliance officer.

Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at the Harvard Law School Library, and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. RSVP Required. more information on our website>

co-sponsored event

Creativity without Law Conference

Friday, November 7, Case Western University. Sponsored by the Center for Law, Technology & the Arts, Arthur W. Fiske Distinguished Lecture Series and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

The event will focus on the growing body of scholarship examining the on-the-ground practices of creators and innovators. That scholarship challenges intellectual property orthodoxy by suggesting that incentives for creative production often exist in the absence of, or in disregard for, formal legal protections. Instead, many communities rely on evolving social norms and market responses to ensure creative incentives. From tattoo artists to medical researchers, Nigerian filmmakers to roller derby players, these communities demonstrate how creativity can thrive without legal incentives, and perhaps more strikingly, that some creative communities prefer self regulation to law. We will consider both the merits and limitations of this line of research. We expect the conference to offer important practical insights for lawyers who represent clients in creative fields, helping them understand doctrinal limits on IP protection as well as the non legal considerations that shape client motivations, expectations, and business decisions.

Registration Required. more information on the conference website>

berkman luncheon series

Unpacking open data: power, politics and the influence of infrastructures

Tuesday, November 25, 12:30pm ET, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St, 2nd Floor. This event will be webcast live.

berkman

Countries, states & cities across the globe are embracing the idea of 'open data': establishing platforms, portals and projects to share government managed data online for re-use. Yet, right now, the anticipated civic impacts of open data rarely materialise, and the gap between the promise and the reality of open data remains wide. This talk, drawing on a series of empirical studies of open data around the world, will question the ways in which changing regimes around data can reconfigure power and politics, and will explore the limits of current practice. It will consider opportunities to re-imagine the open data project, not merely as one of placing datasets online, but as one that can positively reshape the knowledge infrastructures of civic life.

Tim Davies is a social researcher with interests in civic participation and civic technologies. He has spent the last five years focussing on the development of the open government data landscape around the world, from his MSc work at the Oxford Internet Institute on Data and Democracy, the first major study of data.gov.uk, through to leading a 12-country study on the Emerging Impacts of Open Data in Developing Countries for the World Wide Web Foundation. RSVP Required. more information on our website>

video/audio

Emily Horne & Tim Maly on The Inspection House: An Impertinent Field Guide to Modern Surveillance

berkman

In 1787, British philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham conceived of the panopticon, a ring of cells observed by a central watchtower, as a labor-saving device for those in authority. In French philosopher Michel Foucault's groundbreaking 1975 study, Discipline and Punish, the panopticon became a metaphor to describe the creeping effects of personalized surveillance as a means for ever-finer mechanisms of control. Years later, the available tools of scrutiny, supervision, and discipline are far more capable and insidious than Foucault dreamed, and yet less effective than Bentham hoped. Shopping malls, container ports, terrorist holding cells, and social networks all bristle with cameras, sensors, and trackers. But, crucially, they are also rife with resistance and prime opportunities for revolution. In this talk authors Emily Horne -- a creator of the webcomic A Softer World -- and Tim Maly -- writer and Fellow at Harvard’s metaLAB -- discuss their new book The Inspect ion House, and paint a stark, vivid portrait of our contemporary surveillance state and its opponents. video/audio on our website>

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by ashar at October 29, 2014 03:38 PM

Nathaniel Freitas
More Analysis of Firechat’s Opportunistic Mesh Marketing

Re/code recently published an article on Firechat’s use in Hong Kong, mostly just repeating one of the app’s founders speech from a recent Silicon Valley area tech event. I am really tired of beating this horse, but I really couldn’t help myself, as the attempts to use the ongoing very real-life protests in Hong Kong as a some sort of springboard for VC funding or product awareness is a tactic I have never been happy with. I also think tech publications like Re/code must do a much better job about being informed and critical on topics related to privacy, security, anonymity and freedom-enhancing tools developed by privately funded, closed source companies, that somehow claim to do things they may not really do. As an example, a Wired story from March on Wickr, another closed-source secure mobile messaging startup, is actually quite good, and includes a variety of actual experts providing actual analysis.

Somehow while WhatsApp and Facebook weren’t working,Open Garden’s Micha Benoliel claims people were able to still download the multi-megabyte Firechat app from Google Play or iTunes, and register on Firechat’s cloud-based servers before using the app. Benoliel wants to paint a picture of an app that can work without Internet, but it requires the Internet, and pretty decent reliable connection to app stores, to get the app in the first place. Additionally, the majority of screenshots of the apps use show people on the “Everyone” tab, which should be renamed the “Internet” tab, meaning you are using a wifi, 3g or 4g connection, and NOT meshing. If you are using the “Nearby” tab then you are meshing. Screenshot after screenshot after screenshot I have seen showing examples of use in Hong Kong, Taiwan and elsewhere all use Firechat in the basic IRC-style chat room mode, which is great, but has nothing to do with what they are saying the app is being used for.

 

A great analysis from PC Magazine actually provided detailed testing of the promise of Firechat’s nearby mesh mode versus its reality:

“But in my testing, FireChat’s mesh networking proved unreliable. With four phones spread over 241 feet apart, I was unable to receive messages from the furthest device while offline in nearby mode. I experienced this same unreliability in offline nearby mode when all the phones were within a few inches of each other.”

If a highly skilled tech reporter finds it unreliable in his lab, then how is it magically working for 100,000s of people in the streets of Hong Kong? Perhaps Firechat does work better when there is more people, but again, I would love to see any tiny piece of evidence of that, and not just anecdotes.

Somehow even though this is a decentralized mesh app not using the Internet (remember it was too congested!), the Firechat team knows specific numbers about the amount and duration of unique chat sessions. The truth is their app constantly communicates back to their centralized servers, which is apparently how they are getting these metrics for their marketing efforts. This is important because words like anonymous chat app are constantly batted around in reference to Firechat, when it isn’t at all, and in fact, there is a great deal of analytics going on to fuel possible future funding and business models. Reminds me of a whisper I once heard…

The numbers they promote in the presentation are a bit blurry even though they sound big when initially quoted… 500,000 new users held 2 million unique chat sessions that averaged 3 minutes each. This is promoted as being more powerful than 1.4 million tweets sent during the same time, even though those likely reached a much larger audience of people that a half million. Now first, let’s address the cognitive dissonance that people *were* tweeting, meaning they were using the Internet, posting photos, videos, and other rich media content, constantly from their phones in the streets of Hong Kong. Even Kenny G appeared on Twitter from the front lines of Occupy Central, though he now famously backpedaled, unlike the truly awesome Chow-Yun Fat. Again, the congestion of the mobile Internet and Firechat’s ability to counteract that are being overplayed, and by promoting Twitters use in Hong Kong during their own presentation, Firechat is not even being consistent with their own version of reality.

Now back to the “unique chat sessions”… Are these mostly just one on one chats? Are they huge group chats all in the “Nearby” mode, or are they topic based chat rooms? How far does one message or one session actually spread? The current impressions is not very far, though they claim 70 meters, so people are having 3 minute chat sessions with people within a few blocks from them. However, in the Nearby mode there is no filtering or targeting – it is just a massive stream of everyone within 70 meters of you (apparently). Again, if that was really happening in the middle of these massive crowds, I would love to see some evidence of it – a screen shot of “Nearby” with 100000s talking in it, or even 100. Does it exist? Please share!

Finally, the idea they were surprised by this type of usage is not genuine, considering they had promoted press coverage months earlier of use of the app in protests in Taiwan and by ISIL supporters in Iraq. In both of those places, just to continue to make this point, all of the screenshots were in “Everyone” mode, and not in “Nearby”. However, the point is that Firechat is keenly aware of the press attention they can get by promoting adoption of their apps in high visibility gatherings, be it their marketing around Burning Man or Occupy Central. In this way, I do really appreciate the stance that Snapchat’s CEO Evan Spiegel took on not promoting use of their app in situations like this:

“One of my pet peeves over time is how the technology industry has tried to sell counterculture. It’s tried to sell the revolution. We’ve been really resistant to doing this. We didn’t feel like pushing these photos and videos out would turn that attention into action that would be helpful in Hong Kong.”

When Snapchat is making your marketing tactics look bad, then you really do need to take a look at yourself. Look, I understand Open Garden is a startup, with investors, and they need to have that break through in order to make it. I just want them to be honest with themselves and the world about what their app can or cannot do today, and really, deeply consider what might happen if their app doesn’t work as well as they say it does, when the Internet ACTUALLY gets turned off, blocked, intercepted or surveilled. Don’t let your marketing and popularity get ahead of what it is your product is meant to do.

 

by nathan at October 29, 2014 03:12 PM

ProjectVRM
What would a VRM social network be?

The Big Bang of Social Networking 128px-Emoji_u1f4c7.svgis a piece by Jim Dwyer in The New York Times that will likely be a subject of a session today or tomorrow at IIW. So here are a few thoughts of my toward that discussion…

  1. All of us had social networks before Facebook, Diaspora and Ello existed. We still do. They’re in our heads, hearts, contact lists and address books.
  2. Facebook, Diaspora and Ello are not social networks. They are silo’d commercial services. They do serve many social purposes, of course, and a few very well, or they wouldn’t be so popular.
  3. If we want real social networks online, we need to start with our own genuine personal ones.
  4. To be VRM, they need to support independence and engagement. They should also be substitutable in the same way that, say, browsers and email apps and services are substitutable.

It is essential to start outside the box of thinking that says everything needs to be a service. Inside that box we risk thinking only of other calf-cow solutions to calf-cow problems.

Facebook, Diaspora and Ello are all cows. The latter two simply try to be better ones. Even if they don’t advertise at us, we’re still calves in their fenced farms.

Unless, of course, we can take our social graphs away with us, to use on our own, or with some substitutable service.

VRM social network solutions to the problems of calf-cow designs need to be first person technologies. At that link, I explain,

Only a person can use the pronouns  “I,” “me,” “my” and “mine.” Likewise, only a person can use tools such as screwdrivers, eyeglasses and pencils. Those things are all first person technologies. They were invented for individual persons to use.

I suggest we start with address books and calendars. Those could not be more personal, yet more social. And, far as I know, nobody has yet done them in a way that’s useful for scaffolding the successor to Facebook on top of them. But that shouldn’t stop us.

 

 

 

by Doc Searls at October 29, 2014 02:36 PM

October 28, 2014

David Weinberger
Paul McCartney’s end of the end

I’ve transferred my Google Play Music from one account to another (because of something I’ll explain in a post coming soon) and have found in it some albums I don’t own, have never heard of, and sometimes from singers I never heard of. No, no extra U2. Plus, some of the names of singers whose albums I do own have been mangled: Amanda Palma is sonorous, although I personally prefer Amander Palmer.

