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The New York Times – To prevent distractions, Conor Dougherty, an economics writer, dumped social media and anything fun — even his browser — from his smartphone. “…I cover California and the economy and have to read news for work, so the mental bargain I’ve made with myself is that I can use my phone as much or as long as I want — so long as I’m reading books or news. Aside from news, Audible, and service-type things like maps and airline apps, I have nothing on my phone. I even disabled the browser. I find this keeps me mostly sane and mostly productive…Technology is a hard balance for everyone these days, but it’s especially hard for reporters, who in the pursuit of readers and stories can convince themselves that Twitter wars (“being part of the conversation”) and YouTube holes (“cultural research”) are productive uses of time. My biggest problem with social media is that sometimes I used it for work and sometimes I used it to goof off, and somewhere along the way I lost track of which was which…”
Published by The Texas A&M Transportation Institute with cooperation from INRIX: “The ‘2019 Urban Mobility Report’ highlights the reality of how motorists in the largest urban areas across the U.S. are experiencing the negative effects of congestion levels in their daily lives. In 2017, the average commuter wasted nearly 7 full working days in extra traffic delay, which translated to over $1,000 in personal costs. These are real impacts to people and businesses in our cities, and the problem does not appear to be letting up, especially for fast-growing areas. This is why Texas launched its Texas Clear Lanes initiative to address the top chokepoints in the state’s largest metro areas. Over the past 10 years, the total cost of delay in our nation’s top urban areas has grown by nearly 47%. The value of investing in our nation’s transportation infrastructure in a strategic and effective manner cannot be overstated as these added costs impact our national productivity, quality of life, economic efficiency and global competitiveness..”
Congestion is back to its growth pattern. The 8- to 10-year growing economy has brought traffic congestion to the highest measured levels in most U.S. cities. The myriad possible solutions – from more highways, streets and public transportation; better traffic operations; more travel options; new land development styles; advanced technology – have not worked…[Note – Washington is No. 3 in traffic congestion]
Washington Post – Humidity has increased 5 to 10 percent since 1970, turning hot summer days even more unbearable: “It’s no secret the world is warming, but thanks in part to climate change, humidity is also beginning to surge. Here in Washington, that means the punishing combination of heat and humidity is becoming more oppressive. We reviewed data from four locations in the District and broader region. Through this, we calculated specific humidity, which is the mass of water in a volume of air. (It’s a much better indicator of how oppressive it feels than the relative humidity, to which we are accustomed.) To calculate these trends in humidity, it took a lot of number-crunching — involving close to 2 million data points — with observations stretching back as far as the 1930s. In the end, we found that the District is, on average, a little more than 5 percent more humid than it was in 1970, and slightly more than 10 percent juicier than in 1950. This is important because humidity affects how we feel. Take Wednesday, for instance. The average high for this time of year at Dulles Airport is 86 degrees. With 1970s humidity, a typical summertime afternoon would produce a heat index (a measure of how hot it feels) of 89 degrees. Now, when you factor in a higher humidity, it feels closer to 91 or 92 — and that’s at the same 86 degrees…”
Gizmodo: “When climate change comes for our coffee and our wine, we’ll moan about it on Twitter, read about it on our favorite websites, and watch diverting videos on YouTube to fill the icy hole in our hearts. We’ll do all this until the websites go dark and the networks go down because eventually, climate change will come for our internet, too. That is, unless we can get the web ready for the coming storms. Huge changes will be needed because right now, the internet is unsustainable. On the one hand, rising sea levels threaten to swamp the cables and stations that transmit the web to our homes; rising temperatures could make it more costly to run the data centers handling ever-increasing web traffic; wildfires could burn it all down. On the other, all of those data centers, computers, smartphones, and other internet-connected devices take a prodigious amount of energy to build and to run, thus contributing to global warming and hastening our collective demise. To save the internet and ourselves, we’ll need to harden and relocate the infrastructure we’ve built, find cleaner ways to power the web, and reimagine how we interact with the digital world. Ultimately, we need to recognize that our tremendous consumption of online content isn’t free of consequences—if we’re not paying, the planet is…”
Major Telecom Companies Partner With Attorneys General to Implement New Principles to Combat Robocalls
Mass.gov: “…The principles, announced today by a group attorneys general in partnership with AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream, will help service providers incorporate call-blocking technology, monitor their networks for robocall traffic, and cooperate with investigations that trace illegal robocalls…The principles announced today include:
- Offering free call blocking and labeling to customers.
