Thinking Ahead: Sean some people did…you didn’t.

So the Guardian is reporting about Sean Parkers remarks at the Techonomy conference.

Thinking ahead.

None of us could possibly have understood what it would mean to have a billion or two billion people potentially using these platforms regularly,” said Parker. “That wasn’t something that factored into anyone’s analysis in the starting of these companies. You just want to be a successful company. You want to understand the mechanisms that work, you want to play into them, you want to reinforce them, you want to be a successful company.”

While it is refreshing to hear some self reflection after the fact about the consequences of building a social platform driven by profit with an incentive to get people to engage with it – personal and social costs be-dammed.

I think people did for-see and could understand some of the negative effects he is discussing – the problem is they just were not in the mix of young men founding these companies at the time.  The fact is the narrow demographic of who was empowered with funds to create these systems (By men likc Sean Parker and Peter Theil) and who thcy subsequently chose to hire and listen to early on (Read the Boy Kings to get the inside scoop on that) speaks volumes about what was built.

As a side note I developed an outline for building a distributed social network for spiritual activist leaders and their followers in 2003-4. I even raised $35,000 and had two protoypes build in Drupal.    I like to think if I got funding beyond that and had the chance to develop the vision we were thinking about the social consequences.

Communities considering the future of social tools and online communities did think thoughtfully about the future and how things could play out and what was needed to support things evolving well from a user-centric perspective.  A great starting point published in 2003 is the Augmented Social Network: Building Identity and Trust into the Next Generation Internet.

Google+ and my “real” name: Yes, I’m Identity Woman

When Google+ launched, I went with my handle as my last name.  This makes a ton of sense to me. If you asked most people what my last name is, they wouldn’t know. It isn’t “common” for me.  Many people don’t even seem to know my first name. I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself talking with folks at conferences this past year and seeing ZERO lighbulbs going off when I say my name “Kaliya”, but when I say I have the handle or blog “Identity Woman” they are like “Oh wow! You’re Identity Woman… cool!” with a tone of recognition – because they know my work by that name.

One theory I have about why this works is because it is not obvious how you pronounce my name when you read it.  And conversely, it isn’t obvious how you write my name when you hear it.  So the handle that is a bit longer but everyone can say spell “Identity Woman” really serves me well professionally.  It isn’t like some “easy to say and spell” google guy name like Chris Messina or Joseph Smarr or Eric Sachs or Andrew Nash. I don’t have the privilege of a name like that so I have this way around it.

So today…I get this

I have “violated” community standards when using a name I choose to express my identity – an identity that is known by almost all who meet me. I, until last October, had a business card for 5 years that just had Identity Woman across the top.

Display Name – To help fight spam and prevent fake profiles, use the name your friends, family, or co-workers usually call you. For example, if your full legal name is Charles Jones Jr. but you normally use Chuck Jones or Junior Jones, either of these would be acceptable. Learn more about your name and Google Profiles.

[Read more…]

Thomas Friedman on the lesson from Van Jones – “Watch out for the participatory panopticon”

Thomas Friedman of the NYTimes on Meet the Press today talking about several recent incidents including what happened to Van Jones.

When everyone has a cell phone, everyone is a photographer, when everyone has access to YouTube, everyone is a filmmaker, and when everyone is a blogger everyone is a newspaper.

When everyone is a photographer, a newspaper and a filmaker everyone else is a public figure. Tell your kids ok,  be careful every move they make is now a digital footprint. You are on candid camera and unfortunately the real message to young people from all these incidents… (he says holding his hands closely together) is really keep yourself tight – don’t say anything controversial, don’t think anything controversial, don’t put anything in print – you know what ever you do just kind of smooth out all the edges (he says moving his hands in a streamlining motion down) and maybe you too – you know when you get nominated to be ambassador to Burkina Faso will be able to get through the hearing.

What does this capacity to document “everything” digitally mean to free thinking, and free speech? It seems that is having a quelling effect.

I have written about the participatory panopticon several times, a term coined by Jamais Cascio.

* Participatory Panopticon strikes Michael Phelps

* We Live in Public – a movie

* “sousveillance” coming to NYC and Big Brother coming to NYC

* Participatory Panopticon tracking the CIA’s Torture Taxi

* Condi Caught by Emerging Participatory Panopticon

* Accelerating Change Highlights: 1 (Jon Udell)

The first time I spent a whole day with technologists working on the identity layer of the web in 2003 I asked publicly at the end of the day – how do we forgive in these new kinds of tools in place? How do we allow for people to change over time if “everything” is documented?

I hope we can have a dialogue about these kinds of issues via the blogosphere and also face to face at the 9th Internet Identity Workshop coming up in November.

DiSo ideas are not that new.

Reading these:

A Perfect Storm Forming for Distributed Social Networking– Read Write Web

Evolution of Blogging – GigaOm

The Push Button Web – Anil Dash

The inside Out Social Network – Chris Messina

The Future Social Web – Jeremiah Owyang

I realize how incredibly ahead of the times I was along with many of the people I have been working with on open standards identity and social web standards.

