Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Link copied… Tech Stop Facebook From Using Your Private Info: A Beginner’s Guide |WSJ

Privacy | Facebook | Social Media

ILLUSTRATION: Dan PAGE



Mom always said to share, but Facebook has us thinking twice. Here, how to regain command of your digital privacy from social media sites to dangers lurking in your own smartphone

SOCIAL MEDIA was supposed to be a fun, lively place to connect with high-school flings, share photos, brag humbly and get in occasional spats over “Star Wars” sequels. But recent revelations about the ways political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica trawled through Facebook FB -0.04% data have made people realize they’ve shared much more than just cat memes online.

A recent HarrisX poll found that 46% of Americans surveyed don’t believe Facebook protects their personal information, often more than twice that of rivals Twitter , Google, LinkedIn and Snapchat—another 25% were “uncertain.” While most people favor stricter regulations than ever around data privacy, years of studies by groups like the Pew Research Center have found that users are specifically concerned about who had access to the online information they share.

“It’s not so much the old definition of privacy—‘I want the right to be left alone,’” said Lee Rainie, director of internet and tech research at Pew, who sums up the new goal as “I want to control the world’s understanding of who I am.”

A HarrisX poll found that 46% of Americans surveyed don’t believe Facebook protects their personal information.Read more...

Monday, May 7, 2018

Our fiction addiction: Why humans need stories | BBC

Fiction | Literature | Evolution

by David Robson | 3 May 2018

The epic of Gilgamesh has endured for 4,000 years, with elements of storytelling that teach us how to cooperate (Credit: The Trustees of the British Museum)


It sounds like the perfect summer blockbuster.

A handsome king is blessed with superhuman strength, but his insufferable arrogance means that he threatens to wreak havoc on his kingdom. Enter a down-to-earth wayfarer who challenges him to fight. The king ends the battle chastened, and the two heroes become fast friends and embark on a series of dangerous quests across the kingdom.

The fact that this tale is still being read today is itself remarkable. It is the Epic of Gilgamesh, engraved on ancient Babylonian tablets 4,000 years ago, making it the oldest surviving work of great literature. We can assume that the story was enormously popular at the time, given that later iterations of the poem can be found over the next millennium.

More like this:

Read more...

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Cooking the Books with Yotam and Nigella [Podcast with transcript]

Food | Cookbooks | Podcast

Who first started collecting recipes into cookbooks? Do cookbooks have a future in a world full of online recipes? And can cookbooks tell us anything about what people are actually eating, or are they simply aspirational food porn? This episode, we explore the past, present, and future of cookbooks, from cuneiform tablets to Hail Marys, with the help of two of our favorite cookbooks authors—and Gastropod fans—Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi.

The oldest known culinary recipes. YBC 4644 from the Old Babylonian Period, ca. 1750 BC, via Yale University Library.

According to Henry Notaker, journalist and author of A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page Over Seven Centuries, the first cookbook that archaeologists have discovered is 3,700 years old. It consists of 35 recipes written on clay tablets, and its recipes are thought to have been intended for gods rather than humans. Still, it demonstrates that humans have been collecting cooking instructions for millennia. A few things have remained the same for much of the cookbook's history: they are still anthologies of imaginary meals, often fueled more by aspiration and desire than the reality of what's for dinner, and they still promise an almost alchemical transformation of raw ingredients into status and well-being.

Others aspects of today's cookbooks are much more recent. Such seemingly essential formatting elements as a separate ingredients list only became standard relatively recently. Meanwhile, the content, authorship, and user base of cookbooks have shifted dramatically in response to technological innovation and social change. Notaker points to the first German recipe to include bananas as a sign that the exotic fruit was becoming available in Europe: published in 1913, it recommends frying the fruit with marjoram, like a sausage. (The recipe was literally titled "banana sausage.") Meanwhile, Megan Elias, author of Food on the Page: Cookbooks and American Culture, traces the introduction of refrigeration and mass transportation through the strawberry's rise to glory in early twentieth-century recipes. Finally, in a world where more recipes are published online everyday than anyone could hope to cook in a week, we ask: what is the role of the cookbook today—and what might it become in the future? Listen in this episode for more of the surprising story of cookbooks, including men in drag and Norwegian drinking songs, as well as cookbook authors Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi's tales of writing their very first cookbooks.

Episode Notes

Yotam Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli-British chef and restaurateur, and the author of many of our favorite cookbooks, including, most recently, Sweet: Desserts from London's Ottolenghi.

