Tor has produced a multitool to commemorate my forthcoming novel Walkaway, and if you pre-order the book, they'll send you one! Protip: pre-order from Barnes and Noble and you'll get a signed copy! Read the rest
A team of esteemed scholars including Yochai "Wealth of Networks" Benkler and Ethan Zuckerman (co-founder of Global Voices) analyzed 1.25 million media stories published between April 1, 2015 and election day, finding "a right-wing media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyper-partisan perspective to the world." Read the rest
Professor Yochai Benkler, writing an op-ed for the Guardian:
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Dragnet surveillance, or bulk collection, goes to the heart of what is wrong with the turn the NSA has taken since 2001. It implements a perpetual "state of emergency" mentality that inverts the basic model outlined by the fourth amendment: that there are vast domains of private action about which the state should remain ignorant unless it provides clear prior justification. And all public evidence suggests that, from its inception in 2001 to this day, bulk collection has never made more than a marginal contribution to securing Americans from terrorism, despite its costs.
Social Mobilization and the Networked Public Sphere: Mapping the SOPA-PIPA Debate
is a scholarly paper by Yochai Benkler (et al) that analyzes the links, traffic and spread of the anti-SOPA campaign to see how the story went from an obscure area of wonkish concern to a massive Internet-scale shitstorm that put millions of phone-calls through to Congress and ultimately killed a bill that was tipped to be a sure thing. In the wake of SOPA, a lot of inside-the-Beltway commentators assured their constituencies that the SOPA fight wasn't really any kind of grassroots effort -- it was led by Google, or Wikipedia, or someone. It wasn't masses of people making such a big noise that Google (et al) were finally able to lend their support without getting clobbered by their policy people.
As Benkler and co show, the truth is that this really was a bottom-up, grassroots effort. I knew that, but it's nice to have it all laid out in black and white here. Read the rest
On Tuesday, Bradley Manning was acquitted of “aiding the enemy” for leaking 700,000 classified government documents, including a video of an American airstrike in Baghdad that killed 12 civilians, among them two Reuters journalists.
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reports from Ft. Meade, Md., on the trial of the accused Wikileaks whistleblower
Inside a small courthouse on the Army base in Fort Meade, Maryland, Army prosecutors are presenting closing arguments in their case against Pfc. Bradley Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of government documents to Wikileaks.
According to Maj. Ashden Fein today, the 25-year-old former intel analyst betrayed his country’s trust and handed government secrets to Julian Assange in search of fame and glory, knowing that in doing so, the material would be made visible to Al Qaeda and its then-leader Osama bin Laden. Read the rest
"If successful, the prosecution will establish a chilling precedent: national security leaks may subject the leakers to a capital prosecution or at least life imprisonment. Anyone who holds freedom of the press dear should shudder at the threat that the prosecution’s theory presents to journalists, their sources and the public that relies on them." Floyd Abrams and Yochai Benkler, in a NYT op-ed published today. Read the rest
The Guardian: Blueprint for Democratic Participation from The Guardian and The Paley Center for Media on FORA.tv
Here's Yochai Benkler -- author of Wealth of Networks, one of the most important books written about how the Internet changes society -- describing the fight to stop SOPA with laser clarity and precision, cutting through the DC/media consensus that "Google killed SOPA" or "Wikipedia killed SOPA" and showing instead how the ecosystem of people who care about networks collaborated to do the unprecedented.
The Guardian: Blueprint for Democratic Participation
(via Michael Geist) Read the rest
After Sarkozy's "EG8" conference last week -- an event that brought together government leaders and Internet execs to legitimize an effort to censor and surveil the net -- a group of civil society people and activists threw an impromptu press-conference to explain what Sarko and company missed by treating the net as simply an engine for big business.
And so, yesterday, in Paris, civil society threw together an impromptu press conference, featuring Harvard's Larry Lessig, La Quadrature du Net's Jérémie Zimmermann, CUNY's Jeff Jarvis, former ICANN board member/former White House advisor Susan Crawford, Reporters Without Borders' Jean-François Julliard, and Harvard's Yochai Benkler. The spirt of the event was captured by Lessig. Business is important, the professor argued. But there are more than the interests of just business at stake when it comes to the future of the global network.
