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.

November 27, 2015

Bruce Schneier
Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Necklace

She's calling it an octopus, but it's a squid.

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

by Bruce Schneier at November 27, 2015 10:19 PM

Defending against Actual IT Threats

Roger Grimes has written an interesting paper: "Implementing a Data-Driven Computer Security Defense." His thesis is that most organizations don't match their defenses to the actual risks. His paper explains how it got to be this way, and how to fix it.

by Bruce Schneier at November 27, 2015 12:45 PM

Dennis Yi Tenen
Mass Merchant Home Centers

Mass merchant home centers such as Home Depot have made life difficult for independent home furnishing retailers, but there are examples of smaller stores that are surviving. In the lighting sector, independents have tried to avoid competing on price and looked for particular niches for which home centers are less suited, such as high-end items. Increased competition has forced independents to become more efficient and more customer focused.

There’s one big advantage to being a little fish in a sea of big ones:

You become a strong swimmer to avoid being swallowed

Such is the case of the independent lighting showroom. As such massive home centers as Home Depot, Builders Square, Hechinger, Rickel and others move into town and compete for the consumer’s dollar, the specialized lighting experts must work harder to make it.

According to industry estimates, home centers’ share of the $1.06 billion market for lighting fixtures jumped to 41 percent in 1993, up from 29 percent in ’92, while the specialty stores’ share declined from 58 percent to 51 percent. In number of units sold, home centers may have surpassed the specialty stores. To counteract this shift, showrooms are becoming more business savvy.

Realizing that they can’t match the buying or promotional power of their gigantic counterparts, the mom-and-pops have had to redefine themselves, often playing up the advantages of their small size and flexibility in order to effectively – and profitably – coexist with the volume retailers.

Successful independents have refocused their merchandise mix, learned to better manage their space and inventory, taken advantage of educational tools offered by vendors and industry associations, and concentrated on customer service.

A New York-based manufacturing executive, Murray Feiss, said he believes the small independents are stronger for the competition. “They’ve toughened up and learned how to manage their businesses very well,” he said.

The Showrooms

Showrooms tend to stay away from the basic flush mount and hanging fixtures, ceiling fans, bath bars, lightbulbs and hardware offered by home centers. But the home centers are becoming more aggressive on fashion fixtures and upscale merchandise, and so the independents can’t always avoid head-to-head competition, either.

“Home centers are upgrading as fast as we are,” commented Dean Gottesman of Royalite Lighting in Buffalo, N.Y. “Most times we’ll match prices for the same item and if we have to make a shorter margin, so be it. We can’t be bullied entirely by them.”

While it is not the norm, there are several showrooms which have been successful competing on price with the home centers. Chatsworth, Cal.-based Lamps Plus, for instance, has gone head-to-head with the giants on price because it can: Lamps plus is the 40-unit retail arm of Pacific Coast Lighting, designers and manufacturers of fashion lighting. Pacific Coast sells moderate-to-upscale lighting to retailers outside of its dealer base and does not sell to home centers, according to a spokesperson.

Most showrooms, however, choose to avoid the price war. “We can compete with them on price, but if the customer doesn’t know it, what good does it do?” queried Greg Speicher, owner/president of Buffalo Lighting in Buffalo, N.Y. “It does you no good to lower your prices to their level because they advertise every week,” which is something the independents don’t have the budgets to do.

by D3nT3n at November 27, 2015 10:35 AM

November 26, 2015

Panagiotis Metaxas
Two rumors about the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey

News of Turkish airplane shooting down a Russian one over the Turkish-Syrian border has dominated the news and the social media lately. We investigated the rumor within hours after it appeared (24 Nov. 2015) and you can see the results of the analysis here:

This was not the first time a rumor of this kind emerged. About a month and a half ago (10 Oct. 2015) an identical rumor had emerged. We had investigated that rumor too and you can see the results of our analysis here:

Russian jet downing rumors

As you can see, based on the crowd’s reaction to the rumors, TwitterTrails was able to determine that the October rumor was false while the November one was true. The false rumor did not spread much and had a lot of skeptical tweets questioning its validity. On the other hand, the true rumor spread much higher and in terms of skepticism was undisputed.

Our understanding of the way the “wisdom of the crowd” works is that, when unbiased, emotionally cool observers see a rumor that seems suspicious, they usually react in one of two ways: They either do not retweet it, reducing its spread, or they may respond questioning the validity of the rumor, resulting in higher skepticism.

This is something we see often in the stories we investigate on TwitterTrails. Our understanding of the way the “wisdom of the crowd” works is that, when unbiased, emotionally cool observers see a rumor that seems suspicious, they usually react in one of two ways: They either not retweet it, reducing its spread, or they may respond questioning the validity of the rumor, resulting in higher skepticism.

When plotting the true and false rumors (after they have been verified through journalists’ work), the following image emerges:

spread-vs-skepticismIt is not a 100% separation, but one can see that the false rumors (marked by red triangles) show low spread and high skepticism, while the true ones show high spread and low skepticism. The picture is of course muddled in the lower corner. A rumor that does not attract much attention did not have the opportunity to benefit from the “wisdom of the crowd” and thus cannot be determined by our system.


Note: This posting originally appeared on our TwitterTrails blog.

by metaxas at November 26, 2015 04:53 PM

SJ Klein
Reader: Discover the effect of happiness on your health today

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down happy. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”  —Lennon

From the BODYWORLDS exhibit in Amsterdam, full of flayed and preserved human bodies.

by metasj at November 26, 2015 03:44 AM

November 25, 2015

David Weinberger
My fling with Soylent, the scientifical "food"

I think I have some odd eating quirks. I don’t mean the fact that I’ve been vegetarian for 35+ years. It’s that I don’t like vegetables and I exhibit some possibly compulsive behavior about food.

Maybe 7 or 8 years ago (which probably means 10 years ago) I had put on a ton of weight. I had weighed 165 lbs. when I got married, but about 20-25 years later I had fattened myself up to 220+. My blood sugar control system was responding in the predictable way. My doctor diagnosed me as pre-diabetic.

So, I stopped eating things with added sugar and went on a low glycemic index diet. Over the course of maybe six months I lost about forty pounds. Even at 183 lbs., I was fat, but I was no longer a fat fuck. More like “Oh, he’s an American.” The weight loss, change in diet, and intermittent exercise dropped my blood sugar levels, and for at least the past five years they’ve been well below the diabetes threshold. I am no longer pre-diabetic. My doctor counts me as a success story.

“I got fat by eating with a child’s tastes and an adult’s permission.”I got fat by eating with a child’s tastes and an adult’s permission. Worse, if left at a table with a food that can be consumed in small amounts, I will eat one peanut or bread shred every 90 seconds until nothing’s left. Compulsively.

On the other hand, I am also very disciplined about food, which I think is just another way my compulsiveness manifests itself. So, I’ve eaten the same breakfast every day since my diagnosis. Every day. And it’s a fine breakfast: no-fat unsweetened yogurt with walnuts, sunflower seeds, and a little cut-up fruit stirred in. Every day. (I do allow myself exceptions during our two weeks of vacation.)

Dinner I eat with my wife. Weekdays she cooks. I cook on weekends. There’s a relatively small set of things we like, and that’s what we eat. A lot of it is carb heavy, but it’s just one meal a day, I eat in moderation, and my blood work says I can afford it.

But lunch has been a problem for years. I work at home these days, which means around noon I’m poking around the fridge. Egg whites have been one go-to meal, but I don’t like them all that much and they’re not very filling. A sandwich has too much bread. I like leftovers, but they’re often too carby.

So lunch is always a problem. It is why, I believe, I’ve gained back ten pounds over the years. That’s not bad given, well, everything. And I weirdly thought that I’d gained about twenty-five pounds until I finally weighed myself six weeks ago — so I apparently suffer from body dysmorphism also.

I needed to address lunch.“ I decided to use my compulsive personality as my secret super-power.” I decided to use my compulsive personality as my secret super-power.

I had been reading about Soylent, a perfectly engineered food replacement (or thus is the goal). I like the idea of a community of food hackers arguing about exactly which micro-ingredients are needed. Soylent is a commercial company offering its version. With version 2.0, it comes in convenient liquid form, shipped in plain white bottles. Four hundred calories. Glycemically ok, according to the site.

I have found my lunch.

You can apparently live on Soylent. Five bottles a day gives you 2,000 perfectly-balanced calories. (That’d cost you about $12.50/day, although you could make your own for far less.) But I’m just looking for a repetitive, never-think-about-it, healthy-enough lunch. So, “I’ve been drinking a bottle of Soylent every day”I’ve been drinking a bottle of Soylent every day between 12:00 and 12:30 in the afternoon.

Someone on Reddit, I think, described the taste well: It’s like the milk after you’ve eaten the Cheerios. I hate milk because it comes from inside cows, and Soylent is a little too close to how I remember milk tasting. So, I’ve been mixing it with a tablespoon of Hershey’s dark chocolate baking power (10 cals) and one packet of fake sugar. I actually look forward to it.

Yes, I know egg whites come from inside chickens, which makes me squeamish both because of the cruelty with which even “free range” chickens are treated, and because it is a slimy fluid that comes from inside a chicken. But I am a hypocrite, so shoot me. (I like honey even less because it comes from inside a bug. I’ve seen the insides of bugs. How does anyone eat that?)

Soylent is not intended to be a weight-loss product. A bottle has more than twice the calories of a Nutrisystem shake. But I have in my life done Nutrisystem and it’s deeply unsatisfying. One of their shakes doesn’t last long enough, and it’s jacked with fake everything. “Nutrisystem is jacked with fake everything”Soylent is, I’m pretty sure, actually good for me. And it keeps me going until around 4pm, when a half an apple will take me the rest of the way to dinner. Since starting on Soylent, I’ve lost 8 pounds, getting me close to where I plateaued when I did my big weight loss after the pre-diabetes diagnosis.

Although Soylent is definitely not a low-carb “food,” my blood sugar seems to be doing well with it. I’ve seen no spikes in my home tests after a Soylent lunch. Obviously, your blood sugar mileage may vary.

I’m not tempted to replace more of my meals with Soylent. One a day seems to be doing the trick for me, keeping in mind that I was looking for a way to be more compulsive about eating.

Soylent: The perfect non-food for compulsives! (, you can have that tagline for free.)

No, I will not be having Soylent tomorrow, Thanksgiving, for lunch. I may be slightly compulsive, but I’m not crazy. (Of course, I won’t be having turkey either.)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, y’all!

by davidw at November 25, 2015 06:03 PM

Ana Enriquez
Doing Without Bar Review: How I studied

This post is Part III of a three-part series on studying for the bar exam without a bar prep course. Yesterday, I posted about gathering study materials.

There is a lot of debate about how to study for the bar exam — the bar prep companies all take sides. When I was setting my schedule for studying the Massachusetts exam, right out of law school, I did read a bit of it. I’m sure that bar prep could benefit from scientific analysis, but as I’m far from expert, I’ll leave that to others. My strategy was simple: learn material, take practice exam, identify weak areas, repeat.

For Massachusetts, I knew there were quite a few subjects I had never studied (commercial paper, estates, trusts, Mass. civil procedure, Mass. professional responsibility, Mass. consumer protection, wills, etc.). I also knew that I would need serious review for many of the other subjects, most of which I hadn’t thought much about for a year or more. I began studying in late May for the end-of-July exam. So, I spent the first couple of weeks learning material with the Law in a Flash cards, library Nutshell outlines, and various online materials (see my last post).

Once I had spent a little time on every subject, I added more practice exams into the rotation. I practiced with the MBE online practice exam, the BARBRI Massachusetts essay book, and the MBE questions in the Emanuel book (all mentioned in my last post). Each time I went over a completed practice exam, I would identify the areas that needed work and set aside the corresponding flashcards. If I didn’t have flashcards for the area, I would write them out. This often required a bit of fresh learning/research on my part.

Then, I would focus on those flashcards until the next practice exam, at which point I would add or remove cards from the set. This was exceedingly simplistic, but it worked. By mid-July, I had done many practice essays and MBEs. Two weeks before the exam, I did a full two-day practice test using questions I hadn’t seen yet. I did my best to mimic the testing conditions; I think I even wore the clothes that I wore to the real exam. Then, I graded that exam and made a final review plan for the remaining days.

My 2015 studying was much more compressed. I made a study plan in late June, and I spent the end of June and the beginning of July studying very lightly with the Law in a Flash cards, while moving to Chicago, attending two family reunions, and going on two decent-sized roadtrips. I returned to Chicago on July 15 with the exam under two weeks away, having reviewed about half of the MBE subjects.

Then, I studied very hard, using the same flash card strategy described above. While I felt much more harried, I could tell from my scores on the MBE online practice exam that I was performing similarly to my late-July 2013 self. I spent the last few days (during which in 2013 I had just relaxed) prepping for the essay exams and the MPT.

