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Posts filed under 'radioberkman'

Radio Berkman 218: The Threats and Tradeoffs of Big Data

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A lot of personal information about you is completely invisible, intangible, and racing around cyberspace on a mission to pay your bills and geolocate your Facebook status. And, of course, this is useful and in a lot of ways really cool.

But today on Radio Berkman we’re going to talk about the obstacles presented by a data-driven society. How can we keep mountains of information out of the wrong hands without compromising all the great benefits we get everyday?

First, we talk to Bruce Schneier, a fellow at the Berkman Center and the author of Data and Goliath, The Hidden Battles to Capture Your Data and Control Your World. In this book, Schneier notes that the bulk collection of data isn’t going away, but changes in policy and public perception could allow citizens to have more control over how this information gets used.

And in the second half of the show we talk to Josephine Wolff, who is also a Berkman Fellow and PhD candidate in the Engineering Systems Division at MIT studying cybersecurity and Internet policy. If you were concerned by the major credit card or email breaches of the last few years, you’ll want to hear this.

Reference Section:
Schneier on Security
Bruce Schneier’s TED talk (20 min.)
Josephine Wolff on Slate

This episode features Creative Commons licensed content from:
Mark van Laera

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This week’s episode produced and edited by Daniel Dennis Jones, with Sara Marie Watson, Elizabeth Gillis, Carrie Tian, and Gretchen Weber.

June 8th, 2015

Radio Berkman 217: Don’t Hate the Player, Change the Game

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Few sectors of the networked environment get a worse reputation for hate speech than online gaming. Competitive games with chat functions have always involved some level of trash talking. Slurs, shaming, and casual threats are part of the players’ toolkit for riling up their opponent.

But the toxicity levels of video game forums have reached a dangerous point. Unregulated and unchecked, many gaming networks have become zones where cyberbullying, misogyny, racism, and homophobic language are the norm.

At least one gaming company has decided that this behavior should NOT be the norm. In 2012, Riot Games – makers of the insanely popular League of Legends (over 60 million players around the world) – hired a cognitive neuroscientist named Jeffrey “Lyte” Lin to “game” the game. Jeffrey is in charge of building social systems that de-incentivize bad behavior and bring about a more sportsman-like culture.

On today’s episode, we talk to Jeffrey about what the web can learn from how games are fighting hate speech.

This is the first episode in a series on hate speech online. If you have any comments, or suggestions for future guests and topics, leave us a note in the comments, or send us a tweet!

Reference Section:
More on Jeffrey’s work with Riot
A great primer from PBS on how hate speech destroys games

This episode features Creative Commons Music from:
Chad Crouch
Timo Timonen

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This week’s episode produced and edited by Daniel Dennis Jones and Carrie Tian, with help from Gretchen Weber.

June 1st, 2015

RB216: The Internet — A Yearbook

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In Radio Berkman 216 we tackle the web as we know it in 2014-2015. Hate speech online, freedom of speech online, censorship and surveillance online, and, of course, whether our smart machines are out to destroy us.

All of these stories and more are part of this year’s Internet Monitor report, a collection of dozens of essays that track how we are changing the web and how the web is changing us.

This episode’s guests include:
• Andy Sellars, author of SOPA Lives: Copyright’s Existing Power to Block Websites and ‘Break the Internet’
• Susan Benesch, author of Flower Speech: New Responses to Hatred Online
• Nathan Freitas, author of The Great Firewall Welcomes You!
• Sara Watson, author of Dada Data and the Internet of Paternalistic Things
• David Michel Davies, of the Webby Awards on their recent report Understanding the Sky-High Demands of the World’s Most Entitled Consumer

We also mentioned:
• Randall Munroe’s XKCD chart Stories of the Past & Future

This episode features Creative Commons Music from:
Chad Crouch
Learning Music Monthly
Timo Timonen

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This week’s episode produced and edited by Daniel Dennis Jones and Carrie Tian, with help from Gretchen Weber.

March 24th, 2015

RB 215: Prometheus and the Dolphins

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Want to create artificially intelligent machines? Want to find aliens? You might want to try talking to nature first.

Philosophers, animal behaviorists, and scientists have worked for decades to get animals to speak “human.” Researchers have even cohabited with primates and dolphins to see if they could somehow connect. Some suggested that by bringing animals into the human community we could actually keep from killing ourselves with increasingly risky technologies.

Disappointingly, we’ve never quite reached that Dr. Doolittle ideal of sitting down and chatting with any member of the animal kingdom. There are huge gaps between animals and human beings that prevent a satisfying level of comprehension.

But these efforts can teach us a lot about how to develop machines that can communicate with us, and how we might understand extra-terrestrials (if and when that ever happens).

Matthew Battles of the Berkman Center’s MetaLAB has been looking at the cultural dimensions of science in the 20th century. He spoke with us this week about how science helps us understand animals, technology, and our place in the universe.

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February 3rd, 2015

RB 214: CopyrightXXX


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Not long ago, illegally downloading a movie could land you in court facing millions of dollars in fines and jailtime. But Hollywood has begun to weather the storm by offering alternatives to piracy — same day digital releases, better streaming, higher quality in-theater experiences — that help meet some of the consumer demand that piracy captured.

