Troubling Trends in Machine Learning Scholarship
"In other fields, an unchecked decline in scholarship has led to crisis... In a few historical cases, enthusiasm paired with undisciplined scholarship led entire communities down blind alleys."
zeitgeist  langsec  quantomania 
7 days ago
Tech in a time of travesties
So it’s reassuring to see Google’s employees rise up and veto the idea of selling AI tech for drone targeting. It’s reassuring to see Amazon employees push back against the idea of selling facial-recognition technology to governments. It’s reassuring to see Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter employees begin to uneasily realize that what they do is often a catastrophic source of anxiety and bullying, and that their apparent destruction of traditional media-gatekeeper power centers may have created space for a new kind of centralized power, one which subtly, maliciously manipulates users’ beliefs, and/or even the whole concept of a consensus reality.

But maybe that’s not enough. Maybe the centralization of power by technology has become profound enough that the whole Valley / startup mentality — the idea that you take a new idea, launch a startup, get some funding, and build a rocket-ship company which is worth billions and wields enormous power within a decade — has become dangerous and wrong. Maybe the mere existence of powerful, centralized tech companies has become problematic, never mind adding to their number.
zeitgeist  cyberlib 
15 days ago
No Legitimization Through Association: the CIA should not be exhibiting at ALA
Let’s make the point of this open letter unmistakable: the Central Intelligence Agency should not be an exhibitor at American Library Association events. The values of ALA and librarianship are incompatible with the CIA. Allowing the CIA to exhibit at our conferences is an endorsement of what they do and have done. Last weekend, at the ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, the CIA was an exhibitor.
zeitgeist  langsec 
15 days ago
After the Fall
What I wasn’t expecting – what I don’t think anyone was expecting – was that ten years would go by quite so fast.
zeitgeist  twt 
15 days ago
California Boot Camp Shuts Down
Learners Guild, a California-based coding boot camp, has ceased operations. Shereef Bishay, the founder of Learners Guild, also founded Dev Bootcamp, which was sold to Kaplan in 2014. Both Dev Bootcamp and another early coding boot camp, the Iron Yard, closed their doors in 2017.
diglabor  zeitgeist  langsec  quantomania 
20 days ago
Material Signals: A Historical Sociology of High-Frequency Trading
(1) Features of HFT as "not the inevitable products of automation, but the outcome of meso-level conflicts"; (2) a "need to complement the actor-network focus on materiality with a different perspective that highlights these aspects of economic life"
auto  diglabor  twt 
21 days ago
Family separation at the border: Silicon Valley workers are in revolt - Vox
But he also emphasized the potential limitations of tech campaigns that ignore the reasons these companies partner with indefensible agencies in the first place.

