The Longest Now


Inspired by life: architecture + biology + design
Tuesday April 24th 2012, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,international,poetic justice,popular demand

I had the great fortune of attending a workshop recently with a provocative MIT architect, Neri Oxman, whose artistic work I have seen showing up in museums across Europe and the US – it is truly awesome.

I was struck by the excellent practical end results produced from designs with varying textures/ colors/ qualities that are defined by artistic parametric equations. The group’s past prototypes include some armor and body sheaths – presented as art, not as fashion – that were very much what I was looking for years ago when I wanted better load-bearing clothes.

Future projects promise to include living structures and buildings… and, I hope, a line of designs suitable for the public. Work like this deserves to be shared, and should not be hidden in museums and universities.

From the Oxman files



Aaron Swartz vs. United States

(echoes of a broken system)

UPDATE: Aaron committed suicide on January 11, 2013.(!) More on his life here.

Aaron Swartz is a friend and Cambridge-area polymath whose projects focus on access to knowledge, open government, and an informed civil society.  He has worked as a software architect, digital archivist, social analyst, Wikipedia analyst, and political organizer.  Last year he co-founded the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the non-profit political advocacy group Demand Progress.

He is also currently charged with computer fraud by the US Attorney’s office, in what appears to be the latest example of “a sweeping expansion of federal criminal jurisdiction” based on the broad applicability of wire fraud and computer fraud statutes.  An overview:

 

Background

Aaron has studied institutional influence and ways to work with large datasets.  In 2008, he founded watchdog.net, “the good government site with teeth“,  to aggregate and visualize data about politicians – including where their money comes from.  That year he also worked with Shireen Barday at Stanford Law School to assess “problems with remunerated research” in law review articles (i.e., articles funded by corporations, sometimes to help them in ongoing legal battles), by downloading and analyzing over 400,000 law review articles to determine the source of their funding.   The results were published in the Stanford Law Review.  Most recently, he served for 10 months as a Fellow at Harvard’s Safra Center for Ethics, in their Lab on Institutional Corruption.

He contributed to the field of digital archiving, designing and implementing the Open Library, which serves as a global digital resource today, and as a foundation for any digital libraries in the future.  And he collected 2 million  public-domain court decisions from the US PACER system — a system that nominally makes all such decisions available to the public, but in practice keeps them hidden behind a paywall — to add to Carl Malamud’s collection at resource.org.  (That work in turn gave rise to the crowdsourced RECAP project.)

 

The Case of the Over-Downloader

Last week, Aaron was charged by a grand jury with computer fraud [1], for allegedly downloading millions of academic articles hosted by the journal archive JSTOR, and exceeding authorization on MIT and JSTOR servers to do so.

JSTOR claims no interest in pursuing a legal case.  However they are not part of the prosecution, and Aaron faces a possible fine and up to 35 years in prison, with trial set for September.  You can support his legal efforts online.

The Association of College and Research Libraries notes that both the prosecution and Swartz’s supporters have characterized the trial with “superficial, and deeply incorrect, messages about libraries and licensed content“.

So how did this come to pass, and what does it mean for the Internet?

Details of the case and public reactions it inspired, after the jump.

(more…)



Haiti Crisis Camp Street Cred
Tuesday January 26th 2010, 11:15 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,indescribable,Uncategorized

Every Saturday people meet up at MIT to figure out how to help the relief process in Haiti.

Video: What I did at CrisisCamp




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