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What You Should Know Before Leaking a Zoom Meeting

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/01/2021 - 12:00am in

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As more and more meetings take place over the videoconferencing service Zoom, it stands to reason that journalists will receive more and more audiovisual material leaked from such gatherings. This new leak medium poses unique challenges, requiring care to avoid exposing sources through digital watermarks or images of the user interface.

At least one Zoom leaker has already been unmasked: a member of the New York State Assembly who apparently filmed his “self-view” while recording a dispute within the Democratic assembly conference over the renomination of the speaker. That may sound careless, but a feature developed by Zoom will allow future leakers to be exposed even without that sort of misstep.

Zoom Watermarking

Many users may not realize it, but Zoom has the capability to insert both video and audio watermarks into a meeting.

1-zoomadminsettings

Video/audio watermark options in the Zoom settings panel.

Screenshot: The Intercept

2-zoomsettings

Zoom meeting scheduler video/audio watermark settings. (The individual meeting scheduler options appear after watermarking has been enabled via the main settings panel.)

Screenshot: The Intercept

The video watermarks are readily perceptible to meeting participants. When enabled, the video watermarking feature superimposes the username portion of each participant’s email address over the content they are viewing when another participant shares their screen and places the same watermark over the current active speaker. Because the video watermark appears across the entirety of the video frame, blurring may adversely impact the visibility of the underlying material.

3-zoompatent

Zoom patent diagram illustrating the video watermark feature.

Screenshot: The Intercept

In contrast, the audio watermarks are not readily perceptible to casual listeners, though they are what in watermarking parlance is known as “overt.” That means the fact that they are embedded is easily discerned by meeting participants: When a Zoom meeting has the audio watermark, or what Zoom also calls the “audio signature,” feature enabled, the meeting will have a green circular icon with a sound wave and a padlock at the top left of the frame next to the encryption icon.

4-audiosignature

The presence of the circular audio watermark icon next to the encryption shield icon is an indicator that the audio of the meeting is watermarked.

Screenshot: The Intercept

It is not immediately apparent at what point Zoom injects its “ultrasonic” audio watermark into the audio stream — whether this happens only if a meeting attendee presses the Record button in Zoom or if the audio stream is watermarked prior to that point. Nonetheless, when recording a Zoom meeting, it is best to avoid using Zoom’s built-in recording option and to capture the meeting using a third-party audio/video recorder. Zoom mentions that in order to identify the participant who recorded the meeting, they need at least two minutes of audio from the meeting, though it stands to reason that shorter snippets may also be identifiable if they happen to contain the audio watermark.

Journalists should also be wary of publishing raw audio leaked from Zoom meetings, particularly if the source is not sure whether audio watermarking was enabled or not.

Recording Gotchas — Inadvertent Source Identification

Aside from Zoom’s own watermarks, a number of elements appearing on an individual’s own device may inadvertently give away the identity of the person who is recording. If the meeting video is being recorded either via screen recording software or a camera, there are a number of elements to watch out for. For example:

The video layout order should be manually rearranged.

  • When displaying meeting participants, Zoom software on a smartphone, laptop, or other device prioritizes displaying the attendee who is using the device. In other words, each participant will typically see themselves displayed in the top row on their screen when in a Zoom meeting. This in turn means that it may be possible to deduce who recorded a leaked Zoom video based on the participant order displayed on the screen. To mitigate against this, prior to video recording a Zoom meeting, the video layout order should be manually rearranged at random. If viewing the video in full-screen mode, care should be taken to remove self-view from the frame.
  • The Zoom app should be positioned in such a way on the desktop as to minimize the chance for interference from other desktop apps, such as the chance of new message or email notification pop-ups appearing over the Zoom window. Upon completion of the recording, the video should be carefully reviewed to make certain that no such identifying notifications inadvertently appeared anywhere in the recording.
  • In certain cases, even revealing information about the recording user’s underlying operating system may potentially compromise the source. For instance, if the source is recording a video of a company meeting from a Mac, and company personnel are known to predominantly use Windows, it may be possible to check meeting access logs to identify the meeting attendee who joined from a Mac. For this reason, the recording area may be tightly cropped to remove OS identifiers like menu or title bars. Additionally, elements such as mouse pointers should also be excluded from the recording area to avoid leaking information about the OS (owing to the fact that, for instance, a default mouse pointer on Windows machines is white with a black outline, while it is black with a white outline on Macs).
  • The participant recording the Zoom meeting should also be mindful of their participation in the meeting. For instance, if typing into the chatbox, this activity may be used to identify the recorder.
  • If recording meetings with an exterior device such as a phone camera, be aware that your camera may be uniquely identifiable via visible defects such as unique smudges or scratch patterns on the lens as well as a myriad of forensic techniques falling under the umbrella of source camera identification. For especially sensitive meetings, it is advisable to use a recording device solely acquired for purposes of conducting the recording of a specific meeting and to dispose of the device after the recording.