The “dirty work” pays very well, he pointed out, via Signal. So “if they lobby to stop the dirty work, they kill their own jobs.”
langsec  cyberlib 
22 days ago
We Need All Those Ph.D.s in Nonteaching Jobs to Stay in Our Scholarly Societies - The Chronicle of Higher Education
What we had not considered was that institutions would not see the value in our members remaining as members once they took those nonfaculty jobs.
he-crash  he-hum 
23 days ago
Stop Trying to Sell the Humanities - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Administrators who pour funds and resources into the digital humanities are complicit in the killing of the humanities.
zeitgeist  dh  he-hum  dhcrit 
27 days ago
"Humanities Informatics," CHCI Annual Conference | IHGC
Humanities Informatics is emerging as a new field in response to these developments. There are clear connections here to the work done in digital humanities, including the manipulation and visualization of data. But humanities informatics is less concerned with the actual computation of data than it is with the ways in which data structures and algorithms inform political economy, humanistic cultural production, human scientific endeavors, and studies of the evolution of human life itself.
quantomania  langsec  dh  dhcrit  zeitgeist  he-hum 
4 weeks ago
Java will no longer have ‘major’ releases | InfoWorld
Remember when a new number meant a software release was a sighnificant, or major, one? For Java, that pattern is over. Java 9 was the last “major” release, Oracle says.
proglang  proglang-java 
9 weeks ago
Who controls glibc? [LWN.net]
The removal of an old joke from the GNU C Library manual might not seem like the sort of topic that would inspire a heated debate. At times, though, a small action can serve as an inadvertent proxy for a more significant question, one which is relevant to both the developers and the users of the project.
dev-culture 
9 weeks ago
No clear solution to nationwide shortage of computer science professors
The factors at play in the computer science faculty shortage are similar to those in other fields with lucrative job options outside academe -- a supply and demand story, but on steroids. To begin, there is relatively low Ph.D. production in computer science. Just 2 percent of all degrees conferred in the discipline are doctorates, compared to 8 percent in the sciences, math, technology and engineering fields overall, based on data from the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Then there is relatively low entry into academe among those computer scientists who do obtain doctorates: just 29 percent, including nonteaching jobs, due to their ability to earn up to five times more in industry on average, according to some estimates.
he-cs 
9 weeks ago
Google Strikes Humble Tone While Promoting A.I. Technology - The New York Times
...in a year when some of its most popular products have been used to propagate misinformation, spread conspiracy theories and meddle with elections, Google struck a more measured tone on Tuesday.
langsec  cyberlib  zeitgeist  quantomania 
10 weeks ago
An introduction to Python bytecode | Opensource.com
...understanding bytecode and how Python executes it gives a useful perspective on a particular kind of programming that Python programmers don't often engage in: stack-oriented programming. If you've ever used a stack-oriented language like FORTH or Factor, this may be old news, but if you're not familiar with this approach, learning about Python bytecode and understanding how its stack-oriented programming model works is a neat way to broaden your programming knowledge.
proglang  proglang-py 
11 weeks ago
C Is Not a Low-level Language - ACM Queue
In the wake of the recent Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, it's worth spending some time looking at root causes. Both of these vulnerabilities involved processors speculatively executing instructions past some kind of access check and allowing the attacker to observe the results via a side channel. The features that led to these vulnerabilities, along with several others, were added to let C programmers continue to believe they were programming in a low-level language, when this hasn't been the case for decades.
proglang  proglang-c 
11 weeks ago
Workers of Silicon Valley, It’s Time to Organize - The New York Times
Dear tech workers,

Long year, huh?

I get it. Your industry is under siege. Whether you work at an established giant like Facebook or Google, a private company like Uber or Palantir, or a lesser-known start-up, it feels like you’re being attacked from a thousand directions. People are comparing your companies to Big Tobacco, and Congress is accusing your executives of undermining democracy, poisoning users’ brains and censoring content.

All of a sudden, Silicon Valley — once the golden child of American industry — has become a villain.

Some of the backlash probably feels excessive. After all, the tech industry still creates useful things and employs lots of decent and ethical people. But I’ve talked to a number of tech workers recently, and I’ve seen you wrestling with your consciences. Some of you have stopped wearing your company T-shirts around town, fearing dirty looks from strangers. Others have taken extended vacations after a particularly shameful scandal, or asked for a transfer within a company. More than a few of you have had awkward conversations with your parents.
zeitgeist  cyberlib 
11 weeks ago
Code Red | Issue 31 | n+1
...the gap between tech theory and tech practice has grown increasingly difficult to ignore. Even the tech press — Wired and its ilk — has lost faith. Many now know the tech elite as a hive of misogynists and sociopaths, and their companies to be indiscriminate vacuums of sensitive personal data that they package and sell to the nation’s intelligence agencies (and the Trump campaign). According to polls, the majority of the public still maintains a positive view of the industry’s biggest companies. But the scales have fallen from the eyes of many of its workers.
cyberlib  langsec  quantomania  zeitgeist 
11 weeks ago
Silicon Valley’s Sixty-Year Love Affair with the Word “Tool” | The New Yorker
Tool talk encodes an entire attitude to politics—namely, a rejection of politics in favor of tinkering.

For decades, the American public has largely embraced this optimistic, laissez-faire ideology. But a tech backlash has been building steam since the 2016 Presidential election, and especially since the revelation that Cambridge Analytica, a political-consulting firm connected with Donald Trump, surreptitiously harvested the data of eighty-seven million Facebook users.
cyberlib  zeitgeist 
12 weeks ago
The death of Ruby? Developers should learn these languages instead - TechRepublic
Once the darling of the developer community, Ruby's popularity has plummeted in the past few years, leading some tech leaders to wonder if the language may eventually die out completely.

