These Early Bird Passes are only available until midnight on August 15th.
Hello everyone in Aaron Swartz Day-land. We are expecting a full house this year for our San Francisco Hackathon and subsequent Reception & Evening Event. This will be our largest event to date, and many of our speakers are flying in from out of town.
For these reasons, in order to supplement our finances for this year’s grand extravaganza, we have decided to sell some “Early Bird All Access” Passes.
So, until midnight on August 15th, you can buy an “Early Bird All AccessPass” for only $20! (For up to 100 passes, while they last.)
Each “Early Bird All Access Pass” Includes:
1) Admission to both days of the Hackathon ($25 value) (Don’t panic. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. See the note at the bottom of this announcement :)
2) Admission to Reception and Evening Event ($50 Value)
3) Admission to After Party – 10:30 pm-2am ($20 Value) – Location TBD
8pm – Evening Event – Special Guests Speaking or Performing (or both):
Manuel Duran Ortega―founder of Memphis Noticias, a Spanish-language publication in Memphis, Tennessee―was arrested in April for disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic while covering a local protest. Duran Ortega was one of several journalists covering the protest, was wearing his press badge, and yet was the only journalist arrested.
Two days later, the Memphis Police Department dropped the charges against him. But instead of releasing Duran Ortega, Memphis officials turned him over to ICE. He was subsequently transferred to a detention center in Louisiana―separated from his family in Memphis.
Manuel Duran Ortega should never have been taken by ICE.
His attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center alleges that Duran Ortega was targeted by local police in retaliation for his critical reporting. In a petition to the court, Duran’s attorneys state that:
“Detention of Mr. Duran Ortega is a direct result of Memphis law enforcement officers’ and ICE officers’ illegal and unconstitutional actions in targeting, arresting, detaining, and seeking to deport Mr. Duran Ortega. MPD [Memphis Police Department] unlawfully arrested Mr. Duran Ortega to silence and retaliate against him.”
An attack on journalists is an attack on our First Amendment rights! Sign the petition and demand the immediate release of Memphis journalist Manuel Duran Ortega.
We, the undersigned organizations, are calling for the immediate release of unjustly detained journalist Manuel Duran Ortega.
As organizations advocating for press freedom, immigrant rights and racial justice, we are outraged by Duran’s arrest and detainment, which are in direct violation of the First Amendment.
Duran is a well-known and respected journalist in Memphis. He is also an undocumented immigrant who fled El Salvador over a decade ago — where he worked as a TV station manager — after his life was threatened…
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing Duran, and the Latino community in Memphis believe Duran is being targeted because of his critical coverage of the city’s police department and Department of Homeland Security. He wrote stories about police abuse and misconduct, immigration detention centers and coordination between Memphis police and ICE.
Newspapers such as The Nashville Tennessean and The Memphis Commercial Appeal have also denounced his arrest and detention.
We do as well. The First Amendment guarantees a free press. That means that reporters like Duran can’t be subject to censorship by the government, nor can government use any measures to prevent the expression of ideas before they are published, or to punish reporters for doing their job. Prior restraint by any official means is clearly unconstitutional.
We are calling on ICE to release Manuel Duran Ortega immediately. The unlawful arrest of Duran violates his First Amendment rights and is an attack on press freedom in our country.
Joseph Torres, Free Press
Faiz Shakir, American Civil Liberties Union
Chris Faraone, Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism
Mike Katz, Lacabe Center for Human Rights and Privacy
Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice
Brandi Collins-Dexter, Color Of Change
Sue Udry, Defending Rights and Dissent
Shannon Soper, Dignity and Power Now
Colin Kinniburgh, Dissent Magazine
Janine Jackson, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Joy Hyvarinen, Index on Censorship
Matt DeRienzo, Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION)
Tracy Rosenberg, Media Alliance
George Freeman, Media Law Resource Center
Bryan Mercer, Media Mobilizing Project
Monika Bauerlein, Mother Jones
Christopher Finan, National Coalition Against Censorship
Carmen Scurato, National Hispanic Media Coalition
Suzanne Nossel, PEN America
Lark Corbeil, Public News Service
Margaux Ewen, Reporters Without Borders North America
Rebecca Baker, Society for Professional Journalists
Julie Winokur, Talking Eyes Media
Brian Dolinar, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
The counterdemonstration, organized under the banner of “Hate Not Welcome: No Unite The Right 2” was removed by Facebook, who loudly accused the organizers of being paid Russian trolls hoping to stoke American divisions. Except these organizers are actually well-known, American activists, posting from within the USA, about an issue they care deeply about.
