Monday, June 24, 2013

Some thought on the subject (at last)
Commentary – Calling It ‘Metadata’ Doesn’t Make Surveillance Less Intrusive
By Geoff Nunberg: “Metadata” was bound to break out sooner or later, riding the wave of “data” in all its forms and combinations. “Big data” and “data mining” are the reigning tech buzzwords these days, and university faculties are scrambling to meet the surge in demand for courses in the hot new field of data science. It’s as if “data” is usurping “information” as a byword. Up to now, “data” has played a supporting role in the information age. There’s a popular definition of data as the raw material that becomes information when it’s processed and made meaningful. That puts information at the center of the modern tech world, but it isn’t how anybody actually uses the two words… But the shift in focus from information to data reflects a genuine difference between the two. “Information” brings to mind the knowledge that’s gathered in libraries, encyclopedias, newspapers and journals — stuff that has an independent existence in the world. “Data” is always connected to particular things and events. It comes from experiments, sensors, official records. Or it’s the scuff marks we leave behind as we click on websites, make calls, go through the E-ZPass tollbooths, visit an ATM. It’s all out there, accumulating in ginormabytes, overflowing the server farms… Whether or not you think the government should be sweeping this stuff up, calling it metadata doesn’t make the process any less intrusive. Tell me where you’ve been and who you’ve been talking to, and I’ll tell you about your politics, your health, your sexual orientation, your finances. Why don’t we just let the word “metadata” sink back into the nerdy cubicles it came from? When it comes to privacy, the “meta-” doesn’t matter. In the post-information age, it’s just data all the way down.”

(Related) What happens when your strategic vision changes from “Make the world safe for democracy” to “We gotta do something!”
Paper – NSA Spying Under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act
Follow up to previous posting, Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounder – U.S. Domestic Surveillance, a new CDT Paper: “The FBI and NSA have abused Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to compel disclosure of phone records of calls made to, from, and within the United States. This surveillance is not permitted by the statute, and was hidden from the public by deception. The legal basis for the program should be disclosed, and the program should be replaced by targeted phone call collection that focuses on suspected terrorists and spies.”

Coming soon: Leaked documents for your Kindle? Perhaps jobs for my student/vets?
Is the Amazon $600 million contract to build a “private cloud” for CIA moving forward?
Follow up to previous posting, FCW Reports on Bid Protest Over Amazon Cloud Contract for CIA, news that Amazon “is staffing up to meet the demand the new contract will require. Specifically, Amazon is looking for engineers who already have a “Top Secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information” clearance, or are willing to go through the elaborate screening process required to get it. TS/SCI is the highest security clearance offered by the US government, and getting it requires having your background thoroughly vetted.”

Interesting? Funny? Fair use? Even if there is no serious legal issues, it could make my students think a bit...
Student sues after school uses Facebook bikini pic in seminar
… should you be 17 and a school administrator uses your Facebook bikini image to tell a story of how photos live online forever, you would surely sue for $2 million.
… Her attorney, Pete Wellborn, said he's suing for $2 million, so that the claim is taken seriously. He also declared that he sees breaches of federal and state law -- and the Constitution.
When asked if publicly available photographs aren't, well, exactly that, his response was quite fascinating: "That sounds an awful lot to me like the horrible old cliche of 'well, that's how she dressed, she got what's coming to her.'"
… It seems the essence of the escalation here is that Chaney was offended the school didn't ask for her permission to use the shot. Subsequent discussions with the school clearly yielded nothing.
Still, I can't also help wondering about the school district's director of technology.

How to classify students? Since this combines Statistics and some :Big Data” concepts, I might find a use for it. (Or maybe I'll just print it as a poster)
Can you call yourself a “geek” or a “nerd” just because you feel like it? If you’re wondering if geeks and nerds are the same, they’re not. Geeks may be loosely defined as enthusiasts, obsessed with cool and trendy things. Nerds, on the other hand, are more intellectual and painstakingly focus on acquiring knowledge in a particular topic or field.
To prove this distinction, Burr Settles — data scientist, software engineer, and author of Active Learning — published the results of his experiment which illustrated words that accompany the terms geek and nerd.
Words that accompany the term geek were plotted on the y axis, and nerdy words on the x axis. In general, orange words are geeky, blue words are nerdy. The affinity for these words to their terms increases further along the axes — that is to say that “culture” is more often associated with geeks than “collections”; “biochemistry”, “neuroscience” and “salary” are nerdier words compared to “exams” and “teachers”. Words along the x=y plotted line are just as geeky as they are nerdy.
Read Burr’s breakdown of his experiment on his blog, Slackpropagation.

For my amusement...
The Board of Education for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in the US, has approved a $30 million contract with Apple to buy iPads for students in 47 schools. As part of the Common Core Technology project, iPads will cost $678 (higher than the normal price because it includes a case and pre-loaded software, including some from Pearson). Education professor Larry Cuban weighs in with some important critical questions about the plan, noting that no journalists called him for a comment. But hey, Apple issued a press release, so there ya go. This is phase 1 of a $500 million plan to equip every kid in the district with a device. [$500,000,000 for 662,140 students = $755 per student Bob]
… Florida’s Miami-Dade County School District approved a $63 million plan to lease computing devices to its students, part of its plan to go entirely make sure every student in the district has a laptop or tablet by 2015.

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