Looking for our new site?

Digital Media

A Robot Stole My Pulitzer!

  • By
  • Evgeny Morozov,
  • New America Foundation
March 20, 2012 |

Can technology be autonomous? Does it lead a life of its own and operate independently of human guidance? From the French theologian Jacques Ellul to the Unabomber, this used to be widely accepted. Today, however, most historians and sociologists of technology dismiss it as naive and inaccurate.

Yet the world of modern finance is increasingly dependent on automated trading, with sophisticated computer algorithms finding and exploiting pricing irregularities that are invisible to ordinary traders.

Misinformation and Fact-checking

  • By Brendan Nyhan, Asst. Professor, Dartmouth College; Jason Reifler, Asst. Professor, Georgia State
February 28, 2012

Citizens and journalists are concerned about the prevalence of misinformation in contemporary politics, which may pollute democratic discourse and undermine citizens’ ability to cast informed votes and participate meaningfully in public debate. Academic research in this area paints a pessimistic picture—the most salient misperceptions are widely held, easily spread, and difficult to correct. Corrections can fail due to factors including motivated reasoning, limitations of memory and cognition, and identity factors such as race and ethnicity.

The Other Academic Freedom Movement

  • By
  • Konstantin Kakaes,
  • New America Foundation
February 9, 2012 |

In the summer of 1991, Paul Ginsparg, a researcher at the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, set up an email system for about 200 string theorists to exchange papers they had written. The World Wide Web was a mere infant—it had been opened to the public on Aug. 6 of that year. The string theorists weren’t particularly interested in making their research widely available (outsiders would have a tough time following the conversation anyhow). Ginsparg’s archive was a way for the theorists to communicate with one another.

The Difference Between Online Knowledge and Truly Open Knowledge

  • By
  • C. W. Anderson,
  • New America Foundation
February 3, 2012 |

In "Too Big To Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now that the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room", the simultaneously fascinating and frustrating book by Berkman Center senior researcher David Weinberger, there is a wonderful moment where the mechanisms of "fact-building" are laid bare.

"It's 1983. You want to know the population of Pittsburgh, so instead of waiting six years for the web to be invented, you head to the library," Weinberger begins.

Why Doesn’t Washington Understand the Internet?

  • By
  • Rebecca MacKinnon,
  • New America Foundation
January 23, 2012 |

In late 2010, on the eve of the Arab Spring uprisings, a Tunisian blogger asked Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah what democratic nations should do to help cyber­activists in the Middle East. Abdel Fattah, who had spent time in jail under Hosni Mubarak’s regime, argued that if Western democracies wanted to support the region’s Internet activists, they should put their own houses in order. He called on the world’s democracies to “fight the troubling trends emerging in your own backyards” that “give our own regimes great excuses for their own actions.”

Digging Deeper Into The New York Times’ Fact-Checking Faux Pas

  • By
  • Lucas Graves,
  • New America Foundation
January 19, 2012 |

Once in a while the cultural fault lines in American journalism come into unexpectedly sharp relief. Jon Stewart’s now-legendary star turn on “Crossfire” was one of those moments; the uproar over NPR’s refusal (along with most major news outlets) to call waterboarding torture was another. The New York Times may have added another clash to this canon with public editor Arthur Brisbane’s blog post on fact-checking last week.

Consent of the Networked

January 31, 2012

A global struggle for control of the Internet is now underway.  At stake are no less than civil liberties, privacy and even the character of democracy in the 21st century.

Saving Face

  • By
  • Evgeny Morozov,
  • New America Foundation
December 19, 2011 |

Has Google finally grown up? The care with which it has handled facial-recognition technology seems to support this thesis. Compare it with Facebook. When Zuckerberg's social network unveiled its facial-recognition technology in June, it found itself in the middle of a global privacy backlash.

The Internet’s Intolerable Acts

  • By
  • Sascha Meinrath,
  • James Losey,
  • New America Foundation
December 8, 2011 |

The United States of America was forged in resistance to collective reprisals—the punishment of many for the acts of few. In 1774, following the Boston Tea Party, the British Parliament passed a series of laws—including the mandated closure of the port of Boston—meant to penalize the people of Massachusetts. These abuses of power, labeled the "Intolerable Acts," catalyzed the American Revolution by making plain the oppression of the British crown.

Syndicate content