Tag: technology (page 1 of 40)

Recalling generative and liberating uses of technology

I found myself using the phrase “the night is darkest before dawn” today. This post from Anne-Marie Scott is certainly an example of that, and I too look forward to a world beyond “today’s dogpile of an internet”.

I remember a time when I got excited about generative and liberating uses of technology, enabling people to bring their whole selves to learning, being able to incorporate their world, their context, their knowledge, and in turn develop new connections, new communities, and new knowledge to further explore and build on these things. I think this is still possible, and I think work around open practices, open pedagogies, ethics of care, and decolonisation point the way towards how to do it in today’s dogpile of an internet.

Source: Hitting the wall and maybe working out how to get back up again | A placid island of ignorance…

Optimising for feelings, ceding control to the individual

It would be easy to dismiss this as the musings of a small company before they get to scale. However, what I like about it is that the three things they suggest for software developers (look inward, look away from your screen, cede control to the individual) actually constitute very good advice.

So, if not numbers, what might we optimize for when crafting software?

If we’ve learned anything, it’s that all numerical metrics will be gamed, and that by default these numbers lack soul. After all, a life well-lived means something a little different to almost everyone. So it seems a little funny that the software we use almost every waking hour has the same predetermined goals for all of us in mind.

In the end, we decided that we didn’t want to optimize for numbers at all. We wanted to optimize for feelings.

While this may seem idealistic at best or naive at worst, the truth is that we already know how to do this. The most profound craftsmanship in our world across art, design, and media has long revolved around feelings.

[…]

You see — if software is to have soul, it must feel more like the world around it. Which is the biggest clue of all that feeling is what’s missing from today’s software. Because the value of the tools, objects, and artworks that we as humans have surrounded ourselves with for thousands of years goes so far beyond their functionality. In many ways, their primary value might often come from how they make us feel by triggering a memory, helping us carry on a tradition, stimulating our senses, or just creating a moment of peace.

Source: Optimizing For Feelings | The Browser Company

Assume that your devices are compromised

I was in Catalonia in 2017 during the independence referendum. The way that people were treated when trying to exercise democratic power I still believe to be shameful.

These days, I run the most secure version of an open operating system on my mobile device that I can. And yet I still need to assume it’s been compromised.

In Catalonia, more than sixty phones—owned by Catalan politicians, lawyers, and activists in Spain and across Europe—have been targeted using Pegasus. This is the largest forensically documented cluster of such attacks and infections on record. Among the victims are three members of the European Parliament, including Solé. Catalan politicians believe that the likely perpetrators of the hacking campaign are Spanish officials, and the Citizen Lab’s analysis suggests that the Spanish government has used Pegasus. A former NSO employee confirmed that the company has an account in Spain. (Government agencies did not respond to requests for comment.) The results of the Citizen Lab’s investigation are being disclosed for the first time in this article. I spoke with more than forty of the targeted individuals, and the conversations revealed an atmosphere of paranoia and mistrust. Solé said, “That kind of surveillance in democratic countries and democratic states—I mean, it’s unbelievable.”

[…]

[T]here is evidence that Pegasus is being used in at least forty-five countries, and it and similar tools have been purchased by law-enforcement agencies in the United States and across Europe. Cristin Flynn Goodwin, a Microsoft executive who has led the company’s efforts to fight spyware, told me, “The big, dirty secret is that governments are buying this stuff—not just authoritarian governments but all types of governments.”

[…]

The Citizen Lab’s researchers concluded that, on July 7, 2020, Pegasus was used to infect a device connected to the network at 10 Downing Street, the office of Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. A government official confirmed to me that the network was compromised, without specifying the spyware used. “When we found the No. 10 case, my jaw dropped,” John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab, recalled. “We suspect this included the exfiltration of data,” Bill Marczak, another senior researcher there, added. The official told me that the National Cyber Security Centre, a branch of British intelligence, tested several phones at Downing Street, including Johnson’s. It was difficult to conduct a thorough search of phones—“It’s a bloody hard job,” the official said—and the agency was unable to locate the infected device. The nature of any data that may have been taken was never determined.

Source: How Democracies Spy On Their Citizens | The New Yorker