People should be worried that we need hackers to get information on the shooting in Ferguson

Anger Simmers in Ferguson, Missouri; Hackers Claim to Name Officer -

Anonymous seems to have released the name of the Officer who shot Brown in Ferguson, as well as a lot of related information like the 911 audio recordings of that day.

But Anonymous also released details about city workers and posted photos of Jon Belmar, the chief of the St. Louis County police who is conducting the investigation into the shooting, as well as those of his wife, son and daughter. It also posted Chief Belmar’s home address and telephone number. The group threatened to bring down city, county and federal networks if the police overreacted to rallies and protests.

This is a dangerous line. Being outraged by police conduct is one thing. But why threaten his family? Why threaten to destroy a public service?

On one side, the Ferguson Police Force is overreacting by militarizing itself, threatening journalists and being irrationally protective of the information it holds – especially when you know that hackers or journalists can access it eventually?

There is a lack of effective ways to put this kind of behavior into question. The democratic feedback seems too slow for the age of information. People don’t feel like they’re in control anymore, and they can resort to irrationality and personal initiatives to restore that control. But what’s next? A revenge raid against the family of the chief of the Police?

Via the NYT : Anger Simmers in Ferguson, Missouri; Hackers Claim to Name Officer

On Mashable: Ferguson or Iraq? But the Militarization of Local Police goes further than weapons and uniforms…

Ferguson or Iraq? Photos Unmask the Militarization of America's Police

… it’s also what you observe when you look at the increasing deployment of surveillance, especially through the NSA and its international copycats.  The legitimacy of that evolution has been built through the prioritization of the fight against terrorism, which needs coordinated action at home and abroad.

The question is to know whether using military tactics, equipment and technology at home is actually a good idea given its track record abroad? If the US military could not bring peace to Iraq, how would US militarized policemen bring peace to their cities? And it questions the legitimacy to use military grade technology and protocols to investigate and control a normal population.

I don’t know if it will last, but I am glad that French policemen and military are still clearly wearing different uniform, equipment and methods.

Via Mashable: Ferguson or Iraq? Photos Unmask the Militarization of America’s Police.

Why do designers use the « X » sign to close a computer window?

X to Close — Solve for X — Medium

The history of UI/UX is always a fascinating read. Even as I speak japanese, I had never thought that « x » and « o » were batsu (cancel) and maru (validate) – and that the « x » metaphor was also shown on Playstation controllers.

The search for the origins of the « x » go back to Atari TOS, but I think the author should have been looking for text-based graphical interfaces that were being used in DOS and other non-graphical OS at the time.

Awesome little piece anyway.

Update: apparently, the « X » sign in Windows was not used to close the window, but to open a menu…

Re-update: There is more to the batsu/maru story. In Japan, O is yes, and X is no. But it was reverted in occident to take into account the idea that western people cross checkboxes when they validate something. 

Via: X to Close — Solve for X — Medium.

The French elite should take inspiration from Apple’s internal training program

Inside Apple’s Internal Training Program -

The New York Times describes an ambitious course going from management to technology and design through the paintings of Picasso. Add some great teachers coming from the best schools and universities, innovative courses and tons of energy. It’s one thing to pretend that you want to put emphasis on company culture and innovation, it’s another to actually find the energy to do it.

If Apple goes this far… what kind of effort should employ their competitors? I remember how the French administration told me that it was impossible to allow one of their young super talented member to go to Yale for a one-year course. The French big companies from the CAC 40, the top administration, and many others should take inspiration from Apple University.

Via : Inside Apple’s Internal Training Program –

Via @sophiepene : Une “ professeur des écoles” de Denver fâchée contre Race to the Top, un programme fédéral d’évaluation des écoles

L’idée de mon interlocutrice est que les démocrates (elle vote démocrate elle-même) sont sous l’emprise d’un mouvement de destruction de l’éducation publique : l’Etat ne sait pas faire, laissons faire l’initiative privée. A la source de cette atteinte profonde elle voit de grands acteurs, au premier rang desquels la fondation Bill et Melinda Gates, qui ont donné à l’éducation une place majeure dans leur action et ont les moyens d’influencer la politique publique à l’échelle fédérale.

via @sophiepene : Une “ professeur des écoles” de Denver fâchée contre Race to the Top, un programme fédéral d… — Medium.

Is it time to call bullshit on disruption? (via Five Thirty Eight)

Corporate America Hasn’t Been Disrupted | FiveThirtyEight

Jill Lepore sparked the debate by taking up on Clayton Christensen and the disruption economy. Ben Casselman, is adding to the pressure on Five Thirty Eight – the blog of Nate Silver. Who benefits from digital innovation? Challengers and startuppers? Come on. Have you heard of Avatar?

