The FJP

Mar 22

As Turkey Bans Twitter, Twitter Use Surges
Turkey banned Twitter Thursday night because of “biases" and "systematic character assassinations" it says take place on the network. Namely, that people are sharing audio recordings and other evidence of alleged mass corruption in the Erdogan government.
Despite the ban, or maybe because of it, Twitter use within Turkey just skyrocketed. Via Venture Beat:

After banning Twitter last night, the actions of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have failed spectacularly.
Immediately following Turkey’s ban, Twitter issued an SMS workaround. Then, ”#TwitterisblockedinTurkey” became a globally trending topic on Twitter. Into the night, usage of Google’s free DNS service exploded to circumvent the blockage of Twitter’s domain. Now, social media analysis firms Brandwatch and We Are Social report that Turkish tweets last night and this morning are up by a massive 138 percent…
…Turkish users collectively tweeted 2.5 million times since the ban went into effect, potentially “setting new records for Twitter use in the country,” according to a different study reported by the Guardian.

As Zeynep Tufekci explains, people in Turkey “banned the ban” by sharing tips on using proxies and adjusting DNS settings to get around government blocking:

By the end of the evening, I repeated the same line in interviews and also on Twitter: the only people “banned” from Twitter are pro-government supporters not wanting to openly circumvent. But then even some of them started popping up, arguing the ban must be a mistake or a devious plot by the opponents in the judiciary where they had been battling a faction. It was 3 am in Turkey and it seemed that many people on my Twitter list, who normally would be asleep by then, were awake, rejoicing in the freedom they’d clutched. They were not going to let go. Jokes were proliferating about the weakness of the ban, the fact that pro-government supporters had mostly decided to stay away, and the fact that the prolific Tweeter and mayor of Ankara from the ruling party had not been able to resist the temptation. He had circumvented.

Image: A woman paints Google’s Public DNS on her body, a method being used to get around Turkey’s Twitter ban, via @_cypherpunks_. Related, graffiti in Turkey is appearing that promotes the same.  

As Turkey Bans Twitter, Twitter Use Surges

Turkey banned Twitter Thursday night because of “biases" and "systematic character assassinations" it says take place on the network. Namely, that people are sharing audio recordings and other evidence of alleged mass corruption in the Erdogan government.

Despite the ban, or maybe because of it, Twitter use within Turkey just skyrocketed. Via Venture Beat:

After banning Twitter last night, the actions of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have failed spectacularly.

Immediately following Turkey’s ban, Twitter issued an SMS workaround. Then, ”#TwitterisblockedinTurkey” became a globally trending topic on Twitter. Into the night, usage of Google’s free DNS service exploded to circumvent the blockage of Twitter’s domain. Now, social media analysis firms Brandwatch and We Are Social report that Turkish tweets last night and this morning are up by a massive 138 percent…

…Turkish users collectively tweeted 2.5 million times since the ban went into effect, potentially “setting new records for Twitter use in the country,” according to a different study reported by the Guardian.

As Zeynep Tufekci explains, people in Turkey “banned the ban” by sharing tips on using proxies and adjusting DNS settings to get around government blocking:

By the end of the evening, I repeated the same line in interviews and also on Twitter: the only people “banned” from Twitter are pro-government supporters not wanting to openly circumvent. But then even some of them started popping up, arguing the ban must be a mistake or a devious plot by the opponents in the judiciary where they had been battling a faction. It was 3 am in Turkey and it seemed that many people on my Twitter list, who normally would be asleep by then, were awake, rejoicing in the freedom they’d clutched. They were not going to let go. Jokes were proliferating about the weakness of the ban, the fact that pro-government supporters had mostly decided to stay away, and the fact that the prolific Tweeter and mayor of Ankara from the ruling party had not been able to resist the temptation. He had circumvented.

