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.

April 16, 2014

Bruce Schneier
Book Title

I previously posted that I am writing a book on security and power. Here are some title suggestions:

  • Permanent Record: The Hidden Battles to Capture Your Data and Control Your World

  • Hunt and Gather: The Hidden Battles to Capture Your Data and Control Your World

  • They Already Know: The Hidden Battles to Capture Your Data and Control Your World

  • We Already Know: The Hidden Battles to Capture Your Data and Control Your World

  • Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Capture Your Data and Control Your World

  • All About You: The Hidden Battles to Capture Your Data and Control Your World

  • Tracked: The Hidden Battles to Capture Your Data and Control Your World

  • Tracking You: The Forces that Capture Your Data and Control Your World

  • Data: The New Currency of Power

My absolute favorite is Data and Goliath, but there's a problem. Malcolm Gladwell recently published a book with the title of David and Goliath. Normally I wouldn't care, but I published my Liars and Outliers soon after Gladwell published Outliers. Both similarities are coincidences, but aping him twice feels like a bit much.

Anyway, comments on the above titles -- and suggestions for new ones -- are appreciated.

The book is still scheduled for February publication. I hope to have a first draft done by the end of June, and a final manuscript by the end of October. If anyone is willing to read and comment on a draft manuscript between those two months, please let me know in e-mail.

by Bruce Schneier at April 16, 2014 11:45 PM

Schneier Speaking Schedule: April–May

Here's my upcoming speaking schedule for April and May:

Information about all my speaking engagements can be found here.

by Bruce Schneier at April 16, 2014 10:29 PM

Auditing TrueCrypt

Recently, Matthew Green has been leading an independent project to audit TrueCrypt. Phase I, a source code audit by iSEC Partners, is complete. Next up is Phase II, formal cryptanalysis.

Quick summary: I'm still using it.

by Bruce Schneier at April 16, 2014 08:42 PM

Peter Suber
Thank you Matilda Amissah-Arthur. The Second Lady of Nigeria, Matilda Amissah-Arthur, highlighted #...
Thank you Matilda Amissah-Arthur.

The Second Lady of Nigeria, Matilda Amissah-Arthur, highlighted #OA yesterday at an international workshop for librarians. "Mrs Amissah-Arthur said...the services [of a library] had evolved from the days of closed stacks, through shelf browsing, card catalogues and OPACs to open access and institutional repositories...."

http://graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/21353-second-lady-urges-librarians-to-sharpen-skills.html

#oa #openaccess 

April 16, 2014 08:41 PM

Reshared post from Office for Scholarly Communication, Harvard Library:
And thank you readers and downloaders of Harvard authors!#oa #openaccess 

Original Post from Office for Scholarly Communication, Harvard Library:

The OSC celebrates the milestone of having surpassed 3 million downloads from DASH! 

April 16, 2014 07:48 PM

Bruce Schneier
Heartbleed

Heartbleed is a catastrophic bug in OpenSSL:

"The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

Basically, an attacker can grab 64K of memory from a server. The attack leaves no trace, and can be done multiple times to grab a different random 64K of memory. This means that anything in memory -- SSL private keys, user keys, anything -- is vulnerable. And you have to assume that it is all compromised. All of it.

"Catastrophic" is the right word. On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11.

Half a million sites are vulnerable, including my own. Test your vulnerability here.

The bug has been patched. After you patch your systems, you have to get a new public/private key pair, update your SSL certificate, and then change every password that could potentially be affected.

At this point, the probability is close to one that every target has had its private keys extracted by multiple intelligence agencies. The real question is whether or not someone deliberately inserted this bug into OpenSSL, and has had two years of unfettered access to everything. My guess is accident, but I have no proof.

This article is worth reading. Hacker News thread is filled with commentary. XKCD cartoon.

EDITED TO ADD (4/9): Has anyone looked at all the low-margin non-upgradable embedded systems that use OpenSSL? An upgrade path that involves the trash, a visit to Best Buy, and a credit card isn't going to be fun for anyone.

EDITED TO ADD (4/10): I'm hearing that the CAs are completely clogged, trying to reissue so many new certificates. And I'm not sure we have anything close to the infrastructure necessary to revoke half a million certificates.

Possible evidence that Heartbleed was exploited last year.

EDITED TO ADD (4/10): I wonder if there is going to be some backlash from the mainstream press and the public. If nothing really bad happens -- if this turns out to be something like the Y2K bug -- then we are going to face criticisms of crying wolf.

EDITED TO ADD (4/11): Brian Krebs and Ed Felten on how to protect yourself from Heartbleed.

by Bruce Schneier at April 16, 2014 05:56 PM

More on Heartbleed

This is an update to my earlier post.

Cloudflare is reporting that it's very difficult, if not practically impossible, to steal SSL private keys with this attack.

Here's the good news: after extensive testing on our software stack, we have been unable to successfully use Heartbleed on a vulnerable server to retrieve any private key data. Note that is not the same as saying it is impossible to use Heartbleed to get private keys. We do not yet feel comfortable saying that. However, if it is possible, it is at a minimum very hard. And, we have reason to believe based on the data structures used by OpenSSL and the modified version of NGINX that we use, that it may in fact be impossible.

The reasoning is complicated, and I suggest people read the post. What I have heard from people who actually ran the attack against a various servers is that what you get is a huge variety of cruft, ranging from indecipherable binary to useless log messages to peoples' passwords. The variability is huge.

This xkcd comic is a very good explanation of how the vulnerability works. And this post by Dan Kaminsky is worth reading.

I have a lot to say about the human aspects of this: auditing of open-source code, how the responsible disclosure process worked in this case, the ease with which anyone could weaponize this with just a few lines of script, how we explain vulnerabilities to the public -- and the role that impressive logo played in the process -- and our certificate issuance and revocation process. This may be a massive computer vulnerability, but all of the interesting aspects of it are human.

EDITED TO ADD (4/12): We have one example of someone successfully retrieving an SSL private key using Heartbleed. So it's possible, but it seems to be much harder than we originally thought.

And we have a story where two anonymous sources have claimed that the NSA has been exploiting Heartbleed for two years.

EDITED TO ADD (4/12): Hijacking user sessions with Heartbleed. And a nice essay on the marketing and communications around the vulnerability

EDITED TO ADD (4/13): The US intelligence community has denied prior knowledge of Heatbleed. The statement is word-game free:

NSA was not aware of the recently identified vulnerability in OpenSSL, the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability, until it was made public in a private sector cybersecurity report. Reports that say otherwise are wrong.

The statement also says:

Unless there is a clear national security or law enforcement need, this process is biased toward responsibly disclosing such vulnerabilities.

Since when is "law enforcement need" included in that decision process? This national security exception to law and process is extending much too far into normal police work.

Another point. According to the original Bloomberg article:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-11/nsa-said-to-have-used-heartbleed-bug-exposing-consumers.html

Certainly a plausible statement. But if those millions didn't discover something obvious like Heartbleed, shouldn't we investigate them for incompetence?

Finally -- not related to the NSA -- this is good information on which sites are still vulnerable, including historical data.

by Bruce Schneier at April 16, 2014 05:10 PM

Berkman Center front page
Upcoming Events: Copyright Reforms in Brazil and the US (4/21); Fair Use(r): Art and Copyright online? (4/22); Living with Data
Berkman Events Newsletter Template
co-hosted event

Copyright Reforms in Brazil and the United States

Monday, April 21, 12:00pm ET, Harvard Law School, Hauser 102. Co-sponsored by the HLS Brazilian Studies Association, the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

berkman

Join Professor William Fisher and Pedro Paranagua, senior legal advisor for the Brazilian government on Intellectual Property, for a comparative perspective on major features of current bills advancing copyright reforms in Brazil and the U.S.



more information on our website>

berkman luncheon series

Fair Use(r): Art and Copyright online?

Tuesday, April 22, 12:30pm ET, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St, 2nd Floor. This event will be webcast live.

berkman

With the democratization of content creation came the democratization of the overzealous copyright claim. Do private agreements between copyright holders and hosting platforms such as YouTube’s Content ID system compromise artist's fair use rights? This open discussion invites artists, users and lawyers to share their copyright experiences with hosting platforms and debate the future of distributing digital arts works online.

Pop Culture Pirate is the digital home of Elisa Kreisinger, a Brooklyn-based video artist remixing pop culture. Her latest work includes mashing up Mad Men into feminists and The Real Housewives into lesbians. Elisa’s 2012 US Copyright Office testimony helped win crucial exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, decriminalizing DVD ripping for artistic statements. RSVP Required. more information on our website>

berkman luncheon series

Living with Data: Stories that Make Data More Personal

Tuesday, April 29, 12:30pm ET, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St, 2nd Floor. This event will be webcast live.

berkman

We are becoming data. Between our mobile phones, browser history, wearable sensors, and connected devices in our homes, there's more data about us than ever before. So how are we learning to live with all this data? Inspired by her ethnographic interview work with members of the quantified self community, Sara hopes to make these larger systemic shifts more relateable and concrete with personal narratives. This talk will share some examples of how we find clues, investigate, and reverse engineer what's going on with our data, and call for more stories to help personalize our evolving relationship to data and the algorithms that govern it.

Sara M. Watson is a Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Her work addresses how individuals are learning to live with their personal data, in particular as more technologies like wearable sensors and the Internet of Things tie our bodies and our physical environment to data. RSVP Required. more information on our website>

video/audio

Intelligence Gathering and the Unowned Internet

berkman

The long-term viability of an unowned, open Internet remains in question. Any analysis of where the Internet is headed as a protocol and a platform must take into account the activities of both public and private entities that see the Internet as a source of intelligence -- and a field of contention. Yochai Benkler, Bruce Schneier, and Jonathan Zittrain of the Berkman Center are joined by John DeLong and Anne Neuberger of the National Security Agency in a conversation moderated by Berkman Faculty Director Terry Fisher on the future of an open internet in the face of challenges to privacy in an unsecure world. This talk was co-sponsored by: the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the Harvard Law School American Civil Liberties Union, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, National Security Journal, and National Security and Law Association. video/audio on our website>

Other Events of Note

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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 April 16, 2014 03:13 PM

Justin Reich
Nudging, Priming, and Motivating in Blended Learning
The first in a three post series on challenges and opportunities with blended learning: a emerging series of online interventions to boost motivation and engagement based on ideas from social psychology and behavioral economics.

by Justin Reich at April 16, 2014 02:57 PM

Berkman Center front page
Harvard’s Berkman Center to launch global research and action network focused on youth-oriented hate speech online

Cambridge, MA – Leveraging its national and global networks, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is pleased to announce an effort to form a first-of-its-kind thematic network of experts, educators, practitioners, and ambassadors that will facilitate, promote, and strengthen collaboration to counter youth-oriented hate speech online.

The initiative builds upon the “Viral Peace” project, which was inspired by the outcomes of a meeting at the Berkman Center in 2008, piloted at the U.S. Department of State in 2011, and now hosted at Berkman. The project seeks to fight hate speech online by enhancing the capabilities of youth, community leaders, social media influencers, and civic activists around the world to stand up to hate and violence online. To form the thematic network, the Berkman Center — with participation from Harvard’s Institute of Politics Spring 2014 Resident Fellows Class — will work with partners such as former Special Representative to Muslim Communities at the U.S. Department of State and current IOP Fellow Farah Pandith, former Commissioner of the Boston Police Department and current IOP Fellow Ed Davis, tech entrepreneur Shahed Amanullah, the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), and other “Viral Peace” collaborators, among others.