Anyway, one lagniappe I appreciated was a Paul McCartney album I’d missed. I still find it hard to listen to The Beatles without being overwhelmed: awe at their genius, longing for my youth, depression at how badly I and my generation failed you, regret for who I was then and what I am now. You know, the whole lifelong shitteroo. (Christ, get me some chocolates!) But Paul’s solo albums I can listen to without being overwhelmed. If I like half the songs, it’s a good album.

So, this morning I listened for the first time to McCartney’s Memory Almost Full (2007), which had unexpectedly materialized in my Google Play collection. As the title implies, it’s mainly about looking down as you near the peak of Mt. Old. The excellent Wikipedia article tells me that it was a Top Five album, went gold, and was Grammy-nominated. Apparently I have not been paying sufficient attention.

His song “End of the End” has some lovely lyrics, although I prefer the verses to the chorus. Here’s one of each:

On the day that I die I’d like bells to be rung
And songs that were sung to be hung out like blankets
That lovers have played on
And laid on while listening to songs that were sung

At the end of the end
It’s the start of a journey
To a much better place
And a much better place
Would have to be special
No reason to cry
No need to be sad
At the end of the end

The line “like blankets that lovers have played on and laid on while listening to songs that were sung” makes me glad that Paul knows what his music has meant to some of us. And I like the wrapping of the metaphor — “songs that were sung … while listening to songs that were sung.”

The slightly sappy chorus nevertheless makes me glad Paul appreciates the sweetness of his life, even though I’m not much convinced that any of us are going anywhere at the end of the end.

But when someone says about their impending death “Don’t be sad. I had a full life,” or whatever, they’re acting as if their death only happens to them. We may not be sad for you, but how about for us? It’s not all about you, you know! Though I do have to acknowledge that in this case most of it is.

Furthermore, the idea that we’ll “always have them in our hearts,” is not consolation. It’s what we need consolation for.

Where are those chocolates already?

by davidw at October 28, 2014 10:53 PM

Bruce Schneier
Authentication Attack Against Credit Card Verification

Here's a physical attack against a credit card verification system. Basically, the attack disrupts the communications between the retail terminal and the system that identifies revoked credit cards. Since retailers generally default to accepting cards when the system doesn't work, the attack is generally successful.

by Bruce Schneier at October 28, 2014 07:10 PM

Amanda Palmer
Art of Asking Personalized Copy Global Giveaway

We are giving away 10 copies of The Art Of Asking- all. over. the. world. 

Enter in the widget below by liking Amanda or by tweeting about the giveaway. Winners will be notified via email next week. If you’re not feeling lucky, you can pre-order the book here.

get a personalized copy of The Art of Asking!

Please note that for your entry to be eligible, you must enter your full name and click the widget button that says “+1 Do It!” – click the button that says “Like Amanda Palmer on Facebook”. To enter by Tweeting – follow the directions for entering your tweet’s URL. You can tweet once a day, and the more you tweet the better your chances are. You MUST include your full name to enter. Good luck!

by admin at October 28, 2014 06:56 PM

Berkman Center front page
The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data Smart Governance



Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Harvard Law School Visiting Professor and co-director of the Berkman Center Susan Crawford joins Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, Mayor of Somerville, MA, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Chief Information Officer for the City of Boston and Harvard Business School Professor and Chief of Staff to Mayor Menino, Mitchell Weiss, for a lively discussion around her new book, The Responsive City.  The talk will be moderated by Harvard Law School Professor and co-founder and Director of the Berkman Center Jonathan Zittrain.

Lunch will be served and the author will be available for book signing.

About the Responsive City

The Responsive City is a compelling guide to civic engagement and governance in the digital age that will help municipal leaders link important breakthroughs in technology and data analytics with age-old lessons of small-group community input to create more agile, competitive and economically resilient cities. The book is co-authored by Professor Stephen Goldsmith, director of Data-Smart City Solutions at Harvard Kennedy School, and Professor Susan Crawford, co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

About Susan

Susan Crawford is a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, and a co-director of the Berkman Center. She is the author of Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, and a contributor to Bloomberg View and Wired. She served as Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (2009) and co-led the FCC transition team between the Bush and Obama administrations. She is a member of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Advisory Council on Technology and Innovation.

Ms. Crawford was formerly a (Visiting) Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at Harvard’s Kennedy School, a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Michigan Law School (2008-2010). As an academic, she teaches Internet law and communications law. In December of 2012, Yale University Press published her book, Captive Audience: Telecom Monopolies in the New Gilded Age. She was a member of the board of directors of ICANN from 2005-2008 and is the founder of OneWebDay, a global Earth Day for the internet that takes place each Sept. 22. One of Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology (2009); IP3 Awardee (2010); one of Prospect Magazine’s Top Ten Brains of the Digital Future (2011) and TIME Magazine’s Tech 40: The Most Influential Minds in Tech (2013). She is a member of the board of the Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (TPRC).

Ms. Crawford received her B.A. and J.D. from Yale University. She served as a clerk for Judge Raymond J. Dearie of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, and was a partner at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now WilmerHale) (Washington, D.C.) until the end of 2002, when she left that firm to enter the legal academy. Susan, a violist, lives in New York City.

Links

Note: This event will be recorded (but not webcast) and posted to the Harvard Law School YouTube Channel shortly after the event

by candersen at October 28, 2014 02:24 PM

Tim Davies
Upcoming talks: October/November 2014

[Summary: quick links to upcoming talks]

The next month is shaping up to be a busy one with project deadlines, and lots of interesting opportunities to share reflections on research projects from the last year. Below are details of a few talks and activities I’m involved in over the coming weeks:

29th October 2014: ICT for Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption: Incentives and Key Features for Implementation (Webinar)

Tomorrow (29th October) at 2pm BST (10am EST) I’ll be sharing an outline of the paper I wrote with Silvana Fumega that was published earlier this year, questioning how the motivations of government in adopting open government ICTs may affect the way those ICTs are implemented and the effects they can have, as well as looking at the different factors that shape adoption and implemention of these technologies. The session will also include Savita Bailur, sharing brand new research into the mySociety Alavateli platform for FOI requests, and it’s use around the world.

The session will consist of short presentations, followed by an opportunity for discussion.

Registration to take part is open here.

25th November 2014: Unpacking open data: power, politics and the influence of infrastructures

I’ll be back at the Berkman Center to talk about some of my research from the last year, and to explore some of the new directions my work on open data is taking. Here’s the blurb for the talk:

“Countries, states & cities across the globe are embracing the idea of ‘open data': establishing platforms, portals and projects to share government managed data online for re-use. Yet, right now, the anticipated civic impacts of open data rarely materialise, and the gap between the promise and the reality of open data remains wide. This talk, drawing on a series of empirical studies of open data around the world, will question the ways in which changing regimes around data can reconfigure power and politics, and will explore the limits of current practice. It will consider opportunities to re-imagine the open data project, not merely as one of placing datasets online, but as one that can positively reshape the knowledge infrastructures of civic life.”

The talk will be webcast, but if you happen to be in Cambridge, MA, you can also join in person at the Berkman Center over lunch. More details and in-person sign-up is here.

November 4th 2014: Sheffield iSchool Seminar

I’ll be joining Jo Bates and Danny Antrobus at the Sheffield iSchool for a seminar on open data theory of practice. Taking place at 1pm. More info should be up soon on the iSchool blog, and the blurb of what I’ll be talking on is below:

“Open data had rapidly become a global phenomena, driven both both top-down policy transfer, and bottom-up demands for greater access to vital information. Drawing on research from the Open Data in Developing Countries (ODDC) project, which has supported case-study research into open data use and impacts in 12 countries across the global South, this presentation will explore how far the models for open government data that are promoted through global institutions are aligned with the needs and realities of different communities around the world. By moving beyond a ‘narrow model’ of open data, focused on datasets, portals and apps, a richer picture of both the potential and the pitfalls of particular approaches to opening up data can be uncovered. “

November 18th 2014: Launch of the Open Contracting Data Standard

At the Open Government Partnership regional meeting in Costa Rica, I’ll be joining with the team who have been working on prototyping a data standard for public contracting to see the public release of the standard launched, and I hope to engage in conversation about how to keep developing it further in open and collaborative ways.

by Tim at October 28, 2014 09:49 AM

October 27, 2014

David Weinberger
[liveblog] Christine Borgmann

Christine Borgman, chair of Info Studies at UCLA, and author of the essential Scholarship in the Digital Age, is giving a talk on The Knowledge Infrastructure of Astronomy. Her new book is Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World, but you’ll have to wait until January. (And please note that precisely because this is a well-organized talk with clearly marked sections, it comes across as choppy in these notes.)

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points.Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Her new book draws on 15 yrs of studying various disciplines and 7-8 years focusing on astronomy as a discipline. It’s framed around the change to more data-intensive research across the sciences and humanities plus, the policy push for open access to content and to data. (The team site.)

They’ve been looking at four groups:

The world thinks that astronomy and genomics have figured out how to do data intensive science, she says. But scientists in these groups know that it’s not that straightforward. Christine’s group is trying to learn from these groups and help them learn from one another

Knowledge Infrastructures are “string and baling wire.” Pieces pulled together. The new layered on top of the old.

The first English scientific journal began almost 350 yrs ago. (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Academy.) We no longer think of the research object as a journal but as a set of articles, objects, and data. People don’t have a simple answer to what is their data. The raw files? The tables of data? When they’re told to share their data, they’re not sure what data is meant.”Even in astronomy we don’t have a single, crisp idea of what are our data.”

It’s very hard to find and organize all the archives of data. Even establishing a chronology is difficult. E.g., “Yes, that project has that date stamp but it’s really a transfer from a prior project twenty years older than that.” It’s hard to map the pieces.

Seamless Astronomy: ADS All Sky Survey, mapping data onto the sky. Also, they’re trying to integrate various link mappings, e.g., Chandra, NED, Simbad, WorldWide Telescope, Arxiv.org, Visier, Aladin. But mapping these collections doesn’t tell you why they’re being linked, what they have in common, or what are their differences. What kind of science is being accomplished by making those relationships? Christine hopes her project will help explain this, although not everyone will agree with the explanations.

Her group wants to draw some maps and models: “A Christmas Tree of Links!” She shows a variety of maps, possible ways of organizing the field. E.g., one from 5 yrs ago clusters services, repositories, archives and publishers. Another scheme: Publications, Objects, Observations; the connection between pubs (citations) and observations is the most loosely coupled. “The trend we’re seeing is that astronomy is making considerable progress in tying together the observations, publications, and data.” “Within astronomy, you’ve built many more pieces of your infrastructure than any other field we’ve looked at.”

