Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans | WIRED

In a secret government agreement granted without approval from lawmakers, the U.S. attorney general recently granted the National Counterterrorism Center sweeping new powers to store dossiers on U.S. citizens, even if they are not suspected of a crime.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder granted the center the ability to copy entire government databases holding information on flight records, casino-employee lists, the names of Americans hosting foreign-exchange students and other data, and to store it for up to five years, even without suspicion that someone in the database has committed a crime, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the story.

Whereas previously the law prohibited the center from storing data compilations on U.S. citizens unless they were suspected of terrorist activity or were relevant to an ongoing terrorism investigation, the new powers give the center the ability to not only collect and store vast databases of information but also to trawl through and analyze it for suspicious patterns of behavior in order to uncover activity that could launch an investigation.

Source: Attorney General Secretly Granted Gov. Ability to Develop and Store Dossiers on Innocent Americans | WIRED

Big Idea 2013: Stop Worrying About Efficiency | Ron Baker | LinkedIn

Attacking efficiency is like attacking motherhood and apple pie, but I am going to do it anyway. The tedious quest for efficiency is a false talisman. What happens when we are efficient at doing the wrong things?

Companies have learned costs are easier to compute than benefits, so they cut the costs in the denominator to improve the efficiency—the equivalent of Walt Disney producing Snow White and the Four Dwarfs. Efficient, yes; effective, hardly.

Source: Big Idea 2013: Stop Worrying About Efficiency | Ron Baker | LinkedIn

The Web We Lost – Anil Dash

We’ve lost key features that we used to rely on, and worse, we’ve abandoned core values that used to be fundamental to the web world. To the credit of today’s social networks, they’ve brought in hundreds of millions of new participants to these networks, and they’ve certainly made a small number of people rich.

But they haven’t shown the web itself the respect and care it deserves, as a medium which has enabled them to succeed. And they’ve now narrowed the possibilities of the web for an entire generation of users who don’t realize how much more innovative and meaningful their experience could be.

Source: The Web We Lost – Anil Dash


For the purpose of improving user security on a website / web application, would it be ethical to prevent users from selecting a password which is the same as that used to log in to their email address?

Q: How would a web developer/programmer know that the user had reused their email password?
A: Have a bot/script try to log in to the user’s email (they just gave you their address as well to sign up…) using the password they want to use on your website. If such a login is successful then discard the result and warn the user, preventing them from reusing the password. (And that’s why this is a non-trivial question of ethics.)

Teach U.S. kids to write computer code –

Douglas Rushkoff says digital literacy is not a priority in our schools, impeding kids’ understanding of the digital world and crippling U.S. competitiveness.

Computer Science is not just a STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — subject, but a liberal art as well. Being able to think critically about digital media environments means being able to think critically about our world.

Source: Teach U.S. kids to write computer code –


Does the increasingly digital nature of transactions affect popular tolerance of inflation and popular demand of cash denominations?

Kill the Password: A String of Characters Won’t Protect You | WIRED

You have a secret that can ruin your life. It’s not a well-kept secret, either. Just a simple string of characters that can reveal everything about you.

The most secure system isn’t any good if it’s a total pain to access. Requiring you to remember a 256-character hexadecimal password might keep your data safe, but you’re no more likely to get into your account than anyone else.

Source: Kill the Password: A String of Characters Won’t Protect You | WIRED


When security by plebeian obscurity is insufficient, what do you do?

Low Pay is a Symptom


Labor unions are adopting unusual tactics, hoping to raise the floor for wages and working conditions in the ultracompetitive economy of the 21st century.

Source: Unionizing the Bottom of the Pay Scale – The New York Times

The pursuit of shareholder value is attracting criticism—not all of it foolish

Source: Taking the long view | The Economist

The economic crisis has revived the old debate about whether firms should focus most on their shareholders, their customers or their workers

Source: A new idolatry | The Economist

Shareholder capitalism suffers from a vacuum of ownership

Source: Beyond shareholder value | The Economist


Low pay is a symptom. When is it caused by inadequate allocation vs. inadequate productivity?


From comments:

I wish the cost of things got as much attention as salaries. … Pay is NOT the critical issue, cost of living is.

— anonymous