Arquivo da tag: Internet

Opinion | Stop. Breathe. We Can’t Keep Working Like This. (Ezra Klein/New York Times)

Cal Newport explains how Slack and Gmail are making us miserable — and what to do about it.

Friday, March 5th, 2021


ezra klein

Well, I’m Ezra Klein. Welcome to “The Ezra Klein Show.”

Before we get into it, a bit of housekeeping. We are looking for an associate producer. That job is still open, but not for much longer. If you have two years of audio experience and want to work on the show, go check out the link to the job listing and show notes. But to the show today, I want to begin here with a concept that’s going to be important throughout the episode — the hyperactive hive mind. That’s the idea at the center of Cal Newport’s new book, “A World Without Email.” And it’s the idea he says at the center of how a lot of us are working and living these days. He defines the hyperactive hive mind as a workflow centered on ongoing conversation fueled by unstructured and unscheduled messages delivered through digital communication tools, like email and instant messenger. It’s a bit of a mouthful, but if you’re someone working in an office, maybe a remote one now, where there’s just a constant stream of digital work-like chatter, that you kind of always need to be keeping up with, but also you sense it’s distracting you from doing your work and also from seeing your family and just relaxing pretty often, that you’re in a hyperactive hive mind. And a lot of us — not all of us, but a lot of us — are in this now. I’ve been a fan of Newport’s work for years, going back to his book, “Deep Work.” Newport has been circling this idea that all of the digital wonder around us has come with a cost. We’re losing our ability to concentrate. These remarkable vistas of information that have been opened to us have also been polluted by endless distraction. And so, we’re not benefiting from any of this the way we thought we would. Instead of getting more done in less time, we feel like we have less time than ever and are never getting enough done. It’s really weird. Something is wrong here. And one reason I like Newport’s work is I think he is right on this. I think we have a lot of trouble seeing the cost of technology, at least when that technology comes with a lot of good, as the internet and digital communication, of course, does. But we have to be able to step back and look at it because the way we adopt a technology at the beginning is never going to be — never going to be — particularly when it is harnessed to firms trying to sell it all to us. It is never going to be the way we ultimately should use it. But the weakness, I would say, of Newport’s previous book — so a weakness he agrees with — is that they were about individuals. They were sometimes the equivalent of giving diet advice to somebody who lives in the chips and cookies aisle of the supermarket. There’s not a lot you can do around that much temptation, but even more so when your built environment is decided for you, when so many choices about how you have to work and what you have to be part of are already made for you. But this book is a step forward in that way. This book is about systems, and in particular, about workplaces. Newport is making a radical argument here, that companies that obsess about efficiency, that think of themselves as rational economic actors, they are utterly failing to question and experiment with their own workflows, like the fundamental nature of how they do their business. And in that, they are making their employees unhappy. They are making their products worse, and they are just contributing to an overall degradation of society. It’s a pretty stunning indictment. I’m not sure I agree with all of it. But I think there’s really something to it. As always, my email is Always interested to know who you’d like to see on the show next, so send me your guest suggestions. Here’s Cal Newport.

So this is a book about how the information technology revolution went wrong in the workplace. What went wrong?

cal newport

Well, once we had the arrival of email in the workplace, it very quickly gave rise to a really new way of organizing large groups of people to work together. It’s what I call the hyperactive hive mind. But essentially, we said, OK, now that we have low friction, low cost digital communication, we can just figure things out on the fly. We’ll plug everyone into an inbox, or later, into a Slack channel, and ad hoc unstructured back and forth messages, just figure things out with people as you need them. And that swept basically the entire knowledge sector. And I think that ended up being a disaster.

ezra klein

Why? What is your evidence it’s a disaster?

cal newport

Well, I have two main threads. So the first thread of evidence is that it makes it essentially impossible to work. And essentially, the culprit here is network switching. Human brains take a long time to switch. If you’re going to put your target of attention on one thing and then switch it to a new target, that takes a while, right? There’s biological things going on here. You have to suppress some networks. You have to amplify other networks. It takes some time. When you glance at an inbox or when you glance at a Slack channel, as is required that you do constantly, if back and forth messaging is how you organize most of your work, you begin to trigger all these network shifts, so all of these complex biological cascades initiate. And you see all these unresolved issues and things you can’t get back to. And then if you wrench your attention back to what you were trying to do, it creates this whole pile-up in your brain, which we experience as a loss of cognitive function. We also feel frustrated. We feel tired. We feel anxious. Because the human brain can’t do it. And so essentially, the hyperactive hive mind, on paper, had this really good attribute, which is it’s flexible and it’s easy and it’s cheap. You just kind of figure things out on the fly. But the biological reality is it made us really bad at doing our work. And then we have the second thread, which I think had been somewhat unexplored, which is this way of working makes us miserable. It just clashes with our fundamental human wiring to have this nonstop piling up of communication from our tribe members that we can’t keep up with. And that hits all of these deeply rooted social networks in our brain to take this type of thing seriously. No matter how much the frontal cortex tells us it’s OK, we don’t have to answer these emails right away. There’s a deeper part of our brain that’s worried. And so it makes us miserable, and it makes us terrible at work. But other than that, though, it’s been pretty good.

ezra klein

I want to pick up on this question of whether or not it’s making us miserable. Because one way of looking at this is that it is a triumph of workers who don’t want to work all that hard and want lots of opportunities for distraction over bosses who want them to work really hard. So Slack is just an amazingly deceptive piece of enterprise software, in my mind. I was at an organization that we didn’t have it. And then I helped bring it to that organization. And now, it’s completely clear to me that Slack makes organizations less effective. It’s very well built to help workers slack off, right? To help me slack off. I enjoy slacking off on Slack. I mean, it’s literally right there in the name. It’s called Slack. And they’ve made all these wonderful — you can put GIFs in so easily and little reaction emoji. It’s a great way to bullshit around the water cooler digitally. And so there’s one perspective on this, which is that we’re seeing a failure, and then another that we’re seeing a kind of success of people taking their time back and having more socializing at work. Why should that not be the attitude or conceptual frame I put around this?

cal newport

Well, no, I think you’re getting at some truth there. I had a recent New Yorker piece that was titled, “Slack is the right tool for the wrong way to work,” where I was trying to really grapple with this notion that there’s a reason why Slack is popular, and there’s also a reason why we hate it. It’s serving two purposes, which kind of complicates the story. I think it’s absolutely true that one of the benefits of the hive mind is it gives you obfuscation. So say you don’t want to work as hard. Let’s say I don’t want to do as much, or I’m in a situation maybe where I can’t work as hard. There is an obfuscation you can get because it’s so ambiguous and ad hoc and on-demand that you can basically generate smokescreens by rapid responses and being on active on the Slack channels. And there’s also a social component to it. And I think those are both really interesting aspects of the hive mind. But I don’t think either justify the hive mind is the right way to work.

ezra klein

A point you make in the book is productivity growth across the economy is not way better today than it was before the widespread adoption of email or before the widespread adoption of Slack. One might have thought that speeding communication would make it so we could get a lot more done a lot quicker. That does not appear to be happening. What problem does interoffice communication solve, and at what point does it become too much?

cal newport

Well, so what Slack was trying to do — or at least, this was my argument in that former piece — is, Slack said, OK, if we’re going to use the hyperactive hive mind as our primary workflow — that is, if we’re just going to work things out on the fly with back and forth messaging, email is not that great at it. We can do it better with Slack. So when I called Slack the right tool for the wrong way to work, I mean, it’s a tool that is optimized. If we’re going to do the hive mind, this is a better tool for implementing constant chatter than email was, which is why we both love and hate it. We love it because if our organization runs on constant chatter, it does a better job as a tool of that than an inbox does with email. We hate it because this way of working has fundamental issues. But if we go back in time, what problem was email solving? I mean, my ultimate argument is that the original rise, which I document, came from the reality that having fast, but asynchronous communication was sort of a productivity silver bullet. It was an issue that rose once the rise of large offices emerged in mid century, this notion that you might have 1,000 people working in a non-industrial manner for the same company. How do they communicate? And the telephone, the interoffice telephone introduced a synchronous option, but there’s a lot of overhead to getting someone on the phone at the same time. Memos and mail carts, this gave us an asynchronous option, but they were slow. There was people involved. You had to put things on carts. It could take all day. So email was solving a really real problem. I want to do asynchronous communication. I want to do it fast and with low overhead. But once it was there in a way that was unintentional, unplanned, no one thought this was a good way to work, it spiraled us into this hyperactive hive mind, where we basically threw out any other processes or structures for organizing our work and said, why don’t we just figure it out on the fly? And there’s a lot of reasons why that happened. But what I want to underscore here is that shift was unintentional and unplanned. We live in this hive mind not because some corporate consultant said this will make us more productive. It’s actually a lot more accidental.

ezra klein

From an economic perspective, what you’re positing here is not just a very big market failure, but a really big failure of firm organization and management. What you’re saying is that the people in charge of these firms, certainly the people in charge of the digital structure internally at these firms, have actually failed at a very profound level. They’ve brought in these tools. These tools have gotten out of control. They’re reducing worker productivity and firm productivity. They’re reducing worker happiness and firm overall happiness. All that seems basically true to me, but then what is your explanation for why so very, very few major firms have come up with some really, really aggressively alternative way to work? If this is all working so badly, why is it spreading so ubiquitously?

cal newport

This was one of the big ideas I did some original reporting on for the book. We have a big explanation from this from the late management theorist, Peter Drucker, who coined the term “knowledge work” and really helped American industry in particular understand how this type of work was different than industrial work. He sort of set the trajectories in place. One of the big ideas he emphasized was autonomy. Knowledge workers, unlike industrial workers, need autonomy on how they get their work done. You cannot tell them how to work, how they organize themselves productivity. So he was really pushing autonomy. He introduced this very influential notion of management by objectives. Don’t tell me how to work, just give me clear objectives, and leave it up to me how to actually get things done. And there’s a lot of truth in that, right? I mean, he was right in the sense that you can’t tell an ad copywriter or a computer programmer, you know, how to write ad copy or how to program a computer in the way that you could go to an assembly line in a car plant, because he used to study GM, and say, OK, here’s the step-by-step process for building a steering wheel. So he was right about that. But I think it went too far. My argument is that we are so insistent on autonomy on how we execute work, we accidentally expanded that envelope to mean autonomy on how we also organize our work, how we assign our work, how we figure out who should be working on what. And so we fell into this autonomy trap where we feel as managers or entrepreneurs or people who run companies, like, look, it’s not our job to try to figure out the best way to organize work. We’ll just let individuals do that. And when you leave it entirely up to the individuals, you end up with the hyperactive hive mind because it’s the kind of the easiest, least common denominator thing, that if you have no other control, that’s where we’re going to end up. So I think we’re in a trap because we took truckers’ autonomy maybe a little bit too literally.

ezra klein

I want to try out an alternative explanation I knew that I’ve been thinking about. And this one comes more from the incentives of enterprise software companies like Slack or Microsoft in making Teams. Or I guess, Facebook has Blue Jeans as their Zoom competitor and so on and so forth. Which is that you might think the way productivity software, firm level productivity software, gets marketed is that you go to the people who run IT for a big firm and you show some studies about how your software will make the firm work better, and they compare that to the other people trying to sell them something and then go with you if your studies are best. But actually, particularly once you hit a critical mass of other firms using something, there’s actually pressure from employees. And the employee pressure comes from, I would enjoy this software, so I could be good. We would prefer — I remember pushing for Gmail at The Washington Post because we were using Lotus Notes at that point, or Lotus mail, whatever the Lotus level mail software was. And of course, Gmail made it easier to be on email all the time. And so, there’s a funny way in which what we think of as enterprise software is actually sold for the ones that are the real winners in the space through employee demands. But the incentives are misaligned. Then what you’re actually trying to do is win over employees, and you’re going to do that through software that’s more fun to use.

cal newport

That actually just underscores this interesting autonomy trap we’re in. I mean, you want to imagine a car factory, right? How is it that might be the more fun way to build the cars, right? So in other sectors, people are more process engineering focused, right? What’s the evidence? What’s the best way to do this? And in the knowledge sector, you can imagine a similar thought about how should brains collaborate, what’s the right way for brains to work, how much work should be on everyone’s plate, where should we store things, what’s the right way to communicate. Should it be back and forth messages? Should it be more synchronous meetings? You would think that we could be doing tons of thinking and engineering like that. But we don’t because we’re in this autonomy trap. We’re like, look, that’s not up for us. We put up the OKRs. You guys figure out how to work. And if you tell us you think Slack is more fun, then maybe we’ll buy Slack. But if you step back, I think the metaphorical house is on fire here. We’re at a point now where it’s completely common in a lot of knowledge ware companies that not only do you spend a lot of time doing things like email and meetings, you now spend all of your time doing that, every working hour. And actual work has to get done in these hidden second shifts that happen in the morning or happen in the evening, which creates all of these unexpected inequities. I mean, the fact that that is happening now should be alarm bells ringing, but instead, we’re like, it’s busy. It’s modern times. We’re high tech. That’s just what life is like. We have acceded to it, which I find surprising.

ezra klein

So there’s a thread here that I think is interesting. So you go back to more of the period you’re talking about. Well, let’s call it the early 2000s. So now you’re seeing the very sharp rise of your Google’s. Apple’s already pretty big, but you begin to see Facebook, et cetera. And you remember all this. There was a real vogue for, can you believe all these Silicon Valley firms have ping pong tables? Just like, it’s ping pong tables everywhere. And, right, Google had all of these features done on their workplace culture. And there were slides in a bunch of the offices and on-site laundry and these beautiful lunches with fancy chefs and cafeterias. Initially, this was all presented as paradise for a worker. And then, slowly, this alternative narrative began to take hold, which is, no, this is actually a quite insidious kind of trap. This is a way of making workers spend all of their time at work. It’s a way of making it so people don’t go home easily at night. It’s a way of blurring the lines between what is fun and social and community, which we normally think of as not happening in your office, and what is your office. And it’s a way of getting people to put in 10, 12-hour days. And a lot of the software that emerges out of these companies and out of this period actually seems to me to take that physical insight, that by blurring the line of fun at work, you could allow work to colonize spaces that hadn’t colonized before, and it becomes a software insight. And so then, as you say, things that look like fun at the front end, right — we can chatter with our employees all day — now begin to overwhelm things that actually would have been more fun or more restful or more fulfilling. Like, you have Slack pings hitting your phone at night when you’re supposed to be with your family, or you’re sitting with your friends, and you’re looking at your phone because you’re just so used to being in that constant communication. That the blending of work and fun, which I do think of as a distinctive work culture thing of our era, has actually been really toxic for real fun — and maybe for work, too.

cal newport

Well, it certainly doesn’t help. And I agree that it’s really a culture of 20 to 30 somethings living in the Bay Area during a certain period, who had emerged with this lifestyle that was entirely integrated with the digital, especially once you get post-smartphone, post-constant connectivity. And you do see that trend move into these tools. But there’s also countervailing trends. So I’ll give you a counter example. I was fascinated working on the book on this notion of extreme programming. So it’s like a workplace methodology and the guy who was telling me about it is a real zealot. His company had been bought by Google, and he had gotten disillusioned that Google wasn’t hardcore enough about his methodology. So he left to start his own lab. But if we think about extreme programming as like an extreme case study, what they do in these shops is all built around, OK, we have brains that can produce good code. If that’s really what we want to maximize, how do we do it? So there’s no email, there’s no Slack. You come in, you sit at a screen with another programmer. If you have two brains working on the same thing, you push each other, and you get more insights. But also, you take less breaks. You slack less, right? Their project leads handles all communication on their behalf. You have no inbox, you have no whatever, and they just code. And it’s so intense that they’re done by 3:00 or 4:00. And there would be no notion that you would stay there late. It would be impossible to. We work really hard, and then when we’re done, we’re done. They said when people are newly hired here, they end up having to go home and take naps for the first couple of weeks, just to adjust to the load. Now that is rightfully called extreme, but what boggles my mind is why aren’t there dozens and dozens of experiments of all these different ways of working? Clearly, you can change the way you work. When you start thinking about, OK, how do you get value out of human minds? How do you stop the human mind from burning out? How do we stop people from being miserable? There’s all of these options. And the fact that it’s so unexplored, that something like an extreme program is this weird outlier case study, to me, I think that’s very striking, right? I mean, to me, it’s a revolution waiting to happen. We’ve seen this in past intersections of technology and commerce, that there’s these long simmering revolutions, where we’re not doing things the way that would be smart. We’re doing what’s convenient. We’re doing what the momentum pushes us. We’re following inertia. And then, overnight, suddenly, we have electric motors and factories. Overnight, they don’t build cars craft method anymore. They do it the assembly line. So these tend to be non-contiguous, right, so these kind of discontinuities when we have these jumps. I just think something like this is coming for knowledge work. This constant back and forth chatter, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. And so something has to change.

ezra klein

Let me pick up on the cars example. I love the way you tell the very oft told story of Henry Ford and the Model T and the assembly line. Because I’ve read a version of that story I don’t know how many dozen times in productivity and management and innovation books. But it often feels like there was bespoke artisanal car manufacturing, and then all of a sudden, here comes Henry Ford and the Model T. And you focus on what is happening between those two moments, right? This period when Ford is experimenting, how difficult the experimentation must have been, how frustrating it must have been, and that there are a bunch of experiments that failed. Can you talk a little bit about that, the path from one to the other?

cal newport

Yeah, I think it’s very, very illustrative. So, Ford, when he was first running his factory, when you have the early days, let’s say, of the Highland Park Factory, the craft method did dominate, right? So they took this bespoke method, where just some craftsmen would build a car. And the way they scaled it is they just had more teams working on more cars. They put them up on sawhorses, and you would surround it, you and five other guys. And you would build a car. And so he started experimenting. OK, this seems like it’s not that fast. And so he went through a whole series of experimentations, which I thought were really interesting once you uncovered them. They tried lots of things. Like, what if we have one guy who is the wheel guy, and he just goes from sawhorse to sawhorse and puts on the wheels? Well, what if we put the materials in the ceiling so that they can come down chutes? And then you could have it come right down to where you are without having to take on space on the floor. Well, what if we have a whole team that moves from car to car? So he was doing all of these experiments to try to figure out, is there a better way to actually take all this material, and then on the other end, have a car built? And the two things I like to emphasize is, one, the way they were building cars before was very easy and very convenient and very natural. And we actually see this story come up a lot in the history of industrial manufacturing, that when you had early factories, you built things the way that was convenient and natural because it seemed too foreboding to try to figure out something else, right? And this goes back to sort of the history of industrial manufacturing. And, two, it was a huge pain to get past that. It was all those experiments, but the assembly line was a huge pain. Once it got running, they had to hire a lot more people. They had to spend a lot more money. I’m sure no one liked the notion who was an investor in Ford. Like, you’re doing what? We’re going to double the amount of floor managers who don’t build things, but just watch things? And it would get stuck all the time. When you’re trying to figure out how to make this thing work, if the steering wheel guy is a little bit too slow, the whole assembly line would stop. So it was really inconvenient. It was a pain, and it cost more money at first. But it was 10 to 100x more productive once they figured it out, which, to me, is a good metaphor for we gravitate towards what’s easy and convenient. And it can be a pain to move to what works better at first. There is an upfront cost to figuring out, let’s say, better ways of producing things.

ezra klein

So you’ve been studying this over the course of your last two or three books. You’ve been circling this book, I would say. And for this book, you’ve spoken to a lot of firms that were trying to change the way they worked pretty radically. They’re the exceptions. And then I’m sure you’ve spoken to a lot of people in firms that weren’t. What is your explanation for why firms are more loath to experiment? Is it just the Peter Drucker thing at this point? Or do you see more happening in terms of the status quo bias, the lock in, the power dynamics of firms that make this kind of experimentation hard for managers to try?

cal newport

So there’s sort of three hypotheses on the table I was looking at. So there’s the Peter Drucker autonomy trap. There is the — it just been hard, right? Let’s call this the Henry Ford lesson, right, that it’s actually a real pain to figure out what works better. This is convenient, this is cheap. When I was interviewing Gloria Mark, she told me about how, when she was in the computer supported collaborative work scene back in the early 1990s and computer networks were new, there was all this exciting research about look at all these tools we’re going to build that are going to sit on networks, and we can access them on networks. And it’s going to make our work so much more effective and productive. And she said the whole field basically went away once email spread because it was just cheaper to buy an email server. It’s like, look, we can just do this all with file attachments and CCs and it’s fine. We don’t need it. And then the third reason would be power dynamics, right? Which is something I heard hypothesized a lot that maybe that for a boss or something, this them more power. It could be either productivity power play, like I’ll get more out of my workers. Or it could be a sort of egotistic self-regard. I like people answer me, sort of powerplays. All three hypotheses play a role. As far as I can tell, though, it’s a combination of the first two that probably play the biggest role. So, the bosses, manager, C suites, at all these levels, I think there’s this growing awareness that this is terrible. It’s a terrible way to work. Our output as a company is lower, and employees turnover and leave the workforce because it makes them miserable. So the power dynamics didn’t show up to be as important as they once suspected. But I think it’s a combination of the autonomy bias and just the fact it’s hard. The companies I document that do replace the hyperactive hive mind with more bespoke processes that reduce all this constant back and forth, it wasn’t easy to do. It’s like figuring out how to make the assembly line work. There’s going to be false starts. There’s going to be experiments. It’s going to cost more overhead. Bad things are going to happen temporarily. And you have to be willing to go through that. And that’s a big hurdle.

ezra klein

So one of the obvious objections to your theory here is that if this is a market failure, if most firms are running this wrong, then it should be relatively easy to correct in the sense that firms will emerge that are working off of more Cal Newportian theory of the case. And they will come to overwhelm the market because their productivity will be higher, their output will be better. They will get better employees because it’ll be more fun to work there. When I read through the book, it obviously seems some of these firms are more fun, right? So you spend some time in firms that have shorter work weeks. You have firms that have way better work-life balances. I know some of those firms, and they don’t dominate their industry. Their practices are not spreading like wildfire. And that implies to me that something is wrong somewhere in the model because if this is such an economic drag, or at least, such a drag on worker happiness, then there should be a really huge competitive advantage to the firms who have figured out a better way or who are wandering around it. What’s your theory there?

cal newport

I think it’s coming. There is a huge competitive advantage. It’s why I think we’re going to experience a punctuated equilibrium here. The shift is going to seem to be practically overnight when the shift does come. And a couple of reasons to believe it’s coming — one I like to emphasize that the timeline here is not unusual. I mean, how long did it take from the beginning of industrial car manufacturing to the change that was the assembly line? It was about 20 to 25 years. We’ve had email as a large presence for about 20 to 25 years. If you look at the electric dynamo, its integration into factory construction, it took about 50 years, even after we had generators who could generate electricity and we had electric motors. And clearly, the right thing to do was to put electric motors on the factory equipment, as opposed to having all these overhead cams and belts that were powered off of old steam engines. It still took 50 or 60 years until there was this moment where, OK, everything shifted over, and there was a lot of reasons about inertia and infrastructure that’s already been invested. So my argument is, you basically should hold this to me, right? So I’m making a falsifiable — this is my Karl Popper moment here. I’m saying, let’s look in five years. I think we’re going to see a big difference. Now partially what I’ve noticed is between when I started talking to people about this for my 2016 book, Deep Work, and now, there’s a notable shift in some of the CEOs I talked to. There’s a notable shift in some of the investors I talked to. This is on the radar, I should say, of these communities. Because they’re beginning to realize there might be hundreds of billions of dollars of GDP on the table, and that is a really rich pie. There’s been a lot of investment activity in the last couple of years on companies that are trying to better help extract this. In the conclusion of my book, I quote anonymously but a relatively well known CEO, who’s saying, like, this is going to be the moonshot of the next decade, is figuring out how to get past the hive mind and have much more sustainable productive ways of working. He calls it the moonshot because there is so much value there, but also it’s going to require so much energy to figure it out. So I would say five years from now, things will look different. And that’s a falsifiable hypothesis. I mean, if we’re in the same place five years from now, then maybe not. But we’re basically on track. This is a very normal timeline in technology and commerce. For a new technology comes, we do what’s easiest. We finally have this moment of punctuated equilibrium. We’re like, OK, enough is enough, and we shift to a different phase. [MUSIC PLAYING]

ezra klein

One of the things that I think about in the difficulty here because we’ve known each other a long time, and you know that I’m a believer in the Cal Newport oeuvre on these subjects. I care about deep work. Back when I was at Vox, we had a little deep work icon you could put on in Slack. And you’d be doing deep work, and nobody should bother you.

cal newport

That’s a very ironic thing you just said, by the way, a deep work icon on Slack.

ezra klein

Listen, it’s all ironic. I’m aware of that. One of the things that I notice in myself as a worker — and others for that matter, too, but I’ll be the example here — is that as much as I know I get more done if I don’t flick over to Twitter, if I don’t flick over to Slack or my email, and I use freedom and I cut myself off from those things when I’m trying to get things done, there’s still a big part of me that wants to. And one of the tricky parts of this is, is that it’s not one of these things that is good for us and it feels good when we do it. It’s incredibly tiring to work in a sustained, focused way without getting those little dopamine hits of distraction. And the more often you get those little hits, the more you crave them. I mean, this is part of Deep Work, that you begin to train your brain to demand these little bits of feedback. And so it becomes very hard to change the way your firm works or to even just change the way you work, not because you don’t think you should, but because you are so trained to do the other thing, right? You’ve come to expect it. Then once you do it, you kind of fall back into old patterns. I’m curious how you think about that part of it, that retraining of our own expectations and rhythms.

cal newport

Well, so one of the changes I’ve had in my thinking, let’s say between “Deep Work” and this book, is thinking about the individual. I think one of the issues people had — let’s say you read something like “Deep Work.” You’re like, OK, I get it. Like, concentration produces more than non-concentration. I try to spend more time in the deep work. And so then, as an individual, you should try to put more time on that. And you’re talking about how that’s very difficult. Well, that’s difficult in part because not a failure of will, you as an individual, but because it is a necessity of this underlying hyperactive hive mind workflow that this inbox is where everything’s happening. Like, there’s people who need you. Everything you’re involved in is taking place in that inbox. This back and forth messaging is how this is getting figured out and that is getting resolved and how this issue is also getting handled. And so this urge to, I need to go back and check this, I think we too often think of it as a failure of will, but it’s a failure of workflow. And it’s the reason why I think a lot of people had a hard time executing ideas of deep work. It’s the reason why I think moves to have email-free Fridays, or let’s have better norms about response times, the reason why this has failed to really calm any issues with inbox or email overload is because this is where the work happens, and when you’re away from it, it causes problems. Which is, this is my big revelation, is that we can’t solve these problems in the inbox. We have to solve these problems below the inbox. We actually have to go and take the implicit work processes that are generating all these back and forth messages and expectation of ad hoc unstructured communication, and we have to replace them with things to generate many fewer messages. We need to make the inbox a lot less interesting. I think that’s more important than trying to convince people to ignore the interesting nature of the inbox. And so, that’s something I’ve really been thinking about. Because it’s not helping to keep all of our focus on — and by our, I just mean the culture that deals with email overload — to keep all the focus on hacks and tips and how to better engage with your inbox. The problem, I think, is below.

ezra klein

And one of the difficulties here, too, is that there are some — advantages may not be exactly the right word, but benefits that come out of being personally engaged and sorting through the information flow. So I believe — you can tell me if I’m wrong. I believe I make an anonymous appearance in this book. And there’s this moment where you say I was talking to the editor-in-chief of a new media, a new journalism company.

