November 03, 2014

Adi Kamdar

Site Stats, Election Season

This is my personal blog, so I don’t expect to get too many hits on my posts. One of the main draws of this blog, though, seems to be my post from January 11, 2013 on the 113th Congress’ Twitter handles. Last week, on October 30, the post drew 140 views! You can definitely tell it’s election season.

I made the list of Twitter handles simply because I couldn’t find any at the time, and I had been scheming with a buddy at Twitter to put something like this out there on a more “official” level. A bunch of folks have asked me for permission to edit the Google Docs, and I think a fair few revisions have been made over the last (almost) two years as more and more politicians hop on social media.

I have yet to figure out if this is the best way to do something like this, but it’s something to think about since the 114th Congress is right around the corner!

by Adi at November 03, 2014 09:19 AM

October 27, 2014

Adi Kamdar

A light defense of “sportsball”

I have a large group of friends who don’t like sports. And a good chunk of this group I refer to as “sportsball” folks. These are the people who actively dislike sports, or proudly flaunt their sports ignorance.

I can sympathize: sports can be insanely cultish, aggressively competitive, unsurprisingly chauvinistic… and even more issues arise on the college sports level. Sports can also be brutally boring. I don’t really like how sports (and disasters) are the major factor that brings a city together. Heck, I wouldn’t consider myself a huge sports fan at all.

But I really like going to games. And I want to encourage folks to reconsider—or maybe temper—their active disdain for something that, for better or worse, is such a big part of our culture.

I went to the San Francisco Giants game—game 4 of the 2014 World Series—on Saturday. I don’t know many of the players on the Giants. Nor do I know the ballpark’s traditions. I didn’t own any Giants gear before the day of the game. To be fully honest: this was my first Giants game ever—a feat after living in this city for two-and-a-half years.

The morning of the game, I went out into the Mission to pick up some gear. I immediately stumbled across a table, set up on the side of Mission Street, selling bootleg hats and shirts for ten bucks. (“Uh, I only have nine dollars.” “That’s okay!”)

Something magical happened when I donned that black-and-orange cap. I more attentively noticed how many people around me were in Giants gear. Fifty percent, I’d say, if not more, and a diverse crop at that. Just by putting on that hat, I felt closer to the city, to the people around me.

The actual game was no different. Granted, I’m sure the World Series filters the crowd down to the most invested of fans (and myself), but the 43,000+ people around me were all cheering, clapping, singing, and crying out in the same rhythm. Best of all, by the third inning, I knew all the relevant players, all their nicknames, all their special cheers.

I think people who actively dislike sports should at least be open to the idea that the shared experience can be something beautiful, and what may seem like a daunting barrier—names, stats, rules—doesn’t have to be that high. At the ballpark, I was following the followers, chanting what they were chanting and eventually hollering my own hollers. And the games themselves: most rules and happenings can be broken down into things that are good for your team, and things that are bad for your team. Cheer for one; complain about the other.

Following this simple formula gave me one of the most incredible communal experiences I’ve had in a while—one I encourage everyone to seek out with an open mind.

(Oh, and it also probably didn’t hurt that we won!)

by Adi at October 27, 2014 06:01 AM

March 18, 2013


Upcoming first meeting of the Empowermentors Collective: intersectionally marginalized POC in free software & free culture!

The Empowermentors Collective is a skillshare, activism, and discussion network for intersectionally marginalized people of color (for example people of color with disabilities, trans* people of color, queer people of color, and women of color) within the free culture and free software movement.

After taking an availability poll with our current active participants, our first meeting is scheduled for Sunday, March 24th at 12:00 pm eastern time in the #empowermentors IRC channel on Freenode (weblink). Also, please join us at this year's LibrePlanet conference for a casual dinner meetup!

Our first meeting will provide a space for everyone to get to know one another; share announcements, projects, and events of interest; and discuss the activities and direction of the collective.

Current meeting agenda items:
  • Introductions
  • Personal plugs, announcements, events and projects to share
  • Open vs closed email list/IRC channel
  • Email list or other space for allies
  • Need for website/blog?
  • Established activities:
    • Videos to transcribe
    • Software bugs
  • New activities:
    • Alternative tech terms list (to "crippleware", "master/slave", "male/female plugs", etc)
  • Your idea here!
To propose another item, please subscribe to our email discussion list or say hi on IRC. If you would like to learn more about our group, you can read about what we do and what motivates us on the LibrePlanet wiki:
We provide a space to:
  • Meet and talk to people with a common interest and shared experiences in free culture and free software.
  • Develop and share our skills and knowledge around free software and free culture.
  • Identify, expose, and organize to confront issues of oppression within the free software and free culture communities.
  • Expand our own philosophy at the cutting-edge of feminist, queer, critical race, and cyborg theory.
This opens up greater potential to:
  • Form coalitions with other causes of importance to us.
  • Create a free culture and free software movement that fights for us.
  • Bridge the free culture and free software movement with our contemporaries in the critical intersectional analysis of oppression, hierarchy, and domination.
Please spread the word and pass this on!

    by Dill Pickles ( at March 18, 2013 07:33 PM

    March 14, 2013


    Register now for LibrePlanet and Free Culture X 2013!

