robertogreco + jasonkoebler   2

Angola’s Wikipedia Pirates Are Exposing the Problems With Digital Colonialism | Motherboard
"That brings us to what’s going on in Angola. Enterprising Angolans have used two free services—Facebook Free Basics and Wikipedia Zero—to share pirated movies, music, television shows, anime, and games on Wikipedia. And no one knows what to do about it.

Because the data is completely free, Angolans are hiding large files in Wikipedia articles on the Portuguese Wikipedia site (Angola is a former Portuguese colony)—sometimes concealing movies in JPEG or PDF files. They’re then using a Facebook group to direct people to those files, creating a robust, completely free file sharing network. A description for a Facebook group with 2,700 members reads: “created with the objective of sharing music, movies, pictures, and ANIMES via Wikimedia.” I was not admitted into the Facebook group and none of its administrators responded to my messages for an interview.

Wikipedia’s old guard, however, are concerned with this development. Wikipedia has very strict copyright guidelines and some editors of the site say they’re tired of playing whack-a-mole.

“I am reporting a possible misuse of Wikimedia projects and Wikipedia Zero to violate copyright,” one editor wrote on a Wiki discussion forum. “I am not sure if users are doing it in bad faith, but they have been warned and keep doing it. I don't think that Wikipedia Zero should stop existing there of course, but maybe something could be done, like preventing them from uploading large files or by previously instructing them in local language about what they can or [can] not do.”

In several cases, wide swaths of IP addresses suspected to belong to Angolans using Wikipedia Zero have been banned from editing stories on Wikipedia, which has had the side effect of blocking Angolans who are using Wikipedia Zero to contribute to Wikipedia in a more traditional way. (In one case, IPs were unblocked because a Portuguese Wikipedia editor decided that an Angolan amateur photographer’s photos were “of immense value.”)

In an email thread on the Wikimedia-L listserv and on Wikipedia talk pages, users in the developed world are trying to find a compromise."



"Many on the listserv are framing Angola’s Wikipedia pirates as bad actors who need to be dealt with in some way so that more responsible editors aren’t punished for their actions. This line of thinking inherently assumes that what Angola’s pirates are doing is bad for Wikipedia and that they must be assimilated to the already regulated norms of Wikipedia’s community. If the developing world wants to use our internet, they must play by our rules, the thinking goes.

But people in developing countries have always had to be more creative than those for whom access to information has always been a given. In Cuba, for instance, movies, music, news, and games are traded on USB drives that are smuggled into the country every week. A 20-year-old developer in Paraguay found a vulnerability in Facebook Messenger that allowed people to use Free Basics to tunnel through to the “real” internet. Legal questions aside (Angola has more lax copyright laws than much of the world), Angola’s pirates are furthering Wikipedia’s mission of spreading information in a real and substantial way.

“When users are faced with a choice of partial access to internet services but not to the entire internet, they might come up with ways to use that partial internet in creative ways that might negatively affect the entity giving it to them,” Josh Levy, advocacy director at Access Now, told me. Facebook Free Basics was criticized widely, but Access Now is one of the few groups that has said Wikipedia Zero is a bad idea because it creates a tiered internet.

While the “misuse” of zero rated systems is a new problem, it closely mirrors ones that have been going on in the wider internet for decades, and the smart money is on allowing Angola’s burgeoning internet community to develop without our interference, even if it means growing pains for Wikipedia. Proposed copyright protection laws such as the Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have censored sites that hosted pirated content, was widely believed to be one that could have fundamentally ruined the internet; limiting how Angolans (or anyone else using Wikipedia Zero) access the site could have detrimental impacts.

The Wikimedia Foundation, for its part, seems to have good intentions with its wait-and-see approach. The foundation gives no money to Unitel as part of the program; a good solution here, probably, would be cheaper or free access to the entire internet. While Wikipedia editors in Portugual can simply go to another website to download or share pirated files, Angolans don’t really have that option

“This is the type of thing that reflects larger battles that have gone on about the internet overall,” Charles Duan, a copyright expert at Public Knowledge, told me. “In general, it’s better to allow people more openness and freedom to use Internet tools because you never know what ends up being useful.”

