Archive for the 'radioberkman' Category

Radio Berkman 232: Technology on Trial

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You’ve likely heard of Silk Road – the black market e-commerce hub that was shutdown in 2013 for becoming a magnet for vendors of illicit goods. But the story of its shutdown, and the investigation and trial that followed, is complicated enough that we need a guide.

On this week’s podcast Berkman Affiliate Hasit Shah brought together members of the Berkman community to speak with journalist and legal expert Sarah Jeong about what it was like to follow the Silk Road trial, and how the justice system copes when technology becomes a central part of a case.

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Listeners: We need your stories! Was there ever a time you used the web to be anonymous? Have you ever had a digital alter ego? If you’ve ever used a blog or a social media account to do something you didn’t want connected to your real identity, we want to hear about it! We’ve set up a special hotline. All you have to do is call-in and tell your story on our voicemail, and we’ll feature you on an upcoming episode. (617) 682-0376.
Reference Section
More about Sarah Jeong
Follow Sarah Jeong’s coverage of Silk Road and more at Forbes
Find out more about Hasit Shah

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This week’s episode produced by Hasit Shah with Daniel Dennis Jones.

Radio Berkman 231: Digital Trash

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On your computer, you don’t ever really “take out the trash.” Data doesn’t get picked up by a garbage truck. It doesn’t decompose in a landfill.

It just accumulates.

And because space is becoming less and less of an issue — hard drive space keeps getting cheaper, and a lot of the apps we use have cloud storage anyway — deleting our files is a thing of the past.

We become Digital Hoarders.

But what happens when we dig up those old files from years ago? Those old emails from our boyfriend or girlfriend, those old digital photos of family, those long rambling journal entries?

On this week’s podcast we talk to three researchers who all have different stories of digital hoarding, deleting, and recovering.

Jack Cushman, Judith Donath, and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger talk about the value of remembering, the value of forgetting, and what we trust to our machines.

Reference Section
A portion of this episode appeared on WGBH’s Innovation Hub
How are people using social media to remember and forget?
On the Snapchat Boom and the rise of anonymous messaging

Photo courtesy of memestate
Music courtesy of Podington Bear

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This week’s episode produced by Elizabeth Gillis with Daniel Dennis Jones, and Mary Dooe and Kara Miller from WGBH’s Innovation Hub.

Radio Berkman 230: What We Choose to Censor

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Facebook has had a lot of trouble with misogynistic speech. A few years ago, several women’s groups joined together to petition Facebook to work harder to block misogynistic pages, posts, and replies. At the time Facebook had strict standards against hate speech that was racist or anti-semitic — such speech would be blocked or take down. These groups simply asked that gendered hate speech receive the same treatment.

It was ironic, people said, that Facebook would commonly take down photos of women breastfeeding in response to complaints. Such content was deemed pornographic. But when Facebook users complained about comments that were misogynistic or harassing women, Facebook defended their decisions not to take them down. Their reasoning was one of semantics: Comments that described gendered violence didn’t actually threaten violence, they would argue. But — campaigners pointed out — misogynistic content actually is threatening, and creates an unsafe environment for speech.

The campaigners won. But this isn’t the first time Facebook’s policies on censorship have been questioned by the public. And it won’t be the last.

Right now, many European countries are asking Facebook to more strictly police hate speech on the platform.

Jillian York is a writer and the director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She joined us to talk about the most recent debates about online speech, and why she questions whether these kinds of decisions should be left up to Facebook at all.

Reference Section
Jillian’s recent post “On Facebook’s Ideology”

Photo courtesy of zubrow
Music courtesy of

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This week’s episode produced by Elizabeth Gillis and Daniel Dennis Jones.

Radio Berkman 229: The Ad Block Wars

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A recent New York Times survey of the top 50 news sites showed that blocking ads while surfing their mobile news sites could save up to 14 megabytes per page loaded. 14 megabytes adds up to 30 seconds over 4G, and, if you’re on a restricted data plan, it would cost you 30 cents per page, all of that money going to your mobile provider, not to the content publisher.

