Tagmediapunk

This Week In Anonymity And Sexualization Of Strangers

A 15 year old girl committed suicide after months of harassment following topless photos of her circulating on the internet

A Tumblr was created to publish the identities of men who post “creepshots” to Reddit

Reddit finally shut the Creepshots subreddit down

Gawker unmasked Violentacrez, a Creepshots moderator who also started or moderated various other, shall we say “distasteful” subreddits.

Douglas Rushkoff Announced Next Book: Present Shock

Present Shock cover by Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff’s next book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now will be published March 21, 2013.

Rushkoff discussed the idea of present shock back in 2010 The Edge Annual Question — 2010:

By surrendering my natural rhythms to the immediacy of my networks, I am optimizing myself and my thinking to my technologies — rather than the other way around. I feel as though I speeding up, when I am actually just becoming less productive, less thoughtful, and less capable of asserting any agency over the world in which I live. The result something akin to future shock. Only in our era, it’s more of a present shock.

I try to look at the positive: Our Internet-enabled emphasis on the present may have liberated us from the 20th century’s dangerously compelling ideological narratives. No one — well, hardly anyone — can still be persuaded that brutal means are justified by mythological ends. And people are less likely to believe employers’ and corporations’ false promises of future rewards for years of loyalty now.

But, for me anyway, it has not actually brought me into greater awareness of what is going on around me. I am not approaching some Zen state of an infinite moment, completely at one with my surroundings, connected to others, and aware of myself on any fundamental level.

Rather, I am increasingly in a distracted present, where forces on the periphery are magnified and those immediately before me are ignored.

He also discussed some of these themes in an interview in New Inquiry last May.

See also: Alex Pang‘s idea of Contemplative Computing. Pang has a book forthcoming as well.

1 Member Of Pussy Riot Freed After Appeal, Others Still In Jail

The Guardian reports:

A Moscow appeals court has released one of the jailed members of anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot, but ordered two others to serve the remainder of their two-year jail term in a Russian prison colony.

Yekaterina Samutsevich, the oldest of the three women at 30, walked free into the arms of her father, after serving six months in a pre-trial detention centre after being found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred in August.

A panel of three judges accepted the argument of Samutsevich’s new lawyer that she had not participated fully in the group’s February performance of an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in a Moscow cathedral. Samutsevich had been kicked out of the cathedral shortly after entering, meaning she did not engage in the “aggressive movements” that had offended Russia’s Orthodox believers, she argued.

Full Story: The Guardian: Pussy Riot member freed after Moscow court appeal

(via Meredith Yayanos)

Hakim Bey Interview From 2010

From e-flux journal 2010:

Well, when I was a child I was of course fascinated by adventure stories, figures like Richard Halliburton and other world travelers who wrote books for children, and National Geographic magazine—I inherited a whole closet full of National Geographic issues going back to 1911 from a friend. And then when I grew up, I became interested in Eastern Mysticism, the way everybody began to be in the 1960s. I specifically wondered whether Sufism was still a living reality or whether it was just something in books. There was no way of telling at that time. There were no Sufis practicing in America, or at least none that we could discover. I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, and then we had May ’68, and that revolution failed. It clearly wasn’t going to happen. So I decided to make my trip to the East and discover whether Sufism was a living reality or not. And, of course, it turned out that it was. And so were a lot of other things that I hadn’t even anticipated, like tantric Hinduism, which I also became fascinated by while I was in India. So that all lasted from 1968 to 1980 or ‘81, when I went to Southeast Asia. I also went to Indonesia for a short, but very influential, trip. And after 1970 I lived in Iran, where I wrote criticism for the Shiraz Festival of the Arts. That’s how I got to meet Peter Brook and Robert Wilson and all the people that I later worked with or was influenced by. I also met an Indonesian artist named Sardono Kusumo, who I later found again in Jakarta when I was traveling in Southeast Asia. He gave me the names and addresses of all these uncles everywhere in Java who were all involved in dance, puppetry, or mysticism; a fantastic family. So I traveled around Java from uncle to uncle, and performance to performance. And they have a special kind of mysticism there called Kebatinan, which is kind of like Sufism but not quite. It’s different, and it would take a long time to explain why.