The issue isn’t just that there are fewer startups. It’s also that fewer of them are succeeding. The advantage enjoyed by incumbents, always substantial, has been growing in recent years. The reason? Ben Casselman seems to think that it’s about an increase in state regulation. I think it’s simply because big companies have had plenty of time to adapt to not-so-disruptive technologies and economic models. Their difficulty was to find employees to address these new issues. 15 years after the startup bubble, competent people are becoming more common – especially in the US.

What’s needed now might not be less regulation, but better ones. Rules that would protect startups and innovation, and give a better headstart to new companies instead of pretending that everybody is playing in the same league.

Via: Corporate America Hasn’t Been Disrupted | FiveThirtyEight.

In the New York Times: Plot Thickens as 900 Writers Battle Amazon

Plot Thickens as 900 Writers Battle Amazon -

Just as any supermarket would do, Amazon is feuding with its producers in order to get better prices. But they forgot that writers are not exactly your ordinary poultry producers – they have an ego, many fans, a vision, and thousands years of history as an industry. They don’t appreciate to be treated as producers and not as writers. And they are probably right.

Via: Plot Thickens as 900 Writers Battle Amazon –

In the New Yorker: The Power of the Amateur – how a truck driver became the best historian on the first atomic bombs

Atomic John - The New Yorker

It’s fascinating to witness the power of amateurs. They bloom where the scientists and experts let them live – outside of their bureaucratic and costly framework. In the field of archeology, it probably needed to be within some kind of techno post-modern archeology. The study of the roman empire is too crowded by distinguished researchers. But the study of the atomic bombs that exploded 70 years ago is a fresh field for anyone to enter. Especially for truck drivers. What a breeze.

Via: Atomic John – The New Yorker.

Wikipedia refusing to erase the Monkey Selfie is politically dangerous

The copyright case of the monkey selfie

In a case of ridiculous and typically geekish legal battle, Wikipedia refuses to remove a photograph that a monkey took of itself by pushing the button of the camera of David Slater, a photographer. 

People were quick to pretend that Slater has no right to the copyright to the photo.

The Gloucestershire-based photographer now claims that the decision is jeopardising his income as anyone can take the image and publish it for free, without having to pay him a royalty. He complained to Wikimedia that he owned the copyright of the image, but a recent transparency report from the group, which details all the removal requests it has received, reveals that editors decided that the monkey itself actually owned the copyright because it was the one that pressed the shutter button.

They came back from the idea that the Monkey owned the copyright to the photo – some Wikipedia users still think he could own it, but Wikipedia still pretends that the photographer has no right on it. They even pretend that it should belong the Public Domain.

The case seems pretty clear though. The creation was made without the photographer, but thanks to a bit of luck, and to a scheme that he organized, the Monkey pushed the button and took a beautiful picture. It looks a lot like an automatic creation – the vocabulary might be different under US jurisdiction – and copyright should thus be given to the photographer as the indirect creator of the picture. Just like when you setup a camera somewhere and allow it to take automatic pictures.

If it was only another stupid copyright case, there should be no harm. But I see dangerous trends here:

  • Wikipedia is putting the Public Domain at risk by overextending it to illegitimate things… it’s one thing to fight against the extension of Copyright terms, it’s another to try to get free access to the work of actual artists… They used to be more cautious on these issues.
  • Just like in the « right to be forgotten issue », Wikipedia chose a maximalist and libertarian interpretation to decide what norms should apply online, creating a dangerous conflict with our existing liberties and freedom… and showing little or no respect for the works and wills of those who don’t belong to the « community »

This is bad omen at a time when people have more and more questions about the bad sides of the digital world on our society. Companies like Google, Uber and AirBNB are under pressure everywhere. But the Wikimedia Foundation is a not-for-profit and a role model for many other projects. They should probably stay out of these political and commercial issues. It’s a worrying sight to see them on this road.

Via Kottke: The copyright case of the monkey selfie.

Can we still call « startups » multinational companies that adopt the worse lobbying practices from their predecessors?

« What Airbnb doesn’t explain is why it is staging protests against the friendly legislation it has been secretly co-authoring since at least January, 2013—or why the company’s demands have changed. According to emails obtained by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, an Airbnb lobbyist pushed San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu’s legislative aides to change the legislation, allowing hosts to rent their homes for up to 120 days per-year. But now Fair to Share’s « members » are lobbying for an 180 day allowance.

In a statement to the Examiner, Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas said « the company is proud of its part in the campaign » and home sharing is « making The City a better place to live. » »

Via Valleywag : Airbnb is Astroturfing Against Legislation They Helped Write.

Airbnb is Astroturfing Against Legislation They Helped Write