Despite some cries that the publishing industry is at the precipice of financial doom, it’s hard to tell based on the proliferation of texts being published year after year. With such high volumes of new works being produced it can be incredibly difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. Within scholarly circles it (sometimes) becomes readily apparent what books are above middling quality by turning to citation indices, but outside of such (often paywall protected) circles it can be more challenging to ascertain what texts are clearly worth reading and which are not.
While I can hardly claim to speak with the weight of scholarly indices, I do read (and rate) a prolific number of texts each year. In what follows, I offer a list of the ‘best’ books that I read through 2011. Some are thought-provoking, others were important in how I understood various facets of the policy process, and still others offer interesting tidbits of information that have until now been hidden in shadow. For each book I’ll identify it’s main aim and a few points about what made the book compelling enough to get onto my list. Texts are not arranged in any particular ranking order and all should be available through your preferred book seller.
I don’t like violence, vandalism, or other actions that generally cause destruction. Certainly there are cases where violent social dissent is a sad but important final step to fulfil a much needed social change (e.g. overthrowing a ruinous dictator, tipping the scale to defend or secure essential civil rights) but riotous behaviour following a hockey game lacks any legitimating force. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of game seven between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins a riot erupted in downtown Vancouver that caused significant harm to individuals and damage to the urban environment.
The riot itself is a sad event. What is similarly depressing is the subsequent mob mentally that has been cheered on by the social media community. Shortly after the riot, prominent local bloggers including Rebecca Bollwitt linked to social media websites and encouraged readers/visitors to upload their recordings and identify those caught on camera. In effect, Canadians were, and still are, being encouraged by their peers and social media ‘experts’ to use social media to locally instantiate a human flesh search engine (I will note that Bollwitt herself has since struck through her earliest endorsement of mob-championing). Its manifestation is seemingly being perceived by many (most?) social media users as a victory of the citizenry and inhabitants of Vancouver over individuals alleged to have committed crimes.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I have significant issues with this particular search engine. In this post, I’m going to first provide a brief recap of the recent events in Vancouver and then I’ll quickly explain the human flesh search engine (HFSE), both how it works and the harms it can cause. I’m going to conclude by doing two things: first, I’m going to suggest that Vancouver is presently driving a local HFSE and note the prospective harms that may befall those unfortunate enough to get caught within its maw. Second, I’m going to suggest why citizens are ill-suited to carry out investigations that depend on social media-based images and reports.
During my presentation last week at Social Media Club Vancouver – abstract available! – I drew from a large set of sources, the majority of which differed from my earlier talk at Social Media Camp Victoria. As noted earlier, it’s almost impossible to give full citations in the middle of a talk, but I want to make them available post-talk for interested parties.
Below is my keynote presentation and list of references. Unfortunately academic paywalls prevent me from linking to all of the items used, to say nothing of chapters in various books. Still, most of the articles should be accessible through Canadian university libraries, and most of the books are in print (if sometimes expensive).
I want to thank Lorraine Murphy and Cathy Browne for inviting me and doing a stellar job of publicizing my talk to the broader media. It was a delight speaking to the group at SMC Vancouver, as well as to reporters and their audiences across British Columbia and Alberta.
Fischer-Hübner, S., Sören Pettersson, J. and M. Bergmann, M. (2008). “HCI Designs for Privacy-Enhancing Identity Management’, in A. Acquisti and S. Gritzalis (eds.). Digital Privacy: Theory, Technologies, and Practices. New York: Auerbach Publications. 229-252.
Flaherty, D. (1972). Privacy in Colonial England. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia.
Karyda, M., Koklakis, S. (2008). ’Privacy Perceptions among Members of Online Communities‘, in A. Acquisti and S. Gritzalis (eds.). Digital Privacy: Theory, Technologies, and Practices. New York: Auerbach Publications, 253-266.