    Two conferences are just around the corner that fellow free software and free culture advocates, hackers, curious technology users, and critical media participants won't want to miss. LibrePlanet and Free Culture X 2013 are two really exciting conferences at the intersection of technology, social justice, and media studies.

    LibrePlanet is the Free Software Foundation's annual conference, this year titled "Commit Change", and will take place at the Harvard University Science Center on March 23rd & 24th 2013 or, in other words, very very soon! Free Culture X 2013 is this year's Students for Free Culture conference and will take place April 20th & 21st at New York Law School. 

    What can you expect at each? 

    LibrePlanet has a lot to offer people from different areas of expertise with varying levels of experience in free software. Whether you're interested in the profound social implications of software ownership, producing and sharing media with free technologies, or harnessing your own power over the computers around you as a hacker, you can get a lot out of  meeting fellow conference-goers and attending the talks and workshops at LibrePlanet. 

    Registration is free for FSF Associate Members, or $90 otherwise. Discounted rates are available for students or for a single-day pass, and of course volunteering is a great way to get in at no cost at all! If you are unable to attend, there will be a live broadcast of the event online.

    Free Culture X 2013 is half conference, with one day of talks and panels by brilliant minds challenging media monopolies and permission culture, and half unconference, with participatory workshops and working groups.

    Registration is 100% pay-what-you-want, with a suggested donation of $15.00. Proceeds from the conference will help defray the costs of running a nonprofit, so please support as much as you can!

    Both conferences will be very accessible and you should absolutely come if you are able. If you can't come, consider following along with the live webcast, participating in discussions during the events through social media, spreading the word now for others to attend, and donating if free software and free culture are valuable to you.

    by Dill Pickles ( at March 14, 2013 09:50 PM

    November 05, 2012

    Parker Phinney

    Satisfaction, the Kind where you Dance

    Goofing off at funtime labs (my apartment)

    Last night I made dinner with my awesome roomies. We dimmed the lights and lit some candles. We listened to music, goofed off, and drank white wine. Then we cleaned up. But we didn’t just clean…

    We DANCE cleaned.

    And I realized: I’m extremely happy right now.

    A few weeks after moving to San Francisco I wrote about how I was having a great time on paper but was still somehow not quite satisfied. I was having many moments of immediate happiness and excitement but overall just couldn’t confidently say “yeah, I’m where I want to be right now.”

    Now I know that I’m where I want to be. I’m satisfied. But it’s not just a calm, introspective satisfaction–it’s the kind of satisfaction that makes me want to dance. I’m ecstatic. I’m giddy. Like, 10 year old wearing footie pajamas opening a Nintendo 64 on Christmas day giddy.

    Life has ups and downs. Right now I’m on an up. A really great one.

    by parker at November 05, 2012 10:05 AM

    October 01, 2012

    Parker Phinney

    Thoughts on critical mass

    As I rushed to catch up with the huge mob that is Critical Mass this past Friday night, I saw intersections completely backed up. “I must be close,” I thought. Because traffic wasn’t moving on the street, I hopped on to the sidewalk and rode there. One man deliberately did not step aside for me, staring straight at me as if playing chicken. I just stopped and let him walk by. He shook his head and mumbled something like “crazy cyclists.” I thought, “hey, I’m just on the sidewalk because these cars are blocking the street!” But then I remembered that the cars were blocking the street because the cyclists were blocking the cars. And now this man was inconvenienced by me, a crazy cyclist, riding on a semi-crowded sidewalk (which I think cyclists shouldn’t do) and I was upset by his bad attitude about it and I just couldn’t figure out who was right and who was wrong.

    “This is kind of complicated,” I thought.

    When I joined the mass, I was excited. I was a part of something–a large display of solidarity. I do identify strongly as a biker now, and I sometimes see myself as disadvantaged because of that. I felt like I was standing up for myself, or for something bigger than me, or something. Plus I was having a lot of fun joining this giant mobile party.

    People were blocking cars on either ends of intersections that we rode through. I saw cars attempt to creep through and cyclists peel out of the mob to stop in front of them and block their path. Some people honked. Were they angry? If they were, they shouldn’t have honked, because the mass would always cheer in response. Some honkers were definitely supporters–they were good sports and gave passers-by high fives. They didn’t seem to mind being stopped in traffic.

