Fake News

The NYTimes has decided to run with the issues of “fake news” — the generation of clickbait articles grounded in the principles of urban legends, turbocharged by the combination of heightened political fervor and digital interconnectedness.  Both stories are sobering and troubling: How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study, and  This Pizzeria Is Not a Child-Trafficking Site.

The emphasis of these articles, as well as much of the online discussion that I have seen, is on the “fake” part; but it seems to me that what we really are struggling with is the “news” part — as in, what *is* “news” anymore?

Is this not the (re-) discovery of the idea that news is more than the distribution platform, but something grounded in the assumption of editorial (and institutional) vetting?  And are we not in the midst of a differential understanding of this distinction — again?  (As in the old joke, “if it’s in a book, it must be true?”)

More importantly, we’re gertting some important examples of what it means when we talk of the role of technologists in the framing and exploitation of their creations — particularly when the interests of those deploying them are best promoted by downplaying (or even disguising) the broader consequences of their use.  (I can’t be the only one flashing back to “Casablanca” when Mark Zuckerberg is `shocked, shocked’ that there’s fake news going on here, am I?)

Certainly it’s led me to an even more scrupulous consideration of what I use something like Facebook for — and “news” is not something I ever want to be relying on Facebook or its ilk to supply.

The Battle Never Ends

Because, of course, the distinctions between “shall” and “will” are a prima facie demonstration of copyrightable innovation: ‘We Shall Overcome’ Copyright Case Moves Closer to Trial

Along with the recent suits involving “Happy Birthday to You” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” the case has focused attention on one of the central questions in copyright: finding a balance between protecting intellectual property on behalf of private owners, and giving the public access to famous songs whose origins may be murky.

For “We Shall Overcome” and “This Land,” the issue is also freighted with politics at a time when the songs are being embraced by protesters and activists on multiple sides of major issues.

…The suit also argues that the version of the song registered for copyright in 1960 and 1963, by Pete Seeger and others, includes only minor alterations that are not enough to justify a copyrightable variation, like changing the line “We will overcome” to “We shall overcome.”

Archives Reloaded

Well, got the archival posts from the base WordPress site back into the system.  And I moved over the PDF/image archive directories, so at least some of the old links will have PDF equivalents that work.

It looks like some of this is OK; but I expect that there will be seams (e.g., the old Salon links to things like Tom the Dancing Bug cartoons are no longer valid).  But, I’ll keep plugging away, but the goal will be to move forward.

Flease feel free to ping me if a link doesn’t work, and I’ll see what I can do.

Furdlog Redux

After the site got hijacked and, thus, shutdown, I’ve been a little overwhelmed with lots of other things, so it’s lain fallow for some time.  With the 2016 election, however, it seems that I need an outlet, even though it might also mean getting put on all sorts of lists.

The old content on digital copyright still exists, but I will need to migrate it over and that’s probably going to take a little doing.  With the Thanksgiving break coming up, I thought I’d get started on infrastructure and then brush up on my SQL before moving things.  I’m sure there will be glitches, but I hope to get things relatively settled before the end of the month.

Of course, at this point, I figure the audience for this blog has changed; certainly I have, so it’s likely that FurdLog is going to take a wider look at the issues of technology, policy, and governance over the coming days and months.  Where that means I’ll settle remains to be seen, but I hope that it will be possible to make some contribution to the discussions that I’m sure we’ll be having.