She calls out Chris Erdmann [sitting immediately in front of me] as a leader in trying to get data curation and custodianship taken up by libraries. Others are worrying about bit-rot and other issues.

Astronomy is committed to open access, but the resource commitments are uneven.

Strengths of astronomy:

  • collaboration and openness.

  • International coordination.

  • Long term value of data.

  • Agreed standards.

  • Shared resources.

Gaps of astronomy:


  • Investment in data sstewardship: varies by mission and by type of research. E.g., space-based missions get more investment than the ground-based ones. (An audience member says that that’s because the space research was so expensive that there was more insistence on making the data public and usable. A lively discussion ensues…)


  • The access to data varies.


  • Curation of tools and technologies


  • International coordination. Sould we curate existing data? But you don’t get funding for using existing data. So, invest in getting new data from new instruments??


Christine ends with some provocative questions about openness. What does it mean exactly? What does it get us?


Q&A


Q: As soon as you move out of the Solar System to celestial astronomy, all the standards change.


A: When it takes ten years to build an instrument, it forces you to make early decisions about standards. But when you’re deploying sensors in lakes, you don’t always note that this is #127 that Eric put the tinfoil on top of because it wasn’t working well. Or people use Google Docs and don’t even label the rows and columns because all the readers know what they mean. That makes going back to it is much harder. “Making it useful for yourself is hard enough.” It’s harder still to make it useful for someone in 5 yrs, and harder still to make it useful for an unknown scientist in another country speaking another language and maybe from another discipline.


Q: You have to put a data management plan into every proposal, but you can’t make it a budget item… [There is a lively discussion of which funders reasonably fund this]


Q: Why does Europe fund ground-based data better than the US does?


A: [audience] Because of Riccardo Giacconi.

A: [Christine] We need to better fund the invisible workforce that makes science work. We’re trying to cast a light on this invisible infrastructure.

by davidw at October 27, 2014 09:57 PM

Bruce Schneier
Jumping Air Gaps with All-in-One Printers

Last week, Adi Shamir gave a presentation at Black Hat Europe on using all-in-one printers to control computers on the other side of air gaps. There's no paper yet, but two publications reported on the talk:

Theoretically, if a malicious program is installed on an air-gapped computer by an unsuspecting user via, say, a USB thumb drive, attackers should have a hard time controlling the malicious program or stealing data through it because there is no Internet connection.

But the researchers found that if a multifunction printer is attached to such a computer, attackers could issue commands to a malicious program running on it by flashing visible or infrared light at the scanner lid when open.

[...]

The researchers observed that if a source of light is pointed repeatedly at the white coating on the inside of the scanner's lid during a scanning operation, the resulting image will have a series of white lines on darker background. Those lines correspond to the pulses of light hitting the lid and their thickness depends on the duration of the pulses, Shamir explained.

Using this observation the researchers developed Morse code that can be used to send pulses of light at different intervals and interpret the resulting lines as binary data­1s and 0s. Malware running on an air-gapped system could be programmed to initiate a scanning operation at a certain time -- for example, during the night -- and then interpret the commands sent by attackers using the technique from far away.

Shamir estimated that several hundred bits of data can be sent during a single scan. That's enough to send small commands that can activate various functionality built into the malware.

This technique can be used to send commands into an air-gapped computer network, and to exfiltrate data from that network.

by Bruce Schneier at October 27, 2014 09:35 PM

More Crypto Wars II

FBI Director James Comey again called for an end to secure encryption by putting in a backdoor. Here's his speech:

There is a misconception that building a lawful intercept solution into a system requires a so-called "back door," one that foreign adversaries and hackers may try to exploit.

But that isn't true. We aren't seeking a back-door approach. We want to use the front door, with clarity and transparency, and with clear guidance provided by law. We are completely comfortable with court orders and legal process -- front doors that provide the evidence and information we need to investigate crime and prevent terrorist attacks.

Cyber adversaries will exploit any vulnerability they find. But it makes more sense to address any security risks by developing intercept solutions during the design phase, rather than resorting to a patchwork solution when law enforcement comes knocking after the fact. And with sophisticated encryption, there might be no solution, leaving the government at a dead end -- all in the name of privacy and network security.

I'm not sure why he believes he can have a technological means of access that somehow only works for people of the correct morality with the proper legal documents, but he seems to believe that's possible. As Jeffrey Vagle and Matt Blaze point out, there's no technical difference between Comey's "front door" and a "back door."

As in all of these sorts of speeches, Comey gave examples of crimes that could have been solved had only the police been able to decrypt the defendant's phone. Unfortunately, none of the three stories is true. The Intercept tracked down each story, and none of them is actually a case where encryption foiled an investigation, arrest, or conviction:

In the most dramatic case that Comey invoked -- the death of a 2-year-old Los Angeles girl -- not only was cellphone data a non-issue, but records show the girl's death could actually have been avoided had government agencies involved in overseeing her and her parents acted on the extensive record they already had before them.

In another case, of a Louisiana sex offender who enticed and then killed a 12-year-old boy, the big break had nothing to do with a phone: The murderer left behind his keys and a trail of muddy footprints, and was stopped nearby after his car ran out of gas.

And in the case of a Sacramento hit-and-run that killed a man and his girlfriend's four dogs, the driver was arrested in a traffic stop because his car was smashed up, and immediately confessed to involvement in the incident.

[...]

His poor examples, however, were reminiscent of one cited by Ronald T. Hosko, a former assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division, in a widely cited -- and thoroughly debunked -- Washington Post opinion piece last month.

In that case, the Post was eventually forced to have Hosko rewrite the piece, with the following caveat appended:

Editors note: This story incorrectly stated that Apple and Google's new encryption rules would have hindered law enforcement's ability to rescue the kidnap victim in Wake Forest, N.C. This is not the case. The piece has been corrected.

Hadn't Comey found anything better since then? In a question-and-answer session after his speech, Comey both denied trying to use scare stories to make his point -- and admitted that he had launched a nationwide search for better ones, to no avail.

This is important. All the FBI talk about "going dark" and losing the ability to solve crimes is absolute bullshit. There is absolutely no evidence, either statistically or even anecdotally, that criminals are going free because of encryption.

So why are we even discussing the possibility to forcing companies to provide insecure encryption to their users and customers?

The EFF points out that companies are protected by law from being required to provide insecure security to make the FBI happy.

Sadly, I don't think this is going to go away anytime soon.

My first post on these new Crypto Wars is here.

by Bruce Schneier at October 27, 2014 08:49 PM

SJ Klein
Soft, distributed review of public spaces: Making Twitter safe

Successful communities have learned a few things about how to maintain healthy public spaces. We could use a handbook for community designers gathering effective practices. It is a mark of the youth of interpublic spaces that spaces such as Twitter and Instagram [not to mention niche spaces like Wikipedia, and platforms like WordPress] rarely have architects dedicated to designing and refining this aspect of their structure, toolchains, and workflows.

Some say that ‘overly’ public spaces enable widespread abuse and harassment. But the “publicness” of large digital spaces can help make them more welcoming in ways than physical ones – where it is harder to remove graffiti or eggs from homes or buildings – and niche ones – where clique formation and systemic bias can dominate. For instance, here are a few ‘soft’ (reversible, auditable, post-hoc) tools that let a mixed ecosystem review and maintain their own areas in a broad public space:

Allow participants to change the visibility of comments:  Let each control what they see, and promote or flag it for others.

  • Allow blacklists and whitelists, in a way that lets people block out harassers or keywords entirely if they wish. Make it easy to see what has been hidden.
  • Rating (both average and variance) and tags for abuse or controversy can allow for locally flexible display.  Some simple models make this hard to game.
  • Allow things to be incrementally hidden from view.  Group feedback is more useful when the result is a spectrum.

Increase the efficiency ratio of moderation and distribute it: automate review, filter and slow down abuse.

  • Tag contributors by their level of community investment. Many who spam or harass try to cloak in new or fake identities.
  • Maintain automated tools to catch and limit abusive input. There’s a spectrum of response: from letting only the poster and moderators see the input (cocooning), to tagging and not showing by default (thresholding), to simply tagging as suspect (flagging).
  • Make these and other tags available to the community to use in their own preferences and review tools
  • For dedicated abuse: hook into penalties that make it more costly for those committed to spoofing the system.

You can’t make everyone safe all of the time, but can dial down behavior that is socially unwelcome (by any significant subgroup) by a couple of magnitudes.  Of course these ideas are simple and only work so far.  For instance, in a society at civil war, where each half are literally threatened by the sober political and practical discussions of the other half, public speech may simply not be safe.

by metasj at October 27, 2014 06:56 PM

PRX
That Crime of the Month

This is part of the PRX STEM Story Project series.

PMS_2-01Image credit: Criminal podcast

What does it mean when a woman commits a crime and attributes her actions to PMS? We revisit the first use of the “PMS defense,” in this country, back in 1981. What have we learned about the science of PMS since then? Last year, the American Psychiatric Association classified a form of PMS (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD) as a mental disorder in the DSM-V. How can the scientific community study severe premenstrual symptoms without perpetuating the utterly unscientific idea that menstruating women aren’t mentally competent or liable for crimes they commit?

In this PRX STEM Story Project piece, the Criminal podcast tells us about the psychiatry, law, and gender politics surrounding PMDD.

About 30 years ago, lawyers started attributing behavior to PMS as a cause for women feeling so severe they were afraid of hurting themselves or others. As one would imagine, this topic can veer on the controversial, necessitating a more open conversation about the issues surrounding it.
Criminal_Podcast_Logo_medium
When asked how she chose this story idea, producer Lauren Spohrer comments, “Obviously there are a lot of crime stories out there, and a lot of media dedicated to telling those stories in various way…and this was the one that made us say, ‘Wait, what?'”

Possibly more surprising than the story content might be the way that people react to the idea. Spohrer describes her friends’ reactions upon hearing about it pre-production: “There was an awful lot of eye rolling at the suggestion of a PMS defense…it struck me that gut reactions haven’t changed much in 30 years.”

Spohrer maintains that the piece doesn’t claim to promote any singular view but rather intends to stimulate even more discussion. She says, “We hope we’ve distilled the relevant issues such that the listener feels as conflicted as we do.”

You can find this piece and more on the Criminal Podcast.

