Bellwether: Connie Willis's classic, hilarious novel about the science of trendiness


It's been nearly 20 years since the publication of Bellwether, Connie Willis's comic novel about scientists caught in the turmoil of bureaucratic fads. I had very fond memories of this book, though I hadn't read it in more than a decade, so I gave the DRM-free audiobook a whirl, and fell in love with it all over again. Read the rest

The gift economy at the heart of open source


With the 18th O'Reilly Open Source convention approaching, Tim O'Reilly has written a stirring editorial on the value that inspires him about FLOSS: "to create more value than you capture." Read the rest

Saying the Internet makes librarians obsolete is like saying the plague makes doctors obsolete

L0004078 The plague of Athens. Line engraving by J. Fittler after M.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images
The plague of Athens. Line engraving by J. Fittler after M. Sweerts.
1811 By: Michael Sweertsafter: James FittlerPublished: 1811

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0
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Kindle Unlimited is being flooded with 3,000-page garbage books that suck money out of the system


Amazon's Kindle Unlimited service allows subscribers to download as many books as they want, and then pays writers based on the number of their pages that readers have read. Read the rest

The future of trollbots


Hugh writes, "In a post-Tay world, where we've proved the Internet can train a bot to be a plausible shitposter, what's the future of politics, hate, and mob rule? Read the rest

China's Internet censors order ban on video of toddler threatening brutal cops


China's Internet censors have ordered the country's social media companies to block further sharing of a viral video that shows a toddler threatening members of the notorious urban management police squad with a long pole, telling them to leave his grandmother alone. Read the rest

Tiny South Pacific island to lose free/universal Internet lifeline


The way most of the world knows about Niue, a 100 square mile island in the south Pacific with a population of about 1,100, is because of its country-code top-level domain (CCTLD), which is the ubiquitous .nu. Read the rest

How British journalists talk about people they're not allowed to talk about


The "super-injunction" (previously) is a weird feature of English and Welsh law through which the very wealthy can hire bulldog lawyers to get judges to pass an order prohibiting any newspaper or journalist from disclosing true facts about them, on pain of jail-time. Read the rest

Texas: prisoners whose families maintain their social media presence face 45 days in solitary

Cellule du quartier d'isolement de la prison Jacques-Cartier de Rennes (France), à travers le judas.

According to a new offender manual from Texas Department of Criminal Justice, prisoners whose families maintain a social media presence to call attention to their incarceration will be liable to harsh punishment, including up to 45 days in solitary, loss of privileges, and extra work duty. Read the rest

Facebook morphs into a clickhole, at the expense of personal sharing


Surveillance capitalism continues to astound and confound: as Facebook has turned into the traffic-factory life-support for ad-supported media -- and as Facebook profits from those companies by charging for "access" to their own followers -- the amount of personal sharing on Facebook is dropping off sharply. Read the rest

The UK government's voice-over-IP standard is designed to be backdoored


GCHQ, the UK's spy agency, designed a security protocol for voice-calling called MIKEY-SAKKE and announced that they'll only certify VoIP systems as secure if they use MIKEY-SAKKE, and it's being marketed as "government-grade security." Read the rest

Four days in, and the BBC hasn't even mentioned the biggest bribery scandal in history


On Wednesday, Fairfax and Huffington Post broke the Unaoil story, revealing that they had been leaked a trove of email from an obscure Monaco family business that had acted as a global fixer in bribery and bid-rigging that looted the treasuries and oil-fields of some of the world's poorest countries, from Iraq to Yemen, acting on behalf of blue-chip companies like Rolls-Royce and Halliburton. Read the rest

Today is your last day to comment on Internet censorship through copyright abuse

animation (3)

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Hey Internet! Ever since SOPA we've all known that copyright laws have a huge impact on the Internet, free speech, innovation, creativity." Read the rest

"Reputation management" companies apparently induce randos to perjure themselves by pretending to be anonymous posters


Pissedconsumer has noticed that a bunch of "reputation management" companies are filing lawsuits to get anonymous customer complaints removed, and very quickly identifying the anonymous posters, who swear affidavits okaying the removal of their complaints. Read the rest

Trains Botting: twitterbot posts a new emoji train landscape every 4 hours


Trains Botting/@choochoobot is a new twitterbot from prolific botmaster and EFF staffer Parker Higgins. Read the rest

Landmark study on the effects of copyright takedown abuse on online free expression


Three of America's sharpest copyright scholars have released a landmark study of the impact of copyright takedowns on free expression in America: Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice, by Jennifer Urban (UC Berkeley), Joe Karaganis (Columbia), and Brianna L. Schofiel (UC Berkeley) uses detailed surveys and interviews and a random sample from over 100,000,000 takedown notices to analyze the proportion of fraudulent, malformed or otherwise incorrect acts of censorship undertaken in copyright's name, using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's takedown procedure. Read the rest

Surveillance has reversed the net's capacity for social change


Sociologists describe the "spiral of silence": people with socially unpopular ideas fear that they're the only ones who think that way, and say nothing, and their silence convinces others that they, too are alone, begetting yet more silence. Read the rest

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