Saturday, January 20, 2018

Does the idea of a new constitution belong in our "Overton Window"?

I wanted to point of the blog of Ars Technica’s Timothy B. Lee (whom I met when living in Minneapoplis when he was an undergraduate there), particularly his recent article Jan. 19, “Our constitutional system is broken and we should fix it”, link here

 Indeed, there a numerous opinions maintaining that Trump’s presidency comports with a global trend toward authoritarianism, of politics by base and reparative expropriation.

Yes, a parliamentary system is easier to re-steer.  But Lee makes the important point that consideration of a new constitution needs to be placed in our “Overton Window”.  That can be dangerous, as I have pointed out in my books (the People’s Party in 1972), or encouraging (my “Bill of Rights 2” discussions and reviews of John Vile’s work on the constitutional amending process 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

YouTube narrows volume requirements for ad eligibility, and adds human scrutiny honor wishes of advertisers

YouTube is tightening the requirements for its channels to become eligible for ads, as explained here. There had been a requirement of 10000 total views but now there is a requirement of 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours watch time within the past twelve months.

There is also increased scrutiny over Google Preferred channels, with more manual supervision of content for appropriateness for their advertisers, who do not want to appear on videos that appear to be “hate speech” or sometimes sexually explicit.

The New York Times has a story about the policy by Daisuke Wakabayashi here.

Google does not seem to have enforced minimum volumes for Adsense on blogs or other sites. But that may have to do with the way Adwords is sold or pitched to publishers (as on YouTube). 
My own videos, mostly shown on Wordpress, are generally short and I usually take them at events or of outdoor attractions on trips.  They would not have achieved the required volumes to qualify for ads.  But if I were to increase the quality of videos and focus on a narrow, compelling topic (let’s say some national security issues right now, with Trump in office) I certainly can imagine qualifying.

But controversy is more likely to attract visitors and viewing hours.
I have some higher quality videos on Vimeo, here , where it was easier to upload big files. They would probably attract more visitors if moved to YouTube. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Should "you" give to panhandlers?

Here’s another little problem.

A woman leaves a note and a treat on the Metro.

When she sees me taking a cell picture, she whisks this away.

Do you give to someone like this, or is this a scam.  Or is it just a matter of very low wages.
There’s one pandhandler all over Arlington with a sign that she needs money for surgery for her mother in Ecuador.  (Not El Salvador.) 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Language concerning downstream liability and Section 230 under FOSTA and SESTA, sometimes angering trafficking victims' adovcates

The Washington Examiner Jan  16 issue has an important article about FOSTA and SESTA on p, 8 by Melissa Quinn, “Victims groups and privacy advocates cry foul over online sex trafficking legislation; Despite bipartisan support, opponents are still concerned bout legal limits and online privacy.”

So far the article is not available online.

Tech companies have become more supportive since November as language has narrowed their exposure to downstream liability in Section 230 exceptions to wanton reckless disregard or actual knowledge legal standards.

But some sex trafficking victims’ groups probably believe user content should stop if that is what it takes to stop trafficking.  Ubgated speech is not necessarily a constitutional right. So some fear that tech companies will remove speech that even remotely suggests a possible sex transaction.

Tech Liberation has an article from Dec. 2017 by Jennifer Heddleston Skees that notes that platforms will not be pursued just because of “deeper pockets” and would have to be complicit in actual crimes.  But for very large sites, like Google’s there still could be a statistical expectation of problems.
See also COPA blog article Jan. 9.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Facebook "announced" that it wants more actual effort from users, but is this really just about personal interactions?

Facebook is changing its algorithms to reduce the emphasis on news content and encourage more social interaction with people.

Or perhaps, news content that attracts quality (longer) comments will tend to still tend to be fed well.
CNN has a video interview by Laurie Seagall with News Feed’s Adam Mosseri.

Ars Technica’s Timothy B. Lee just tweeted “Facebook declares war on introverts”.