Hey, this is exciting: The world needs more successful female-hosted shows. We hope to add Criminal to Radiotopia, our network of amazing story-driven podcasts. We need to meet $400,000 for our Radiotopia Kickstarter Project to support Criminal and more. Any amount helps!

The post That Crime of the Month appeared first on PRX.

by Lily Bui at October 27, 2014 04:49 PM

Jeffrey Schnapp
Book a Nook

One of the two metaLAB submissions to the Knight Foundation’s News Challenge regarding the future of libraries has made it into the semi-final round of the competion: the Book a Nook proposal devised by metaLAB principal and creative technologist Jessica Yurkofsky.

BOOK A NOOK is a cleverly conceived piece of infrastructure:

Book a Nook is digital infrastructure to help libraries activate their network of physical spaces for diverse uses, reaching those who might otherwise rely on commercial space for meetings, activities, and learning. Via an application programming interface (API), a set of functions that allows programs to connect to web services such as Facebook and Meetup, it will permit users to discover and book library meeting spaces. Book a Nook becomes an API for the seamless discovery and sharing of library facilities. Users will gain access to much-needed public space, while libraries will become integrated into the social fabric in new ways, better supporting a wide range of activities happening in their communities.

We are in the process of fine-tuning the proposal, so feel free to offer your criticisms and comments, to applaud, or simply to check in at https://www.newschallenge.org/challenge/libraries/submissions.

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by jeffrey at October 27, 2014 04:34 PM

Nathaniel Freitas
How Dungeons & Dragons Can Help Twitter Fight Trolls

One of the core problems of Twitter with regards to trolling and bullying, is that all users are created equally. While the various follow, filter and block features allow you to craft the version of the Twitter feed that you want to see, it doesn’t stop someone from spreading misinformation about you, spreading actual information (doxing), impersonating you or otherwise causing trouble. When users are banned or blocked, it is easy enough for someone to create a new account, under a new pseudonym, and continue their harassment. Blocking IP addresses or requiring “real name registration” are not the solutions, and we are left with the targets of the attacks often choosing to leave Twitter instead.

Ironically, given recent events, I believe traditional table-top role-playing games (RPGs) offer some insight to a solution to the problem that Twitter and other users face. Game dynamics have often been used to predict outcomes of real-world events, and inversely they can be used to provide constructive frameworks for people to interact in complex ways. At this point, Twitter, and Facebook, as well, have very rudimentary systems to deal with harassment and trolling, and instead, need a great deal more complexity within their own systems for monitoring and managing, as well as in the tools and capabilities users have to shape their feeds.

 

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Here are some possibly unoriginal thoughts (would love to hear about other online community systems who might have D&D inspired reputation systems) about how to address that, and no, you won’t need a twenty-sided die to implement them…

Leveling Up

RPGs: When you roll a new character in role-playing games, you start at Level 0 with no weapons or armor. This means you better not piss anyone off, or your characters life-span will be quite short. Mostly you stay in town, do basic jobs, and try to get some gold. The goal is to level up, add some points to various skills, and get some leather skins and a workable weapon.

Twitter: If your account falls under a certain threshold of followers or tweets, you should be considered a provisional user, and any @ tweet message you send mentioning another user should be shown publicly or at least in the timeline of the targeted user. If your message is flagged a small amount of times, your account is instantly shutdown for review. You should be able to build some reputation by tweeting useful, interesting, unique content that others will want to follow. One you have shown you have something useful to add to Twitter, you can graduate past the provisional phase.

Building Alliances

RPGs: One quick way to improve the power and longevity of your character is to team up with other characters, join groups, guilds or armies. This way you can begin joining quests that you otherwise may not be equipped to survive. If your group contains a mage, you can even benefit from healing spells.

Twitter: Getting put onto Twitter lists that have a strong percentage of users with many follows and high-quality tweets should reflect well on your account, and build resistance to being flagged or blocked. Anyone who places you on a list, can endorse you, as someone worth following.

Exposing Your Alignment

RPGs: There is no right or wrong in RPGs, and in fact there is a whole range of acceptable alignments, from good to evil, lawful to chaotic, with a variety of interesting combinations. This is all part of how the game works, and everyone plays their roles. That said, if you are a chaotic evil thief, don’t expect the a holy citadel full of lawful clerics to give you shelter.

Twitter: Who you follow, what you retweet, what you say, and the topics you discuss, all should have an impact on the perception of what kind of user of Twitter you are. There is not necessarily right or wrong on Twitter, and there shouldn’t be blanket censorship or bans, but your behavior on Twitter should allows others to avoid or block you en masse, and not just at the account level.

Character Classes

RPGs: Warrior, mage, thief, cleric, ranger, paladin… when you choose the type of character you wish to be, you say something about who you are, what you bring to the game, and what type of activities you want to participate in. Each class has certain skills and capabilities, not everyone can do everything, and this builds useful dependencies between people that require trust building and negotiation. If you are a warrior entering a dungeon, you better have a cleric with you who can heal, a mage that can open spell-bound chests, and a thief that can detect traps. Any quest requires this type of cooperation.

Twitter: Twitter provides a very limited, free form manner in which to indicate who you are, and why you are, on Twitter, and what you have to bring to the table. Your short bio, ollowers, “Follow Friday” tweets and hashtags, all provide a limited mechanism for indicating your expertise, and otherwise, it is general based on what you tweet that people decide whether to listen or ignore. Twitter would be greatly enhanced if you could more strongly indicate your alliances and affiliations, your background and your skill, that qualifies you to discuss a topic or provide insight. Tweets might show a special power-up symbol if you are tweeting about a topic you have been indicated as an expert in, or shown to have a google or linked history related to.

Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Charisma….

RPGs: The strength or weakness of any attribute in your character plays a huge role in your value to a quest, guild or party. You don’t need to have huge numbers for all of them, but if you are a thief with great dexterity and speed, then you will be in great demand. Similarly, a warrior with excellent strength but low intelligence and wisdom, should be treated like the hulk they are, and a mage, a chaotic-nuetral one at that, with high intelligence and charisma perhaps should not be trusted at self-serving junctures. All of these factors contribute to interaction with everyone else in the game, and the success of your character in the realm.

Twitter: Twitter has metrics like follows, following, tweets, re-tweets, time since you joined, and perhaps a few other hidden ones as well. There is data behind your account that could be used to better indicate to others whether they should follow, interact or spend any time at all with you. If you follow relatively few people in ratio to who you follows you, then it is likely that your tweets are one-sided and you aren’t that interest in listening. If you have join a long time ago, and have highly re-tweeted tweets posted now and then, then you have good things to say, but tend to keep to yourself. All of this data could be summed up in a manner that helps people and/or Twitter decide how visible your tweets are, and how much benefit of the doubt you are given when others start to flag or block your account.

Back to the Future

I first played Dungeons and Dragons when I was about six years old. These gaming concepts are not new, and the larger notion of game mechanics and dynamics is a huge field of study way beyond my own comprehension. However, it seems the design teams behind Twitter, Facebook and other sites have implemented the minimal viable systems for managing users, and then left all the rest of it up to chance or binary choices. Facebook has a bad history of allowing groups of people to team up to flag users unfairly and unjustly, as well as leaving decisions about users and acceptable content up to an army of editors who decided on issues like nudity without any concept of the users or community they are a part of. More to the point of this post, Twitter is facing a huge reputation problem itself, as it is becoming literally overrun with trolls, not to mention orcs, goblings and kobolds. Users and botnets are already gaming these system for their own advantages and ends, be it financial, political, cultural or purely for amusement. Why not make the rules of the game then more complex, and more tuned for a better experience for all? Otherwise, no amount of spells of fire or healing will be able to fight off evil or heal these services in the long run.

 

by nathan at October 27, 2014 02:58 PM

Berkman Center front page
Berkman Buzz, October 27, 2014

The Berkman Buzz is selected weekly from the publications and posts of Berkman Center people and projects.
To subscribe, click here.

The Berkman Center announces Open Access Policy
With this policy, approved on October 9, 2014, the Berkman Center's faculty directors and staff join the action of the nine School faculties: granting the University nonexclusive rights on all new scholarly work relating to the purview of research at the Berkman Center. The policy ensures that the "fruits of [Berkman's] research and scholarship" will be distributed as widely as possible.
Read the press release

Updates from the Digital Problem Solving Initiative

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On Wednesday, October 22, members of the Digital Problem-Solving Initiative (DPSI) community gathered to hear from members of the seven DPSI teams. DPSI teams feature a diverse group of learners (students, faculty, fellows, and staff) working on projects addressing problems and opportunities across the university. DPSI participants have had the novel opportunity to enhance and cultivate competency in various digital literacies as teams engage with research, design, and policy relating to the digital world.

Each team had 3 minutes to present its progress and 9 minutes of feedback from the DPSI community audience.

Projects include: AccessEd: Accessibility in Online Education, Big Data, eyeData:Data Visualization and Exploratory Tools Applied to Real-World Research Data, Farmer's Market: Building A Self-Sustaining Harvard Farmer's Market, Safe Campus: Dealing With Sexual Assault on Campus, #DocShop: Interactive Documentary Workshop, and OA2014: Open Access.

From the DPSI blog post, "DPSI Mid-semester review"
About DPSI

Primavera De Filippi explores the paradoxes of Open Data

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Open Data is an important public policy that contributes to achieving greater transparency and broader access to information, more citizen participation and engagement, while also supporting innovation and economic growth. The pace at which the Open Data movement is spreading in different fields of endeavour can be taken as an illustration that society is evolving towards greater openness, transparency and accountability. Yet, several constraints and legal uncertainties subsist beyond the façade of Open Data. This article investigates different layers of rights that regulate the use and re-use of data: from the copyright vesting in the content and/or structure of a particular dataset, to the sui-generis right protecting against the substantial reproduction and/or extraction of the content of a database. The objective is, ultimately, to illustrate the conflictual relationship that subsists between the underlying principles of Open Data, which purports to promote the free use and re-use of information, and the underlying legal system, whose provisions are increasingly relied upon to establish an exclusive right on public sector information.

From her article, "The paradoxes of open data and how to get rid of it? Analysing the interplay between open data and sui-generis rights on databases"
About Primavera

Willow Brugh proposes a strategy for understanding and addressing "weaponized social"

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The existing harms of social scripts we ran while in smaller, geographically-constrained groups are being amplified due to network effect. Tiny unchecked errors, scaled, become large harms as people find ways to exploit them, in life just as in software. I propose we hold a 2-day event to understand "weaponized social" historically, tangentially, neurochemically, and technically - and to arrive at ongoing ways of addressing them. These challenges are not new, they are simply arising in space we consider new. Given the erosion of trust online, I see meeting in person as vital to rebuilding trust. You can suggest when and where the event takes place via http://goo.gl/forms/2iBJbHXD5E There was a time when the hacker and academic circles I run in had the default assumption of "it's better to have your idea broken by your friends than by someone else." The implicit assumption being that we'd build even better ideas, together. I *hate* that loving dissent is disappearing from my corners of the internet, when I used to dream it would spread.

