Here's a Corpse Reviver #2 variant with squid ink.
As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.
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.
Peter Brantley [@naypinya] has posted an important and succinct warning about the effect blockchain technology may have on culture: by making the mechanism of trust cheap, transparent, and more reliable, blockchain could destroy the ambiguity that culture needs in order to thrive. Peter’s post is clearly thought and powerfully put.
Pardon me while I agree with him, including about blockchain’s positive promise.
Culture is the ultimate analog phenomenon, even when it’s communicated digitally, for it is only culture to the extent to which people—we—make it our own. We understand our lives and our world through culture. If we can’t appropriate it, re-express it, and re-use it, culture simply dies.
As Peter says, blockchain could perfect the system of tracking and control, leading us further into the tragic error of thinking that ideas and culture are property. Property has boundaries and borders that can be precisely demarcated and can be defended. Culture by definition does not. Blockchain technology can further the illusion that culture is property.
While blockchain will have a positive, transformative effect on systems where trust is valuable and expensive, it almost inevitably will also be used to impose restrictions on the appropriation of culture that lets culture thrive. If so, I expect we’ll see the same sort of response that we’ve already seen to the Internet’s inherent transparency—the transparency that has simultaneously made it the liberator of culture and the surveillor’s wet dream: We will route around it with some degree of success. And we will—I hope— continue to encourage an ethos of sharing in which creators explicitly exempt their works from the system of copyright totalitarianism.
The license you adopt will be your uniform in the coming culture wars. It already is.
The Esplanade des Invalides in Paris is scruffy and untended. Rutted paths lead under the lindens to the British Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Napoleon’s tomb. Underneath it is a parking lot; at intervals throughout the territory narrow concrete stairs lead down to it, looking a great deal like the entrance to a bunker. As I was passing, every person emerging from those depths blinked and stumbled, disoriented by the light and by the similarity of the terrain in every direction.
I was on my way to the Musée de l’Armée, intending to visit the dioramas of French star forts on the fourth floor. They are incredibly detailed miniatures of an ultimately misguided concept, as the construction standards of those forts didn’t keep pace with increasingly powerful artillery. By the 19th century the defensive response was to continually expand the perimeter walls to keep the guns further from the fort. This continued to the point of absurdity, the defense of entire nations with concrete and stone, at the same time as the nation became the nation state, with fixed borders and controls. The Maginot line might be the clearest expression of that idea; its failure revealed the flaw in the idea of sovereignty enforced primarily through walls and force.
In the event, I spent most of my day watching old newsreels of the European wars. From the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the capture of Gavrilo Princip, to the Somme and Verdun, on to the German bombardment of London, to Stalingrad, Guadalcanal, El Alamein, to D-Day, the liberation of Provence, and the capture of Berlin. The footage looped fragments of events to make these battles into compressed narratives. I sat and watched them dozens of times, eventually no longer seeing the stories, but only the visual artifacts and distortions of time, the scratches and streaks and shadows.
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is now accepting applications for a Senior Project Manager to join our team. She or he will drive forward a diverse portfolio of research projects; research at the intersection of new technologies, law, policy, and society; lead and initiate associated technical tasks and software development work; support critical institutional initiatives; and provide high level, strategic management to project teams. Initial project work will likely center on the Internet Monitor project and other research in the area of Freedom of Expression.
It’s a great role for someone who likes organized chaos. It’s also a fun and flexible position based in an academic institution with great benefits. Come join our creative community of world-class scholars and digital architects to advance a range of interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research related to the study and development of Internet & society. The Internet isn’t standing still. Neither are we.
A full position description for the job can be found below and on the Harvard Human Resources website.
Please note that applications for this job must be submitted through the Harvard Human Resources website, and will not be collected directly through the Berkman Center. We will accept and review applications on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Apply here.
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University seeks an experienced full-time project manager to work in a dynamic and engaging leadership role. She or he will join the Berkman Center’s world-class community of scholars and digital architects, and work in close collaboration with Berkman faculty, staff, and fellows to advance a range of interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research related to the study and development of Internet & society.
Reporting to the Associate Director of the Berkman Center, and working alongside Berkman’s researchers and project coordinators, the project manager will drive forward a diverse portfolio of research projects; support critical institutional initiatives; and provide high level, strategic management to project teams, focusing on systems/efficacy of the effort.
She or he will perform research at the intersection of new technologies, law, policy, and society; analyze and translate data into written media; lead and initiate associated technical tasks and software development work; oversee student researchers; and assist in the implementation of various projects and events.
Although the suite of associated activities will evolve and vary over time according to Center priorities and needs, initial project work will likely center on the Internet Monitor project (https://thenetmonitor.org/) and other research in the area of Freedom of Expression.
Essential functions of the project manager will include:
Based on the fast-paced and changing needs of the Berkman Center, the project manager may be called upon for other tasks at short notice. Occasional evening and weekend work will be required, and travel opportunities may arise.
The right candidate will thrive in a committed, collaborative, and tight-knit community that encourages creativity, supports deep inquiry, values novel approaches to solving problems, strives for transparency, continually builds upon best-practices and lessons learned, and supports its community members’ independent and collective goals.
Bachelor’s degree required, advanced degree in law, policy, social sciences, business, technology or a related field is a plus. Minimum of five years’ experience doing substantive and organizational work among governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and/or non-profits, strongly preferred. Solid writing, editing and proofreading skills are required, along with strong written and oral communication skills. A desire to work for a dynamic, mission-driven organization is a must. The flexibility to work independently and also within teams is critical. Knowledge of current Internet issues is essential.
Strong preference for technological interest and experience, ideally managing projects that rely on technical tools or platforms, and experience in guiding technical development processes.
This project manager position would highly benefit from someone with strong quantitative/statistical skills. Progressive research skills required, including proficient knowledge of research tools, both Internet- and non-Internet based.
In addition, the project manager will have outstanding interpersonal skills; facility with detail, organization and working under tight deadlines; a proven capacity to work independently and as a team member; sound judgment; and exceptional ethical standards.
Finally, the project manager will have heart, verve, and vigor; a can-do attitude; a very good sense of humor; and a strong desire to affect change in the world.
About the Berkman Center:
Founded in 1997, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is dedicated to exploring, understanding, and shaping the development of the digitally-networked environment. A diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholars, practitioners, technologists, policy experts, and advocates, we seek to tackle the most important challenges of the digital age while keeping a focus on tangible real-world impact in the public interest. Our faculty, fellows, staff and affiliates conduct research, build tools and platforms, educate others, form bridges and facilitate dialogue across and among diverse communities. More information at www.cyber.law.harvard.edu.
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. Our community actively seeks and welcomes people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, and persons with disabilities, as well researchers and practitioners from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods.
Applications for this job must be submitted through the Harvard Human Resources website. We will accept and review applications on a rolling basis until the position is filled. Apply here.
Audrey and her daughters, who blog at Skirt Fixation, have one of my favorite series in the sewing blogosphere — Living Skirt Art. In this series, they recreate visual art that depicts skirt-wearers. A couple months ago, Audrey put out a call for guest contributors, and I volunteered. Today’s post is the result. Once you’ve had a look, go see what Audrey and company did this month!
Back in 1999, when everyone was preparing to celebrate (or survive) the turning of the millennium, the Sara Lee Corporation (as in frozen pound cake) announced it would celebrate the millennium by making a huge gift of art to museums around the world. Before they were given away, the art went on tour. One of the stops was Oregon’s Portland Art Museum, and I went, and I was very taken with a particular painting: Woman Bathing Her Feet in a Brook, by Camille Pissarro. I bought the postcard version and have toted it around for 17 years, so far. The real version now hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago; in a happy coincidence, I live in Chicago now too.
In my admittedly untrained view, it is a technical masterpiece. But its real attraction for me is that it conveys complete restfulness. There is no question that it is my favorite piece of Skirt Art, and so there was no question about what artwork I would choose to recreate for this series.
Part of the attraction of this project, no surprise, was the excuse to do a bit of sewing. In the photo below, I am wearing a new white linen Sorbetto blouse (not really visible), a pink jacket I already had, a new brown double gauze skirt (Vogue 8038), and a new-but-not-intended-for-long-term-use underskirt that I made very hastily from a rectangle of unbleached muslin. I may blog further about the skirt. For now, I will give my whole-hearted recommendation of that pattern, a Very Easy Vogue pattern that I’ve now made three times (once in the short length, once in the long, and once in between). I made it with Kobayashi Dark Brown double gauze from Pink Castle Fabrics. I don’t have much to say about the blouse — I used the modifications that I’ve discussed before, and I made it in a very nice soft linen blend (Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen Blend) from Fabric.com, with a self lining. (The fabric was quite transparent otherwise.)
Planning this project and doing the sewing was a really lovely experience. I like having a focal point for my thoughts when I work on a sewing project. For gifts, that’s the intended recipient. Here, the focus was on the painting and on restfulness. I started thinking about other art that has that same restful theme. One that’s very close is the song Gonna Lay Down My Burden (Down by the Riverside). Another that I kept thinking of was the Compline service from the Book of Common Prayer, particularly its quotation of Matthew 11:28 (“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”). I’m sort of keeping a list now — if you have any to add, share in the comments please?
If planning and sewing were restful, photographing it was the opposite — challenging and stimulating. I have been amazed in the past by Audrey’s recreated paintings, which come so close to the originals. Now, I’m really flabbergasted. As you can see, I ended up compromising on almost every detail. Still, preparing for the photographs reminded me of things I’ve forgotten (chief among them, the sheer variety of stream banks) and made me look more carefully at my surroundings. Surely that is another virtue of art.
Modern technology can of course cover up many types of imperfection. So, I turned to pho.to for an “Impressionist” filter (see results above). The result certainly looks less like a photograph, but it’s quite blurry for a Pissarro, I think. Ah well.
Thank you, Audrey, for having me as your guest! I had a great time with this!
I have followed the internet, and Virginia Heffernan’s career documenting it, for more than a decade. And I have anxiously awaited this book since her column first hinted at magic and loss in 2011, and when she previewed her personal journey with the internet at length in her 2012 Berkman Center talk, “The Digital Dialectic.” When I graduated in 2007 with a joint degree in English Literature and Film Studies, I looked to Heffernan’s column as confirmation that the shifts in digital culture I cared about mattered, and that the humanities had something to bring to the conversation as we were figuring out what the internet meant, together. Like Heffernan, I was drawn to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society its co-founder Jonathan Zittrain—where people were thinking about what this internet thing meant to the world. Full disclosure, I've always kind of envied her job. So, here's my review of Heffernan's Magic and Loss, and why it matters to expand our notion of what technology criticism is and what it can do for us.
As we begin to take the internet for granted, it’s more important than ever to recognize the need for robust and diverse technology criticism. We grapple with which metrics we should use to judge Facebook’s integrity in serving us, as a social platform or as a journalistic entity. Wealthy Silicon Valley VCs with a grudge can ruin entire publications by throwing their weight behind lawsuits. Publishers tiptoe around criticizing tech companies because social platforms and newsfeeds control access to their audiences. We need to stop seeing technology criticism as destructive; rather, it gives us the opportunity to shape the future of technology in our everyday lives. Heffernan’s nuanced example in Magic and Loss expands the notion of what technology criticism can and should be.
Read more at Columbia Journalism Review.
I’m pleased to announce that Hindenburg Systems has created the next generation of PRX MP2 audio encoding software, for immediate download and use, for free, by all broadcast radio producers.
