Joho the BlogJanuary 2010 - Page 3 of 5 - Joho the Blog

January 19, 2010

Flash cookies know where you’ve been

I had not heard of Flash cookies until Fernando Bermejo’s Berkman talk last week. Now he’s inaugurated his new blog (well, it’s his second post) with a posting about a new study. Fernando writes:

the white paper concludes “that companies making inappropriate or irresponsible use of the Flash technology are very likely asking for trouble (and potentially putting the rest of the online industry at risk of additional government regulation)”. As for [end users], flash cookies are characterized as “super-cookies which are dramatically more resilient than cookies due to their implementation and a general lack of knowledge about their existence among consumer”.

To remove Flash cookies – which have some peacetime uses – go here.


January 18, 2010

Laughtracks are funnier when they’re not there

HuffingtonPost has a scene from Big Bang Theory with the laughtrack removed:

The stated point is that a show with the laughtrack removed is funnier, but in a different and unintended way. But, the experiment is more provocative than that. (Big Bang is filmed in front of a live audience.)

BTW, Big Bang is on our TiVo list. I sort of like it because it’s good within its genre, as opposed to, say, Two and a Half Men, which is bad within its genre, but also as opposed to, say, Frasier, which was superb within its genre, and as also opposed to, say, Seinfeld which was hilarious as a self-conscious awkward inhabitant of its genre. (Please note that these are what I find funny, not what I think you ought to find funny. Except for Two and a Half Men. Gotta draw a line somewhere :)


January 17, 2010

[2b2k] Hedgehogs and foxes

I’ve been working slowly on Chapter 2, still waiting for it to take some recognizable shape. I had a little breakthrough two days ago when I realized I could stop writing an endless exposition of how knowledge has worked — a system of stopping points for inquiry based on a system of stopping points for credentialing — and could go straight to talking about experts. So, I started a new section and have been writing about why we have taken such a sudden interest in hedgehogs vs. foxes, even though most of us don’t care about Isaiah Berlin, Archilochus, or hedgehogs and foxes, for that matter.

I also had an idea for Chapter 1. That chapter just doesn’t open in a compelling way. But I gave an impromptu-ish 15 minute talk at Lawberry Camp (an open space day for law librarians) yesterday about the origins of the data-information-knowledge-wisdom hierarchy, and why it gets knowledge so wrong. Afterwards, I thought that that might make a good opening for the Chapter. So, I’ve made a note to that effect at the beginning of the current draft, and once I have Chapter 2 under better control, I’ll take a look at the opening of Chapter 1.


Google: The cause of and solution to all life’s problems

Rebecca MacKinnon has a great post of wild-eyed common sense about Google, China, and the Net as a new global player. Summary: She’s glad to have Google on the side of an OPEN Internet, but she doesn’t want the world to be run by even a benevolent corporation. And, yes, she does note some of the ways Google has not been benevolent or OPEN.

Meanwhile, Ethan Zuckerman is speculating about why Google took its China stance when it did. The fourth possibility he lists is highly speculative and more than a little bit hopeful. But very cool.


Go meta with your Haitian people-finder via Google

From Chris Csikszentmihaly, Director of the MIT Center for Future Civic Media:


In the response to the earthquake in Haiti, many organizations worked to create sites where people could find one another, or least information about their loved ones. This excellent idea has been undermined by its success: within 24 hours it became clear that there were too many places where people were putting information, and each site is a silo. The site began scraping – mechanically aggregating – the most popular such sites, like and American Red Cross Family Links. As people within the IT community recognized the danger of too many unconnected sites, and Google became interested in helping, they turned their work over to Google which is now running an embeddable application at:

We recognize that many newspapers have put precious resources into developing a people-finder system. We nonetheless urge them to make their data available to the Google project, and standardize on the Google widget. Doing so will greatly increase the number of successful reunions. Data from the google site is currently available as dumps in the standard PFIF format on this page , and an API is being developed, and licensed through Creative Commons. I am not affiliated with Google – indeed, this is a volunteer initiative by some of their engineers – but this is one case where their reach and capacity can help the most people.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the reasoning behind this request. Any questions about the widget or its functionality or features are best directed to Google.

