MED 8.18.18

Sunday Update

Big Brother’s Blind Spot  []

I suppose that if you believe human beings are so perilously facile, uncomplicated, and legible as to have their sexual orientations gleaned from images of their faces, it’s no great leap to claim that privacy is now buried and decomposing

Finding It Hard to Focus? Maybe It’s Not Your Fault [NYT]

Every moment they spend with their parents, they are also spending with their parents’ need to be constantly connected. It is the first generation to be so affected — now 14 to 21 years old — that Dr. Turkle describes in detail in her most recent book, “Reclaiming Conversation.”

Citizens Police Data Project  collects and publishes information about police misconduct in Chicago

Invisible Institute, in collaboration with The Intercept, releases the Citizens Police Data Project 2.0, a public database containing the disciplinary histories of Chicago police officers

‘Weaponized Ad Technology’: Facebook’s Moneymaker Gets a Critical Eye  [NYT]

In Britain, a report in July on political campaigning from the Information Commissioner’s Office, the government data protection authority, called for an “ethical pause” on the use of personal information in political microtargeting so that regulators and companies could consider the technology’s implications.

TOOL:  Live London Tube Map   []

Twitter’s Misguided Quest to Become a Forum for Everything [NYT]

It is not surprising that the angriest spirits of the old web occasionally manifest in the new one. But what’s striking is how effectively they can haunt it, and how ill-equipped it is to deal with them.

Similarly, QAnon, the grotesque power fantasy that casts a substantial part of the country as traitorous members of a cult of sex criminals, serves a secondary unmet desire. The theory provides a temporary community that’s impervious to outside forces, because it assumes everything outside it is evil. And the faithful, for once, know exactly why they’re online.

Scientists Are Developing a Unique Identifier for Your Brain  [WIRED]

The physical links between brain regions, collectively known as the “connectome,” are part of what distinguish humans cognitively from other species. But they also differentiate us from one another. Scientists are now combining neuroimaging approaches with machine learning to understand the commonalities and differences in brain structure and function across individuals, with the goal of predicting how a given brain will change over time because of genetic and environmental influences.

What Your Car Knows About You (WSJ)

‘Over time, we will know where you usually go for coffee and know what your commute is.’

When You’re Hot, You’re Hot: Career Successes Come in Clusters [kellogg.northwestern]

And while more research is needed to determine what causes these bursts of genius, Wang says that the findings shed important new light on the patterns underlying success in all fields, and could be used to improve decisions about tenure, promotions, and hiring. (understand your burst patterns -ed)

In praise of SWARMing   (DanNorth)

The most successful transformations I have experienced—the ones where you walk into the office and there is a tangible difference in the energy and interactions between people, where the commercial and management stakeholders are as excited and invested as the technology stakeholders, where everyone agrees on the metrics that matter and those metrics are trending in the right direction, where the people involved are proud to be part of the change, and where those outside are eager to get involved

Newspaper Websites not available in the European Union after GDPR  []

This dataset lists websites that are or were blocked, along with links to archived versions of the websites and archived block messages.

Exclusive: U.S. government seeks Facebook help to wiretap Messenger – sources  [Reuters]

The judge in the Messenger case heard arguments on Tuesday on a government motion to hold Facebook in contempt of court for refusing to carry out the surveillance request,

A Lawless Zone: Surveillance Technologies and the Police[]

“Everybody is under suspicion, even if they have done nothing wrong.”

Related reading:  A high-performance distributed execution engine



Great Weekend Reads in Photography & Filmmaking [PDN]

Required Reading [HyperAllergic]

Extreme Weather Report  [Eclectic Method – YouTube]  Video-remix-mashup

Masterworks, will buy what it believes are undervalued pieces and then allow users to purchase shares of the works. [Forbes]

Once the Securities Exchange Commission qualifies the exempt offering, the shares will be issued pursuant to a Regulation A+ (of Title IV of the JOBS Act) offering, which allows private companies to raise up to $50 million and enables the general public as well as accredited investors to participate.According to Masterworks, this will be the first such tokenized security offered under Regulation A of the JOBS Act.

