TagMediapunk

The State Of Leak Sites

From Ars Technica:

WikiLeaks remains under a near financial blockade, its founder under effective house arrest after having been granted asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The group has yet to release anything as substantial as last year’s “Detainee Policies”—Balkanleaks remains one of the few “leaking sites” still going strong. Its recent insurance-key move comes precisely out of the WikiLeaks playbook.

More than two years ago, a flurry of new WikiLeaks clones sprung up around the world inspired by the world’s most famous transparency-driven organization. They had all kinds of names: QuebecLeaks, BaltiLeaks, EnviroLeaks, and more. PirateLeaks (based in the Czech Republic), BrusselsLeaks (Belgium) and RuLeaks (Russia) all did not respond to Ars’ requests for comments. [...]

So how does Balkanleaks thrive where others haven’t?

Tchobanov, the site’s co-founder, boils it down to one word: Tor. It’s the open-source online anonymizing tool that’s become the de facto gold standard for hiding one’s tracks online. Balkanleaks provides instructions in Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian, and English, and the submission website is only available on its Tor-enabled server.

Full Story: Ars Technica Whither whistleblowing: Where have all the leaking sites gone?

The article goes on to detail the state of some other projects, including OpenLeaks and GlobalLeaks.

Brace Yourselves, Drone Journalism Is Coming

An aerial drone hovers in the air

Commercial airspace laws are holding back drone journalism, but it’s coming:

The benefits for journalists are evident too, especially for those who are in the field, like many science journalists. Journalists can use drones to report on disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires. Having an above-the-ground view may give journalists a better perspective of the extent of a disaster. By making use of sensors attached to drones, journalists can measure numerous parameters such as radiation levels in inaccessible areas. An environment journalist may also be keen to use drones to collect specimen such as polluted water samples while an exploring nature journalist can use them as communication relays so that they can touch base when reporting from remote areas.

Drone journalism appears to make so much sense that two universities in the US have already incorporated drone use in their journalism programs. The Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska and the Missouri Drone Journalism Program at the University of Missouri both teach journalism students how to make the most of what drones have to offer when reporting a story. They also teach students how to fly drones, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and ethics.

Full Story: Scientific American: Brace Yourselves, Drone Journalism Is Coming

It’s Time To Take Back The Net Misogynist Trolls

Laurie Penny writes:

The attacks on Mary Beard, however, have focused public attention on just how viciously misogynist the internet is getting right now – particularly British-based sites, and particularly to women who are in any way active in public life. It doesn’t matter if we’re right-wing or left-wing, explicitly political or cheerily academic, like Beard. It doesn’t matter if we’re young or old, classically attractive or proudly ungroomed, writers or politicians or comedians or bloggers or simply women daring to voice our opinions on Twitter. Any woman active online runs the risk of attracting these kinds of frantic hate-jerkers, or worse. I’m not the only person who has had stalkers hunting for her address, and last week I needed a security detail after several anonymous trolls threatened to turn up to a public lecture I was giving. I could go on.

It’d be nice to think that the rot of rank misogyny was confined to fringe sites populated by lunatics. Unfortunately, not only are men like White clearly at least minimally sane enough to hold down desk-jobs, their school of misogyny has become an everyday feature of political conversation online, particularly in the UK.

Full Story: The New Statesmen: Take Back The Net: it’s time to end the culture of online misogyny

I think if anything Penny understates the issue — and certainly it’s not just the UK. Misogynist trolls are the reason I turned on comment moderation here at Technoccult. Every post that mentions women’s issues or focuses on a woman gets drive-by hate-spam. This thing sort of thing has been happening for a long time — remember what happened to Kathy Sierra — but it seems to have gotten much worse in the past year or so. There are apparently people out there who monitor the web for mentions of feminism so they can swoop in and post this sort of bile. I’m guessing the rise corresponds to the harassment of Anita Sarkeesian.

Another point from Penny:

These people talk unironically of their right to free expression whilst doing everything in their power to hurt, humiliate and silence any woman with a voice or a platform, screeching abuse at us until we back down or shut up. They speak of censorship but say nothing of the silencing in which they are engaged. I have even been told, with apparent sincerity, that using the ‘block’ button on Twitter to prevent anybody who has posted threats of violence against me is actually an attack on the troll’s freedom of speech – no apparent distinction being made between the right to express your views and the right to have your ugliest half-thoughts paid attention to.