Christopher P. Csikszentmihalyi.
Director, MIT Center for Future Civic Media


January 16, 2010

Convert text with URLs to text with hyperlinks

Using a Javascript regex function written by Sam Hesler at StackOverflow (thanks!), I’ve posted a simple little page that lets you turn text that has URLs in it into text that has clickable, hyperlinked URLs. That is, you go from to

The page is: ConvertURLsToLinks.html. It’s quite bareboned, and I’m sure there are lots of sites that do a far better job with many more options. But, it worked well enough for the one job I wanted it for, so maybe it’ll work for you. At least it won’t destroy your original text (although keep the original just in case.)

The regex function I borrowed from Sam Hesler is:

function replaceURLWithHTMLLinks(text) {
var exp = /(b(https?|ftp|file)://[-A-Z0-9+&@#/%?=~_|!:,.;]*[-A-Z0-9+&@#/%=~_|])/ig;
return text.replace(exp,”$1“);


January 15, 2010

Berkman Buzz

Every week, the Berkman Center sends out an email rounding up some of the bloggage etc. emanating from the Center. Here’s this week’s (with my own mention removed). You can sign up for this weekly send here. (And I apologize if the formatting is screwed up; I’m not sure why there are double spaces where I put a single line break.)


“Google announced today that it would cease (well, phase out) censoring the results in, the Chinese-language version of its famed search engine. It’s a pretty stunning move, both in its fact and in its execution. First, the announcement of “A new approach to China” may appear to have buried the lede. The lion’s share of the post is devoted to describing a series of coordinated attacks on the accounts of human rights activists, including those who use Google. It includes a link to the amazing story of GhostNet, discovered by fellow ONI researchers when the Dalai Lama gave them his oddly-acting laptop to examine.”

From Jonathan Zittrain’s blog post “Google takes on China”

About Jonathan Zittrain:

“Herdict is pleased to announce two additional language interfaces: Persian ( and Russian ( Our hope is by adding additional languages, we’ll continue to expand the herd. And, since Herdict relies on you, the herd, to get the upto the moment information on internet filtering, the bigger the herd, the better the data. Have ideas on what other languages we should add? What about other new features?”

From the Herdict project blog post, “Herdict welcomes two new languages to the flock”

About Herdict:

“Zuckerberg says that people are more comfortable sharing and being open than they used to be, and Facebook is just catching up with where society has already gone. Of course this is nonsensical reasoning, unworthy of someone who took a course in computational theory from me (yes, he did).”

From Harry Lewis blog post “Zuckerberg to the World: Privacy? Forget About It”

About Harry Lewis:

“There are a couple of laws in California that the U.S. Supreme Court should consider before it announces tomorrow whether or not the Proposition 8 trial can be broadcast on YouTube: § 240 and § 422. These two laws don’t address same-sex marriage, discrimination, or even access to courts, as you may have expected. Instead, these sections of the California Penal Code make it a crime to either assault or threaten to use violence against another person.”

From Justin Silverman’s blog post for the CMLP, “Will This Revolution Be YouTubed?”

About the Citizen Media Law Project:

“The Internet is free and open infrastructure that provides almost unlimited support for free speech, free enterprise and free assembly. Nothing in human history, with the possible exception of movable type — has done more to encourage all those freedoms. We need to be very careful about how we regulate it, especially since it bears only superficial resemblances to the many well-regulated forms of infrastructure it alters or subsumes.”