I wrote this describing open standards for distributed social networking online in April of 2004f or the Planetwork Conference (from  that I was promoting.

———————— From April 2004 ——————

ID Commons: Social Networking For Social Good: Creating Community Trust Infrastructure Through An Identity Commons

In 2003 the Planetwork LinkTank white paper The Augmented Social Network: Building Identity and Trust into the Next-Generation Internet proposed weaving new layers of identity and trust into the fabric of the Internet to facilitate social networking for social good – online citizenship for the information age.

The LinkTank white paper outlined three main objectives:

  1. Establishing a new kind of persistent online identity that supports the public commons and the values of civil society.
  2. Enhancing the ability of citizens to form relationships and self-organize around shared interests in communities of practice and engage in democratic governance.
  3. Creating an Internet-wide system for more efficient and effective knowledge sharing between people across institutional, geographic, and social boundaries.

Currently each site with a login or membership profile is like an island, or at worst a walled castle, as no common inter-operation is possible among large numbers of them. Creating a truly interoperable network will require an explicit social agreement that governs the operation of the trusted network, and implementation of a new software protocol consistent with that agreement.

Identity Commons

[note this is a reference to the “first” Identity Commons – the current Identity Commons shares the values and some of the organizing principles of this first organization but evolved from it]

The Identity Commons is an open distributive membership organization, designed to develop and operate a common digital identity infrastructure standard based on the shared principle of protecting each user’s control of their own identity data. A common identity infrastructure must be embedded within a binding social agreement ensuring that the technology and its institutional users operate in accordance with core principles. In addition to developing this agreement, Identity Commons is managing the development and implementation of the new technology needed to achieve this as a fiscal project of Planetwork, a California 501(c)3 non-profit.

The Identity Commons is based on an implementation of two new OASIS standards:

XRI – a new identity addressing scheme fully compatible with URIs
XDI – specifies link contracts for shared use of data across the Internet

For more technical information see:

Once implemented, the Identity Commons infrastructure will:

  • Give individuals, organizations, and even ad-hoc groups persistent addresses (digital identities) that can be used in many ways. Each party can decide what their own address links to, and who can follow the links.
  • Provide single sign-on, enabling individuals to connect to multiple sites without having to provide a login and password to each.
  • Empower user/citizens to manage their own consolidated profiles, which will be likely to stay up to date as everyone maintains only their own master copy.
  • Generate network maps that enable communities to more efficiently understand their own membership, make connections, recognize patterns, filter messages, and self-organize around new topics and functions.
  • Provide collaborative filtering services based on knowledge and reputation databases where contributors can also control their own level of anonymity.
  • Enable group formation around common interests and affinities with reputation attributes for trusted communication, which could be the key to eliminate spam.

How is this different from what is already happening in the private sector?

Currently every web site has a privacy policy, but they vary widely, are rarely read, are only good until they are changed and are thus effectively useless.

The Identity Commons (IC) solves this by (1) replacing thousands of privacy policies with a single institutional membership agreement that simplifies the user experience. Every Identity Commons member site is party to a legally binding commitment that can only be changed by amending the IC membership agreement – which is governed by all IC members. And (2) by using electronic contracts to grant, record, and enforce data sharing across boundaries.

Ultimately there can only be one fully interoperable social network; just as email can travel anywhere on the Internet, your profile must also be able to do so. Microsoft would love to make this possible, and fully control it – their Passport system was designed to do just that. By hosting identity data for nearly everyone who has a computer Microsoft hopes to put themselves in the middle of every transaction they can.

In response to this, a group of large companies formed the Liberty Alliance which developed protocols that will allow institutions to “federate” data across company boundaries. Federation is an improvement over the Microsoft Passport model, however, both of these approaches treat individuals solely as consumers, and neither provide support for civil society, citizen collaboration or for individual citizens to control their own identity data.

The Identity Commons agreement and technical infrastructure is a way to correct this imbalance of power, allowing the Internet to fulfill its great potential as a “commons” in which individual citizens can interact freely and as equals everywhere on Earth.

————- end Identity Commons description from Planetwork’s 2004 site ———

Writing this document was the first work that I did as an evangelist for the proposed open standards for distributed digital identity to enable open distributed social networks.
I wrote it based on reading through all their work and listening to their vision of the founders of Identity Commons and those working together for 2+ years hoped for in the adoption of the open standards they were working on. These protocols are now all ratified in OASIS (one of three standards bodies for the internet the other two being IETF and W3C) – XRI, XDI along with XRD/XRD that spun out of XRI as it became incorporated in OpenIDv2 as a key part of what makes it work.

Identity that is user owned, controlled managed – and this includes the preferences, attention data, uterances, 1/2 of transaction data – is at the heart of what one needs to make this vision of distributed social networking work. I think until recently it has been misunderstood as esoteric and just talk – amazing progress has been made since the early days of the identity gang that community has grown and developed many of the conceptual understandings and protocols that are taken as givens.