“Hate speech, in the broad sense of the term, affects youth the world over,” said Berkman Center Executive Director and Harvard Law School Professor of Practice Urs Gasser. “It’s a multi-faceted problem with many dimensions, and is closely tied to offline discrimination and violence targeting many demographic groups. We’re privileged to have the opportunity to build on years of work in promoting youth empowerment, analyzing critical speech issues online, and bringing many kinds of voices, perspectives, and areas of expertise together around the same table to collaborate.”

With the Berkman Center serving as the coordinator and research partner, the thematic network will aim to (1) deepen our understanding of youth-oriented hate speech online, (2) develop a set of curricula and learning modules that empower youth to appropriately respond to hate speech online (prevention and intervention mechanisms), (3) field-test these teaching and learning materials on the ground, and (4) to create a network of collaborators worldwide that will include universities, institutions, and communities in every state in the U.S. and in countries on each continent.

The international, collaborative, and open thematic network will benefit from ISD’s groundbreaking work on countering extremist propaganda online, including its Against Violent Extremism (AVE) network of former-extremists and survivors of extremism-turned-advocates, run in partnership with Google Ideas and the GenNext Foundation.

 “From the bomb attacks in Boston one year ago to Anders Breivik’s massacre in Norway, we are all too regularly reminded of the ways in which extremists and terrorists are now using the Internet and social media — to radicalize, recruit, fundraise and even to organize attacks,” said Sasha Havlicek, ISD’s co-founding Director. “Too little has been done to date to effectively challenge the hate propaganda that not only undermines cohesion but puts lives at risk. Only an innovative partnership between academe, practitioners, the tech sector and those most able to legitimately push back and undermine extremist narratives, can take on this growing challenge. We are delighted, therefore, to be partnering in this important endeavor.”

The Berkman-led initiative was acknowledged by Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism at The White House, who gave a major speech at the JFK Jr. Forum yesterday.

Organizations or individuals interested in collaboration are invited to submit a statement of interest to youthandmedia@cyber.law.harvard.edu. Additional information can be found at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/research/viralpeace.

About the Berkman Center


The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. Founded in 1997, through a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman, the Center is home to an ever-growing community of faculty, fellows, staff, and affiliates working on projects that span the broad range of intersections between cyberspace, technology, and society. More information can be found at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu.

About the Institute for Strategic Dialogue

ISD is a London-based think and action tank with global reach. Combining research and policy entrepreneurship with transformative cross-border networks of policy makers, business leaders, community activists and practitioners, ISD works to deliver real-life solutions to counter extremism and prevent communal and international conflict. ISD’s Counter-Extremism Programme has become a recognised knowledge hub for understanding and providing effective responses to violent and non-violent extremism. It works to implement tangible solutions in partnership with practitioners and the private sector; improves understanding of what works by providing platforms for sharing good practice and lessons learned; and is spearheading efforts to push back on extremist propaganda and organisation online. More information can be found at http://www.strategicdialogue.org. See http://www.strategicdialogue.org/programmes/counter-extremism/against-vi... for information about the Against Violent Extremism Network.

About Harvard University’s Institute of Politics

Harvard University’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, was established in 1966 as a memorial to President Kennedy. Over the course of an academic semester, IOP Resident Fellows interact with students, participate in the intellectual life of the Harvard community and lead weekly study groups on a wide variety of issue areas. The Fellows program is central to the Institute’s dual commitment to encourage student interest in public life and to increase interaction between the academic and political communities.

by ashar at April 16, 2014 01:45 PM

Bruce Schneier
Police Disabling Their Own Voice Recorders

This is not a surprise:

The Los Angeles Police Commission is investigating how half of the recording antennas in the Southeast Division went missing, seemingly as a way to evade new self-monitoring procedures that the Los Angeles Police Department imposed last year.

The antennas, which are mounted onto individual patrol cars, receive recorded audio captured from an officer’s belt-worn transmitter. The transmitter is designed to capture an officer’s voice and transmit the recording to the car itself for storage. The voice recorders are part of a video camera system that is mounted in a front-facing camera on the patrol car. Both elements are activated any time the car’s emergency lights and sirens are turned on, but they can also be activated manually.

According to the Los Angeles Times, an LAPD investigation determined that around half of the 80 patrol cars in one South LA division were missing antennas as of last summer, and an additional 10 antennas were unaccounted for.

Surveillance of power is one of the most important ways to ensure that power does not abuse its status. But, of course, power does not like to be watched.

by Bruce Schneier at April 16, 2014 12:19 PM

April 15, 2014

Bruce Schneier
GoGo Wireless Adds Surveillance Capabilities for Government

The important piece of this story is not that GoGo complies with the law, but that it goes above and beyond what is required by law. It has voluntarily decided to violate your privacy and turn your data over to the government.

by Bruce Schneier at April 15, 2014 10:55 PM

MediaBerkman
Primavera Di Filippi on Ethereum: Freenet or Skynet? [AUDIO]
Ethereum is a contract validating and enforcing system based on a distributed public ledger such as the one implemented by the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. The system allows for the management of complex distributed autonomous organizations, which raises questions about legality. Could this new platform promote the establishment of an entirely decentralized society, or will its disruptive [...]

by Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School (djones@cyber.law.harvard.edu) at April 15, 2014 08:26 PM

Berkman Center front page
Ethereum: Freenet or Skynet ?

April 15, 2014 at 12:30pm ET
Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St, 2nd Floor

Ethereum is a contract validating and enforcing system based on a distributed public ledger (or blockchain) such as the one implemented by the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Yet, Ethereum also features an internal Turing-complete scripting language that can be used to encode advanced transaction types directly into the blockchain. This allows for the deployment of self-enforcing smart contracts (such as joint savings accounts, financial exchange markets, or even trust funds) as well as distributed autonomous organizations (DAOs) that subsist independently of any moral or legal entity. These algorithmical entities are both autonomous and self-sufficient: they charge users from the services they provide so as to pay others for the resources they need (e.g. bandwidth, cpu). Thus, once they have been created and deployed onto the blockchain, they no longer need (nor heed) their creators.

But if DAOs are independently operated — neither owned nor controlled by any given entity — who is actually in charge, responsible for, or accountable for their operations? And if their resources cannot be seized (because DAOs have full sovereignty over them), how can they be required to pay damages for their torts? This talk will analyse the interplay between distributed autonomous organizations and the law, with a view to explore the dangers and opportunities of Ethereum: could this new platform promote the establishment of an entirely decentralized society, or will its disruptive potential eventually be absorbed by the established system? 

About Primavera

Primavera De Filippi is a postdoctoral researcher at the CERSA / CNRS / Université Paris II (Panthéon-Assas). She is currently a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, where she is analyzing the challenges raised by distributed architectures and multimedia applications in the context of cloud computing and peer-to-peer networks.

Links

by ashar at April 15, 2014 01:30 PM

Trcia Wang - Cultural Bytes
Videojuegos para bailar salsa y más sin parar

Cuando hablamos de videojuegos y bailes, indudablemente tenemos que hacer referencia al Dance Dancer Revolution (DDR). Producida por la empresa Konami en 1998, el DDR era, es, un juego de simulación que iba con una alfombra/plataforma con flechas y en donde tenías que ir moviendo los pies al ritmo que marcaba la pantalla. Un juego con el que muchos aprendimos a hacer nuestros primeros pasos de baile.

En la pantalla salían los movimientos que tenías que hacer y la puntuación se generaba según lo bien que seguías el ritmo o acertabas la flecha (el sensor de movimiento sabe cuando estás pisando la casilla correcta).

Al principio sólo se podían encontrar en salas recreativas, pero su uso se extendió hasta llegar a la versión casera (con una alfombra conectada a la consola).

Aquí vemos un ejemplo con el protagonista de Nintendo: Mario. Las flechas que salen en la parte izquierda son los movimientos que deben seguir los pies. La parte derecha está libre por si hubiera otro jugador (de hecho, está optimizado para que jueguen dos personas a la vez, a modo competición o no).


Pero Dance Dance Revolution no es el único juego para bailar. Dos ejemplos más serían el Just Dance y Dance Star.

Just Dance es un completo juego creado por Ubisoft y que durante muchas semanas se convirtió en líder de ventas. El modo de jugar es similar a DDR, pero en vez de medir solo lo que hacen tus pies, se usa todo el cuerpo (siguiendo lo que un bailarín o bailarina hacen en la pantalla). Actualmente Just Dance cuenta con 19 juegos:

  • Just Dance: el primero salió en el año 2009 y el último, Just Dance 2014, en octubre de 2013. Disponible para casi todas las consolas del mercado (Wii, XBOX, Playstation…)
  • Just Dance Kids: hay tres, el primero fue en 2010 y el último lanzado antes de que acabara el año (Just Dance Kids 2014)
  • Recopilaciones (éxitos de verano y grandes éxitos en general)
  • Especiales (Serie Experience): Michael Jackson, Black Eyed Peas y hip hop).

Luego también salieron “Spin-offs”: clásicos de Broadway, Los Pitufos, ABBA y Disney Party.

DanceStar Party es otro ejemplo y que funciona de manera muy similar. Permite imitar los movimientos de los bailarines de la pantalla, compartir los vídeos en las redes sociales, crear tus propios bailes para jugar con tus amigos, entrenar y calcular las calorías quemadas, etc. Existen dos versiones: el DanceStar Party Hits y el DanceStar Party.

La mayoría de estos juegos son ideales para jugar cuando estás con amigos, ya que aunque se puede jugar solo, siempre es mejor cuando puedes comparar tus resultados con otros. En la misma línea están por ejemplo los juegos de cantar, siendo el más popular de todos el Singstar de PlayStation. Funciona mediante unos micrófonos que se conectan a la consola y te permite cantar grandes éxitos como si estuvieras en un karaoke. Las ventas fueron tan grandes que entre 2004 y 2011 salieron más de 20 juegos diferentes, incluyendo por ejemplo un especial Abba, Mecano o Queen.

by Noticias tecnologicas y de Pymes at April 15, 2014 07:20 AM

Bruce Schneier
Mass Surveillance by Eavesdropping on Web Cookies

Interesting research:

Abstract: We investigate the ability of a passive network observer to leverage third-party HTTP tracking cookies for mass surveillance. If two web pages embed the same tracker which emits a unique pseudonymous identifier, then the adversary can link visits to those pages from the same user (browser instance) even if the user’s IP address varies. Using simulated browsing profiles, we cluster network traffic by transitively linking shared unique cookies and estimate that for typical users over 90% of web sites with embedded trackers are located in a single connected component. Furthermore, almost half of the most popular web pages will leak a logged-in user’s real-world identity to an eavesdropper in unencrypted traffic. Together, these provide a novel method to link an identified individual to a large fraction of her entire web history. We discuss the privacy consequences of this attack and suggest mitigation strategies.

Blog post.

by Bruce Schneier at April 15, 2014 07:05 AM

Ephemeral Apps

Ephemeral messaging apps such as Snapchat, Wickr and Frankly, all of which advertise that your photo, message or update will only be accessible for a short period, are on the rise. Snapchat and Frankly, for example, claim they permanently delete messages, photos and videos after 10 seconds. After that, there's no record.

This notion is especially popular with young people, and these apps are an antidote to sites such as Facebook where everything you post lasts forever unless you take it down—and taking it down is no guarantee that it isn't still available.

These ephemeral apps are the first concerted push against the permanence of Internet conversation. We started losing ephemeral conversation when computers began to mediate our communications. Computers naturally produce conversation records, and that data was often saved and archived.

The powerful and famous -- from Oliver North back in 1987 to Anthony Weiner in 2011 -- have been brought down by e-mails, texts, tweets and posts they thought private. Lots of us have been embroiled in more personal embarrassments resulting from things we've said either being saved for too long or shared too widely.

People have reacted to this permanent nature of Internet communications in ad hoc ways. We've deleted our stuff where possible and asked others not to forward our writings without permission. "Wall scrubbing" is the term used to describe the deletion of Facebook posts.