Angolan’s pirates are learning how to organize online, they’re learning how to cover their tracks, they are learning how to direct people toward information and how to hide and share files. Many of these skills are the same ones that would come in handy for a dissident or a protestor or an activist. Considering that Angola has had an autocratic leader in power for more than 35 years, well, those are skills that might come in handy one day."
angola  colonialism  digital  digitalcolonialism  facebook  web  internet  online  2016  jasonkoebler  wikimediazero  digitaldivide  zerorating  freebasics  designimperialism 
march 2016 by robertogreco
I Live in a Digital Dumpster Fire | Motherboard
"Right now, I can't see what tabs I have open, because I have too many open. I have 167,998 unread Gmail messages. I am writing this, right now, on a TextEdit file called Untitled 199, and I have exactly 32 instances of the program open. My dock is a disaster, and, very recently, my desktop had thousands of files on it. Oddly enough, my trash bin is empty.

I exist, digitally, in the equivalent of a dumpster fire. I wouldn't have it any other way. Or rather, I don't think I can exist any other way. I thought I was alone. I am not.

It turns out there are plenty of digital hoarders out there, and maybe we don't give a shit about virtual cleanliness because it doesn't really matter anymore.

"I don't particularly think digital clutter is a bad thing. It's just a consequence of how people use computers, asynchronously," ​Matthew Hughes, a British tech journalist who lives much like me, told me. "We don't use computers in a systematic, one-task-at-a-time kind of way, do we? We're always doing multiple things at once, and digital clutter is just a consequence of that."

[embedded tweet with image: "this is my desktop"]

I've tweeted photos of my desktop before, and had a mix of reactions. Most people are horrified. Some people want me to throw my computer in the trash—nothing will save it now, it's ruined forever, they say. I get it. But when I went looking for people like me, I didn't have much trouble finding them.

​Adrian Sanabria, a security researcher, told me that he opens tabs until his computer crashes. While he doesn't think that digital clutter and tab overload is totally harmless ("I've come the realization that I have anxiety over losing something interesting that I want to read," he said), fast internet connections, Google images, and search apps are making it very easy to throw shit wherever we want without adversely affecting our lives.

[image: Matthew Hughes's desktop]

We're creating massive, disgusting haystacks of files, but finding the needle we want is effortless, so who cares?

"I use FoundApp, and it is FANTASTIC for finding things. It works like Mac OS X’s Finder, but you can have it log into Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote—all your cloud stuff, and it will index and search those locations along with your local hard drive," Sanabria told me. "I have no idea what folder my files are in, and I don’t care."

Sanabria has also done away with his folder of memes and gifs that he used to have at the ready to deploy on Twitter at a moment's notice. Now, he finds them on Google much faster.

[image (animated GIF): "My desktop, pre-purge"]

There's the stereotype of the journalist, the professor, the academic, who has papers cluttered all over their office. I once walked past Bob Woodward's desk at the Washington Post, and he had mountains upon mountains of … stuff, everywhere. With a computer, you can be like that without showing other people.

One thing that surprised me about the people I talked to is they haven't always been like this (I have). Sanabria used to have inbox zero. So did Brian Fung, a great tech policy reporter with the Washington Post. And then, Twitter happened.

"I used to be an inbox zero kind of guy—leave no message unread, no RSS item unchecked, etc. But then with Twitter, I got used to just jumping into the feed for short stints. And then one day I woke up and realized, 'You know what? It's okay if you don't get through it all," he told me. "Since then, I've started treating my RSS feed like a slower version of Twitter. I ignore irrelevant emails. They pile up. It's fine. The desktop is much more manageable if you don't, you know, actually use the desktop."

[image "My dock"]

Fung "organizes" his desktop in reverse chronological order, and I do too. He says it turns the desktop into something like email—the most recent downloaded files show up at the top of any folder you're using to upload files with, and then it's easy.

We're not slobs, we're not overwhelmed, I don't even really think of myself as a hoarder. I eventually trash everything and forget about it. The thing that modern operating systems and modern search tools have done is make a whole host of systems viable. They work.

[image (animated GIF): "An inefficient way of deleting files"]

That said, I was wondering what life might be like if I cleaned up my act a bit. I purged my desktop. I set up a new folder for screenshots, which I used constantly, and I made my computer save them there automatically. I try to close my tabs when I can't see the icons anymore. I used a program called Sublime Text to write.

It's not for me. It's more effort than it's worth. Bury me with all my files; I'll know where to find them."
hoarding  digitalhoarding  search  os  technology  organization  digital  desktops  culture  spotlight  jasonkoebler  matthewhughes  adriansanabria  foundapp  clutter  finder  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco

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