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Apr 23, 2001

Dancing
Glossary
4/23/2001; 7:23:49 PM Dancing: ''Dancing'' is a term I made up to describe a method of argument I encounter far too often, wherein the arguer continually changes what proposition they are proposing/defending in order to avoid the counter-arguments being made. The mental image is a proverbial Wild West outlaw shooting at someone's feet, demanding the person being shot at ''dance for them''.

See full definition.


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Apr 22, 2001

Inescapably Connected: Life in the Wireless Age
Technology & Sociology4/22/2001; 2:17:23 PM 'The network knows where we are. The network is there, all around us, a ghostly electromagnetic presence, pervasive and salient, a global infrastructure taking shape many times faster than the Interstate highway or the world's railroads. This is different from the radio-spectrum Babel that defined the 20th century: the broadcast era. We aren't expected merely to tune in and listen. This network is push and pull, give and take. It broadens our reach. If we lock our keys in the car, the network can unlock it for us from thousands of miles away -- just a few bytes through the ether.'From the last page of the article: 'We don't have to become neurons in the New World brain to feel that we're already gaining something. I have noticed that the mobile-gadget wielder develops the odd sensation of being entitled to all sort of facts. You get in the habit of knowing things, or at least of being able to find out. It's as if there's a permanent mental hotline to the information specialists at the public library. Can't quite identify Bob Dole's running mate in 1996 or that actor up on the screen or a science-fiction story encountered 10 years ago? You get a twitchy feeling that you ought to push a button and pop up the answer.'A couple of months ago, my wife and I lost internet connectivity for a week, while switching cable modem services. I am a computer scientist, my life revolves around computers. She's a zoologist, uses the Internet mostly to check e-mail. Quite different people.The interesting this is we both experienced what James Gleick described. We could live without e-mail. I could live without updating my weblog. (The lack of outlet for writing was a bit more difficult to deal with, but I managed.) I could live without browsing the web, or downloading patches, or all the other myriad of things I do on the Internet. What we both missed most was the ability to casually look things up on the Internet. We heard a medical term we wanted to look up and couldn't until later. We sometimes play along with Who Wants to be a Millionaire and try to find the answer to the questions in less then thirty seconds (practice for Phone-a-Friend... it's virtually impossible unless you get lucky with Google). I felt like a part of my memory was missing, but surprisingly, so did she, considering how much more "connected" you'd think I'd be.It's hard to believe, but the next hundred years really are going to make the last hundred look like a joyride, barring catastrophe...


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Apr 22, 2001

Industry Wants to Opt Out of “Opt-In”
Privacy from Companies4/22/2001; 1:37:29 PM An extremely level-headed and well-written article about opt-in versus opt-out.'Ultimately, however, the scales are likely to be tipped not by economic arguments, but by structural ones about the nature of privacy. Under a regime of “opt-out” over-disclosure, it will take a longer time before the market manages to reach equilibrium, ... A regime of “opt-in” under-disclosure, on the other hand, will bring market forces swiftly to bear to bring about a “correct” equilibrium.'I like this logic. It also allows for a middle ground between opt-in and opt-out, which is, as usual, where we will most likely end up.


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Apr 21, 2001

Technical & Legal Approaches to Unsolicited Electronic Mail
Spam & E-Mail4/21/2001; 4:55:42 PM A paper. Abstract follows:

Unsolicited electronic mail, also called "spam," is both a nuisance to Internet users and a threat to network security. Spam imposes substantial costs on Internet users and providers, who have undertaken a variety of actions in response--many of which have been counterproductive. Informal responses such as social pressure and industry self-regulation have been almost entirely ineffectual in battling spam. Technical responses have fared somewhat better, but often at a high cost. Efforts to filter or block spam, for example, frequently prevent legitimate messages from getting through. Other technical responses have done little to stem the tide of spam, and in some instances have led to expensive legal disputes.Lawsuits have been somewhat successful in addressing the most extreme instances of spamming, and a number of jurisdictions have enacted specific laws in an attempt to regulate spam. But legal approaches in general seem to have been no more successful than technical responses to the spam problem, and the primary result to date is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding spam. Ultimately, a consensus approach that coordinates legal and technical responses is likely to provide the only effective solution.
After reading this paper, I feel a bit better about my own writing style... a sampling of the first 20 pages indicated that about half of the paper is footnotes, and that's by area, not char count. By chars, there's more footnotes then content. And I thought my tendency to ramble in the footnotes was bad...


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Apr 21, 2001

SDMI Challenge Participants May Face DMCA
DMCA4/21/2001; 11:25:48 AM "Everyone has probably forgotten the SDMI challenge to hackers to try to break a handful of proposed watermarking and "other" protection mechanisms? Well, it was recognised that a group of researchers at Princeton University broke all of the protection mechanisms and were due to publish a paper on at the 4th International Information Hiding Workshop (25-29 April) but have been threatened with the DMCA if they publish the results. So much for academic freedom, eh? SDMI seem particularly upset because one of the protection mechanims broken in the paper, The Verance Watermark, is currently used for DVD-Audio and SDMI Phase I products. Oops. Somehow, a copy of the threatening letter and the full paper entitled "Reading Between the Lines: Lessons from the SDMI Challenge" has appeared on John Young's excellent Cryptome site. SMDI's urge to "withdraw the paper submitted for the upcoming Information Hiding Workshop, assure that it is removed from the Workshop distribution materials and destroyed, and avoid a public discussion of confidential information." seems a little weak now...."If you have a background in signal processing, you'll be able to follow the paper. What's amazing is that for three of the four, I'd say the attacks were trivial... one of the solutions was to shift the entire piece of music by one quarter tone, doable with standard software (and there's free software that can do this). That's the kind of thing somebody with no clue about the details of signal processing would try, not a highly sophisticated attack requiring a PhD in the subject.I have a new theory: SDMI isn't trying to quash this paper because it will reveal how to break algorithms, they're trying to quash it because it's amazingly embarrassing.


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