Sunday, April 13, 2014

OpenStack 04/14/2014 (a.m.)

  • The straw that broke this camel's back. On top of having an absolutely horrible security model, Dropbox elects Condi Rice to its board of directors. I just completed transfer of my files to another service (in the E.U. where U.S. court orders don't reach) and deleted my Dropbox account.  

    Tags: war & peace, security state, Condi-Rice, Dropbox

    • Dropbox CEO Drew Houston sought to quell the uproar over the appointment of former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the company's board of directors, saying in a blog post Friday that Rice's appointment won't change its stance on privacy.

      "There's nothing more important to us than keeping your stuff safe and secure. It's why we've been fighting for transparency and government surveillance reform, and why we've been vocal and public with our principles and values," Houston wrote. "We should have been clearer that none of this is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment to our Board."

      The cloud storage service is trying to grow its international presence -- something Rice should be able to help with. However, after Dropbox announced her appointment earlier this week, a Web site dedicated to the "Drop Dropbox" movement called her selection "deeply disturbing" and said her board role was "problematic on a number of deeper levels, and invites serious concerns" about management's commitment "to freedom, openness, and ethics."

    • The movement said it objected to her role in the US decision to go to war in Iraq, as well as her position on the use of torture against prisoners. What's more, they said Rice supported the George W. Bush administration's "warrantless wiretap program and expansive domestic surveillance program."

      Houston responded in his brief note today, saying that Dropbox "should have been clearer that none of this is going to change" in the aftermath of Rice's appointment.

      "Our commitment to your rights and your privacy is at the heart of every decision we make, and this will continue," he wrote.

    • "We're honored to have Dr. Rice join our board -- she brings an incredible amount of experience and insight into international markets and the dynamics that define them," Houston wrote. "As we continue to expand into new countries, we need that type of insight to help us reach new users and defend their rights. Dr. Rice understands our stance on these issues and fully supports our commitments to our users."

      In her only public comments about Dropbox since being named to the board, Rice didn't get very detailed in speaking with Bloomberg on Wednesday. "As a country, we are having a great national conversation and debate about exactly how to manage privacy concerns," Rice said in the interview. "I look forward to helping Dropbox navigate it."

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

OpenStack 04/13/2014 (a.m.)

  • Tags: social media, office productivity

    • In an upcoming special issue of Social Science Computer Review, Landers and Callan[1] set out to understand how people actually use social media while at work and how it affects their job performance.  By polling workers across a wide variety of jobs (across at least 17 industries), they identified 8 broad ways that people use social media that they believe help their work, and 9 broad ways that people use social media that they believe harm their work.  Although the harmful social media behaviors were related to decreased job performance, the beneficial social media behaviors were unrelated to job performance.  In short, wasting time on social media hurts you, but trying to use social media to improve your work probably doesn’t actually help.
    • It was in Study 3 that the relationship between the social media behaviors and job performance was determined.  Consistently, negative social media behaviors (e.g., plagiarism, mutlitasking, time theft) were correlated with lower job performance (across task, contextual, counterproductive, and adaptive dimensions).  But in contrast, positive social media behaviors (e.g., crowdsourcing a problem, identifying new customers) were not generally correlated with job performance at all.

      The researcher then make the following practical recommendation:

      These findings suggested that simply granting employee access to social media is unlikely to improve job performance unless a specific plan is in place to take advantage of the capabilities it provides. In fact, permitting employee access to social media broadly may be generally harmful to job performance and cannot be recommended based upon these results.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

OpenStack 04/08/2014 (p.m.)

  • High comedy from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The USTR's press release is here along with a link to its report. The USTR is upset because the E.U. is aiming to build a digital communications network that does not route internal digital traffic outside the E.U., to limit the NSA's ability to surveil Europeans' communications. Part of the plan is to build an E.U.-centric cloud that is not susceptible to U.S. court orders. This plan does not, of course, sit well with U.S.-based cloud service providers.  Where the comedy comes in is that the USTR is making threats to go to the World Trade organization to block the E.U. move under the authority of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). But that treaty provides, in article XIV, that:  "Subject to the requirement that such measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where like conditions prevail, or a disguised restriction on trade in services, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent the adoption or enforcement by any Member of measures: ... (c)      necessary to secure compliance with laws or regulations which are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Agreement including those relating to:   ... (ii)     the protection of the privacy of individuals in relation to the processing and dissemination of personal data and the protection of confidentiality of individual records and accounts[.]"   The E.U., in its Treaty on Human Rights, has very strong privacy protections for digital communications. The USTR undoubtedly knows all this, and that the WTO Appellate Panel's judges are of the European mold, sticklers for protection of human rights and most likely do not appreciate being subjects of NSA surveillance themselves. So the USTR's cries of discrimination are no more than propaganda to placate the American cloud service providers. "See? We're right on this problem." Not.  But it's really fun to fantasize about the U.S. walking into that meat shredder to face the iron-clad proof that NSA is subject to no legal constraints when it comes to foreign citizens. But it ain't going to happen. 