From Willow's blog post, Weaponized Social
About Willow | @willowbl00

J. Nathan Matias offers a guide to gender identification in datasets

Quote

For the past three years, I've been using methods to identify gender in large datasets to support research, design, and data journalism, supported by the Knight Foundation, with an amazing group of collaborators. In my Master's thesis, used these techniques to support inclusion of women in citizen journalism, the news, and collective aciton online. Last February, I was invited to give a talk about my work at the MIT Symposium on Gender and Technology, hosted by the MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies. I have finally written the first part of the talk, a practical guide to methods and ethics of gender identification approaches.

From his post, "How to identify datasets at large scales, ethically and responsibly"
About Nate | @natematias

Benjamin Mako Hill announces upcoming community data science workshops in Seattle

Quote

I am helping coordinate three and a half day-long workshops in November for anyone interested in learning how to use programming and data science tools to ask and answer questions about online communities like Wikipedia, free and open source software, Twitter, civic media, etc. This will be a new and improved version of the workshops run successfully earlier this year. The workshops are for people with no previous programming experience and will be free of charge and open to anyone. Our goal is that, after the three workshops, participants will be able to use data to produce numbers, hypothesis tests, tables, and graphical visualizations to answer questions like: Are new contributors to an article in Wikipedia sticking around longer or contributing more than people who joined last year? Who are the most active or influential users of a particular Twitter hashtag? Are people who participated in a Wikipedia outreach event staying involved? How do they compare to people that joined the project outside of the event?

From his blog post, "Another round of community data science workshops in Seattle"
About Benjamin | @makoshark

David Larochelle analyzes code from a software engineering perspective

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The agglomeration of rules and regulations over time has produced a body of legal code that no single individual can fully comprehend. This complexity produces inefficiencies, makes the processes of understanding and changing the law difficult, and frustrates the fundamental principle that the law should provide fair notice to the governed. In this article, we take a quantitative, unbiased, and software-engineering approach to analyze the evolution of the United States Code from 1926 to today. Software engineers frequently face the challenge of understanding and managing large, structured collections of instructions, directives, and conditional statements, and we adapt and apply their techniques to the U.S. Code over time. Our work produces insights into the structure of the U.S. Code as a whole, its strengths and vulnerabilities, and new ways of thinking about individual laws. For example, we identify the first appearance and spread of important terms in the U.S. Code like "whistleblower" and "privacy." We also analyze and visualize the network structure of certain substantial reforms, including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and show how the interconnections of references can increase complexity and create the potential for unintended consequences. Our work is a timely illustration of computational approaches to law as the legal profession embraces technology for scholarship, to increase efficiency, and to improve access to justice.

From the paper he co-authored, "Law is Code: A Software Engineering Approach to Analyzing the United States Code"
About David | @dlarochelle

'Hunger Games' Salute Gives Hope to Democracy Activists in Thailand

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In an image resonant of a Hollywood movie, attendees at the cremation of former deputy House speaker Apiwan Wiriyachai held up the three-finger salute to the former Prime Minister of the country Yingluck Shinawatra, in what could be seen as a silent message of hope for Thailand.

The image, which was originally posted on the BBC Thailand Facebook page has been shared on that platform over 650 times and shared on Twitter over 70 times, including re-tweets from Thais with large followings such as @toyubomm. The BBC set up this Facebook page in an effort to avoid the systematic attack on the rule of law and liberties which followed May's coup, including the banning of political gatherings and arresting and detaining hundreds of politicians and anti-coup activists.

From Khun Somchai's post on Global Voices, "'Hunger Games' Salute Gives Hope to Democracy Activists in Thailand"
About Global Voices Online | @globalvoices

This Buzz was compiled by Gretchen Weber.

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by gweber at October 27, 2014 02:14 PM

Bruce Schneier
The NSA's Role in Commercial Cybersecurity

Susan Landau has a new paper on the NSA's increasing role in commercial cybersecurity. She argues that the NSA is the wrong organization to do this, and we need a more public and open government agency involved in commercial cybersecurity.

by Bruce Schneier at October 27, 2014 01:47 PM

Whisper Tracks Users

The Guardian has reported that the app Whisper tracks users, and then published a second article explaining what it knows after Whisper denied the story. Here's Whisper's denial; be sure to also read the first comment from Moxie Marlinspike.

Slashdot thread. Hacker News thread.

EDITED TO ADD (10/22): Another Whisper explanation, and another Guardian article. An analysis.

by Bruce Schneier at October 27, 2014 01:27 PM

Harry Lewis
The Title IX Mess
I have refrained from commenting on Harvard's Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy because I figured the University was just doing what it had to do. If the federal government announces that universities have to do X or risk loss of their federal funding, they should, almost always, do X. The rare cases of resistance have had mixed results. Years ago, Brown University resisted a Title IX complaint having to do with what exactly it meant to offer equal athletic opportunities to men and women -- and lost. On the other hand, MIT resisted the antitrust consent degree the other members of the "Overlap Group" signed -- and won. In this case it seemed to me likely to be very risky to resist. At some point prudent fiduciaries have to instruct the executive to settle up with the feds and save their litigation to resist incursions that are closer to the core of the institutional mission.

That said, I have thought, since the policy was announced, that it was a disaster to any sense of justice in the American tradition. What has happened here (I wrote about this in EWAS) is that frustration has mounted over the low conviction rate in charges of sexual assault, typically peer sexual assault between drunken undergraduates with no witnesses other than the principals. Rape being a serious felony, Harvard and most other institutions have long observed something like the standard in the criminal justice system, that a pretty high level of certainty should be required before someone is declared a rapist. Universities have never been required to do that, since they are not sending anyone to prison, but it has always seemed the right thing to do given the social consequences of labeling someone a rapist.

Of course that resulted in low conviction rates, which have long been a source of frustration for victims and their advocates--in universities just as it is in the "real world." What has happened is that, for fundamentally political reasons (with Joe Biden hugging sexual assault victims and all), the executive branch of the federal government has re-cast rape as a civil rights violation, and insisted that "equity" here means that the two parties have equal standing in colleges and universities receiving federal funds. Findings must be on a "preponderance of evidence" standard -- essentially a 51-49 standard, rather than a beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard. If one party can appeal the finding of the college judiciary, the other side can too. And so on. More of the guilty will most certainly be convicted in this way -- and more of the innocent too. This isn't what we used to think "fairness" meant -- it used to mean giving an individual defendant a fair shake against the overwhelming power of the prosecutorial entity. If anyone needs a refresher, go look at what is happening in Hong Kong, where the city is fighting about which of the "two systems," democratic or authoritarian, will ultimately govern it.

A diverse group of Harvard Law School faculty protested Harvard's Title IX policy, arguing in essence that Harvard caved too easily to the feds. The new policy involves measures, they say, that "are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused, and are in no way required by Title IX law or regulation." That last phrase is important. What exactly Title IX, the law, requires is very murky -- see Why Colleges Are on the Hook for Sexual Assault - Students … for a good explanation of how scope of the law has expanded over the years far beyond anything the enacting legislators anticipated. What surprises me is the statement that the policy goes beyond anything that regulations require, and that Harvard "decided simply to defer to the demands of certain federal administrative officials." Is that right? We know that managing risk is among the highest priorities of Harvard's governing boards. Did they really instruct the university administration to placate a handful of federal bureaucrats?

The Law School letter is worth reading. But I want to point out an inherent contradiction in Harvard's policy that has not been highlighted to my knowledge: The contradiction between the obligation not to allow a "hostile environment," and the obligation to protect the right to free speech. Here are the relevant passages from Harvard's policy. On what's a "hostile environment":
Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when: (1) … [quid pro quo]; or (2) such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it interferes with or limits a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the University’s education or work programs or activities (hostile environment).
… verbal, nonverbal, graphic, or physical conduct may create a hostile environment if the conduct is sufficiently persistent, pervasive, or severe so as to deny a person equal access to the University’s programs or activities. Whether the conduct creates a hostile environment may depend on a variety of factors, including: the degree to which the conduct affected one or more person’s education or employment; the type, frequency, and duration of the conduct; the relationship between the parties; the number of people involved; and the context in which the conduct occurred.
Clear as mud. On free speech:
 Nothing in this Policy shall be construed to abridge academic freedom and inquiry, principles of free speech, or the University’s educational mission.
Really?

I have no idea how to reconcile those two passages. In America, under the First Amendment, we tolerate all kinds of offensive and odious speech, because we fear that the inhibition of obnoxious speech by empowering the government to regulate it would not be worth the price in restricting free expression. Just as we require a high standard of proof for crimes because we judge that it is better for the government to have to act with one hand tied behind its back, and let some bad guys walk free, than to risk over-reach by a more unconstrained federal prosecution.

It may be that we have to do as Harvard's policy states, outlaw "hostile environments" even with the exquisitely vague definition of what they are. It may even be exactly the right thing for us to do. But how can we, with a straight face, state that outlawing hostile environments in no way entails a restriction on what people can say? The First Amendment allows all kinds of hostile speech, as long as it falls short of actual threat. The Harvard policy outlaws hostile environments, including hostile verbal environments. Let's be honest, or risk having the whole policy dismissed as a political statement. We're outlawing the whole band of speech between hostile and threatening, aren't we?

by Harry Lewis (noreply@blogger.com) at October 27, 2014 02:13 AM

October 26, 2014

Bruce Schneier
Friday Squid Blogging: 1,057 Squid T-Shirts

That's a lot.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Commenting has been broken for the past few days. We hope to get it fixed on Monday.

by Bruce Schneier at October 26, 2014 10:28 PM

October 25, 2014

Justin Reich
Listening to Massive: The Future of Learning at Scale
A podcast from the Harvard Graduate School of Education about Massive: The Future of Learning at Scale.

by Justin Reich at October 25, 2014 12:23 AM

October 24, 2014

PRX
Stretch Goal #1 and Hover 20k Backer Challenge
Helen Zaltzman of "Answer Me This" with PRX COO Kerri HoffmanHelen Zaltzman of “Answer Me This” with PRX COO Kerri Hoffman at Radiotopia Live.

Three days ago Radiotopia hit our Kickstarter funding goal. We are thrilled! Thank you for your support and for getting the project to this point.

