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How Climate Change Documentary Change the Public Discourse

Getting the message out is never easy; getting people to listen is harder yet, particularly on a subject as elusive as climate science. The trick is to find a narrative compelling enough to reach a wider audience, the Weiners said. – New York Times


UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations adopted a resolution on Tuesday urging all countries to protect the right to privacy in digital communications and to offer their citizens a way to seek “remedy” if their privacy is violated.

Though not legally binding, the resolution signaled growing international attention to the issue of digital privacy, which it described as a human right. – New York Times

NYT: U.N. Urges Protection of Privacy in Digital Era

The Guardian: Climate change is not just about science

Science can inform, but it cannot arbitrate, it cannot decide. Science can say that if we burn another half-trillion tons of carbon the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide will go up by another 100 ppm and that will almost certainly lead to a warming of the planet greater than 2C, with major disruption of the climate system and huge risks for the natural world and human wellbeing. But it can’t answer moral questions.

Do we care about the poor? Do we care about future generations? Do we see the environment as part of the economy, or the economy as part of the environment? The whole point about climate change is that, despite having been revealed by science, it is not really about science. It is about what sort of world we want to live in and what kind of future we want to create.

Chris Rapley and Duncan Macmillan for The Guardian (November 22, 2014)

Lecture – Journalism After Snowden: Normalizing Surveillance

Journalism After Snowden: Normalizing Surveillance
A lecture with Ethan Zuckerman (EZ)
Tuesday, November 18th at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Lecture notes: 

  • role of journalism in wikileaks, NSA leak
    • leaked docs “required a massive interpretative framework”
    • publications need to support journalists with lawyers
    • this kind of work needs “legal backup”
      • Lavabit – shutdown to due to threats of legal action
    • NSA leaked to “outsider journalists” via a filmmaker; Snowden’s choices may signal that risk taking journalism is still somewhat fridge and not a part of traditional media
  • surprises
    • lack of public movement from the Snowden revelations
    • we’ve had decades of grooming from the platforms; we don’t have an expectation of privacy 
      • how did we get here? The Ad Platform
        • current model: expectation for content to be free
        • EZ used banner ads in the late 90s to subsidize his first web project
        • quickly realized that banner ad don’t work! still using them b/c we’re locked into a system in which content is free b/c that was the best option in the late 90s…
  • sinister advertising (where we are after 20 years)
    • arms race of advertisers to track online activities and preferences
      • to “create slightly better targeted ad for slightly better click rates
      • 1 hour of user time on FB = $0.01 revenue for FB
      • “attention minute” is worth 10X in print advertising
      • Related: Facebook Will Curtail Unpaid Ads by Brands (NYT, Nov 2014)
    • ways to fight back are not easy to use (evade commercial and govt surveillance)
      • very few people use tools like Tor (clunky and slow)
      • AdBlock (1% of internet users)
      • Ghostery
      • Privacy Badger
      • AdNauseum
    • The Guardian’s massive list of tracking scripts
      • trying to make the content accessible to everyone; enormous incentive to put a large number of trackers on their site
  • what’s the effect of pervasive surveillance? what are the main ways we talk about it?
    • Big Brother?
      • isn’t a good description of status quo
      • most of the US surveillance system is commercial (not political)
    • Panopticon?
      • the possibility of being observed changes behavior, self-censorship?
      • Not Foucauldian – we’re not disciplines by these surveillance systems; not changing our behavior
    • The Surveillance Assemblage
      • an massive organic spread; a tech combination of surveillance
      • we’ve all opt-ed in to surveillance for free content and services (ex. gmail)
      • we don’t notice the connections between commercial and govt surveillance until it’s too late
      • “the disappearance of disappearance” – being unmonitored is now impossible
  • We can’t avoid Surveillance Assemblage; can we avoid surveilling?
    • libraries being aggressive in protecting using privacy!
    • “fencing off” protective spaces — can we apply this in other areas?
    • news organization – do they want to be part of the Surveillance Assemblage or try to employ creative
    • coming soon: Guide to Safely Read the Guardian Articles about Surveillance Without Being Surveyed

US-China Climate Announcement News Round Up

Primary Source:

U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change – White House Press Release

News Coverage:

U.S. and China Reach Climate Accord After Months of Talks – NYT

In Climate Deal With China, Obama May Set 2016 Theme – NYT

The US and China just reached a major climate deal on cutting emissions – Vox

Everything You Need to Know about the U.S.-China Climate Change Agreement – Scientific American

Commentary & Analysis:

John Kerry: Our Historic Agreement With China on Climate Change

Edward Wong: China’s Climate Change Plan Raises Questions

Jeffrey Sachs: The climate breakthrough in Beijing gives the world a fighting chance

UNFCCC: US, China Climate Moves Boost Paris Prospects

NYC EVENT – Road to 2015: A Pivotal Year for Sustainable Development

Road to 2015: A Pivotal Year for Sustainable Development

Please join us at Columbia for what is sure to be a fascinating discussion!

RSVP is required.