Whereas London and Montreal have installed spikes on the sidewalks to keep homeless people from getting too comfortable, Vancouver offers a kind welcome with benches that transform into mini-shelters. A nonprofit called RainCity Housing teamed up with Spring Advertising to create the modified public benches in order to provide a covered place to sleep while simultaneously raising awareness.
RainCity provides specialized housing and support services for the homeless in Vancouver. This two-part project highlights the importance of RainCity’s work without a hint of the exploitation that’s often seen in homeless awareness campaigns, avoiding stereotypical images of derelict people and focusing on a solution instead.
The first bench, which reads ‘FIND SHELTER HERE,’ has a built-in roof that can easily be folded up when needed. The second features the message ‘This is a bench’ during the day. At night, glow-in-the-dark ink highlights the text ‘This is a bedroom.’
The Vancouver campaign is one of many thoughtful projects that meet at the intersection of activism and urban design. An open-source street store that’s easy to set up in any city offers free clothes for the homeless, and 14 thought-provoking ideas seek new ways to manage the issue of homelessness whether by meeting the immediate needs of people who live on the streets or providing more long-term transitional living spaces.
Below is a guest post by Kieran Snyder, taken with permission from her always-interesting tumblr Jenga one week at a time.
About a month ago at work I overheard one woman complaining to another woman about a man’s habit of interrupting everyone in meetings. Then they went further. “That’s just how it is around here. The women listen, but the men interrupt in meetings all the time,” one of them summed it up.
As a moderate interrupter myself – I’m sorry if I’ve interrupted you, I just get excited about what you’re saying and I want to build on it and I lose track of the fact that it’s not my turn and I know it’s a bad habit – I started wondering if she was right. Do men interrupt more often than women?
Search for “do men interrupt more than women” and you will find a variety of answers. The answers loosely break into two categories: 1. no, they don’t, and 2. yes, they do.
The empirical linguist in me got to thinking, and a few weeks ago I decided to figure it out.
The setup: I wanted to find situations where I could observe groups of men and women interacting without being a significant participant in the conversation myself. I am not always a talker, but when I am a talker, I am a seriously big talker and I am a definite interrupter. So I needed to find contexts where I wasn’t going to be tempted to talk myself. I also didn’t want to eavesdrop, so I needed to find contexts where I was a welcome listener.
I defined an interruption as any communication event where one person starts speaking before the other person has finished, whether or not the interrupter intends it.
The reality: I spend a lot of my weekday hours in the office, and in the job I have, I am invited to a lot of meetings. I started looking at my calendar to identify meetings where I was mainly going to be present as a listener, where there were at least four other people in the room, and where the gender mix was close to even. Since I work in tech, this last one is easier said than done, so I wasn’t able to strictly apply it, but I got close. On average, 60% of the speakers in any given room that I observed were men, and 40% were women.
I wanted to understand four things: how often interruptions happen; whether men or women interrupt their colleagues more often; whether men or women are interrupted by their colleagues more often; and whether men and women are more likely to interrupt speakers of their own gender, speakers across gender, or some other pattern.
I took notes that covered fifteen hours of conversation over a four week period, and the conversations contained anywhere from 4-15 people (excluding me). It is totally possible that I missed some interruptions since I didn’t record the meetings like I would have done in a real field linguistics study.
What I found was interesting.
People interrupt a lot.
And the more people who are in a conversation, the more interrupting there is – until some peak rate is reached and holds steady no matter how many additional people are added into the conversation.
I noted 314 interruption events spread over 900 minutes of conversation, which means that collectively people interrupted each other once every two minutes and fifty-one seconds, or just over 21 times per hour. But the actual interruption rate (y-axis) correlated closely with the number of active participants in the conversation (x-axis):
This is interesting because it suggests that there are only so many interruptions that a conversation will tolerate before it’s not a conversation anymore. Keep in mind that all the conversations I observed were formal work meetings where people mostly adhered to a single conversation thread; it is very likely that in a more informal setting, many of the larger groups would have split themselves into smaller groups having multiple conversations. In fact, these results make me wonder if 7 people is the natural tipping point for that kind of splitting in social groups. Someone has definitely studied this, but I have not.
Men interrupt more than women overall.
All told and no other factors considered, men accounted for 212 of the 314 total interruptions, about two thirds of the total. The men I observed accounted for about twice as many interruptions overall as the women did.