    Tags: surveillance state, NSA, EU, EU-cloud, USTR, WTO, digital-privacy

    • The United States on Friday criticized proposals to build a European communication network to avoid emails and other data passing through the United States, warning that such rules could breach international trade laws.

      In its annual review of telecommunications trade barriers, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative said impediments to cross-border data flows were a serious and growing concern.

      It was closely watching new laws in Turkey that led to the blocking of websites and restrictions on personal data, as well as calls in Europe for a local communications network following revelations last year about U.S. digital eavesdropping and surveillance.

      "Recent proposals from countries within the European Union to create a Europe-only electronic network (dubbed a 'Schengen cloud' by advocates) or to create national-only electronic networks could potentially lead to effective exclusion or discrimination against foreign service suppliers that are directly offering network services, or dependent on them," the USTR said in the report.

    • Germany and France have been discussing ways to build a European network to keep data secure after the U.S. spying scandal. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone was reportedly monitored by American spies.

      The USTR said proposals by Germany's state-backed Deutsche Telekom to bypass the United States were "draconian" and likely aimed at giving European companies an advantage over their U.S. counterparts.

      Deutsche Telekom has suggested laws to stop data traveling within continental Europe being routed via Asia or the United States and scrapping the Safe Harbor agreement that allows U.S. companies with European-level privacy standards access to European data. (

      "Any mandatory intra-EU routing may raise questions with respect to compliance with the EU's trade obligations with respect to Internet-enabled services," the USTR said. "Accordingly, USTR will be carefully monitoring the development of any such proposals."

    • U.S. tech companies, the leaders in an e-commerce marketplace estimated to be worth up to $8 trillion a year, have urged the White House to undertake reforms to calm privacy concerns and fend off digital protectionism.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

OpenStack 04/05/2014 (p.m.)

  • Tags: reporter-bots

    • We already knew that bots were writing news content, automating narrative stories from data-rich topics like sports scores and financial markets. Now, robo-reporters are starting to get scoops. They're not just writing stories; they're breaking them.

      Thomas Steiner, a Google engineer in Germany, designed an algorithm that covers the news as it's breaking by monitoring activity on Wikipedia (old school journalists everywhere are wincing) and watching for spikes in editing activity.

      The idea is that if something big is happening—especially if it’s a global event—multiple editors around the world will be updating Wikipedia and Wikidata pages at once, in different languages. That spike in activity tips off the bot to the story. According to Steiner, his news bot spotted major stories like the Boston Marathon bombing and the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370.

    • The bare-bones site tracking real-time editing is called Wikipedia Live Monitor. It was first created last year, and now Steiner's has extended his robo-news operation to Twitter. The bot mines the social media site for a particular search term triggered by the Wikipedia activity and pulls out all relevant photos to illustrate the story.
    • You can check out the visual news events on the Twitter bot account @mediagalleries. The earliest are from a case study Steiner did to test out the program during the Olympics in Sochi. More recently, there are galleries illustrating major sports events, and the latest updates to flight MH370 and the conflict in Crimea.
    • You can see, it's still a rudimentary process, hardly about to put the staff of the New York Times out of business. But it says a lot about the direction automating the news is heading in.
    • Still, the Fourth Estate is one of the more disconcerting industries being taken over by robots, and not just because it’s my own livelihood. And it’s more common than you think; Kristian Hammond, cofounder of Narrative Science, a company that's been automating content for several years now, predicted that 90 percent of the news could be written by computers by 2030.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

OpenStack 03/30/2014 (p.m.)

Posted from
Diigo. The rest of Open Web group favorite links are here.