Hearsay Culture 1.0 Site (2006-2021)
Covering modern technology and Internet issues
Hosted by Dave Levine.

Welcome to HearsayCulture.com 2.0 (thanks to Brandon Frye and William Moner!)

In May 2006, I launched the Hearsay Culture radio show because I missed doing radio (after a 16 year hiatus) and wanted a way back in. I also sought a way to force myself to read the articles and books that I thought I should be reading as a new academic and putative scholar (and after eight years of practice as a commercial litigator, much of it in the intellectual property and entertainment space, I really needed to get up to policy and theory speed). Much to my delight, the show was successful, and by early 2007 I had launched Hearsay Culture’s website (with webhosting recommendations from early guest Colette Vogele).

Until today, I had used the exact same design and functionality as was available to my rookie brain in 2007. Given time constraints — teaching, writing, committee work, service, travel, family, biologic need for sleep and exercise, fantasy baseball, etc. — almost all of my Hearsay Culture time has been devoted to identifying, scheduling, preparing for interviews, recording and interviewing, and posting shows. Whatever extra time that I had was monopolized by a multi-year effort to fend off hackers (thanks to the wonderful Oliver Day of Securing Change for all of the expert help and ingenious patches).

Today, I’m thrilled beyond words to unveil the new hacker-free Hearsay Culture website. You should not only see a clean and exciting new design, but much more robust functionality, from expanded social network linking to an embedded audio player for each show post. The Listen link now corrects my early error by clearly identifying the year associated with an interview (who knew that the show would run for nine years and counting?) The site is now mobile-friendly. You’ll even see a new logo! Play around with site and let me know what you think at the new Contact link. What else would you like to see?

Just as the show is about the guests, the fact of a new site is also about others. I am proud to say that I can thank two Elon University colleagues, iMedia graduate student Brandon Frye and his professor William J. Moner, for the complete overhaul announced today. It would not have happened without them. Brandon and William have spent many volunteer hours on this project, including Brandon’s design of the website and logo under William’s guidance. I am extremely grateful for their creative, expert and professional work, and the results speak for themselves. Aside from being honored to call them Elon colleagues, you can now call me a reference and a client.

I hope that the new website augments and streamlines your listening experience. Look for tweaks in the coming weeks, including integration with popular podcast streaming applications, an updated Resources page and perhaps some additional blog content beyond the shows. Others may follow depending on your comments.

Thanks so much for listening — you’re the reason that I continue to record new shows. In fact, in tandem¬†with this announcement, I’ve posted a new show with Stanford’s Jonathan Mayer on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and hacking. Two more new shows will follow over the coming two days.

Finally, check out the upcoming schedule for this quarter and the future. The first show of the new quarter, with Prof. Danielle Citron of the University of Maryland Carey School of Law on her book Hate Crimes in Cyberspace, airs tomorrow, April 22,¬†at 4pm pacific on KZSU. Here’s to another 230 shows!


Show #231 — Jonathan Mayer on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), cybersecurity and hacking — posted

For the first show posted to the *new* Hearsay Culture website, I am very pleased to post Show # 231, March 4, my interview with Jonathan Mayer, Stanford Ph.D. candidate in computer science, author of Terms of Abuse: An Empirical Assessment of the Federal Hacking Law, and How to Fix It. Jonathan’s work focuses on one of the paradigmatic, and troublesome, laws in the Internet law canon, the CFAA. Designed to address unauthorized intrusions into computer networks, it has morphed into a catch-all law that potentially ensnares all forms of computer network access, from the seemingly-authorized, to computer network research efforts, on down. In our discussion, we examined Jonathan’s empirical findings regarding CFAA litigation, as well as the prospects for reform of this flawed and ambiguous statute. In part because Jonathan is in the process of producing a comprehensive analysis of how the CFAA operates in the world, which could (or should) impact the pending efforts to create Federal trade secret law, I was delighted to have him on the show. I hope that you enjoy the discussion.


Show # 230 — Prof. Elizabeth Townsend Gard and Ron Gard on The Durationator and social entrepreneurship — posted

I’m thrilled to post Show # 230, February 18, my interview with Prof. Elizabeth Townsend Gard of Tulane University Law School and Ron Gard of Limited Times LLC, on The Durationator, an online tool to determine whether any work of authorship is covered by copyright, and social entrepreneurship. I have been a big fan of Elizabeth’s copyright duration work for a long time, and had her on the show in 2009 to discuss her amazing project entitled The Durationator. Now, after many years of work, The Durationator is a reality and publicly available through a partnership with Thomson Reuters. Having formed an entity, Limited Times LLC, with her husband Ron Gard to run The Durationator as well as focus on their social entrepreneurship efforts, we had a wide ranging and celebratory discussion about social entrepreneurship, as The Durationator launched on February 18, 2015, the day that the show aired on KZSU! I hope that you enjoy the discussion and learning about Elizabeth and Ron’s fascinating and useful work. Congrats Elizabeth and Ron!


