August 24, 2014

Project Gutenberg eBooks are a permanent part of the Internet and the eBooks have been all along.

eBooks come and go from other eBook sites, other eBooks sites come or go from time to time, but Project Gutenberg has always been there.

The big reason is Project Gutenberg is for the benefit of everyone in the world equally, not more for anyone than anyone else, me included.



August 16, 2014

As I have written here before, as much as we should fear the immense power of intelligence agencies such as the NSA, it’s important to recognize that secrecy does not merely function as an instrument of power — just as importantly it functions to conceal incompetence.

The agencies want to sustain their mystique as the valiant and stealthy defenders of national security. What they dread is being seen as over-funded bunglers.


Paul Woodward at War in Context. How the NSA shut down the internet in Syria — by accident

July 24, 2014
"How can the public learn the role of algorithms in their daily lives, evaluating the law and ethicality of systems like the Facebook NewsFeed, search engines, or airline booking systems?"

J. Nathan Matias at MIT Center for Civic Media. Uncovering Algorithms: Looking Inside the Facebook Newsfeed 

July 19, 2014
Images on the Internet

I passively follow on Twittter, but it seems to me that Vinay Gupta tweets in storms. When he does, I tune in because he very often asks important questions. Today, which the above tweet was a part, he was exploring the question:

Suppose you had a rule: never buy anything that wasn’t made by people you would trade places with in a pinch. Suppose we all did that?

The tweet I singled out, he marked with the hash tag #Soon, but what he’s talking about seems very much #Now to me. And if I, some old white dude in America, is seeing, I know lot of other people are. I know it because sometimes people talk about it.

One of the things that makes this different from “poverty porn” is the images showing up on social media streams now are not really anonymous. They show up as a result of social networks. Even if the images and messages of suffering are from “friends of friends” we’re aware nowadays of being part of a network with those who are suffering.

Gupta’s question would you trade places packs a punch because these other places really aren’t so remote from us.

What do we do when we know the names of the starving mother and child we see on the Internet?

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July 8, 2014
“New media, new civics?” and reactions in Policy & Internet | ... My heart’s in Accra

P&I, unfortunately, is protected by paywall, but I and others involved are archiving pre-press versions of our papers. Mine will be up on MIT’s DSpace repository in the near future and is here in the meantime. Other participants have been making their pieces available online as well. If you’ve got access through your university or a library, please check out the whole issue

"Their pieces available" provide three good links ;)

July 1, 2014
"With tools like Google Website Optimizer or Facebook ad campaigns, the capacity to run de facto experiments is mass-democratized to social media editors, product managers, software developers, and basically everyone who runs a website. This is new. It doesn’t match our socially shared, institutionalized frames and connected norms."

Sebastian Deterding at Tumbling Conduct.Frame Clashes, or: Why the Facebook Emotion Experiment Stirs Such Emotion

July 1, 2014
"I’ve been writing and thinking about this a lot. I identify this model of control as a Gramscian model of social control: one in which we are effectively micro-nudged into “desired behavior” as a means of societal control. Seduction, rather than fear and coercion are the currency, and as such, they are a lot more effective. (Yes, short of deep totalitarianism, legitimacy, consent and acquiescence are stronger models of control than fear and torture—there are things you cannot do well in a society defined by fear, and running a nicely-oiled capitalist market economy is one of them)."

Zeynep Tufeka at Medium. Facebook and Engineering the Public

It’s not what’s published (or not), but what’s done

June 28, 2014
"People love to say Aaron was a genius, and prodigy, and there’s no one like him. But he wasn’t. He just cared and believed in things and he let his care and his belief move his life. You could do that any day, any minute. You could be like any of the characters in this movie, all of whom are real people, and let your convictions be more important than your job or you mortgage or your debt or any of the million little things Americans let keep them small and separated and afraid."

Quinn Norton at Medium. The Internet’s Own Boy.

The Internet’s Own Boy documentary 

June 27, 2014
"The most important thing missing from everything about modern privacy discussions is the fact that there is a critical difference in the way men and women (as well as other targeted populations) perceive privacy — because men don’t bear target status."

Violet Blue at ZDNet. Quora’s misogyny problem: A cautionary tale

Summary: ’Quora’s misogyny problem’ is a tempest out of the teapot, and its current trolls-gone-wild state is a perfect example of why user-based websites need to change the way they think about targeted users.

June 23, 2014
"The sharing economy appropriates a language of change and collectivity (e.g., “collaborative consumption”) to proselytize for business models that atomize individuals further, reducing their social usefulness to the spare capacity they can mobilize and marketize."

Rob Horning at Internal Exile commentig on Paul Mason in The New StatesmanPaul Mason: what would Keynes do?

The revolution in IT and how it is transforming our world in ways that even economists are struggling to understand.

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