Why do most MOOCs appear to be made on $500 budgets despite sponsorship by $$$ inc.’s and universities w/amazing student av/design talent? – @jrmchale: September 6, 2014



Law, Tech and Policy

Reddit, Kickstarter, and Others Plan Net Neutrality ‘Day of Action’ on September 10th – The Verge. At Battle for the Net, suggestions for participating on September 10th, including adding a code snippet to one’s website to display a symbolic “loading” icon.

Twitter CFO says a Facebook-style Filtered Feed is Coming, Whether You Like It or Not – GigaOm. Key question: will there be an opt out?

The Masked Avengers – How Anonymous Incited Online Vigilantism from Tunisia to Ferguson – The New Yorker.

Chattanooga’s Gig: How One City’s Super-Fast Internet is Driving a Tech Boom – The Guardian.

Notes on the Celebrity Data Theft – Nik Cubrilovic at New Web Order. One of the best pieces so far about the recent leak of confidential celebrity photos.

Can I Use that Picture? The Terms, Laws, and Ethics for Using Copyrighted Images – The Visual Communication Guy.

General Interest

Meet the Father of Digital Life – This Maverick Forerunner of Artificial Life and Animation Remains Largely Unknown – Robert Hackett writing at Nautilus on Nils Aall Barricelli.

The Ice Bucket Challenge Isn’t Going Away, But Giving Money to Disease-Specific Charities is Still a Bad Idea – a contrarian position by Felix Salmon at Slate.

Made for China: As US audiences Tire of Big Budget Spectacle, Hollywood Designs its Blockbuster Product for the Ever-Expanding Chinese Market – Shawn Wen at The New Inquiry.

Related: I’ll Skip ‘Star Wars: Episode 13,’ Thanks – Megan McArdle at BloombergView, and

‘Memphis’ and the Beauty of Plotless Movies Should You Watch a Dreamy, Gorgeous, Intensely Slow-Moving R&B Odyssey? Here’s Why Movies Like this Still Matter – Andrew O’Hehir (the best movie critic working today) at Salon.

Seventeen Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read in a Sitting – Electric Lit.


Privilege Versus Law

“The word [‘privilege’], which means ‘private law’ in old French, originally referred to a system in which different groups of people had different rights under the law . . . If there’s one political idea most people agree on these days, it’s the rule of law. We argue endlessly about income inequality, wealth inequality, or inequality of opportunity, but we take it as given that equality under the law is a prerequisite for a just society . . . Now here’s the problem: The U.S. is looking more and more like it has a real privilege system . . . The U.S. is slowly becoming a country where income and race determine the degree to which a citizen is bound by the law of the land. That’s true privilege. That’s the dangerous kind. Dangerous for those on the bottom of the privilege system, but ultimately dangerous for those on the top as well.”

– Professor Noah Smith on Nation of Privilege Versus Rule of Law at BloombergView

Recent Internet Law and IP Resources

Nice to see the open source (and free or low cost) casebook movement continue to gather steam. Even better that we are starting to see epub/mobi editions; pdf’s often present poorly on mobile devices:

Professor Eric Goldman’s 2014 Internet Law casebook and syllabus (pdf – $8, hard copy and kindle editions).

Professors Rebecca Tushnet and Eric Goldman’s 2014 Advertising & Marketing Law casebook (pdf and epub editions – $11.50).

Professor James Boyle (Duke law school) and Jennifer Jenkins’ (Director of Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain) Intellectual Property: Law & the Information Society; cases & materials (open casebook – 2014 edition) (pdf edition – free; paperback – $29.99).

Professor Barton Beebe’s Trademark Law: An Open Source Casebook (2014) (pdf and .doc versions – free).

Professor James Grimmelmann’s Internet Law: Cases and Problems 4.0 (pdf – $30 suggested price).

The United States Copyright Office has released a public draft of its “Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition” (1,222 page pdf – free). Pending final review, the compendium (the first since 1984’s Second Edition) will take formal effect on or around December 15, 2014.


The Importance of Personal Blogs

“[My blog] has seen Flickr explode and then fade. It’s seen Google Wave and Google Reader come and go, and it’ll still be here as Google Plus fades. When Medium and Tumblr are gone, my blog will be here. The things that will last on the internet are not owned. Plain old websites, blogs, RSS, irc, email.” – Brent Simmons at Inessential

“There is something about the personal blog,, where you control everything and get to do whatever the hell pleases you. There is something about linking to one of those blogs and then saying something. It’s like having a conversation in public with each other. This is how blogging was in the early days. And this is how blogging is today, if you want it to be.” – Fred Wilson at AVC

“Social media has come to symbolize, for me, the tyranny of having to appear relevant, visible and clean to everyone else, the inability to define my own boundaries and the uncertainty about what’s going to happen tomorrow to the fundamental structure of this tool that I’m using – all the while someone either makes money off of me or adds to the looming amorphousness trying to stay afloat. You don’t have to share these fears, but that’s why I’m writing this on hosting space I pay for myself on a domain I own myself . . . I do it because it’s the worst alternative, except for all the others.” – Jesper at Waffle. Read the whole thing.