The evidence is in the jobs: Java, JavaScript, .Net, HTML, and Python topped the list of languages found most often in tech job postings in the past year, according to Indeed, while Ruby came in far down the list, at No. 9.
proglang-ruby  proglang 
12 weeks ago
Java at a crossroads: Why the popular programming language needs to evolve to stay alive - TechRepublic
Java may be ready for a new beginning after spending the past two decades as a general purpose programming language mainstay. While it remains one of the most popular programming languages in use today, its demand in the enterprise has diminished in recent years, and other languages are beginning to outpace it in terms of growth.
proglang-java  proglang 
12 weeks ago
Speakers at ASU+GSV focus more on job training and less on disruption
The tone appears to have changed at ASU+GSV, the booming ed-tech and investment extravaganza held here each April by Arizona State University and GSV Capital.

Predictions of doom for hidebound colleges have been less common during sessions at the conference. Instead, attendees are focused on job training and the skills gap, challenges most think offer opportunities for both technology-focused start-ups and the more nimble segments of higher education.
he-profit  edtech  zeigeist  cyberlib 
april 2018
Federal experiment in nontraditional providers stumbles out of the gate
In October 2015, the Obama administration announced a radical experiment to give low-income students access to boot camps, massive open online courses and other nondegree credentials, mostly from for-profit alternative providers.

The experiment, called Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP), planned to give unaccredited providers access to federal financial aid in a controlled setting. The idea was to see whether these nontraditional providers could deliver "high standards of quality and positive student outcomes" -- conceivably opening the door for them to receive federal funds. The program also aimed to develop new ways of assessing quality in higher education -- potentially providing alternatives to traditional accreditation, Education Department officials hoped.

The program's goals were beyond ambitious -- and so far it has achieved few if any of them, leading even strong supporters to say that it has "floundered." Eight pilot programs were selected in August 2016, but it was not until this month that the first program received final approval to launch -- a year later than expected. And three of the eight programs have dropped out.

“It’s been a slog,” said Marc Singer, vice provost of the Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State University, a participant in one EQUIP project.
he-profit  cyberlib  langsec  zeitgeist 
april 2018
An Apology for the Internet — From the People Who Built It
Why, over the past year, has Silicon Valley begun to regret the foundational elements of its own success?
langsec  quantomania  cyberlib  zeigeist 
april 2018
Silicon Valley Falls to Earth - The Atlantic
Recent polling shows a loss of faith in Facebook, but the public conversation suggests a much larger shift in consciousness. The coverage of the Cambridge Analytica story has provided a belated and harsh education for the public, illustrating the extent to which it has unwittingly submitted to the manipulation and surveillance of Silicon Valley companies. It’s always stunning to hear otherwise media-savvy friends profess shock at how much information they had handed over to Facebook, and how little sensitivity the company showed to its precious cargo. Equally stunning is the fact that many of those who understood Facebook’s transactional relationship with its users’ private information couldn’t seem to muster enough energy to actually care. The surrender of privacy, which had only theoretically bothered consumers, finally seems to have elicited genuine anger. It’s a backlash that has been stoked by media, making noises about extracting itself from its own dependence on Facebook. This makes for a stunning reversal. In the face of Silicon Valley’s power, there’s a widely shared sense that the public has has no agency. Even if people weren’t thrilled with the terms-of-service agreements offered by the companies, they accepted them as the natural course of life on the internet. Media, regulators, and engineers all knew perfectly well that Facebook had created a pernicious system, yet they assumed there was no way to blunt it. This reflected a broader attitude toward both technology and the market.
zeigeist  langsec  quantomania  cyberlib 
april 2018
Cambridge Analytica and the Coming Data Bust - The New York Times
The disorienting and thoroughly unsatisfying Cambridge Analytica saga is a preview of what trailing indicators of the collapse of the data boom might look like: revealing signs, evident years later, that something was rotten with these arrangements, arriving too late to be actionable but soon enough to foster resentment against companies and services on which we’ve come to depend.
langsec  quantomania  zeitgeist  cyberlib 
april 2018
After the Facebook scandal it’s time to base the digital economy on public v private ownership of data | Technology | The Guardian
Facebook, along with Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft and others, have been key to boosting the US stock market to record heights. They have ensured a modicum of prosperity at a time when the rest of the economy is still struggling with the fallout from the financial crisis.

