Joho the BlogDecember 2010 - Page 2 of 4 - Joho the Blog

December 20, 2010

Effect of DDoS on human rights

Ethan Zuckerman has an excellent post about the new Berkman report on the use of Distributed Denial of Service attacks to silence human rights groups

Here’s an abbreviation of Ethan’s summary of the “take-aways”:

  • DDoS is a pretty common form of attack against human rights and independent media sites, and the volume of attacks does not appear to be slowing.

  • DDoS doesn’t usually affect independent media and human rights organizations in isolation.

  • Attacks don’t need massive amounts of bandwidth to adversely affect sites.

  • For many organizations, DDoS can be a crippling attack, making sites inaccessible for long periods of time..

  • We see no silver bullets for the independent media and human rights community.

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Support Creative Commons

Creative Commons is good for the ecology. It makes it easier for creators to let people use their work without having to worry about a copyright goon squad showing up with truncheons…all within the copyright framework. CC needs some money. Now would be an extraordinarily good time to donate, what with the tax clock clicking both in the CC offices and in yours.

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December 18, 2010

David Reed on the neutrality of the Net’s code

Barbara van Schewick has posted two brilliant posts (1 2) about the practical effects removing Net neutrality would have on innovation. Now David Reed, one of the authors of the original argument for the Net’s neutral architecture, has responded, in agreement, but with a shading of emphasis.

David’s point (as I understand it) is that we should remember that Net neutrality isn’t something that we need the law to impose upon the Net. Rather, the Net was architected from the beginning to be neutral. The Internet as a protocol explicitly is designed to move packets of bits from source to destination without knowing what information they contain, what type of application they support, or who created them. All packets move equally in those regards.

So, David asks, “[W]hat do we need from the ‘law’ when the ‘code’ was designed to do most of the job?” After all, he writes, “merely requiring those who offer Internet service to implement the Internet design as it was intended – without trying to assign meaning to the data content of the packets – would automatically be application agnostic.”

In particular: We don’t need a complex rule defining “applications” in order to implement an application agnostic Internet. We have the basis of that rule – it’s in the “code” of the Internet. What we need from the “law” is merely a rule that says a network operator is not supposed to make routing decisions, packet delivery decisions, etc. based on contents of the packet.

David along with Barbara disputes the claim that the need to manage traffic to avoid congestion justifies application-specific discrimination. The Net, David says, was built with traffic management in mind:

… network congestion control is managed by having the routers merely detect and signal the existence of congestion back to the edges of the network, where the sources can decide to re-route traffic and the traffic engineers can decide to modify the network’s hardware connectivity. This decision means that the only function needed in the network transport itself is application-agnostic – congestion detection and signalling.

So, the only law we need, David is saying, is that which lets the Net be the Net.

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[berkman] Weekly Berkman Buzz

The weekly Berkman Buzz, as compiled by Rebekah Heacock:

  • Joseph Reagle analyzes Wikipedia’s first six weeks:
    link

  • Harry Lewis explains that the Fourth Amendment now applies to email:
    link

  • John Palfrey downloads his first book-as-iPad app:
    link

  • Creative Commons celebrates its birthday with videos (CC-licensed, of course):
    link

  • Weekly Global Voices: “@MedvedevRussia, Are You Listening? A Story of 6 Months on Twitter”
    link

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December 17, 2010

The Annals of Searching: Cluetrain circa 1505

Confine your search at Google Books for only the 19th century Cluetrain references, and you get four hits. In fact, the earliest reference to Cluetrain indexed by Google Books was in the 1505 business best-seller Extravagantes com[m]unes, in which appears the sentence “Markets are conversations…with that lying bastard Roger the Offal Merchant.”

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Podcast with Kevin Kelly that doesn’t worry about whether technology can want anything

I really enjoyed interviewing Kevin Kelly for this Radio Berkman podcast. (Well, who wouldn’t!) Kevin’s book, What Technology Wants, is quite remarkable. Kevin is attempting to reframe our way of understanding life, the universe, and all its little details.

I was especially proud that we made it through without talking about whether technology can really be said to want anything. That’s not what really is at stake in the book.

