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From User: noteworthy

"I don't think the report is true, but these crises work for those who want to make fights between people." Kulam Dastagir, 28, a bird seller in Afghanistan

RE: at the ragged edge
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:03 pm EDT, Mar 26, 2015

noteworthy wrote:
Astro Teller, on Google Glass:

I'm amazed by how sensitively people responded to some of the privacy issues. When someone walks into a bar wearing Glass ... there are video cameras all over that bar recording everything.

They STILL don't understand what went wrong with Google Glass!? I'll try to write more about this later, but this has the appearances of a serious cultural/institutional blindspot within Google. They really believe that privacy is irrelevant and they just can't wrap their heads around evidence to the contrary. It reminds me of that Upton Sinclair quote: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

The problem is that given the amount of information Google has been entrusted with, their failure to understand this failure means that it may be repeated in other contexts where the stakes are higher.

RE: at the ragged edge

RE: with blindfold removed
Topic: Miscellaneous 9:22 am EST, Jan 11, 2015

Teju Cole:

It is necessary to understand that free speech and other expressions of liberté are already in crisis in Western societies; the crisis was not precipitated by three deranged gunmen.

We may not be able to attend to each outrage in every corner of the world, but we should at least pause to consider how it is that mainstream opinion so quickly decides that certain violent deaths are more meaningful, and more worthy of commemoration, than others.

For what its worth, I am extremely unimpressed with this and the hoard of similar pieces streaming out of the American left at the moment. Nearly every argument that is made in this essay is refutable, from the extremely ignorant mischaracterization of Charlie Hebdo as racist, to the false equivalency regarding people who violated security clearances.

It seems that people on the left just aren't comfortable with the fact that sometimes, members of the oppressed masses that they take pity on do things which are, in fact, evil, and not merely an understandable reaction to their circumstances. Evil is a thing that people are capable of regardless of their social position. It is not something that the powers that be have a monopoly on.

RE: with blindfold removed

RE: there's a lot of nodding
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:52 pm EST, Jan  9, 2015

James Comey:

In the wake of Mr. Snowden’s so-called revelations, there’s a wind blowing that I worry has blown what is a healthy skepticism of government power—I think everybody should be skeptical of government—to a cynicism so that people don’t want to be with us anymore. Meet us out behind the 7-Eleven late at night and I’ll talk to you as long as nobody sees me. Or wear a bag over my head to a meeting with the government. Because there is this wind blowing that there’s something bad if you’re touching the United States Government. We have to build even though there’s that wind. We’ve got to do our best to speak into that wind to try to explain how we’re using our authorities in the government.

How does healthy skepticism turn into cynicism?

Our public policy is an agreement, between the government, and the people, regarding what the government may and may not do. Those of us who are concerned about civil liberties, we often don't like where that agreement ends up.

Its important to appreciate that a lot of the people who the government wants to work with - a lot of the people in the private sector who protect the Internet - they care about civil liberties. They care about civil liberties because they are engineers, and to engineers, civil liberties seem logical.

Why should we care especially about civil liberties? Why programmers, more than dentists or salesmen or landscapers?

Let me put the case in terms a government official would appreciate. Civil liberties are not just an ornament, or a quaint American tradition. Civil liberties make countries rich. If you made a graph of GNP per capita vs. civil liberties, you'd notice a definite trend. Could civil liberties really be a cause, rather than just an effect? I think so. I think a society in which people can do and say what they want will also tend to be one in which the most efficient solutions win, rather than those sponsored by the most influential people. Authoritarian countries become corrupt; corrupt countries become poor; and poor countries are weak. It seems to me there is a Laffer curve for government power, just as for tax revenues. At least, it seems likely enough that it would be stupid to try the experiment and find out. Unlike high tax rates, you can't repeal totalitarianism if it turns out to be a mistake.

This is why hackers worry. The government spying on people doesn't literally make programmers write worse code. It just leads eventually to a world in which bad ideas win. And because this is so important to hackers, they're especially sensitive to it.

So the people that you need to work with, James Comey, the people who run this cyber world that is changing everything, many of those people are people who care about civil liberties. And people who care about civil liberties often don't like where the agree... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]

RE: there's a lot of nodding

RE: orders of magnitude
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:56 am EDT, Sep 22, 2014

Maciej Ceglowski:

Surveillance as a business model is the only thing that makes a site like Facebook possible.

This idea has gotten a lot of currency recently. I think its embraced by both extremes of the "big data" debate - the privacy advocates as well as the spies. Anne Neuberger's "Withering Nation" scenario supposes that "privacy obsession hampers commercial activity" - they literally think that if the privacy advocates win, it will lead to national decline!