It’s worth noting that the groups I observed were not 50/50 split between men and women to begin with. Among the individuals I observed, 60% were men; I worked hard to find rooms to observe that included high representations of women, which took some doing but luckily is not as hard to do in design as it is in engineering. That means that if men and women had shown the same rate of interruption, we would expect to find that 188.4 of the interruptions came from men. We actually see 212.
So there you have it: at least in this male-heavy tech setting, men do interrupt more often than women do.
Men are almost three times as likely to interrupt women as they are to interrupt other men.
Here’s where things start to get really interesting. Of the 212 total interruptions from men that I logged, 149 of them – that’s 70% of the total – were interruptions where women had been previously speaking. Men do interrupt other men, but far less often.
These numbers are a little worse than they look in terms of balance since the rooms had only 40% women to begin with. Although I didn’t track gender representation in overall speaking turns (I only tracked interruptions), I believe women in this setting are taking far fewer than a 40% share of speaking turns. That would make these numbers even more skewed than they already appear; whenever women take a speaking turn, they are getting interrupted.
Women interrupt each other constantly, and almost never interrupt men.
Of the 102 interruptions from women that I logged, a staggering 89 of them were instances of women interrupting other women. That is to say, 87% of the time that women interrupt, they are interrupting each other.
Let’s pause and dwell on this for a sec: In fifteen hours of conversation that included 314 total interruptions, I observed a total of 13 examples of women interrupting male speakers. That is less than once per hour, in a climate where interruptions occur an average of once every two minutes and fifty-one seconds.
Does anyone else think this is a big deal?
I’m used to thinking of myself as an irritating interrupter, and I probably am. I didn’t track my own behavior over the same time period because it’s impossible to get that right. But looking over the data has made me wonder whether I really exhibit the pattern that I thought I did. How many of my own interruptions are directed towards female colleagues?
There’s lots more to investigate here. If I were still a Real Linguist, I’d see this as an opportunity for a Real Study. For instance, how much does the male-centric nature of the tech setting bias these results? Like, if someone did the same observations during faculty meetings at an elementary school, would they find the inverse pattern? And what actually does happen in single-sex environments? And this is a whole other enchilada, but how much does sexuality play a role in interruption patterns? I didn’t attempt to track that this time, but my informal observations suggest that this would be worth a study unto itself.
So there you have it, take or leave: men interrupt more than women. And when they interrupt, both men and women are mostly interrupting women.
Above is a guest post by Kieran Snyder.
A relevant study, whose findings are somewhat similar and somewhat different from Kieran's findings, is Jiahong Yuan, Mark Liberman, and Christopher Cieri, "Towards an integrated Understanding of Speech Overlaps in Conversation", ICPhS 2007. The abstract:
We investigate factors that affect speech overlaps in conversation, using large corpora of conversational telephone speech. We analyzed two types of speech overlaps: 1. One side takes over the turn before the other side finishes (turn-taking type); 2. One side speaks in the middle of the other side’s turn (backchannel type). We found that Japanese conversations have more short turn-taking type of overlap segments than the other languages. In general, females make more speech overlaps of both types than males; and both males and females make more overlaps when talking to females than talking to males. People make fewer overlaps when talking with strangers than talking with familiars, and the frequency of speech overlaps is significantly affected by conversation topics. Finally, the two conversation sides are highly correlated on their frequencies of using turn-taking type of overlaps but not backchannel type.
Note that we looked at very different sorts of conversations — Kieran observed business meetings in a male-dominated technology company, while Jiahong, Chris & I analyzed telephone conversations among family and friends – the CallHome corpora in Arabic (LDC97S45), English (LDC97S42), German (LDC97S43), Japanese (LDC96S37), Mandarin (LDC96S34), and Spanish (LDC96S35) — and telephone conversations between strangers — the Fisher English corpus (LDC2004S13).
As Kieran notes, there are results pointing in several different directions on the question of whether men interrupt more than women. There are several obvious (and compatible) reasons for this variation: differences in types of people and types of conversations; possible failure to distinguish among the several very different sorts of speech overlaps; interactions among gender, age, and status of interrupters and interruptees; etc.
It would be interesting to compare (for example) the ICSI Meeting corpus (speech and transcripts), which include about 75 hours of recorded and transcribed meetings held at ICSI during the years 2000-2002. These are multi-person face-to-face working meetings in a high-tech organization, and thus similar in that respect to Kieran's sample.