“Supporting great audio storytellers is our biggest passion. When we met PRX, we knew we had found a kindred spirit. Since then we have worked hand-in-hand to create solutions that make the technical side of storytelling via PRX as easy as possible. This free MP2 encoder is one example, and there are loads more in our apps on our website”, said Chris Mottes, CEO of Hindenburg Systems.
Like Hindenburg, our goal at PRX has always been to help producers connect with their best audience. When we first started, we faced challenges that have largely disappeared, like will a producer have enough bandwidth to upload their audio files, or even be able to play an mp3 on our site? Other challenges have persisted, like correctly encoding audio to public radio’s broadcast standard: the beautiful, exotic, but esoteric MP2.
While widely used in broadcast for its balance of brevity and accuracy, the MP2 format is not otherwise well known. When PRX launched in 2002, the public radio system lacked an affordable solution to encode MP2s. To clear this roadblock preventing producers from uploading to PRX, we built and gave away MP2 encoders for Mac and PC.
Fast forward a bit, we are now lucky to have Hindenburg as a partner. Hindenburg is focused not just on music or audio editing in general, but on radio production, and specifically on journalists, storytellers, and podcasters. This is the same community PRX is dedicated to serving. It makes perfect sense for these masters of production software to create the successors to the PRX encoders, and it’s consistent with their ongoing commitment and generosity to public radio to offer them up for free.
When I first met Chris, Preben and Nick (I think at a Third Coast years ago), I could tell we’d get along. Their small but focused team was working to take the pain out of audio production, just as ours was working on removing the pain of distribution. The Hindenburg team boasts some of the most forward-thinking and creative technologists I’ve worked with. They are good partners who have supported a multitude of projects like Radiotopia’s Podquest, not to mention excellent company and storytellers in their own right.
With their successful track record of creating audio tools, and making complex editing simple, I trust them to make software that transforms every audio file in public radio.
I look forward to PRX working on more projects with Hindenburg, but in the meantime, get ’em while they’re hot! Head over and download the new MP2 encoders now.
The post New MP2 Encoders Available From PRX and Hindenburg appeared first on PRX.
Interesting research: Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, "Risk-based passenger screening: risk and economic assessment of TSA PreCheck increased security at reduced cost?"
Executive Summary: The Transportation Security Administration's PreCheck program is risk-based screening that allows passengers assessed as low risk to be directed to expedited, or PreCheck, screening. We begin by modelling the overall system of aviation security by considering all layers of security designed to deter or disrupt a terrorist plot to down an airliner with a passenger-borne bomb. Our analysis suggests that these measures reduce the risk of such an attack by at least 98%. Assuming that the accuracy of Secure Flight may be less than 100% when identifying low and high risk passengers, we then assess the effect of enhanced and expedited (or regular and PreCheck) screening on deterrence and disruption rates. We also evaluate programs that randomly redirect passengers from the PreCheck to the regular lines (random exclusion) and ones that redirect some passengers from regular to PreCheck lines (managed inclusion). We find that, if 50% of passengers are cleared for PreCheck, the additional risk reduction (benefit) due to PreCheck is 0.021% for attacks by lone wolves, and 0.056% for ones by terrorist organisations. If 75% of passengers rather than 50% go through PreCheck, these numbers are 0.017% and 0.044%, still providing a benefit in risk reduction. Under most realistic combinations of parameter values PreCheck actually increases risk reduction, perhaps up to 1%, while under the worst assumptions, it lowers risk reduction only by some 0.1%. Extensive sensitivity analyses suggests that, overall, PreCheck is most likely to have an increase in overall benefit.
The report also finds that adding random exclusion and managed inclusion to the PreCheck program has little effect on the risk reducing capability of PreCheck one way or the other. For example, if 10% of non-PreCheck passengers are randomly sent to the PreCheck line, the program still is delivers a benefit in risk reduction, and provides an additional savings for TSA of $11 million per year by reducing screening costs -- while at the same time improving security outcomes.
There are also other co-benefits, and these are very substantial. Reducing checkpoint queuing times improves in the passenger experience, which would lead to higher airline revenues, can exceed several billion dollars per year. TSA PreCheck thus seems likely to bring considerable efficiencies to the screening process and great benefits to passengers, airports, and airlines while actually enhancing security a bit.
This could go badly:
"People You May Know are people on Facebook that you might know," a Facebook spokesperson said. "We show you people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you're part of, contacts you've imported and many other factors."
One of those factors is smartphone location. A Facebook spokesperson said though that shared location alone would not result in a friend suggestion, saying that the two parents must have had something else in common, such as overlapping networks.
"Location information by itself doesn't indicate that two people might be friends," said the Facebook spokesperson. "That's why location is only one of the factors we use to suggest people you may know."
The article goes on to describe situations where you don't want Facebook to do this: Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, singles bars, some Tinder dates, and so on. But this is part of Facebook's aggressive use of location data in many of its services.
EDITED TO ADD: Facebook backtracks.
Earlier this year Radiotopia launched Podquest, an open call for new podcast ideas. 1,537 people from 53 countries submitted ideas about every topic under the sun. Check out a portion of those topics here.
Radiotopia Executive Producer Julie Shapiro led a committee of 11 PRX staff and Radiotopia producers in reviewing the entries, ultimately narrowing the field to 10 impressive semifinalists. 99 Radiotopia donors also reviewed the top 50 entries, weighing in with their top choices for the semifinalists.
In the beginning, we intended to choose three finalists, awarding them each $10,000 and additional editorial and technical support to produce three pilot episodes, and then inviting one show into Radiotopia at the end of the year. But… we couldn’t choose just three (we wanted to choose all 10!). In the end, we settled on four finalists, the PQ4:
Ear Hustle brings you the hidden stories of life inside prison, told and produced from the perspective of those who live it. (Nigel Poor, Antwan Williams, Earlonne Woods)
Meat, a podcast from Europe about our bodies and the lives we live because of them (Jonathan Zenti)
The Difference Between dives into the world of “information doppelgängers”—the stuff you always confuse for that other thing—to find out what makes them truly unique. (Jericho Saria and Hadrian Santos)
Villain-ish, a show about gaining new perspectives on dubious figures we’ve been taught to revile, and exploring the hidden details we may have never considered. (Vivian Le)
“The range of ideas and talent represented by the PQ4 kind of blows my mind, and showcases exactly what we were seeking through Podquest—new voices and ideas not yet represented in Radiotopia”, said Julie Shapiro, executive producer of Radiotopia. “I can’t wait to hear how their pilot episodes develop in the next few months.”
The PQ4 will be introduced on stage on July 7th at Podcast Movement in Chicago, and will then spend July through September working on their pilots. We’ll announce our final winner (or winners—we’re committed to inviting at least one finalist into Radiotopia) before the end of the year.
Learn more about the PQ here, and read some thoughts and feedback from our judges below.
On The Difference Between: “It’s just so enjoyable to listen to Jericho and Hadrian. They have great on-air chemistry that you don’t hear that often. Add to that their imagination and intelligence, and all together you’ve got a very promising combination.” (Helen Zaltzman, The Allusionist host and Podquest judge)
On Ear Hustle: “Prison fiction has been popular for years, but it’s time to hear real stories, and I expect these to be even more enlightening. One of Podquest’s goals is to give voice to under-represented groups, and Ear Hustle definitely achieves that.” (Bruce Ryan, Radiotopia donor and Podquest reviewer)
On Meat: “This show’s premise is deceptively simple, but Meat is digging into the most vulnerable corners of what it’s like to be a person. It’s a reminder that the world sees us differently than we see ourselves, for better or for worse. Audio is such an intense, perfect medium for stories about how our lives are shaped by our physical bodies, and Jonathan’s super creative use of sound makes this show one-of-a-kind.” (Lauren Spohrer, Criminal producer and Podquest judge)
On Villian-ish: “From the first time I heard Villian-ish pitched, I could imagine the endless stories the program could tell: from nerdy, sociological reportage to sweeping narratives, all about the very essence of conflict and storytelling. And after talking with Vivian, I could tell she had the spark and passion to pull it off. I’m eager to hear what she creates.” (Roman Mars, 99% Invisible, Podquest judge and partner in Radiotopia.)
Traveling driving chasing the sun here in Germany I can’t help but think about your Nelson image and the events that are unfolding as we speak. Being academically shaped as a political scientist in a past life, I’m deeply upset.
Yes, the cynics among us might tell you that things like this always have been the case. Yes they have. But cynicism has never solved anything, is an intellectually destructive position, and the weakest of all moral stances and attitudes.
I’m driving through a European landscape where the same started to happen in the beginning of last century. Power hungry rhetorics by political bullshitters, growing xenophobia everywhere, slowly engraining into our societies, allowing unspeakable things to happen. Have we forgotten?
I literally fail to find my sunshine today. Driving towards the edge of the clouds I see the blue sky in the distance, yet I fail to reach it. The winds are not in my favour. As I visit the remains of the former nazi concentration camp in Hinzert, i see today’s rain falling on history. Suddenly the work that I’m creating on this journey throughout Europe seems even more urgent to show.
I really hope we didn’t forget. As yours, my heart too, relentlessly pounding inside my chest as I drive home in silence. The distant hilltop trees my witness, as they must have been then.
There's an app that allows people to submit photographs of hotel rooms around the world into a centralized database. The idea is that photographs of victims of human trafficking are often taken in hotel rooms, and the database will help law enforcement find the traffickers.
I can't speak to the efficacy of the database -- in particular, the false positives -- but it's an interesting crowdsourced approach to the problem.
TED used to have an open API. TED no longer supports its open API. I want to do a little exploring of what the world looks like to TED, so I scraped the data from 2,228 TED Talk pages. This includes the title, author, tags, description, link to the transcript, number of times shared, and year. You can get it from here. (I named it tedTalksMetadata.txt, but it’s really a JSON file.)
“Scraping” means having a computer program look at the HTML underneath a Web page and try to figure out which elements refer to what. Scraping is always a chancy enterprise because the cues indicating which text is,say, the date and which is the title may be inconsistent across pages, and may be changed by the owners at any time. So I did the best I could, which is not very good. (Sometimes page owners aren’t happy about being scraped, but in this case it only meant one visit for each page, which is not a lot of burden for a site that has pages that get hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of visits. If they really don’t want to be scraped, they could re-open their API, which provides far more reliable info far more efficiently.)
I’ve also posted at GitHub the php scripts I wrote to do the scraping. Please don’t laugh.
If you use the JSON to explore TED metadata, please let me know if you come up with anything interesting that you’re willing to share. Thanks!
Michah Lee has a nice comparison among Signal, WhatsApp, and Allo.
In this article, I'm going to compare WhatsApp, Signal, and Allo from a privacy perspective.
While all three apps use the same secure-messaging protocol, they differ on exactly what information is encrypted, what metadata is collected, and what, precisely, is stored in the cloud - and therefore available, in theory at least, to government snoops and wily hackers.
In the end, I'm going to advocate you use Signal whenever you can - which actually may not end up being as often as you would like.
EDITED TO ADD (6/25): Don't use Telegram.
There is one feature of the squid that is not transparent and which could act as a signal to prey the eyes. However, the squid has a developed protection here as well. The large eyes of the squid are camouflaged with bioluminescence.
Underneath the eyes of the squid are silvery patches of cells called photophores. These provide under surface bioluminescence which adds to the camouflage. The cells leak put light in multiple directions that effectively make the squid invisible when viewed from above. The resultant glowing blur makes the eyes of the glass squid less conspicuous to predator approaching from a variety of angles.
As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.
