Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

RTMark
FBI ABDUCTS ARTIST, SEIZES ART Feds Unable to Distinguish Art from Bioterrorism Grieving Artist Denied Access to Deceased Wife's Body DEFENSE FUND ESTABLISHED - HELP URGENTLY NEEDED

Steve Kurtz was already suffering from one tragedy when he called 911 early in the morning to tell them his wife had suffered a cardiac arrest and died in her sleep.  The police arrived and, cranked up on the rhetoric of the "War on Terror," decided Kurtz's art supplies were actually bioterrorism weapons.

Thus began an Orwellian stream of events in which FBI agents abducted Kurtz without charges, sealed off his entire block, and confiscated his computers, manuscripts, art supplies... and even his wife's body.

Like the case of Brandon Mayfield, the Muslim lawyer from Portland imprisoned for two weeks on the flimsiest of false evidence, Kurtz's case amply demonstrates the dangers posed by the USA PATRIOT Act coupled with government-nurtured terrorism hysteria.

Kurtz's case is ongoing, and, on top of everything else, Kurtz is facing a mountain of legal fees. Donations to his legal defense can be made at http://www.rtmark.com/CAEdefense/

It reminds me a bit of when the Secret Service came after etoy.

RTMark is nortorious for social hacking, but this story appears to have at least two supporting news stories.

WKBW Local News - Local Investigation Into Ub Artist Continues
WKBW Local News - Bio Hazard Or Art?

The weird thing is that these news articles are archived on RTMark's site and I can't seem to find them on the WKBW site. Having said that, a search on Google News shows an article about this, but it has "expired" and can't be accessed.

IF this is true, it's another example of patriotic stupidity, but it's often the role of artists to help us understand this stupidity.

Anyone else heard about this? Lately I'm becoming more wary of single source news stories. ;-) Any help in veting this story before I get really excited would be greatly appreciated.

via Scott

UPDATE: Email from artist, Steven Kurtz.

I blogged about a woman taking a motorcycle through Chernobyl and her web page. It looks like it was a fraud.

Neil Gaiman
A fraud exposed, and a true thing...

Found this on the infiltrate.org forum - thought you might find it interesting. You'd wonder why somebody would go to the lengths to fake something like this.
dee

Chornobyl "Ghost Town" story is a fabrication TOP
e-POSHTA subscriber Mary Mycio writes:

I am based in Kyiv and writing a book about Chornobyl for the Joseph Henry Press. Several sources have sent me links to the "Ghost Town" photo essay included in the last e-POSHTA mailing. Though it was full of factual errors, I did find the notion of lone young woman riding her motorcycle through the evacuated Zone of Alienation to be intriguing and asked about it when I visited there two days ago.

I am sorry to report that much of Elena's story is not true. She did not travel around the zone by herself on a motorcycle. Motorcycles are banned in the zone, as is wandering around alone, without an escort from the zone administration. She made one trip there with her husband and a friend. They traveled in a Chornobyl car that picked them up in Kyiv.

This sucks. It was such a cool story. One thing that I realized when thinking about this is, how do you fact check the fact check on something that so far away... Is there anything other than this post to e-POSHTA debunking this story?

via Xeni @ Boing Boing

Overstated
Weblogs and Authority

This week I'll be presenting a paper at the International Communication Association Conference in New Orleans titled Audience, Structure and Authority in the Weblog Community. The paper is an analysis of two different metrics for measuring authority within weblogs:

* Blogroll: A link from one weblog to the top-level of another, (e.g., links to http://overstated.net, http://www.overstated.net or http://overstated.net/index.asp). I assume this is a proxy to popularity.

* Permalink: Any link from one weblog to deep content on another (e.g. a link to http://overstated.net/04/05/24-weblogs-and-authority.asp). I assume this is a proxy to influence.

The following table shows the top 20 for each measure. One observation is that many of the top ranked sites are community weblogs (e.g. Slashdot or Memepool). These sites play the important role of hubs, maintaining ties to more weblogs than a single person would be able to. They allow information to diffuse quickly between distant parts of the network of readership.

