BCNM around the Web September 2019

01 Sep, 2019

BCNM around the Web September 2019

Here's the recap of all our amazing BCNM community has been up to from the web!

Abigail De Kosnik weighed in on the Ringer's take on Game of Thrones, dubbed "the last popular TV show" to discuss illegal downloading of the show, thanks to her cutting edge Alpha-60 research!

From the article:

Thrones is also the most consistently stolen show in the world. Since 2012, the series has topped TorrentFreak’s annual “most pirated” television list every year it has run a new season. And after a handful of high-profile hacks and episode leaks in 2017, its seventh season finale was immediately passed around by 400,000 people as soon as it was released online. The series has inspired such impressive theft that media researchers have devised a patent-pending system to track the torrenting numbers and locations of its final season in real time. “There’s no question in my mind the final season of Game of Thrones is going to be the most downloaded show ever,” Abigail De Kosnik, a co-lead on the effort, called the Alpha60 Research Project, recently told me.

Read more here!

Nicholas de Monchaux's Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo has been a hot-commodity with the fifty year anniversary of the Apollo mission and the US successful landing on the moon!

Fast Company shares from his book the improbable story of the bra company that managed to win the bid to make NASA space suits.

Some of the layers were, in fact, composed of bra and girdle material, including nylon tricot.Seams in the spacesuits had to be sewn to the precision of the width of a single straight pin. Every stitch of every inch of spacesuit seam in every layer was counted to ensure quality and safety. The suits were one more example on Apollo—just like its handwoven navigation computer—of cutting-edge technology that could only be manufactured and assembled by hand.

Read the article here.

KQED highlighted how fifty years on, the space suit is still influencing design.

De Monchaux said the Apollo suit was safer, more durable and allowed greater mobility than its predecessors in the harsh, zero gravity conditions of space. "The suit had 21 different layers of fabric, literally layered together like the human skin," he said.

Read more here!

Ken Goldberg presented at Transform 2019 on July 10-11 on Accelerating Your Business with AI. The theme this year was government, security, and ethics.

From the description:

With the rise of successful AI based on processes run by "black-box" neural networks, a huge spotlight has been turned on the ethics and fairness of decisions they are generating. Embarrassing and high-profile mistakes or oversights concerning gender, social and racial discrimination have raised the stakes for companies to do AI right. Security and governance have also emerged as some of the biggest sub-themes for 2019.

Read more here!

Tom McEnaney gave a Digital Humanities Lecture on August 13th. Tom works on the history of media and technology, Argentine, Cuban, and U.S. literature, sound studies, linguistic anthropology, computational (digital) humanities and new media studies. He has contributed articles to Cultural Critique, The Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies, La Habana Elegante, Representations, Revista de Estudios Hispánicos, Sounding Out!, Variaciones Borges, and others. His book, Acoustic Properties: Radio, Narrative, and the New Neighborhood of the Americas (FlashPoints at Northwestern University Press, 2017), which was shortlisted for the 2018 Modernist Studies Association's First Book Prize, investigates the co-evolution of radio and the novel in Argentina, Cuba, and the United States. The book charts the rise and fall of populism and state socialism, and how authors in these countries began to re-conceive novel writing as an act of listening in order to shape the creation and understanding of the vox populi.

Ritwik Banerji performed at Bop Stop in Ohio, on August 20th. He was part of the opening show before OutLab.

From the event:

Ritwik Banerji is a saxophonist, digital media artist, and social scientist. He recently completed his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at U.C. Berkeley, where his research focused on the development of artificially-intelligent virtual performers of free improvisation and subjecting these systems to the critique of human musicians as a means of eliciting their commentary on their experience of collaborative music-making.

Read the article here.

Alum Andrea Horbinski is quoted in the Washington Post article on the Lion King's intellectual property controversy. The Washington Post recaps the claims that Disney copied Japan's Kimba the White Lion.

Andrea Horbinski, who researches Japanese manga and anime, said there was “definite borrowing” from “Kimba” in “The Lion King,” but that it may adhere to industry standards.

“The question of originality is often kind of emphasized, partly because of the structure of intellectual property laws,” Horbinski said. “But I don’t know necessarily if it’s the most important question in terms of creative works.”

Read the article here.