cal newport

This is you, yes, OK.

ezra klein

It is me, yeah. And I was saying to him, why didn’t you just have somebody checking Twitter on behalf of your staff and telling them if anything interesting is coming. And you say, well, this unnamed journalism EIC had never thought of this before and thought, well, what if — and that’s actually not how I remember that conversation. I’m going to give you some shit about this. And so I remember the issue there, what I said, it’s true I thought about that. That’s not a lie, but is that the difficulty with having somebody else check Twitter on my behalf, is that I am doing the information processing. And only I know what I find interesting. And only I see the things in it that I will see. And even worse for journalists — and this might be distinctive to my industry, but it is a problem in my industry — Twitter is an important place where you build your own brand. And so, I think collectively, it would make sense if we’re not all herding on there and thinking the same way and talking to each other. But for any individual to leave is a little bit irrational because you deprive yourself of mindshare and the people who could give you future jobs. And in the sort of ways your peers understand you as fitting into the firmament, which is very important for the future of your career. And so this is a situation where not every but a lot of journalists I know do not like how much time they spend on Twitter. There’s a lot of talk about this health site, all of that. And people drop off and they’ll come back because to not be there feels like it has worse consequences, even though to be there is very unpleasant. So I want to hear your response to my more nuanced explanation of why journalists are on Twitter.

cal newport

Yeah, no, I remember you having that response, and I still don’t buy it. I think it’s — [LAUGHTER] I think Twitter is melting journalist brains. I mean —

ezra klein

I’m not arguing that.

cal newport

Yeah, it’s making journalists miserable. I still hold by my original stance. Like, there’s got to be a way that the — I mean, you mentioned it was like breaking news was important. And hearing from sources was important, so that went over to email a little bit. And that’s where I figured —

ezra klein

No, I don’t think — I will say I don’t think the breaking news function is that important. I think a lot of journalists will tell you it is, but I don’t agree with them on that.

cal newport


ezra klein

I think it’s actually more esoteric things one sees that can be important.

cal newport

Right, but at the time, I think the breaking news was a thing that — and I think we’ve in general, as a culture, I think have evolved on that because we realize like, oh, wait, we’re not getting on the ground AP reports from Twitter. We’re getting a lot of randomness and a lot of false information, too. I would still argue there’s got to be a way — I mean, this is like digital minimalism 101. So let’s say there is something about direct encounter with the esoterica of Twitter that helps sort of you gain a better zeitgeist understanding of cultural trends, which will then inform your writing. OK, let’s say we buy that premise. Minimalism would say, great. What’s the right way to get that benefit while minimizing the cost? It would probably be like, I have my Twitter hour, where I go. The thing that I think was killer for a lot of journalists is this notion of, I always am on this thing, and I’m always checking this thing. And Twitter has its own emotional issues. It has its own issues like you’ve talked about. And I heard you talk about this with Zeynep Tufekci recently on your podcast. It has idea hurting issues, but it also has the issues I talk about, which it significantly reduces your cognitive capacity. You can’t think as clearly. You feel tired. You feel anxious. The work you produce as a journalist, all of that is worse as well. When I was doing the digital minimalism promotion a couple of years ago, there was one — I’ll leave this anonymous. And it’s not you, though — I will say that. There was one interview I did with a well-known journalist. And this journalist producer admitted to me, I didn’t really have you on for the audience, I wanted the host to hear these ideas because I think this person is going insane. I have to get them off of Twitter, so.

ezra klein

Did it work?

cal newport

Oh, no. Oh, no. It got worse.

ezra klein

[LAUGHS] You say something, though, around this issue that I think is really wise, which is that one thing that a lot of these mediums do is that they make us all think we should be generalists. They make us all think that we should and can do everything. So something about the way Twitter does news is that it feels like you should be on top of everything. And I think actually something that I try very hard as a journalist to do is say, there are some things that I’m just not going to know that much about because I need to know a lot about the things I write on. And so, I need to let other things pass me by. But in general, you have a section of the book — this is more towards the end, but where you talk about specialization as an answer here and how one of the odd effects of hyperactive hive mind thinking is that it has cut against specialization. Could you talk a little bit about specialization, why you think we’ve lost it and what kinds of ways we could get it back?

cal newport

One of the claims I try to back up in the book is that when you remove the friction required to communicate with people inside your organization, both the amount and diversity of things that’s on their plate that they have to deal with explodes. Right? So now you just have many more things you have to do. You have many more, some of it administrative and some of it non-administrative. But if you just look at the sheer variety of things that the knowledge worker has on their proverbial task list — and I say proverbial because they probably don’t actually have a real task list. It probably is just all mungled in their inbox, which is its own issue. It’s huge, right? So there’s a really interesting notion from the literature on this. And it’s this idea of diminishment of intellectual specialization. And it’s a term that was coined by an economist named Peter Sassone, and he was at Georgia Tech. And he wrote this paper back in the ‘90s that I cite all the time because I think it’s just really fascinating. But he studied earlier technologies arriving. He had five companies, 20 departments within these companies, more like the personal computer, right? So this would have been the late ‘80s. So not email, but we can extrapolate from this. And what he documented happened in these companies is that these computers had time-saving, quote unquote, software, word processors and early email and these type of things. And so these companies say this is great. We can fire support staff. We don’t need a typing pool. We don’t need secretaries. We can fire support staff because now everything is kind of easy enough. The friction’s low enough that the executives or the employees themselves can just do the work. The problem was, is, all this work now shifted onto the plate, so that the people that maybe were doing five main things for the company now had 15 things on their plate, so they could get less of the original value producing work done. So they had to hire more of these higher priced employees to actually keep up with the same amount of output. And Sassone crunched the numbers and said, actually, their salary costs ended up, after all this was done, 15 percent higher. So they cut the salaries of support staff, but then they had to add more of these higher priced salaries because people were less productive, and they ended up worse off than they were before. And he called this the diminishment of intellectual specialization. I think this is something that’s just really being amplified right now in our age of the hyperactive hive mind. Every unit in your company, every vendor, every client, every other team that might need your time and attention, can just easily grab you, grab that time and attention, put more and more things on your plate. It makes everyone’s life a little bit easier in the moment. But we get so much less done of the primary things that originally produce value, is that you’re not actually getting ahead. And in the end, you’re producing less. So I think this notion that we all do a lot more, we all can do a lot more, is not necessarily compatible with trying to get the most out of people. And I’m going to real argue that we need to return to much more specialization. I do very few things.

ezra klein

One of my criticisms of some of your past books — and we’ve talked about this — is that they felt to me very much about the individual creator, that it felt to me sometimes like you are really creating a structure that made sense for Cal Newport, university professor, or even maybe Ezra Klein, article writer. But that there were managers in this world that were collaborative workers in this world, and it wouldn’t work for them. You have more on that in this book in a way that I find persuasive. But something you talk about here is that management has to be about more than responsiveness, and that one of the things happening with a lot of these tools is they are changing the expectations of managers. They are changing how responsive their employees expect them to be. They are changing sort of the work that management is actually able to do. And so probably degrading or at least changing the way firms are managed. Can you talk a little bit about this from the manager’s perspective?

cal newport

Yeah, and there’s research on this. I mean, I found this interesting study where they could look at inbox levels. Like, how much email is managers having to answer? And they could correlate this with what they call leadership activities. So the type of activities are important for getting the most out of your team, moving your team to where it needs to be, seeing issues that are coming from down the road and make sure that you’re around them, giving the support that individual team members need to thrive. All these leadership activities significantly decrease as you increase the amount of email that managers have to answer. And what these researchers documented is that as the email load increases, managers retreat into a task-oriented productivity mode. And they’re just like human network routers. Like, I’m just trying to take care of small things to come at me via email, answering questions, moving things around. And a lot of the managers I talked to when I was working on this book just have this vision of themselves as, I’m like an operator. And little questions and concerns come to me, and I try to answer them as quickly as possible. And one of the big points is, that’s not really good management. There’s some of that have to figure out how to do. Of course, questions need to be answered. But if all you’re doing is just trying to keep up with a hyperactive hive mind flow of all these ongoing conversations, the real important stuff doesn’t happen, that managers, too, need to be able to do one thing at a time, give things the attention they deserve. And that’s basically impossible if the hyperactive hive mind is the main way that your team coordinates and organizes. [MUSIC PLAYING]

ezra klein

So I want to ask a little bit about solutions here. And you go into sort of some granular detail on different ways different firms end up doing Trello boards and other things. But I want to talk about it in more high level. Let me start here. Let’s say you are somebody running an existing firm right now. You’re not starting something new. You have 100 employees or used to certain ways of doing things. You have all the accoutrements of modern enterprise software. You have Slack, you have Gmail. You’re an advertising firm, a media firm, whatever it might be. Where do they start implementing the ideas of this book?

cal newport

Well, so the big idea is, whether you name it or not, you have processes that repeatedly happen that produce the stuff that has to happen in your company. Now if you don’t have names for them, if you haven’t thought about them, you’re probably implementing most of these processes with the hyperactive hive mind. Just, let’s figure it out on the fly. So the first step is just to identify what these things are. We have a deal with client question process. We have an article production process. We have a strategizing for future business moves process, right? You name them. You see what they are. What are the things that we actually do on a repeated basis? And what I recommend is what you really want to do is, process by process, say, OK, how do we actually want to implement how this happens? And the metric that I push, it’s not like how much time is it going to take or how hard is this particular method, but to what degree can we minimize unscheduled back and forth communication? So how can we implement this particular process, like responding to client questions, producing articles, whatever it is, in a way that does not require the sort of asynchronous back and forth messaging that, in turn, will require check after check after check after check to kind of keep that ping pong ball bouncing. Once you know that what you’re looking at is processes and what you’re trying to do is reduce unscheduled back and forth messaging, it opens up endless innovations. Like, oh, there’s all sorts of different ways we might do this, right? But if you don’t have the right metrics in mind, if you’re not looking at the right target, you’re just going to get stuck looking at these overcrowded email inboxes and sending around memos about, let’s have better norms on response times, or let’s write better subject lines or something like that. You’re putting your energy into the wrong process. So that’s that process oriented thinking. Optimize, optimize one by one. Back and forth messages, that’s the killer. That’s what we want to reduce. You just do that, and you’ll begin to see, I think, almost immediate results. It reduces the pressure on the inbox, as opposed to have better organizational tactics for dealing with the inbox.

ezra klein

And how about if you’re somebody starting a new firm or at a new firm? If you buy the Cal Newport theory that there are huge gains to be unlocked by building a radically different culture of communication and process, how do you unlock them? How do you keep focus on that, particularly when people are going to come in, expecting it to work or the way they’ve known other places to work?

cal newport

It’s not easy. I mean, first, there’s a general culture that you want to try to instill, which is a culture that really thinks about tools like email are great for sending information. I’d rather send you a file with an email than a fax machine. They’re terrible for interaction. We should not be trying to collaborate or coordinate ourselves with back and forth messages. Two, you really have to separate execution from how we organize the work. Execution has to be really autonomous. You have to be very careful that you’re not stepping on the toes of creative skilled professionals about how they actually write their ad copy or how they actually write their code, that making that sacrosanct is what allows knowledge work to be much more satisfying and meaningful and allows us to avoid the drudgery that industrial work fell into. You’re putting your focus on the workflows that organize that work. What are the processes by which information moves? We make decisions. We agree on things. Where do files go? Where do we take them from? So make sure that execution is sacrosanct. It’s all of the organization around the execution that you’re trying to optimize. And then, two, lead by example. So even if it’s really convenient for you just to grab that purse and be like, OK, let me not do that. Let me try to think about these processes. And I document somewhat in the book what it’s like to try to get these things in place. They need buy-in. They have to be bottom up. Everyone involved in the process has to be involved in making it. And you have to have a culture of evolution. It’s not quite working, let’s tweak it. So put those things into place, it’s still not easy. But, again, it was a pain to build the assembly line. So at least there’s incentives to push you through that pain.

ezra klein

And one of the things that is a little bit counterintuitive about this book is, I think people building new things, meetings, in-person meetings, phone meetings, they have a really bad reputation. I often say to people, like, let’s try to just make this an email, which means I have a lot of emails bouncing back and forth. You have a little bit higher of an opinion about what it means to save more things for meetings than I think the dominant culture holds. So if you were to preach the value of actual meetings as opposed to having things be done through communication, how would you tell a CEO or tell a CEO to tell their employees that they should think about meetings with a little bit more affection, and email with a little bit less?

cal newport

Well, any time you have to make a decision or have back and forth — there’s interaction that has to occur — real time is exponentially better than asynchronous, right? It’s better to be able to just talk with you on the phone or on Zoom or in person to go back and forth. The amount of bits of information that’s able to be established in a back and forth conversation is of a different order of magnitude than when you’re in a purely linguistic medium. Like, I put some text in an email, it goes to you. Later that day, you send an email back that has some more text. That type of asynchronous communication has huge overheads, and it’s not very effective. So I’m a huge believer in real time interaction as a highly effective and efficient way to get things done, to reach decisions that do interactions. The problem with meetings people have is that they’re not coupled with well thought through processes, right? So if you look at a software development firm, where they think a lot about this type of stuff, and if it’s a software development team that’s running an agile methodology like Scrum, they will have these daily stand-up meetings. They only last 20 minutes. They fit very clearly into an overall structure of how tasks are identified, assigned, and reviewed, right? So they have these 20-minute meetings that incredibly efficiently people figure out, here’s what I did. Here’s what I’m working on. Here’s what I need from you. I need it by now. Great, we’re on the same team. Go right, right? It’s a meeting done well. That’s way more effective than try and do that over email. What happens I think in a lot of hyperactive hive mind style knowledge firms is that we throw meetings as issues as a proxy for productivity. I don’t really want to think about this. If I put a meeting on my calendar, then at least I know that has to happen. So at least I won’t forget it. I think meetings are often used because people don’t have systems where they trust themselves to remember or make progress on things. Like, well, if it’s a recurring meeting, then I do look at my calendar. They’re not tied to other processes. They’re not tried to optimize ways to get things done. So, meetings not connected to processes can make work really unbearable. I think a lot of pandemic workers have discovered that doing Zoom all day long can’t possibly be the best way to organize. But a meeting tied to a really smart process can actually save you a lot of time.

ezra klein

I guess a good place to come to a close. So end of the show, I always ask for a couple of different book recommendations, and let me start here. What’s a book that’s done the most to inspire your work and your explorations?

cal newport

Well, it probably depends on the topics that I’m reading, but when it came to these explorations of email, I was really taken by a lot of these books that were the 20th century techno determinists. So there was all this interesting philosophy of technology thinkers in the 20th century that were really trying to understand a way that if you introduce a new technology into an ecosystem, it can actually really unsettle this ecosystem in ways that are unpredictable and unintentional. And that opened up a lot for me because it got me out of this mindset of, well, if we’re all doing email, it must be because it’s helping somebody. There must be a reason why we’re doing this. It’s got to be maybe adversaries versus the good guys and what’s the battle going on. But the idea that technology itself can just have these ecological changes I think is really important. So probably Lewis Mumford’s “Technics and Civilization,” that’s an early 20th century book that really pushed those ideas. I think that’s really interesting. A lot of Neil Postman — Postman was a very famous techno determinist. I actually cite a speech from Postman at the end of the book that was influential to me. It wasn’t a book that he wrote. It was a summary of his thoughts on technology. And it’s really rich, and I put it in the citation in the book. But that’s where he made really clear this notion that technology is not additive, it’s ecological. He was like the Middle Ages plus the — once you got the printing press, it was not just the Middle Ages plus printing presses. It was an entirely different world. And that notion really shaped the way I thought about email. The arrival of email did not give us the 1990 office plus now we had email. It gave us an entirely different notion of what work meant. And so any of these writers who were writing in this vein of technological determinism were very influential. I think it comes through in a lot of my thinking.

ezra klein

You talk a lot about the difference between the kinds of products one creates and the hyperactive work worlds many of us exist in and the slower, more thoughtful, more deeply creative spaces of “Deep Work.” What’s a fiction book or piece of art that you think is what it looks like when “Deep Work” works, the kind of thing that you’re not going to be able to do checking Twitter every couple of minutes?

cal newport

Well, I mean, basically, any award caliber literary fiction has to be created in that mindset. So whatever your favorite sort of award caliber literary fiction novel is, there’s really no way to produce real insight in writing at that level without actually just having the ability to be alone with your own thoughts and observing the world, and just letting that percolate and letting that move, and trying to craft and move and work with it. I’ll say it’s not a book, it’s a video. I actually wrote an essay about a blog post about not too long ago. It was a stone carver. A young woman, I think she’s based in the — near you, actually. I think she’s she’s based in the Bay Area. And it was just this video they had put up on Vimeo that just captured what it is to carve a statue out of stone. And something about that was really affecting to me. It’s just all you do all day long, and she’s looking at the stone and she has the bust. And then it’s manipulating the material and manipulating the real world. And it’s in this warehouse, and the doors open out into some trees or something like that. And I don’t know — there was something very affecting to me about that story. But it’s someone that’s just, they are 100 percent in the world of trying to take this block of stone, and from it, make manifest some sort of intention that exists just in their mind. I mean, that’s human depth personified, and the opposite, I would say, of Slack.

ezra klein

So my son just came home and is crying in the background. So this final one feels apropos. What’s your favorite children’s book?

cal newport

When my first kid was born, my literary agent sent me a bunch of books. And there’s one that all of my kids have loved. It’s called “Andrew Henry’s Meadow.” And it’s an older book. It’s illustrated. And the premise is this young boy who builds things. It’s beautifully illustrated. And he’s not sort of — it feels like he’s not appreciated by his family, so he leaves. And all the kids follow him across the creek and through the woods and to Andrew Henry’s meadow. And they build these elaborate, beautifully illustrated houses. There’s like a castle, and there’s like a tree house. It’s all built from sort of found objects. And then the parents realize at some point that they’re gone, and they’re all panicking. And they go and they find them. And when they finally bring them back, they make a space for Andrew Henry in the basement to be able to build his contraptions. Kids love it because of the illustrations. It somehow just gets into the psyche of kids. But there’s kind of a nicer message lurking in there. I’ve always kind of liked that message of understanding what it is to drive your kids and then making room for it. So that’s my underground favorite because almost no one’s heard of it. And we’ve gone through a couple of copies now.

ezra klein

Cal Newport, thank you very much.

cal newport

Thanks, Ezra. [MUSIC PLAYING]

ezra klein

That is the show. Thank you for listening. I always appreciate you being here. Give us a review on whatever podcast app you’re listening on if you’re enjoying it, or send it to a friend. “The Ezra Klein Show” is a production of New York Times Opinion. It is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld, fact-checked by Michelle Harris, original music by Isaac Jones, and mixing by Jeff Geld.

We were promised, with the internet, a productivity revolution. We were told that we’d get more done, in less time, with less stress. Instead, we got always-on communication, the dissolution of the boundaries between work and home, the feeling of constantly being behind, lackluster productivity numbers, and, to be fair, reaction GIFs. What went wrong?

Cal Newport is a computer scientist at Georgetown and the author of books trying to figure that out. At the center of his work is the idea that the technologies billed as offering us more productive, happier, socially rich lives have left us more exhausted, empty and stressed out than ever. He’s doing something not enough people do: questioning whether this was all worth it.

My critique of Newport’s work has always been that it focuses too much on the individual: Telling someone whose workplace communicates exclusively via Slack and email to be a “digital minimalist” is like telling someone who lives in a candy store to diet. But his new book, “A World Without Email,” is all about systems — specifically, the systems that govern how we work. In it, Newport makes a radical argument: We are living through a massive, rolling failure of markets and firms to rethink work for the digital age. But that can change. We can change it.

To listen to the full conversation, subscribe to “The Ezra Klein Show” wherever you get your podcasts, or click the player below.

(A full transcript of the episode can be found here.)

The Ezra Klein Show Poster

“Eu fui um ‘bot”: as confissões de um agente dedicado a mentir no Twitter (El País)

Ex-funcionário de uma agência explica como funciona a sofisticada máquina das armadilhas na rede social

As redes sociais, terreno de jogo para as campanhas de manipulação.
As redes sociais, terreno de jogo para as campanhas de manipulação.Bill Hinton / EL PAÍS

Jordi Pérez Colomé – 21 may 2020 – 21:43 BRT

“Coordenei uma equipe de trolls formada por 10 pessoas. Mas há equipes maiores no setor”, diz um community manager que durante boa parte da última década atuou em uma agência internacional que vendia serviços de amplificação artificial de mensagens no Twitter. “Trabalhei em projetos em cinco países, entre eles a Espanha. Existe uma demanda para contratos desse tipo que não é anunciada nas Páginas Amarelas”, diz.

Com esta experiência, ele agora quer revelar como funciona esse negócio obscuro capaz de influenciar a opinião pública. Há algumas semanas, começou a contar detalhes em uma conta do Twitter chamada ironicamente @thebotruso (“o robô russo”). O EL PAÍS, que comprovou seu papel na agência em questão, trocou dúzias de mensagens com @thebotruso sobre como são preparadas a executadas atualmente as célebres campanhas de bots e trolls a serviço de empresas, partidos políticos ou clubes esportivos. O ex-funcionário mantém o anonimato porque um contrato de confidencialidade o impede de revelar o conteúdo específico e os clientes de seu antigo trabalho.

O Twitter não é uma réplica da vida real. Mas os debates ou opiniões que dominam a rede frequentemente vão parar na mídia. Ou mesmo na tribuna dos Parlamentos. “As ruas estão ficando cheias de bots”, disse com ironia Santiago Abascal, líder do partido Vox, ao primeiro-ministro espanhol, o socialista Pedro Sánchez, durante um debate nesta segunda-feira, referindo-se a recentes manifestações da direita no país. Uma parte das contas que discutem no Twitter é falsa. O problema é saber quantas ou, mais difícil, quais são, e que influência exercem. “Eu gostava de chamar a atenção de jornalistas afins. Aumenta muito nosso ego que um jornalista pegue os conteúdos de sua conta troll como fonte dos seus artigos, além de ajudar a ganhar visibilidade”, conta @thebotruso.

1. Nem todos são ‘bots’

Por definição se usa bot como sinônimo de conta falsa no Twitter. Mas um bot é uma conta automatizada, não necessariamente falsa. Anos atrás, eles eram os principais encarregados de amplificar mensagens: faziam milhares de retuítes ou likes, ou serviam para engrossar contas de seguidores. Continuam tendo essa finalidade, mas, graças a ações do Twitter e à maior sofisticação dos usuários atuais, ficou mais fácil descobri-los e eliminá-los.

A agência onde @thebotruso trabalhava tem um software para programar bots. Ele dá ordens para fazer tantos retuítes de tais contas ou disparar tuítes previamente redigidos em horários determinados. É barato, mas pouco refinado. “Continua-se trabalhando para amplificar o conteúdo, mas é preciso ser cuidadoso, porque pode acarretar um problema de reputação ao cliente”, diz.

Para evitá-lo, há vários recursos que permitem humanizar ou desvincular esses bots de uma campanha: “Os bots não irão retuitar qualquer coisa que se mexa. Se forem feitas ações com um troll específico, por exemplo, isso gera um padrão, com o que um analista de dados da concorrência seria capaz de levantar a lebre”, diz.

Os bots tampouco seguirão a conta do cliente que os paga, como precaução para uma eventual descoberta. “Se pegarmos como exemplo a causa independentista [da Catalunha], os bots seguirão diferentes partidos, políticos e associações, mas não o cliente final”, explica. Também se observa se há usuários reais interagindo com algum bot. Nesse caso, um funcionário entrará no circuito para responder.

2. A chave são dois tipos de trolls

A definição habitual de troll está associada a um usuário vândalo ou impertinente. Na agência, essas eram suas contas-estrelas. Cada empregado podia administrar 30 delas, cada uma com seu comportamento humano. Os trolls se dividiam em alfa e beta.

As contas alfa difundem a mensagem. Começavam com uma estratégia de “me siga e eu te sigo”, para ganhar peso. Seus tuítes iniciais eram inflados pelos bots e depois interagiam com contas importantes para chamar a atenção. Na Espanha, ficou famosa a conta de Miguel Lacambra, que conseguiu 20.000 seguidores em poucas semanas com uma estratégia similar.

Os trolls beta são os guerrilheiros. Dedicam-se a amansar a crítica. São contas que respondem a tuítes de famosos com insultos ou ameaças. “Os afetados pelos ataques dos beta veem as respostas a seus tuítes e muitas vezes se contêm um pouco na hora de tuitar, dependendo do tema. Sentem-se incômodos e passam a querer ter um perfil mais discreto. O sistema é eficaz. Por isso, continuam sendo contratados e aperfeiçoados. E nós, usuários, continuamos caindo”, diz.

3. O objetivo: enganar o Twitter

Uma parte dos esforços é dedicada a evitar a detecção das armadilhas e aumentar a probabilidade de sucesso: “Os trolls não se seguirão entre si e se limitará a interação entre eles para que liderem vários grupos de diálogo e porque uma relação habitual entre dois ou mais trolls poria a operação em risco”, diz @thebotruso. As contas são mapeadas com uma ferramenta habitual entre pesquisadores, chamada Gephi, para ver se a relação entre eles é destacável: “Esses gephis seriam capazes de revelar a relação entre nossas contas (trolls e bots), por isso todo cuidado é pouco”, diz.

Há, além disso, um objetivo permanente em todas essas operações: evitar padrões. “Cada conta que um troll dirige deve escrever diferente: as pessoas têm tendência a utilizar certas expressões e deixar padrões de escrita, como pôr dois pontos de exclamação ou terminar todas as frases com reticências”, conta.

Os ardis para enganar o Twitter são ainda mais destacáveis com os bots automatizados: “O software comanda todos os bots, que se dividem em grupos. Cada grupo utiliza uma API [ferramenta para usar automaticamente o Twitter]. E o endereço IP é variado de forma aleatória. Chegamos a ter 3.000 ou 4.000 contas em uma mesma API, e me consta que poderiam ser usadas até mais. O problema é que, se você tiver muitas contas tuitando direto sob uma mesma API, pode levar o Twitter a bloqueá-la”, explica. Embora essas ferramentas permitam administrar milhares de contas, é preciso personalizar cada uma delas com foto, nome e biografia. É um trabalho longo demais para que o Twitter derrube 2.000 perfis de uma vez.

4. Toda campanha tem um plano

Cada campanha é preparada com análise de dados e objetivos diários. Os bots e trolls não surgem do nada. Antes de uma campanha, cientistas de dados analisam a conversação pública sobre o tema que interessa ao cliente: um partido que deseja ampliar sua bancada, uma empresa que espera bater um concorrente, ou um time de futebol com problemas de credibilidade.

“Eles veem quantas contas estão participando de um tema e se estabelece quantas seriam necessárias para ter influência”, diz. Também é analisado o sentimento e os influencers desses assuntos: “São feitas listas de contas favoráveis e contrárias, e se analisa o peso que elas têm”, diz. Essa informação é chave para o funcionamento da campanha: “Serve para que o troll saiba com que usuários interagir, para gerar um núcleo com eles, a quais responder e perseguir com os beta, e com que usuários nem sequer vale a pena perder tempo. Não é a mesma coisa iniciar uma conta do tranco ou com uma quantidade imensa de informação. O troll alfa sabe a quem se dirigir, com que tom, e o que comunicar”.