And on the internet:

Well, I have to admit that, like everybody else in the 1980s, I was much more optimistic about these things. And in some of my writing I may have given the impression that I would become some sort of cyber libertarian. I have many friends in that camp, but then as time went on, I became more of a Luddite. I believe that technology should not consist of an attack on the social. And if you think about the symptom that everybody talks about, the loss of privacy, or even the redefinition of what privacy could possibly be, well, I see this as an actual attack on society. And it’s interesting that it comes at the same time as Thatcher saying that there is no such thing as society. It’s an ideological move against the social. And it’s not for the glorification of the individual, either. To me, the individual also loses in this formula. But it’s primarily meant to break society down into individual consumer entities, because that’s what money wants. Capital itself wants everyone to have everything. It doesn’t want you to share your car with anyone, it wants each person to have their own. And by the way, the US has achieved this—we now have one car for every adult in the country. Capital wants everybody to have to own everything, and to share nothing. And the social result of this is ghastly. It’s scary, frightening. For me it’s apocalyptic.

Full Story: e-flux: In Conversation with Hakim Bey

The Federated Web Should Be Easier Than It Sounds

My response to Twitter’s suspension of journalist Guy Adams’ account and recent calls for a more open alternative to Twitter:

I’m interested in plans to build federated versions of the internet, including “darknets” like Freenet, Cryptosphere or wireless internet alternatives like Project Meshnet and the many many other project like it. But for those of us living in relatively free countries, just having an internet where everyone owns their own portable identity is good enough. Owning a domain name is a bit on the geeky side, but it’s not like asking people to learn to program or configure their own Linux servers. We can still rely on hosted services – as long as we can pack up and move out of them when the time comes.

What we need to build an open alternative to Twitter isn’t more standards. We already have Dave Winer’s microblog namespace for RSSPubSubHubbub and Activity Streams. What we need is a self-hostable, single user Twitter clone that can publish these formats (and optionally push to Twitter and other social networks). That was the idea that Winer was seemingly getting at last week with his own post on a Twitter alternative, but he focused more on all the tools that are out there for building something like this, and didn’t come out and say what it is we actually need. And that’s something that power users can get up and running relatively quickly without having to write it themselves and with the least amount of server fiddling possible. A WordPress of microblogs.

Sure we have StatusNet and other clones already. But these are designed for groups who want a private Twitter. I’m talking about is giving every user control of their feed by attaching it to their own domain name. One such thing exists already: PageCookery, but the site is in Chinese. Another option is to just run StatusNet and be the sole user on your server. There are also some WordPress microblog themes, but that seems like a clunky solution. It might be nice to see something that isn’t in PHP, but hey – PHP gets the job done and it’s easy for non-developers to get PHP apps running on commodity web hosting.

TechCrunch: The Federated Web Should Be Easier Than It Sounds

Jonah Lehrer Resigns From The New Yorker Over Fabricated Quotes

Science journalist Jonah Lehrer, whose articles I have linked to from Technoccult in the past, stepped down from the New Yorker today after admitting to fabricated Bob Dylan quotes in his book Imagine. Here’s Lehrer’s statement, as quoted by Julie Bosman for The New York Times:

“Three weeks ago, I received an email from journalist Michael Moynihan asking about Bob Dylan quotes in my book ‘Imagine,’ ” Mr. Lehrer said in a statement. “The quotes in question either did not exist, were unintentional misquotations, or represented improper combinations of previously existing quotes. But I told Mr. Moynihan that they were from archival interview footage provided to me by Dylan’s representatives. This was a lie spoken in a moment of panic. When Mr. Moynihan followed up, I continued to lie, and say things I should not have said.”

“The lies are over now. I understand the gravity of my position. I want to apologize to everyone I have let down, especially my editors and readers. I also owe a sincere apology to Mr. Moynihan. I will do my best to correct the record and ensure that my misquotations and mistakes are fixed. I have resigned my position as staff writer at The New Yorker.”

Full Story: The New York Times: Jonah Lehrer Resigns From The New Yorker After Making Up Dylan Quotes for His Book

(via Coe Douglas)

See also:

The Curse of Knowledge (a critique of inaccuracies in Imagine)

Why Did Jonah Lehrer Plagiarize Himself?

Disclosure: I write for Conde Nast’s Wired Enterprise property. Conde Nast is the publisher of The New Yorker

Journalism and Right Speech

Books like The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel and The Information Diet by Clay Johnson examine the responsibilities of journalists and other information producers and what the public should expect, and demand, of its news and information outlets.