Show # 229 — Prof. Stephanie Pell and Chris Soghoian — on cell phone surveillance and StingRay

I am pleased to post Show # 229, February 11, my interview with Prof. Stephanie Pell of the Army Cyber Institute and Chris Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union on StingRay and their newly-published Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy article entitled Your Secret Stingray’s No Secret Anymore: The Vanishing Government Monopoly over Cell Phone Surveillance and Its Impact on National Security and Consumer Privacy. Stephanie and Chris have taken on the fascinating and disturbing problem of intentional exploitation of known security flaws in cell phone operations by governments (and, if you’d like, the private sector) to monitor private individuals (i.e., StingRay). From law enforcement on down, the issue is as much about the technology itself as it is about the lack of discussion about that technology, exploits and its implications. Based upon their backgrounds in law enforcement and the security worlds, respectively, they approach this issue with a deep depth of knowledge and balance. We discussed StingRay from policy and technological perspectives in this broad discussion. I hope that you enjoy it!


Show # 228 — Prof. Lisa Lynch on information leak websites, leakers and Julian Assange — posted

I’m pleased to post Show #228, January 28, my interview with Prof. Lisa Lynch of Concordia University, on WikiLeaks and information leakers. Lisa has written extensively about the nature and role of information leakers in society today. Having interacted with Julian Assange for several years — including before he was the infamous figure that he is today (she’s even benefited from his editing suggestions) — her insights regarding the role of WikiLeaks draws on both scholarly and personal experience. Because the notions of “secrecy” and “democracy” are in a massive state of flux, Lisa’s work and insights are sorely needed, timely and unique. We had a wide-ranging discussion on information policy and leaking; Lisa’s candor and humor made for a terrific interview. I hope that you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed the discussion.


Show # 227 — Solon Barocas on algorithms and employment discrimination — posted

Happy new year! I’m pleased to post the first show of the winter quarter, Show # 227, January 14, 2015, my interview with Solon Barocas, Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy, co-author of the article Big Data’s Disparate Impact (with Andrew D. Selbst). Algorithmic computing and decision-making have entered our world much faster than our understanding of it. In Solon’s article, he takes a close look at the massively under-explored impact of algorithms on traditional forms of employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (think discrimination on the basis of race or gender). Identifying both the technical and legal issues involved is a challenge, but this article does a wonderful job exposing the risks of algorithms in this space, which often (although not exclusively) includes embedding human prejudices in the code itself. We examined these and other ramifications of algorithmic computing and civil rights discrimination in our discussion. I greatly enjoyed it (recorded at Princeton!) and hope that you find it illuminating.


Thanks to Securing Change

Those of you paying attention to the website have undoubtedly noticed the theme change. That change is part of the effort to thwart the incessant hackers who have targeted Hearsay Culture over the past three years. I’m pleased to report that the site appears to have stabilized.

How did this happen? As a wannabe geek, I did not have the chops to handle this on my own, so a few years ago I turned to Oliver Day. Oliver began working, but soon wrapped his work into his new non-profit Securing Change, on which I am a board member. [Note: with proper citation to the Hair Club for Men, I’m also a client!] Securing Change “offers security services, consulting, and information for organizations that foster social good, such as non-profits, NGOs and B-Corps.”

If you’d like more information about Securing Change’s efforts, Oliver has been blogging about it. I can tell you that his descriptions are modest, as he’s spent many hours working on this issue gratis. Thus, as a small token of appreciation, I offer this blog post and unsolicited and unqualified endorsement of Securing Change. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at dave@hearsayculture.com for more details.

On that web redesign, please look for a revamped and redesigned website in the first few months of 2015. I’ll write more about that as the day approaches, and am very excited about what’s in the works!

And now, I return to grading and writing, grading and writing. Happy holidays and new year!


Upcoming Guest

Upcoming Guest Show # 227, January x, 2015: Prof. Lisa Lynch of Concordia University on WikiLeaks and information leakers.



Show # 226 — Prof. Stephen Turner on expertise in policymaking — posted

For the last show for 2014, I’m pleased to post Show # 226, November 20, my interview with Prof. Stephen Turner of the University of South Florida on technological and scientific expertise in policymaking and democracy. Stephen has spent a career focusing on the often overlooked question of how experts operate in the policymaking world, and has recently published a collection of his work entitled The Politics of Expertise. This issue has been of critical importance in the science and technology space due to perceived and real gaps in technological understanding amongst policymakers (think the battle around the Stop Online Piracy Act a few years ago and the need to “bring in the nerds”). We discussed the undefined role of experts in policymaking and how we might better utilize expertise in making complex decisions. I greatly enjoyed our discussion.

Look for a new schedule and shows starting in January 2015. Thanks for listening and have a great holiday season and new year!


Show # 225 — Prof. Ed Felten on the cryptocurrency Bitcoin and data privacy — posted

I am delighted to post Show # 225, November 20, my interview with Prof. Ed Felten of Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy (“CITP”). I’ve been visiting at CITP this year, and one of my main goals for my time there has been to meet and/or interview some of the amazing array of scholars resident at Princeton. There was no better way to begin that effort than by interviewing Ed.

Ed’s work is undoubtedly well-known to many Hearsay Culture listeners, so the challenge was to find a few topics to discuss. We were able to drill down on two current foci: data privacy, through Ed’s recent testimony before the President’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and the challenges associated with security around cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Both issues require delving into the nature of information access and sharing in a society where technology remains both largely undisclosed and not well-understood. Ed is among the leaders in efforts to clearly and accurately convey complex technology information to policymakers, and this interview reflected that skill. I hope that you enjoy our discussion!