No one's coming - it's up to us: it's past time for technologists to be responsible to society

Last autumn, I was invited to Foo Camp, an unconference organized by O’Reilly Media.

Canada's SOPA moment: Canadian telco giants pushing for site blocking without court orders

SOPA may be a distant memory for the Internet community, but Canada now finds itself in its own SOPA moment. Telecom giant Bell leads a coalition of companies and associations in seeking support for a wide-ranging website blocking plan that could have similarly harmful effects on the Internet, representing a set-back for privacy, freedom of expression, and net neutrality. While that need not be the choice - Canada’s Copyright Act already features some of the world’s toughest anti-piracy laws - the government and the CRTC, Canada's telecom regulator, are faced with deciding on the merits of a website blocking plan that is best described as a disproportionate, unconstitutional proposal sorely lacking in due process.

Charles Stross's "Dark State": transdimensional, nuclear-tipped mutually assured destruction by way of a first-rate spy novel

Dark State is the sequel to Empire Games, a reboot/latter phase of Charles Stross's longrunning, excellent economic science fiction/high fantasy Merchant Princes series.

Empire Games: Charlie Stross starts a new phase in the Merchant Princes series, blending spycraft, Leninist thought experiments, and parallel dimensions

Charlie Stross's longrunning Merchant Princes series are a sneaky, brilliant techno-economic thought experiment disguised as heroic fantasy, and with Empire Games, the first book of the second phase of the series, Stross throws in a heavy dose of the noirest spycraft, an experiment in dieselpunk Leninism and War on Terror paranoia.

Reviving the Independence of Cyberspace

In a bizarre twist of facts, the FCC has claimed this week that its annual report proves the repeal of Net Neutrality has made the Internet better for all of us. The report is an exercise in contradictions, claiming that "advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans," and quoting the phrase "in a reasonable and timely fashion".

How a kid cartoonist avoided Scholastic's digital sharecropping trap

I'm an 8th grade middle school student at a public school in NYC. In my humanities class we are studying muckraking journalism, and we have an assignment to write a muckraking article about a modern issue. (For those who didn't pay attention during class, muckraking journalism is journalism that became prominent in the late 19th century. A muckraking article digs up and exposes problems in society.) Coincidentally, I recently had a personal experience with a muckrake-able issue. I chose to make lemonade out of lemons, and got a very interesting topic for my assignment--and one that I could write about both professionally and privately. So, I'm posting my homework here.

RIP John Perry Barlow, 1947-2018

I met John Perry Barlow in 1999, and I was awestruck: here was the legend whose Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace had profoundly changed my life, making me realize that the nascent internet that I'd dropped out of university to devote my life to could be more than a communications tool: it could be a revolutionary force for good.

All's Faire in Middle School, a wonderful graphic novel about misfits, middle school and the middle ages

In 2016, Victoria Jamieson won the prestigious Newberry Honor Award for Roller Girl, a beautiful, moving, hilarious middle-grades graphic novel about friendship, girlhood and roller-derby; her 2017 followup All's Faire in Middle School will delight everyone who loved Roller Girl with a tale of Ren Faire, misfits, forgiveness and resilience.

Sous vide blackened salmon fillets

Surprise! Making perfect blackened salmon is easy. Read the rest

Automating Inequality: using algorithms to create a modern "digital poor-house"

Weeks before the publication of Virginia Eubanks's new book Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, knowledgeable friends were already urging me to read it, which was a no-brainer, having followed Eubanks's work for years.

Happy Data Privacy Day! A turning point for anonymity, privacy, and the tools that deliver them

Last week, we celebrated Data Privacy day. Everything we do online—whether on a computer or on a mobile device—is being tracked, traced, compiled, crunched, bought and sold by familiar tech-titans like Google, Facebook, Verizon and hundreds of lesser known data brokers who help advertisers build frighteningly detailed digital profiles of users by harvesting data from a variety of sources, including customer databases and online platforms. After I lecture to my students on this topic, rattling off a dozen mechanisms by which corporations and governments can spy and pry on us, threating both anonymity and privacy, their reaction is usually either indifference (because, you know, they think they have nothing to hide) or for those that I’ve convinced they should care, some measure of despair.

Starlings: razor-sharp stories and poems from Jo Walton

Stephen King once wrote that "a short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger" -- that is, sudden, pleasant, mysterious, dangerous and exiting, and the collected short fiction of Jo Walton, contained between covers in the newly published Starlings, is exemplary of the principle. Walton, after all, is one of science fiction's major talents, and despite her protests that she "doesn't really know how to write stories," all the evidence is to the contrary.

Love, sex, and trackers - Tinder and other dating apps are spies in your bedroom

In a bombshell report on Tuesday, it was revealed that Tinder users are left vulnerable to voyeurs, blackmail, and targeted surveillance. Researchers at security firm Checkmarx demonstrated that Tinder doesn't encrypt photos, allowing someone on the same network to copy these files or even insert their own photos into the app. Worse, the data that is encrypted by Tinder is predictable, allowing the researchers to decipher "exactly what the user sees on his or her screen... What they're doing, what their sexual preferences are, a lot of information." Apparently, that student who e-mailed every Claudia at Missouri State had other options to find the one he was looking for.

Becoming a mother in a Rohingya refugee camp

Rojinessa labored through the night and gave birth to a baby boy around dawn. Her mother delivered the baby. No doctors were present. No midwives. No beeping machines. Rojinessa became a mother in a tent with a bare concrete floor, a plastic sheet roof, and no running water. She is a Rohingya refugee, living in Ukhia, Bangladesh, with more than 650,000 other refugees who have fled the grotesque and incomprehensible genocide ravaging her people in Burma.

Soonish: exciting technologies on the horizon, with excitement-preserving nuance

Kelly and Zach Weinersmith's Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything is an exceptional science book: it concerns itself with ten(ish) coming technologies that hold enormous, potentially world-changing promise (and peril), and it delves into each of those subjects with admirable depth, including all the caveats and unknowns, and still keeps the excitement intact.

Saga Volume 8: the best space opera in comics tackles abortion, gender identity, and vengeance

Saga is the best space opera in comics, a masterpiece of serial storytelling from Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan, whose character designs -- a cross between Vaughn Bode and the Mos Eisley Cantina -- and fearless war-scenes combine with masterful cliff-hanger storytelling to weave a tale that hurts even as it makes you bellow with laughter. The eighth collection in the series ships today and the story shows no sign of slowing down.

Liartown: the First Four Years, a tour-de-force of killer shooping and acerbic wit

Sean Tejaratchi's amazing Liartown, USA (previously) is a bottomless well of astoundingly good photoshops from a parallel universe of bitter, ha-ha-only-serious sight gags, minutely detailed, lovingly crafted and often NSFW; Tejaratchi's new 248-page color, 8.5"x11" anthology, LiarTown: The First Four Years 2013-2017 is a powerful dose of creepypasta in its purest form.

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