It does appear that Facebook wants more person-specific content that generates a response.  But does this mean it wants people to pimp their own GoFundMe campaigns?  I don’t do that.  I generally don’t get into a lot of very personal conversations about need online.  I don’t even use Snapchat.  If I want that kind of interaction, I’d rather it be in person or by phone.

But this reminds me of the problem of going to a disco and “watching” the perfect cis white males and refusing to dance with the “others” when approached.

Mike Isaac has a detailed story in the New York Times. 
I haven’t noticed any real change yet in my own Facebook news feed.  But I’ve always had a certain balance between non-partisan news, and more personal stuff. 


 Look at this article on FB by David Ginsberg, including the comments (mine), about time on social media. 
 The WSJ writes about the potential effect on "organic posts" (essentially free distribution from companies that did not pay for ads) here.  There are also some speculations that FB might not consider some companies at all in its algorithms, or might now allow many sites to be linked or to expand in preview mode. 

Update:  Jan 17

Here's an article on prospecting on Facebook.  I'm not tribal enough for some of this.  But the advice on max 3 posts a day makes sense, and on leaving out links (but put them in comments instead of the main post) makes some sense.  I am not in the business of having to mass recruit prospects or sell a service or commodity.  I think for journalists, the advice would be different.  FB seems to want to reduce journalism, but what it really needs is good journalism and factually true stories (from original, not just corporate) sources.  

Update: Jan 19

The Washington Post reports that Facebook will take user surveys of various media companies to consider in distributing feeds to users.  Users can rate media as to credibility and truthful reporting. 

Update: Jan 21

Is a new site called "HomeFundMe" representative of the networking Facebook wants to see?  This would be a revolutionary way to look at one's life. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Should others be able to tell me that I "should" donate organs even while alive? "Should" give to or promote a specific charity?

Dylan Matthews of Vox media offers a rather strident piece,Why I gave my kidney to a stranger, and why you should consider doing it too”, dated back in April.

The piece is rather long, almost a short book. But I get concerned when others tell me what “you” should do, out of collective values. 

When I was growing up, heroic medical interventions were rarely expected because they weren’t yet possible.  Apart from blood drives, you rarely heard about organ donation. But the culture has changed in recent years, as Robin Roberts demonstrated on ABC about her own receiving a bone marrow transplant to stave off an unusual leukemia.

Gay men got bounced out of the blood and therefore organ donation loop by HIV in the 1980s, and only very recently have been allowed back in with very strict conditions of previous long term abstinence..

But a bigger point is a sense of body sanctity (even if I don’t wear shorts anymore).  Simple blood donation is one thing; plasmapheresis is another; but undergoing major surgery sounds over the top. I can imagine other places this goes ("Be brave and shave"). 

Yet, I don’t have the ability to bond intimately with people to get beyond these sensitivities.

I saw a tweet from a friend (in the media) noting a charity he had donate do (regarding displaced Syrians) with the comment “you should to.”  Again, it’s not appropriate for others to decide what my priorities should be.  But in this case, I looked up the small charity, and set up an arrangement for a small automated monthly contribution from my mother’s trust.  So the “should” worked.

There is some karma here.  In the past, even before AIDS was a well known problem, there were incidents in my own personal life involving the possibility of dialysis and also of a lymphoma-like cancer among personal friends. And of course HIV took over everything in the 80s.

There was an incident at work around 1993 when I was embarrassed at work about not being able to join a blood drive.  Yet during the aftermath of the Russian anti-gay propaganda law of 2013, I actually heard the comment that gay people were viewed as undermining the solidarity of the public over blood and organ donations.

I generally do not allow “other people’s causes” to take over my own presence or self-branding.  I don’t use my social media pages for “other people’s fundraising” or political activism, but I will give links to these. I don’t allow my home or car to display ads for other causes (other than the Libertarian sticker on my rear bumper).  

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A childish president Trump again whines about American libel laws, given the Dossier controversy

Here Trump goes again, wanting to shake the nation’s libel laws, so that public figures and leaders with political bases to hold don’t face extra scrutiny when suing speakers of potentially defamatory statements, NBCNews story.