Steve Riccio (L) and his forensics students
Steve Riccio is a teacher at Oriskany Junior-Senior High School in Oriskany, New York, near Utica. This past school year, he used both individual episodes of Radiotopia’s Criminal and the first season of This American Life’s Serial in his forensics class for juniors and seniors. I talked with Steve about how he used the shows, and his advice for other teachers hoping to make use of podcasts in the classroom. Here are excerpts from a recorded interview:
Genevieve Sponsler: Let’s start with an overview of what you did.
Steve Riccio: We listened to an episode [of Serial in class] every Monday, and I had the students write up a little summary: what was new in the episode [compared with] the previous week, specifically trying to address forensic evidence. There was a heck of a lot of forensics discussed, and specific things the case missed. I tried to have the kids focus on the forensics side. Some weeks were better than others: when the show talked about phone calls, for example, there wasn’t a lot of forensic evidence, like physical evidence you would find at a crime scene. Every week we listened to another episode, which was cool because it kept the kids on their toes. They enjoyed it.
GS: Did some of them try to skip ahead and listen at home?
SR: There was one girl who, after the second week, had listened to the whole thing.
GS: That’s great they were so into it.
SR: Yeah! With Criminal, I would listen to [episodes], write up short summaries, and turn them into questions for exams. We also listened to an episode in class as part of an exam. I have two students who are looking to go into science, one definitely criminal justice and possibly forensics. Another student is thinking of biology, but possibly forensics as avenue. Both are female. To have two young ladies who have said hey, I want to do science, and possibly forensics, is pretty cool.
GS: I agree. Since Serial and Criminal both have excellent women hosts, I wonder if that inspired the students. It’s interesting for them to listen to, I imagine.
SR: Absolutely. I think it subliminally makes a huge impact. I think there are a lot of little tiny things that we don’t really recognize that have a on significant impact on our culture and the way students think. When you told me you wanted to chat about [podcasts in the classroom], I asked my students: what do you think? What did you like? What did you dislike? What should we do differently next year?
They said they really liked listening to the podcasts. One student said she didn’t like writing summaries every time [we listened to Serial]. She said she’d rather have a project on it. Which made me think: Is there some way I can design a project around this? I might be able to work with one of our history teachers, who does a government class, to perhaps host a debate examining the legal aspects of the show. A couple kids said that instead of listening to an episode of Serial every Monday, they would’ve rather listened every day for a couple of weeks. I’m wondering if I can do that as a real short unit. I could also have the students listen at home and come in the next day for an activity or a discussion. That way we’re not actually using class time to listen to it but they’re listening on their own.
GS: Having them listen at home sounds good, but it’s a tough choice because listening to audio together and watching people’s reactions is a unique and bonding experience.
SR: It’s funny that you mention that because I know exactly what you’re talking about. When we would listen to [Serial] together as a group, I knew what was coming since I’d listened ahead of time, but I’d watch the students’ reactions at the end and they would say, “No! What happened?!”
GS: If you knew another teacher in a different school who was interested in using podcasts in the classroom, what advice would you give?
SR: It’s a good way to engage students, and a different style of learning. A lot of times students will hear teachers talk, but they’ve never listened to just straight audio. It’s a really beautiful thing, because they’re bombarded by images all day, every day on their phones. [With podcasts] they’re taking a step back, listening and coming up with images in their own heads, and stimulating a creative part of their brains they don’t often use because they don’t have to. Take a chance — I did and I think it went pretty well. It wasn’t part of our curriculum, but it parallels the curriculum pretty well for forensics. It was a really good change of pace for the kids.
Ed. note from Genevieve: I’ll check back in with Steve in the fall to see how his new class is going. He has 20 kids signed up for fall, instead of the nine he had this past year! (Some were missing from the photo above.)
When I started this blog, I decided it would be focused on what I’m working on (and what you’re working on). Well, for the past 5 months, I’ve been working on this little creature: Nyaanina Sophia Krontiris-Sengeh. What fun it is to be her mother!
Leigh Honeywell [twitter: @hypatiadotca] has posted an important essay — No More Rockstars — written by her, Valerie Aurora (@vaurorapub), and Mary Gardiner (@me_gardiner). There’s a lot in it, and it’s clear and well-written, so it does not need summarizing by me, except to let you know why I think you should read it: It addresses the power imbalance implicit in a conceptual framework that thinks some industry leaders are special and therefore not subject to the same rules as the rest of us. The post analytically describes the phenomenon and suggests ways to avoid the dangers.
Lexi Gill writes a follow-on piece about one particular way that the rockstar culture leads to inequities:
… rock stars are often unofficial gatekeepers to an entire community or industry. They not only get to decide who’s “in” and who’s “out,” but have privileged access to an endless stream of new victims to choose from. Once “in,” the rock star also has special power to manipulate a newcomer’s experience, role and relationships within the community.
Having worked for many people and having observed many more, I can say that for me the best leaders are people whose joy comes from helping people flourish, that is, to discover and become who they are, even if that means developing away from the organization. Those are the women and men who have made the biggest difference in my professional life. I thank them for it.
…All part of the privilege of being a man.
Urs Gasser, Harvard Law School professor and executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, delivered a presentation last month on “The Future of Cybersecurity” at the Asian Leadership Conference, an annual event bringing together leaders across the globe to discuss and provide solutions to Asia’s most pressing challenges.
By Alba Sophia Hancock
Urs Gasser, Harvard Law School professor and executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, delivered a presentation last month on “The Future of Cybersecurity” at the Asian Leadership Conference, an annual event bringing together leaders across the globe to discuss and provide solutions to Asia’s most pressing challenges.
Professor Gasser joined Jean Paul Laborde, assistant secretary-general and executive director of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate; Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab; and Danil Kerimi, director of Digital Economy and Global Technology Policy at the World Economic Forum, in a panel moderated by Lee Jaeyoung, member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea.
The proliferation of connectivity has contributed to the emergence of cybersecurity as one of the most salient issues of our time, leaving private sector, academic, government, and civil society stakeholders grappling with the implications of this shift. Through his work at the Berkman Center, Professor Gasser has spearheaded various efforts to help develop frameworks providing a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity. A white paper prepared by the Berkman Center in collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Cybersecurity speaks to the systemic security issues that arise as a result of the hyperconnected world and proposes best practices that cut across sectors to address these nascent challenges.
In his panel contribution to the Asian Leadership Conference, Professor Gasser shared insights gleaned from this collaboration and argued that cybersecurity ought to be seen as a shared responsibility, much like governance of the internet itself is a shared responsibility. A shared governance in mitigating cyber risk necessitates collaboration between the public and the private sector, encompassing governments, enterprises, academics, the technical community, and civil society at large.
“A collaboration of this scale is inherently complicated due to systemic factors that include a lack of trust between governments and companies, particularly in the era of post-Snowden revelations,” he said. “This is further complicated by incentive problems between companies, where fierce competition around time-to-market prevents extensive security testing, and concerns around liability inhibit the sharing of vulnerability information.”
Professor Gasser emphasized that, despite these systemic challenges there is much that both private and public sector stakeholders can do, building upon a foundation in which each stakeholder embraces its responsibility. In the case of companies, he argued, scholarship suggests that all companies should deploy basic cyber hygiene strategies, while technology companies in particular should move towards security-by-design approaches that include more extensive beta testing and product lifecycle management. Gasser stressed that governments also have to play their role, balancing on two ends of a spectrum. On one hand, he said, governments should do no harm by resisting policies that actually weaken the cybersecurity ecosystem, such as mandating backdoors or golden keys. On the other hand, Gasser noted that governments must enact baseline legislation and regulation that establish consumer protection and facilitate Internet of Things safety standards. Most importantly, governments should use the full spectrum of tools at their disposal, including the use of procurement power, capacity building, and educational strategies.
Moving forward, the investment into building distributed governance platforms, networks, and participation mechanisms (including education) will be critical, said Professor Gasser, as it addresses the complexity of stakeholder coordination head-on. Existing platforms and networks that are flexible and fast enough can be built upon, in the image of extant private–public platforms such as the World Economic Forum, or multi-stakeholder convenings such as the Internet Governance Forum. These approaches will not solve all the challenges, he said, but will at least create the necessary spaces for knowledge-sharing and ad hoc interventions, which are often informal.
The Berkman Center is working to address the systemically important issue of cybersecurity through its collaboration with the World Economic Forum with a current focus on IoT safety and security, as well as the Berklett Cybersecurity project, which convenes a diverse group of security and policy experts from academia, civil society, and the U.S. intelligence community to explore and evaluate the roles and responsibilities of the U.S. government in promoting cybersecurity, and the Berkman Assembly, a new and innovative pilot program that is experimenting with different modes of education, collaboration, and development to work towards solving some of the tough problems at the intersections of code and policy.
This story was originally posted in Harvard Law Today.
IPv4 addresses are valuable, so criminals are figuring out how to buy or steal them.
Hence criminals' interest in ways to land themselves IP addresses, some of which were detailed this week by ARIN's senior director of global registry knowledge, Leslie Nobile, at the North American Network Operators Group's NANOG 67 conference.
Nobile explained that criminals look for dormant ARIN records and try to establish themselves as the rightful administrator. ARIN has 30,556 legacy network records, she said, but a validated point of contact for only 54 per cent of those networks. The remaining ~14,000 networks are ripe for targeting by hijackers who Nobile said are only interested in establishing legitimacy with ARIN so they can find a buyer for unused IPv4 addresses possessed by dormant legacy networks.
Criminals do so by finding dormant ARIN records and Whois data to see if there is a valid contact, then ascertaining if IPv4 allocations are currently routed. If the assigned addresses are dark and no active administrator exists, hijackers can revive dormant domain names or even re-register the names of defunct companies in order to establish a position as legitimate administrators of an address space. If all goes well, the hijackers end up with addresses to sell.
Video presentation here.
I’m sort of a geek when it comes to archival audio. The kind of audio that has been locked away just like that scene in Indiana Jones—it’s there somewhere, just waiting to be set free!
One piece of audio that’s been on my wish list is from 1969, when a young Hillary Rodham (Clinton) became the first student to deliver a commencement speech at Wellesley College’s graduation ceremony. Like many college students, Hillary Rodham’s experience was transformative. As she wrote in her autobiography, “I arrived at Wellesley carrying my father’s political beliefs and my mother’s dreams, and left with the beginnings of my own.”
On top of that, this was during the tumultuous ’60s—her speech reflected her steps toward adulthood during that disruptive time.
I knew hearing her voice and such a piece of audio history would be amazing, so I kept my eyes open. A few weeks ago, on the eve of the California primary, Wellesley College released excerpts of the speech audio in a produced YouTube video. It only took a few phone calls and an engaging conversation for Wellesley to release the full Hillary audio to PRX, with its ’60s self-actualization language, hints at Earth-shattering change, and a touching poem at the end.
What strikes the listener most is how much Hillary Rodham’s voice has changed…reflecting her own coming-of-age journey. Listen here:
Here is the full transcript: Remarks of Hillary Rodham
I am very glad that Miss Adams made it clear that what I am speaking for today is all of us —the 400 of us—and I find myself in a familiar position, that of reacting, something that our generation has been doing for quite a while now. We’re not in the positions yet of leadership and power, but we do have that indispensable element of criticizing and constructive protest and I find myself reacting just briefly to some of the things that Senator Brooke said. This has to be quick because I do have a little speech to give.