In some sense, America’s tech markets of the 2010s are not much different from America’s housing markets of the 2000s: both have tried to generate wealth, by means of asset appreciation, even when the real economy struggled. Remove the immense gains in the stock value of big tech companies over the past few years and there would be little reason to speak about any meaningful recovery from the crisis.
langsec  quantomania  cyberlib  zeitgeist 
april 2018
Is #DeleteFacebook Going to Change Academic Life and Scholarly Publishing? - The Scholarly Kitchen
There’s every reason to believe that academics were included in this massive data acquisition activity, making it unlikely our world will remain the same now. [...] This more basic reassessment will change academia, publishing businesses, research, and instruction. #DeleteFacebook feels like a watershed moment. Things will change a great deal from here.
langsec  zeigeist  cyberlib  quantomania 
march 2018
Philosopher Julia Kristeva Accused of Being a Secret Agent for Bulgaria - Artforum International
Martin Dimitrov of Balkan Insight reports that psychoanalyst and philosopher Julia Kristeva, who was born in Bulgaria, was allegedly an agent for the country’s security body that was active during the nation’s Communist regime. The agency—called the Committee for Disclosing the Documents and Announcing the Affiliation of Bulgarian Citizens to the State Security and Intelligence Services of the Bulgarian National Army—claims that Kristeva was an agent and a “secret associate” for the First General Department of the State Security, a bureau that collected foreign political intelligence.
langsec  he-sec  he-hum 
march 2018
Former Cambridge Analytica exec says she wants lies to stop | UK news | The Guardian
It seems remarkable that an Obama volunteer who studied human rights and voted for Bernie Sanders ended up working for a controversial data analytics company at the centre of a global story about the use of data and dirty tricks. The company’s work on Donald Trump’s election campaign left her feeling “incredibly internally conflicted”, but she insists she was only doing her job; her political views have nothing to do with her decision to reveal secrets about Cambridge Analytica. Asked why she has decided to speak out, Kaiser flares: “Why should we make excuses for these people? Why? I’m so tired of making excuses for old white men. Fucking hell.”
march 2018
Facebook scandal: I am being used as scapegoat – academic who mined data | UK news | The Guardian
Kogan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday that he was being unjustly blamed for the scandal. He said: “My view is that I’m being basically used as a scapegoat by both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Honestly we thought we were acting perfectly appropriately. We thought we were doing something that was really normal.”
march 2018
Student evaluations are discriminatory against female professors.
This is frustrating, perhaps more so given that we certainly are not the first study to look at the ways that student evaluations are biased against female professors. But we might be among the first to make the case explicitly that the use of student evaluations in hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions represents a discrimination issue. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission exists to enforce the laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee based on sex.
he-teach 
march 2018
Beware the Big Five | by Tamsin Shaw | The New York Review of Books
Klimburg gives a fascinating diagnosis of how this situation has been inflamed. He describes a growing tension in the US over the last twenty years, coming to a head under Obama, between the perception of the Internet and its reality.
cyberlib  langsec  quantomania  zeigeist 
march 2018
‘I made Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare tool’: meet the data war whistleblower | News | The Guardian
Wylie grew up in British Columbia and as a teenager he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. He left school at 16 without a single qualification. Yet at 17, he was working in the office of the leader of the Canadian opposition; at 18, he went to learn all things data from Obama’s national director of targeting, which he then introduced to Canada for the Liberal party. At 19, he taught himself to code, and in 2010, age 20, he came to London to study law at the London School of Economics.
langsec  quantomania  zeigeist  cyberlib 
march 2018
How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions - The New York Times
Cambridge paid to acquire the personal information through an outside researcher who, Facebook says, claimed to be collecting it for academic purposes.
zeitgeist  langsec  quantomania 
march 2018
'Silicon Valley' Confronts a "Darker Side" of Tech Culture (and T.J. Miller's Messy Exit) | Hollywood Reporter
In the half-decade since the wry study of startup culture premiered, the ground has shifted beneath it — the public perception of the tech industry has dimmed considerably [...] When Silicon Valley premiered in the spring of 2014, Uber was still a controversy-free ride­sharing service and Facebook had yet to taint a presidential election.
cyberlib  quantomania  zeitgeist 
march 2018
Here’s How Cornell Scientist Brian Wansink Turned Shoddy Data Into Viral Studies About How We Eat
Wansink’s practices are part of a troubling pattern of strategic data-crunching across the entire field of social science. Even so, several independent statisticians and psychology researchers are appalled at the extent of Wansink’s data manipulation.
quantomania  zeitgeist 
march 2018
Towards a manifesto for a critical digital humanities: critiquing the extractive capitalism of digital society | Palgrave Communications
I note that while my own university did have a digital humanities programme that was inching toward such a critical digital humanities it has suffered funding cutbacks primarily because a focus on a (traditional) functional digital humanities failed to attract the expected numbers of students.
zeitgeist  dh  dhcrit  cyberlib 
february 2018
How Tiny Red Dots Took Over Your Life - The New York Times
As the ranks of tech-industry critics have expanded, it has become harder to tell what common ground they occupy. Across various political divides, there is a sense that Facebook, Twitter and Google exert too much influence on the national discourse; closely connected to this is the widespread concern that we users have developed an unhealthful relationship with our phones, or with the apps on them. But on any more specific claim than that, consensus becomes impossible. The sudden arrival of a new class of tech skeptic, the industry apostate, has only complicated the discussion. Late last year, the co-inventor of the Facebook “like,” Justin Rosenstein, called it a “bright ding of pseudopleasure”; in January, the investment firm Jana Partners, a shareholder in Apple, wrote a letter to the company warning that its products “may be having unintentional negative consequences.”