Libel laws are controlled in part by states, and there is no simple way Trump can do this.  NPR has a good discussion of the difference between US and UK libel laws for public figures, and also "Rachel's Law", as well as reforms in 2013 in the UK to reduce "libel tourism". 

Buzzfeed made a major update of its “dossier” today, with this post.  Buzzfeed apparently has been served withlitigation. Buzzfeed actually solicits confidential tips from readers on the story.   
Here’s the full dossier related to Christopher Steele  sure to make the movies soon.
And Trump is bee-stung by Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” bedtime talk book.  It looks like my copy from Amazon doesn’t arrive until Jan. 31.   There are mixed reports on the sales so far.

Theoretically, “President Poopiepants” (as a Facebook friend calls him) could sue me for libel for merely linking to the Dossier. 

Monday, January 08, 2018

Twitter verification: the idea could mean more without net neutrality down the road, but new applications appear suspended

I’ve encountered some controversy over Twitter verification recently.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here before.

A verification check is supposed to mean that (1) Twitter has verified that “you” are who you say you are as the owner of the account (think about identity theft) and (2) you are a person of some public importance.  The second idea seems very subjective and we’ll come back to that.

First, it seems that Twitter has suspended the ability to apply for the verification check (as of November 2017).  All of this happened before its “Twitter Purge”.   The FAQ page right now doesn’t tell you how to apply.  “The Verge” seems to confirm this impression.

But there have been a few articles according people to try to get the badge.  There is one on “MakeUse Of” but the best piece seems to be by Tom Ward on Forbes, last  April.

It appears that you need to be mentioned by other people besides yourself, that “self-publishing doesn’t count” here.  It is also helpful if you are published on sites other than your own.  (I would expect “Blogtyrant” to look into this.)

The idea seems similar to Wikipedia’s idea of “notability”.  You can’t write your own Wikipedia article, and whoever does can’t be too close to you (can’t be paid to, for example).
Twitter doesn’t rule the world, like Vantage (private joke from work at ING!, in the past). But the concept, and the observation that Twitter keeps it obscure, suggests a potential gatekeeping trend that could grow troublesome with the loss of net neutrality.  Potentially, someday, people might not be allowed to have their own domains connected until they had all proven some kind of public worthiness.  That certainly sounds like where things in China are headed already.  Could it happen here?

The video above (from a British conservative) explains why this can be abused (by the “Left”) and suggests that Twitter identify people only with legal or public records documents.

I seem to get plenty of followers without verification now.  About 30% of the followers are junk (spammers) who drop me pretty quickly.
Note the video. Milo Yiannopoulos is a “bad boy”?  Dangerous? 

Friday, January 05, 2018

Substitute teacher in Catholic school fired after being doxed for association with alt-right policy group

There has been an incident at a Catholic high school (The Academy of the Holy Cross, for girls) in Kensington, MD where a substitute teacher, Gregory Conte, was fired after he was doxed, outing him as a associated with the National Policy Institute, under the alias of Gregory Ritter.  The group is supposedly associated with the “alt-right”.

The lead story on WJLA7 in Washington in here.
Conte was not fired over social media or other self-published postings.  And the school is a private Catholic school, not a public school. Nevertheless, the story is a disturbing reminder of an incident in 2005 that happened with me (see July 27, 2007 post).

Conte's behavior would not have violated my own idea of "conflict of interest" as I have discussed it before because he did not have real permanent authority over students, to grade them.  His use of a pseudonym is also irrelevant;  he has only one "identity".  I have a nickname ("Bill" for "John William"); his was a language translation, still pretty obvious.  

I did find this Wordpress blog posting with a simple Google search, and what it claims is rather disturbing. But the post would appear to come from sources related to Antifa.  However, if a blog post like this was what doxed the teacher and led to his firing, that alone is disturbing, too. 

