Apparently a teacher in Chicago has assigned a paper on the problems with online anonymity, as a whole bunch of people have been reading this old blog post today.
Also, if you happen to be that teacher, I’ll be really interested to know how much of my blog post your students plagiarized.
Oh, Google, you minx.
I see what you did there, telling me that there are currently 41 people reading my blog from the control room of the international space station.
April Fool’s, indeed.
Human rights activists are turning to Google Earth to identify the vast network of prison camps that dot the North Korean countryside and hold as many as 200,000 people deemed hostile to the regime.
Apparently, there’s a Protocols of the Elders of Zion app for Android.
Here’s the full description:
The document known now as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion is one of the most important documents ever to come to light in the world. In fact, it can be described as the blueprint for the domination of the world by a secret brotherhood …
There’s been a public outcry over a similar app in the iTunes store … but it’s in Arabic and only available in the European iTunes store. I searched for it here in the U.S. and the only thing that comes up is an eBook with the following description:
“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is one of the world’s most famous conspiracy theories. It is a statement of prejudice and paranoia, a fake historical record and a grand hoax all rolled into one. The Protocols claim to prove that there is a Jewish plot to take over the world and purport to show that socialism, liberalism and every other reformist idea or activity are just tools of a Jewish secret cabal. The Protocols have been discredited many times over their 110-year-old history and would be laughable, except for the tragic role they played in the Twentieth Century.”
Screenshot via Android user David Finkelstein.
Since it’s Friday morning, I wanted to remind RC readers that The Hero Report podcast will be broadcast live on Google+ this afternoon at 4pm Eastern. Our guest this week will be Mike Dilbeck, whose Every | Day Hero Campaign got under way recently.
We’ve only done one live broadcast — last week — and we’re hoping to use this feature in as many interesting ways as possible. Not only is this a chance to watch the podcast being produced and to hear (and see) it a few days before it’s available, it’s also a chance to impact the conversation as it happens by commenting while we’re on the air.
To be sure that you’ll be able to watch the broadcast and comment on what we’re discussing, I recommend adding me to one of your Google+ circles. Drop by and see what we’re up to … and, of course, tell your friends!
Last week, the internet was abuzz with anger and frustration over Twitter’s announcement that it could block content in specific countries in response to governmental requests. The majority of that buzz has quieted down, either because there are always more things about which we can get frustrated and angry or because people forgot about the whole thing pretty quickly.
At least I’m assuming it was one of these two reasons and not because cooler heads prevailed, though it would be nice if the cooler heads explanation turned out to be correct.
Let me begin by saying that I oppose censorship. My position is that people should be able to express themselves as they see fit and that there are only a very few exceptions wherein government intervention is permissible. I hold free expression to be a critically important human right.
But then let me also point to two thoughtful pieces that cast the problem faced by Twitter in a slightly different light and that might make clear that the sky isn’t necessarily falling:
[R]ather than completely taking down content (as it would do before), instead it would limit the blocks to just the geographic region. On top of that, it would be quite transparent about this — posting all info to ChillingEffects, and trying to let users know if they were visiting the page of a censored tweet.
Unfortunately, many people interpreted this as Twitter giving in to censors and allowing censorship. But that’s a misreading of the situation. Again: Twitter already takes down content when required by law. Now it’s trying to limit such takedowns. However, because people interpreted this to mean it was getting into the censorship business, there were protests against Twitter, which I think missed the point entirely.
And from Sci-Fi Hi-Fi:
I’d never argue, of course, that Internet companies should collaborate with oppressive regimes, and Google was probably wise to finally exit China entirely, but for Twitter to truly be a worldwide mass communication platform they’re going to need to acknowledge the reality of different standards of free speech around the world. The approach they’re using (e.g. notifying people when content is being withheld and why) seems nuanced and on the mark to me.
