Alan Westin
Shape of things to come

Alan Westin’s four states of privacy

In her post explaining her reasons for shutting down Groklaw, Pamela Jones excerpts a passage from a book by Janna Malamud Smith which in turn references Alan Westin’s four states of privacy, outlined in his 1967 book Privacy and Freedom:

Safe privacy is an important component of autonomy, freedom, and thus psychological well-being, in any society that values individuals. Summed up briefly, a statement of “how not to dehumanize people” might read: Don’t terrorize or humiliate. Don’t starve, freeze, exhaust. Don’t demean or impose degrading submission. Don’t force separation from loved ones. Don’t make demands in an incomprehensible language. Don’t refuse to listen closely. Don’t destroy privacy. Terrorists of all sorts destroy privacy both by corrupting it into secrecy and by using hostile surveillance to undo its useful sanctuary.

But if we describe a standard for treating people humanely, why does stripping privacy violate it? And what is privacy? In his landmark book, Privacy and Freedom, Alan Westin names four states of privacy: solitude, anonymity, reserve, and intimacy. The reasons for valuing privacy become more apparent as we explore these states.

The essence of solitude, and all privacy, is a sense of choice and control. You control who watches or learns about you. You choose to leave and return.

Intimacy is a private state because in it people relax their public front either physically or emotionally or, occasionally, both. They tell personal stories, exchange looks, or touch privately. They may ignore each other without offending. They may have sex. They may speak frankly using words they would not use in front of others, expressing ideas and feelings — positive or negative — that are unacceptable in public. (I don’t think I ever got over his death. She seems unable to stop lying to her mother. He looks flabby in those running shorts. I feel horny. In spite of everything, I still long to see them. I am so angry at you I could scream. That joke is disgusting, but it’s really funny.) Shielded from forced exposure, a person often feels more able to expose himself.

Welcome to The Koana Islands

The Koana Islands

Koana Islands (pronounced Co-AHNAH Islands), officially the Republic of Koana Islands is an Oceania country situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It’s closest neighbours are Australia to the east, Madagascar to the west and Indonesia to the North. The capital city is Megopolis. The Koana Islands is made up of 32 islands, of which 11 are uninhabited and are national parks. The biggest island, Koana Island has an area of approximately 574,925 square kilometres and is home to the vast majority of Koanians. All up, the 32 islands provide an area of 931,223 square kilometres, roughly the size of Spain and Sweden combined.

Oh, and the islands are also completely fictional.

These incredible maps are the work of Ian Silva who remarkably has no cartographic training.

He says the work relaxes him, especially after a stressful day at work, and he spends roughly seven to eight hours a week on the project. The Koana Islands live on two hard drives, where they take up about 250 gigabytes of memory. Most of that, though, is devoted to keeping baseball records. The islands have many imaginary baseball teams which compete in simulated matches on Out of the Park Baseball (OOTB). The teams even have logos:

Silva hopes someday to make a travel guide, though he says he needs to work on the nation’s history and complete its language before he’s ready to talk to any publishers. In the meantime, he says he hopes interest is high enough that other people will start contributing.

Wired: You Won’t Believe How Insanely Detailed This Guy’s Fictional Maps Are. Seriously.

There’s also a Republic of Koana subreddit and a associated wiki.

Craft and creativity

The Koana Islands

Koana Islands (pronounced Co-AHNAH Islands), officially the Republic of Koana Islands is a fictional Oceania country situated in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The web video problem
Light-based media

The web video problem

In this fantastic essay Adam Westbrook explains why it’s time to rethink visual storytelling on the web from the bottom up. He says:

Ultimately: all of the styles, formats, structures, tropes, techniques that we recognise from films and from TV were invented for films and for television.

Why on earth do we think they should work on the internet?

The biggest challenge we face is that we haven’t figured out how to use this medium properly yet. That’s a privilege not enjoyed since the invention of cinema.

Whatever we invent must be grounded in the universal principles of visual storytelling, while embracing the true nature of the internet.

I don’t know what this looks like. But I know it doesn’t look exactly like cinema or television.
The Web Video Problem

Bonus links →


John B. Sparks' 1931 Histomap

(via Slate, Fast Co. Design and Boing Boing)

The chart emphasizes domination, using color to show how the power of various “peoples” (a quasi-racial understanding of the nature of human groups, quite popular at the time) evolved throughout history.