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

OK, I waffle on Donald Trump; but no one gets to bargain with my own life (especially with fictitious nuclear buttons)

I wanted to open this blog in 2018 by noting my own inconsistent attitude toward our president, Donald Trump.

I used to watch the Apprentice in the mid 2000’s, and at the time I though his judgment in the boardroom, on who to fire, made sense.  I recall especially one episode where he fired someone for a “life threatening” admission which reminded me of my own experience when substitute teaching. I thought the episode where Troy McClain “took one for the team” (allowing, as Trump even notes in “How to Get Rich”, his legs to be waxed on camera) was interesting, and later Trump offered to pay all of Troy’s college tuition.  Troy indeed allowed a major bargaining of his own body integrity. 

But as a political candidate, his willingness to give in to hypertribalism seems shocking, and goes way beyond the behaviors I would have expected from “The Apprentice”. He acts like a quasi-dictator who will play to his base and settle a score against the intellectual “elites”.  Resentment, grudges, and “take care of your own” mentality can feed both fascism and communism.

I was concerned that he would turn on individual Internet users as posing unnecessary security problems with gratuitous behavior;  instead, he embraced Twitter himself and went after only the mainstream liberal media. He has hinted that he could jail journalists or defeated political opponents, as if that is how you make things right for your base.

Now, I watch the very real possibility that he could have boxed himself into a corner on not allowed North Korea to have nuclear weapons.  That’s a theory that I have gone along with, part of the  McNamara “Domino Theory” in Vietnam that I covered in my own DADT-1 book (especially my summer of 1968 at the Pentagon, described in Section 10 of Chapter 2).  But his increasing “rocket man” tweets and the latest exchange over who has the biggest nuclear button, something else is going on. Trump mentions the starving people in North Korea, but doesn’t see he defeats his own point.  People in South Korea, Japan, Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, and eventually all of the continental United States are relatively “rich” and have lives that can be bargained away in a “limited nuclear war” designed to prove something for the future. We’ve seen this test of resilience before.  As I noted in my books, the Vietnam era draft, which Trump avoided, but which sheltered a lot of us (including me) with student deferments and better treatment in the military but which let “McNamara’s morons” become cannon fodder, plays into the argument.  Who individuals show resilience when faced with common challenge is always a moral issue.
I have tweeted Trump, trying to calm down his most reckless comments, and reminded him several times that even the continental US could face am EMP threat (especially E1) which might be easier for North Korea to pull off than an actual nuclear strike on a city.  I have had some success in getting the major media start taking this seriously.  I have played ball with Trump on some other issues, saying you can solve health care if you do all the math (on subsidies and reinsurance) first.

Let me add that Trump personally doesn't seem hostile to cis-gender gays (as he had some as candidates on The Apprentice), but makes jokes distancing himself from the debate when be allies himself with people known for anti-gay activity in the past (Pence: "He wants to hang 'em all".) He seems to have a problem with gender ambiguity itself.  
Populism may air grievances and put former “elites” in their place (maybe in tombs) but it doesn’t solve problems.  It just spreads around the sacrifices, and you don’t know when they will hit “you” personally.  But when they do, it’s entirely on “you”.
But I still refuse to play identity politics or intersectionality. i can't join somebody else's group to pimp my own victimhood.  I have to get my own work done first to be of any good to others.  If Trump or anyone else bargains that away, I’m gone. 

Picture: Accuweather advertises my own books back to me. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

To get more exposure for your blogs, write less???

Tonight Ramsay Taplan, “Blogtyrant”, retweeted a controversial article from another source about how bloggers make a living at it, that is, “Why you need to stop writing content if you want to get traffic”, link here. The site is called “Amp my content” and the Twitter handle was called “ Inbound Ascension”.  Ramsay commented "This is real", probably especially for his very person-like cat.  

The underlying concept seems to be a “single short article” spread over multiple platforms that spread themselves.  There is this idea of “lead compounding.”

Still, this is an article of real world advice for people whose writing has to pay its own way and probably provide for other people, even if it has to be partisan.

