The first-ever rigorous quantitative study of US artistic revenue from internet indies: 14.8M Americans earned $5.9B in 2016

The Re:Create coalition has just published Unlocking the Gates: America's New Creative Economy, a quantitative report that uses rigorous statistical methods to derive the total income, by state, earned by creators who use the internet to reach their audiences. Read the rest

Rod Serling: human rights activist as science fiction showrunner

Science fiction author Hugh Spencer (previously) has published an essay on how Rod Serling's activist views on human rights were embodied in The Twilight Zone, drawing on the practice of using fantastic fiction to evade social constraints, in the tradition of Gulliver's Travels (to say nothing of books like Pinocchio and Inferno). Read the rest

Modechai Guri: the guy who gets data out of airgapped computers

Computers that are isolated from the internet and local networks are said to be "airgapped," and it's considered a best practice for securing extremely sensitive systems. Read the rest

In the USA, Trump supporters are the most prolific users and sharers of "junk news" (a mix of untruth and distastefully presented materials)

Oxford's Computational Propaganda Project surveyed 13,500 "politically active" US Twitter users and 48,000 publicly visible Facebook pages, coding them for political affiliation, then measuring how much "junk news" (a news article that fails to live up to three or more of the following: professionalism, style, credibility, bias, counterfeit) was consumed and share by users based on their political affiliation. Read the rest

Unpaywall: a search-engine for authorized, freely accessible versions of scholarly journal articles

Unpaywall is a service that indexes open access repositories, university, government and scholarly society archives, and other sources that make articles available with authorization from the rightsholders and journals -- about 47% of the articles that its users seek. Read the rest

America's school systems serve unencrypted web resources that are riddled with ad-tech trackers

Edtech Strategies, "a boutique consultancy focused on providing strategic research and counsel on issues at the intersection of education, public policy, technology, and innovation" has published a report detailing the dismal state of America's state education agencies web-practices, where encrypted connections are hard to find and adtech trackers are everywhere. Read the rest

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.

What youthquake? Jeremy Corbyn's election surge was drawn from all age groups, not a mob of first-time young voters

Jeremy Corbyn's incredible, odds-defying showing in the 2017 UK general election has been attributed to a "youthquake" of first-time young voters who were drawn to the polls by his progressive policies. Read the rest

Analysis of North America's weeds reveal the crops, trade, and cuisine of early indigenous people

Cornell archaeobotanist Natalie Mueller harvests "weeds" from across North America, seeking the remnants of "lost crops," the plants cultivated by the people who lived here 2,000 years ago.

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Academic audit of HUD budget finds $21 trillion (yes, trillion) in unaccounted-for spending since 1998

After an audit found that the Department of Defense couldn't account for $6.5 trillion in non-black-budget spending, Michigan State University State and Local Government Finance and Policy Chair Mark Skidmore assembled a team to audit the Housing and Urban Development agency, uncovering $21 trillion more in "undocumented adjustments" to HUDs spending since 1998. Read the rest

Short-termism led the Democratic Party to let unions die, and now they've lost their base

For decades, Democrats in power and in opposition have traded away labor laws and rules that protected unions in order to gain short-term advantages in political horse-trades, and now, with union membership down from 26 to 10.7% since the Reagan years, districts that formed Democrats' "blue wall" have been poverty-struck and have flipped for Trump. Read the rest

Your early darknet drug buys are preserved forever in the blockchain, waiting to be connected to your real identity

Blockchain transactions are recorded forever and indelibly, and that means that all the Bitcoin transactions on early Tor hidden service marketplaces like Silk Road are on permanent, public display; because many people who made these transactions later went on to link those Bitcoin wallets with their real identities, those early deals are now permanently associated with their public, identifiable selves. Read the rest

Floating 1,600dpi 3D projections made by pushing around flecks of cellulose and hitting them with a laser

Physicists at BYU have demonstrated a volumetric projection system that works by using a laser to unevenly heat single cellulose molecules in order to shove them around in 3D space, then painting the positioned molecules with lasers that cause them to glow; by choreographic both sets of lasers, extremely high-resolution moving images can be attained. Read the rest

Research report explains how adtech supercharges political deceit, allowing even bumblers to be master propagandists

A new report from the New America Foundation uses the current fear that Russian government elements manipulated the 2016 US election to explore the relationship between advertising technology, surveillance capitalism, and "precision propaganda," showing how the toolsuite developed for the advertising industry is readily repurposable by even modestly competent actors to spread disinformation campaigns. Read the rest

If humans gave up on geoengineering after 50 years, it could be far worse than if we had done nothing at all

In Potentially dangerous consequences for biodiversity of solar geoengineering implementation and termination (published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, Sci-Hub mirror), a group of cross-institutional US climate scientists model what would happen if human embarked upon a solar geoengineering project to mitigate the greenhouse effect by aerosolizing reflective particles into the atmosphere, then gave up on the project after a mere half-century. Read the rest

Comprehensive, open tutorial on using data analysis in social science research

Benjamin Mako Hill (previously) collaborated with colleagues involved in critical technology studies to write a textbook chapter analyzing the use of computational methods in social science and providing advice for social scientists who want to delve into data-based social science. Read the rest

Social scientists have warned Zuck all along that the Facebook theory of interaction would make people angry and miserable

Since the earliest days of Facebook, social scientists have sent up warnings saying that the ability to maintain separate "contexts" (where you reveal different aspects of yourself to different people) was key to creating and maintaining meaningful relationships, but Mark Zuckerberg ignored this advice, insisting that everyone be identified only by their real names and present a single identity to everyone in their lives, because anything else was "two-faced." Read the rest

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