Folks from what the identity community (and perhaps should consider “updating” its name to the identity and social web community).…invented – as in used for the first time these two words together Social and Web – SOCIAL WEB – (according to wikipedia)

With the title of this paper: The Social Web: Creating An Open Social Network with XDI

This paper was preceeded by the Augmented Social Network: Building and Trust into the Next Generation Internet

Like the Web or email, the ASN would be available to anyone. It would become a common part of the Internet infrastructure – a person-centered and group-centered service of the net. It will be implemented through the widespread adoption of technical protocols; any online community infrastructure could choose to be part of the ASN by implementing them. Central to its design are fundamental principles of openness, inclusivity, and decentralization — which are necessary for a thriving democracy. At the same time, the ASN would support the highest available forms of security to protect privacy.

The Identity Gang began talking/meeting in the later part 2004 and has continued to meet in the Internet Identity Workshop.

There is much wisdom that these communities have developed that can be useful in moving / re-articulating the vision… to be sure lessons are to be learned from understanding more about why certain approaches/standards/proposed ways of doing things didn’t happen (yet).

I think the market wasn’t ready for what the identity community was saying. As someone who has been evangelizing about this set of issues practically full time since 2004. In the first few years I would talk in a range of communities and at conferences about all these issues, user control, open standards the danger of the potential emergence of large silo’s that locked users in and people just “didn’t get” it was an issue or that there was even a need for these kinds of standards. Now the market is finally ready.

The 9th Internet Identity Workshop  is this November – and REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

There is a whole conversation on the DiSo list where I highlighted this context/history. There might be a beer meetup in Berkeley this evening at Triple Rock at 7:30.

At the Ideas Project apparently women don’t have any ideas.

As some of you may or may not know, I founded a women’s-only technology conference, She’s Geeky. There has been a bunch of conversation in this past week about the lack of women speakers at tech events (in fields like web 2.0, social media, government where there is significant female participation).

It got started with this top 10 list put out by the Speakers Group that included NO women. Then O’Reilly published its first round of speakers for Web 2.0 Summit that was only 20% women. Allyson Kapin called him out, started a petition, and a whole discussion got going in Twitter. It continued with the inc500 conference.

This morning via a link I ended up on this website: The IDEAS Project. This is a site talking about the big ideas of the social web and the future of identity, collaboration, standards development, and norms on the digital web. The pictures speak for themselves.






For those of you counting:

  • 5 women out of 50
  • racial diversity by my observation 2 asian people and 2 black people
  • No one under the age of 30 and not that many under the age of 40.

Monitor Talent is behind the site and it is sponsored by Nokia and powered by Xigi.

Many of the men here have written books or have academic credentials.

Of course it is a social media site, so any one can contribute. I just don’t want to contribute to a place that is so skewed in one direction in terms of the starting point. This is not a hard core IT subject, this is social media and use of the web and the network in a forward looking way. Looking along the side, all the contributed ideas so far come from handles with male names.

It all makes me wonder:

  • Who is a real “authority” on a subject?
  • If you have a title and a position at an institution this means you must know, right?
  • If you have written a book you must have it right?

Some friends are in this “talent pool” like Jerry Michalski, Clay Shirky, Doc Searls, Laura Fitton, Christine Heron, Esther Dyson, Bob Fankston, David Hornick, Robert Scoble, Kevin Werbach, Andreas Weigend, Ross Mayfield, Charlene Li, Jeff Clavier.

I am curious if they asked about the gender balance reflected in this project up front?

Have they worked to recommend that Monitor Talent pick up more women talent? or even proactively suggested monitor seek to develop women talent?

The web offers a huge opportunity to change who is seen and referenced as having authority and we need to take advantage of this change the web offers.

I know this… I I have never had a formal position at any company, yet IdM leaders at major companies like Microsoft, SUN, Novell, Burton Group, PayPal, Google, Yahoo!, etc. point at my blog, and I have, at least within that world, a lot of authority as a community leader – I have led 15+ events on the topic of user-centric identity in the past 5 years and and spoken about 3 times a year at other events. I am very very comfortable talking about the topics in my industry, this is what I DO – I am an evangelist, a communicator, but this alone didn’t translate into being able to speak without training, practice or support. (I currently don’t proactively seek to speak because I had a bad experience and it rattled me.)

I think we need to work on moving beyond just taking at face value “old” positional authority like having a title at a university and proclaiming expertise – it doesn’t mean those people participate in the communities that are actually driving the innovation they speak about.

There is a systemic issue here. I hope that it can be addressed by the whole community.

Here are some talented women in identity if you ware wondering who they are.

“anonymous” sperm donation…not so anonymous any more

I found this via retweets from Tim O’Reilly on Bio-Medicine.

The boy tracked down his father from his Y chromosome, which is passed from father to son unchanged. The gene variant patterns it carries can help trace the concerned paternal line, according to a report in New Scientist. All that it cost the boy to trace his father was $289 paid to for the service. In fact, his genetic father had never supplied his DNA to the site. For investigation, the site needed someone in the same paternal line to be on file. After nine months of waiting and making his contact details available to other clients, the boy was contacted by two men with Y chromosomes closely matching his own. These two were strangers, but the similarity between their Y chromosomes suggested there was a 50 per cent chance that all three had the same father, grandfather or great-grandfather.