Uma campanha pode chegar a custar um milhão de euros (6,2 milhões de reais). O cliente espera resultados concretos e demonstráveis. Uma campanha média pode exigir entre 1.500 e 2.000 bots e trolls.

Enquanto os usuários normais do Twitter entram na rede para ver o que acontece, estas operações envolvendo centenas de contas falsas têm um plano diário. É como se a cada jornada um chefe mafioso enviasse um grupo de asseclas a uma cidade com um plano delicadamente concebido para que executem uma série de missões concretas e semeiem o pânico sem serem detectados. O objetivo é fazer os cidadãos acreditarem em coisas que não são verdade: não só com notícias falsas, mas também com ações que sugiram que mais gente acredita em determinada coisa do que realmente ocorre. Seria como inflar uma pesquisa de opinião. Claro que frequentemente se enfrentam equipes que buscam justamente o contrário.

Isto não fica só na teoria. Seus efeitos têm consequências no mundo real. “As pessoas tendem a compartilhar sua opinião quando se sentem protegidas pela comunidade”, diz esse agente. “Houve um tempo em que muitos catalães não independentistas não publicavam suas ideias nas redes porque entravam no Twitter e tinham a sensação que meio mundo era independentista.”

Estas ações em redes permitem abrir o caminho para opiniões radicais. De repente, alguém vê que a crítica aberta a imigrantes ou mulheres está permitida. Talvez não seja feita com crueldade ostensiva, e sim com memes ou palavras em código, mas está lá. Não se sabe se essas contas são controladas por uma dúzia de empregados em um escritório.

5. Como enganar um jornalista

Frequentemente, os jornalistas não têm consciência de como é fácil lhes passar mercadoria falsa. Um dos motivos que levou @thebotruso a criar essa conta e querer contar sua experiência foi para tentar advertir dos perigos: “Quem trabalha na mídia nem sempre conhece esse ecossistema. De certo modo, é fácil enganar um jornalista. Eles estão sempre procurando informações e, hoje em dia, a Internet é uma fonte muito grande. Se um jornalista topar com seu conteúdo, vir que tem apoio e que se encaixa no que ele quer (ou precisa) comunicar, talvez pegue. As estratégias para cada caso são diferentes. Por exemplo: para uma empresa acusada de corrupção, criamos um ecossistema que defendia os postos de trabalho (trabalhadores preocupados com as medidas exigidas contra a empresa)”, explica.

6. Como manipular uma pesquisa no Twitter

Os bots são úteis para ganhar uma pesquisa na rede. Estes são os passos que esta agência seguia: “Detecta-se a pesquisa e se faz uma captura de tela. É feito um cálculo para saber quantos votos são necessários para virar os resultados, e o valor de cada ponto percentual. Tem início a operação para que a opção desejada vença. Monitora-se para ver que tudo funciona corretamente”.

7. A criação de um ‘trending topic’

As opções para conseguir um trending topic eram mais reduzidas, mas a estratégia era clara. A agência trabalhava durante dias para atingir seu objetivo. “A primeira coisa é escolher um dia e uma hora. Procura-se não coincidir com eventos como um jogo de futebol ou o Big Brother”, explica @thebotruso. “Escolhe-se uma hashtag, é importante que não tenha sido utilizada antes, porque são mais difíceis de posicionar. Aciona-se a equipe de redatores que escrevem milhares de tuítes durante vários dias para que sejam publicados pela rede de bots”, acrescenta.

Usuários reais também são avisados, para caso tenham interesse. “São enviadas comunicações a pessoas afins para avisar da ação: tal dia, a tal hora, sairemos com tal hashtag para nos queixar, convidamos você à ação para ver se conseguimos ser tendência e fazer que nos ouçam”.

Chega o grande dia: “Os analistas olham quantos tuítes são necessários para entrar nas tendências. Os tuítes são inseridos na plataforma de bots. O cliente dispara o primeiro tuíte. Rapidamente a rede de bots é acionada. É crucial que haja muitos tuítes em um espaço curto de tempo. Os trolls alfa saem com tuítes de impacto. Os analistas de dados monitoram para saber se é preciso disparar mais tuítes, ou se é o caso de frear a rede de bots. Os trolls beta apoiam a ação, respondem aos críticos, estimulam outros usuários com a mesma ideologia”.

Passada a missão, com sucesso ou não, é hora de dissimular as provas: “A ação dos bots é detida e limpa: as contas bot fazem tuítes e retuítes de outros temas para que, se alguém aparecer para ver essas contas, não veja que só entraram para fazer tuítes sobre o trending e foram dormir. Os trolls podem continuar tuitando por algum tempo, e depois farão uma limpa, como os bots”, acrescenta. “Finalmente, prepara-se um relatório para o cliente”.

E como tudo isso afeta quem o faz? “Todos estávamos conscientes do que estávamos pondo em jogo. E eu gosto dessa palavra: jogo. Sempre recomendei a todo mundo que encarasse como jogar War, porque é fácil encarar os projetos como algo pessoal, e às vezes é difícil administrar a diferença entre a sua conta troll e você. Por sorte, nunca tive ninguém de licença por depressão, ansiedade ou nada parecido”.

Ben Tarnoff: Covid-19 and the Cloud (Blueprint Technology/International Progressive)

The internet is a fossil fuel industry.

Ben Tarnoff, 21.05.2020

Ben Tarnoff, co-founder of Logic Magazine, explores the devastating impact of cloud computing on the climate — and makes the case for a radical transformation of the internet as we know it.

As of writing, roughly half of the world’s population is living under lockdown.

Not everyone can remain indoors, of course: millions of working-class people put their lives at risk every day to be the nurses, grocery store clerks, and other essential workers on whom everyone else’s survival depends. But globally, a substantial share of humanity is staying home.

One consequence is a sharp increase in internet usage. Trapped inside, people are spending more time online. The New York Times reports that in January, as China locked down Hubei province — home to Wuhan, the original epicenter of Covid-19 — mobile broadband speeds dropped by more than half because of network congestion. Internet speeds have suffered similar drops across Europe and the United States, as stay-at-home orders have led to spikes in traffic. In Italy, which has one of the highest coronavirus death tolls in the world, home internet use has increased 90 percent.

The internet is already deeply integrated into the daily rhythms of life in much of the world. Under the pressures of the pandemic, however, it has become something more: the place where, for many, life is mostly lived. It is where one spends time with family and friends, goes to class, attends concerts and religious services, buys meals and groceries. It is a source of sustenance, culture, and social interaction; for those who can work from home, it is also a source of income. Quarantine is an ancient practice. Connected quarantine is a paradox produced by a networked age.

Anything that can help people endure long periods of isolation is useful for containing the virus. In this respect, the internet is a blessing — if an unevenly distributed one. Indeed, the pandemic is highlighting the inequalities both within and across countries when it comes to connectivity, and underlining why internet access should be considered a basic human right.

But the new reality of connected quarantine also brings certain risks. The first is social: the greater reliance on online services will place more power in the hands of telecoms and platforms. Our undemocratic digital sphere will only become more so, as the firms that own the physical and virtual infrastructures of the internet come to mediate, and to mold, even more of our existence. The second danger is ecological. The internet already makes very large demands of the earth’s natural systems. As usage increases, those demands will grow.

In our efforts to mitigate the current crisis, then, we may end up making other crises worse. A world in which the internet as it is currently organized becomes more central to our lives will be one in which tech companies exercise more influence over our lives. It may also be one in which life of all kinds becomes harder to sustain, as the environmental impact of a precipitously growing internet accelerates the ongoing collapse of the biosphere — above all, by making the planet hotter.

Machines Heat the Planet

To understand how the internet makes the planet hotter, it helps to begin with a simplified model of what the internet is. The internet is, more or less, a collection of machines that talk to one another. These machines can be big or small — servers or smartphones, say. Every year they become more ubiquitous; in a couple of years, there will be thirty billion of them.

These machines heat the planet in three ways. First, they are made from metals and minerals that are extracted and refined with large inputs of energy, and this energy is generated from burning fossil fuels. Second, their assembly and manufacture is similarly energy-intensive, and thus similarly carbon-intensive. Finally, after the machines are made, there is the matter of keeping them running, which also consumes energy and emits carbon.

Given the breadth and complexity of this picture, it would take a considerable amount of time to map the entire carbon footprint of the internet precisely. So let’s zero in on a single slice: the cloud. If the internet is a collection of machines that talk to one another, the cloud is the subset of machines that do most of the talking. More concretely, the cloud is millions of climate-controlled buildings — ”data centers” — filled with servers. These servers supply the storage and perform the computation for the software running on the internet — the software behind Zoom seders, Twitch concerts, Instacart deliveries, drone strikes, financial trades, and countless other algorithmically organized activities.

The amount of energy consumed by these activities is immense, and much of it comes from coal and natural gas. Data centers currently require 200 terawatt hours per year, roughly the same amount as South Africa. Anders Andrae, a researcher at Huawei, predicts that number will grow 4 to 5 times by 2030. This would put the cloud on par with Japan, the fourth-biggest energy consumer on the planet. Andrae made these predictions before the pandemic, however. All indications suggest that the crisis will supercharge the growth of the cloud, as people spend more time online. This means we could be looking at a cloud even bigger than Japan by 2030 — perhaps even the size of India, the world’s third-biggest energy consumer.

Machine Learning is a Fossil Fuel Industry

What can be done to avert the climate damage of such a development? One approach is to make the cloud run on renewable energy. This doesn’t entirely decarbonize data centers, given the carbon costs associated with the construction of the servers inside of them, but it does reduce their impact. Greenpeace has been waging a campaign along these lines for years, with some success. The use of renewables by data centers has grown, although progress is uneven: according to a recent Greenpeace report, Chinese data centers are still primarily powered by coal. It also remains difficult to accurately gauge how much progress has been made, since corporate commitments to lower carbon emissions are often little more than greenwashing PR. “Greening” one’s data centers can mean any number of things, given a general lack of transparency and reporting standards. A company might buy some carbon offsets, put out a celebratory press release, and call it a day.

Another approach is to increase the energy efficiency of data centers. This is an easier sell for companies, because they have a strong financial incentive to lower their electricity costs: powering and cooling data centers can be extraordinarily expensive. In recent years, they have come up with a number of ways to improve efficiency. The emergence of “hyperscale” data centers, first developed by Facebook, has been especially important. These are vast, automated, streamlined facilities that represent the rationalization of the cloud: they are the digital equivalent of the Fordist assembly line, displacing the more artisanal arrangements of an earlier era. Their economies of scale and obsessive optimizations make them highly energy-efficient, which has in turn moderated the cloud’s power consumption in recent years.

This trend won’t last forever, however. The hyperscalers will max out their efficiency, while the cloud will continue to grow. Even the more conscientious companies will have trouble procuring enough renewables to keep pace with demand. This is why we may also have to contemplate another possibility: not just greening the cloud, or making it more efficient, but constraining its growth.

To consider how we might do that, let’s first consider why the cloud is growing so fast. One of the most important factors is the rise of machine learning (ML). ML is the field behind the current “AI boom.” A powerful tool for pattern recognition, ML can be put to many purposes, from analyzing faces to predicting consumer preferences. To recognize a pattern, though, an ML system must first “learn” the pattern. The way that ML learns patterns is by training on large quantities of data, which is a computationally demanding process. Streaming Netflix doesn’t place much strain on the servers inside a data center; training the ML model that Netflix uses for its recommendation engine probably does.

Because ML hogs processing power, it also carries a large carbon footprint. In a paper that made waves in the ML community, a team at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst found that training a model for natural-language processing — the field that helps “virtual assistants” like Alexa understand what you’re saying — can emit as much as 626,155 pounds of carbon dioxide. That’s about the same amount produced by flying roundtrip between New York and Beijing 125 times.

Training models isn’t the only way that ML contributes to climate change. It has also stimulated a hunger for data that is probably the single biggest driver of the digitization of everything. Corporations and governments now have an incentive to acquire as much data as possible, because that data, with the help of ML, might yield valuable patterns. It might tell them who to fire, who to arrest, when to perform maintenance on a machine, or how to promote a new product. It might even help them build new kinds of services, like facial recognition software or customer-service chatbots. One of the best ways to make more data is to put small connected computers everywhere—in homes and stores and offices and factories and hospitals and cars. Aside from the energy required to manufacture and maintain those devices, the data they produce will live in the carbon-intensive cloud.

The good news is that awareness of ML’s climate impacts is growing, as is the interest among practitioners and activists in mitigating them. Towards that end, one group of researchers is calling for new reporting standards under the banner of “Green AI.” They propose adding a carbon “price tag” to each ML model, which would reflect the costs of building, training, and running it, and which could drive the development of more efficient models.

This is important work, but it needs a qualitative dimension as well as a quantitative one. We shouldn’t just be asking how much carbon an ML application produces. We should also be asking what those applications do.

Do they enable people to lead freer and more self-determined lives? Do they cultivate community and solidarity? Do they encourage more equitable and more cooperative forms of living? Or do they extend corporate and state surveillance and control? Do they give advertisers, employers, and security agencies new ways to monitor and manipulate us? Do they strengthen capitalist class power, and intensify racism, sexism, and other oppressions?

Resistance with Transformation

A good place to start when we contemplate curbing the growth of the cloud, then, is asking whether the activities that are driving its growth contribute to the creation of a democratic society. This question will acquire new urgency in the pandemic, as our societies become more enmeshed in the internet. It is a question that cannot be resolved on a technical basis, however — it is not an optimization problem, like trying to maximize energy efficiency in a data center. That’s because it involves choices about values, and choices about values are necessarily political. Therefore, we need political mechanisms for making these choices collectively.

Politics is necessarily a conflictual affair, and there will be plenty of conflicts that arise in the course of trying to both decarbonize and democratize the internet. For one, there are obvious tensions between the moral imperative of improving and expanding access and the ecological imperative of keeping the associated energy inputs within a sustainable range. But there will also be many cases where restricting and even eliminating certain uses of the internet will serve both social and environmental ends simultaneously.

Consider the fight against facial recognition software that has erupted across the world, from protesters in Hong Kong using lasers to disrupt police cameras to organizers in the United States pushing for municipal bans. Such software is incompatible with basic democratic values; it also helps heat the planet by relying on computationally intensive ML models. Its abolition would thus serve both the people and the planet.

But we need more than abolition. We also need to envision and construct an alternative. A substantive project to decarbonize and democratize the internet must combine resistance with transformation; namely, it must transform how the internet is owned and organized. So long as the internet is held by private firms and run for profit, it will destabilize natural systems and preclude the possibility of democratic control. The supreme law of capitalism is accumulation for accumulation’s sake. Under such a regime, the earth is a set of resources to be extracted, not a set of systems to be repaired, stewarded, and protected. Moreover, there is little room for people to freely choose the course of their lives, because everyone’s choices — even those of capitalists — are constrained by the imperative of infinite accumulation.

Dissolving this law, and formulating a new one, will of course involve a much broader array of struggles than those aimed at building a better internet. But the internet, as its size and significance grows through the pandemic, may very well become a central point of struggle. In the past, the internet has been a difficult issue to inspire mass mobilization around; its current highly privatized form, in fact, is partly due to the absence of popular pressure. The new life patterns of connected quarantine might reverse this trend, as online services become, for many, both a window to the world and a substitute for it, a lifeline and a habitat. Perhaps then the internet will be a place worth struggling to transform, as well as a tool for those struggling to transform everything else.

A deriva medieval da Internet (Outras Palavras/New York Magazine)

Senhores a quem entregamos a riqueza de nossos dados. Programas e objetos “encantados” que comandam nossas vidas. O conhecimento comum controlado, como na Inquisição. “Novas” tecnologias ameaçam conjurar vasto retrocesso

OutrasPalavras Tecnologia em Disputa

por Max Read

Publicado 09/12/2019 às 19:29 – Atualizado 09/12/2019 às 19:57

Por Max Read, na New York Magazine | Tradução: Antonio Martins | Imagem: Camponeses pagando tributos a seus senhores, xilogravura do século XV

No final de agosto, um barco de velas pretas apareceu no porto, carregando uma visionária de 16 anos, uma garota que navegara do norte distante através de um grande oceano. Uma multidão de moradores e viajantes, encantados por suas profecias, reuniu-se para lhe dar boas vindas. Ela viera para falar às nações da Terra, para advertir-nos de nossas vaidades e da catástrofe que se aproxima. “Havia quatro gerações saudando-a e dizendo, em cânticos, que a amavam”, observou o escritor Dean Kissick. “Quando ela pisou em terra, pareceu algo messiânico”.

Não posso ter sido a única pessoa a sentir que estava vivendo, estranhamente, nas páginas de um épico fantástico, no momento em que Greta Thunberg desceu em Nova York. Durante a maior parte de minha vida, o paradigma para imaginar o futuro foi a ficção científica distópica. Em cada foto de uma cidade reluzente de neon, em cada história de ciberguerra sem regras e limites, refletiam-se as visões ultramodernas e hipercapitalistas de escritores cyberpunk como Wiliam Gibson, cujo trabalho foi tão influente que moldou a forma como os primeiros arquitetos da internet compreenderam sua criação. Mas onde se encaixaria, no futuro noir e high-tech que me ensinaram a esperar, uma menina profetisa navegando do norte gelado para confrontar os reis e rainhas do planeta? Que conto de ciber intriga corporativa incluiria uma visionária liderando um exército de crianças em marchas pelo globo?

Refletindo depois, percebi que a história lembra menos o futuro cyberpunk de Gibson que o passado fantástico de J.R.R. Tolkien; menos tecnologia e cibernética que mágica e apocalipse. A internet não parece estar nos transformando em sofisticados ciborgues, e sim em camponeses medievais rudes, extasiados por um sempre presente reino de espíritos e cativos de senhores autocráticos e distantes. E se não estivermos sendo impulsionados rumo a um futuro cyberpunk, e sim atirados em algum passado pré-moderno fantástico?

Em minha própria vida quotidiana, eu já me relaciono constantemente com forças mágicas ao mesmo tempo sinistras e benevolentes. Observo de longe, através do cristal, os movimentos de meus inimigos. (Ou seja, eu odeio-e-sigo pessoas no Instagram ou Facebook). Leio histórias sobre símbolos amaldiçoados tão poderosos que tornam incomunicativo qualquer um que os contemple (Ou seja, glifos Unicode que paralisam seu iPhone). Recuso-me a escrever os nomes de inimigos míticos por temer trazê-los a minha presença, assim como os membros de tribos proto-germânicas usavam o termo eufemístico marrom, em vem de urso, para não invocar um deles. (Ou seja, intencionalmente altero palavras como Gamergate quando as escrevo)1. Realizo rituais supersticiosos para obter a aprovação dos demônios (Ou seja, daemons, os programas autônomos de retaguarda sobre os quais a computação moderna se desenvolve).

Esta estranha dança de rituais e superstições irá se tornar ainda mais intensa na próxima década. Graças a smartphones ubíquos e ao cellular data, a internet tornou-se uma espécie de camada sobrenatural instalada no topo de vida quotidiana, um reino facilmente acessível de poder temível, visões febris e batalhas espirituais apocalípticas. O medievalista Richard Wunderli descreveu o mundo dos camponeses do século XV como algo “encantado” – “limitado apenas por uma barreira translúcida e porosa, que levava ao reino mais poderoso dos espíritos, demônios, anjos e santos”. Não soa tão diferente de um mundo em que barreiras literalmente translúcidas separam-nos dos trolls, demônios e ícones pop-star a cujas menções no Twitter, e comentários no Instagram, eu deveria fazer uma peregrinação quase religiosa.

A estrutura da internet aponta para um arranjo que Bruce Schneider, um especialista em cibersegurança, chama de “feudalismo digital”. Por meio dele, os grandes proprietários – plataformas como o Google e o Facebook – estão se tornando nossos senhores feudais, e estamos nos reduzindo a seus vassalos. “Nós vamos abastecê-los com o dados que emanam de nossa navegação, em troca de vaga proteção contra saqueadores que buscam brechas de segurança”. O senso de impotência que podemos sentir diante da justiça algorítmica opaca das megaplataformas – e o senso de mistério que tais mecanismos deveriam engendrar – não teriam parecido estranhos para um camponês medieval. (Uma vez que você tenha explicado, é claro, o que significa um algoritmo).

E à medida em que a internet enfeitice cada vez mais objetos – “smart” TVs, “smart” fornos, “smart” alto-falantes, “smart” vibradores – sua lógica feudal abarcará também o mundo material. Você não possui mais o programa de seu telefone, assim como um camponês não possuía seu lote de terra. E quando seu carro ou fechadura de casa forem igualmente encantados, um senhor distante poderá expulsá-lo fácil e arbitrariamente. Os robôs de assistência ao consumidor aos quais você entregou seu caso serão tão impiedosos e incapazes de perdão como um xerife medieval. Izabella Kaminska sugere, no Financial Times, que no âmbito do controle quase feudal do capitalismo de compartilhamento por seus contratantes, há “potencial para o retorno da estrutura de guildas”. Motoristas de aplicativos, por exemplo, podem, em algum momento, criar um corpo independente credenciador, para garantir a portabilidade dos dados e da reputação entre as “fronteiras” dos “senhores” (ou seja, Uber, 99 ou Lyft), assim como os artesãos usavam o pertencimento a uma guilda como credenciais, no início do milênio passado.

Para onde esta camada de mágica, carregada espiritualmente e organizada à moda feudal, levaria nossa política e cultura? Poderíamos olhar para governantes como Donald Trump, que manejam o poder como um rei absolutista ou um papa caviloso e que fala, como diversos observadores notaram, como um herói grego ou um senhor de guerra anglo-saxão. Ou seja, no estilo fanfarrão e altamente repetitivo da poesia época, característica das culturas orais.

Paradoxalmente, o caráter efêmero e a densidade rala dos textos nas mídias sociais estão recriando as circunstâncias de uma sociedade pré-letrada: um mundo em que a informação é rapidamente esquecida e nada pode ser facilmente consultado. (Como os monges medievais copiando Aristótoles, o Google e o Facebook coletarão e ordenarão o conhecimento do mundo; como a igreja católica medieval, controlarão rigorosamente sua apresentação e acessibilidade). Sob tais condições, a memorabilidade e a concisão – as mesmas qualidades que podem fazer alguém hábil no Twitter – serão mais valorizadas que a força do argumento; e líderes políticos bem-sucedidos, para os quais a verdade factual é menos importante que a perpétua repetição de um mito duradouro, focarão no auto-engrandecimento repetitivo,

Tudo isso, é claro, ocorrerá diante de um pano de fundo de desastre: um mundo natural volátil, em ruínas, estranho e imprevisível em sua força e violência. Está ficando cada vez mais difícil prever o tempo, e os efeitos da mudança climática atiraram no território das dúvidas o vasto conhecimento que tornava o mundo familiar e governável. A natureza aparece para nós como tempestades aniquiladoras, incêndios furiosos, enchentes épicas, uma manifestação literal de nossos pecados terrestres. Presos numa cena pré-letramento, governados por ilusionistas e nepotistas, cativos de senhores feudais, circundados por ritual e magia – é de surpreender que nos voltemos a uma garota visionária, para nos salvar do apocalipse que se aproxima?

1Alusão intraduzível: refere-se a polêmica antifeminista ocorrida nos EUA – ver Wikipedia (Nota de Outras Palavras)

Rise of the internet has reduced voter turnout (Science Daily)

September 16, 2016
University of Bristol
During the initial phase of the internet, a “crowding-out” of political information occurred, which has affected voter turnout, new research shows.

The internet has transformed the way in which voters access and receive political information. It has allowed politicians to directly communicate their message to voters, circumventing the mainstream media which would traditionally filter information.

Writing in IZA World of Labor, Dr Heblich from the Department of Economics, presents research from a number of countries, comparing voter behaviour of municipalities with internet access to the ones without in the early 2000s. It shows municipalities with broadband internet access faced a decrease in voter turnout, due to voters suddenly facing an overwhelmingly large pool of information and not knowing how to filter relevant knowledge efficiently. Similarly, the internet seemed to have crowded out other media at the expense of information quality.

However, the introduction of interactive social media and “user-defined” content appears to have reversed this. It helped voters to collect information more efficiently. Barack Obama’s successful election campaign in 2008 set the path for this development. In the so-called “Facebook election,” Obama successfully employed Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder, to lead his highly effective election campaign.

Using a combination of social networks, podcasts, and mobile messages, Obama connected directly with (young) American voters. In doing so, he gained nearly 70 per cent of the votes among Americans under the age of 25.

But there is a downside: voters can now be personally identified and strategically influenced by targeted information. What if politicians use this information in election campaigns to target voters that are easy to mobilize?

Dr Heblich’s research shows there is a thin line between desirable benefits of more efficient information dissemination and undesirable possibilities of voter manipulation. Therefore, policymakers need to consider introducing measures to educate voters to become more discriminating in their use of the internet.

Dr Heblich said: “To the extent that online consumption replaces the consumption of other media (newspapers, radio, or television) with a higher information content, there may be no information gains for the average voter and, in the worst case, even a crowding- out of information.

“One potential risk relates to the increasing possibilities to collect personal information known as ‘big data’. This development could result in situations in which individual rights are violated, since the personal information could be used, for example, to selectively disseminate information in election campaigns and in influence voters strategically.”

See the report at:

Da crise emergirá o pós-capitalismo? (Outras Palavras)


Jornalista britânico que cobriu levantes pós-2011 em todo o mundo aposta: sistema não suportará sociedade conectada em rede que ajudou a criar


Entrevista a Jonathan Derbyshire, em Prospect | Tradução: Gabriela Leite Inês Castilho | Imagem: Banksy

Ao cobrir, para a TV britânica, a fase mais recente da crise na Grécia, o jornalista Paul Mason alcançou quase-onipresença em seu país: Mason falando com Alexis Tsipras e outros membros do Syriza; Mason em mangas de camisa diante da câmera, diante do banco central da Grécia; Mason desviando de bombas em outro confronto entre anarquistas e a polícia — isso forma parte da iconografia da crise grega para muitos britânicos.

Agora, enquanto a Grécia e o resto da Europa recuperam seu fôlego, Mason retornou para a Inglaterra para lançar seu novo livro: “Post-Capitalism: a guide to our future” [“Pós-capitalismo: um guia para nosso futuro”]. Não é um trabalho de reportagem, mas uma ampla análise histórica e econômica. Inspirada pela análise de Marx sore relações sociais capitalistas, ela vai, no entanto, além disso — de uma maneira que, reconhece o autor, talvez não agrade alguns de seus amigos na extrema esquerda. O livro é uma análise do “neoliberalismo” — o capitalismo altamente financeirizado que dominou a maior parte do mundo desenvolvido nos últimos 30 anos — e, ao mesmo tempo, uma tentativa de imaginar o que poderia substituí-lo.

“Pós-Capitalismo: Um Guia para Nosso Futuro”, de Paul Mason, foi publicado por Allen Lane.

O capitalismo, escreve Mason, é um sistema altamente adaptativo: “Nos grandes momentos de encruzilhada, ele se transforma e muda, em resposta ao perigo”. Seu instinto mais básico de sobrevivência, ele argumenta, “é impulsionar mudanças tecnológicas”. Mas o autor acredita que as tecnologias de informação que o capitalismo desenvolveu nos últimos vinte anos ou mais não são, apesar das aparências, compatíveis com o capitalismo — não em sua forma presente, e talvez nem em qualquer outra forma. “Quando o capitalismo não puder mais se adaptar à mudança tecnológica, o pós-capitalismo irá se tornar necessário”.