At the time, this “strategy,” was pretty terrifying. In retrospect, of course, I’m extremely pleased with it, because I passed the exam and also got a vacation. I attribute its success to my having studied the material before – I certainly would not recommend it to a first-time exam-taker.

by anaenriquez at November 25, 2015 03:00 PM

Bruce Schneier
NSA Lectures on Communications Security from 1973

Newly declassified: "A History of U.S. Communications Security (Volumes I and II)," the David G. Boak Lectures, National Security Agency (NSA), 1973. (The document was initially declassified in 2008. We just got a whole bunch of additional material declassified. Both versions are in the document, so you can compare and see what was kept secret seven years ago.)

by Bruce Schneier at November 25, 2015 01:06 PM

Center for Research on Computation and Society (Harvard SEAS)
Applied Econometrics


Maxwell Dworkin 119, 33 Oxford Street, Cambridge

Applied Econometrics

Organized by Bobby Kleinberg, Ricardo Perez-Truglia and Glen Weyl

Speakers: Max Kasy (Harvard), Sendhil Mullainathan (Harvard), Emily Oster (Brown)

February 26, 2016, 2:30-5:30

by kmavon at November 25, 2015 02:31 AM

November 24, 2015

Bruce Schneier
NSA Collected Americans' E-mails Even After it Stopped Collecting Americans' E-mails

In 2001, the Bush administration authorized -- almost certainly illegally -- the NSA to conduct bulk electronic surveillance on Americans: phone calls, e-mails, financial information, and so on. We learned a lot about the bulk phone metadata collection program from the documents provided by Edward Snowden, and it was the focus of debate surrounding the USA FREEDOM Act. E-mail metadata surveillance, however, wasn't part of that law. We learned the name of the program -- STELLAR WIND -- when it was leaked in 2004. But supposedly the NSA stopped collecting that data in 2011, because it wasn't cost-effective.

"The internet metadata collection program authorized by the FISA court was discontinued in 2011 for operational and resource reasons and has not been restarted," Shawn Turner, the Obama administration's director of communications for National Intelligence, said in a statement to the Guardian."

When Turner said that in 2013, we knew from the Snowden documents that the NSA was still collecting some Americans' Internet metadata from communications links between the US and abroad. Now we have more proof. It turns out that the NSA never stopped collecting e-mail metadata on Americans. They just cancelled one particular program and changed the legal authority under which they collected it.

The report explained that there were two other legal ways to get such data. One was the collection of bulk data that had been gathered in other countries, where the N.S.A.'s activities are largely not subject to regulation by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and oversight by the intelligence court.


The N.S.A. had long barred analysts from using Americans' data that had been swept up abroad, but in November 2010 it changed that rule, documents leaked by Edward J. Snowden have shown. The inspector general report cited that change to the N.S.A.'s internal procedures.

The other replacement source for the data was collection under the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which permits warrantless surveillance on domestic soil that targets specific noncitizens abroad, including their new or stored emails to or from Americans.

In Data and Goliath, I wrote:

Some members of Congress are trying to impose limits on the NSA, and some of their proposals have real teeth and might make a difference. Even so, I don't have any hope of meaningful congressional reform right now, because all of the proposals focus on specific programs and authorities: the telephone metadata collection program under Section 215, bulk records collection under Section 702, and so on. It's a piecemeal approach that can't work. We are now beyond the stage where simple legal interventions can make a difference. There's just too much secrecy, and too much shifting of programs amongst different legal justifications.

The NSA continually plays this shell game with Congressional overseers. Whenever an intelligence-community official testifies that something is not being done under this particular program, or this particular authority, you can be sure that it's being done under some other program or some other authority. In particular, the NSA regularly uses rules that allow them to conduct bulk surveillance outside the US -- rules that largely evade both Congressional and Judicial oversight -- to conduct bulk surveillance on Americans. Effective oversight of the NSA is impossible in the face of this level of misdirection and deception.

by Bruce Schneier at November 24, 2015 11:45 PM

David Weinberger
[berkman][liveblog] Robin Chase

Robin Chase is giving a lunchtime talk at the Berkman Center.

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.

There is a totally new organization paradigm that exists next to the Internet, she says. She calls it “Peers, Inc.” It changes how we shape the economy. It’s happening now. Her explanation will be in three parts:


First, platforms for participation that leverage excess capacity. E.g., Facebook, Skype, Meetup, YouTube, MOOCs, open source, Blockchain, etc. For example, Skype is a telecoms company built on the excess capacity of its users systems. Working with excess capacity means sharing.

Bed-sharing (couchsurfing, AirBnB) uses excess beds. “It took four years for AirBnB to have more available beds than the largest hotel chain”It took four years for AirBnB to have more available beds than the largest hotel chain (InterContinental): 650,000. Couchsurfing has more than a couple of million.

We invented big institutions to do things that we can’t do as individuals. E.g., large investments, projects that require intelligence in lots of different areas, standardized contracts. And there are things that individuals do better: customization, specialization, creativity, trust.

These two coexist, and the Net enables them to collaborate. She calls this Peers, Inc. (“Institutions and governments are also Inc’s in this world view.”) The Inc’s provide a platform for participation, and the individual provides creativity and specialization.

Robin “adores excess capacity” because it’s green and efficient. Excess capacity is something that’s already been paid for but contains unused value. How do you harness it? 1. You can slice it so only pay for what they use (e.g., ZipCar); this lets you avoid buying more car than you need. 2. You can aggregate (e.g., AirBnB, Waze). 3. Open up these assets, e.g., and GPS.

The Inc side builds platforms for participation. They organize lots of small parts. “They “Platforms give the power of the large to the small”give the power of the large to the small.” They can scale. She points to a French car-sharing company: BlaBlaCar. Four million people use it every month.

Peers bring diversity. E.g., smartphones and apps. Smartphones are far harder to build than the apps they enable. Over 2M apps have been developed since smartphones were invented in the past seven years. “We’ve seen more innovation than throughout all of human history” because people can build apps that are relevant to their own situations. App creators are free-riders on top of the $600 people spend on their smartphones.

2. Peers Inc give us new powers, which she thinks of as miracles.

“The most depressing thing I know is climate change.” By 2100, we’ll see a 4-6°C increase unless we take dramatic action. What does that feel like? “The last time we were minus 7°F was the last ice age.” Warming the planet that amount transformed the planet. We should expect the same level of change if we boost it another 7°F. By 2060, it will be really awful. So we have to address this.

“Banny Bannerjee says: “You can’t solve exponential problems with linear solutions.””Banny Bannerjee says: “You can’t solve exponential problems with linear solutions.”

The “miracles” give her some optimism:

a. “We can defy the laws of physics” by leveraging excess capacity. If she had proposed building 640,000 rooms in four years she would have been told that that’s not possible. But AirBnb did it by leveraging existing excess capacity.

b. “We can tap exponential learning.” Platforms can get millions of iterations in and can do a lot of learning. E.g., learning a language. A semester is 130 hours. Rosetta Stone teaches the same in 54 hours. But it’s expensive. “My new favorite company is DuoLingo.” They do a lot of A/B testing. They now can teach you a semester in 34 hours. They have 90M people using it. A year and a half ago DuoLingo opened up its processes: Russians learning Balinese, etc. Now 45M of the 90M are learning language pairs DuoLingo did not create. (DuoLingo makes money because they have humans translating sentences from organizations that pay them incrementally.)

c. “The right person will appear.” E.g., Obama raised the prospect of normalizing relationships with Cuba. Six months later, AirBnB had 2,000 listings there, thanks to the Net.

Her only hope for climate change is creating platforms that will address climate “at scale, speed, and locally adapated.” E.g., a platform for a house will remember to turn off the light when there’s been no movement. We’ll get smart cities through the Internet of Things. Distributed energy. Autonomous vehicles, which will arrive in force in the next 5-12 years. We’ll only need 10% of the cars because we’ll be sharing them. “Public transportation will be at the cost of a bus but the speed of cars”Public transportation will be at the cost of a bus but the speed of cars, transforming job opportunities. (But the Internet of Things means that everything is tracked.)

All of these miracles only happen because of both sides of Peers Inc.

3. “Everything that can become a platform will become one.” Old-style industrial capitalism put thick boundaries around companies. Today, what’s inside and outside is blurred.

Four reasons Robin is convinced we’re moving into the collaborative economy:

1. Shared networked assets always provide more value than closed assets

2. More networked minds are smarter than fewer proprietary minds.

3. “The benefits of shared open assets are always larger than the problems associated with open assets.” E.g., yes, some people put scratches in ZipCars, but the company nevertheless is doing very well.

4. What I get is great than what I give.

We are in a time of instability. “Peers Inc is the only structure that can experiment, iterate, evolve and adapt at the pace required.”Peers Inc is the only structure that can experiment, iterate, evolve and adapt at the pace required.

So, how can we structure things so we give up the least privacy necessary? “What is the least privacy loss that delivers a habitable climate”


Q: For me it’s not privacy loss but who we’re losing our privacy to. What about platform accountability? Aren’t we pushing out power into more abstract systems that we cannot see or address?

A: I was on a panel at the Platform Cooperativism conference. I pointed out that these platforms are incredibly expensive. ““He who finances the platforms creates the rules of engagement.”He who finances the platforms creates the rules of engagement.” “I want these platforms created by a distributed, autonomous us.” We don’t have time to just hope this happens. “I have real anxiety.”

Q: [me] Suppose we build protocol instead platforms…

A: I’ve put all of that into the same bucket.

Q: Shareable cars disrupt ZipCar. There will be user agreements. How do we disrupt that?

A: “He who creates the data owns the data.” Autonomous vehicles have a middle space, e.g., around safety and learning issues. It’s in the deep public interest to have this data. But we need to make the privacy issues understandable and parseable by ordinary users so they can choose.

Q: Isn’t privacy gone already?

A: We can still do some structuring.

Q: Why does trust work over the Web, which is mostly anonymous?

A: Ebay was the first to figure out you need ratings and commentaries. We use other people as our proxies for trust.

Q: iRobot’s Roombas currently don’t upload what they’ve learned about the layout of your house. But Nest knows everything. What should the rules be?

A: That’s what I’m asking you. We have to figure this out.

Q: It’d be great if we had more choice about which pieces of info we give to platforms. Is there any work on standard ways of parceling out pieces of our identity?

A: I know people are working on this. “It comes back to the amount of money, time, and marketing it takes to push great ideas into market.”

Q: What are we doing to educate the younger generation about privacy?

A: Maybe you can push Harvard to do appropriate role modeling. Maybe students here could push for an icon system that tells us what data you’re taking from us, etc.

Q: [me] What would you tell a student about the dangers? And would you consider addressing this by putting restrictions on how the data is used, rather than on its collection?

A: How about doing some pilots to see what works? You have to inform people about the dangers as well regulating the industry.

Q: How will we embed public safety concerns into software for self-driving cars?

A: Self-driving cars will always follow the rules. No speeding. No parking in no-parking zones. All the existing rules will be embedded. So we’ll embed the appropriate behavior for ambulances, etc. No siren required. Also: The auto industry always brings up autonomous cars having to decide which person to kill in an accident. But why would you bring up this stupid case? One in a million trips this might happen? There are more deaths than that now. “Right now, 80% of cars are single occupancy. We need to put a high price on that.”Right now, 80% of cars are single occupancy. We need to put a high price on that.

Q: It sounds like you’re describing a train: get somewhere, not park…Why not public transportation?

A: We’ll see how it plays out. It’ll be a complex ecosystem. It’ll be decided city by city. More important than who owns it are: Will they be electric? Will it be 10x more expensive for single occupancy? Will we have pharmacy cars or liquor cars that deliver their wares without having a storefront? Who will design the software?

Q: Practically, how do you combat zoning for selfishness, e.g., my own one-person gas guzzler?

A: I don’t spend a lot of time on local issues. When I have, logic and data haven’t had much effect.

by davidw at November 24, 2015 10:05 PM

Berkman Center front page
[TODAY] Privacy in a world of IoT, self driving cars, and a climate crisis


with Robin Chase


Robin Chase will lay out a near term future where communications and software platforms will deliver us smart cities, smart homes, and ubiquitous clean low cost shared transport.

Parent Event

Berkman Luncheon Series

Event Date

Nov 24 2015 12:00pm to Nov 24 2015 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015, at 12:00 pm
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Harvard Law School campus, Wasserstein Hall, Room 1023
This event is now at capacity; please join the webcast live on this page at 12:00 pm

Watch Live

Click below for the live webcast on this page.

If you experience a video disruption reload to refresh the webcast, or try the video here

Based on her experience as cofounder of Zipcar and Veniam (building a dynamic communications network for the Internet of moving things), Robin Chase will lay out a near term future where communications and software platforms will deliver us smart cities, smart homes, and ubiquitous clean low cost shared transport. On the one hand we have an environmental imperative to get co2 emissions under control, use assets efficiently, deliver thriving sustainable cities. On the other hand, at what cost to privacy? Let's have a solid discussion about how we can create a future that we both need and want.

About Robin

Robin Chase is a transportation entrepreneur. She is co-founder and former CEO of Zipcar, the largest carsharing company in the world; Buzzcar, a peer to peer carsharing service in France (now merged with Drivy); and GoLoco, an online ridesharing community. She is also co-founder and Executive Chairman of Veniam, a vehicle communications company building the networking fabric for the Internet of Moving Things. Her recent books is Peers Inc: How People and Platforms are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism.

She is on the Boards of Veniam, the World Resources Institute, and Tucows. She also served on the board of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the National Advisory Council for Innovation & Entrepreneurship for the US Department of Commerce, the Intelligent Transportations Systems Program Advisory Committee for the US Department of Transportation, the OECD’s International Transport Forum Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Governor’s Transportation Transition Working Group, and Boston Mayor’s Wireless Task Force.

Robin lectures widely, has been frequently featured in the major media, and has received many awards in the areas of innovation, design, and environment, including Time 100 Most Influential People, Fast Company Fast 50 Innovators, and BusinessWeek Top 10 Designers. Robin graduated from Wellesley College and MIT's Sloan School of Management, was a Harvard University Loeb Fellow, and received an honorary Doctorate of Design from the Illinois Institute of Technology. 