I just came across, via the Wikipedia entry on the Noble Eight Fold Path of Buddhism, a quote from The Abhaya Sutta on “Right Speech.” I think it has a lot to say about what we as journalists should write and what you as the public should demand:

In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, unendearing and disagreeable to others, he does not say them.
In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, yet unbeneficial, unendearing and disagreeable to others, he does not say them.
In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, yet unendearing and disagreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them.
In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be unfactual, untrue, unbeneficial, yet endearing and agreeable to others, he does not say them.
In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, but unbeneficial, yet endearing and agreeable to others, he does not say them.
In the case of words that the Tathagata knows to be factual, true, beneficial, and endearing and agreeable to others, he has a sense of the proper time for saying them. Why is that? Because the Tathagata has sympathy for living beings.

Wikipedia puts it: “In every case, if it is not true, beneficial nor timely, one is not to say it.”

Or, for modern times: Write, and/or read, things that are true, timely and informative. Don’t troll. Don’t spread rumors. Don’t read gossip. Don’t create or click on linkbait. Don’t read substanceless content just because it affirms what you already believe.

This fits nicely with “The Essence of Journalism is Verification” (from the Principles of Journalism) and Clay Johnson’s summary of his thinking: “Consume deliberately. Take in information over affirmation.”

See also: The “Elements of Journalism” issue of the Nieman Report.

Flawed But Indispensable Take Down of Malcolm Gladwell

SHAME Project, an organization founded by Yasha Levine and Mark Ames of The Exile, recently published a lengthy critique of writer Malcolm Gladwell. I finally read it, and recommend it even though it is a flawed piece. Highlights:

While a student at the University of Toronto, Gladwell’s admiration for Ronald Reagan led him into conservative activist circles. In 1982, while still an undergrad, he completed a 12-week training course at the National Journalism Center, a corporate-funded program created to counter the media’s alleged “anti-business bias” by molding college kids into corporate-friendly journalist-operatives and helping them infiltrate top-tier news media organizations. To quote Philip Morris, a major supporter of the National Journalism Center, its mission was to “train budding journalists in free market political and economic principles.” Over the years the National Journalism Center has produced hundreds of pro-business news media moles, including top-tier conservative talent like Ann Coulter and former Wall Street Journal columnist and editorial board member John Fund.

After graduating from University of Toronto in 1984, Gladwell spent a few years bouncing around the far-right fringe of the corporate media spectrum. He wrote for the American Spectator—notorious in the 1990s as the primary media organ promoting anti-Clinton conspiracy theories—as well as the Moonie-owned Insight on the News. From 1985-6, Gladwell served as assistant editor at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, which was created to bridge the gap between neoconservatives and Christian fundamentalists and help the two hostile factions to come together to counter a common enemy: activists fighting for economic justice. Rick Santorum was a fellow at EPPC until June 2011, when he left to concentrate on his attempt to secure the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. [...]

At the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell developed another branch of his branded Malcolm Gladwell, Inc. business: as a highly-paid corporate speaker. Indeed, Gladwell is ranked as one of the highest-paid speakers in America today, commanding anywhere from $40,000 to $80,000 for a single talk to corporations and industry groups eager to pay for his soothing wisdom. In 2007, Fast Company estimated Gladwell does “roughly 25 speaking gigs a year, his current going rate some $40,000 per appearance.”

That would translate into roughly $1 million that year in speaking fees alone—four times what he made at the New Yorker in 2005. It’s a huge amount of money, as far as speaker’s salaries go. For comparison: Mitt Romney only made $500,000 in speaking fees in 2010.

Most news organization have specific rules and guidelines about speaking fees, and some—including the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and the Washington Post—ban their journalists from taking fees for speeches. But the issue is far from settled, and regularly comes up in debates about journalistic ethics. Jonathan Salant, former president of the Society of Professional Journalists Washington chapter, considers corporate speaking fees to be outright bribes. He’s not the only one.

In a March 2012 article in the Columbia Journalism Review, Paul Starobin wondered if speaking fees are a “dark and an indelible stain on journalism” and noted that most journalists would not talk openly about the details of their corporate speaker side-gigs on the record and that some tried to prevent their names from being mentioned at all.

Full Story: Naked Capitalism: Malcolm Gladwell Unmasked: A Look Into the Life & Work of America’s Most Successful Propagandist

(via Innovation Patterns)

There’s an excellent conversation on MetaFilter. Here’s an interesting point from Mr.Know-it-some:

I stopped reading after “the notorious National Bureau of Economic Research, an organization with ties to the tobacco industry and bankrolled by the biggest names in right-wing corporate propaganda funding.” NBER is probably the preeminent economic research organization in the United States, if not the world, whose (approximately 1000) members include left-wingers like Joe Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. (Yes, you might argue that it leans a bit corporate, but calling it “notorious,” is simply ludicrous.)

