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114 comments | 2 days ago
derekmead writes: School districts in Illinois are telling parents that a new law may require school officials to demand the social media passwords of students if they are suspected in cyberbullying cases or are otherwise suspected of breaking school rules. The law (PDF), which went into effect on January 1, defines cyberbullying and makes harassment on Facebook, Twitter, or via other digital means a violation of the state's school code, even if the bullying happens outside of school hours. A letter sent out to parents in the Triad Community Unit School District #2, a district located just over the Missouri-Illinois line near St. Louis, that was obtained by Motherboard says that school officials can demand students give them their passwords.
322 comments | 5 days ago
New submitter Bogdan Vasilescu writes: Diversity in teams is a double-edged sword. Increased team diversity results in more varied backgrounds and ideas, providing the team with access to broader information, enhanced creativity, adaptability, and problem solving skills. However, due to greater perceived differences in values, norms, and communication styles in more diverse teams, members become more likely to engage in stereotyping, cliquishness, and conflict.
In a recent study, researchers from University of California, Davis and Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands have analyzed the effects of gender and tenure diversity on productivity and turnover for more than 23,000 open-source projects on GitHub. Using regression modeling, they showed that after controlling for team size and other confounds (such as a project's age, development model, or amount of social activity), both gender and tenure diversity are positive and significant predictors of productivity, together explaining a small but significant fraction of the data variability. On an economic and societal scale, these findings suggest that added investments in educational and professional training efforts and outreach for female programmers will likely result in added overall value.
The paper describing the results (preprint PDF here) will be presented at the prestigious ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, in Seoul, South Korea, in April 2015.
106 comments | 5 days ago
jfruh writes: If you're tired of seeing fake or misleading news articles posted by your friends to Facebook and then spreading like wildfire, you might be in luck. In a system that's something like Slashdot comment moderation on a grand scale, you'll now be able to flag a story as false. Links that have been flagged this way by many users will appear less frequently in people's newsfeeds, or with a disclaimer attached.
224 comments | 5 days ago
theodp writes: Coding got a couple of shout-outs from the White House in Tuesday's State of the Union Address. "Thanks to Vice President Biden's great work to update our job training system," said President Obama (YouTube), "we're connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics." And among the so-called "boats" in the new "River of Content" that the White House social media folks came up with to enhance the State of the Union is a card intended to be shared on Twitter & Facebook which reads, "Let's teach more Americans to code. (Even the President is learning!)." President Obama briefly addressed human spaceflight, saying, "I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs – converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the Solar System not just to visit, but to stay." He also called once more for action on climate change. Politifact has an annotated version of the transcript for more background information on Obama's statements, and FiveThirtyEight has a similar cheat sheet.
200 comments | about a week ago
samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."
42 comments | about a week ago
theodp writes Some of the world's leading Data Scientists are on the payrolls of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Apple. So, it'd be interesting to get their take on the infographics the tech giants have passed off as diversity data disclosures. Microsoft, for example, reported its workforce is 29% female, which isn't great, but if one takes the trouble to run the numbers on a linked EEO-1 filing snippet (PDF), some things look even worse. For example, only 23.35% of its reported white U.S. employee workforce is female (Microsoft, like Google, footnotes that "Gender data are global, ethnicity data are US only"). And while Google and Facebook blame their companies' lack of diversity on the demographics of U.S. computer science grads, CS grad and nationality breakouts were not provided as part of their diversity disclosures. Also, the EEOC notes that EEO-1 numbers reflect "any individual on the payroll of an employer who is an employee for purposes of the employers withholding of Social Security taxes," further muddying the disclosures of companies relying on imported talent, like H-1B visa dependent Facebook. So, were the diversity disclosure mea culpas less about providing meaningful data for analysis, and more about deflecting criticism and convincing lawmakers there's a need for education and immigration legislation (aka Microsoft's National Talent Strategy) that's in tech's interest?
335 comments | about two weeks ago
According to an article at The Wall Street Journal, President Obama has sided with British Prime Minister David Cameron in saying that police and government agencies should not be blocked by encryption from viewing the content of cellphone or online communications, making the pro-spying arguments everyone has come to expect: “If we find evidence of a terrorist plot and despite having a phone number, despite having a social media address or email address, we can’t penetrate that, that’s a problem,” Obama said. He said he believes Silicon Valley companies also want to solve the problem. “They’re patriots.” ... The president on Friday argued there must be a technical way to keep information private, but ensure that police and spies can listen in when a court approves. The Clinton administration fought and lost a similar battle during the 1990s when it pushed for a “clipper chip” that would allow only the government to decrypt scrambled messages.