Nigella Lawson

Nigella Lawson is a British food writer and T.V. personality, and the author of our other favorite cookbooks, including, most recently, At My Table: A Celebration of Home Cooking.

Henry Notaker and A History of Cookbooks

Henry Notaker is a Norwegian journalist and author of A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page Over Seven Centuries.

The First Recipe Book

Tablets YBC 4644, YBC 8958, and YBC 4648 together contain 35 recipes from ancient Mesopotamia. According to Henry Notaker, they form the earliest "cookbook" yet discovered, though they consist primarily of lists of ingredients and are thought to be instructions for dishes to be served in religious ceremonies, rather than for dinner. In 1995, French historian Jean Bottéro published translations of the recipes in a book titled Textes Culinaires Mésopotamiens; journalist Laura Kelley published her interpretations online here, if you'd like to have a go at preparing them yourself.

Link to podcast:

Can You Revise a Book to Make It More Woke?

YA Literature | Bias | Publishing

When a YA novel was criticized for racism prior to publication, the author attempted something radical — she pushed its release date and rewrote it.
 
By

In 2013, when Keira Drake sat down to write her debut young-adult fantasy novel, The Continent, she wanted to write about privilege, about the way that those who have it can so easily turn a blind eye to the suffering of those who don’t. Her imagination had been sparked by an NPR report about bombings in Iraq; it brought her to tears, and when she switched off the radio, she began thinking about what might happen if someone like her — someone white, sheltered, and privileged — suddenly found herself in the middle of a war between two violent societies in a foreign land. Drake set her fantasy in a place called the Continent, a brutal realm where privileged tourists, safe in their heli-planes, gaze down with detached curiosity at the native people slaughtering each other below. After a heli-plane crashes, Drake’s narrator is saved by one of the natives from an attempted rape at the hands of an enemy tribe, and she, in turn, saves his people from ruin.

Drake’s editor at Harlequin, Natashya Wilson, thought the book had best-seller potential. She offered Drake a “significant” three-book deal (publishing code for an advance between $251,000 and $499,000), and Harlequin launched a major marketing campaign, sending Drake to conferences around the country. Early readers of advance copies were enthusiastic. A review posted on Goodreads half a year before the book’s scheduled publication date hailed Drake as a visionary for her “eye-opening” revelation that “a native isn’t a savage or primitive.”

It wasn’t until five months later that a legion of less enchanted readers took to Twitter to offer a differing perspective. Justina Ireland, an African-American author of young-adult fiction, tweeted out a point-by-point summary of her read in which she called the book a “racist garbage fire.” Ireland eventually deleted the thread after receiving a barrage of death threats, rape threats, withering reviews of her own books, and an anonymous email to her editor calling her a bully and urging him to drop her. And so it was that Drake, like her protagonist, suddenly found herself at the center of a feud between two warring factions. Read more...

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Beware the smart toaster: 18 tips for surviving the surveillance age

Internet | Safety | Privacy

There’s enough to worry about today without having to wonder if your toaster is plotting against you.’ Illustration: Jason Ford     
We’ve come a long way since the web was just a fun place to share cat gifs – now it’s a place mostly dedicated to finding and selling your personal info. Here’s what you need to know in this new era

On the internet, the adage goes, nobody knows you’re a dog. That joke is only 15 years old, but seems as if it is from an entirely different era. Once upon a time the internet was associated with anonymity; today it is synonymous with surveillance. Not only do modern technology companies know full well you’re not a dog (not even an extremely precocious poodle), they know whether you own a dog and what sort of dog it is. And, based on your preferred category of canine, they can go a long way to inferring – and influencing – your political views.

Just over a week ago, the Observer broke a story about how Facebook had failed to protect the personal information of tens of millions of its users. The revelations sparked a #DeleteFacebook movement and some people downloaded their Facebook data before removing themselves from the social network. During this process, many of these users were shocked to see just how much intel about them the internet behemoth had accumulated. If you use Facebook apps on Android, for example – and, even inadvertently, gave it permission – it seems the company has been collecting your call and text data for years. Read more...

