Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Jay Rosen
The Coming Apart of An Ordered World: Bloggers Notebook, Election Eve

"About the performance of journalists in 2004 it will be asked, post-election: How good a job did the press do? But Big Journalism was in a different situation in politics and the world during this campaign. The post-mortems should be about that. Also: will the press even have this job in 08?"

Lifeblog 1.5 has just been announced and it will support blogging directly to TypePad from Nokia phones with Lifeblog. Yay! Good work gang.

via Christian Lindholm

I can't vote in the US election, but I can at least say I oppose Bush on my blog. Technorati is now counting votes on blogs using Vote Links.

Rebecca MacKinnon, the former Tokyo bureau chief of CNN writes about why CNN is broken. She writes that although there is pressure from the administration to spin stories, most of it comes down to pure commercial interests. It also reminds me that "freedom of the press" in the US constitution was referring to people like Thomas Paine, not mega-corporations like CNN/Time Warner.

Rebecca MacKinnon
Priorities of American Global TV:
Humanity, National Interest, or Commercial Profit?

...When Richard Parsons, the CEO of CNN's parent company Time Warner visited Tokyo in the fall of 2003, he held a Q&A session with a group of Time Warner's Tokyo-based managers whose work ranges from movies, to music sales, to online services, and also to news. I asked him whether he viewed Time Warner's news properties - such as CNN and TIME magazine - to have a special social responsibility for educating the public about current events, or whether CNN was just another commodity like any other product or service sold by Time Warner. He replied that he does not view CNN any differently from any other company owned by Time Warner.

[...]

When I started working for CNN in 1992, things were different. Those were what longtime CNN employees now refer to as the "old days" when the network was run directly by Ted Turner, before the 1996 merger of Turner Broadcasting and Time Warner. "When CNN reported to me, if we needed more money for Kosovo or Baghdad, we'd find it," Ted Turner wrote in the July/August 2004 issue of Washington Monthly. "If we had to bust the budget, we busted the budget. We put journalism first, and that's how we built CNN into something the world wanted to watch." He blames the current situation on the concentration of news media in the hands of a small number of mega-corporations, and blames U.S. government regulators for allowing this to happen. "The loss of independent operators hurts both the media business and its citizen-customers," he argues. "When the ownership of these firms passes to people under pressure to show quick financial results in order to justify the purchase, the corporate emphasis instantly shifts from taking risks to taking profits. When that happens, quality suffers, localism suffers, and democracy itself suffers."

We now have evidence that certainly looks like altering a computerized voting system during a real election, and it happened just six weeks ago.

MONDAY Nov 1 2004: New information indicates that hackers may be targeting the central computers counting our votes tomorrow. All county elections officials who use modems to transfer votes from polling places to the central vote-counting server should disconnect the modems now.

There is no down side to removing the modems. Simply drive the vote cartridges from each polling place in to the central vote-counting location by car, instead of transmitting by modem. “Turning off” the modems may not be sufficient. Disconnect the central vote counting server from all modems, INCLUDING PHONE LINES, not just Internet.

In a very large county, this will add at most one hour to the vote-counting time, while offering significant protection from outside intrusion.

It appears that such an attack may already have taken place, in a primary election 6 weeks ago in King County, Washington -- a large jurisdiction with over one million registered voters. Documents, including internal audit logs for the central vote-counting computer, along with modem “trouble slips” consistent with hacker activity, show that the system may have been hacked on Sept. 14, 2004. Three hours is now missing from the vote-counting computer's "audit log," an automatically generated record, similar to the black box in an airplane, which registers certain kinds of events.

I wonder who would launch such an attack and what the motivation would be? Would it be, "because I can" sort of hacking or someone hired or with more purpose. In any event, this is clearly a risk. Take a look at the other stuff going on on the Black Box Voting site. I think it's quite important.

via David Weinberger