From Doc Searls’ blog post “The Net: Free infrastructure for speech, enterprise and assembly”

About Doc Searls:

“So, why do companies behave like this? Why do they act on the Web in ways that nobody would act in person, whether at a party or even in the privacy of, say, a doctor’s office? The answer is that the Web isn’t human. At least not yet. You are not a human being on the Web. In fact, as Paul Trevithick put it (at one of our first VRM meetings at the Berkman Center), the Web has no concept of a human being.”

From Doc Searls’ blog post for ProjectVRM, “Where Markets are Not Conversations”

About ProjectVRM:

“At the forefront of the security on the Internet, there lies the security problem of identity. How can internet users maintain their right to privacy while at the same time securing identity information when necessary? IP addresses are the means by which information is passed from one destination to another online, and play a role in identity online. Given the number of IP addresses available in its current iteration IPv4 and the increasing number of devices that utilize IP addresses, the urgency for a new solution is becoming apparent.”

From Dharmishta Rood’s blog post for Difficult Problems in Cyberlaw, “Cybersecurity: solutions that provoke questions”

About Difficult Problems in Cyberlaw:

“Hosting an international event – a conference, a sporting event – is a classic strategy for rebranding a troubled nation. Concerned that your rigged elections and abysmal human rights record makes you look a little backwards? Host an international meeting on information technology to prove you’re firmly rooted in the 21st century. (Yeah, that went well.) Concerned that you’re better known for violent civil war and land mines than for your booming oil industry and bustling capital? Host the Africa Cup of Nations!”

From Ethan Zuckerman’s blog post “What happens in Cabinda doesn’t stay in Cabinda”

About Ethan Zuckerkman:

“Wednesday January 13th: The day after the terrible 7.0 earthquake which has left Haiti in an undefinable situation, Radio Kiskeya announces the persistence of the communication challenges [Fr] the island is facing: ‘…No radio nor TV station is available in Haiti this morning. Radio Kiskeya’s office has suffered damages. The telephone network is out of order.’ However, the Haitian blog from Le Cap Haitien, le Réseau Citadelle has been able to publish news as early as Tuesday 12th, when the disaster happened.”

From Fabienne Flessel’s blog post for Global Voices, “Haiti: Le Cap Haitien sends some news”

About Global Voices Online:

More Berkman Center community reactions to Google’s announcement about its Chinese search engine:

* Difficult Problems in Cyberlaw, “#GoogleCN news roundup”:

* Internet & Democracy, “Google Threatens to Pull Out of China, Cites Censorship and Cyberattacks”:

* Harry Lewis, “Google: We’re Re-Thinking China”: and “Vaidhyanathan on China”:

* OpenNet Initiative, “Google’s China Decision Could Have Far-Reaching Implications”:

* Ethan Zuckerman, “Four possible explanations for Google’s big China move”:

* StopBadware, “Google’s new stance on China raises interesting badware questions”:

* Donnie Dong, “Google’s Angry, Sacrifice and the Accelerated Splitting Internet”:

* Global Voices Online, “China: Google’s possible exile leads to cyber protests; Netizens on move”:

* Rebecca MacKinnon, “Google puts its foot down.”:


FCC workshop on why maybe an open Internet isn’t such a bad idea

The next FCC workshop is on “Consumers, Transparency and the Open Internet.” It’s is in DC on Tuesday. It should be interesting…

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[moi] BoingBoing likes [email protected]

I was both surprised and delighted — and how often do those things go together? — to see that Cory Doctorow reviewed the 10th Anniversary edition of cluetrain at BoingBoing. Thanks, Cory!

(Sorry for the self-promotion, but, as you may recall, being a bigger a-hole was the only resolution on my New Year’s list.)

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National broadband strategy delayed one month

I just found out that last week or so, the national broadband strategy’s deadline was postponed by Congress from Feb. 17 to Mar. 17. According to Phil Bellaria, Scenario Planning Director, this will enable the team to circulate the report within the FCC for additional comment and polishing. (I just interviewed Phil for BroadbandStrategyWeek, but it’ll take a few days to post the video.)

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