How Could This Possibly Be A Bad Idea?

I mean, seriously — who’s ever suggested that a military weapon has ended up being misused by those who developed it in the first place? Pentagon debates development of offensive cyberspace capabilities (pdf)

Igniting a provocative new debate, senior military officials are pushing the Pentagon to go on the offensive in cyberspace by developing the ability to attack other nations’ computer systems, rather than concentrating on defending America’s electronic security.

Under the most sweeping proposals, military experts would acquire the know-how to commandeer the unmanned aerial drones of adversaries, disable enemy warplanes in mid-flight and cut off electricity at precise moments to strategic locations, such as military installations, while sparing humanitarian facilities, such as hospitals.

An expansion of offensive capabilities in cyberspace would represent an important change for the military. For years, U.S. officials have been reluctant to militarize what is widely seen as a medium for commerce and communication — much like space.

But a new National Military Strategy for Cyberspace Operations, declassified earlier this year, fueled the Pentagon debate and gave the military a green light to push for expanded capabilities.

Datapoint: The Music Business Model

Jersey – Still Strumming and Rocking After All These Years

It’s a powerful dream that has lured many, but eluded most: to earn your keep in life with nothing but your guitar. It’s what brought Mr. Hector south from his hometown of Orange in 1977, when he joined the Shots, the house band at the Stone Pony; what drove him through the string of other bands in the 1980s and ’90s that almost, but never quite, broke out of the local club scene; and what sustains him still, 14 albums and more than 7,000 gigs later.

“I need to play music — it’s that simple,” said Mr. Hector, whose last regular paycheck was as an equipment tester at a guitar factory in Neptune Township in the early ’80s. “It’s like a calling. My life really hasn’t changed since I was 24. It’s the same goal.”

What has changed, though, is the music business. Record companies, their sales declining, have been paring their rosters, not adding to them, leading more musicians to the conclusion that Mr. Hector reached long ago: that sometimes it’s better to put out your own recordings, and sell them yourself to loyal fans, 3,000 of whom are on his mailing list.

Related: Singing The Blues At Record Stores (pdf)

According to Almighty Music Marketing, approximately 1,400 independent record stores have closed since 2003, leaving 2,300 open nationwide and 25 open in the Washington region. In 2003, 16 independent record stores were open for business in the District; only nine remain.

Thirty-year-old Orpheus Music in Arlington is next on the chopping block. When the store’s lease expired last March, the building broke with Richard Carlisle, Orpheus’s owner, so that a higher-bidding bar could move in. “My business was doing all right until this whole lease thing happened,” Carlisle said. But, he added, “You’ve got to be a niche store to survive anymore. It’s got to be totally indie, or vinyl, or have some clothes.”

Carlisle didn’t leverage the Internet to bolster sales. Conversely, Bill Daly, owner of Crooked Beat in Adams Morgan, realized early on that he needed an Internet operation to maintain a lucrative business. Daly has been doing mail-order sales online since 1998. “Everything in the store is in the process of being listed,” he said. “I have people hired who just come in and do stuff on eBay.”

While the store has already eliminated two CD racks and plans to lose a third, Daly says he sometimes earns three times the market value for items he posts online. The Internet has also expanded his customer base. He has sold vinyl records through eBay to customers in Sweden, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, California and Nevada.

The Evolving eReader Market

And the issues surrounding their business models — from an article on a new product to be released by PLatic Logic today: New E-Newspaper Reader Echoes Look of the Paper

With electronic readers, publishers would also learn more about its readers. With paper copy subscriptions, newspapers know what address has received a copy and not much else. About those customers picking up a copy on the newsstand, they know nothing.

As an electronic device, newspapers can determine who is reading their paper, and even which articles are being read. Advertisers would be able to understand their audience and direct advertising to its likeliest customers.