Mason não está sozinho ao acreditar que a humanidade está à beira de uma profunda revolução tecnológica, é claro. Ouve-se isso de outras vozes: que falam, por exemplo, sobre a “Segunda Era da Máquina” e a promessa (assim como a ameaça) de máquinas inteligentes e da “internet das coisas”. O que torna singular a análise de Mason é, no entanto, a maneira pela qual ele funde um balanço das mutações tecnológicas do que costumava ser chamado de “capitalismo tardio” com uma tentativa de identificar o que Engels chamou, no final do século XIX, de a “parteira da sociedade”, a classe capaz de liderar a transformação social. Segundo o livro, não será a velha classe trabalhadora, como Marx e Engels pensaram, mas o que Mason chama de “rede”. Ao colocar em contato permanente milhões de pessoas, Mason escreve, “o capitalismo da informação criou um novo agente de mudança na história: o ser humano bem formado e conectado”.

Encontrei-me com Mason em Londres e comecei a entrevista pedindo a ele:

Paul Mason: para ele, "indivíduos em rede"  são um novo sujeito histórico, que substituíram a velha classe trabalhadora do marxismo, e se converteram no que Engels chamava de "parteiros da história"

Descreva, por favor, o modelo “neoliberal”, que segundo você chegou a um ponto de ruptura

O neoliberalismo é tanto uma ideologia quanto um modelo econômico. O capitalismo precisa ser compreendido em seu conjunto em cada fase de sua existência. Vivemos o que podemos chamar de capitalismo neoliberal. Este sistema que funciona com um núcleo que opera de acordo com valores neoliberais e uma periferia que não opera. Argumento que o neoliberalismo, como sistema funcional, está em crise porque sua mola central — o amplo consumo financeirizado, combinado com baixo crescimento dos salários — é uma máquina para produzir bolhas e seu estouro. No livro, sustento que uma eventual saída para o sistema (rumar para um info-capitalismo bem sucedido) pode ser viável em certas circunstâncias, mas esta transição é improvável.

Lado a lado com o que você identifica como as características negativas do neoliberalismo (financeirização excessiva e desestabilizadora), também há a revolução tecnológica.

O neoliberalismo foi a forma econômica na qual ocorreram os avanços mais dramáticos da técnica humana sobre a natureza. Em segundo lugar, foi o período no qual países como China e Índia desenvolveram-se de modo surpreendente, um fenômeno que ainda precisa ser compreendido em sua totalidade. Argumento, porém, que esta forma econômica não é mais capaz de conter os níveis do dinamismo tecnológico que conseguiu liberar. Não acredito que o próprio neoliberalismo, eu seus próprios valores neoliberais, seja o condutor da mudança tecnológica. A economista Mariana Mazzicato prova esse ponto: não são apenas o Vale do Silício, o empreendedorismo e o dinheiro dos fundos de hedge que produzem o iPhone — é a Nasa, são as grandes universidades como Stamford.

O que estamos vendo hoje é que a rapidez da inovação não está sendo combinada com implementação de políticas ou evolução de modelos de negócios. Isso impõe uma questão: até que ponto o poder de transformação destas novas tecnologias resultará numa terceira revolução industrial? Eu não vejo isso acontecer sob paradigma neoliberal.

Mas, como você mesmo aponta, a nova tecnologia também foi possibilitadora do neoliberalismo, por ter aprimorado a capacidade de explorar o que é chamado algumas vezes de “capital humano”.

A era Keynesiana produziu a última geração de indivíduos hierarquizados, coletivizados. Eu fui produzido por ela e sei que este mundo acabou. Uma das virtudes de se ter 55 anos é ter visto o novo mundo nascer. Hoje, como Foucault afirma, somos empreendedores do self. A internet permitiu que as massas fossem parte do laboratório social do self. Ela nos permite fazê-lo de uma maneira que nem começamos a entender. Ela criou um novo sujeito humano.

A divergência entre eu e os apoiadores do neoliberalismo é em torno de uma questão: o sujeito humano vai transcender o sistema atual, romper com ele e reformar a sociedade humana? Todas as visões de transformação social têm, a partir de agora, de enxergar o que eu chamo de “indivíduo em rede”. Acredito que as revoltas que narrei em meu livro anterior, Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere (“Por que está começando em todo lugar”, em tradução livre), são revoltas destas pessoas. Se elas são um novo sujeito histórico, que substitui a velha classe trabalhadora do marxismo, essa é uma grande coisa. É uma grande novidade que devemos buscar compreender.

Você lamenta o mundo que perdemos? O mundo keynesiano de coletividades e solidariedades? Poucas partes de seu livro têm tom de elegia. A nota dominante é mais de excitação com as possibilidades econômicas e políticas que as novas tecnologias e novos modos de subjetividade humana oferecem.

Eu lamento, sim. Escrevi em meu primeiro livro, Live Working or Die Fighting (Viva trabalhando ou morra lutando”, em tradução livre), que o que estamos lamentando, e o que ficou para trás, foi uma anomalia na história do movimento dos trabalhadores. Foi um movimento de trabalhadores socialmente estável, que construiu um caminho de coexistência pacífica com o capital. O que fiz foi cavar na história e descobrir que a indisciplinada história do trabalho foi a de pessoas que foram, elas mesmas e de sua própria maneira, empreendedoras de si mesmas. E tiveram um nível de quase total oposição ao mundo que viveram, coisa que a geração do meu pai, a da era keynesiana, não teve.

De que tradições você está falando, especificamente?

Anarquismo na comuna de Paris. Anarco-sindicalismo nos EUA — os Wobblies. O que o comunismo acrescentou a essas histórias foi a coletividade. Mas se você esquecer as histórias oficiais marxistas sobre a Comuna ou os Wobblies, descobrirá que é uma história de indivíduos rebeldes. Quando comecei a mergulhar nessa história, percebi que a era Keynesiana, apesar do nosso luto, foi uma anomalia.

Também foi uma anomalia na história do capitalismo, não? Não é essa uma das mensagens do livro de Thomas Pikkety, O Capital no Século XXI?

É uma anomalia na história do capitalismo. Também é uma anomalia da história da classe trabalhadora.

Vamos nos voltar ao aspecto econômico de sua argumentação no livro. Sua afirmação é que o capitalismo não consegue “capturar o ‘valor’ gerado pela nova tecnologia.” Você pode desenvolver isso um pouco?

Assim que soubemos que estávamos em uma economia da informação, ficou óbvio que a categoria das coisas chamadas pelos economistas de “externalidades” seriam importantes. O teorista do capital cognitivo, Yann Moulier-Boutang, coloca desta maneira (e eu concordo): toda a questão do capitalismo do século XXI é saber quem captura as externalidades. Devem ser as empresas, que vão ter posse delas e utilizá-las, como faz o Google? A externalidade positiva para o Google é que ele pode ver o que estamos buscando, mas nós não conseguimos ver o que nós mesmo estamos. Então ele pode, agora, construir um modelo de negócio monopolizado, com base nos segredos revelados por sua mineração de dados.

Você quer dizer que, sob os atuais arranjos, o capitalismo só pode capturar o valor gerado pelas novas tecnologias por meio do monopólio? Google, Apple e outros estão ganhando muito dinheiro com isso.

Eles estão ganhando dinheiro. Criaram um monopólio da informação. E, especialmente no que diz respeito aos bens de informação, têm conseguido suprimir o mecanismo de formação de preços. Ele iria, em condições naturais, reduzir o preço da informação que estão vendendo a zero. Eu digo no livro que a declaração da missão da Apple deveria ser, na verdade: “Existimos para prevenir a abundância de música!” Ou, do Google: “Existimos para prevenir a abundância do autoconhecimento das pessoas sobre o que elas fazem na internet”.

Existem dois problemas com isso. Primeiro, é lógico sugerir que nenhum desse monopólios pode sobreviver. Certamente, seu valor de mercado não reflete sua capacidade para continuar monopolizando o que fazem. Segundo: portanto, você não pode ter a completa utilização da informação. A próxima questão é: Existe um meio termo? Haverá algum espaço, que possamos explorar, entre o monopólio e a liberdade? Acredito realmente que sim. Não estou dizendo que tudo deve ser de graça. Estou dizendo que deve haver múltiplos modelos de negócio entre o monopólio e a liberdade.

Você não está dizendo, então, que os mercados vão desaparecer em um futuro pós-capitalista? Afinal, mercados e capitalismo não são a mesma coisa. Mercados são apenas mecanismos para alocar recursos.

É natural — e está acontecendo — que a natureza social da informação leve a formas de atividade de não-mercado. A Wikipédia é uma forma de atividade não mercantil — é um buraco de 3 milhões de dólares no mundo da propaganda.

Você escreve, em certo ponto, que os membros “mais perspicazes” da elite global já são lúcidos a ponto de abordar algumas das questões com as quais você lida no livro — por exemplo, a desigualdade, seu impacto sobre o crescimento, a “estagnação secular” e o papel da negociação coletiva na garantia de salários maiores. O antigo secretário do Tesouro dos EUA, Larry Summers, escreveu vastamente sobre todos estes três problemas, oferecendo diagnósticos não tão diferentes dos seus.

Há pessoas na elite global que se permitiram entender o que estamos passando. Uma das coisas que compreendem é que a desigualdade vai ser desfuncional. Não apenas não querem ser linchados em suas camas, mas também entendem que o dinamismo das economias capitalistas só será retomado se houver um aumento dos salários. Também compreenderam a chamada questão do limite de juro zero — a ideia de que, em uma economia onde as taxas de juros reais estão constantemente zeradas, será constantemente necessário adotar políticas monetárias não-ortodoxas. Políticas monetária não-ortodoxas são arenosas. Qualquer um que entendeu a crítica de Keynes nos anos 1920 e começo dos 1930 vai entender o problema da “viscosidade”. Nos anos trinta, os salários eram pegajosos — eles não iriam cair o suficiente. Agora, é a política monetária que é pegajosa. O problema é: de onde o novo dinamismo da economia virá? Larry Summers entende isso. E pessoas nos mercados de títulos também.

O passo final é que eles olham aos choques exógenos e isso os aterroriza. Isso me aterroriza também. As pessoas no poder, nos ministérios da Fazenda, não vão se autorizar a quantificar a gravidade dos choques que estão a caminho. Se 60% dos títulos emitidos pelos Tesouros nacionais tornarem-se insolventes devido aos custos relacionados com o envelhecimento das populações, algo que as agências de risco consideram provável; se a imigração acontecer na escala que se espera; se tivermos nove bilhões de pessoas clamando para entrar no mundo desenvolvido…

Se o neoliberalismo fosse um sistema funcional, como era nos idos de 2001, e não tivesse deixado esta condição, você provavelmente poderia dizer: “Droga, as coisas vão ficar realmente difíceis, mas provavelmente será possível resolver.” Mas esse capitalismo eclerosado, estagnado e fibrilado sob o qual vivemos desde 2008, não tem chance alguma de sobreviver às tormentas. E mesmo que eu esteja errado sobre a transição que vejo e desejo, seus defensores teriam de aparecer e dizer o que um info-capitalismo dinâmico, o que uma terceira revolução industrial poderia ser.

Mas me parece que Summers ou alguém como o economista Robert Gordon teriam que aceitar a parte de diagnóstico de sua análise…

Certo. Mas a razão pela qual não atravessei o caminho até o território do Robert Gordon é que lá está a produtividade potencial. Sua visão da produtividade potencial inerente à tecnologia da informação transbordando para o mundo real … Acho que é maior do que ele aceita ser.

Por que você pensa que ele subestima isso?

É porque pessoas como Gordon não estão preparadas para entrar nesse mundo inferior, entre valor de uso e valor de troca, que as externalidades representam. Não acho que lendo meu livro a maioria das pessoas aceitarão que a transição, potencialmente, se dá em direção ao  mundo não-mercantil, centralizado na informação, de baixa intensidade de trabalho, pós-capitalista. Mas se pensam que estamos indo em direção a uma forma de info-capitalismo com uma terceira revolução industrial, eles precisam contar para nós qual é a síntese de alto-valor. Que cara terá essa era eduardiana da terceira revolução industrial?

Haverá sinais desse futuro na chamada economia do compartilhamento? Em empreendimentos como Airbnb e Uber?

Meu palpite é que eles são o AltaVista da economia de partilha. O teórico social francês André Gorz explorou isso. Disse que é perfeitamente possível imaginar o capitalismo colonizando as relações interpessoais. O Uber é isso – a questão não são os motoristas de taxi, mas as pessoas darem carona umas às outras. Gorz prevê que nos tornaríamos provedores mútuos de microsserviços. Mas disse: “Essa não pode ser uma economia de alto-valor”. Esse é o problema. Você não pode construir um negócio garimpando a reserva da capacidade automobilística de todos, sua capacidade para fazer massagem Reiki, a meia hora sobressalente de cada eletricista. Você pode fazê-lo, e a economia da partilha é a maneira perfeita para fazê-lo, mas isso simplesmente não resulta na era eduardiana, na Belle Epoque. A Belle Epoque será o sequenciamento de genes e a possibilidade de gastar metade do dia jogando squash.

A maioria dos marxistas detestará esta hipótese. Significa dizer, contra Marx, que a humanidade se liberta por si própria, que as pessoas podem descobrir, dentro do capitalismo, recursos mentais para imaginar um novo futuro e ir direto a ele de um modo que, de 1844 em diante, Marx pensou ser impossível.

Você toma emprestada a ideia de “ciclo longo” do economista soviético Nikolai Kondratieff. Ele argumentava que a história do capitalismo pode ser entendida como uma sucessão de ciclos, cada um deles com uma ascensão turbinada por inovação tecnológica com duração de aproximadamente 25 anos, seguida de uma queda com aproximadamente a mesma duração e que geralmente acaba numa depressão. Esses longos ciclos são muito mais longos que os ciclos de negócio identificados com a economia convencional. Por que você considera proveitosa a abordagem de Kondratieff?

Penso que necessitamos de teorias maiores que os ciclos de negócio e menores que a destruição completa do sistema. Quando você aplica a teoria de Kondratieff ao período pós 1945, percebe o sistema funcionando perfeitamente até 1973. E então ele desmorona. O neoliberalismo vem junto e resolve o problema destruindo o poder de barganha do trabalho. Olhar para as coisas através das lentes de Kondratieff força você a colocar a questão: será o neoliberalismo a forma bem sucedida do novo capitalismo ou o fim da linha que prolongou o ciclo por tempo demais? Escolho a segunda alternativa.

Em que parte do ciclo nos encontramos agora?

Estamos bem no fim de um quarto longo ciclo muito prolongado. Estamos na fase de depressão do quarto longo ciclo, que coincidiu com a ascensão tecnológica do quinto. De modo que acredito que os longos ciclos podem sobrepor-se. Penso que estamos numa posição incomum, do ponto de vista histórico. Claramente, a revolução da informação está ai e as bases de um tipo de capitalismo completamente novo podem estar emergindo. O que aconteceu é que as velhas relações sociais da metade passada da onda anterior não irão adiante. Não há Keynes, apenas o reminiscente do velho. Se você olha para Mark Zuckerberg, do Facebook, ou Jeff Bezos, da Amazon, verá que são pessoas agnósticas sobre o futuro de todo o sistema. Eles veem apenas o futuro de sua própria corporação.

Meu uso de Kondratieff é para tentar responder a pergunta sobre onde estamos. As outras periodicidades – o ciclo de negócio de dez anos e a época, de 500 anos – não são suficientes. Não há uma cadeira de Estudos Pós Capitalistas na Universidade de Wolverhampton! Eles estão na infância.

Você mencionou André Gorz. No livro, você cita um trecho em que ele diz, em 1980, que a classe trabalhadora está morta. Se estava certo, quem será o agente de mudança social?

O fato terrível e desafiante pode ser que, se o capitalismo tem um início, um meio e um fim, então o movimento dos trabalhadores também. Em outras palavras, o declínio da luta trabalhista organizada, com base no trabalho manual, especializado, branco e masculino, parece-me partedo que está acontecendo ao capitalismo. Sou alguém que veio deste background e viveu mergulhado nele. Mas argumento que o sujeito histórico que trará o pós-capitalismo já existe e é o indivíduo em rede. A noção de Antonio Negri de “fábrica social” era arrogante nos anos 1970s, porque era muito cedo. Mas me parece ser justa agora – todos nós participamos na criação de marcas, no estabelecimento de escolhas de consumo, estamos alimentando o capitalismo financeiro por meio do nosso uso das finanças. Por isso, consigo comprar a ideia de que existe uma fábrica social. Se quiser desligá-la, deve fazer como William Benbow sugeriu na década de 1820, parando a “grande festa”. Agora, duvido que isso vá acontecer. Portanto, a maneira menos utópica de fazer isso é lutando pelos interesses dos indivíduos em rede, para que eles não tenham suas informações roubadas, arbitrariamente acessadas pelo Estado, para seus estilos de vida poderem florescer, para que eles tenham escolhas.

São tantos os levantes que cobri – Turquia e Brasil são bons exemplos. São assalariados em rede que não aguentam os níveis de corrupção e intromissão em suas vidas – o islamismo na Turquia, corrupção no Brasil. Que tipo de revolução é essa? Há uma discussão entre aqueles que se envolveram com meu livro: se este é o agente, é “por si” ou “em si”, como diria Marx. Seriam essas pessoas capazes de adquirir um nível espontâneo de entendimento da situação que os levasse a tomar algumas das medidas políticas insinuadas neste livro como um caminho a seguir? Neste momento eles ainda não chegaram lá, claramente. O que são é muito hábeis em construir seu espaço pessoal. Podemos zombar disso, por ser em pequena escala. Mas, ao construir um espaço que é simultaneamente econômico e pessoal, penso que esta geração está fazendo algo muito significativo.

Será que os impregno com a mesma inevitabilidade e teleologia com que o marxismo impregnou a classe trabalhadora? Não. No livro, gasto muito tempo desmontando a compreensão marxista de classe trabalhadora. Sempre senti, como alguém que tem essa bagagem, que o kit de ferramentas que o marxismo tinha para descrever a classe trabalhadora era dos menos convincentes – sobretudo para a própria classe trabalhadora.

A certa altura, você altura escreve que o marxismo é uma grande “teoria da história”, porm se equivoca como “teoria da crise”. O que quer dizer com isso?

Quero dizer que é uma grande teoria para analisar a sociedade de classes. Por exemplo, durante a revolução do Egito em 2011, tendo lido O 18 Brumário de Luis Bonaparte, de Marx, eu poderia dizer aos radicais egípcios que, quando o caos se instalasse, as mesmas pessoas que estavam ao lado deles dariam as boas vindas à ditadura. É provável que o capitalismo evocasse algo novo, capaz de impor ordem. O que impôs desordem foi a Irmandade Muçulmana. Ver as mesmas pessoas que tinham apoiado a revolução chamando o general Sisi para derrubar a Irmandade faz sentido, se você leu O 18 Brumário.

Eu perguntei a Alexis Tsipras antes de o Syriza ser eleito: “Quais seriam as ameaças para um governo de esquerda, se você conquistasse o poder?” Contei a ele: “Você se lembra que [Salvador] Allende nomeou [Augusto] Pinochet [no Chile]? Allende nomeou o general para deter um golpe militar. Nós rimos. A questão, você poderia argumentar, é que o governo da Grécia está sendo colonizado pelas mesmas forças que ele imaginou estar ali para combater. Neste momento, a elite empresarial está pensando: “Apenas Tsipras pode governar a Grécia.” Eles prefeririam que ele governasse a Grécia sem a extrema esquerda do próprio partido. Sempre encontro capitalistas gregos que me dizem: “Se Tsipras nos escutasse, a Grécia seria um grande país.”

O marxismo força você a fazer perguntas que não são feitas pelos jornalistas mainstream. Neste momento, a questão mais importante para os gregos é: o que está acontecendo com as massas? As massas não estão derrotadas. Elas não acreditam que Tsipras é Luis Bonaparte. Muitos fazem objeção ao que ele fez, mas não acreditam que ele seja uma força da reação. Eles acreditam no que está dizendo – que está fazendo algo contra a própria vontade e que irá compensar isso com um ataque à oligarquia. Esperam que esse ataque à oligarquia aconteça. Minha observação é de que houve uma grande radicalização, na Grécia. Quando o verão terminar, veremos uma renovação real tanto das lutas de base como do radicalismo do governo.

O foco naquilo que as pessoas estão dizendo nos pubs é algo que interessa muito a dois tipos de pessoas: às forças da polícia secreta e aos marxistas! Eu gasto o maior tempo possível ouvindo as pessoas.

Qual é o desafio jornalístico para ventilar esse tipo de questão? Trabalhar para uma rede de TV como o Channel Four impõe certamente certas restrições ao modo como você opera.

Um bom jornalista de assuntos sociais, que é o que penso ser, irá, na Grécia por exemplo, conversar com primeiros-ministros, ministros de Estado, mas irá também atrás dos estivadores, dos anarquistas. Ainda por cima, você tem somente dois minutos e trinta segundos. Essa é a razão por que gastei os últimos seis meses buscando recursos e realizando um grande documentário que virá a público, espero, no final deste ano, e que conta a história do Syriza desde as bases, a partir das ruas. Queria fazer isso porque no meu trabalho diário nunca poderia contar essa história. É simplesmente impossível.

E sobre a acusação, frequentemente dirigida a você (e feita várias vezes, durante os últimos meses na Grécia) de que, ao operar dessa forma, você excede os limites da propriedade jornalística ou da isenção?

Penso que todos estão errados! A realidade é que o mundo é governado por uma elite dedicada a reforçar, de modo às vezes completamente aberto, a desigualdade e tudo o que a acompanha. Na Grécia, a “austeridade” é uma forma de coerção. Fico feliz de dizer isso porque essa é a minha análise da realidade. Muita gente no Financial Times ou no Wall Street Journal não compartilha dessa minha visão. Mas estou muito feliz, e meus patrões estão permanentemente felizes com o modo como pratico o jornalismo. As pessoas que não gostam devem simplesmente acostumar-se a ele.

Com ideias como as que estão neste livro, a razão de divulgar uma ideia radical é que você não espera que Andy Burnham ou Tim Farron, [dirigentes do Partido Trabalhista britânico] irão telefonar e dizer, “gosto disso, Paul. Vamos incluir na política do partido.” A questão é ser um pouco do contra. Há pensamento único demais. Meu desejo com esse livro é fazer como num workshop de teatro – levar as pessoas a uma experiência fora do corpo, a ficar largadas no chão, na piscina das próprias lágrimas. Então, quando elas voltarem à segurança do grupo, talvez possam fazer alguma coisa mais honesta.

Conversation with Gabriella Coleman about her latest book “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous” (Fruzsina Eördögh)


shelfie hibbard for twitter

Here is the unedited 30 minute conversation/interview with Coleman, three times the length as the one published on CSM’s Passcode

FE: I finally finished your book last night…. at 3 in the morning….  it’s a pretty long book… while I was reading it, it hit me that this book is really about everything that has to do with the modern Internet, so in that way it makes sense why it is so long… you have to provide context for all these different and new concepts that no one has really written about.

GC: that’s something that’s been interesting to see the reviews, a lot of them have been repetitive. It is about Anonymous, but it is about so much more….

FE: Like modern activism…

GC: yeah, and what it means for hackers… they’ve really coalesced into a major political force just in the last five or six years.

FE: I’m glad you brought the political activism angle, do you think there will ever be an Anonymous political party?

GC: I don’t think so, they’re going to continue in their guerrilla war fashion, but we will see more hackers in government, for sure. Anonymous has to be independent… there’s no way that they can overtly work with government…

FE: So, onto prepared questions… what does the media still get wrong about Anonymous?

GC: I am currently writing this article for this anthropology book about relationships with journalists, and how I came to see journalism differently over time, just as the same way Anonymous is not unanimous, the same can be said for journalism. There are much more local journalists, and some are fucked up, there are structural constraints, and it is the same for Anonymous.

GC:  But basically, I do think a lot of journalists get it, and initially there was three things that were really difficult.

First, so many people just wanted to say that they were all hackers and I think over time a great majority realized that sure hacking is very important, but what makes Anonymous interesting is precisely the fact that general geeks can join.

GC:  The second has to do with the leader issue and for that first year [of research], in 2011, so many people, even journalists that I respect, were still wanting to boil down leadership to sabu or topiary. While it is absolutely the case that the hacker groups command more power, for example, topiary and sabu were two of those charismatic public figures so they became really important brokers between the world of Anonymous and the public, these are not leaders… the chat logs show how organic everything arises.

GC: And that’s really tough to understand [for outsiders], and still continues a little bit, except for those people who have actually bothered to find out about Anonymous. Here’s a great story: a senior investigative reporter producer for one of the top networks contacted me soon after operation ISIS started, and they were like, well, you know, “can you get us in touch with the Julian Assange type figure in Anonymous?”  and I was like “oh my god, did you just not read a single article? Because had you read a single article” the journalism has gotten so good, I think, that he wouldn’t have asked such a stupid question.

FE: it’s an easier narrative to sell, it’s easier to understand, for them to do their job.

GC: it is, for sure,

FE: but on the other hand that’s a bit of laziness, because the simplest explanation is not always the correct explanation

GC: that’s right, and everyone else has accommodated, including much of mainstream journalism…

And one final bit, while looking over my notes from the first year, there was a lot of characterization of Anonymous as vigilantes, I actually don’t think there was a lot of vigilante operations that year!  A lot of that came later…

FE: or a lot of that was the lower case anons, on 4chan, when they were like, “OMG people abusing cats,” or “my gf dumped me, let’s harass her on Facebook.”

GC: that’s exactly it. And a lot of people in the public and some journalists still think they’re primarily vigilantes, while it is — I don’t have a number but it is probably a quarter or less of their operations, are vigilante operations.

FE: Speaking of vigilantism, about the “white knight ops”… do you think they were the best way Anonymous could have chosen to endear themselves to the general public and to feminists?

GC: I generally agree, although it’s fascinating because Steubenville is what put them on the map in that “white knight oping” I think overall– and this is one of the most heavily qualified statements– they did a service but they did it poorly. I do think the two subsequent ones were executed with a lot more precision and nuance, thankfully.

But I wish that had been the case with Steubenville as well. We have to take seriously that collateral damage but I also think it’s something journalists also fall prey to as well, they make these big big mistakes when they take action and they should do everything possible to call out folks who do that, like that Rolling Stone piece, but I am not going to damn the entire bit of Anonymous for making those mistakes, for one person, unless they keep on doing it time after time but they didn’t.

FE: yeah that’s one of Anonymous’ strengths, that they adapt over time

GC: exactly, so you’ve really got to fully take that into account and the biggest mistake that came after Steubenville came over a year later, with Darren Wilson, rather, not correctly identifying Darren Wilson —

FE: oh but that The Anon Message account is just a whole other issue —

GC: exactly, crazy, he’s totally crazy, and you’re going to get that sometimes, you’re going to get the loose cannon and that is one of the weaknesses of Anonymous, that loose cannon person

FE: it’s weird though, that everyone in the community knows that TAM is a loose cannon, untrustworthy, but then media outlets still take what he says seriously

GC: yeah, and that’s maybe one of the weaknesses to raise, when you don’t have a spokesperson, to say “hey don’t listen to them” and I at one time took that role, and helped a lot of journalists, saying “he is credible, she is credible, he is not credible” but because I am not active any more I don’t play that role.