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December 16, 2010

[2b2k] ExpertNet for OpenGov

From the ExpertNet site:

The United States General Services Administration (GSA) and the White House Open Government Initiative are soliciting your feedback on a concept for next generation citizen consultation, namely a government-wide software tool and process to elicit expert public participation (working title “ExpertNet”). ExpertNet could:

Enable government officials to circulate notice of opportunities to participate in public consultations to members of the public with expertise on a topic.

Provide those volunteer experts with a mechanism to provide useful, relevant, and manageable feedback back to government officials.
The proposed concept is intended to be complementary to two of the ways the Federal government currently obtains expertise to inform decision-making, namely by convening Federal Advisory Committees and announcing public comment opportunities in the Federal Register.

Take a look at the example in the editable part of the wiki. (And, yes, I did say that parts of the wiki are editable. Thank you for trusting us, my government!)

The only thing I object to in this brilliant idea is that it comes too late for inclusion as an example in my book. Why, those dirty government dogs!

(via Craig Newmark)

1 Comment »

December 15, 2010

Face of the Year

Time Magazine’s choice of Person of the Year is meaningless as data, but meaningful as metadata. Picking one person as the most influential in a year is almost always just silly. No one takes it seriously except as a signifier of broader cultural currents.

This year it’s Mark Zuckerberg. That seems to me to be one of the many reasonable choices Time could have made. But I have two meta-comments.

1. I’m glad that Time took MZ over Julian Assange. Facebook is truly influential and important. WikiLeak’s importance is primarily symbolic, and it has been given that symbolic importance mainly by forces that want to use it as justification for killing what they don’t like about the Internet — its openness, its bottom-uppity character, its distrust of extrinsic controls…in other words, all that makes it the Internet.

2. The contrast the Time article draws between MZ and the portrait of him in The Social Network (a movie I did not care for) will, I hope, hurt the movie’s chances at the Oscars. It makes vandalism of Wikipedia’s biographies of living people look bush league.

(Lev Grossman’s cover story about MZ for Time is well worth reading.)

6 Comments »

December 14, 2010

You’ve been served, Chanukah style!

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[berkman] Wayne Marshall on brave new world music

[Two days later: Ethan Zuckerman liveblogged this better than I. Get thee hence. Also, check Jillian York‘s comments.]

Wayner Marshall, an ethno-musicologist at MIT (and of wayneandwax) is giving a lunchtime talk at the Berkman Center. He’s talking about the “unstable platforms and uneasy peers of brave new world music.” Music can tell us a great deal about politics and culture, he says. We can see the fault lines in public culture as it appears on the Web. The aesthetic qualities of works bear traces of the technology by which they’re made.

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

The ability to publish to a near limitless audience with production-grade tools has created a brave new world. The watermarking (“remove this stamp by paying”) of some of these works, and the maintaining of these watermarks rather than removing them, ( bears witness to a change in attitudes and culture. He points to a YouTube video titled “Marvel Inc Jerkin in Hollywood,” which uses a brand name, and includes more in the tags. It’s aimed at their peers but is posted in a public site. It’s got a visible watermark in the middle. Wayne then points to the audible watermarks in a jerking track (Fly Kidd – Buckle My Shoe) — every 15 seconds a voice interrupts it. But first we have to listen to an ad to see the video. These are the compromises we’ve made to create public music.

He talks about the New Boyz who created a video using FrootyLoops, posted it, and found other videos of people dancing to their song. Their song became so popular that the New Boyz got signed and produced an official version of their video, far slicker. (Jerkin kids foreground their embrace of technology. Plus they project skateboard culture, skinny jeans, etc. There are arguments about whether they’re violating black masculinity, Wayne says.) Once the professional version came out, YouTube started finding the videos using the soundtrack, so the video creators began began swapping out the audio for other tracks. (In a discussion we learn that Amazon lets music owners register their tracks, triggering a takedown notice or an offer to post a link to a buy link if someone uploads a video that uses the registered track.)

Wayne points to the Jamglue site where users could mix tracks. It’s now shuttered.