Image: A woman paints Google’s Public DNS on her body, a method being used to get around Turkey’s Twitter ban, via @_cypherpunks_. Related, graffiti in Turkey is appearing that promotes the same.  

Mar 21

“At this stage, we can’t rule anything out: not crew interference with the transponders, not a catastrophic electrical failure, not the emergence of a complex topological feature of space-time such as an Einstein-Rosen bridge that could have deposited the flight at any location in the universe or a different time period altogether, nothing…

Could a parallel universe have immediately swelled up from random cosmological fluctuation according to the multiverse theory and swallowed the flight into its folds, or could ice have built up on an airspeed sensor? Those are both options we are currently considering… Everything’s on the table. That is, insofar as anything exists at all, which we’re also looking into.” — "Azharuddin Abdul Rahman," Civil Aviation Chief of Malayasia. The Onion, Malaysia Airlines Expands Investigation To Include General Scope Of Space, Time.

“I feel like I should let you know what you’re in for. This is a long story about a juggler. It gets into some areas that matter in all sports, such as performance and audience and ambition, but there’s absolutely a lot of juggling in the next 6,700 words. I assume you may bail at this point, which is fine; I almost bailed a few times in the writing. The usual strategies of sportswriting depend on the writer and reader sharing a set of passions and references that make it easy to speed along on rivers of stats and myth, but you almost certainly don’t know as much about juggling as you do about football or baseball. We’re probably staring at a frozen lake here.

A few juggling videos are embedded below. I hope they help. We may fall through the ice anyway.” —

You had us at ‘juggler’.

Jason Fagone, Grantland. Dropped: Why did Anthony Gatto, the greatest juggler alive — and perhaps of all time — back away from his art to open a construction business?

Mar 18

Food Maps
Via Caitlin Levin and Henry Hargreaves:

In this series we have taken many of the iconic foods of countries and continents and turned them into physical maps. While we know that tomatoes originally came from the Andes in South America, Italy has become the tomato king. These maps show how food has traveled the globe — transforming and becoming a part of the cultural identity of that place.

H/T: Slate.

Food Maps

Via Caitlin Levin and Henry Hargreaves:

In this series we have taken many of the iconic foods of countries and continents and turned them into physical maps. While we know that tomatoes originally came from the Andes in South America, Italy has become the tomato king. These maps show how food has traveled the globe — transforming and becoming a part of the cultural identity of that place.

H/T: Slate.

Mar 17

[video]

Robots Reporting Earthquakes
Via Slate:

Ken Schwencke, a journalist and programmer for the Los Angeles Times, was jolted awake at 6:25 a.m. on Monday by an earthquake. He rolled out of bed and went straight to his computer, where he found a brief story about the quake already written and waiting in the system. He glanced over the text and hit “publish.” And that’s how the LAT became the first media outlet to report on this morning’s temblor. “I think we had it up within three minutes,” Schwencke told me.
If that sounds faster than humanly possible, it probably is. While the post appeared under Schwencke’s byline, the real author was an algorithm called Quakebot that he developed a little over two years ago. Whenever an alert comes in from the U.S. Geological Survey about an earthquake above a certain size threshold, Quakebot is programmed to extract the relevant data from the USGS report and plug it into a pre-written template. The story goes into the LAT’s content management system, where it awaits review and publication by a human editor.

Interested in – or freaked out about – robots writing your news? Check our Robots Tag.
Image: Screenshot, text I received from my brother Peter this morning. – Michael

Robots Reporting Earthquakes

Via Slate:

Ken Schwencke, a journalist and programmer for the Los Angeles Times, was jolted awake at 6:25 a.m. on Monday by an earthquake. He rolled out of bed and went straight to his computer, where he found a brief story about the quake already written and waiting in the system. He glanced over the text and hit “publish.” And that’s how the LAT became the first media outlet to report on this morning’s temblor. “I think we had it up within three minutes,” Schwencke told me.