FE: it’s interesting that Anonymous hasn’t really decided to create like an IRC channel that is just for press,

GC: I would say in 2011, the AnonOps reporter channel was that way, but post when AnonOps was DDoSed, when Ryan Cleary dropped all the IP addresses, AnonOps became less of a central place…and that reporter channel couldn’t function in the way it once did. You’re right, there isn’t a single place you can go today for that type of verification…it’s much more fragmented today.

FE: Were you aware of the controversy around KYanonymous?

GC: he was one of the people I could have featured like I did with Barrett Brown, but I had less original material…

FE: KY is just so horribly hated, and I read a lot of posts and talked to a lot of people who are convinced everything they say about him online is true–

GC: yeah, it’s hard to dig in, because on the one hand the reality is he went on talk shows and he was pushing his rap music, but I think they demonized him a little bit too much, if that makes sense. Had he just been like, “yo, I’ve been arrested,” and he didn’t try to financially capitalize, I think [Anons] would have come and financially supported him. They ostracize those that try to convert their personal relationships inside Anonymous for personal gain, and they would have, I’M SURE, organized a financial campaign to help him… but it was too much, to sell his story to Rolling Stone, which got sold as movie rights, and the rap stuff, you know in some ways, [similar to] Barrett Brown

FE: What’s your take on the general Anon view of women? You mentioned it briefly in your book, when talking about AnonOps 2011

GC:  so the hackers are all male, and we could blame Anonymous for keeping them out, but they are not keeping black hat hackers out because they barely exist. Now that said, there is a culture where they embrace this very offensive language, including misogynistic language, and this is obviously going to be a barrier, not simply for women but certain quarters of the leftist community.

There are definitely women who participate, I put the number at about 25% so probably much higher than Open Source development and they play key roles with Twitter accounts, organizers, these sorts of things, but it is certainly the case that… my experience is that leftists tend to love Anonymous or hate Anonymous

GC: they love Anonymous because they’re bold, taking action, and some of whom are still uncomfortable with the language, like how Jeremy Hammond was, but still decided that it was worth it, others who kind of enjoy the transgressive language, and then among a kind of  a camp on the left, understandably, their language politics are too naive and they don’t buy into the importance of transgressing language and norms and that acts as a barrier for them. i won’t be able to solve this question right now I actually go back and forth myself on the language issue, and certainly, it can act as a barrier for women and some leftists in general. That is just a fact. whether or not you agree with the language politics, it can and will act as a barrier.

FE: I thought with the “white knight ops” that it would draw more women to Anonymous, but it didn’t really, probably because of the language and the culture.

GC: that’s right, feminists were very torn, some saw them as quite bold and I quoted someone in that position, I quoted another woman, Jackie, was the woman that could see the value, but there’s others who really are just like, “it’s incredibly regressive.”

FE: Did you find any challenges while researching and writing about Anonymous and their taboo relationship with “the online troll?”

GC: yeah, for sure, I mean, like, because of trolling or…?

FE: as in, do people take what you have to say less seriously because you are caught up in this trollish community, did you have to take extra time to prove your point because of the troll stigma…

GC:  I do not evny those folks who have to write purely on trolling, because you become polluted by the trolls. Many people can respect very much what you do but a lot of people, and I’ve seen this with some of my good friends that write about trolls, some people, you know they are not giving trolls a free pass whatsoever, they’re trying to go beyond, “it’s simply racism”… there’s other things going on, right. As a result, they become polluted by the trolls and certain academics are really critical of that type of scholarship. Which is very very problematic. I was certainly concerned because I addressed trolls to some degree but I was relieved that I didn’t address it deeply.

FE: it makes me think of Whitney Phillips’ book

GC: [00:20:15.00] OFF THE RECORD DISCUSSION [00:21:05.07]

You know one of the difficulties is weev, in a lot of ways, because, obviously I interacted with him a lot and I really did want to convey how frightening of a troll he was, but not necessarily, simply moralize it from the get-go but show the cultural logic. I think I succeeded. Some of his victims thanked me for not white-washing him. But also, I went beyond the kind of moral narrative of good and bad even though I think it was pretty clear.

GC: As I like to say [to] weev [who] likes to call himself puck, “no, you’re more like loki, because loki is really fucking frightening and is far more playful.”

FE: do you feel DDoS will ever be recognized as a form of protest?

GC: Yeah, it might, in certain places of the world, certainly not the United States.

FE: why not the United States?

GC:Because it falls under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, because the United States has zero tolerance for “computer crimes” right, it will put anything under, any attack under the CFAA and just the history has shown they are not going to budge on this. Granted, the paypal14 outcome was more favorable than I expected, and this goes to show [that if] there is a big movement behind a case [it] can make a difference. If people weren’t watching, if there wasn’t a Free Anonymous campaign, if they didn’t have great lawyers, it would be much worse.

FE: so in your book you wrote that Brazil, Italy and Hispanic-Mexican Anons were the largest contingent. Do you still think that is the case in 2015?

GC: yeah, Italy not so much because there have been a lot of arrests, but certainly lulzsec peru is still kicking strong, and even in September they had that famous hack against the Peruvian government, that linked to emails that exposed corruption.

I have to see about Asia, not too sure about today, but certainly for the Umbrella Revolution they were quite active with hacking but again, we’re not seeing that coverage, understandably, Anonymous is quite hard to study now because of the language barrier, but once you differentiate between no activity versus global off-shoring…

FE: A few people think German Anons have best hackers right now,

GC: What you can say is that they’ve gotten smarter, they’re being quieter, hiding their tracks, [CUT]

FE: there’s so many levels of irony, contradictions to various aspects of Anonymous, right, like how they forgo identity yet are incredibly publicity hungry, they are leaderless, but then they always have a handful of temporary leaders for short periods of time, they’re not anyone’s personal army and yet they are, for someone or for a cause…

GC: and in many of their operations people are like, “hey help us,” and sometimes they initiate it but others… like Ferguson comes to mind, where they said “hey, we need Anonymous”

FE: and Anonymous is like, “yeah, we’ll be your Batman!”

GC: exactly

FE: and the last one is how it is not entirely Anonymous, the collective has to be pseudo-anonymous to function, so… out of all these levels of contradictions, which one do you think is the hardest to explain, and get around?


I think the hardest thing to convey is the changing structures of leadership, because people still are like, “but there must be leaders” when they say there is not a single spokesperson, and then I have to agree with them in that certain moments, certain teams or individuals are more important than others but, because of the fact that there are multiple ones, and it is highly dynamic and shifts, it means that it doesn’t resemble a certain organization where there really is a chosen spokesperson, or having an assigned roles, like with Red Hat Turkish group.

GC: I think some people have trouble understanding because they’ve never been on internet relay chat, and they don’t know what the exchange looks like, and that’s completely understandable that they can’t grasp the reality of those chats, and that was one of the reasons why I included so many chats in the book and why I also included the hackers working together and in a small team. And what’s interesting about Anonymous and this also goes back to the contradiction, it’s not simply that there is a shifting leadership, you have small teams that are very controlled at some level even if it is very much consensus-based and you have those big channels in the public that can determine what happens. This is why I included that example of the back channel DDoSing the Motion Picture Association of America and then when the group outed itself in the public channel and then the public channel engaged in mutiny,

FE: hanging out in IRC is quite a trip

BC: it really makes your ADHD worse…but that’s really hard because it is not simply the contradiction, if you have not experienced this interchanging spaces it is very understandably hard to wrap your head around it.

FE: I think that people are just confused that you can have leaders of a group of 10 people, and there will be 3 “leaders,” and they’ll only be “leaders” for a day or two, or a week,

GC: and some people like Commander X is really liked by some, and hated by some, so like the important movers and shakers he also gets a bad rap because he has talked to the media. But then he’s also put in a lot of work, and gets stuff done…

But you’re absolutely right, there’s a series of contradictions and that really defines who Anonymous is and it’s hard to convey some of them,

FE: it’s like in your book, when you mention you are breaking down the myth, but at the same time, that myth is what draws people to Anonymous so you also uphold it, it is a balancing act

GC: and that was like the central idea, I didn’t reveal it until the end, but yeah, my whole book is traveling this contradictory set of goals… there are too many misconceptions but I also wanted to make it exciting and enchanting and all sorts of things.

FE: so Barrett Brown, I know you said you didn’t want to talk about him, but…why do you think he was given more prison time?

GC: I think he was given… well, there are a couple things going on. Over the course of the history of transgressive hacking, or hacktivism, he’s not a hacker — so he took part in the hacktivism without the hacking — but whether it is Kevin Mitnick and the past, or now Barrett Brown, I think the state does want to create an example out of certain people, and he is the example of the non-hacker rabble-rouser who gets very close to the hackers,

FE: it’s very upsetting to me, because it’s like they are villianizing PR. PR is not a crime, and maybe that’s why he keeps denying he was a spokesperson… even if he wasn’t technically the official spokesperson, he still functioned like a PR rep,

GC: exactly, it’s true he was at times very close and involved in a lot of operations but you know, I was there for a lot of the Stratfor stuff, and Antisec was keeping him at bay. They didn’t even give him the emails! So it was really this unbelievable witch hunt against him, and it is true they capitalized off the fact that he was a central participant to kind of make their case, even though I think it was really ungrounded.

The Creepy New Wave of the Internet (NY Review of Books)

Sue Halpern


The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism
by Jeremy Rifkin
Palgrave Macmillan, 356 pp., $28.00

Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things
by David Rose
Scribner, 304 pp., $28.00

Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy
by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, with a foreword by Marc Benioff
Patrick Brewster, 225 pp., $14.45 (paper)

More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook
by Jim Dwyer
Viking, 374 pp., $27.95

A detail of Penelope Umbrico’s Sunset Portraits from 11,827,282 Flickr Sunsets on 1/7/13, 2013. For the project, Umbrico searched the website Flickr for scenes of sunsets in which the sun, not the subject, predominated. The installation, consisting of two thousand 4 x 6 C-prints, explores the idea that ‘the individual assertion of “being here” is ultimately read as a lack of individuality when faced with so many assertions that are more or less all the same.’ A collection of her work, Penelope Umbrico (photographs), was published in 2011 by Aperture.

Every day a piece of computer code is sent to me by e-mail from a website to which I subscribe called IFTTT. Those letters stand for the phrase “if this then that,” and the code is in the form of a “recipe” that has the power to animate it. Recently, for instance, I chose to enable an IFTTT recipe that read, “if the temperature in my house falls below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, then send me a text message.” It’s a simple command that heralds a significant change in how we will be living our lives when much of the material world is connected—like my thermostat—to the Internet.

It is already possible to buy Internet-enabled light bulbs that turn on when your car signals your home that you are a certain distance away and coffeemakers that sync to the alarm on your phone, as well as WiFi washer-dryers that know you are away and periodically fluff your clothes until you return, and Internet-connected slow cookers, vacuums, and refrigerators. “Check the morning weather, browse the web for recipes, explore your social networks or leave notes for your family—all from the refrigerator door,” reads the ad for one.

Welcome to the beginning of what is being touted as the Internet’s next wave by technologists, investment bankers, research organizations, and the companies that stand to rake in some of an estimated $14.4 trillion by 2022—what they call the Internet of Things (IoT). Cisco Systems, which is one of those companies, and whose CEO came up with that multitrillion-dollar figure, takes it a step further and calls this wave “the Internet of Everything,” which is both aspirational and telling. The writer and social thinker Jeremy Rifkin, whose consulting firm is working with businesses and governments to hurry this new wave along, describes it like this:

The Internet of Things will connect every thing with everyone in an integrated global network. People, machines, natural resources, production lines, logistics networks, consumption habits, recycling flows, and virtually every other aspect of economic and social life will be linked via sensors and software to the IoT platform, continually feeding Big Data to every node—businesses, homes, vehicles—moment to moment, in real time. Big Data, in turn, will be processed with advanced analytics, transformed into predictive algorithms, and programmed into automated systems to improve thermodynamic efficiencies, dramatically increase productivity, and reduce the marginal cost of producing and delivering a full range of goods and services to near zero across the entire economy.

In Rifkin’s estimation, all this connectivity will bring on the “Third Industrial Revolution,” poised as he believes it is to not merely redefine our relationship to machines and their relationship to one another, but to overtake and overthrow capitalism once the efficiencies of the Internet of Things undermine the market system, dropping the cost of producing goods to, basically, nothing. His recent book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, is a paean to this coming epoch.

It is also deeply wishful, as many prospective arguments are, even when they start from fact. And the fact is, the Internet of Things is happening, and happening quickly. Rifkin notes that in 2007 there were ten million sensors of all kinds connected to the Internet, a number he says will increase to 100 trillion by 2030. A lot of these are small radio-frequency identification (RFID) microchips attached to goods as they crisscross the globe, but there are also sensors on vending machines, delivery trucks, cattle and other farm animals, cell phones, cars, weather-monitoring equipment, NFL football helmets, jet engines, and running shoes, among other things, generating data meant to streamline, inform, and increase productivity, often by bypassing human intervention. Additionally, the number of autonomous Internet-connected devices such as cell phones—devices that communicate directly with one another—now doubles every five years, growing from 12.5 billion in 2010 to an estimated 25 billion next year and 50 billion by 2020.

For years, a cohort of technologists, most notably Ray Kurzweil, the writer, inventor, and director of engineering at Google, have been predicting the day when computer intelligence surpasses human intelligence and merges with it in what they call the Singularity. We are not there yet, but a kind of singularity is already upon us as we swallow pills embedded with microscopic computer chips, activated by stomach acids, that will be able to report compliance with our doctor’s orders (or not) directly to our electronic medical records. Then there is the singularity that occurs when we outfit our bodies with “wearable technology” that sends data about our physical activity, heart rate, respiration, and sleep patterns to a database in the cloud as well as to our mobile phones and computers (and to Facebook and our insurance company and our employer).

Cisco Systems, for instance, which is already deep into wearable technology, is working on a platform called “the Connected Athlete” that “turns the athlete’s body into a distributed system of sensors and network intelligence…[so] the athlete becomes more than just a competitor—he or she becomes a Wireless Body Area Network, or WBAN.” Wearable technology, which generated $800 million in 2013, is expected to make nearly twice that this year. These are numbers that not only represent sales, but the public’s acceptance of, and habituation to, becoming one of the things connected to and through the Internet.

One reason that it has been easy to miss the emergence of the Internet of Things, and therefore miss its significance, is that much of what is presented to the public as its avatars seems superfluous and beside the point. An alarm clock that emits the scent of bacon, a glow ball that signals if it is too windy to go out sailing, and an “egg minder” that tells you how many eggs are in your refrigerator no matter where you are in the (Internet-connected) world, revolutionary as they may be, hardly seem the stuff of revolutions; because they are novelties, they obscure what is novel about them.

And then there is the creepiness factor. In the weeks before the general release of Google Glass, Google’s $1,500 see-through eyeglass computer that lets the wearer record what she is seeing and hearing, the press reported a number of incidents in which early adopters were physically accosted by people offended by the product’s intrusiveness. Enough is enough, the Glass opponents were saying.

Why a small cohort of people encountering Google Glass for the first time found it disturbing is the same reason that David Rose, an instructor at MIT and the founder of a company that embeds Internet connectivity into everyday devices like umbrellas and medicine vials, celebrates it and waxes nearly poetic on the potential of “heads up displays.” As he writes in Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things, such devices have the potential to radically transform human encounters. Rose imagines a party where

Wearing your fashionable [heads up] display, you will instruct the device to display the people’s names and key biographical info above their heads. In the business meeting, you will call up information about previous meetings and agenda items. The HUD display will call up useful websites, tap into social networks, and dig into massive info sources…. You will fact-check your friends and colleagues…. You will also engage in real-time messaging, including videoconferencing with friends or colleagues who will participate, coach, consult, or lurk.
Whether this scenario excites or repels you, it represents the vision of more than one of the players moving us in the direction of pervasive connectivity. Rose’s company, Ambient Devices, has been at the forefront of what he calls “enchanting” objects—that is, connecting them to the Internet to make them “extraordinary.” This is a task that Glenn Lurie, the CEO of ATT Mobility, believes is “spot on.” Among these enchanted objects are the Google Latitude Doorbell that “lets you know where your family members are and when they are approaching home,” an umbrella that turns blue when it is about to rain so you might be inspired to take it with you, and a jacket that gives you a hug every time someone likes your Facebook post.

Rose envisions “an enchanted wall in your kitchen that could display, through lines of colored light, the trends and patterns of your loved ones’ moods,” because it will offer “a better understanding of [the] hidden thoughts and emotions that are relevant to us….” If his account of a mood wall seems unduly fanciful (and nutty), it should be noted that this summer, British Airways gave passengers flying from New York to London blankets embedded with neurosensors to track how they were feeling. Apparently this was more scientific than simply asking them. According to one report:

When the fiber optics woven into the blanket turned red, flight attendants knew that the passengers were feeling stressed and anxious. Blue blankets were a sign that the passenger was feeling calm and relaxed.
Thus the airline learned that passengers were happiest when eating and drinking, and most relaxed when sleeping.

While, arguably, this “finding” is as trivial as an umbrella that turns blue when it’s going to rain, there is nothing trivial about collecting personal data, as innocuous as that data may seem. It takes very little imagination to foresee how the kitchen mood wall could lead to advertisements for antidepressants that follow you around the Web, or trigger an alert to your employer, or show up on your Facebook page because, according to Robert Scoble and Shel Israel in Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy, Facebook “wants to build a system that anticipates your needs.”

It takes even less imagination to foresee how information about your comings and goings obtained from the Google Latitude Doorbell could be used in a court of law. Cars are now outfitted with scores of sensors, including ones in the seats that determine how many passengers are in them, as well as with an “event data recorder” (EDR), which is the automobile equivalent of an airplane’s black box. As Scoble and Israel report in Age of Context, “the general legal consensus is that police will be able to subpoena car logs the same way they now subpoena phone records.”

Meanwhile, cars themselves are becoming computers on wheels, with operating system updates coming wirelessly over the air, and with increasing capacity to “understand” their owners. As Scoble and Israel tell it:

They not only adjust seat positions and mirrors automatically, but soon they’ll also know your preferences in music, service stations, dining spots and hotels…. They know when you are headed home, and soon they’ll be able to remind you to stop at the market to get a dessert for dinner.
Recent revelations from the journalist Glenn Greenwald put the number of Americans under government surveillance at a colossal 1.2 million people. Once the Internet of Things is in place, that number might easily expand to include everyone else, because a system that can remind you to stop at the market for dessert is a system that knows who you are and where you are and what you’ve been doing and with whom you’ve been doing it. And this is information we give out freely, or unwittingly, and largely without question or complaint, trading it for convenience, or what passes for convenience.

Michael Cogliantry
The journalist A.J. Jacobs wearing data-collecting sensors to keep track of his health and fitness; from Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt’s The Human Face of Big Data, published in 2012 by Against All Odds
In other words, as human behavior is tracked and merchandized on a massive scale, the Internet of Things creates the perfect conditions to bolster and expand the surveillance state. In the world of the Internet of Things, your car, your heating system, your refrigerator, your fitness apps, your credit card, your television set, your window shades, your scale, your medications, your camera, your heart rate monitor, your electric toothbrush, and your washing machine—to say nothing of your phone—generate a continuous stream of data that resides largely out of reach of the individual but not of those willing to pay for it or in other ways commandeer it.

That is the point: the Internet of Things is about the “dataization” of our bodies, ourselves, and our environment. As a post on the tech website Gigaom put it, “The Internet of Things isn’t about things. It’s about cheap data.” Lots and lots of it. “The more you tell the world about yourself, the more the world can give you what you want,” says Sam Lessin, the head of Facebook’s Identity Product Group. It’s a sentiment shared by Scoble and Israel, who write:

The more the technology knows about you, the more benefits you will receive. That can leave you with the chilling sensation that big data is watching you. In the vast majority of cases, we believe the coming benefits are worth that trade-off.
So, too, does Jeremy Rifkin, who dismisses our legal, social, and cultural affinity for privacy as, essentially, a bourgeois affectation—a remnant of the enclosure laws that spawned capitalism:

Connecting everyone and everything in a neural network brings the human race out of the age of privacy, a defining characteristic of modernity, and into the era of transparency. While privacy has long been considered a fundamental right, it has never been an inherent right. Indeed, for all of human history, until the modern era, life was lived more or less publicly….
In virtually every society that we know of before the modern era, people bathed together in public, often urinated and defecated in public, ate at communal tables, frequently engaged in sexual intimacy in public, and slept huddled together en masse. It wasn’t until the early capitalist era that people began to retreat behind locked doors.
As anyone who has spent any time on Facebook knows, transparency is a fiction—literally. Social media is about presenting a curated self; it is opacity masquerading as transparency. In a sense, then, it is about preserving privacy. So when Rifkin claims that for young people, “privacy has lost much of its appeal,” he is either confusing sharing (as in sharing pictures of a vacation in Spain) with openness, or he is acknowledging that young people, especially, have become inured to the trade-offs they are making to use services like Facebook. (But they are not completely inured to it, as demonstrated by both Jim Dwyer’s painstaking book More Awesome Than Money, about the failed race to build a noncommercial social media site called Diaspora in 2010, as well as the overwhelming response—as many as 31,000 requests an hour for invitations—to the recent announcement that there soon will be a Facebook alternative, Ello, that does not collect or sell users’ data.)

These trade-offs will only increase as the quotidian becomes digitized, leaving fewer and fewer opportunities to opt out. It’s one thing to edit the self that is broadcast on Facebook and Twitter, but the Internet of Things, which knows our viewing habits, grooming rituals, medical histories, and more, allows no such interventions—unless it is our behaviors and curiosities and idiosyncracies themselves that end up on the cutting room floor.

Even so, no matter what we do, the ubiquity of the Internet of Things is putting us squarely in the path of hackers, who will have almost unlimited portals into our digital lives. When, last winter, cybercriminals broke into more than 100,000 Internet-enabled appliances including refrigerators and sent out 750,000 spam e-mails to their users, they demonstrated just how vulnerable Internet-connected machines are.

Not long after that, Forbes reported that security researchers had come up with a $20 tool that was able to remotely control a car’s steering, brakes, acceleration, locks, and lights. It was an experiment that, again, showed how simple it is to manipulate and sabotage the smartest of machines, even though—but really because—a car is now, in the words of a Ford executive, a “cognitive device.”

More recently, a study of ten popular IoT devices by the computer company Hewlett-Packard uncovered a total of 250 security flaws among them. As Jerry Michalski, a former tech industry analyst and founder of the REX think tank, observed in a recent Pew study: “Most of the devices exposed on the internet will be vulnerable. They will also be prone to unintended consequences: they will do things nobody designed for beforehand, most of which will be undesirable.”

Breaking into a home system so that the refrigerator will send out spam that will flood your e-mail and hacking a car to trigger a crash are, of course, terrible and real possibilities, yet as bad as they may be, they are limited in scope. As IoT technology is adopted in manufacturing, logistics, and energy generation and distribution, the vulnerabilities do not have to scale up for the stakes to soar. In a New York Times article last year, Matthew Wald wrote:

If an adversary lands a knockout blow [to the energy grid]…it could black out vast areas of the continent for weeks; interrupt supplies of water, gasoline, diesel fuel and fresh food; shut down communications; and create disruptions of a scale that was only hinted at by Hurricane Sandy and the attacks of Sept. 11.
In that same article, Wald noted that though government officials, law enforcement personnel, National Guard members, and utility workers had been brought together to go through a worst-case scenario practice drill, they often seemed to be speaking different languages, which did not bode well for an effective response to what is recognized as a near inevitability. (Last year the Department of Homeland Security responded to 256 cyberattacks, half of them directed at the electrical grid. This was double the number for 2012.)

This Babel problem dogs the whole Internet of Things venture. After the “things” are connected to the Internet, they need to communicate with one another: your smart TV to your smart light bulbs to your smart door locks to your smart socks (yes, they exist). And if there is no lingua franca—which there isn’t so far—then when that television breaks or becomes obsolete (because soon enough there will be an even smarter one), your choices will be limited by what language is connecting all your stuff. Though there are industry groups trying to unify the platform, in September Apple offered a glimpse of how the Internet of Things actually might play out, when it introduced the company’s new smart watch, mobile payment system, health apps, and other, seemingly random, additions to its product line. As Mat Honan virtually shouted in Wired:

Apple is building a world in which there is a computer in your every interaction, waking and sleeping. A computer in your pocket. A computer on your body. A computer paying for all your purchases. A computer opening your hotel room door. A computer monitoring your movements as you walk though the mall. A computer watching you sleep. A computer controlling the devices in your home. A computer that tells you where you parked. A computer taking your pulse, telling you how many steps you took, how high you climbed and how many calories you burned—and sharing it all with your friends…. THIS IS THE NEW APPLE ECOSYSTEM. APPLE HAS TURNED OUR WORLD INTO ONE BIG UBIQUITOUS COMPUTER.
The ecosystem may be lush, but it will be, by design, limited. Call it the Internet of Proprietary Things.

For many of us, it is difficult to imagine smart watches and WiFi-enabled light bulbs leading to a new world order, whether that new world order is a surveillance state that knows more about us than we do about ourselves or the techno-utopia envisioned by Jeremy Rifkin, where people can make much of what they need on 3-D printers powered by solar panels and unleashed human creativity. Because home automation is likely to be expensive—it will take a lot of eggs before the egg minder pays for itself—it is unlikely that those watches and light bulbs will be the primary driver of the Internet of Things, though they will be its showcase.

Rather, the Internet’s third wave will be propelled by businesses that are able to rationalize their operations by replacing people with machines, using sensors to simplify distribution patterns and reduce inventories, deploying algorithms that eliminate human error, and so on. Those business savings are crucial to Rifkin’s vision of the Third Industrial Revolution, not simply because they have the potential to bring down the price of consumer goods, but because, for the first time, a central tenet of capitalism—that increased productivity requires increased human labor—will no longer hold. And once productivity is unmoored from labor, he argues, capitalism will not be able to support itself, either ideologically or practically.

What will rise in place of capitalism is what Rifkin calls the “collaborative commons,” where goods and property are shared, and the distinction between those who own the means of production and those who are beholden to those who own the means of production disappears. “The old paradigm of owners and workers, and of sellers and consumers, is beginning to break down,” he writes.

Consumers are becoming their own producers, eliminating the distinction. Prosumers will increasingly be able to produce, consume, and share their own goods…. The automation of work is already beginning to free up human labor to migrate to the evolving social economy…. The Internet of Things frees human beings from the market economy to pursue nonmaterial shared interests on the Collaborative Commons.
Rifkin’s vision that people will occupy themselves with more fulfilling activities like making music and self-publishing novels once they are freed from work, while machines do the heavy lifting, is offered at a moment when a new kind of structural unemployment born of robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence takes hold globally, and traditional ways of making a living disappear. Rifkin’s claims may be comforting, but they are illusory and misleading. (We’ve also heard this before, in 1845, when Marx wrote in The German Ideology that under communism people would be “free to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, [and] criticize after dinner.”)

As an example, Rifkin points to Etsy, the online marketplace where thousands of “prosumers” sell their crafts, as a model for what he dubs the new creative economy. “Currently 900,000 small producers of goods advertise at no cost on the Etsy website,” he writes.

