Category: Uncategorized

  • On experts and amateurs

    “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” The older I get, the more I find this adage lacking. I want to extend it: “… and never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by you not understanding the problem.” In 2020, I gave a talk on that idea applied to…

  • We Don’t Deserve Dogs

    We Don’t Deserve Dogs

    A few days ago, I woke up abruptly, catching my breath. I’d had a bad dream that my older son was gone. Like a lot of dreams, there was no reason or deep explanation, he was just gone. As I rubbed my eyes and reality set in, I took a deep breath. This was a…

  • Voting Security Cheatsheet [2016 Edition]

    It’s voting season! Which means everyone is asking questions like: wait, why can’t I vote online? how hard can voting really be? shouldn’t this all be open-source? isn’t it just as easy to hack paper voting as electronic voting? is Russia hacking our voting machines? why do we even need voting machines when other countries…

  • What John McCain could say

    [This is … hopeful fiction] My fellow Americans, When I ran for President in 2008, in the last stretch of the campaign, a woman at one of my rallies stood up and expressed fears about Obama because “he’s an Arab.” I could have stoked those fears, and many Republicans wanted me to. Instead, I chose…

  • On Apple and the FBI

    If you pay attention to tech/policy stories, then surely you know about the Apple/FBI situation. Though this story has been broadly covered, I don’t think we’re having the right debate. And the right debate is, of course, very subtle. So here goes my attempt to nail that subtlety. What’s Going On? The FBI wants access…

  • Letter to My Two Sons – November 13th, 2015

    [this is a little bit raw… on purpose.] My sons, You are just 6 and 3, and so you don’t know what happened tonight. A group of suicide bombers killed 150 people in Paris, your father’s hometown. The feeling in my gut today is much like the one I felt on that Tuesday in September 2001,…

  • (your) information wants to be free – obamacare edition

    My friends over at EFF just revealed that Healthcare.gov is sending personal data to dozens of tracking sites: It’s especially troubling that the U.S. government is sending personal information to commercial companies on a website that’s touted as the place for people to obtain health care coverage. Even more troubling is the potential for companies…

  • where the system eats itself

    Larry Lessig just launched MayOne.us, the SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs. The idea is disarmingly simple: since SuperPACs funded by billionaires are corrupting politics, let’s crowd-source a SuperPAC funded by individuals, which will then work to put in power officials who answer to the people, maybe by undoing the whole SuperPAC insanity. Use a SuperPAC to kill…

  • Obama lets NTSB exploit widespread tire vulnerabilities

    Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s transportation safety agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) discovers major flaws in transportation equipment, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used…

  • to Brendan and Mozilla

    I was in the middle of writing a blog post about the controversy surrounding Mozilla when my Twitter feed exploded with the news that Brendan Eich stepped down from his new appointment as Mozilla CEO. So this is a different post. Also, this is not a post about Prop8 (which I abhored) or gay marriage (which I consider…

  • the French like their strikes like Americans like their guns

    This week, French taxis went on strike because the government passed a law that made Uber and other modern chauffeur equivalents artificially less competitive… but apparently not sufficiently less competitive, and that was a tragedy that only a massive strike could rectify. Then when people jumped into Uber cars because, hey, there were no cabs,…

  • on cooking turkey and solving problems

    On Thursday, my wife and I hosted our 10th Thanksgiving. We both enjoy cooking and baking, though we remain clearly amateurs and tend to make it up as we go along. There was that one time we realized, the night before Thanksgiving, that a frozen 15-pound turkey requires 3 days to defrost in the fridge.…

  • so what if torture works?

    I’ve seen most of Zero Dark Thirty, the movie that claims to tell the story of the search for and killing of Bin Laden. It’s a pretty gruesome film, with clear implications that torture led to information that led us to Bin Laden. There are fierce debates about whether that fact – that torture led…

  • Hello world!

    Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

  • Creative Commons and the Associated Press

    Some thoughts about the recent Associated Press / Creative Commons story: When Creative Commons launched in 2002, we were often asked “is Creative Commons a form of DRM?” Our answer: no, we help publishers express their rights, but we don’t dabble in enforcement, because enforcement technologies are unable to respect important, complex, and often subjective…

  • UCL Election Round 2: Speak Now or Forever Hold your Peace

    The second round of the UCL Election just wrapped up. The cast votes have been recorded, and here are their fingerprints in PDF form. If you have a problem with the way the election was run, for example if you were a voter and the correct tracking number does not appear next to your voter…

  • Luis von Ahn: make academic reviews public

    Yes! Luis von Ahn says that academic paper reviews should be public (they can remain anonymous.) I agree. I’d go further than Luis. For most computer science conferences, there is no feedback loop. Want to trash a paper? Write a really bad review and argue strongly, and if someone else on the program committee doesn’t…

  • Interlab 2008

    I gave a short talk on RDFa at Interlab 2008, a gathering of DOE labs on web technology. Good group, fun interactions, and a panel discussion with Ben Ward and Ryan King from the microformats effort. Good discussion, an agreement that microformats and RDFa are complementary, and no street fight. Thanks to Joseph Lewis for…

  • Off to CRYPTO

    I’m off to CRYPTO, where I’ll be listening to some fun talks and presenting Helios on Tuesday.

  • Creative Commons Tech Summit

    I’m at the Creative Commons Tech Summit today, where I gave a talk about the Creative Commons Rights Expression Language. Fun group, good stuff, and a bright future for Creative Commons. The CC Interns live-blogged my talk, among others.

  • Bad and Good News on the “just give me your password” front

    I’ve written about how it’s a really bad idea to have web sites asking for your gmail password, “just to load your contacts!” I like the name Jeremy Keith gave it: the Password Anti-Pattern. Sure, Facebook likely isn’t going to do naughty things with your data, but once you’re used to giving sites your gmail…

  • BeamAuth at Computer and Communications Security 2007

    I presented BeamAuth at CCS 2007 near Washington, DC, last week. I’ve posted the slides, and I’m trying out Slideshare so you can quickly check it out. Feedback is always welcome!

  • DRM is about control more than anti-piracy

    I’m a big fan of Apple. However, they just announced a new offering that, although small in scope, seems to be a big departure from their usual approach, and it worries me. They announced that, for an extra 99 cents, you can take a song and turn it into a ringtone for the Apple iPhone.…

  • Paths of Causality

    It turns out, there is a gene that predisposes to left-handedness. Fascinating stuff. But this is the kind of article where you wish you could ask more questions: Australian research published last year found left-handed people can think quicker when carrying out tasks such as playing computer games or playing sport. interesting! And French researchers…

  • Advertising Controlled Substances

    Paul Levy, CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, has just started a blog. I’m impressed and, given my interest in health technology, I didn’t hesitate long to add this blog to my newsreader. This should be fascinating. That said, my first comment is a bit tangential to Paul’s post regarding a Medtronic…

  • The End of Bananas

    For some reason, I’m fascinated by a story I’ve been following for a few months: bananas as we know them may disappear in 10 years: Two fungal diseases, Panama disease and black Sigatoka, are cutting a swath through banana plantations, just as blight once devastated potato crops. But unlike the potato, and other crops where…

  • Disbelief

    For the past few days, and today more so than before, I’ve been in complete disbelief over the detainees bill pushed by President Bush. I can’t believe McCain caved. I can’t believe Democrats are thinking of not standing up to this. This bill would allow the President to detain someone without proof, torture them, and…

  • Yeeeehah, the Thesis, she is done.

    My PhD thesis is complete (250 pages of crypto voting goodness). It’s been one crazy month of August! In the process, I’ve updated my publications and presentations pages to reflect new work: thesis defense slides, Scratch & Vote final version, presentation slides on Privacy at the Media Lab’s Simplicity conference, How to Shuffle in Public,…

  • Stunned

    Zidane Originally uploaded by Kaptain Kobold. I am truly stunned by Zidane’s headbutt in today’s World Cup final, just a few minutes ago. One of the most shocking moments of bad sportsmanship I’ve ever seen. As a frenchman, I was enjoying the game until then, hoping for a France win. From that moment on, I…

  • Freakonomics could use some CC

    The Freakonomics guys find it interesting that some guy downloaded their book from a P2P network and now wants to send them money. They lecture him about the publisher/distributor costs, etc… How about, instead, realizing that there’s an interesting development here: lots of people will pay after they’ve sampled the content if they find it…