NYT sues Pentagon for NSA documents

It seems the New York Times has FINALLY become more aggressive in getting to the bottom of exactly who, what, where, when, and why the National Security Agency and others spied on US citizens. This Reuters article called NYT sues Pentagon over domestic spying has more info. (Reuters says the Pentagon is the NSA’s parent organization.)

An important point they leave out in this article is that fact the NYT held onto the domestic spying story for over a year. They even consulted the government before going public with it. Bush can call the leak a “shameful act” all he wants but he allowed it to happen and knew it was going to happen way before the general public did. Why? Because Bush and his cronies want to maintain an appearance of government as usual, plausible deniability, protect a falling approval rating, etc. If they held this news any longer they’d be impeached by now.

Context is so important to news stories. Main stream media doesn’t provide context very well. You either have to be paying VERY good attention or know someone that you trust who does. This is a big reason why blogs are so important! Blogs provide context and connect the dots in the media history landscape!

Can You Digg What is Happening to Journalism?

Jeff Jarvis, Monday February 27, 2006 – The Guardian

I recently trained the faculty of the journalism school where I teach how to blog, vlog, podcast, wiki, and Digg. Actually, my son demonstrated Digg, and that was the most controversial moment of the day, as the professors fretted about second-rate stories getting on the front page. Jake showed them how the members can label a story “lame” and off it goes. He made it clear that Digg is owned by its public and that’s why it works. Shouldn’t all news organisations wish the public owned the news?

read more | digg story

Podcast Academy at Boston University

On Friday April 28 and Saturday April 29 Boston Univesity will be hosting Podcast Academy. Here is the schedule. It’s being put on by Doug Kaye of IT Conversations and The Conversations Network.

From their site: “The Podcast Academy will provide guidance on how to create, distribute and use podcasts. The Academy schedule offers basic “how to” classes for beginners as well as advanced classes for more seasoned professionals. Expert instructors will explain the mechanics of creating podcasts, getting and using the right equipment, coming up with a style for your podcast and then distributing it to the right audience.”

Looks like a good event. Nice to see people out there teaching others. I hope PodcasterCon 2007 will have lots of hands on learning.

A GRIM Report

Crossposted from OrangePolitics.org
Guest Post by Alan McSurely

Alan McSurely gives an update on efforts to get our member of congress, David Price, to support impeachment of President Bush. There’s been a community forum, two meetings with Price, and now…

We present the Case for Impeachment on Tuesday, February 28th at 7 p.m. at Chapel Hill Town Hall. Michelle Cotton Laws and Rev. Robert Seymour will participate, along with Prof. Dan Pollitt and myself. We will be announcing the formation of GRIM, and asking for your help to build the Movement.
Continue reading “A GRIM Report”

Pride in Alan Turing

Apple Logo-A symbol of Gay Pride and remembrance of Alan Turing’s death? Last night I was reading the book Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson. (Thanks for lending it to me Justin!) I’m only a few chapters in but I learned something really important about the history of computers. Alan Turing, the father of modern computer science, was gay. I mention this not in shock or surprise but in pride. I think it’s wonderful. I’m just really concerned that I’m just now learning this. Maybe it’s because I never researched it. Maybe it’s because people don’t talk or write about it. Well, I’m going to write about it.

I feel that the public history of computer science is incomplete. When we teach the history of computer science or even just talk about it online we need to mention the details of people’s lives. Why? Details inform their work. They give us a fuller image of the men and women we respect and admire. They give us something to connect with. I know that you can be great at what you do no matter your sexual preference, gender, or race – but these things do make a difference. We need to celebrate our uniqueness. Especially freedom loving computer geeks. 🙂

The fact is the majority of geeks online are men – white, heterosexual, men. Not all geeks are men, but a majority are. (Once I have the data to prove this I’ll link to it. But a safe theory I believe.) I happen to be a heterosexual male and am ashamed of this majority I belong to.

The age of hetero male geeks ranges from early teens to senior adults. Sadly many guy geeks where once nerdy teenagers that were uncomfortable with their own sexuality. Young geeks can be pretty immature about sexuality online. Could this contribute to the lack of mainstream discussion of gayness among computer geeks?

While researching the Alan Turing some more I discovered that right before his death he was convicted by Britian’s discriminatory anti-gay law known as,

gross indecency under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. Turing was unrepentant and was convicted. [Why the hell should he repent?] Although he could have been sent to prison, he was placed on probation, conditional on him undergoing hormonal treatment designed to reduce libido. He accepted the oestrogen hormone injections, which lasted for a year, with side effects including the development of breasts. His conviction led to a removal of his security clearance and prevented him from continuing consultancy for GCHQ on cryptographic matters.

Via Wikipedia

This is so incredibly sad. Imagine how many MORE wonderful accomplishments for humanity Turing could have given if he wasn’t harassed, tortured, and possibly murdered. How disrespectful it is to have treated him this way. No man or woman should be treated this way – no matter the time or place. But for such a person who has given our planet so much to be treated this way is difficult to comprehend. We need to make sure that all history books discuss sexuality – and other things – relating to historic people while teaching their accomplishments. To hell with don’t ask don’t tell!