    But some people were definitely pissed. For a moment, I thought “see, now you know what it feels like!” And then I realized that being stuck in traffic is basically the opposite of what it feels like to be a biker (if anything, bikers win in traffic because they can just ride between lanes). I tried to think of other reasons why our demonstration was justified.

    “Well, these streets are yours the rest of the month, for these few hours they’re ours” (borrowing from some feminist rhetoric I’ve heard to argue, for example, that women’s studies is a more legitimate academic field than men’s studies). Maybe that’s sort of true. I mean, we do have bike lanes. On some streets. Valencia’s traffic lights are timed for bikers. There’s a left-hand turn lane specifically for bikers at Howard and 11th. There are probably other ways in which streets have features for bikers. But there are lots of things about roads that suck for bikers. Like cable car/street car slots. And the fact that we can’t cross the Bay Bridge. And all the potholes on mission.

    At the end of the day, I do feel like I’m a guest on the cars’ street every day I bike to work. For example, I know that I can’t reasonably expect that the average driver will check for oncoming bikes from behind when making a right hand turn over the bike lane. I’ve just seen too many near misses. And to be honest I don’t blame those drivers–before I started biking, I wouldn’t have known to look behind me before bearing right for a right-hand turn. If the street belonged to both of us, the car would feel like it were actually crossing a lane of traffic when passing over the bike lane. But that’s not what the bike lane is–it’s just an afterthought. You can even leave your car there if you want. It would be a little more invasive-feeling to put a bike in a normal traffic lane. At the same time, the relationship isn’t quite symmetrical. Cars can’t just pass in the bike lane on valencia when the main lane is blocked. But when the bike lane is blocked (as it is in ~3 places every time I ride to work), bikers can just pass in the main lane (and most cars don’t seem to mind, although some do).

    I guess regardless of who has more “right” to the road or various parts of it, I feel like I need to always drive defensively on a bike (more so than in a car, although of course everyone should always drive defensively always). The reality is that cars are big huge death machines to bikers. It’d be cool if I could bike to work without worrying about being killed by a death machine.

    Then again, I know the risks every time I get on my bike. I’ve deliberately thought about them and made the choice to keep biking. Do I have a “right” to a safe ride to work? Maybe. Anyway, it would definitely be cool. So maybe critical mass is a political statement about how I want my commute to be less dangerous?

    I fell off my bike and hurt my wrist during the mass. It was because some other biker cut me off. It was at least half my fault also though–I was checking my phone and could have reacted in a more sane way if I had two free hands. Unfortunately, people who made fun of me for having only a front brake were vindicated–I flew right over my handlebars.

    On the ride home, my wrist hurt and I was angry and for a while I was angry at cars. But then I remembered that cars had nothing to do with why my wrist hurt. At one point I stopped at a green light because a fire truck was coming through. Then it turned red and I had to wait. A car making a left turn onto my street came whizzing right by me–came within inches of hitting me. At first I thought I was in her lane or something. But then I realized I wasn’t. “That was weird, right?” I said to the biker behind me. “She’s probably pissed from being caught in traffic from the mass,” he said.

    Between falling on my wrist because of a biker during the mass and getting (maybe) maliciously almost hit by a car after the mass, it looks like the mass didn’t do much for making my life as a biker less dangerous. And I’ll admit that I never really actually thought that was the point. But I actually don’t really know what was.

    Did we just want to feel like a group that stood together? Did we just want to have a goofy time taking over the road and riding with a big huge enormous glowing tree with embedded speakers blasting The Knife? I think we did a good job of that.

    I still would like to make my commute less dangerous, though. I’m pretty sure we made negative progress on that. I’m worried that participants will confuse their feeling of solidarity with political progress. I know I’ve made that mistake before many times.

    There’s probably a name for the psychology behind creating and playing games that you hope to lose, as a demonstration of the unfairness of the other player. For example, I once emailed the Registrar’s office at Dartmouth offering to update their check-in system to email students who have forgotten to check in the day before the deadline, just so that I could get no response and complain about their deliberate avoidance of steps to make it easy for students to check in on time and avoid the fine (to my disappointment, they said “ok,” although they ended up pushing back our meetings until eventually I graduated).

    I saw something similar in the spirit behind the cheering response to clearly-pissed, honking drivers at critical mass. We wanted to piss off drivers. On some level, we liked being publicly and openly hated because it was legitimizing–we had all felt hated as bikers before but it was more subtle and indirect. We wanted to draw the hate right up to the surface, so that it was clear. Now we know and the world knows that we are bikers and we have to deal with being hated.