Sociologist danah boyd has written about teens who systematically delete every post they make on Facebook soon after they make it. Apps such as Wickr just automate the process. And it turns out there's a huge market in that.

Ephemeral conversation is easy to promise but hard to get right. In 2013, researchers discovered that Snapchat doesn't delete images as advertised; it merely changes their names so they're not easy to see. Whether this is a problem for users depends on how technically savvy their adversaries are, but it illustrates the difficulty of making instant deletion actually work.

The problem is that these new "ephemeral" conversations aren't really ephemeral the way a face-to-face unrecorded conversation would be. They're not ephemeral like a conversation during a walk in a deserted woods used to be before the invention of cell phones and GPS receivers.

At best, the data is recorded, used, saved and then deliberately deleted. At worst, the ephemeral nature is faked. While the apps make the posts, texts or messages unavailable to users quickly, they probably don't erase them off their systems immediately. They certainly don't erase them from their backup tapes, if they end up there.

The companies offering these apps might very well analyze their content and make that information available to advertisers. We don't know how much metadata is saved. In SnapChat, users can see the metadata even though they can't see the content and what it's used for. And if the government demanded copies of those conversations -- either through a secret NSA demand or a more normal legal process involving an employer or school -- the companies would have no choice but to hand them over.

Even worse, if the FBI or NSA demanded that American companies secretly store those conversations and not tell their users, breaking their promise of deletion, the companies would have no choice but to comply.

That last bit isn't just paranoia.

We know the U.S. government has done this to companies large and small. Lavabit was a small secure e-mail service, with an encryption system designed so that even the company had no access to users' e-mail. Last year, the NSA presented it with a secret court order demanding that it turn over its master key, thereby compromising the security of every user. Lavabit shut down its service rather than comply, but that option isn't feasible for larger companies. In 2011, Microsoft made some still-unknown changes to Skype to make NSA eavesdropping easier, but the security promises they advertised didn't change.

This is one of the reasons President Barack Obama's announcement that he will end one particular NSA collection program under one particular legal authority barely begins to solve the problem: the surveillance state is so robust that anything other than a major overhaul won't make a difference.

Of course, the typical Snapchat user doesn't care whether the U.S. government is monitoring his conversations. He's more concerned about his high school friends and his parents. But if these platforms are insecure, it's not just the NSA that one should worry about.

Dissidents in the Ukraine and elsewhere need security, and if they rely on ephemeral apps, they need to know that their own governments aren't saving copies of their chats. And even U.S. high school students need to know that their photos won't be surreptitiously saved and used against them years later.

The need for ephemeral conversation isn't some weird privacy fetish or the exclusive purview of criminals with something to hide. It represents a basic need for human privacy, and something every one of us had as a matter of course before the invention of microphones and recording devices.

We need ephemeral apps, but we need credible assurances from the companies that they are actually secure and credible assurances from the government that they won't be subverted.

This essay previously appeared on CNN.com.

EDITED TO ADD (4/14): There are apps to permanently save Snapchat photos.

At Financial Cryptography 2014, Franziska Roesner presented a paper that questions whether users expect ephemeral messaging from Snapchat.

by Bruce Schneier at April 15, 2014 02:21 AM

April 14, 2014

Peter Suber
Reshared post from OATP:

Original Post from OATP:

Two milestones for the Open Access Tracking Project.

Over the weekend, the Open Access Tracking Project (+OATP) passed the milestones of 30,000 tagged resources in the project database and 20,000 tagged resources in the primary project feed.

The difference between the two is that the primary project feed is limited to items that were new at the time they were tagged, as part of the OATP alert service for those following the progress of OA. The project database overall includes OA-related resources tagged retroactively, as part of the OATP effort to classify OA developments with OATP tags and make them available through the OATP search engine.

If you're reading this in Google+, then circle +OATP to follow an abridged version of the OATP primary feed right here in G+.

For the reasons why the G+ version is abridged, and five ways to follow an unabridged version (RSS, Atom, JSON, Email, and HTML), see our post <goo.gl/vtTDrW> from February 2014.

#oa #openaccess #oatp #tagteam

April 14, 2014 09:53 PM

Ashkan Soltani
The Washington Post’s Surveillance Coverage Won a Pulitzer!
The Washington Post was just awarded a Pulitzer for, “its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.” I am very proud to work with Barton Gellman and to be identified […]

by ashkansoltani at April 14, 2014 08:47 PM

SJ Klein
Snow Use’s Kitchen: dishes fit to make hearts melt and mouths water…

In Snow Use’s kitchen there stood a large stove,
And what she cooked on it she cooked with much love.

She used chunks of chocolate, melted in steam,
And sugar and egg-whites and oodles of cream.
(And, for effect, an occasional scream!)

She stirred it and mashed itinto a thick paste,
And added some cognac to give it more taste.
(As to the calories: they went to waist)

She poured the concoction into a strange mold;
Then into the freezer until it got cold.
(With a note saying: Please do not spindle or fold)

And when it was frozen so-o-o pleased was Snow Use,
For she had made Thidwick, the chocolate mousse

by metasj at April 14, 2014 08:13 PM

Bruce Schneier
"Unbreakable" Encryption Almost Certainly Isn't

This headline is provocative: "Human biology inspires 'unbreakable' encryption."

The article is similarly nonsensical:

Researchers at Lancaster University, UK have taken a hint from the way the human lungs and heart constantly communicate with each other, to devise an innovative, highly flexible encryption algorithm that they claim can't be broken using the traditional methods of cyberattack.

Information can be encrypted with an array of different algorithms, but the question of which method is the most secure is far from trivial. Such algorithms need a "key" to encrypt and decrypt information; the algorithms typically generate their keys using a well-known set of rules that can only admit a very large, but nonetheless finite number of possible keys. This means that in principle, given enough time and computing power, prying eyes can always break the code eventually.

The researchers, led by Dr. Tomislav Stankovski, created an encryption mechanism that can generate a truly unlimited number of keys, which they say vastly increases the security of the communication. To do so, they took inspiration from the anatomy of the human body.

Regularly, someone from outside cryptography -- who has no idea how crypto works -- pops up and says "hey, I can solve their problems." Invariably, they make some trivial encryption scheme because they don't know better.

Remember: anyone can create a cryptosystem that he himself cannot break. And this advice from 15 years ago is still relevant.

Another article, and the paper.

by Bruce Schneier at April 14, 2014 03:10 PM

danah boyd
Whether it’s bikes or bytes, teens are teens

(This piece was written for the LA Times, where it was published as an op-ed on April 11, 2014.)

If you’re like most middle-class parents, you’ve probably gotten annoyed with your daughter for constantly checking her Instagram feed or with your son for his two-thumbed texting at the dinner table. But before you rage against technology and start unfavorably comparing your children’s lives to your less-wired childhood, ask yourself this: Do you let your 10-year-old roam the neighborhood on her bicycle as long as she’s back by dinner? Are you comfortable, for hours at a time, not knowing your teenager’s exact whereabouts?

What American children are allowed to do — and what they are not — has shifted significantly over the last 30 years, and the changes go far beyond new technologies.
If you grew up middle-class in America prior to the 1980s, you were probably allowed to walk out your front door alone and — provided it was still light out and you had done your homework — hop on your bike and have adventures your parents knew nothing about. Most kids had some kind of curfew, but a lot of them also snuck out on occasion. And even those who weren’t given an allowance had ways to earn spending money — by delivering newspapers, say, or baby-sitting neighborhood children.

All that began to change in the 1980s. In response to anxiety about “latchkey” kids, middle- and upper-class parents started placing their kids in after-school programs and other activities that filled up their lives from morning to night. Working during high school became far less common. Not only did newspaper routes become a thing of the past but parents quit entrusting their children to teenage baby-sitters, and fast-food restaurants shifted to hiring older workers.

Parents are now the primary mode of transportation for teenagers, who are far less likely to walk to school or take the bus than any previous generation. And because most parents work, teens’ mobility and ability to get together casually with friends has been severely limited. Even sneaking out is futile, because there’s nowhere to go. Curfew, trespassing and loitering laws have restricted teens’ presence in public spaces. And even if one teen has been allowed out independently and has the means to do something fun, it’s unlikely her friends will be able to join her.

Given the array of restrictions teens face, it’s not surprising that they have embraced technology with such enthusiasm. The need to hang out, socialize, gossip and flirt hasn’t diminished, even if kids’ ability to get together has.

After studying teenagers for a decade, I’ve come to respect how their creativity, ingenuity and resilience have not been dampened even as they have been misunderstood, underappreciated and reviled. I’ve watched teenage couples co-create images to produce a portrait of intimacy when they lack the time and place to actually kiss. At a more political level, I’ve witnessed undocumented youth use social media to rally their peers and personal networks to speak out in favor of the Dream Act, even going so far as to orchestrate school walkouts and local marches.

This does not mean that teens always use the tools around them for productive purposes. Plenty of youth lash out at others, emulating a pervasive culture of meanness and cruelty. Others engage in risky behaviors, seeking attention in deeply problematic ways. Yet, even as those who are hurting others often make visible their own personal struggles, I’ve met alienated LGBT youth for whom the Internet has been a lifeline, letting them see that they aren’t alone as they struggle to figure out whom to trust.
And I’m on the board of Crisis Text Line, a service that connects thousands of struggling youth with counselors who can help them. Technology can be a lifesaver, but only if we recognize that the Internet makes visible the complex realities of people’s lives.
As a society, we both fear teenagers and fear for them. They bear the burden of our cultural obsession with safety, and they’re constantly used as justification for increased restrictions. Yet, at the end of the day, their emotional lives aren’t all that different from those of their parents as teenagers. All they’re trying to do is find a comfortable space of their own as they work out how they fit into the world and grapple with the enormous pressures they face.

Viewed through that prism, it becomes clear how the widespread embrace of technology and the adoption of social media by kids have more to do with non-technical changes in youth culture than with anything particularly compelling about those tools. Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook may be fun, but they’re also offering today’s teens a relief valve for coping with the increased stress and restrictions they encounter, as well as a way of being with their friends even when their more restrictive lives keep them apart.

The irony of our increasing cultural desire to protect kids is that our efforts may be harming them. In an effort to limit the dangers they encounter, we’re not allowing them to develop skills to navigate risk. In our attempts to protect them from harmful people, we’re not allowing them to learn to understand, let alone negotiate, public life. It is not possible to produce an informed citizenry if we do not first let people engage in public.
Treating technology as something to block, limit or demonize will not help youth come of age more successfully. If that’s the goal, we need to collectively work to undo the culture of fear and support our youth in exploring public life, online and off.

(More comments can be found over at the LA Times.)

by zephoria at April 14, 2014 03:07 PM

Berkman Center front page
Service and Research at the Frontier of Media Law

From Jeff Hermes at the Digital Media Law Project:

Earlier today the Digital Media Law Project released a new report, The Legal Needs of Emerging Online Media: The Online Media Legal Network after 500 Referrals. This report explores the large  body of data that we have gathered over four years of operating the DMLP's free nationwide attorney referral service for journalists, the Online Media Legal Network. Using this data, we have been able to identify notable patterns and trends in the legal needs of a substantial cross-section of the digital journalism ecosystem.  You can read the executive summary of the report here.

I am particularly excited by this report because it represents the intersection of the two core functions of the Digital Media Law Project: (1) providing legal resources to digital journalists to help them to thrive in the face of legal challenges; and (2) studying the nature of the online journalism ecosystem and the legal issues that enhance or inhibit its function. The staff of the DMLP (both past and present) and the member attorneys of the Online Media Legal Network (who routinely volunteer their time on a pro bono or reduced-fee basis) have made a substantial difference in the future of news, by ensuring that hundreds of new and innovative journalism projects did not fail because of legal pitfalls unrelated to their merit. With this new report, we have been able to leverage their tremendous efforts even further by using their service as a basis for a survey that we hope will benefit a much broader range of journalists, attorneys, and researchers concerned with the networked exchange of information online.