562 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes Is it possible that using secure email services can be construed as an indicator of being a terrorist? Although it's a ridiculous notion that using secure email implies criminal activities, a judge cited that reason to partially justify arrests in Spain. In December, as part of "an anti-terrorist initiative" Operation Pandora, over 400 cops raided 14 houses and social centers in Spain. They seized computers, books, and leaflets and arrested 11 people. Four were released under surveillance, but seven were "accused of undefined terrorism" and held in a Madrid prison. This led to "tens of thousands" participating in protests. As terrorism is alleged "without specifying concrete criminal acts," the attorney for those seven "anarchists" denounced the lack of transparency.
174 comments | about two weeks ago
jones_supa writes Gustav Nipe, president of Sweden's Pirate Party's youth wing, was successful with somewhat trivial social engineering experiment in the area of the Sälen security conference. He set up a WiFi hotspot named "Öppen Gäst" ("Open Guest") without any kind of encryption. What do you know, a large amount of unsuspecting high profile guests associate with the network. Nipe says he was able to track which sites people visited as well as the emails and text messages of around 100 delegates, including politicians and journalists as well as security experts. He says that he won't be revealing which sites were visited by specific experts, as the point was just to draw attention to the issue of rogue network monitoring. The stunt has already sparked criticism in Swedish newspapers and on social media, with some angry comments saying that Nipe breached Sweden's Personal Data Act.
67 comments | about two weeks ago
Bennett Haselton writes: They would never admit it, but your high school admins would probably breathe a sigh of relief if all of their sexting-mad students would go ahead and install Snapchat so that evidence of (sometimes) illegal sexting would disappear into the ether. They can't recommend that you do this, because it would sound like an implicit endorsement, just like they can't recommend designated drivers for teen drinking parties -- but it's a good bet they would be grateful. Read on for the rest.
157 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook unveiled its rumored "at Work" service to a handful of partners today. Facebook at Work puts co-workers into a standalone social network and allows them to share posts and images appropriate for the workplace but looks and acts just like regular Facebook. "We have found that using Facebook as a work tool makes our work day more efficient," Lars Rasmussen, Facebook's director of engineering, tells WIRED. "You can get more stuff done with Facebook than any other tool that we know of, and we'd like to make that available to the whole world.""
112 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: Bruce Schneier has codified another lesson from the Sony Pictures hack: companies should know what data they can safely delete. He says, "One of the social trends of the computerization of our business and social communications tools is the loss of the ephemeral. Things we used to say in person or on the phone we now say in e-mail, by text message, or on social networking platforms. ... Everything is now digital, and storage is cheap — why not save it all?
Sony illustrates the reason why not. The hackers published old e-mails from company executives that caused enormous public embarrassment to the company. They published old e-mails by employees that caused less-newsworthy personal embarrassment to those employees, and these messages are resulting in class-action lawsuits against the company. They published old documents. They published everything they got their hands on."
Schneier recommends organizations immediately prepare a retention/deletion policy so in the likely event their security is breached, they can at least reduce the amount of harm done. What kind of retention policy does your organization enforce? Do you have any personal limits on storing old data?
177 comments | about two weeks ago
HughPickens.com writes: The Guardian has an interesting article on the current quest sweeping Silicon Valley to disrupt death, and the $1 million prize challenging scientists to push human lifespan past its apparent maximum of about 120 years. Hedge Fund Manager Joon Yun's Palo Alto Longevity Prize, which 15 scientific teams have so far entered, will be awarded in the first instance for restoring vitality and extending lifespan in mice by 50%.
"Billionaires and companies are bullish about what they can achieve. In September 2013 Google announced the creation of Calico, short for the California Life Company. Its mission is to reverse engineer the biology that controls lifespan and "devise interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives." ... In April 2014 it recruited Cynthia Kenyon, a scientist acclaimed for work that included genetically engineering roundworms to live up to six times longer than normal, and who has spoken of dreaming of applying her discoveries to people.
Why might tech zillionaires choose to fund life extension research? Three reasons reckons Patrick McCray, a historian of modern technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. First, if you had that much money wouldn't you want to live longer to enjoy it? Then there is money to be made in them there hills. But last, and what he thinks is the heart of the matter, is ideology. If your business and social world is oriented around the premise of "disruptive technologies", what could be more disruptive than slowing down or "defeating" aging?
272 comments | about two weeks ago
sciencehabit writes: A new study of Facebook data shows that machines are now better at sussing out our true personalities than our friends. One of the standard methods for assessing personality is to analyze people's answers to a 100-item questionnaire with a statistical technique called factor analysis. There are five main factors that divide people by personality—openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism—which is why personality researchers call this test the Big Five. People can accurately predict how their friends will answer the Big Five questions. ... Compared with humans predicting their friends' personalities by filling out the Big Five questionnaire, the computer's prediction based on Facebook likes was almost 15% more accurate on average, the team reports online today in PNAS (abstract). Only people's spouses were better than the computer at judging personality.