I'm wondering what your view of these ideas is, but I think its hyperbole. As DuckDuckGo has demonstrated, I know enough based on the search term you entered to show you a relevant ad. The value add associated with surveillance may literally not be worth the privacy impact. I have the same question about Facebook - do they really need to monitor what I'm posting to Facebook, or can they make enough money through traditional Internet advertising (which is also admittedly invasive, but not to the same extent.)?

The question of economically maximal privacy invasion will be an ongoing dialog for some time I think. I have a hard time buying the idea that nothing that is going on is sustainable unless the privacy incursions remain as intrusive as they currently are, nor do I believe that a more privacy respectful internet will lead to the decline of the United States. I believe that these perspectives overvalue surveillance and undervalue privacy, because the economic benefits are privacy do not directly accrue to certain people. They are, nonetheless, real.

Am I wrong?

RE: orders of magnitude

Taylor Swift, the RIAA, and the NSA
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:08 am EDT, Jul  9, 2014

Taylor Swift:

I'd like to point out that people are still buying albums, but now they're buying just a few of them. They are buying only the ones that hit them like an arrow through the heart or have made them feel strong or allowed them to feel like they really aren't alone in feeling so alone.

The Taylor Swift essay spread through Facebook with the typical breathlessness of professionally promoted viral media - "Talor Swift wrote an Oped for the Wall Street Journal, and its AMAZING!" I did not bother to read it until you also referenced it here on MemeStreams, and I hate to detract from your point, but my reactions are on a completely different dimension.

While Taylor Switft speaks artfully to the emotional connection that artists seek to make with their fans, its hard not to see the specter of the Recording Industry Association of America haunting the shadows behind her. The purpose of the essay is to, once again, emphasize the recording industry's grievance that a change in information technology has changed their business model (which was, of course, a product of information technology in the first place.)

While Taylor Swift is certainly a more pleasant ambassador for their interests than the contemptible David Lowery, the bottom line here is still the same. The RIAA feels that society owes them their 15 billion and must make whatever accommodations they demand in order to ensure that they get it. It will be a long time before people forget the bitter fight over SOPA and total tone deafness that the industry has exhibited regarding the legitimate concerns that their proposals raise.

Having said that, the only criticism that the RIAA made of the effort to defeat SOPA that I think has some validity is the criticism that if not for the support of Google the effort would not have been nearly as successful. While it is hardly sympathetic for a party that seeks to enrich itself by lobbying for special policy accommodations to argue that some of their opponents are also financially motivated, the criticism is nonetheless important for civil liberties advocates to understand.

The fight over SOPA and PIPA involved far more public engagement than the fight over NSA surveillance of meta-data has motivated thus far. Are people genuinely more concerned about internet filtering technology than surveillance of telephony meta-data? As time progresses, these two concepts will converge. The monitoring of telephony meta-data will eventually entail the monitoring of Internet meta-data, and what you can monitor, you can sanction, which is just as good as preemptive blocking. They are basically the same discussion.

There might be an underlying distinction from a civil liberties perspective - telephony meta-data monitoring primarily implicates the freedom... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]

Taylor Swift, the RIAA, and the NSA

without a shadow of a doubt
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:29 am EST, Jan 10, 2014

Mike Tyson:

I've learned that when people congratulate me, that's when I focus on my flaws. That way I don't allow my narcissism to fly sky-high and allow me to think that I can act out without any consequences.

Tyler Cohen:

I think of humility as a virtue, a practical virtue that's making a comeback.


No man who says I'm as good as you believes it. He would not say it if he did.

without a shadow of a doubt

RE: everyone quits so much
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:54 pm EST, Dec  4, 2013

noteworthy wrote:
Chris Loux:

People don't quit companies -- they quit managers.

I don't see that quote in the underlying article, but I've heard it before, and I want to say that I think thats utter bullshit. Its one of those memes that becomes popular with executive managers because it makes them feel good about themselves and sends a message that they want to send.

It makes them feel good because it makes them blameless - when talented people leave their company, its not REALLY because of the company's direction or the overall work environment, regardless of what they are saying when they go out the door. Executives can repeat this meme to remind themselves that the little people they lead don't really understand big things like corporate direction and strategy and the real reason they are leaving is because their first line manager isn't doing his job.

Corporate executives expect a certain amount of incompetency from first line management, because they think of themselves as being smarter than and better than first line managers, and this meme provides them a little confirmation of that feeling, every time the organization looses a talented person. It also allows them to ignore criticism of corporate strategy that is coming from below, especially when that criticism is so dire that people are looking for another job. In that sense, this meme is the sort of rationalization that bad leaders wrap themselves in as the ship goes down. It serves to isolate them from thinking about criticism and increases the rate of descent.