We are very excited to announce 2 major updates:

1. Our first stretch goal! This is huge and we’re really thrilled to share this.

As of February 2013, only 20% of the top 100 podcasts are hosted by women. We want to change that. If we reach $400,000 we will be able to green-light three new shows, all hosted by women.

The shows:

  • Soon-to-be-titled Helen Zaltzman words and language program(me)– Created by Helen Zaltzman, host of the popular UK show “Answer Me This,” this brand new program peels back the surface of language to find out why we say the things we say.
  • “The Heart” – A show about the triumphs and the terrors of human intimacy, the bliss and banality of being in love and the wild diversity of the human heart. Hosted by Kaitlin Prest.
  • “Criminal” – Riveting true crime stories about being wronged, doing wrong, and being caught in the middle. Hosted by Phoebe Judge and produced by Eric Mennel and Lauren Spohrer.

2. The Hover 20,000 Backer Challenge.

Hover is offering $25,000 if Radiotopia is able to reach 20,000 backers. Every pledge gets us that much closer to $25K and this is going to be a tough one, so please consider backing the project and sharing with your friends.



The post Stretch Goal #1 and Hover 20k Backer Challenge appeared first on PRX.

by Audrey at October 24, 2014 08:25 PM

Justin Reich
The School Leader's 1-to-1 Implementation Checklist
Slides and images from a recent talk about how school leaders can best support meaningful changes in teaching and learning as they roll out 1-to-1 computing initiatives.

by Justin Reich at October 24, 2014 04:59 PM

Cyberlaw Clinic - blog
Deans’ Food System Challenge Kicks Off at Harvard i-Lab

Harvard Innovation LabEach year, the Harvard Innovation Lab administers several Harvard University-wide challenges.  The competitions include the “President’s Challenge” (overseen by Harvard President Drew Faust‘s office) and several “Deans’ Challenges” (each launched by a dean or group of deans at Harvard, aimed at solving specified technical, business, or social problems). 

This year, Harvard Law School and the Harvard T.H. Chan Shool of Public Health are teaming up to launch the Deans’ Food System Challenge.  The Challenge invites students from across Harvard University to develop innovative solutions to make the food system healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable.  The Food System Challenge is based around four discrete topics, all relating to the production, consumption, and distribution of food:

        • Producing Sustainable, Nutritious Food;
        • Innovating in Food Distribution and Markets;
        • Improving our Diet; and
        • Reducing Food Waste

To be eligible, teams entering the challenge must include at least one matriculated and degree-seeking undergraduate or graduate Harvard student or Harvard postdoctoral candidate who serves in a leadership role.  Complete information on Challenge eligibility is available here.

HLS Dean Martha Minow will be joined by keynoe speaker Ayr Muir (Harvard Business School graduate and founder of Clover Food Lab), among many others, at the Food System Challenge kickoff on Monday, October 27 from 6-8pm at the i-Lab.  Students interested in entering the challenge and others with interest or expertise in business and social/cultural entrepreneurship around issues relating to food will have the opportunity to network and begin exploring ideas and investigating potential collaborations.  Please register to attend the kickoff here.

If you are unable to attend the kickoff, you will have many opportunities over the course of the year to engage with issues relating to the food system through the University-wide Food Better campaign, which is helping to host events throughout the year about food and our evolving food system.

by Clinic Staff at October 24, 2014 03:39 PM

Bruce Schneier
NSA Classification ECI = Exceptionally Controlled Information

ECI is a classification above Top Secret. It's for things that are so sensitive they're basically not written down, like the names of companies whose cryptography has been deliberately weakened by the NSA, or the names of agents who have infiltrated foreign IT companies.

As part of the Intercept story on the NSA's using agents to infiltrate foreign companies and networks, it published a list of ECI compartments. It's just a list of code names and three-letter abbreviations, along with the group inside the NSA that is responsible for them. The descriptions of what they all mean would never be in a computer file, so it's only of value to those of us who like code names.

This designation is why there have been no documents in the Snowden archive listing specific company names. They're all referred to by these ECI code names.

by Bruce Schneier at October 24, 2014 03:08 PM

David Weinberger
[clickbait] Copyright is sodomy

A year ago, Harold Feld posted one of the most powerful ways of framing our excessive zeal for copyright that I have ever read. I was welling up even before he brought Aaron Swartz into the context.

Harold’s post is within a standard Jewish genre: the d’var Torah, an explanation of a point in the portion of the Torah being read that week. As is expected of the genre, he draws upon a long, self-reflective history of interpretation. I urge you to read it because of the light it sheds on our culture of copyright, but it’s also worth noticing the form of the discussion.

The content: In the Jewish tradition, Sodom’s sin wasn’t sexual but rather an excessive possessiveness leading to a fanatical unwillingness to share. Harold cites from a collection of traditional commentary, The Ethics of Our Fathers:

“There are four types of moral character. One who says: ‘what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours.’ This is an average person. Some say it is the Way of Sodom. The one who says: ‘what is mine is yours and what is yours is mine,’ is ignorant of the world. ‘What is mine is yours and what is yours is yours’ is the righteous. ‘What is mine is mine and what is yours is mine’ is the wicked.”

In a PowerPoint, it’d be a 2×2 chart. Harold’s point will be that the ‘what is mine is mine and what is yours is yours.’ of the average person becomes wicked when enforced without compassion or flexibility. Harold evokes the traditional Jewish examples of Sodom’s wickedness and compares them to what’s become our dominant “average” assumptions about how copyright ought to work.

I am purposefully not explaining any further. Read Harold’s piece.

The form: I find the space of explanation within which this d’var Torah — and most others that I’ve heard — operates to be fascinating. At the heart of Harold’s essay is a text accepted by believers as having been given by God, yet the explanation is accomplished by reference to a history of human interpretations that disagree with one another, with guidance by a set of values (e.g., sharing is good) that persevere in a community thanks to that community’s insistent adherence to its tradition. The result is that an agnostic atheist like me (I’m only pretty sure there is no God) can find truth and wisdom in the interpretation of a text I take as being ungrounded in a divine act.

But forget all that. Read Harold’s post, bubbelah.

by davidw at October 24, 2014 01:03 PM

Pieceful Collaboration

I gave a talk last night at the BookBuilders of Boston collaboration awards. It’s a non-profit that since 1937 has networked publishers, book manufacturers, and other book folk…although I don’t think people would have described it as “networking” back then. The nominees each gave a 2.5 minute presentation on their collaborative publishing project, many of which were very cool. Plus it was in the Brattle Theater.

I was the filler as the judges went into a sealed room to decide on the winners. So I gave a 30 talk pitched around a pun that I sort of like: a pieceful difference.

The idea was that lots of collaborative efforts bring together multiple people to build a single object — a barn raising or a Wikipedia page. But other collaborations break something apart and allow different people to build different things.

The ability to bring strangers together around a project is a gift of the Net. But so is its making available lots of little pieces that can be made into mosaics by a mosaic of people. The Johnny Cash Project is one sort of example. But so is any set of things created from stuff retrieved through an API or mashed-up APIs.

I’m not sure why I am drawn to pieceful collaboration, other than because of the cheap pun. I guess I like the way individuality is maintained around a shared but differentiated set of materials. I’m a little surprised. I thought I was less of an individualist than that.

by davidw at October 24, 2014 02:41 AM

October 23, 2014

Bruce Schneier
Deanonymizing Taxi Passenger and Fare Data

Interesting essay on the sorts of things you can learn from anonymized taxi passenger and fare data.

by Bruce Schneier at October 23, 2014 08:44 PM

Nick Grossman
This is what an Internet Candidate looks like
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I just donated to Christina Gagnier‘s campaign for congress.

I’ve gotten to know Christina recently, and I really hope she’s able to pull through this race and make it.  We need smart people in DC who understand technology, tech issues, and tech policy. She is without a doubt one of those people.  She’s an entrepreneur and tech lawyer who knows these issues cold and has lived with them for a long time.

Smart DC consultants have told me that Christina is too far behind to win.  I’m not sure if that’s true or not.  But what I know is that she “gets” technology and tech policy.  And she’s not coming at it from a Silicon Valley perspective — she’s representing California’s 35th District, in the eastern part of LA county, where big technology companies are not the center of the economy, but technology is what is going to connect and power the local economy. Further, Christina has been out in the community nonstop for the last few months, including her Bold Ideas RV Tour over the last month, and I suspect the race will be closer than people think.

Christina gets that privacy and trust are central issues, that we need open networks and broadband infrastructure, and that issues like patent trolls (and software patents more generally) are hurting the tech-driven economy.

So, for those of you looking to make some last minute noise / contributions, I think Christina’s campaign is a great place to do it.

 

 

 

by Nick Grossman at October 23, 2014 07:15 PM

ProjectVRM
@Capgemini on #VRM: well done!

Just learned about these two new videos by @Capgemini:

The introductory copy says,

Both Customer Relationship Management and Vendor Relationship Management want to improve customer relationships but they approach this differently. Find out what are the three main factors that separate them.

Both videos not only explain VRM nicely, but illustrate it on a whiteboard:

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.03.24 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.04.48 PM

Big thanks to @LarrySCohen, @NielsvdLinden, @rickmans, Nick Gill and all the other @Capgemini people behind this. (Though not mentioned in the above links, I also want to throw thanks to @VINTLabs and @Sogeti, both also of Capgemini, and who I suspect are involved too.)

And it would be great if some could come to VRM Day and IIW next week. We’ll set the stage with these videos.

by Doc Searls at October 23, 2014 06:22 PM

Amanda Palmer
BACK TO OZ! neil and I are coming back to Tasmania for MONA FOMA 2015

MOST EXCITING NEWS EVER ABOUT NEXT YEAR:
i am going to be appearing at the MONA FOMA 2015 festival (my third time!) fronting the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra!!!!!! with brand new arrangements for the symphony from Jherek Bischoff.

also appearing at this epic and always unforgettable festival held on a small island off the south coast of australia, which as you all know is shaped like…well, a map of tasmania:
Neil Gaiman!!!
Swans!!! (and that means Thor Harris!!!! and FUNPLAYTIME!!!)
Shonen Knife!!
Paul Kelly!!!

and many many more.

january 15-18th!

if you live anywhere near australia – or don’t – it’s always amazing.
come.

here’s their official site: mofo.net.au

xx
a

ps. i don’t know at this moment whether there will be any more Australian Or New Zealand dates. it’s going to depend on Anthony’s health. his bone marrow transplant was just delayed due to complications. stay tuned.

