On HTML5 and the Group That Rules the Web

You might have read that, on October 28th, W3C officially recommended HTML5. And you might know that this has something to do with apps and the Web. The question is: Does this concern you?

The answer, at least for citizens of the Internet, is yes: it is worth understanding both what HTML5 is and who controls the W3C. And it is worth knowing a little bit about the mysterious, conflict-driven cultural process whereby HTML5 became a “recommendation.” Billions of humans will use the Web over the next decade, yet not many of those people are in a position to define what is “the Web” and what isn’t. The W3C is in that position. So who is in this cabal? What is it up to? Who writes the checks?

via On HTML5 and the Group That Rules the Web.

Laura Poitras and Amy Goodman to Receive I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence

Filmmaker Laura Poitras is winner of the 2014 I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence, awarded each year by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard.

Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of “Democracy Now!,” also has been selected to receive a special I.F. Stone lifetime achievement award.

The two journalists will be honored at a ceremony at Harvard University on February 5, 2015.

via Laura Poitras and Amy Goodman to Receive I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence – Nieman Foundation.

Lessons on censorship from Syria’s internet filter machines

“We cannot hope to record all the possible censorship-triggering events, so our understanding of what is or isn’t acceptable to the censor will only ever be partial. And of course it’s risky, even outright illegal, to probe the censor’s limits within countries with strict censorship and surveillance programs.

This is why the leak of 600GB of logs from hardware appliances used to filter internet traffic in and out of Syria is a unique opportunity to examine the workings of a real-world internet censorship apparatus….

At the recent ACM Internet Measurement Conference we presented ou rpaper detailing the relatively stealthy but targeted censorship system that we’d found from examining the logs.

Internet traffic in Syria was filtered in several ways. IP addresses (the unique addresses of web servers on the internet) and domain names (the URL typed into the address bar) were filtered to block single websites such as badoo.com or amazon.com, entire network regions (including a few Israeli subnets), or keywords to target specific content. Instant messaging, tools such as Skype, and content-sharing sites such as Metacafe or Reddit were heavily censored. Social media censoring was limited to specific content and pages, such as the “Syrian Revolution” facebook page.”

Lessons on censorship from Syria’s internet filter machines.

Quantified Self Incrimination, or, When Fitbit Is the Expert Witness

When Fitbit Is the Expert Witness - The Atlantic

Self-tracking using a wearable device can be fascinating. It can drive you to exercise more, make you reflect on how much (or little) you sleep, and help you detect patterns in your mood over time. But something else is happening when you use a wearable device, something that is less immediately apparent: You are no longer the only source of data about yourself. The data you unconsciously produce by going about your day is being stored up over time by one or several entities. And now it could be used against you in court.

When Fitbit Is the Expert Witness – The Atlantic.

Algorithms Are Great and All, But They Can Also Ruin Lives

…Similar faults have seen voters expunged from electoral rolls without notice, small businesses labeled as ineligible for government contracts, and individuals mistakenly identified as “deadbeat” parents. In a notable example of the latter, 56-year-old mechanic Walter Vollmer was incorrectly targeted by the Federal Parent Locator Service and issued a child-support bill for the sum of $206,000. Vollmer’s wife of 32 years became suicidal in the aftermath, believing that her husband had been leading a secret life for much of their marriage.

Equally alarming is the possibility that an algorithm may falsely profile an individual as a terrorist: a fate that befalls roughly 1,500 unlucky airline travelers each week. Those fingered in the past as the result of data-matching errors include former Army majors, a four-year-old boy, and an American Airlines pilot—who was detained 80 times over the course of a single year.

Many of these problems are the result of the new roles algorithms play in law enforcement. As slashed budgets lead to increased staff cuts, automated systems have moved from simple administrative tools to become primary decision-makers.

via Algorithms Are Great and All, But They Can Also Ruin Lives | WIRED.

A look at the news and events happening in the Libraries at Waubonsee Community College