- Implementing call authentication industry standards.
- Analyzing and monitoring network traffic for patterns consistent with robocalls.
- Investigating suspicious calls and calling patterns.
- Confirming the identity of commercial customers.
- Tracing illegal robocalls back to their source.
- Cooperating in traceback investigations, which track illegal robocalls across networks to determine the source.
- Communicating with state attorneys general to help identify scams and trends in illegal robocalling…”
Google GSuite Blog: “We’re introducing new spelling and grammar correction capabilities for Gmail to help you compose emails quickly with confidence. As you type your message, Gmail will use artificial intelligence to make smarter spell-check suggestions while also detecting potential grammar issues. For some common spelling mistakes, we’ve also added as-you-type autocorrection for improved accuracy. Read more here about how grammar suggestions work…”
“Today we launch the Russia Investigation Congressional Clearinghouse – a resource tool that seeks to provide, in one place, all congressional investigations materials related to Russia’s efforts to interfere in U.S. elections. We trust it will be a great resource for journalists, academics, and the broader Just Security readership. Bookmark the clearinghouse page to find publicly released document request letters, committee reports, deposition and interview transcripts, hearing transcripts, legislative proposals, subpoenas, criminal referrals, and major press releases related to the various Russian investigations. The database is organized by congressional session, and then by committee, with an internally hyperlinked table of contents to take you to the right section of materials. This project grew out of my longstanding frustration as an academic with research on congressional oversight materials…”
National Geographic – This interactive map highlights lesser-known endangered species across America. “The Wyoming toad may be North America’s most endangered amphibian. Disease and habitat loss drove the lumpy, spotted toad into such rapid decline in the 20th century that by 1984, there were only about 16 wild toads left, all in a single county just west of Laramie, Wyoming. By 1991, they were declared extinct in the wild. Now, thanks to complex captive breeding and release efforts, the Wyoming toad seems to be making a comeback. You may have never heard of the Wyoming toad. In fact, many Laramie residents have never heard of it either.
But stories like this play out all over the nation, from the masked bobwhite quail of Arizona’s Sonora Desert, once abundant and now almost extinct in the wild, to the Salt Creek tiger beetle, one of the rarest insects in America. Its beleaguered population lives in marshland in just one Nebraska county. Often when we think of endangered species, iconic symbols of conservation come to mind: the Bengal tiger, the orangutan, the blue whale. But endangered species are in our own backyards as well: 719 animals in the United States are listed as endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. All are vital to their ecosystems. When one species disappears, that loss risks imperiling the food chain of its entire biosphere…”
Pałka, Przemysław, Data Management Law for the 2020s: The Lost Origins and the New Needs (August 10, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3435608 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3435608
“In the data analytics society, each individual’s disclosure of personal information imposes costs on others. This disclosure enables companies, deploying novel forms of data analytics, to infer new knowledge about other people and to use this knowledge to engage in potentially harmful activities. These harms go beyond privacy and include difficult to detect price discrimination, preference manipulation, and even social exclusion. Currently existing, individual-focused, data protection regimes leave law unable to account for these social costs or to manage them.This Article suggests a way out, by proposing to re-conceptualize the problem of social costs of data analytics through the new frame of “data management law.” It offers a critical comparison of the two existing models of data governance: the American “notice and choice” approach and the European “personal data protection” regime (currently expressed in the GDPR). Tracing their origin to a single report issued in 1973, the article demonstrates how they developed differently under the influence of different ideologies (market-centered liberalism, and human rights, respectively). It also shows how both ultimately failed at addressing the challenges outlined already forty-five years ago. To tackle these challenges, this Article argues for three normative shifts. First, it proposes to go beyond “privacy” and towards “social costs of data management” as the framework for conceptualizing and mitigating negative effects of corporate data usage. Second, it argues to go beyond the individual interests, to account for collective ones, and to replace contracts with regulation as the means of creating norms governing data management. Third, it argues that the nature of the decisions about these norms is political, and so political means, in place of technocratic solutions, need to be employed.”
