aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Gay pressure forces cancellation of LIFEbeat Fundraiser
If you, like me, have been too busy to follow in detail the tale of the LIFEbeat HIV/AIDS benefit concert featuring homophobic acts (they’ve cancelled and apologized), here’s a handy timeline synopsis.
Kudos to the bloggers who helped make it happen:
Donald Andrew Agarrat: http://now.anzidesign.com
Keith Boykin: http://www.keithboykin.com
Clay Cane: http://claycane.blogspot.com
Jasmyne Cannick: http://www.jasmynecannick.com
Steven Claiborne: http://saclaiborne.blogspot.com/
Terrance Heath: http://www.republicoft.com
Andre Lancaster: http://journeyintolight.blogspot.com/
Frank Roberts: http://brooklynboyblues.blogspot.com
Nathan Scott: http://www.7magazine.blogspot.com/
Pam Spaulding: http://www.pamspaulding.com/weblog/
Bernard Tarver: http://www.bejata.com
Many artists and music industry professionals worked this behind the scenes, and showed integrity and spine here as well. It was a coalition of interested people, and not just bloggers of course. As it always is.
Georgia voting machines targeted in court
The state of Georgia should stop relying on electronic voting machines because there’s no guarantee they accurately record votes, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Fulton County.
Among its claims, the lawsuit by a group of activists contends the state’s touch-screen voting machines violate state constitutional guarantees that elections be conducted by secret ballot.
Also, by simply pressing buttons on a screen and not receiving a hard-copy evidence of the votes cast, voters cannot be assured their choices were accurately counted, according to the complaint.
I’m fine with electronic voting machines. Just give me a paper receipt like at an ATM and an audit trail.
A paralyzed man with a small sensor implanted in his brain was able to control a computer, a television and a robot using only his thoughts, scientists reported today.
The results of the experiments, conducted by Brown University professor John Donoghue and his team, were published in this week’s issue of the scientific journal Nature. The magazine’s companion Web site has also published a free “Web Focus” that includes interviews, video of the experiments, and a collection of key papers in the field of brain-machine interfaces. Highly recommended browsing.
Link to Nature’s Web Focus, Link to 2005 article from Wired about Nagle and brain implants.
Questioning Turnitin.com & iParadigms
My reservations chiefly have to do with seeing the name John Barrie associated with outing the conservative pundit from the story’s first appearance in the New York Post. Barrie is a notorious media hound who loves to see his name in the press, so he can promote his commercially licensed plagiarism-detection software, Turnitin.com. I’ve used his product in our university writing program for the last eight years, but I have developed deep reservations about the company that produces it.
For advocates of digital rights and access to intellectual property, the parent company of Turnitin.com, iParadigms, has both a troubling past and a troubling future. Although founder John Barrie claims that U.C. Berkeley did not purchase a campus license for Turnitin.com because the university was embarrassed after he pointed out that “cheating was rampant” and thus “the university was dragged through the mud,” he doesn’t mention the fact that the campus also has a legitimate gripe with Barrie, because the school might claim that the software was developed by campus personnel using campus resources while Barrie was on the institution’s payroll. Thus Barrie might seem to have capitalized on an investment of public resources by attempting to sell his software back to his former employer. Particularly when open source and freeware alternatives could be developed (and are being developed at the University of California at Santa Barbara in the PAIRwise project without any media fanfare), the advancing hegemony of Turnitin.com in the market is disappointing. Furthermore, recent news from iParadigms about a collaborative project with LexisNexis to “protect intellectual property” with a product “designed to benefit the media and business community” does not give one much confidence in the lip service Barrie’s company pays to academic ideals, particularly when the ethical obligations of a research university are to provide for the public good not corporate benefit. Although far from “total information awareness,” with programs like CopyGuard vying for attention and investment, the potential for surveillance by copyright holders risks hampering the dissemination of information within and between academic communities and, of course, among citizens participating in legitimate cultural practices that foster creativity and commerce.
Bottom line: this is a self-interested media stunt closely tied to a corporate monopoly, and political progressives should refuse to participate in it.
For more about the rhetoric surrounding the Turnitin.com program, including some choice words about the wishful thinking of technophobes, see my now-dated paper on ”Honor Coding” from the Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism Conference.