We chill at the beach.
They're also supporting full-on community maker spaces as a part of their libraries.
Written and translated by Leila Nachawati. A version of this article appeared on the website of Spanish daily Eldiario.es, in Spanish.
Israel’s attacks on Gaza in 2009 were the first case of a conflict mediated by social media. Both inside and outside the Gaza strip, citizens and members of Hamas used Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms to narrate, document and condemn the attacks. But no group’s use of these platforms was as intensive and coordinated as that of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
Five years later, while scenes of death and devastation repeat themselves in Gaza, Israel has redoubled its online propaganda in an attempt to show the world its kinder side.
An online struggle for “hearts and minds”
Israeli military operations are always accompanied by robust media reports that seem intended to mitigate their impact on international public opinion. From the sensorial “Cast Lead” in 2009 to the self-explanatory “Protective Edge” in 2014, several fronts of “hasbara” (pro-Israeli propaganda, in Hebrew) have been developed to show the world Israel’s rationale.
In 2008, just before attacks on Gaza began, the Israeli administration decided to replace traditional press conferences of war time with a wide array of initiatives based on social media. Guidelines for the campaign were developed by former army officer Yarden Vatikai, in coordination with the Ministry of Defense and the Jewish Agency.
One of the initiatives consisted of teaching new media workshops to army officers in the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.
“In terms of communicating our message, the future is in new media”, Defense Forces spokesman Avi Benayahu said in February 2009. “The IDF has moved online to win hearts and minds.”
YouTube served as the main front for the campaign, rendering Israel’s the first national army to establish its own YouTube channel. The channel includes a videoblog where army spokespersons describe the attacks as “humanitarian self-defense actions.”
The 2009 ‘hasbara’ efforts included direct contact with journalists from all over the world. SMS messages were sent on a daily basis to thousands of journalists, diplomats and influential bloggers, with press notes, informative sessions and visits to the Israeli communities of the Negev, on the border with Gaza.
Israeli social media strategist expert Niv Calderon was hired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prior to the invasion of Gaza. His mission was to create “an unprecedented war room to promote Israeli propaganda internationally.” In the words of Calderon, “There is a media war, and each citizen, each computer user, is a soldier.”
Haneen Zoubi, Director of I’lam Media Center for Arabs and Palestinians in Israel referred to coverage of the 2009 attacks as “a mockery of press freedom.”
In 2006, during the invasion of Lebanon, she denounced the Israeli press, saying they had “abandoned their journalistic role, without announcement or apology. (…) It seems that they are no longer capable of performing their professional duty as they have all become subservient to “patriotism”.
International Press Director for the IDF Avital Leibovich, on the other hand, claimed to be “positively surprised” by international coverage of the conflict, even in media considered to be neutral or not pro-Israel. “Finally, the international community understands that Hamas is the aggressor,” she said.
Hasbara efforts expand
Five years later, the involvement of the army in the documentation and dissemination of propaganda has increased, through YouTube videos and official accounts on Facebook and Twitter, which show a constant flow of messages.
Today’s media strategy includes dozens of infographics and visualizations that attempt to depict Israel’s rationale in a graphic and simple manner similar to that employed by the award-winning Visualizing Palestine project, which focused on visualizing the effects of occupation for Palestinians in Gaza.
One of the most viral visualizations shows how a house in Gaza becomes a target. “When is a house a home and when does it become a military target?”, the image reads, in response to accusations that Israel indiscriminately bombs houses in Gaza. Another one compares “what Israel does to protect civilians” vs. “what Hamas does to endanger its civilians.”
Another powerful visualization (see above) shows rockets falling over several world capitals, including New York, London and Paris.
The eye-catching graphic urges Internet users to share the image if they “think Israel has the right to self-defense”.
The 2014 “hasbara” campaign also includes video ads that pop up while a user is watching a YouTube video. The account is managed by Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and contains several anti-Hamas propaganda videos.
Between 2009 and 2014, efforts expanded to include larger segments of Israeli society in online battles, with a strong focus on universities. According to an article published by Haaretz in August 2013, The Prime Minister's Office was planning to form, in collaboration with the National Union of Israeli Students, “covert units” within Israel's seven universities to engage in online public diplomacy (hasbara).