Atlas Obscura – Mitch Yockelson scours the country for its missing heritage. “…Yockelson is one-half of the Archival Recovery Program, based in the National Archives and Records Administration’s office in College Park, Maryland. He and analyst Kellie Shipley believe they are the only dedicated team in any museum or cultural institution in the world whose sole purpose is to search for missing and stolen items. This hunt for documents and other objects that belong in the official repository of American history is what brought him to the military antiques show…”
YouTube: “The Library of Congress is home to some of the most valuable treasures and historical documents in the nation, perhaps the world.The NYU John Brademas Center’s Young Leaders Network welcomed the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, and broadcast journalist Ray Saurez as they discussed the work of “the Nation’s Library” in providing public access to these resources. The conversation also focused on the importance of collecting physical information and materials in the modern digital age.”
The following is the August 16, 2019 Congressional Research Service In Focus report – International Discussions Concerning Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems. “As technology, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), advances, lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS)—weapons designed to make decisions about using lethal force without manual human control—may soon make their appearance, raising a number of potential ethical, diplomatic, legal, and strategic concerns for Congress. By providing a brief overview of ongoing international discussions concerning LAWS, this In Focus seeks to assist Congress as it conducts oversight hearings on AI within the military (as the House and Senate Committees on Armed Services have done in recent years), guides U.S. foreign policy, and makes funding and authorization decisions related to LAWS…”
Morning Consult: “With less than six months until the first presidential primary vote is cast in Iowa, more voters are saying it’s likely that Russia will try to interfere in the next presidential election, according to a recent Morning Consult/Politico poll. But the survey suggests that the prospect won’t deter them from heading to the ballot box. According to a survey conducted Aug. 16-18, 2019, among 1,998 registered voters, 61 percent said it was likely Russia would try to meddle in the 2020 presidential election — 14 percentage points more than the 47 percent who said the same about the midterm elections in an Oct. 25-30, 2018, survey. Between the October survey and the most recent poll, Republicans had the largest change in attitude: Forty-four percent said this month that it was likely Russia would attempt to interfere in a specific election, compared to 25 percent last year — a 19-point difference…”
Secrecy News: “Today’s national security classification system “relies on antiquated policies from another era that undercut its effectiveness today,” the Information Security Oversight Office told the President in a report released yesterday. Modernizing the system is a “government-wide imperative,” the new ISOO annual report said. But that is a familiar refrain by now. It is much the same message that was delivered with notable urgency by ISOO in last year’s annual report which found that the secrecy system is “hamstrung by old practices and outdated technology.” The precise nature of the modernization that is needed is a subject of some disagreement. Is it a matter of improving efficiency in order to cope with expanding digital information flows? Or have the role of secrecy and the proper scope of classification changed in a fundamental way? Whatever the goal, no identifiable progress has been made over the past year in overcoming those obsolete practices, and no new investment has been made in a technology strategy to help modernize national security information policy. In fact, ISOO’s own budget for secrecy oversight has been reduced. Even agencies that are making use of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics in other areas have not considered their application to classification or declassification, ISOO said. “These technologies remain untapped in this area.” At some point, the failure to update secrecy policy becomes a choice to let the secrecy system fail. “We’re ringing the alarm bells as loud as we can,” said ISOO director Mark A. Bradley…”
Medium – Rob Walker: “As part of a short class for the School of Visual Arts’ newish Products of Design MFA program, I ask students to “practice paying attention” before our next meeting. There are no other parameters for this assignment, which students have a week to complete. Perhaps obviously, the idea is largely to see how they will resolve this overtly vague request. The class is called Point of View, and this assignment is a minor component, loosely tied to the process around a more significant project. I certainly believe that having an original, legitimate and honest point of view (for a designer or anybody else) involves cultivating the ability to see what others overlook. But the truth is that I include this assignment because it simply gets at a hobbyhorse of mine: our world has become an attention battleground. From looming billboards to glittering shop windows to the myriad distractions flowing through the pocket-sized screens we carry everywhere, vast and sophisticated efforts prod us to look in specific directions, at specific things, in specific ways. Taken together, they add up to a kind of war against seeing. I try to be part of the resistance. In fact, as a result of the class, I started to make an informal list of “how to pay attention” strategies — my own, those that students suggested, and others that I’ve read about or otherwise encountered here and there. To my delight, this list grew into something more than I’d anticipated, and started to take on the feel of something between a set of New Year’s resolutions, and a manifesto. Finally I decided that it seemed worth, as they say, sharing…”