But for content publishers, and the ad providers that keep them alive, ad blocking poses a huge problem. Most of the commercial web as we know it exists because of advertising. When web users aren’t loading ads on their favorite ad-supported site, or otherwise paying the site – by subscribing, sponsoring, buying merchandise – the site is losing out on cash.

And we’re talking serious cash. Digital ad spending is expected to reach $170.17 billion in 2015, with $69 billion – 40% of ad spending – in the mobile space.

That’s a lot of money to spend on ads that might not even be seen. Ad block software is now in use by 200 million people around the globe.

Doc Searls is a journalist and author who worked in the ad industry years ago. He has referred to ad blocking as “the biggest boycott in human history.”

Radio Berkman producer Elizabeth Gillis spoke with Searls about what’s going on in the Ad Block Wars, and the part played by users, like you.

Reference Section

Doc’s Ad Block Wars series
Photo courtesy of Flickr user piratechikan
Creative commons music from Neurowaxx and Podington Bear

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This week’s episode produced by Elizabeth Gillis and Daniel Dennis Jones.

Radio Berkman 228: Towards a More Inclusive Web

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Ethnographer Whitney Phillips embedded with the trolls of 4chan, observing for years how anonymous members of its subversive “/b/” forum memed, pranked, harassed, and abused, all for the “lolz” — the thrill of doing something shocking.

The result: a book, “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture,” that sheds light on how and why trolls do what they do.

More than pushing the boundaries of taste within themselves — the “/b/” board recently made headlines for a case in which anonymous members allegedly goaded one of their own to cut off his own toe — troll behavior has had an incredibly broad impact on society. Trolling shaped the way social platforms and conversations on public forums take place. It is in no small part due to the spread of troll culture that comments sections, Facebook threads, and Twitter conversations can be minefields to productive conversation; the troll dialect is better equipped for shock and ironic bigotry than for sincerity, and a sincere conversation is just begging to be disrupted, especially when you disagree with your target.

But while wrench-throwing can and has been a very important tool in online discourse, the web has started to outgrow trolls. In 2003 when 4chan was launched, there were under 700 million people on the Internet (predominantly higher income, younger, white, western, male, and native English speakers), compared to 3.2 billion people today from many backgrounds. The incredible diversity of individuals all trying to have conversations on the same platforms has increased demand for civility, understanding, and inclusiveness, even as the conversations can seem more and more cacophonously problematic. And this threatens to make trolling less funny.

Whitney joins us this week to talk about how troll culture has changed over the years, and what platforms can do to temper darker forms of discourse.

Reference Section:
Follow Whitney Phillips work
Her book “This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture”

Flickr photo courtesy of zzathras777

Music courtesy of _ghost

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This week’s episode produced by Elizabeth Gillis and Daniel Dennis Jones.

Radio Berkman 227: How Block Chain Will Change the World

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Bitcoin is having its 7th birthday, and its promise to change the way the world thinks about money is looking less and less hyperbolic.

For one, the block chain technology underlying Bitcoin – the public ledger that makes the exchange transparent and accountable – is now being used to clean up Wall Street. A block chain-inspired service announced recently could open up the practice of lending stocks, and help prevent the kind of out-of-control short selling that led to the crash of 2008.

But there are a lot people still don’t understand about Bitcoin and block chain. We spoke with incoming Berkman Fellow Patrick Murck of the Bitcoin Foundation to explain.

Flickr photo courtesy of btckeychain

Music from Artist of the Fortnight

Reference Section:
Block chain takes on Wall Street
The History of Bitcoin
The whitepaper that launched Bitcoin

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This week’s episode produced by Elizabeth Gillis, Zoe Wood, and Daniel Dennis Jones.

Radio Berkman 226: Pay the Musician

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The market for recorded music has undergone at least three major reinventions since the dawn of the Internet. At the turn of the century illegal downloading ate away at the music industry’s bottom line. Then the iTunes music store made it easy to buy music again, albeit disaggregated from its album form.