The article gives one point of interesting advice: a site with a lot of weak content items will drag down the search engine ranking of the stronger items.  That could mean I should purge the weak or outdated or redundant items on the old "" site, finally. I need to keep all the reviews, major essays, and book texts.  Might happen in 1Q of 2018.  
I get annoyed at desperate attempts to get me to join other people’s campaigns, as if I didn’t have my own mind, but is that what “playing ball” really means? 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Congress says it want to look into Internet addiction (including Trump's); Facebook offers tool to determine if the Russians punked your account

Tonight ABC News reported that Congress is looking at whether some tech companies, especially game providers, are deliberately trying to “addict” consumers to tube time and associated social media, video story here

The story mentioned clinics which treat Internet addiction, which are even more common in South Korea and even China.

Facebook (under /help) offers a tool that indicates whether a user was befriended by a fake account (usually from Russia).  My check did not show one.  However, I recall a few bizarre foreign accounts which were added quickly in late 2016 and which all suddenly disappeared in the late summer of 2017.  I’ve also reported one threatening message, only one, a few months ago in bad English (maybe spam), and reported one account that was fake.  Another account constantly kept sending messages about wanting help getting into the country (a real no-no today with Trump) but then his account got deleted.  I did report one account as fake in June.  And finally, a fake profile of me was put up about eight months ago and caught by another friend, and Facebook removed it before I even knew about it.

The tool is not available on mobile devices. 

I talk about spam mainly on my Internet safety blog, but some of it is so laughable that I can’t believe people still fall for it.  

Monday, December 25, 2017

Kialo: a website that sets up a template for "opposing viewpoints" debate

I found a site, Kialo, that aims at promulgating “opposing viewpoints” about a variety of issues.  It sets up pros and cons for issues and groups the arguments into fitted subcategories.  I signed up for it through Facebook, and made the following sub-pro argument on “network neutrality”. 

"There is precedence for regulating large public "facilities" as "utilities": that is, power and phone companies. It matters whether there is competition. Is website access a "utility"? True, over time the Internet could be balkanized as websites convert to favored "apps" (as in mobile world now). ISP's must be expected to leave normal http(s) access to lawful websites alone."

Some of the debate topics are challenging or point toward some real confrontations in the culture wars/.  For example, should all confederate statues be removed from public spaces, or should gender-specific bathrooms be eliminated.


I had proposed developing such a scheme myself  (see Feb. 29, 2012).  I had particularly thought about it in the mid 2000’s, before Facebook and Twitter blossomed. 

Update: Dec 26

The "claim" was deleted.  Apparently it was not a clear pro or con statement (it is in the middle between the two) that could fit into their debate stream.  I'll have to figure out what they consider acceptable claims. 

I see that there is a panel on compulsory military and/or national service.  I'll look into this later. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Radical resistance instructions, or, you've been punked

I came across this set of “New Years Resolutions forRadical Resistance”.  The piece on Medium is written in such a manner as to make you wonder if you’re being punked (point 8), or if the speaker means it.


There is something to the idea that if better-off people don’t give back very visibly, others may have no reason not to express their indignation about the meaningless of what is happening on floors above them.  Particularly offputting is the idea of reverse targeting: that you have to pick out people who deserve your generosity based on race. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Baby boomers and hyperindividualism; paywalls and the lack of neutrality

Sean Illing has a damning interview article on Vox, “How the baby boomer – not millennials – screwed America”, link.

Illing interviews Bruce Gibney, author of “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America”. The boomers. If born after 1946 (I was born in 1943) never new personal sacrifice, so they took the world for granted.

But then should this become a condemnation of individualism?

The boomers were willing to let their own kids and grandkids get squeezed into increasing debt.
An essay by Jason Furman on Project Syndicate expresses a similar concern less directly.

With this site I ran into a rather aggressive paywall.  It sounds like the site wants to hook you into therm, and not visit other opinions sites.  If you think about it, that’s how the website world could work some day in a no-neutrality environment.  Only relatively few aggregate speakers compared today can be heard, so they have to charge and get you to join them.  It’s a kind of forced tribalism. 