Proposed “USA Freedom Act” – Link Roundup (updated)

Background: U.S. Senate Bill Proposes Sweeping Curbs on NSA surveillance – Reuters’ news report.

Text: txt, pdf and html versions at

Summary of the Bill: Senator Leahy’s NSA Reform Bill: A Quick and Dirty Summary — LawFare

Position of the Electronic Frontier Foundation: EFF’s Decision to Support the Bill and The New Senate USA FREEDOM Act: A First Step Towards Reforming Mass Surveillance at EFF’s DeepLinks blog.

Other Commentary: Our Privacy and Liberty Still at Risk, Even if Leahy NSA Bill Passes – Elizabeth Goitein of the Brennan Center for Justice.

Debate (audio): Stewart Baker, former NSA general counsel, debating Harley Geiger, Deputy Director for the Freedom, Security and Surveillance Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology (Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast); debate sponsored by the Federalist Society).


Intriguing Idea for Board of Directors Reform

“Boards are almost exactly as they were a hundred years ago: a collection of grey eminences who meet for a few days a year to offer their wisdom. They may now include a few women and minorities. There may be a few outsiders. But the fundamentals remain the same. Board members are part-timers with neither the knowledge nor the incentives to monitor companies effectively. And they are beholden to the people they are supposed to monitor. Boards are thus showcases for capitalism’s most serious problems: they are run by insiders at a time when capitalism needs to be more inclusive and are dominated by part-timers at a time when it needs to be more vigilant about avoiding future crises. In the May edition of the Stanford Law Review Stephen Bainbridge of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Todd Henderson of the University of Chicago offer a proposal for fixing boards that goes beyond tinkering: replace individual directors with professional-services firms.” – The Economist

Professors Bainbridge and Henderson’s paper (pdf): Boards-R-Us: Reconceptualizing Corporate Boards


Should Twitter, Facebook and Google Executives be the Arbiters of What We See and Read?

“It’s an imperfect analogy, but, given this extraordinary control over the means of global communication, Silicon Valley giants at this point are more akin to public utilities such as telephone companies than they are ordinary private companies when it comes to the dangers of suppressing ideas, groups and opinions. It’s not hard to understand the dangers of allowing, say, AT&T or Verizon to decree that its phone lines may not be used by certain groups or to transmit certain ideas, and the dangers of allowing tech companies to do so are similar. In the digital age, we are nearing the point where an idea banished by Twitter, Facebook and Google all but vanishes from public discourse entirely, and that is only going to become more true as those companies grow even further.” – Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept

“We need, as web inventor Tim Berners-Lee has urged, to re-decentralize the Internet, and restore its promise as a medium where the action takes place at the edges of networks—where we wouldn’t need permission to communicate and innovate. The first way we users of Internet services can re-decentralize is to create—and make use of—our own home base online. In practical terms, this means getting your own domain name and creating, at a minimum, a blog where you establish your own identity. The page you think is yours at LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram (Facebook), or any of the other centralized services is emphatically not truly your own; it’s theirs.” – Dan Gillmor at The Atlantic

Matthew Green on Email Encryption

“The path to a proper encrypted email system isn’t that far off. At minimum, any real solution needs:

‘A proper approach to key management. This could be anything from centralized key management as in Apple’s iMessage — which would still be better than nothing — to a decentralized (but still usable) approach like the one offered by Signal or OTR. Whatever the solution, in order to achieve mass deployment, keys need to be made much more manageable or else submerged from the user altogether.’

‘Forward secrecy baked into the protocol. This should be a pre-condition to any secure messaging system.’

‘Cryptography that post-dates the Fresh Prince. Enough said.’

‘Screw backwards compatibility. Securing both encrypted and unencrypted email is too hard. We need dedicated networks that handle this from the start.'”

– Professor Matthew Green, Johns Hopkins University, writing at his blog: A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering.


Law, Tech and Policy

A Convicted Hacker and an Internet Icon Join Forces to Thwart NSA Spying – Wired. Related: Inside Citizen Lab, the ‘Hacker Hothouse’ Protecting You from Big Brother — ArsTechnica.

Singapore is Testing Whether Mass Surveillance and Big Data can not only Protect National Security, but Actually Engineer a More Harmonious Society — Foreign Policy.

On the 35th anniversary of the case which introduced the 3rd party doctrine (i.e., people have no expectation of privacy in information they expose to others (e.g., telcos and other businesses)): Smith v. Maryland Turns 35, But Its Health Is Declining — Electronic Frontier Foundation.

General Interest

At Medium, Rex Sorgatz’s four part series on art and authenticity: Part I: This is Not a Vermeer; Part II: Uber for Art Forgeries; Part III: Forgeries Gone Wild; and Part IV: The End of Authentication.