All but conjuring Oppenheimer at White Sands, these critics offer broadsides, warning about addictive design tricks and profit-driven systems eroding our humanity. But it’s hard to discern a collective message in their garment-rending: Is it design that needs fixing? Tech? Capitalism? This lack of clarity may stem from the fact that these people are not ideologues but reformists. They tend to believe that companies should be more responsible — and users must be, too. But with rare exceptions, the reformists stop short of asking the uncomfortable questions: Is it possible to reform profit-driven systems that turn attention into money? In such a business, can you even separate addiction from success?
zeitgeist  cyberlib 
february 2018
Polis – Is Big Tech facing its version of the 2008 financial crisis?
The charge sheet is mounting against Facebook in particular, but also against the other digital behemoths. With power comes responsibility, and these relatively young organisations are struggling to deal with it. So society is stepping in. The age of unregulated social media is, apparently, over. It is one of the core issues for the LSE’s Truth, Trust and Technology Commission that will seek to set out an agenda for the public information role of news and social media. But before we start creating new rules, we need to have an honest and open conversation amongst all parties about what the problem is and what has caused it.

The different companies such as Google, Twitter, Amazon, Apple, Uber and Air bnb, have responded with varying degrees of openness to the growing chorus of anger around topics such as (not) paying taxes, labour exploitation, misinformation, fostering propaganda, offence, polarisation, and mental ill-health. They all have different histories and corporate identities and varying capacity to understand and engage with public disquiet.
zeitgeist  cyberlib  quantomania 
february 2018
Inside Facebook's Hellish Two Years—and Mark Zuckerberg's Struggle to Fix it All | WIRED
The stories varied, but most people told the same basic tale: of a company, and a CEO, whose techno-optimism has been crushed as they’ve learned the myriad ways their platform can be used for ill. Of an election that shocked Facebook, even as its fallout put the company under siege. Of a series of external threats, defensive internal calculations, and false starts that delayed Facebook’s reckoning with its impact on global affairs and its users’ minds.
zeitgeist  cyberlib  quantomania 
february 2018
Tech’s Ethical ‘Dark Side’: Harvard, Stanford and Others Want to Address It - The New York Times
The courses are emerging at a moment when big tech companies have been struggling to handle the side effects — fake news on Facebook, fake followers on Twitter, lewd children’s videos on YouTube — of the industry’s build-it-first mind-set.
zeitgeist  cyberlib  dh  dhcrit 
february 2018
Data Structure Visualizations
David Galles, algorithm and data structure visualizations
ref 
february 2018
Take it from the insiders: Silicon Valley is eating your soul | John Harris | Opinion | The Guardian
One source of angst came close to being 2017’s signature subject: how the internet and the tiny handful of companies that dominate it are affecting both individual minds and the present and future of the planet. The old idea of the online world as a burgeoning utopia looks to have peaked around the time of the Arab spring, and is in retreat.
quantomania  cyberlib  langsec  zeitgeist 
january 2018
Digital Humanities Research Centre, University of Chester
It is with great regret that we must announce that the Digital Humanities Research Centre at the University of Chester will close this Christmas.
dh  zeitgeist 
december 2017
How a half-educated tech elite delivered us into chaos | John Naughton | Opinion | The Guardian
All of which brings to mind CP Snow’s famous Two Cultures lecture, delivered in Cambridge in 1959, in which he lamented the fact that the intellectual life of the whole of western society was scarred by the gap between the opposing cultures of science and engineering on the one hand, and the humanities on the other – with the latter holding the upper hand among contemporary ruling elites. Snow thought that this perverse dominance would deprive Britain of the intellectual capacity to thrive in the postwar world and he clearly longed to reverse it. Snow passed away in 1980, but one wonders what he would have made of the new masters of our universe. One hopes that he might see it as a reminder of the old adage: be careful what you wish for – you might just get it.
zeitgeist  langsec 
november 2017
Harassment, assault allegations against Moretti span three campuses | Stanford Daily
One week before he was first publicly accused of sexual assault and harassment by a former graduate student, Emeritus Professor of English Franco Moretti was profiled in The New York Times as a self-proclaimed revolutionary in literary scholarship. Moretti, a founder of Stanford’s Literary Lab, has helped pioneer the growing field of digital humanities, approaching texts as data that can be computationally analyzed en masse. In the process, The Times writes, he has become something of a celebrity in the literary world by “promoting a ruthlessly impersonal idea of both scholarship and literary history itself.” The beginnings of that celebrity loomed large in Kimberly Latta’s account earlier this month of the power dynamic underlying her public accusations of rape and sexual harassment against Moretti, her former professor at UC Berkeley.
zeitgeist  dh  langsec  quantomania 
november 2017
Smash ILLIAC IV
Poster from student demonstrations against the ILLIAC IV computer designed at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
comphist 
november 2017
On YouTube Kids, Startling Videos Slip Past Filters - The New York Times
Parents and children have flocked to Google-owned YouTube Kids since it was introduced in early 2015. The app’s more than 11 million weekly viewers are drawn in by its seemingly infinite supply of clips, including those from popular shows by Disney and Nickelodeon, and the knowledge that the app is supposed to contain only child-friendly content that has been automatically filtered from the main YouTube site.