About the Privacy Series
In the fall of 2015, the Berkman Center decided to further surface and highlight our work ongoing work on privacy through the launch of a Berkman Privacy Series, a collection of talks, papers, and other activities, both current and past, that seek to explore and address the increasing concerns about Big Data, which have focused national and international attention on questions of online privacy. Not all of our privacy work is collected in this list, but our hope is that this limited selection, including the future events listed, will serve to increase awareness, foster discussion, and help explore alternative mechanisms for balancing user privacy with the potential benefits of Big Data.



by candersen at November 24, 2015 06:20 PM

Ana Enriquez
Doing Without Bar Review: Gathering study materials

This post is Part II of a three-part series on studying for the bar exam without a bar prep course. Yesterday, I posted about learning about the exam.

Saving money was a major factor in my decision not to take a bar prep course. Since I had done that, I felt fine spending money on a few prep materials. I also got an extremely generous graduation gift in the form of Law in a Flash cards for the six (at the time) MBE subjects. (Incidentally, those flashcards are a great law school graduation gift. This is especially true if the graduate is eschewing bar prep, but I also shared my flashcards with covetous friends who had mounds of standard bar prep course materials.)

Materials worth buying:

Law in a Flash cards, Emanuel: I heartily recommend these. They are thorough and well-organized. It’s easy to select a subset for targeted review, but they also work well when you’re learning the material for the first time. I have the individual sets for the MBE subjects (which also formed the core of the essay exams in MA and IL). I see they also sell a special (shorter) MBE set. Some of these cards are also available in digital versions, but I’ve really enjoyed the shareability of the physical versions.

[Your state here] Essay Testing, BARBRI: Some states now make past essays available online (and they all should). If your state doesn’t, buying someone’s left-over BARBRI “essay testing” book is very convenient. I did this for both Massachusetts and Illinois. The books are fairly easy to find on eBay. They are, to be honest, not that great. They’re pricey, and the sample answers are hit-or-miss. Still, if you need practice essay questions, this is a good way to get a lot. One thing I noticed while I was studying for the Illinois exam is that the book contained essays from non-Illinois exams (and I realized this after I Googled the questions and found them free online). The answers, though, were still tailored to Illinois, so I think it was worth it.

MBE Online Practice Exams, NCBE: These are excellent. Depending on how much time you have to study, you might even want to buy them all.

MEE/MPT Questions and Analyses, NCBE: If you’re taking the MEE or the MPT, these are great.

Blank index cards: In addition to using the Law in a Flash cards, I made quite a few of my own flashcards, especially for state law.

Material you might want to buy:

Steven L. Emanuel’s Strategies and Tactics for the MBE: I bought this for the Massachusetts exam, and it was helpful. It has good tips for handling multiple-choice questions, so I would recommend especially it if you aren’t confident in your overall test-taking abilities. However, some of its practice questions are the same as the NCBE Online Practice Exams, so it’s a bit redundant. I didn’t use it at all when I was studying for the Illinois exam.

Free materials:

I also used a lot of free materials that were very helpful.

While studying for the Massachusetts exam, I arranged law library access for the summer and took advantage of study aids available there. I found the Nutshell books particularly helpful, especially for subjects I was learning for the first time. I didn’t do this when I was studying for the Illinois exam (which I did in much less time), but I missed it.

I used some law-school Westlaw points to buy Suzanne Darrow-Kleinhaus’s Acing the Bar Exam  and Steve Friedland’s Exam Pro Bar Prep Workbook. I wouldn’t have paid money for them, but I did put them to use.

I searched the internet for summaries of areas of law. This was particularly helpful for state law, since most of the print materials I had were multi-jurisdictional. Law firms often post short summaries for their clients or associates (with benefits to their SEO, I assume). I used Jenner and Block’s excellent Illinois Civil Practice Guide while studying for the Illinois exam. Bar association websites and journals also discuss recent developments, and the judicial branch itself posts a good deal of useful material. When I was studying for the Massachusetts exam, I used the state website to learn about the structure of the courts.

I used my casebooks. I wouldn’t recommend reading casebooks as a bar prep technique, but they were great for quick reference. It was particularly nice to use the ones I had studied from, because I could connect back to specific details I remembered.

I read, watched, and listened to Supreme Court roundups and other discussions of current events in law. This brought me up to speed on areas of the law that had changed since I was a 1L (which is when I studied most the bar subjects, including Con Law), and the prevalence of podcasts and videos on these topics helped when I needed a break from reading and writing. It would certainly be possible to overload on this — it barely counts as studying, really. But, it’s also a reminder of the many ways that law is really important, which is helpful when you’ve been studying its illogical intricacies all afternoon.

by anaenriquez at November 24, 2015 03:00 PM

The Coin, the Quilt and the Superfan: Radiotopia Fundraising Lessons

Last week, PRX wrapped up its second major fundraiser for Radiotopia, our podcast network, and the results were astonishing. While last year’s Kickstarter brought in an impressive lump sum of money, the goal for this campaign was to obtain sustained monthly support in order to propel the network throughout the year.

Radiotopia often functions like a labwe mix content, personalities and styles to see what we can produce together. This campaign demonstrated, as experiments do, that even when you assemble the perfect components and prove your hypothesis, there are many lessons learned along the way.

challenge coin

Lesson #1: Stories and symbols are tied together.
Roman Mars is our guide to the beauty and intentionality of the world around us. He pulled back the curtain on the intricacies of flag design, and later on the meaning of coins. Military challenge coins serve as literal tokens of gratitude. They can symbolize everything from a nod of appreciation, to a deep personal connection, which we thought would make the perfect premium for our fans. Donors went crazy for the coinsword traveled fast across social media, and they quickly became our most sought-after reward. By the end of 30 days, we had nearly 10,500 people contribute to the challenge coin prize.

Excitement for the challenge coin reaches beyond 99% Invisiblethe coin has become a badge of gratitude from all of our shows.


Lesson #2: We are defined by the company we keep.
First, we had the necessary support and infrastructure to run this campaign due to Radiotopia’s generous grant from the Knight Foundation. Secondly, Slack, the business messaging service that allows efficient collaboration, was our most valuable internal tool. It has fundamentally changed the way we work at PRX and Radiotopia.  Throughout the campaign, we used Slack to communicate challenges, react quickly, answer questions, and share links and files. As a loyal Radiotopia partner, Slack helped kick off the campaign momentum by offering a $25,000 donation if we could secure 5,000 donors in the first week. We hit that goal with time to spare. The Slack team was so impressed they upped the ante… they offered an additional $50k if we could hit 10,000 more donations. After we blew through that goal, an anonymous superfan stepped in and offered an additional $10,000 if we could snag another 1,000 donors in the final 24 hours. We managed to pull that one off too, three hours ahead of schedule. These generous supporters gave us momentum and encouragement- they are an important part of our success.

Lesson #3: Keep calm and shoot for the moon.
Every successful fundraising campaign feels like a high wire act. There are more questions than answers: Do we need a goal? What if we don’t make it? What if the goal is too ambitious? Will the technology work? Is the message clear? Is the campaign too long?

For this campaign, we designed everythingthe purpose, messaging, donor levels, incentives, promotion plan, the payment process, the video, and the rewards. We made many plans that were often be tossed aside at a moment’s notice. The effort was part science, part art.  

The results speak for themselves:
We secured over 19,500 donors total, from over 60 countries, shattering our stretch goals. The outpour of recurring support was staggering: a whopping 82% of our donations. This means we will have continued support for our producers throughout the upcoming year. It gives us an opportunity to consistently connect with donors and fans, further cultivating and strengthening our community. It also means we will never start at zero again.

One especially moving result of the campaign was the number of people, nearly 100, who donated at pilot fund level. Contributors to this premium will play an active role on our internal committee that will evaluate show pilot ideas, ensuring fan participation in planning the next generation of Radiotopia content.


Lesson #4: Differentiation matters.
There are over 300,000 podcasts in the iTunes store now, so quality and strength of narrative is how we improve our signal-to-noise ratio. In the spirit of Radiotopia’s diverse mix of style, topic, voice and sensibility, we offered unique donor incentives along the way: a handmade quilt from The Allusionist. Exclusive content from Love+Radio and Song Exploder. Private storytelling workshops from Strangers. Free live show tickets from Criminal. Our rewards reflected our collective creativity, and that resonated loudly with donors.

Lesson #5: Make bold statements (e.g. We have the best fans in the world).
Overall, this campaign taught us a great deal about our audience and ourselves. We were delighted to receive heartfelt love letters from fans all over the world, professing their devotion to our shows. Campaigns like this raise money of course, but most importantly they allow us to connect more closely with our listeners. The last 30 days helped set the tone for the future of Radiotopia; we are excited to plot what will come and grateful that our fans will be our partners along the way.

The post The Coin, the Quilt and the Superfan: Radiotopia Fundraising Lessons appeared first on PRX.

by Maggie Taylor at November 24, 2015 02:23 PM

Bruce Schneier
Policy Repercussions of the Paris Terrorist Attacks

In 2013, in the early days of the Snowden leaks, Harvard Law School professor and former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith reflected on the increase in NSA surveillance post 9/11. He wrote:

Two important lessons of the last dozen years are (1) the government will increase its powers to meet the national security threat fully (because the People demand it), and (2) the enhanced powers will be accompanied by novel systems of review and transparency that seem to those in the Executive branch to be intrusive and antagonistic to the traditional national security mission, but that in the end are key legitimating factors for the expanded authorities.

Goldsmith is right, and I think about this quote as I read news articles about surveillance policies with headlines like "Political winds shifting on surveillance after Paris attacks?"

The politics of surveillance are the politics of fear. As long as the people are afraid of terrorism -- regardless of how realistic their fears are -- they will demand that the government keep them safe. And if the government can convince them that it needs this or that power in order to keep the people safe, the people will willingly grant them those powers. That's Goldsmith's first point.

Today, in the wake of the horrific and devastating Paris terror attacks, we're at a pivotal moment. People are scared, and already Western governments are lining up to authorize more invasive surveillance powers. The US want to back-door encryption products in some vain hope that the bad guys are 1) naive enough to use those products for their own communications instead of more secure ones, and 2) too stupid to use the back doors against the rest of us. The UK is trying to rush the passage of legislation that legalizes a whole bunch of surveillance activities that GCHQ has already been doing to its own citizens. France just gave its police a bunch of new powers. It doesn't matter that mass surveillance isn't an effective anti-terrorist tool: a scared populace wants to be reassured.

And politicians want to reassure. It's smart politics to exaggerate the threat. It's smart politics to do something, even if that something isn't effective at mitigating the threat. The surveillance apparatus has the ear of the politicians, and the primary tool in its box is more surveillance. There's minimal political will to push back on those ideas, especially when people are scared.

Writing about our country's reaction to the Paris attacks, Tom Engelhardt wrote:

...the officials of that security state have bet the farm on the preeminence of the terrorist 'threat,' which has, not so surprisingly, left them eerily reliant on the Islamic State and other such organizations for the perpetuation of their way of life, their career opportunities, their growing powers, and their relative freedom to infringe on basic rights, as well as for that comfortably all-embracing blanket of secrecy that envelops their activities.

Goldsmith's second point is more subtle: when these power increases are made in public, they're legitimized through bureaucracy. Together, the scared populace and their scared elected officials serve to make the expanded national security and law enforcement powers normal.

Terrorism is singularly designed to push our fear buttons in ways completely out of proportion to the actual threat. And as long as people are scared of terrorism, they'll give their governments all sorts of new powers of surveillance, arrest, detention, and so on, regardless of whether those powers actual combat the actual threat. This means that those who want those powers need a steady stream of terrorist attacks to enact their agenda. It's not that these people are actively rooting for the terrorists, but they know a good opportunity when they see it.

We know that the PATRIOT Act was largely written before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and that the political climate was right for its introduction and passage. More recently:

Although "the legislative environment is very hostile today," the intelligence community's top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, said to colleagues in an August e-mail, which was obtained by The Post, "it could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement."

The Paris attacks could very well be that event.

I am very worried that the Obama administration has already secretly told the NSA to increase its surveillance inside the US. And I am worried that there will be new legislation legitimizing that surveillance and granting other invasive powers to law enforcement. As Goldsmith says, these powers will be accompanied by novel systems of review and transparency. But I have no faith that those systems will be effective in limiting abuse any more than they have been over the last couple of decades.

by Bruce Schneier at November 24, 2015 12:32 PM

Dennis Yi Tenen
Fellowes Powershred – One of The Best Paper Shredder Brands You Must Have

Whether to protect your identity or your business against identity theft, comply with the law on data protection or simply organize your house or office, there are several factors to consider when choosing the right paper shredder. To help you choose a suitable one, ask yourself the following three questions:

There are a wide variety of paper shredders on the market and answer these three questions will help you find shredders category that best fits your needs.

  1. Where will the shredder be?
  2. How many people will use the shredder daily?
  3. What kind of document should be destroyed?

Based on paper shredder reviews, in this article we recommend you the Fellowes Powershred, one of the most powerful and effective paper shredder brands that you should have.

Prevention of paper jams, quiet operation, shredders Fellowes Powershred offer the features that you need. Fellowes offers a complete range of models to meet all your needs. Following are some tips to help you choose a suitable Fellowes paper shredder. Keep reading to find out!


Based on your answers to these three questions, you may decide that you need a small personal shredder for home, a shredder for small and medium businesses which can process a larger volume and accommodate multiple users, or perhaps of a commercial shredder that will be shared by many users. Although the size of shredder you choose will depend on where it will be used and the number of users, other technical factors also come into play.

For example, Fellowes Powershred offers Fellowes Powershred W-11C 11 Sheet Paper and Credit Card Cross-Cut Shredder which is a medium type for your home or small office.

