American public schools in 9 states sharing every conceivable personal detail of their students with third parties
Update: A PR person who has apparently been retained to represent inBloom strenuously objected to Greg's characterization of her client's practices below. She sent me an email, which I've posted to the comments. I've also made a factual correction, regarding constraints, below (look for the strikethrough)
Greg Costikyan sez,
inBloom, a Gates-funded non-profit to harness data to improve grade school education, has partnered with New York and eight other states to encourage the development of apps to "further education" by using intimate data about students, without parental consent and with no ability for parents to opt out.
Among the data shared are name, address, phone numbers, test scores, grades, economic status, test scores, disciplinary records, picture, email, race, developmental delay... just about everything conceivable, and all specific, none of it anonymized. inBloom has arrangements with nine states (New York, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Colorado, Illinois, North Carolina, Georgia, Delaware and Kentucky) to do this.
The XML schema used are downloadable here. Anyone can register as a developer and start using "sample" data, but "real" data is supposedly only available to developers with contracts with a school board. But this includes for-profit, third party developers, such as, say, Amplify, a News Corp subsidiary with a contract with New York.
And it doesn't appear there are any constraints on their use of this data.Ed: apparently constraints can be imposed by districts and states, though the system can allow unconstrained access if the district/state chooses.
Matt Staggs says: "Heavyweight UFC fighter and 'The Ultimate Fighter' star Justin 'The Viking' Wren has just taken on the fight of his life: Free the Congo’s Pygmy people from oppression and slavery. How will he do it? Learn in this episode of the DisinfoCast, and then join the fight."
Here's a rather graphic representation of the growth in income inequality in the USA since the 1960s; plotted on a chart where the income growth of the bottom 90 percent is represented by an inch-high bar; the growth of the top 10 percent needs a 163 foot-tall bar; while the top 0.01% need a 4.9 mile-high bar to represent their real wealth growth in the same period.
The income growth and shrinkage figures come from analysis of the latest IRS data by economists Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty, who have won acclaim for their studies of worldwide income patterns over the last century.
In 2011 entry into the top 10 percent, where all the gains took place, required an adjusted gross income of at least $110,651. The top 1 percent started at $366,623.
The top 1 percent enjoyed 81 percent of all the increased income since 2009. Just over half of the gains went to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, and 39 percent of the gains went to the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent.
Ponder that last fact for a moment -- the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent, those making at least $7.97 million in 2011, enjoyed 39 percent of all the income gains in America. In a nation of 158.4 million households, just 15,837 of them received 39 cents out of every dollar of increased income.
Jennifer Pawluck, a 20 year old woman from Montreal, was taken into police custody yesterday and questioned after she posted a photo of a graffiti mural on her Instagram. The mural showed a caricature of a Montreal police spokesman called Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière, with a bullet hole in his head.
After she posted the image to Instagram, police came to her house and took her in for questioning, releasing her several hours later. The police say that there are secret reasons they detained her, beyond taking a picture of graffiti and posting it, but they won't say what they are.
Pawluck participated in the mass student demonstrations in Montreal and was part of the ensuing mass arrests. She will have to appear in court on April 17, and is barred from going with a kilometer of police HQ and from communicating with Cmdr Lafrenière. She has not been charged.
Lafrenière is the head of the service's communications division and frequently appeared in the media during the student protests.
Pawluck said that when the picture was taken, she didn’t know who Lafrenière was, but she found the image interesting.
Montreal police confirmed that a young woman was arrested at her home Wednesday and brought to the police station to be questioned by investigators. They did not name Pawluck.
Roger Ebert, the legendary film critic, died today, his long-time employer, The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting. Ebert had been wrestling with cancer for years. He had lost his voice and his jaw, but he still kept up an unrelenting pace, reviewing more than 200 movies a year for the paper. On his blog and on twitter, he chronicled his struggle with cancer and just two days ago, he penned a post saying he was taking a "leave of presence."
A collection of evidence suggesting that the people who take stock photographs have absolutely no idea what the process of science looks like, beyond a vague understanding that it probably involves white coats (and also beakers full of liquid).
Two things I learned from this video:
1: I am my cat's Facebook page. That rubbing-up-against-you-and-leaving-scent thing? It's not just to mark you as "theirs". It's also a way of communicating information about themselves to other cats that you might encounter.
2: My cats poop in a box and bury it as a gesture of submissiveness to me. Good cats.
Joel Spolsky's editorial on patent trolls is fabulous. As he points out, the developers who pay relatively small sums to make patent trolls just go away are part of the problem, and complicit in the next round of extortion. Paying mobsters keeps them viable, and able to attack new victims:
In the face of organized crime, civilized people don’t pay up. When you pay up, you’re funding the criminals, which makes you complicit in their next attacks. I know, you’re just trying to write a little app for the iPhone with in-app purchases, and you didn’t ask for this fight to be yours, but if you pay the trolls, giving them money and comfort to go after the next round of indie developers, you’re not just being “pragmatic,” you have actually gone over to the dark side. Sorry. Life is a bit hard sometimes, and sometimes you have to step up and fight fights that you never signed up for.
