The automated, invisible revert-wars of Wikipedia's bot ecosystem

In Even good bots fight, a paper written by Oxford Internet Institute researchers and published in PLOS One, the authors survey the edits and reverts made by Wikipedia's diverse community of bots, uncovering some curious corners where bots -- rate-limited by Wikipedia's rules for bots -- slowly and remorseless follow one another around, reverting each other. Read the rest

Found at a thrift shop: the last record of a doomed Apple DRM effort from 1979

Redditor Vadermeer was in a local Goodwill Outlet and happened on a trove of files from Apple engineer Jack MacDonald from 1979-80, when he was manager of system software for the Apple II and ///. Read the rest

Haunting photographs of Nara Dreamland, a rotting Japanese theme park

We love and celebrate the people who sneak into derelict themeparks and photograph their ruins! Beijing, Orlando, Sichuan, South Carolina, Japan, Berlin, New Orleans, even Walt Disney World! Read the rest

After a century of resisting monopolies, Democrats became the party of finance capitalism and it cost them the election

Monopolies are a well-documented drain on the economy, holding back growth and raising prices to the benefit of the 1% and the detriment of everyone else, and for 100 years, the Democratic party was the party of anti-monopoly, fighting for vigorous anti-trust enforcement, trade unionism, and decentralized power. Read the rest

Wearing an activity tracker gives insurance companies the data they need to discriminate against people like you

Many insurers offer breaks to people who wear activity trackers that gather data on them; as Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil points out, the allegedly "anonymized' data-collection is trivial to re-identify (so this data might be used against you), and, more broadly, the real business model for this data isn't improving your health outcomes -- it's dividing the world into high-risk and low-risk people, so insurers can charge people more. Read the rest

The basics of crypto, in 4.5 pages, using only small words lawmakers can understand

Ed Felten (previously) -- copyfighter, Princeton computer scientist, former deputy CTO of the White House -- has published a four-and-a-half-page "primer for policymakers" on cryptography that explains how encryption for filesystems and encryption for messaging works, so they can be less ignorant. Read the rest

A "travel mode" for social media - after all, you don't take all your other stuff with you on the road

As the US government ramps up its insistence that visitors (and US citizens) unlock their devices and provide their social media accounts, the solution have run the gamut from extreme technological caution, abandoning mobile devices while traveling, or asking the government to rethink its policy. But Maciej Cegłowski has another solution: a "travel mode" for our social media accounts. Read the rest

Lawsuit forces DoJ to admit that Obama administration sneakily killed transparency bill

The Freedom of the Press Foundation's lawsuit against the DoJ has resulted in the release of documents showing that a bill with that was nearly unanimously supported in Congress and the Senate was killed by behind-the-scene lobbying by the Department of Justice, which feared that they would lose the ability to arbitrarily reject Freedom of Information Act requests if the bill passed. Read the rest

Casemodder builds a tiny, perfect living room inside a PC

The craftperson behind this wonderful, tiny room inside a PC tower is unknown, but they have a flair for detail and style -- dig that tiny newspaper! (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

Wanted: real British criminals to commit real British crimes

The artifacts that tumble out of Scarfolk (previously), the English horror-town stuck in a ten-year loop from 1970-1980, continue their amazing run of being so very much on-point with the issues facing the UK today, case in point: The Campaign for Real British Crime. Read the rest

In which Laurie Penny comprehensively proves that she has Yiannopoulos's number

Ever since I read Laurie Penny's scathing, insider account of Milo Yiannopoulos and his schtick, I knew that she had his number like no one else -- and now that Yiannopoulos has been disbarred from his position as the useful idiot of the hard-right, I've been wondering what Penny made of the fall from grace. Read the rest

Fireside Fiction is back: The Resistance meets science fiction

Pablo Defendini writes, "Fireside Magazine has just relaunched their website, with a focus on fiction for the resistance. Their latest short story, Andrea Phillips' The Revolution Brought to You by Nike, tells the story of what happens when a corporation turns its brand marketing into a tool for societal change. In light of the actual Nike's recent TV spots celebrating Arab female athletes, Andrea's story reads more like near-future prognosticating, rather than speculative fiction." Read the rest

What it's like to be spied on by Android stalkerware marketed to suspicious spouses

For $170, Motherboard's Joseph Cox bought SpyPhone Android Rec Pro, an Android app that you have to sideload on your target's phone (the software's manufacturer sells passcode-defeating apps that help you do this); once it's loaded, you activate it with an SMS and then you can covertly operate the phone's mic, steal its photos, and track its location. Read the rest

Catastrophes are reliable levelers of inequality; inequality creates catastrophes

Stanford history and classics professor Walter Scheidel writes in the Atlantic that the only reliable ways for unequal societies to become more equal is to suffer catastrophes that upend the order of things; Scheidel concludes that our modern, unequal state may not be able to avail itself of a convenient catastrophe for this purpose because "Technology has made mass warfare obsolete; violent, redistributive revolution has lost its appeal; most states are more resilient than they used to be; and advances in genetics will help humanity ward off novel germs." Read the rest

Bank fraud and Dieselgate: how do we design regulations that are harder to cheat?

Tim Harford points out that Dieselgate -- when VW designed cars that tried to guess when they were undergoing emissions test and dial back their pollution -- wasn't the first time an industry designed its products to cheat when regulators were looking; the big banks did the same thing to beat the "stress tests" that finance regulators used to check whether they would collapse during economic downturns (the banks "made very specific, narrow bets designed to pay off gloriously in specific stress-test scenarios" so that they looked like they'd do better than they actually would). Read the rest

Confronted by angry voters, GOP Senator Joni Ernst flees Iowa town hall through a side-door

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a "rising star" in the GOP, ran as an "independent" thinker, but has dutifully toed the GOP line since taking office -- that's why the town halls on her "99-county tour" of Iowa are packed with angry people who want to know about Trump's relationship to the Russian government, and the GOP's plan to destroy their health care without anything credible to replace it; it's also why most of the stops on Ernst's tours are planned photo-ops at factories instead of public events where voters can actually talk to their elected rep.

Read the rest

Deliberate leaking is a time-honored government tactic that Trump doesn't understand

Governments have "official" unofficial leaking policies, releasing tons of confidential material to the press without any attribution or public acknowledgement: they leak stuff to maintain good press relations, to test out ideas, to hurt their in-government rivals, or to let information be generally known without having to answer difficult questions about it (for example, letting the press report on "secret" drone strike in Yemen without a press-conference where embarrassing questions about civilian casualties might come up). Read the rest

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