5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive text on the topic July 8, 2011
Surveillance or Security?: The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies is a hard book to categorize. It is not about security, but it deals extensively with it. It is not a law book, but legal topics are pervasive throughout the book. It is not a telecommunications book, but extensively details telco issues. Ultimately, the book is a most important overview of security and privacy and the nature of surveillance in current times.
Surveillance or Security? is one of the most pragmatic books on the topic is that the author never once uses the term Big Brother. Far too many books on privacy and surveillance are filled with hysteria and hyperbole and the threat of an Orwellian society. This book sticks to the raw facts and details the current state, that of insecure and porous networks around a surveillance society.
In this densely packed work, Susan Landau, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University details the myriad layers around surveillance, national security, information security and privacy. Landau writes that her concern is not about legally authorized law enforcement and nationally security wiretapping; rather about the security risks of building surveillance into communications infrastructures.
Joseph G. Bock
5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering Work, Deserves a Great Deal of Attention, April 29, 2013
I am shocked that there are no reviews of this book. Brought to my attention by Berto Jongman, one of the top researchers in Europe with a special talent at the intersection of terrorism and related violence (e.g. genocide) and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), he knew this is an area that is of very high interest to me.
The book passed my very first test, with more than ample references to Dr. Patrick Meier, a pioneer in crisis mapping, SMS translations and plotting by diasporas, and humanitarian ICT generally. I strongly recommend his blog and expect him to produce a book of his own soon.
The primary focus here is on social media via hand-held devices. It assumes a working Internet and does not have a great deal of focus on the urgency of achieving an Autonomous Internet, and more fully exploiting Liberation Technology and Open Source Everything (OSE), the latter my special interest along with M4IS2 (Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information-Sharing and Sense-Making).
Use Inside the Book to see the chapters and appendices. The author makes clear two major points early on:
01 Grassroots is where its at, not top down macro
02 Technology alone is not enough, organizing — the hard long road of grassroots organizing — is essential.
5.0 out of 5 stars No robot could have written this February 16, 2011
That was one of my thoughts as I read Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: no matter what robots learn to do, they will never learn to write a book as thoughtful, informative, and intense as Alone Together. They would not know how to pose the questions, let alone use such discernment in addressing them.
It is interesting that Turkle chose to discuss robots in the first part of the book and the Internet in the second part. By presenting the “strange” part first, she gives us a sense of how strange our everyday lives actually are, how far we have moved away from enjoying each other’s presence.
Turkle quotes children and adults who hesitate to use the phone because it seems awkward and intrusive; it is much easier, they say, to dash off a text or email. At the same time, Turkle points out, because of this very convenience, people expect quick responses. She describes the anxiety of teenagers when they do not get an immediate reply to their text messages. One girl talks about needing her cell phone for “emergencies”; it turns out that what she means by “emergency” is having a feeling without being able to share it.
Turkle shows how our Internet communications mix the deliberate with the unconsidered. On the one hand, people put great effort even into short email messages. On the other, they “test” ideas and expressions in formation to see how others react. Some create fake online profiles just to try out different sides of their personality. The problem with such experimentation is that it is conditioned almost entirely by online reactions, often reactions of strangers. There is little room to form thoughts independently.
This book is an exploration of the new forms of social movements and protests that are erupting in the world today, from the Arab uprisings to the indignadas movement in Spain, and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US. While these and similar social movements differ in many important ways, there is one thing they share in common: they are all interwoven inextricably with the creation of autonomous communication networks supported by the Internet and wireless communication.
4.0 out of 5 stars an excellent overview of the ideas and forces shaping Internet policy debates globally January 25, 2012
By Adam Thierer
MacKinnon’s book is well-researched exploration of the forces driving Internet developments and policy across the globe today. She serves up an outstanding history of recent global protest movements and social revolutions and explores the role that Internet technologies and digital networks played in those efforts. In particular, her coverage of China and the Net is outstanding. She also surveys some of the recent policy fights here and abroad over issues such as online privacy, Net neutrality regulation, free speech matters, and the copyright wars. It is certainly worth reading and will go down as one of the most important Internet policy books of 2012.
