Category Archives: Cyberspace

Recommended Reading

A few weeks ago we had an email come in from a Huffington Post writer, asking that we suggest some books on poverty in America for a slide show.  (I was a little confused by the slideshow part, and still am, even having seen the finished product.)  So, even though I’m a jerk and completely forgot about this thing I said I’d do until like the day before the writer’s deadline, I wrote a few words about some books.

According to their website, I’m an expert!  Anyway, it’s here.

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Filed under Announcements, Cyberspace, Jaime, Literature

This is Relevant to Our Interests

I love it when bits of information come together serendipitously.  This morning the ALA sent me an email and a friend made a Facebook post, and now you all have a (potentially) useful blog post about…

PRIVACY ON THE INTERNET!

Anyhow, the ALA alerted me to Choose Privacy Week, being held May 1-7.  They say,

We live in an age when knowledge is power. New technologies give us unprecedented access to information. They also facilitate surveillance, with the power to collect and mine personal information.

People enjoy the convenience of having information at their fingertips. But most people don’t realize the trade off. For example, citizens turn a blind eye to the fact that online searches create traceable records that make them vulnerable to questioning by the FBI, or that government agencies can track their phone calls, airline travel, online purchases, and more.

As political activists, we are probably a little more aware of these problems than the average citizenry, even if we don’t really know what to do about it.  Since some of our comrades have started getting visits from the authorities, maybe we should lend the issue a little more thought.

Anyway, there’s this: DuckDuckGo.  A librarian friend brought it to my attention this morning.  It’s a search engine that claims to offer pretty good privacy (friend says, “No saved and reported searches, no IP addresses, no sent and stored cookies, and no ads. Plus it’s adorable.”).  It also seems to return search results that are nearly as good as, if not as good as, Google’s.

Now, I don’t know how true these claims are, but my computer-y folks seem to think it’s pretty good — one programmer friend uses it as his default search tool, but notes that since large swaths of the rest of the internet uses Google Analytics or Ads, you still have to deal with being tracked from that end. A public librarian friend says she recommends it to patrons who are doing “sensative” or “potentially illegal” searching.

Anyway, I wanted to throw that out there and crowd-source a bit.  If you’ve never heard of it, give it a whirl.  Those who’ve used it, what do you think?  And, does anyone know of other, similarly useful tools?

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Filed under Cops, Cyberspace, Education, Free Speech, Jaime, Reference, Technology

Private Information, Policing and Social Media

This library is wired. We’re scanning bar codes to intake our books, we’re on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, LibraryThing and more. We’re blogging, we’re using our smart phones and laptops and WiFi hotspots. This movement is wired. We’re using YouTube, livestreams, global voice chat, IRC, projected General Assembly notes, vibe and more. The police are also wired.  Here’s an amazing example of police communicating with the occupation in Boston through Twitter.

In another example, the Portland Police Department put a call out for the Occupy Portland movement to post photos of their officers on their Facebook page. And after the march, the page was full of thank you notes about how respectful the officers were. Compare that to the reports of those arrested at Liberty Plaza for photographing police and drawing a line with chalk to help occupiers and protesters know where to keep the sidewalk clear. However, all of this communication and sharing is going on in primarily private, corporate spaces.

And at the same time all of this online information constitutes the history in progress of this movement against corporatization. This is one of the reasons that open source information is so important. If a company like Twitter or Facebook elected to remove this content, there’s nothing we could do about it – and a part of history, a conversation and a record of the movement would be lost. Alternatively, social media like Diaspora and identi.ca are open and users control their own content. But at the moment, the battles to lay claim to territory in the media space are taking place in the commercial regions of cyberspace, where there are more witnesses, where the reporters are likely to pay attention, where the public is engaged.

As a friend of mine posted to Facebook: “The irony of #OccupyWallStreet so far: The privatization of public space allows for the public protest of privatization.”

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Filed under Cyberspace, Media, Michael, Privatization, Technology