Though the boy’s genetic father was anonymous, his mother knew the donor’s date and place of birth and his college degree. Using another online service,, he bought the names of all who had been born in the same place on the same day. Only one man had the surname he was looking for, and within 10 days he had made contact.

SSN’s can be guessed

This just in from slashdot:

“The nation’s Social Security numbering scheme has left millions of citizens vulnerable to privacy breaches, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, who for the first time have used statistical techniques to predict Social Security numbers solely from an individual’s date and location of birth. The researchers used the information they gleaned to predict, in one try, the first five digits of a person’s Social Security number 44 percent of the time for 160,000 people born between 1989 and 2003.

This is from the Wired coverage:

By analyzing a public data set called the “Death Master File,” which contains SSNs and birth information for people who have died, computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University discovered distinct patterns in how the numbers are assigned. In many cases, knowing the date and state of an individual’s birth was enough to predict a person’s SSN.

“We didn’t break any secret code or hack into an undisclosed data set,” said privacy expert Alessandro Acquisti, co-author of the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “We used only publicly available information, and that’s why our result is of value. It shows that you can take personal information that’s not sensitive, like birth date, and combine it with other publicly available data to come up with something very sensitive and confidential.”

Basically it means we shouldn’t be honest about our date of birth and home town on Facebook (or any other social network) or we are making ourselves vulnerable to discernment of our SSN’s. I wonder if they can figure out mine? I received my as an adult when I was attending college in California.

I decided to poke around and see what Facebook had up about Identity Theft. I did find a link to this study that created a profile by “Freddi Stauer,” an anagram for “ID Fraudster,”.

Out of the 200 friend requests, Sophos received 82 responses, with 72 percent of those respondents divulging one or more e-mail address; 84 percent listing their full date of birth; 87 percent providing details about education or work; 78 percent listing their current address or location; 23 percent giving their phone number; and 26 percent providing their instant messaging screen name.

Sophos says in most cases, Freddi also got access to respondents’ photos of friends and family, plus a lot of information about personal likes and dislikes, and even details about employers.

Facebook users were all too willing to disclose the names of spouses and partners, with some even sending complete resumes. One facebook user divulging his mother’s maiden name—the old standard used by many financial and other Web sites to get access to account information.

Most people wouldn’t give this kind of information out to people on the street but their guard sometimes seems to drop in the context of a friend request on the Facebook site, O’Brien says.

According to Sophos, the results of what it calls its Facebook ID Probe has significance for the workplace as well as personal life because businesses need to be aware that this type of social-networking site may pose a threat to corporate security.

I have tried to search the Facebook blog to see what they have to say about identity theft and apparently they haven’t mentioned it.

On Social Web TV

I was down in Mountain View yesterday to appear on Social Web TV. I was a special guest as Chris and David were both at FOWA in London. We got to talk about the community process around the Internet Identity Workshop and Data Sharing events that has helped moved the standards for the open social web forward.

I hope you enjoy the episode – I clearly need to practice being on “TV” a bit more but hey – don’t we all.

Movie about “Fursona’s” coming out

From Boing Boing:

Furries get no respect. Usually, when you hear about people who dress up like life-sized stuffed animals, it’s in the context of an unfriendly internet joke, a sex gag on Entourage, or an insult that ends with “yiff in hell.”

Brooklyn-based filmmaker Marianne Shaneen has spent more than two years following these people around, capturing their lives in and out of their “fursonas.” She’s working on a documentary film called AMERICAN FURRY: Life, Liberty and the Fursuit of Happiness.

Lessig on the FCC and Internet

Lessig is on to corruption this is quoted from a recent interview he gave on the subject:

One of the biggest targets of reform that we should be thinking about is how to blow up the FCC. The FCC was set up to protect business and to protect the dominant industries of communication at the time, and its history has been a history of protectionism — protecting the dominant industry against new forms of competition — and it continues to have that effect today. It becomes a sort of short circuit for lobbyists; you only have to convince a small number of commissioners, as opposed to convincing all of Congress. So I think there are a lot of places we have to think about radically changing the scope and footprint of government.

Most interesting to me was when I was doing research very early on about this, and I talked to someone who was in the Clinton administration. They were talking about Al Gore’s original proposal for Title VII of the Communications Act. Title II deals with telecom and Title VI deals with cable and Title VII was going to be an Internet title. And Title VII was going to basically say, no regulation except for minimal interconnect requirements — so it would be taking away both DSL and cable and putting them under one regulatory structure that minimized regulation of both. When this idea was floated on the Hill, it was shot down. The answer came back was, “We can’t do this! How are we going to raise money from these people if we’ve deregulated all of this?”