But the porn industry is not Hollywood.

While the web has created incredible new economic opportunities for adult entertainers — independent production has flourished, as well as new types of production, which we won’t go into here simply to preserve our G-rating — few other industries on the web face the glut of competition from services that offer similar content for free or in violation of copyright.

Simply put, there’s so much free porn on the net that honest pornographers can’t keep up.

It’s hard to get accurate numbers on how much revenue is generated from online porn. It’s believed to be in the billions, at least in the United States. But it’s even more difficult to get a picture of how much revenue is lost in the adult entertainment industry due to copyright violation.

Surprisingly though, the porn industry doesn’t seem that interested in pursuing copyright violators. Intellectual property scholar Kate Darling studied how the industry was responding to piracy, and it turned out that — by and large — adult entertainment creators ran the numbers and found that it simply cost more from them to fight copyright violators than it was worth.

For today’s episode, Berkman alum and journalist Leora Kornfeld sat down with Kate Darling to talk to her about how porn producers are losing the copyright battle, and why many don’t care.

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December 15th, 2014

RB213: The Public Spectrum

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Most of the spectrum of frequency that exists in the US is occupied or owned by large wireless corporations, cable companies, by the government. But at least one small chunk of spectrum — “low-band spectrum” wireless, or TV white spaces (so-called because it is the space between the television dials) — has been somewhat open to the public.

There are thousands of devices on the market that take advantage of this spectrum without paying a license fee, allowing consumers to transmit bits without interference from walls, trees, or radiation from devices like microwaves.

But the Federal Communications Commission is now deciding whether to auction off this spectrum to the highest bidder, putting at risk not only billions of dollars in economic activity, but also very fundamental concepts of affordable public access to information spaces. And on May 15th, just a couple days away from this podcast, the FCC will be holding an open meeting to discuss whether auctioning off this spectrum would be a good idea.

Harold Feld, senior vice president for Public Knowledge, recently sat down with David Weinberger to talk about why we should be concerned about auctioning off this spectrum.

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May 1st, 2014

RB 212: Richard Price on

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In January of 2012 a British mathematician posted a humble invitation on his blog for fellow academics and researchers to join him in boycotting the prestigious research publisher Elsevier. Citing high prices, exploitative bundling practices, and lobbying efforts to prevent open access to research, the mathematician publicly denounced Elsevier and refused to do business with them in the future.

Eighteen months later almost 14,000 researchers have joined the boycott of Elsevier, kicking off what’s been referred to as the Academic Spring movement.

But despite the effort, closed academic journals continue to be a frustration for professors and researchers in the digital age. Alternatives to closed journals are becoming more common, but growth is slow, and some fields are more welcoming to open access than others.

Enter, a topic agnostic platform for researchers to share their work, connect with peers, and present an entire corpus of their research, completely open and completely free.

Today’s guest Richard Price launched after encountering his own frustrations with the world of closed publishing as a student and researcher of philosophy. He recently spoke with David Weinberger about how the platform is facing up against for-profit journals.

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September 17th, 2013

RB211: Bruce Schneier on Surveillance and Security

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Revelations of the NSA’s data surveillance efforts have raised serious questions about the ethics and necessity of violating privacy that have been bubbling under the surface for some time.

Efforts to monitor communication are nothing new, but electronically mediated communication has increased the amount of information being shared, and the possibilities for eavesdropping are endless.

But there’s a trade off. People tolerate incursions into privacy for greater security or even convenience: health care, transportation, public safety, or any number of web utilities we use on a daily basis.

Bruce Schneier is an author, Berkman fellow, and security technologist. He recently sat down with David Weinberger to talk about the positives and perils of privacy violation.

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1 comment July 25th, 2013

RB210: The New Knowledge Worker

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As high school and college students transition into a knowledge economy they face both advantages and challenges with how they find information and engage with co-workers as teammates.

As a recent study of US employers and recent college graduates discovered, some young hires are pretty good at finding out information online and through social networks, but experience significant difficulty with traditional methods of finding answers — going through bound reports, picking up the phone, or researching with groups.

The study, How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace, was conducted by Project Information Literacy, and part of a series of studies supported by the Berkman Center and the Institute for Museum and Library Services to discover how research behavior is changing.

David Weinberger spoke with Berkman Fellow and director of Project Information Literacy Alison Head about her research.

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March 14th, 2013

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.

Their methods were uncommon. Using donated satellite imagery — the kind normally used to observe environmental conditions or create maps — the team tracked the movements of troops, military vehicles, and resources in near real-time, and used that information to alert humanitarian groups on the ground.

But it’s a process fraught with challenges, from imperfect imagery (imagine a cloud passing by just as you’re trying to spot tank movements), to the ethical questions that come with intervening in a conflict remotely.

So how does a group of civilians at Harvard go about monitoring an unfolding humanitarian disaster from space?

Our producer Frances Harlow spent a day with the team at the Signal Program to find out how they work.

(Click to find other episodes in our Drone Humanitarianism series!)

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November 9th, 2012

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