Blogroll Degree RankPermalink Degree Rank
linksurllinksurl
1.2581metafilter.com1322boingboing.net
2.2434slashdot.org1270diveintomark.org
3.2146boingboing.net1096metafilter.com
4.1825kottke.org1073slashdot.org
5.1604instapundit.com982kottke.org
6.1527scripting.com976weblog.siliconvalley.com/column/dangillmor
7.1307evhead.com956instapundit.com
8.1220andrewsullivan.com828andrewsullivan.com
9.1062memepool.com827themorningnews.org
10.1007doc.weblogs.com826rathergood.com
11.977megnut.com819textism.com
12.961littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog683denbeste.nu
13.899diveintomark.org626doc.weblogs.com
14.880littleyellowdifferent.com625asmallvictory.net
15.848textism.com582rightwingnews.com
16.846rebeccablood.net577microcontentnews.com
17.758plasticbag.org568joi.ito.com
18.737dashes.com/anil560buzzmachine.com
19.719ftrain.com553waxy.org
20.714plastic.com522a.wholelottanothing.org

A second observation is that the lists are fairly distinct. While some webloggers hold top positions in both ranks, the list diverges considerably as the position increases. While Blogrolls tend to support the weblog elders (scripting.com, evhead.com, etc.), permalinks suggest a different set of authors as influencers (joi.ito.com, buzzmachine.com, etc.). Looking at the differential between the ranks in the figure below, it is apparent that as soon as the rank passes 100, the correlation between Blogroll and Permalink rank becomes less defined.

Interesting paper which has an impact on the power-law discussion. The chart shows that I'm not popular, but I have influence, whereas Anil may be popular, but doesn't have influence. ;-)
About freekaneko.com
this web site 'freekaneko.com' was created by official Isamu Kaneko supporters. We are consisted by software engineers who deeply concern our freedom to create and research software.

We are conducting a publicity, and fund raising. We need a lot of attention from the people of the world. You can help us by telling the issue to your family, friends, and co-workers. Also, translation volunteers (and English proof readers) are needed to let the people know this issue.

Freekaneko.com marked a million hit only a day after an opening. Also, we raised 10 million yen ($100,000) in 2weeks

Isamu Kaneko is the guy who got arrested for developing P2P software. More details about that in my earlier post.

via yonderboy

News24.com
Rumsfeld bans phone cameras

London - Cellphones fitted with digital cameras have been banned in US army installations in Iraq on orders from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, The Business newspaper reported on Sunday.

Quoting a Pentagon source, the paper said the US defence department believes that some of the damning photos of US soldiers abusing Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad were taken with camera phones.

"Digital cameras, camcorders and cellphones with cameras have been prohibited in military compounds in Iraq," it said, adding that a "total ban throughout the US military" is in the works.

via Smartmobs

The increasing reliance of this administration on secrecy is really disturbing. When your government starts to strip the people of their privacy and civil rights and consistently marches forward with a variety of efforts to hides its own movements, you know you're in real trouble.

I've worked on whistleblower protection bills and thought a lot about the importance of the ability for people to come forward outside of the chain of command. It is an essential protection measure against coverups and corruption. I can understand arguments about why allowing random photos could be bad, but I'm sure the importance of having "eyes on the ground" outside of the "main channel" out-weigh the risks.

UPDATE: There are many media sites and blogs running this story, but they all seem to quote the same source. We still have no corroborating original sources. Please see comments on this entry for more.

UPDATE2

This morning, I asked a Defense Department spokesperson whether or not the reports of a phonecam ban were true. This spokesperson said that these reports were technically inaccurate -- that the Pentagon is not issuing a new ban on camera phones per se, but that a Directive 8100.2 was issued on April 14 establishing new restrictions on wireless telecommunications equipment in general. The text of this directive is available online here in PDF format: Link. The intent of this April 14 directive, and how commanders in the field will be expected to enforce it, are matters I'll be reporting on in more detail for the NPR program "Day to Day," later this week.