Now he switches to “uneasy peers.” Videos and music obviously travel much more easily than before; he shows a Panamanian video that reproduces the original New Boyz vid quite closely, with a new rap over the beat. “They’ve inserted themselves into jerk culture.” This is the music of a brave new world, he says. But it also becomes a new world music. E.g., blogs follow the global spread of music and dance: ghettobassquake. We’re seeing a reimagining of what world music is about: Not so much about West vs. the Rest, but a local dance style (jerkin) circulates throughout the world, peer to peer.

We’re seeing many problems on the platforms that we consider to be part of public culture, e.g., YouTube. Are there other ways to go about it. It’s important to teach new media literacies, but they only go so far. Maybe there are more design and architectural issues to think about.

Q: Are the dispays of cellphones in the vids a sign of new media literacy or just a sign of status or of sociality?
A: I wouldn’t disagree. I don’t want to be too optimistic about the technical savvy. They have certain literacies, but there are other issues.

Q: Maybe people use the audible watermark as a part of the music or culture. Maybe it’s part of the style.
A: Interesting thesis. I haven’t heard people bragging about their watermarks.
Q: They used to blur commercial logos…
A: That was because MTV didn’t want to give away free ads.

Q: As recently as 5 yrs ago, it was pretty much impossible to have access to these productions without access to an underground trading network. Is there no more underground or margin?
A: Those boundaries between underground and mainstream have of course been increasingly blurred. It’s not so much new as easier to do.
Q: Are there some people who are avoiding the public platforms because they want to keep it outside the public?
A: Undoubtedly, although I have not encountered much of it. More often it is being done for friends and just happens to be public.

Q: What sort of architectures ought we be to looking at?
A: The public platforms make the works vulnerable. After the Great Blogocide of ’10, many of the music blogs switched to WordPress. We could use ways to host your own music, for example.

Q: What terminology are you comfortable with?
A: “World music” too often implies non-Western vs. the West, with the West being the real music. [I missed some of this]

Q: Do you think there’s a new kind of underground forming — mainstream platforms vs. underground platforms? Non-US platforms?
A: Yes. Dailymotion in the francophone world, or SkyRock. In Latin America, fotolog is a popular way. 4Share. And more dark net places.

Q: Should the record labels be using you as a consultant?
A: I don’t know what will save the labels.

Q: What are the ethnographers responsibility to the artist if the music makes no copyright statement?
A: As a researcher, I have fair use rights. My masters thesis was about sample-based production and the litigation around it, I refused to identify which music I was talking about. Now, when I blog about a video I know I may be bringing an unwelcome audience to it. It’s an interesting question.

Q: Is the New Boyz story a success story for them and their label? If so, what’s the harm?
A: They’ve had two big hits. But some of the videos that helped elevate them are disappearing because of copyright claims. But I don’t see any chilling effect here: The vid disappears but that was last week anyway. And, of the three groups mentioned in the NYT as signed by Warner Brothers (proof of it going semi-mainstream), Wayne says he’s heard nothing from them since.

Q: You said we may be at the end of the W vs. the Rest or North vs. South paradigm. But, as ___ said, there are four outcomes when cultures map: One dominates. War. Fusion. Thanks but carry on. You’re talking about fusion, but in all the videos we’ve seen, the kids are wearing NY caps, t-shirts, etc. It’s as if they’re saying they’re as NY or LA as the rest of you. Have we hit the point where the remix impacts outside the ethnic community or specific music community? Are we seeing that cross-over?
A: Yes. And we have to look at how the local audience views the performance. Often there’s contentious conversation about the local group aping US culture. OTOH, I look at it and do not see homogenization. It’s locally accented. And the best example of this bleeding out of local communities is MIA, who’s won a Grammy and is frequently sampled; she’s one of these uneasy peers, who’ll issue a CD that nods to local genres but has the attention of the national media.

Q: Has the circle turned? At PlayingForChange, people around the world can play music today. Do the New Boyz look at what the Dominican boys do and want to work with them? Are we getting actual collaboration?
A: Yes, to some extent. That’s burgeoning. More of these videos are echoes. Wayne points to Lil B.

Q: What propagates this music style? The music? The dancing?
A: Hmm. Hard to know. The fact that it’s dance music helps.

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