So I completely agree. I think we’ve got to recognize that the way the system has functioned is to insinuate regulation in all sorts of places that aren’t necessary in order to fuel this political machine of fundraising. There’s this great speech of Ronald Reagan’s in 1965 where he talks about how every democracy fails, because once people realize they can vote themselves premiums, that’s what they’re going to do, and they’ll bankrupt the nation. Well, he had it half right, in the sense there’s a system where people realize they can vote themselves the benefits and destroy the economy. But it’s not the poor who gathered together and created massive force in Washington to distribute income to them. It’s this weird cabal of politicians and special-interest insiders that have achieved this effect. Basically, they can pervert the economy and growth in ways that protect and benefit certain interests.

Frontline: Growing UP Online, Jan 22

I am a HUGE fan of Frontline. I regularly watch the shows in their entirety online (I don’t own a TV haven’t since 1995 – when I left home).

Their next show is called Growing Up Online. It should be interesting to see how they cover the subject. Just in case you are wondering the didn’t forget to cover “online sexual predators.”

MySpace. YouTube. Facebook. Nearly every teen in America is on the Internet every day, socializing with friends and strangers alike, “trying on” identities, and building a virtual profile of themselves–one that many kids insist is a more honest depiction of who they really are than the person they portray at home or in school.

In “Growing Up Online,” FRONTLINE peers inside the world of this cyber-savvy generation through the eyes of teens and their parents, who often find themselves on opposite sides of a new digital divide. From cyber bullying to instant “Internet fame,” to the specter of online sexual predators, FRONTLINE producer Rachel Dretzin investigates the risks, realities and misconceptions of teenage self-expression on the World Wide Web.

Who Killed the Electric Car?

WOW! What an amazing film and depressing. I totally recommend you see it if it comes to your neighborhood or rent it on Netflix (or equivalent).

GM killed the electric CAR. It happened – and they killed it. They said there was not enough consumer ‘demand’ but that is patently false. They knew there was demand they had waiting lists. They didn’t want the car to happen BECAUSE it would be successful and threatened the Oil Industry.

The film ends on a hopeful note and there will be a sequel. Who Saved the Electric Car.

Links on the Web this week

This is a fun little video/song rant … “Thou shalt not” related to pop culture and life of the young. It ends making an interesting contrasting commentary on the leadership of the united states of america.

A good transition is this stunning and depressing set of photos of Iraqi Children.

Which 100 Blogs should you read?
They figured it out using formulas for figuring out where to put detectors in water pipe systems to detect disease outbreak.

Which side of the Brain do you use?

THE Right Brain vs Left Brain test … do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise? (I saw it clockwise).

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

uses feeling
“big picture” oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking

Will you let me give to you: PBS (and VRM)?

I really Love Frontline. It along with the New Yorker is the only news outlet doing a good job of what is happening with this war and the country generally.
I just watched the first episode of Frontline of the season (ONLINE) [I have been eagerly awaiting it for weeks].

It says at the end of the show…Support (like a link to click)
Then it gives me this crap…..

I don’t want to join my “local station” I don’t want to “support PBS Kids” I want to give to FRONTLINE – Period. (Well maybe like 10-15% could go to some general fund but other then that just Frontline).

If you (Doc) can fix this you will make them money.
Until then I don’t give.

It should be noted I don’t own a television and have not watched in that format since I went to college in ’95. Online viewing is the only way I see shows. I know it costs money to give me this experience and I am willing to donate to keep it up and running for open public viewing (I will not pay if you charge me to watch it though).

I grew up listening to public radio in Canada (where it is just government funded) I love it. Like Sarah Vowel I am passionate about radio and love good television documentary. I want these things in my life. I want to contribute to make them happen but it is not in the ‘station donation form’

When listening to my local station I almost always listen online. (I don’t drive a car so I almost never listen to a real radio). I also when I really want a show I go to the ‘find a show’ tool that will connect you with a station broadcasting that program at that time. What is local any more when you can do this? I want to support the shows I love and really don’t want to feed the ones I don’t much care for. I like Freshair, Marketplace, This American Life.

as an added bonus
I would like to watch other news and documentary shows like Frontline but I don’t know where they are. Where are the people who like Frontline also like these other whose on PBS, NPR, PRI etc? So far the few I have tried to find don’t have as good online viewing as Frontline. But really I tried to find Now with Bill Moyers once – that was it. I don’t want to wade through the PBS universe of programming to find them.

On “Democracy” in contemporary America

I just picked up two books by ‘the’ Naomi’s today.
I saw them in the book shop and I was compelled.

1) The End of America: A Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot
by Naomi Wolff

Naomi Wolff is on the Colbert Report
We don’t have a lot of time free societies close down very quickly she points out and we need a democracy movement to restore the rule of law.

2) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
by Naomi Klein

This is a short film about the topic of the book.

3) I recently was pointed to the Century of the Self a film by the BBC. it is a documentary about the role of psychoanalysis, marketing, and public relations in the united states. The concluding installment covers the application of these techniques in the “democratic” political process.

It is well worth watching and is on the Internet Archive.

Computer ART becomes ‘bomb strapped to chest’

This story is shocking.