How museums embraced digital art [FT]

The museum is a place of fragile artefacts — porcelain, paintings, old silk dresses, pencil drawings — things that might degrade or crumble. Its digital artefacts are, arguably, more fragile than even the most sensitive of these. “A lot of the things we would have liked to have shown have been lost: for instance, early prototypes where the hard drives have failed, or designs on image-hosting sites which are now obsolete,” says Foulston.

Keanu Reeves Is Doing a New Thing: Publishing Books  [NYT]   (whoa -ed)

In many ways, this model was inspired by working with Steidl, yet X Artists’ Books also feels indigenous to Los Angeles, its books the spiritual descendants of Ed Ruscha’s inexpensive self-published ones or the work of Mike Kelley, whose art delights in the weirder reaches of society’s margins.

Delayed exposure: contemporary photography in China  [FT]

An installation by the Chinese artist Xiao Lu entitled “Dialogue” consists of two phone booths, one containing a life-size photograph of a man and the other a life-size photograph of a woman. Both figures are seen from the back; neither seems to notice the other. “Dialogue” was included in China Avant-Garde, a group exhibition that opened at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing on February 5 1989, the eve of the Chinese new year. Two hours after the show opened to the public, Xiao, 26 at the time, smuggled a gun into the gallery and fired two bullets at the centre of her piece. Her actions later became known as “the first gunshots of Tiananmen”: four months later, those famous protests and their violent reprisals unfolded in Beijing’s main square.

Notes or Tweets not sent

Yesterday, today and tomorrows dates can be read backward and forward.  Anagram numbers 

Not sure what is more fear inducing. …the phase “lets go to our panel” spoken on TV OR the silent but deadly YouTube recommendation engine.

MED 8.17.18


Google just gave control over data center cooling to an AI
Outdoor urinals cause uproar after being installed on Paris streets [Dezeen]

New Ways to Track Internet Browsing [Schneier]

Link Rot [Lexblog]

DNA-based chemical compiler [arxiv paper]

The Five Markets   [Twitter Image]

Artist Martin Puryear Chosen for U.S. Pavilion at Venice Biennale  [NYT]

The good, the bad and the ugly of 3D printing technology [FT]




MED 8.15.18

From laboratory in far west, China’s surveillance state spreads quietly [Reuters]

The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain [The Atlantic]

Academic Torrents –  Making 27.31TB of research data available! [Academic Torrents]

The five young African designers you need to know [FT]
Super Yaya ;  Orange Culture :  I AM I : Rich Mnisi Reform Studio

NYC Thursday “Reimagining the Art Object: Artist-Run Presses and Artists’ Books”
at Hauser & Wirth Publishers Bookshop

MED 8.14.18


From laboratory in far west, China’s surveillance state spreads quietly [Reuters]

Americans Own Less Stuff, and That’s Reason to Be Nervous [Bloomberg]

Using FOIA Data and Unix to halve major source of parking tickets  

Our “direct” experience of “real” reality is already structured like a mixture of RR, AR, and MR. [MIT]

Who Falls for Online Political Manipulation?  []

To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You Sit  [NPR]



Gazing Back at the Surveillance Cameras That Watch Us  [NYT]

Moonage Virtual Reality  [Phoenix Art Museum]

‘Gradient Descent’: when Artificial Intelligence meets art [TheHindu]

MED 8.4.18

Traceability on the Internet   (By Vinton G. Cerf

This suggests to me that the notion of traceability under (internationally?) agreed circumstances (that is, differential traceability) might be a fruitful concept to explore. In most societies today, it is accepted that we must be identifiable to appropriate authorities under certain conditions (consider border crossings, traffic violation stops as examples). While there are conditions under which apparent anonymity is desirable and even justifiable (whistle-blowing, for example) absolute anonymity is actually quite difficult to achieve (another point made at the Ditchley workshop) and might not be absolutely desirable given the misbehaviors apparent anonymity invites. I expect this is a controversial conclusion and I look forward to subsequent discussion.

(Disagree with many of VC position. Clearly no one at the Ditchley workshop has been on the other side of surveillance capitalism – ed)

Broken art: Ai Weiwei’s Beijing studio faces wrecking ball [AFP/Yahoo]

Hours earlier, Ai, who now lives in Berlin, had posted videos on Instagram showing several men looking on from inside the hollowed-out brick and concrete building as a backhoe went to work.  “Farewell,” Ai wrote in English, saying the demolition had begun without notice.