Nearly 60 million consumers per month from around the world browse the website, often interacting personally with suppliers…. This form of laterally scaled marketing puts the small enterprise on a level playing field with the big boys, allowing them to reach a worldwide user market at a fraction of the cost.
All that may be accurate and yet largely irrelevant if the goal is for those 900,000 small producers to make an actual living. As Amanda Hess wrote last year in Slate:

Etsy says its crafters are “thinking and acting like entrepreneurs,” but they’re not thinking or acting like very effective ones. Seventy-four percent of Etsy sellers consider their shop a “business,” including 65 percent of sellers who made less than $100 last year.
While it is true that a do-it-yourself subculture is thriving, and sharing cars, tools, houses, and other property is becoming more common, it is also true that much of this activity is happening under duress as steady employment disappears. As an article in The New York Times this past summer made clear, employment in the sharing economy, also known as the gig economy, where people piece together an income by driving for Uber and delivering groceries for Instacart, leaves them little time for hunting and fishing, unless it’s hunting for work and fishing under a shared couch for loose change.

So here comes the Internet’s Third Wave. In its wake jobs will disappear, work will morph, and a lot of money will be made by the companies, consultants, and investment banks that saw it coming. Privacy will disappear, too, and our intimate spaces will become advertising platforms—last December Google sent a letter to the SEC explaining how it might run ads on home appliances—and we may be too busy trying to get our toaster to communicate with our bathroom scale to notice. Technology, which allows us to augment and extend our native capabilities, tends to evolve haphazardly, and the future that is imagined for it—good or bad—is almost always historical, which is to say, naive.

Acervo de canções indígenas da Amazônia chega na Internet (Amazônia Real)

Elaíze Farias


Equipe registra dança e música de comunidade indígena de Roraima.Equipe registra dança e música de comunidade indígena de Roraima.

A diversidade musical das comunidades indígenas do norte do Amazonas e do Estado de Roraima foi reunida em uma inédita e rica coletânea. São quase quatro horas de 80 faixas musicais de grupos indígenas das etnias baniwa, wapichana, macuxi e tauepang, resultado do projeto intitulado “A Música das Cachoeiras” do grupo Cauxi Produtora Cultural. O nome é uma referência às correntezas da bacia do Alto rio Negro. O coordenador Agenor Vasconcelo define o projeto como um “registro etnográfico audiovisual”, no qual o principal foco é a música.

O lançamento em Manaus acontece no próximo dia 6 de dezembro, na Estação Cultural Arte e Fato. É partir desta data que o conteúdo completo estará disponível para download pelo endereç  Uma prévia do material já pode ser acessada nos seguintes endereç e

Os autores do projeto “A Música das Cachoeiras” empreenderam uma expedição de janeiro a junho deste ano nas comunidades indígenas. Registraram a gaitada do músico Ademarzino Garrido e a embolada do pandeiro de comunidades do Alto Rio Negro, no Amazonas, a incomum mistura forró tradicional com a dança tradicional Parixara, o hip-hop dos índios taurepang, entre outros gêneros musicais indígenas.

Conheceram músicos de cada comunidade, além de compositores já consolidados nas cidades de São Gabriel da Cachoeira, no Alto Rio Negro, e em Boa Vista (RR), como Paulo Moura, Eliakim Rufino, Mike Gy Brás, Paulo Fabiano e Rivanildo Fidelis.

O projeto foi integralmente patrocinado pelo programa Natura Musical, no valor de R$ 100 mil, selecionado por meio de edital nacional em 2012, por meio da Lei de Incentivo à Cultura do Ministério da Cultura do Governo Federal. O acervo inclui gravação de músicas e vídeos, registros fotográficos, produção de uma cartilha e a criação de um site.

Os realizadores explicam que o projeto nasceu de uma ideia: resgatar a mesma expedição que etnógrafo alemão Theodor Koch-Grünberg (1872-1924) realizou nas comunidades do Alto Rio Negro e na região do Monte Roraima entre 1903 e 1913. Koch-Grünberg foi um pesquisador que morou na região e registrou em suas obras a cultura material e imaterial dos povos ameríndios.

Grupo de dança dos índios wapichanas (RR) se apresentam para equipe. Foto: Divulgação

Agenor Vasconcelos tomou conhecimento sobre a pesquisa do alemão na época em que fazia mestrado em Sociedade e Cultura na Amazônia na Universidade Federal do Amazonas (Ufam). “O grande desafio após o término do mestrado seria poder viajar e colher as minhas próprias impressões, refazendo o trajeto já esmiuçado por mim diversas vezes mentalmente por meio dos registros de Koch-Grünberg. O que eu não esperava seria a possibilidade de formar um grupo expedicionário para pesquisar em equipe. Isso foi fantástico”, explicou.

Após a seleção no projeto Natura Musical, uma equipe de seis pessoas formada por músicos, fotógrafos, produtores e antropólogos iniciou a viagem pelas áreas escolhidas. Envolvidos de tal forma com os músicos de cada região, a equipe acabou também produzindo composições com os integrantes das bandas das comunidades.

“Mas não havia intervenção direta. Sempre estávamos preocupados em possibilitar uma gravação profissional independente das condições de trabalho. Na foz do rio Içana, por exemplo, ponto limítrofe da expedição no alto rio Negro, conseguimos reunir uma banda de teclado, guitarra e vocal. Havíamos levado pré-amplificadores, microfones condensadores, interface de áudio e muitos quilos de equipamentos para montar um estúdio aonde quer que fosse. Gravamos e os resultados são maravilhosos e divertidos”, explica.

Inspiração e aprendizado

Entre as boas surpresas encontradas na viagem, está Ademarzinho Garrido que, segundo Vasconcelos, é descendente de Germano Garrido, anfitrião de Koch-Grünberg na época em que o alemão esteve no Alto Rio Negro. Ademarzinho é líder da banda Maripuriana, onde toca violão e gaita. No registro feito pela equipe, Vasconcelos descreve a participação de Ademarzinho como o autor de “um solo de gaita, que dialoga com a guitarra em vários momentos da canção”.

A equipe também esteve na comunidade baniwa Itacoatiara-mirim, onde conheceu Luiz Laureno, e na comunidade Boa Vista, na foz do rio Içana, onde gravou com a banda Taína Rukena. Nesta mesma comunidade registrou hinos evangélicos cantados na língua nhengatu acompanhados em teclados eletrônicos e em ritmo calipso.

Nas comunidades indígenas de Roraima, o grupo registrou o som parixara, um ritmo “lento que se dança em longas filas e rodas e com cantos variados”, conforme descreve Agenor Vasconcelos, e o tukúi e marik, cantos interpretados pelos índios macuxi e taurepang.

Além do componente etnográfico e audiovisual, a equipe de “A Música das Cachoeiras” espera que o acervo seja uma fonte de pesquisa para futuras gerações e inspiração para os artistas. “Tanto músicos como pintores, literatos, poderão basear novas criações a partir dessa tão rica cultura Amazônica”, diz Vasconcelos.

O coordenador conta que a pesquisa foi também um aprendizado para eles próprios. “Pudemos aprender nuances da língua e da cultura dos povos que tivemos oportunidade de conhecer. Por meio da música figurativa, cantada, também percebemos a língua indígena viva no seio de um Brasil distante”, afirma..

O projeto “A Música das Cachoeiras” estará disponível gratuitamente no site oficial. Ele é composto por faixas, clipes e mini-documentários. Um livro-CD que também foi produzido terá 2/3 de seus exemplares distribuídos gratuitamente.

Luiz Laureano Baniwa, do Alto Rio Negro, que toca instrumentos feitos de casco de tracajá e flautas de paxiúba. Foto: Divulgação.

Participação de comunidades

O indígena do Alto Rio Negro Moisés Luiz da Silva considera o registro e a divulgação da música de seu povo como fundamental para valorização da cultura baniwa. Moisés foi o principal articular entre a equipe do projeto e as lideranças da sua comunidade Itacoatiara-mirim. Entre os que participaram da gravação estão Luiz  Laureano da Silva, mestre da maloca, Mário Felício Joaquim e Luzia Inácia.

“Recebi a notícia sobre o projeto pela professora Deisy Montardo (Ufam). Então o Agenor entrou em contato comigo e conversamos. O segundo plano foi consultar o povo e as lideranças baniwa, que concordaram em participar. Achamos que esse registro de gravações de músicas é uma forma de valorizar nossa cultura e divulgar para outras sociedades indígenas e não-indígenas”, afirmou Moisés.

O grupo baniwa já participou de outros projetos, como o Podáali Valorização das Músicas, patrocinado pela Petrobrás Cultural, e do Museu do Índio, em 2013.

Model predicts growth, death of membership-based websites (Science Daily)

Date: February 4, 2014

Source: Carnegie Mellon University

Summary: Facebook is a proven success in what the late Nobel laureate Herbert Simon called “the marketplace of attention.” A new model assesses the viability of websites and social networks in this new attention economy to predict which sites are sustainable and which are not. The model attempts to replicate the dynamics of membership sites, including the role of active users as catalysts of website activity, turning dormant website members into active users and keeping them active.

Chart of Facebook use including predictions for future use. Credit: Image courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University

Facebook, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, is a proven success in what the late Nobel laureate Herbert Simon called “the marketplace of attention.” A new model devised at Carnegie Mellon University assesses the viability of websites and social networks in this new attention economy to predict which sites are sustainable and which are not.

The model, developed by Bruno Ribeiro, a post-doctoral researcher in Carnegie Mellon’s Computer Science Department, attempts to replicate the dynamics of membership sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and TeaPartyNation, including the role of active users as catalysts of website activity, turning dormant website members into active users and keeping them active.

In applying the model to six years of user statistics for 22 membership-based websites, Ribeiro found that it was able to reliably predict which sites will be sustainable for the foreseeable future — including the Huffington Post news site, Ashley Madison dating site and The Blaze commentary site — and which sites could not be sustained, such as, and

Unlike a recent, widely publicized academic study that predicted an 80 percent drop in Facebook membership from 2015 to 2017, Ribeiro’s model shows Facebook to be sustainable for the foreseeable future. As with all of these predictions, however, Ribeiro points out that even sustainable sites are vulnerable to upstarts that steal the attention of their members, as Facebook famously did to MySpace.

Ribeiro said his model could help investors understand which sites are self-sustaining and which are likely to fail, as well as help website managers identify and correct problems in the dynamics of attention to their sites.

It’s not enough to look at the total membership or the growth of membership of a site to understand which sites will be successful, Ribeiro said. His model accounts for the tendency of active members to become inactive, the influence that active members can have in encouraging friends to join or become active members, and the role of marketing and media campaigns in convincing people to join.

Ribeiro said he was inspired to take this approach by the writings of Simon, a Carnegie Mellon professor who won the 1978 Nobel Prize in economics. Simon had observed that many information systems were designed as if information was scarce, when the problem was just the opposite. “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it,” he said.

Ribeiro tested the model by evaluating both successful and unsuccessful sites. “If you don’t look at the negative examples, you never understand what makes for success,” he explained. Six years of daily number of active users (DAU) data, beginning in 2007, were obtained for 22 sites from Alexa, a Web analytics company. “This study couldn’t have been done even two years ago,” he added, “because data of this quality and breadth simply didn’t exist.”

In addition to separating the self-sustaining from the unsustainable sites, the model was able to discern which sites grew primarily from word of mouth, such as Facebook, and LinkedIn, and those powered by media and marketing, such as The Blaze, Bandstack and OccupyWallSt.

Unfortunately, the model also suggests that in the quest for attention, many sites are likely to increase annoying behaviors, such as sending emails about what friends on the site are doing.

“If this model is correct, social network sites will try to make your friends’ lives seem more interesting and your feedback on their posts more urgent,” Ribeiro said. Many teens, for instance, seem glued to their smartphones for fear of missing something that might get posted on a social site by or about a friend. “From the model’s perspective it is beneficial for companies to be encouraging this type of behavior,” he added.

Redes sociais são apontadas por especialistas como fundamentais nas mobilizações populares (Jornal da Ciência)

JC e-mail 4763, de 08 de Julho de 2013.

Por Paloma Barreto / Jornal da Ciência

Antropóloga, filósofo e comunicadora analisam o papel dessa forma de comunicação nos protestos que ocorrem no país

O que há em comum entre a Primavera Árabe, o Occupy Wall Street, a revolta na Turquia e as manifestações que estão acontecendo no Brasil? Além de perturbarem o sistema político estabelecido e buscarem mudanças, estes movimentos sociais do século XXI utilizam as redes sociais como principal ferramenta de articulação e mobilização. Ana Lúcia Enne, antropóloga e professora do curso de Estudos de Mídia da Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), analisou o papel das novas mídias nos protestos que pararam dezenas de cidades brasileiras nas últimas semanas. “Elas são fundamentais no contexto contemporâneo por oferecerem caminhos contra-hegemônicos de divulgação de informações e posições”, afirmou.

As hashtags – palavras-chave antecedidas pelo símbolo “#”, que designam o assunto que se deseja discutir em tempo real nas redes sociais – verásqueumfilhoteunãofogeàluta, #ogiganteacordou e #primaverabrasileira tomaram as páginas do facebook e twitter de milhares de brasileiros. A convocação dos internautas chegou a levar mais de um milhão de pessoas às ruas de todo o Brasil na noite do dia 20 de junho. “Como ficou claro neste momento histórico, as redes precisam das ruas para construir um movimento realmente ativo e capaz de gerar mudanças sociais. As mobilizações virtuais e físicas são complementares e servem a propósitos distintos”, observou Ana.

A antropóloga critica a atuação da grande mídia, e acredita que hoje a internet disputa espaço com os antigos veículos de comunicação na cobertura de acontecimentos. “Principalmente entre os jovens, que utilizam as ferramentas das novas tecnologias de comunicação e informação diariamente, em larga escala, ficou evidente o caráter manipulador, por vezes mentiroso, simplificador e atrelado aos interesses políticos e econômicos da grande mídia. Isso evidenciou o descrédito com essas instituições e a busca permanente por outras formas de expressão e visibilidade”.

Essa “batalha de sentidos” foi citada pela diretora da Escola de Comunicação da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Eco/UFRJ), Ivana Bentes, em seu perfil no facebook. “A palavra de ordem das manifestações, o #vemprarua, é remix genial da publicidade da Fiat para a Copa. Ou seja, não tem nenhuma multidão amorfa ou acéfala, mas atravessada de singularidades e disputas. Temos mais é que perguntar quem fala e de onde fala. E faz todo o sentido disputar os sentidos do que está acontecendo”, publicou no dia 22 de junho.

Quando os protestos brasileiros tomaram grandes dimensões e alcançaram o noticiário internacional, especialistas se empenharam na busca de explicações para os acontecimentos. Entre eles, o filósofo francês Pierre Lévy classificou a revolta brasileira como o “experimento de uma nova forma de comunicação” em entrevista para o jornal O Globo. “Você não confia na mídia em geral, você confia em pessoas ou em instituições organizadas. Comunicação autônoma significa que sou eu que decido em quem confiar, e ninguém mais. Eu consigo distinguir a honestidade da manipulação, a opacidade da transparência”, afirmou o pesquisador de cibercultura.

Manifestações do século XXI

Em dezembro de 2010, um jovem ateou fogo ao próprio corpo como forma de manifestação contra as condições de vida na Tunísia. O ato desesperado culminou na Primavera Árabe, uma onda de revoltas em quase 20 países que já conseguiu derrubar quatro governos. Em maio deste ano, a ameaça de demolição do parque Taksim Gezi para a construção de um shopping deu início aos protestos na Turquia. No Brasil, em circunstâncias totalmente diferentes, a aumento de 20 centavos nas passagens de ônibus em São Paulo foi o estopim para que milhares de cidadãos de diversos municípios saíssem às ruas reivindicando melhorias nos serviços públicos e mudanças do sistema político.

“A adesão às manifestações está relacionada a algumas variáveis. Primeiro, uma sensação de insatisfação generalizada em relação a uma série de fatores que afetam o brasileiro diretamente, como saúde, educação, transporte, corrupção etc. A questão dos vinte centavos foi sentida como uma gota d’dágua, um transbordamento do copo, se transformando em uma pauta unificadora, capaz de aglutinar multidões insatisfeitas e com diversas outras causas para protestar”, considerou Ana Enne.

A professora acrescentou que a etapa mais difícil do processo é a catalisação dos manifestantes. Neste aspecto, ela acredita que as ações truculentas das forças de segurança, disseminadas na internet através de depoimentos e vídeos, foram fundamentais para sensibilizar outras pessoas. “A explicitação da violência policial, experiência dolorosa vivida cotidianamente por muitos brasileiros, contra manifestantes pacíficos em várias cidades brasileiras, também deu vida e impulsionou o movimento. Foi a partir das divulgações dessas imagens que as passeatas ganharam uma densidade numérica impressionante”.

Também nesta perspectiva, o movimento brasileiro se assemelha aos internacionais. Na Turquia, a repressão dos primeiros protestos por parte da polícia motivou uma maior adesão de pessoas à revolta. A foto de uma mulher de vermelho sendo atacada por um jato de gás lacrimogêneo em Istambul foi replicada nas redes sociais e causou ainda mais indignação nos internautas. No Brasil, dentre os conteúdos de violência policial disseminados, um dos que teve mais repercussão foi a imagem de Giuliana Vallone, repórter da Folha de S Paulo atingida no olho por uma bala de borracha no dia 13 de junho.

O sociólogo espanhol Manuel Castells, conhecido por ser um “intelectual conectado”, é um dos principais analistas do papel da internet nos movimentos sociais contemporâneos. No dia 11 de junho, durante o evento “Fronteiras do Pensamento”, em São Paulo, ele foi questionado sobre o protesto que ocorria na Avenida Paulista naquele momento contra o aumento das passagens de ônibus. “Todos os movimentos sociais na história, são, sobretudo, emocionais. Não são pontualmente reivindicativos. Não é o transporte. Em algum momento, há um fato que provoca a indignação. Ao sentir a possibilidade de estarem juntos, ao sentir que há muitas pessoas que pensam o mesmo fora do âmbito institucional, surge a esperança de fazer algo diferente. O quê? Não se sabe. Mas, com certeza não é o que está aí”, avaliou Castells.

Esta matéria está na página 8 do Jornal da Ciência impresso. As 12 páginas podem ser acessadas em PDF:

NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others (Guardian)

• Top-secret Prism program claims direct access to servers of firms including Google, Apple and Facebook
• Companies deny any knowledge of program in operation since 2007
• Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks
Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian, Friday 7 June 2013

A slide depicting the top-secret PRISM program.

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program calledPrism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims “collection directly from the servers” of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

In a statement, Google said: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.”

Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge ofPrism or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. “If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge,” one said.

An Apple spokesman said it had “never heard” of Prism.

The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.

PrismThe program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.

It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.

Disclosure of the Prism program follows a leak to the Guardian on Wednesday of a top-secret court order compelling telecoms provider Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of US customers.

The participation of the internet companies in Prism will add to the debate, ignited by the Verizon revelation, about the scale of surveillance by the intelligence services. Unlike the collection of those call records, this surveillance can include the content of communications and not just the metadata.

Some of the world’s largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan “Yourprivacy is our priority” – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007.

It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

Collectively, the companies cover the vast majority of online email, search, video and communications networks.


The extent and nature of the data collected from each company varies.

Companies are legally obliged to comply with requests for users’ communications under US law, but the Prism program allows the intelligence services direct access to the companies’ servers. The NSAdocument notes the operations have “assistance of communications providers in the US”.

The revelation also supports concerns raised by several US senators during the renewal of the Fisa Amendments Act in December 2012, who warned about the scale of surveillance the law might enable, and shortcomings in the safeguards it introduces.

When the FAA was first enacted, defenders of the statute argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA’s inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the Prism program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies’ servers.

A chart prepared by the NSA, contained within the top-secret document obtained by the Guardian, underscores the breadth of the data it is able to obtain: email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more.

PRISM slide crop
The document is recent, dating to April 2013. Such a leak is extremely rare in the history of the NSA, which prides itself on maintaining a high level of secrecy.

The Prism program allows the NSA, the world’s largest surveillance organisation, to obtain targeted communications without having to request them from the service providers and without having to obtain individual court orders.

With this program, the NSA is able to reach directly into the servers of the participating companies and obtain both stored communications as well as perform real-time collection on targeted users.

The presentation claims Prism was introduced to overcome what the NSAregarded as shortcomings of Fisa warrants in tracking suspected foreign terrorists. It noted that the US has a “home-field advantage” due to housing much of the internet’s architecture. But the presentation claimed “Fisa constraints restricted our home-field advantage” because Fisa required individual warrants and confirmations that both the sender and receiver of a communication were outside the US.

“Fisa was broken because it provided privacy protections to people who were not entitled to them,” the presentation claimed. “It took a Fisa courtorder to collect on foreigners overseas who were communicating with other foreigners overseas simply because the government was collecting off a wire in the United States. There were too many email accounts to be practical to seek Fisas for all.”

The new measures introduced in the FAA redefines “electronic surveillance” to exclude anyone “reasonably believed” to be outside the USA – a technical change which reduces the bar to initiating surveillance.

The act also gives the director of national intelligence and the attorney general power to permit obtaining intelligence information, and indemnifies internet companies against any actions arising as a result of co-operating with authorities’ requests.

In short, where previously the NSA needed individual authorisations, and confirmation that all parties were outside the USA, they now need only reasonable suspicion that one of the parties was outside the country at the time of the records were collected by the NSA.

The document also shows the FBI acts as an intermediary between other agencies and the tech companies, and stresses its reliance on the participation of US internet firms, claiming “access is 100% dependent on ISP provisioning”.

In the document, the NSA hails the Prism program as “one of the most valuable, unique and productive accesses for NSA”.

It boasts of what it calls “strong growth” in its use of the Prism program to obtain communications. The document highlights the number of obtained communications increased in 2012 by 248% for Skype – leading the notes to remark there was “exponential growth in Skype reporting; looks like the word is getting out about our capability against Skype”. There was also a 131% increase in requests for Facebook data, and 63% for Google.

The NSA document indicates that it is planning to add Dropbox as aPRISM provider. The agency also seeks, in its words, to “expand collection services from existing providers”.

The revelations echo fears raised on the Senate floor last year during the expedited debate on the renewal of the FAA powers which underpin the PRISM program, which occurred just days before the act expired.

Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware specifically warned that the secrecy surrounding the various surveillance programs meant there was no way to know if safeguards within the act were working.

“The problem is: we here in the Senate and the citizens we represent don’t know how well any of these safeguards actually work,” he said.

“The law doesn’t forbid purely domestic information from being collected. We know that at least one Fisa court has ruled that the surveillance program violated the law. Why? Those who know can’t say and average Americans can’t know.”

Other senators also raised concerns. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon attempted, without success, to find out any information on how many phone calls or emails had been intercepted under the program.

When the law was enacted, defenders of the FAA argued that a significant check on abuse would be the NSA’s inability to obtain electronic communications without the consent of the telecom and internet companies that control the data. But the Prism program renders that consent unnecessary, as it allows the agency to directly and unilaterally seize the communications off the companies’ servers.

When the NSA reviews a communication it believes merits further investigation, it issues what it calls a “report”. According to the NSA, “over 2,000 Prism-based reports” are now issued every month. There were 24,005 in 2012, a 27% increase on the previous year.

In total, more than 77,000 intelligence reports have cited the PRISMprogram.

Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU’s Center for Democracy, that it was astonishing the NSA would even ask technology companies to grant direct access to user data.

“It’s shocking enough just that the NSA is asking companies to do this,” he said. “The NSA is part of the military. The military has been granted unprecedented access to civilian communications.

“This is unprecedented militarisation of domestic communications infrastructure. That’s profoundly troubling to anyone who is concerned about that separation.”

A senior administration official said in a statement: “The Guardian and Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This law does not allow the targeting of any US citizen or of any person located within the United States.

“The program is subject to oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Executive Branch, and Congress. It involves extensive procedures, specifically approved by the court, to ensure that only non-US persons outside the US are targeted, and that minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about US persons.

“This program was recently reauthorized by Congress after extensive hearings and debate.

“Information collected under this program is among the most important and valuable intelligence information we collect, and is used to protect our nation from a wide variety of threats.

“The Government may only use Section 702 to acquire foreign intelligence information, which is specifically, and narrowly, defined in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This requirement applies across the board, regardless of the nationality of the target.”

Additional reporting by James Ball and Dominic Rushe

Magaly Pazello: “A internet perdeu um de seus mais brilhantes sonhadores” (viomundo)

Publicado em 14 de janeiro de 2013 às 12:04

Criador do RSS, Reddit e Creative Commons suicida-se aos 26 anos, sob os efeitos da máquina de moer do Departamento de Justiça dos EUA

por Magaly Pazello, especial para o Viomundo

Este foi um final de semana muito triste, perdemos Selarón no Rio de Janeiro e, em Nova York, aos 26 anos, Aaron Swartz se suicidou.

A internet perdeu um de seus mais brilhantes sonhadores, ativista, prodígio da computação, escritor. Essa perda trágica repercute intensamente pela internet, como uma onda de dor, espanto e indignação. Mais e mais sites publicam relatos, declarações, notícias.

Esse rapaz, os quais os sites de notícia não se cansam de sublinhar que sofria de depressão, sofreu os efeitos da máquina de moer do Departamento de Justiça dos Estados Unidos. Acusado de “roubar” milhões de artigos científicos ele enfrentava um processo judicial que poderia resultar em 35 anos de prisão caso fosse considerado culpado. No centro desse processo se instalou uma séria controvérsia que deixa uma marca indelével sobre o direito de todas as pessoas ao acesso ao conhecimento e à informação, ao livre exercício dos direitos civis e das liberdades individuais.

Aaron Swartz, aos 13 anos foi o ganhador do ArsDigita Prize, uma competição para jovens criadores de websites não-comerciais que fossem úteis, colaborativos e voltados para atividades educacionais. O prêmio incluiu uma visita ao famoso Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), que mais tarde seria protagonista dos eventos que o levaram ao suicídio.

Aos 14 anos, Aaron integrou a equipe de criadores do RSS 1.0, um recurso bacana de leitura de sites através de atualizações em tempo real, os famosos feeds. Eu adoro!

Aos 15 anos, integrou a equipe que desenhou as licenças Creative Commons.

Na sequência, fundou uma start-up, que depois se fundiu à rede social Reddit, onde ele desenvolveu a plataforma que a levaria ao sucesso. E cujo desenho também resultou na base de sites Open Library, ou seja, bibliotecas abertas, e no, uma espécie de máquina do tempo da internet. E esta seria sua vida e sua bandeira a partir de então: o acesso ao conhecimento e à informação, sua disponibilização online gratuita através de plataformas abertas, o desenvolvimento técnico dessas plataformas. Especialmente o acesso ao conhecimento e à informação públicas e geradas a partir de recursos públicos. Suas atividades profissionais nunca visaram à obtenção de lucro e promoção pessoal. Sua genialidade está presente em dezenas de projetos semelhantes.

Crítico de filmes e pesquisador, seu blog tinha um enorme público. Entre 2010 e 2011, foi bolsista do Laboratório de Ética Edmond J. Safra na Harvard University, onde pesquisava sobre corrupção institucional. Fundou e era líder do, uma plataforma inteligente de ciberativismo.

Aaron foi uma das vozes fortes contra o SOPA-Stop Online Piracy Act, um projeto de lei contra a pirataria online proposto pelo poderoso setor de propriedade intelectual e direitos de autor, a indústria fonográfica e de cinema. Mas o projeto de lei, de fato, iria endurecer as leis a tal ponto que sequer mencionar um texto num blog seria considerado um ato ilegal, estrangulando o direito à liberdade de expressão.