Zoom meetings present a unique set of challenges for source protection, but these challenges can be minimized by following best practices and taking care not to publish raw meeting materials unless there is high confidence that the recordings were not watermarked and have been thoroughly reviewed to make sure no other potentially identifying features are present in the audio or video.

The post What You Should Know Before Leaking a Zoom Meeting appeared first on The Intercept.

Defunct technology. Broke & busted satellite TV dish....

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/01/2021 - 8:32am in

Defunct technology. Broke & busted satellite TV dish. Marrickville.

The High Production Quality/Low Cost Future of Philosophy Education?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 11:18pm in

Here are three trends in higher education:

  • To save money, more students are starting their post-high-school education at a community college, taking courses there for a while and then transferring with those credits to a more prestigious school from which they’ll end up getting their degree.
  • For convenience and now safety, more students are taking their college courses online.
  • Facing unprecendented pedagogical challenges from the fact that their competition for students’ attention is easy and constant access to an ever growing set of all of the world’s distractions (via the internet), professors are feeling a push to be more entertaining.

A relatively new education venture, Outlier, seems to take responding to these trends as its focus, offering attractively marketed, relatively inexpensive, online courses with transferable credits and high production values—and it has just launched an introductory philosophy course.

Outlier was created by Aaron Rasmussen, one of the co-founders of Masterclass, whose celebrity-led courses (Jeff Koons on art, Nancy Cartwright on voice acting, Margaret Atwood on creative writing, Timbaland on beatmaking, etc.) you might have seen advertised on Facebook, or perhaps even taken.

Outlier’s Introduction to Philosophy course is led by John Kaag, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and author of, among other things, the recent popular philosophy books Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who We Are and Sick Souls, Healthy Minds: How William James Can Save Your Life.

Joining Professor Kaag for the course are philosophers Anita Allen (University of Pennsylvania), Ann Cudd (University of Pittsburgh), Marya Schectman (University of Illinois, Chicago), Elís Miller Larsen (Harvard), and philosophy-minded psychologist Paul Bloom (Yale).

To see what I mean about marketing and production, check out the promotional video for the course:

The course costs $400—much less than a typical college course—and students who pass it will earn three potentially transferable credit hours through Outlier’s partnership with the University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown (“potentially” because typically a course’s transferability is the decision of the destination school). Students who don’t pass the course will get their money back.

Rasmussen says that interest in the course has been strong, though it is too early in its launch to provide exact numbers. If they end up producing a second philosophy course, he says, it will probably be on logic.

What do developments like this course portend for higher education? Are they just another option to meet the varied demands of an increased customer base, beneficially adding to the range of educational offerings? Or are they part of what some have predicted will be big tech’s takeover of higher education, with drastic consolidations and other changes? Or…?

Discussion welcome.

The post The High Production Quality/Low Cost Future of Philosophy Education? appeared first on Daily Nous.

On Telegram, the Paramilitary Far Right Looks to Radicalize New Recruits Ahead of Inauguration Day

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 10:47am in

In the wake of last week’s deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol Building, a publicly accessible chat group devoted to sparking a civil war is telling its thousands of subscribers that the moment they have all been waiting for is here.

Since the events last week, “Boogaloo Intel Drop,” a channel on the Telegram messaging app with more than 6,600 subscribers, including some self-described active-duty U.S. military personnel, has pushed its followers to usher in a new epoch of political violence in the United States. Subscribers and administrators have called for the murder of police officers with increased fervor and elevated Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran killed by Capitol Police during the riot, to the status of a martyr.

The channel is a mid-sized player in a larger, established network devoted to the spread of right-wing terror, a race war, and the violent overthrow of the U.S. government. Within this so-called Terrorgram network, which appears to have grown in the past week, the assault on the Capitol and its political fallout is being treated as an opportunity to enlist and radicalize new recruits.

Alex Newhouse, research lead at the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said “Boogaloo Intel Drop” appears to be the “most active” channel in the Terrorgram network currently looking to peel off individuals booted from other social media networks and recruit them into militant extremism. It has also been the most open in calling for violence in the days ahead. “They have been talking in the most specifics that I’ve seen yet,” Newhouse told The Intercept. “But their rhetoric does reflect what’s happening in the other white supremacist accelerationist channels.”

The boogaloo movement is part of a broader ecosystem of far-right groups committed to pushing the country into civil war. The boogaloo itself is the desired civil conflict and its proponents, who sometimes refers to themselves as “boogaloo bois,” have been known to pair tactical gear with Hawaiian shirts.

“They have been talking in the most specifics that I’ve seen yet. But their rhetoric does reflect what’s happening in the other white supremacist accelerationist channels.”

Newhouse said the “Intel Drop” channel represents the most openly white supremacist wing of the boogaloo movement. “My personal feeling is that the entire boogaloo movement has white supremacy at its core, but there are obviously varying levels of explicitness with how they talk about things like the Jewish question and how they refer to Black people and how they refer to the Black Lives Matter protests,” he said. While “the boogaloo movement broadly is composed of some people who call themselves libertarian,” Newhouse explained, “Boogaloo Intel Drop’s network is not — they fully believe in totalitarian, white, Aryan government.”