In 2014, the University of Haifa announced a cyberwar course to fight the delegitimization of Israel online. Other universities coordinating propaganda initiatives are Bar-Ilan, the Hebrew University and Ben Gurion University.
The story told by Israel's official propaganda machine clashes with the images of devastation in Gaza. On July 16 alone, four children were killed by Israeli warplanes as they played on the beach, and Gaza’s Wafa hospital was shelled to pieces by Israeli tanks. So far, 77 percent of the victims are civilians, a dribble that Israeli historian Ilan Pappé has referred to as an “incremental genocide”.
The military's media campaign also pushes a narrative that some Israelis firmly reject. Citizen-led online initiatives such as Breaking the Silence and B'Tselem, along with public protests, articulate a story very different from the official line.
everything is terrible.
Protest against LeyTelecom, Mexico City. Flickr picture by user kinoluiggi. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. This week's report begins in Mexico, where the Senate approved the “Secondary Law on Telecommunications”, which provides for surveillance of content, censorship of information that could endanger national security, and the right to block telecommunication services, among other things. Widely opposed by civil society members, the bill faced considerable deliberation before Congress — a vote on the bill was postponed in the wake of mass protests in Mexico City. The bill was brought to a vote once again last week, when much of the population was squarely focused on the World Cup. Although certain worrying portions of the original bill are not included in the final text, online rights advocates remain concerned about its implications for digital privacy and expression.
Free Expression: Facebook disappears in Myanmar (briefly)
The government of Myanmar blocked access to Facebook over short periods of several hours twice over the weekend, allegedly in an attempt to stop hate speech and unrest in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-biggest city. There have been violent clashes between Muslims and Buddhists in the city over rumors spread online that a Buddhist woman was raped by her Muslim employees. The limits on access to Facebook coincided with a government-imposed curfew between 9 pm and 5 am, but it is unclear which government agency is responsible for the ban.
London-based advocacy NGO Open Rights Group launched Blocked project, a free tool for users to assess whether or not websites are being blocked by local filters. Results thus far reveal that nearly 20% of legal sites in the UK are blocked by government filters, instituted under David Cameron’s “family-friendly” filtering policy.
Thuggery: Moroccan YouTube rapper faces four months in prison
Mouad Belghouat, also known as El Haqed (“The Indignant”), was sentenced to four months in prison in Morocco. The activist and rapper was also imprisoned in 2012 over a music video, distributed primarily on YouTube, that served as a rallying cry in Morocco’s 2011 protests. In May, Belghouat was arrested outside of a football game where multiples witnesses say police approached and aggressively searched the young man. Visit the campaign site advocating for his release.
Surveillance: UK geeks fear return of “Snooper’s charter”
Seven Internet service providers based in six countries filed a formal complaint against UK intelligence agency GCHQ for using malicious software to break into their networks. The claim is based on articles published by Der Spiegel alleging GCHQ used man-in-the-middle attacks to compromise secure communications, arguing GCHQ is in breach of the Computer Misuse Act 1990.
UK ministers are considering passing emergency laws providing the government expanded surveillance capabilities in response to apparent threats posed by British Muslims radicalized by the conflict in Syria. They appear to have gained support from the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats in Parliament, though with some caveats – the Liberal Democrats have insisted any new laws not become a reinstatement of the “snooper’s charter”, a communications data bill that failed in 2013, and Labour has argued any new legislation should have a “sunset clause” requiring review after a period of time.
A Washington Post investigation revealed new data indicating that information of “high intelligence value” was in fact slurped up by NSA spy programs. This included intelligence that led to the arrest of “Bali bomber” Umar Patek and others. But the data also illustrates significant breaches of privacy, exposing detailed, personal information about thousands of lives at the most pedestrian level: photos of infants, medical records, and selfies of the scanty-clad variety. The article details the loose data collection practices used by the program and notes that the NSA keeps this information despite it having little strategic value. Just as significantly, the release of these details suggests that the agency has been unable to safeguard these details as closely as they previously claimed.
Industry: Forget me now? Yes please, say EU Googlers
Google has encountered a new hurdle in its response to the “right to be forgotten” ruling – public outcry over what some are calling censorship. In response to claims they were “over-zealously” taking down links, Google has re-indexed approximately 1,000 links to articles that were in fact accurate. Among them are stories about a Scottish referee, who had lied about his reasons for giving a penalty during a football match. They now face a backlog of over 250,000 requests to remove content.