The DMLP is privileged to operate at the frontier of media law and journalism, and we believe that we have a duty not only to serve the needs of our particular clients but also to report back on what we have seen to inform the efforts of others. Of course, there are limits on how we can use the data we have gathered. We protect the confidentiality of network clients; this new report is presented as a statistical analysis and does not identify any particular recipients of legal assistance (except for certain of our clients kind enough to volunteer public comments on the services that they have received from network attorneys). Nevertheless, we believe that this analysis of legal issues encountered at the frontier can provide important intelligence about the evolution of news.

We hope that you find the report interesting and helpful, and welcome inquiries about our work.  You can reach us by e-mail at staff (at) dmlp.com, or through our contact form.

by ashar at April 14, 2014 03:00 PM

Citizen Media Law Project
Service and Research at the Frontier of Media Law

Earlier today the Digital Media Law Project released a new report, The Legal Needs of Emerging Online Media: The Online Media Legal Network after 500 Referrals. This report explores the large  body of data that we have gathered over four years of operating the DMLP's free nationwide attorney referral service for journalists, the Online Media Legal Network. Using this data, we have been able to identify notable patterns and trends in the legal needs of a substantial cross-section of the digital journalism ecosystem.  You can read the executive summary of the report here.

I am particularly excited by this report because it represents the intersection of the two core functions of the Digital Media Law Project: (1) providing legal resources to digital journalists to help them to thrive in the face of legal challenges; and (2) studying the nature of the online journalism ecosystem and the legal issues that enhance or inhibit its function. The staff of the DMLP (both past and present) and the member attorneys of the Online Media Legal Network (who routinely volunteer their time on a pro bono or reduced-fee basis) have made a substantial difference in the future of news, by ensuring that hundreds of new and innovative journalism projects did not fail because of legal pitfalls unrelated to their merit. With this new report, we have been able to leverage their tremendous efforts even further by using their service as a basis for a survey that we hope will benefit a much broader range of journalists, attorneys, and researchers concerned with the networked exchange of information online.

The DMLP is privileged to operate at the frontier of media law and journalism, and we believe that we have a duty not only to serve the needs of our particular clients but also to report back on what we have seen to inform the efforts of others. Of course, there are limits on how we can use the data we have gathered. We protect the confidentiality of network clients; this new report is presented as a statistical analysis and does not identify any particular recipients of legal assistance (except for certain of our clients kind enough to volunteer public comments on the services that they have received from network attorneys). Nevertheless, we believe that this analysis of legal issues encountered at the frontier can provide important intelligence about the evolution of news.

We hope that you find the report interesting and helpful, and welcome inquiries about our work.  You can reach us by e-mail at staff (at) dmlp.com, or through our contact form.

Jeff Hermes is the Director of the Digital Media Law Project.

by Jeff Hermes at April 14, 2014 02:46 PM

The Legal Needs of Emerging Online Media: The Online Media Legal Network after 500 Referrals

The Digital Media Law Project is pleased to announce the release of its report, The Legal Needs of Emerging Online Media: The Online Media Legal Network after 500 Referrals.

Executive Summary

Since December 2009, the DMLP has operated the Online Media Legal Network, a free attorney referral service for independent, online journalists and journalism organizations. The OMLN has served as a fundamental part of the legal support structure for online journalism, assisting more than 260 clients with over 500 separate legal matters.

As a result of that experience, the DMLP has been in a unique position to observe the nature of these new journalism ventures and their legal needs. This report collects these observations, including the following:

  • Those who have sought help from the OMLN overwhelmingly create their own original content, rather than aggregate the content of others. Many also provide support services to other journalists, platforms for users to talk to one another, or tools to access primary source information.

  • While some clients report on niche issues, many more are focused on reporting news of general interest, either to the public at large or local audiences. Non-profit clients show a greater focus on reporting on social issues such as health and education than for-profit or individual clients.

  • OMLN clients show significant evidence of forward planning. They are more often proactive than reactive to legal issues, frequently seeking assistance with intellectual property, content liability, and corporate questions before crises occur.

  • Individual clients not employed by an organization, and those clients who reported on businesses or to consumer audiences, sought help defending against legal threats more often than other clients. This indicates a particular need for greater litigation assistance among these categories.

  • The advice sought by OMLN clients with regard to intellectual property matters shows a near-perfect balance between protecting their own content and using the content of others.
While the client survey revealed some areas of concern, it was also consistent with the growth of a vibrant online news ecosystem comprised of journalists who, more often than not, address broad informational needs and are thinking ahead about the viability of their ventures.

You can download the report in PDF format here.

by DMLP Staff at April 14, 2014 02:45 PM

Bruce Schneier
Seventh Movie-Plot Threat Contest

As you might expect, this year's contest has the NSA as the villain:

The NSA has won, but how did it do it? How did it use its ability to conduct ubiquitous surveillance, its massive data centers, and its advanced data analytics capabilities to come out on top? Did it take over the world overtly, or is it just pulling the strings behind everyone's backs? Did it have to force companies to build surveillance into its products, or could it just piggy-back on market trends? How does it deal with liberal democracies and ruthless totalitarian dictatorships at the same time? Is it blackmailing Congress? How does the money flow? What's the story?

That's it: an NSA movie-plot threat. (For those who don't know, a movie-plot threat is a scary-threat story that would make a great movie, but is much too specific to build security policies around.) Nothing too science fictional; today's technology or presumed technology only.

Entries are limited to 500 words, and should be posted in the comments. In a month, I'll choose some semifinalists, and we can all vote and pick the winner.

Prize will be something tangible, but primarily the accolades of your peers.

Good luck.

History: The First Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules and winner. The Second Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner. The Third Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner. The Fourth Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules and winner. The Fifth Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner. The Sixth Movie-Plot Threat Contest rules, semifinalists, and winner.

by Bruce Schneier at April 14, 2014 08:54 AM

Justin Reich
Blended Learning, But The Data Are Useless
The first in a three post series on challenges and opportunities with blended learning, starting with getting to actionable data.

by Justin Reich at April 14, 2014 03:05 AM

April 13, 2014

Diana Kimball
"Online discussion knocks down barriers, if not to employment, then to conversation. Some of those..."
“Online discussion knocks down barriers, if not to employment, then to conversation. Some of those relationships might lead to employment. And it’s good to put yourself in a place where you’ll meet people who are smart and funny and interesting, for both practical and non-practical reasons.”

- Emily Nussbaum, the New Yorker’s TV critic, in conversation with Anaheed Alani for Rookie Magazine.

April 13, 2014 03:31 PM

April 12, 2014

Willow Brugh
Happy Birthday Debcha!

I’m about to get on a plane to the West Coast. Three incredible guitar players practice so adeptly nearby that the desk folk have turned the overhead music off – think Triplets of Belleville soundtrack. This morning I kicked off SpaceApps Boston, and then I got to sit for awhile to listen to a great lineup of my friend Deb‘s friends give talks for her birthday. My talk was to draw everyone else’s talk, and then show them at the end. I’d usually post this over on bl00viz, but it’s more personal, and I do try to not cross the streams too much.

Deb was/is a core part of why I now feel so at home in the Boston area. She reminded me that part of having a history with people was building that history with them, inviting me out to dinner parties, talking on Twitter, checking in on text. And always amazing music, Zoe Sighting, Emergency Leroy. Thanks for being persistent proof that people can be amazing, intelligent, kind, calm, and stimulating. Happy Birthday.

by bl00 at April 12, 2014 11:26 PM

Cyberlaw Clinic - blog
Clinic Teams w/WGBH to Support Boston TV News Digital Library

The Cyberlaw Clinic has teamed up with WGBH to support the extraordinary Boston TV News Digital Library project.  The project, funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Council on Library and Information Resources, is a collaboration among the Boston Public Library, Cambridge Community Television, Northeast Historic Film and WGBH Educational Foundation that aims to bring to life local news stories produced in and about Boston from the early 1960’s to 2000.  The Clinic’s work with WGBH has focused on offering guidance to news media archivists on legal issues associated with archiving news content.

To that end, the Clinic and WGBH are pleased to announce the release of the “Digitizing News Archives” flowchart, which provides a high-level overview of some key legal questions that may arise when one digitizes news content and makes it available online.  The chart offers a suggested order of operations and a process for considering and managing legal risks while striving to maximize the availability of historic footage and other media content online.

by Christopher Bavitz at April 12, 2014 08:56 PM

Third Circuit Vacates Andrew Auernheimer’s CFAA Conviction

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that defendant Andrew Auernheimer’s conviction for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act rested on an incorrect determination by the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey that venue was proper in that district.  The Court of Appeals vacated Auernheimer’s conviction. The Cyberlaw Clinic submitted an amicus brief in support of Auernheimer, on behalf of the Digital Media Law Project.

That amicus brief argued that Auerhmeimer’s conviction was improper, because the charge against him was escalated based on his alleged disclosure of information to a news website. The lower court punished Auernheimer for engaging in protected speech, and — as set forth in the brief — “the First Amendment bars the escalation of penalties for the publication of true and newsworthy information under any circumstance that does not fall into any existing exception to First Amendment protection.”

The Third Circuit’s decision is important, insofar as it reinforces key constitutional limits on the government’s power to prosecute criminal defendants in jurisdictions far removed from where they reside or where their allegedly criminal acts took place.  As the Court noted:

Auernheimer   was   hauled   over a thousand  miles  from Fayetteville,  Arkansas  to New Jersey.  Certainly if he had directed his criminal activity toward New Jersey  to  the  extent that  either  he  or  his  co-conspirator committed  an  act  in furtherance  of  their  conspiracy there, or performed   one   of   the   essential   conduct   elements   of   the charged   offenses there,   he   would   have   no   grounds   to complain about  his uprooting.    But  that  was  not  what was alleged or what happened.

That having been said, by focusing on the venue determination, the Third Circuit avoided issues raised by Auernheimer, DMLP, and other amici regarding the propriety of charging him under the CFAA for accessing and sharing information that was publicly accessible over the web via an unprotected URL. The lower court’s decision raised troubling issues regarding, among other things, the meaning of the term “access without authorization” in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and the Third Circuit’s decision leaves those issues largely unresolved.

We previously blogged about the case (and our amicus brief) last July, and Andy Sellars of DMLP addressed the government’s response to the arguments we raised last September.

by Clinic Staff at April 12, 2014 08:00 PM

Tim Davies
Data, information, knowledge and power – exploring Open Knowledge’s new core purpose

[Summary: a contribution to debate about the development of open knowledge movements]

New 'Open Knowledge' data-earth logo.

New ‘Open Knowledge Foundation’ name and ‘data earth’ branding.

The Open Knowledge Foundation (re-named as as ‘Open Knowledge’) are soft-launching a new brand over the coming months.

Alongside the new logo, and details of how the new brand was developed, posted on the OK Wiki, appear a set of statements about the motivations, core purpose and tag-line of the organisation. In this post I want to offer an initial critical reading of this particular process and, more importantly, text.

Preliminary notes

Before going further, I want to offer a number of background points that frame the spirit in which the critique is offered.

