The Government Doesn’t Understand the Internet

There’s an excellent article by Tom Steinberg on mySociety about how the government doesn’t understand the internet and what needs to be done about it.

The Internet has been relentlessly undermining previous practices in the running of businesses, dating, parenting, spying, producing art and many other areas. So, however, did electrification and shipping containers. From cheaper raw materials, to cheaper cars to have sex in the back of, economic and social change has always been driven by technological change.

While I’m sure some would argue that technological change is driven by economic and social change, that’s really not the point.

The point is that law makers, government officials and civil servants need to understand what the internet is all about. Instead of trying to protect old ways of doing business, they need to embrace the change that is coming. Instead of trying to apply laws and brick and mortar tax policies, new strategies need to be envisioned and implemented.

The article talks specifically about the government in the UK, but I think it applies elsewhere, and it would be great if the US government, at all levels, started thinking about these issues as well.

Read the article: What the government doesn’t understand about the Internet, and what to do about it

Hacking a Time magazine poll

Time Magazine’s poll of the 100 most influential people has been hacked by a well organized, distributed, band of online troublemakers who have manipulated the top 21 names so their first letters spell “marblecake, also the game.”

Read the interview with one of the hackers at Music Machinery. There’s another story about the distributed attack over at The Register.

BarTor – Andriod UPC Scanner App

Check out this article over at CrunchGear – A new application for the Android (Google Phone) that allows you to scan the UPC of a movie and through the magic of the interwebs the movie is downloaded to your PC.

They point out in the article that this might have some priacy implications, but its a pretty cool idea. I’d love to see some stores jump on this and make it work. Blockbuster, which already has a storefront established could easily have an app that added scanned movies to your online queue.

Unfortunately, it won’t be long before the MPAA is all over this one with a pack of rabid lawyers.

E-voting, fraud and misinformation

Just came across a very interesting article by Dan Wallach about e-voting machines, policy and misinformation.

Here’s a quote from Dan that sets up his article pretty well:

At this point, the scientific evidence is in, it’s overwhelming, and it’s indisputable.  The current generation of DRE voting systems have a wide variety of dangerous security flaws.  There’s simply no justification for the vendors to be making excuses or otherwise downplaying the clear scientific consensus on the quality of their products.

As we’re push, pulled, tricked and forced into use electronic voting machines, these problems are going to become more and more prevalent. There is considerable money to be made in this area and as the voting public, we need to  demand open software, common sense security and a review process.

Comparing slot and voting machines
Comparing slot and voting machines

Contrast our current e-voting machines and systems with how the gambling industry tackles security. The gambling systems are open to inspection by a public agency. The state has access to all of the software and they hire people with the know-how to understand the software to review it.

It seems like the current market place and electorate would welcome an open (open source even) developer. The Open Voting Consortium seems to be leading the way, but the states don’t seem to be on board yet. You can be certain that the companies currently making the lackluster, insecure voting machines will fight the changes tooth and nail.

Read More:
Vendor misinformation in the e-voting world by Dan Wallach
The Open Voting Consortium

BookMooch – a community for exchanging used books

BookMooch logo
BookMooch - Give Books, Get Books

About a year ago, I joined Book Mooch, a site dedicated to sharing books. Since I started,I’ve given away 54 books and I’ve received 14. I have a great feedback rating (+52) and its really a great community of people. If you’re sitting on a ton of books, and you’d really like some new ones, this is the place for you.

BookMooch is a community for exchanging used books.
BookMooch lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want.

  • Give & receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you’ve read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish.
  • No cost: there is no cost to join or use this web site: your only cost is mailing your books to others.
  • Points for entering books: you receive a tenth-of-a-point for every book you type into our system, and one point each time you give a book away. In order to keep receiving books, you need to give away at least one book for every three you receive.
  • Check it out when you get a chance.