Aaron, junto com Shireen Barday, “baixou” e analisou por volta de 440 mil artigos acadêmicos da área de Direito para determinar o tipo de financiamento que os autores receberam. Os resultados, publicados noStanford Law Review, levaram a trilhar os caminhos dos fundos públicos para pesquisa. Por causa de sua capacidade de processar grandes quantidades de dados era requisitado para colaborar com vários outros pesquisadores. Disto resultou o projeto, que chamou a atenção do Departamento de Justiça dos Estados Unidos. tornou livre e aberto o acesso a uma imensa base de dados públicos somente disponível gratuitamente através de máquinas instaladas em 17 bibliotecas em todo o país, o que obrigava as pessoas interessadas a se deslocar até os pontos de acesso ou, então, pagar 10 centavos por peça. Foram aproximadamente 20 milhões de páginas da Corte Federal, algo de tirar o fôlego. Ele deixou muita gente brava com essa façanha, a tal ponto que começou a ser investigado pelo FBI, contudo sem consequências.

Mas a história foi bem diferente com o MIT. Ainda no Laboratório de Ética de Harvard, em 2011, Aaron se utilizou do acesso aberto do MIT para coletar por volta de 4,8 milhões de artigos científicos, incluindo arquivos  da base JSTOR muito conhecida no mundo acadêmico. O caso veio a público, creio, quando ele foi preso em julho de 2011.

A controvérsia sobre se seria roubo ou não foi substituída pelo debate sobre se era correto a cobrança por artigos científicos cujas pesquisas são financiadas com dinheiro público. Sobre a mercantilização e privatização do conhecimento científico, direitos de autor e os custos para tornar esses materiais disponíveis. Uma campanha de apoio a Aaron e o manifesto Guerrilla Open Access, escrito por ele em 2008, ganhou outra vez visibilidade (uma tradução pode ser encontrada aqui).

Segundo a ONG Electronic Frontier Foundation, embora os métodos de Aaron fossem provocativos, os seus objetivos eram justos. Ele lutava para libertar a literatura científica de um sistema de publicação que tornava inacessível essa produção para a maior parte das pessoas que realmente pagaram por isso, quer dizer, todas as pessoas que pagam impostos. Essa luta deveria ser apoiada por todos.

As coisas começaram a tomar outros rumos com o declínio do debate. Após a devolução das cópias digitais dos artigos, a JSTOR decidiu não apresentar queixa contra Aaron. Mas a façanha desta vez resultou num processo por crime cibernético por parte do governo dos Estados Unidos munido pelo MIT. Em seu desabafo ao saber do suicídio, Lawrence Lessig escreveu:

Logo no início, para seu grande mérito, JSTOR compreendeu que era “apropriado” desistir: eles declinaram de dar prosseguimento à sua própria ação contra Aaron e pediram ao governo para fazer o mesmo. O MIT, para sua grande vergonha, não foi limpo, e então o promotor teve a desculpa que ele precisava para continuar sua guerra contra o “criminoso” que nós amamos e conhecemos como Aaron.

O Departamento de Justiça dos Estados Unidos interpretou a ação de Aaron como crime de roubo e a demanda foi levada ao grande júri que decidiu que ele deveria ir a julgamento. Então, a máquina de fazer moer do governo começou a funcionar.

Primeiramente, Aaron foi acusado de quatro crimes todos relativos à violação de sistema informático. Mas depois o Departamento de Justiça, numa atitude de “exemplaridade”, acrescentou mais nove acusações, todas contidas na Lei de Abuso e Fraude Informática, e atos de conspiração.

Além disto, familiares e amigos, como Lawrence Lessig, relatam situações de intimidação por parte do Departamento de Justiça. Alex Stamos, especialista em crimes cibernéticosalém de inúmeras outras vozes, desmontam item por item o exagero forçado na perseguição a Aaron, a verdade sobre o “crime”.

O efeito cascata dessas acusações resultaram na possibilidade real de Aaron Swartz ser condenadoa 35 anos de prisão e multa de 1 milhão de dólares!!!

Lawrence Lessig diz:

Aqui, é onde nós precisamos de um melhor sentido de justiça e de vergonha. O que é ultrajante nesta história não é apenas [o que aconteceu com] Aaron. É também o absurdo do comportamento do promotor. Bem desde o início, o governo trabalhou tão  duro quanto pode para caracterizar o que Aaron fez da forma mais extrema e absurda. A “propriedade” que Aaron “roubou”,  nós fomos informados, valia “milhão de dólares” — com a dica, e então a sugestão, que o seu objetivo de obter lucro com o seu crime. Mas qualquer um que diga que se pode ganhar dinheiro com um estoque de ARTIGOS ACADÊMICOS é idiota ou mentiroso. Estava claro o que disto não se tratava, mas o nosso governo continuou a pressionar como se tivesse agarrado terroristas do 11/09  com a boca na botija.

Não consigo imaginar o que passou com esse rapaz de personalidade introvertida, apresentando um quadro de depressão, à medida que a data do julgamento se aproximava. Sua solidão, seu medo diante deste quadro kafkiano. Sua morte me pareceu daqui de longe uma forma de exílio. Como o exílio do protagonista das tragédias gregas. A morte é a condenação ao exílio da República que não permite a existência dos poetas.

No sábado, ainda sob o impacto do acontecimento, sua família fez um comunicado público, culpando as autoridades judiciais e o MIT. O documento afirma que essa morte não é apenas uma tragédia pessoal, mas sim um produto de um sistema de justiça criminal repleto de intimidações, o qual iria punir uma pessoa por um alegado crime que não fez vítimas.

Essa última parte é a chave de todo o enredo, pois para a aplicabilidade da lei com a qual Aaron seria julgado era necessário uma série de aspectos todos ausentes dos atos cometidos.

Um memorial online está sendo construído em homenagem a Aaron.

O funeral será realizado nessa terça-feira, 15 de janeiro, em Illinois.

Como tributo a comunidade ciberativista criou uma página com o objetivo de ser um grande e espontâneo repositório de produção acadêmica colocada a disposição  de todas as pessoas de forma gratuita e aberta.

Todas as pessoas estão convidadas a disponibilizar seus trabalhos em qualquer idioma. No twitter acompanhe pela hashtag #pdftribute.

JSTOR publicou suas condolências imediatamente e o MIT anunciou que vai investigar sua responsabilidade na morte de Aaron, mas  para mim este anúncio beira o cinismo.

E o que nós aqui no Brasil temos com isso?

Bom, a internet foi concebida como uma plataforma sem fronteiras físicas e territoriais. E quando ocorre um evento, triste ou alegre, seja onde for, que está relacionado ao âmago do funcionamento desse incrível sistema isso nos interessa.

O aperfeiçoamento técnico da internet e seu sistema regulatório é, também, de grande interesse de todos, sobretudo quando este aperfeiçoamento está relacionado com o acesso ao conhecimento e à informação, ao livre exercício dos direitos civis e das liberdades individuais.

Em relação à produção científica vale lembrar que o governo brasileiro tem tido uma participação importante na formação de uma cultura de acesso aberto e gratuito. Embora de maneira, por vezes, contraditória.

Mas deixando as idiossincrasias de lado… a área de saúde é um belo exemplo de acesso compartilhado ao conhecimento com a instalação, no Brasil, da BIREME, em 1967, cujo objetivo é contribuir com o desenvolvimento da saúde fortalecendo e ampliando o fluxo de informação em ciências da Saúde.  Dela, em 2002, surgiu o projeto Scielo, uma biblioteca eletrônica que abrange uma coleção selecionada de periódicos científicos brasileiros que se expande pela América Latina.

No início dos anos 2000, em consonância com a o debate global, é lançado o Manifesto Brasileiro de Apoio ao Acesso Livre à Informação Científica com vários setores e órgãos do governo brasileiro entre os apoiadores da inicitiava (leia aqui e aqui).

Contudo, a sucessão de eventos desde a cópia dos milhares de artigos científicos até o processo judicial e o incremento da pena — resultando na absurda possibilidade de Aaron ser condenado a 35 anos de prisão mais multa — serve de alerta para a necessidade de nós mesmos repensarmos e revisarmos estrategicamente as recentes leis aprovadas no nosso Congresso Nacional sobre cibercrime, além da debilidade política e conceitual a que chegou o Marco Civil.

Nós não estamos distantes de absurdos como o caso de Aaron! Em terras tupiniquins outros absurdos já acontecem por causa do uso excessivo das leis de difamação e persistência das leis de desacato.

Magaly Pazello é pesquisadora do Emerge — Centro de Pesquisa e Produção em Comunicação e Emergência da Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), sendo responsável pela área de pesquisa de governança na internet. É ciberativista e feminista.

Search Technology That Can Gauge Opinion and Predict the Future (Science Daily)

ScienceDaily (Aug. 16, 2012) — Inspired by a system for categorising books proposed by an Indian librarian more than 50 years ago, a team of EU-funded researchers have developed a new kind of internet search that takes into account factors such as opinion, bias, context, time and location. The new technology, which could soon be in use commercially, can display trends in public opinion about a topic, company or person over time — and it can even be used to predict the future.

‘Do a search for the word “climate” on Google or another search engine and what you will get back is basically a list of results featuring that word: there’s no categorisation, no specific order, no context. Current search engines do not take into account the dimensions of diversity: factors such as when the information was published, if there is a bias toward one opinion or another inherent in the content and structure, who published it and when,’ explains Fausto Giunchiglia, a professor of computer science at the University of Trento in Italy.

But can search technology be made to identify and embrace diversity? Can a search engine tell you, for example, how public opinion about climate change has changed over the last decade? Or how hot the weather will be a century from now, by aggregating current and past estimates from different sources?

It seems that it can, thanks to a pioneering combination of modern science and a decades-old classification method, brought together by European researchers in the LivingKnowledge (1) project. Supported by EUR 4.8 million in funding from the European Commission, the LivingKnowledge team, coordinated by Prof. Giunchiglia, adopted a multidisciplinary approach to developing new search technology, drawing on fields as diverse as computer science, social science, semiotics and library science.

Indeed, the so-called father of library science, Sirkali Ramamrita Ranganathan, an Indian librarian, served as a source of inspiration for the researchers. In the 1920s and 1930s, Ranganathan developed the first major analytico-synthetic, or faceted, classification system. Using this approach, objects — books, in the case of Ranganathan; web and database content, in the case of the LivingKnowlege team — are assigned multiple characteristics and attributes (facets), enabling the classification to be ordered in multiple ways, rather than in a single, predetermined, taxonomic order. Using the system, an article about the effects on agriculture of climate change written in Norway in 1990 might be classified as ‘Geography; Climate; Climate change; Agriculture; Research; Norway; 1990.’

In order to understand the classification system better and implement it in search engine technology, the LivingKnowledge researchers turned to the Indian Statistical Institute, a project partner, which uses faceted classification on a daily basis.

‘Using their knowledge we were able to turn Ranganathan’s pseudo-algorithm into a computer algorithm and the computer scientists were able to use it to mine data from the web, extract its meaning and context, assign facets to it, and use these to structure the information based on the dimensions of diversity,’ Prof. Giunchiglia says.

Researchers at the University of Pavia in Italy, another partner, drew on their expertise in extracting meaning from web content — not just from text and multimedia content, but also from the way the information is structured and laid out — in order to infer bias and opinions, adding another facet to the data.

‘We are able to identify the bias of authors on a certain subject and whether their opinions are positive or negative,’ the LivingKnowledge coordinator says. ‘Facts are facts, but any information about an event, or on any subject, is often surrounded by opinions and bias.’

From libraries of the 1930s to space travel in 2034…

The technology was implemented in a testbed, now available as open source software, and used for trials based around two intriguing application scenarios.

Working with Austrian social research institute SORA, the team used the LivingKnowledge system to identify social trends and monitor public opinion in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Used for media content analysis, the system could help a company understand the impact of a new advertising campaign, showing how it has affected brand recognition over time and which social groups have been most receptive. Alternatively, a government might use the system to gauge public opinion about a new policy, or a politician could use it to respond in the most publicly acceptable way to a rival candidate’s claims.

With Barcelona Media, a non-profit research foundation supported by Yahoo!, and with the Netherlands-based Internet Memory Foundation, the LivingKnowledge team looked not only at current and past trends, but extrapolated them and drew on forecasts extracted from existing data to try to predict the future. Their Future Predictor application is able to make searches based on questions such as ‘What will oil prices be in 2050?’ or ‘How much will global temperatures rise over the next 100 years?’ and find relevant information and forecasts from today’s web. For example, a search for the year 2034 turns up ‘space travel’ as the most relevant topic indexed in today’s news.

‘More immediately, this application scenario provides functionality for detecting trends even before these trends become apparent in daily events — based on integrated search and navigation capabilities for finding diverse, multi-dimensional information depending on content, bias and time,’ Prof. Giunchiglia explains.

Several of the project partners have plans to implement the technology commercially, and the project coordinator intends to set up a non-profit foundation to build on the LivingKnowledge results at a time when demand for this sort of technology is only likely to increase.

As Prof. Giunchiglia points out, Google fundamentally changed the world by providing everyone with access to much of the world’s information, but it did it for people: currently only humans can understand the meaning of all that data, so much so that information overload is a common problem. As we move into a ‘big data’ age in which information about everything and anything is available at the touch of a button, the meaning of that information needs to be understandable not just by humans but also by machines, so quantity must come combined with quality. The LivingKnowledge approach addresses that problem.

‘When we started the project, no one was talking about big data. Now everyone is and there is increasing interest in this sort of technology,’ Prof. Giunchiglia says. ‘The future will be all about big data — we can’t say whether it will be good or bad, but it will certainly be different.’

TATU OR NOT TATU Manifesto Uninômade +10

Manifesto Uninômade +10
15 de Junho de 2012
A palavra revolução voltou a circular. Nas ruas, nas praças, na internet, e até mesmo nas páginas de jornal, que a olha com olhos temerosos. Mas, principalmente, em nossos espíritos e corpos. Da mesma maneira, a palavra capitalismo saiu de sua invisibilidade: já não nos domina como dominava. Assistimos ao final de um ciclo – o ciclo neoliberal implementado a partir dos anos 80, mas cujo ápice se deu com a queda do muro de Berlim e o consenso global em torno da expansão planetária do mercado. Muitos dentre nós (principalmente os jovens) experimentam seu primeiro deslocamento massivo das placas tectônicas da história. 

Mas nossa era não é apenas crepuscular. Ao fim de um ciclo abrem-se amplas oportunidades, e cabe a nós transformar a crise da representação e do capitalismo cognitivo em novas formas de democracia absoluta. Para além das esferas formais, dos Estados e nacionalidades. Para além do capitalismo financeiro e flexível. Lá onde brilha nossa singularidade comum: a mulher, o negro, o índio, o amarelo, o pobre, o explorado, o precário, o haitiano, o boliviano, o imigrante, o favelado, o trabalhador intelectual e manual. Não se trata de um recitar de excluídos, mas de uma nova inclusão híbrida. A terra, enfim, nossa. Nós que somos produzidos por esta chuva, esta precipitação de encontros de singularidades em que nos fazemos divinos nesta terra.

É pelo que clama a multidão na Grécia, na Espanha e os occupy espalhados pelos Estados Unidos; é pelo que clamam as radicalidades presentes na primavera árabe, esta multidão situada para além da racionalidade ocidental. É o mesmo arco que une a primavera árabe, as lutas dos estudantes no Chile e as lutas pela radicalização da democracia no Brasil. Nossas diferenças é o que nos torna fortes.

A luta pela mestiçagem racial, simbólica, cultural e financeira passa pela materialidade do cotidiano, pela afirmação de uma longa marcha que junte nossa potência de êxodo e nossa potência constituinte. Acontecimento é o nome que nos anima para o êxodo perpétuo das formas de exploração. Êxodo para dentro da terra. Fidelidade à terra. Tatu or not tatu.

É preciso ouvir em nós aquele desejo que vai para além da vida e da sua conservação: para além do grande terror de uma vida de merda que nos impõe o estado de precariedade e desfiliação extrema. É preciso re-insuflar o grito que nos foi roubado à noite, resistir aos clichês que somos, e que querem fazer de nós: para além de nossas linhas de subjetivação suspensas entre o luxo excedente do 1% ou do lixo supérfluo dos 99%. 

É preciso não precisar de mais nada, a não ser nossa coragem, nosso intelecto e nossos corpos, que hoje se espraiam nas redes de conhecimentos comuns apontando para nossa autonomia. Somos maiores do que pensamos e desejamos tudo.  Não estamos sozinhos! É preciso resistir na alegria, algo que o poder dominador da melancolia é incapaz de roubar. Quando o sujeito deixa de ser um mero consumidor-passivo para produzir ecologias. Um corpo de vozes fala através de nós porque a crise não é apenas do capital, mas sim do viver. Uma profunda crise antropológica. Manifesta-se no esvaziamento de corpos constrangidos, envergonhados, refletidos na tela da TV, sem se expandir para ganhar as ruas. Nossos corpos paralisam, sentem medo, paranóia: o outro vira o grande inimigo. Não criam novos modos de vida. Permanecem em um estado de vidaMenosvida: trabalho, casa, trem, ônibus, trabalho, casa. A vida individual é uma abstração. Uma vida sem compartilhamento afetivo, onde a geração do comum se torna impossível. É preciso criar desvios para uma vidaMaisvida: sobrevida, supervida, overvida. Pausa para sentir parte do acontecimento, que é a vida.  Somos singularidades cooperativas. Pertencemos a uma esfera que nos atravessa e nos constrói a todo o momento.

O capitalismo cognitivo e financeiro instaura um perpétuo estado de exceção que busca continuamente reintegrar e modular a normalidade e a diferença: lei e desordem coincidem dentro de uma mesma conservação das desigualdades que produz e reproduz as identidades do poder: o “Precário” sem direitos, o Imigrante “ilegal”, o “Velho” abandonado, o “Operário” obediente, a “Mulher” subjugada, a “Esposa” dócil, o “Negro” criminalizado e, enfim, o “Depressivo” a ser medicalizado. As vidas dos pobres e dos excluídos passam a ser mobilizadas enquanto tais. Ao mesmo tempo em que precisam gerar valor econômico, mantêm-se politicamente impotentes.

O pobre e o louco. O pobre – figura agora híbrida e modulada de inclusão e exclusão da cadeia do capital –  persiste no cru da vida, até usando seu  próprio corpo como moeda. E o louco, essa figura que vive fora da história, “escolhe” a exclusão. Esse sujeito que se recusa a produzir, vive sem lugar. Onde a questão de exclusão e inclusão é diluída no delírio. Ninguém delira sozinho, delira-se o mundo. Esses dois personagens vivem e sobrevivem à margem, mas a margem transbordou e virou centro. O capital passa a procurar valor na subjetividade e nas formas de vida das margens e a potência dos sem-dar-lucro passa a compor o sintoma do capital: a crise da lei do valor, o capitalismo cognitivo como crise do capitalismo.

A crise dos contratos subprimes em 2007, alastrando-se para a crise da dívida soberana europeia, já não deixa dúvidas: a forma atual de governabilidade é a crise perpétua, repassada como sacrifício para os elos fragilizados do arco social. Austeridade, cortes, desmonte do welfare, xenofobia, racismo. Por detrás dos ternos cinza dos tecnocratas pós-ideológicos ressurgem as velhas bandeiras do biopoder: o dinheiro volta a ter rosto, cor, e não lhe faltam ideias sobre como governar: “que o Mercado seja louvado”, “In God we trust”. O discurso neutro da racionalidade econômica é obrigado a mostrar-se em praça pública, convocando o mundo a dobrar-se ao novo consenso, sem mais respeitar sequer a formalidade da democracia parlamentar. Eis o homo œconomicus: sacrifício, nação, trabalho, capital! É contra este estado de sítio que as redes e a ruas se insurgem. Nas mobilizações auto-convocadas em redes, nas praças das acampadas, a exceção aparece como criatividade do comum, o comum das singularidades que cooperam entre si.

No Brasil são muitos os que ainda se sentem protegidos diante da crise global. O consenso (neo) desenvolvimentista produzido em torno do crescimento econômico e da construção de uma nova classe média consumidora cria barreiras artificiais que distorcem nossa visão da topologia da crise: a crise do capitalismo mundial é, imediatamente, crise do capitalismo brasileiro. Não nos interessa que o Brasil ensine ao mundo, junto à China, uma nova velha forma de capitalismo autoritário baseado no acordo entre Estados e grandes corporações! 

O governo Lula, a partir das cotas, do Prouni, da política cultural (cultura viva, pontos de cultura) e da distribuição de renda (programas sociais, bolsa família, valorização do salário mínimo) pôde apontar, em sua polivalência característica, para algo que muitos no mundo, hoje, reivindicam: uma nova esquerda, para além dos partidos e Estados (sem excluí-los). Uma esquerda que se inflame dos movimentos constituintes que nascem do solo das lutas, e reverta o Estado e o mercado em nomes  do comum. Uma esquerda que só pode acontecer “nessa de todos nós latino-amarga américa”. Mais do que simples medidas governamentais, nestas políticas intersticiais, algo de um acontecimento histórico teve um mínimo de vazão: aqueles que viveram e morreram por transformações, os espectros das revoluções passadas e futuras, convergiram na construção incipiente de nossa emancipação educacional, racial, cultural e econômica. Uma nova memória e um novo futuro constituíram-se num presente que resistira ao assassinato simbólico da história perpetrado pelo neoliberalismo. A popularidade dos governos Lula tinha como lastro esses interstícios onde a política se tornava uma poética. Já hoje, nas taxas de aprovação do governo Dilma, podemos facilmente reconhecer também as cores deslavadas de um consenso prosaico. O “país rico” agora pacifica-se no mantra desenvolvimentista, retrocedendo em muitas das políticas que tinham vazado. Voltam as velhas injunções progressistas: crescimento econômico para redistribuir! Estado forte! As nuvens ideológicas trazem as águas carregadas do gerencialismo e do funcionalismo tecnocrático: menos política, mais eficiência! Desta maneira, removem-se e expropriam-se os pobres: seja em nome de um Brasil Maior e se seu interesse “público” (Belo Monte, Jirau, Vila Autódromo), seja em nome de um Mercado cada vez Maior e de seu interesse “privado” (Pinheirinho, TKCSA, Porto do Açu). Juntando-se entusiasticamente às equações do mercado, os tratores do progresso varrem a sujeira na construção de um novo “País Rico (e) sem pobreza”. Os pobres e as florestas, as formas de vida que resistem e persistem, se tornam sujeira. A catástrofe ambiental (das florestas e das metrópoles) e cultural (dos índios e dos pobres) é assim pacificada sob o nome do progresso. Dominação do homem e da natureza conjugam-se num pacto fáustico presidido por nenhum Mefistófeles, por nenhuma crise de consciência: já somos o país do futuro!
Na política de crescer exponencialmente, só se pensa em eletricidade e esqueceu-se a democracia (os Soviets : Conselhos). Assim, governa-se segundo a férrea lógica – única e autoritária – da racionalidade capitalista. Ataca-se enfim a renda vergonhosa dos “banquiplenos”, mas a baixa dos juros vai para engordar os produtores de carros, essas máquinas sagradas de produção de individualismo, em nome da moral do trabalho. Dessa maneira, progredir significa, na realidade, regredir: regressão política como acontece na gestão autoritária das revoltas dos operários das barragens; regressão econômica e biológica, como acontece com uma expansão das fronteiras agrícolas que serra a duração das relações entre cultura e natureza; regressão da vida urbana, com a remoção de milhares de pobres para abrir o caminho dos megaeventos; regressão da política da cultura viva, em favorecimento das velhas oligarquias e das novas indústrias culturais. O progresso que nos interessa não contém nenhuma hierarquia de valor, ele é concreta transformação qualitativa, “culturmorfologia”.

Este é o imaginário moderno em que a dicotomia prevalece: corpo e alma, natureza e cultura, nós e os outros; cada macaco no seu galho! Estes conceitos resultam em uma visão do mundo que distancia o homem da ecologia e de si mesmo. O que está em questão é a maneira de viver no planeta daqui em diante. É preciso encontrar caminhos para reconciliar estes mundos. Perceber outras configurações relacionais mais móveis, ativar sensibilidades. Fazer dessa revolução um grande caldeirão de desejos que crie formas de cooperação e modos de intercâmbio, recombine e componha novas práticas e perspectivas: mundos. Uma mestiçagem generalizada: nossa cultura é nossa economia e nosso ambiente é nossa cultura: três ecologias!

As lutas da primavera Árabe, do 15M Espanhol, do Occupy Wall Street e do #ocupabrasil gritam por transformação, aonde a base comum que somos nos lança para além do estado de exceção econômico: uma dívida infinita que busca manipular nossos corações e manter-nos acorrentados aos medos. Uma dívida infinita que instaura a perpétua transferência de renda dos 99% dos devedores ao 1% dos credores. Não deixemos que tomem por nós a decisão sobre o que queremos! 

A rede Universidade Nômade se formou há mais de dez anos, entre as mobilizações de Seattle e Gênova, os Fóruns Sociais Mundiais de Porto Alegre e a insurreição Argentina de 2001 contra o neoliberalismo. Foram dois momentos constituintes: o manifesto inicial que chamava pela nomadização das relações de poder/saber, com base nas lutas dos pré-vestibulares comunitários para negros e pobres (em prol da política de cotas raciais e da democratização do acesso ao ensino superior); e o manifesto de 2005 pela radicalização democrática. Hoje, a Universidade Nômade acontece novamente: seu Kairòs (o aqui e agora) é aquele do capitalismo global como crise. Na época da mobilização de toda a vida dentro da acumulação capitalista, o capitalismo se apresenta como crise e a crise como expropriação do comum, destruição do comum da terra. Governa-se a vida: a catástrofe financeira e ambiental é o fato de um controle que precisa separar a vida de si mesma e opõe a barragem aos índios e ribeirinhos de Belo Monte,  as obras aos operários, os megaeventos aos favelados e aos pobres em geral, a dívida aos direitos, a cultura à natureza. Não há nenhum determinismo, nenhuma crise terminal. O capital não tem limites, a não ser aqueles que as lutas sabem e podem construir. A rede Universidade Nômade é um espaço de pesquisa e militância, para pensar as brechas e os interstícios onde se articulam as lutas que determinam esses limites do capital e se abrem ao possível: pelo reconhecimento das dimensões produtivas da vida através da renda universal, pela radicalização democrática através da produção de novas instituições do comum, para além da dialética entre público e privado, pelo ressurgimento da natureza como produção da diferença, como luta e biopolítica de fabricação de corpos pós-econômicos. Corpos atravessados pela antropofagia dos modernistas, pelas cosmologias ameríndias, pelos êxodos quilombolas, pelas lutas dos sem teto, sem terra, precários, índios, negros, mulheres e hackers: por aqueles que esboçam outras formas de viver, mais potentes, mais vivas.

II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre fará parte da Cúpula dos Povos, durante a Rio +20 (Revista Fórum)

Envolverde Rio + 20
31/5/2012 – 11h08

por Por Mikaele Teodoro, da Revista Fórum.

Capa62 II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre fará parte da Cúpula dos Povos, durante a Rio +20Evento acontece no Rio de Janeiro, nos dias 16 e 17 de junho.

Nos dias 16 e 17 de junho acontece, no Rio de Janeiro, o II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre. O evento vai reunir “midialivristas” tais como: representantes de sites, ativistas, rádios e TVs comunitárias, pontos de cultura, coletivos atuantes nas redes sociais e também agências, revistas e emissoras alternativas comprometidas com a luta pelo conhecimento livre. O encontro fará parte da Cúpula dos Povos da Rio+20, evento paralelo à Conferência da ONU sobre desenvolvimento sustentável.