Following Netflix’s lead, YouTube has begun naming and shaming Internet service providers for degraded video playback quality by showing a message saying “Experiencing interruptions?” when the Internet speed slows. When users click through, they receive a report card showing streaming quality and video consumption data for their ISP.
Internet Governance: UN votes for rights online and off
The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted resolution A/HRC/26/L.24 on the “promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet, affirming that the same rights that people enjoyed offline had also to be protected online, in particular the freedom of expression.” Numerous civil society groups and 82 UN member states supported the move. The resolution was passed without a proposed amendment that would have created a censorship loophole in the name of combating terrorism, extremism, racism, and religious intolerance.
Publications and Studies
“Net Threats” – Pew Research Internet Project
If a blogger writes a scathing review of a restaurant, it's natural that the headline would match the tone of the article. After all, a unique, accurate title is part of Google's official advice for improving the positioning of a webpage in its search results.
But a blogger in France called “L'Irrégulière” was ordered to pay damages and court fees totaling 2,500 euros (3,400 U.S. dollars) for doing just that after the restaurant filed a complaint.
Appalled by what she considered to be unwelcoming staff and poor service during a meal at the end of August 2013 in Cap Ferret, the blogger published a biting review of Il Giardino on her French-language literary blog Cultur'elle. The article, titled “The place to avoid in Cap Ferret: Il Giardino”, ranked highly in the results of a Google search for the eatery.
This angered the restaurant owner, so she took the blogger to court. The Bordeaux High Court ruled in the owner's favour on 30 June 2014 during an emergency hearing not because of the review itself, which “falls within the scope of freedom of expression” according to the judgement, but because of its title, which was considered to be defamatory.
The blogger, who had no lawyer, withdrew the review on her own accord, although the court did not request her to do so. However, it can be read on tuxicoman's blog here or as a cached version. Reeling from the experience, “L'Irrégulière” decided not to appeal.
Under the French system for emergency hearings, the court rules chiefly on the basis of whether the plaintiff suffered wrongdoing as a result of the actions of the defendant — in this case, an emergency measure was issued, but could be overturned if a full hearing is to take place. Why did the case merit an emergency hearing in the first place? Well-known lawyer and blogger Maître Eolas, who has 142,000 followers on Twitter, offered one answer:
Nouveau : des restaurants poursuivent leurs clients qui osent les critiquer. Il faut dire qu’ils trouvent des juges pour leur donner raison.
— Maitre Eolas (@Maitre_Eolas) 7 Juillet 2014
Newsflash: restaurants are suing customers who dare to criticise them. And it has to be said, they are finding judges who will decide in their favour.
He went on to analyse the case in further detail for L'Express magazine:
Il ne faut pas donner à cette décision une portée plus large qu'elle n'a [...] Le droit de critique existe. Il peut être sanctionné en cas d'abus. La distinction classique est quand il y a intention de nuire ou concurrence déloyale si le dénigrement est fait par un concurrent. Ainsi, si cet article avait été publié par quelqu'un qui tient un autre restaurant de pizza du Cap Ferret, on aurait été dans le cas de la concurrence déloyale puisqu'il y aurait volonté de dénigrer pour faire fuir le client. Or ici, c'est une cliente mécontente qui raconte une expérience malheureuse. On a tout à fait le droit d'expliquer pourquoi on n'est pas satisfaits, en mettant le titre que l'on veut.
This ruling should not be given more significance than it actually has [...] There is such a thing as a right to criticise. This criticism can be penalised, however, if it becomes abusive. Usually, the distinction lies in whether there is intention to cause harm or, in the case of defamation by a competitor, the creation of unfair competition. So, had this article been published by someone who runs another pizza restaurant in Cap Ferret, it would have been a matter of unfair competition. This is because there would have been intention to defame in order to drive customers away. But in this case, it is a dissatisfied customer describing an unhappy experience. People have every right to explain why they are not satisfied, using whatever title they like.
When other bloggers heard about the matter, they pointed out this type of legal action could overload the justice system. Lady Waterloo, for instance, wrote:
Les juges ont donc condamné cette malheureuse blogueuse, pour L'endroit à éviter au Cap Ferret: Il Giardino, cela en valait il la peine? Je ne le pense pas. Si les juges commencent à s'occuper des blogs qui dénoncent des apéros servis avec du retard sans cacahuètes et du vin trop froid ou trop chaud, j'ai oublié, la Justice sera complètement paralysée.