An MIT student wearing a device on her chest that included lights and wires was arrested at gunpoint at Logan International Airport this morning after authorities thought the contraption was a bomb strapped to her body.

Star Simpson, 19, was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and approached an airport employee in Terminal C at 8 a.m. to inquire about an incoming flight from Oakland, according to Major Scott Pare of the State Police. She was holding a lump of what looked like putty in her hands. The employee asked about the plastic circuit board on her chest, and Simpson walked away without responding, Pare said.

“She said it was a piece of art and she wanted to stand out on career day,” Pare said. “She was holding what was later found to be playdough.”

Affixed to the front of her black sweatshirt was a pale beige circuit board with green LED lights and wires running to a 9-volt battery. Written on the back of the sweatshirt in what appeared to be gold magic marker was the phrase “socket to me” and below that was written “Course VI,” which refers to the electrical engineering and computer science program at MIT.

According to the MIT website, Simpson is from Kihei, Hawaii, and is a sprinter on the school’s swim team. On Simpson’s personal website at MIT, she says she is studying computers and enjoys tinkering in a student-run machine shop.

“In a sentence, I’m an inventor, artist, engineer, and student, I love to build things and I love crazy ideas,” the website says.

So where the whole incident started from was the security gaurd who thought her art was suspicious. From my experience with those kinds of people in airports or otherwise they were likely not that educated – certainly not aware of the ways of computer geeks and how this sort of art would be really not be a-typcial. Seems like we have some ‘diversity training’ needs of our own as a culture.

Frontline: Spying on the home front

I am a fan of public television. I grew up with the CBC and its wonderful documentaries and comedies (Kids in the Hall anyone). Since moving to the US I have found Frontline and since I don’t have a television I am blessed to be able to watch it online.

They recently had a great show called Spying on the Home Front that was well done and quite disturbing. Basically we are all being spied on all the time because we are all suspects in the doctrine of pre-emption. The disturbing thing about it all is the use of National Security letters that can not be discussed. This double silencing is particularly disturbing. I picked up a book called the Elephant in the Room:Silence and Denial in Everyday Life – it highlighted this phenomena.

Yet what makes conspiracies of silence even more insidious than covering it up is the fact that the silence itself is never actually discussed among conspirators. Unlike when we explicitly agree not to talk about something (“let’s not get into that”), the very fact that the conspirators avoid it remains unacknowledged and the subtle social dynamic underlying their silence are thus consealed….
the reason it is so difficult to talk about the elephant in the room is that “not only does no one want to listen, but no one wants to talk about not listening.” In other words the very act of avoiding the elephant is itself the elephant! Not only do we avoid it, we do wo without acknowledging that we are actually doing so, thereby denying our denial.
Like “rules against seeing rules against seeing,” being “forbidden to talk about the fact about the fact that we are forbidden to talk” about certain things, or the fact that “we do not see what we prefer not to, and do not see what we do not see,” such meta-denial presupposes a particular form of self-deception famously identified by Orwell as “doublethinking,” or the ability “consciously to induce unconsciousness and then to become unconscious of the act of Hypnosis you had just performed.” Thus in Nineteen Eighty-Four, when Eastasia suddenly assumes Eurasia’s traditional role as Oceania’s perpetual enemy and the Oceanians set out to immediately destroy or rectify any references ever made to their long-lasting war with Eurasia, Orwell astutely observes that “the work was overwhelming, all the more so because the process that it involved could not be called by their true names.”

I would recommend the the Frontline show and would love to discuss it with others who have seen it. Perhaps this can be another one for our Media Review Group. I hope there will be a critical mass of folks to actually talk about this next week at Burton Group.

9/11 has indelibly altered America in ways that people are now starting to earnestly question: not only perpetual orange alerts, barricades and body frisks at the airport, but greater government scrutiny of people’s records and electronic surveillance of their communications. The watershed, officials tell FRONTLINE, was the government’s shift after 9/11 to a strategy of pre-emption at home — not just prosecuting terrorists for breaking the law, but trying to find and stop them before they strike.

President Bush described his anti-terrorist measures as narrow and targeted, but a FRONTLINE investigation has found that the National Security Agency (NSA) has engaged in wiretapping and sifting Internet communications of millions of Americans; the FBI conducted a data sweep on 250,000 Las Vegas vacationers, and along with more than 50 other agencies, they are mining commercial-sector data banks to an unprecedented degree.

Even government officials with experience since 9/11 are nagged by anxiety about the jeopardy that a war without end against unseen terrorists poses to our way of life, our personal freedoms. “I always said, when I was in my position running counterterrorism operations for the FBI, ‘How much security do you want, and how many rights do you want to give up?'” Larry Mefford, former assistant FBI director, tells Smith. “I can give you more security, but I’ve got to take away some rights. … Personally, I want to live in a country where you have a common-sense, fair balance, because I’m worried about people that are untrained, unsupervised, doing things with good intentions but, at the end of the day, harm our liberties.”