    So now we’re all on the same page. Drivers hate bikers. Probably even more so now than before the mass.

    Was it worth it?

    by parker at October 01, 2012 06:47 AM

    June 04, 2012

    Nicholas LaRacuente

    Back Home

    I came back to NYC pretty quietly after 8 months in Chile. Not a whole lot to report, I guess. Chile's a pretty nice place. Upscale Santiago is like the US, and other parts are noticeably less developed. There are stray dogs in every street, central heating hasn't been invented yet, and drinkable red wine costs $3 a bottle. Otherwise, the place is not such an adjustment. Stuff's cheaper than NY, but not by much. The company I went with is... well, I'm not with the same company anymore.

    Now I'm back at home, getting ready to launch SiftFu and thinking about what's next. Maybe it will take off and eliminte the need for yet another big transition, but I don't think startups work that fast even when they're successful. Maybe I'll be a physicist.

    June 04, 2012 05:48 PM

    June 01, 2012

    Steven Chabot

    Librarians silenced at CLA conference

    I’ve been slow getting back into the swing of writing about library issues, now that I am preparing to go back for a Masters in History (yeah scholarship!).

    I don’t got to the CLA conference. I don’t really like library conferences, the sessions just are not challenging enough for someone who prefers academic conferences. If I need to learn about the use of Drupal to make a website or the state of Open Access, I can research that myself. I am sure I am missing out on networking opportunities, but that is unfortunate.

    So it was my surprise to read on the University of Ottawa librarians blog that CLA librarians had been silenced protesting the recent cuts to Libraries and Archives Canada (LAC):

    Of the group passing out ribbons, only two were registered delegates at the conference; the rest were concerned or retired librarians wanting to raise awareness of the impact of the cuts. They talked to delegates, handed out leaflets and answered questions.

    Many conference delegates gladly accepted the leaflet and ribbons until about 20 minutes later, when one registered delegate, conference speaker and Action Day volunteer was told by Kelly Moore, Executive Director of CLA that giving out information regarding the cuts to the LAC was “inappropriate.” In addition to handing out ribbons, the librarian and her colleague had placed CAUT “Save LAC” bookmarks on the seats of chairs in the room where the plenary was to be held. They were told to stop, that the conference was “not the right venue” for the activity, and were asked to leave the 3rd floor of the Ottawa congress centre – despite being registered delegates of the conference. Downstairs, on the 2nd level, volunteers continued to hand out ribbons and information. But within minutes, Moore had two security guards remove the librarians and banish them to the street level of the Congress Centre and away from the conference delegates. The official reason given was that the Action Day volunteers were not registered for the conference. But in fact, even the two librarians who were official delegates were asked to leave. (They were re-admitted later).

    If this event can be interpreted as the APUO librarians and others have suggested, this would be a violation of the very freedom of information CLA upholds for libraries, but seems to ignore for librarians.

    Many of the comments on the Canadian Association of University Teachers (which also represents university librarians) listserv lament the lack of a real voice for professional librarians—not libraries—and I would have to agree. I’ve never felt represented as a professional by CLA, I’ve always questioned renewing my membership, and I wish I was back in the university so I could participate with CAUT.

    Which is just sad, because when I was in school the organization seems to hold all my brightest mentors, but as I grow older it becomes less relevant to me and my professional life.

    by Steven Chabot at June 01, 2012 11:17 PM

    March 01, 2012

    Steven Chabot

    Trzeciak named university librarian at Washington University in St. Louis

    I am sure the folks at the McMaster University Academic Librarians’ Association will have something to say about this very soon:

    “Jeff Trzeciak stood out in our search from the start because of his innovative uses of technology and his ability to integrate the McMaster library with many departments and programs on campus” Roediger says. “The search committee felt that Jeff was the right person to lead the Washington University Libraries into the future.”

    Trzeciak named university librarian at Washington University in St. Louis « Tame The Web.

    Previously: McMastergate in chronological order, or, Do libraries need librarians? — Confessions of a Science Librarian.

    by Steven Chabot at March 01, 2012 09:17 PM

    November 27, 2011

    Christina Xu

    Peanut Butter Ban Mian

    福建拌面 - Fujian-style ban mian

    One of my favorite instant comfort foods is 拌面 (ban mian, meaning “tossed noodles”), a completely underappreciated and little-known street food from Fujian province. Ban mian is a totally generic term, and googling it yields a wide variety of noodle dishes. The Fujianese variant, however, is perhaps the most amenable to Americans: it involves peanut butter! And it takes about as much time to cook as instant ramen.