Thursday, March 15, 2018

You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You? | danah boyd

Information literacy | Social Media | Media literacy


Published on Mar 7, 2018
A decade ago, we imagined a world of participatory culture where youth would be empowered to actively and strategically use technology. Through peer/self-learning and formal education, young people have developed a well-informed understanding of the world through social media. However, this participatory culture can be unhealthy, cruel, and socially devastating. In this talk, I’ll explore unintended consequences of efforts to empower youth, media manipulation and literacy, polarization, and other issues. danah boyd Principal Researcher & Founder & President Microsoft Research/Data & Society The SXSW EDU Conference & Festival cultivates and empowers a community of engaged stakeholders to advance teaching and learning. Visit sxswedu.com to learn more.

The below original text was the basis for Data & Society Founder and President danah boyd’s March 2018 SXSW Edu keynote,“What Hath We Wrought?” — Ed.

Growing up, I took certain truths to be self evident. Democracy is good. War is bad. And of course, all men are created equal.

My mother was a teacher who encouraged me to question everything. But I quickly learned that some questions were taboo. Is democracy inherently good? Is the military ethical? Does God exist?

I loved pushing people’s buttons with these philosophical questions, but they weren’t nearly as existentially destabilizing as the moments in my life in which my experiences didn’t line up with frames that were sacred cows in my community. Police were revered, so my boss didn’t believe me when I told him that cops were forcing me to give them free food, which is why there was food missing. Pastors were moral authorities and so our pastor’s infidelities were not to be discussed, at least not among us youth. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing, but hypocrisy is destabilizing. Nothing can radicalize someone more than feeling like you’re being lied to. Or when the world order you’ve adopted comes crumbling down.


Link to post on danah boyd's blog: Click here


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Banning literature in prisons perpetuates system that ignores inmate humanity

Censorship | Prison libraries | Human rights


Lawsuit among latest reminders that reading, education can help ensure that prisoners who gain freedom, keep it
(Photo: John David Mercer, AP)   

Last month, the publisher of Prison Legal News became one of the latest organizations to take action against the nation's prison systems for censorship.

The Human Rights Defense Center lawsuit targets the Illinois Department of Corrections and alleges that it keeps HRDC literature out of the hands of prisoners, including the monthly Prison Legal News magazine — which covers court rulings and other aspects of the criminal justice system.

 Read more:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/policing/spotlight/2018/03/09/banning-literature-prisons-perpetuates-system-ignores-inmate-humanity/397501002/

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The New Vanguard

Women's history month | Women writers | Fiction


Our critics chose 15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.

Corey Olsen
In 2016, the feminist press Emily Books held a panel in Brooklyn titled, a bit cheekily, “What Is Women’s Writing?” There was no consensus, much laughter and a warm, rowdy vibe. Eileen Myles read from a memoir in progress and Ariana Reines read a poem, wearing a dress with a pattern of a city on fire. All of this felt exactly right.

But even if it puts your teeth on edge to see “women’s writing” cordoned off in quotes, you can’t deny the particular power of today’s women writers — their intensity of style and innovation. The books steering literature in new directions — to new forms, new concerns — almost invariably have a woman at the helm, an Elena Ferrante, a Rachel Cusk, a Zadie Smith. 

For Women’s History Month, The Times’s staff book critics — Dwight Garner, Jennifer Szalai and myself, Parul Sehgal — sat down together to think about these writers who are opening new realms to us, whose books suggest and embody unexplored possibilities in form, feeling and knowledge.

As we put together a reading list, we introduced a few parameters, for sanity’s sake. We confined ourselves to books written by women and published in the 21st century. And we limited our focus to fiction, but not without some grief. Memoir has emerged as a potent political and literary force in recent years (see the terrain-shifting work of Maggie Nelson, for example). And poets like Claudia Rankine, Solmaz Sharif and Tracy K. Smith are some of the most distinctive voices working today.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The FBI's War on Black-Owned Bookstores

Black History Month | Independent Bookstores | African-American Heritage

At the height of the Black Power movement, the Bureau focused on the unlikeliest of public enemies: black independent booksellers.

by Joshua Clark Davis | Feb 19, 2018


A Harlem bookstore in 1964, where a registration for the Back-to-Africa movement was held


 



In the spring of 1968, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover announced to his agents that COINTELPRO, the counter-intelligence program established in 1956 to combat communists, should focus on preventing the rise of a “Black ‘messiah’” who sought to “unify and electrify the militant black nationalist movement.” The program, Hoover insisted, should target figures as ideologically diverse as the Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture), Martin Luther King Jr., and Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.

Just a few months later, in October 1968, Hoover penned another memo warning of the urgent menace of a growing Black Power movement, but this time the director focused on the unlikeliest of public enemies: black independent booksellers.