On Monday, the FBI issued a bulletin warning of armed protests planned in all 50 states in the coming days. HuffPost reported that Capitol Police have briefed House Democrats on three plots targeting the Capitol, and that the police and National Guard “were preparing for potentially tens of thousands of armed protesters coming to Washington and were establishing rules of engagement for warfare.” The FBI’s Minneapolis field office has zeroed in on boogaloo adherents in particular as potential perpetrators of political violence, according to a situational report obtained by Yahoo News.

“I don’t think it’s a mistake that the FBI is warning specifically about the boogaloo bois,” Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, a research organization focused on the far-right, told The Intercept, noting that in the span of a year, the movement has been linked to multiple acts of violence and terror plots.

Despite its memes and millennial bent, the movement is awash in classic American racism, anti-Semitism, and gun worship, all filtered through the usual conspiracy theories that have consumed the far right for generations. “They’re dressed up in these ironic things like their Hawaiian T-shirts and very savvy in the world of memes and spreading internet viral communications,” she said. “But at the end of the day, they’re no different, really, than many paramilitary movements we’ve had in the United States.”

The boogaloo Telegram channel has been active since at least October 2019. Initially, much of the media it shared focused on survivalism and the “tacti-cool” gear popular with a particular set of post-9/11 American men. In keeping with the boogaloo movement more broadly, it catered to an internet-conversant crowd, with activity picking up during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns. Chatter on the channel intensified over the summer with the police killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed. Early on, Newhouse said, Telegram channels in the wider “Terrorgram” network — which according to an analysis by the Daily Beast caters to an estimated 120,000 subscribers — would recommend the Boogaloo Intel Drop channel as a place to find information on tactics and gear, but in time it too became a source of extreme hard-right propaganda. “At this point, it’s one of the bigger accelerationist propaganda channels out there,” he said.

The “boogaloo bois” cast the summer’s racial justice protests as a useful cover to kill law enforcement, and according to federal prosecutors in California, that was exactly what Steven Carrillo did. In late May, Carrillo, a sergeant in an elite Air Force security unit, allegedly assassinated a federal court security guard in Oakland before going on the run and killing a sheriff’s deputy days later. The FBI claims the airman was taken into custody with a ballistics vest bearing a boogaloo patch and that he scrawled phrases popular with the movement on a vehicle in his own blood. The alleged assassination was followed by the arrest of three suspected boogaloo bois in Nevada, all military veterans, who were accused of plotting to bomb a Black Lives Matter protest. According to federal law enforcement, members of the paramilitary group accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in October are tied to the boogaloo movement.

As the boogaloo movement garnered increased national attention, the Telegram channel grew in subscribers — a dynamic that seems to be playing out yet again.

In the wake of last week’s siege, Amazon Web Services shut down Parler, a right-wing social media platform catering to Trump supporters. The shutdown appears to be fueling a migration to Telegram. Over the weekend, Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University focused on far-right extremism and hate groups, noted that a single Telegram channel devoted to the Proud Boys — a neo-fascist paramilitary group loyal to the president — had attracted nearly 6,000 users in four hours. On Monday, The Guardian noted that a Telegram channel dubbed “Parler Lifeboat” had pulled in more than 15,000 members. “There’s definitely a Parler exodus,” Newhouse said.

“At this point, it’s one of the bigger accelerationist propaganda channels out there.”

On the boogaloo channel, conversations have swung from outrage to opportunity. Responding to Monday’s FBI bulletin regarding the planning of nationwide armed protests, one user replied, “Um yes they are FBI, your kind of slow to pick that up,” while others advocated for creating small cells of trusted fellow extremists committed to a long-haul violent struggle. “While you guys have been sitting on your asses we’ve been preparing for such an event for years,” one user boasted. Another added: “Speak for somebody else. I’m enlisted and I hate all of this shit but prep has been made on my end.”

For much of the country, the president’s video message to the mob he directed was abhorrent, and his milquetoast tweets calling for peace were seen as shameful and inadequate. On the Boogaloo channel, they were received as an unforgivable disappointment from a man who was supposed to be one of their own. “Aaaaaaand he betrays the white race again,” an administrator wrote on the afternoon of January 6, citing a tweet by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany that asked the mob to “remain peaceful” and claimed the National Guard would soon arrive on the president’s orders. “At least his betrayal will be met in full,” said another subscriber.

Across the channel, eagerness for continued violence, particularly the killing of lawmakers and law enforcement, is everywhere. “If you don’t leave the politicians alive, you cant get charged as a terrorist,” wrote a user whose avatar is an image of a rioter carrying a Confederate flag through the Capitol building and whose screen name is “Gas (((Them)))” — the parentheses signal Jews. “The right learned what the left already knows. Mask up. Be unidentifiable to the pig system,” said another subscriber. “The only rule now is: Don’t get caught.”

