So, after six months introducing my baby daughter Zadie to the world I am now back at the keyboard. My continued work with the Open Society Foundations’ Information Program means you can expect resumption of the weekly links posts, plus intermittent dispatches from the frontier of rights and technology. But this will be the only baby pic:
A few more announcements: after five years on the Board of the Open Knowledge Foundation, I’ve decided to step down so I can make some space in my life for new projects. OKF remains one of the most exciting and fast-moving organisations in the open space, and I will be keeping my hand in through my place on their Advisory Council. I’ve also accepted OfCom’s invitation to join their Advisory Committee for England – so far, the view I’m getting from my seat there is… interesting (and I don’t just mean the stunning vista their offices enjoy of the Thames river).
It’s not all been nappies and prams (US readers: diapers and strollers) these past six months – you can expect some new writing, as well as at least one new show for Little Atoms, to be signposted from this blog fairly shortly.
It’s good to be back.
Next weekend, I’ll be down in London for the Rebellious Media Conference, which invites you to join the resistance to the corporate takeover of the internet and is being organised by Peace News, Ceasefire magazine, New Internationalist, Red Pepper, Undercurrents and visionOntv.
On Saturday, I’ll be speaking alongside Cambridge buddy Bill Thompson (with whom I was plotting a skit over the weekend that involves him wearing a rather ridiculous outfit), then joining a panel with Douglas Rushkoff, who will be appearing via Skype. That’s all under the rubric “Whose internet is it? Are we losing the war?”, and the action kicks off at 2:15pm.
On Sunday, I’ll be appearing alongside Noam Chomsky, Michael Albert, Zahera Harb, Taesun Kwon and Nadje Al-Ali to discuss the future of radical media at the final plenary session at 3:30pm.
The conference sold out months ago, but if you are lucky enough to have a ticket, do come and say hi. Copies of Barefoot into Cyberspace will be on sale on Saturday via the lovely folk at the Zed books stall.
Massive props to the amazing Kathryn Corrick, for a wonderful Saturday morning spent in her company as she turned so-so weather and a less-than photogenic subject into this wonderful set of press shots ahead of the media storm that we anticipate attending on the launch of my book next week (after all, news is quite slow these days, no?).
Full set available for download licensed CC-BY here.
The second number of Leila Johnston‘s new paper Hackers! went on sale last week. I’ve written an article in it on phone hacking.
Here’s a little taste:
After a while, listening in on A-list celebrity voicemails gets boring. At least I imagine it would if you were a real phone hacker. Hacking someone’s voicemail is so easy even I could do it. Every network has a single number and – at least until recently – an easily-Googleable, default PIN, intended to help richer customers access their voicemails from abroad and poorer ones access their voicemails when their credit runs out. All you need to know is your target’s mobile number and there’s an odds-on chance that in less than five minutes you too can be listening to their Mum reminding them they’re coming for lunch on Sunday.
But while politicians and police agonise about what to do with the UK tabloids’ phone phreaks, the real story of phone hacking is continuing amid markedly less furore. In December 2009 Karsten Nohle announced that the weak cryptography that protects the GSM standard had been cracked…
It is only available on DTF (dead-tree format, or “the original DRM”) so the only way you can finish reading this is if you buy a copy here. I fully suggest you do this, not least because Leila presents my second-favourite podcast, Shift Run Stop, and buying her paper might persuade her to make another episode, but more importantly because it’s got loads of other good stuff in it, including the hacks that stopped Hitler, Helen Keen’s top five rocket scientists, and a rather sweet spelling mistake in my biog which conveys the relieving news that I have now been fully restored from my temporary status as an adjective.
Update: The interview is now available for download.
For the next three months, I’ll be filling in for Rebecca Watson, hosting one of my favourite radio shows, Little Atoms on Resonance 104.4FM. This evening at 7pm the first of my co-hosting efforts will be broadcast. You can listen online or download the podcast (I’ll update this post when that goes out, or subscribe via iTunes here) .
Little Atoms rocks. Ever since Neil Denny asked me to fill in for Rebecca at the end of last year, I’ve been really excited about this first show, interviewing author of The Net Delusion Evgeny Morozov. Evgeny is a sharp thinker with a great sense of humour, he writes brilliantly about all the issues I care about, and his accent (Evgeny was born in Belarus) is radio heaven. We pre-recorded the interview on Wednesday this week, ready to go live tonight. But all did not go to plan.