(good news about mofo via http://themusic.com.au/)

by admin at October 23, 2014 02:04 PM

Berkman Center front page
Upcoming Events: The Responsive City (10/28); The Coming Swarm (10/29); Authorship in the Digital World (10/30)
Berkman Events Newsletter Template
Open Call for Fellowship Applications, Academic Year 2015-2016
Interested in joining the Berkman community? Find out more about our fellowship program and the application process on our website.
book launch

The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data Smart Governance

Tuesday, October 28, 12:00pm ET, Harvard Law School Library. Co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

berkman

Harvard Law School Visiting Professor and co-director of the Berkman Center Susan Crawford joins Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, Mayor of Somerville, MA, Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Chief Information Officer for the City of Boston and Harvard Business School Professor and Chief of Staff to Mayor Menino, Mitchell Weiss, for a lively discussion around her new book, The Responsive City. The talk will be moderated by Harvard Law School Professor and co-founder and Director of the Berkman Center Jonathan Zittrain.

The Responsive City is a compelling guide to civic engagement and governance in the digital age that will help municipal leaders link important breakthroughs in technology and data analytics with age-old lessons of small-group community input to create more agile, competitive and economically resilient cities. The book is co-authored by Professor Stephen Goldsmith, director of Data-Smart City Solutions at Harvard Kennedy School, and Professor Susan Crawford, co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. more information on our website>

book launch

The Coming Swarm

Wednesday, October 29, 6:00pm ET, Harvard Law School, Wasserstein Hall, Room 2012. Free and Open to the Public.

berkman

In her new book, The Coming Swarm: DDoS, Hacktivism, and Civil Disobedience on the Internet, Molly Sauter examines the history, development, theory, and practice of distributed denial of service actions as a tactic of political activism. Together in conversation with journalist and activist Laurie Penny, Molly will discuss the use of disruptive tactics like DDoS, online civil disobedience, and the role of the internet as a zone of political activism and speech. There will be a book signing following the discussion.

Molly Sauter is a research affiliate at the Berkman Center, and a doctoral student at McGill University in Montreal. She holds a masters degree in Comparative Media Studies from MIT, where she is an affiliate researcher at the Center for Civic Media at the Media Lab. Laurie Penny was born in London in 1986 and is not dead yet. She is, in no particular order, a writer, a journalist, a public speaker, an activist, a feminist, a reprobate and a geek. RSVP Required. more information on our website>

co-sponsored event

Authorship in the Digital World: How to Make It Thrive

Thursday, October 30, 3:30pm ET, Harvard University, Lamont Library, Forum Room. Co-sponsored by The Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication, The Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and the Authors Alliance

berkman

The internet has had disruptive effects on many aspects of the ecosystem in which authors reach readers. The roles of publishers, retailers, libraries, and universities, and other participants in this ecosystem are evolving rapidly. Amazon.com, in particular, has been the source of considerable controversy in its dealings with authors and publishers.

In order for authors to navigate these turbulent waters, they need to be strategic in their partnerships and careful in contracting. Copyright is supposed to help even authors with no legal expertise, but how good a job does it do? Could some changes in that law help authors reach readers more effectively? Looking beyond the law, what steps can authors take now to realize the full impact of their writings?

With these questions in mind, the Harvard Office for Scholarly Communication and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society are co-sponsoring the Authors Alliance in bringing a panel discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing authors in the digital age to the Harvard campus.

The discussion will be preceded by remarks from Katie Hafner, a journalist, the author of six books, and a member of the Authors Alliance and advisory board.

Jonathan Zittrain will moderate a panel that will include: Rachel Cohen, a Cambridge-based author and creative writing professor at Sarah Lawrence College; Robert Darnton, university librarian at Harvard and member of the Authors Alliance advisory board; Ellen Faran, director of MIT Press; Mark Fischer, a copyright lawyer at Duane Morris LLP; Katie Hafner, a journalist, memoirist, and nonfiction writer; Alison Mudditt, director of UC Press; Sophia Roosth, a Harvard historian of science; and Pamela Samuelson, Authors Alliance co-founder and law professor at U.C. Berkeley. Registration Required. more information on our website>

luncheon series

General Counsel of Microsoft, Brad Smith, in conversation with Professor Jonathan Zittrain

Tuesday, November 4, 12:00pm ET, Harvard Law School. Co-sponsored by the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology. This event will be webcast live.

berkman

Brad Smith, General Counsel of Microsoft, will participation in an interview conversation with HLS Professor and Berkman Faculty Director Jonathan Zittrain. Topic TBA.

Brad Smith is Microsoft's general counsel and senior vice president, Legal and Corporate Affairs. He leads the company's Department of Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA), which has just over 1,000 employees and is responsible for the company's legal work, its intellectual property portfolio, and its government affairs and philanthropic work. He also serves as Microsoft's corporate secretary and its chief compliance officer.

Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at the Harvard Law School Library, and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. RSVP Required. more information on our website>

video/audio

Emily Horne & Tim Maly on The Inspection House: An Impertinent Field Guide to Modern Surveillance

berkman

In 1787, British philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham conceived of the panopticon, a ring of cells observed by a central watchtower, as a labor-saving device for those in authority. In French philosopher Michel Foucault's groundbreaking 1975 study, Discipline and Punish, the panopticon became a metaphor to describe the creeping effects of personalized surveillance as a means for ever-finer mechanisms of control. Years later, the available tools of scrutiny, supervision, and discipline are far more capable and insidious than Foucault dreamed, and yet less effective than Bentham hoped. Shopping malls, container ports, terrorist holding cells, and social networks all bristle with cameras, sensors, and trackers. But, crucially, they are also rife with resistance and prime opportunities for revolution. In this talk authors Emily Horne -- a creator of the webcomic A Softer World -- and Tim Maly -- writer and Fellow at Harvard’s metaLAB -- discuss their new book The Inspect ion House, and paint a stark, vivid portrait of our contemporary surveillance state and its opponents. video/audio on our website>

Other Events of Note

Local, national, international, and online events that may be of interest to the Berkman community:

You are receiving this email because you subscribed to the Berkman Center's Weekly Events Newsletter. Sign up to receive this newsletter if this email was forwarded to you. To manage your subscription preferences, please click here.

Connect & get involved: Jobs, internships, and more iTunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube RSS

See our events calendar if you're curious about future luncheons, discussions, lectures, and conferences not listed in this email. Our events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

by ashar at October 23, 2014 01:44 PM

Bruce Schneier
How Did the Feds Identity Dread Pirate Roberts?

Last month, I wrote that the FBI identified Ross W. Ulbricht as the Silk Road's Dread Pirate Roberts through a leaky CAPTCHA. Seems that story doesn't hold water:

The FBI claims that it found the Silk Road server by examining plain text Internet traffic to and from the Silk Road CAPTCHA, and that it visited the address using a regular browser and received the CAPTCHA page. But [Nicholas] Weaver says the traffic logs from the Silk Road server (PDF) that also were released by the government this week tell a different story.

"The server logs which the FBI provides as evidence show that, no, what happened is the FBI didn't see a leakage coming from that IP," he said. "What happened is they contacted that IP directly and got a PHPMyAdmin configuration page." See this PDF file for a look at that PHPMyAdmin page. Here is the PHPMyAdmin server configuration.

But this is hardly a satisfying answer to how the FBI investigators located the Silk Road servers. After all, if the FBI investigators contacted the PHPMyAdmin page directly, how did they know to do that in the first place?

"That's still the $64,000 question," Weaver said. "So both the CAPTCHA couldn't leak in that configuration, and the IP the government visited wasn't providing the CAPTCHA, but instead a PHPMyAdmin interface. Thus, the leaky CAPTCHA story is full of holes."

My guess is that the NSA provided the FBI with this information. We know that the NSA provides surveillance data to the FBI and the DEA, under the condition that they lie about where it came from in court.

NSA whistleblower William Binney explained how it's done:

...when you can't use the data, you have to go out and do a parallel construction, [which] means you use what you would normally consider to be investigative techniques, [and] go find the data. You have a little hint, though. NSA is telling you where the data is...

by Bruce Schneier at October 23, 2014 01:37 AM

October 22, 2014

ProjectVRM
VRM News & Views

First, some VRooMy startups and projects:

Next, I’ve got this idea that whawhat we need for full personal agency is an operating system of our own. Something that’s as personal as our own clothes, and just as wearable and privacy-affording. Also something we wield, like a tool. Or a set of them, which might include, if need be, weapons. So here are some links that point in that direction:

Now for some government stuff:

A collection of VRooMy posts by Don Marti, and links from some of those posts:

Data stuff:

Etc.

by Doc Searls at October 22, 2014 10:40 PM

MediaBerkman
Emily Horne & Tim Maly on The Inspection House: An Impertinent Field Guide to Modern Surveillance [AUDIO]
In 1787, British philosopher and social reformer Jeremy Bentham conceived of the panopticon, a ring of cells observed by a central watchtower, as a labor-saving device for those in authority. In French philosopher Michel Foucault’s groundbreaking 1975 study, Discipline and Punish, the panopticon became a metaphor to describe the creeping effects of personalized surveillance as […]

by Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School (djones@cyber.law.harvard.edu) at October 22, 2014 07:49 PM

Berkman Center front page
Berkman Community Newcomers: Erhardt Graeff

This post marks the second in a series featuring interviews with some of the fascinating individuals who joined our community for the 2014-2015 year. Conducted by our 2014 summer interns (affectionately known as "Berkterns"), these snapshots aim to showcase the diverse backgrounds, interests, and accomplishments of our dynamic 2014-2015 community.

Interested in joining the Berkman Center community? We're currently accepting fellowship applications for the 2015-2016 academic year. Read more on our fellowships page.

Q&A with Erhardt Graeff

Berkman Fellow and member of MIT Center for Civic Media and MIT Media Lab
@erhardt
interviewed in summer 2014 by Berktern Ebru Boyaci

Before this fellowship, how had you been involved with the Berkman Center?

EG: One of my first jobs in the Boston area after moving here five years ago was at the Berkman Center. I was a research assistant on the Industrial Cooperation Project managed by Carolina Rossini during her fellowship. I focused on mapping the landscape of open educational resources. Later, I moved on to a research position at the Harvard Project Zero studying youth and digital technology use, which coincided with the start of Berkman's Youth and Media project. Sandra Cortesi asked me to serve on the mentorship team during the inaugural year. More recently as part of my graduate studies at the MIT Media Lab and Center for Civic Media, I've been working with the Media Cloud team on Controversy Mapper.

What drew you to work on civic media and technologies? What was the landscape of civic technology when you first became interested in the field?