Part of the problem with just empathy with professed goals is that empathy doesn’t do us anything. We’ve had lots of empathy; we’ve had lots of sympathy, but we feel that for too long our leaders have viewed politics as the art of the possible. And the challenge now is to practice politics as the art of making what appears to be impossible possible. What does it mean to hear that 13.3 percent of the people in this country are below the poverty line? That’s a percentage. We’re not interested in social reconstruction; it’s human reconstruction. How can we talk about percentages and trends? The complexities are not lost in our analyses, but perhaps they’re just put into what we consider a more human and eventually a more progressive perspective.
The question about possible and impossible was one that we brought with us to Wellesley four years ago. We arrived not yet knowing what was not possible. Consequently, we expected a lot. Our attitudes are easily understood having grown up, having come to consciousness in the first five years of this decade—years dominated by men with dreams, men in the civil rights movement, the Peace Corps, the space program—so we arrived at Wellesley and we found, as all of us have found, that there was a gap between expectation and realities. But it wasn’t a discouraging gap and it didn’t turn us into cynical, bitter old women at the age of 18. It just inspired us to do something about that gap. What we did is often difficult for some people to understand. They ask us quite often: “Why, if you’re dissatisfied, do you stay in a place?” Well, if you didn’t care a lot about it you wouldn’t stay. It’s almost as though my mother used to say, “You know I’ll always love you but there are times when I certainly won’t like you.” Our love for this place, this particular place, Wellesley College, coupled with our freedom from the burden of an inauthentic reality allowed us to question basic assumptions underlying our education.
Before the days of the media orchestrated demonstrations, we had our own gathering over in Founder’s parking lot. We protested against the rigid academic distribution requirement. We worked for a pass-fail system. We worked for a say in some of the process of academic decision making. And luckily we were at a place where, when we questioned the meaning of a liberal arts education there were people with enough imagination to respond to that questioning. So we have made progress. We have achieved some of the things that we initially saw as lacking in that gap between expectation and reality. Our concerns were not, of course, solely academic as all of us know. We worried about inside Wellesley questions of admissions, the kind of people that were coming to Wellesley, the kind of people that should be coming to Wellesley, the process for getting them here. We questioned about what responsibility we should have both for our lives as individuals and for our lives as members of a collective group.
Coupled with our concerns for the Wellesley inside here in the community were our concerns for what happened beyond Hathaway House. We wanted to know what relationship Wellesley was going to have to the outer world. We were lucky in that Miss Adams, one of the first things she did was set up a cross-registration with MIT because everyone knows that education just can’t have any parochial bounds anymore. One of the other things that we did was the Upward Bound program. There are so many other things that we could talk about; so many attempts to kind of—at least the way we saw it—pull ourselves into the world outside. And I think we’ve succeeded. There will be an Upward Bound program, just for one example, on the campus this summer.
Many of the issues that I’ve mentioned—those of sharing power and responsibility, those of assuming power and responsibility—have been general concerns on campuses throughout the world. But underlying those concerns there is a theme, a theme which is so trite and so old because the words are so familiar. It talks about integrity and trust and respect. Words have a funny way of trapping our minds on the way to our tongues but there are necessary means even in this multimedia age for attempting to come to grasps with some of the inarticulate maybe even inarticulable things that we’re feeling.
We are, all of us, exploring a world that none of us even understands and attempting to create within that uncertainty. But there are some things we feel, feelings that our prevailing, acquisitive, and competitive corporate life, including tragically the universities, is not the way of life for us. We’re searching for more immediate, ecstatic, and penetrating modes of living. And so our questions, our questions about our institutions, about our colleges, about our churches, about our government continue. The questions about those institutions are familiar to all of us. We have seen them heralded across the newspapers. Senator Brooke has suggested some of them this morning. But along with using these words—integrity, trust, and respect—in regard to institutions and leaders, we’re perhaps harshest with them in regard to ourselves.
Every protest, every dissent, whether it’s an individual academic paper or Founder’s parking lot demonstration, is unabashedly an attempt to forge an identity in this particular age. That attempt at forging for many of us over the past four years has meant coming to terms with our humanness. Within the context of a society that we perceive—now we can talk about reality, and I would like to talk about reality sometime, authentic reality, inauthentic reality, and what we have to accept of what we see—but our perception of it is that it hovers often between the possibility of disaster and the potentiality for imaginatively responding to men’s needs. There’s a very strange conservative strain that goes through a lot of New Left, collegiate protests that I find very intriguing because it harkens back to a lot of the old virtues, to the fulfillment of original ideas. And it’s also a very unique American experience. It’s such a great adventure. If the experiment in human living doesn’t work in this country, in this age, it’s not going to work anywhere.
But we also know that to be educated, the goal of it must be human liberation. A liberation enabling each of us to fulfill our capacity so as to be free to create within and around ourselves. To be educated to freedom must be evidenced in action, and here again is where we ask ourselves, as we have asked our parents and our teachers, questions about integrity, trust, and respect. Those three words mean different things to all of us. Some of the things they can mean, for instance: Integrity, the courage to be whole, to try to mold an entire person in this particular context, living in relation to one another in the full poetry of existence. If the only tool we have ultimately to use is our lives, so we use it in the way we can by choosing a way to live that will demonstrate the way we feel and the way we know. Integrity—a man like Paul Santmire. Trust. This is one word that when I asked the class at our rehearsal what it was they wanted me to say for them, everyone came up to me and said “Talk about trust, talk about the lack of trust both for us and the way we feel about others. Talk about the trust bust.” What can you say about it? What can you say about a feeling that permeates a generation and that perhaps is not even understood by those who are distrusted? All we can do is keep trying again and again and again. There’s that wonderful line in “East Coker” by Eliot about there’s only the trying, again and again and again; to win again what we’ve lost before.
And then respect. There’s that mutuality of respect between people where you don’t see people as percentage points. Where you don’t manipulate people. Where you’re not interested in social engineering for people. The struggle for an integrated life existing in an atmosphere of communal trust and respect is one with desperately important political and social consequences. And the word consequences of course catapults us into the future. One of the most tragic things that happened yesterday, a beautiful day, was that I was talking to a woman who said that she wouldn’t want to be me for anything in the world. She wouldn’t want to live today and look ahead to what it is she sees because she’s afraid. Fear is always with us but we just don’t have time for it. Not now.
There are two people that I would like to thank before concluding. That’s Ellie Acheson, who is the spearhead for this, and also Nancy Scheibner who wrote this poem which is the last thing that I would like to read:
My entrance into the world of so-called “social problems”
Must be with quiet laughter, or not at all.
The hollow men of anger and bitterness
The bountiful ladies of righteous degradation
All must be left to a bygone age.
And the purpose of history is to provide a receptacle
For all those myths and oddments
Which oddly we have acquired
And from which we would become unburdened
To create a newer world
To translate the future into the past.
We have no need of false revolutions
In a world where categories tend to tyrannize our minds
And hang our wills up on narrow pegs.
It is well at every given moment to seek the limits in our lives.
And once those limits are understood
To understand that limitations no longer exist.
Earth could be fair. And you and I must be free
Not to save the world in a glorious crusade
Not to kill ourselves with a nameless gnawing pain
But to practice with all the skill of our being
The art of making possible.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Wellesley College Archives/Photo by Stimmell
Last week, CIA director John Brennan told a Senate committee that there wasn't any strong cryptography outside of the US.
CIA director John Brennan told US senators they shouldn't worry about mandatory encryption backdoors hurting American businesses.
And that's because, according to Brennan, there's no one else for people to turn to: if they don't want to use US-based technology because it's been forced to use weakened cryptography, they'll be out of luck because non-American solutions are simply "theoretical."
Here's the quote:
"US companies dominate the international market as far as encryption technologies that are available through these various apps, and I think we will continue to dominate them," Brennan said.
"So although you are right that there's the theoretical ability of foreign companies to have those encryption capabilities available to others, I do believe that this country and its private sector are integral to addressing these issues."
Is he actually lying there? I suppose it is possible that he's simply that ignorant. Strong foreign cryptography hasn't been "theoretical" for decades. And earlier this year, I released a survey of foreign cryptography products, listing 546 non-theoretical products from 54 countries outside the US.
I know Sen. Wyden knows about my survey. I hope he asks Brennan about it.
EDITED TO ADD (6/22): Herb Lin comments.
Iran's elections in February saw voters decisively sweep away one of the most conservative parliaments in the Islamic Republic's history, and deliver a fresh legislature far friendlier to President Rouhani's political agenda. But how was this victory won?
Iran's elections in February saw voters decisively sweep away one of the most conservative parliaments in the Islamic Republic's history, and deliver a fresh legislature far friendlier to President Rouhani's political agenda. But how was this victory won?
On June 22, Small Media launches a new report in partnership with the Internet Monitor project — #IranVotes: Political Discourse on Iranian Twitter During the 2016 Parliamentary Elections. The report, coauthored by James Marchant, Amin Sabeti, Kyle Bowen, John Kelly, and Rebekah Heacock Jones, delves deep into Iran's Twittersphere, engaging in network analysis and content analysis to test claims that online spaces formed a key battleground in the contest. What we found was a vibrant, political, and outward-looking online public engaged in a lively political debate about the country's future.
Twitter has been officially blocked in Iran since the 2009 election crackdown, meaning that Iranians need to make use of circumvention tools and VPNs to access it. With government estimates putting Twitter's Iranian user base at 4 million, it's clear that this policy hasn't been a great success.
Our study finds that when Iranian Twitter users are political, they're overwhelmingly reformist—around a fifth of the users in our network are members of reformist-leaning groups, compared to the 3% who are associated with conservative groups. Consequently, conservatives have found themselves squeezed to the margins, sharing the Twitter wilderness with the spam-bot armies of the exiled Mujahedin-e Khalq opposition group.
Twitter isn't all politics, however. We found that the Iranian Twittersphere is home to a large community of technology experts, bloggers, and entrepreneurs who sit at the beating heart of Iran's thriving tech sector. These tech communities exist alongside sprawling communities of cultural enthusiasts — poets, writers and filmgoers — along with plenty of other users who just want to chat, flirt, and share cat videos.
Given the ongoing restrictions on political and social activities, Twitter offered a valuable space to debate and campaign during the election period. Although it has been eclipsed by Telegram and Facebook in terms of its user base, Twitter continues to serve a valuable function to bridge the gap between Iran's citizens and the country's diaspora.
Our Key Findings:
The full paper is available for download at SSRN: #IranVotes: Political Discourse on Iranian Twitter During the 2016 Parliamentary Elections
Small Media is a London-based non-profit that aims to increase the flow of information in closed societies by conducting research, providing training and supporting the development of technology solutions. Small Media is driven by the ethos that small media can bring about big change and consistently looks to support communities and individuals in advancing freedom of expression in closed societies. For more, see smallmedia.org.uk.
Internet Monitor is a research project based at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Internet Monitor's aim is to evaluate, describe, and summarize the means, mechanisms, and extent of Internet content controls and Internet activity around the world. The project helps researchers, advocates, policymakers, and user communities understand trends in Internet health and activity through research, analysis, and data visualization. Internet Monitor is funded by the US Department of State and the MacArthur Foundation. For more, see thenetmonitor.org.
Note: Shane Snow wrote a long and thoughtful email to me about this post. While we agree to disagree on some substantive issues, primarily our thoughts about the future of VR, we also found quite a bit of common ground. He noted that my essay, while mostly about the ideas, strays into the realm of ad hominem attacks, which wasn’t my intention. I’ve removed one comment which he accurately identified as unfair.
I am deeply grateful to Shane for taking the time to engage with my piece and to make changes to his original essay.