I think Google was naive in their approach to China, and perhaps a bit arrogant to think they would transform Chinese society through the power of the web and their own good intentions, but on the whole I still think the Internet is a force for free speech and transparency in the world. In my opinion, it’s better for Twitter to be available in a potentially compromised way in more sensitive parts of the world than for it to be restricted entirely.
My own position tends to line up much more closely with the argument made by the former piece rather than the latter, as the idea of “different standards of free speech around the world” strikes me as a bit wrong-headed. This lines up with the sort of thinking that claims human rights for some people — those in the global North, for example — who tend to already have access to the rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — while asserting that other people or other cultures simply don’t recognize the importance of those rights.
What I’d say, instead, is that freedom of speech is equally important to people all over the world; it’s generally the repressive governments who want the ability to censor the people, not the people themselves saying they’ve simply got too much access to speech. But, as both pieces rightly point out, Twitter is making decisions in the real world, where access is being restricted, and is attempting to carve out a way for more speech and more access to communication to be allowed.
It’s not perfect … but when it comes to responding to repressive regimes and to promoting human rights around the world, perfect is a goal that’s seldom achievable.
I’m excited to announce a new venture on which I’m about to embark: A weekly video podcast on heroism with my friend Matt Langdon, an educator and blogger from Michigan (via Australia) with whom I’ve been in conversation for a few years now. Our first episode — which features a discussion on the Costa Concordia shipwreck, the captain’s dereliction of duty, and whether or not it’s appropriate to call someone a hero for doing his or her duty — will be available here tomorrow.
Matt and I have both spent a great deal of time thinking, writing, and lecturing on various aspects of heroism; now we’re ready to discuss what we’ve learned and to learn from others. To do this, we’ll take a look at stories about heroism (or the lack thereof) from the week’s news and we’ll debate what happened, why it happened, and what should have happened. From me, you can expect references to philosophy and pop culture as we go. But, I should note, it won’t just be us droning on about our own opinions: We’ll also have guests each week and we’ll pepper them with questions.
What’s more, we’re hoping to really embrace the social networking environment in which we spend so much of our time by taking suggestions for topics and guests for each week’s show, interacting on Twitter, and even broadcasting the show live via Google+ a few days before it’s polished up and available to download.
For those who don’t have any particular desire to see us, there will be an audio-only version, and both audio and video versions should be available before long via iTunes. New episodes will always broadcast at 4pm Eastern on Google+ and will be available to download on Mondays or Tuesday, depending on how much editing we need to do to make ourselves presentable. We might also sneak in a new episode here and there if something particularly interesting happens; we’ll likely just announce these a bit in advance via Twitter for people who’d like to catch the live broadcast.
I’m excited about this project, and hope you’ll consider checking it out and telling your friends!
Oh, real-time Google Analytics, you’re so, so bad for me.
Now that I know this exists, I’m officially going to forget that I know it exists.
It’s Social Media Monday, at least for me.
Though he says the handle does “a good job” keeping followers appraised of campus news and events—particularly during a lockdown at the College of Law last year when a gunman was reported nearby—Ari Kohen, associate professor of social justice and political science at UNL, says he’s left wanting more.
Kohen, whose school bio says he’s an “admitted pop culture and technology fiend,” argues the handle puts out “a lot of Tweets about things that not everyone is desperate to know: reactions to the weather, to an air show in Lincoln, and lots of Huskers sports Tweets.” Instead, Kohen says the faculty and students would be better served by Tweets that were more relevant to them.
Ari Kohen thinks learning shouldn’t be restricted to the classroom.
“It’s not sufficient to just stand up in front of a class for one hour twice a week,” the University of Nebraska-Lincoln political science professor said. “It’s just not the way people naturally learn. It seems to me you can learn anytime, as long as you’re open to it and ready for it.”
There’s a good deal more from/about me in the LJS article; feel free to click through and learn all about the ways that I’m using Google+ and Twitter with my students.