Firefox removes RSS support [GHacks]

After careful consideration of various options (which also included doing nothing, or investing heavily in updating the code), we’ve decided to go ahead and remove builtin feed support from Firefox.

Why Westerners Fear Robots and the Japanese Do Not [Wired]

Lots of powerful people (in other words, mostly white men) in the West are publicly expressing their fears about the potential power of robots to rule humans, driving the public narrative. Yet many of the same people wringing their hands are also racing to build robots powerful enough to do that—and, of course, underwriting research to try to keep control of the machines they’re inventing, although this time it doesn’t involved Christianizing robots … yet.

Related: Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro  lifelike robot child, which is supposed to be around 10 years old. Its name is Ibuki.  [YouTube video]

Spotify DFPR Data

Tried the GDPR data export from Spotify. By default, you get like 6 JSON files with almost nothing. After many emails and complaining and a month of waiting, I got a 250MB archive with basically EVERY INTERACTION I ever did with any Spotify client, all my searches. Everything.

Photography by Bill Cunningham at the New York Historical Society [FT]

 At night, Cunningham got back on his bike and made the rounds of benefit dinners and museum openings. Socialites would jostle for position before his lens. Brooke Astor preened for him, and Anna Wintour declared, “We all get dressed for Bill.” Yet he cared more for the outfits than for the celebrities who wore them. Tough to awe and equally comfortable on the lowest and highest rungs of the city’s social ladder, he gave some friends the impression that he’d been born into New England aristocracy. Swinging from the Plaza to the piers, from the subway to the steps of the Metropolitan Museum, he was a man of the people spreading the democracy of fashion.

Silicon Valley: Big Tech prepares for its second act  [FT]


Live Streams


LIVE from Lollapalooza 2018  | Channel 1 || Channel 2 ||  Channel 3:

MED 8.3.18

T2F: text to face generation using Deep Learning [github]

Text-to-Face generation using Deep Learning. This project combines two of the recent architectures StackGAN and ProGAN for synthesizing faces from textual descriptions. The project uses Face2Text dataset which contains 400 facial images and textual captions for each of them. The data can be obtained by contacting either the RIVAL group or the authors of the aforementioned paper.

The Internet Bet on Advertising. But It Got the Bet Wrong.  [RickWebb]

Until recently, internet-based companies have focused almost entirely on demand fulfillment. Even though the early days of the internet advertising, first ushered in by Wired with what we call today the banner, were focused on brand advertising, very quickly thereafter people started caring about the clicks on those ads, and began tracking them through to purchase. And with that, the internet threw out brand advertising and instead focused on direct advertising — in particular targeted advertising, the kind that can track clicks, landing pages, conversions, and of course you, the consumer.

Ofcom’s annual Communications Market report is out  [PDF]

Telecoms, TV, radio and post services revenue totalled £54.7bn in 2017, 2% lower than 2016. • 5.2% of households’ spend was on communications services (£124.62 per month); 70% of this was on telecoms services.

Where to Go After Product-Market Fit: An Interview with Marc Andreessen  []

..You mentioned three or four tactical things that startups can do to stay viable. One is product iteration and building products that serve more of that market. Second, you really emphasize building up distribution. Third is M&A, which seems to be really underutilized in Silicon Valley today, at least in terms of the next generation of companies. If you have a $10 or $20 billion market cap, you should be buying things. One thing you didn’t mention, but I’d love to hear more on, is moats — in other words, building defensibility into what you’re doing. As you think about those four different factors, how do you rank them or think about common failure modes?

 I am shocked by the absence of M&A relative to what I would expect in the environment. And I would say there’s no question that the big new tech incumbents are not buying enough stuff just on the math. I think it’s just kind of obvious. In the old days, their predecessor companies were far more aggressive at building up their positions for M&A. And honestly, the Fortune 500, the big public companies, are not nearly as aggressive as I think they’re going to be

I think this is a temporary lull. I think five years from now we’re going to be having a very different conversation, because it’s just going to become obvious that this is an underutilized thing. And I do think that that could be a very effective weapon, therefore, for somebody who really figures this out and does it aggressively in the right way.