Each paper shredder has an operating cycle of its own. The operating cycle corresponds to the duration for which a shredder can operate continuously. The operation of cycles can vary from 2 minutes to more than an hour, depending on the size of the shredder.

In addition to the operating cycle, one must also consider the overall performance of the shredder. The efficiency is a combination of three important features which contribute to the overall performance of a paper shredder namely: the sheet capacity, the rate of shredding and operating cycle. The performance tells us how many sheets, how fast and for how long? These features will help you determine the level of productivity you’ll be able to expect from your shredder.


The level of security you need depends on the sensitivity of the information you will destroy. There are four levels of security. The higher the security level, the higher the cut will be fine.

A level 1 straight cut paper shredder offers a basic level of security. Confetti of a straight cutting similar to a long strip as paper and a width of 5.8 mm. This means that a paper letter size will be destroyed in 39 bands.

With cross cut shredders (Level 2), it becomes very difficult to reconstruct a sheet to read. The size of the confetti from a cross-cutting is generally 4 mm x 50 mm. A sheet of letter size paper will be destroyed in 300 confetti. This represents a significant increase in confetti and therefore the security level.

If you must destroy highly confidential documents and want an even higher level of security, you should consider a shredder Level 3 Microwave cut. The size of confetti for a micro-cut shredder is generally 2 mm x 15 mm. A sheet of letter size paper will be destroyed in 3700 confetti.

The high-security shredders approved by the government provide the highest level of protection. Designed to destroy top-secret and classified documents, high-security shredders cut paper of 0.8 mm x 5 mm. A sheet of letter size paper will be destroyed in over 15,000 confetti.


Now that you know the main specifications, we can address the innovative technologies of Fellowes that make the destruction of documents easier, faster and safer.

As with the performance and safety levels, the characteristics of shredders are not equal all. After thinking about the location of your shredder and the number of users, you may be interested in some particularly useful features.

Anti-jamming technology

100% Jam Proof Technology of Fellowes not only prevents paper jams before they happen but also performs the toughest jobs. Fellowes has developed this technology to meet and eliminate the source of major frustration of shredder’s users. They have also developed the Automatic Reverse which stops the motor and brings out the paper before it is stuck, and Jam Blocke which prevents paper jam before it occurs.


SafeSense – Paper Shredders Fellowes offer different levels of security ranging from the manual lock to advanced technologies like SafeSense. SafeSense Fellowes offers a much safer experience for users by automatically stopping the shredder as soon as a hand touches the paper insertion slot.


SilentShred – The sound quality of shredders is also important especially in a shared workspace. Fellowes developed the SilentShred technology which makes the extra quiet and eliminates sound variations.

Exclusive Power Saving System

Technology of Energy Saving System reduces power consumption in both the operation mode and standstill mode.


The last important point that you should consider is the type of material that the paper shredder can destroy: paper clips, credit cards, CDs, DVDs and junk mail you intend to regularly destroy. Choose the shredder able to meet all your needs additional and casual.

Now you have all information that you need to select a Fellowes paper shredder for your needs. Hope you enjoy your choice!

by D3nT3n at November 24, 2015 01:56 AM

November 23, 2015

Q+A with Ann Heppermann of The Sarah Awards

PRX is very excited to be a sponsor of The Sarah Awards, a new international audio fiction competition from Sarah Lawrence College.

Submissions open today (November 23) and PRX Community Manager Audrey Mardavich corresponded with Sarah Awards Founder Ann Heppermann to chat about how The Sarahs came to be, what kind of work they’re looking for, and what greater goals they are hoping to accomplish.

The Sarah Awards Founder, Ann HeppermannThe Sarah Awards Founder, Ann Heppermann

AM: Can you begin by telling me what prompted you to start The Sarah Awards? And once you decided, how did you convince Sarah Lawrence the awards would be worthwhile?

AH: The spark for The Sarah Awards happened about five years ago when I was teaching a radio class at Sarah Lawrence College. At the end of the semester, I allowed the students to create fictional pieces for their final projects. The work they turned in was unlike anything I had heard before. With audio fiction, it was much easier for them to find their own voice, experiment with form, and freely play with sounds. My theory is that this expressiveness was possible because the students did not have preconceived notions of what audio fiction should sound like. With their nonfiction pieces, they already had Ira Glass or NPR tucked away somewhere in their subconscious. It was hard to shake the voices they listened to all the time from their heads. But with fiction, the students kept casting about their creative ideas and seeing how they landed. I loved the pieces.

But after the class was over, these fictional pieces had no home. It was disheartening. I thought to myself, “Audio fiction needs its own Third Coast.” In my opinion, the Third Coast International Audio Festival has completely transformed the narrative non-fiction and audio documentary landscape. It is a huge reason why we are currently experiencing a second Golden Age of Radio, and significantly shaped its sound.

Luckily, it was not difficult for me to convince Sarah Lawrence to get behind this initiative. Sarah Lawrence College is an academic institution that fosters experimentation and playful creativity. Over the years, Sarah Lawrence has cultivated the talent of visionaries like Yoko Ono, Meredith Monk, J.J. Abrams, Alice Walker, and many others. They embraced the idea of The Sarah Awards and raised the money for the launch. Thus, the revolution was born.

AM: What are a few of characteristics of superb audio fiction? What are you looking for? What gets you excited?

AH: For me, superb audio fiction affects your entire body. It makes me belly laugh. It causes me to weep unabashedly while riding the subway. Most importantly, it should sound like it is a part of the 21st Century. Audio fiction these days should have the same complex sound design listeners demand of non-fiction shows along with exceptional writing and acting. Just like a good book or piece of art, a superb audio fiction piece should stick with you. Because amazing fiction can say more things about the human condition than reality sometimes.

What we are looking for, and encouraging, is audio fiction that challenges the way we think about the genre and pushes the boundaries for what audio can and should be. No more stuffy studio overacting, no cliched sound effects—sound has evolved since the 1930s, let’s use this century to redefine the genre. We want to hear pieces that are so sonically advanced you feel as though you’re watching an entire movie inside your head. Radio drama for the 21st century. That is what the Sarah Awards stands for and celebrates.


AM: Can you tell me a little bit about your podcast Serendipity? Serendipity showcases stories from other producers but also includes a plot about you and Martin, your Sarah Awards cofounder. Can you explain how chose this format?

AH: With Serendipity, we wanted to create a podcast that showcased audio fiction from around the world. When thinking about Serendipity, Martin and I didn’t just want to say, “So, here’s a piece of audio fiction you’ll enjoy.” We wanted to create a podcast where the feature story is nested in another story—kind of like a Russian doll. So we decided that we would have our own story to tell, the story of Ann and Martin. Sometimes you don’t know where the story of Ann and Martin ends and the piece we’re featuring begins. We really wanted to use podcasting to play with the form. It’s more fun this way.

My hope is that you hear things on Serendipity that you’ve never heard before. The first handful of episodes feature pieces we commissioned for the launch of The Sarah Awards. When we launched we knew that people would ask, “What is audio fiction?” So this was also our attempt at an answer. The answer is, “It’s varied.”

We are also using the podcast as a springboard for collaborations with various shows, artists and audio institutions. In October, we collaborated with Snap Judgment as part of our Very, Very, Short, Short Stories Contest. Snap Judgment producers Eliza Smith and Mark Ristich created a hauntingly beautiful sonic triptych called “Sleeping Girl.” It’s so different than anything that we would have made on our own and we loved it. We plan to do more collaborations in this way so that we can introduce both listeners and creators to the possibilities of audio fiction in the 21st Century.

AM: Submissions for The Sarah Awards open today—what are you hoping to accomplish with this contest? Do you have any secret goals (you can tell us about) that you want to reach with the entries?

AH: The ultimate goal for The Sarah Awards? Revolution. Yes, I know it sounds silly and hyperbolic but I am serious with my answer. I want awards to completely change the expectations of listeners and creators when they think about fiction for the ears. I want The Sarah Awards to help define what audio fiction is for the 21st century. This also means opening the award and its mission to the entire world. The Sarah Awards’ official name is The Sarah Lawrence College International Audio Fiction Award. We take the international aspect of the award seriously. We want to hear and share audio fiction stories from around the world and in different languages. What is the culture of audio storytelling in countries from around the world and what can we learn from them? I hope we can help start those conversations.

In the end, we want The Sarah Awards to be both inspired and inspiring. We want to be the beacon of light that has producers swarming together like moths on an autumn evening, to make some of the most awe-inspiring works people have ever heard. Because the audio fiction revolution will not be televised. It’s headed straight for your ears.

Ann Heppermann is a documentary artist, reporter, and educator. She is the founder of The Sarah Awards and its podcast Serendipity. Her Peabody award winning work has aired across the world and on numerous public radio shows in the United States including This American Life, 99% Invisible, and Radiolab. In 2011 she was named a United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow. She teaches audio fiction and narrative journalism at Sarah Lawrence College as part of its writing program. Bitch Magazine has called her a “sort of Goddess of podcasting.” She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The post Q+A with Ann Heppermann of The Sarah Awards appeared first on PRX.

by Audrey at November 23, 2015 07:06 PM

Bruce Schneier
Voter Surveillance

There hasn't been that much written about surveillance and big data being used to manipulate voters. In Data and Goliath, I wrote:

Unique harms can arise from the use of surveillance data in politics. Election politics is very much a type of marketing, and politicians are starting to use personalized marketing's capability to discriminate as a way to track voting patterns and better "sell" a candidate or policy position. Candidates and advocacy groups can create ads and fund-raising appeals targeted to particular categories: people who earn more than $100,000 a year, gun owners, people who have read news articles on one side of a particular issue, unemployed veterans...anything you can think of. They can target outraged ads to one group of people, and thoughtful policy-based ads to another. They can also fine-tune their get-out-the-vote campaigns on Election Day, and more efficiently gerrymander districts between elections. Such use of data will likely have fundamental effects on democracy and voting.

A new research paper looks at the trends:

Abstract: This paper surveys the various voter surveillance practices recently observed in the United States, assesses the extent to which they have been adopted in other democratic countries, and discusses the broad implications for privacy and democracy. Four broad trends are discussed: the move from voter management databases to integrated voter management platforms; the shift from mass-messaging to micro-targeting employing personal data from commercial data brokerage firms; the analysis of social media and the social graph; and the decentralization of data to local campaigns through mobile applications. The de-alignment of the electorate in most Western societies has placed pressures on parties to target voters outside their traditional bases, and to find new, cheaper, and potentially more intrusive, ways to influence their political behavior. This paper builds on previous research to consider the theoretical tensions between concerns for excessive surveillance, and the broad democratic responsibility of parties to mobilize voters and increase political engagement. These issues have been insufficiently studied in the surveillance literature. They are not just confined to the privacy of the individual voter, but relate to broader dynamics in democratic politics.

by Bruce Schneier at November 23, 2015 06:52 PM

Ana Enriquez
Doing Without Bar Review: Learning about the exam

Doing without a bar prep course is not for everyone, but I highly recommend it to people who remember their first year courses, want to save money, and/or think it sounds like fun (yes, that would be me).

I took and passed the Massachusetts bar in July 2013 and the Illinois bar in July 2015. I passed both on my first attempt, and I did not use bar prep courses. In my self-guided study, I benefited from many other people’s blog posts on the subject, and I’ve been meaning to share my own experience for a while.

The first step in studying, especially if you haven’t taken other bar exams, is to learn a bit about the format of the exam you’ll be taking. You’ll want to determine the schedule of the exam, the format of its various components (essay, multiple-choice, etc.), and the content tested in each of those components. It’s also helpful to check where the hard deadlines are: do you have 30 minutes for each of six essays or 3 hours to do them all? Having the format in mind will help you as you decide how to study, and the subjects will tell you what to study. I found that the state bar examiners’ sites were a good starting place for all of this info.

The state websites may also give out advice. Read it! For instance, the Massachusetts bar shares a one-pager on writing the essay exam. It wasn’t revelatory, but it did help me to think about what the graders would be looking for. I also saved it to reread in the final days before the exam — at that point it was very calming to revisit its simple tips.

Once you’ve squeezed out all the information you can get from the state site, go to the site for the National Council of Bar Examiners or any other group that writes a multistate component you’ll be using. They too share information about exam content, as well as tips for studying. The MBE and MEE Subject Matter Outlines were a huge help to me.

Then, go over the information you’ve gathered. Do you have a sense of what each subject entails? Of their relative importance? If you’re missing information, it’s worth diving into a bar-prep message board where your fellow examinees are sharing info about the exam. Remember, though, that one of the great benefits of avoiding a bar prep course is avoiding your crazed fellow examinees. I strictly limited the time I spent in such places, and I’m glad I did.

However, some info is worth going to the message boards for. For instance, many of the bar prep companies make frequency charts of the essay subjects, such as this Kaplan chart for the Illinois exam. These charts are quite valuable, as they enable you to focus your study time on frequently-tested topics and to worry less about, e.g., your state’s claim that income taxation is tested in the essay portion. See if you can take a look at a classmate’s or find one online. Even an out-of-date one is useful.

I’ll be posting tomorrow about the study materials I found most useful and on Wednesday about my studying strategies.

by anaenriquez at November 23, 2015 04:53 PM

November 22, 2015

David Weinberger
Bing can’t find Windows 10 Ten Cents sale…but Google can

I heard that Microsoft has some excellent $0.10 deals for Windows 10 owners like me. So I checked Bing:

bing listing

The top hit (an ad by Microsoft) takes you to a page for corporate sales of Windows phones.

