Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

HOPEX: Thomas Drake and Vivian Weisman

DISCLAIMER: this is un-cleaned-up shared livenotes, cut and paste from this piratepad:

The talk opens with Vivian showing several clips from the film The Hacker Wars. The film includes interviews with Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on Stellar Wind. He was prosecuted with a 10 felony count indictement, and faced 35 years in prison.

Can you tell us what it was you learned at the NSA? Your were a contractor for 12 years; On 9/11 you got high level access. What did you see that led you to blow the whistle?

Drake: As a government employee, you take an oath to defend the constitution. It's not an oath to secrecy, to the president, or NSA. It's to the Constitution. 9/11 was a trigger event that led the govt at the highest levels, including Cheney & Bush, to approve various programs, some of which we still don't know the extent of, despite Snowden's disclosures.

To my horror, having grown up with Watergate, which introduced me to civil liberties, Ellsberg, the lie of vietnam, whistleblowers charged under the espionage act, and also that no one was above the law.

HOPEX: Chatting Live with Edward Snowden

Disclaimer: un-cleaned-up copypaste from a shared piratepad for livenotes of this talk. Originals here:

Trevor Timm, Founder of Freedom of the Press foundation is also in the room. He'll be selecting questions from Twitter. For people in the Press: our questions come from our attendees.

Welcome, Edward Snowden!
[loud applause. Snowden is smiling]

HOPE X: Hackerspace Community Dynamics Meet-Up

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

Facilitator: Naomi Most

The goal of this meet up is to take a step back, look at building communities, and talk about what doesn't work, and more importantly what does.

Do you hackerspace?

Most folks here have some experience starting and growing spaces. The rest are interested.

Are hackers normal people? Or are they really different?

We're just like anyone, e.g. baseball fans, who have a particular set of interests.

Hackers are people who question assumptions.

One participant say there's sometimes a "we're better, and we're exclusive" and they're not in favor of that. Much agreement from the group.

A person who wears hacker as a badge on their arm says "I have superpowers" but a person who wears it on their heart says "I have superpowers, you can too."

Hackerspaces in libraries help bridge the gap with people who wouldn't identify as hackers.

HOPE X: When You Are the Adversary

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

Quinn Norton

In the past year, there has been a lot of attention towards major adversaries, like the NSA. Most of the time, we're actually up against small adversaries. Most adversaries are just jerks. Small adversaries target everyone, with whatever technology they have. It might be gossip around the water cooler. It might be local law enforcement, or your IT department, in schools, corporations, or NGOs. They're honor killings, partners committing domestic violence, friends who mean well, stalkers who don't mean well, or random interactions.

What are the tools of small adversaries? A common one is making someone give you their password to email, Facebook, etc. Hacker tools can be used in negative ways. The people Quinn works with as a journalist need security tools that work practically, not academically. How do adversaries get access? Usually through email. More and more tools are becoming available. The tools used by small adversaries, are modeled after those used by large ones.

HOPE X: Community Infrastructure for FOSS Projects

Liveblogged at HOPE X.

James Vasile, Open Internet Tools Project

Infrastructure is any mechanism that helps developers and users engage. OpenITP believes that community infrastructure should come from the community. We're used to infrastructure like roads: someone else builds and maintains it. A lot of FOSS projects build their own infrastructure and wind up repeating efforts and not doing a great job of it.

OpenITP tries to find a middle ground between building infrastructure and everyone fending for themselves. They do this by coordinating between projects with similar needs.

Projects need more than just code to succeed:


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