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A Place to Express Yourself on the Dark Web

March 7, 2016

For evidence that the dark web is not all about drugs and cybercrime, check out this article at Motherboard: “The Dark Web Now Has a Literary Journal.” As it turns out, anonymity is also good for people who wish to freely explore their creativity and private thoughts.

The new journal, the Torist, was just launched by a professor at the University of Utah, Robert W. Ghel, and a person known simply as GMH. Inspired by the free discussions on their dark-web-based social network, Galaxy, they have seized their chance to create something unexpected. The journal’s preface asks:

“If a magazine publishes itself via a Tor hidden service, what does the creative output look like? How might it contrast itself with its clearweb counterparts? Who indeed will gravitate towards a dark web literary magazine?”

So, why is one of the Torist’s creators anonymous while the other is putting himself out there? Writer Joseph Cox tells us:

Gehl, after being pitched the idea of The Torist by GMH, decided to strip away his pseudonym, and work on the project under his own name. “I thought about that for a while,” Gehl said. “I thought that because GMH is anonymous/pseudonymous, and he’s running the servers, I could be a sort of ‘clear’ liason.”

So while Gehl used his name, and added legitimacy to the project in that way, GMH could continue to work with the freedom the anonymity awards. “I guess it’s easier to explore ideas and not worry as much how it turns out,” said GMH, who described himself as someone with a past studying the humanities, and playing with technology in his spare time.

Gehl and GMH say part of their reasoning behind the journal is to show people that anonymity and encryption can be forces for good. Privacy furthers discussion of controversial, personal, and difficult topics and, according to GMH, should be the default setting for all communications, especially online.

Submissions are currently being accepted, so go ahead and submit that poem or essay if you have something to get off your chest, anonymously. If you dare to venture into the dark web, that is.


Cynthia Murrell, March 7, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Print and Digital: Both Goners

February 20, 2016

I read in McPaper this article: “Wolff: Print’s Dead — but So Is Digital.” Okay, I learned from Dr. Francis Chivers (Duquesne University professor in the 1960s) that God is dead. I learned from Francis Fukuyama (assorted universities) that history is dead. Now I learn from McPaper that print and digital are dead. A two’fer! That is what makes McPaper so darned compelling.

The article informed me:

the effort to compete with native digital news outlets like BuzzFeed means traditional news organizations, with traditional share price values, must, like the venture-capital supported natives, pay more for traffic than can ever hope to be made back from advertisers. In this model, the digital natives can yet hope to sell to deep-pocket buyers, whereas the traditionals can only go out of business.

Where does McPaper land in this business scenario?

I noted this passage and its nod to the recently acquired yellow orange newspaper, the Financial Times:

At present, the FT concludes, there is no viable economic model for a written news product. Hence, in some ever-increasing existential darkness, it’s back to the drawing board in search of one.

Question: How many trips to the drawing board do traditional newspaper publishers get to make? I thought the digital revolution kicked off 40 or 50 years ago. I wonder if the drawing board is okay, but the folks visiting it are in a digital version of Sartre’s No Exit.

Well, well, I dare say one gets used to it in time.

Stephen E Arnold, February 20, 2016

The Independent: Gets with Digital Finally

February 20, 2016

I read “Independent to Cease as Print Edition.” The write up contained several interesting statements:

  1. Some folks will be terminated but there “would be 25 new digital content roles.” There you go. No teaching old dogs new tricks.
  2. The likely new owners of the “i newspapers” are Johnston Press. What? Who?
  3. The London Evening Standard continues as it is.

Here’s the quote I circled:

The Independent’s editor Amol Rajan tweeted: “Impossible to over-state how proud I am of the most dedicated, clever, industrious and brave staff in the history of Fleet St.”

Excluding the folks who will be cut loose I assume.

Stephen E Arnold, February 17, 2016

Byline: Crowd Funded Journalism

February 13, 2016

I encountered, a crowd-funded journalism site. I have noticed that the “news” is not what I remembered when I was a sprout. The idea is that readers will provide money, and the site operators will do “news.” You should check it out. The title of the news page is Haystack, which may be a response to some legal eagle flapping.

I noticed that the site has raised about 6 percent of the money the site wants to raise. That works out to about US$15 million. Real journalism outputting real news is expensive. One can become a Byline journalist at this link. If Byline requires office space in the US, the former Pearson Education space is available in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. My hunch is that the real estate folks handling the space will wheel and deal.

Worth a look.