I found Shane Snow’s essay on prison reform – “How Soylent and Oculus Could Fix the Prison System” – through hatelinking. Friends of mine hated the piece so much that normally articulate people were at a loss for words.
A real person thought it would be a good idea to write this and post it on the Internet. pic.twitter.com/rj8viJr1HQ
— Susie Cagle (@susie_c) January 30, 2016
With a recommendation like that, how could I pass it up? And after reading it, I tweeted my astonishment to Susie, who told me, “I write comics, but I don’t know how to react to this in a way that’s funny.” I realized that I couldn’t offer an appropriate reaction in 140 characters either. The more I think about Snow’s essay, the more it looks like the outline for a class on the pitfalls of solving social problems with technology, a class I’m now planning on teaching this coming fall.
Using Snow’s essay as a jumping off point, I want to consider a problem that’s been on my mind a great deal since joining the MIT Media Lab five years ago: how do we help smart, well-meaning people address social problems in ways that make the world better, not worse? In other words, is it possible to get beyond both a naïve belief that the latest technology will solve social problems and a reaction that rubbishes any attempt to offer novel technical solutions as inappropriate, insensitive and misguided? Can we find a synthesis in which technologists look at their work critically and work closely with the people they’re trying to help in order to build sociotechnical systems that address hard problems?
Obviously, I think this is possible – if really, really hard – or I wouldn’t be teaching at an engineering school. But before considering how we overcome a naïve faith in technology, let’s examine Snow’s suggestion a textbook example of a solution that’s technically sophisticated, simple to understand and dangerously wrong.
When smart people get important things really wrong
Though he may be best know as co-founder of content marketing platform “Contently”, Shane Snow describes himself as “journalist, geek and best-selling author”. That last bit comes from his book “Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success”, which offers insights on how “innovators and icons” can “rethink convention” and break “rules that are not rules”. That background may help readers understand where Snow is coming from. His blog is filled with plainspoken and often entertaining explanations of complex systems followed by apparently straightforward conclusions – evidently, burning coal and natural gas to generate electricity is a poor idea, so oil companies should be investing in solar energy. Fair enough.
Some of these explorations are more successful than others. In Snow’s essay about prison reform, he identifies violence, and particularly prison rape, as the key problem to be solved, and offers a remedy that he believes will lead to cost savings for taxpayers as well: all prisoners should be incarcerated in solitary confinement, fed only Soylent meal replacement drink through slots in the wall, and all interpersonal interaction and rehabilitative services will be provided in Second Life using the Oculus Rift VR system. Snow’s system eliminates many features of prison life – “cell blocks, prison yards, prison gyms, physical interactions with other prisoners, and so on.” That’s by design, he explains. “Those are all current conventions in prisons, but history is clear: innovation happens when we rethink conventions and apply alternative learning or technology to old problems.”
An early clue that Snow’s rethinking is problematic is that his proposed solution looks a lot like “administrative segregation“, a technique used in prisons to separate prisoners who might be violent or disruptive from the general population by keeping them in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. The main problem with administrative segregation or with the SHU (the “secure housing unit” used in supermax prisons) is that inmates tend to experience serious mental health problems connected to sustained isolation. “Deprived of normal human interaction, many segregated prisoners reportedly suffer from mental health problems including anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression and depression,” explains social psychologist Dr. Craig Haney. Shaka Senghor, a writer and activist who was formerly incarcerated for murder, explains that many inmates in solitary confinement have underlying mental health issues, and the isolation damages even the sound of mind. Solitary confinement, he says, is “one of the most barbaric and inumane aspects of our society.”
Due to the psychological effects of being held in isolation, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has condemned the use of sustained solitary confinement and called for a ban on solitary confinement for people under 18 years old. Rafael Sperry of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility has called for architects to stop designing prisons that support solitary confinement as they enable violations of human rights. Snow’s solution may be innovative, but it’s also a large-scale human rights violation.
Snow and supporters might argue that he’s not trying to deprive prisoners of human contact, but give them a new, safer form of contact. But there’s virtually no research on the health effects of sustained exposure to head-mounted virtual reality. Would prisoners be forced to choose between simulator sickness or isolation? What are the long-term effects on vision of immersive VR displays? Will prisoners experience visual exhaustion through vergence-accommodation, a yet-to-be-solved problem of eye and brain strain due to problems focusing on objects that are very nearby but appear to be distant? Furthermore, will contact with humans through virtual worlds mitigate the mental problems prisoners face in isolation or exacerbate them? How do we answer any of these questions ethically, given the restrictions we’ve put on experimenting on prisoners in the wake of Nazi abuse of concentration camp prisoners.
How does an apparently intelligent person end up suggesting a solution that might, at best, constitute unethical medical experiments on prisoners? How does a well-meaning person suggest a remedy that likely constitutes torture?
Make sure you’re solving the right problem.
The day I read Snow’s essay, I happened to be leading a workshop on social change during the Yale Civic Leadership conference. Some of the students I worked with were part of the movement to rename Yale’s Calhoun College, and all were smart, thoughtful, creative and openminded.
The workshop I led encourages thinkers to consider different ways they might make social change, not just through electing good leaders and passing just laws. Our lab examines the idea that changemakers can use different levers of change, including social norms, market forces, and new technologies to influence society, and the workshop I led asks students to propose novel solutions to long-standing problems featuring one of these levers of change. With Snow’s essay in mind, I asked the students to take on the challenge of prison reform.
Oddly, none of their solutions involved virtual reality isolation cells. In fact, most of the solutions they proposed had nothing to do with prisons themselves. Instead, their solutions focused on over-policing of black neighborhoods, America’s aggressive prosecutorial culture that encourages those arrested to plead guilty, legalization of some or all drugs, reform of sentencing guidelines for drug crimes, reforming parole and probation to reduce reincarceration for technical offenses, and building robust re-entry programs to help ex-cons find support, housing and gainful employment.
In other words, when Snow focuses on making prison safer and cheaper, he’s working on the wrong problem. Yes, prisons in the US could be safer and cheaper. But the larger problem is that the US incarcerates more people than any other nation on earth – with 5% of the world’s population, we are responsible for 25% of the world’s prisoners. Snow may see his ideas as radical and transformative, but they’re fundamentally conservative – he tinkers with the conditions of confinement without questioning whether incarceration is how our society should solve problems of crime and addiction. As a result, his solutions can only address a facet of the problem, not the deep structural issues that lead to the problem in the first place.
Many hard problems require you to step back and consider whether you’re solving the right problem. If your solution only mitigates the symptoms of a deeper problem, you may be calcifying that problem and making it harder to change. Cheaper, safer prisons make it easier to incarcerate more Americans and avoid addressing fundamental problems of addiction, joblessness, mental illness and structural racism.
Understand that technology is a tool, and not the only tool.
Some of my hate-linking friends began their eye-rolling about Snow’s article with the title, which references two of Silicon Valley’s most hyped technologies. With the current focus on the US as an “innovation economy”, it’s common to read essays predicting the end of a major social problem due to a technical innovation. Bitcoin will end poverty in the developing world by enabling inexpensive money transfers. Wikipedia and One Laptop Per Child will educate the world’s poor without need for teachers or schools. Self driving cars will obviate public transport and reshape American cities.
Evgeny Morozov has offered a sharp and helpful critique to this mode of thinking, which he calls “solutionism”. Solutionism demands that we focus on problems that have “nice and clean technological solution at our disposal.” In his book, “To Save Everything, Click Here”, Morozov savages ideas like Snow’s, whether they are meant as thought experiments or serious policy proposals. (Indeed, one worry I have in writing this essay is taking Snow’s ideas too seriously, as Morozov does with many of the ideas he lambastes in his book.)
The problem with the solutionist critique is that it tends to remove technological innovation from the problem-solver’s toolkit. In fact, technological development is often a key component in solving complex social and political problems, and new technologies can sometimes open a previously intractable problem. The rise of inexpensive solar panels may be an opportunity to move nations away from a dependency on fossil fuels and begin lowering atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, much as developments in natural gas extraction and transport technologies have lessened the use of dirtier fuels like coal.
But it’s rare that technology provides a robust solution to a social problem by itself. Successful technological approaches to solving social problems usually require changes in laws and norms, as well as market incentives to make change at scale. I installed solar panels on the roof of my house last fall. Rapid advances in panel technology made this a routine investment instead of a luxury, and the existence of competitive solar installers in our area meant that market pressures kept costs low. But the panels were ultimately affordable because federal and state legislation offered tax rebates for their purchase, and because Massachusetts state law rewards me with solar credits for each megawatt I produce, which I can sell to utilities through an online marketplace, because they are legally mandated to produce a percentage of their total power output via solar generation. And while there are powerful technological, market and legal forces pushing us towards solar energy, the most powerful may be the social, normative pressure of seeing our neighbors install solar panels, leaving us feeling ike we weren’t doing our part.
My Yale students who tried to use technology as their primary lever for reforming US prisons had a difficult time. One team offered the idea of an online social network that would help recently released prisoners connect with other ex-offenders to find support, advice and job opportunities in the outside world. Another looked at the success of Bard College’s remarkable program to help inmates earn BA degrees and wondered whether online learning technologies could allow similar efforts to reach thousands more prisoners. But many of the other promising ideas that arose in our workshops had a technological component – given the ubiquity of mobile phones, why can’t ex-offenders have their primary contact with their parole officers via mobile phones? Given the rise of big data techniques used for “smart policing”, can we review patterns of policing, identifying and eliminating cases where officers are overfocusing on some communities?
The temptation of technology is that it promises fast and neat solutions to social problems, but usually fails to deliver. The problem with Morozov’s critique is that technological solutions, combined with other paths to change, can sometimes turn intractable problems into solvable ones. The key is to understand technology’s role as a lever of change in conjunction with complementary levers.
Don’t assume your preferences are universal
Shane Snow introduces his essay on prison reform not with statistics about the ineffectiveness of incarceration in reducing crime, but with his fear of being sent to prison. Specifically, he fears prison rape, a serious problem which he radically overestimates: “My fear of prison also stems from the fact that some 21 percent of U.S. prison inmates get raped or coerced into giving sexual favors to terrifying dudes named Igor.” Snow is religious about footnoting his essays, but not as good at reading the sources he cites – the report he uses to justify his fear of “Igor” (parenthetical comment removed – EZ, 6/29/16) indicates that 2.91 of 1000 incarcerated persons experienced sexual violence, or 0.291%, not 21%. Shane has amended his post, and references another study that indicates a higher level of coerced sexual contact in prison.
Perhaps isolation for years at a time, living vicariously through a VR headset while sipping an oat flour smoothie would be preferable to time in the prison yard, mess hall, workshop or classroom for Snow. But there’s no indication that Snow has talked to any current or ex-offenders about their time in prison, and about the ways in which encounters with other prisoners led them to faith, to mentorship or to personal transformation. The people Shane imagines are so scary, so other, that he can’t imagine interacting with them, learning from them, or anything but being violently assaulted by them. No wonder he doesn’t bother to ask what aspects of prison life are most and least livable, which would benefit most from transformation.
Much of my work focuses on how technologies spread across national, religious and cultural borders, and how they are transformed by that spread. Cellphone networks believed that pre-paid scratch cards were an efficient way to sell phone minutes at low cost – until Ugandans started using the scratch off codes to send money via text message in a system called Sente, inventing practical mobile money in the process. Facebook believes its service is best used by real individuals using their real names, and goes to great lengths to remove accounts it believes to be fictional. But when Facebook comes to a country like Myanmar, where it is seen as a news service, not a social networking service, phone shops specializing in setting up accounts using fake names and phone numbers render Facebook’s preferences null and void.