More interesting information from Wikipedia about Turing:

In 1954, he died of cyanide poisoning, apparently from a cyanide-laced apple he left half-eaten. The apple itself was never tested for contamination with cyanide, and cyanide poisoning as a cause of death was established by a post-mortem. Most believe that his death was intentional, and the death was ruled a suicide. It is rumored that this method of self-poisoning was in tribute to Turing’s beloved film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His mother, however, strenuously argued that the ingestion was accidental due to his careless storage of laboratory chemicals. Friends of his have said that Turing may have killed himself in this ambiguous way quite deliberately, to give his mother some plausible deniability. The possibility of assassination has also been suggested, owing to Turing’s involvement in the secret service and the perception of Turing as a security risk due to his homosexuality.

In the book, Zeroes and Ones, author Sadie Plant speculates that the rainbow Apple logo with a bite taken out of it was an homage to Turing. This seems to be an urban legend as the Apple logo was designed in 1976, two years before Gilbert Baker’s rainbow pride flag.

From now on I’ll always think about Turing and his accomplishments when I see the rainbow Apple logo. It’s design may have not been intentionally symbolic but in my mind it is forever repurposed. Here’s to Alan Turing’s accomplishments! Cheers!

Interviewed by Terry Smith of STC Carolina

On Thursday I was interviewed by Terry Smith of STC Carolina. (Society for Technical Communication) From their website: “STC seeks to advance the arts and sciences of technical communication, promote awareness of the latest trends and technology in the field, and provide innovative services for the education and professional development of its members.”

Terry is working on an article about unconferences and wikis. She asked me a lot about PodcasterCon. It turned out to be an interesting discusion about how PodcasterCon came about and how to conduct your own UnConference. I’m really looking forward to her article. It should appear in the STC Carolina newsletter. Terry said she would also submit it to the national STC newsletter the Intercom. Cool. 😀

MP3 44m 47s 20.6MB 44.1kHz 64kbps

Alito Attacks Women’s rights on his FIRST DAY!

The first shot in the war against woman’s rights was fired today by the conservative US Supreme Court on Judge Samuel Alito’s first day. They’ve agreed to hear an appeal on an overturned act. A completely unconstitutional bit of legislation…

According to this New York Times article, “The court accepted, for argument next fall, the Bush administration’s appeal of a decision invalidating the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.”

This can be seen as confirmation of our concern for Alito’s and Robert’s BIAS. Yet another example of how there is nothing subtle in the neo-con strategy to radically alter America for the worse! [Thanks for pointing this out Albert.]

Helping Kids Create Podcasts

This past Saturday I went to the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Greensboro, Central Unit. I spoke with several adult staff members and kids to shed some light on podcasting. We started off by talking about what they wanted to know and what their plans were. The Boys and Girls Club has a small computer lab with several PC laptops and a video projector. Some of the machines had the free open source software Audacity.

Then I played some examples of audio and video podcasts. I started with some podcasts made by adults. Then I played them some ‘casts made by kids. But what they all really wanted to do was record audio. So that’s what we did.

The laptops had built in mics. Audacity had already been configured by their computer support guy Aaron Thompson. He even had the lamelib mp3 encoder installed and recognized by Audacity. I did a short recording demonstration then the kids took over. I am constantly amazed at how proficient kids are with computers. They can MOVE around software fast!

First they recorded themselves saying their names. Then they decided to say their names, what school they went to, and what they wanted to be when the grew up. The first recordings were a bit distorted. This was mainly because the recording levels were a bit high and they were so close to the mic. Those built in computer mics are sensitive!

We adjusted the recording levels in Audactity and in the Windows sound control panel. I then explained that another way to control the levels of a recording is to change the distance of your mouth to the microphone. So we stepped back from the laptop a bit and recorded a few more examples. After that we reviewed how to save your project, how to export an mp3 from the audio you just recorded, and even what ID3 tags were.

That really was bunch for one day so we wrapped it up and eat some pizza. (It was snowing a bunch too) Next time we’ll discuss what to do with the audio in order to podcast it.

I had a great time and am excited about working with these kids again. It got me thinking about how there must be a lot more kids who would like making podcasts. Maybe I’ll work on a series of hands on podcasting workshops for kids. This might be a cool thing to do at PodcasterCon 2007.

Thanks to Ndesanjo Macha [for inviting me], Aaron Thompson, Ann Robinson, the kids, and everyone who attended. 😀

Props from the 5013c Cast

Over at 5013c Cast, Audio Activism was discussed and linked to during their February 20, 2006 show. Cool!

When I started Audio Activism I was in the AmeriCorp VISTA program. My mind was constantly on non-profit technology. I still think about it but don’t podcast or blog about it as much. Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the people and missions of non-profits. They are the grassroots action making this world a better place. We should send all non-profits our love and respect. (maybe some money too) 🙂

Thanks for the kind words Corey!