  1. I have nothing but respect for the work of the leaders, staff team, volunteers and wider community of the Open Knowledge Foundation – and have been greatly inspired by the dedication I’ve seen to changing defaults and practices around how we handle data, information and knowledge. There are so many great projects, and so much political progress on openness, which OKFN as a whole can rightly take credit for.
  2. I recognise that there are massive challenges involved in founding, running and scaling up organisations. These challenges are magnified many times in community based and open organisations.
  3. Organisations with a commitment to openness, or democracy, whether the co-operative movement, open source communities like Mozilla, communities such as Creative Commons and indeed, the Open Knowledge Foundation – are generally held to much higher standards and face much more complex pressures from engaging their communities in what they do – than do closed and conventional organisations. And, as the other examples show, the path is not always an easy one. There are inevitably growing pains and challenges.
  4. It is generally better to raise concerns and critiques and talk about them, than leave things unsaid. A critique is about getting into the details. Details matter.
  5. See (1).

(Disclosure: I have previously worked as a voluntary coordinator for the open-development working group of OKF (with support from AidInfo), and have participated in many community activities. I have never carried out paid work for OKF, and have no current formal affiliation.)

The text

Here’s the three statements in the OK Branding notes that caught my attention and sparked some reflections:

About our brand and what motivates us:
A revolution in technology is happening and it’s changing everything we do. Never before has so much data been collected and analysed. Never before have so many people had the ability to freely, easily and quickly share information across the globe. Governments and corporations are using this data to create knowledge about our world, and make decisions about our future. But who should control this data and the ability to find insights and make decisions? The many, or the few? This is a choice that we get to make. The future is up for grabs. Do we want to live in a world where access to knowledge is “closed”, and the power and understanding it brings is controlled by the few? Or, do we choose a world where knowledge is “open” and we are all empowered to make informed choices about our future? We believe that knowledge should be open, and that everyone – from citizens to scientists, from enterprises to entrepreneurs, – should have access to the information they need to understand and shape the world around them.

Our core purpose:

  • A world where knowledge creates power for the many, not the few.
  • A world where data frees us – to make informed choices about how we live, what we buy and who gets our vote.
  • A world where information and insights are accessible – and apparent – to everyone.
  • This is the world we choose.

Our tagline:
See how data can change the world

The critique

My concerns are not about the new logo or name. I understand (all too well) the way that having ‘Foundation’ in a non-profits name can mean different things in different contexts (not least people expecting you to have an endowment and funds to distribute), and so the move to Open Knowledge as a name has a good rationale. Rather, I wanted to raise four concerns:

(1) Process and representativeness

Tag Cloud from Open Knowledge Foundation Survey. See http://blog.okfn.org/2014/02/12/who-are-you-community-survey-results-part-1/ for details.

Tag Cloud from Open Knowledge Foundation Survey. See blog post for details.

The message introducing the new brand to OKF-Discuss notes that “The network has been involved in the brand development process especially in the early stages as we explored what open knowledge meant to us all” referring primarily to the Community Survey run at the end of 2013 and written up here and here. However, the later parts of developing the brand appear to have been outsourced to a commercial brand consultancy consulting with a limited set of staff and stakeholders, and what is now presented appears to be being offered as given, rather than for consultation. The result has been a narrow focus on the ‘data’ aspects of OKF.

Looking back over the feedback from the 2013 survey, that data-centricity fails to represent the breadth of interests in the OKF community (particularly when looking beyond the quantitative survey questions which had an in-built bias towards data in the original survey design). Qualitative responses to the Survey talk of addressing specific global challenges, holding governments accountable, seeking diversity, and going beyond open data to develop broader critiques around intellectual property regimes. Yet none of this surfaces in the motivation statement, or visibly in the core purpose.

OKF has not yet grappled in full with idea of internal democracy and governance – yet as a network made up of many working groups, local chapters and more, for a ‘core purpose’ statement to emerge without wider consultation seem problematic. There is a big missed opportunity here for deeper discussion about ideas and ideals, and for the conceptualisation of a much richer vision of open knowledge. The result is, I think, a core purpose statement that fails to represent the diversity of the community OKF has been able to bring together, and that may threaten it’s ability to bring together those communities in shared space in future.

Process points aside however (see growing pains point above), there are three more substantive issues to be raised.

(2) Data and tech-centricity

A selection of OKF Working Groups

The Open Knowledge movement I’ve met at OKFestival and other events, and that is evident through the pages of the working groups is one committed to many forms of openness – education, hardware, sustainability, economics, political processes and development amongst others. It is a community that has been discussing diversity and building a global movement. Data may be an element of varying importance across the working groups and interest areas of OKF. And technology may be an enabler of action for each. But a lot are not fundamentally about data, or even technology, as their core focus. As we found when we explored how different members of the Open Development working group understood the concept of open development in 2012, many members focussed more upon open processes than on data and tech. Yet, for all this diversity of focus – the new OK tagline emphasises data alone.

I work on issues of open data everyday. I think it’s an important area. But it’s not the only element of open knowledge that should matter in the broad movement.

Whilst the Open Knowledge Foundation has rarely articulated the kinds of broad political critique of intellectual property regimes that might be found in prior Access to Knowledge movements, developing a concrete motivation and purpose statement gave the OKF chance to deepen it’s vision rather than narrow it. The risk Jo Bates has written about, of intellectual of the ‘open’ movement being co-opted into dominant narratives of neoliberalism, appears to be a very real one. In the motivation statement above, government and big corporates are cast as the problem, and technology and data in the hands of ‘citizens’, ‘scientists’, ‘entrepreneurs’ and (perhaps contradictorily) ‘enterprises’, as the solution. Alternative approaches to improving processes of government and governance through opening more spaces for participation is off the table here, as are any specific normative goals for opening knowledge. Data-centricity displaces all of these.

Now – it might be argued that although the motivation statement takes data as a starting point – is is really at its core about the balance of power: asking who should control data, information and knowledge. Yet – the analysis appears to entirely conflate the terms ‘data’, ‘information’ and ‘knowledge’ – which clouds this substantially.

(3) Data, Information and Knowledge

Data, Information, Knowledge ,Wisdom

The DIKW pyramid offers a useful way of thinking about the relationship between Data, Information, Knowledge (and Wisdom). This has sometimes been described as a hierarchy from ‘know nothing’ (data is symbols and signs encoding things about the world, but useless without interpretation), ‘know what’, ‘know how’ and ‘know why’.

Data is not the same as information, nor the same as knowledge. Converting data into information requires the addition of context. Converting information into knowledge requires skill and experience, obtained through practice and dialogue.

Data and information can be treated as artefacts/thigns. I can e-mail you some data or some information. But knowledge involves a process – sharing it involves more than just sending a file.

OKF has historically worked very much on the transition from data to information, and information to knowledge, through providing training, tools and capacity building, yet this is not captured at all in the core purpose. Knowledge, not data, has the potential to free, bringing greater autonomy. And it is arguably proprietary control of data and information that is at the basis of the power of the few, not any superior access to knowledge that they possess. And if we recognise that turning data into information and into knowledge involves contextualisation and subjectivity, then ‘information and insights’ cannot be by simultaneously ‘apparent’ to everyone, if this is taken to represent some consensus on ‘truths’, rather than recognising that insights are generated, and contested, through processes of dialogue.

It feels like there is a strong implicit positivism within the current core purpose: which stands to raise particular problems for broadening the diversity of Open Knowledge beyond a few countries and communities.

(4) Power, individualism and collective action

I’ve already touched upon issues of power. Addressing “global challenges like justice, climate changes, cultural matters” (from survey responses) will not come from empowering individuals alone – but will have to involve new forms of co-ordination and collective action. Yet power in the ‘core purpose’ statement appears to be primarily conceptualised in terms of individual “informed choices about how we live, what we buy and who gets our vote”, suggesting change is purely the result of aggregating ‘choice’, yet failing to explore how knowledge needs to be used to also challenge the frameworks in which choices are presented to us.

The ideas that ‘everyone’ can be empowered, and that when “knowledge is ‘open’ [...] we are all empowered to make informed choices about our future” fails to take account of the wider constraints to action and choice that many around the world face, and that some of the global struggles that motivate many to pursue greater openness are not always win-win situations. Those other constraints and wider contexts might not be directly within the power of an open knowledge movement to address, or the core preserve of open knowledge, but they need to be recognised and taken into account in the theories of change developed.

In summary

I’ve tried to deal with the Motivation, Core Purpose and Tag-line statements with as carefully as limited free time allows – but inevitably there is much more to dig into – and there will be other ways of reading these statements. More optimistic readings are possible – and I certainly hope might turn out to be more realistic – but in the interest of dialogue I hope that a critical reading is a more useful contribution to the debate, and I would re-iterate my preliminary notes 1 – 5 above.

To recap the critique:

  • Developing a brand and statement of core purpose is an opportunity for dialogue and discussion, yet right now this opportunity appears to have be mostly missed;
  • The motivation, core purpose and tagline are more tech-centric and data-centric than the OKF community, risking sidelining other aspects of the open knowledge community;
  • There need to be a recognition of the distinction of data, information and knowledge, to develop a coherent theory of change and purpose;
  • There appears to be an implicit libertarian individualism in current theories of change, and it is not clear that this is compatible with working to address the shared global challenges that have brought many people into the open knowledge community.

Updates:

There is some discussion of these issues taking place on the OKFN-Discuss list, and the Wiki page has been updated from that I was initially writing about, to re-frame what was termed ‘core purpose’ as ‘brand core purpose’.

by Tim at April 12, 2014 05:49 PM

Jeffrey Schnapp
Library to Livebrary

The abiding challenge of how to reimagine the storage as well as the event space that extends back

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to the very beginnings of the Library as an institution of memory activation.

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by jeffrey at April 12, 2014 03:51 PM

David Weinberger
[2b2k] Protein Folding, 30 years ago

Simply in terms of nostalgia, this 1985 video called “Knowledge Engineering: Artificial Intelligence Research at the Stanford Heuristic Programming Project” from the Stanford archives is charming right down to its Tron-like digital soundtrack.

But it’s also really interesting if you care about the way we’ve thought about knowledge. The Stanford Heuristic Programming Project under Edward Feigenbaum did groundbreaking work in how computers represent knowledge, emphasizing the content and not just the rules. (Here is a 1980 article about the Project and its projects.)

And then at the 8:50 mark, it expresses optimism that an expert system would be able to represent not only every atom of proteins but how they fold.

Little could it have been predicted that protein folding even 30 years later would be better recognized by the human brain than by computers, and that humans playing a game — Fold.It — would produce useful results.

It’s certainly the case that we have expert systems all over the place now, from Google Maps to the Nest thermostat. But we also see another type of expert system that was essentially unpredictable in 1985. One might think that the domain of computer programming would be susceptible to being represented in an expert system because it is governed by a finite set of perfectly knowable rules, unlike the fields the Stanford project was investigating. And there are of course expert systems for programming. But where do the experts actually go when they have a problem? To StackOverflow where other human beings can make suggestions and iterate on their solutions. One could argue that at this point StackOverflow is the most successful “expert system” for computer programming in that it is the computer-based place most likely to give you an answer to a question. But it does not look much like what the Stanford project had in mind, for how could even Edward Feigenbaum have predicted what human beings can and would do if connected at scale?

(Here’s an excellent interview with Feigenbaum.)

by davidw at April 12, 2014 03:49 PM

Peter Suber
You know that open data has made it into the pantheon of obviously good things when people fight over...
You know that open data has made it into the pantheon of obviously good things when people fight over who deserves credit for it.

#oa #openaccess #opendata

April 12, 2014 03:17 PM

"Higher priced titles do have higher Impact Factors and Eigenfactors, but the increase in the metrics...
"Higher priced titles do have higher Impact Factors and Eigenfactors, but the increase in the metrics is small when compared to the increase in costs, since the average price ($5,188) for the most expensive journals was 30 times higher than the average price ($158) for the least expensive journals. The increase in prices for the lower cost titles was lower than for the more expensive titles. Article Influence Score did not show a strong correlation between higher scores and prices...."