Smart technologists and designers have learned that their preferences are seldom their users’ preferences, and companies like Intel now employ brilliant ethnographers to discover how tools are used by actual users in their homes and offices. Understanding the wants and needs of users is important when you’re designing technologies for people much like yourself, but it’s utterly critical when designing for people with different backgrounds, experiences, wants and needs. Given that Snow’s understanding of prison life seems to come solely from binge-watching Oz, it’s virtually guaranteed that his proposed solution will fail in unanticipated ways when used by real people.
Am I the right person to solve this problem?
Of the many wise things my Yale students said during our workshop was a student who wondered if he should be participating at all. “I don’t know anything about prisons, I don’t have family in prison. I don’t know if I understand these problems well enough to solve them, and I don’t know if these problems are mine to solve.”
Talking about the workshop with my friend and colleague Chelsea Barabas, she asked the wonderfully deep question, “Is it ever okay to solve another person’s problem?”
On its surface, the question looks easy to answer. We can’t ask infants to solve problems of infant mortality, and by extension, it seems unwise to let kindergarden students design educational policy or demand that the severely disabled design their own assistive technologies.
But the argument is more complicated when you consider it more closely. It’s difficult if not impossible to design a great assistive technology without working closely, iteratively and cooperatively with the person who will wear or use it. My colleague Hugh Herr designs cutting-edge prostheses for US veterans who’ve lost legs, and the centerpiece of his lab is a treadmill where amputees test his limbs, giving him and his students feedback about what works, what doesn’t and what needs to change. Without the active collaboration of the people he’s trying to help, he’s unable to make technological advances.
Disability rights activists have demanded “nothing about us without us”, a slogan that demands that policies should not be developed without the participation of those intended to benefit from those policies. Design philosophies like participatory design and codesign bring this concept to the world of technology, demanding that technologies designed for a group of people be designed and built, in part, by those people. Codesign challenges many of the assumptions of engineering, requiring people who are used to working in isolation to build broad teams and to understand that those most qualified to offer a technical solution may be least qualified to identify a need or articulate a design problem. Codesign is hard and frustrating, but it’s also one of the best ways to ensure that you’re solving the right problem, rather than imposing your preferred solution on a situation.
On the other pole from codesign is an approach to engineering we might understand as “Make things better by making better things”. This school of thought argues that while mobile phones were designed for rich westerners, not for users in developing nations, they’ve become one of the transformative technologies for the developing world. Frustratingly, this argument is valid, too. Many of the technologies we benefit from weren’t designed for their ultimate beneficiaries, but were simply designed well and adopted widely. Shane Snow’s proposal is built in part on this perspective – Soylent was designed for geeks who wanted to skip meals, not for prisoners in solitary confinement, but perhaps it might be preferable to Nutraloaf or other horrors of the prison kitchen.
I’m not sure how we resolve the dichotomy of “with us” versus “better things”. I’d note that every engineer I’ve ever met believes what she’s building is a better thing. As a result, strategies that depend on finding the optimum solutions often rely on choice-rich markets where users can gravitate towards the best solution. In other words, they don’t work very well in an environment like prison, where prisoners are unlikely to be given a choice between Snow’s isolation cells and the prison as it currently stands, and are even less likely to participate in designing a better prison.
Am I advocating codesign of prisons with the currently incarcerated? Hell yeah, I am. And with ex-offenders, corrections officers, families of prisoners as well as the experts who design these facilities today. They’re likely to do a better job than smart Yale students, or technology commentators.
The possible utility of beating a dead horse
It is unlikely that anyone is going to invite Shane Snow to redesign a major prison any time soon, so spending more than three thousand words urging you to reject his solution may be a waste of your time and mine. But the mistakes Shane makes are those that engineers make all the time when they turn their energy and creativity to solving pressing and persistent social problems. Looking closely at how Snow’s solutions fall short offers some hope for building better, fairer and saner solutions.
The challenge, unfortunately, is not in offering a critique of how solutions go wrong. Excellent versions of that critique exist, from Morozov’s war on solutionism, to Courtney Martin’s brilliant “The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems”. If it’s easy to design inappropriate solutions about problems you don’t fully understand, it’s not much harder to criticize the inadequacy of those solutions.
What’s hard is synthesis – learning to use technology as part of well-designed sociotechnical solutions. These solutions sometimes require profound advances in technology. But they virtually always require people to build complex, multifunctional teams that work with and learn from the people the technology is supposed to benefit.
Three students at the MIT Media Lab taught a course last semester called “Unpacking Impact: Reflecting as We Make”. They point out that the Media Lab prides itself on teaching students how to make anything, and how to turn what you make into a business, but rarely teaches reflection about what we make and what it might mean for society as a whole. My experience with teaching this reflective process to engineers is that it’s both important and potentially paralyzing, that once we understand the incompleteness of technology as a path for solving problems and the ways technological solutions relate to social, market and legal forces, it can be hard to build anything at all.
I’m going to teach a new course this fall, tentatively titled “Technology and Social Change”. It’s going to include an examination of the four levers of social change Larry Lessig suggests in Code and which I’ve been exploring as possible paths to civic engagement. It will include deep methodological dives into codesign, and into using anthropology as tool for understanding user needs. It will look at unintended consequences, cases where technology’s best intentions fail, and cases where careful exploration and preparation led to technosocial systems that make users and communities more powerful than they were before.
I’m “calling my shot” here for two reasons. One, by announcing it publicly, I’m less likely to back out of it, and given how hard these problems are, backing out is a real possibility. And two, if you’ve read this far in this post, you’ve likely thought about this issue and have suggestions for what we should read and what exercises we should try in the course of the class – I hope you might be kind enough to share those with me.
In the end, I’m grateful for Shane Snow’s surreal, Black Mirror vision of the future prison both because it’s a helpful jumping off point for understanding how hard it is to make change well using technology, and because the US prison system is a broken and dysfunctional system in need of change. But we need to find ways to disrupt better, to challenge knowledgeably, to bring the people they hope to benefit into the process. If you can, please help me figure out how we teach these ideas to the smart, creative people I work with who want to change the world and are afraid of breaking it in the process.
At night, lying in the dark I can feel my heart bumping in my ribcage and equally, the slow diminishment of myself. With time comes the desire to build memorials, even to the single life that I have. I think about how to depict or show this feeling, but every expression of it seems to emerge as sentiment, pretense or nostalgia.
You share something simple with me, a thought about your stepson, an urge for sunshine. I marvel at this unfussy, stubborn idea you’ve presented. What’s true for you at the moment, or plainly in front of you. Doglike, in your language. Yet you hint at something unsettled, nearby. The red crosshairs in your image, and the human form next to them. I suddenly understand that we’re looking down the barrel of a gun.
As images come I both want to share them with you and to hold on to them, in the fantasy that they might become something else, more durable or original. Something memorialized, or at least memorable. I try to let go of that impulse, for who knows if I will make something larger than myself, or if it is helpful to ask that question. Though I have also found that letting images sit, forgetting them for years, may skew their meaning in unexpected ways. This is the response, I think, to your question about whether I can act without being concerned with what the act reveals.
I should mention I’m now in London. It’s late, I’ve woken suddenly. I’m in a hotel above Charing Cross. I can feel the thrumming of traffic, the continuous flow of night busses, the Tube deep underground. Nelson stands on his column, just out of sight in Trafalgar Square. On the fourth plinth, for public art, the skeleton of a horse in bronze, its sharp, serrated ribs.
Ronald V. Clarke argues for more situational awareness in crime prevention. Turns out if you make crime harder, it goes down. And this has profound policy implications.
Whatever the benefits for Criminology, the real benefits of a greater focus on crime than criminality would be for crime policy. The fundamental attribution error is the main impediment to formulating a broader set of policies to control crime. Nearly everyone believes that the best way to control crime is to prevent people from developing into criminals in the first place or, failing that, to use the criminal justice system to deter or rehabilitate them. This has led directly to overuse of the system at vast human and economic cost.
Hardly anyone recognizes--whether politicians, public intellectuals, government policy makers, police or social workers--that focusing on the offender is dealing with only half the problem. We need also to deal with the many and varied ways in which society inadvertently creates the opportunities for crime that motivated offenders exploit by (i) manufacturing crime-prone goods, (ii) practicing poor management in many spheres of everyday life, (iii) permitting poor layout and design of places, (iv) neglecting the security of the vast numbers of electronic systems that regulate our everyday lives and, (v) enacting laws with unintended benefits for crime.
Situational prevention has accumulated dozens of successes in chipping away at some of the problems created by these conditions, which attests to the principles formulated so many years ago in Home Office research. Much more surprising, however, is that the same thing has been happening in every sector of modern life without any assistance from governments or academics. I am referring to the security measures that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of private and public organizations have been taking in the past 2-3 decades to protect themselves from crime.
One of the areas I’ve been focused on here is the need for “regulatory tech”. In other words, tools & services to help broker the individual / government & corporation / regulator relationship.
In a nutshell: we are entering the information age, and as such our fundamental models for accomplishing our goals are changing. In the case of regulation, that means a shift from the industrial, permission-based model to the internet-native, accountability based model. This is an issue I’ve written about many many times before.
In order for this transition to happen, we need some new foundational technologies: specifically, tools and services that broker the data sharing relationship between government and the private sector. These can be vertical services (such as Airmap for drones), or horizontal tools (such as Enigma).
You can see the video of the talk (10min) here:
And the slides are here:
The timing is apropos because here in New York State, the senate & assembly just passed a bill banning advertising for short-term apartment rentals. This is a very very coarse approach, that declines to regulate using an accountability-based model rather than a permission-based model. Now of course, this particular issue has been fraught for a long time, including claims that Airbnb manipulated the data it shared with NYS regulators. But that situation is in fact a perfect example of the need for better tools & techniques for brokering a data-based regulatory relationship.
Tomorrow summer starts. Looking out into this gloomy weather here in Belgium, I long for sunny days. I had a breakthrough last night for a new story I’m aching to get started on. As I was yet again looking at my contact sheets of the preliminary work I had done on location in Kyushu now 9 months ago, I somehow added what I now see as new key images to my selects.
Why had I never noticed them before? They seem so obvious now. And after printing the images today, the whole story came together for me. I now know what to do to make the project. It’s an immense relief, knowing which mountain I need to climb for this. It won’t make the climb itself any easier of course, but the journey’s where all the fun lies, right?
And I’m not going to wonder what changed or what made me look differently. Maybe it’s been the books I’ve been reading, the films I’ve watched, or even the conversations I’ve been having. It’s better I don’t know, it’s impossible to replicate or turn into a trick anyway. I’m just glad that it keeps on happening once every so often. A veil lifted between my scalp and brain.
Speaking of massacres, as I look at your image my stepson is playing Battlefield 4 and having a massacre of his own. A message pops up: “last man in squad”. I reminisce. A family, shelter, a place to call home. I struggle to find anything more profound right now.
A man rings the doorbell with an empty bottle asking if I can fill it with water for him, he’s working construction next door with nobody home. He apologises for disturbing me and I say please… don’t mention it and come to think of it that makes me feel sad. I wish no one would ever have to feel the need to apologise for asking for a glass of water.
Since the team had tracked these groups daily, researchers could observe the tactics that pro-ISIS groups use to evade authorities. They found that 15 percent of groups changed their names during the study period, and 7 percent flipped their visibility from public to members only. Another 4 percent underwent what the researchers called reincarnation. That means the group disappeared completely but popped up later under a new name and earned more than 60 percent of its original followers back.