The chart was advertised as “clear, vivid, and shorn of elaboration,” while at the same time capable of “holding you enthralled” by presenting “the actual picture of the march of civilization, from the mud huts of the ancients thru the monarchistic glamour of the middle ages to the living panorama of life in present day America.”

See also: The Histomap of Evolution

Humans and other animals

4,000 years of human history in one chart

This “Histomap,” created by John B. Sparks, was first printed by Rand McNally in 1931. The 5-foot-long Histomap was sold for $1 and folded into a green cover, which featured endorsements from historians and reviewers.

Shape of things to come

Kids can’t use computers…

‘So what do you teach?’
‘Computing’ I replied.
‘Oh… I guess these days you must find that the kids know more about computers than the teachers….’

As an educator and support technician, Marc Scott knows first-hand that this is simply not the case.

The truth is, kids can’t use general purpose computers, and neither can most of the adults I know.

Not really knowing how to use a computer is deemed acceptable if you’re twenty-five or over. It’s something that some people are even perversely proud of, but the prevailing wisdom is that all under eighteens are technical wizards, and this is simply not true. They know how to use Facebook and Twitter. They even know how to use Word and PowerPoint and Excel. Ask them to reinstall an operating system and they’re lost. Ask them to upgrade their hard-drive or their RAM and they break out in a cold sweat. Ask them what https means and why it is important and they’ll look at you as if you’re speaking Klingon.

It’s a long and entertaining rant, raising a great point: We should be teaching kids not to install malware, rather than locking down machines so that it’s physically impossible. We should be teaching kids to stay safe on-line rather than filtering their internet.

I particularly liked Marc’s suggestion to ask policy makers the following question in order to gauge their tech savvy (or lack thereof):

Without reference to Wikipedia, can you tell me what the difference is between The Internet, The World Wide Web, a web-browser and a search engine?
Kids Can’t Use Computers… And Why It Should Worry You

(via @HelReynolds / @Nonentity)

Arnold Kling
Humans and other animals

The Three Languages of Politics

Economist Arnold Kling argues that Progressives, Conservatives, and Libertarians each have their own language and way of looking at the world, making it easier for each group to demonise the others, resulting in ideological intolerance and incivility.

Speaking on the EconTalk podcast, Kling explains:

What I claim is that Progressives organize the good and the bad in terms of oppression and the oppressed, and they think in terms of groups. And so the good is to align yourself against oppression. The second axis is one I think Conservatives use, which is civilization and barbarism. The good is civilized values that have accumulated over time and have stood the test of time; and the bad is barbarians who try to strike out against those values and destroy civilization. And the third axis is one I associate with Libertarians, which is freedom versus coercion, so that good is individuals making their own choices, contracting freely with each other; and the bad is coercion at gunpoint, particularly on the part of governments.
Arnold Kling on The Three Languages of Politics

By understanding the mindset of others, Kling suggests we can do a better job discussing our policy disagreements and understand why each group seems to feel both misunderstand and morally superior to the other two.


Through the welding glass, on the Flickr blog.

Eagles Nest by Stephen Ozga

Photo: Eagles Nest by Stephen Ozga

So, using welding glass (instead of expensive ND filters) to create long exposure photographs is a thing!

Craft and creativity

Through the welding glass

There’s no budget like low budget!

Life on the Internet

The 10 Immutable Laws of Computer Security

Scott Culp’s “10 Immutable Laws of Security” from Microsoft c.2000, but still highly relevant today.

  1. Law #1: If a bad guy can persuade you to run his program on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore.
  2. Law #2: If a bad guy can alter the operating system on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore.
  3. Law #3: If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it’s not your computer anymore.
  4. Law #4: If you allow a bad guy to upload programs to your website, it’s not your website any more.
  5. Law #5: Weak passwords trump strong security.
  6. Law #6: A computer is only as secure as the administrator is trustworthy.
  7. Law #7: Encrypted data is only as secure as the decryption key.
  8. Law #8: An out of date virus scanner is only marginally better than no virus scanner at all.
  9. Law #9: Absolute anonymity isn’t practical, in real life or on the Web.
  10. Law #10: Technology is not a panacea.