The 2019 International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning took place in Lyon, France June 17-21! Alum Jenni Higgs chaired the session on equity and broadening participation, featuring papers on: "Evaluating an Adaptive Equity-Oriented Pedagogy on Student Collaboration Outcomes Through Randomized Controlled Trials" by Andrew Phuong, Judy Nguyen; "Family collaboration in the digital age: Parent learning partner roles are linked to child expertise and parents' work" by Brigid Barron, Caitlin K Martin; "Girls as Experts, Helpers, Organizers, and Leaders: Designing for Equitable Access and Participation in CSCL Environments" by Kay E Ramey, Reed Stevens; and "The Effectiveness of Publicly vs. Privately Assigned Group Leaders among Learners in Rural Villages in Tanzania" by Judith Odili Uchidiuno, Evelyn Yarzebinski, Emilio Vargas-Vite, Ken Koedinger, Amy Ogan.

Read more here!

Alum Jane McGonigal offered thoughts on why your brain can't process Climate change for Time Magazine. The article discusses why, in the face of dire climate predictions and reports, humans can't seem to act to change our future.

As McGonigal writes: “Your brain acts as if your future self is someone you don’t know very well and, frankly, someone you don’t care about.” And if we view our own selves in the future as virtual strangers, how much less do we care about the lives of generations yet to be born?

Read more here.

Her app SuperBetter was also listed in TechRound's five apps for health and wellness!

SuperBetter is another great app that helps to improve mental health and wellbeing, specifically by building up the user’s resilience to tough situations. Founded by best-selling author, researcher and game designer Jane McGonigal, SuperBetter claims it is “on a mission to unlock heroic potential around the world”.

See the list here!

Jane will also be speaking at the IT Gartner Expo in October! She joins luminaries such as Sir Tim Berners Lee, founder of the world wide web. Gartner IT Symposium/Xpo 2019 gathers CIOs and IT executives to examine the industry’s most critical trends to help organizations build and execute world-class IT strategies.

Alum Jen Schradie's work on The Revolution That Wasn't has been featured in numerous news publications discussing how digital media favors conservatives. From "Higher Ground Labs is Betting Tech Can Help Sway the 2020 Elections for Democrats" by Jonathan Shieber in Tech Dirt, "

“The idea of neutrality seems more true of the internet because the costs of distributing information are dramatically lower than with something like television or radio or other communication tools,” she said. “However, to make full use of the internet, you still need substantial resources and time and motivation. The people who can afford to do this, who can fund the right digital strategy, create a major imbalance in their favor.”

From "Why Conservatives Allege Big Tech Is Muzzling Them" by Siva Vaidhyanathan in The Atlantic:

Facebook and Google work better for top-down, well-funded, disciplined, directed movements. Those adjectives tend to describe conservative groups more than liberal or leftist groups in the United States.

In TechDirt, Mike Masnick discusses this further in "Enough With The Myth That Big Tech Is 'Censoring' Conservatives AND That The Law Requires Them To Be Neutral."

Patton Hindle argues for "Why Artists Should Be Allowed to Fail" in Artsy and discusses alum Trevor Paglen's Orbital Reflector, a sculpture launched into space to produce a conversation around surveillance, which was never able to be activated after the government shutdown. From the article:

Paglen ran a Kickstarter project in 2017 to fund the completion of his Orbital Reflector—a land artwork in space. After several setbacks with launch dates, the object finally went into orbit in December of 2018. Then, the U.S. government shut down. Without NASA to identify the objects that were launched into space, Paglen ultimately lost contact with the work, and it is now lost in space. Is this a “failure”? The piece wasn’t fully realized, but, in fact, the outcome is actually somehow perfect, and I know it has sparked other ideas for Paglen. Stay tuned for when he goes public with them.

Trevor is also quoted in an article in The Nation on how artificial intelligence is failing humans:

Artist Trevor Paglen gives a succinct example: When people upload pictures of their kids, algorithms reading those photos feed invisible data sets in ways that may eventually influence something as apparently unrelated as those children’s health insurance. Similarly, if a teenager uploads a picture of herself having a beer, her underage drinking may be marked as information that can be sold, utilized by police departments whose scrutiny “will be guided by your ‘pattern of life’ signature,” warns Paglen. “When you put an image on Facebook or other social media, you’re feeding an array of immensely powerful artificial systems information about how to identify people and how to recognize places and objects, habits and preferences, race, class, and gender identifications, economic statuses, and much more.”

Read the article here.