Much of the conversation on the channel over the last week has focused on converting so-called normies — Trump supporters booted from platforms like Parler — to the accelerationist cause. “Time to press on. Deplatforming ‘normies’ will only drive them to alt-right platforms,” said one user. Another said they were advertising the Telegram channel on their Twitter page to pull in new recruits. “Some people need converting, don’t ban moderate commenters from chats, it will take time to enlighten them,” they said. An admin praised users for their radicalization efforts: “Thank you to those as well spreading this channel and others to normie platforms.”

While Trump cast himself as the ultimate law enforcement supporter, the boogaloo movement is expressly committed to killing law enforcement officials.

Channel users see the killing of Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by a police officer during the Capitol attack, as “good optics” and a chance to pull in new recruits. One popular Babbitt tribute graphic — an increasingly popular Telegram subgenre as she becomes something like a far-right martyr — depicts the pro-police “thin blue line” motif as a bullet’s path entering Babbitt’s neck and turning red on the other side.

“These are normies. … They haven’t been trampled on for years like us,” an admin wrote, arguing that Babbitt’s death should be used as a potent radicalization tool. “Wtf is a normie,” replied a user whose avatar was a selfie of a police officer in uniform. “I guess I’m behind on this.”

The question of the role police can or should play in a right-wing insurgency appears again and again in the channel. While Trump cast himself as the ultimate law enforcement supporter with rallies consistently featuring “back the blue” imagery and rhetoric, the boogaloo movement is expressly committed to killing law enforcement officials, especially federal law enforcement officials. For many in the Telegram channel, the events of last week present an opportunity to bring others around to that worldview.

“Police are traitors always were,” wrote one member. “Fuck macing the pigs,” wrote another member beneath a video of rioters appearing to spray a chemical agent at Capitol Police. “Use lead.” Some saw the riots as a turning point in the American right’s relationship to law and order: “Whatever happens, today was a success. … Because today the Blue Lives Matter ideology died,” wrote another Telegram user.

Newhouse said while some of the channel’s subscribers will “see opportunity in the authoritarian impulses of the Proud Boys, the QAnon movement and other sorts of movements like that,” thus creating opportunities for collaboration and recruitment of law enforcement, others believe that it is “antithetical to their mission.” “The reason why this network in particular hates the police is because they’re seen as guardians of the Zionist-occupied government — a government of degeneracy that allows for multiculturalism and Jewish influence,” he said.

Newhouse was careful to note that while the channel’s subscriber number could be seen as an army of right-wing insurgents in waiting, the number of individuals who actually see and engage with the content on channels like Boogaloo Intel Drop remains small. At the same time, he added, “the lesson of the boogaloo movement is you only need one or two people to take it seriously.”

The post On Telegram, the Paramilitary Far Right Looks to Radicalize New Recruits Ahead of Inauguration Day appeared first on The Intercept.

Organize around promoting and defending “Freedom Technology”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/01/2021 - 3:41pm in

image/png icontechno-class-conflict.png

This article serves as a natural expansion of the things I assume we already do individually for our own collectives and adjacent circles. This time, however, we’re pooling our shared skills and knowledge to not only assist radical groups take advantage in digital communication and peer-to-peer production, but also the wider public in general.

With this network of talent formed, we will become better equipped to deal with the security and technological requirements of pursuing the class struggle in the present day, with the collective knowledge of the group being an order of magnitude greater than of an individual.

Butingtaon

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The 1920s’ View of the Future

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/01/2021 - 3:44am in

I found this fascinating video on the ‘1920s Channel’ on YouTube. It’s about the decades view of the future, taken from the pulp magazine, Science and Invention, founded and edited by Hugo Gernsbach. Gernsbach is one of the major figures in 20th century SF. An immigrant to America from Luxembourg, he was passionately enthusiastic about science and technology and founded the first the first SF pulp magazines. He also wrote an SF novel, Ralph 124C41 + A Romance of the Year 2660, and coined the term ‘scientifiction’ to describe the new genre. This was shortened and altered by his successors and rivals to become the modern term.

The channel’s main man says he’s interested in 1920s futurism because it falls between the ‘Steam Punk’ predictions of the Victorians and the ‘Atom Punk’ of the 1950s and 1960s, although it also has some elements of the ‘Diesel Punk’ of the 1940s. He states that the 1920s and the 1950s were similar decades, in that both followed major wars but were periods of optimism. Most of the illustrations were by Frank R. Paul, Gernsbach’s artist, who is now justly respected as one of the foremost pioneers of SF art. Among the inventions and developments the magazine predicted are massive, skyscraper cities now a staple of SF in such classic films as Metropolis and Blade Runner. But the magazine also predicted underground cities, as well as improved scientific instruments like astronomical telescopes, devices for signalling Mars, bizarre machines for taking care of one’s health, like the ‘sun shower’ and health meter. There are new entertainment media, like television and a cinema with four screens, as well as new musical instruments like the Theremin. This last creates sound through the alteration of a magnetic field by the player’s hands. It’s one of the many instruments played by the hugely talented Bill Bailey. The magazine also looked at the vehicles of the future. These included moving walkways, cars and railways. Cars wouldn’t be confined to the road, but would fly, and the magazine also showed the new aircraft of the future. Humanity would master anti-gravity and fly beyond Earth into space. At the same time, new ships and flying boats would cross the oceans, while people would venture underneath the seas in diving suits that somewhat resemble the metallic suits created to withstand the crushing pressures of the ocean depths. And the magazine also predicted that SF staple, the robot. One of these was to be a ‘police automaton’, like Robocop.