The second hit (an ad by Microsoft) takes you to the generic Microsoft Store front page from which it is virtually impossible to find the $0.10 sales.

None of the rest of the results on the first page of the Bing search gets you anywhere close.

Same search at Google:

google listing

The top hit (a Microsoft ad) takes you to the same generic front page of the Microsoft Store as the second hit on Bing, which makes no mention of the $0.10 sales.

The following Google results take you to pages about the $0.10 sales from which you can actually get to the goddamn sale.

Yes, these sales are real. For example, this is from the site this afternoon:

google listing

I got there by going to the post listed in the Google results….although right now the Windows site is telling me that something is wrong and I should come back later.

PS: To get to the Hitman Go sale, my best advice is to go to the Windows Store on your Windows 10 machine. The $0.10 sales are featured there. Or search there for Hitman Go.

by davidw at November 22, 2015 06:50 PM

November 21, 2015

Dennis Yi Tenen
Which Earbuds Should You Choose With Less Than $100

Among the useful gifts to make this holiday season, why not choose high-end headphones for your music player? There are for everyone, to all ages. This article has compared four models best earbuds under 100 for your choice: Shure SE110, Creative Zen Aurvana, In-Ear Bose Intra, and Philips SHE9850.

Shure SE110: heir

About Shure product ranges, we really had impressed with its SE530, high-end headphones represents the ultimate in the field. Despite price

Supplied with a cover and an assortment of tips, the SE110 features a white and gray design which is not inevitably everyone’s taste. In fact, the look is sporty and easily portable with a business suit. Fortunately, a black version exists as well.

The comfortable Shure SE110 uses the same system as the SE530, the wire must pass over and behind the ear, such as professional stage monitors which they are inspired. You may get confuse at first, then you’ll quickly get the hang of for wear and take off.

The sound is at good quality, but of course not as excellent as the SE530. It is especially the mediums that are highlighted on this model is lacking significantly in the lower trunk. In general, the SE110 is certainly one of the most balanced in this price range.

Creative Aurvana In-Ear: the challenger

Creative has appointed its Zen Aurvana In-Ear Aurvana in order not to err in the stores for Christmas. These models come with many accessories: not only tips in different sizes, but also a tool to clean or a strong plastic box for storage.

Small and light
Creative design uses a classical score with very discrete black lacquered headphones, hence, it is very small and lightweight. The wire is also fine, so we get very little clutter and store easily. Their lightness makes them very comfortable and also not really heavy over listening. Their lightness makes them very comfortable also because not really heavy over listening. The isolation is not against not of the best performing, but it remains honest.

Finally, the sound from the Aurvana is clearly. However, the headphones will have clear direction towards the high mids and treble. The bass is not actually put forward, but still remains more present than some of its competitors. Another defect of the model, the friction on the cables has an impact in the headphones. It’s still a very good model that’s in our price range.

Bose intra: low-killer

Bose offers a single earphone model, Intra. This model is the most expensive of our comparative. Suffice to say that Bose justified in particular by a particularly supplied accessories Endowment: Very comfortable silicone earbuds, choker and clip fixing and luxurious storage case. It is worth the money.

Two-tone design
Unlike competitors, design Intra is not insulated acoustically. So we hear outside sounds as much as if not wearing a helmet. Its design is stylish even with its original grids on the headphones and its unmistakable black and white cable.

Bass enthusiasts can enjoy Bose as those who are providing the most from this comparison. This becomes even impressive for such a small size. Unfortunately, retail lovers will pay the price because the higher frequencies suffer from this orientation. It even takes regrettable that Bose has chosen to highlight this type of sound for its Intra. With a little more treble, it would have been near perfect.

Philips SHE9850: rich in acute

With this model, the manufacturer tries to take cuffed industry experts. Its price position it in the middle of its competitors.

Too unbalanced

Like the latter, it comes with the tips of different sizes (including a set of one-size foam) and also a carrying case. From classic basically.

In terms of design, it is very elegant. The chromed body is encapsulated in transparent gray plastic, all enhanced by a chrome outer ring of the most beautiful effect. No doubt, these SHE9850 are certainly the most elegant in this roundup.

Shame that talent does not confirm the sound level. The great defect of these Philps is the significant lack of bass. Only treble and midrange are detailed so entirely correct. But this lack does not make the users dissatisfy much in its price range.


Above are some recommendations of earbud below $100. Hope you choose the most suitable one! Enjoy!

by D3nT3n at November 21, 2015 04:08 PM

November 20, 2015

Bruce Schneier
Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Spawning in South Australian Waters

Divers are counting them:

Squid gather and mate with as many partners as possible, then die, in an annual ritual off Rapid Head on the Fleurieu Peninsula, south of Adelaide.

Department of Environment divers will check the waters and gather data on how many eggs are left by the spawning squid.

No word on how many are expected. Ten? Ten billion? I have no idea.

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

by Bruce Schneier at November 20, 2015 10:30 PM

Berkman Center front page
Radio Berkman 232: Technology on Trial


What happens when technology becomes a central part of a criminal trial? That's what happened with the trial of the founder Silk Road, and is happening more often. And that's why we need guides, like journalist and lawyer Sarah Jeong.

Thumbnail Image: 

You've likely heard of Silk Road - the black market e-commerce hub that was shutdown in 2013 for becoming a magnet for vendors of illicit goods. But the story of its shutdown, and the investigation and trial that followed, is complicated enough that we need a guide.

On this week's podcast Berkman Affiliate Hasit Shah brings together members of the Berkman community to speak with journalist and legal expert Sarah Jeong about what it was like to follow the Silk Road trial, and how the justice system copes when technology becomes a central part of a case.


Listeners: We need your stories! Was there ever a time you used the web to be anonymous? Have you ever had a digital alter ego? If you’ve ever used a blog or a social media account to do something you didn't want connected to your real identity, we want to hear about it! We’ve set up a special hotline. All you have to do is call-in and tell your story on our voicemail, and we'll feature you on an upcoming episode. (617) 682-0376.

Reference Section
More about Sarah Jeong
Follow Sarah Jeong's coverage of Silk Road and more at Forbes
Find out more about Hasit Shah

Tweet us! Subscribe to us on Soundcloud, iTunes, or RSS.

This week's episode produced by Hasit Shah with Daniel Dennis Jones.

by djones at November 20, 2015 05:18 PM

Radio Berkman 232: Technology on Trial
Listen:or download | …also in Ogg You’ve likely heard of Silk Road – the black market e-commerce hub that was shutdown in 2013 for becoming a magnet for vendors of illicit goods. But the story of its shutdown, and the investigation and trial that followed, is complicated enough that we need a guide. On this […]

by Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School ( at November 20, 2015 04:58 PM

Bruce Schneier
Reputation in the Information Age

Reputation is a social mechanism by which we come to trust one another, in all aspects of our society. I see it as a security mechanism. The promise and threat of a change in reputation entices us all to be trustworthy, which in turn enables others to trust us. In a very real sense, reputation enables friendships, commerce, and everything else we do in society. It's old, older than our species, and we are finely tuned to both perceive and remember reputation information, and broadcast it to others.

The nature of how we manage reputation has changed in the past couple of decades, and Gloria Origgi alludes to the change in her remarks. Reputation now involves technology. Feedback and review systems, whether they be eBay rankings, Amazon reviews, or Uber ratings, are reputational systems. So is Google PageRank. Our reputations are, at least in part, based on what we say on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Basically, what were wholly social systems have become socio-technical systems.

This change is important, for both the good and the bad of what it allows.

An example might make this clearer. In a small town, everyone knows each other, and lenders can make decisions about whom to loan money to, based on reputation (like in the movie It's a Wonderful Life). The system isn't perfect; it is prone to "old-boy network" preferences and discrimination against outsiders. The real problem, though, is that the system doesn't scale. To enable lending on a larger scale, we replaced personal reputation with a technological system: credit reports and scores. They work well, and allow us to borrow money from strangers halfway across the country­ -- and lending has exploded in our society, in part because of it. But the new system can be attacked technologically. Someone could hack the credit bureau's database and enhance her reputation by boosting her credit score. Or she could steal someone else's reputation. All sorts of attacks that just weren't possible with a wholly personal reputation system become possible against a system that works as a technological reputation system.

We like socio-technical systems of reputation because they empower us in so many ways. People can achieve a level of fame and notoriety much more easily on the Internet. Totally new ways of making a living­ -- think of Uber and Airbnb, or popular bloggers and YouTubers -- ­become possible. But the downsides are considerable. The hacker tactic of social engineering involves fooling someone by hijacking the reputation of someone else. Most social media companies make their money leeching off our activities on their sites. And because we trust the reputational information from these socio-technical systems, anyone who can figure out how to game those systems can artificially boost their reputation. Amazon, eBay, Yelp, and others have been trying to deal with fake reviews for years. And you can buy Twitter followers and Facebook likes cheap.

Reputation has always been gamed. It's been an eternal arms race between those trying to artificially enhance their reputation and those trying to detect those enhancements. In that respect, nothing is new here. But technology changes the mechanisms of both enhancement and enhancement detection. There's power to be had on either side of that arms race, and it'll be interesting to watch each side jockeying for the upper hand.

This essay is part of a conversation with Gloria Origgi entitled "What is Reputation?"

by Bruce Schneier at November 20, 2015 01:04 PM

James Losey
Lake Källtorp at Sunset by James Losey Via Flickr: Lake...
Lake Källtorp at Sunset

Lake Källtorp at Sunset by James Losey
Via Flickr:
Lake Källtorp in Nacka is a great place for a hike or a MTB ride. If you time your trip right you can enjoy the sunset over the water.

November 20, 2015 08:35 AM

November 19, 2015

Bruce Schneier
Paris Terrorists Used Double ROT-13 Encryption

That is, no encryption at all. The Intercept has the story:

Yet news emerging from Paris -- as well as evidence from a Belgian ISIS raid in January -- suggests that the ISIS terror networks involved were communicating in the clear, and that the data on their smartphones was not encrypted.

European media outlets are reporting that the location of a raid conducted on a suspected safe house Wednesday morning was extracted from a cellphone, apparently belonging to one of the attackers, found in the trash outside the Bataclan concert hall massacre. Le Monde reported that investigators were able to access the data on the phone, including a detailed map of the concert hall and an SMS messaging saying "we're off; we're starting." Police were also able to trace the phone's movements.

The obvious conclusion:

The reports note that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the "mastermind" of both the Paris attacks and a thwarted Belgium attack ten months ago, failed to use encryption whatsoever (read: existing capabilities stopped the Belgium attacks and could have stopped the Paris attacks, but didn't). That's of course not to say batshit religious cults like ISIS don't use encryption, and won't do so going forward. Everybody uses encryption. But the point remains that to use a tragedy to vilify encryption, push for surveillance expansion, and pass backdoor laws that will make everybody less safe -- is nearly as gruesome as the attacks themselves.

And what is it about this "mastermind" label? Why do we have to make them smarter than they are?

EDITED TO ADD: More information.

EDITED TO ADD: My previous blog post on this.

by Bruce Schneier at November 19, 2015 07:29 PM

David Weinberger
Google stepping forward to defend Fair Use

Google has just posted that it’s going to start defending some YouTube videos from DMCA takedown notices when it believes that those videos are protected by the Fair Use exemption from copyright law.

This is great news and long overdue.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 lets a copyright holder send a notice to a site like YouTube claiming that a video violates its copyright. YouTube passes that notice on to the video poster and takes down the video. The poster can enter into a legal battle with the copyright holder which is rarely worth the time and money even if the poster is totally within her rights.

As a result, Big Content sends YouTube thousands of takedown notices that are generated algorithmically, without a human ever looking at the video to see if it is actually a violation. Since there’s no practical penalty for sending in a groundless takedown notice, Big Content has a “When in doubt, take it out” attitude.

But you usually can’t tell if a video falls under the Fair Use exemption without looking at it. Fair Use exempts material from claims of copyright infringement if the material is satire, if it’s citing the original in a review, for some educational purposes, etc. Fair Use is just plain common sense. Without it, you’d have to get Donald Trump’s permission to mem-ify one of his quotes.

Google to its credit recently used Fair Use to defend Google Books‘ scanning and indexing of in-copyright works. It won. This was a big victory for Fair Use.

Now Google seems ready to step forward and champion Fair Use in other realms. It’s hard to see how this benefits Google directly — they’ll be spending legal fees to keep some person’s video up, even as 400 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. But creating a Fair Use speed bump in the automatic and robotic cleansing of the Net is great for the ecosystem, which is great for us and ultimately for companies like Google that rely on the Internet remaining a robust domain of discourse and creativity.

by davidw at November 19, 2015 05:50 PM

"You will not have my hatred"

Antoine Leiris
Monday, November 16, 2015

Vous n’aurez pas ma haine

Vendredi soir vous avez volé la vie d’un être d’exception, l’amour de ma vie, la mère de mon fils mais vous n’aurez pas ma haine. Je ne sais pas qui vous êtes et je ne veux pas le savoir, vous êtes des âmes mortes. Si ce Dieu pour lequel vous tuez aveuglément nous a fait à son image, chaque balle dans le corps de ma femme aura été une blessure dans son coeur.

Alors non je ne vous ferai pas ce cadeau de vous haïr. Vous l’avez bien“I will not give you the gift of hating you.” cherché pourtant mais répondre à la haine par la colère ce serait céder à la même ignorance qui a fait de vous ce que vous êtes. Vous voulez que j’ai peur, que je regarde mes concitoyens avec un oeil méfiant, que je sacrifie ma liberté pour la sécurité. Perdu. Même joueur joue encore.