The researchers compared these behaviors in the pro-ISIS groups to the behaviors of other social groups made up of protestors or social activists (the entire project began in 2013 with a focus on predicting periods of social unrest). The pro-ISIS groups employed more of these strategies, presumably because the groups were under more pressure to evolve as authorities sought to shut them down.
The firm identified two separate hacker groups, both working for the Russian government, that had infiltrated the network, said Dmitri Alperovitch, CrowdStrike co-founder and chief technology officer. The firm had analyzed other breaches by both groups over the last two years.
One group, which CrowdStrike had dubbed Cozy Bear, had gained access last summer and was monitoring the DNC's email and chat communications, Alperovitch said.
The other, which the firm had named Fancy Bear, broke into the network in late April and targeted the opposition research files. It was this breach that set off the alarm. The hackers stole two files, Henry said. And they had access to the computers of the entire research staff -- an average of about several dozen on any given day.
This seems like standard political espionage to me. We certainly don't want it to happen, but we shouldn't be surprised when it does.
EDITED TO ADD (6/16): From the Washington Post article, the Republicans were also hacked:
The intrusion into the DNC was one of several targeting American political organizations. The networks of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were also targeted by Russian spies, as were the computers of some Republican political action committees, U.S. officials said. But details on those cases were not available.
EDITED TO ADD (6/12): Another view.
The New York Times is reporting that some women in China are being forced to supply nude photos of themselves as collateral for getting a loan. Aside from the awfulness of this practice, it's really bad collateral because it's impossible to ever get it back.
As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.
The castle doctrine has been around a long time. Cicero (106-43 BCE) wrote, What more sacred, what more strongly guarded by every holy feeling, than a man’s own home? In Book 4, Chapter 16 of his Commentaries on the Laws of England, William Blackstone (1723-1780 CE) added, And the law of England has so particular and tender a regard to the immunity of a man’s house, that it stiles it his castle, and will never suffer it to be violated with impunity: agreeing herein with the sentiments of ancient Rome…
Since you’re reading this online, let me ask, What’s your house here? What sacred space do you strongly guard, and never suffer to be violated with impunity?
At the very least, it should be your browser.
But, unless you’re running tracking protection in the browser you’re using right now, companies you’ve never heard of (and some you have) are watching you read this, and eager to use or sell personal data about you, so you can be delivered the human behavior hack called “interest based advertising.”
Shoshana Zuboff, of Harvard Business School, has a term for this: surveillance capitalism, defined as “a wholly new subspecies of capitalism in which profits derive from the unilateral surveillance and modification of human behavior.”
Almost across the board, advertising-supported publishers have handed their business over to adtech, the surveillance-based (they call it “interactive”) wing of advertising. Adtech doesn’t see your browser as a sacred personal space, but instead as a shopping cart with ad displays, that you push around from site to site.
So here is a helpful fact: we don’t go anywhere when we use our browsers. Our browser homes are in our computers, laptops and mobile devices. When we “visit” a web page or site with our browsers, we actually just request its contents (using the hypertext protocol called http or https).
In no case do we consciously ask to be spied on, or abused by content we didn’t ask for or expect. That’s why we have every right to field-strip out anything we don’t want when it arrives at our browsers’ doors.
The castle doctrine is what hundreds of millions of us practice when we use tracking protection and ad blockers. It is what called the new Brave browser into the marketplace. It’s why Mozilla has been cranking up privacy protections with every new version of Firefox . It’s why Apple’s new content blocking feature treats adtech the way chemo treats cancer. It’s why respectful publishers will comply with CHEDDAR. It’s why Customer Commons is becoming the place to choose the No Trespassing signs potential intruders will obey. And it’s why #NoStalking is a good deal for publishers.
The job of every entity I named in the last paragraps — and every other one in a position to improve personal privacy online — is to bring as much respect to the castle doctrine in the virtual world as we’ve had in the physical one for more than two thousand years.
It should help to remember that it’s still early. We’ve only had commercial activity on the Internet since April 1995. But we’ve also waited long enough. Let’s finish making our homes online the safe places they should have been in the first place.
At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this week, Apple talked about something called "differential privacy." We know very little about the details, but it seems to be an anonymization technique designed to collect user data without revealing personal information.
What we know about anonymization is that it's much harder than people think, and it's likely that this technique will be full of privacy vulnerabilities. (See, for example, the excellent work of Latanya Sweeney.) As expected, security experts are skeptical. Here's Matt Green trying to figure it out.
So while I applaud Apple for trying to improve privacy within its business models, I would like some more transparency and some more public scrutiny.
EDITED TO ADD (6/17): Here's a slide deck on privacy from the WWDC.
This essay argues that teaching computer science at the K-12 level is a matter of national security.
I think the argument is even broader. Computers, networks, and algorithms are at the heart of all of our complex social and political issues. We need broader literacy for all sorts of political and social reasons.
The inclination of your pensive, shadowed head. The figure may be human or stone, it’s impossible to know. Though it is rare for public statuary to assume introspective poses. We prefer those we put on pedestals to gaze at the horizon.
The public figure on a plinth leads me to think of its counterpoint; specifically the efforts of those who elevated him. Or should I say, upon whose backs he was elevated. Though it is easy to traffic in generalities. We well know the cycle of elevation and desecration of past heroes, as their ideas come in and out of fashion, and the public contention and violence that results.
In any case, your inclined head implies reflection, which in turn implies a response to an event or a gesture, a fragment of narrative. In choosing images for you, I‘ve been pulled between those that imply a story and those that imply a concept. And when I choose I step away from reason and instead allow an image to arise in my mind. Once it has secured a place it begins to accumulate a weight that is difficult to resist.
All this talk of groups and conformity, of statues and gazes, of empire and eternity. And you in Rome. It’s leading me to Tiberius, inclined to introspection, the “gloomiest of men” according to Pliny the Elder, but also conqueror of the Roman north, of the Germanic tribes. And the image that’s arisen in response, perhaps inescapably, is of the slaughterhouse.
It’s indeed striking what you mention, and I hadn’t noticed it at all. An interesting question indeed, why would you continue to send those images of stone. Is it maybe to open my eye to something you’ve seen, the uncontrollable urge mankind has to eternalise himself, to build things that confirm his actions, make him feel validated? I’ve been reading about our deeply engrained inner urge to conform to the people around us, and by doing so, keeping our position in the group so as not to be outcast and die. Something that in the Stone Age was crucial for survival, is now not anymore. But that basic urge – which has not evolved since – still governs part of us now.
Look at any two class images of any two years and you’ll see: most people will have the same style. The chance of people having done that individually without any outside social influence is infinitesimally small. Even though we all pride ourselves on our own individuality, maybe it would better to accept and try to understand this urge and its influence. We want to be eternal. We want our empire. We want our approval. It just takes a different shape for each of us.
We know it’s not healthy to be governed by this urge. Yet at the same time it is impossible to simply completely discard it; it unequivocally is part of us. Maybe the key lies in Plato’s dialogues with his master Socrates: know thyself.
Know when it is You, and know when it is the urge telling you. Give them both their place, but know that the You is your core, and always is more important. Getting to listen to your You without the outside noise, is a hard thing to do.
Sometimes I catch glimpses of my Me. Maybe those are the moments that I’m up in my tree looking out, having pushed aside the final fig leaf.
Down below are the stone busts and statues of the ancient greek philosophers in dialogue, thinking, parting with their wisdom. Again stone. Again our attempt for eternity. My covered car awaits.
Typosquatting is an old trick of registering a domain name a typo away from a popular domain name and using it for various nefarious purposes. Nikolai Philipp Tschacher just published a bachelor's thesis where he does the same trick with the names of popular code libraries, and tricks 17,000 computers into running arbitrary code.
Ars Technica article.
People who don't want Waze routing cars through their neighborhoods are feeding it false data.
It was here that Connor learned that some Waze warriors had launched concerted campaigns to fool the app. Neighbors filed false reports of blockages, sometimes with multiple users reporting the same issue to boost their credibility. But Waze was way ahead of them.
It's not possible to fool the system for long, according to Waze officials. For one thing, the system knows if you're not actually in motion. More important, it constantly self-corrects, based on data from other drivers.
"The nature of crowdsourcing is that if you put in a fake accident, the next 10 people are going to report that it's not there," said Julie Mossler, Waze's head of communications. The company will suspend users they suspect of "tampering with the map," she said.
Today, the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society will bring together more than sixty leaders from the pharmaceutical industry, foundations, civil society, academia, and government for a conference to develop actionable solutions for increasing access to medicines and promoting innovation to help the world’s poor.
July 13, 2016 (Cambridge, Massachusetts) – Today, the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society will bring together more than sixty leaders from the pharmaceutical industry, foundations, civil society, academia, and government for a conference to develop actionable solutions for increasing access to medicines and promoting innovation to help the world’s poor.
Despite recent advances in medicine, poor communities around the world continue to suffer disproportionately from communicable diseases. In addition to other public health challenges, drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines are often unavailable, or are sold at prices that are out of reach for the world’s poorest people. Today’s discussions will highlight best practices that can be scaled up or replicated in sustainable ways that will improve life outcomes for the poor and encourage innovation.
Under discussion today will be preliminary recommendations developed by Global Access in Action (GAIA), an initiative of the Berkman Center that seeks to develop pragmatic solutions to improve access to medicines and promote innovation. GAIA’s draft recommendations highlight intra-country differential pricing, humanitarian licensing, and improved research collaboration as strategies worthy of consideration for scale-up and replication. At the conference, participants will discuss their experimentation with these strategies, exploring the circumstances under which they could be adopted more broadly.
“Finding ways to ensure both innovation and access is critically important. The world should not have to choose between creating new treatments and ensuring that everyone can benefit from them,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute and K.T. Li Professor, Harvard School of Public Health Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. “That is the goal of GAIA and that’s what we hope this conversation will engender,” Dr. Jha added.
“Even small improvements in the incentives and policies surrounding the pricing and distribution of diagnostics, medicines, and vaccines have the potential to save numerous lives around the world,” said Quentin Palfrey, co-Director of GAIA.
In the afternoon, participants will discuss other innovative and out-of-the-box strategies for increasing access to medicines and promoting research & development into global health challenges for which there are insufficient commercial incentives, such as Ebola and Zika.
This is the first joint conference hosted by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Berkman Center, and the third workshop co-hosted by Global Access in Action since its inaugural meeting in 2014. GAIA is led by Professors Terry Fisher and Mark Wu of Harvard Law School, along with Quentin Palfrey of MIT.
In addition to Jha, Fisher, Wu, and Palfrey, speakers at today’s conference include: Ruth Okediji, Hieken Visiting Professor of Patent Law, Harvard Law School; Suerie Moon, Co-Chair of the Forum on Global Governance for Health, Harvard Global Health Institute; Dr. Rebecca Weintraub, Asst. Professor, Harvard Medical School; Jamie Love, Director, Knowledge Ecology International; Kevin Outterson, Professor of Law, Boston University; Thomas Bollyky, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Economics, and Development, Council on Foreign Relations; Gregg Alton, Executive Vice President, Gilead Sciences; Hans Rietveld, Director, Market Access & Capacity Building, Malaria Initiative, Novartis Pharma AG; Prashant Yadav, Director of Health Care Research, William Davidson Institute, University of Michigan; Prof. Colleen Chien, Associate Professor of Law, Santa Clara Law School; and Jami Taylor, Sr. Director of Global Access Policy, Janssen Diagnostics. Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow will welcome participants to the conference.