Although the president told the nation that his NSA eavesdropping program was limited to known Al Qaeda agents or supporters abroad making calls into the U.S., comments of other administration officials and intelligence veterans indicate that the NSA cast its net far more widely. AT&T technician Mark Klein inadvertently discovered that the whole flow of Internet traffic in several AT&T operations centers was being regularly diverted to the NSA, a charge indirectly substantiated by John Yoo, the Justice Department lawyer who wrote the official legal memos legitimizing the president’s warrantless wiretapping program. Yoo told FRONTLINE: “The government needs to have access to international communications so that it can try to find communications that are coming into the country where Al Qaeda’s trying to send messages to cell members in the country. In order to do that, it does have to have access to communication networks.”

Spying on the Home Front also looks at a massive FBI data sweep in December 2003. On a tip that Al Qaeda “might have an interest in Las Vegas” around New Year’s 2004, the FBI demanded records from all hotels, airlines, rental car agencies, casinos and other businesses on every person who visited Las Vegas in the run-up to the holiday. Stephen Sprouse and Kristin Douglas of Kansas City, Mo., object to being caught in the FBI dragnet in Las Vegas just because they happened to get married there at the wrong moment. Says Douglas, “I’m sure that the government does a lot of things that I don’t know about, and I’ve always been OK with that — until I found out that I was included.”

A check of all 250,000 Las Vegas visitors against terrorist watch lists turned up no known terrorist suspects or associates of suspects. The FBI told FRONTLINE that the records had been kept for more than two years, but have now all been destroyed.

In the broad reach of NSA eavesdropping, the massive FBI data sweep in Las Vegas, access to records gathered by private database companies that allows government agencies to avoid the limitations provided by the Privacy Act, and nearly 200 other government data-mining programs identified by the Government Accounting Office, experienced national security officials and government attorneys see a troubling and potentially dangerous collision between the strategy of pre-emption and the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

Peter Swire, a law professor and former White House privacy adviser to President Clinton, tells FRONTLINE that since 9/11 the government has been moving away from the traditional legal standard of investigations based on individual suspicion to generalized suspicion. The new standard, Swire says, is: “Check everybody. Everybody is a suspect.”

NYTimes covers my comments on CFP Panel

For those of you coming from the NYTimes wanting to explore this middle ground I invite you check out the Vendor Relationship Management project that Doc Searls is leading. We will be talking about it at the Internet Identity Workshop that I am facilitating next week.

“Her solution is essentially to give consumers ownership of their data and the power to decide whether or not to share it with marketers”

Lets just be clear this is not ‘my solution’ but a solution that must be found in a marketplace with a huge diversity of stake holders to help make it real and to balance things out. It is one advocated by Attention Trust and being worked on by the Vendor Relationships Management project.

To date there are very limited ways for me to express my preferences to the market place and get information regarding products and things I might like to buy (and only information about those things not just being ‘targeted’ by advertisers). There are also limited ways that people can work together – to aggregate their purchasing power to make new choices – to express demand before a product is even made and sold. These are the sorts of possibilities that I hope can become more real.

To me it is quite interesting that the New York Times is covering Online Ads vs. Privacy because this past week they made a commitment to do deeper data mining of the people who come to their website to ‘improve’ the advertising.

This reporter/social media thing seems to be working. I was quoted for my audience participation in a session at CFP in an article that appeared in Wired. I was linked to and subsequently wrote about my experience of the panel and the point I was trying to make that there was a middle ground. This reflection in my blog was then picked up in the NYTimes.

From the article:
FOR advertisers, and in many ways for consumers, online advertising is a blessing. Customized messages rescue advertisers from the broad reach of traditional media. And consumers can learn about products and services that appeal directly to them.

But there are huge costs, and many dangers, warns Jennifer Granick, the executive director for the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society ( To approach individuals with customized advertising, you have to know who they are. Or at least, you have to gather enough personal information about them that their identity could be easily figured out….

Even if that is true, people like Kaliya Hamlin still say that collecting data about the online activities of individuals can amount to an invasion of privacy. Ms. Hamlin, known as The Identity Woman, is a privacy advocate and consultant. “My clickstream data is sensitive information,” she told Mr. Zaneis, “and it belongs to me.”

On her blog, though, Ms. Hamlin wrote that she found the whole affair frustrating. It was, she wrote, the “angry, progressive anticonsumer guy vs. the super-corporate marketing guy.”

The answers, she wrote, lie somewhere between those positions. “The ‘activist types’ tend to deny that we are people who actually might want to buy things in a marketplace,” she wrote. “The ‘corporate types’ tend to think that we always want to have ‘advertising’ presented to us at all times of day or night because we ‘want it.’ Neither view is really right.”

Her solution is essentially to give consumers ownership of their data and the power to decide whether or not to share it with marketers ( [[ Note to the NYTimes reporters – if you quote a blogger from their blog posts you should link to the actual blog post you are quoting not just the blog itself]]

Again regarding my identity – I am not sure I would describe myself as a ‘privacy advocate’ but rather an end-user advocate, for transparancy, disclosure and passionate about open standards.

In Wired about CFP

I just checked my visitors log and found a link from WIRED that mentions me.

