Internet

China’s scary lesson to the world: Censoring the Internet works

Indeed, China’s Firewall is far more sophisticated and multi-tiered than a simple on-off switch: It is an attempt to bridge one of the country’s most fundamental contradictions — to have an economy intricately connected to the outside world but a political culture closed off from such “Western values” as free speech and democracy.
From China’s scary lesson to the world: Censoring the Internet works. - The Washington Post
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How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet

...but censorship using the DMCA is common online. The act allows web hosts a certain amount of immunity from claims of copyright infringement through what is known as the “safe harbour” rules: in essence, a host isn’t responsible for hosting infringing material provided they didn’t know about it when it went up, and took it down as soon as they were told about it. In practice, however, this means that web hosts (and the term is broadly interpreted, meaning sites like YouTube, Twitter and Google count) are forced to develop a hair-trigger over claims of copyright infringement, assuming guilt and asking the accused to prove their innocence.
From Revealed: How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet | Technology | The Guardian
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Rethinking Knowledge in the Internet Age

This would be a source of pure despair if the internet were not also enabling us to see that before it existed we never agreed about anything either. Before the net, what we read and saw was so tightly controlled by cartels of well-intentioned professionals that dissenting voices were barely heard. True, many of those dissenting voices were wrong and sometimes they were spouting lunacy, but we marginalized all but the one percent of the epistemically privileged. We achieved great science but at a high price throughout the rest of the cultural landscape, and sometimes within science, too. This fragmentation of knowledge is a fact that knowledge cannot overcome. How, then, do we best live with it? How do we flourish now that we can’t reason ourselves back together?
From Rethinking Knowledge in the Internet Age - Los Angeles Review of Books

The Evolution of Wikipedia’s Norm Network

Abstract: Social norms have traditionally been difficult to quantify. In any particular society, their sheer number and complex interdependencies often limit a system-level analysis. One exception is that of the network of norms that sustain the online Wikipedia community. We study the fifteen-year evolution of this network using the interconnected set of pages that establish, describe, and interpret the community’s norms. Despite Wikipedia’s reputation for ad hoc governance, we find that its normative evolution is highly conservative. The earliest users create norms that both dominate the network and persist over time. These core norms govern both content and interpersonal interactions using abstract principles such as neutrality, verifiability, and assume good faith. As the network grows, norm neighborhoods decouple topologically from each other, while increasing in semantic coherence. Taken together, these results suggest that the evolution of Wikipedia’s norm network is akin to bureaucratic systems that predate the information age.
From Future Internet | Free Full-Text | The Evolution of Wikipedia’s Norm Network | HTML
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One Easy Way to Make Wikipedia Better

Evans and his colleagues have an idea for how Wikipedia could begin to do this—and it’s a proposal that, if executed well, could dramatically improve access to information on the Internet. “You could just give some kind of meter about verifiability, actually on the Wikipedia page,” said Dan Rockmore, the director of the Neukom Institute and a co-author of the study. “That could be automated in a fairly simple way.”
From One Easy Way to Make Wikipedia Better - The Atlantic
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How libraries can save the Internet of Things from the Web's centralized fate

Everyone thinks libraries have a positive role to play in the world, but that role differs greatly based on whether you’re talking to a librarian or a patron. Ask a patron what libraries have in common and they’d probably answer: they share books with people. Librarians give a different answer: they share a set of values. It’s time for libraries to step up to those values by supporting access to the Internet and taking the lead in fighting to keep the Internet open, free, and unowned.
From How libraries can save the Internet of Things from the Web's centralized fate / Boing Boing
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Mass surveillance silences minority opinions, according to study

A new study shows that knowledge of government surveillance causes people to self-censor their dissenting opinions online. The research offers a sobering look at the oft-touted "democratizing" effect of social media and Internet access that bolsters minority opinion. The study, published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, studied the effects of subtle reminders of mass surveillance on its subjects. The majority of participants reacted by suppressing opinions that they perceived to be in the minority. This research illustrates the silencing effect of participants’ dissenting opinions in the wake of widespread knowledge of government surveillance, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.
From Mass surveillance silences minority opinions, according to study - The Washington Post
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NPR decides it won’t promote its podcasts or NPR One on air

Look, the impact of this “ethics” policy is going to be small. The number of people who want to listen to podcasts but won’t figure out how to download one without Steve Inskeep walking them through the process is tiny. There are plenty of ways NPR One can be effectively marketed through digital channels. But the issue here isn’t the impact of the policy — it’s what it tells us about NPR’s underlying strategy. Again, I have enormous sympathy for the people making these decisions at NPR — just as I had enormous sympathy for those working through an analogous set of questions at newspapers 5 or 10 years ago. But if you see a future, at a certain point you’ve got to commit to getting there. http://www.niemanlab.org/2016/03/npr-decides-it-wont-promote-its-podcasts-or-npr-one-on-air/
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OCLC Pulls a Qwikster with WorldCat Discovery

In 2015, OCLC announced that WorldCat Discovery Services would replace FirstSearch at the end of the calendar year. The Discovery interface, similar to Open WorldCat, features a revamped design, faceted results, and improved listings of related editions and formats. However, it lacks a few advanced search functions available via the FirstSearch version. In response to complaints about these missing options, the retirement date for FirstSearch was extended to 2016. This week it was announced that FirstSearch would continue into 2017, while work is done building a new platform to support full-featured searching. Since Worldcat Discovery will apparently also be enhanced with new capabilities, OCLC's prolonged development cycle and plans to maintain two product lines seem confounding.

Common Search: We are building a nonprofit search engine for the Web

Our mission is to build and operate a nonprofit search engine for the Web.
Why?

The Web is now a critical resource for humanity, of which search engines are the arbiters. They decide which websites get traffic, which companies survive, which ideas spread.

The Web is currently in danger because the only arbiters available to us are all profit-seeking companies.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with profit-seeking. It has been a tremendous driver for innovation, and will continue to be. What is wrong is not being able to choose an alternative.

This is why we are building a new kind of search engine: open, transparent and independent.

Just like an arbiter should be.

From Our mission - Common Search

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