A dovetail joint of news, art, science, politics, philosophy & global affairs

Grasping the currency true to our time

"Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει"










April 6th
1:38 AM
"The multitude has suddenly become visible, installing itself in the preferential positions of society. Before, if it existed, it passed unnoticed, occupying the background of the social stage; now it has advanced to the floodlights and is the principle character. There are no longer protagonists; there is only the chorus."
—  Ortega y Gasset, Revolt of the Masses
July 19th
1:05 PM
Via
acalc:

The creepy, long-standing practice of undersea cable tapping - The newest NSA leaks reveal that governments are probing “the Internet’s backbone.” How does that work?

More than 550,000 miles of flexible undersea cables about the size of garden watering hoses carry all the world’s emails, searches, and tweets. Together, they shoot the equivalent of several hundred Libraries of Congress worth of information back and forth every day.
In 2005, the Associated Press reported that a submarine called the USS Jimmy Carter had been repurposed to carry crews of technicians to the bottom of the sea so they could tap fiber optic lines. The easiest place to get into the cables is at the regeneration points — spots where their signals are amplified and pushed forward on their long, circuitous journeys. “At these spots, the fiber optics can be more easily tapped, because they are no longer bundled together, rather laid out individually,” Deutsche Welle reported.
But such aquatic endeavors may no longer even be necessary. The cables make landfall at coastal stations in various countries, where their data is sent on to domestic networks, and it’s easier to tap them on land than underwater. Britain is, geographically, in an ideal position to access to cables as they emerge from the Atlantic, so the cooperation between the NSA and GCHQ has been key. Beyond that partnership, there are the other members of the “Five Eyes” — the Australians, the New Zealanders, and the Canadians — that also collaborate with the U.S., Snowden said.

acalc:

The creepy, long-standing practice of undersea cable tapping - The newest NSA leaks reveal that governments are probing “the Internet’s backbone.” How does that work?

More than 550,000 miles of flexible undersea cables about the size of garden watering hoses carry all the world’s emails, searches, and tweets. Together, they shoot the equivalent of several hundred Libraries of Congress worth of information back and forth every day.

In 2005, the Associated Press reported that a submarine called the USS Jimmy Carter had been repurposed to carry crews of technicians to the bottom of the sea so they could tap fiber optic lines. The easiest place to get into the cables is at the regeneration points — spots where their signals are amplified and pushed forward on their long, circuitous journeys. “At these spots, the fiber optics can be more easily tapped, because they are no longer bundled together, rather laid out individually,” Deutsche Welle reported.

But such aquatic endeavors may no longer even be necessary. The cables make landfall at coastal stations in various countries, where their data is sent on to domestic networks, and it’s easier to tap them on land than underwater. Britain is, geographically, in an ideal position to access to cables as they emerge from the Atlantic, so the cooperation between the NSA and GCHQ has been key. Beyond that partnership, there are the other members of the “Five Eyes” — the Australians, the New Zealanders, and the Canadians — that also collaborate with the U.S., Snowden said.

March 28th
10:01 AM
"It’s as if we’re in a prison, writing long scrolls about our lives and sharing them with each other, staring outside at a fluid world where a small handful of people are free to live without digital chains.

And it’s Facebook who is walking up and down the halls of this prison, keys jangling from their belt, a swing in their step, whistling a happy tune. Facebook guards a prison which contains inmates that don’t even know they’ve been incarcerated. Inmates that want to be there. A voluntarily lock-up."
—  ziahassan, "I should probably quit Facebook"
February 28th
6:06 PM
"On the internet (and you know, in real life, too) ”Marxism” is an easy way for lots of dudes—white dudes usually—to feel righteous and like they’re fighting the fight, so hey when can I pick up my Get Out Of Privilege Free card because I read What Is To Be Done and Adorno, I’m ready to rumble! Not that Adorno is Leninist or whatever, but I think white male undergrads’ theory…and [the] It’s All About The Class Struggle “dialectical materialism” (not to say this is what dialectical materialism is or says but to say it’s what it gets used to defend) come from the same profound willingness to perceive oneself as somehow important and as a defense mechanism to avoid having to deal with the anxiety of structurally never not being racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. etc. by virtue of being straight and white and male.