While this raises privacy concerns, “these are future possibilities which we will explore,” said Hans Brons, chief executive of iRex Technologies in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

Google, etc. has trained the advertising market to want these “eyeball” metrics, and print is suffering because it can’t really deliver them. So, the technologies will be shaped around delivering these metrics, and we’ll avoid deciding whether they are worth anything — and particularly whether they are worth sacrificing privacy for.

What *Is* Reality?

An instant reply system that, in fact, is only something like one — technological alienation/mediation enters yet another domain: Hawk-Eye Replay System a Hit at the U.S. Open

Overseeing it all is Paul Hawkins, the thin, sandy-haired, 30-something Englishman who had the crazy idea a few years ago to do for tennis what no other professional sport seems to have managed: create an instant-replay system that works.

“I have a technology background,” said Hawkins, who holds a doctorate in artificial intelligence. “I love sports. So I kind of had an opportunity to combine my two passions.”

The result was Hawk-Eye, probably the most successful instant-replay system in sports. Since its introduction at the United States Open three years ago, Hawk-Eye has won over fans, players and even officials.

[…] The big breakthrough, Hawkins said, was not relying on optical devices to determine where a given shot lands — a surprisingly difficult spot to measure accurately. Hawk-Eye uses a system of 10 cameras to track the speed and trajectory of a ball in flight, but that is only part of the magic. The rest is done exclusively through computer modeling.

Because no tennis court is exactly flat and no line precisely straight, before the tournament. Hawkins’s team takes thousands of precise measurements of the dimensions and contours of each court, which are then converted into a three-dimensional computer model. Hawk-Eye’s virtual world takes into account other real-world factors that can affect accuracy, like the amount a ball compresses when it hits the court and even the temperature of the court.

“During warm days, the court actually changes size as it heats up or cools down,” Hawkins said.

When the ball flight data is fed into the computer model, the result is a system that is so precise it’s difficult to measure.

Kicking and Screaming, Fashion Moves Forward

With or without copyright protection, it’s evolve or die. Here’s another way: Designers of High Fashion Enter the Age of High Tech

After dragging their stilettos for years, fashion designers are starting to embrace online tools. Fashion cycles are faster, and designers want help scoping out competitors’ designs, discovering trends, experimenting with colors and fabrics and mocking up designs. Trend forecasting publications, which designers have relied on for four decades to scout new trends, are trying to bolster their own businesses by offering Web sites with real-time video and photos, downloadable sketches and prints, and collaboration and design tools.

Real Ready To Start A Fight

RealNetworks to Introduce a DVD Copier

Since the DVD format was introduced more than a decade ago, Hollywood has unremittingly sought to protect the DVD from the fate that befell the CD, which has no mechanism to prevent copying.

[…] To stave off this outcome and protect what is now $16 billion in annual DVD sales, studios and consumer electronics companies have enveloped their discs with encryption that is intended to prevent copying.

They also regularly go to court to fight any company that offers software to break the encryption. More than five years ago, several studios and the Motion Picture Association of America sued 321 Studios, a company in St. Louis, that had sold the popular program DVD X Copy. A judge ruled that the software violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the company closed in 2004.

[…] Now RealNetworks believes that the industry’s legal stranglehold on DVD copying has begun to weaken. In March 2007, the DVD Copy Control Association, an alliance that licenses the encryption for DVDs, lost a lawsuit against Kaleidescape, a Silicon Valley start-up company that sells a $10,000 computer server that makes and stores digital copies of up to 500 films.

The DVD association has appealed the ruling. But Mr. Glaser thinks the decision has created the framework for a legal DVD copying product with built-in restrictions to prevent piracy.

See the EFF digital video archive for all the action

Leaning Into The Punch

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.

The Campaigns and ©

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”

The Joys of Being Chattel

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

Okaloosa County’s Plan Gets an NYT Editorial Comment

A rather scathing piece on the Operation Bravo plan for this Florida county: Editorial – A Bad Experiment in Voting – Editorial –

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‘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