Picture the scene. It’s half an hour before the recording is due to start and I’m standing outside the gates to the Resonance studios. It’s cold. Nobody inside the studios is answering the doorbell. Perhaps, I think, nobody is inside the studios. I get a text from my co-host Padraig Reidy saying he’s running late – very late – thanks to a Tube fail on the Northern line. I may have to do this one on my own. It’s at this moment that Evgeny pulls up in a taxi with his publicist.
If I sound a little shaken at the beginning of the recording, then that’s my excuse. Of course it all worked out in the end, thanks partly to Annie the producer (thanks, Annie!) and mostly to Evgeny’s patience and kindness.
I’m not sure Evgeny would welcome me outing him as a thoroughly nice chap given his public image as the scourge of cyber-utopians. In the 30 minute interview, we discuss the flawed metaphors, shoddy evidence and general naivety that has contributed to the US State Department’s Internet Freedom agenda, the hypocrisy of that agenda as revealed by Wikileaks, and the danger that agenda poses to citizens of autocratic regimes everywhere. Go listen.
Image credits: Ross Murray@Flickr (radio studio) oso@Flickr (Evgeny)
I will be appearing on a panel after a screening of RIP: A Remix Manifesto at Cambridge Arts Picturehouse this Saturday. The screening starts at 3pm. Why not buy a ticket and come along?
Here’s what the Arts Picturehouse website has to say about the film:
Biomedical engineer turned live-performance sensation Girl Talk, has received immense commercial and critical success for his mind-blowing sample-based music. Utilizing technical expertise and a ferocious creative streak, Girl Talk repositions popular music to create a wild and edgy dialogue between artists from all genres and eras. But are his practices legal? Do his methods of frenetic appropriation embrace collaboration in its purest sense? Or are they infractions of creative integrity and violations of copyright?
I watched it a while back on the small screen, and I have yet to see a film that betters it at explaining the nuances of the copyright debate.
With me on the panel will be John Naughton, Jussi Parikka and Geoff Gamlen, all chaired by the wonderful Bill Thompson.
My aim will be to use the term “semiotic democracy” at least once. If you’re coming, and you hear me succeed, holler out.
Tonight’s Online News Association event on data-driven journalism entitled “Hacks and Hacking” has sold out, so if you were lucky enough to get a ticket, I’ll see you there.
My slides for the night can be downloaded here.
I’m saving up the third book in Stieg Larsson’s Milennium Trilogy for my beach holiday in Ibiza next week. It’s difficult. The first two were so compelling that I can hardly wait to pick up the third – and last (Larsson died in 2004, before he saw the strange fruits of his imagination garner international acclaim). In being addicted to his characters, I’m not special. On my journey to Boston last week there was a person reading one of the series sitting next to me on the airplane on both flights. But I think the books have an even bigger hold on me because their two main characters are a computer hacker and an investigative journalist.
Here’s the trailer for the film:
When I return from Ibiza, I’ll be joining the good folk at the UK Online News Association for a conversation about “hacks and hacking”. The hacks we’ll be talking about are not computer exploits performed by script kiddies, but living, breathing hacks, ie journalists. And the hackers we’ll be discussing are not the blackhat/grayhat masters of subterfuge cut from Lisbeth Salander’s cloth, but the data mashers and techie geeks who get their thrills from analysing and visualising official information. That’s right, folks, we’ll be talking data-driven journalism.
Rufus Pollock, co-founder of the Open Knowledge Foundation and the man without whom no journalist could have made sense of the recently released Treasury database on government spending COINS, will also be there. Here’s the blurb:
UK MPs expenses was one of the biggest stories of 2009 that has continued to be felt well into 2010. It was at its heart a story of detail, data and piecing information together and is just one example of how developers and journalists are working together.
What does this mean for the future of journalism and news gathering? ONA UK invites you to an evening exploring Hacks & Hacking with:
Dr. Rufus Pollock – Mead Fellow in Economics at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge and a Director of the Open Knowledge Foundation which he co-founded in 2004. He has worked extensively, as a scholar, coder and activist on the technological, social and legal issues surrounding access and sharing of knowledge. Under his lead Open Knowledge Foundation recently launched Where Does My Money Go to analyse and visualise UK public spending.
Becky Hogge – journalist and writer on information politics, human rights and technology. Becky is former managing editor of OpenDemocracy during which time she helped establish the China environment website chinadialogue.net. Becky sits on the Advisory Councils of the Foundation for Information Policy Research and the Open Rights Group.
Chaired by Kathryn Corrick
Reserve your place here.
Click on the images below to see more photos from my trip to Boston last week: