We all know these stories of sources who take a risk to approach an institution and that institution doesn’t publish the information. I think that the existence of the Intercept or WikiLeaks or other outlets that are willing to publish that information creates a different media landscape…

…I don’t think what we’re doing is radical. I think it’s radical to censor information because the government asks you to. That’s radical.

Laura Poitras, Director and Producer, CitizenFour, to Wired. Laura Poitras on the Crypto Tools That Made Her Snowden Film Possible.

Context: Poitras is referring to the New York Times which withheld publication of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program for a year at the administration’s request.

The Tools: Poitras says she couldn’t have reported CitizenFour, her documentary on Edward Snowden and the NSA leaks, without a number of Open Source tools. These included, according to Wired, “the anonymity software Tor, the Tor-based operating system Tails, GPG encryption, Off-The-Record (OTR) encrypted instant messaging, hard disk encryption software Truecrypt, and Linux.”

Additionally, Poitras used the anonymizing operating system Tails on a computer dedicated solely for communicating with Snowden, according to Wired.

Now, there’s a reason why privacy is so craved universally and instinctively.

It isn’t just a reflexive movement like breathing air or drinking water. The reason is that when we’re in a state where we can be monitored, where we can be watched, our behavior changes dramatically. The range of behavioral options that we consider when we think we’re being watched severely reduce. This is just a fact of human nature that has been recognized in social science and in literature and in religion and in virtually every field of discipline. There are dozens of psychological studies that prove that when somebody knows that they might be watched, the behavior they engage in is vastly more conformist and compliant. Human shame is a very powerful motivator, as is the desire to avoid it, and that’s the reason why people, when they’re in a state of being watched, make decisions not that are the byproduct of their own agency but that are about the expectations that others have of them or the mandates of societal orthodoxy…

…[A] society in which people can be monitored at all times is a society that breeds conformity and obedience and submission, which is why every tyrant, the most overt to the most subtle, craves that system. Conversely, even more importantly, it is a realm of privacy, the ability to go somewhere where we can think and reason and interact and speak without the judgmental eyes of others being cast upon us, in which creativity and exploration and dissent exclusively reside, and that is the reason why, when we allow a society to exist in which we’re subject to constant monitoring, we allow the essence of human freedom to be severely crippled.

— Glenn Greenwald, Why Privacy Matters. TEDGlobal 2014.

Camelcam: Street View Comes to the Liwa Desert
Google has begun mapping the Liwa Desert in the United Arab Emirates by mounting its Trekker cams on the backs of camels.
Add the desert to remote destinations such as the Amazon and the Canadian Arctic where Google has sent its cameras.
A small image gallery of what’s being captured can be viewed here. 
Image: Street View Trekker mounted on a camel, via Google. Select to embiggen.

Camelcam: Street View Comes to the Liwa Desert

Google has begun mapping the Liwa Desert in the United Arab Emirates by mounting its Trekker cams on the backs of camels.

Add the desert to remote destinations such as the Amazon and the Canadian Arctic where Google has sent its cameras.

A small image gallery of what’s being captured can be viewed here

Image: Street View Trekker mounted on a camel, via Google. Select to embiggen.

Radio station lays off all 47 of its journalists, will play Beyoncé all day everyday instead →

FJP: All hail Queen Bey.

Amateur
Via @SharyDow.

Amateur

Via @SharyDow.

New York Times reporter James Risen, via Twitter.

James Risen recently won the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Journalism Award for excellence in journalism.

The Pulitzer Prize winning national security reporter has long been hounded by the US Justice Department to disclose his confidential sources from his 2006 book State of War.

As the Washington Post wrote back in August, “Prosecutors want Mr. Risen’s testimony in their case against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA official who is accused of leaking details of a failed operation against Iran’s nuclear program. Mr. Risen properly has refused to identify his source, at the risk of imprisonment. Such confidential sources are a pillar of how journalists obtain information. If Mr. Risen is forced to reveal the identity of a source, it will damage the ability of journalists to promise confidentiality to sources and to probe government behavior.”

While accepting the Lovejoy Award, Risen had this to say:

The conventional wisdom of our day is the belief that we have had to change the nature of our society to accommodate the global war on terror. Incrementally over the last thirteen years, Americans have easily accepted a transformation of their way of life because they have been told that it is necessary to keep them safe. Americans now slip off their shoes on command at airports, have accepted the secret targeted killings of other Americans without due process, have accepted the use of torture and the creation of secret offshore prisons, have accepted mass surveillance of their personal communications, and accepted the longest continual period of war in American history. Meanwhile, the government has eagerly prosecuted whistleblowers who try to bring any of the government’s actions to light.

Americans have accepted this new reality with hardly a murmur. Today, the basic prerequisite to being taken seriously in American politics is to accept the legitimacy of the new national security state that has been created since 9/11. The new basic American assumption is that there really is a need for a global war on terror. Anyone who doesn’t accept that basic assumption is considered dangerous and maybe even a traitor.

Today, the U.S. government treats whistleblowers as criminals, much like Elijah Lovejoy, because they want to reveal uncomfortable truths about the government’s actions. And the public and the mainstream press often accept and champion the government’s approach, viewing whistleblowers as dangerous fringe characters because they are not willing to follow orders and remain silent.

The crackdown on leaks by first the Bush administration and more aggressively by the Obama administration, targeting both whistleblowers and journalists, has been designed to suppress the truth about the war on terror. This government campaign of censorship has come with the veneer of the law. Instead of mobs throwing printing presses in the Mississippi River, instead of the creation of the kind of “enemies lists” that President Richard Nixon kept, the Bush and Obama administrations have used the Department of Justice to do their bidding. But the effect is the same — the attorney general of the United States has been turned into the nation’s chief censorship officer. Whenever the White House or the intelligence community get angry about a story in the press, they turn to the Justice Department and the FBI and get them to start a criminal leak investigation, to make sure everybody shuts up.

What the White House wants is to establish limits on accepted reporting on national security and on the war on terror. By launching criminal investigations of stories that are outside the mainstream coverage, they are trying to, in effect, build a pathway on which journalism can be conducted. Stay on the interstate highway of conventional wisdom with your journalism, and you will have no problems. Try to get off and challenge basic assumptions, and you will face punishment.

Journalists have no choice but to fight back, because if they don’t they will become irrelevant.

Bonus: The NSA and Me, James Bamford’s account of covering the agency over the last 30 years, via The Intercept.

Double Bonus: Elijah Parish Lovejoy was a minister in the first half of the 19th century who edited an abolitionist paper called the St. Louis Observer. He was murdered by a pro-slavery mob in 1837. More via Wikipedia.

Images: Selected tweets via James Risen.

But the more we study the images, the more we see that aging does not define these women. Even as the images tell us, in no uncertain terms, that this is what it looks like to grow old, this is the irrefutable truth, we also learn: This is what endurance looks like.

Susan Minot, Forty Portraits in Forty Years, NYT Magazine.

Photographer Nicholas Nixon has taken the same portrait of his wife and her three sisters every year since 1975. Go look at them. Her writing interspersed through the gallery, Susan Minot reflects beautifully:

To watch a person change over time can trick us into thinking we share an intimacy, and yet somehow we don’t believe that these poses and expressions are the final reflection of the Brown sisters. The sisters allow us to observe them, but we are not allowed in… These subjects are not after attention, a rare quality in this age when everyone is not only a photographer but often his own favorite subject. In this, Nixon has pulled off a paradox: The creation of photographs in which privacy is also the subject.

image

What the generation gap looks like via Venmo

Earlier today, the staff over at Quartz was having a (hilarious) conversation about the new person-to-person payment app Venmo. It turns out the over 30 crowd in the office had a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea of an app where people share how they handle their finances (a traditionally touchy and private subject) — and the sub-30 crowd explained how their friends will even use the app to joke or brag about how they spend their money.

via Qz

heatherlandy 11:52 AM
omg, it’s not bad enough that i have to know that the girl i used to sit next to in social studies just took her 4-year-old to the dentist, now i have to know that one of you paid your roommate for the phone bill???
people, you are just GIVING your privacy away! about sensitive things like money! we all need to have a big talk soon…

The conversation is a modern glimpse into how millennials prioritize their privacy, their money, and their use of social media. All in all, the perspective on all three seems to be that our connection with them can be casual, and that nothing is really private anymore anyways.

image

Personally, as a sub-30 representative, maybe I trust Venmo too much with my bank account information, but the convenience of it trumps everything else (not to mention it’s more reliable, cheaper, faster, and more user-friendly than PayPal). How else would I pay back my roommate for last week’s Chinese takeout??