Je l’ai vue ce matin. Enfin, après des nuits et des jours d’attente. Elle était aussi belle que lorsqu’elle est partie ce vendredi soir, aussi belle que lorsque j’en suis tombé éperdument amoureux il y a plus de 12 ans. Bien sûr je suis dévasté par le chagrin, je vous concède cette petite victoire, mais elle sera de courte durée. Je sais qu’elle nous accompagnera chaque jour et que nous nous retrouverons dans ce paradis des âmes libres auquel vous n’aurez jamais accès.

Nous sommes deux, mon fils et moi, mais nous sommes plus fort que toutes“You want me to be afraid, for me to regard my fellow citizens with a suspicious eye, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You lose.” les armées du monde. Je n’ai d’ailleurs pas plus de temps à vous consacrer, je dois rejoindre Melvil qui se réveille de sa sieste. Il a 17 mois à peine, il va manger son goûter comme tous les jours, puis nous allons jouer comme tous les jours et toute sa vie ce petit garçon vous fera l’affront d’être heureux et libre. Car non, vous n’aurez pas sa haine non plus.


“You will not have my hatred”

Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you will not have my hatred. I do not know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If the God for whom you kill so blindly made us in His image, each bullet in the body of my wife would be a wound in His heart. “ …all his life this little boy will affront you with his happiness and freedom.”

So no, I will not give you the gift of hating you. You have obviously sought it but responding to hatred with anger would be to give in to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, for me to regard my fellow citizens with a suspicious eye, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You lose. Game over.

I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left Friday evening, and just as beautiful as when I fell madly in love with her more than 12 years ago. Of course I am devastated with grief, I concede that tiny victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will be with us every day and that we will find each other again in a paradise of free souls to which you will never have access.

We are two, my son and me, but we are more powerful than all the armies of the world. I have no more time to waste on you, I need to get back to Melvil who is waking up from his afternoon nap. He’s just 17 months old; he’ll eat his snack like every day, and then we’re going to play like we do every day; and all his life this little boy will affront you with his happiness and freedom. Because you won’t have his hatred either.

It can be heart-breaking to be an adult.

by davidw at November 19, 2015 02:23 PM

Bruce Schneier
Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Fishing Championship

It's an annual event in Hvar, Croatia.

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

by Bruce Schneier at November 19, 2015 01:32 PM

RFID-Shielded, Ultra-Strong Duffel Bags

They're for carrying cash through dangerous territory:

SDR Traveller caters to people who, for one reason or another, need to haul huge amounts of cash money through dangerous territory. The bags are made from a super strong, super light synthetic material designed for yacht sails, are RFID-shielded, and are rated by how much cash in US$100 bills each can carry....

by Bruce Schneier at November 19, 2015 12:16 PM

Justin Reich
The Greatest Ed Tech Generation Ever
LIVE at the EdTechTeacher iPad Summit Boston, Justin Reich calls on all educators to make this the "greatest ed tech generation ever."

by Beth Holland at November 19, 2015 11:38 AM

Bruce Schneier
Paris Attacks Blamed on Strong Cryptography and Edward Snowden

Well, that didn't take long:

As Paris reels from terrorist attacks that have claimed at least 128 lives, fierce blame for the carnage is being directed toward American whistleblower Edward Snowden and the spread of strong encryption catalyzed by his actions.

Now the Paris attacks are being used an excuse to demand back doors.

CIA Director John Brennan chimed in, too.

Of course, this was planned all along. From September:

Privately, law enforcement officials have acknowledged that prospects for congressional action this year are remote. Although "the legislative environment is very hostile today," the intelligence community's top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, said to colleagues in an August e-mail, which was obtained by The Post, "it could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement."

There is value, he said, in "keeping our options open for such a situation."

I was going to write a definitive refutation to the meme that it's all Snowden's fault, but Glenn Greenwald beat me to it.

EDITED TO ADD: It wasn't fair for me to characterize Ben Wittes's Lawfare post as agitating for back doors. I apologize.

Better links are these two New York Times stories.

EDITED TO ADD (11/17): These two essays are also good.

EDITED TO ADD (11/18): The New York Times published a powerful editorial against mass surveillance.

EDITED TO ADD (11/19): The New York Times deleted a story claiming the attackers used encryption. Because it turns out they didn't use encryption.

by Bruce Schneier at November 19, 2015 04:14 AM

November 18, 2015

David Weinberger
Quiet blog

This has been one of the longest stretches of non-blogging for me since I stopped blogging every freaking day in around 2010.

In part it’s because I’ve been traveling — to Mexico City for a library conference I blogged about, to Penn State for a talk at the new and really interesting Center for Humanities and Information, to Atlanta to talk at a Deloitte internal Knowledge Management get-together. (I’ve decided to mention my speaking more often in my blog to remind people that this is something I do. For the past twenty years I’ve barely ever mentioned it because it felt like bragging. It still does. Sorry.)

But it’s not really the traveling that’s kept me non-blogging. It’s that I’m in a weirdly hyperactive brain state. There’s too much to think about. Some ideas I’ve been trying to nail down — or, more exactly, tie to other ideas and wrangle into words — have kept my brain from settling. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, but almost all of it is fodder for re-writing.

Mainly what I’ve been thinking about is the way in which our idea of how the future works has been changing under our noses. I’m getting very close (I hope) to having a book proposal on that topic. But I’m not there yet. The ideas feel like they almost work together, but they don’t yet. Maybe they won’t ever. Maybe they’re bad ideas. Most of my ideas are, and some would say they all are.

It’s a weird state, waiting for a phase change.

I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, here’s something encouraging about the world.

by davidw at November 18, 2015 09:50 PM

Bruce Schneier
Ads Surreptitiously Using Sound to Communicate Across Devices

This is creepy and disturbing:

Privacy advocates are warning federal authorities of a new threat that uses inaudible, high-frequency sounds to surreptitiously track a person's online behavior across a range of devices, including phones, TVs, tablets, and computers.

The ultrasonic pitches are embedded into TV commercials or are played when a user encounters an ad displayed in a computer browser. While the sound can't be heard by the human ear, nearby tablets and smartphones can detect it. When they do, browser cookies can now pair a single user to multiple devices and keep track of what TV commercials the person sees, how long the person watches the ads, and whether the person acts on the ads by doing a Web search or buying a product.

Related: a Chrome extension that broadcasts URLs over audio.

by Bruce Schneier at November 18, 2015 12:59 PM

James Losey
Surveillance of Communications: A Legitimization Crisis and the Need for Transparency

I have a new article out in the International Journal of Communication titled “Surveillance of Communications: A Legitimization Crisis and the Need for Transparency.” The article is open access and available here.

The surveillance of communications faces a legitimization crisis. The information and communication technologies (ICT) that facilitate contemporary communications, from mobile phones to social media platforms, can also facilitate surveillance. The position of ICT services in mediating communications places companies in a position to be under legal and extralegal pressure from law enforcement and other government agencies turn over details of user communications as well as remove content. The collection of communications data by governments has increased precipitously in recent years, in part due to changing technologies. As Bankston and Soltani (2014) document, surveillance historically required considerable costs and manpower. For example, where tracking the location of an individual might have involved multiple police officers in the past, today this data is often collected by telecommunications companies and then accessed by law enforcement on request, lowering the costs of bulk surveillance (ibid.).

Transparency is a critical step toward accountability of the mechanisms through which law enforcement and government agencies access communications data. Since 2010, a growing contingent of ICT companies have begun to publish transparency reports on the extent that governments request their user data, and some include requirements to remove content as well. However, governments have fallen short on providing the level of detail on surveillance programs that is necessary for informed debate. This article offers an overview of transparency reports currently published by ICT companies and discusses why increased transparency is a necessary but insufficient condition for accountability and supporting democratic debates on the practice and extent of surveillance of communications. Furthermore, this article discusses why governments are well-positioned to provide a greater level of transparency on the legal processes and technical means through which law enforcement actors and agencies access private communications data.

November 18, 2015 12:31 PM

November 17, 2015

Bruce Schneier

I have avoided writing about the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), largely because the details kept changing. (For those not following closely, similar bills were passed by both the House and the Senate. They're now being combined into a single bill which will be voted on again, and then almost certainly signed into law by President Obama.)

Now that it's pretty solid, I find that I don't have to write anything, because Danny Weitzner did such a good job, writing about how the bill encourages companies to share personal information with the government, allows them to take some offensive measures against attackers (or innocents, if they get it wrong), waives privacy protections, and gives companies immunity from prosecution.

Information sharing is essential to good cybersecurity, and we need more of it. But CISA is a really a bad law.

This is good, too.

by Bruce Schneier at November 17, 2015 06:03 PM

Refuse to Be Terrorized

Paul Krugman has written a really good update of my 2006 esssay.


So what can we say about how to respond to terrorism? Before the atrocities in Paris, the West's general response involved a mix of policing, precaution, and military action. All involved difficult tradeoffs: surveillance versus privacy, protection versus freedom of movement, denying terrorists safe havens versus the costs and dangers of waging war abroad. And it was always obvious that sometimes a terrorist attack would slip through.

Paris may have changed that calculus a bit, especially when it comes to Europe's handling of refugees, an agonizing issue that has now gotten even more fraught. And there will have to be a post-mortem on why such an elaborate plot wasn't spotted. But do you remember all the pronouncements that 9/11 would change everything? Well, it didn't -- and neither will this atrocity.

Again, the goal of terrorists is to inspire terror, because that's all they're capable of. And the most important thing our societies can do in response is to refuse to give in to fear.


But our job is to remain steadfast in the face of terror, to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to not panic every time two Muslims stand together checking their watches. There are approximately 1 billion Muslims in the world, a large percentage of them not Arab, and about 320 million Arabs in the Middle East, the overwhelming majority of them not terrorists. Our job is to think critically and rationally, and to ignore the cacophony of other interests trying to use terrorism to advance political careers or increase a television show's viewership.

The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer.

This crass and irreverent essay was written after January's Paris terrorist attack, but is very relevant right now.

by Bruce Schneier at November 17, 2015 12:36 PM

November 16, 2015

Bruce Schneier
Did Carnegie Mellon Attack Tor for the FBI?

There's pretty strong evidence that the team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University who canceled their scheduled 2015 Black Hat talk deanonymized Tor users for the FBI.

Details are in this Vice story and this Wired story (and these two follow-on Vice stories). And here's the reaction from the Tor Project.

Nicholas Weaver guessed this back in January.

The behavior of the researchers is reprehensible, but the real issue is that CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC) has lost its credibility as an honest broker. The researchers discovered this vulnerability and submitted it to CERT. Neither the researchers nor CERT disclosed this vulnerability to the Tor Project. Instead, the researchers apparently used this vulnerability to deanonymize a large number of hidden service visitors and provide the information to the FBI.

Does anyone still trust CERT to behave in the Internet's best interests?

by Bruce Schneier at November 16, 2015 12:19 PM

November 14, 2015

Let’s scale #intentcasting

intent-starThe only way #VRM can get scale is by giving customers scale. And customers won’t get scale until enablers of VRM leverage the same open source code and protocols.

Scale for customers means being able to deal with many companies the same way, and to issue signals to whole markets in one move.

We don’t have that yet, though there is lots of development work going on. On the ProjectVRM wiki we list many dozens of development projects, including  22 startups in the Intelligent Personal Assistant and intentcasting categories (“†” signifies a commercial effort):

Intelligent Personal Assistants

  • iNeed † “Your own personal assistant.”
  • MyWave † “‘Frank’ puts the customer in control of “getting personalised experiences anytime, anywhere, on any device.”


Note: Intelligent Personal Assistants, above, by nature also do intentcasting.

  • About2Buy † “A Collaborative Commerce System to Align Internet Buyers & Sellers Via Multiple Channels of Social Distribution.”
  • Crowdspending † “… gives each of us the power of all of us.”
  • GetHuman † “Need to contact a company? Or have them call you? Get customer service faster and easier.”
  • Greentoe † “Finally…There’s a New Way to Shop! Name Your Price & We Negotiate For You.”
  • HomeAdvisor † “We help you find trusted home improvement pros.”
  • Indie Dash Button “This … turns traditional advertising on its head, and removes the need for complicated targeting technology. Customers readily identify themselves, creating more valuable sales channels where guesswork is all but eliminated.”
  • Intently † “Request any service anywhere with”
  • Instacart † “The best way to shop for groceries — Delivered from the stores you love in one hour”
  • Magic † “Text this phone number to get whatever you want on demand with no hassle…”
  • Mesh † “Connect with only the things you love… See ads from brands that matter to you. And block the ones that don’t.”
  • MyTime † “Book appointments for anything.”
  • Nifti † – Intentcasting “puts” in the market at customer (or community-) -chosen prices
  • Pikaba † “Pikaba is Social Shopping Platform that captures consumer intent to purchase and connects them with the right local business.”
  • PricePatrol † “monitors nearby stores for what you want at the price you want”
  • RedBeacon † “Trusted pros for a better home.”
  • TaskRabbit † “Tell us what you need, let us know what we can take off your plate, choose a Tasker, hire one of our fully vetted Taskers to get the job done.”
  • Thumbtack † “We help you hire experienced professionals at a price that’s right.”
  • TrackIf † “Track your favorite sites for sales, new items, back-in-stock, and more.”
  • WebOfNeeds – “A distributed marketplace driven by customer needs.”
  • yellCast † “What you want, where you want it.”
  • Zaarly † “Hire local, hand-picked home services. We moderate every job and guarantee happiness at virtually any cost.”

