Thanks to Securing Change

Those of you paying attention to the website have undoubtedly noticed the theme change. That change is part of the effort to thwart the incessant hackers who have targeted Hearsay Culture over the past three years. I’m pleased to report that the site appears to have stabilized.

How did this happen? As a wannabe geek, I did not have the chops to handle this on my own, so a few years ago I turned to Oliver Day. Oliver began working, but soon wrapped his work into his new non-profit Securing Change, on which I am a board member. [Note: with proper citation to the Hair Club for Men, I’m also a client!] Securing Change “offers security services, consulting, and information for organizations that foster social good, such as non-profits, NGOs and B-Corps.”

If you’d like more information about Securing Change’s efforts, Oliver has been blogging about it. I can tell you that his descriptions are modest, as he’s spent many hours working on this issue gratis. Thus, as a small token of appreciation, I offer this blog post and unsolicited and unqualified endorsement of Securing Change. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at dave@hearsayculture.com for more details.

On that web redesign, please look for a revamped and redesigned website in the first few months of 2015. I’ll write more about that as the day approaches, and am very excited about what’s in the works!

And now, I return to grading and writing, grading and writing. Happy holidays and new year!


Show # 226 — Prof. Stephen Turner on expertise in policymaking — posted

For the last show for 2014, I’m pleased to post Show # 226, November 20, my interview with Prof. Stephen Turner of the University of South Florida on technological and scientific expertise in policymaking and democracy. Stephen has spent a career focusing on the often overlooked question of how experts operate in the policymaking world, and has recently published a collection of his work entitled The Politics of Expertise. This issue has been of critical importance in the science and technology space due to perceived and real gaps in technological understanding amongst policymakers (think the battle around the Stop Online Piracy Act a few years ago and the need to “bring in the nerds”). We discussed the undefined role of experts in policymaking and how we might better utilize expertise in making complex decisions. I greatly enjoyed our discussion.

Look for a new schedule and shows starting in January 2015. Thanks for listening and have a great holiday season and new year!


Show # 225 — Prof. Ed Felten on the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and data privacy — posted

I am delighted to post Show # 225, November 20, my interview with Prof. Ed Felten of Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy (“CITP”). I’ve been visiting at CITP this year, and one of my main goals for my time there has been to meet and/or interview some of the amazing array of scholars resident at Princeton. There was no better way to begin that effort than by interviewing Ed.

Ed’s work is undoubtedly well-known to many Hearsay Culture listeners, so the challenge was to find a few topics to discuss. We were able to drill down on two current foci: data privacy, through Ed’s recent testimony before the President’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and the challenges associated with security around cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Both issues require delving into the nature of information access and sharing in a society where technology remains both largely undisclosed and not well-understood. Ed is among the leaders in efforts to clearly and accurately convey complex technology information to policymakers, and this interview reflected that skill. I hope that you enjoy our discussion!


Show # 224 — Prof. Megan Squire on free and open-source software developers — posted

I am pleased to post Show # 224, November 13, my interview with my colleague Prof. Megan Squire of Elon University on open source data-mining. Megan is doing unique and challenging work looking at 43,000+ (not a typo) datasets of communications between free and open-source software (“FLOSS”) coders and programmers. An advocate of and writer about “clean data,” Megan is analyzing this massive amount of information in order to answer questions like “how software can be more efficient” and “how developers talk to each other.”

This is a work-in-progress, so Megan is still deep within the data weeds, but nonetheless there are insights that can now be gleaned from the data. In our discussion, we talked about Megan’s methods, expectations and preliminary thoughts about answers to the above and other questions. I’m fortunate to count Megan among my great colleagues in the communications, political science and technology spaces at Elon. I hope that you enjoy our chat!


Show # 223 — Prof. Frank Pasquale, author of The Black Box Society — posted

I am thrilled to post Show # 223, November 6, my interview with Prof. Frank Pasquale of the University of Maryland School of Law, author of The Black Box Society: Technologies of Search, Reputation, and Finance. I am an unabashed fan and admirer of Frank’s work, and find his ability to annotate blog posts to be the gold standard. So this was a difficult interview for me, simply because I was tempted to use the classic professorial one-word prompt “discuss,” and leave the microphone open for Frank to deliver a monologue for 50 minutes.

Alas, I did not do that. Frank’s book discusses the challenges inherent in commercial secrecy from a information access and democracy perspective. Focusing on algorithmic computing, he runs through the opacity of computing and its impact on the average consumer in areas ranging from finance to Internet searches. We discussed these challenging issues and potential solutions in our discussion. These critical issues deserve the attention that Frank pays to them, and I hope that you enjoy the discussion as much as I did.


Show # 222 — Prof. David Golumbia on cyberlibertarianism — posted

With the semester having ended, and facing the looming presence of grading and writing deadlines, it is time to post several new shows. Get ready for a barrage. And thanks for your patience.

The first show is Show # 222, October 23, my interview with David Golumbia of Virginia Commonwealth University, author of The Cultural Logic of Computation. Over several years on Hearsay Culture, we’ve discussed the nature of policymaking in the technological space. In this discussion, David identifies libertarianism in the technology space as creating unusual policy alliances. We discussed how libertarian worldviews and ideals impact the behavior of a range of actors, from Google to academics. In the process, we explored transparency, innovation, the nature of utopianism and what it means to be an iconoclast in the technology sphere. David’s work is fascinating, and I greatly enjoyed our chat!


Show # 221 — Prof. Frederick Schauer on the “right to know” — posted

I’m very excited to post Show # 221, August 13, my interview with Prof. Frederick Schauer, David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, and formerly of Harvard’s Kennedy School, on the “right to know.” I heard Fred discuss this issue at a panel that I moderated on the philosophy of information at Duke Law School earlier this year, and was unsurprisingly blown away by his insights on the issues at stake and questions to be answered in “right to know” analysis. This seemingly simple question has become surprisingly complex in the world of multidirectional communication by institutions and individuals on interconnected networks (like the “Inter-net”). I was thrilled to have Fred on the show, and the discussion was fascinating. I hope that you enjoy it.


Show # 220 — Profs. James Grimmelmann and David Post on Aereo’s copyright impact and Facebook’s emotional manipulation study — posted

I’m pleased to post Show # 220, August 6, my interview with James Grimmelmann of the University of Maryland School of Law and David Post of Temple University School of Law, on the recent US Supreme Court decision in ABC, Inc. v. Aereo and Facebook’s emotional manipulation study. David and James are both repeat guests on Hearsay Culture, but have never been on together. We focused on two issues: (a) the Aereo amicus brief authored by David and James on behalf of law professors, and the impact of the Aereo decision on copyright law and how new content delivery systems may or may not run afoul of copyright law, and (b) the impact of Facebook’s secretive 2014 behavioral study in which it manipulated the content delivered to users’ newsfeeds, particularly James’ extensive analysis of the problems associated with the study. Both issues raise important questions of the role of law in information and content distribution and how private entities and the public might navigate the current technological terrain. I always enjoy David and James as insightful guests capable of wide-ranging discussion, and this show was no exception.


Show # 219 — David Zweig, author of Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion — posted

I’m pleased to post Show # 219, July 30 my interview with David Zweig, author of Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion. David has written a fascinating account of individuals who achieve professional success and satisfaction without engaging in the personal publicity efforts that are the hallmark of modern communications and socialization. While he is not opposed to social media, his critical take on its powers of distortion and limitations are worthy of deep consideration, which he admirably tackles in his book. In our conversation, we delved into the characteristics of his “invisibles” and what social media has — and has not — done for our humanity. I greatly enjoyed the discussion!