Then along came streaming. The combination of ubiquitous Internet connectivity and bottomless consumer appetite for music has led to the success of applications like Pandora, Spotify, and Rdio which allow users to access entire music catalogs from virtually anywhere for next to nothing.

Streaming has worked. In 2014 alone, at least 164 billion tracks were played across all streaming services according to Nielsen. And these streaming companies are raking in incredible amounts of cash from advertising and user subscription fees.

Where does the money go? A recent study from Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship showed that 20 to 50 percent of music revenues might never make it to their rightful owners. In some cases artists might get 20% or less of the already tiny dollar amounts coming in from streaming services.

But no one knows for sure. In a New York Times Op-Ed this week David Byrne asked the music industry to “open the black box,” and let everyone – the artists, the labels, the distributors, the listeners – know exactly where your money goes.

On this week’s episode of the podcast we try to find out if we can crack into the stream and figure out where the money is flowing.

Flickr photo courtesy of hobvias sudoneighm

Reference Section:
Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship’s study Transparency and Money Flows in the Digital Music Industry
David Byrne’s New York Times Op-Ed
Our full interview with Damon Krukowski

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This week’s episode produced by Elizabeth Gillis, Beatrice Igne-Bianchi, and Daniel Dennis Jones.

Radio Berkman 225: Can you copyright a joke?

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With 316 million users posting 500 million tweets a day, someone is bound to write an unoriginal tweet now and then.

But there are some Twitter users whose entire existence relies completely on plagiarizing tiny jokes and relatable observations created by other Twitter users. Many plagiarizing accounts have follower numbers ranging from the thousands to the millions. Meaning their exposure can lead to career opportunities and sponsorships built on the creativity of others who are just getting started in their writing careers.

So it was not without excitement that Twitter users found out last week that they can report plagiarizing accounts to Twitter under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and have these copied tweets removed.

But now we’re forced to ask the question: are jokes protected under copyright?

We asked Andy Sellars of Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic to weigh in.

Flickr photo courtesy of wwworks

Music from Podington Bear “Bright White

Reference Section:
How many tweets could there be?
Twitter is deleting stolen jokes
@olgalexell responds
Check out the Chilling Effects database

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This week’s episode produced by Elizabeth Gillis and Daniel Dennis Jones.

Radio Berkman 224: Reddit – Community? Or Business?

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Reddit is sometimes called “the frontpage of the Internet.” 170 million people a month help upload, curate, and make viral the cat photos, prank videos, and topical discussions that help fuel our neverending thirst for content.

But recent moves by Reddit management to tighten up their content policy have threatened what is seen as the fundamentally “free speech” culture at Reddit.

David Weinberger and Adrienne Debigare recently wrote about Reddit’s crossroads for the Harvard Business Review.

They joined us this week to talk about the culture of Reddit, free speech, and just who gets to make these decisions anyway?

Credits:
Flickr photo courtesy of fibonacciblue
Music from Neurowaxx and Timo Timonen

Reference Section:
How Reddit the Business Lost Touch With Reddit the Culture
Reddit’s community responds to the changes
Internet Monitor’s roundup of highlights from the controversy

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This week’s episode produced by Elizabeth Gillis and Daniel Dennis Jones.

Radio Berkman 223: Fiber City

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Why are over 450 towns in the US building their own high speed Internet networks?

Let’s look at the example of the small town of Holyoke, Massachusetts.

A few years back the town’s mayor asked if the local cable or telephone companies wanted to build a fiber network to serve local schools and municipal buildings. The companies declined. The project was turned over to the local gas and electric utility, HG&E. Eighteen years later, HG&E have expanded this network to serve local businesses, and even other towns in the area. And it turns out this investment has more than paid for itself.

On this week’s episode we talk about what happens when municipal utilities and companies compete to provide local Internet services.

Credits:
Music by Morgantj “Fresh Doughnuts”

Reference Section:
The report: Holyoke: A Massachusetts Municipal Light Plant Seizes Internet Access Business Opportunities
A terrific map of the 450+ communities deploying their own broadband

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This week’s episode written and produced by Elizabeth Gillis, with Daniel Dennis Jones.

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