    The ban mian of my dreams is poetic in its simplicity. The key is a few obviously delicious ingredients (noodles, sesame oil, soy sauce, peanut butter) served piping hot and topped with chopped scallions for an added kick. The hardest part about making ban mian is using the right type of noodle. Over the years, I’ve tried cooking this with all kinds of pastas out of desperation (rice vermicelli, egg noodles, pad thai noodles…even spaghetti and linguini) and it’s NEVER as amazing as if you just suck it up and pick up some fresh wonton noodles from Chinatown. They keep in your fridge for weeks and in the freezer for even longer, so there’s really no reason not to stock up.

    Wonton noodles

    They look like this!


    1 pack of wonton noodles (contains 3 or 4 nests of noodles)
    3 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
    Soy sauce, to taste (start with one tablespoon)
    Sesame oil, to taste (start with one tablespoon)
    1 scallion, for garnish
    Optional garnishes: shredded cucumber, kimchi, chili oil, Sriracha, etc. Experiment!


    Drop in one or two clumps of wonton noodles into boiling water, scattering them as you go. Cook for 1 minute (or 2 if frozen)—basically just until the noodles are warm and pliant. Make sure to reserve some pasta water!

    Meanwhile, mix peanut butter, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a bowl, tasting until you find a good balance of flavors. When the noodles are done, scoop them up and plop them into the bowl, then ladle a spoonful of pasta water in to make the sauce more runny. Personally, I prefer an almost soup-like sauce to complement the soft, absorbent noodles. Mix thoroughly and garnish with chopped up scallions. Ban mian is traditionally a lunch food, but it’s an easy snack at 4 in the morning, too.

    What your peanut butter sauce should look like before you add the noodles

    by Christina Xu at November 27, 2011 07:54 PM

    November 15, 2011

    Christina Xu

    Not All Harvard Graduates are Awful

    …but it gets harder and harder to convince people of that every time an alum decides that it’s really cute to humblebrag about their Harvard pedigree by defending it in an incoherent way.

    Take this Washington Post article by Alexandra Petri on Occupy Harvard, for example, which is getting a lot of sharelove by Harvard folks, and especially by some of the 46 (!) mutual friends we have on Facebook, so I clicked on it. This article is so fucking asinine and badly written, I don’t even.

    It’s true that Harvard is no longer AS elitist as it once was. Its wonderful financial aid opportunities have resulted in a much more diverse student body, but that does not allow THE (TAX-EXEMPT) INSTITUTION of Harvard (the first corporation in the United States!) to be relieved of all social duty to its neighbors, staff, and aforementioned students.

    Say what you will about the methods and the constituency of the protests, but their claims are very legitimate. Pay the janitors a living wage like they’ve been demanding for ten years. Stop investing in awful companies that are wrecking the world. Stop teaching our undergrads that neoliberal economics is the end all be all. While we’re at it, maybe we could also do a better job of being respectful while colonizingexpanding our campus, next time that comes up?

    I became particularly aggravated when the writer started talking about the Econ 10 walk-out. She writes that the students protesting the narrowness of the economics curriculum are in the wrong because: “surely the events since 2008 have been a vivid and painful reminder of how dangerous it is to entrust the world economy to people without a firm grasp on economics.”

    HEY, GUESS WHAT. Those people without a firm grasp on economics that fucked up the world economy? A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF THOSE PEOPLE sat quietly through Econ 10 or its analog at another top college, and then graduated with good grades in the department! Talk about intro to irony!

    My favorite part is: “The tents aren’t there because of any definite grievance. Sure, the movement lists several. It is always possible to generate a definite grievance no matter where you turn up. Harvard, for instance, does not pay its janitors enough, or at least this is what I hear from the protests.

    How the fuck did homegirl pass Expos with writing that could have come out of a Rick Perry speech?? And she’s a HUMOR writer? I guess this was funny, in that it didn’t make any fucking sense.

    I graduated from Harvard College, I stand in solidarity with the 99%, and I am so fucking embarrassed by this dumb shit. I don’t normally think long-winded rants are productive, but in this case I think we need to show people that not all Harvard grads are clueless. Other Harvard grads who are still capable of reasonable thinking and competent writing, I encourage you to throw your voice into the mix as well!

    by Christina Xu at November 15, 2011 04:53 PM

    October 28, 2011

    Gavin Baker

    Openness to protect human subjects in research

    The Department of Health and Human Services recently published a proposal to update the federal regulations that govern research on human subjects. It’s a very interesting proposal with a lot of potential changes on the table, and has received more than 1,000 comments (rare for this sort of thing). Yesterday, I submitted comments on the proposal. Unfortunately, I had to deal with a personal matter just as the comments were due, so they’re less detailed and less polished than I would have liked. The comments are below: (Update: my comments are now available on as well.)

