felix's blog

In Soviet Russia, Google Researches You!

Ethan Zuckerman published a very interesting review of our paper Personal Web searching in the age of semantic capitalism: Diagnosing the mechanisms of personalization" which we recently published in First Monday. He makes a very problematic point much clearer that we have: the constantly shifting nature of the "object" (that is, the Google search algorithm) in relation to being researched. He speculates how it might be continuously adapting itself in order to optimize our behavior. Here's how he puts it:

I was struck by the apparent discontinuities in how often personalized search results appeared for the three different profiles. In one training session, there’s a sharp spike in personalization between sessions, a test of results where personalization appears three times as often as in other sessions. In another, there are two, smaller spikes, and in the third, a three-session long spike. With no easy way to explain what’s causing these spikes, it’s possible to speculate that Google’s algorithms for personalization are not just opaque and complex, but adaptive and changing. While the authors are experimenting with Google, it’s reasonable to assume that Google is experimenting with them, changing levels of personalization to see whether Google is able to achieve its desired result: clicks on ads.

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currently operating leaking platforms

Not all of them are actually fully operating, some are still in planning stages, and tunileaks and frenchleaks are, strictly speaking, not a leaking platforms but republish selected US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks. We can see a great deal of innovation in this space, addressing some of the most problematic architectural flaws of WikiLeaks, mainly the high degree of centralization and the lack of transparency that goes with it. Now that the efficacy of the basic principle has been established beyond doubt, the next phase is about fine-tuning the systems. If that can be done inside WikiLeaks, ot or if the next phase will be achieved by any of the alternative platforms remains to be seen, but it seems likely that one way or the other, it will be achieved.

Free Culture Forum Declaration

sustainable creativity

The Free Culture Forum has launched its declaration on "Sustainable Models for Creativity in the Digital Age". After last year's "Charter for Innovation, Creativity and Access to Knowledge", the declaration is an important next step in the self-definition of the free culture movement. It moves beyond licensing issues, focusing instead on long-term sustainability, which needs to combine income streams for professional producers with the right to access and re-use material for the general public. I think this is crucial, but admit to being somewhat biased, since I played a part in drafting these documents. See for yourself.

We can no longer put off re-thinking the economic structures that have been producing, financing and funding culture up until now. Many of the old models have become anachronistic and detrimental to civil society. The aim of this document is to promote innovative strategies to defend and extend the sphere in which human creativity and knowledge can prosper freely and sustainably.

This document is addressed to policy reformers, citizens and free/libre culture activists to provide them practical tools to actively operate this change.

Autonomía y control en la era de la post-privacidad

Una forma de definir la modernidad occidental, el periodo que estamos justo dejando, es por su particular estructura de control y autonomía. Ésta emergió como resultado de dos desarrollos históricos –uno que llevó a que burocracias grandes y jerarquizadas se establecieran como forma dominante de organización, otro que llevó a que el ciudadano (burgués, masculino) se convirtiera en el principal sujeto político. La privacidad jugó un papel clave en el mantenimiento del equilibrio entre ambos. Hoy en día, este acuerdo se está diluyendo. En el proceso, la privacidad pierde (algo de) sus funciones sociales. La post-privacidad, entonces, apunta a la transformación de cómo la gente crea su autonomía y de cómo el control impregna sus vidas.

This is the Spanish translation, by Christel Penella de Silva, of "Autonomy and Control in the Era of Post-Privacy". Read the whole translation at Christel's blog tintank.es.

Warum WikiLeaks noch lange interessant sein wird

Ein Kommentar im Falter, Wien (08/2011).

Die Berichterstattung zu WikiLeaks folgt einem bekannten Muster massenmedialer Aufmerksamkeit. Erst ist alles wunderbar und heldenhaft, dann plötzlich skandalös und irgendwie nervig, um schliesslich als eh-nichts-neues wieder ad acta gelegt zu werden. Auch wenn es scheint, dass wir bereits in der dritten Phase angekommen sind, wäre es falsch, jetzt einfach zur Tagesordnung zurück zu kehren.