So the courts have ruled against this poor blogger, for The place to avoid in Cap Ferret: Il Giardino. Was it worth the trouble? I don't think so. If judges start getting involved with blogs criticising delays in serving aperitifs with no peanuts, and wine that's too cold or too warm (I can't remember which), the justice system will grind to a complete halt.
Others referred to the frequent misunderstandings between tourists, restaurateurs and the Internet, like Le Parisien libéral:
La vérité, c'est que désormais, tout resto, tout hôtel, doit faire avec l'existence du Net. Au lieu de faire une pub monstrueuse pour l'Irrégulière, pourquoi Il Giardino n'a pas crée son propre site web, ou fait le dos rond en attendant que ses clients qui ont aimé le resto s'expriment, comme Berthomeau.
The truth of the matter is that from now on, every restaurant and hotel must take account of the existence of the Internet. Instead of creating massive publicity for l'Irrégulière, why didn't Il Giardino create its own website, or weather the storm while waiting for favourable customers to give their opinions, like Berthomeau.
Google search result for “Il Giardino Cap-Ferret”, 18 July 2014: post still visible – screenshot taken by author
Can Google results be used to attack a blogger? The owner of the restaurant justified herself, saying the article was doing her business harm. “People are allowed to criticise, but there is a way of doing it, with respect, and that was not the case here. Now the court has made a decision and as far as I'm concerned, the matter is closed,” she said.
In fact, the article and the controversy over the judgement still have a high position in the Google search results. SEO expert Tubbydev was amazed at the lack of knowledge of how a search engines work:
Mais surtout, le vrai scandale à notre humble avis est tout entier dans le bout de phrase de la restauratrice: Mais cet article montait dans les résultats Google ..C'est Google qui montre le résultat, avec et par ses algorithmes mais c'est le contenu initial qui est “puni”. Personne ne demande à Google de corriger .. Et a priori aucune demande n'a été faite à Google. [...]
Google est devenu un Dieu ou tout du moins un des éléments de la nature…Non seulement, il est donc IRRESPONSABLE mais en plus, sa force est telle qu'il attise encore plus la censure et les problèmes contre les malheureux qui y sont bien considérés .. Le monde à l'envers non ?
But the real scandal, in our humble opinion, lies in the remark made by the restaurant owner: “But this article was rising in the Google search results.” It's Google that displays the result, with and through its algorithms, and yet it is the original content that gets “punished”. Nobody asks Google to make corrections. And, a priori, no request has been made to Google. [...]
Google has turned into some kind of god, or force of nature. Not only is it IRRESPONSIBLE, but its power is such that it encourages more censorship and creates problems for those unfortunate enough to be well regarded. The world has turned upside down, no?
While efficacitic.fr advises caution when it comes to reviews, Elisabeth Porteneuve, a self-described “Internet veteran,” anticipates that businesses may begin exploiting the so-called “right to be forgotten“.
— Elisabeth Porteneuve (@EPorteneuve) 7 Juillet 2014
The next step: the right to be forgotten, removal of the review from Google with the help of the [French data privacy authority] National Commission on Informatics and Liberty … the judges and the legislators!
The European Court of Justice ruled in May that individuals may request that search engines delete certain search results if they are found to be “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.” Google, the plaintiff in the case before the court, has now implemented systems for reviewing and enacting requests. Modifications to search results will be implemented only within the EU.
While the implications of this case regarding freedom of expression on the Internet are still a matter for debate, the publicity continues to have a detrimental effect on the restaurant. Although it is no longer readable on Culturelle, the controversial post title remains visible in Google.fr search results.
WITHIN THE SAME WEEK.
This woman deserves a round of applause and a throne of gold. This is the most realistic & amazing thing for someone to say for this generation of students. I wasn’t able to go to college this year because my parents can’t afford to send me and I had every scholarship, grant, loan known to man and it still wouldn’t work. Finally someone gets it!
I used to have one that just said:
"I am right.
You are wrong."
I finally gave it to someone who needed it way more than I did. kind of want to get more things printed. It's so assholey. So satisfying.
Over at Geeks Without Bounds, we’re working on filing some grants, including with the USG, and that involves a convoluted process of website registrations, number assignations, and security nightmares.
