September 5, 2008

Leaning Into The Punch [2:17 pm]

An exploration of what you get, and what you lose, when you decide to play the game: Magazine Preview - I’m So Totally, Digitally Close to You

This is the paradox of ambient awareness. Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating. The ambient information becomes like “a type of E.S.P.,” as Haley described it to me, an invisible dimension floating over everyday life.

“It’s like I can distantly read everyone’s mind,” Haley went on to say. “I love that. I feel like I’m getting to something raw about my friends. It’s like I’ve got this heads-up display for them.” It can also lead to more real-life contact, because when one member of Haley’s group decides to go out to a bar or see a band and Twitters about his plans, the others see it, and some decide to drop by — ad hoc, self-organizing socializing. And when they do socialize face to face, it feels oddly as if they’ve never actually been apart. They don’t need to ask, “So, what have you been up to?” because they already know. Instead, they’ll begin discussing something that one of the friends Twittered that afternoon, as if picking up a conversation in the middle.

Facebook and Twitter may have pushed things into overdrive, but the idea of using communication tools as a form of “co-presence” has been around for a while. [...]

[...] Online awareness inevitably leads to a curious question: What sort of relationships are these? What does it mean to have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook? What kind of friends are they, anyway?

[...] “If anything, it’s identity-constraining now,” Tufekci told me. “You can’t play with your identity if your audience is always checking up on you. I had a student who posted that she was downloading some Pearl Jam, and someone wrote on her wall, ‘Oh, right, ha-ha — I know you, and you’re not into that.’ ” She laughed. “You know that old cartoon? ‘On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog’? On the Internet today, everybody knows you’re a dog! If you don’t want people to know you’re a dog, you’d better stay away from a keyboard.”

Or, as Leisa Reichelt, a consultant in London who writes regularly about ambient tools, put it to me: “Can you imagine a Facebook for children in kindergarten, and they never lose touch with those kids for the rest of their lives? What’s that going to do to them?” Young people today are already developing an attitude toward their privacy that is simultaneously vigilant and laissez-faire. They curate their online personas as carefully as possible, knowing that everyone is watching — but they have also learned to shrug and accept the limits of what they can control.

It is easy to become unsettled by privacy-eroding aspects of awareness tools. But there is another — quite different — result of all this incessant updating: a culture of people who know much more about themselves. [...]

A new name for dataveillance, eh? “Ambient awareness,” indeed.

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The Campaigns and © [11:59 am]

Or, at least performance rights — but, they probably are paying the compulsory licenses, so the complaints are just that. Exclusive: Heart’s Nancy Wilson responds to McCain campaign’s use of ‘Barracuda’ at Republican convention (pdf)

Thursday afternoon, Heart e-mailed out a statement regarding vice-presidential candidate Sarah “Barracuda” Palin’s use of their similarly monikered song at the Republican National Convention: “The Republican campaign did not ask for permission to use the song, nor would they have been granted that permission,” it read. “We have asked the Republican campaign publicly not to use our music. We hope our wishes will be honored.”

See also: ‘Only in America’ could Obama borrow the GOP’s favorite Brooks & Dunn song (pdf)

Later: as expected — ‘Barracuda’ Belongs to the Rock Group Heart (pdf)

“The McCain campaign respects intellectual-property rights,” Brian Rogers, a campaign spokesman said. “Accordingly, prior to using ‘Barracuda’ at any events, we paid for and obtained all necessary licenses.”

See also: Will McCain’s Heart Stop? Whether the Campaign Needs Permission to Play “Barracuda”

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The Joys of Being Chattel [11:14 am]

Life as a child in the age of dataveillance — becoming acculturated to 24-7 “helicopter parenting:” Online tools let parents peer into their kids’ school day (pdf)

It’s tough sending little Bobby or Suzy back to school. Parents may worry what kinds of teachers their children will encounter, whether they’ll be as smart as their classmates and whether bullies will steal their lunch money.

But technology is helping eliminate some of the guesswork about what happens after kids climb onto the bus. Increasingly common Web programs let parents track lunch-money spending, schoolwork habits and tardiness.

“There’s this black box — a child goes away and comes home, what happened during this time?” said Shelley Pasnik, director of the nonprofit Center for Children and Technology in New York. “Now, new information and communications technology allows for the mystery of what transpires on any given day to unravel.”

[...] “This isn’t surveillance software,” [Brent Bingham, vice president of product marketing at Pearson School Systems, ] said. “Parents are really interested in the benefits that come with timely communication.”

And, to tie to a related current narrative, see: Bristol’s Body, Sarah’s Choice: Abortion, Teen Motherhood, and Parental Authority in Slate — also Bristol’s Choice: Republicans and the Illusion of Reproductive Choice

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Okaloosa County’s Plan Gets an NYT Editorial Comment [8:22 am]

A rather scathing piece on the Operation Bravo plan for this Florida county: Editorial - A Bad Experiment in Voting - Editorial - NYTimes.com

The words “Florida” and “Internet voting,” taken together, should send a chill down everyone’s spine. Nevertheless, Florida’s Okaloosa County is seeking permission from the state to allow members of the military to vote over the Internet in November.

[...] The problem is that too little is known about precisely how the system would work. For Internet voting to be trustworthy, it must be clear that there is no way for a hacker to break in and voters must have complete confidence in the software being used. Okaloosa has not persuasively made that case.

The county has asked a group of academics to review the reliability of its system, but their report has not yet been made public — and may not be until after the election.

See also Florida Internet Voting Plan Is Illegal and Marred by Conflict of Interest Says Critic

Also VoteTrustUSA’s site, which got me to FloridaVoters.org’s position piece: Florida Voters Urge Secretary Browning to Kill Internet Voting Scheme and their latest missive, 9 July 2008 letter to Kurt S. Browning, Secretary of State

Here’s the FSU lab that’s part of the assessment team — albeit a “partner” of Operation Bravo: SAIT Laboratory and Electronic Voting Systems Security

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