    I welcome the opportunity to comment on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on human subjects research protections. Modernizing federal regulations to better protect human subjects could advance science and bolster public trust in the research system, strengthening the economy and improving health while upholding human rights.

    I submit these comments in my personal capacity, representing solely my own opinion. However, my background may inform the reading of these comments. I have participated in research as a human subject, including survey research as well as greater-than-minimal risk research. Professionally, I research government transparency, including topics such as scientific integrity, focusing on the role of information in improving lives and increasing democratic accountability. Previously, my work focused on public access to scientific information. In addition, I am a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Studies at Florida State University, studying information seeking and use.

    In my opinion, several of the information management reforms proposed in the ANPRM could enhance the protection of human subjects and increase public trust in the research system. These changes could benefit the research system by aiding in the recruitment of human subjects. In addition, HHS should consider other reforms not specifically proposed in the ANPRM.

    I recommend that HHS consider amending the federal rules on human subjects protection to:

    1. Respect and enhance scientific openness;
    2. Empower research participants and their communities;
    3. Minimize and mitigate information risks; and
    4. Collect the data necessary for system oversight.

    1. Human subjects research protections should respect and enhance scientific openness

    Openness is a fundamental characteristic of science, and human subjects research protections should respect and enhance scientific openness. I applaud HHS’ consideration of increasing the reuse of existing data and biospecimens (see Question 23). HHS should seek ways to expand appropriate sharing of data and biospecimens, while mitigating information risks to such sharing (see #3).

    Openness can strengthen human subjects protections in other ways as well. Articles 20 and 21 of the Helsinki Declaration prohibits the repetition of a study where the outcome is already known, to avoid exposing human subjects to unnecessary risk. As a result, prompt and widespread communication of results is necessary to ensure human subjects are protected, along with sharing and reuse of data and biospecimens. To avoid unnecessarily exposing human subjects to the risks of research, HHS should ensure that the results of human subjects research are rapidly and effectively disseminated to the research community, such as under the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy.

    2. Human subjects research protections should empower research participants and their communities

    Although human subjects protection is the responsibility of the research and oversight community rather than of the subject, federal regulations should empower subjects to protect themselves to the greatest extent possible. HHS’ consideration of mechanisms to improve informed consent is particularly important in this regard (see Questions 35-53). HHS may also wish to consider readability and comprehension testing to improve consent forms. HHS should also ensure that subjects and potential subjects are informed of potential risks through public access to the proposed database of adverse events reporting (see Question 69).

    With regard to the extension of federal regulations to some non-Federally funded research (Question 71), without prejudice to the resolution of the overall question, it is important that subjects and potential subjects be informed of the protections applicable to the context. HHS should require studies to inform subjects whether or not the federal human subjects research protections apply to the study, with a brief description of said protections and a reference to an easy-to-understand website with additional information.

    Because the goal of human subjects research is ultimately to improve health, it is important that human subjects research protections leverage opportunities to do so, both for the subjects specifically and for their communities. Access to information is a key method for doing so. For instance, results should be returned to research participants whenever possible, including publications describing overall results of the study (see Question 18). Public access to research results (see #1) and to trial information (see #4) also would advance this aim.

    3. Human subjects research protections should minimize and mitigate information risks

    The adequate protection of research participants’ privacy is critical to the functioning of the research system and an important factor in the successful recruitment of human subjects. To prevent the damage that data breaches could wreak on the research system, human subjects research protections should ensure proper data security, such as by establishing mandatory standards for data security as proposed in the ANPRM. In addition, promptly notifying individuals of data breaches, as proposed in the ANPRM, is important to mitigate the impact of any security failures.

    However, while it may be necessary to reexamine the role of institutional review boards (IRBs) in ensuring data security, HHS should be hesitant to eliminate such a role altogether. Through their approval and oversight, IRBs are the institutional guarantors of human subjects protection, and HHS should be cautious to remove vital aspects of that protection from the boards’ purview. HHS should carefully consider the most effective role of IRBs in ensuring data security: for instance, whether inspector certification of compliance and retrospective IRB audits would ensure protection.

    4. Human subjects research protections should collect the data necessary for system oversight

    The ANPRM correctly identifies the need for effective data collection and information management in conducting oversight of human subjects research protections. However, HHS should consider expanding required reporting where necessary, in addition to streamlining existing reporting requirements.

    For instance, with regard to Question 70 re:, the recent report of International Research Panel of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues identifies needed improvements to trial registration and reporting, including increased reporting and public access to information.

    In another example where increased reporting and transparency could strengthen oversight, Menikoff in 2010 proposed that investigators should disclose their consent forms. Such disclosure, the author argued, would ultimately improve the quality of consent forms, in addition to allowing potential subjects to more easily locate appropriate trials.