Personal Web searching in the age of semantic capitalism: Diagnosing the mechanisms of personalisation

I'm very happy, our new paper on the personalization of search results is out now. To our knowledge, it's the first to do empirical research in a systematic way on how personalized results actually differ from non-personalized results and interpret the results within a critical framework.

First Monday > Volume 16, Number 2 - 7 February 2011
Personal Web searching in the age of semantic capitalism: Diagnosing the mechanisms of personalisation.
Martin Feuz, Matthew Fuller, Felix Stalder

Abstract

TV Diskussion zu Wikileaks und Leaks im allgemeinen

servus_tv

Thema: Top Secret a.D. - Wie gefährlich ist die Wahrheit? Eine Diskussionsrunde zu Wikileaks und den Rolle staatlicher Geheimnisse in der Demokratie, Sendung vom 20.01.2011 | Dauer 90 Minuten. Die Sendung ist in der Mediathek als Stream abrufbar.

Wikileaks und die Folgen: Suhrkamp Sammelband

Wikileaks und die FolgenDer Sammelband, von Heinrich Geiselberger herausgeben, ist erschienen:

So unübersichtlich und verwirrend wie die Lawine aus Dokumenten sind die Hintergründe und Folgen von WikiLeaks: Was sind die Motive von Julian Assange? Geht es ihm um demokratische Transparenz? Oder um die »krypto-anarchistische« Weltrevolution? Wer soll all die Akten und Depeschen auswerten? Und: Welche Folgen hat die Affäre für die Politik? Erleben wir das Ende der Geheimdiplomatie oder den Anfang einer viel geheimeren Diplomatie? Die Autoren versuchen in ausführlichen Hintergrundanalysen und Kommentaren, aus unterschiedlichen Blickwinkeln Schneisen ins diskursive Durcheinander zu schlagen, noch während hier möglicherweise Geschichte gemacht wird

Eine sehr schöne Sammlung an Texten, beileibe nicht nur wegen meines Beitrags "Wikileaks und die neue Ökologie der Nachrichtenmedien"

Pourquoi les institutions peinent à conserver leurs secrets

Pourquoi les institutions peinent à conserver leurs secrets

Un site Internet fait trembler l’administration Obama. Armé d’une copie pirate de centaines de milliers de communications diplomatiques, ce média d’un nouveau genre a commencé à les publier, le 28 novembre 2010, en lien avec plusieurs titres de presse. Les Etats-Unis ont réagi avec véhémence. Mais, quoi qu’il advienne de WikiLeaks, rien ne peut désormais empêcher ces « fuites » de continuer à se produire.

This article, published in the French, Spanish and Portuguese editions of Le Monde Diplomatique (01/2011) is a revised version of my article on Contain This! Leaks, Whistle-Blowers and the Networked News Ecology which originally appeared in mute magazine (04.11.2010).

Call for Papers: Ethics Of Sharing


The Ethics of Sharing

Call for Papers for Vol. 15 - July 2011

  • Deadline for extended abstracts: January 31, 2011
  • Notification of acceptance to authors: February 8, 2011
  • Deadline for full articles: April 30, 2011
  • Publication: July, 2011

Sharing has emerged as one of the core cultural and ethical values native to the networked environment. It is built both into the technical protocols that make up the Internet, and holds together distributed, mediated communities and
organizations (even if they try to limit sharing to members inside the organizations).

In information ethics, sharing has implicitly been discussed in terms of privacy, intellectual property, secrecy, security and freedom of speech, which together define the social character of the information environment. But recent developments such as WikiLeaks have shown that there is a need to go beyond discussing the legitimacy of access or restrictions. We need to address the motivations and ethical positions that compel people to share information, even at considerable risk to themselves. Has sharing of information a special virtue of the information society? How are choices of sharing or withholding information justified? Is sharing subversive of the new global information regime, or an integral aspect of it?

This issue of IRIE brings together contributions towards an ethics of sharing that embeds the technological potentialities in lived social experience. In our understanding, information ethics "deals with ethical questions in the field of digital production and reproduction of phenomena and processes such as the exchange, combination and use of information."