…I have a really deep suspicion of people who absent themselves from the structures they want to critique as though reblogging Lenin quotes has magically exempt you from being inflected in a web of relations of force."
February 19th
10:06 PM
"A good account of the Internet would never need to mention that dreadful word at all. This stringent requirement might uproot most of our Internet thinkers from the plateau of banal and erroneous generalizations where they have resided for the last two decades; after all, it is the very notion of “the Internet” that has allowed them to stay there for so long. Now that Internet-centrism is not just a style of thought but also an excuse for a naïve and damaging political ideology, the costs of letting its corrosive influence go unnoticed have become too high."
—  Evgeny Morozov  |  Why Social Movements Should Ignore Social Media, a book review of Steven Johnson’s “Future Perfect:
 The Case for Progress in a Networked Age”
January 14th
2:19 PM
Via
revkin:

Fresh @nytimes look at issues raised by information-is-free guru @AaronSW, now dead, who famously wrote: 
“It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.” (photo by Francis McElroy/The New York Times)

revkin:

Fresh @nytimes look at issues raised by information-is-free guru @AaronSW, now dead, who famously wrote:

“It’s called stealing or piracy, as if sharing a wealth of knowledge were the moral equivalent of plundering a ship and murdering its crew. But sharing isn’t immoral — it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let a friend make a copy.” (photo by Francis McElroy/The New York Times)

10:09 AM
Via

Continuations: Aaron Swartz

continuations:

The Internet changes everything. Aaron Swartz knew and embraced that at an age when most of us think that the biggest problem we are facing is this week’s home work assignment. For the first time in human history we can connect to each other independent of where or who we are. We have at our disposal the ability to collaborate on ideas globally and advance knowledge and society. Aaron lived a life committed to furthering and protecting that newfound capability.

In the process he sometimes pushed boundaries as when he retrieved about 20% of the PACER database of public information. His download of a large number of papers from JSTOR set off a super aggressive prosecution that went far beyond anything possibly appropriate for what he had done. Larry Lessig who was involved in Aaron’s defense best describes the prosecutorial overreaching and bullying. Alex Stamos, who was to be an expert witness in Aaron’s impending trial, provides a more detailed technical perspective that also makes clear that the government’s reaction was completely out of proportion.

One thing that the Internet has unfortunately not yet changed is how depression can brutally disconnect us from the love that is all around us. And there can be no doubt that there was a lot of love in Aaron’s life. Just read the incredibly moving piece by Quinn Norton or the many quotes on the Remember Aaron Swartz site. Having experienced this impenetrable disconnect first hand in the case of a close relative my heart goes out to Aaron’s friends and family.

We will best honor Aaron’s memory by renewing our own dedication to protecting the ability to connect freely. Thanks to Brewster Kahle’s tribute to Aaron, I found this wonderful video which is highly worth watching.

»Vid of Aaron Swartz«

At about 20 minutes in, Aaron provides this important call to vigilance: “Make no mistake. The enemies of the freedom to connect have not disappeared.” I look forward to many collaborations to come that will heed Aaron’s call and help protect and further this freedom.

May 9th
12:16 PM

Everything you know about Anonymous is wrong

Gabriella Coleman »

By painting Anonymous as so inchoate we not only empirically misrepresent them; we drift inevitably into hyperbole, exaggerating the extent to which people find them threatening, adding to the air of mystery surrounding hackers who fly under that banner, feeding into the hysteria that law enforcement (and the defence contractors selling security and “anti-hacker solutions”) self-consciously seek to cultivate….

