Conference at UCB on Digital Privacy and Surveillance - March 6

Pan-Optics: Perspectives on Digital Privacy and Surveillance

March 6, 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. 310 Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium

Featured Speakers: Rebecca MacKinnon, Senior Research Fellow, New America Foundation; Trevor Paglen, Artist, Social Scientist, and Author

Advances in drone aircraft, networked cameras, and recent disclosures about the NSA’s international and domestic surveillance activities have stimulated public protests, outrage from activists, and new policy discussions among elected leaders. This symposium will highlight emerging perspectives on visual privacy and consider the state of the art from a variety of disciplines and professions, including technology, journalism, filmmaking and the arts.

Though traditionally considered separate domains, visual and digital surveillance practices are being combined as machine vision, facial recognition and other technologies become more sophisticated and interoperable. Institutional surveillance by semi-autonomous drones and remote cameras, citizen video monitoring, and incessant photo-sharing and tagging on social networks enable perpetual documentation. The same tools can be used for both transparency and repression.

This symposium will bring together scholars and practitioners from a range of disciplines to discuss privacy protections, surveillance methods, and modes of resistance in a digital age. The program will feature two keynote addresses and two panel discussions that will explore emerging surveillance technologies and applications across a range of contexts, and then turn to resistant strategies employed by individuals and organizations in response.

Registration required: $20 General Admission,  $10 Faculty or Staff,  $5 Students

troubling report of OSM vandalism

From Sarah. This is a troubling story from ReadWriteWeb reporting that someone at a range of Google IP addresses in India has been editing the collaboratively made map of the world in some very unhelpful ways, like moving and deleting information and reversing the direction of one-way streets on the map.

Update: Google sent the following statement to ReadWriteWeb on Tuesday morning. "The two people who made these changes were contractors acting on their own behalf while on the Google network. They are no longer working on Google projects."

A Google spokesperson told BoingBoing on Friday that the company was "mortified" by the discovery - but now it appears the same Google contractor may be behind mayhem rippling throughout one of the world's biggest maps. Google says it's investigating these latest allegations.

Interesting sources of data for science: commerce and construction for ecological trend analysis

In the early 1800s, Canadian fur traders began to notice dramatic fluctuations in snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) and Canadian lynx populations (Lynx canadensis). Almost 100 years later, ecological researchers were able to use pelt sale data generated by the Hudson’s Bay Company to document an interrelated rise and fall in hare and lynx populations. Today, we understand even more about this classic and frequently cited example of predator–prey cycles, and have identified large-scale factors, including climate, as playing an important role in regulating these populations and their interactions. But it was the novel use of commercial records that got scientists started on their work. This piece excerpted from our article on webGIS.

Now, in the same spirit, comes this article in PERS recently, and it prompted me to start collecting studies on interesting and non-traditional sources of data for hinting at or validating ecological trends. Download Full Article (members only)

The article: Wal-Mart from Space: A New Source for Land Cover Change Validation by Potere et al. The authors use the location and opening dates for 3,043 Wal-Mart stores as a means for validating land-cover change-related products at medium (28.5 m) to coarse (250 m to 1 km) resolutions throughout the conterminous United States. Since Wal-Marts are large, nearly everywhere, and have been built throughout the remote sensing record (1962 to 2004), they prove to be good data set for examining land cover change. A very interesting and creative approach.

Keeping Up with Science

If you're an academic, or even a pseudo-academic like me, you need to stay current on the research in your field. You could just go to the library and grab journals off the shelf (boo), or perhaps steal your advisor's copy of Science every week and and peruse it over an Americano at your coffee shop of choice (yay), OR you could harness the awesome power of the Intertron. Well, you could, if there was some kind of killer app to help you out. As it is, there are only a few apps that range from impotent to mildly threatening, but some of them might be useful.


