Friday, December 22, 2023

Without a Trace: How to Keep Your Phone Off the Grid

Gardening is the greatest tonic and therapy a human being can have. Even if you have only a tiny piece of earth, you can create something beautiful, which we all have a great need for. If we begin by respecting plants, it’s inevitable we’ll respect people. 
~Audrey Hepburn

The Most Scathing Book Reviews of 2023. From Gary Shteyngart’s review of Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk bio: “I drove my espresso machine hard into the night to survive both craft and subject matter…”

Class explores Nabokov as writer and ‘butterfly man”

 Nabokov’s deep interest in and connection to the natural world and his cross-pollinating interests in the sciences and the arts were the focus of a new seminar, “Nabokov, Naturally,” taught in fall 2023 by Anindita Banerjee, associate professor of comparative literature in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S).


We Are Seventeen Years Old

Thank all of you for keeping us fit and feisty after so many years!

Without a Trace: How to Keep Your Phone Off the Grid

The MarkUp: “Monique O. Madan and Wesley Callow put on [their] trenchcoats and gave you a behind-the-scenes look at our quest for phone anonymity. 

We gave you a step-by-step guide on how to set up an off-the-grid phone, and a glimpse into why, personally speaking as a journalist, having one is so important for protecting my sources and staying safe (for example: making sure my contacts are aware that they have a secure way to communicate with me—or preserving my own privacy by ensuring my private information isn’t attached to any account).”

When authoritative sources hold onto bad data

NextGov – A legal scholar explains the need for government databases to retract information: “In 2004, Hwang Woo-suk was celebrated for his breakthrough discovery creating cloned human embryos, and his work was published in the prestigious journal Science. But the discovery was too good to be true; Dr. Hwang had fabricated the data. Science publicly retracted the article and assembled a team to investigate what went wrong. Retractions are frequently in the news. The high-profile discovery of a room-temperature superconductor was retracted on Nov. 7, 2023. A series of retractions toppled the president of Stanford University on July 19, 2023. Major early studies on COVID-19 were found to have serious data problems and retracted on June 4, 2020. Retractions are generally framed as a negative: as science not working properly, as an embarrassment for the institutions involved, or as a flaw in the peer review process. They can be all those things. But they can also be part of a story of science working the right way: finding and correcting errors, and publicly acknowledging when information turns out to be incorrect. A far more pernicious problem occurs when information is not, and cannot, be retracted. There are many apparently authoritative sources that contain flawed information. Sometimes the flawed information is deliberate, but sometimes it isn’t – after all, to err is human. Often, there is no correction or retraction mechanism, meaning that information known to be wrong remains on the books without any indication of its flaws. As a patent and intellectual property legal scholar, I’ve found that this is a particularly harmful problem with government information, which is often considered a source of trustworthy data but is prone to error and often lacking any means to retract the information.”

Here’s how 13 news outlets are using LinkedIn newsletters

Nieman Lab: “…LinkedIn has been experimenting with newsletters as a way for individuals and companies to connect with readers. There are more than 143,000 newsletters on the platform, with over 500 million subscribers. At least 150 news publishers send newsletters out regularly, said Keren Baruch, LinkedIn’s director of product. “Social media platforms feel particularly volatile right now, especially for news publishers,” Juliet Beauchamp, MIT Technology Review’s engagement editor, told me. “LinkedIn is rare in that it seems like it’s actually prioritizing news on its site.” When you launch a newsletter, 

LinkedIn alerts all of your followers, which can help amass a subscriber base immediately. Newsletters also show up as posts in a user’s feed, which they can react to and comment on. Some publishers are repurposing content from existing newsletters for LinkedIn, while others are curating their newsletters specifically for the platform. I talked to 13 news outlets using LinkedIn newsletters. They don’t think LinkedIn newsletters will replace email newsletters any time soon. LinkedIn’s customization tools are limited. Publishers have little access to metrics data, and they don’t own their LinkedIn subscriber lists. There are also challenges on the user side. There is currently no newsletter discoverability feature.

 To report this story, I manually searched the LinkedIn page of any news publisher I could think of to figure out if they had an active newsletter or not (newsletters are prominently featured on a company’s profile). When you subscribe to a company’s newsletter, LinkedIn automatically follows the company’s page for you. That means all of that company’s content shows up in your news feed…”