Images from Quartz: the editorial chat room (with +30s underlined and -30s not underlined for distinction), and a transaction from person to person for “Being my friend.” Select to enlarge.

Bullets or Words: Mission, Aims and Techniques of Psychological Warfare

Your old-timey, US Air Force manual of the day.

Images: Via Abrams ComicArtsSelect to embiggen.

Katz never used the word rape, but her essay spells out many of the reasons women have sex when they don’t want to. There’s baseline need (she had nowhere else to stay), physical intimidation (he was on top of her), and, most insidious, a deeply internalized sense of obligation. I know so many women who, late one night, decided it would be rude or un-chill to deny a guy sex after enjoying his company or drinking his alcohol or doing his drugs — or at least not worth the confrontation and social retaliation that could follow.

— Kat Stoeffel, It Doesn’t Have to Be Rape to SuckThe Cut.

My brother, in almost every conversation we’ve ever had about work, he’s always said to me, “You have to be humble.” I mean, the job of a reporter is kind of omnidirectional self-abasement, right? You’re going to experts who know more than you about the thing in its kind of structural terms. You’re going to people who are being affected by it in ways that you aren’t, so they know more about how it feels and how it’s working in a way, and certainly their lives, than you do. You’re going to an editor who has a better sense than you do for story structure and how things need to be if they’re going to work. You’re going to readers who ultimately are the judge of your success. I mean it’s a funny position in that way, because you really need to be able to learn from all kinds of different people.

Ezra Klein, Editor in Chief of Vox.com in Esquire’s The Mentorship Project, a series of fifty interviews with men about the mentors who made them who they are today.

In Praise of the Humble Comma
The gods, they say, give breath, and they take it away. But the same could be said — could it not? — of the humble comma. Add it to the present clause, and, of a sudden, the mind is, quite literally, given pause to think; take it out if you wish or forget it and the mind is deprived of a resting place. Yet still the comma gets no respect. It seems just a slip of a thing, a pedant’s tick, a blip on the edge of our consciousness, a kind of printer’s smudge almost. Small, we claim, is beautiful (especially in the age of the microchip). Yet what is so often used, and so rarely recalled, as the comma — unless it be breath itself?
Punctuation, one is taught, has a point: to keep up law and order. Punctuation marks are the road signs placed along the highway of our communication — to control speeds, provide directions and prevent head-on collisions. A period has the unblinking finality of a red light; the comma is a flashing yellow light that asks us only to slow down; and the semicolon is a stop sign that tells us to ease gradually to a halt, before gradually starting up again. — Pico Iyer, 2001. Via Time.

In Praise of the Humble Comma

The gods, they say, give breath, and they take it away. But the same could be said — could it not? — of the humble comma. Add it to the present clause, and, of a sudden, the mind is, quite literally, given pause to think; take it out if you wish or forget it and the mind is deprived of a resting place. Yet still the comma gets no respect. It seems just a slip of a thing, a pedant’s tick, a blip on the edge of our consciousness, a kind of printer’s smudge almost. Small, we claim, is beautiful (especially in the age of the microchip). Yet what is so often used, and so rarely recalled, as the comma — unless it be breath itself?

Punctuation, one is taught, has a point: to keep up law and order. Punctuation marks are the road signs placed along the highway of our communication — to control speeds, provide directions and prevent head-on collisions. A period has the unblinking finality of a red light; the comma is a flashing yellow light that asks us only to slow down; and the semicolon is a stop sign that tells us to ease gradually to a halt, before gradually starting up again. — Pico Iyer, 2001. Via Time.

Middle East Hate Matrix Middle East Love Matrix Syria Hate Matrix Syria Love Matrix Middle East

Love, Hate & Other Difficulties in the Middle East

David McCandless & UniversLab created an interactive visualization of the relationships between countries and entities in the Middle East, along with those that exert influence on them.

Images from the Top: Those that hate each other; that that love each other; those that hate Syria (left); those that love Syria (right); and, probably, the most apt visualization, those whose relationships are “complicated” (bottom). Via Information is BeautifulSelect to embiggen. 

The data and sourcing McCandles & Universlab use can be viewed via this spreadsheet, and they invite feedback and updated information as relationships evolve.