Lollapalooza Live,

LIVE from Lollapalooza 2018

| Channel 1 || Channel 2 ||  Channel 3:


Film: Nico 1988 Review: A Darkly Beautiful Biopic of a Musical Icon [Vogue]

Amazingly, this movie, which stars the brilliant Danish actress Trine Dyrholm, manages to cut through Nico’s carefully crafted mask. Biopics, and perhaps in particular, those that focus on musicians, tend to be unsatisfying:

Video/advert:  Dream Thieves  [YouTube] Directed by: Fleur Fortuné   This Horrific Ad Will Awaken Your Demons. But What Is It For?
A plea for restoring balance, in the most pragmatic sense of the term

MED 8.2.18

Link:  Google Maps Says ‘the East Cut’ Is a Real Place. Locals Aren’t So Sure. [NYT]

SAN FRANCISCO — For decades, the district south of downtown and alongside San Francisco Bay here was known as either Rincon Hill, South Beach or South of Market. This spring, it was suddenly rebranded on Google Maps to a name few had heard:the East Cut.

Infosec:  Data’s day of reckoning [Oreilly]

Data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and related technologies are now facing a day of reckoning. It is time for us to take responsibility for our creations. What does it mean to take responsibility for building, maintaining, and managing data, technologies, and services? Responsibility is inevitably tangled with the complex incentives that surround the creation of any product. These incentives have been front and center in the conversations around the roles that social networks have played in the 2016 U.S. elections, recruitment of terrorists, and online harassment. It has become very clear that the incentives of the organizations that build and own data products haven’t aligned with the good of the people using those products.

Art/Censorship:  Russian Authorities Order the Destruction of a Digital Artwork [hyperallergic]

The condemned work, entitled “9 Stages in the Decomposition of the Leader,” is a print of nine time-lapse digital images showing an official portrait of the Russian president over a seed box, with each image documenting the disintegration of Putin’s portrait as grass grows through. A framed print was carried by artist and activist Varya Mikhailova when she and a group of opposition and LGBTQ activists joined a trade union march last May Day on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg.

Art/Censorship  Tretyakov clamps down on ‘illegal’ tours by banning visitors from discussing works of  art [ArtNewspaper]

Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery has aimed its crosshairs at “illegal” tours and said only certified guides with special badges are allowed to talk about the exhibits. As a result, security guards have been reprimanding ordinary groups of people discussing the art amongst themselves.

NYC:   Snøhetta plans nixed as Philip Johnson’s AT&T Building gains landmark status [Dezeen]

I spent a decade in the corner of the 24th floor of this masterpiece.  The proposed design changes were sacrilege. The designation protects the exterior of the reddish-toned stone building, preventing the Oslo and New York-based architecture firm’s controversial proposal to replace part of its base with glass. Snøhetta is now revising its scheme to update the vacant building’s public, retail and office spaces, and any changes intended for the exterior will require an LPC review and an LPC permit.

Infosec: We had a security incident. Here’s what you need to know.  [Reddit]

On June 19, we learned that between June 14 and June 18, an attacker compromised a few of our employees’ accounts with our cloud and source code hosting providers. Already having our primary access points for code and infrastructure behind strong authentication requiring two factor authentication (2FA), we learned that SMS-based authentication is not nearly as secure as we would hope, and the main attack was via SMS intercept. We point this out to encourage everyone here to move to token-based 2FA.


Tool: Your Friendly Guide to Colors in Data Visualisation

Tool: Jason’s Machine Learning 101 (



Editors Note:

A Goldfinch moved
into pink begonias
in a cobalt blue
pot on the porch.

Each morning I draw
her a fresh water bath
place it near.

MED 8.1.18



Connected Learning Summit Create. Play. Mobilize.  August 1-3, 2018 | MIT Media Lab

 Watch the live stream

On the Hunt for FIN7: Pursuing an Enigmatic and Evasive Global Criminal Operation [Fireeye]

On Aug. 1, 2018, the United States District Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington unsealed indictments and announced the arrests of three individuals within the leadership ranks of a criminal organization that aligns with activity we have tracked since 2015 as FIN7. These malicious actors are members of one of the most prolific financial threat groups of this decade, having carefully crafted attacks targeted at more than 100 organizations

National newspapers in UK enjoy first print advertising rise since 2010, research finds []

Advertiser backlash against tech giants has been cited as a factor in the spending reversal  Print display advertising in the national newspaper market rose 1% to £153m in the first quarter of 2018, the first time there has been an increase since the last quarter of 2010. To put this in context, in the 29 quarters since the 2010 rise, more than half of national papers – 15 – have seen double-digit declines in advertising spend of up to 22%.