The illustrations are taken from worldradiohistory.com, where they’re available for free, and the video is accompanied by some of the music of the period, so be warned!

Futurism Of The 1920s – YouTube

It’s interesting watching the video to see how much of modern SF was formed in the decade, and to compare its predictions with reality. Most of these predictions haven’t actually become reality. Flying cars are still waiting to happen, we don’t have zeppelin aircraft carriers and skyscraper cities haven’t quite become the dominant urban form. Nor do we have truly intelligent machines and robots. On the other hand, I think the ideas and devices Gernsbach and Paul discussed and portrayed in the magazine still have the power to inspire, and think that they would make a great source of ideas for future, aspiring SF writers.

History Debunked Calls for More Black Blood and Organ Donors to Show Black Lives Really Matter

This is another, really short video from History Debunked. It’s creator, Simon Webb, is an author, and has published several history books. He’s very definitely a man of the right, and many of his videos tackle and refute some of the myths and false history being promoted as part of the Black history movement. In this video he expresses his incredulity at the rioting and destruction of statues that broke out earlier this year with the eruption of the Black Lives Matter movement. He finds it difficult to understand how defacing a statue of Winston Churchill or setting fire to the Union flag shows that Black lives matter. Black deaths at the hands of the cops are widely publicised, but they probably occur at the rate of less than one a year. There hasn’t been one for over a year now, and they may well only happen once every 2 to 3 years.

A far greater killer of Black lives is Sickle Cell Anaemia. This can result in episodes, known as Sickle Cell crises, that can produce blindness, disability and death. They can be treated with transfusions. There are differences in the blood of different races, so that Black people are better treated with blood from other Black people, Whites with White blood. But there is a terrible, pressing shortage of Black blood and organ donors. The NHS in London and Birmingham is currently seeking 5,000 Black blood donors so that they can treat the Black victims of this disease. Whites are twice as likely to donate blood and the organs of dead relatives as Blacks, which means, for example, that Blacks on average wait twice as long as Whites on dialysis for a kidney transplant. He therefore feels that the people, who protest against a statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University, instead of demonstrating against injustices that may have occurred centuries ago, should donate blood in order to show that they really believe Black Lives Matter.

Saving black lives; a way forward for the Black Lives Matter Movement – YouTube

This is obviously a controversial view of BLM. The demonstrations and riots against the statues occurred because the historic western slave trade is seen as being inextricably linked to the terrible, underprivileged conditions of many western Blacks. Institutional racism in the police has been a particularly obvious cause of anger and resentment amongst the Black community. It could be said that it doesn’t matter how low the actual numbers of Black people killed by the cops are, it’s still too many. In fact, it’s questionable how disproportionate the number of Blacks killed by the cops compared to Whites actually is. Sargon of Gasbag, the Sage of Swindon, went through the official statistics in one of his videos and concluded that Whites were in far more danger of being killed by the police than Blacks. This certainly runs counter to the allegations made by BLM. Sargon is, however, extremely right-wing. Too right-wing for UKIP, as when he joined, more socially liberal members left. I don’t agree with Sargon’s views about Trump, capitalism or how British political theory begins and ends with John Locke, but he did present a very good case on this issue.

And it is true that Sickle Cell Anaemia is killing Black people. Black people are more prone to it thanks to an adaptation in their blood cells which makes them far less palatable to mosquitoes, and hence vulnerable to the malaria they carry, than Whites. And it is true that there is a terrible shortage of Black blood and organ donors. Various Black ‘slebs have appeared on The One Show to urge Black people to consider donating blood.

Years ago I read in the book Black Pioneers of Science and Invention, that the use of blood plasma to save lives in blood transfusions was the invention of a Black American doctor, who successfully used it on Brit injured in the Blitz. It would undoubtedly be great if more Black people followed in his footsteps by donating their blood to save other Black lives.

New: Virtual Publisher Showcases at the APA (guest post)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 09/01/2021 - 1:12am in

One of the pleasures of the divisional meetings of the American Philosophical Association (APA) is browsing the book displays. With the pandemic forcing the Eastern Division meeting online, it seemed like that wouldn’t be possible. Yet constraints can inspire innovation, and that is what has happened here.

In the following guest post*, Adam Hodgkin (@adamhodgkin), the chairman and co-founder of Exact Editions (and author of Following Searle on Twitter) explains how his company is working with the APA to create a virtual open digital display of books from multiple publishers.

Virtual Publisher Showcases
by Adam Hodgkin

The American Philosophical Association for its Eastern Meeting (January 7th – 17th) has organised an open digital display of 30+ new philosophy titles from 6+ publishers.