Stephen E Arnold, February 13, 2016

Pearson: Revenue Challenges and Digital Initiatives

January 26, 2016

I used to follow Pearson when it owned a wax museum and a number of other fascinating big revenue opportunities. Today the company is still big:  $8 billion in revenue, 40,000 employees, and offices in 70 countries. (Lots of reasons for senior executives to do field trips I assume.)

I noted that that Pearson plans to RIF (reduce in force) 4,000 employees. Let’s see. Yep, that works out to 10 percent of the “team.” Without the wax museum as a job option, will these folks become entrepreneurs?

I read “Turning Digital Learning Into Intellectual Property.” The title snagged me, and I assume that some of the 4,000 folks now preparing to find their future elsewhere were intrigued.

The write up reported:

Pearson is also positioning itself as a major center for the analysis of educational big data.

Ah, ha. A publishing outfit involved in education is getting with the Big Data thing.

How is a traditional publishing company going to respond to the digital opportunities it now perceives?

big data analysis methods will enable researchers to “capture stream or trace data from learners’ interactions” with learning materials, detect “new patterns that may provide evidence about learning,” and “more clearly understand the micro-patterns of teaching and learning by individuals and groups.” Big data methods of pattern recognition are at the heart of its activities, and Pearson ambitiously aims to use pattern recognition to identify generalizable insights into learning processes not just at the level of the individual learner but at vast scale.

Yes, vast. Micro patterns. Big Data.

My mouth is watering and my ageing brain cells hunger for the new learning.

Big questions have to be answered. For example, who owns learning theory?

I recall my brush with the education department. Ugly. I thought that most of the information to which I was exposed was baloney. For evidence, I think back to my years in Brazil with my hit and miss involvement with the Calvert Course, the “English not spoken here” approach of the schools in Campinas, and the seamless transition I made back to my “regular” US school after having done zero in the learning aquaria for several years.

I also recall the look of befuddlement on the face of the check out clerks, when I point out that a cash register tally is incorrect or the consternation that furrows the brow when I provide bills and two pennies.

My hunch is that the education thing is a juicy business, but I am not confident in Pearson’s ability to catch up with the folks who are not saddled with the rich legacy of printing books and charging lots of money for them.

This is a trend worth watching. Will it become the success of Ebsco’s “discovery” system? Will it generate the payoff Thomson Reuters is getting by reselling Palantir? Will it allow Pearson to make the bold moves that so many traditional publishing companies have made after they embraced XML as the silver bullet and incantation to ward off collapsing revenues?

I for one will be watching. Who knows? Maybe I will return to school to brighten the day of an adjunct professor at the local university. (This institution I might add is struggling with FBI investigations, allegations of sexual misconduct, and a miasma of desperation.)

Education. Great stuff.

Stephen E Arnold, January 26, 2016

Hackers Opt for Netflix and Uber over Credit Card Theft on Dark Web

January 25, 2016

It is no surprise that credit cards and other account information is sold on the Dark Web but which accounts are most valuable might surprise. Baiting us to click, the article It turns out THIS is more valuable to hackers than your stolen credit card details on the United Kingdom’s Express offers the scoop on the going rate of various logins cybercriminals are currently chasing. Hacked Uber, Paypal and Netflix logins are the most valuable. The article explains,

“Uber rolled-out multi-factor authentication in some markets last year which decreased the value of stolen account details on the Dark Web, the International Business Times reported. According to the Trend Micro study, the price for credit cards is so comparatively low because banks have advanced techniques to detect fraudulent activity.”

The sales of these accounts are under $10 each, and according to the article, they seem to actually be used by the thief. Products and experiences, as consumable commodities, are easier to steal than cash when organizations fail to properly protect against fraudulent activity. The takeaway seems to be obvious.


Megan Feil, January 25, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


Quote to Note: Newspaper Style

January 16, 2016

Wikipedia produces clicks for the search engines. Wikipedia allows students to output “essays” on almost any topic which catches the fancy of the common core crowd. Wikipedia also triggers some interesting comments about its approach.

Navigate to “Wikipedia: An Old-Fashioned Corner of Truth on the Internet.” The write up, which appears in an old fashioned newspaper, contains a quote to note. Here it is, gentle reader:

Because it was factual, updated quickly, and didn’t use that annoying newspaper style of trying to make stuff sensational. Wikipedia, the news source?

Annoying newspaper style? Great stuff. The write up about Wikipedia somewhat reluctantly points out that the service is useful.

I wonder if real journalists recycle Wikipedia information. What do you think? The tip off is the list of the strangest things found in Wikipedia.

