I’m delighted to post another 2017 show, # 261, my May 31, 2017 interview with Prof. David Golumbia of Virginia Commonwealth University, author of The Politics of Bitcoin: Software as Right-Wing Extremism. In his book, David examines the connections between cryptocurrencies and the United States’ far right. Specifically, David identifies the underlying theories that animate both cryptocurrency enthusiasm and far right thinking today. While our wider US political context plays an important role in understanding David’s critique, cryptocurrency structure and stated goals stand at the center of David’s focus. I enjoyed discussing this challenging and timely topic with David, and fully expect that his scholarship will help us understand where we are headed as commerce becomes increasingly decentralized.
On this unusually snowy day here in Greensboro, North Carolina, I am returning to Hearsay Culture.
For now, I will explain my absence for the past 13 months simply by noting that the results of the 2016 elections caused me to focus my attention elsewhere. On a personal level in the past year, I’ve launched a new non-partisan policy advocacy group in Greensboro and taken on the Presidency of the Greensboro City Arts Drama Center’s Booster Club (in which my sons are very active). Moreover, I’ve deepened my focus on daily efforts to bolster our governmental institutions and oppose the unprecedented assault on decency and facts that envelops our nation, through advocacy and education.
On a professional level, several law review articles have been published or will be soon. The most recent article, Confidentiality Creep and Opportunistic Privacy, has just been published by the Tulane Journal for Technology and Intellectual Property. Additionally, I’m honored to have been named the Jennings Professor and Emerging Scholar at Elon University School of Law. In addition to teaching Contracts, Intellectual Property Survey, Internet Law, Privacy Law, and Trade Secrets, its been a busy year.
Hearsay Culture, in its current form, has therefore taken a backseat. But in this new year, I will be returning to recording new interviews. I am also in the process of revamping Hearsay Culture to be more relevant and influential within the media culture and information systems that dominate today. More on these issues in the future. For now, I’m here to post several shows from last year, and apologize to all that they were not posted more quickly after having aired on KZSU. Fortunately, the issues within these interviews are hardly stale; indeed, they perhaps have more currency now than they did when recorded.
Thus, I’m pleased to post Show # 260, May 31, 2017, my interview with UCLA Prof. Ramesh Srinivasan, author of Whose Global Village? Rethinking How Technology Shapes Our World. In his essential book, Ramesh takes on the difficult question of how technology impacts communities and cultures that are often ignored by the entities and governments that dominate the technology world. The challenges here are many, from the private development of information dissemination tools, to the ethical obligations of technology developers to consider broad perspectives and uses throughout their design and implementation process. Ramesh and I dug into these and other issues in our fascinating interview, and I’m delighted to post it today, as these issues remain at the forefront for policymakers throughout the world. Thank you Ramesh for your diligence and your patience!
As you may have noticed (even in the barrage of election coverage), I’ve been silent since the end of July. The reason is rather simple: since July, I’ve taught five classes (Contracts, Intellectual Property Survey, two sections of Internet Law, and a new course (for me), Employment Discrimination Law). To do that well, along with being a present husband and father to my two young sons, and maintain forward motion with my scholarship, Hearsay Culture gives way. I don’t like that effect, but its unavoidable so long as I continue to do the show gratis (which is not a complaint; its a reality).
So, on this momentous and nerve-wracking Election Day afternoon, I’m pleased to post one new show, Show # 259, September 16, my interview with the amazing Prof. Shannon Vallor of Santa Clara University, author of Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting. Shannon has written an exceptionally important and unique work focusing on what personal virtues should guide our integration of new technologies into society. Defining the contours of what she calls “technonormal virtues,” Shannon calls on informed citizens to become “moral experts” in a collective effort to create “a future worth wanting” (or, even better, demand for “useful tools that do not debilitate us.”) Because Shannon writes about philosophy and virtue as an applicable construct rather than an abstraction, her book should be required reading for anyone seeking better understanding of how we might achieve the best social and moral results from our technological advancements.
I very much enjoyed the interview, and hope that you find it valuable and gripping. Indeed, with so much left to discuss, look for part two of the interview in December!
The third show for today’s salvo of new shows is Show # 242, July 24, my interview with Prof. Natasha Schüll of MIT, author of Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas. Natasha’s ground-breaking book is an eye-opening study of the ways that technology can and is used to stoke the human predilection for addiction. Focusing on Las Vegas, Natasha’s deep dive into the world of addicted gamblers exposes the capabilities (and some limitations) of an industry’s efforts to reap profits. Moreover, the ease with which programmers can alter games in order to increase gambling (and the resulting losses) is startling. As Natasha points out, people are in the game not just for money; we discussed that dynamic as well as the future of gaming and addiction in our fascinating interview.
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!