Among these genuine, American organizers is Chelsea Manning, the US military veteran and heroic whistleblower, who explained that the protest was “real and organic,” adding “We started organizing several months ago. Folks from D.C. and Charlottesville have been talking about this since at least February.”
It really hasn’t been that long since every progressive cause and event was accused of being a front for Russian fifth columnists and Senator Joe McCarthy was hauling anyone who advocated for a better life for all Americans in front of his House Un-American Activities Committee. Not much has changed. I guess the Democratic establishment finds talking about Russian hackers easier than campaigning on a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, and breaking up the big banks and bringing them to heel.
…at least one of the pages deleted this week was run by a group of real Americans who say they’ve been unfairly targeted by Facebook and falsely accused of being “unwittingly” duped into helping plan a protest scheduled to take place in Washington, DC, less than two weeks from today.
Facebook, for its part, says the page advertising the event was founded by a group whose administrators include some who have been flagged as a potential threats—entities, it says, who are likely trying to influence domestic politics from abroad, as Russian trolls had done two years ago. The real activists, however, say that Facebook, in this case, overshot its mark, overzealous perhaps in its attempt to placate a hostile Congress, while holding fast amid a week of ugly financial misfortune.
Facebook’s privacy practices and judgement calls have been seriously called into question lately by just about everyone. Although the company has been trying to reassure everyone, with a massive marketing campaign, how it’s changing its ways, it doesn’t seem to really be making any actual useful changes.
But yesterday, its idea of “doing something about it” appears to be shutting down at least one real event page. The reason? You’re not going to believe this; Facebook is claiming that the page was put up by Russian-based conspiracy troll accounts. Yes those accounts; the same ones that influenced the #2016 #Election.
Facebook is making a bad situation worse with its misguided censorship. All we know is that whatever vetting process it’s using is truly flawed. An apology is in order; and the runaway news cycle just keeps repeating the company’s misinformed statements.
Earlier today, Facebook deleted numerous Facebook pages, including one event aimed at promoting a protest against Jason Kessler’s Unite The Right 2, the sequel no one asked for.
The Shut It Down DC Coaliton has been meeting for weeks. We took over the Facebook event created by outside groups, in a desire to keep it accountable to local organizers…We did not promote anyone’s views except our own.
White nationalism and supremacy is not a Russian ploy, it’s a systemic problem. Jason Kessler is not a Russian bot, he’s the foot soldier of the Trump agenda…
Black Lives Matter D.C. and numerous other groups are central to organizing against a real threat to D.C. We do not organize because of a FaceBook account purportedly run by Russia, we do this to make sure our loved ones, communities, and neighborhoods stay safe from fascists in, and out of, uniforms.
We’ve since created a new Facebook event but we know real organizing comes from talking with our neighbors, and that this is a real protest in Washington, D.C. It is not George Soros, it is not Russia, it is just us. Facebook, has left numerous white nationalists pages openly promoting hate up for months at a time, claiming their hands were tied. They regularly suspended Black Lives Matter, Antifascist Groups, and Black Lives Matter member accounts. They have taken down real organizing.
Facebook has taken down 32 fake pages and accounts that it says were involved in coordinated campaigns on both Facebook and Instagram. Though the company has not yet attributed the accounts to any group, it says the campaign does bear some resemblance to the propaganda campaign run by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Facebook is now working with law enforcement to determine where the campaign originated.
In the Wired article, it also explains how Facebook felt pressure to “get ahead” of what it thought was a fake event, and in its haste, neglected to thoroughly investigate the matter:
One event, a protest against Unite the Right in Washington called “No Unite the Right 2 – DC,” was scheduled for August 10th. It was cohosted by other, legitimate pages, and more than 3,000 people indicated they were interested in or planned on attending. The desire to get out ahead of this event, Facebook says, hastened its announcement. The company says it disabled the event on Tuesday and alerted the administrators of those pages. It will also notify those users who were interested in attending the event, but a spokesperson told WIRED it’s “premature” to alert all 290,000 people impacted by the campaign.
Shortly after the announcement, other organizers of the protest took to Twitter to object to Facebook’s suspension of the event. “I cannot believe I have to say this: The Unite the Right counter protest is not being organized by Russians,” wrote one user, Dylan Petrohilos. “We have permits in DC, we have numerous local orgs like BLM, Resist This, and Antifascist groups working on this protest. FB deleted the event because 1 page was sketch.” Petrohilos also tweeted that the event was founded by another group, not the Resisters page.