(Though someone else on the thread points out that Paul Krugman actually did briefly work for Enron).

The thread hits all the points I would want to make about what’s good and bad about the piece. It’s clearly an example of the “hit piece” genre, but it does make good points.

Maias wrote:

What’s equally infuriating is that sometimes his arguments— and those of pharma— are correct. The case of ADHD drugs is one instance: some people are genuinely helped and their stories get drowned out in the cries of “drugging our kids” and “overmedication.” The idea that crack dealers or tobacco companies are solely responsible for addiction is genuinely problematic— it ignores the fact that people with addiction *do* tend to have underlying issues and the fact that humans have always sought consciousness alteration. Making this case does not mean you are a pharma or a tobacco shill, merely that you have read the literature and know something about drugs.

Ironically, it is exactly the type of journalism exhibited by both this piece and by Gladwell that is the problem: ignoring complexity leads to simplistic solutions (let’s just lock up the dealers! let’s ban ADHD meds! let’s prohibit cigarettes! let’s ban painkillers!) that don’t actually work.

And mediareport wrote:

There’s more than enough direct evidence of Gladwell distorting evidence and hiding conflicts of interest – and then responding by not directly responding to the criticisms – to make the critique stick and stick hard. Linking it to Gladwell’s early conservative training is an interesting approach, too.

The stuff about the pharmaceutical industry and Gladwell’s laughably wrong attempt at a defense of Enron execs seemed excellent and very much on point. That the intent of the piece was to savage Gladwell’s moronic brand is clear, but that doesn’t invalidate the accumulated information, which accomplishes the goal nicely.

(However, a few people on MeFi made the claim that S.H.A.M.E. implied that Gladwell was a white supremacist – they did not. S.H.A.M.E. wrote: “Gladwell, who is part-Jamaican, apparently didn’t mind working for a white supremacist who argued that people like Gladwell were inferior” (emphasis mine). That said, yes, mentioning Gladwell’s own work debunking the the thesis would have been charitable.

See Also:

The Tipping Point and the Long Tail debunked

Why, Unfortunately, Malcolm Gladwell Matters

Cyberculture History: Before the World Wide Web Did Anything, HyperCard Did Everything

cyberpunk stack for Hypercard
Above: an image from the Beyond Cyberpunk Hypercard stack

Ars Technica honors the 25 anniversary of Hypercard, a discontinued desktop hypertext application for Macs:

Even before its cancellation, HyperCard’s inventor saw the end coming. In an angst-filled 2002 interview, Bill Atkinson confessed to his Big Mistake. If only he had figured out that stacks could be linked through cyberspace, and not just installed on a particular desktop, things would have been different.

“I missed the mark with HyperCard,” Atkinson lamented. “I grew up in a box-centric culture at Apple. If I’d grown up in a network-centric culture, like Sun, HyperCard might have been the first Web browser. My blind spot at Apple prevented me from making HyperCard the first Web browser.” [...]

Programmers for the Cyan software company originally wrote their hugely popular puzzle/adventure game Myst as a HyperCard stack. That explains the game’s beautiful graphics and slow motion quality, punctuated by ambient sounds or an unexpected video. But even in 1987, when Macs displayed in black and white, HyperCard developers and graphics artists produced subtle, fascinating landscapes that often escape the Web to this day.

Full Story: Ars Technica: 25 years of HyperCard—the missing link to the Web

The Origin of Those Blade Runner Magazine Covers Floating Around

Blade Runner

city magazine stand

For the past few days scans of magazine covers allegedly appearing on newsstands in the background of the film Blade Runner have been circulating thanks to the Science Fiction Tumblr (you can find great quality scans and notes in this Flickr set).

Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, saw them and decided to find out whether they are real or not.

Spoiler alert: Yes, they’re real and they appeared on a Blade Runner special feature Signs of the Times: Graphic Design.

It’s still interesting to read Madrigal’s post because for some insight into the process of journalistic verification. Enjoy!

Full Story: The Atlantic: The Fake Magazines Used in Blade Runner Are Still Futuristic, Awesome

Thoughts:

*MONI is clearly a reference to OMNI.
*HORN looks like a predecessor to Future Sex.
*I wonder whether KILL is a reference to Solider of Fortune, but the first trials involving that magazine didn’t happen until the late 80s.

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