Update: Dec 25

Here's another site, shared by Rick Sincere, with good articles, that now has a free-content max per month (paywall).  It's as if some of these companies want a world where only sites with paywalls are up so that everybody has to compete to become "your news provider".  That is how some people see things. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Twitter apparently will ban users with "affiliations" to violent groups, esp. neo-Nazis

There had been surprisingly little attention until maybe Friday about various reports that Twitter, starting Monday December 18 2017, will ban or at least suspend users with “affiliations” to groups that support violence against civilians, including foreign terrorists (ISIS) but especially domestic white supremacists or neo-Nazis.
The most obvious problem with the proposal would be pinning down what Twitter means by “affiliation”.  Some observers claim that Twitter will check the cookies of computers or phones that upload tweets to determined users who visit hate sites.  But this would require “hacking” and would be illegal except for sites actually hyperlinked from tweets.

What seems most reasonable is that Twitter wants to prohibit persons “working for” extremist groups from posting sanitized messages in order to recruit followers.
In the past, people have been banned from some kinds of employment because of associational membership, like in the Communist Party.  “Membership in” or support for foreign terrorist groups is a crime already, but the law seems less clear on domestic groups, even those connected to neo-Nazism.

The most objective piece seems to by Dave Morris Nov. 18, 2017 on Fortune.

Aja Romono is more whimsical on Vox about “banning the Nazis” here. 

Look at the attitude of “Wife with a Purpose” and her claims here
This piece in the Atlantic Aug. 31 “Distinguishingbetween Antifa, White Supremacists, and Black Lives Matter” seems pertinent. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Local magazine examines volunteerism for teens, and indirectly for adults and seniors like me

While at the Westover Market in Arlington VA late yesterday, on an icy day, I picked up a copy of Arlington Magazine having, on p. 46, “Teaching Kids to Care”, by Ellen Ryan, photos by Erick Gibson. The byline says, we want our kids to be altruistic, so it starts with us.  Ayn Rand does not appear to be welcome. 

The article, as the name suggests, deals with getting high schoolers and probably college undergraduates into volunteerism.  George Washington University, after all, has its annual day of service in September of every academic year.

Recently the Red Cross has been offering to train volunteers to go into low income homes and install smoke detectors.  The article describes kids going into homes and look for energy leaks.

I’ve done sporadic volunteer assignments for a couple hours at a time, and I don’t find it very effective.  Right now, it seems to take all my time to get my own projects done, sort of a continuation of the way it was when I was “working”. So I can’t practice what I preach (it’s easier, as Charles Murray has intimated, to preach what you practice).

I think it takes a minimum regular commitment to make volunteerism effective.  You need to get into something physical and hands-on and that intersect with people’s real lives and real needs, whether it is food, housing construction, clothing, job opportunities, etc.  You could learn some good skills.  That’s a little less relevant since I sold my own estate house.  But I can also see how this fits into “Survival Mom” type of thinking.

Some school systems have a community service requirement for graduation. It’s imaginable that as time goes on, more interests will pay attention to an individual’s “community engagement” in evaluations for employment or other business matters.  But this sort of thing gives non-profits some personal power over their own volunteers’ lives.  This fits especially into the ideology of the Left of compelling people to become horizontally as well as vertically connected and may sound counter to libertarian individualism.  (Charles Murray would disagree – consider “Coming Apart”).

Let’s ponder also what the best way to get recovery work done after a natural disaster.  Is it by having companies mass-build manufactured housing?  Companies are good at it.  Survival Mom says that local neighbors helping with cleanup was very critical around her own home area north of Houston after Harvey.