    Gavin Baker

    by Gavin Baker at October 28, 2011 02:56 PM

    October 20, 2011

    Gavin Baker

    Florida State University adopts open access resolution

    I’m pleased to announce that tonight, Florida State University’s faculty senate unanimously adopted a resolution supporting open access. (I’ve been a M.S. student in the School of Library & Information Studies since 2010; unfortunately, I didn’t know about this effort until tonight.)

    The resolution itself would have been cutting-edge five years ago. The text is weak compared to policies at leading institutions: it “endorses the storage and preservation of scholarly publications in Florida State University’s open access institutional repository”, directs the libraries to “develop policies and procedures”, and calls for an annual report. Unfortunately, that’s as far as it goes. Based on the plain text of the resolution, there’s no mandatory deposit, the key element of successful open access policies. As a result, we can expect compliance to be weak. However, as Micah Vandegrift, Scholarly Communications Project Manager at FSU, notes, it’s a first step. Hopefully this resolution will spark a dialog, creating greater awareness and understanding, leading to the adoption of a mandatory policy in the near future. Meanwhile, kudos to the FSU faculty and those who worked to develop this policy.

    Of course, I would be remiss not to add that my alma mater, the University of Florida, also has taken some positive steps in the open access arena lately (see: this, this, this).

    by Gavin Baker at October 20, 2011 01:26 AM

    July 16, 2011

    Nicholas LaRacuente

    In Chile

    I'm in Santiago, Chile. My partner and I have a travel blog, where most of the stories from this adventure will probably wind up.

    July 16, 2011 09:59 PM

    May 31, 2010

    Fred Benenson

    Cows near Amenia, NY.

    May 31, 2010 11:53 PM

    December 20, 2009

    Kevin Driscoll

    September 11, 2009

    Fred Benenson

    Jonathan Lethem on the banks of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY

    September 11, 2009 09:25 PM

    August 06, 2009

    Kevin Driscoll

    el final TODO MUNDO del verano anoche!

    <object height="344" width="425"><param name="movie" value=";hl=en&amp;fs=1&amp;"/><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"/><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"/><embed allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" height="344" src=";hl=en&amp;fs=1&amp;" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="425"></embed></object>

    No (on air) guests. Trying out a bunch of diff tracks just to see what works. Lots of brazen trainwrecks. Some happy accidents. Sweaty studio. No fan. Rippin irish breakfast tea at 2am.


    by driscoll at August 06, 2009 06:49 PM

    February 02, 2009

    Nelson Pavlosky

    I accidentally cross-posted my entire LJ archive to Livejournal

    My apologies to everyone who is following me on Livejournal! I re-imported my entire Livejournal archive into my blog but I accidentally left my LJ cross-posting plugin turned on, so it got into an infinite loop where I would import a post, and then it would get cross-posted, and then imported again… This meant that duplicates of my old posts dominated everyone’s friends pages. I went back using Xjournal and manually deleted all of the duplicate posts from Livejournal, so everything should be back to normal.

    The good news is that all of the old LJ comments have been imported with threading this time, thanks to the new Livejournal importer in the unstable “trunk” version of Wordpress :) Huge thanks to Beau for writing the importer, it worked perfectly.

    Originally published at Please leave any comments there.

    February 02, 2009 07:39 PM

    January 23, 2009

    Nelson Pavlosky

    I'm leaving Livejournal: what should I take with me?

    I'm moving my blog from LiveJournal to my new personal website at, following in the steps of Nick. The rumors about LiveJournal being in danger of shutting down certainly triggered this move, but it's something I've wanted to do for a while, to have more control over my own data.

    I would like my loyal LJ readers to follow me to my new site, and to achieve that I'd like to make sure that my new blog has all of the features of LiveJournal that my readers find important. Why do you use LiveJournal? What makes it a good experience for you? What features of LiveJournal do you think are useful, and distinguish it from other blogging sites? I have already added a number of features to my blog that LiveJournal has:

    • Threaded commenting - This is included by default in Wordpress 2.7 but not all Wordpress themes have been updated to use it yet. You also have to turn it on in Settings->Discussion->Other Comment Settings->Enable threaded (nested) comments, it isn't on by default.

    • Reply notifications by e-mail - Below the comment field is a checkbox labeled "Notify me of followup comments via e-mail". If you check that box, you'll get an e-mail when someone replies to your comment (if you've filled out the e-mail field). I'm using the Subscribe to Comments plugin.

    • Not having to enter identifying info every time - I've enabled OpenID using this plugin, so all you have to do is enter in your LiveJournal URL in the website field and it will accept your comment. No need to fill in your name and e-mail each time.

    What else should I do? Please let me know in the comments.