EG: I came to what is now called civic media / civic technology when I was in college at RIT. I had several great mentors and transformative experiences there. Professor Liz Lawley introduced me to the burgeoning field of social computing, where I started to see the intersection and interplay between social systems and technological systems. Professor Amit Ray asked me to help him study the role of authorship on Wikipedia, which gave me my first taste of critical academic research connecting social theory to an online community and essentially civic enterprise. At the same time, I rose to editor in chief of the student newsmagazine, Reporter, which gave me a taste of the practical side of media and politics.

The landscape of civic technology back in the early to mid-2000s was dominated by the promise of e-government. I studied the successes of Estonia in that space. But it didn't fully bridge back to my interest in social computing and what was happening during the "Web 2.0" moment. I did an MPhil in Sociology at the University of Cambridge in 2007–08, investigating how to connect these questions to social capital and online/offline community building. I was inspired by Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks and the just published paper by Henry Jenkins' research team outlining what he called "the participation gap." I've been doing research in this area ever since.

Your most recent project, Action Path, is a mobile app enabling civic engagement and reflection for its users. What’s happening with the project currently, and what are your expectations for it?

EG: I am writing up the early phase of the Action Path project right now, which focuses on the design of the tool and feedback from potential partners and alpha users. This fall I'm planning to conduct a couple of test deployments in Boston Area communities to see whether my theory holds up in practice with the real goals for citizen feedback on contemporary issues.

It's important to me that the location-based mobile survey tool I'm building reflects a realistic view of both municipal planning processes and everyday user behaviors. This is important for my larger goal of investigating design principles for civic technologies in order to foster civic learning. You could think of this in terms of a ladder of engagement common to community and political organizing. How do we design technologies that scaffold civic engagement for both youth and adults in ways that are appropriate and efficacious? That's the big question.

With Action Path, you are aiming to get citizen feedback on contemporary issues. Does being a good citizen necessarily require taking action? What would your description of "the good citizen" be? Does he/she have particular duties?

EG: I'm open to a pretty broad and multi-faceted definition of what makes a good citizen. The debate my advisor and long-time Berkmanite Ethan Zuckerman and I have been engaging in, however, is less about what is a good citizen and more about what makes for an effective citizen. If there is a duty we keep coming back to, it's monitoring.

In Michael Schudson's book The Good Citizen, he introduces the monitorial citizen as one type of citizen demanded by the practice of contemporary democracy. There are different ways to look at monitoring, which Ethan and I are exploring. Without getting into the weeds too much, experiments like Action Path are about trying to see what types of activities citizens can engage in to produce substantial change and how technology can support those efforts. Just like there is no single category of a good citizen, there isn't a single category of an effective citizen.

That said, we should be able to evaluate the efficacy of a citizen's efforts against what they had hoped to change. This is part of my larger research goal in developing design principles connected to civic learning because ultimately it's not about prescribing duties for good citizens, but identifying a range of tools and approaches that have proven effective for others. Voting and volunteerism have their place here, as do much maligned e-petitions, but social movements and now civic technologists are constantly innovating in this space. The question is: How do we make all of these options accessible to citizens?

What are the main tools and platforms that are being used by you and others for civic technology?

EG: I believe just about everything within the broad category of information and communication technologies has civic technology potential. If it connects you to others or to information, then it can serve a civic role. Mobile technology is fast becoming a key civic technology because of its increasingly widespread distribution and its growing position as a primary computing platform for many users. There is a huge spike right now in the development of original civic technology platforms and apps like Action Path. But I believe the most important civic technologies are the ones used by the most people.

Facebook is a key civic technology. It's being used in explicitly political ways by activists around the world, such as those in Myanmar campaigning for lower SIM card prices. I'm really interested in how we transfer explicit civic technology design into broad consumer technology design; I've started arguing (like Nick Grossman does) that we don't really need more civic apps.  Rather, we need to be making all apps more civic.

by ctian at October 22, 2014 07:43 PM

Amanda Palmer
a video by neil, music by me. content…maybe not what you expected.

on a serious note, your attention please.
warning: contains neil, new music, some disturbing footage, and a lot of sadness. but also hope.

i am asking you watch this video, and help if you can. neil made it a few months ago when he was in jordan, visiting refugee camps run by the UNHCR – the United Nations High Council on Refugees. the situation over there is nuts and getting worse by the second.
there are currently over THREE MILLION syrian refugees in jordan.
the population of jordan is about six million. think about this.

……

i was supposed to join neil for this trip, and the book being in final editing drafts meant that – after a lot of agonizing – i stayed behind.

it was a hard decision to make. i felt like i was supposed to be there soaking in these horrors and helping spread the message. in the end, i feel like this was what i could do, to do my part: i wrote a piece of lyric-less piano music for this video and recorded it last month.

you can watch here, or embedded below…

i still find it hard to watch without crying.

and if you can, please: donate.
and even better yet, share this video.
just get the message out.
things are bad.
since neil was there, the situation has only worsened.

here’s the action link: bit.ly/1rh1G3o
please give generously.

love.
AFP

p.s. and since i know you guys are going to ask: i am working on making the piano track available for download, with the profits going straight to the UNHCR. hold the phone and it’ll hopefully be up in a day or two (or less).

by admin at October 22, 2014 07:04 PM

Berkman Center front page
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society Adopts Open Access Policy

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society is pleased to announce that the Center’s faculty directors and staff have adopted an open-access policy. With this policy, approved on October 9, 2014, the Berkman Center’s faculty directors and staff join the nine School faculties in granting Harvard nonexclusive rights to their future scholarly articles. The policy ensures that the “fruits of [Berkman’s] research and scholarship” will be distributed as widely as possible.

Through this landmark unanimous vote, the Berkman Center has become the first research center at Harvard to adopt an open-access policy, and the first to extend the scope of Harvard’s open-access policies beyond the faculty.

“Since its inception, the Berkman Center has promoted and supported open access to scholarly works and educational materials, and this unanimous vote continues that tradition” said Urs Gasser Executive Director of the Berkman Center and Professor of the Practice at Harvard Law School. “It furthers our commitment to sharing and disseminating our scholarship as widely as possible. Through the Harvard Open Access Project and our collaboration with the Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication, we are excited to be the first research center at Harvard University to adopt an OA policy.”

Peter Suber, a Berkman fellow as well as the Director of the Office for Scholarly Communication and Director of the Harvard Open Access Project remarked, “Harvard already has open-access policies for faculty at all its schools. Now for the first time it has an open-access policy at one of its research centers. Now that the Berkman Center has broken the ice, I expect to see many more Harvard research centers follow its lead.”

The new policy is consistent with previous practices at Berkman, where directors and staff typically made their scholarly articles, and sometimes books, open access. But now this community will also have a dedicated collection in DASH (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard), including persistent URLs, preservation in the Harvard Library, and individualized traffic stats delivered every month. Berkman faculty directors and staff  have the benefit of the licensing provision of the policy, which allows them to retain rights to their own works that they might not otherwise have retained. They also have the nonexclusive rights to make all their future scholarly articles open, without the need to negotiate individually with publishers. The Berkman policy follows the model of Harvard’s school-level policies including a waiver option to ensure academic freedom.

The Harvard Open Access Project, based at Berkman, has collected Harvard’s experience under these policies, and the experience of a growing number of partner institutions, in a guide to good practices for university open-access policies.

by gweber at October 22, 2014 01:53 PM

Amanda Palmer
it rained today.

it rained today.
i took a drive.
people get born.
people get high.
people get mail.
people get cancer.
people get lucky.
people get tests.
people get flowers.
people get jailed.
people get surprised.
people get shot.
people get trapped.
people get honored.
people get lost.
people get busy.
people get sainted.
people get abortions.
people get frustrated.
people get on with it.

it rained today.
i took a drive.
i took this shot.
i didn’t die.

by admin at October 22, 2014 01:27 PM

Bruce Schneier
Surveillance in Schools

This essay, "Grooming students for a lifetime of surveillance," talks about the general trends in student surveillance.

Related: essay on the need for student privacy in online learning.

by Bruce Schneier at October 22, 2014 09:48 AM

How James Bamford Came to Write The Puzzle Palace

Interesting essay about James Bamford and his efforts to publish The Puzzle Palace over the NSA's objections. Required reading for those who think the NSA's excesses are somehow new.

by Bruce Schneier at October 22, 2014 07:14 AM

October 21, 2014

Bruce Schneier
FOXACID Operations Manual

A few days ago, I saw this tweet: "Just a reminder that it is now *a full year* since Schneier cited it, and the FOXACID ops manual remains unpublished." It's true.

The citation is this:

According to a top-secret operational procedures manual provided by Edward Snowden, an exploit named Validator might be the default, but the NSA has a variety of options. The documentation mentions United Rake, Peddle Cheap, Packet Wrench, and Beach Head-­all delivered from a FOXACID subsystem called Ferret Cannon.

Back when I broke the QUANTUM and FOXACID programs, I talked with the Guardian editors about publishing the manual. In the end, we decided not to, because the information in it wasn't useful to understanding the story. It's been a year since I've seen it, but I remember it being just what I called it: an operation procedures manual. It talked about what to type into which screens, and how to deal with error conditions. It didn't talk about capabilities, either technical or operational. I found it interesting, but it was hard to argue that it was necessary in order to understand the story.

It will probably never be published. I lost access to the Snowden documents soon after writing that essay -- Greenwald broke with the Guardian, and I have never been invited back by the Intercept -- and there's no one looking at the documents with an eye to writing about the NSA's technical capabilities and how to securely design systems to protect against government surveillance. Even though we now know that the same capabilities are being used by other governments and cyber criminals, there's much more interest in stories with political ramifications.

by Bruce Schneier at October 21, 2014 09:32 PM

DEA Sets Up Fake Facebook Page in Woman's Name

This is a creepy story. A woman has her phone seized by the Drug Enforcement Agency and gives them permission to look at her phone. Without her knowledge or consent, they steal photos off of the phone (the article says they were "racy") and use it to set up a fake Facebook page in her name.

The woman sued the government over this. Extra creepy was the government's defense in court: "Defendants admit that Plaintiff did not give express permission for the use of photographs contained on her phone on an undercover Facebook page, but state the Plaintiff implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cell phone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in an ongoing criminal investigations [sic]."

The article was edited to say: "Update: Facebook has removed the page and the Justice Department said it is reviewing the incident." So maybe this is just an overzealous agent and not official DEA policy.

But as Marcy Wheeler said, this is a good reason to encrypt your cell phone.

by Bruce Schneier at October 21, 2014 08:53 PM

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