Archive for March, 2009

Quotable: Clay Shirky

When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.Clay Shirky
Internet Gadfly

If you are at all concerned/interested/sentient about the death of the Rocky Mountain News and near-death of the San Francisco Chronicle, take a moment to read this spot-on assessment of the state of newspapers, journalism and the Internet. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

(via Jon Taplin’s blog)

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Diebold e-voting allows one-touch deletion

This shows how close to the "Save As..." button the "Clear" button sits. Anyone who has used a touchscreen can tell you how precarious this placement is.

Image: Wired

This shows the proximity of the "Save As..." and "Clear" buttons. Anyone who has used a touchscreen can tell you how precarious this placement is.


When Republican stalwart Diebold changed the name of its e-voting subsidiary back in 2007, it was so it could gain an “independent structure.” The-artist-formerly-known-as-Diebold (now Premier Election Solutions), it turns out, has some major issues with (d)emocratic elections. We’ve hopefully all heard the stories (if not, read up at BlackBoxVoting) about their lack of a paper trail and the threat it poses to our democracy, from the election for dog catcher on up to the Presidency. But it took a report (PDF) from the Secretary of State of California to show that the Diebold machines, implicated in so many cases of election tampering, in some versions of their software actually have a convenient button that allows someone to delete audit logs from the system (see “Clear” button above). These logs are required by federal voting-system guidelines. They record changes and other events that occur on voting systems, ensuring electoral integrity and help diagnose what went wrong in a system when something inevitably does.

The system provides no warning to the operator that clicking on the button will result in permanent deletion of records in the log, nor does it require the operator to confirm the action before executing it.Kim Zetter
Wired.com – Threat Level

These machines are used in good ol’ Johnson County, KS, and I honestly cannot tell you which version of the GEMS software is running on them (version 1.18.19 or earlier includes the “Clear” button). I will be checking (I’ve got a call in to the election commissioner) and will let you know in this space. Do yourself a favor and do the same before you vote. Remember, e-voting is inherently dangerous. Read the full story at Wired and do all you can to make your vote count!

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Obama defends Bush’s warrantless wiretaps

From Wired: “The Obama administration says the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures does not apply to cell-site information mobile phone carriers retain on their customers.”

This tracking ability is a means where the government can find out the location of pretty much everybody without much effort or expense.Jennifer Granick
Civil liberties director, Electronic Frontier Foundation

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