But so far only two projects on those lists — the Indie Dash Button — and WebOfNeeds — give people (and companies helping them, such as those on the two lists) an open source way to scale across multiple vendors with the same signaling method. (I am sure there are more. If you know some, or want us to correct this list, please let us know and we’ll make the changes.)

Talk about intentcasting has increased lately, thanks to the need for better signaling from demand to supply at a time when more than 200 million souls are blocking ads, and there is a growing sense that this is a crisis for advertisers and publishers that’s too good to waste —and that the best either of those parties can do is a better job of listening for signals from the marketplace that are beyond their control but will do them some good. Intentcasting is one of those signals.

Intentcasting is a good signal because it’s friendly and comes from either new customers wanting to spend or existing customers wanting to relate (for example, to obtain services). In the former case it fits nicely into the existing need (and programmatic interfaces for) lead generation. In the latter case it speaks straight to call centers. What matters most is that both come voluntarily and straight from prospective or actual customers.

I’m wondering if there is a semantic-ish approach to Intentcasting. By that I mean a vernacular of abbreviated simple statements of what one is looking for. Example: “2br 2ba apt 10019″ means a two bedroom and two bath apartment in the 10019 zip code.

Again, what matters most here is that these signals need to be issued to the marketplace outside of the silo system that currently comprises way too much of the business world. I know the IndieWeb folks have worked on something like this. (Theirs is the Indie Dash Button, mentioned above).

And I know there are already bitcoin/blockchain appraoches too.  For eample, @MrChrisEllis’s ProTip, which facilitates Bitcoin payments in a nearly frictionless way. There are the broad outlines of possibility in both EmanciTerm and EmanciPay, which are design models we’ve had for years. (ProTip is an example of the latter.)

We could also use a good generic symbol for intent. I don’t know of one, or it would have made the cover of The Intention Economy. The star photo above is the best I could come up with for a visual to go with this post. But the lazyweb should do better than that.

Whatever we come up with, the time could hardly be more right.

[This post was impelled by the need to enlarge on my comment under Move Over, Doc Searls: It’s Time For A New Intention Economy by Kaila Colbin (@kcolbin) in MediaPost. Thanks, Kaila, for getting me going. :-)]

by Doc Searls at November 14, 2015 03:52 PM

Willow Brugh
Title: Politicized Humanitarianism

This post is a collaboration between Margaret Killjoy and yours truly. If you find yourself in need of a co-author or ghostwriter, or just generally like to be challenged and your hopes dashed and lifted at the same time, please reach out to them.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Desmond Tutu

Four years into the Syrian Civil War, with no end in sight, the Syrian refugee crisis is just getting worse and worse. More than four million people have fled their homes and sought refuge in Turkey, Europe, and throughout the world.

There are wonderful grassroots initiatives (most too informal to even call “organizations”) who are on the ground in Europe helping Syrian refugees navigate the nightmare they’ve been thrust into (bureaucracy and xenophobia) after the nightmare they’ve escaped (the Syrian civil war). But as crucial as it is to meet these people’s immediate needs, it will take more than emergency aid to solve the source of this crisis and ones like it. It will take radical, political solutions.

Relief organizations and related nonprofits could position themselves to advocate and act towards / in alignment with those solutions. Which is to say: we need humanitarianism, yes, but if we’re going to find long-term solutions, we also need politicized humanitarianism.

When we speak of people and groups being politicized, we don’t mean campaigning and/or voting for elected officials every few years. Instead, to be political means to do work that addresses the very way our society—and its decision-making—is structured. For many of us, to be political also means to embrace the feminist concept that the personal is political—that the way we interact with one another one-on-one cannot be divorced from the broader structures of social control.

Any attempt to solve a refugee crisis in a world divided into nations faces a simple, obvious problem: the existence of national borders. The tendency of nations is to restrict the free mobility of people. A few Western nations, whether out of an earnest desire to help or in an attempt to look sympathetic to their populations and on the world stage, are publicly considering upping their maximum yearly quotas of Syrian immigrants.

But none seem to consider the eradication of quotas, even for those displaced by war. As national borders shift, their placement often arbitrarily divides existent cultures or ignores cultures and people who themselves are traditionally migratory. Many of the Somali refugees in Dadaab, a refugee complex in Kenya, are pastoralists who follow agropastoralist migration patterns. Yet, cut off from their territory by the existence of arbitrarily-placed borders, they are left destitute, their culture fragmented. In North America, the Tohono O’odham people of the Sonoran desert saw their territory divided by the US-Mexico border in 1853. Increasing militarization of that border has seen many of the tribal members cut off from tribal resource centers across an imaginary line.

In contrast, all over the planet, capital seems to flow right through these borders. In our neoliberal world, some courts claim that corporations are people. This is a myth easily dispelled: corporations, after all, can go more or less wherever they want. Capital can go wherever it wants. People can’t.

Our end objective is to turn neoliberalism on its head: provide for the free mobility of people regardless of their national origin, while challenging the existence and global dominance of wealthy corporations.

We can better provide for human needs in both the short and long term by developing a diverse ecosystem of grassroots organizations that address both the symptoms and the root causes of the world’s problems.

A strict adherence to political neutrality has helped groups such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) develop the reputation it needs to get into the most dangerous corners of the world and provide for human needs. The utility and admirability of that model cannot be denied. While MSF uses their neutrality to gain access, the very same adherence to political neutrality taken to an extreme often prevents state-sanctioned groups like United Nations or the Red Cross and Red Crescent from operating in countries where they have not been specifically invited by the government. Which is, in large part, why the larger and better-funded relief organizations have been unable to provide aid in Germany and other countries who are dealing with a large influx of displaced peoples.

As an example, the code of conduct of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies—which does vital, life-saving work that should not and cannot be dismissed—states that it seeks to “save lives and alleviate suffering of people-in-need as a result of a humanitarian crisis. It focuses on short-term emergency relief, providing basic life-saving services that are disrupted because of a humanitarian crisis. Humanitarian assistance is needs-based and provided in adherence to humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and operational independence.”

It’s an unfortunate truth that addressing symptoms of poverty, displacement, disaster, and the like can be considered non-political while addressing the underlying causes cannot. But it’s only through the dramatic restructuring of our society’s priorities that we might be able to achieve long-term goals like the dismantling of borders and of global economic disparity.

While politicized humanitarian organizations might find themselves operating in countries counter to the wishes of those in power, they should never serve as a colonizing force, either. A simple rubric by which many might judge a group is: do the political or technological solutions they are offering tend to emphasize or diminish the autonomy of those they serve? That is to ask, do the solutions tend towards empowering people?

The Common Ground Collective, formed in New Orleans in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, is a clear example of what can be accomplished by disaster relief that is anti-bureaucratic and openly political. Days before the government or Red Cross were in place, volunteers on bicycles were providing medical aid. They were politically-engaged, primarily along anarchist and Black Panther Party lines, and never hid that from the people they served. Their simple motto of “solidarity not charity” expresses their class consciousness, their desire to foster a culture of mutual aid practiced between peers rather than reinforce the existing social hierarchies in which care and resources come from above.

Their refusal to wait for aid to come through approved channels put them in a position to help people who simply would not have been served by the existing or forthcoming non-politicized infrastructure. They existed to empower people at the same time as they provided human needs. They did this work despite it putting them actively at odds with the “responding” military forces.

The world needs more organizations built around models of solidarity, and it needs more organizations, grassroots initiatives, and empowered individuals to come together to address the fundamental issues we face as a society. We need to start to look beyond providing immediate need. We need to start looking at long-term solutions.

Politicized humanitarianism and politically-neutral humanitarianism could very well work with the other in mind. Groups like MSF are absolutely vital to any real strategy for alleviating suffering, and any politicized humanitarian organizations would do well to bear that in mind, to work in ways that bolster existing, politically-neutral aid structures rather than fighting them.

In fact, it’s only by bolstering existing symbiotic relationships between such organizations, as well as developing a more intentional network, that we are likely to make progress at all.

It’s no surprise, then, at the end of the day, to realize what we need is solidarity between diverse groups, rather than forcing political or strategic unity onto the whole of global humanitarian efforts. Because it’s through solidarity that we raise each other up without forcing one another down. This is as true on the ground in post-Hurricane Katrina as it is on the structural level of humanitarian efforts.

But with all the crises that exist in the world, and all the crises that are sure to come, there needs to be room for politicized humanitarianism. There needs to be room for long-term solutions. There needs to be room for politics.

by bl00 at November 14, 2015 03:20 PM

November 13, 2015

Berkman Center front page
Opportunity: Clinical Instructional Fellow, Cyberlaw Clinic

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University seeks a full-time, paid Clinical Instructional Fellow to join our Cyberlaw Clinic team.

The official human resources language is below, followed by additional context and information.  Applications will be collected online through the Harvard Law School Human Resources Site.


Clinical Instructional Fellow

Duties & Responsibilities   

The Clinical Instructional Fellow’s (Fellow’s) primary responsibility will be to assist the Clinic’s staff attorneys in mentoring students as they represent clients in connection with a variety of challenging cases and matters, including on issues relating to speech, privacy, and intellectual property.  It is hoped that the Fellow will play a particular role in expanding the Clinic’s practice with respect to patent issues, bringing a science or technical background to the team.

The substance of the Fellow’s work will vary from case to case but may include overseeing students in their counseling of clients; preparation of amicus briefs, comments and other filings; and support for policy advocacy efforts. The Fellow may work with startups, public interest organizations, government institutions, and individual clients.  

The Fellow, under the close supervision of the Clinic’s Managing Director and Clinical Instructors, will meet regularly with students to prepare and strategize in connection with the students’ casework; observe students in client interactions; review students’ written and other work product; provide regular and detailed feedback to students on their projects and performance; deliver instruction in basic legal skills and technology-related practice; and ensure professional, high-quality representation of Clinic clients.

The Fellow will also assist in developing new Cyberlaw Clinic cases and clients consistent with the Fellow’s own areas of interest and expertise and will help the Clinic to maintain relationships with existing clients and external partners.   The Fellow will assist the Managing Director and Clinical Instructors in managing the Clinic’s practice and operation.

The Fellow will be part of the intellectual community at the Berkman Center and will have the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences at the Center and Harvard Law School.  The Fellow will have the opportunity to engage with and participate in the fellows community at the Center and will be permitted to spend a limited amount of time to pursue his or her own research and scholarship.  The community of fellows at the Center includes wide range of people working on issues related to Internet and society, including scholars, attorneys, entrepreneurs, and others committed to understanding and advancing the public interest.  The Berkman Center fellowship program aims to encourage and support fellows in an inviting and rigorous intellectual environment, with community activities designed to foster inquiry and collaboration.

The Clinical Instructional Fellow position is a one-year, benefit-eligible, full-time position ending December 31, 2016, with the possibility of extension for six months (through the end of the 2016-17 academic year).  The position reports to the Assistant Director of the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic, based at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

Basic Qualifications

Candidates must have received their Juris Doctor degree within the past 3 years and be admitted to the Massachusetts bar.  Two to three years legal-practice experience with significant Internet/technology and/or relevant intellectual property law background is required.

Additional Qualifications

Expertise in the areas of online transactional/licensing law, counseling of startups (including both for-profits and non-profits), and legal risk assessment and advising is preferred.  A strong technical background and experience with (e.g., engineering, computer science, or hard science) is highly desirable but not strictly required.  Previous experience in a clinical legal setting or the direct supervision and mentoring of young attorneys is also desirable.  

Candidates should be energetic and passionate about working on a variety of technology law and policy issues.  Top academic credentials, superior writing and verbal skills, sound judgment, exceptional ethical standards, and proven abilities in interpersonal communication, supervision, and team building are required.

What is the Berkman Center for Internet & Society?

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

What does the Cyberlaw Clinic do?

The rapid expansion of the Internet during the 1990s and the increasing ability of individuals and organizations to locate and retrieve content online had two important and related effects relevant to the law school clinical model. First, it allowed a wide range of users to obtain and share information at an extraordinary rate. Second, it posed enormous challenges to existing legal regimes in areas such as intellectual property, speech, and privacy. Whereas some could afford to pay for high-quality legal services in the emerging area of “cyberlaw,” the need for free or low-cost legal service organizations to meet the needs of individuals, academics, startups, and others was apparent. At the same time, students graduating from law schools in the late-1990s and early-2000s were increasingly expected by their employers, clients, and others, to come to the workforce prepared to grapple with complex questions relevant to organizations, businesses, and individuals that operate in an online world. The importance of legal issues relevant to the Internet was clear even in areas of practice with no apparent connection to the web, as questions about the intersection technology and law (including laws relating to contracts, intellectual property, jurisdiction, privacy, and speech) impacted virtually everyone.

The Cyberlaw Clinic was born of the need to serve these two constituencies -- prospective clients and students -- and a central aim of the Clinic remains balancing the provision of top-notch legal services to Clinic clients with teaching and pedagogy geared toward students. The Clinic offers HLS students a unique opportunity to engage directly with the practice of law as it relates to the Internet, technology, and new media. It does so by providing high-quality, pro-bono legal services to appropriate individuals, small start-ups, non-profit groups, and government entities regarding cutting-edge issues of the Internet, new technology, and intellectual property. Consistent with the needs of its clients and the interests of its students, the Clinic's practice covers a wide variety of types of work and a broad range of substantive areas of the law.  More information can be found at

Commitment to Diversity

The work and well-being of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University are strengthened profoundly by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and much more. We actively seek and welcome applications from people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, and persons with disabilities.  

