"democracy" entries

Four short links: 21 April 2016

Four short links: 21 April 2016

BitCoin with Identity, Hardware is Hard, Data Test Suites, and Internet Voting

  1. Bribing Miners to Regulate Bitcoin — interesting! A somewhat conspiracy-theoretical take on an MIT proposal to layer identity onto Bitcoin. Features repurposed DRM tech, no less.
  2. Tesla Model X Quality Issues (Consumer Reports) — hardware is hard.
  3. Data Proofer — open source software that’s test cases for your data, to help ensure you’re not pushing corrupt data into production.
  4. Internet Voting? Really? (YouTube) — TEDx talk by Andrew Appel comparing physical with online voting. Very easy to follow for the non-technical.


Comment: 1
Four short links: 7 March 2016

Four short links: 7 March 2016

Trajectory Data Mining, Manipulating Search Rankings, Open Source Data Exploration, and a Linter for Prose.

  1. Trajectory Data Mining: An Overview (Paper a Day) — This is the data created by a moving object, as a sequence of locations, often with uncertainty around the exact location at each point. This could be GPS trajectories created by people or vehicles, spatial trajectories obtained via cell phone tower IDs and corresponding transmission times, the moving trajectories of animals (e.g. birds) fitted with trackers, or even data concerning natural phenomena such as hurricanes and ocean currents. It turns out, there’s a lot to learn about working with such data!
  2. Search Engine Manipulation Effect (PNAS) — Internet search rankings have a significant impact on consumer choices, mainly because users trust and choose higher-ranked results more than lower-ranked results. Given the apparent power of search rankings, we asked whether they could be manipulated to alter the preferences of undecided voters in democratic elections. They could. Read the article for their methodology. (via Aeon)
  3. Keshif — open source interactive data explorer.
  4. proselint — analyse text for sins of usage and abusage.

Open data can drive partnerships with government

An exploration of themes in Joel Gurin's book Open Data Now.

As governments and businesses — and increasingly, all of us who are Internet-connected — release data out in the open, we come closer to resolving the tiresomely famous and perplexing quote from Stewart Brand: “Information wants to be free. Information also wants to be expensive.” Open data brings home to us how much free information is available and how productive it is in its free state, but one subterranean thread I found in Joel Gurin’s book Open Data Now highlights an important point: information is very expensive.

In this article, I’ll explore a few themes that piqued my interest in Gurin’s book: the value of open data, the expense it entails, the questions of how much we can use and trust it, and the role the general public and the private sector play in bringing us data’s benefits. This is not meant to be a summary or a review of Gurin’s book; it is an exploration of themes that interest me, inspired by my reading of Gurin.

Open, trustworthy, and useful

“Open data” occupies hierarchies of usefulness. One way of describing its usefulness is the structure of its presentation, as Gurin and others such as Tim Berners-Lee have pointed out. Much data is still fairly unstructured, like the reviews and social media status postings that people generate by the millions and that are funneled into eager consumption by marketing analysts. Some data is more structured, existing as tables. And finally, a tiny fragment can be reached through the RESTful APIs supported by libraries in every modern programming language. Read more…

Comment: 1
Four short links: 28 January 2013

Four short links: 28 January 2013

Informed Citizenry, TCP Chaos Monkey, Photographic Forensics, Medical Trial Data

  1. Aaron’s Army — powerful words from Carl Malamud. Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations. An army that believes we must make justice and knowledge available to all—not just the well born or those that have grabbed the reigns of power—so that we may govern ourselves more wisely.
  2. Vaurien the Chaos TCP Monkeya project at Netflix to enhance the infrastructure tolerance. The Chaos Monkey will randomly shut down some servers or block some network connections, and the system is supposed to survive to these events. It’s a way to verify the high availability and tolerance of the system. (via Pete Warden)
  3. Foto Forensics — tool which uses image processing algorithms to help you identify doctoring in images. The creator’s deconstruction of Victoria’s Secret catalogue model photos is impressive. (via Nelson Minar)
  4. All Trials Registered — Ben Goldacre steps up his campaign to ensure trial data is reported and used accurately. I’m astonished that there are people who would withhold data, obfuscate results, or opt out of the system entirely, let alone that those people would vigorously assert that they are, in fact, professional scientists.
Four short links: 24 December 2012