If that sounds faster than humanly possible, it probably is. While the post appeared under Schwencke’s byline, the real author was an algorithm called Quakebot that he developed a little over two years ago. Whenever an alert comes in from the U.S. Geological Survey about an earthquake above a certain size threshold, Quakebot is programmed to extract the relevant data from the USGS report and plug it into a pre-written template. The story goes into the LAT’s content management system, where it awaits review and publication by a human editor.

Interested in – or freaked out about – robots writing your news? Check our Robots Tag.

Image: Screenshot, text I received from my brother Peter this morning. – Michael

“Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.” —

Janet Malcom, The Journalist and the Murderer, via Slate. The Storytellers: Walter Kirn gets taken in by a con man.

So begins a review in Slate of Blood Will Out, a new memoir by Walter Kirn about his relationship with Clark Rockefeller, a real life Mr. Ripley who impersonated a famous name, lived the high life and was eventually charged on kidnapping and murder charges. Kirn’s book explores how, as a writer, he was taken in by the faux Rockefeller. Or, more precisely, by the German-born Christian Gerhartsreiter who successfully played a Rockefeller in New York City social circles.

But while Kirn explores why and how he was taken over a decade-long relationship, let’s go back to Malcom’s original quote, to the journalist as con man, to his or her relationship with sources, and why sources should talk with reporters.

In the wake of NSA revelations, national security journalists have spoken about their increased difficulty reporting the news (see here, here and here). And with the Obama administration’s use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers you can see why that would be the case.

So why should sources talk to reporters? It’s an important, unasked question, says Edward Wasserman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley:

When you think about it, that question goes to the foundation of the entire edifice of a free press. And that foundation, at the moment, is shaky.

Let’s back up. No honest press, whatever its sense of mission and however firm its legal protections, can outperform its sources. It can’t be any better, stronger, braver, more richly informed, or more dedicated to broad public purpose than the people who swallow their misgivings, return the phone call, step forward, and risk embarrassment and reprisal to talk to the reporter.

The mythology of journalism enshrines the sleuths, sometimes the editors, even the publishers, but sources are really the whole ball game. Press freedom is nothing more than source freedom, one step removed. The right of a news organization to tell what it learns is an empty abstraction without the willingness of news sources to tell what they know.

Considering how important sources are, it’s stunning how little affection they get and how flimsy the protections are that anybody claims for them.

Give Wasserman’s article a good read.

It moves well beyond national security issues as it explores, again, why when a source’s quote can be nitpicked a thousand different ways — in “the online multiverse, and his or her words, motives and integrity will be denounced or impugned, often by pseudonymous dingbats, some of them undisclosed hirelings” — he or she should ever want to talk to the news media.

Hello, Sunshine Week
Sunshine Week is on us. Here are a few good resources on open government and transparency.
SunshineWeek.org lists events, has toolkits and shows how the Freedom of Information Act Works.
The Sunlight Foundation provides information on transparency issues, and provides API’s for developers to hack government data.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Transparency Project has  backgrounders on all things FOIA.
FOIA.gov let’s you query data and file your requests.
Reading US Attorney General Eric Holder’s now five-year-old memo to federal agencies on becoming more open to FOIA requests is eye-opening. The ostensible goal was to make agencies more open and transparent. 
Seems the message has been lost. Via the AP: 

The Obama administration has a way to go to fulfill its promises from Day 1 to become the most transparent administration in history.
More often than ever, the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.
Most agencies also took longer to answer records requests.
The government’s own figures from 99 federal agencies covering six years show that halfway through its second term, the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records. In category after category - except for reducing numbers of old requests and a slight increase in how often it waived copying fees - the government’s efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office.

Image: Phil Lapsley, discussing turning the Freedom of Information Act into a hacking tool, via the EFF.

Hello, Sunshine Week

Sunshine Week is on us. Here are a few good resources on open government and transparency.