Portions of the workshop can be viewed live at https://brk.mn/a2mHarvard beginning at 9:00am ET on 6/13/16. Participants will use the hashtag #a2mHarvard for tweets about the conference.
For news and developments about Global Access in Action, please visit http://globalaccessinaction.org. If you wish to get in touch with the GAIA team, please connect with us on Twitter at @gaia_berkman or email Quentin Palfrey (email@example.com).
About the Harvard Global Health Institute
The Harvard Global Health Institute is committed to surfacing and addressing broad challenges in public health that affect large populations around the globe. We believe that solutions that will move the dial draw from within and beyond the medicine and public health spheres to encompass design, law, policy, and business. We do that by harnessing the unique breadth of excellence within fields at Harvard and by being a dedicated partner and convener to organizations, governments, scholars, and committed citizens around the globe. More information at http://globalhealth.harvard.edu/
About the Berkman Center for Internet & Society
Founded in 1997, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is dedicated to exploring, understanding, and shaping the development of the digitally-networked environment. A diverse, interdisciplinary community of scholars, practitioners, technologists, policy experts, and advocates, we seek to tackle the most important challenges of the digital age while keeping a focus on tangible real-world impact in the public interest. Our faculty, fellows, staff and affiliates conduct research, build tools and platforms, educate others, form bridges and facilitate dialogue across and among diverse communities. More information at https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/
At the base of the columns of the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russian boys and girls lingered and flirted, while elderly women in long skirts exited the heavy wooden doors of the nave after prayer. That cathedral, if you’ve never been, spreads its columned arms along Nevsky Prospekt, the heart of the city. It is modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Peter the Great also got the name; hence the city. Of course, it is Moscow rather than St. Petersburg that claims the status of the third Rome, the Orthodox heir. All these millennial aspirants, with visions of eternal empire.
Between the stone column and a child’s wave. Between the concrete blast barrier and a dog’s shadow. The former establishes structure and requires obedience. The latter diverts the eye and requests a response. Of these options, I tell myself that I prefer the ephemeral gesture to the enduring commitment. Though you might argue that both stone and flesh are fleeting and it is only scale that distinguishes them. In any case, I wonder, despite my partiality for closing eyes, the drawing of curtains, or the sweeping of brooms, why I continue to send you images of brick walls, concrete bollards, and granite pillars?
The Web is highly distributed and in flux; the people using it, even moreso. Many projects exist to optimize its use, including:
This week I was thinking about the 3rd point. What would a comprehensively backed-up Web of links look like? How resilient can we make references to all of the failure modes we’ve seen and imagined? Some threads for a map:
Related questions: What other aspects of robustness need consideration? How are people making progress at each layer? What more is needed to have a mesh of archived links at every scale? For instance, WordPress supports a chunk of the Web; top CDNs cache more than that. What other players can make this happen? What is needed for them to support this?
In 1962, Claude Levi-Strauss brought the concept of bricolage into the anthropological and philosophical lexicons. It has to do with thinking with one’s hands, putting together new things by repurposing old things. It has since been applied to the Internet (including, apparently, by me, thanks to a tip from Rageboy). The term “bricolage” uncovers something important about the Net, but it also covers up something fundamental about the Net that has been growing even more important.
In The Savage Mind (relevant excerpt), CLS argued against the prevailing view that “primitive” peoples were unable to form abstract concepts. After showing that they often in have extensive sets of concepts for flora and fauna, he maintains that these concepts go beyond what they pragmatically need to know:
…animals and plants are not known as a result of their usefulness; they are deemed to be useful or interesting because they are first of all known.
It may be objected that science of this kind can scarcely be of much practical effect. The answer to this is that its main purpose is not a practical one. It meets intellectual requirements rather than or instead of satisfying needs.
It meets, in short, a “demand for order.”
CLS wants us to see the mythopoeic world as being as rich, complex, and detailed as the modern scientific world, while still drawing the relevant distinctions. He uses bricolage as a bridge for our understanding. A bricoleur scavenges the environment for items that can be reused, getting their heft, trying them out, fitting them together and then giving them a twist. The mythopoeic mind engages in this bricolage rather than in the scientific or engineering enterprise of letting a desired project assemble the “raw materials.” A bricoleur has what s/he has and shapes projects around that. And what the bricoleur has generally has been fashioned for some other purpose.
Bricolage is a very useful concept for understanding the Internet’s mashup culture, its culture of re-use. It expresses the way in which one thing inspires another, and the power of re-contextualization. It evokes the sense of invention and play that is dominant on so much of the Net. While the Engineer is King (and, all too rarely, Queen) of this age, the bricoleurs have kept the Net weird, and bless them for it.
But there are at least two ways in which this metaphor is inapt.
First, traditional bricoleurs don’t have search engines that let them in a single glance look across the universe for what they need. Search engines let materials assemble around projects, rather than projects be shaped by the available materials. (Yes, this distinction is too strong. Yes, it’s more complicated than that. Still, there’s some truth to it.)
Second, we have been moving with some consistency toward a Net that at its topmost layers replicates the interoperability of its lower layers. Those low levels specify the rules — protocols — by which networks can join together to move data packets to their destinations. Those packets are designed so they can be correctly interpreted as data by any recipient applications. As you move up the stack, you start to lose this interoperability: Microsoft Word can’t make sense of the data output by Pages, and a graphics program may not be able to make sense of the layer information output by Photoshop.
But, over time, we’re getting better at this:
Applications add import and export services as the market requires. More consequentially, more and richer standards for interoperability continue to emerge, as they have from the very beginning: FTP, HTML, XML, Dublin Core, Schema.org, the many Semantic Web vocabularies, ontologies, and schema, etc.
More important, we are now taking steps to make sure that what we create is available for re-use in ways we have not imagined. We do this by working within standards and protocols. We do it by putting our work into the sphere of reusable items, whether that’s by applying the Creative Commons license, putting our work into a public archive, , or even just paying attention to what will make our work more findable.
This is very different from the bricoleur’s world in which objects are designed for one use, and it takes the ingenuity of the bricoleur to find a new use for it.
This movement continues the initial work of the Internet. From the beginning the Net has been predicated on providing an environment with the fewest possible assumptions about how it will be used. The Net was designed to move anyone’s information no matter what it’s about, what it’s for, where it’s going, or who owns it. The higher levels of the stack are increasingly realizing that vision. The Net is thus more than ever becoming a universe of objects explicitly designed for reuse in unexpected ways. (An important corrective to this sunny point of view: Christian Sandvig’s brilliant description of how the Net has incrementally become designed for delivering video above all else.)
Insofar as we are explicitly creating works designed for unexpected reuse, the bricolage metaphor is flawed, as all metaphors are. It usefully highlights the “found” nature of so much of Internet culture. It puts into the shadows, however, the truly transformative movement we are now living through in which we are explicitly designing objects for uses that we cannot anticipate.
You decided to celebrate your wedding outdoors, in a beautiful area, a family home or your garden with your loved ones, but the weather is often unpredictable. To offer maximum comfort to your guests and leave with peace of mind, you have chosen for the wedding canopy rental, unlike the marriage venue, the wedding restaurant or wedding castle, or cheap popup canopies for sale
An outdoor equipment selection panel and its support will be offered. First, and this is an essential point, make sure that the rented equipment is clean and impeccable quality. A frayed or canopy with holes would be the worst effect.
Canopy and marquees must be resistant, waterproof, lightweight, stylish and if possible without a central post.
Opt for the material and suitable structures, approved by the BVTS treated fire (M1-M2), so does the success of your reception. The incidents do not happen to others.
The primary objective is the success of your reception you give outdoors. You can opt for:
The material will be of impeccable aesthetics:
We advise you to contact different professional party canopies hire and compare prices.
Ask and ask the right questions:
It is essential to choose a provider that rents, delivers, installs and dismantles equipment and facilities.
Although the assembly is easy, do not you embark yourself with some friends (they came to relax) in the hardware installation, especially if you expect a lot of guests, you run to the disaster. Remember that you have many things to manage. Devote yourself to other preparations.
Check with the landlord of the canopy what assurances it has purchased, and what assurances he advises you to take.
Also, check with your personal home insurance that covers your liability. An insurance extension may be necessary.
Tips for wedding canopy rental
Wedding canopy rental offers flexibility and is very user-friendly. Therefore, we advise you to:
Wedding canopy rental prices vary enormously from one provider to another. The area is also important; the Île-de-France will be much more expensive than the province.
Indicative costs around:
Nice to know: check with your town hall, village hall or associations in your community who might lend you the equipment at prices much more affordable. However, be careful, the installation is dependent on you, will you have the time?
Moving a canopy is often done without organization beforehand, yet to Avoid premature wear of your product, sour Make That Some common sense rules are Followed.
Once the canopy Positioned in your vehicle, make sure your canopy is no longer moved. Do not place heavy objects on top of the canopy, an overload Could damage it (ripe roof structure). If possible, use a carrying case, the patch bag will protect your frame from scratches and tears in canvas.
In Rome here where I’m now, a city with a huge past, carved and set in stone by uncountable columns, history has been defined so many times. An act of blurring in and of itself, like the tarp covering the car, never revealing its entirety, only showing every single viewer what they want to see, relying on imagination and memory of that what is obscured. And I’m sure that images in our collective consciousness cloud our own memories in the process as well, often passing for one of them to the point we believe them to be our own.
I must confess that I’ve never driven a convertible. I can only imagine the feeling being comparable to riding a motorcycle on winding roads, sun setting wind blowing, no destination. After three accidents it was time to move on. I guess I used up my luck there.
Walking down the steps of my friend’s room here in via Casalini I look outside and see a baby doll and tricycle left behind on the neighbour’s rooftop. A mix of thoughts, memories and associations come to me, and now I long for my innocence and earliest childhood, playing around our house in Ryadh.
I’m on a tram heading to Termini and a little girl points to an imaginary place out the window. Again, constant movement, constant remembering, forgetting, appropriating, redefining, moving towards, and moving away from.
Effective June 30, 2016, courses on the old platform will no longer be available.
There’s nothing wrong with a MOOC platform charging for whatever they want to charge for. There is something terribly wrong with the educational system handing power over MOOCs to a commercial entity.
MOOCs are here to stay. But we once again need to learn the danger of centralized platforms. Protocols are safer — more generative, more resistant to capture — than platforms. Distributed archives are safer than centralized archives.
Thank goodness the idea of the Decentalized Web (or, as I prefer to think of it, the Decent Web) is gaining momentum. Not a moment too soon.
This interesting essay argues that financial risks are generally not systemic risks, and instead are generally much smaller. That's certainly been our experience to date:
While systemic risk is frequently invoked as a key reason to be on guard for cyber risk, such a connection is quite tenuous. A cyber event might in extreme cases result in a systemic crisis, but to do so needs highly fortuitous timing.
From the point of view of policymaking, rather than simply asserting systemic consequences for cyber risks, it would be better if the cyber discussion were better integrated into the existing macroprudential dialogue. To us, the overall discussion of cyber and systemic risk seems to be too focused on IT considerations and not enough on economic consequences.
After all, if there are systemic consequences from cyber risk, the chain of causality will be found in the macroprudential domain.
It makes for interesting reading.
Someone noticed that parts of it read like standard modern office procedures.
EDITED TO ADD: I originally called this a CIA manual, but the CIA had not been formed yet. And, yes, I seem to have blogged this before -- in 2010.