April 12, 2014 03:00 PM

April 11, 2014

Berkman Center front page
Berkman Buzz: April 11, 2014

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

The Berkman Center is seeking a Communications Manager to help increase the visibility, accessibility, understanding, and reach of our work and activities. More information and application directions are here!

Diana Kimball swears off "forever projects"

Quote

It took me a long time to see past forever projects.

I told myself that making promises gave beginnings gravity. I labeled my newsletter a “lifelong project” not long after I started it. I called /mentoring a “movement” the day I announced it. Commitment marked a project as something worth talking about, I thought. This was how I would give my ideas escape velocity.

Escape velocity came, but at a cost. No amount of attention could spur perpetual motion. Once I’d set every expectation of permanence, disappointment loomed and glowered; inevitable.

From Diana Kimball's blog post, "No More Forever Projects"
About Diana | @dianakimball

Quotation mark

In the @guardian I ask us all to stop Heartbleed bugs by doing right by open-source coders http://t.co/151RHgP48K
>—Dan Gillmor (@dangillmor)

Amanda Palmer reflects on hitting a million Twitter followers

Quote

i don’t care if the media likes me.
i don’t even care if YOU like me.
(except that, in my own narcissistic way, of course i do. i am human and i need to be loved.)

here’s what i really care about:

i care that i can reach a hand out in the darkness and feel another hand.

i care that i have a friend nearby to share a bottle of wine with at a small table in whatever city I’m in so we can discuss the flood of our hearts. or a community that can provide the equivalent on a dark night, over the internet.

sometimes you forget.

twitter is just a BUNCH OF PEOPLE.

From Amanda Palmer's blog post, "On hitting a million twitter followers."
@amandapalmer

Kendra Albert explains how to deal with malware protection in libraries

Quotation mark

Recently, I was at the Cambridge Public Library looking for divorce paperwork for Massachusetts (for more on why that happened, check out this post.) CPL doesn’t use filtering software on their computers (woo!) and has a clear and concise use policy as well as individual privacy screens. From that perspective, it was an ideal library computer experience.

However the short form financial statement (non-malware pdf at link), available from the MA court website and necessary for many court filings, was actually blocked by CPL’s anti-malware software. I tried a couple of different times to download it, including on different browsers, before eventually finding the form was available elsewhere on the Plymouth County Court website.

From Kendra Albert's blog post, "Not Only Filters: Some Suggestions for Dealing with Malware Protection in Libraries"
About Kendra | @kendraserra

Bruce Schneier discusses Heartbleed

Quotation mark

Heartbleed is a catastrophic bug in OpenSSL....

Basically, an attacker can grab 64K of memory from a server. The attack leaves no trace, and can be done multiple times to grab a different random 64K of memory. This means that anything in memory -- SSL private keys, user keys, anything -- is vulnerable. And you have to assume that it is all compromised. All of it.

"Catastrophic" is the right word. On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11.

From Bruce Schneier's blog post, "Heartbleed"
About Bruce | @schneierblog

Quotation mark

I love this format of @EthanZ and @Erhardt posing a big question and reacting to scholarship on it http://bit.ly/QedozQJ. Nathan Matias (@natematias)

Spies Like US: "Fake Twitter" Violated Cubans’ Privacy Rights

Quotation mark

“The Internet is a battlefield.” This is how the Internet is portrayed in Cuba. While the US State Department waxes about the free flow of information and knowledge, Cuban authorities speak of an ideological cyberwar, being waged by the United States, against Cuba and all it stands for. Last week's revelations regarding “ZunZuneo”, the USAID-created “Cuban Twitter”, suggests the Cubans may have a point.

From Ellery Roberts Biddle's post for Global Voices Bridge, "Spies Like US: 'Fake Twitter' Violated Cubans’ Privacy Rights"
About Global Voices Online | @globalvoices

This Buzz was compiled by Rebekah Heacock.

To manage your subscription preferences, please click here.

by rheacock at April 11, 2014 07:44 PM

Cyberlaw Clinic - blog
HLDocs Joins w/Clinic to Present “Media Advocacy 101″ Event

The Cyberlaw Clinic is pleased to join with the Harvard Law Documentary Studio to present “Media Advocacy 101: How Lawyers Can Develop Tactically Sophisticated Media Projecs.” This panel discussion with lawyers and media experts on the use of media to support advocacy will focus on the use of video and film in gathering evidence and otherwise supporting advocacy.

With inexpensive and nearly ubiquitous technology, lawyers can bring the voices of their clients directly in front of policymakers, judges, lawyers and mainstream media; they can create new kinds of evidence presentations and expert reports; they can draw upon citizens to document human rights violations or government and corporate abuses; they can gather and authenticate visual evidence on mobile phones; they can efficiently enhance public understanding of the law, and give legal information to unrepresented litigants en masse, and gather data about how best to improve the practice of public interest law.

In the last century, lawyers were expected to know how to draft compelling press releases; today it is an essential part of much legal practice to understand how to work with media professionals to manage media campaigns.

Panelists are innovative lawyers and mediamakers who will discuss their work and opportunities for HLS students to become involved with media advocacy projects on campus.

Rebecca Richman Cohen - HLS Lecturer on Law & Founder of Racing Horse Productions

Rebecca is an HLS alum (2007) and Emmy Award nominated documentary filmmaker whose work has been broadcast on public television, HBO, Al Jazeera, homepage of the New York Times website, and screened at the State Department, DOJ, FBI headquarters, and Congress.  She teaches two HLS reading groups on media literacy.

Adam Stofsky - Founder & Executive Director, New Media Advocacy Project (N-Map)

Adam is the founder and executive director of N-Map–an organization that combines legal expertise with social media strategy to promote human rights. After graduating from Harvard Law School (2004), Adam leveraged the power of new media techniques to favorably settle race discrimination cases and document voting rights violations.

Andrew Lowenthal - Berkman Fellow & Co-Founder and Executive Director, EngageMedia

Andrew Lowenthal is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of EngageMedia, an Asia-Pacific human rights and environmental non-profit that explores the intersection of video, technology and social change. EngageMedia currently partners with the MIT Open Documentary Lab to explore the impact of ‘video4change’.

Tyler Giannini - HLS Clinical Professor of Law and Clinical Director of the International Human Rights Clinic 

Prior to joining HLS, Tyler founded and directed EarthRights International (ERI)–an organization that strives to link human rights and environmental protection. Throughout his lengthy and lauded career Tyler served as co-counsel on several precedent-setting international cases and authored numerous publications including Prosecuting Apartheid-Era Crimes? A South African Dialogue on Justice and “Confronting a Rising Tide: A Proposal for a Convention on Climate Change Refugees.”

The discussion will take place on April 16, 2014, from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, in WCC 3018.

by Christopher Bavitz at April 11, 2014 04:31 PM

David Weinberger
Boston Marathon: What to remember?

CNN.com is running a post of mine about what we choose to remember about the
Boston Marathon bombing. (For some reason, the editorial staff changed the title to “How did Boston Marathon attack change you?” when it’s really about how we choose to let the attack change us. Oh well.)

by davidw at April 11, 2014 03:49 PM

Harry Lewis
One way to handle cheating
They Yankees beat the Red Sox last night. They cheated. The Red Sox TV crew noticed that the Yankees pitcher, Michael Pineda, had something on the heel of his hand. Pine tar probably. Sweat and dirt, he says. Dunno, says his manager.

In the fifth inning, it disappeared. Guess it must have gotten enough cooler as the evening wore on that he stopped sweating. Still, Mr. Pineda, I'd have your endocrine system checked out. Sweating like that isn't normal.

This has turned into a great moral debate in the media. My esteemed fellow blogger Richard Bradley, who has on other occasions taken cheating allegations very seriously, has a no-big-deal attitude this time.

He's right for a change.

Whether Pineda was disqualified or not would not have changed the outcome of the game. The Red Sox are not hitting.

Some Red Sox players even suggested they were glad Pineda was cheating, because that meant he would be less likely to lose control of one of his fast balls and bean somebody. Pretty generous, given that it also meant that his slider was more effective.

Like a lot of cheating, this is something for management to sort out. Farrell did not want to show up Girardi, not so much because "everybody does it" (they don't, to that degree), but because he knew that Girardi was on notice to fix the egregious cheating, and there was no reason to embarrass him or Pineda, or to cost Pineda a fine in the short run or a scarred reputation in the long run.

I'd say Farrell acted like a grown up, everybody on both teams learned a lesson, and nobody got hurt. Good.



by Harry Lewis (noreply@blogger.com) at April 11, 2014 03:38 PM

Wayne Marshall
Where’d the Beef?

No one does radio (by which I mean, audio storytelling) like Benjamen Walker. You may know him from his incarnations as the host of Your Radio Nightlight, Too Much Information, or Theory of Everything, which has recently become one of the flagship programs in PRX‘s new podcast network, Radiotopia.

I feel very lucky to count Ben as a friend. His incisive sense of humor consistently cuts to the chase of the kinds of things we find ourselves concerned about in this modern world, or should be. His commitment to running down good stories and telling them with audio aplomb is downright inspiring. Man oh man, the stories he could tell…the stories he does tell!

So I’m thrilled to report that Benjamen has made one of the best episodes of his life with “1984.” To put it plainly, this is a monumental work of media history, largely sourced from YouTube (but also via vintage TV Guides, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, & his own rich trove of alienated adolescent experience). “1984″ is a deeply engaging examination of, as Benjamen puts it, the year, not the book.

I found myself totally entrained and entertained listening to it, and you will too. Benjamen masterfully interweaves and teases out trenchant themes as US society tries to come to grips with the advent of the hyperreal and media politricks in precisely the year that George Orwell freighted with such significance. Borrowing Orwell’s central narrative conceit of the diary is a stroke of genius on Ben’s part, but it’s the dazzling execution of his vision that is most impressive. Imagine Marclay’s The Clock stretched out over a calendar year with grainy advertisements and newscasts in place of Hollywood film fragments.

Here’s how Benjamen frames it:

In 1984 your host was twelve years old, and like Winston Smith he kept a diary for the citizens of the future. For this special installment of Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything we travel back in time and give this diary a soundtrack. TV commercials, radio spots, movie clips — all from 1984 (the year, not the book). Along with personal memories of making the transition to middle school the show focuses on four of the most important people of year: Ronald Reagan, Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, and Clara Peller.

Do yourself a favor and make some time for this one. Ben brings the beef, no doubt.

Word to Clara Peller!

by wayneandwax at April 11, 2014 02:00 PM

Jeffrey Schnapp
Teaching with Things

 

 

 

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by jeffrey at April 11, 2014 02:04 AM

April 10, 2014

MediaBerkman
Intelligence Gathering and the Unowned Internet [AUDIO]
The long-term viability of an unowned, open Internet remains in question. Any analysis of where the Internet is headed as a protocol and a platform must take into account the activities of both public and private entities that see the Internet as a source of intelligence — and a field of contention. Yochai Benkler, Bruce [...]

by Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School (djones@cyber.law.harvard.edu) at April 10, 2014 08:45 PM

PRX
Favorite Poetry Audio from Around the Web

Last year I made the claim that poetry is for everyone, especially radio lovers and I stand by that! This year I wanted to dig a little deeper and see what poets were doing with audio, whether it be podcasts, broadcast programs or archival audio footage. There’s so much amazing poetry to listen to on the web, here are some of my favorites.


The Gift
- Imagination is the seed of empathy – a centrally important function – and both the gift and burden of the writer, argues Kwame Dawes in The Gift from WBEZ.


What is Poetry?
- One of my all-time favorite pieces on PRX is this Carl Sandburg remix produced by Barrett Golding called “What is Poetry?”


State of the Re:Union Poetry Month Special
- Host Al Letson tells his personal stories of how poetry influenced his life and features some incredible slam poets from around the country.