The more immediate danger in portraying Anonymous as a diabolical, nebulous hydra is that fallacious arguments such as this will only serve to strengthen the arguments of those who seek stiffer legal penalties against protest activity. Alternatively, we could face the current, depressing realities of the state of surveillance - and the surveillance state - and inspire individuals to join the fight against efforts to undermine individual freedoms, while we still can.  >continue<

February 15th
9:15 AM
Crypto shocker: four of every 1,000 public keys provide no securityDan Goodin | arstechnica&#160;&#187;

An astonishing four out of every 1,000 public keys protecting  webmail, online banking, and other sensitive online services provide no  cryptographic security, a team of mathematicians has found. The research  is the latest to reveal limitations in the tech used by more than a  million Internet sites to prevent eavesdropping.
The finding, reported in a paper (PDF) to be presented at a cryptography conference in August, is based on the  analysis of some 7.1 million 1024-bit RSA keys published online&#8230;
The research is the latest to show the limitations of cryptographic  systems that websites use to secure communications.  In September,  researchers unveiled an attack that silently decoded encrypted traffic as it passed between SSL-protected websites and a Web browser. Over the  past few years, the much more standard way of defeating SSL has been to  compromise one of the 600 or so entities authorized to mint certificates that are trusted by Firefox and other standard browsers. Given the  success and ease of that method, the techniques laid out in the research  paper would likely not be an attacker&#8217;s first choice of exploitation.
It remains unclear exactly what is causing large clusters of keys to use duplicated factors.  &gt;continue&lt;

image: John Kennerly

Crypto shocker: four of every 1,000 public keys provide no security
Dan Goodin | arstechnica »

An astonishing four out of every 1,000 public keys protecting webmail, online banking, and other sensitive online services provide no cryptographic security, a team of mathematicians has found. The research is the latest to reveal limitations in the tech used by more than a million Internet sites to prevent eavesdropping.

The finding, reported in a paper (PDF) to be presented at a cryptography conference in August, is based on the analysis of some 7.1 million 1024-bit RSA keys published online…

The research is the latest to show the limitations of cryptographic systems that websites use to secure communications. In September, researchers unveiled an attack that silently decoded encrypted traffic as it passed between SSL-protected websites and a Web browser. Over the past few years, the much more standard way of defeating SSL has been to compromise one of the 600 or so entities authorized to mint certificates that are trusted by Firefox and other standard browsers. Given the success and ease of that method, the techniques laid out in the research paper would likely not be an attacker’s first choice of exploitation.

It remains unclear exactly what is causing large clusters of keys to use duplicated factors.  >continue<

image: John Kennerly

January 24th
5:49 PM

Europe Weighs Tough Law on Online Privacy

Europe is considering a sweeping new law that would force Internet companies like Amazon.com and Facebook to obtain explicit consent from consumers about the use of their personal data, delete that data forever at the consumer’s request and face fines for failing to comply.

The proposed data protection regulation from the European Commission, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, could have significant consequences for all Internet companies that trade in personal data… >continue<

January 16th
1:23 PM
Via

Gluttony Goes Viral

infoneer-pulse:

When we try to hold the Internet in a single thought, we reach for an image of exhilaration, of liberation, of flight: “the Information Superhighway”; “surfing the Web”; data zipping through candy-colored cables straight into our homes. This is the Internet as it, in theory, ought to be: the world’s information and entertainment instantly accessible, and we at our screens, poised, enthralled, and weightless.

I want to suggest another image, one that comes closer to the Internet in practice: a great groaning table, creaking under bottomless platters of food and pitchers of drink, and we in our chairs, too exhausted to stand, mouths too numb to taste much, but with just enough energy to reach for more.