Although the display is free it is not Open Access in the way that term is used in libraries or by research funders. The free access is temporary, time-limited by software. But the display is free/open in two senses (1) to any web user who follows a Reading Room link—no subscription, pre-qualification or registration is required; (2) the book displays are to complete books, no pages are hidden, all of the books are readable, searchable and browse-able. The conference display is organised as a set of publisher-specific collections, but the full set can be accessed here.

Note that the access is to a temporary display and no content is available from the Reading Room link after 17 January, when the exhibition closes. There will be books shown from: Broadview, Brill, De Gruyter, Hackett, Oxford, Princeton, and Wiley. As it happens there will be very similar content available, again on a temporary basis, for the Central and Pacific meetings. So if a reader misses the event in January there will be further opportunities to sample the books.

The service uses a system of streamed access to Reading Rooms (each book having its own Reading Room) which has been developed by Exact Editions. It is the first time that the Exact Editions platform (built originally for consumer magazines) has been used extensively for book displays, but the company views the APA service as a potentially useful prototype for the wider use of Reading Rooms for a range of promotional services: review copies; inspection copies for instructors; sampling, or tasting, preliminary to the sale of print or digital books; book fairs; audience access to accompany blogs or conferences and other circumstances in which books can be useful digitally even when they are not being sold or subscribed.

The solution has been tested with philosophy books by the APA Blog. See their recent notice of The Murder of Professor Schlick. The Reading Room concept may be particularly suitable for online reviews, and philosophy, having an excellent online open access reviewing service, would be well placed to take advantage of it. When a good review appears, the publisher who has a Reading Room capability can, and we expect will, amplify the notice by posting or circulating a Reading Room for the book being discussed (one day, seven days, or 30 days being the default choices in the publisher’s tool box).

Exact Editions is positioning its service as a promotional platform for publishers in general, not as a sales or subscription service, and it may be particularly attractive to publishers with lists of highly illustrated or design-rich titles that are not well served by e-books formats. Why then start with philosophy titles? There may be an element of accident in the choice of a major philosophy conference as a venue to launch the notion of temporary but free access to complete digital books. But Daryl Rayner, Managing Director and co-founder of Exact Editions, notes that philosophy is similar to other academic disciplines a subject where “short term and temporary access to digital books should be the best way of promoting their value”. She adds that Exact Editions has also been rolling out promotional Reading Rooms for poetry books. So philosophy may be a subject particularly suitable for digital promotion, especially with temporary tools, precisely because the books are meant to last and a brief glimpse will never be enough to satisfy serious readers.

Although the APA showcases are temporary, the system of displayed Reading Rooms is a web-based streaming service and usable with other interactive tools. So it is straightforward to record and integrate sessions of database use with these digital books, projecting the session into interactive tools such as Skype, Zoom, PowerPoint, Teams, YouTube etc. Two recorded Zoom sessions from the APA collection are reproduced here:  an overview of the digital reading interface together with an appreciation of Ethical Reasoning, Theory and Application (Andrew Kernohan – Broadview Press) and a glimpse of  The Murder of Professor Schlick (David Edmonds – Princeton University Press).  These Zoom recordings,  by another Exact Editions co-founder, Adam Hodgkin, unlike the Reading Room links are not time-limited.

The post New: Virtual Publisher Showcases at the APA (guest post) appeared first on Daily Nous.

Facebook and Twitter Finally Do Slightly More Than Literally Nothing About Trump

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/01/2021 - 9:14am in

US President Donald Trump uses his cellphone as he holds a roundtable discussion with Governors about the economic reopening of closures due to COVID-19, known as coronavirus, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, June 18, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump uses his cellphone as he holds a roundtable discussion with governors in Washington, D.C., on June 18, 2020.

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The swirling of the last dregs of the Trump administration around the drain has given some prominent Americans one last chance to prostrate themselves before the outgoing president. Facebook and Twitter’s decision to place the president in a temporary internet timeout following his incitement of a violent mob that trashed the U.S. Capitol is the perfect capstone to four years of appeasement and corporate cowardice.

The advertising industry is generally acknowledged as one of the most risk-averse and craven industries on the planet, with decision-making guided largely by attempting to be as inoffensive as possible to as many people as possible, taking a position on an issue only in the weakest, safest, most carefully hedged terms available. Though companies like Facebook and Twitter hold the unfathomable power to control the distribution of information to billions of people around the world and like to think of themselves as helping bring humankind to some next level of consciousness, they are still very much in the advertising business.

As advertising companies, cowardice runs deep in the souls of Twitter, Facebook, and Google, companies that have spent the past four years looking the other way, equivocating, and contorting themselves into pretzels in an attempt to justify Trump’s unfettered access to the most powerful information distribution system in world history. Despite perennial speculation in the press as to what might psychologically or ideologically explain Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey’s total unwillingness to meaningfully act, there is just one factor: money. Twitter and Facebook are only worth anything as businesses if they can boast to advertisers of their access to an enormous swath of the American market, across political and ideological lines, and fear of a right-wing backlash has been enough to keep Peter Thiel on Facebook’s board and Trump’s voter suppression dispatches on Twitter’s servers.