Woodberry Poetry Room Recordings

- The Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard contains a landmark collection of poetry readings that have taken place at Harvard. You can listen online to many of them. Here are a few of my favorites:

- John Berryman, 1962, The Dream Songs

- Ezra Pound, 1939, The Cantos

- Amiri Baraka, 2013, Somebody Blew Up America

- Alice Notley, 2013, I Went Down There


Video Poems

- “On the Other Hand” by Lanny Jordan Jackson.

- Allen Ginsberg’s “Father Death Blues.”



Podcasts

- Voicemail Poems podcast:

- Poetry and club jams unite. Listen to the Pretty LIT podcast and read my interview with the producer, B.J. Love.


Got a favorite poem recording, poetry radio program or podcast I’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.


The post Favorite Poetry Audio from Around the Web appeared first on Public Radio Exchange.

by Audrey at April 10, 2014 07:24 PM

Dan Gillmor - Guardian
How to stop the next Heartbleed bug: pay open-source coders to protect us | Dan Gillmor

Don't wait for the next Snowden to tell us if the NSA's been using this privacy hole, too. Help support more heroes of the free and secure web to spot the next one

Plus: Heartbleed bug what do you need to do to stay secure?

Yes, it is beyond worrisome that a bug this big existed for so long. But the discovery of Heartbleed a truly mind-boggling flaw in OpenSSL, the widely used web security technology run on open-source code led to one of the most rapid responses I've ever seen in the encryption world.

We're not nearly finished repairing this gaping hole in our online safety, with potentially hundreds of thousands of email accounts and sites relying on a secure connection exposed to Heartbleed. And, yes, the National Security Agency probably knew about it before you did. But still, thousands of sites have moved quickly to mitigate at least some of the immediate damage.

Continue reading...

by Dan Gillmor at April 10, 2014 03:13 PM

Bruce Schneier
Creating Forensic Sketches from DNA

This seems really science fictional:

It's already possible to make some inferences about the appearance of crime suspects from their DNA alone, including their racial ancestry and some shades of hair colour. And in 2012, a team led by Manfred Kayser of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, identified five genetic variants with detectable effects on facial shape. It was a start, but still a long way from reliable genetic photofits.

To take the idea a step further, a team led by population geneticist Mark Shriver of Pennsylvania State University and imaging specialist Peter Claes of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL) in Belgium used a stereoscopic camera to capture 3D images of almost 600 volunteers from populations with mixed European and West African ancestry. Because people from Europe and Africa tend to have differently shaped faces, studying people with mixed ancestry increased the chances of finding genetic variants affecting facial structure.

Kayser's study had looked for genes that affected the relative positions of nine facial "landmarks", including the middle of each eyeball and the tip of the nose. By contrast, Claes and Shriver superimposed a mesh of more than 7000 points onto the scanned 3D images and recorded the precise location of each point. They also developed a statistical model to consider how genes, sex and racial ancestry affect the position of these points and therefore the overall shape of the face.

Next the researchers tested each of the volunteers for 76 genetic variants in genes that were already known to cause facial abnormalities when mutated. They reasoned that normal variation in genes that can cause such problems might have a subtle effect on the shape of the face. After using their model to control for the effects of sex and ancestry, they found 24 variants in 20 different genes that seemed to be useful predictors of facial shape (PLoS Genetics, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1004224).

Reconstructions based on these variants alone aren't yet ready for routine use by crime labs, the researchers admit. Still, Shriver is already working with police to see if the method can help find the perpetrator in two cases of serial rape in Pennsylvania, for which police are desperate for new clues.

If I had to guess, I'd imagine this kind of thing is a couple of decades away. But with a large enough database of genetic data, it's certainly possible.

by Bruce Schneier at April 10, 2014 02:02 PM

The Continuing Public/Private Surveillance Partnership

If you've been reading the news recently, you might think that corporate America is doing its best to thwart NSA surveillance.

Google just announced that it is encrypting Gmail when you access it from your computer or phone, and between data centers. Last week, Mark Zuckerberg personally called President Obama to complain about the NSA using Facebook as a means to hack computers, and Facebook's Chief Security Officer explained to reporters that the attack technique has not worked since last summer. Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, and others are now regularly publishing "transparency reports," listing approximately how many government data requests the companies have received and complied with.

On the government side, last week the NSA's General Counsel Rajesh De seemed to have thrown those companies under a bus by stating that -- despite their denials -- they knew all about the NSA's collection of data under both the PRISM program and some unnamed "upstream" collections on the communications links.

Yes, it may seem like the the public/private surveillance partnership has frayed -- but, unfortunately, it is alive and well. The main focus of massive Internet companies and government agencies both still largely align: to keep us all under constant surveillance. When they bicker, it's mostly role-playing designed to keep us blasé about what's really going on.

The U.S. intelligence community is still playing word games with us. The NSA collects our data based on four different legal authorities: the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, Executive Order 12333 of 1981 and modified in 2004 and 2008, Section 215 of the Patriot Act of 2001, and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) of 2008. Be careful when someone from the intelligence community uses the caveat "not under this program" or "not under this authority"; almost certainly it means that whatever it is they're denying is done under some other program or authority. So when De said that companies knew about NSA collection under Section 702, it doesn't mean they knew about the other collection programs.

The big Internet companies know of PRISM -- although not under that code name -- because that's how the program works; the NSA serves them with FISA orders. Those same companies did not know about any of the other surveillance against their users conducted on the far more permissive EO 12333. Google and Yahoo did not know about MUSCULAR, the NSA's secret program to eavesdrop on their trunk connections between data centers. Facebook did not know about QUANTUMHAND, the NSA's secret program to attack Facebook users. And none of the target companies knew that the NSA was harvesting their users' address books and buddy lists.

These companies are certainly pissed that the publicity surrounding the NSA's actions is undermining their users' trust in their services, and they're losing money because of it. Cisco, IBM, cloud service providers, and others have announced that they're losing billions, mostly in foreign sales.

These companies are doing their best to convince users that their data is secure. But they're relying on their users not understanding what real security looks like. IBM's letter to its clients last week is an excellent example. The letter lists five "simple facts" that it hopes will mollify its customers, but the items are so qualified with caveats that they do the exact opposite to anyone who understands the full extent of NSA surveillance. And IBM's spending $1.2B on data centers outside the U.S. will only reassure customers who don't realize that National Security Letters require a company to turn over data, regardless of where in the world it is stored.

Google's recent actions, and similar actions of many Internet companies, will definitely improve its users' security against surreptitious government collection programs -- both the NSA's and other governments' -- but their assurances deliberately ignores the massive security vulnerability built into its services by design. Google, and by extension, the U.S. government, still has access to your communications on Google's servers.

Google could change that. It could encrypt your e-mail so only you could decrypt and read it. It could provide for secure voice and video so no one outside the conversations could eavesdrop.

It doesn't. And neither does Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, or any of the others.

Why not? They don't partly because they want to keep the ability to eavesdrop on your conversations. Surveillance is still the business model of the Internet, and every one of those companies wants access to your communications and your metadata. Your private thoughts and conversations are the product they sell to their customers. We also have learned that they read your e-mail for their own internal investigations.

But even if this were not true, even if -- for example -- Google were willing to forgo data mining your e-mail and video conversations in exchange for the marketing advantage it would give it over Microsoft, it still won't offer you real security. It can't.

The biggest Internet companies don't offer real security because the U.S. government won't permit it.

This isn't paranoia. We know that the U.S. government ordered the secure e-mail provider Lavabit to turn over its master keys and compromise every one of its users. We know that the U.S. government convinced Microsoft -- either through bribery, coercion, threat, or legal compulsion -- to make changes in how Skype operates, to make eavesdropping easier.

We don't know what sort of pressure the U.S. government has put on Google and the others. We don't know what secret agreements those companies have reached with the NSA. We do know the NSA's BULLRUN program to subvert Internet cryptography was successful against many common protocols. Did the NSA demand Google's keys, as it did with Lavabit? Did its Tailored Access Operations group break into to Google's servers and steal the keys?

We just don't know.

The best we have are caveat-laden pseudo-assurances. At SXSW earlier this month, CEO Eric Schmidt tried to reassure the audience by saying that he was "pretty sure that information within Google is now safe from any government's prying eyes." A more accurate statement might be, "Your data is safe from governments, except for the ways we don't know about and the ways we cannot tell you about. And, of course, we still have complete access to it all, and can sell it at will to whomever we want." That's a lousy marketing pitch, but as long as the NSA is allowed to operate using secret court orders based on secret interpretations of secret law, it'll never be any different.

Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and the others are already on the record as supporting these legislative changes. It would be better if they openly acknowledged their users' insecurity and increased their pressure on the government to change, rather than trying to fool their users and customers.

This essay previously appeared on TheAtlantic.com.

by Bruce Schneier at April 10, 2014 10:20 AM

April 09, 2014

David Weinberger
[shorenstein] Andy Revkin on communicating climate science

I’m at a talk by Andrew Revkin of the NY Times’ Dot Earth blog at the Shorenstein Center. [Alex Jones mentions in his introduction that Andy is a singer-songwriter who played with Pete Seeger. Awesome!]

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.

Andy says he’s been a science reporter for 31 years. His first magazine article was about the dangers of the anti-pot herbicide paraquat. (The article won an award for investigative journalism). It had all the elements — bad guys, victims, drama — typical of “Woe is me. Shame on you” environmental reporting. His story on global warming in 1988 has “virtually the same cast of characters” that you see in today’s coverage. “And public attitudes are about the same…Essentially the landscape hasn’t changed.” Over time, however, he has learned how complex climate science is.

In 2010, his blog moved from NYT’s reporting to editorial, so now he is freer to express his opinions. He wants to talk with us today about the sort of “media conversation” that occurs now, but didn’t when he started as a journalist. We now have a cloud of people who follow a journalist, ready to correct them. “You can say this is terrible. It’s hard to separate noise from signal. And that’s correct.” “It can be noisy, but it’s better than the old model, because the old model wasn’t always right.” Andy points to the NYT coverage on the build up to the invasion of Iraq. But this also means that now readers have to do a lot of the work themselves.

He left the NYT in his mid-fifties because he saw that access to info more often than not doesn’t change you, but instead reinforces your positions. So at Pace U he studies how and why people understand ecological issues. “What is it about us that makes us neglect long-term imperatives?” This works better in a blog in a conversation drawing upon other people’s expertise than an article. “I’m a shitty columnist,” he says. People read columns to reinforce their beliefs, although maybe you’ll read George Will to refresh your animus :) “This makes me not a great spokesperson for a position.” Most positions are one-sided, whereas Andy is interested in the processes by which we come to our understanding.

Q: [alex jones] People seem stupider about the environment than they were 20 years ago. They’re more confused.

A: In 1991 there was a survey of museum goers who thought that global warming was about the ozone hole, not about greenhouse gases. A 2009 study showed that on a scale of 1-6 of alarm, most Americans were at 5 (“concerned,” not yet “alarmed”). Yet, Andy points out, the Cap and Trade bill failed. Likewise,the vast majority support rebates on solar panels and fuel-efficient vehicles. They support requiring 45mph fuel efficiency across vehicle fleets, even at a $1K price premium. He also points to some Gallup data that showed that more than half of the respondents worry a great a deal or a fair amount, but that number hasn’t changed since they Gallup began asking the question, in 1989. [link] Furthermore, global warming doesn’t show up as one of the issues they worry about.

The people we need to motivate are innovators. We’ll have 9B on the planet soon, and 2B who can’t make reasonable energy choices.

Q: Are we heading toward a climate tipping point?

A: There isn’t evidence that tipping points in climate are real and if they are, we can’t really predict them. [link]

Q: The permafrost isn’t going to melt?

A: No, it is melting. But we don’t know if it will be catastrophic.