Civilized people don’t pay up. They band together, and fight, and eliminate the problem. The EFF is launching a major initiative to reform the patent system. At Stack Exchange, we’re trying to help with Ask Patents, which will hopefully block a few bad patents before they get issued.
The Application Developers Alliance (of which I am currently serving as the chairman of the board) is also getting involved with a series of Developer Patent Summits, a nationwide tour of 15 cities, which will kick off a long term program to band together to fight patent trolls. Come to the summit in your city—I’ll be at the San Francisco event on April 9th—and find out what you can do to help.
Prince Rupert's Drops are unusual glass objects made by dripping molten glass into water. The exterior is very compressed while the interior is under great tension. You can hammer on the head of a drop and it won't break but if you barely wiggle the tail, the whole thing explosively shatters. It's particularly amazing in super-slow motion.
The 43d Locus Poll and Survey is open for your picks of the best science fiction and fantasy of the past year, as well as your survey answers (Locus has been collecting detailed statistical information about science fiction readers for, well, 43 years now). You needn't be a subscriber to fill in the survey, though subscribers' votes are weighted more heavily in the awards.
Matterform's Photon 3D Scanner is a $350-$400 IndieGoGo-funded gadget from Canada. It promises to be operable by novices with no particular knowledge of 3D modelling or printing. It folds up to a small package, making it portable as well, and it can complete a scan in three minutes, working at dimensions up to 7.5" diam/9.5" height. The project is fully funded, but you can still pre-order by adding to the campaign; they're estimating general fulfillment by August.
The Photon allows anyone to take a physical object, and turn it into a digital 3D model on your computer. From there, you can print your file on any 3D printer, or online printing service. Or use the model you created in an animation or video game.
We’ve been developing the Photon hardware and software from scratch for the past year and now we’re ready to release it to you. We'll fulfill all the indiegogo pledges first so if you're excited to get one, supporting us now is the best route and you can take advantage of our special intro pricing.
Photon 3D Scanner (Thanks, Steven!)
MONITOR was a short-lived Los Angeles art punk band that first performed on Halloween 1978. The group was part the experimental transmedia micro-scene of "Associated Skull Bands" like Nervous Gender, Human Hands, BPeople, and Boyd Rice's NON. Through the mail art network, MONITOR connected with DEVO pal Ed Barger who recorded MONITOR's self-titled LP in 1980. Writing for the Los Angeles Reader, Matt Groening (yes, that Matt Groening) said in 1981 that "MONITOR's debut album, a compendium of mutant amplified folk tunes is the best local release I've heard all year." Now, Superior Viaduct records has reissued that LP on CD with additional bonus tracks. Special note: the track "Hair" on the album was actually performed by The Meat Puppets at MONITOR's invitation. MONITOR: s/t CD
Jon Cotner makes commented slideshows of his daily doings. Here's one of his trip to a dentist in New York's Chinatown. Jon says, "Dr. Young is a meticulous dentist who charges just $50 for cleanings. I expect BB readers would be grateful to learn about him!"
The city of the future is imprisoned by feathered mullets, dry ice, and the synthesized orchestral hits that result when anyone opens their eyes. [↚ @joeljohnson]
Britt Faulstick reports on Drexel professor Frank Lee's 29-storey game of Pong:
On April 19 and April 24 Philadelphians young and old will have the chance to grab the arcade-style joystick one more time and engage in that timeless quest to spin the bouncing ball past the opponent’s paddle – writ large on the 401-foot north wall of one of the iconic buildings of Philadelphia’s skyline. More than 500 of the 1,514 LEDs affixed to Cira Centre’s shadowbox spandrels will recreate the game’s classic pixilation as competitors will go elbow-to-elbow from a vantage point across the Schuylkill River on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Last summer, Zach Weiner (creator the most excellent Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal webcomic) ran a monumentally successful Kickstarter for a CC-licensed Choose-Your-Own-Adventure title called Trial of the Clone: An Interactive Adventure!.
I've finally gotten around to reading my copy and it's an absolute delight. Not only is it witty and often laugh-aloud funny -- it's also got a novel and well-thought-through game mechanic that introduces an element of tabletop RPG-playing to the system (instead of rolling dice, you flip randomly through the book and get your roll-value from the number at the bottom corner of the page).
The premise is a fun spoof of the Star Wars trilogy. You're an orphaned clone (they decanted you in order to fill a hot market wherein rich people competed to adopt orphans, quickly exhausting the existing pool of orphans and giving rise to the practice of cloning; alas you were decanted just as the market crashed) and you're sent to live with a mystic cult of warriors who train you and enlist you in an intergalactic war. The humor is trenchant, never too on-the-nose, and never gets in the way of what turns out to be rather a good story. As an added bonus, "nearly all the proper names in the book are dirty words in Czech."
Profits from this book are donated to Fight for the Future, one of the activist groups that led the charge that killed SOPA last year.
Trial of the Clone [Amazon]
Trial of the Clone [SMBC]