According to a Facebook moderator who spoke to The Intercept on the condition of anonymity for fear of employer retaliation, watching the company drag its feet, yesterday in particular, has been excruciating. According to internal communications reviewed by The Intercept, the Capitol break-in is now considered, for purposes of Facebook’s willy-nilly application of the rules, “a violating event,” and any “praise,” “support,” or even friendly “representation” is banned on the basis of the company’s “Dangerous Organizations” policies, which this moderator explained is typically applied to posts celebrating terrorist attacks, drug cartel murders, and Aryan street gangs. The policy update was relayed to moderators, this source said, around 4:30 p.m. in Washington, by which point the Capitol had already been violently occupied for hours and a woman shot dead. Just today, as the broken glass is being swept up in the Capitol, Facebook blasted out another moderator update, informing them that the company was “internally designating” the entire United States as a “temporary high risk location,” which adds heightened restrictions to posts inciting violence, backdated to yesterday and effective through the end of Thursday.

Fearful of Trump even on his shameful way out, Facebook did the bare minimum when it was too late to mean much.

As some Facebook observers have pointed out, had the company cared to look, it could have easily found that its platform was being used to plan an event it would eventually categorize alongside the Lockerbie bombing. Instead, fearful of Trump even on his shameful way out, Facebook did the bare minimum when it was too late to mean much. “Facebook treated this event correctly but Facebook is also complicit in this event,” the moderator said. “It’s all so blatantly obvious.”

The president’s past half-decade of incitement against the perceived ethnic enemies of his base have been met with nothing more than risible warning labels and worthless “fact checks,” as have his more recent efforts to dupe his already deeply confused supporters about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. There’s no reason to believe these barely-there penalties did anything at all to chasten Trump or deter his message; their utility existed only to the companies themselves, who could no longer be accused of doing literally nothing. Just as Facebook put off acknowledging its role in the genocide in Myanmar until it was too late to matter, and just as the company built an election interference “war room” and quickly disbanded it after some photo ops, the recent decisions to mildly inconvenience the world’s most powerful living person when he has 13 days left in power is the perfect distillation of Big Tech’s attempt to pantomime principles, halfheartedly pointing to the void where a conscience would be.

“Slightly more than literally nothing” has been the unifying theme of big tech’s response to years of public concern that Trump would eventually use the platforms to get people killed, and yesterday, as his most rabid supporters puttered around the Capitol aimlessly pushing over chairs and reading House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s mail, represented the appeasement strategy’s ultimate failure: Four people are dead following a mob that Trump incited and directed. Hours after it would have made any difference, Facebook and Twitter, his two favorite platforms, did what they were previously unwilling to do: risk upsetting the president by temporarily restricting his ability to broadcast.

In a stirring gesture of corporate bravery, Twitter put Trump in the penalty box for 12 whole hours, suggesting that if perhaps 8 people had been killed in the Capitol melee, or if he’d encouraged the mob to brawl its way into a second federal landmark, he may have gotten a whole day’s suspension. Facebook, also true to form, has banned Trump from posting “indefinitely,” a word that means absolutely nothing and will give the company the freedom to change its mind at any point in the future, in accordance with the shifting tides of governmental power and public opinion.

The post Facebook and Twitter Finally Do Slightly More Than Literally Nothing About Trump appeared first on The Intercept.

Trump and the Spectre of Mussolini

The big news today has been last night’s attack on the Capitol by Trump’s supporters. They had been fired up to make the assault by Trump’s continued insistence that he is the real winner of the election, but it has been stolen from him by vote-rigging from the Democrats. As Mike himself has pointed out, Trump himself has not been averse to trying to do this himself. Earlier this week it was revealed that Trump had tried to persuade Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Secretary of State, to find one more vote for him in the state more than those cast for Joe Biden. And a week or so ago it was also reported that he had also been considering calling in the army in order to defend his presidency. If he had done so, it would have been a coup attempt.

Microsoft News in a piece they published today about the attack state that among the mob were members of various far right groups, such as the Proud Boys, the Nationalist Social Club and supporters of the Qanon conspiracy theory. This is the bizarre belief that Trump has been secretly fighting a war against an evil covert group determined to take over and subvert America. Last night there had been various messages posted on right-wing websites urging ‘Revolution’ and ‘Civil War’. World leaders have expressed their disgust and condemnation of the attack, though as Mike also points out, there has been no condemnation of Trump himself from Boris or Priti Patel. The attack is ominous, as it shows just how fragile American democracy is.

Indeed. Way back in the 1990s there were fears of a similar attack with the emergence of militia movement. These are right-wing paramilitary organisations founded by people, who really believe that America is in danger of being taken over by the extreme left, or the forces of globalism and the one world Satanic conspiracy or whatever. Many of them were explicitly racist with the connections to the neo-Nazi right. At one point a woman claiming to be a senior officer in the movement appeared online urging the various militias to unite and march on Washington. Her call was ignored, largely, I think, because the other militia leaders didn’t trust her and were extremely suspicious of her motives. I got the distinct impression that they suspected her of being an agent provocateur and that the march was some kind of trap by the federal government. There was no armed paramilitary march, and so America dodged a coup attempt, or whatever it was, that time.