Stephen E Arnold, January 16, 2016

Newspaper Reveals Tricks for Google Search

January 15, 2016

I love it when newspapers get into the online research game. I think fondly about the newspaper in Nevada. Its reporters were not able to figure out who owned the newspaper. Hint: Casino owner.

I read “How to Use Search Like a Pro: 10 Tips and Tricks for Google and Beyond.” The word “beyond” is darned popular when it comes to search. I wonder who has been using the phrase “beyond search” for a decade or more? Hmm. No idea.

The write up includes some jaw droppers for the folks who are not familiar with SDC Orbit or the conventions of Lockheed Dialog; for example:

Use quotes to search for a bound phrase. Okay. What happens when Google does not locate an exact phrase match? What then, gentle Guardian? No comment? Okay.

Here’s another tip and trick:

Use the OR operator. Now that is helpful when one is looking for a really big result set. How does one narrow a Google result set when the GOOG says, “About 1,400,000 results. Thoughts? Nope. Okay.

And one more. For the other seven you will have to read the source write up:

Use the “Related” operator to find more sites like — wait for it — the Nothing like using a dead tree publication to flog some clicks from the punters.

I wish to point out that the GOOG is deeply concerned about the decline in boat anchor type searches. The effort is being directed at providing information before the user knows s/he needs it. This is called predictive search.

I am delighted that the newspaper is describing how to use a search system which is losing traction. But, hey, that’s what makes real journalists and dead tree publishers the type of outfit that Jeff Bezos and Sheldon Adelson hungry to buy these companies.

Stephen E Arnold, January 15, 2016

Quote to Note: The Future and Niche Magazines about Issues

January 13, 2016

I find “real” publishers a source of entertainment. In this particular incident, I want to highlight two themes:

  1. A Silicon Valley success believes that a dead tree publication can be given the digital rework and succeed
  2. Pumping $20 million into a dead tree outfit says something about money management and common sense in the digital world

Navigate to “Owner of New Republic Puts IT Back on Market.” If you have to pay to view the story, hunt down the January 12, New York Times (dead tree edition) and look for page B 5.

The main idea is that a Facebook whiz bought a magazine, reorganized, pumped in dough, and apparently failed.

The notion of “saving” an outfit is one that gives new life to stakeholders, employees, and others involved in the operation. Think Yahoo and the Xoogler. How is that working  out?

The reality is that success in a digital endeavor may be a matter of luck, timing, and the missteps of some other competitors. Google emerged from a pretty disappointing Web search idea when it was inspired by the Overture/GoTo pay to play model.

Tucked into this mini business case about a financial black hole was this quote to note:

“The New Republic has been a money-losing proposition for 100 years,” said Jacob Weisberg, who once worked for the magazine, and is now the chairman of the Slate Group. “The idea that anyone is going to turn it into a business now, when it has never been harder, is implausible.” In his letter, Mr. Hughes said that his aim “is to place The New Republic in the hands of the most promising and dedicated potential steward.” That might take many forms, he said. “Perhaps it should be run as part of a larger digital media company, as a center-left institute of ideas, or by another passionate individual willing to invest in its future,” he wrote. “There are many possibilities.”

Perhaps Jeff Bezos or Sheldon Adelson quality as potential buyers?

Are there management lessons to be learned from this experiment in Digital Age management? Yep.

One might be having cash to invest in a money losing magazine may not generate a fungible return. One upside is that business schools can create an interesting case for future MBAs to consider.

Stephen E Arnold, January 13, 2016

Authors Guild Loses Fair Use Argument, Petitions Supreme Court for Copyright Fee Payment from Google

January 12, 2016

The article on Fortune titled Authors Guild Asks Supreme Court to Hear Google Books Copyright Case continues the 10 year battle over Google’s massive book scanning project. Only recently in October of 2015 the Google project received  a ruling in their favor due to the “transformative” nature of the scanning from a unanimous appeals court. Now the Authors Guild, with increasing desperation to claim ownership over their work, takes the fight to the Supreme Court for consideration. The article explains,

“The Authors Guild may be hoping the high profile nature of the case, which at one time transfixed the tech and publishing communities, will tempt the Supreme Court to weigh in on the scope of fair use… “This case represents an unprecedented judicial expansion of the fair-use doctrine that threatens copyright protection in the digital age. The decision below authorizing mass copying, distribution, and display of unaltered content conflicts with this Court’s decisions and the Copyright Act itself.”

In the petition to the Supreme Court, the Authors Guild is now requesting payment of copyright fees rather than a stoppage of the scanning of 20 million books. Perhaps they should have asked for that first, since Google has all but already won this one.


Chelsea Kerwin, January 12, 2016

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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