Her book is an attempt to take the Net freedom movement to the next level; to formalize it and to put in place a set of governance principles that will help us hold the “sovereigns of cyberspace” more accountable. Many of her proposals are quite sensible. But my primary problem with MacKinnon’s book lies in her use of the term “digital sovereigns” or “sovereigns of cyberspace” and the loose definition of “sovereignty” that pervades the narrative. She too often blurs and equates private power and political power, and she sometimes leads us to believe that the problem of the dealing with the mythical nation-states of “Facebookistan” and “Googledom” is somehow on par with the problem of dealing with actual sovereign power — government power — over digital networks, online speech, and the world’s Netizenry.
Lee Raine and Barry Wellman
Networked, June 6, 2012
Rainie and Wellman, using scores of data, argue that we live in a networked operating system characterized by networked individualism. They describe the triple revolution (networked revolution, internet revolution, and mobile revolution) that got us here, and discuss the repercussions of this triple revolution within various arenas of social life (e.g. the family, relationships, work, information spread). They conclude with an empirically informed guess at the future of the new social operating system of networked individualism, indulging augmented fantasies and dystopic potentials. Importantly, much of the book is set up as a larger argument against technologically deterministic claims about the deleterious effects of new information communication technologies (ICTs).
Networked Individualism and the Triple Revolution
Many scholars and commentators fear that a move away from social relational structures characterized by tightly knit groups and dense connections—largely caused by quickly advancing digital and electronic technologies— indicates a move towards an individualist, isolationist, technocratic social system. Such fears have been (in)famously proclaimed by Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone (2000), by Miller McPherson et al. in a 2006 ASR article, and most recently by Sherry Turkle in her new book Alone Together (2011) as well as in her recent NY Times editorial (discussed here by David Banks and here by Nathan Jurgenson).
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a decent critique of Internet as ideology March 8, 2013
By Peter Socolow
Snarky? Check. Contrarian? Check. Demanding? Check. That’s enough checks for me: most books don’t go that far. So, to be blunt: whatever its flaws, this book deserves to be widely read and argued about. Is it perfect? Hell no. Morozov doesn’t know when to stop and he is occasionally too full of himself to be enjoyable; at times, this book reads like “Imagine That: Some People Are Wrong on the Internet About the Internet.” (Morozov, of course, would say that this last sentence is pure nonsense, for “the Internet” doesn’t exist. Okay, Professor!) He’s lucky his relatives are no Internet theorists – or he would destroy them as well (that’s a Pavlik Morozov joke right there!)
The book somehow manages to stay extremely funny (Morozov has a great eye for the ridiculous and the surreal; his epigrams are hilarious – especially the Franny Armstrong quote comparing soccer and the Internet) and also very serious (too serious at times; there’s way too much theory in it – it could easily lose some Dewey and Giddens, not to mention of that other enfant terrible, Bruno Latour).
5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectual Recycling and Internet-Centrism, a tale of Cyber-Utopia Gone Really Wrong, November 30, 2012
Abhinav Agarwal (Bangalore, India)
Dunks a much needed, well-reasoned, and well-researched bucket of cold-water over “Internet-centrists” and “cyber-utopians” (cyber-utopianism is a “naïve belief in the emancipatory nature of online communication”), and assembles together an excellent though somewhat depressing array of evidence to dismantle this edifice of technology-centrists.The Internet has revolutionized communications. It has certainly disintermediated and caused immense pain to traditional brick-and-mortar retailers as well as traditional media outlets and the newspaper business. But when people make a leap of logic and start assuming that the Internet has, can, should, and will engender socio-political revolutions in totalitarian, closed, dictatorial regimes, you have to start thinking that maybe there has been an ingestion of Kool Aid, gallons of it.
While the basic thrust of the book is to argue, strongly, against making technology, and especially the Internet and social media, the main focus of an argument in favor of sociological and political change in societies, the argument itself is mutli-faceted.