Google’s epic doodle in honor of Freddie Mercury: This music video for “Don’t Stop Me Now” redefines the doodle. Check it out on Google’s Japanese front page, where it’s already up … Mercury would’ve been 65 today. Read up more on the rock icon over here, in the words of close friend and Queen bandmate Brian May.
I was too young to learn about Freddie Mercury in the prime of his life, but he changed the way I thought about popular music when I — as a high school freshman — discovered Queen. This was at least a year before the first Wayne’s World movie introduced a whole new generation to his music and just a month or two after he passed away; I listened to nothing else on my portable cd player for almost a year.
I could never sing or perform like Freddie Mercury did, but I wished that I could every time I stepped onto a stage.
There won’t ever be a voice like his in pop music again.
I recently discovered that there’s a blog out there that’s just taking my posts and reproducing them without any attribution; I found four of my posts there this week. When they repost, they send out a whole bunch of tweets from multiple accounts that either link to their Blogger site or to a spam site that’s run on Tumblr (to which I won’t link, given the explicit content found there).
So, I wrote to the good people at Google and asked them to take down the posts. And they promptly did … but only three of the four. With regard to the fourth post, the Google team writes:
Thanks for reaching out to us.
We have received your DMCA complaint dated 8/10/2011. At this time, Google has decided not to take action based on our policies concerning content removal. As always, we encourage you to resolve any disputes directly with the owner of the website in question.
Can you please explain why you have decided not to remove the content, given that it was taken word for word from my blog without attribution?
It isn’t possible to take up the matter with the owner of the website, as they exist only to take people’s content from Tumblr and use the links to spam people on Twitter…
And then Google’s response was:
Thank you for your reply. We would like to assist you, but we don’t
currently disclose this information. Should it become publicly available in the future, you may find it on our site at http://www.google.com/about.html
That’s just first-rate work right there. Really, really nicely done.
Just in case you’re curious, here’s the post that Google didn’t remove, which properly attributes the quotation I’ve used to its source, Foreign Affairs; here’s the one on the spam site, which has no attribution (either to my site or to Foreign Affairs).
I wrote a fairly lengthy post the other day about my first-ever multi-person Google+ Hangout, which happened to be hosted by Newt Gingrich. Now Gingrich’s staff has released that Hangout as a YouTube video.
The whole thing is pretty heavily edited — as I mentioned, Gingrich spent about forty minutes on the Hangout — but I jump in at about the seven minute mark in the video, for those who are curious to hear me babble about Thucydides and Greek democracy for a minute before lobbing him a softball on the debt ceiling negotiations.
Apparently, I blink a lot. Also does my voice sound weird all the time or just on G+?
I’m going to get better at doing these, I promise … so the next GOP presidential hopeful who wants to Hangout is officially on notice.
Could you make a list of all the notable people who have Google Plus?Anonymous
Notable is a difficult word in this case; someone who might seem particularly notable to me might not seem at all notable to you. I’m connected to a lot of political science professors, for example. Beyond that, though, it’s especially difficult to make such a list insofar as G+ might have as many as five million users at this point.
That said, I do have a Circle of Tumblr users … at least those whose blogs I follow here and who have informed that they’re using G+. I have no idea if that link will actually work, as I’m not sure if a Circle stream is something only the user who created the Circle can see. I also have a Circle of academic political scientists.
If you liked that last one (if you were indeed able to see it), then here is a list of academic philosophers put together by Andrew Cullison. I’m not sure if it’s public or only visible to those with whom he is sharing his posts.
If that wasn’t really the sort of thing you had in mind, Anthony De Rosa recently put together a list of Reuters employees on G+. Again, I’m not sure if this is something that’s publicly available or if he’s only made it selectively available.
As I mentioned at the outset of this post, there are a whole lot of people using G+ at this point and so much of what’s interesting will depend on the individual user. Get on there — I can send invitations to anyone who’d like one; all I need is your email address — and have a look around for people who are posting things that you want to read.