There’s even more at stake here, with the issue of national resilience.  With our tech dependency, we could face a vulnerability to enemies (like EMP) that is simply unprecedented.  Think about that the next time Trump (or Milo, or even I) publicly shames fat little rocket man. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Blogtyrant suggests website owners get ratings for carbon neutrality

Ramsay Taplan has a new piece, “How to Make your Website Carbon Neutral”  He refers to the CO2NeutralWebsite which will give every website (I guess that means independently hosted Wordpress blog) a grade on its carbon imprint and have the website audited by an accounting firm.
It is interesting to note that cloud processing is said to consume more energy that paper;  but cloud processing also disperses backup data, which may be a good antidote to threats to Internet architecture (like rogue EMP). 

Websites leave a footprint based on load time and time of visit. 


But what strikes me is that personal lifestyles have a lot to do with carbon imprint.  It is true, that functioning well in a social unit (family) is more efficient for the planet than doing things alone, although the way my own life has gone I could not live up to that. I drive places alone (and rent cars when I fly) a lot.  Electric-only cars don't have enough range yet.  Does the travel that supports my website content count in its carbon rating? 

Here's a mischievious thought about today's 3-2 "loss" in the FCC on net neutrality -- not carbon neutrality.  I've already speculated that in the future telecom companies could limit website access by safety ratings or by requiring https everywhere.  Now I wonder about a carbon rating with this concept. 

Friday, December 08, 2017

Video conference: "Fake News and Social Media: the New Propaganda"

Here’s a video of a panel on “Fake News and Social Media: The New Propaganda” at DraginCon in Atlanta on Nov. 19, 2017.

Speakers were Amie Spetanovich, Blair B. Chintella (moderator), Gennie Gebhart, William C. Nevin, and K’Tech.

Anie adds that Google got rid of the “objective search results icon” recently.

There was also discussion on whether “truth” exists in consumers’ minds.
Vox has an interview by Sean Illing of author David Patrikarokas (“War in 140 Characters”)  that examines whether individual bloggers really change the world and challenge governments, as illustrated by the work of Eliot Higgins, a gamer who exposed Russia’s complicity with the Malaysia Flight 17 crash.  

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

"Blogtyrant" 's niche blogging advocacy, with a warning about copyrighted photos

“Blogtyrant” (Ramsay Taplin), while recently on his own vacation in native Australia and noting the importance of trees in fighting climate change, has put out a couple more important articles on blogging.

The first of these is “What to do when your child says they want to be a blogger”.  (Note the “they” – plural – yet that is becoming accepted English as a gender neutral singular pronoun;  I prefer “she” if I want to sound inclusive enough, without really implying binary-ness).  My own mother would not have approved in her old age when I moved back in, but I don’t think she really understood.

More critical is “11 Beginner Mistakes that Cripple Blogs intheir First Year”.  I can’t adhere to 1 and 2 very well, which I think really apply to niche blogging  -- and what matters there is that the underlying small business is successful (and the blog serves the business).  I don’t run email lists, and I guess that means I’m not the “GO TO” (no COBOL please) person for anyone’s practical needs.  There are reasons why that may change soon if I can combine others to cover some critical topics (like infrastructure security from foreign threats).  But #9 (not the same as the DC bar of that name) is about the risk of lawsuit for copyright infringement especially for photo and video infringements.


There’s a personal story of a photo copyright infringement here from Ron Loren worth citing. In general, realize that some photo collections online are copyrighted and the photos may not be used free.  Some publications actually sell rights to use photos as part of their income (DC’s gay paper Metro Times does that) so they depend on being paid for their business model.  It is possible that embedded photos could cause a problem, but less likely than one on your own server. Photos of copyrighted material might lead to problems.  I doubt that photos of ads like in Metro stations would (you’re promoting them for free).  A few years ago bloggers were getting sued by a “troll” named Righthaven for using articles and images from plaintiff’s small newspapers. The fact that a service provider does a DMCA Safe Harbor takedown does not protect the blogger from a later lawsuit or demand for payment. 

Here's another piece, from a UK site called Connotations, on how to write an effective blog posting that gets the desired attention.  Sounds like an English theme. 