    Originally published at Please leave any comments there.

    January 23, 2009 10:50 PM

    December 21, 2008

    Steve McLaughlin


    The domain '' is somehow still available for purchase --

    December 21, 2008 11:52 AM

    November 24, 2008

    Steve McLaughlin

    November 05, 2008

    Alex Benn

    It's a shame that Obama's delicious victory is alloyed by the bitter taste of not one, not two, but three propositions and amendments across the country to ban gay marriage. Whose fucked up idea was it to legislate the definition of a word? I am so pissed about this. Also, California's humane animal treatment proposition is silly. Guess I should have voted in California instead of Texas... our local propositions were boring.

    One victory at a time, I guess. Obama, show us how it's done.

    November 05, 2008 07:46 PM

    November 04, 2008

    Alex Benn

    Hi everyone!

    GO VOTE.

    Thank you.

    November 04, 2008 04:35 PM

    February 15, 2008

    Brian Rowe and Sarah Davies

    WIPO Targeted by Access to Knowledge Conference

    The 3rd annual Access to Knowledge Conference is taking the struggle to liberate knowledge directly to policymakers. The location and timing of this year’s conference is targeted at a new audience of international organizations and policy-makers, particularly those delegates preparing for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) General Assembly.

    Here are the full details:
    Date: September 8-10, 2008.
    Location: Geneva, Switzerland.
    Cost: Free and open to the public, but advance registration will be required

    The Conference includes three days of plenary panels, as well as workshops for smaller working groups. I highly recommend saving the date and attending if possible.

    More information at The Information Society Project at Yale Law School
    Edit: The Information Society Project web site is not updated yet. This information is from the A2K mailing list.

    by Brian Rowe at February 15, 2008 09:16 PM

    February 12, 2008

    Brian Rowe and Sarah Davies

    Beyond Fair Use Panel at Columbia Law

    Fair Use Comic DukeLast week Columbia Law hosted a conference on Fair Use. The panelists included several scholars I respect. Here are some highlights from the third panel of the conference.

    by Brian Rowe at February 12, 2008 03:50 AM

    August 04, 2007

    Gavin Baker

    So sick and tired of all these pictures of me

    Whoa! I showed up on the Grooveshark blog --

    -- and I was further informed that, in May, I was a featured image on Wikinews!

    What a wild Web we weave :)

    August 04, 2007 04:33 AM

    July 31, 2007

    Gavin Baker

    Something new

    I feel like blogging more, lately.

    I enjoy writing now and then, and would like a venue to do so -- one where I'll feel comfortable pointing people to, and hopefully one that can attract some readership, so I can have feedback.

    I set up a WordPress install at over a year ago. I've never updated it from the SG campaign site. That's going to change, and relatively soon.

    I don't want to break links to the existing URLs, and a part of me thinks I might even want an archive of that content, some day. But I also don't want to have to maintain an inactive WordPress install definitely: at best, it's an annoyance to maintain; at worst, it's a security risk and an invitation to spammers. So I'll be stripping WordPress out and leaving static copies of the pages in place.

    I'll install a new instance of WordPress and get things set up the way I like it. Eventually, I'll start using it. Hopefully, I'll use it somewhat regularly -- posting at least a few times a month -- because I know that updates attract readers, and readers leave feedback.

    I'll also stop posting here, both to encourage readers to move to and join the discussion there, and because I'm done with LiveJournal. I still have some fondness for LJ, but I want something more professional. (If I want the benefits of pseudonymity, I'll use a different account which is not attached to my public persona.) I imagine I have a few friends who would read posts here but wouldn't use RSS or check my site, and I'd be happy to import my RSS from, but IIRC you need a paid account or something to do that. (If anyone would like to volunteer to set up a feed account on LJ, please let me know.)

    I'll probably continue to use LJ for reading others' blogs, commenting, and communities.

    I'll also be making some other changes at (out with the old and in with the new), including switching my domain registrar (see ya, GoDaddy).

    In addition, my email address will be changing within the next three months (most likely to something I'll also be going through a twelve-step program for Facebook (step 1: admit you have a problem), so if that's how you normally communicate with me, it's time to dust off the email client. (Yes Virginia, email does have other interfaces besides the Web.) I'll also be, let's say, cleaning up my accounts on random sites I briefly used (I'm looking at you, Friendster).

    No, I will be getting a LinkedIn account.

    I don't like Web services that won't let me do what I want with my data and that won't let me run the service myself (i.e. they don't give me the code). These proprietary walled gardens are not what I want the Web to be like. (And even if they have narrow windows through which they allow you to pass some data, they're still walls.) I want to start living Web 3.0; and those social networking sites are just a time suck, anyway.

    July 31, 2007 05:43 AM