Bia Barbosa, do Coletivo Intervozes, explica que o momento é ideal para discutir a mídia livre. “O II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre acontecerá num momento em que a mídia livre e todas as suas formas de organização e expressão ganham espaço no contexto das mobilizações globais por um mundo mais justo, como ocorreu na Primavera Árabe e também nas ocupações realizadas, no último ano, em diversas partes do globo”, destaca.

No II FML, midialivristas de diversos países discutirão temas como alternativas de produção de informação, maneiras de estruturar politicamente a mídia livre internacional, discutir alternativas de financiamento e de compartilhamento de conteúdo, propagar novas possibilidades de atuação disponibilizadas pelas novas tecnologias, entre outros. “Vai ter gente de varias partes do mundo, um grupo grande de pessoas do norte da África, representantes do Uruguai, França, Alemanha e muitos outros”, afirma Bia. “A intenção dos organizadores é atrair diferentes públicos para as discussões. Não queremos tornar o debate muito técnico, comum apenas para os profissionais da comunicação.”

O encontro contará com atividades autogestionadas, além de painéis, debates livres, oficinas e plenárias, e será na Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), ao lado do Aterro do Flamengo.

Confira abaixo a programação:

Dia 16

9h: Abertura – Auditório Pedro Calmon (campus da UFRJ – Urca)
O II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre e a Rio+20: A luta da comunicação e da cultura como bens comuns

11h: Painéis simultâneos

Eixo 1 – Direito à Comunicação – Auditório Pedro Calmon (UFRJ – Urca)
Temas em debate: acesso à informação; liberdade de expressão; agressões a jornalistas; criminalização da mídia livre; conglomerados mundiais de comunicação e o discurso hegemônico sobre desenvolvimento

Eixo 2 – Apropriação Tecnológica – Auditório Eletrobras (Casa do Estudante – Flamengo)
Temas em debate: novos modelos organizacionais e econômicos; protocolos livres; liberdade de internet; espectro livre e tecnologia digital (rádio e TV digital); formação para apropriação tecnológica

13h – Almoço

14h – Painel eixo 3: Políticas Públicas – Auditório Pedro Calmon (UFRJ – Urca)
Temas em debate: comunicação e democracia; marcos regulatórios; padrões internacionais e boas práticas de regulação; sistema público de comunicação; rádios comunitárias; rádios livres; sustentabilidade das mídias livres

16h – Atividades autogestionadas – salas de aula ECO (UFRJ – Urca)
Rodas de conversa, desconferências, oficinas, Fórum Extendido

Dia 17

9h – Painéis simultâneos

Eixo 4 – Movimentos Sociais – Auditório Pedro Calmon (UFRJ – Urca)
Temas em debate: Produção de conteúdo e informação pela sociedade civil (incluindo o debate sobre a disputa de valores em torno do desenvolvimento sustentável); as lutas nas redes e nas ruas e o ativismo global; como aumentar o impacto da mídia livre nas lutas sociais; sinergia entre plataformas regionais de informação; troca de experiências e iniciativas; os midialivristas e o processo do Fórum Social Mundial

Mulher, mídia e bens comuns – Auditório Eletrobras (Casa do Estudante – Flamengo)
Temas em debate: invisibilidade e exclusão da história das mulheres; liberdade de expressão e negação da memória; lutas das mulheres nas redes sociais; das Marchas das Vadias às denúncias de discriminação das mulheres na Primavera Árabe; produção de conteúdo pelo direito à igualdade e diversidade de gênero e raça na rede; regulação de mídia e a questão da representação da imagem da mulher; o potencial de impacto desse debate nas redes sociais.

10h30 – Plenária Geral – Auditório Pedro Calmon (UFRJ – Urca)
Organização de estratégias e encaminhamento de propostas para a Plenária de Convergência da Cúpula dos Povos sobre Bens Comuns

13h – Almoço

14h – Atividades autogestionadas – salas de aula ECO (UFRJ – Urca)
Rodas de conversa, desconferências, oficinas, Fórum Extendido

Inscrição de atividades para o II Fórum Mundial de Mídia Livre:

Outras informações:

* Publicado originalmente no site da Revista Fórum.

New climate emails leaked ahead of talks (CBS)

November 22, 2011 2:15 PM

The Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. (AP)  

LONDON – The British university whose leaked emails caused a global climate science controversy in 2009 says it has discovered a potentially much larger data breach.

University of East Anglia spokesman Simon Dunford said that while academics didn’t have the chance yet to examine the roughly 5,000 emails apparently dumped into the public domain Tuesday, a small sample examined by the university “appears to be genuine.”

The university said in a statement that the emails did not appear to be the result of a new hack or leak. Instead, the statement said that the emails appeared to have been stolen two years ago and held back until now “to cause maximum disruption” to the imminent U.N. climate talks next week in Durban, South Africa.

If that is confirmed, the timing and nature of the leak would follow the pattern set by the so-called “Climategate” emails, which caught prominent scientists stonewalling critics and discussing ways to keep opponents’ research out of peer-reviewed journals.

Those hostile to mainstream climate science claimed the exchanges proved that the threat of global warming was being hyped, and their publication helped destabilize the failed U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, which followed several weeks later.

Although several reviews have since vindicated the researchers’ science, some of their practices – in particular efforts to hide data from critics – have come under strong criticism.

The content of the new batch of emails couldn’t be immediately verified – The Associated Press has not yet been able to secure a copy – but climate skeptic websites carried what they said were excerpts.

Although their context couldn’t be determined, the excerpts appeared to show climate scientists talking in conspiratorial tones about ways to promote their agenda and freeze out those they disagree with. There are several mentions of “the cause” and discussions of ways to shield emails from freedom of information requests.

Penn State University Prof. Michael Mann – a prominent player in the earlier controversy whose name also appears in the latest leak – described the latest leak as “a truly pathetic episode,” blaming agents of the fossil fuel industry for “smear, innuendo, criminal hacking of websites, and leaking out-of-context snippets of personal emails.”

He said the real story in the emails was “an attempt to dig out 2-year-old turkey from Thanksgiving ’09. That’s how desperate climate change deniers have become.”

Bob Ward, with the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said in an email that he wasn’t surprised by the leak.

“The selective presentation of old email messages is clearly designed to mislead the public and politicians about the strength of the evidence for man-made climate change,” he said. “But the fact remains that there is very strong evidence that most the indisputable warming of the Earth over the past half century is due to the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities.”

The source of the latest leaked emails was unclear. The perpetrator of the original hack has yet to be unmasked, although British police have said their investigation is still active.

Climate researchers cleared of malpractice
An End to Climategate? Penn State Clears Michael Mann
Why climate change skeptics remain skeptical

Next Buddha Will Be A Collective (

Religious and spiritual expression is always embedded in societal structures. If social structures are moving towards the form of distributed networks, what kind of evolution of spiritual expression can we expect? In this essay, we will first describe the general societal changes that we see emerging, and expect to become more prevalent in the future, then examine to what degree these changes will have an impact on individual and collective spiritual expression. The reader has to bear with us in the first general part, which explains the peer to peer dynamic, in order to understand its application to spirituality, which is the subject of the second part of the essay. Finally, in the third and final part, we will discuss a few concrete examples.

Read it here.

Desafios do “tsunami de dados” (FAPESP)

Lançado pelo Instituto Microsoft Research-FAPESP de Pesquisas em TI, o livro O Quarto Paradigma debate os desafios da eScience, nova área dedicada a lidar com o imenso volume de informações que caracteriza a ciência atual


Por Fábio de Castro

Agência FAPESP – Se há alguns anos a falta de dados limitava os avanços da ciência, hoje o problema se inverteu. O desenvolvimento de novas tecnologias de captação de dados, nas mais variadas áreas e escalas, tem gerado um volume tão imenso de informações que o excesso se tornou um gargalo para o avanço científico.

Nesse contexto, cientistas da computação têm se unido a especialistas de diferentes áreas para desenvolver novos conceitos e teorias capazes de lidar com a enxurrada de dados da ciência contemporânea. O resultado é chamado de eScience.

Esse é o tema debatido no livro O Quarto Paradigma – Descobertas científicas na era da eScience, lançado no dia 3 de novembro pelo Instituto Microsoft Research-FAPESP de Pesquisas em TI.

Organizado por Tony Hey, Stewart Tansley, Kristin Tolle – todos da Microsoft Research –, a publicação foi lançada na sede da FAPESP, em evento que contou com a presença do diretor científico da Fundação, Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz.

Durante o lançamento, Roberto Marcondes Cesar Jr., do Instituto de Matemática e Estatística (IME) da Universidade de São Paulo (USP), apresentou a palestra “eScience no Brasil”. “O Quarto Paradigma: computação intensiva de dados avançando a descoberta científica” foi o tema da palestra de Daniel Fay, diretor de Terra, Energia e Meio Ambiente da MSR.

Brito Cruz destacou o interesse da FAPESP em estimular o desenvolvimento da eScience no Brasil. “A FAPESP está muito conectada a essa ideia, porque muitos dos nossos projetos e programas apresentam essa necessidade de mais capacidade de gerenciar grandes conjuntos de dados. O nosso grande desafio está na ciência por trás dessa capacidade de lidar com grandes volumes de dados”, disse.

Iniciativas como o Programa FAPESP de Pesquisa sobre Mudanças Climáticas Globais (PFPMCG), o BIOTA-FAPESP e o Programa FAPESP de Pesquisa em Bioenergia (BIOEN) são exemplos de programas que têm grande necessidade de integrar e processar imensos volumes de dados.

“Sabemos que a ciência avança quando novos instrumentos são disponibilizados. Por outro lado, os cientistas normalmente não percebem o computador como um novo grande instrumento que revoluciona a ciência. A FAPESP está interessada em ações para que a comunidade científica tome consciência de que há grandes desafios na área de eScience”, disse Brito Cruz.

O livro é uma coleção de 26 ensaios técnicos divididos em quatro seções: “Terra e meio ambiente”, “Saúde e bem-estar”, “Infraestrutura científica” e “Comunicação acadêmica”.

“O livro fala da emergência de um novo paradigma para as descobertas científicas. Há milhares de anos, o paradigma vigente era o da ciência experimental, fundamentada na descrição de fenômenos naturais. Há algumas centenas de anos, surgiu o paradigma da ciência teórica, simbolizado pelas leis de Newton. Há algumas décadas, surgiu a ciência computacional, simulando fenômenos complexos. Agora, chegamos ao quarto paradigma, que é o da ciência orientada por dados”, disse Fay.

Com o advento do novo paradigma, segundo ele, houve uma mudança completa na natureza da descoberta científica. Entraram em cena modelos complexos, com amplas escalas espaciais e temporais, que exigem cada vez mais interações multidisciplinares.

“Os dados, em quantidade incrível, são provenientes de diferentes fontes e precisam também de abordagem multidisciplinar e, muitas vezes, de tratamento em tempo real. As comunidades científicas também estão mais distribuídas. Tudo isso transformou a maneira como se fazem descobertas”, disse Fay.

A ecologia, uma das áreas altamente afetadas pelos grandes volumes de dados, é um exemplo de como o avanço da ciência, cada vez mais, dependerá da colaboração entre pesquisadores acadêmicos e especialistas em computação.

“Vivemos em uma tempestade de sensoriamento remoto, sensores terrestres baratos e acesso a dados na internet. Mas extrair as variáveis que a ciência requer dessa massa de dados heterogêneos continua sendo um problema. É preciso ter conhecimento especializado sobre algoritmos, formatos de arquivos e limpeza de dados, por exemplo, que nem sempre é acessível para o pessoal da área de ecologia”, explicou.

O mesmo ocorre em áreas como medicina e biologia – que se beneficiam de novas tecnologias, por exemplo, em registros de atividade cerebral, ou de sequenciamento de DNA – ou a astronomia e física, à medida que os modernos telescópios capturam terabytes de informação diariamente e o Grande Colisor de Hádrons (LHC) gera petabytes de dados a cada ano.

Instituto Virtual

Segundo Cesar Jr., a comunidade envolvida com eScience no Brasil está crescendo. O país tem 2.167 cursos de sistemas de informação ou engenharia e ciências da computação. Em 2009, houve 45 mil formados nessas áreas e a pós-graduação, entre 2007 e 2009, tinha 32 cursos, mil orientadores, 2.705 mestrandos e 410 doutorandos.

“A ciência mudou do paradigma da aquisição de dados para o da análise de dados. Temos diferentes tecnologias que produzem terabytes em diversos campos do conhecimento e, hoje, podemos dizer que essas áreas têm foco na análise de um dilúvio de dados”, disse o membro da Coordenação da Área de Ciência e Engenharia da Computação da FAPESP.

Em 2006, a Sociedade Brasileira de Computação (SBC) organizou um encontro a fim de identificar os problemas-chave e os principais desafios para a área. Isso levou a diferentes propostas para que o Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) criasse um programa específico para esse tipo de problema.

“Em 2009, realizamos uma série de workshops na FAPESP, reunindo, para discutir essa questão, cientistas de áreas como agricultura, mudanças climáticas, medicina, transcriptômica, games, governo eletrônico e redes sociais. A iniciativa resultou em excelentes colaborações entre grupos de cientistas com problemas semelhantes e originou diversas iniciativas”, disse César Jr.

As chamadas do Instituto Microsoft Research-FAPESP de Pesquisas em TI, segundo ele, têm sido parte importante do conjunto de iniciativas para promover a eScience, assim como a organização da Escola São Paulo de Ciência Avançada em Processamento e Visualização de Imagens Computacionais. Além disso, a FAPESP tem apoiado diversos projetos de pesquisa ligados ao tema.

“A comunidade de eScience em São Paulo tem trabalhado com profissionais de diversas áreas e publicado em revistas de várias delas. Isso é indicação de qualidade adquirida pela comunidade para encarar o grande desafio que teremos nos próximos anos”, disse César Jr., que assina o prefácio da edição brasileira do livro.

  • O Quarto Paradigma
    Organizadores: Tony Hey, Stewart Tansley e Kristin Tolle
    Lançamento: 2011
    Preço: R$ 60
    Páginas: 263
    Mais informações:

Copyright: A Conceptual Battle in a Digital Age (Science Daily)

ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2011) — What is it about copyright that doesn’t work in the digital society? Why do millions of people think it’s OK to break the law when it comes to file sharing in particular? Sociology of law researcher Stefan Larsson from Lund University believes that legal metaphors and old-fashioned mindsets contribute to the confusion and widening gaps between legislation and the prevailing norms.

Our language is made up of metaphors, even in our legal texts. Stefan Larsson has studied what consequences this has when digital phenomena, such as file sharing and downloading, are limited by descriptions intended for an analogue world. “When legal arguments equate file sharing with theft of physical objects, it sometimes becomes problematic,” says Stefan Larsson, who doesn’t think it is possible to equate an illegal download with theft of a physical object, as has been done in the case against The Pirate Bay.

Using the compensation model employed in the case against The Pirate Bay, the total value of such a site could be calculated at over SEK 600 billion. This is almost as much as Sweden’s national budget, says Stefan Larsson. The prosecutor in the Pirate Bay case chose to pursue a smaller number of downloads and the sum of the fines therefore never reached these proportions.

In Stefan Larsson’s view, the word ‘copies’ is a hidden legal metaphor that causes problematic ideas in the digital society. For example, copyright does not take into account that a download does not result in the owner losing his or her own copy. Neither is it possible to equate number of downloads with lost income for the copyright holder, since it is likely that people download a lot more than they would purchase in a shop.

Other metaphors that are used for downloading are infringement, theft and piracy. “The problem is that these metaphors make us equate copyright with ownership of physical property,” says Stefan Larsson.

Moreover, there are underlying mindsets which guide the whole of copyright, according to Stefan Larsson. One such mindset is the idea that creation is a process undertaken by sole geniuses and not so much in a cultural context. In Stefan Larsson’s view, this has the unfortunate consequence of making stronger copyright protection with longer duration and a higher degree of legal enforcement appear reasonable. The problem is that it is based on a misconception of how a lot of things are created, says Stefan Larsson: “Borrowing and drawing inspiration from other artists is essential to a lot of creative activity. This is the case both online and offline.”

Stefan Larsson has also studied the consequences when public perception of the law, or social norms, is not in line with what the law says. One consequence is that the State needs to exercise more control and issue more severe penalties in order to ensure that the law is followed. The European trend in copyright law is heading in this direction. Among other things, it is being made easier to track what individuals do on the Internet. This means that the integrity of the many is being eroded to benefit the interests of a few, according to Stefan Larsson: “When all’s said and done, it is about what we want the Internet to be. The fight for this is taking place, at least partially, through metaphorical expressions for underlying conceptions, but also through practical action on the role of anonymity online.”

Stefan Larsson’s thesis is entitled Metaphors and Norms – Understanding Copyright Law in a Digital Society.

O futuro da ciência está na colaboração (Valor Econômico)

JC e-mail 4376, de 01 de Novembro de 2011.

Texto de Michael Nielsen publicado no The Wall Street Journal e divulgado pelo Valor Econômico.

Um matemático da Universidade de Cambridge chamado Tim Gowers decidiu em janeiro de 2009 usar seu blog para realizar um experimento social inusitado. Ele escolheu um problema matemático difícil e tentou resolvê-lo abertamente, usando o blog para apresentar suas ideias e como estava progredindo. Ele convidou todo mundo para contribuir com ideias, na esperança de que várias mentes unidas seriam mais poderosas que uma. Ele chamou o experimento de Projeto Polímata (“Polymath Project”).

Quinze minutos depois de Gowers abrir o blog para discussão, um matemático húngaro-canadense publicou um comentário. Quinze minutos depois, um professor de matemática do ensino médio dos Estados Unidos entrou na conversa. Três minutos depois disso, o matemático Terence Tao, da Universidade da Califórnia em Los Angeles, também comentou. A discussão pegou fogo e em apenas seis semanas o problema foi solucionado.

Embora tenham surgido outros desafios e os colaboradores dessa rede nem sempre tenham encontrado todas as soluções, eles conseguiram criar uma nova abordagem para solucionar problemas. O trabalho deles é um exemplo das experiências com ciência colaborativa que estão sendo feitas para estudar desde de galáxias até dinossauros.

Esses projetos usam a internet como ferramenta cognitiva para amplificar a inteligência coletiva. Essas ferramentas são um meio de conectar as pessoas certas com os problemas certos na hora certa, ativando o que é um conhecimento apenas latente.

A colaboração em rede tem o potencial de acelerar extraordinariamente o número de descobertas da ciência como um todo. É provável que assistiremos a uma mudança mais fundamental na pesquisa científica nas próximas décadas do que a ocorrida nos últimos três séculos.

Mas há obstáculos grandes para alcançar essa meta. Embora pareça natural que os cientistas adotem essas novas ferramentas de descobrimento, na verdade eles têm demonstrado uma inibição surpreendente. Iniciativas como o Projeto Polímata continuam sendo exceção, não regra.

Considere a simples ideia de compartilhar dados científicos on-line. O melhor exemplo disso é o projeto do genoma humano, cujos dados podem ser baixados por qualquer um. Quando se lê no noticiário que um certo gene foi associado a alguma doença, é praticamente certo que é uma descoberta possibilitada pela política do projeto de abrir os dados.

Apesar do valor enorme de divulgar abertamente os dados, a maioria dos laboratórios não faz um esforço sistemático para compartilhar suas informações com outros cientistas. Como me disse um biólogo, ele estava “sentado no genoma” de uma nova espécie inteira há mais de um ano. Uma espécie inteira! Imagine as descobertas cruciais que outros cientistas poderiam ter feito se esse genoma tivesse sido carregado num banco de dados aberto.

Por que os cientistas não gostam de compartilhar?

Se você é um cientista buscando um emprego ou financiamento de pesquisa, o maior fator para determinar seu sucesso será o número de publicações científicas que já conseguiu. Se o seu histórico for brilhante, você se dará bem. Se não for, terá problemas. Então você dedica seu cotidiano de trabalho à produção de artigos para revistas acadêmicas.

Mesmo que ache pessoalmente que seria muito melhor para a ciência como um todo se você organizasse e compartilhasse seus dados na internet, é um tempo que o afasta do “verdadeiro” trabalho de escrever os artigos. Compartilhar dados não é algo a que seus colegas vão dar crédito, exceto em poucas áreas.

Há outras áreas em que os cientistas ainda estão atrasados no uso das ferramentas on-line. Um exemplo são os “wikis” criadas por pioneiros corajosos em assuntos como computação quântica, teoria das cordas e genética (um wiki permite o compartilhamento e edição colaborativa de um conjunto de informações interligadas, e o site Wikipedia é o mais conhecido deles).

Os wikis especializados podem funcionar como obras de referência atualizadas sobre as pesquisas mais recentes de um campo, como se fossem livros didáticos que evoluem ultrarrápido. Eles podem incluir descrições de problemas científicos importantes que ainda não foram resolvidos e podem servir de ferramenta para encontrar soluções.

Mas a maioria desses wikis não deu certo. Eles têm o mesmo problema que o compartilhamento de dados: mesmo se os cientistas acreditarem no valor da colaboração, sabem que escrever um único artigo medíocre fará muito mais por suas carreiras. O incentivo está completamente errado.

Para a ciência em rede alcançar seu potencial, os cientistas precisam abraçar e recompensar o compartilhamento aberto de todos os conhecimentos científicos, não só o publicado nas revistas acadêmicas tradicionais. A ciência em rede precisa ser aberta.

Michael Nielsen é um dos pioneiros da computação quântica e escreveu o livro “Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science” (Reinventando a Descoberta: A Nova Era da Ciência em Rede, sem tradução para o português), de onde esse texto foi adaptado.

After Pregnancy Loss, Internet Forums Help Women Understand They Are Not Alone (Science Daily)

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2011) — Nearly one in six pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth, but parents’ losses are frequently minimized or not acknowledged by friends, family or the community.

“Women who have not gone through a stillbirth don’t want to hear about my birth, or what my daughter looked like, or anything about my experience,” said one woman, responding in a University of Michigan Health System-led study that explored how Internet communities and message boards increasingly provide a place for women to share feelings about these life-altering experiences.

The anonymous survey of more than 1,000 women on 18 message boards opens a new window into who is using the forums and why. The findings will be published in Women’s Health Issues.

The researchers were surprised to find that only half of the women surveyed were in their first year of loss after a pregnancy. Many were still coping with the emotional impacts five, 10 and even 20 years later.

“To my family and most friends, the twins have been gone for nearly a year and are entirely a subject for the past,” another woman wrote.

A second unexpected finding was that only 2 percent of survey respondents were African American, despite nearly 60 percent of African Americans having internet access and despite black women having twice the risk of stillbirth as white women.

“This is the largest study to look at who uses Internet message boards after a pregnancy loss and it demonstrates a significant disparity between the women who experience loss and those who responded to the survey,” says lead study author Katherine J. Gold, M.D., M.S.W., M.S., assistant professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School. “This suggests an important gap in support for African American parents that should be explored further.”

By far, the most common reason women gave for participating in the message boards was that it helped them to feel that their experience wasn’t unique.

One woman explained that the most important aspect of the forums was knowing “that I am not the only one this has happened to and that I am not alone in this horrible nightmare.” Another common theme was that the online environments provided a safe and validating space for the women to express themselves. Others appreciated the ease and convenience of the Internet and their ability to spend more time composing their thoughts than they would be able to in a face-to-face conversation.

Most participants agreed that boards should have a moderator or facilitator, and that health care professionals should participate. Of the 908 women who answered the question, 82 percent said they had learned new medical information from one of the forums.

“The fact that so many women learned new medical information from the message boards shows what an important resource they can be in this regard,” says study senior author Christie Palladino, M.D., M.Sc., an obstetrician/gynecologist with Georgia Health Sciences University’s Education Discovery Institute.

Gold and her colleagues are currently pursuing similar research with bereaved parents who attend in-person support groups and plan to compare and contrast the results.

Number of Facebook Friends Linked to Size of Brain Regions, Study Suggests (Science Daily)

ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2011) — Scientists funded by the Wellcome Trust have found a direct link between the number of ‘Facebook friends’ a person has and the size of particular brain regions. Researchers at University College London (UCL) also showed that the more Facebook friends a person has, the more ‘real-world’ friends they are likely to have.

The researchers are keen to stress that they have found a correlation and not a cause, however: in other words, it is not possible from the data to say whether having more Facebook friends makes the regions of the brain larger or whether some people are ‘hardwired’ to have more friends.

The social networking site Facebook has more than 800 million active users worldwide. Nearly 30 million of these are believed to be in the UK.

The site allows people to keep in touch online with a network of friends. The sizes of individual networks vary considerably, and some users have only a handful of online friends while others have over a thousand; however, whether this variability is reflected in the size of real-world social networks has not been clear.

Professor Geraint Rees, a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Research Fellow at UCL, said: “Online social networks are massively influential, yet we understand very little about the impact they have on our brains. This has led to a lot of unsupported speculation that the internet is somehow bad for us.

“Our study will help us begin to understand how our interactions with the world are mediated through social networks. This should allow us to start asking intelligent questions about the relationship between the internet and the brain — scientific questions, not political ones.”

Professor Rees and colleagues at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging studied brain scans of 125 university students — all active Facebook users — and compared them against the size of the students’ network of friends, both online and in the real world. Their findings, which they replicated in a further group of 40 students, are published October 20 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Professor Rees and colleagues found a strong connection between the number of Facebook friends an individual had and the amount of grey matter (the brain tissue where the processing is done) in several regions of the brain. One of these regions was the amygdala, a region associated with processing memory and emotional responses. A study published recently showed that the volume of grey matter in this area is larger in people with a larger network of real-world friends — the new study shows that the same is true for people with a larger network of online friends.
The size of three other regions — the right superior temporal sulcus, the left middle temporal gyrus and the right entorhinal cortex — also correlated with online social networks but did not appear to correlate with real-world networks.

The superior temporal sulcus has a role in our ability to perceive a moving object as biological, and structural defects in this region have been identified in some children with autism. The entorhinal cortex, meanwhile, has been linked to memory and navigation — including navigating through online social networks. Finally, the middle temporal gyrus has been shown to activate in response to the gaze of others and so is implicated in perception of social cues.

Dr Ryota Kanai, first author of the study, added: “We have found some interesting brain regions that seem to link to the number of friends we have — both ‘real’ and ‘virtual’. The exciting question now is whether these structures change over time — this will help us answer the question of whether the internet is changing our brains.”
As well as examining brain structure, the researchers also examined whether there was a link between the size of a person’s online network of friends and their real-world network. Previous studies have looked at this, but only in relatively small sample sizes.

The UCL researchers asked their volunteers questions such as ‘How many people would send a text message to you marking a celebratory event (e.g. birthday, new job, etc.)?’, ‘What is the total number of friends in your phonebook?’ and ‘How many friends have you kept from school and university that you could have a friendly conversation with now?’ The responses suggest that the size of their online networks also related to the size of their real world networks.

“Our findings support the idea that most Facebook users use the site to support their existing social relationships, maintaining or reinforcing these friendships, rather than just creating networks of entirely new, virtual friends,” adds Professor Rees.

Commenting on the study, Dr John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust, said: “We cannot escape the ubiquity of the internet and its impact on our lives, yet we understand little of its impact on the brain, which we know is plastic and can change over time. This new study illustrates how well-designed investigations can help us begin to understand whether or not our brains are evolving as they adapt to the challenges posed by social media.”