Friday, December 01, 2017

Does blogging about white supremacists for journalistic motives make the neo-Nazis look "credible"? Vox weighs in

Karen Turner has a interesting discussion with Tom Rosenstiel on Vox, “How can journalists responsibly cover neo-Nazis: a media scholargives his advice.” 

There is a lot of flak on the left that even covering them gives them credibility as a movement, that could some day become very threatening to specific minorities if politicians had to take them seriously.

A major big city newspaper with national circulation has to consider that different parts of the country will react variably to the same coverage.

There’s a question when amateur bloggers cover it, too.  If a blogger happened to film the Charlottesville rally “for documentation” some people see this as promotion. Correspondingly, it seems that a few journalists might be in trouble now for filming the anti-Trump rally and vandalism on Inauguration Day.

Update: Dec. 3

Yesterday I went on a day trip to investigate the KKK Flyers incident in Rappahannock County (and Warren) VA,  But some would say that my doing so, as an amateur, only encourages more incidents like this because a perpetrator knows someone like me will pay and give attention to it.  When am I responsible for what other people feel motivated to do? 

Later Dec. 3

I saw a ThinkProgress plea (after an article about Orin Hatch and CHIP, children's health, and people "helping themselves") that ad networks were blocking them because they "produce 'controversial political content'" and "cover white nationalism and other controversial topics".  Well, so do I, on my own. I'm "fortunate" enough not to depend on ads or members, but in a way that could be a bad thing. What if every website had to pay its own way to stay up (to keep well-off people from steering the debate)?  

Update: Dec. 4

Now there is a flyer incident on the SMU campus in Dallas (University Park) (CNN story). 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Cell phone metadata may have very little 4th Amendment protection

I’m not sure I agree with all those crying wolf on. Carpenter v. US, where the FBI secured cell phone metadata about the suspects without a warrant.  The Detroit News has a typical story here

Here is the transcript of oral arguments on Nov. 29. 

I’d wonder about analogous cases, such as records where my Metro Smart Card had been used. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Snapchat is social, not media

Evan Spiegel has a piece on Axios, “How Snapchat Is Separating Social from Media”. 

I got his tweet, and retweeted with the comment that I don’t use products that don’t store what I said.  (I can just use the phone or be in person, or maybe Skype).  I have to admit that as I go down my own agenda for my books, screenplays, music I could encounter people who want me to be able to use it to communicate.  I’ll reconsider. (It’s also a little dangerous not to have an account – someone could impersonate you – this almost happened with Instagram).

Spiegel has a good point in that algorithms ought to focus more on what “you” do rather than what “your friends” do.   Maybe that played into the susceptibility of Americans to the Russian fake news attack.

The other thing is that the “ethics” of wanting to create media may lie below relationship building, which puts your skin in the game.  But, “I hate speed-dating”. 

Here is "Business Insider's" account of Speigel's announcement. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Op-ed wants Facebook and other social media to prohibit images of people without permission; also, prior restraint of press

An op-ed on CNN by Amy Adele Hasinoff seems to want Facebook to adopt a policy that before any image of anyone can be posted, the subject must give permission.  The article is “The Policy that the uS Porn Industry Has but that Facebook Needs”. 

Theoretically, all images in any photo would have to be tagged before they could be posted on Facebook (or possibly any online place with user generated content).  This would sound totally impractical: in a public place, you don’t know everyone.  And even in a disco you probably don’t (although some bars prohibit photography). Or does she mean only nude images?

Generally photography of people in totally public places is legal in the US now, for example here.  
In Australia, Facebook is experimenting with a program of automatic comparison with a digital image library (a technique already used to identify child pornography known to the NCMEC).

CNN has an important story today on prior restraint of the press, with the background from Near v. Minnesota (1931) leading to the New York Times and the Pentagon Papers (1971), by Sonja West, here. In the Minnesota case, the muckraking publisher (whose stories were actually true) was actually enjoined from publishing anything until the Supreme Court, with some fortuitous luck, rescued it.