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Berkman Buzz: September 5, 2014

The Berkman Buzz is selected weekly from the posts of Berkman Center people and projects.
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Project VRM celebrates eighth birthday


As of today, ProjectVRM is eight years old.

So now seems like a good time for a comprehensive (or at least long) report on what we’ve been doing all this time, how we’ve been doing it, and what we’ve been learning along the way.


From Doc Searls's blog post for Project VRM, "State of the VRooM, 2014"
About Project VRM

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The Case for Kill Switches in Military Weaponry @zittrain on existing tech and the possibility of disarming #ISIS
Berkman Center (@berkmancenter)


Zeynep Tufekci explains why Twitter shouldn't move to algorithmic curation


Twitter’s CFO made some headlines recently by suggesting that Twitter was going to tweak the reverse chronology of the feed and introduce algorithmic curation.

Many on my Twitter feed were strongly opposed to the possibility.

...Why the distaste for a change that would benefit many of them? It’s simple: Twitter’s uncurated feed certainly has some downsides, and I can see some algorithmic improvements that would make it easier for early users to adopt the service, but they’d potentially be chopping off the very—sometimes magical—ability of mature Twitter to surface from the network.


From Zeynep Tufekci's post for Medium, "Why Twitter Should Not Algorithmically Curate the Timeline"
About Zeynep | @zeynep

Gabriella Coleman defends online anonymity

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It is important that, when possible, Internet companies that specialize in content, like social media companies, curb harassment within their platforms. Solutions like pending comment systems can limit nastiness without inhibiting diverse and creative free speech.

But we should also consider what we would lose were we to ban, or even discourage, the use of anonymity on the Internet. Debates about trolls routinely conflate anonymity with incivility but a broader look at online activities reveals that public good can come when users can hide their identity.


From Gabriella Coleman's op ed in the New York Times, "Anonymity Online Serves Us All"
About Gabriella | @BiellaColeman

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Advertiser strategies for tracking web users even when users try to protect their privacy. Time for some regulation?
Ethan Zuckerman (@EthanZ)


EXCLUSIVE: German Companies Are Selling Unlicensed Surveillance Technologies to Human Rights Violators – and Making Millions

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By cross-referencing information from a massive data leak in mid-August with the results of a recent parliamentary inquiry in Germany, we’ve come to suspect that the majority of surveillance technologies produced by German companies have been bought and sold under the table – in other words, without a license. The German government requires licenses for the sale of technologies that are considered to be “dual use” – products that can be used for both good and ill.


From Ben Wagner and Claudio Guarnieri's post for Global Voices, "EXCLUSIVE: German Companies Are Selling Unlicensed Surveillance Technologies to Human Rights Violators – and Making Millions"
About Global Voices Online | @globalvoices

This Buzz was compiled by Rebekah Heacock.

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