Berkman Buzz: November 9, 2012

November 9, 2012

The Berkman Buzz is selected weekly from the posts of Berkman Center people and projects.
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David Weinberger dissects our relationship with political polls

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First, I think it’s important to recognize that it wasn’t just the Republicans who looked the data in the face and drew entirely wrong conclusions. Over and over the mainstream media told us that this race was close, that it was a toss-up. But it wasn’t. Yes, the popular vote was close, although not as close as we’d been led to believe. But the outcome of the race wasn’t a toss-up, wasn’t 50-50, wasn’t close. Obama won the race decisively and not very long after the last mainland polls closed…just as the data said he would. Not only was Nate Silver right, his record, his methodology, and the transparency of his methodology were good reasons for thinking he would be right. Yet, the mainstream media looked at the data and came to the wrong conclusion.

From David Weinberger's blog post, "[2b2k] What do we learn from our failure to believe the polls?"
About David Weinberger | @dweinberger

RB209: Crisis Spotting (Drone Humanitarianism II)

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What if you could witness a crime taking place from space, and even step in to prevent it?

A group of researchers at Harvard’s Humanitarian Initiative are trying to do exactly that.

As the nation of Sudan faced a complex crisis — a secession of the southern region that threatened to boil over into a civil war in 2011 — Nathaniel Raymond and his team at The Signal Program were carefully monitoring the conflict.

From Media Berkman, "RB209: Crisis Spotting (Drone Humanitarianism II)"
About Media Berkman | @radioberkman

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Pity the poor, misunderstood creator of spyware for repressive governments: Finfisher's author speaks:
Ethan Zuckerman (@ethanz)

Ethan Zuckerman reflects on Mads Brügger’s "The Ambassador"

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Brügger is a Danish journalist who gained international fame and notoriety for his previous film, The Red Chapel, where he poses as the communist director of a comedy troupe in order to be invited into North Korea, where the government – predictably, clumsily – tries to steer their work in a pro-regime direction. In this new film, Brügger attempts to expose those involved in the trade in blood diamonds: the government officials who are willing to sell diplomatic credentials to allow buyers in and out of diamond-producing countries, and the title brokers who make such trade possible.

To offer this exposé, Brügger creates a character, Mads Cortzen, who embodies every cliché of European colonialism in Africa. In tropical suits and knee-high boots, Cortzen smokes cigarettes in a long, ivory holder, hires two Pygmy assistants because “they are good luck” and spouts offensive dialog at every turn. His antics are recorded by an array of hidden cameras, sometimes placed in hollowed-out books, sometimes worn on Brügger’s body, as he pursues his agenda: obtain diplomatic credentials as an ambassador from Liberia, establish himself as a dealer in diamonds in the Central African Republic, secure conflict diamonds and bring them back to Europe.

From Ethan Zuckerman's blog post, "On hating – and occasionally loving – Mads Brügger’s 'The Ambassador'"
About Ethan Zuckerman | @ethanz

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Differential privacy is one of the most powerful ways of protecting data. Want to understand it? Read this whitepaper:
danah boyd (@zephoria)

Diana Kimball revels in writing code

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I pulled up the SoundCloud app on my phone and decided to just start searching for the names of bands and musicians I like. But—well—that didn’t seem very thorough. So I opened up Rdio (my primary music app) and started scrolling through the artists in my “collection”—a list of albums stored in my account, originally built off of my iTunes library (which is itself now in deep storage on an external hard drive…Rdio and sites like HypeMachine and SoundCloud serve all of my day-to-day music needs, and SSD storage space is precious). It’s a long list; my iTunes library was huge, holding almost a decade’s worth of accumulated tracks. When I saw an artist that rang a bell as a solid favorite, I’d toggle over to the SoundCloud app on my phone and search for that artist’s name. But the hit rate was disappointingly low, and I soon grew frustrated with the workflow. This seemed like the kind of repetitive work a computer could be doing...

A computer could do this!

And that means I could make a computer do it.

From Diana Kimball's blog post, "Code Log 11.4.2012"
About Diana Kimball | @dianakimball

Rey Junco debates the ethics of Facebook stalking university applicants

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Recently, Kaplan Test Prep released data from a survey showing how college admissions officers check applicant profiles in order to make admissions decisions. This isn’t a new phenomenon: since 2008, I’ve been answering questions about whether residence life, judicial affairs, and other university departments should monitor their students’ Facebook accounts. Here are some reasons why I think such evaluations of applicant Facebook profiles is unethical.

From Rey Junco's blog post, "The ethics of Facebook-stalking university applicants"
About Rey Junco | @reyjunco

Journalist's Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan: Bad Joke or Crime?

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Nazira Aytbekova, a prominent television presenter in Kyrgyzstan, has brought criminal charges against tabloid journalists who abducted and threatened to kill her as a ‘practical joke' for their newspaper.

According to Aytbekova, who presents a popular entertainment program on Kyrgyz state TV, she was abducted at gunpoint and taken blindfolded to a deserted area outside Bishkek, the country's capital. Several men then forced her to undress partially, threatening to rape and kill her. One of the men recorded the entire process on a camera. After some time, Aytbekova was ordered to close her eyes. When she opened them again, she saw three journalists from the Bishkek-based tabloid Super-Info who told her that was a joke.

From Atai Muratbekov's blog post for Global Voices, "Journalist's Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan: Bad Joke or Crime?"
About Global Voices Online | @globalvoices

This Buzz was compiled by Rebekah Heacock.

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Last updated

November 9, 2012