It also sends a message that they want to send - that first line managers, not executives, are at fault if the company cannot retain talented people and first line managers should feel that responsibility and fear the consequences of failure. It enables executives to put first line managers where they want them - with their backs against the wall, bearing all of the responsibility for what happens, but with no power to effect change.

I would line it up against: "Vision without Execution is Hallucination," alternatively attributed to either Edison or Einstein or Henry Ford, which is generally used in a "you employees better get to work on my vision like that smart guy once said" kind of way by executives. Anyone with two brain cells to rub together ought to realize that none of those people would have said something like that, and its absolutely cringe worthy to see such a modern phrase attributed to an ancient person by someone who expects to be taken seriously as a leader. The quote actually came from IBM executive Danny Sabbah in 2005.

RE: everyone quits so much

A Crisis Of Followership
Topic: Politics and Law 9:46 am EST, Nov 29, 2011


It's important to understand that it isn't Congress that must change -- it is us.

David Frum:

Few of us have the self-knowledge and emotional discipline to say one thing while meaning another. If we say something often enough, we come to believe it. We don't usually delude others until after we have first deluded ourselves.

Lawrence Lessig:

There is this bizarre blindness. If we can't get beyond the architecture of polarization, we are doomed.

Steve Bellovin et al:

Architecture matters a lot, and in subtle ways.

Douglas Rushkoff:

Corporatism, with its promotion of competition between individuals over scarce resources and money, laid the ground for individualism and for a heightened concept of the self.

Evgeny Morozov:

It's time that citizens articulate a vision for a civic Internet that could compete with the dominant corporatist vision. It's not just geeks and tech-savvy young people who need to think hard about what an alternative civic Internet may look like; for such visions to have any purchase on society, they need to originate from (and incorporate) much broader swathes of the population.

Finding a way to articulate a critical stance on these issues before technology giants like Facebook usurp public imagination with their talk of "frictionless sharing" should be top priority for anyone concerned with the future of democracy.

David Frum:

Cain's gaffe on Libya and Perry's brain freeze on the Department of Energy are not only indicators of bad leadership. They are indicators of a crisis of followership.


Everyone participates in the process of producing the truth every day. Your recommendations matter. You will need to be able to think critically about the range of ideas that you are exposed to and decide which ones make sense.

It is that last part that will really move us forward.

A Crisis Of Followership

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS
Topic: Science 8:56 pm EST, Nov 14, 2011

Michael Koenig:

Time lapse sequences of photographs taken by Ron Garan and the crew of expedition 28 & 29 onboard the International Space Station from August to October, 2011, who to my knowledge shot these pictures at an altitude of around 350 km with a high ISO HD Camera developed by NHK Japan, nicknamed the SS-HDTV camera. All credit goes to them.

Micah Zenko:

Is this the world we want to live in? Because we're creating it.

Michiru Hoshino:

Oh! I feel it. I feel the cosmos!

Brian Greene:

When it comes to the universe, what you see is not what you get.

Neal Stephenson:

In a world where decision-makers are so close to being omniscient, it's easy to see risk as a quaint artifact of a primitive and dangerous past. Today's belief in ineluctable certainty is the true innovation-killer of our age.

Freeman Dyson:

The truths of science are so profoundly concealed that the only thing we can really be sure of is that much of what we expect to happen won't come to pass.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS

A Tendency To Flow The Other Way
Topic: Intellectual Property 9:09 am EST, Nov  8, 2010

Jasper Rees:

Known to its creators and participating artists as the Underbelly Project, the space, where all the show's artworks remain, defies every norm of the gallery scene. Collectors can't buy the art. The public can't see it. And the only people with a chance of stumbling across it are the urban explorers who prowl the city's hidden infrastructure or employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

That's because the exhibition has been mounted, illegally, in a long-abandoned subway station.

Steven Johnson:

When you share a civic culture with millions of people, good ideas have a tendency to flow from mind to mind, even when their creators try to keep them secret.

The Ministry:

Dear citizen, according to received information, you have been influenced by the destabilizing propaganda which the media affiliated with foreign countries have been disseminating.

Anonymous Official:

It's essential to remember that given the will and the relevant orders, WikiLeaks can be made inaccessible forever.

danah boyd:

Carmen is engaging in social steganography. She's hiding information in plain sight, creating a message that can be read in one way by those who aren't in the know and read differently by those who are.

Marlo Stanfield:

You want it to be one way. But it's the other way.

A Tendency To Flow The Other Way

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