Four short links: 24 December 2012

Next Big Thing, Reproducibility Recognized, Watching the Watchers, and a Netsec Board Game

  1. Creating The Next Big Thing (Wired) — excellent piece showing Tim’s thinking. Apple. They’re clearly on the wrong path. They file patent suits that claim that nobody else can make a device with multitouch. But they didn’t invent multitouch. They just pushed the ball forward and applied it to the phone. Now they want to say, “OK, we got value from someone else, but it stops now.” That attitude creates lockup in the industry. And I think Apple is going to lose its mojo precisely because they try to own too much.
  2. Nature’s 10 People Who Mattered This Year (Nature) — I’m glad to see The Reproducibility Initiative recognized.
  3. Open Observatory of Network Interferenceto collect high quality data using open methodologies, using Free and Open Source Software (FL/OSS) to share observations and data about the kind, methods and amount of surveillance and censorship in the world.
  4. d0x3d — a network security board game made of win. (via Reddit)
Four short links: 27 September 2012

Four short links: 27 September 2012

Don't Pay Developers, Teaching Programming, Second Android Screens, and Democracy

  1. Paying for Developers is a Bad Idea (Charlie Kindel) — The companies that make the most profit are those who build virtuous platform cycles. There are no proof points in history of virtuous platform cycles being created when the platform provider incents developers to target the platform by paying them. Paying developers to target your platform is a sign of desperation. Doing so means developers have no skin in the game. A platform where developers do not have skin in the game is artificially propped up and will not succeed in the long run. A thesis illustrated with his experience at Microsoft.
  2. Learnable Programming (Bret Victor) — deconstructs Khan Academy’s coding learning environment, and explains Victor’s take on learning to program. A good system is designed to encourage particular ways of thinking, with all features carefully and cohesively designed around that purpose. This essay will present many features! The trick is to see through them — to see the underlying design principles that they represent, and understand how these principles enable the programmer to think. (via Layton Duncan)
  3. Tablet as External Display for Android Smartphones — new app, in beta, letting you remote-control via a tablet. (via Tab Times)
  4. Clay Shirky: How The Internet Will (One Day) Transform Government (TED Talk) — There’s no democracy worth the name that doesn’t have a transparency move, but transparency is openness in only one direction, and being given a dashboard without a steering wheel has never been the core promise a democracy makes to its citizens.
Comment: 1
Four short links: 10 February 2012

Four short links: 10 February 2012

Monki Gras Roundup, Flow Programming, Curvy Javascript Text, and Political Purchases

  1. Monki Gras 2012 (Stephen Walli) — nice roundup of highlights of the Redmonk conference in London. Sample talk: Why Most UX is Shite.
  2. Frozen — flow-based programming, intent is to build the toolbox of small pieces loosely joined by ZeroMQ for big data programming.
  3. Arctext.js — jQuery plugin for curving text on web pages. (via Javascript Weekly)
  4. Hi, My Name is Diane Feinstein (BuyTheVote) — presents the SOPA position and the entertainment industry’s campaign contributions together with a little narrative. Clever and powerful. (via BoingBoing)

Harvard's Berkman Center hosts star-studded forum on media and the "vast wasteland"

May 9, 1961 marked the first public appearance of Newt Minow as FCC
chairman, where he achieved immortality by raising the claim that
television was a "vast wasteland." The phrase entered American life so
thoroughly that citing it has become almost reflexive in media
commentary over the intervening fifty years. Last night, the Berkman
Center held a gala event re-examining media, and the main guest of
honor was…Newt Minow!

Comments: 2

Disastrous implications of new Apple patent for blocking cellphone video

Apple has patented new technology to disable cellphone video based on external signals from public venues. Now imagine if that same technology were deployed by repressive regimes.

Comments: 21

Advances, setbacks, and continuing impediments to government transparency

The good, the bad, and the edgy in open government at Computers, Freedom & Privacy.

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