Marwick, A. E., Murgia-Diaz, D., and Palfrey Jr., J. G. (2010). ‘Youth, Privacy and Reputation (Literature Review)’. Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2010-5; Harvard Law Working Paper No. 10-29. URL: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1588163
Steeves, V. (2009). ‘Reclaiming the Social Value of Privacy‘, in I. Kerr, V. Steeves, and C. Lucock (eds). Privacy, Identity, and Anonymity in a Network World: Lessons from the Identity Trail. New York: Oxford University Press.
In my presentation at Social Media Camp Victoria (abstract available!), I drew heavily from various academic literatures and public sources. Given the nature of talks, it’s nearly impossible to cite as you’re talking without entirely disrupting the flow of the presentation. This post is an attempted end-run/compromise to that problem: you get references and (what was, I hope) a presentation that flowed nicely!
There is a full list of references below, as well as a downloadable version of my keynote presentation (sorry powerpoint users!). As you’ll see, some references are behind closed academic paywalls: this really, really, really sucks, and is an endemic problem plaguing academia. Believe me when I say that I’m as annoyed as you are that the academic publishing system locks up the research that the public is paying for (actually, I probably hate it even more than you do!), but unfortunately I can’t do much to make it more available without running afoul of copyright trolls myself. As for books that I’ve drawn from, there are links to chapter selections or book reviews where possible.
Danezis, G. and Clayton, R. (2008). ‘Introducing Traffic Analysis‘, in A. Acquisti, S. Gritzalis, C. Lambrinoudakis, and S. D. C. di Vimercati (eds.). Digital Privacy: Theory, Technologies, and Practices. New York: Auerback Publications. 95-116.
Elmer, G. (2004). Profiling Machines: Mapping the Personal Information Economy. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.
Friedman, L. M. (2007). Guarding Life’s Dark Secrets: Legal and Social Controls over Reputation, Propriety, and Privacy. Stanford: Stanford University Press. [Excellent book review of text]
Saco, D. (1999). ‘Colonizing Cyberspace: National Security and the Internet’, in J. Weldes, M. Laffey, H. Gusterson, and R. Duvall (eds). Cultures of Insecurity: States, Communities, and the Production of Danger. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 261-292. [Selection from Google Books]
The Canadian SIGINT Summaries includes downloadable copies, along with summary, publication, and original source information, of leaked CSE documents.
Parsons, Christopher; and Molnar, Adam. (2021). “Horizontal Accountability and Signals Intelligence: Lesson Drawing from Annual Electronic Surveillance Reports,” David Murakami Wood and David Lyon (Eds.), Big Data Surveillance and Security Intelligence: The Canadian Case.
Parsons, Christopher. (2015). “Stuck on the Agenda: Drawing lessons from the stagnation of ‘lawful access’ legislation in Canada,” Michael Geist (ed.), Law, Privacy and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era (Ottawa University Press).
Parsons, Christopher. (2015). “The Governance of Telecommunications Surveillance: How Opaque and Unaccountable Practices and Policies Threaten Canadians,” Telecom Transparency Project.
Parsons, Christopher. (2015). “Beyond the ATIP: New methods for interrogating state surveillance,” in Jamie Brownlee and Kevin Walby (Eds.), Access to Information and Social Justice (Arbeiter Ring Publishing).
Bennett, Colin; Parsons, Christopher; Molnar, Adam. (2014). “Forgetting and the right to be forgotten” in Serge Gutwirth et al. (Eds.), Reloading Data Protection: Multidisciplinary Insights and Contemporary Challenges.
Bennett, Colin, and Parsons, Christopher. (2013). “Privacy and Surveillance: The Multi-Disciplinary Literature on the Capture, Use, and Disclosure of Personal information in Cyberspace” in W. Dutton (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies.
McPhail, Brenda; Parsons, Christopher; Ferenbok, Joseph; Smith, Karen; and Clement, Andrew. (2013). “Identifying Canadians at the Border: ePassports and the 9/11 legacy,” in Canadian Journal of Law and Society 27(3).
Parsons, Christopher; Savirimuthu, Joseph; Wipond, Rob; McArthur, Kevin. (2012). “ANPR: Code and Rhetorics of Compliance,” in European Journal of Law and Technology 3(3).