"Sumana Harihareswara"

Tech conference changes policy, rescinds requirement for chipped, unremovable bracelets for attendees

Update: Justin Reese from Abstractions writes, "policy changes were implemented last night and additional changes were made this morning."

He adds, "The article was also inaccurate from the start by calling the wristbands surveillance devices in the title. They are only used to control access and don't track where users are or have been except in the case where the attendee has given explicit permission in their profiles to share with sponsors and completed a double opt-in by scanning their ID at the sponsor table (the read range is about 2"). Unless we receive a double opt-in, the ids on the wristband are never associated with a user. It is no more a surveillance device than any other conference badge. I'd appreciate a retraction of this inaccuracy and an update regarding our policies."

Reese is correct that the manufacturers design RFID chips to be read from inches; however, that doesn't mean that they can't be read from longer distances (for example, distant, directional antennas can read them at longer distances while they are being energized by a nearby reader). Likewise, the idea that users can't be identified from persistent, anonymous identifiers is incorrect.

It's a pretty good example of how a thin understanding of privacy issues in wireless technologies and statistical analysis can result in selecting authentication systems that expose users to privacy risks.

Sumana Harihareswara (previously) writes, "The Abstractions tech conference (Aug 21-23, in Pittsburgh) doesn't tell attendees this before they buy a ticket, but attendance requires you wear their wristband with an embedded tracking chip -- and that you don't take it off at night or in the shower till the conference ends. Read the rest

Design notes from a tech conference built on "whimsy, spectacle, discovery, vulnerability, and emotion"

Sumana writes, "'Toward a !!Con Aesthetic describes !!Con, a NYC programming conference focusing on 'joyous, exciting, and surprising moments,' as a counterpublic in software culture. A longtime attendee looks at the subtexts, norms, and approaches that tie together !!Con's talks, including an emphasis on whimsy, spectacle, discovery, vulnerability, and emotion." Read the rest

Randomized dystopia generator that goes beyond the Bill of Rights

Sumana writes, "I was talking with a friend about trends in dystopian fiction, and about the underappreciated rights that don't get as much airtime. So I created Randomized Dystopia. You can hit Reload on the main page to get a right from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or use the Custom Terribleness page for the option of a specifically sexist or ageist dystopia." Read the rest

How Wikipedia can become a no-asshole-zone

Sumana writes, "I gave the opening keynote address at Wiki Conference USA last weekend, and told Wikipedians what needs to change to make the site friendlier and more hospitable. I mixed in wisdom from John Scalzi, XKCD, Hacker School, and the Ada Initiative. The transcript and a thirty-minute audio recording (Ogg) are now up." Read the rest

Sumana Harihareswara and sf writer Leonard Richardson will match up to $10,000 in donations to the Ada Initiative, funding for women in open culture and free/open source

Sumana sez, "Scifi author Leonard Richardson and his spouse Sumana Harihareswara are pleding up to $10,000 from their own pockets to match donations to the Ada Initiative made before November 1st. They say: 'This is make-or-break time for the Ada Initiative. Leonard and I make our living through open source and we want to pay it forward.; TAI supports women in open source and open culture."

The Ada Initiative works to increase the participation of women in open technology and culture. They gave me the wording and support I needed to create Wikimedia Foundation's Friendly Space Policy for technical events, which helps everyone at a Wikimedia hackathon feel safer so they can concentrate on rockin' out. If you liked "Be Bold: An Origin Story", the keynote I delivered at Open Source Bridge this year, thank the Ada Initiative, whose advisors helped me shape it. Everyone who wants to grow the open source community benefits from the Ada Initiative's work, and so donating to TAI is like investing in a good piece of machinery; TAI's going to make my work easier for a long time to come.

Please join us in donating to the Ada Initiative, especially if you've also gotten a good career out of open source.

Leonard And I Will Match Ten Thousand Dollars Of Your Ada Initiative Donations

(Thanks, Sumana!) Read the rest

Thoughtcrime Experiments: Remixable, CC-licensed science fiction anthology

Sumana sez, "Sumana Harihareswara and Leonard Richardson selected nine mind-squibbling SF and fantasy stories from the slush pile, commissioned five works of art, paid the authors and artists, and packaged the whole thing as a high-quality anthology that you're free to copy and remix. Artists include E-Sheep's Patrick Farley and fanfic darling Erin Ptah; authors include Mary Anne Mohanraj, Carole Lanham, and Ken Liu. We also wrote an essay describing the process, which you can read if you're interested in how we did it or what the SF/fantasy market looks like from the editor's perspective."

Thoughtcrime Experiments

(Thanks, Sumana!)

Read the rest

:)