Reading US Attorney General Eric Holder’s now five-year-old memo to federal agencies on becoming more open to FOIA requests is eye-opening. The ostensible goal was to make agencies more open and transparent. 

Seems the message has been lost. Via the AP

The Obama administration has a way to go to fulfill its promises from Day 1 to become the most transparent administration in history.

More often than ever, the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

Most agencies also took longer to answer records requests.

The government’s own figures from 99 federal agencies covering six years show that halfway through its second term, the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records. In category after category - except for reducing numbers of old requests and a slight increase in how often it waived copying fees - the government’s efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office.

Image: Phil Lapsley, discussing turning the Freedom of Information Act into a hacking tool, via the EFF.

Mar 16

Digging Through the Archives
That’s quite the memory you have. I think you’re referring to this post:

A recent question in our inbox asked, “What is it about journalism that you love? Why did you become a journalist?”
I began replying, looked at what I was writing, decided it was pretty dull and cast my net on Twitter where I asked #whyJournalism and linked to a simple Google form for people to answer.
Above is a collection of some of the answers we received. Some interesting replies not shown here include people motivated by specific events. For example, NBC’s Craig Kanalley points to 9/11 and his inspiration about how the press covered it.

FJP: Survey Says! #whyJournalism — Michael.

Digging Through the Archives

That’s quite the memory you have. I think you’re referring to this post:

A recent question in our inbox asked, “What is it about journalism that you love? Why did you become a journalist?”

I began replying, looked at what I was writing, decided it was pretty dull and cast my net on Twitter where I asked #whyJournalism and linked to a simple Google form for people to answer.

Above is a collection of some of the answers we received. Some interesting replies not shown here include people motivated by specific events. For example, NBC’s Craig Kanalley points to 9/11 and his inspiration about how the press covered it.

FJP: Survey Says! #whyJournalismMichael.

Average Time US Millennials Spend Interacting with Media Per Day
Eighteen hours? It’s all about multitasking. Via the Wall Street Journal.

Average Time US Millennials Spend Interacting with Media Per Day

Eighteen hours? It’s all about multitasking. Via the Wall Street Journal.

Lessons from Alice

[T]ied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words “DRINK ME” beautifully printed on it in large letters.
It was all very well to say “Drink me,” but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see whether it’s marked ‘poison or not;” for she had read several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked “poison,” it is most certain to disagree with you sooner or later.
However, This bottle was not marked “poison,” so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off.

Alice ventured to taste it and found it very nice.
Image: Alice in Wonderland from Read.gov, which is putting classic books online.

Lessons from Alice

[T]ied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words “DRINK ME” beautifully printed on it in large letters.

It was all very well to say “Drink me,” but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. “No, I’ll look first,” she said, “and see whether it’s marked ‘poison or not;” for she had read several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked “poison,” it is most certain to disagree with you sooner or later.

However, This bottle was not marked “poison,” so Alice ventured to taste it, and finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffee, and hot buttered toast,) she very soon finished it off.

Alice ventured to taste it and found it very nice.

Image: Alice in Wonderland from Read.gov, which is putting classic books online.

“I don’t even know if anyone is reading this anymore.” —

Russia Blocks Four Opposition Media Portals — (via globalvoices)

Background, via EFF:

Russia’s government has escalated its use of its Internet censorship law to target news sites, bloggers, and politicians under the slimmest excuse of preventing unauthorized protests and enforcing house arrest regulations. Today, the country’s ISPs have received orders to block a list of major news sites and system administrators have been instructed to take the servers providing the content offline.

The banned sites include the online newspaper Grani, Garry Kasparov’s opposition information site kasparov.ru, the livejournal of popular anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, and even the web pages of Ekho Moskvy, a radio station which is majority owned by the state-run Gazprom, and whose independent editor was ousted last month and replaced with a more government-friendly director.