Also in the Wired article, Facebook’s Cheryl Sandberg admits “they don’t know all the facts” yet:
“We’re still in the very early stages of the investigation, and we don’t know all the facts, including who might be behind it,” Facebook’s chief operating officer said on a call with reporters Tuesday.
The Aaron Swartz Day Solar Survival Team (led by Matteo Borri and Lisa Rein) has developed a “Vampire Charger” which enables a cell phone to be charged safely from whatever random batteries happen to be lying around after a disaster, while protecting the phone from blowing up.
After a disaster, this can be used with any kind of source of power that still has a battery in it. When you don’t know the voltage or current – and you don’t even know which is plus and which is minus or if it’s AC or DC – that’s the perfect time for the Vampire Charger!
Just connect the two input terminals to your “unknown,” and it gives you reasonably clean 5VDC to run your GPS or emergency radio with. Connect its two alligator clips to ANY two contacts of the part in question.
What a treat for us, to see this last weekend. We have been hanging out on the Hackaday website generally, since we submitted our Vampire Charger to it’s #PowerHarvesting Challenge. (Update July 25th: We made the Semi-finals!)
It’s always nice to see people finally getting to know the real Chelsea – and truly understand her ideas and techniques.
From the article:
I was lucky enough to get a seat very close to the stage in the main hall. The room was packed front to back. Even the standing room — mapped out on the carpet in tape and closely policed by conference “fire marshals” — was packed with people standing shoulder to shoulder. The audience was alive with energy, and I think everyone lucky enough to be here today shares my feeling that moments like these tie our community together and help us all focus on what is important in life, as individuals and as a society…
Hardware in hand, she started whittling away at the topics necessary to get back into the now. Among these, getting up to speed on virtual machine platforms, advances in network security, new warning systems, and the requisite mailing lists to stay on top of the latest research were on her short list. She mentioned that she thinks a lot of what once were tedious tasks have been tamped down through automation.
All of this, however, is the small part of her readjustment. When Chelsea entered prison she was only 22 years old. She had never lived by herself, and just learning how to find and rent an apartment was a big adjustment. Prison social dynamics do not jive with life on the outside and her discussion took the audience through what it has been like making the mental pivot to rejoin society.
These templates enable you to compel the Police and Sheriff Departments for a given City and County to hand over all documentation on all known surveillance equipment. (Including documentation and information regarding all software used and any data it collects and stores.)
The Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project is all about developing a larger strategy for determining what types of surveillance equipment a city’s police and sheriff departments have already purchased and whether or not a surveillance policy is in place to monitor that equipment – regulating how that equipment is used against their citizens.
This project started during Aaron Swartz Day 2017’s Sunday hackathon. Before that event was even over, it was clear that it had been really successful and we were all very pumped and had decided to just keep going until next year.
The results of doing so are just starting to pour in, and I’m going to be doing my best to give you the full story – both here on the Aaron Swartz Day website, and over on Mondo 2000, over these next few months, leading straight into this year’s event.
We just added two new templates (Zip file of all templates in .PDF, Zip file of all templates in .DOC) to our tutorial – one for Police Departments (City) and one for Sheriff Departments (County) – that include the use of facial recognition software, since it came out recently that Amazon has been literally giving away its facial recognition software to law enforcement, in the hopes of getting a number of early implementations. Not a bad marketing strategy, and we’re not saying the software shouldn’t be used; just that there should be a surveillance policy framework in place that regulates how it can be used against citizens.
Special thanks to Muckrock, without which this project would not be possible.
Lisa Rein has written a pair of articles in Mondo 2000 with Tracy Rosenberg from OaklandPrivacy.org.
Tracy explains the importance of the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project, and its mission of filing public records requests en masse, in order to retroactively determine what kinds of surveillance equipment and software a city’s Police and Sheriff Departments already have.
We will have a complete tutorial with templates and step-by-step instructions, so you to start doing this yourself, next week.
For now, please read these articles to get a better idea of why this project is so important, for all of us, right now.
At the end of last year’s annual event (Fifth Annual Aaron Swartz Day – 2017) we decided collectively to keep the momentum going on all of our hackathon projects. Some of us had experimented with VR that weekend, and a group of us decided to keep going with our VR project.