The next site in this process asked for a password to act as my sig – exactly 9 LETTERS long, in plaintext. I made that password “plaintext” just for kicks. You might as well know, because it’s just hanging out there anyway. And it’s far more complicated to figure out which address they’re asking for at any point on a form than it would be to crack.
That same site called me the executor of consent, which is pretty badass, and makes me hope the USG might be starting to consider enthusiastic consent from the governed.
I was then asked to enter my CAGE. Which I did not consent to.
Track 2 - Big Bangin' Theory
How much do I love standardized things? SO MUCH
Four wheels fixed onto an ordinary wood pallet have transformed it into a skateboard of sorts that can slide down tram tracks in Bratislava, Slovakia. The rails in the city happen to be just the right width to fit a standard Europallet perfectly, turning the humble warehouse staple into a personal vehicle.
While the streetcar systems of many cities run on wider ‘broad gauge’ tracks, Bratislava is among those with a one-meter width. Other cities where the pallet tram hack would work include Antwerp, Basel, Belgrade, Bern, Frankfurt, Helsinki and Zurich. Watch it in action at Vimeo.
Slovakian artist Tomas Moravec says of his project, “A new transport vehicle brings change into the spatial perspective of a passenger in motion and generally changes the life of the city, through which the pallet can run, guided by a map of the city lines.”
Where pallets were once used just a couple times and then thrown away, now they’re reclaimed for all sorts of projects, often requiring very little modification. Check out 13 DIY pallet projects for porch swings, home theaters and garden trellises, as well as 19 more clever pallet creations.
It could be a federal holiday called Actually Day and the president would give a Mansplanation Proclamation and we’d all get paid 85 cents on the dollar as a special treat.
Image by Willow Brugh.
Over the weekend, I attended HOPE X, the 10th Hackers on Planet Earth conference, organized by 2600 Magazine. HOPE is my favorite hacker conference, and a strong contender for my favorite conference overall, because although content is tech-heavy, it's not really about technology. HOPE is a conference by and for those interested in the hacker ethos of free information, understanding the world, and empowerment to fix what is broken— including keynote speakers Edward Snowden and Daniel Ellsberg. So HOPE is a great place to think about the intersection of technology, journalism, and activism. Throughout the conference, I noticed several recurring themes.
Code Is Not Enough
There was a strong push at HOPE to recognize that creating good technology was much more than just writing code. In Community Infrastructure for FOSS, James Vasile of OpenITP outlined a number of key components of successful software projects, from localization to user support. Quinn Norton called for secure software with user interfaces that are practical for everyone, not just those under NSA surveillance. Garrett Robinson of Mozilla with William Budington and Yan Zhu, both from the EFF, presented the progress they've made on SecureDrop a tool to allow whistleblowers to communicate securely with journalists, with a strong focus on ease of use.
From Hierarchies to Decentralization
Centralized hierarchies have played a huge role in both human society and technology, exemplified by vertically-integrated, multinational corporations. But central authorities have many downsides, and new technology is enabling organization without centralization. Kevin Carter, Peter Valdez, and Kurt Snieckus of #nycmeshnet gave a talk about how they're connecting New York to a global, peer-to-peer, wireless mesh network. Money geek Finn Brunton talked about Hacking Money, contrasting the decentralized nature of crypto-currencies to the historically centralized monetary system. There were two talks on communities creating their own cellular phone networks, one at Burning Man by Willow Brugh and Johnny Diggz of Geeks Without Bounds, and another in rural Mexico by Maka Muñoz and Peter Bloom. A talk on The Repair Movement discussed ways that people are fixing their belongings as an alternative to replacing them with affordable, mass-produced goods. In a conversation with Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg pleaded for everyone to act when they see something wrong, rather than relying on a few, high-profile whistleblowers. Snowden suggested that even those who aren't whistleblowers can work to create environments and tools to make it safer for those who are.