The Scope of Ai Weiwei’s Imagination – photo essay in Hyperallergic on the recent “Ai Weiwei: Evidence” exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum in Berlin. Also: The Long Game: On the Repression of Ai Weiwei and Jafar Panahi — Full Stop.

David Foster Wallace on Writing, Self-Improvement, and How We Become Who We Are – Maria Popova at Brain Pickings. Related: mp3 of WBUR/The Connection radio program featuring David Foster Wallace and “Modern American Usage” editor/author, Bryan Garner, discussing English language usage.


Dan Geer: Cybersecurity as Realpolitik (video)

Dan Geer, CISO for In-Q-Tel, a not-for-profit investment firm that invests in technology that supports the missions of the CIA and broader U.S. intelligence community (i.e., the CIA’s venture arm), garnered headlines this past week for the proposal that the U.S. intelligence community corner the market on security vulnerabilities and then disclose them. His presentation at Black Hat 2014, however, is well worth watching in its entirety, as he touches on policy proposals on a wider variety of topics including:

Mandatory Vulnerability Reporting: 16:46
Net Neutrality: 22:20
Product Liability for Software: 25:31
Cyber Attack Counterstrikes: 32:12
Fallbacks/Resiliency: 33:28
Vulnerability Finding: 38:44
Right to be Forgotten: 40:15
Internet Voting: (only in Transcript)
Software Abandonment: 44:47
Convergence of Cyberspace and “Meatspace”: 47:04


More Morozov

“A robust privacy debate should ask who needs our data and why, while proposing institutional arrangements for resisting the path offered by Silicon Valley. Instead of bickering over interpretations of Facebook’s privacy policy as if it were the US constitution, why not ask how our sense of who we are is shaped by algorithms, databases and apps, which extend political, commercial and state efforts to make us – as the dystopian Radiohead song has it – ‘fitter, happier, more productive’? This question stands outside the privacy debate, which, in the hands of legal academics, is disconnected from broader political and economic issues. The intellectual ping pong over privacy between corporate counsels and legal academics moonlighting as radicals always avoids the most basic question: why build the ‘private spaces’ celebrated by Mr Zuckerberg if our freedom to behave there as we wish – and not as companies or states nudge us to – is so limited?” — from Evgeny Morozov’s OpEd in the Financial Times


Another Reminder That Anonymity Tools Aren’t Foolproof – Vice’s MotherBoard: “Tails, the operating system favoured by journalists, activists, and Edward Snowden for its high degree of privacy protection, has been shown to have critical vulnerabilities in its code. By exploiting these, attackers could peal away a Tails user’s cloak of anonymity. It’s just the latest reminder that tools touted as ‘anonymous’ are not infallible.”

Back Doors in Apple’s Mobile Platform for Law Enforcement, Bosses, Spies (Possibly) — Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing: “Jonathan Zdziarski’s HOPE X talk, ‘Identifying Backdoors, Attack Points, and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices’, suggests that hundreds of millions of Iphone and Ipad devices ship from Apple with intentional back-doors that can be exploited by law enforcement, identity thieves, spies, and employers.”

Tor Break Talk Axed from Black Hat Conference — ZDNet: “A proposed talk by two Carnegie Mellon University researchers demonstrating how to de-anonymise Tor users on a budget of US$3,000 has been axed from the Black Hat USA 2014 conference in Las Vegas next month. The talk, ‘You don’t have to be the NSA to Break Tor: Deanonymizing Users on a Budget’ by speakers, Alexander Volynkin and Michael McCord, from Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Emergency Response Team, had reportedly been highly anticipated by punters.”

Visit the Wrong Website, and the FBI Could End Up in Your Computer — Wired: “Security experts call it a ‘drive-by download': a hacker infiltrates a high-traffic website and then subverts it to deliver malware to every single visitor. It’s one of the most powerful tools in the black hat arsenal, capable of delivering thousands of fresh victims into a hackers’ clutches within minutes . . . For the last two years, the FBI has been quietly experimenting with drive-by hacks as a solution to one of law enforcement’s knottiest Internet problems: how to identify and prosecute users of criminal websites hiding behind the powerful Tor anonymity system.”

Putin Sets $110,000 Bounty for Cracking Tor as Anonymous Internet Usage in Russia Surges — Bloomberg.


Kevin Kelly: You Are Not Late

“Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to be an entrepreneur in 1985 when almost any dot com name you wanted was available? . . . The internet was a wide open frontier then . . . Looking back now it seems as if waves of settlers have since bulldozed and developed every possible venue, leaving only the most difficult and gnarly specks for today’s newcomers . . . But, but . . here is the thing. In terms of the internet, nothing has happened yet. The internet is still at the beginning of its beginning. If we could climb into a time machine and journey 30 years into the future, and from that vantage look back to today, we’d realize that most of the greatest products running the lives of citizens in 2044 were not invented until after 2014 . . . There has never been a better time [to start something on the internet] with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside, than now. Right now, this minute . . . It is the best time EVER in human history to begin. You are not late.”

Kevin Kelly at Medium. Read the whole thing.