To Apply

More information and the official Harvard Human Resource position listing can be found online, and applications must be submitted through the official Harvard channels described at the listing:  <>

The following materials should be submitted with your online application:     
* A short statement (no more than 1000 words) describing relevant experience;
* Resume;
* Writing sample (10 – 15 pages preferred);
* List of at least three references; and
* Law school transcript

by rtabasky at November 13, 2015 08:11 PM

Bruce Schneier
Personal Data Sharing by Mobile Apps

Interesting research:

"Who Knows What About Me? A Survey of Behind the Scenes Personal Data Sharing to Third Parties by Mobile Apps," by Jinyan Zang, Krysta Dummit, James Graves, Paul Lisker, and Latanya Sweeney.

We tested 110 popular, free Android and iOS apps to look for apps that shared personal, behavioral, and location data with third parties.

73% of Android apps shared personal information such as email address with third parties, and 47% of iOS apps shared geo-coordinates and other location data with third parties.

93% of Android apps tested connected to a mysterious domain,, likely due to a background process of the Android phone.

We show that a significant proportion of apps share data from user inputs such as personal information or search terms with third parties without Android or iOS requiring a notification to the user.

EDITED TO ADD: News article.

by Bruce Schneier at November 13, 2015 07:33 PM

Ethan Zuckerman
Urgent: Reports that Bassel Khartabil has been sentenced to death

Bassel Khartabil, a leading figure in the Syrian Open Source software community, has been imprisoned by the Syrian government since March 2012, accused of “harming state security”. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has declared his imprisonment arbitrary and called for his immediate release.


Khartabil’s wife, human rights attorney Noura Ghazi, has recently been contacted by insiders in the Assad government and told that Bassel has been secretly sentenced to death. (English translation/comments on Noura’s Facebook post, which is in Arabic.) It is impossible to confirm these rumors, but this is deeply disturbing news for friends of Bassel and defenders of freedom of expression anywhere.

The Internet Governance Forum in João Pessoa, Brazil, has released a statement demanding that the Syrian government alert Bassel’s family to his whereabouts and exercise clemency in his case. We at the MIT Media Lab join this call, and urge the internet community to exercise whatever pressure we can on the Syrian government to make Bassel’s whereabouts known and release him from detention.

On October 22, the MIT Media Lab invited Bassel Khartabil to join the Lab as a research scientist in the Center for Civic Media, to continue his work building 3D models of the ancient city of Palmyra, whose ruins have been destroyed by ISIS. We continue to hope that Bassel will be able to take his position at the Media Lab, and we desperately hope the rumors of his death sentence are untrue.

We ask for your help in calling attention to Bassel’s arbitrary detention and seeking his whereabouts and immediate release.

-Joi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab (post on Joi’s blog)
-Ethan Zuckerman, Director, MIT Center for Civic Media

by Ethan at November 13, 2015 02:39 PM

Juan Carlos De Martin
My IGF15 Slides
Here are the slides I presented during the celebration for the 20th anniversary of on 9 November 2015 in João Pessoa (day 0 of the Internet Governance Forum 2015).

by Juan Carlos De Martin at November 13, 2015 12:00 PM

November 12, 2015

Bruce Schneier
Testing the Usability of PGP Encryption Tools

"Why Johnny Still, Still Can't Encrypt: Evaluating the Usability of a Modern PGP Client," by Scott Ruoti, Jeff Andersen, Daniel Zappala, and Kent Seamons.

Abstract: This paper presents the results of a laboratory study involving Mailvelope, a modern PGP client that integrates tightly with existing webmail providers. In our study, we brought in pairs of participants and had them attempt to use Mailvelope to communicate with each other. Our results shown that more than a decade and a half after Why Johnny Can't Encrypt, modern PGP tools are still unusable for the masses. We finish with a discussion of pain points encountered using Mailvelope, and discuss what might be done to address them in future PGP systems.

I have recently come to the conclusion that e-mail is fundamentally unsecurable. The things we want out of e-mail, and an e-mail system, are not readily compatible with encryption. I advise people who want communications security to not use e-mail, but instead use an encrypted message client like OTR or Signal.

by Bruce Schneier at November 12, 2015 08:28 PM

Justin Reich
Assessing Innovation: A Case Study Approach to Teacher Evaluation Systems
If teacher evaluation systems encouraged thoughtful innovation, would classroom practice follow? This post presents an imaginary system based on four case studies.

by Beth Holland at November 12, 2015 03:31 PM

Bruce Schneier
Betting Ticket Forged Based on Selfie

This is an interesting story. Someone posts a photograph of herself holding a winning horse-race betting ticket, and someone else uses the data from the photograph to forge the ticket and claim the winnings.

I have been thinking a lot about how technology is messing with our intuitions about risk and security. This is a good example of that.

by Bruce Schneier at November 12, 2015 01:01 PM

November 11, 2015

Stuart Shieber - The Occasional Pamphlet
Upcoming in Tromsø
Northern lights over Tromsø
Northern lights over Tromsø

I’ll be visiting Tromsø, Norway to attend the Tenth Annual Munin Conference on Scholarly Publishing, which is being held November 30 to December 1. I’m looking forward to the talks, including keynotes from Randy Schekman and Sabine Hossenfelder and an interview by Caroline Sutton of my colleague Peter Suber, director of Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication. My own keynote will be on “The role of higher education institutions in scholarly publishing and communication”. Here’s the abstract:

Institutions of higher education are in a double bind with respect to scholarly communication: On the one hand, they need to support the research needs of their students and researchers by providing access to the journals that comprise the archival record of scholarship. Doing so requires payment of substantial subscription fees. On the other hand, they need to provide the widest possible dissemination of works by those same researchers — the fruits of that very research — which itself incurs costs. I address how these two goals, each of which demands outlays of substantial funds, can best be honored. In the course of the discussion, I provide a first look at some new results on predicting journal usage, which allows for optimizing subscriptions.

by Stuart Shieber at November 11, 2015 09:18 PM

David Weinberger
Unlocking Keynote's hidden frames

For some reason, Apple Keynote continues to ship with many more frames than it lets you use. (Frames are called Picture Frames when you click on the Border dropdown menu in the Format panel.) You can get Keynote to list these hidden frames if you’re willing to mess around with a file that might break Keynote.

Please nod your head to indicate that you’ve read and understood the above warning.

The first thing to do is to find the hidden files. For Keynote 6.6 (the latest version), they’re here:


To get there you have to select Keynote in your Applications folder and right-click on it, or do what you have to in order to get the popup menu. Choose “Show Package Contents” and navigate to the Frames folder.

Screen capture of frames UI

In that folder is a file named FrameInspectorLayoutInfo.plist. Make a copy of it as a backup and put it some place safe.

Nod your head to indicate that you have done that. I mean it.

Open the original of that file in a text editor of your choice. (If you’re comfortable editing plists in Xcode, use that. It’s easier.) This is an XML file that lists all the frames that will show up when you choose Picture Frame from the Border dropdown. (To see them, you have to click the tiny triangle to the right of the thumbnail view Keynote provides of the Picture Frame you’ve chosen.)

You can see the available frames in the Frames folder in Finder where you found the file you’re currently editing. To add a frame, you add it to the list called “Asset Scales” that is the first half of the file, and you add it again to the list called “Display Order” that is the second half. But you add it differently in each.

Asset Scales expects an entry of this form:

<key>Spiralbook Creme</key>

Please note that I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THAT SECOND LINE MEANS. So I’ve just been copy-pasting it and replacing the name of the frame. It does not work for some frames (e.g., Venetian 3), which results in a blank spot in the menu of available frames…but if you click on that blank space, for some of them you get the frame anyway. In the sample file I’m providing, I have not included any frames with that problem. (Asset Scales probably specifies how to display the thumbnail version of the frame. It just doesn’t work for all of them, and I don’t know why.)

The Display Order list does what it sounds like: it controls the order of the layout of the thumbnails you can choose from. It does not have to be the same as the order of the frames in the Asset Scales list. It expects entries in this form:

<string>Spiralbook Creme</string>

Make a typo and you’ll have a blank spot where a thumbnail is supposed to be, and that blank spot won’t do anything.

Now save the file; it will likely ask you for permission first. Reload Keynote. Enjoy your new frames.

I’m posting a version of the replacement file here. I’ve only added about half of the frames so far because I’m lazy. I’ll add more over time.

Nod your head if you agree not to blame me for screwing up your Mac.

by davidw at November 11, 2015 04:33 PM

Bruce Schneier
Ransomware Is Getting Sophisticated

Some of the tricks that ransomware is using to get victims to pay up.

by Bruce Schneier at November 11, 2015 12:44 PM

November 10, 2015

Bruce Schneier
IT Security Is Still a Great Career Path

Jobs are plentiful and salaries are booming.

I know from personal experience that demand far exceeds supply.

by Bruce Schneier at November 10, 2015 08:17 PM

Justin Reich
Freedom to Learn: Inspiring Students in Constructivist Math Classrooms
Exceptional educators inspire their students to construct their own understanding and gain new freedom to learn.

by Beth Holland at November 10, 2015 04:01 PM

Berkman Center front page
Bridging the gap between computer science and legal approaches to privacy


with Kobbi Nissim and Alexandra Wood


Can lawyers and computer scientists bridge their very different notions of privacy?

Parent Event

Berkman Luncheon Series

Event Date

Nov 10 2015 12:00pm to Nov 10 2015 12:00pm
Thumbnail Image: 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015, at 12:00 pm
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Harvard Law School campus, Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East

Lawyers and computer scientists hold very different notions of privacy. Notably, privacy laws rely on narrower and less formal conceptions of risk than those described by the computer science literature. As a result, the law often creates uncertainty and fails to protect against the full range of data privacy risks. In contrast, emerging mathematical concepts provide robust, formal models for quantifying and mitigating privacy risks. An example of such a model is differential privacy, which provides a provable guarantee of privacy against a wide range of potential attacks, including types of attacks currently unknown or unforeseen.

The subject of much theoretical investigation, these new technical methods for privacy protection have recently been making significant strides towards practical implementation. For example, researchers are now building and testing the first generation of tools for differentially private statistical analysis. However, because the law generally relies on very different methods for mitigating risk, a significant challenge to implementation will be demonstrating that the new privacy technologies satisfy legal requirements for privacy protection. In particular, most privacy laws focus on the identifiability of data, or the ability to link an individual to a record in a release of data. In doing so, they often equate privacy with heuristic “de-identification” approaches and provide little guidance for implementing more formal privacy-preserving techniques.

In this talk, Kobbi Nissim and Alexandra Wood will articulate the gap between legal and technical approaches to privacy and present a methodology for formally proving that a technological method for privacy protection satisfies the requirements of a particular law. This methodology involves two steps: first, translating a legal standard into a formal mathematical requirement of privacy and, second, constructing a rigorous proof for establishing that a technique satisfies the mathematical requirement derived from the law. The presenters will walk through an example applying this new methodology to bridge the requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and differential privacy. They will conclude the presentation with a discussion of how the methodology could help further the real-world adoption of new privacy technologies.

This talk summarizes early results from ongoing research by Kobbi Nissim, Aaron Bembenek, Mark Bun, Marco Gaboardi, and Salil Vadhan from the Center for Research on Computation and Society, together with Urs Gasser, David O’Brien, and Alexandra Wood from the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Further work building from this approach is anticipated to form the basis of a future publication. This research is also part of a broader collaboration through the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project, which aims to build legal and technical tools, such as tools for differentially private statistical analysis, to help enable the wider sharing of social science research data while protecting the privacy of individuals.

About Kobbi

Kobbi Nissim is a Professor of Computer Science at Ben-Gurion University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Research on Computation and Society at Harvard. Trained in cryptography, Kobbi always maintains a healthy level of paranoia, and feels the ground is shaky whenever issues of security and privacy are not formally defined and analysed.

Nissim's current work is focused on the mathematical formulation and understanding of privacy. His work from 2003 and 2004 with Dinur and Dwork initiated rigorous foundational research of privacy and presented a precursor of Differential Privacy, a strong definition of privacy in computation that he introduced in 2006 with Dwork, McSherry and Smith. With collaborators, Nissim established some of the basic constructions supporting differential privacy, and studied differential privacy in various contexts, including statistics, computational learning, mechanism design, and social networks. Since 2011, Kobbi has been involved with the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project at Harvard University, developing privacy-preserving tools for the sharing of social science data. Other contributions of Nissim include the BGN homomorphic encryption scheme with Boneh and Goh, and the research of private approximations. In 2013, Nissim received with Irit Dinur the Alberto O. Mendelzon Test-of-Time award for their PODS 2003 work on privacy. In 2016, he will receive with Dwork, McSherry and Smith the TCC test of time award for their TCC 2006 work on differential privacy.

About Alexandra

Alexandra Wood is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and a member of the Privacy Tools for Sharing Research Data project at Harvard University. A lawyer by training, her research explores new and existing regulatory frameworks for data privacy and their compatibility with approaches to privacy emerging from the literature in other fields. Alexandra has also been contributing to the development of new legal instruments, analytical frameworks, and policy recommendations to better support the sharing and use of research data while preserving privacy, utility, transparency, and accountability. Before joining the Berkman Center, she served as a legal fellow with U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and as a law clerk with the Center for Democracy & Technology and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.


About the Privacy Series
Starting in Fall 2015, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is highlighting a series of talks, papers, and other activities focused on data privacy. In recent years, concerns about government surveillance and Big Data have focused national and international attention on questions of online privacy. With this series, we aim to illuminate many of the legal, economic, technological, and behavioral issues at play when it comes to data privacy, to foster discussion among multiple perspectives, and to explore alternative mechanisms for balancing consumer privacy with the potential benefits of Big Data.


by candersen at November 10, 2015 02:04 PM

Feeds In This Planet