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Comment: Re:Public Privacy (Score 1) 174

by kylebarbour (#30357578) Attached to: Facebook ID Probe Shows Things Getting Worse

I don't think that this is really a new thing. Once upon a time it was easy to get information about people - your name, address, family members, and person history was widely available when people lived in smaller towns and in tighter communities. I'm very comfortable living like this now - the risk of someone attacking me or trying to crack my bank account is much less important to me than making it easier for people who have a legitimate reason to contact me to do so. So I'm fine with having my contact details on Facebook - the privacy issue is unimportant to me.

This was also an attitude that was prevalent in the early days of the internet - check out some old school home pages and there's a huge amount of personal information there. These people weren't ignorant about privacy, they just had different values.

Comment: TFA's generalization isn't scientific (Score 1) 928

by kylebarbour (#30347076) Attached to: How Men and Women Badly Estimate Their Own Intelligence

Surprisingly, [both] men and women perceive men being smarter across generations. Both sexes believe that their fathers are smarter than their mothers and grandfathers are more intelligent than their grandmothers.

The second sentence doesn't necessarily support the first. There's a lot of things that could be going on here, like valuing male relatives more, for example, or the participants' views could be affected by their belief in familial gender roles. Family is special - you can't just say that since people feel this way about their relatives that they feel this way about all men and women.

It might be true, of course, but this doesn't prove it.

Comment: DNA Lounge (Score 2, Informative) 131

by kylebarbour (#29988794) Attached to: On-Demand Video + CMS + Interactive Input For Museum?

The DNA Lounge in San Francisco, run by Mozilla and XEmacs' one-time developer and hacker Jamie Zawinski, has done some similar things. You can check out their code and documentation here:


In short, he's created secure Linux internet kiosks, streaming broadcasts, cameras, and scripts to automate much of it - in short, what you're trying to do but in nightclub form.

Comment: Re:Programmer Thinking (Score 0, Redundant) 121

by kylebarbour (#29853981) Attached to: Open Source Voting Software Concept Released

Once again, programmers thinking software will change the world.

Elections are not based on trust of software, it is based on trust of the PROCESS.

This is completely true, but having voting machine software that the public can trust is a part of that. I can't trust the process if the software makes it easy to cheat and hide it, or if there's no way for the public to verify that the voting machines do what they're supposed to.

Wouldn't it be better to have the accountability of paper ballots with all of the benefits of electronic voting (ease, accuracy, instant results, results can be uploaded and publicly accessed, etc.)? We can engineer that, and this is a good first step.

Comment: Gamers becoming murderers isn't the point (Score 4, Insightful) 473

by kylebarbour (#28540655) Attached to: On Realism and Virtual Murder

TFA says:

Show BioShock to a non-gamer -- someone who hasn't been desensitized to killing virtual people -- and watch their reaction. Show them how you bludgeon people to death with a pipe wrench. If they don't wince and express some form of shock at what's taking place on the screen, they're either seriously disturbed or they're a seasoned gamer.

This is incredibly true, and is exactly the thing that makes me resistant to gamers saying that video game violence is totally normal and acceptable and that people who are opposed to it have something wrong with them.

I recently was exposed to Gears of War for the first time, and the violence and hatred in that game was so horrific to me that I wanted to vomit. I was incredibly, incredibly troubled by it. And it wasn't just the brutality, the incredible realism of the violence, the curbstomping, but also the attitudes of the players online. People were not laughing and sharing something positive over the in-game chat, nor were the players in the house laughing and working together - they were expressing violent, hateful feelings.

Now, whether this is acceptable in the sense of free speech is one thing, and I think it is. But there's another question to me: is this the right thing? Is this healthy? If it's true that to non-gamers that the games being playing induce feeling of sickness, pain, and emotional trauma, which personal experience can attest that they do, then I don't believe it's reasonable to dismiss the concerns of the non-gaming population.

It is like free speech. Exercising your right to say whatever you please is not a good idea, even though it's legal to be constantly hurtful and hate-filled (and should be).

Again - I'm not arguing that gamers will kill people, or that these games should be banned. I'm arguing that there's definitely something to the belief that playing these games is not psychologically healthy.

Flame away, Slashdot.


The Electronic Police State 206

Posted by kdawson
from the watching-you dept.
gerddie writes "Cryptohippie has published what may be called a first attempt to describe the 'electronic police state' (PDF). Based on information available from different organizations such as Electronic Privacy Information Center, Reporters Without Borders, and Freedom House, countries were rated on 17 criteria with regard to how close they are already to an electronic police state. The rankings are for 2008. Not too surprisingly, one finds China, North Korea, Belarus, and Russia at the top of the list. But the next slots are occupied by the UK (England and Wales), the US, Singapore, Israel, France, and Germany." This is a good start, but it would be good to see details of their methodology. They do provide the raw data (in XLS format), but no indication of the weightings they apply to the elements of "electronic police state" behavior they are scoring.

Mapping Hidden Twitter Data For Epidemiology 75

Posted by kdawson
from the just-landed dept.
jamie found this visualization of air travel, which might be usable in some sort of proxy for the spread of flu virus (to choose a random application). Jer Thorp, an artist and educator from Vancouver, Canada (and a former geneticist), searched Twitter for the phrase "Just landed in" and obtained lat/lon coordinates for both the indicated airport and the Twitter user's home location, as recorded in their Twitter profile. He then produced videos of multi-hour stretches of air travel that had been latent in the Twitter information stream.

Comment: Re:Dawkins may may a renowned evolutionary biologi (Score 3, Insightful) 692

by kylebarbour (#22997160) Attached to: Richard Dawkins to Appear on Doctor Who
It's because of Occam's razor. Theism posits that a God or Gods exist(s). However, observable evidence doesn't necessitate that one exist; that is, a God is an 'extra', if you will, there's no phenomena that cannot be explained without the existence of a God. As such, the principle of Occam's razor - do not make theories more complicated than necessary - eliminates the existence of a God, because the world is simpler without one. This leaves atheism as the remaining scientific theory. Another way of thinking about this is that all parts of scientific thought have doubt inherently as a part of them, not just ones surrounding God. So, atheism and agnosticism are essentially equivalent - few atheists would argue that they can prove that there is no God.

If it's worth hacking on well, it's worth hacking on for money.