I’m pleased to post Show # 216, July 9, my interview with Prof. David Schanzer of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, on Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency (NSA). It was a bit over a year ago that Edward Snowden appeared on the scene as the source of a seemingly-endless array of information about the NSA’s legal and illegal spying. Snowden has since become a household name for his willingness to expose this behavior despite significant personal risk, which has caused scholars, policymakers and others to weigh in on how Snowden should be viewed. In my interview with David, we discussed David’s views on Snowden as a felon, and whether the “whistleblower” label is appropriate. In the process, we also discussed some of the NSA’s activities and how policymakers might approach reform of the NSA. David’s experience in the counter-terrorism and law enforcement world is vast, and I greatly enjoyed the discussion.
As I finalize the schedule for the summer quarter (to be posted on July 4th!), I’m pleased to post Show # 214, May 28, my interview with Prof. Evan Selinger of Rochester Institute of Technology on technology and the human experience. Evan’s work spans the range of technology, ethics and philosophy, an unusual but critical intersection as we consider the ramifications of algorithms, robotics, drones, 3D printers and social media, among many other innovations, on our lives. In our discussion, we focused on Evan’s concern about “outsourcing” our humanity to computers and technology and how it has and will impact our humanity. Evan is an insightful and original commentator and scholar, and I greatly enjoyed our discussion!
I’m pleased to post Show # 212, May 14, my interview with three-time Hearsay Culture guest Larry Downes, co-author of Big Bang Disruption, on disruptive technology and business strategies. Larry and his co-author Paul Nunes (who was not on the show) have written an insightful and enjoyable book looking at both the causes of and reaction to disruptive technologies by new and traditional businesses alike. Like the book, which is bifurcated between descriptive and proscriptive analysis of rapidly-disruptive technologies, we talked about the meaning and impact of “big bang” distruptive technologies and how companies can both react to and create environments that create disruptive technology. As always, I greatly enjoyed our discussion!
I am thrilled to post Show #209, April 15, Dutch politician and former European Parliament member Lousewies van der Laan on promoting democracy and technology. I met Lousewies at a conference on innovating justice at The Hague in 2012. Lousewies is a leading voice on democracy and human rights in the EU, and I was delighted to have her on the show to discuss a wide range of issues involving the operation of democracies in 2014. From the rise of the far right to the role of the public in policymaking, we had a terrific discussion that I greatly enjoyed. I look forward to chatting with Lousewies’ colleagues on upcoming shows!
The summer brings five (5) new shows (and a welcome effort to catch up on two months of backlogged emails and other work). So, here they are.
The first show, Show #182, April 17, is my interview with Daniel Trottier of the University of Westminster, author of Social Media as Surveillance. Dan’s book, which is now particularly timely given the PRISM and other NSA/governmental surveillance revelations over the past several weeks, looks at social media as a surveillance technology. Using a variety of angles and insights, Dan examines the impacts and implications of social media as users volunteer to interact (knowingly and unknowingly) with other users and the technology itself.
The second show, Show #183, May 8, is my interview with Derek Khanna of the Yale Information Society Project on copyright reform, jailbreaking cell phones and CISPA. Derek’s name became known after he wrote a controversial memorandum for the Republican Study Committee (RSC) urging reform of existing US copyright law. Since he left the RSC, he’s written on a variety of topics including cell phone jailbreaking. We discussed his current work, as well as his perspective on his experience at the RSC and insights derived from the political response to the memorandum.
Third is Show #184, May 15, my interview with Oliver Day of the new non-profit Securing Change. Oliver is a repeat guest on Hearsay Culture as well as the wonderful volunteer who has helped me combat the endless attempts at hacking of Hearsay Culture by spammers. Oliver has founded an organization designed to offer the same services that Hearsay Culture has received to a wider audience of non-profits [disclaimer: I’m a huge and grateful fan of Oliver’s efforts and am on the Board of Securing Change]. We discussed his efforts and Securing Change’s goals, as well as the nature of hacking and website security threats today. [Note: the email address to use to request help from Securing Change is firstname.lastname@example.org, not the email address mentioned in the show].
The fourth show, Show #185, May 23, is my interview with Dr. Virginia Crisp, Lecturer at Middlesex University, on Kim Dotcom and copyright infringement. I met Virginia at a conference at MIT in May and found her presentation on the implications of Kim Dotcom’s activities and behavior insightful. On the show, Virginia discusses her research and perspectives on Kim Dotcom, as well as the larger issues involving the social and regulatory aspects of copyright infringement en masse and in New Zealand, where Kim Dotcom has rebranded himself.
Finally, and at long last, the last show for the spring quarter is Show #186, June 13, my interview with Prof. Vance Ricks of Guilford College. Vance has written an insightful article about the nature of gossip online, drawing on sociological and philosophical views of gossip and rumor-mongering applied to social media. We discussed the nature of gossip and reputation in the social and online spheres, as well as the role that technology plays in both amplifying and diminishing these age-old practices. As a bonus, this show was recorded in KZSU’s East Coast Studios, my euphemism for a live recording in my basement studio!
I am in the process of setting the schedule for the summer quarter, which commences in the first week of July. Stay tuned, and look for the schedule to be posted by the end of June. Thanks as always for listening!