Today we are running the Around the World Conference from the University of Alberta. This year’s topic is privacy and surveillance in the digital age. The Kule Institute for Advanced Study is hosting this online conference. Here are some of my opening comments,
I would like to welcome you to our second Around the World Conference. This year’s conference is on Privacy and Surveillance in the Digital Age.
The ATW conference was the idea of the Founding Director of KIAS, Jerry Varsava. The idea is to support a truly international discussion around a topic that concerns us all around the world.
This year we have speakers from 11 countries including Nigeria, Netherlands, Japan, Australia, Italy, Israel, Ireland, Germany, Brazil, the US, and of course Canada.
This ATW conference is an experiment. It is an experiment because it is difficult to coordinate the technology across so many countries and institutions. It is an experiment in finding ways to move ideas without moving bodies. It is an experiment in global discussion.
Last week I was at a great little conference, the International Ethics Roundtable 2014. My conference notes are at Information Ethics And Global Citizenship. I gave a paper titled, “Watching Olympia”, about the CSEC slides that showed the Olympia system developed by the Communications Security Establishment Canada. You can see the blog entry that my paper came from here.
On Scribd I found a funny set of slides titled, Dear NSA, let me take care of your slides. The author points out how horrid the design of the NSA slides are, and then goes on to suggest alternative designs.
Michael pointed me to a story about how Stanford scientists put free text-analysis tool on the web. The tool allows you to pass a text (or a Twitter hashtag) to an existing classifier like the Twitter Sentiment classifier. It then gives you a interactive graph like the one above (which shows tweets about #INKEWhistler14 over time.) You can upload your own datasets to analyze and also create your own classifiers. The system saves classifiers for others to try.
I’m impressed at how this tool lets people understand classification and sentiment analysis easily through Twitter classifications. The graph, however, takes a bit of reading – in fact, I’m not sure I understand it. When there are no tweets the bars go stable, and then when there is activity the negative bar seems to go both up and down.
The Globe and Mail has put up a high quality version of the CSEC (Communications Security Establishment Canada) Presentation that showed how they were spying on the Brazilian Ministry of Mines and Energy. The images are of slides for a talk on “CSEC – Advanced Network Tradecraft” that was titled, “And They Said To The Titans: «Watch Out Olympians In The House!»”. In a different, more critical spirit of “watching out”, here is an initial reading of the slides. What can we learn about how organizations like CSEC are spying on us? What can we learn about how they think about their “tradecraft”? What can we learn about the tools they have developed? What follows is a rhetorical interpretation.
HedgeChatter – Social Media Stock Sentiment Analysis Dashboard is a site that analyzes social media chatter about stocks and then lets you see how a stock is doing. In the picture above you can see the dashboard for Apple (APPL). Rolling over it you can see what people are saying over time – what the “Social Sentiment” is for the stock. I’m assuming with an account one can keep a portfolio and perhaps get alerts when the sentiment drops.
To do this they must have some sort of text analysis running that gives them the sentiment.
The Guardian just published a wonderful essay with embedded video on the NSA files decoded: Edward Snowden’s surveillance revelations explained. The essay provides an overview of what the Snowden revelations tell us about the NSA and its collection of metadata. The essay has short video clips embedded from interviews that play as you scroll down. There are panels with redacted slides from the NSA and there are panels with documents. The essay has 6 parts ending with “What Now?” which speculates on how the courts or Congress will respond.
The Tri-Council Agencies (Research councils of Canada) and selected other institutions (going under the rubric TC3+) have released an important Consultation Document titled Capitalizing on Big Data: Toward a Policy Framework for Advancing Digital Scholarship in Canada. You can see a summary blog entry from the CommerceLab, How big data is reshaping the future of digital scholarship in Canada. The document suggest that we have many of the components of a “well-functioning digital infrastructure ecosystem for research and innovation”, but that these are not coordinated and Canada is not keeping up. They propose three initiatives:
- Establishing a Culture of Stewardship
- Coordination of Stakeholder Engagement
- Developing Capacity and Future Funding Parameters
The first initiative is about research data management and something we have been working on the digital humanities for some time. It is great to see a call from our funding agencies.