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

NHS okays hospitals and doctors storing patient data on public cloud servers

NHS Digital has issued guidance to the independent authorities and businesses that make up the UK's National Health Service, setting out the case for storing extremely sensitive patient data on public cloud servers. Read the rest

Facebook helped consolidate power for Cambodia's dictator and his attack-dog media, then killed the independent press's platform

In Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen has held power since 1998, a reign characterized by systematic looting, political patronage and violent suppression of human rights; when opposition parties used Facebook to organize a strong showing in the 2013 elections, Hun Sen turned to the tool to consolidate his slipping hold on power. Read the rest

VR chat participant appears to have a photosensitive seizure

Participants in a VRChat room watched as the avatar of one of the participants appeared to go into a grand mal seizure, accompanied by distressed sounds audible through the voice-chat. Read the rest

Google's forgetting the early web

XML pioneer and early blogger Tim Bray went looking through Google for some posts he knew about from 2006 and 2008 and found that Google couldn't retrieve either of them, not even if he searched for lengthy strings that were exact matches for text from the articles; he concluded that "from a busi­ness point of view, it’s hard to make a case for Google in­dex­ing ev­ery­thing, no mat­ter how old and how obscure," and so we could not longer rely on "Google’s glob­al in­fras­truc­ture as my own per­son­al search in­dex for my own per­son­al pub­li­ca­tion­s."

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At long last, open video formats are triumphing

Apple was the last major holdout on proprietary video codecs, the only major industry player that hadn't signed onto the Alliance for Open Media, home of the AV1 video format, a successor to On2's groundbreaking open formats of the early web years, which led to the company's acquisition by Google in 2010. Read the rest

Web developers publish open letter taking Google to task for locking up with web with AMP

I have often thought that you can divide up the risks of the big internet platforms by plotting a 2X2 grid; on one axis is "wants to spy on everything you do" and on the other is "wants to control everything you do" -- Apple scores low on the first axis (they don't much want to spy on you), and high on the second (they want to control you in intimate and pervasive ways); Google is the reverse (wants to spy on you, but is so capable of following you wherever you go that it doesn't need to control you to do it), while Facebook gets top marks on both (they spy on everything you do and they want to control you from start to finish). Read the rest

Complying with the new EU data protection directive requires a top-to-bottom redo of the adtech industry

Back in 2016, the EU passed the General Data Protection Regulation, a far-reaching set of rules to protect the personal information and privacy of Europeans that takes effect this coming May. Read the rest

China's new army of nationalist trolls is an all-volunteer force

The early days of the Chinese national internet strategy were dominated by the 50-Cent Army, so-called because they were reputed to be paid 0.5 RMB for ever patriotic message they posted to social media; but as the volume of quackspeak astroturfing rose, the army's composition changed to patriotic government employees putting in extra time off the clock to support their country. Read the rest

You can help the web be better in 2018: just ditch Facebook and use your browser instead

Foster Kamer has advice for people who want a better web in 2018: ditch Facebook and find cool stuff by checking bookmarks, visiting your favorite sites by typing their URLs in your browser bar, or searching for them on your favorite search-engine. Read the rest

Oh please let zines be the future of media!

In Nieman Labs's "predictions for journalism in 2018" roundup, there's Kawandeep Virdee’s "Zines Had It Right All Along": which celebrates the low-fi, experimental, handcrafted diversity of the golden age of zines (which was the environment that birthed Boing Boing, as it happens). Read the rest

The Australian health authority believed it had "anonymised" a data-set of patient histories, but academics were easily able to unscramble it

The Australian government's open data initiative is in the laudable business of publishing publicly accessible data about the government's actions and spending, in order to help scholars, businesses and officials understand and improve its processes. Read the rest

Motherboard announces a neutral, meshing community ISP based at Vice's Brooklyn headquarters

Motherboard -- an imprint of Vice -- has announced that it will build a community ISP branching off its Brooklyn headquarters, built on meshing wireless protocols, and connected to the internet via high-speed fiber lines terminating at a network exchange. Read the rest

You can run DSL over wet string

ADSL was a miracle when it debuted, delivering high speeds over old copper, thanks to a protocol that was so adaptable to suboptimal media that it was said it could run "over a piece of wet string." Read the rest

100 million Americans live in areas where every single ISP has admitted to violating net neutrality

Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai -- a former Verizon exec -- says that we can count on ISPs to voluntarily refrain from abusing their natural monopolies to degrade service to their customers in order to maximize their profits. Read the rest

Your inbox is full of spyware-riddled emails that are both potentially very harmful to you and also very easy to disable

It is routine for companies -- and even individuals -- to send emails with "beacons," transparent, tiny images that have to be fetched from a server. Through these beacons, companies can tell whether you've opened an email, whom you've forwarded it to, and even your location from moment to moment. Read the rest

A Chrome plugin that scrambles porn sites is a post-Net Neutrality internet simulator

Got a relative or friend who doesn't understand the stakes in the net neutrality debate? The FCC Internet Porn Scrambler will help bring the issue into focus: "all of your favorite content will be instantaneously replaced on sites like Pornhub with unwatchable scrambled video." Remember to join today's protests at a local Verizon store! Read the rest

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