“American legal scholars often ignore journals’ impact-factor and choose in which journal to publish based on publishing schools’ ranking. To investigate the relationship between school ranking and journal impact, we collect and analyze historical data from American law journal’s impact-factor and the ranking of their publishing law schools. We present three findings. First, there is a correlation between prestige ranking and impact-factor over the years, but the correlation is not perfect and it varies substantially over time. Second, journal impact-factor shows a larger inter-annual variation than school ranking. This means that impact-factor is a worse predictor of future journal impact than school ranking is of future school prestige. Third, journals published by better law schools counterintuitively have higher inter-annual variation in impact-factor but lower variation in impact-factor based ranking. We hypothesize that journals from high-ranked schools belong to a less homogeneous pool: few journals make most of the impact due to an exposure bias. Then, we consider authors’ utility from publishing in one journal or another. Authors’ optimal strategy will depend on whether they maximize prestige among their peers or impact on the discipline, and how risk-averse they are. Conditional on desiring impact, risk-averse scholars should look at school ranking and risk-neutral scholars should look at impact-factor.”
Outside – “Former professional cyclist Phil Gaimon, in partnership with editor Jonathan Hyla, gives us the rundown of The New Rules Of Cycling. His main messages? Don’t be a jerk, always wave to fellow cyclists, and don’t you dare litter.” [These rules apply every day, every where you are. Acknowledging strangers, picking up litter and well, being kind – very meaningful in these times…]
“Youth and Media (YaM) encompasses an array of research, advocacy, and development initiatives around youth (age 12-18) and digital technology. Interacting closely with other teams at the Berkman Klein Center, YaM draws on the knowledge and experiences of individuals with various backgrounds, including psychology, ethnography, sociology, education, media theory, and the law. Building upon this interdisciplinary approach, YaM invites and amplifies the voices of youth throughout the research process, aiming to develop contributions that reflect and address young people’s needs, perspectives, experiences, and interests. The team’s work builds upon an evidence-base that offers unique insights into the creative, educational, and revolutionary possibilities of youth activity in the digital space while addressing the genuine concerns that come with living life online…”
Includes orchid collection photos and a podcast: “You probably know orchids as the big, colorful flowers found in grocery stores and given as housewarming gifts. But those tropical beauties represent only a fraction of the estimated 25,000 orchid species worldwide. While their showy relatives fly off the shelves, North America’s more understated native orchids are disappearing in the wild. Scientists at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center are working to protect these orchids and their habitats, but first they need solve a surprisingly difficult problem: how to grow one…” [for Jackie R.]
OCLC: Operationalizing the BIG Collective Collection: A Case Study of Consolidation vs Autonomy, By Lorcan Dempsey, Constance Malpas, and Mark Sandler: “Prepared in collaboration with the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) Library Initiatives, this report presents a framework for operationalizing the BTAA collective collection—a collection managed collaboratively across a network of libraries—and is focused specifically on the ”purchased” or print collection. The BTAA justifiably claims to be the premier academic collaboration in the US. Once described as “the world’s greatest common market in education,” it leverages the combined research and teaching capacity of major research universities to scale innovation, impact, and economies across its 14 members. Libraries are a central part of the BTAA research, learning, and teaching endeavor. They collectively mobilize major expertise and resources. In fact, the BTAA collection represents more than a fifth of all titles in the North American print book collection. The BTAA libraries align with BTAA goals by collaborating at scale to increase both impact and efficiency. The character of library spaces, services, and collections is evolving with changing learning and research behaviors. It is widely recognized that continued autonomous development of large standalone collections does not meet needs and is not efficient. A library cannot collect all that its members would like to see, and much of what it does collect does not get used. At the same time, library space is being configured around engagement rather than around collections, the long-term stewardship costs of print materials are being recognized, and the role of books in research and learning is changing. Libraries are re-evaluating traditional approaches to building, managing, and sharing collections, and are increasingly looking to do this cooperatively…”