While many websites do not collect names, addresses, Social Security numbers or other “personally identifiable information,” or PII, the information they do collect is extremely revealing. “They don’t need to know your name to know who you are,” Chester said.

A very different perspective came from Mike Zaneis of the Internet Advertising Bureau. Dressed in a much better suit than any other CFP participant, and sporting a John Edwards-quality quaff and a smooth manner, Zaneis faced a hostile, privacy-loving crowd.

Zaneis stressed that profiling does not capture PII. But the audience appeared to agree with Chester that browsing history and search information was nonetheless private. “My clickstream data is sensitive information,” said privacy activist Kaliya Hamlin, known as the Identity Woman, “and it belongs to me.”

I am not sure that I would describe myself as a privacy activist but rather an end-user advocate passionate about open standards.

I found the panel described in the article frustrating. It was one angry progressive anti-consumer guy vs. the super corporate marketing guy. The ‘activist types’ tend to deny that we are people who actually might want to buy things in a market place. The ‘corporate types’ tend to think that we always want to have ‘advertising’ presented to us at all times of day or night because we ‘want it.’ Neither view is really right. I pointed out that there was an option to give users back their ‘attention’ (clickstream) data from the sites that they visit. There could be ways to actually express one’s market needs/preferences and get advertising related to that specific need (this is not enabled anywhere that I know of right now). The VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) discussion is getting interesting and hopefully we can talk more about the issues raised in the space in between privacy and advertising at IIW next week.

Museums and the Web presentation

I was asked by Jennifer Trant to come speak on the closing plenary for Museums and the Web. Here is the talk I am giving.

I didn’t go to a whole lot of the conference but what I did see on Thursday covered three talks on Tagging and the issues that managing digital content in relationship to museum collections raises.

Tagging and Searching – serendipity and museum collection databases by Sebastian Chan, Australia.

When is a terracotta hut urn like a sailor’s deck-log?: Meaning instantiated across virtual boundaries. Richard Smiraglia, USA

Personalized Museum Experience: The Rijksmuseum Use Case
Lora Aroyo, Rogier Brussee, Peter Gorgels, Lloyd Rutledge, Natalia Stash, Yiwen Wang, The Netherlands.

OpenID in the NYTimes

I just got a note from my friend Jo Lee a woman active in the Nonprofit Tech sector (she developed citizen speak – the MoveOn for ultra local campaigns) that OpenID was in the NYTimes today.

Here is a link to the article where the reference is. (page one) and Page Two where the reference is.

Another challenge is persuading users to enter their information over and over when they join new online communities. To solve the problem, several firms are pushing a standard called OpenID, which would let users sign on and easily transfer profile information among social sites.

Marc Canter, a former consultant who has created his own social networking firm, People Aggregator, was an early supporter of OpenID. “Humans are migratory beasts, and we do not want to re-enter our data every time we join a new site,” he said. “Users own their data and should be able to move it around freely.”

It is interesting that Marc would say this about what OpenID does. Since all it does right now is let users authenticate porting their identifier around and if you use the simple extension a tiny amount of data. I hope that the community does find an open standards solution to data movement that empowers people. I think it is a bit irresponsible to tell the NYTimes that is what it actually ”does’ right now.

Free Speach Threat was really about catching AstroTurf

It seems that catching astroturf was more the aim of section 220 of the bill that I blogged about a few days ago as threatening free speach. It turns out the blogosphere uproar was really lead by a conservative Astroturf.

Conservative direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie whipped the blogging community into a frenzied, and largely misdirected, opposition to the provision by trumpeting the section’s supposed threat to First Amendment rights, freedom, Mom and apple pie.

Section 220 was designed to shed light on so-called “Astroturf” campaigns – seemingly grassroots campaigns that are in fact funded and guided by lobbying or PR firms, usually on behalf of large corporate clients. It would have required lobbying firms or individuals who were retained for “paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying” to register with the US Congress, similar to the registration requirement currently in place for K Street lobbyists.

Because of clumsy wording that would have included an employer in the definition of a “client,” the requirement would have applied to anyone who, in the service of their employer, engaged in the stimulation of grassroots lobbying designed to influence more than 500 people, as long as the organization spent over $25,000 per quarter on the activity. Thus, anyone who was paid $25,000 per quarter to maintain a weblog with a readership of more than 500 people would have to register with Congress under section 220 if they spent all of their time encouraging the general public to contact an executive or legislative official over a matter of public policy’.

Thus, instead of putting pressure on the Senate to fix a well-intentioned – but poorly executed – proposal, ATA launched a scare campaign aimed at convincing the blogging community that the federal government was waiting in the wings to send its critics in the blogosphere to jail if they failed to register as grassroots lobbyists.

I am a 61 year old man in a zip code I have never been to…

So today I gave in and got a login to the New York Times. Of course I lied about who I was and what I did. I really don’t like that they want me to identify myself every time I want to look at one of there articles. It is another case where I am being asked for information I don’t want to give- I can give it by lying and get in or not give it at all and not.