Few of those who identify with this image of information numbness are Luddites—in fact, they’re often the most immersed. A recent college graduate likened life online to “being demoted from the category of thinking, caring human to a sort of rat that doesn’t know why he needs to tap that button, just that he does.” An information-management expert advises her overwhelmed clients to stop “passively ingesting the flow.” A Newsweek report on the Internet and decision-making warns that “trying to drink from a fire hose of information has harmful cognitive effects.”

» via The Chronicle of Higher Education (Subscription may be required for some content)

November 24th
12:16 PM
"Shame on me. I, and not only me, always thought, in modern history Chinese people are like a dish of sand, never really close together. But today I think a dish of sand is a good metaphor because now we have the Internet. We don’t have to be physically united. You can be an individual and have your own set of values but join others in certain struggles. There is nothing more powerful than that. On the Internet, people do not know each other, they don’t have common leaders, sometimes not even a common political goal. But they come together on certain issues. I think that is a miracle. It never happened in the past. Without the Internet, I would not even be Ai Weiwei today. I would just be an artist somewhere doing my shows."
—  Ai Weiwei, answering Der Spiegel’s question: “Did you underestimate the Chinese people?”
September 20th
12:29 PM
Via

Hackers break SSL encryption used by millions of sites • The Register

“BEAST is like a cryptographic Trojan horse – an attacker slips a bit of JavaScript into your browser, and the JavaScript collaborates with a network sniffer to undermine your HTTPS connection,” Trevor Perrin, an independent security researcher… >continue<

September 19th
9:55 AM
Germany&#8217;s Pirate Party Celebrates Historic Victory

Once the Greens were Germany&#8217;s political rebels. But on Sunday they lost their title to the Pirate Party, which won seats in a regional government for the first time. The success of their data-driven message took even the party itself by surprise.
&#8230;founded in 2006 on a civil liberties platform that focused on Internet  freedoms &#8212; was sensational. Not only will the Pirate Party enter a  regional government for the first time, but its  results far outpaced the five percent hurdle needed for parliamentary representation.
The party focuses not only on classic themes like direct democracy,  transparency and online data protection, but also on demands that would  be unthinkable to traditional politicians. The party wants to see the  introduction of an unconditional basic income, for example, and the  legalization of soft drugs.  &gt;continue&lt;

Meanwhile, the Free Democrats &#8220;imploded&#8221;. The demise of the CDU coalition partner presents a major risk to Angela Merkel&#8217;s euro rescue.

Germany’s Pirate Party Celebrates Historic Victory

Once the Greens were Germany’s political rebels. But on Sunday they lost their title to the Pirate Party, which won seats in a regional government for the first time. The success of their data-driven message took even the party itself by surprise.

…founded in 2006 on a civil liberties platform that focused on Internet freedoms — was sensational. Not only will the Pirate Party enter a regional government for the first time, but its results far outpaced the five percent hurdle needed for parliamentary representation.

The party focuses not only on classic themes like direct democracy, transparency and online data protection, but also on demands that would be unthinkable to traditional politicians. The party wants to see the introduction of an unconditional basic income, for example, and the legalization of soft drugs.  >continue<

Meanwhile, the Free Democrats “imploded”. The demise of the CDU coalition partner presents a major risk to Angela Merkel’s euro rescue.

September 1st
12:57 PM

Zenga Zenga Experiment Confirms Internet 'Game Changer'

A great read regarding the origin of the viral Zenga Zenga video. Noy Alooshe recounts wanting to test reports about internet driven dimensions in the “Arab Spring”. He was surprised at the results, which eventually even included residents of Tripoli greeting advancing rebels singing “zenga zenga”. Another interesting upshot:

“In Israel, the Arab Spring was depicted as a revolution doomed to be taken over by extremists such as the Muslim Brotherhood. But then I suddenly saw a totally different picture – one of people who are just like me.

All these years we were told [in Israel] that there are these enemy countries whose citizens hate us. And then you get to talk to people from Saudi Arabia and Iran and other Muslim countries and you simply grasp that it’s nothing like what we were told of all those years.”  >continue<