The list of newly prohibited sites was published earlier today by Russia’s Prosecutor General, which announced that the news sites had been “entered into the single register of banned information” after “calls for participation in unauthorized rallies.” Navalny’s livejournal was apparently added to the register in response to the conditions of his current house arrest, which include a personal prohibition on accessing the Internet.

(via globalvoices)

Juoksentelisinkohan

Juoksentelisinkohan

Mar 15

Gangsta Lorem Ipsum
Let us begin:

Lorizzle pot dolizzle the bizzle amizzle, mammasay mammasa mamma oo sa adipiscing elit. Nullizzle tellivizzle velizzle, we gonna chung volutpizzle, crackalackin quizzle, shiz vel, arcu. Pellentesque fizzle tortizzle. You son of a bizzle erizzle. Yo izzle dolizzle dapibizzle turpis tempizzle hizzle. Maurizzle pellentesque nibh et turpizzle. Go to hizzle rizzle mammasay mammasa mamma oo sa.

And how we got there, via The London Review of Books:

Sometimes, when we’re putting together an issue of the LRB, we use Lorem Ipsum, a chunk of phoney Latin dummy text that’s been used by printers and typesetters since the 16th century. We paste it into a layout so we can tell what a page will look like before the copy’s ready. The practice is known as ‘greeking’ because the Latin’s so mixed up it’s all Greek.
Only it isn’t. The text itself has been designed not to communicate, to have the look of text but no meaning – but meaning bubbles up through it nonetheless. The 16th-century printer who came up with it got there by mangling Cicero’s ‘De finibus bonorum et malorum’, an exposition of Stoicism, Epicureanism and the Platonism of Antiochus of Ascalon. Though most of the metaphysical subtlety has been wrung out, sense hasn’t completely: the text is haunted, as Derrida might have put it, by the piece of writing it once was…
…Try translating it and you get some striking effects. Of course a straightforward translation isn’t possible – for one thing, ‘lorem’ isn’t a word, it’s a chopped off bit of ‘dolorem’ – but Jaspreet Singh Boparai, a postgraduate at Cambridge, has come up with the following:

For language and design nerds, your translation.
Image: Screenshot, Gangsta Lorem Ipsum.

Gangsta Lorem Ipsum

Let us begin:

Lorizzle pot dolizzle the bizzle amizzle, mammasay mammasa mamma oo sa adipiscing elit. Nullizzle tellivizzle velizzle, we gonna chung volutpizzle, crackalackin quizzle, shiz vel, arcu. Pellentesque fizzle tortizzle. You son of a bizzle erizzle. Yo izzle dolizzle dapibizzle turpis tempizzle hizzle. Maurizzle pellentesque nibh et turpizzle. Go to hizzle rizzle mammasay mammasa mamma oo sa.

And how we got there, via The London Review of Books:

Sometimes, when we’re putting together an issue of the LRB, we use Lorem Ipsum, a chunk of phoney Latin dummy text that’s been used by printers and typesetters since the 16th century. We paste it into a layout so we can tell what a page will look like before the copy’s ready. The practice is known as ‘greeking’ because the Latin’s so mixed up it’s all Greek.

Only it isn’t. The text itself has been designed not to communicate, to have the look of text but no meaning – but meaning bubbles up through it nonetheless. The 16th-century printer who came up with it got there by mangling Cicero’s ‘De finibus bonorum et malorum’, an exposition of Stoicism, Epicureanism and the Platonism of Antiochus of Ascalon. Though most of the metaphysical subtlety has been wrung out, sense hasn’t completely: the text is haunted, as Derrida might have put it, by the piece of writing it once was…

…Try translating it and you get some striking effects. Of course a straightforward translation isn’t possible – for one thing, ‘lorem’ isn’t a word, it’s a chopped off bit of ‘dolorem’ – but Jaspreet Singh Boparai, a postgraduate at Cambridge, has come up with the following:

For language and design nerds, your translation.

Image: Screenshot, Gangsta Lorem Ipsum.