But the attack is also reminiscent of an assault on government even further back, almost one hundred years ago. This was the infamous ‘March on Rome’ of Mussolini’s Fascists. This succeeded in getting him appointed as the new Prime Minister by the Italian king, Emmanuel II, and began the process which saw him overturning Italian democracy to forge the Fascist one-party state and his personal dictatorship. Of course, for such coups to be successful, the armed forces, capital and the civil service must be willing to collaborate with the insurgents. Mussolini had the support of Italian industry and the big landowners, as he offered to protect capitalism from the forces of revolutionary socialism. The Fascists also included a number of ex-servicemen, the squadristi, and they had considerable support within the regular Italian armed forces. However, the head of the Italian police had absolute contempt for the Fascists and offered to defend the Italian government from the Fascists. But the king turned him down, and caved in to the future Duce.

There are similarities to last night’s events. Many right-wing Americans do seem to fear that Communism and anarchy are somehow about to overrun America with the violence of some of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in America and the supposed ‘cultural Marxists’ that have allegedly taken over the American educational system. And the fears that there really is a secret conspiracy to overthrow American democracy and enslave its citizens has been around for decades. Bizarre conspiracy theories appeared in the 1970s about the Bilderberg group and the Trilateral Commission, claiming that these groups really ran the world. Then in the 1990s George Bush senior’s statement that he was going to create a ‘new world order’ prompted comparisons with the Nazis, as Hitler had also said the same about his regime. It was also linked to older conspiracy theories about the Freemasons because the Latin version of the phrase, ‘Novo Ordo Seculorum’, supposedly appears on American dollar bills along with various Masonic symbols. These theories claimed that America was being secretly run by a group of Masonic Satanists, who were planning turn America into a totalitarian, Communist state and send Christians to concentration camps. Even the collapse of Communism did not allay these fears. Many of those, who bought into these bizarre theories, thought that the collapse of the Soviet Union was all some kind of ruse. One variety of these myths claimed that the Russians had established secret military bases in Canada and Mexico, and at a given signal Soviet tanks would roll over the border into America. The 1990s were arguably the peak of such beliefs, as shown in the popularity of similar stories of covert government pacts with aliens from Zeta Reticuli and TV’s The X-Files. But such fears have certainly not gone away. There was a resurgence during Obama’s presidency, when America’s first Black president was accused by the bonkers elements on the American right of being a secret Muslim. or atheist. Or Communist. Or Nazi. Whatever, Obama was filled with rage against White Christians. One pair of pastors told the listeners of their church radio station that Obama was going to establish a dictatorship and would massacre even more people than Chairman Mao. Alex Jones was repeating and amplifying similar myths over on his internet radio and TV station. He claimed that Obama was going to invoke emergency legislation under the pretext of impending environmental disaster to force ordinary Americans into refugee camps. Militant feminists and gays were part of this conspiracy, in which humanity was to be transformed into a race of genderless cyborgs. Jones lost a considerable part of his audience when he was banned from various social media platforms thanks to his claims that a Boston pizza parlour was really a front for supplying children to be abused by members of the Democratic party and that several high school shootings had really been faked to provoke popular support for gun control laws. This caused real distress to the bereaved parents, who were accused of being ‘crisis actors’. Jones has nearly vanished from the public stage, though he still appears here and there. Even when he had an audience, many people still regarded him as a joke. But it looks like the conspiracy theories Jones promoted, and the underlying distrust of the government, still have a powerful hold on many Americans.

Fortunately, yesterday was different from 1920s Italy. America’s military has so far shown no interest in coming to Trump’s aid and overthrowing democracy. Black Lives Matter is extremely unpopular in certain areas, but the police, security forces and private industry aren’t backing armed paramilitary units to defend capitalism. American democracy is being shaken and tested, but so far it hasn’t cracked. The problem is, it’s not clear how long this will last. By calling for people to storm the capitol, Trump has struck a blow against democracy. He’s been unsuccessful, but this might inspire a future president with the same inclinations to try again. And they might be more successful.

And we’re not safe from such assaults over here. Mike in his article has warned that the Tories appear to be taking notes from Trump, while Zelo Street points out that the same people, who backed Trump also back the Tories and Brexit over here. He concludes with a warning of who the Brexiteers will blame when it all finally goes bad:

Many Brexiteers believe it’ll be someone else’s fault – Remainers, ethnic minorities, foreign nationals, multinational corporations, those of insufficiently patriotic intent – when it all goes bad. It won’t be Bozo, Ms Patel, Gove, or Nigel “Thirsty” Farage they will be going after.

There is a real danger of America becoming, if not a dictatorship, then a very authoritarian, Fascistic state. And Britain following.

See also: Four dead after Trump provokes US Capitol riot – and the UK Tories are taking notes | Vox Political (voxpoliticalonline.com)

Zelo Street: Trump Insurrection – Next Stop UK (zelo-street.blogspot.com)

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