What Is QAnon?  [DailyBeast]   

QAnon springs from a series of cryptic clues that started to be posted online in October 2017. Starting on 4Chan before migrating to the even more fringe 8Chan, the anonymous person behind the clues  goes by “Q,” a reference to a high-level government security clearance. The “Anon” in “QAnon” refers to both Q himself, and to Q’s nameless supporters, the “anons.”

Q is supposed to be revealing this top-secret information via the clues, which QAnon fans have dubbed “breadcrumbs.” They’re written in a short bursts, in a reference-heavy style that’s part poem, part ransom note. Here’s one example from June:

Political Ad Collector [ProPublica]

Political campaigns spend a lot of money to reach voters on Facebook. Are they telling the truth? Are they saying different things to different people? Help hold them accountable by installing our browser plugin, which sends us the ads you see on Facebook.

Transcript: The future of online privacy: To legislate or not   [pdf]  Video [YouTube]

On July 26, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings hosted a panel discussion to explore a comprehensive framework for U.S. privacy legislation.

China’s battle with the ‘internet water army’ [FT]

“water army”. That’s the name given in China to the hordes of fake online accounts used by companies and celebrities to inflate their social media followings or criticise rivals — so-called because they “pour water” into the online discourse.

Apple Q3 Earnings & Revenue Estimates, Services Up 31% [Yahoo news]

Apple’s growing Services business, which features iTunes, AppleCare, Apple Pay, and Apple Music, saw its revenues climb by 31% to hit $9.548 billion.  (be the razor and the blade -ed)

This data was used in the FiveThirtyEight story Why We’re Sharing 3 Million Russian Troll Tweets.  This directory contains data on nearly 3 million tweets sent from Twitter handles connected to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll factory” and a defendant in an indictment filed by the Justice Department in February 2018, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The tweets in this database were sent between February 2012 and May 2018, with the vast majority posted from 2015 through 2017.

Congress Members Demand Answers From, Investigation Of Federal Facial Rec Tech Users [Techdirt]

Congressional reps have also sent one to the Government Accountability Office, asking it to open an investigation into facial recognition software use by federal agencies.

“Given the recent advances in commercial facial recognition technology – and its expanded use by state, local, and federal law enforcement, particularly the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement – we ask that you investigate and evaluate the facial recognition industry and its government use,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter, signed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and Sens. Ron Wyden, Cory Booker, Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), asks the GAO to examine “whether commercial entities selling facial recognition adequately audit use of their technology to ensure that use is not unlawful, inconsistent with terms of service, or otherwise raise privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties concerns.”

Klaus Biesenbach Named Director of MOCA Los Angeles [Art News]

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles has named Klaus Biesenbach, who is currently director of MoMA PS1 in New York and chief curator at large of the Museum of Modern Art, as its new director, the Los Angeles Times reports. The much-anticipated announcement follows news in May that Philippe Vergne would step down as MOCA’s director in March of next year.

After Top Executive Leaves, Billboard Confronts Its Internal Culture [NYT]

It has been a bruising time for Billboard and its parent company, Valence Media. In May, The Daily Beast published a detailed article focused on Billboard’s top executive, John Amato. In the article, he was accused of interfering with editorial decisions regarding articles about Charlie Walk, a high-ranking record executive — and longtime friend of Mr. Amato’s — who had been accused of sexual misconduct. Faced with questions about its journalists’ independence, Billboard initiated an internal investigation into the matter.

(The only thing missing from this story is a soundtrack Suggested: Bush Tetras – Too Many Creeps -ed)


Date & Time: Wednesday, August 1, 2018 – 9:30am Location: Hart 216

Witnesses Statements

Dr.Todd Helmus Senior Behavioral Scientist RAND Corporation
Opening Statment

Ms. Renee DiResta Director of Research New Knowledge
Mr. John Kelly Founder and CEO Graphika
Opening Statment
Ms. Laura Rosenberger Director Alliance for Securing Democracy at The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Opening Statment / Appendix A
Dr. Philip Howard Director Oxford Internet Institue
Opening Statment