That opens up a whole ‘nother can of worms of about the nature of free speech that I won’t go into here, other than to say that in the U.S., and to a lesser extent the UK, state censorship of media isn’t much of a problem. Here what we see more of is marginalization of dissenting views, and increasingly harassment and shouting down of people.

See also: Being An Atheist Is A Hassle, But Being A Lady Atheist Can Be The Pits

Every Issue Of Coilhouse Now Free To Download

Coilhouse issue 4

Every issue of the late, great magazine Coilhouse is now available to download for free as PDFs.

Discordia

No, it’s not about Discordianism. It’s about the real world discord and human misery that is the political situation in Greece. It’s written by Laurie Penny and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, and it’s worth your time.

It’s not just political journalism, either — it touches on youth culture, the way a movement’s drug of choice reflects the zeitgeist, art, feminism and more.

You can buy the digital single from Amazon, or see a preview and read an interview with Penny and Crabapple here.

See also: Greece’s Fascist Homophobes Have God and Police On Their Side

A Eulogy for #Occupy

Quinn Norton wrote a lengthy piece on her experience as an embedded reporter at Occupy, from the hopeful early days through the aftermath of the evictions:

Because the GA had no way to reject force, over time it fell to force. Proposals won by intimidation; bullies carried the day. What began as a way to let people reform and remake themselves had no mechanism for dealing with them when they didn’t. It had no way to deal with parasites and predators. It became a diseased process, pushing out the weak and quiet it had meant to enfranchise until it finally collapsed when nothing was left but predators trying to rip out each other’s throats.

In other words, it fell to the “tyranny of structurelessness, a long-time problem for leaderless organizations. And the radical exclusivity ended up excluding almost everyone:

As the camps became darker, the women mostly left, and those who remained were grateful to just be left alone. By my count Occupy had dropped from as high as 40 percent women to less then 10 percent, in an atmosphere of sexual violence, bare intimidation and hatred. By then for a certain kind of occupier, anything with breasts was a target in the camps, either for scorn or being too sexy or being insufficiently sexy. It was never the majority, but the majority did nothing to stop it. They had a progressive stack in the GA that purported to let women speak first, but no one talked about the comments, the groping, the rumors of rapes.

One of the failures Norton identifies was the inability for both the GA and the Occupy media to self-critique. This lead to the media groups being propagandists enabling self-deception:

“One of the main reasons I wanted to have the PO separate from the GA, is I wanted, from the very beginning, a means within the process for booting people out. The GA had no such process,” he said.

His original idea was to tell positive stories from the camp. He worked with media teams from Boston, LA, Chicago, and New York, and traveled to other camps to get the stories out. In time, Rothstein came to see that Occupy’s media needed to tell all the stories of what was going on: the wonderful and the terrible. By then it was too late.

Full Story: Wired: A Eulogy for #Occupy

Another recent story on the failure of Occupy, by Thomas Frank, laid the blame mostly on the academic tone of Occupy. He makes a good point but I think overstates the case.

I’m hesitant to call Occupy “over,” what with the Rolling Jubilee and the ongoing occupation of foreclosed homes, but certainly the movement, as it originally existed, is over. But there is much to be learned from how things went down.

Top Science Writers On Making Complex Subjects Accessible

The Guardian did a group interview of five of the six nominees for the the Royal Society’s Winton prize for science books 2012 — Steven Pinker, James Gleick, Brian Greene, Lone Frank and Joshua Foer.

Here’s an exchange between Greene and Pinker:

How has the formal, technical way scientists write journal papers affected popular science writing?

BG: I was looking back over some quantum mechanics papers from the 1920s and in one article the scientist described an accident in his laboratory when a glass tube exploded, a nickel got tarnished and he heated it to get rid of the tarnish – he went through the whole story himself in the technical article. You don’t really see that much these days. I don’t know if that is a one-off example, I haven’t done an exhaustive study, but have journal articles moved away from telling the story of discovery to just a more cut-and-dried approach?

SP: They have; I think that’s been documented. There is scientifically a problem with that, as opposed to narrating what happened. The problem is that since you’re under pressure from the journal editor to tell your story leading up to your conclusion without talking about all the blind alleys and accidents, it actually distorts the story itself because it inflates the probability that what you discovered is really significant. If you tried 15 things that didn’t work and one thing that did work and didn’t talk about the 15 that didn’t work, then the statistic that makes it significant is actually mistaken. The statistic has to be computed over all of the experiments you ran, not just the one that happened to work. In the social sciences especially, we’re seeing that there’s a lot of damage done by the practice of only reporting the successes and telling the story as if it was a straight line to a successful result.