At E-G8, Civil Society Groups Restake Their Claim on the 'Net Read the rest
Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams's Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World is a funny kind of chimera. It's a business book -- a book to help enterprises reform themselves around collaborative principles made possible by the Internet (it also talks about how education, government and NGOs can use the same principles). The business world surely needs that kind of book, as can be seen by the never-ending litany of lawsuits, threats, legislation, and back-room maneuvering aimed at shutting down, censoring, or controlling the net. So Macrowikinomics is a book to shake up the complacent and give them a combination of fear of the future rushing past them and hope that they can catch up with it if they put them minds to it.
This is a delicate balancing act. It calls for a message that is at once iconoclastic and compromising, delivering hard truths without sugar coating; but it must be comforting at the same time, and assure the reader that change is both possible and desirable. As much as I applaud the effort, I found that Macrowikinomics often erred on the side of comfort, overstating its case, omitting disturbing details, and shying away from politics and technical realities in order to reassure its audience.
Which is not to say that there's not a lot to recommend here. Tapscott and Williams cite several inspiring instances of successful, Internet-driven, bottom-up collaboration, and offer some surprising insights into the larger meaning of them. For example, the authors talk about the design process at Local Motors, which a combination of collaborative space and competition that calls on designers around the world to help figure out how to use reconfigured off-the-shelf parts to create new, hyperlocal car designs. Read the rest
David Weinberger sez, "The Berkman Center, under the guidance of Yochai Benkler, has produced for the FCC a 200-page report on broadband around the world. The report is now open for public comment.
In an interview on the Berkman site, Benkler gives the "take-away":
I think there are two pieces of news that will be most salient for people as they look at this report. The first is a response to the question: 'how are we [the U.S.] doing?', and the answer is that we're overall middle-of-the-pack, no better. The second responds to the question: 'What policies and practices worked for countries that have done well?', and the answer to that is: there is good evidence to support the proposition that a family of policies called 'open access,' that encourage competition, played an important role.
PDF: Next Generation Connectivity:
A review of broadband Internet transitions
and policy from around the world
(Thanks, David!) Read the rest
The Open Video Conference takes place June 19-20 in New York, and the event promises ample awesomeness.
Speakers include, NYU's Clay Shirky, Harvard's Yochai Benkler, DVD Jon, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, EFF's Corynne McSherry, and many many more. I'll be delivering a keynote on Saturday afternoon.
Check out the full agenda here.
The organizers have kindly granted a discount for friends of Boing Boing: 15% off for regular/corporate attendees (you have to sign up before Monday 15th). Use this link. Entry includes access to the two-day event, lunch on both days, and a video remix dance party on Friday night! W00t.
About the Open Video Conference:
At this very moment, in 2009, we have a chance to ensure that internet video retains key characteristics of the internet at large. It's still early and things are looking good, but we need devices that play nice with each other, networks that aren't totally neutered, and playback and production tools that are low-cost (ideally free/open source) and easy to use. Developments like Hulu are interesting for the user, because they can watch what they want, when they want. But we don't want internet video to be a glorified TV on demand service. We want video to be a dynamic medium that invites clipping, archival, remix, collage, repurposing, and many other uses that are currently inhibited by law or by lack of tools.
Hope you'll join me there! - XJ Read the rest
I've finally dug far enough through my pile of must-read books to have a proper look at Joi Ito's wonderful book of freely licensed photography, FreeSouls. For years, Joi has travelled the world, photographing the activists, creators, inventors, hackers and entrepreneurs he's met. Noticing that many of these people had very poor portraits in their Wikipedia entries and learning that this was because professional portraits almost always have some licensing restrictions, Joi assembled his remarkable photos into a book and online repository, licensing the whole thing Creative Commons Attribution.
Although the photos can be had for free, Joi's publisher has assembled an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous book (in a limited edition of 1024 copies!) that includes a stirring intro by Larry Lessig and essays from Yochai Benkler, Isaac Mao, Howard Rheingold, me and Marko Ahtisaari. I've been lucky enough to be in Joi's orbit for several years now and one thing is certain, any time you find Joi, you find interesting things happening, and this book is no exception.
FreeSouls is an existence proof of a different kind of creator: an amateur who is driven to create work that's as good as anything a professional might produce, but it is produced for the love that characterizes amateur activity.
Joi Ito's Freesouls: a book of CC-licensed portraits of, and ... Read the rest