3x02: Bookish

Stuart Langridge, Jono Bacon, and Jeremy Garcia present Bad Voltage, in which apparently it is Coventry’s turn in the barrel, and:

Come chat with us and the community in our Slack channel via https://badvoltage-slack.herokuapp.com/!

Download from https://badvoltage.org

News music: [http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/Robbero/59218](Long Live Blind Joe by Robbero), used with attribution.

What if you installed this app on a phone and left that phone in the same place - ex.: next to a cash register. Then you would have geographical location data (and if your cash register was actually on/connected to the phone you could associate even more data). Of course you would have to check the hospital database and you could only check on people who upload their data to the hospital database (or whoever is the keeper of the data).

But I can see them justifying this as something that’s always on so that when the next pandemic is declared (or whatever excuse they use) they can go back at least 14-days instead of only starting the tracing once it becomes necessary. And the data would get continuously uploaded - not just when you’re diagnosed.

Of course this is what stores do whenever you use their loyalty card to accumulate some ephemeral rewards. But this system seems much more effective. Maybe the tinfoil is leaking into my brain but I think there’s so many lucrative use cases that taking this beyond the simple goal of pandemic contact tracing is too easy and too appealing.

And another thought…

The Tile app on my phone runs in the background and regularly detects the bluetooth beacons I have on my keychain, laptop bag, wallet, shoes, the cat, etc.

So it seems to me like this kind of thing should already be achievable by a third-party app!? What’s so special about the Google+Apple initiative and what’s going to change that would prevent anyone else - like the NHS - from having their own app work the same way!?

Heck, why don’t we just ask Tile to the contact tracing - they probably already got more information than we need! Their CEO is probably sitting there and either:

  1. wondering if he should come out and say “here’s the info you need - quarantine that bunch and the rest of us are free to go.” Or
  2. praying that no one figures that’s what they’ve doing for years and turns their handy little tool into the ultimate surveillance weapon!

I should probably go have a pint now and stop thinking about this!

They can build it into the OS. Everyone else has to do a million million tons of marketing to even get people to hear about their proposed app, and if there’s one third party trying to do it there’ll be fifty, half of whom will not be doing it with good motives at all and possibly will be stealing data or showing ads. The whole “let the market decide” approach is a volcanically terrible way of having something happen that must be done and where people should not be exploited. If Apple and Google build support into iOS and Android, though, everyone gets it, no publicity required, and one hopes that they don’t misuse the tech because the eyes of the world will be on them requiring them to demonstrate how and what they did.

(Whether the infrastructure they build can later, after this crisis, be perverted into something more troubling is indeed a worry, which we brought up in the show.)

Good evening

My understanding is that Google and Apple are building a framework into their respective operating systems. The only promise is that both operating systems will use a common Bluetooth ping.They’re not publishing an app and a global unified backend for the world’s health authorities.

Someone still needs to build apps that use the framework, and build the backends that receive the list of the infected and distribute them to those who query them. Presumably to use the framework they will have to pinky-swear to respect privacy (and we’ll have to mindlessy click Accept when we install the app - along with location, contacts, camera, microphone, and flashlight permissions).

I wonder how many devices are going to get this update? Maybe Google will build it into Play Services (but then ironically no one in China will get it)?

And if you’re using a cross-platform toolkit to build your apps you’ll need to wait for that to be updated.

I think DP-3T is a great theory (and an under-rated Star Wars robot) but I don’t think Google+Apple’s implementation will be in-use quickly enough for it to be a factor in ending the physical distancing. Or if it is we’re going to be at this until the next season of Bad Voltage!!!

Cheers! Time for another round!!!

Looking at the “sides,” the Archive has generally tried to do the right thing or at least keep inside the confines of the law, whereas the publishers/guilds have chased e-reader manufacturers for having accessibility features (because it cuts into their audiobook/large print markets), demanded DRM on books, were offended that they weren’t asked to join in on that six strikes nonsense, and tried to kill off Hathi Trust, and so forth. So, it’s hard to be sympathetic, there.

And I get that small authors are caught in the middle of that, but I also object to the idea that certain kinds of people are entitled to earn a living from whatever they want to do, but other people are only worth a living wage if they (hypothetically and certainly not ripped from the headlines…) work twelve-hour shifts in the middle of a pandemic under bosses who aren’t protecting them.

However, I think the big flaw in the system is that this emergency lending program is indiscriminate. It’s not trying to make an argument about the accessibility of books that kids need for school, making ephemeral content (like web page versions or old radio shows) available, pitching philosophical questions about “abandonware,” or even commissioning or buying the rights to works to make them available permanently. By just dumping whatever current novels they have, it’s clearly not any kind of emergency measure, but some ham-fisted (but unstated) political statement about copyright. That’s quite a bit more stereotypically Silicon Valley “move fast and break things” than I want out of the Internet Archive…

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