Ramblings & ephemera

7 tools of propaganda

From Roger Ebert’s “The O’Reilly Procedure” (Roger Ebert’s Journal: 14 June 2009): The seven propaganda devices include: Name calling — giving something a bad label to make the audience reject it without examining the evidence; Glittering generalities — the opposite of name calling; Card stacking — the selective use of facts and half-truths; Bandwagon — […]

Could Green Dam lead to the largest botnet in history?

From Rob Cottingham’s “From blocking to botnet: Censorship isn’t the only problem with China’s new Internet blocking software” (Social Signal: 10 June 2009): Any blocking software needs to update itself from time to time: at the very least to freshen its database of forbidden content, and more than likely to fix bugs, add features and […]

Taxi driver party lines

photo credit: 708718 From Annie Karni’s “Gabbing Taxi Drivers Talking on ‘Party Lines’” (The New York Sun: 11 January 2007): It’s not just wives at home or relatives overseas that keep taxi drivers tied up on their cellular phones during work shifts. Many cabbies say that when they are chatting on duty, it’s often with […]

Avoid toxic people

From Milton Glaser’s “Ten Things I Have Learned” (Milton Glaser: 22 November 2001): … the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you […]

Al Qaeda’s use of social networking sites

From Brian Prince’s “How Terrorism Touches the ‘Cloud’ at RSA” (eWeek: 23 April 2009): When it comes to the war on terrorism, not all battles, intelligence gathering and recruitment happen in the street. Some of it occurs in the more elusive world of the Internet, where supporters of terrorist networks build social networking sites to recruit […]

What’s wrong with the Republicans

photo credit: bobster855 From Andrew Sullivan’s “Who Will “Sister Souljah” Them?” (The Daily Dish: 5 May 2009): … the GOP is poison to me and many others. Why? Their abandonment of limited government, their absurd spending under Bush, their contempt for civil liberties, their rigid mindset, their hostility to others, their worship of the executive […]

Newspapers are doomed

From Jeff Sigmund’s “Newspaper Web Site Audience Increases More Than Ten Percent In First Quarter To 73.3 Million Visitors” (Newspaper Association of America: 23 April 2009): Newspaper Web sites attracted more than 73.3 million monthly unique visitors on average (43.6 percent of all Internet users) in the first quarter of 2009, a record number that […]

Open source & patents

From Liz Laffan’s “GPLv2 vs GPLv3: The two seminal open source licenses, their roots, consequences and repercussions” (VisionMobile: September 2007): Cumulatively patents have been doubling practically every year since 1990. Patents are now probably the most contentious issue in software-related intellectual property rights. … However we should also be aware that software written from scratch […]

David Foster Wallace on leadership

From David Foster Wallace’s “The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys And The Shrub: Seven Days In The Life Of The Late, Great John McCain” (Rolling Stone: 13 April 2000): The weird thing is that the word “leader” itself is cliché and boring, but when you come across somebody who actually is a real leader, that person isn’t […]

Why did Thomas Jefferson bring a stuffed moose to France?

From David G. Post’s “Jefferson’s Moose” (Remarks presented at the Stanford Law School Conference on Privacy in Cyberspace: 7 February 2000): In 1787, Jefferson, then the American Minister to France, had the “complete skeleton, skin & horns of the Moose” shipped to him in Paris and mounted in the lobby of his hotel. One can […]

Totalitarian regimes adopt the trappings of religion for themselves

From Steven Weinberg’s “Without God” (The New York Review of Books: 25 September 2008): It has often been noted that the greatest horrors of the twentieth century were perpetrated by regimes – Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China – that while rejecting some or all of the teachings of religion, copied characteristics of religion at […]

How right-wing talk radio works

From Dan Shelly’s “Former News Radio Staffer Spills the Beans on How Shock Jocks Inspire Hatred and Anger” (AlterNet: 17 November 2008): To begin with, talk show hosts such as Charlie Sykes – one of the best in the business – are popular and powerful because they appeal to a segment of the population that […]

A homogenized religion for America in the 21st century

From Damon Linker’s “The Future of Christian America” (The New Republic: 7 April 2009): hat will provide the theological content of the nation’s civil religion now that the “mere orthodoxy” of the evangelical-Catholic alliance has proven unsuitable for a pluralistic nation of 300 million people? To my mind, the most likely and salutary option is […]

Things we do that are legal, yet wish to remain private

Kissing Interviewing for a new job without your boss’s knowledge Visiting a therapist Praying Inspired by Patrick Keefe’s “Camera Shy” (Legal Affairs: July/August 2003).

Now that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has switched to the Web …

From William Yardley and Richard Pérez-Peña’s “Seattle Paper Shifts Entirely to the Web” (The New York Times: 16 March 2009): The P-I, as it is called, will resemble a local Huffington Post more than a traditional newspaper, with a news staff of about 20 people rather than the 165 it had, and a site with […]

Social software: 5 properties & 3 dynamics

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): Certain properties are core to social media in a combination that alters how people engage with one another. I want to discuss five properties of social media and three dynamics. These are […]

Kids & adults use social networking sites differently

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): For American teenagers, social network sites became a social hangout space, not unlike the malls in which I grew up or the dance halls of yesteryears. This was a place to gather […]

The importance of network effects to social software

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): Many who build technology think that a technology’s feature set is the key to its adoption and popularity. With social media, this is often not the case. There are triggers that drive […]

MySpace/Facebook history & sociology

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): Facebook had launched as a Harvard-only site before expanding to other elite institutions before expanding to other 4-year-colleges before expanding to 2-year colleges. It captured the mindshare of college students everywhere. It […]

New Zealand’s new copyright law

From Mark Gibbs’ “New Zealand gets insane copyright law” (Network World: 20 February 2009): A law was recently passed in New Zealand that has created what many consider to be the world’s harshest copyright enforcement law. This insanity, found in Sections 92A and C of New Zealand’s Copyright Amendment Act 2008 establishes – and I […]