Continue reading the main story
But the app contains dark corners, too, as videos that are disturbing for children slip past its filters, either by mistake or because bad actors have found ways to fool the YouTube Kids algorithms.

In recent months, parents like Ms. Burns have complained that their children have been shown videos with well-known characters in violent or lewd situations and other clips with disturbing imagery, sometimes set to nursery rhymes. Many have taken to Facebook to warn others, and share video screenshots showing moments ranging from a Claymation Spider-Man urinating on Elsa of “Frozen” to Nick Jr. characters in a strip club.
cyberlib  langsec 
november 2017
Something is wrong on the internet – James Bridle – Medium
YouTube and Google are complicit in that system. The architecture they have built to extract the maximum revenue from online video is being hacked by persons unknown to abuse children, perhaps not even deliberately, but at a massive scale.
cyberlib  langsec 
november 2017
Coders of the world, unite: can Silicon Valley workers curb the power of Big Tech? | News | The Guardian
Big Tech is broken. Suddenly, a wide range of journalists and politicians agree on this. For decades, most of the media and political establishment accepted Silicon Valley’s promise that it would not “be evil,” as the first Google code of corporate conduct put it. But the past few months have brought a constant stream of negative stories about both the internal culture of the tech industry and the effect it is having on society.

It is difficult to know where to begin. How about the rampant sexual harassment at companies such as Uber, which fired 20 employees in June after receiving hundreds of sexual harassment claims? Or the growing body of evidence that women and people of colour are not only dramatically underrepresented at tech firms, but also systematically underpaid, as three Google employees alleged in a lawsuit last month? Should we focus on the fact that Facebook allowed advertisers to target users who listed “Jew hater” as one of their interests? Or that they and Google have helped clients to spread fake news?

In response to concerns about Russian interference in the 2016 election, politicians are threatening to take action against companies they have long left alone. By late September this year, when the Senate intelligence committee demanded that Facebook, Google and Twitter conduct internal investigations – and those companies admitted that, yes, foreign actors had used their platforms to communicate misinformation that was viewed millions of times by voters in hotly contested swing states – it seemed fair to ask whether democracy could survive them. A New York Times headline on 13 October captured how the mood had shifted: “Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend.”

