12 Jan

Code, Law and Society

This article by Cindy  Cohn

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James  Grimmelmann argues for a distinction between code and law.  Code can be law with no values, no interpretation, no room for the human uses of things.  As so many aspects of life are coded now, I wonder to what extent designers will fight to keep code from users.

To the extent that code is acting as law in spaces and ways that are increasingly important to our increasingly technological societies, code will need to respect, as best it can, these deep legal values. Sometimes this will mean not doing everything in code: one of the reasons DRM and the broadcast flag proposal are so worrisome is that they threaten to eliminate the flexibility we associate with fair use law and technological progress. At other times, this will mean wiring these values into the code itself. The end-to-end design that has made the Internet so successful is, in some sense, just the legal value of humility, as written into code. We don’t know what people will do, so we won’t try to solve their problems for them before we even know what those problems are.

Link: Ars Electronica Katalogartikel.

11 Jan

New iTunes Spyware

Doesn’t it seem as thought companies are getting more bold in their privacy invasion practices?  What we won’t give up for perceived convenience…

As noted at TUAW, iTunes 6.0.2 contains a new feature: the MiniStore. It’s neat, at first. Sort of.

But not really.

Each
time you play a different song, the MiniStore features information
about the artist currently playing, as well as “Listeners Also Bought…”
Here’s a full size capture
of Apple marketing in action: as you can see, I’m playing Mary J. Blige
covering U2’s “One”, and the MiniStore shows other albums from Mary J.
Blige and U2.

Link: since1968.com: iTunes Update: Apple’s Looking Over Your Shoulder.

09 Jan

The Future of Urban Studies

In this interview, Rob Shields proposes his view of the emerging field(s) of urban studies.

Link: Eurozine – Articles.

How do we "know" the city – under what conditions does the urban come to be "knowable"? Of course, the city is not an object, properly understood. In everyday life we accept and play along with the idea that we can grasp the entirety of a city from a glimpse of one small part of it that we personally witness. Todorov refers to this sort of object as a complex totality. We accept that the city continues on in a stereotypical manner, petering out at some sort of topographical, economic or administrative edge. This may seem odd, but we have been trained from an early age and from experience to accept on faith not only the continuity of landscapes beyond our point of view but the authority of maps and official documents. We might try to retreat to a great height, but as De Certeau pointed out, a bird’s-eye view requires that we sacrifice our knowledge of the intimate detail of city life. It contributes to the tendency to objectify the city, overlooking the extent to which it relies on normative conventions which must be performed again and again by each and every citizen – rules which govern how people drive, or the framework of what Bourdieu might call a habitus of urban behaviour and social interactions which allows the city to operate relatively smoothly.