Full Story: The Guardian: Science writing: how do you make complex issues accessible and readable?

Cult Favorite Magazine Arthur Coming Back To Print

Alan Moore Arthur Magazine cover

How many lives does counter culture tabloid Artur Magazine have? It suspended publication in 2007, but then came back a few months later. Then it was cancelled again, becoming an online-only publication before disappearing supposedly forever. It’s coming back again, this time as $5 an issue newspaper-format publication:

After a four-year sabbatical (faked death?), your beloved revolutionary sweetheart Arthur returns to print, renewed, refreshed, reinvigorated and in a bold new format: pages as tall and wide as a daily newspaper, printed in color and black and white on compostable newsprint, with ads only on the back cover(s). Amazing!

In partnership with Portland, Oregon’s Floating World Comics, Arthur’s gang of goofs, know-it-alls and village explainers are back, from Bull Tonguers Byron Coley and Thurston Moore to radical ecologist Nance Klehm to trickster activists Center for Tactical Magic to Defend Brooklyn‘s socio-political commentator Dave Reeves to a host of new, fresh-faced troublemakers, edited by ol’ fool Jay Babcock and art directed by Yasmin Khan. You want a peek at the contents? Sorry, compadre. That would be saying too much, too soon. Wait ’til Dec. 22, 2012: that’s right—THE DAY AFTER THE NON-END OF THE WORLD!

Please keep in mind… Arthur is no longer distributed for free anywhere. Those days are (sadly) long gone. Now you gotta buy Arthur or you won’t see it. Our price: Five bucks cheeeeeep!

You can pre-order the new issue here.

Jonah Lehrer And The Poverty Of “Big Ideas”

Lehrer spent much of August writing about the affair, trying to figure out where it had all gone wrong. He came to the conclusion that he’d stretched himself too thin. His excuses fall along those lines: He told Seife that his plagiarized blog post was a rough draft he’d posted by mistake. And his latest explanation for those fabricated Dylan quotes is that he had written them into his book proposal and forgotten to fix them later. Even by his own account, then, the writing wasn’t his top priority.

The lectures, though, were increasingly important. Lehrer gave between 30 and 40 talks in 2010, all while meeting constant deadlines, starting a family, and buying a home in the Hollywood Hills. It was more than just a time suck; it was a new way of orienting his work. Lehrer was the first of the Millennials to follow his elders into the dubious promised land of the convention hall, where the book, blog, TED talk, and article are merely delivery systems for a core commodity, the Insight.

The Insight is less of an idea than a conceit, a bit of alchemy that transforms minor studies into news, data into magic. Once the Insight is in place—Blink, Nudge, Free, The World Is Flat—the data becomes scaffolding. It can go in the book, along with any caveats, but it’s secondary. The purpose is not to substantiate but to enchant.

Full Story: New York Magazine: Proust Wasn’t a Neuroscientist. Neither was Jonah Lehrer

The next big idea? The end of big ideas. See:

The Atlantic: Let’s Cool It With The Big Ideas

(I could swear Wired had a similar column from the editor a couple months ago, but it doesn’t seem to be online and I toss my print editions out after I read them)

Evgeny Morozov: The Naked and the TED

Warren Ellis Interview On The New Aesthetic And More

Adrianne Jeffries interviews Warren Ellis:

I think the New Aesthetic is a series of observations. I think most of the trouble people have had with it comes from a misunderstanding of it as a movement.

The New Aesthetic is an act of noticing, as much as anything: we are already in a machine-vision world, we are already in a world where the digital is erupting into the physical, and we just didn’t really notice it, in the entire breadth of its creeping wave, until now. From my perspective, James Bridle collected all this shit up from public sources, put it all in one place for the first time and said “oh, shit.” Some people had real issues, it seems, with what James did next, which was to say, “Let’s start talking about what this means.”

It could become an artistic movement. But, to me, the New Aesthetic is about the sighting of the New Normal.

The Verge: Warren Ellis on futurism, the New Aesthetic, and why social media isn’t killing our children

I thought this line was interesting as well: “I think blogging is a muscle that most people wear out.”

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