In a one-page directive, Hoover noted with alarm a recent “increase in the establishment of black extremist bookstores which represent propaganda outlets for revolutionary and hate publications and culture centers for extremism.” The director ordered each Bureau office to “locate and identify black extremist and/or African-type bookstores in its territory and open separate discreet investigations on each to determine if it is extremist in nature.” Each investigation was to “determine the identities of the owners; whether it is a front for any group or foreign interest; whether individuals affiliated with the store engage in extremist activities; the number, type, and source of books and material on sale; the store’s financial condition; its clientele; and whether it is used as a headquarters or meeting place.”
 
Perhaps most disturbing, Hoover wanted the Bureau to convince African American citizens (presumably with pay or through extortion) to spy on these stores by posing as sympathetic customers or activists. Read more...

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

You’re a Researcher Without a Library: What Do You Do? | Medium

Research | Access | Libraries | Open Access

by Jake Orlowitz  | Nov 15, 2017

Investigating solutions for frustrated scholars, nonprofits, independent learners, and the rest of us.

Wikimedia Commons

 

 The world of publishing is evolving frantically, while it remains frustratingly fragmented and prohibitively expensive for many. If you’re a student who just left your academic library behind only to discover you are now locked out of the stacks; a startup researching water usage in Africa and keep hitting paywalls; a local nonprofit that studies social change activism, but all the latest papers cost $30 per read… This article is for you.

Local Library

Citizens, taxpayers, cities, states, and nations pay a lot of money to provide free services. Use them! Public libraries often subscribe to costly databases; the annual investments for these licenses are only worth it if they are of use to the libraries’ constituency. The good news is that most people have a library nearby, many of the resources are fully available online (especially the databases), and a library card is often free or inexpensive. Also, libraries have librarians, who are pros at finding what you want (or something even better).

Bad news is that your local library may not be that local, and you may need to jump through some hoops to get your library card. Not all local libraries can afford masses of scholarly journals either, although many have at least some access. Read more...

The unexpected role librarians are playing in Sacramento’s homeless crisis

Homelessness | Public libraries | Mental health training

by Cynthia Hubert  | January 29, 2018 (updated January 30, 2018)

A homeless man waits for the downtown library doors to open on Jan. 26, 2017. Librarians and other staff members are receiving training to help them understand and deal with mental illness, which affects many more homeless people than others according to studies. Randy Pench rpench@sacbee.com

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article197270849.html#storylink=cpy
For many of Sacramento’s homeless men and women, the public library is a haven from harsh weather, a primary source for bathroom facilities, a place to rest from the stress of the streets.

Sacramento library director Rivkah Sass welcomes them all, she said, as long as their behavior is not disruptive to staff members and other patrons.

But as the homeless crisis deepens in the capital city and around the country, libraries increasingly are seeing people with untreated mental illnesses that cause them to act oddly, or put themselves or others in danger.

“Clearly, there just are not enough services for people who need to address their mental issues, and they end up with us because we are the last free, public open space available to them,” Sass said.
Read more...

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article197270849.html#storylink=cpy

Rosa Parks Was My Aunt. Here's What You Don't Know About Her.

Civil Rights | Black Heistory Month | Women's History

by Urana McCauley as told to Liz Dwyer | February 2, 2018

Urana McCauley  
After that NAACP event, that’s when I started asking her questions about what she witnessed, what she endured, and what life was like for black people back then. That led to her telling me a lot of stories. She’d tell me what her life was like when she was a little girl growing up in Alabama. One of the things that people don’t understand about my aunt is that she was an activist her whole life and she started questioning things at a young age. I think part of it was her upbringing with her grandfather, Sylvester Edwards. He would sit up at night with a shotgun — in case the KKK might come by and try to kill them — and talk to her about black resistance and the key figures in it: Crispus Attucks, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey. That laid the foundation for my aunt to feel like, "This isn’t right. I should be doing something and becoming an activist." Her whole life became dedicated to change.

When she was 10, a white boy pushed Auntie Rosa, and she pushed him back. Auntie Rosa’s grandmother told her, "You need to be quiet, you need to stop being so vocal." She was told, as black people, we’re not allowed to do those things to whites. Her grandmother was concerned that she’d get hurt, that she could even get lynched. But Auntie Rosa told her grandmother, "Let them try to lynch me." She was that bold, even when she was young. Read article...