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."
…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."
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.
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.
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<
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<
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)
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<
A user called Greg Maxwell just uploaded a torrent with 18,592 scientific publications to the Pirate Bay, in what appears to be a protest directed both at the recent indictment of programmer Aaron Swartz for data theft as well as the scientific publishing model in general. All the documents of the 32-gigabyte torrent were taken from JSTOR, the academic database that’s at the center of the case against Swartz.
The torrent consists of documents from the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the copyright to which has long since expired. However, the only way to access these documents until now has been via JSTOR, as Maxwell explains in a long and eloquent text on the Pirate Bay, with individual articles costing as much as $19. “Purchasing access to this collection one article at a time would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he writes.
» via GigaOM