Big feed iconA feed is a machine readable log of frequently updated content on the Internet (you might have heard of feed formats like Atom or RSS). Say you have a favorite website, like the Kelly Lab Blog. Instead of coming back here every day to see if things have changed, you could subscribe to the site feed (or the comment feed) with your favorite feed reader, and check that instead. That way you could check to see if lots of resources had been updated in one place. Many journals that have their digital act together publish feeds of their content (Nature, Science, TREE, PLoS), so you can always know when new content is available, and/or peruse titles and abstracts. Feeds are a good way to keep up to date, but they might not let you do much cataloguing or recommending. Google Reader (my feed reader of choice) let's you "share" items publicly (and with your GTalk contacts), but doesn't let you specify who you're sharing them with (my shared items are mostly just things I find both amusing and not incriminating, but you could use them for papers). You can also "star" things, which is like bookmarking, and there are tags, but stars lack specificity and I feel like their interface for tags could get unwieldy if you use a lot of them. Other feed readers might be different (Bloglines, Firefox, Thunderbird, NetNewsWire, heck even Outlook 2007). logoThe premier online bookmarking site isn't a bad tool for keeping track of articles. It won't tell you when resources are updated, but you could use it to save and organize articles you find interesting, by bookmarking and tagging them. Perhaps more importantly, you can recommend papers to other people using by using a tag like for:kueda, and likewise receive recommendations. Used in combo with a feed reader, it could be pretty useful. I actually use a lot for web resources in general. For instance, here's my limited collection of GIS data sources (tagged "gis" and "data"):



Connotea logoNow we're entering the realm of specialized sites. Connotea is a sort of social bookmarking site specialized for journal articles, created by the Nature Publishing Group. It's got tagging, like, but it also lets you form explicit groups, and it will auto-extract citation information from the Web versions of articles (they even have a video). You could use Connotea to keep on top of what people are bookmarking by perusing tags (e.g. methane), or by subscribing to a tag's feed. I've found some interesting stuff browsing around the tags, but I haven't benefited from any of the social features like groups, because I don't know anyone else who uses Connotea. It also does some decent citation export in different formats, but it doesn't seem to export in different styles (Chicago vs. APA, for instance). citeUlike is another site very similar to Connotea, but I don't have as much experience with it. Also worth mentioning is Zotero. Zotero is an awesome plugin for Firefox that helps you manage citations. It's a local app without any social functionality (yet), so it's not really for keeping up to date, but it is great for extracting and exporting citations from papers and web pages. I've used it a bunch for writing papers. When it gets some network functionality it will be truly amazing. Ok, that's it for now. Anyone have any other favorite tools for keeping on top of academic literature?

Satellite Photos Show Cleansing of Syrian Site

Satellite imagery of a facility in Syria collected on August 5, 2007, left, and October 24.
Published: October 26, 2007
The New York Times

New commercial satellite photos show that a Syrian site believed to have been attacked by Israel last month no longer bears any obvious traces of what some analysts said appeared to have been a partly built nuclear reactor. Read More (NYTimes). ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I found it interesting how traditionally "filtered" news relating to wars/conflict found more accountability to the public after the integration of global communication systems into society. We saw it during the second Iraq War with "embedded" journalists, freelance journalism, and first hand accounts from soldiers utilizing digital cameras, cell phones, and blogs to relay uncensored information that once was filtered by those in power. With the availability of high spatial and temporal resolution satellite imagery it seems the public has one more weapon to keep tabs on our government and others. Cheers, Josh

Satellite Images Reveal Burmese Atrocities

I guess they're not just looking for lost hikers anymore..... Cheers, Josh  Hamlet no more.  A satellite image showing black scars in the middle of a forest confirm that a village in east Myanmar was burned down, most likely in a military raid earlier this year.Credit: 2007 DigitalGlobe By Yudhijit Bhattacharjee ScienceNOW Daily News 29 September 2007 The military dictatorship of Myanmar--also known as Burma--has consistently dismissed allegations of human-rights violations against ethnic minorities and other citizens. But new satellite images that show the charred remains of villages in east Myanmar and a buildup of refugees across the country's border with Thailand provide silent confirmation of those atrocities. Read more...

Reforestation in Niger!!!

I am not sure why the last post came out empty...very strange. This article is great "In Niger, trees and crops turn back to desert" NY Times: 2/11/07 This community planted trees to combat desertification and have shown success... It has a nice figure showing (reforestation) land use and land cover change using aerial photographs and a cool video!