80 comments | about two weeks ago
Gigaom reports that more internet censorship may be on the way, as several European countries' governments do a unity rally of their own, in the wake of the last week's terror attacks in France: The interior ministers of France, Germany, Latvia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the U.K. said in a statement (PDF) that, while the internet must remain “in scrupulous observance of fundamental freedoms, a forum for free expression, in full respect of the law,” ISPs need to help “create the conditions of a swift reporting of material that aims to incite hatred and terror and the condition of its removing, where appropriate/possible.” ... It seems, to say the least, an awkward reaction to what was in part a free-speech-related attack — the left-wing Charlie Hebdo has itself frequently been accused of hate speech for its portrayal of Muslims and others. On that front, a German newspaper that reprinted blasphemous Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in the wake of the attack was firebombed in the early hours of Sunday morning, with no injuries. Others that did the same remain under police guard.
319 comments | about two weeks ago
theodp writes: Decades before WhatsApp, Gmail, Facebook, and multiplayer Call of Duty, there was TERM-talk, P-Notes, Notesfiles, and Battlestar. Brian Dear goes back to the future, penning A 1980 Teenager's View on Social Media, as written by his 19-year-old UDEL undergrad self, an avid user of PLATO, the 55-year-old granddaddy of today's MOOCs. (His article is a response to "A teenager's view on social media," published last week by a current teenager.) Of old-school texting, Dear notes that you-are-how-you-type: "Every character is displayed in real time as each of us types. So *how* you TERM-talk with folks becomes part of your reputation. Kind of like what your handshake is like. We all know when we shake somebody's hand and they have a firm, confident grip, full of vigor and life, a quick shake and release and you know this person is with it. And then there are those with cold, clammy fish hands that feel like they have no bones, it's all just cushion all the way down. Well in TERM-talk, if you type fast, that's cool."
40 comments | about two weeks ago
mpicpp writes with news that hackers claiming to represent Anonymous have declared war on terrorists. They pledged to take down websites and social media accounts being used by jihadists as retaliation for the Charlie Hebdo attack. They said, "It is clear that some people do not want, in a free world, this inviolable and sacred right to express in any way one's opinions. Anonymous will never leave this right violated by obscurantism and mysticism. We will fight always and everywhere the enemies of freedom of speech. ... Freedom of speech and opinion is a non-negotiable thing, to tackle it is to attack democracy. Expect a massive frontal reaction from us because the struggle for the defense of those freedoms is the foundation of our movement.
509 comments | about two weeks ago
Esther Schindler points out that new "Clues" have been added to the Cluetrain Manifesto. "If you’ve ever said, 'markets are conversations' you’re quoting the words of The Cluetrain Manifesto, the ’90s-era opus on the promise of the Web. David Weinberger and Doc Searls (two of the original authors of Cluetrain) are publishing another provocative work today called New Clues. Weinberger says: 'The Cluetrain Manifesto was an attempt to explain to businesses and the media what they were getting wrong about the Web. In the broadcast era, a mass audience was fed what the media owners thought they wanted. It was one-way communication. The Web lets us communicate directly with one another about what matters to us. The Web’s been a social world since it began. A pall has descended even among those of us who have believed in the Net as an opportunity for transformation. What seemed inevitable 15 years ago now is at risk. So Doc and I thought it was time for a re-assessment. For many people, the Net now feels like just another way commercial media feed us content and toys. We can treat it like that. Or we can remember the Net’s original and true essence: it is a set of connections open to anyone. We have built wonders with it. Those days are far from over. But we have to take back the idea and meaning of the Net. We have to make sure that it stays open to everyone, every idea, and every connection.'"
24 comments | about three weeks ago
theodp (442580) writes Giving others the impression that individuals support something that they actually don't could get you fined and placed under house arrest. But if you're Twitter, it could boost your bottom line. Gigaom's Carmel DeAmicis reports that brands pay Twitter to falsely appear in your following list, an advertising technique brought to light by William Shatner after he saw that 'MasterCard' appeared in his following list despite the fact that he didn't follow it. "By making it look like someone follows an account that they don't," writes DeAmicis, "it sends a false signal that said user cares about that brand. Although the brands are marked as 'promoted,' it's not necessarily clear that the user in question doesn't actually follow the brand. There's ethical considerations to be had. Hypothetical examples: What if you're vegan and don't want people to think you're following Burger King? Or you're the CEO of Visa and don't want people thinking you're following MasterCard? Or you're a pro-life activist and don't want people thinking you're following Planned Parenthood?" Or, if you're @BarackObama and don't want people to think you're following @TPPatriots!
121 comments | about three weeks ago