It is tempting to turn this shift of mood against Big Tech into a story of betrayal. On 1 November, representatives of Facebook and Twitter will appear before the Senate to testify about divisive political advertising paid for by Russian actors on their platforms. The setting suggests wrongdoing and retribution. But the drama playing out involves more than uncovering specific lies or misdeeds. We are watching an entire worldview start to fall apart.
zeitgeist  cyberlib 
november 2017
How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Recruit Students at America’s Universities
Two trends have converged to create this surge in academic spying. The first is the growing intimacy between U.S. intelligence and academia, driven partly by patriotic fervor and terrorism fears in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Deterred by student protests and faculty hostility during the Vietnam era, the CIA, FBI, and other security agencies have returned in force, forging a tenuous alliance of spies and scholars.

“September 11 led to a quiet reengagement of a lot of the academy with the national security community,” says Austin Long, who taught security policy at Columbia University. Perhaps more than anyone else, Graham Spanier is responsible for this rapprochement. As president of Pennsylvania State University from 1995 to 2011, he helped establish and chaired the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, which fosters dialogue between intelligence agencies and universities. He also gave FBI-sponsored seminars for administrators at MIT, Michigan State, Stanford, and other universities, and opened doors for the CIA throughout academia.
langsec  zeigeist  cyberlib 
october 2017
Reading by the Numbers: When Big Data Meets Literature - The New York Times
The publication provides something of a retrospective occasion for Mr. Moretti, 67, who retired last spring from Stanford. But it also prompts a larger question at a time when the broader field of digital humanities is booming: What has the Big Data approach to literature added up to?

It’s a question that draws heated answers. Digital humanities has been accused of fetishizing science, of acting as a Trojan horse for the corporate forces threatening the university, and worse. A recent broadside in The Chronicle of Higher Education called “The Digital-Humanities Bust” took a bludgeon to the field’s revolutionary rhetoric, with Mr. Moretti among those accused of issuing a stream of vague “promissory notes” for results that never arrive.

Mr. Moretti — who prefers to call the lab’s work “computational criticism” — tends to greet such challenges with a mixture of modesty and bravado.

“Our results are not as good as what I had hoped for 10 or 15 years ago,” he said in an interview earlier this month, during a brief trip to New York. “We have not yet created a revolution in knowledge. But how much of literary scholarship is even trying to do that?”
dh  dhcrit  langsec  quantomania  zeigeist 
october 2017
Rebecca Lossin: Against the Universal Library. New Left Review 107, September-October 2017.
Justifications for the digitally expanded library that go beyond the functional or budgetary to include some sort of social vision almost all evince an obsession with a technological—even ahistorical—future and, in addition, an ideal of ‘service’ conceived in terms of blinkered populism. There is an odd linguistic resonance between the prophets of fascism and the proponents of digital preservation and access. For Leo Lowenthal, book-burning by authoritarian and totalitarian societies was a ‘mad attempt to found anew the history of the world, to devise a new creation myth, the genealogy of a new history of salvation, which disowns, destroys and erases all that precedes a new arbitrary calendar’. [18] The logic of contemporary ‘universal libraries’ such as Google Books appears antithetical to such an ideological agenda. But mapped onto the digitization of all the world’s information is the ideology of the information age, which figures itself as a radical break from the past—a paradigm shift of unseen proportions and the very stuff of a future social organization that is horizontal, open, flexible and democratic. The internet and the set of metaphors and practices that have grown up within and around it—the very conviction that this environment is absolutely new—contain a similar urge ‘to found anew the history of the world’, and offer ‘a new history of salvation’.
cyberlib  dh  dhcrit  langsec  zeigeist 
october 2017
The University Is Not a Technology - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Instead, Piper and Wellmon offer data, or rather the idea of it. "The university is a technology," they write. "Let’s treat it like one." One can call any institution one likes — a town hall, an AA meeting, a tri-county soccer league — a "technology," though it’s not clear what’s gained.
zeigeist  langsec  quantomania  dh  dhcrit 
october 2017
Remaking the University: Metrics Noir - Los Angeles Review of Books
All of these scholars are well aware of the value of numbers. Numbers allow for abstract picturing of groups, societies, and cities. They regularize anomalies and exceptions, and allow us access to invisible worlds, social and physical alike. Numbers support distributed cognition and collective intelligence. Both are desperately needed in a world damaged by human stupidity. But quantification in its many forms now operates within a complex metrics culture — a contradictory and contested battleground, as these three books explain. Together, they offer an understory that we could call metrics noir.
zeigeist  quantomania  langsec 
october 2017
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