As a result, a small team (Ryan Sternlicht, Bernice Chua, Alex Peake, Tracey Jaquith, Matteo Borri, Kenneth Bryan Smith & Ryan Junell) has been working closely with me on the first exhibit of what will be “The Swartz-Manning VR Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House.”
We are building everything using the Unity gaming engine, and incorporating 3D art, gaming, history, and storytelling into an interactive virtual reality environment.
We will teach history and technology, while helping folks get acquainted with the basics of being in a Virtual Reality environment. We can help “newbies” get acquainted with VR, while providing entertaining and educational content.
Our hope is to become a premiere location – for artists, historians, educators and VR newbies, as VR gradually becomes more popular and enters into the mainstream – by providing an accessible, educational VR destination, and development platform, that can serve as an example to others.
The Swartz-Manning’s first exhibit will provide a detailed history of Aaron Swartz Day, including the story of how I worked with the Aaron Swartz Day community to provide friendship and support to Chelsea Manning, before she was released from military prison, in May 2017.
The second set of exhibits, displayed in their own “Leary Wing” of the museum, will eventually provide a complete timeline of Dr. Timothy Leary’s life, starting with his birth in 1920. For these exhibits, we are collaborating directly with Dr. Leary’s son, Zach Leary and his Personal Archivist, Michael Horowitz.
There will be numerous other museum and art gallery exhibits to follow, including historical artifacts such as letters, photographs, and audio/video recordings, merged with artistic installations; paintings you can step into and walk around in, to re-creations of historical rooms and locations, journals you can read through, so you can peer into the minds and thoughts of these three inspirational icons.
The Swartz-Manning VR Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House will include four different types of installations:
1) A “traditional” kind of museum, in Virtual Reality.
“Traditional” museum exhibits (essentially, artifacts presented on walls and displays). (It seems kind of like a waste of VR to us, but we can do it, easily, and there seems to be a demand for it :-)
2) A “Fun House” version of the museum’s archival content.
The Fun House is a VR game that teaches about history while you wander around in different environments made up of the the same art and historical artifacts as the traditional version, all woven into a game, using animations and visually stimulating content and characters to create an ever-expanding game-like learning environment.
You can explore completely anonymously, or keep track of your trip, and share with others as a “flashback.” There is literally a trivia game that can be played with the “TimBot” robot character, or the player can watch videos, look through pictures, or just keep walking around looking at stuff in the house.
3) Art Gallery Installations, Platform & Templates to enable artists to create their own VR worlds.
An experimental Art Gallery platform and installations with “educational zones.” This Art Gallery platform will provide templates to enable artists to exhibit their own creations in VR easily. Artists may wish to exhibit in our gallery or greate a gallery of their own and we encourage derivative galleries – and make our templates freely available for use under a Creative Commons license.
Users can frequent our “Educational Zones” to learn how to quickly build their own VR spaces using CAD templates.These educational areas will explain and teach how the museum itself was built, step-by-step. (Complete with CAD templates.)
A focus on teaching “Solar Survival Technologies” – using VR and special inventions by our team members, to help teach folks that might be temporarily homeless (after a natural disaster, or just from being displaced) how to build devices such as solar cell phone chargers, or a freshly-invented “Vampire Charger,” that actually enables a cell phone to be charged safely from whatever random batteries happen to be lying around after a disaster, while protecting the phone from blowing up from a sudden power burst – for use by the homeless or after a natural disaster. (Technology courtesy of Advisory Board member Matteo Borri, who has just built a chlorophyll detector for NASA’s next MARS rover-like robot.)
We will most likely make the project available for download from the Internet Archive, and will have versions running on all platforms. Ideally, we will have multiple implementations going at first, while we conduct user testing and build out the first version of a framework.
Dr. Timothy Leary, Chelsea Manning and Aaron Swartz have more in common than you might think. All three of these people risked their freedom and their lives to make a positive difference in the world (whether they realized it at the time, or not :-) We will tell these stories, and others, while also creating an experimental art and teaching everyone VR development basics.
We are also experimenting with photogrammetry and 3D scanners, to construct 3-D models of many interesting objects from several historical archives, and also locations in nature, such as the desert.
The goal is to use a 3D scanner for some objects, and use photogrammetry “in the wild” for taking pictures of living objects. (I have a team member in the Imperial Desert, for instance, capturing wild flowers and insects there.) We are looking to partner with 3-D scanning companies and VR haptics companies, and various hardware accessory companies of all kinds. (Contact: Lisa Rein: lisa[at]lisarein.com)