The U.S. Legal System Is Broken
Talk after talk gave examples of laws in the U.S. being stretched and misused. Daniel Ellsberg's keynote centered largely on the Espionage Act's shift from a seldom-used tool to defend against foreign spies, to an increasingly common tool to persecute journalists and whistleblowers. Similarly, Nicholas Merrill of Calyx and Ladar Levison of Lavabit chatted with Declan McCullagh about how laws meant for plain phone lines like CALEA are being used to justify email surveillance, and how ISPs can protect their users. Kevin Ghallagher, Ahmed Ghappour, and Gabriella Coleman told the story of Barrett Brown, a journalist arrested and currently incarcerated for reporting documents others had leaked. In Bless the Cops, and Keep Them Far Away From Us, Alex Muentz gave some practical (and entertaining) advice on how journalists and hackers can avoid legal troubles. The EFF has been fighting abuses of the law in the courts, and gave an update on what they've been up to.
The difficulty of making the tech community more inclusive came up in both the Diversity in Tech Meet-Up and the Hackerspace Community Dynamics Meet-Up. A common challenge was mitigating harmful behavior from members while maintaining an inclusive attitude. In her talk, Quinn Norton pointed out, to much applause, that hackers would have to improve their manners in order to increase adoption of security tools.
The Dangers of Perfectionism
A number of speakers cautioned about the dangers of perfectionism, and pointed out that sometimes a "good enough" solution is better than none, or one that's hard to use. Conversely, there was a large push from the community to start performing better security audits on open source software in order to catch bugs when they exist. Heartbleed was a common example of how the "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow" philosophy is not working well enough, especially for security issues.
Humor and Fun
A lot of the topics at HOPE were pretty heavy. Yan Zhu quipped "We Call the Conference HOPE because there's none in the talks." But it was clear that the community is skillful at using fun and humor to maintain optimism, as well as to engage with others. I asked James Vasile how you can motivate volunteers on a large project when the rewards aren't immediate and the work isn't glorious. He responded that fun is a great motivator. There were talks about artists and satirists raising awareness about surveillance. Jason Scott told the tale of the DeCSS case, a long, grueling legal ordeal, and had the audience laughing the whole way. Playfulness has long been another part of the hacker ethos, and I was glad to see it alive and well.
Of course, the overall theme of the event was that technology can help make the world a better place, and all of the nitty-gritty details of how people are actually doing it. Ellsberg ended his keynote by talking about the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been saved by the whistleblowers from the tobacco industry who revealed the dangers of cigarettes. He reminded us that information activism, and tools that support it, can save even more lives than that.
The GWOBorg descended upon New York City this weekend for H.O.P.E. X, the bi-annual hackers conference organized by the fine folks at 2600 Magazine. H.O.P.E. stands for Hackers On Planet Earth, one of the most creative and diverse hacker events in the world. It’s been happening every other year since 1994.
Willow and Diggz gave a talk called “Building an Open Source Cellular Network at Burning Man” and discussed the challenges of building infrastructure in the middle of nowhere and how that relates to the work that GWOB does in the humanitarian and crisis response space. For the past three years at Burning Man, GWOB has participated with camp Papa Legba. Here’s the video of our talk and the presentation:
Bonus link: GSM for Assgoblins
I DO NOT HAVE AN EATING DISORDER - Page 169
This was honestly so confusing for me. I was standing there next to my girlfriend, looking at her and seeing how much thinner than me she was - then trying on the exact same shirt that was tight on her, and having it baggy on me. My eyes just didn’t work properly. What do you do when you can’t believe what your eyes are telling you?
A veritable NIGHTMARE SCENARIO where HALF THE ADULT POPULATION finds themselves AGONIZED and ENSANGUINATED on a MONTHLY SCHEDULE and is VAGUELY UNCOMFORTABLE for the remaining time! Only the most twisted of minds could have conceived of such horror!
This comic is longer than usual and won’t fit in a photoset! Read in full on Tapastic.
WE DID A THING.
We’re thrilled to announce our first white paper, inspired by the Engine Room’s Responsible Data Forum in Oakland months ago, and with interviews with Heather, Sara, Max, and Lisha!
Responsible Humanitarian And Disaster Response Project Cycles : Embed a “kill date” on your PLATFORM. If people are using that platform, this becomes a part of the community and culture. Alternatively, create a set of stages for the platform. For example, a crisis platform could have the following stages: initial situation awareness, crisis response, early recovery, recovery, and handover. Each of these stages have different information needs and different/progressively more restrictive rules that can be applied. Stages can have expected transition dates relative to each and informed by the unique situation needs. The most important lesson to learn is that there is no easy mandate. Each event will change the needs/time required to complete tasks, and is informed by engaging and communicating with all portions of the community (mappers, in-field deployments, affected populations, etc.).