Further reading: Revisiting the 10 Immutable Laws of Security

A Girl Called Jack
Life on the Internet

A Girl Called Jack: cooking on the breadline

A video feature from The Guardian:

Jack Monroe, who writes the blog A Girl Called Jack, discusses how she became a popular austerity cook and food blogger while living below the poverty line, and demonstrates how to cook one of her signature dishes: the carrot, cumin and kidney bean burger. A selection of recipes from A Girl Called Jack are to be published next year in a book of the same name.

There’s also an article from earlier this year: Jack Monroe: the face of modern poverty.

Cooking can be done cheaply, she says, but it is more complicated than that. She had been passionate about cooking ever since her food technology course at school (“a form of escapism from all the words and numbers”). Not only did she have the skills to experiment with her own dishes, she says, but, more importantly, she had the confidence.

“Food poverty comes in two strands. The first is not having enough money to buy food for yourself and your family. The second is poverty of education.”

Life on the Internet

Following the herd: Online ‘likes’ multiply themselves

In ScienceNews:

When rating things online, people tend to follow the herd. A single random “like” can influence a comment’s score at a social news site, researchers report in the Aug. 9 issue of Science.

An unearned up vote packed a surprising punch. The first person to view a randomly liked comment was 32 percent more likely to rate it positively than to do the same with a comment that had received no vote. In the long run, boosted comments’ final scores were 25 percent higher than scores of untouched comments. Random negative votes did not affect a comment’s final rating because users compensated with extra up votes.
News in Brief: Online ‘likes’ multiply themselves – ScienceNews


The Hipster Logo Design Guide

The Hipster Logo Design Guide, by Tim Delger

Craft and creativity

The Hipster Logo Design Guide

Six easy steps. No concept necessary!

Ryan North
Use your words

To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure

Slate’s Alison Hallett writes about and reviews Ryan North’s Kiskstarted “chooseable-path adventure” version of Hamlet, brilliantly titled To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure:

Thanks to media attention and a viral spread it became the most funded publishing project in Kickstarter history, surpassing its initial $20,000 goal by more than half a million dollars.

North’s campaign was very close to perfect, one that should serve as inspiration to anyone who wants to crowdfund a creative project: The concept was innovative; the reward tiers were thoughtfully designed; North communicated clearly and enthusiastically with backers at every step of the process; and the project not only delivered what was promised but improved upon the initial concept. As the book arrives in backers’ mailboxes this month, it’s worth asking: Is it a good book? Is it $580,905 good?
Outrageous Fortune –

Personally, as a backer I only care that it is $35 good.

To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure Kickstarter may not have any rules about how excess funds are used, but I imagine in most cases (like this one) that the scale of production grows larger by the same proportion and the funds are consumed that way. It’s not like North suddenly has half a million dollars burning a hole in his pocket.

Fun fact: North signed 13,200 paperback books. In one sitting he signed 4,340 books, thrashing the Guinness World Record figure of 1,951. That has to be worth something alone!

Glow in the dark plant
Life on the Internet

Is Kickstarter hostile to science?

Popular Science is worried that by discouraging a promising science project, Kickstarter could be encouraging corporate monopolies, enabling sloppy legislation, and keeping cool glow-in-the-dark plants out of our houses.

On July 31, Kickstarter updated its guidelines to include this sentence: “Projects cannot offer genetically modified organisms as a reward.” That seems like a small and specific ban, but there’s a lot more going on here than that suggests: this is about the future of science funding, the future of agriculture, of bedroom experimentation and synthetic biology and the impact of all of that on nature. And it’s about whether Kickstarter has a problem with science.
Is Kickstarter Hostile To Science?


A cinema experiment: what rival visions would emerge if you pitted the director of The Bicycle Thieves against the producer of Gone with the Wind on the same movie material? History can tell us…

What is neorealism?, a video essay created for Sight & Sound magazine, May 2013.

“The only great problem of cinema seems to be more and more, with each film, when and why to start a shot and when and why to end it.”
Jean-Luc Godard