Andy points to a photo of despair at a climate conference. But then there’s Scott H. DeLisi who represents a shift in how we relate to communities: Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts. Inside Climate News won the Pulitzer last year. “That says there are new models that may work. Can they sustain their funding?” Andy’s not sure.

“Journalism is a shinking wedge of a growing pie of ways to tell stories.”

“Escape from the Nerd Loop”: people talking to one another about how to communicate science issues. Andy loves Twitter. The hashtag is as big an invention as photovoltaics, he says. He references Chris Messina, its inventor, and points to how useful it is for separating and gathering strands of information, including at NASA’s Asteroid Watch. Andy also points to descriptions by a climate scientist who went to the Arctic [or Antarctic?] that he curated, and to a singing scientist.

Q: I’m a communications student. There was a guy named Marshall McLuhan, maybe you haven’t heard of him. Is the medium the message?

A: There are different tools for different jobs. I could tell you the volume of the atmosphere, but Adam Nieman, a science illustrator, used this way to show it to you.

Q: Why is it so hard to get out of catastrophism and into thinking about solutions?

A: Journalism usually focuses on the down side.If there’s no “Woe is me” element, it tends not to make it onto the front page. At Pace U. we travel each spring and do a film about a sustainable resource farming question. The first was on shrimp-farming in Belize. It’s got thousands of views but it’s not on the nightly news. How do we shift our norms in the media?

[david ropiek] Inherent human psychology: we pay more attention to risks. People who want to move the public dial inherently are attracted to the more attention-getting headlines, like “You’re going to die.”

A: Yes. And polls show that what people say about global warming depends on the weather outside that day.

A report recently drew the connection between climate change and other big problems facing us: poverty, war, etc. What did you think of it?

A: It was good. But is it going to change things? The Extremes report likewise. The city that was most affected by the recent typhoon had tripled its population, mainly with poor people. Andy values Jesse Ausubel who says that most politics is people pulling on disconnected levels.

Q: Any reflections on the disconnect between breezy IPCC executive summaries and the depth of the actual scientific report?

A: There have been demands for IPCC to write clearer summaries. Its charter has it focused on the down sides.

Q: How can we use open data and community tools to make better decisions about climate change? Will the data Obama opened up last month help?

A: The forces of stasis can congregate on that data and raise questions about it based on tiny inconsistencies. So I’m not sure it will change things. But I’m all for transparency. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, like when the US Embassy was doing its own twitter feed on Beijing air quality. We have this wonderful potential now; Greenpeace (who Andy often criticizes) did on-the-ground truthing about companies deforesting organgutang habitats in Indonesia. Then they did a great campaign to show who’s using the palm oil: Buying a Kitkat bar contributes to the deforesting of Borneo. You can do this ground-truthing now.

Q: In the past 6 months there seems to have been a jump in climate change coverage. No?

A: I don’t think there’s more coverage.

Q: India and Pakistan couldn’t agree on water control in part because the politicians talked about scarcity while the people talked in terms of their traditional animosities. How can we find the right vocabularies?

A: If the conversation is about reducing vulnerabilities and energy efficiency, you can get more consensus than talking about global warming.

Q: How about using data visualizations instead of words?

A: I love visualizations. They spill out from journalism. How much it matters is another question. Ezra Klein just did a piece that says that information doesn’t matter.

Q: Can we talk about your “Years of Living Dangerously” piece? [Couldn't hear the rest of the question].

A: My blog is edited by the op-ed desk, and I don’t always understand their decisions. Journalism migrates toward controversy. The Times has a feature “Room for Debate,” and I keep proposing “Room for Agreement” [link], where you’d see what people who disagree about an issue can agree on.

Q: [me] Should we still be engaging with deniers? With whom should we be talking?

A: Yes, we should engage. We taxpayers subsidize second mortgages on houses in wild fire zones in Colorado. Why? So firefighters have to put themselves at risk? [link] That’s an issue that people agree on across the spectrum. When it comes to deniers, we have to ask what exactly are you denying, Particular data? Scientific method? Physics? I’ve come to the conclusion that even if we had perfect information, we still wouldn’t galvanize the action we need.

[Andy ends by singing a song about liberated carbon. That's not something you see every day at the Shorenstein Center.]

[UPDATE (the next day): I added some more links.]

by davidw at April 09, 2014 06:53 PM

Berkman Center front page
Upcoming Events: Ethereum: Freenet or Skynet? (4/15); Fair Use(r): Art and Copyright online (4/22)
Berkman Events Newsletter Template
berkman luncheon series

Ethereum: Freenet or Skynet?

Tuesday, April 15, 12:30pm ET, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St, 2nd Floor. This event will be webcast live.

berkman

Ethereum is a contract validating and enforcing system based on a distributed public ledger (or blockchain) such as the one implemented by the Bitcoin cryptocurrency. Yet, Ethereum also features an internal Turing-complete scripting language that can be used to encode advanced transaction types directly into the blockchain. This allows for the deployment of self-enforcing smart contracts (such as joint savings accounts, financial exchange markets, or even trust funds) as well as distributed autonomous organizations (DAOs) that subsist independently of any moral or legal entity. These algorithmical entities are both autonomous and self-sufficient: they charge users from the services they provide so as to pay others for the resources they need (e.g. bandwidth, cpu). Thus, once they have been created and deployed onto the blockchain, they no longer need (nor heed) their creators.

But if DAOs are independently operated — neither owned nor controlled by any given entity — who is actually in charge, responsible for, or accountable for their operations? And if their resources cannot be seized (because DAOs have full sovereignty over them), how can they be required to pay damages for their torts? This talk will analyse the interplay between distributed autonomous organizations and the law, with a view to explore the dangers and opportunities of Ethereum: could this new platform promote the establishment of an entirely decentralized society, or will its disruptive potential eventually be absorbed by the established system?

Primavera De Filippi is a postdoctoral researcher at the CERSA / CNRS / Université Paris II (Panthéon-Assas). She is currently a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, where she is analyzing the challenges raised by distributed architectures and multimedia applications in the context of cloud computing and peer-to-peer networks. RSVP Required. more information on our website>

berkman luncheon series

Fair Use(r): Art and Copyright online?

Tuesday, April 22, 12:30pm ET, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, 23 Everett St, 2nd Floor. This event will be webcast live.

berkman

With the democratization of content creation came the democratization of the overzealous copyright claim. Do private agreements between copyright holders and hosting platforms such as YouTube’s Content ID system compromise artist's fair use rights? This open discussion invites artists, users and lawyers to share their copyright experiences with hosting platforms and debate the future of distributing digital arts works online.

Pop Culture Pirate is the digital home of Elisa Kreisinger, a Brooklyn-based video artist remixing pop culture. Her latest work includes mashing up Mad Men into feminists and The Real Housewives into lesbians. Elisa’s 2012 US Copyright Office testimony helped win crucial exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, decriminalizing DVD ripping for artistic statements. RSVP Required. more information on our website>

video/audio

Jeff Young on Pop-Up Learning: The Future of MOOCs and Online Education

berkman

After months of hype and hope about MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, one thing is clear: they aren’t very good at teaching those most in need of education. Instead, they’re serving the education “haves”: About 80 percent of people taking MOOCs already have a college degree. But free online courses may still spark an education revolution, in ways that their biggest proponents hadn’t guessed. In this talk Jeff Young -- editor and writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education and Berkman Fellow -- takes a closer look at who is taking MOOCs and why, and examines how free courses fit into broader Internet trends. video/audio on our website>

Other Events of Note

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

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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 April 09, 2014 03:43 PM

PRX
We’re Webby Nominees! Please Vote.


Webby_LogoAw, shucks.

As they say, “It’s an honor just to be nominated!” PRX has been nominated for not just one but TWO categories this year for the 18th annual Webby Awards.

We’re proud to be recognized for our mobile apps PRX Remix and the Public Radio Player.

***VOTE HERE and HERE to help us win the People’s Voice Award!***

In addition to nominees, the Webbys also name the top 15% entries as bona-fide honorees. We’re happy to also announce that The Moth app, developed by us, is one of these honorees! You can find the official list here.

Think of the Webbys as the Oscars of the Internet. The only difference is that YOU get to help turn these nominations into full-blown wins! This year, they received 12,000 entries from over 60 countries. Other nominees include SoundCloud, Stitcher, HBO GO, TED, Pandora, and more.

PRX is a Webby regular, with a past win and multiple honors and nominations. We’re thrilled that the recognition continues.

WebbyStatue

Last year, over 2 million people cast their votes from over 200 countries and territories worldwide. We hope that you cast yours before April 24, 2014!

(I mean, c’mon, who wouldn’t want to take one of these babies home?)

 

The post We’re Webby Nominees! Please Vote. appeared first on Public Radio Exchange.

by Lily Bui at April 09, 2014 03:36 PM

April 08, 2014

PRX
Coming Soon: Studs Terkel in Conversation with American Poets

Coming soon from The WFMT Radio network, a new series called Studs Terkel in Conversation with American Poets.

Celebrate National Poetry Month with a trio of short radio programs featuring some of America’s greatest 20th century poets in conversation with Studs Terkel. These programs explore how poetry channels voices from the past, propels fantastic voyages and dives deep into memory, childhood and the wild “backyards” of life. Robert Polito, president of the Poetry Foundation, guides this tour which features excerpts from Terkel’s archival talks with Allen Ginsberg, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, Howard Nemerov, Elma Stuckey and John Ciardi.

They’ll be posted here for listening and purchasing later this week!


The post Coming Soon: Studs Terkel in Conversation with American Poets appeared first on Public Radio Exchange.

by Genevieve at April 08, 2014 10:14 PM

Jeffrey Schnapp
openLAB (coming soon)

Every now and then metaLAB holds a public event to showcase some work in progress, hack a device or two, resuscitate a multimedia

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piece or two from the vaults, and to start up some fresh conversations. In the past, such openLAB events have featured social games that make creative use of thermal receipt printers, Kinect-based gestural systems for remixing tracks on vintage vinyl recordings, an Arduino-armed book as an interface for navigating libraries. What’s an openLAB? It’s a combination between a project fair, a hackathon, and a party.

We’re holding one on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, from 6-8:30 pm at Arts @ 29 Garden Street (located at the corner of Garden and Chauncy Streets, approximately 15-minutes by foot from Harvard Square). It will include:

  • demos and presentations of two platforms in development: Palladio (Stanford) and Curarium (metaLAB)
  • student projects from the past few semesters of Mixed-Reality City, Cold Storage, and Homeless Paintings
  • an exhibition of designs and page layouts from the forthcoming metaLABprojects publication series with Harvard University Press, including The Library Beyond the Book card decks
  • demos of two ongoing projects from the History Design Studio
  • clips and rushes from a couple of web documentary projects that are underway
  • fresh experimental dishes from the Library Test Kitchen, including our entire SXSW setup with a mylar inflatable reading room complete with windows and curated Viewmasters
  • posters, installation pieces, hacks, visualizations, and performances

 

Come to think/hack/learn/play/enjoy/hang out. This will be fun.

4-14 openLab

 

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by jeffrey at April 08, 2014 05:29 PM

Bruce Schneier
Smarter People are More Trusting

Interesting research.

Both vocabulary and question comprehension were positively correlated with generalized trust. Those with the highest vocab scores were 34 percent more likely to trust others than those with the lowest scores, and someone who had a good perceived understanding of the survey questions was 11 percent more likely to trust others than someone with a perceived poor understanding. The correlation stayed strong even when researchers controlled for socio-economic class.

This study, too, found a correlation between trust and self-reported health and happiness. The trusting were 6 percent more likely to say they were "very happy," and 7 percent more likely to report good or excellent health.

Full study results.

by Bruce Schneier at April 08, 2014 04:13 AM

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